Tuesday, August 17, 2010

The beauty of traveling

My journey has only just begun but what a great gift I have received already...a lovely woman (who I found out later was the youthful age of 89 - though she looked not a day older than 70) sat next to me from Bristol to Newton Abbot (roughly about a two hour journey). We chatted a bit in the beginning while I nodded in and out of sleep and then when we were halfway on our way we started chatting about everything, where I was going, what I was going to do, where she was from, etc.

The best part of what she told me was her own personal love story. Now, I have to admit that when I was younger I was probably one of the biggest romantics around. I bought books just on personal love stories to confirm what I always believed to be true - true love and soul mates do exist. I won't comment now on what I believe, but will just share this lovely story with you all that was so touching.

So my new friend, let's call her Mary,

Listening to your own advice

Sometimes seems next to impossible, yet last night I was able to hear my own words and follow through. As I was sitting in my kitchen, enjoying a lovely meal of grilled shrimp and salad I thought, hmm, I wonder if I could get a ticket out to Cornwall this week for a few days. I started searching and my heart started to sink a little thinking, wow, how will I ever find a good last minute deal on a B&B or hotel AND a good deal on a train ticket? Well, to my wonderful surprise I did and within 30 minutes booked myself a ticket out to Looe, Cornwall for the week.

I have never been and this will be my first solo trip in a very very long time. I am quite thrilled and excited because I woke up this morning thinking, how great that only 24 hours ago I had no idea I'd be on my way to Paddington to catch a train for a new adventure!

So I have let life surprise me and will definitely continue to do so as I journey along the coast and discover a new part of this beautiful country.

There is so much excitement in the unknown. I know many of us, myself included, can feel the anxiety and fear first, of not knowing what lies ahead, but when that niggly feeling starts to get inside my gut I just focus on all the 'moments before' as I like to call them...essentially think back to the moment before you met someone new, or got the call for the interview for your new job or before you decided to take that long awaited trip to wherever...the moment before any of that happened you had no idea what was in store and so isn't a lot more fun to think that at any moment, it could be your 'moment before'? I will definitely choose that over fear and anxiety everyday (or at least do my hardest to make it so!)!

Off to my train now! Happy journeying

Monday, August 16, 2010

The best laid plans

 'We should not ask our young people what they plan for their future but instead tell them to plan to be surprised!' - Steve Carell (Dan in Real Life).

What a fantastic thought! Plan to be surprised. I try more and more these days to leave space to be surprised and allow the world to catch me off guard in the most wonderful ways. Sometimes it is as simple as sitting somewhere new in my home and enjoying a new view while enjoying my morning tea or waking up to a cloudy cool grey sky and seeing the blue peak out just enough to give hope that the sun will come out in full force soon (which it has now). Or even taking yourself by surprise when trying to put yourself back out into the world, meet new people and see what all that personal work does when you meet someone new. Who do you want to be now? Who are you today and who are you becoming?

I think the most exciting part of it all is knowing that you get to choose who you want to be at every moment of every day and continually be fluid with life. Letting in the surprises and flowing with wherever they may take you. Don't think, just have fun and roll with it. I definitely did a lot of that this weekend while celebrating the 30th birthday of a good friend. We played games in the park, run by a Games Mistress and it was one of the best afternoons I have had in ages. All adults, no children, and games just for adults to remind you what play is about and how great it can be to be ridiculous and not care that the British Military Fitness men across the way are wondering if you're giving them a run for their money or seeing the glee in a little boy's face as he watches 8 adults being ridiculous and giggling like crazy.

It was spontaneous, ridiculous, fun and filled with laughter. As celebrations should be. Thankfully the fun did not end there and we continued on the party at my friend's place, complete with balloons, beach balls and a giant sun pinata that was quite a hit after much merry making and drinking. The best part of it all was that not a single person knew what the day had in store for us or the rest of the evening for that matter.

So, please, go out and let life surprise you. You never know what (or who) might be around the next corner.

Dedicated to all those who still play no matter what their age!!

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Food & Cultural Dialogue - a new recipe

Yesterday a good friend of mine sent me a very interesting link to a creative and powerful food initiative in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania called Conflict Kitchen (Conflict Kitchen Website). The take-out stand only serves food from countries that the United States is in conflict with. Every four months the kitchen will focus on a different country (this month is Iran) and as you can guess, some to come soon will be Afghanistan, North Korea and Venezuela to name a few. Unfortunately, with the rate the US is going it could easily continue for many months to come!

The food is traditional kubideh and it is wrapped in custom designed paper that has interviews with Iranians from both Pittsburgh and Iran on subjects as varied as food and poetry to the current political turmoil. There have been some incredible events as well that augment the information and conversation around the country and the US conflict (a Skype meal with Tehran for example) which allow people to ask questions about anything from cultural rules around dating to the daily political climate.How wonderful that not only are you given the opportunity to feast on sumptuous world cuisine, but are also given information to help you bridge your cultural understanding of the world and most importantly be presented with an opportunity to participate in a dialogue to increase awareness and understanding on all sides.

What struck me at first was the incredibly unique manner in which to approach raising people's awareness about a particular issue but in one of the most basic ways: through food! We all need to eat, many people enjoy testing their palate and exploring new cuisines, so why not take what we know works and throw in a bit of colour and purpose and see what we get? What makes this even better is that they are involving the people directly i.e. those Iranians not only in the local area but in Iran itself. These individuals are being given a voice and opportunity to share what is their truth from their perspective and give one more consideration to what you might learn from friends, in school, on the news or in the local paper.

As bloggers or blog appreciators, we all know the power of information and (hopefully!) the importance of considering every perspective in any situation. Many people across the world are never given an opportunity to voice their own feelings or experiences due to the political climate under which they live and initiatives like this prove that it is all possible.

I hope everyone will take an opportunity not only to visit their site and see what it is all about (because what I have just written is obviously just my opinion and therefore one of many) but maybe, just maybe, you will be inspired to consider how can you be creative in opening a new dialogue? Maybe it's with someone who you thought you could never get along with, maybe it's someone who has a completely world view to you or maybe it's just a new dialogue and story with yourself in how you decide you want to react to a certain situation...whatever it is, remember that the most important thing is that you are true to you, follow your passion and be open to whatever crazy, wacky and wonderful ideas come to you! I promise if it is fantastic and positive for this world you've already found a fan in me!!

Happy creating!!!!

p.s. If you are in Pittsburgh or are passing through soon please check it out and let me know what you think.
p.p.s. If you feel this is important and worth sharing, please do pass on the information about Conflict Kitchen (Facebook, Twitter, your own blog...).