“KEEP YOUR EYES OPEN. LISTEN. FOLLOW YOUR CURIOSITY. IDEAS ARE CONSTANTLY TRYING TO GET YOUR ATTENTION. LET THEM KNOW YOUR ARE AVAILABLE”
Here we are the last day of April. My final poem for Poetry Month. Kind of crazy just how quickly the month went, but really, time is such a warped way to measure reality. When I started this blog I never thought I would be writing a poem everyday for a month. I have astonished myself. I truly enjoyed the experience. Being creative in this way actually changed how I perceive the world. I have always been fairly aware, but I am now tuned in to another frequency and I love it.
A poem ♥ are thoughts spoken and unspoken
What is Life ♥ but poetry in motion
When I began this journey of blogging I was worried about what others thought. I have succeeded in pushing my boundaries around vulnerability. Now I just don’t care. This is my journey, my imagination and it is inspiring me to keep evolving. Another favourite quote from “BIG MAGIC”
“IF PEOPLE DON’T LIKE WHAT YOU’RE CREATING, JUST SMILE AT THEM SWEETLY AND TELL THEM TO GO MAKE THEIR OWN FUCKING ART” Elizabeth Gilbert
I will most likely not be posting everyday from here on, but I will continue to carry pen and paper with me. When the creative adventure flows, my mind will take note. I encourage all to listen deeply to the world around them. There is so much inspiration that otherwise goes unnoticed.
My 13 year old spent the entire weekend on the rock. Learning about aid climbing, gear placement, safety and responsibility. It was a JOY to watch him push boundaries and find fulfillment in his own achievements. It was an interesting experience trusting and finding faith in my own parenting, as I slowly let out more and more rope.
Climbing teaches so much about life. Boundaries, courage, fear, faith, support, self worth. The list is endless. My hope is that he continues to take what he has gained on the rock and applies it to the everyday moments.
The following poem is my contribution to Poetry month, inspired by my son.
Love you more than the mountains love the sky Rowen.
daisy chains & cow loops
quick draws & fifi hooks
ascending the atriers of life
methodically pushing the boundaries of childhood
faith and intention your protection
finding fulfillment in perseverance
wisdom in vulnerability
pushing through fear with perspective & purpose
courage & experience leading the way
intuition nudging you
mentors supporting you
trust sustaining you
the rock grounding you
the sky you aspire to
nature sings a chorus of encouragement
the rope lengthens, stretching your spirit
each climb a notable achievement
towards independence & responsibility
Yet, gently your shadow swings
always a portal to your youth’s imagination
love ♥ your constant belayer
to catch you when you falter
ever so slowly you spread your wings
to one day take flight and soar
For the non climbers out there. Atriers and daisy chains are ladders made from webbing. Cow loops and fifi hooks are also essential tools that are used in aid climbing. If you have not yet, push your boundaries and give rock climbing a go. So rewarding and so much FUN!
DON’T EXPECT ANYTHING
Have Expectancy. Not Expectations.
Expectancy is the emotional knowingness that you have changed and therefore your physical reality will follow suit.
In 1992 Gene and I spent 2 months in India. We loved India and how her people opened our eyes and hearts to a side of humanity we did not know existed. We came away more whole in mind and spirit. We wanted our boys to see the diversity and energy of a world that is so very different from ours.
27 years is a long time. I knew India would not be the same. A society made up of a billion people, who have arguably the most diversity anywhere, could never be constant. When we were planning this trip we thought long and hard about including India in the itinerary. India is a world of incredible wonder, but it comes with many challenges. After much deliberation, we decided on 20 days in India. Delhi, Agra, Jaiselmer, Pushkar and Ranthambore. A triangle trip of tigers, camel treks, Wonders of the World and spiritual experiences.
The essense of India still remains. The color and charisma of India continues to stimulate and push personal boundaries. Watching the world of India is mystifying, intoxicating, stimulating, obnoxious and thrilling. With so many worlds colliding on the streets you leave exhausted and spell bound. However, I underestimated the phenomenonal change that India had gone through during this time.
The difference is that now you are watching it through a haze of pollution and with the sounds of thousands of motorized vehicles and honking horns. It was a game of chance every time you stepped onto the streets of India.
In the past 25 years India has gone from a population of 888 million to 1.3 billion. With an incredibly fast growing middle class (it has essentially doubled in the past 8 years), there is more consumption, resulting in more pollution. The air is thick, litter is everywhere and the incessant honking of horns leaves you rattled. Cows, pigs and dogs that are seen feeding on the refuse and plastic that is constantly thrown on the streets.
There are still millions that remain trapped in poverty. It is not as overt as it was many years ago. However, there are still so many that do not have running water or the guarantee that they will eat each day. Too many still have limited opportunity just because of the caste they are born into. There is a shift for equality happening, but slowly. Read more here.
Garbage has had a 2000% increase in 5 years. From 400 tonnes in 2010 to 8700 tonnes per day in Delhi alone. New Delhi is the most polluted city on the planet and it is hard to imagine as I choked on the toxic air, that anything is being done to mitigate this. The day we flew out it was 934 on the Air Quality Index. Schools have closed and flights have been cancelled due to toxic levels and a haze as thick as pea soup. A few years back a “garbage slide” spilt through its walls killing 2 and injuring more. You can find more here and here.
