Sunday, July 25, 2010

Lucky charms and Leprechauns with pots of Gold

This is what we've come to know Ireland for. There is more to this emerald isle than that. Yes, there are lucky charms everywhere, the people are these charms. They are friendly, kind, funny and very helpful. Ireland is not a well signed place, meaning you will get misplaced rather quickly, but no need to fear the Irish are here. They will help you find your place.

I have noticed that in the various countries I have stayed in and the wide amount of cities that I have visited; that if a place is well signed the people have a tendency to be a bit rude. If the place is not signed well, the people are amazing. I wonder what that says about us? Here, in Ireland, I have been misplaced more times than I have in my entire life thus far. I have learned to enjoy the feeling of not knowing where in the world I am.

Now on to the leprechauns with these pots of gold! They do exist, yes it is true. I have met several of them while I was being misplaced. One of the first encounters, I was at a station named Howth. I was looking at a map trying to find a route back to were I was when I felt someone staring at me. I turned around and there he was! 5' nothing with a big smile on his face. He asked me if I was lost. I smiled and said "well I know I am here but where is here?" He smiled and said "follow me lass I'll get ya where ya needs to be." With that he laughed and showed me his pot of gold, his heart. See I think we were mistaken. It isn't a pot of gold it is a heart of gold. He went out of his way to make sure I got to where I needed to be. I couldn't thank him enough.

That is Ireland, so it's not a bad thing that the Irish are known for their lucky charms, and leprechauns with hearts of gold.

Next stop Scotland the land of kilts and bagpipes.

Traveling Buddha

I felt that my little Buddha needed a blog all to himself. When I set off on this journey I packed my little Buddha and some prayer beads. Every hotel I stayed in I had him there with the beads. I felt a sense of comfort knowing that I had little Buddha with me. I could turn over and just be reminded of the moment. See, this little statue was like a bell of mindfulness, I would look at it and smile and be mindful of the place I'm at and the things I'm thinking. Today, I looked at it for a longer period of time. I took a photo, and only through my lens did I see the connection. This little Buddha, my mindful focus, was just like me, or I should say I was just like him. He too is traveling. He carries a knapsack over his shoulder. Wow, what a coincidence, I too am on a journey with a knapsack over my shoulder. That moment of realization was intense. I feel the steps that I am taking on this path, are true and I can feel the path grown and undulate beneath my bare feet.

When I came here to Europe I started by staying at better hotels. The first one in London wasn't but that is not the point. The point is I am now staying in very meager accommodations and my next stop will bring me to the lowest point of this journey.

It seems that only at our base, our most denied do we truly see what is around us. I am grateful for this bit of knowledge. Thank you for stopping by. Will be posting the Ireland blog next.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Belgium is more than chocolate and waffles

As I sit here I don't really know how to start. Belgium has so many facets to it. There truly is a lot of peace here, among the rude and snarky people. If one was to judge a place base upon it inhabitance, then we would never leave our backyard. On this journey of peace and enlightenment, I'm learning that all the time. Belgium is beautiful. The parks are like fairy tales with all types of flora and fauna about, the food is amazing, the easy of getting around it also amazing. Even though I ran into the occasional snob, it did not change the beauty of this place.

One day I spent just walking around ponds. I witnessed some of the most peaceful acts there. Couples laughing, kids playing, mothers nursing, and fathers being real fathers. I sat in one of the park for hours. Then I had the honour of walking amongst the vast cherry trees, that line the middle of a street. It was a moment of pure joy and happiness.

Belgium has so much love and peace within it's old streets one could hear it echo as you pass by an alley, just laughter echoing all about. This is a beautiful place and I made some beautiful friends (Melinda and Genneah) They enhanced the charm of this place just by their mere presence. I looked at Belgium through the natives eyes, I tasted it through their pallets and loved it through their hearts.

Belgium is more than chocolate and waffles, it is a home.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

The Old Country

Prague, what can't be said about a city that survived WWII without a scratch. It is a city rich in every sense of the word. It's Gothic architecture stares down upon you every street you walk down. It is one of the most beautiful cities in the world. Even the graffiti can't mar it's beauty. Every building has some group of angels or warriors watching over you. You either feel safe or you get a bit paranoid. The street heading into Old town and Prague castle, are littered with people. Though a different type, or maybe I'm different now. If you go down any other block sans the one heading to old town/Prague castle, you would think you are the only person in the world, last person on the planet feel. I love it, but I needed something else, something more...
I met a group of women here who like to meditate out in nature. Wow, what luck huh? I asked them where they were going to meditate, their response, the Bohemian forest. What? really? The Bohemian forest. Isn't that a place of legend? Yes, it is. On my journey out of the city I thought, "am I really going to meditate in a forest with women I don't know? What is wrong with you, you could get..." the thought ended there, for coming up over a hill was the most beautiful tree line I have ever seen! I just smiled and let the feeling run free.
We arrived in the town of Cesky Krumlov, in southern Bohemia. When I got out the van I felt an immediate sense of right. This is where I should be, the trees, the air, the smell of fresh flowers and the sighting of a bear. Yes, a bear. It just scampered off after I looked at it and nodded and gave a smile. I felt that everything wanted me, no needed me to be here. We walked for a bit until we came to a lovely clearing. We sat and jenny lead the meditation. On that day we became one with mother earth. we sent love and kindness to all, we connected to all around us, and it was beautiful. I was and am at peace...

Today is July the 10th. I leave this magical city Monday. As I walked today to get some groceries I saw something that made me stop, and stop hard. it was a blind man being lead by his wife? At first I didn't understand why I was so taken with him. Then it made sense. How does he view this city? this magical land of mystery a land you can just imagine a knight riding through the town. How can he appreciate all this visual beauty? I felt sorrow for him, felt like he was missing out on the best part of a movie. But as he passed he laughed at the woman who's arm he was holding, a laugh that I could see! It was beautiful. I smiled, and the woman said to him "she just smiled at you." He smiled in my general direction and wished me a beautiful day. I wished him and her a good day. I couldn't stop thinking that he was missing out on something, but no he is not. See, we see with our eyes and judge with them, he sees with his heart and judges not. I have learned more from that one encounter with that blind man than I did during my meditation in the forest. For you see in the forest I was sending out love and kindness and compassion, and wishing people beautiful days filled with vibrant images of love and life. Not once did I think of the blind or deaf or others who suffer with various ailments, who live on this planet. I did not once wish them good sounds and good vibrations, not a thought of sitting with a blind man and telling him how green the grass really is, or how clear the water can be.

I'm ever learning and I'm grateful to all who are willing to teach me.
next stop Brussels.


Tuesday, July 6, 2010

The path

Yesterday July 5th 2010, while sitting on a bus heading to Tooting Station, in Wandsworth London, I took my first true step on the path of enlightenment. Seated just 2 rows from the front of the bus, while music filled my ears, love and compassion filled my heart and soul. The first couple of days here were not as enjoyable as I thought they may be. I found it hard to meditate and to find solace. The rudeness of people was seen as such, then on the bus it started to clear. I saw not rude people, but people of different cultures and walks of life. That was when compassion filled me. Not thinking "these poor people." No, it was more "These people in a strange land away from what they know, rushed and huddled into situations that they don't know." How I loved them for their bravery. How I love them for breathing the air next to me and wanting a better life for themselves and their loved ones.
Some I felt compassion for just because they were weary and ached from a long days work, and though they receive pay, rarely do they receive gratitude. At one point a women came on the bus, it was clear she had some type of accident that scarred her face. She was carrying a baby, the baby was a sleep. She carried herself as she did her baby, guarded. I breathed in her discomfort and how she perceives peoples views of her, and I breathed out acceptance. She has to accept herself and not let what she thinks people are thinking of her bring her such ache. When she passed I smiled at the baby and her. The overwhelming love I felt made my heart thunder in my chest. That was when I realized I had taken my first step on the path.

I do love all even those that have caused me harm or who I may perceive as not being so nice. I wish no ill will towards anyone nor will I harm another human being or animal, as long as I have breath in my body.

There are so many joys in life, why would we focus on the negative when the positive is so very beautiful. Joy can heal and guide one through their darkest hour, so that they may find the path....


Friday, July 2, 2010

Why do we have to search for peace?

Well, here I am in merry ol' England. My flight was pretty uneventful, sans all the babies crying. I had a bit of a lay over in Finland, my friend couldn't meet me because she was out of town (Tunisa to be exact) on a photo shoot. Made the best out of the layover by reading and relaxing. I began to think of this journey I am on. Why do we have to search for peace? Shouldn't it just be there, right in front of us? We never have to search for pain or suffering, they are always visible. So, I put aside those thoughts for the moment and just existed.

Upon arriving in London I had found something very interesting. This was not the London I knew. The crowds have thickened and the people have lost their English charm. I was greeted with shoves and curses, people in such a hurry that a woman and her stroller was knocked to the ground, and instead of the person apologizing they yelled at her for being too slow....Being to slow? Hm.
Realizing all the pain that surrounded me, my heart began to fill with sadness. The thought of finding these signs of peace would really be a challenge here. I was, sadly, right.

Today is Friday the 2nd of July, and so far the only peace I have found have been with the animals. Birds have come and sat on my sill and sang, squirrels run up and sit by me to eat their lunch, and the ducks, oh the ducks, they preen themselves and play in the water as I sit and watch them. Maybe I was looking for peace in the wrong place. Perhaps it doesn't lie within us, but in what surrounds us. Yesterday as I sat on a lovely stone in Dover, a seagull came and stood near me. He came very close and when I said hello, he crooned. I felt true happiness, but it wasn't to last....But for a moment a later a gentleman came up to sit near me and he waved his arms about violently trying to shoo away the seagull (btw I believe that seagull was the one and only Jonathan!) But the seagull held fast, and craned his head at the crazed man. The man picked up a stone to throw, and I stopped him. I said "This seagull is not bothering you, and he was here before you came along." The man just laughed and said "I see why you are alone." I just shook my head and said "I am not alone. For the seagulls, crows and hawks keep me company." He didn't understand what I was saying, but as if on command, a hawk landed several feet away. I smiled and said "see" The man just smiled and and shrugged his shoulders...That was when it was confirmed, I really was hoping to find people to be the source of the happiness I feel inside, I expected everyone to be as happy as I am just to have another breath, but that is wrong. The signs of peace are everywhere, and you don't have to search, you just have to be breathing in the moment to see them...
Next blog locale, Prague.