The Indian government is making efforts but the infrastructure remains in its infancy. There is still few treatments for solid waste and proper garbage disposal. Instead of counting yellow trucks while on the train, we played count the number of people defecating in the fields and rail tracks. Sad, but true. But where else are these people to go when government’s efforts still have a long way to go to provide proper education or infrastructure?
India is a country made up of such diversity, thousands of years of social norms, and shifting demographics. Change is happening quickly. It would be extremely difficult for any government to keep up with the ever increasing demands on resources and infrastructure needs.
Those of us who live in developed nations cannot judge. We play a big role in the decay of our planet’s health. We are just fortunate that we do not have a population of over a billion, so it is easier for us to turn our backs to our own mess. We have the knowledge, yet rarely make choices to mitigate our impact on planet earth, as well as our own health.
We were met with beauty and wonder, But also a little too much adversity this trip. Sadly, India challenged us so much that we cut our trip by half. Watching my children become so sick that it actually hurt my heart. We had taken precautions, but everyone of us still fell violently ill. No one was having fun being stuck in a hotel for five days, fighting off dehydration.
Good health care remains an issue for the masses in India. I did not want to find out what our options were if my kids became so dehydrated that medical intervention was needed. My children’s health is first priority. Both my boys have no reserves. They are humans riding chicken legs. Being a nurse can sometimes make things worse. I know how bad things can get.
I love being in control…. I felt completely out of control and it was frightening. At times I felt trapped.
We had to keep postponing moving on to the next adventure because one of us was always too sick to travel. After too many days in an Agra hotel room, our fingers and arse holes were crossed that all were healthy enough to travel the 6 hours by train to get to Ranthambhore. But no it was not to be. It was my turn to fall ill.
We did eventually make it to Ranthambhore. After the tiger safari, we made the family decision to leave India 10 days early. Travelling even further away from an international airport became not an option. The boys were still pecking at food and I could barely keep anything down.
The air pollution played a considerable role in our decision to leave early as well. We had hoped that leaving Delhi to the smaller cities we would find the air more pleasant. Only mildly so. Even in the smaller populated cities, the burning of wood and cow dung left a constant haze that continued to tax our respiratory system.
It is also now much more difficult to get around. Trains are booked months in advance. We ended up cancelling two train trips due to being ill. We hired a car and driver on two occasions instead. First was a ride from hell. Car started smoking an hour into our trip and the driver was just plain nuts. Frightening when you are stuck with this lunatic in a smoking car for 6 hours. The second trip was slightly better. Car was well maintained and our driver had all his faculties. Just be sure to take their cell phone away first.
The roads do have designated lanes but no one pays attention to them. The only rule is to keep your eyes forward. That bus that is barrelling up 1 inch beside you is not your issue until he is within your frontal vision. Don’t worry about shoulder checking when verring into oncoming traffic. Not necessary, have faith that everyone will get out of your way. Except that bull lying in the middle of the road. He rules the road.
Strangely, it all seems to work. Driving in India should be designated as another Wonder of the World.
Even though India left us physically and mentally exhausted, she still provided us with opportunities for personal growth and discovery.
We visited the Taj Mahal and stood in awe of this Wonder of the World.
A visit to Ranthambore left us with smiling hearts to see so many creatures living in their natural habitat.
We met beautiful people who were genuinely concerned for us as we became too ill to leave a hotel for 5 days.
My boys learnt that grit, faith and a whole lot of love can get you through overwhelming adversity. India pushed all our boundaries in many ways. My children met every challenge with courage and curiosity. They remained strong in spirit through it all and I could not be more proud.
The lack of infrastructure left us even more grateful for home.
The constant stimulus found in the streets of India brought a greater appreciation for diversity and we learnt that having faith can turn a harrowing experience into a joy ride.
The pollution and litter left us all questioning our own footprint on this beautiful planet.
India was wondrous and frustrating. Challenging and beautiful. India also has me looking inward. It’s not always easy to be honest and true to your weaknesses.
I am much older and softer now. Travelling with my kids made me over protective perhaps. The idea of not being in control in an environment that is lacking quality health care produced too much fear for me to accept. I was finding myself becoming critical and ethnocentric. Something I never wanted to become. I could have and should have done more research. Our experience 27 years ago was clouded by a veil that both Gene and I chose not to lift. I am disappointed in myself for my lack of insight and judgement in taking my kids to the most polluted city in the world. Although it was our entry point into India, we very possibly might have had a different experience if we went to Goa instead.
Although I am sad that we did not have the trip we had hoped for, India has illuminated my strengths and weaknesses. I am still processing and reflecting on my experience there. Many mixed emotions clutter my thoughts. India left me raw and exposed. Sometimes it is these experiences that are necessary for further personal growth. Challenging my own expectations of what I wish to see in myself.
However, what I do know for certain, is that I am thankful we left India when we did. When we stepped off the plane in Bangkok, the intense tension I was holding onto just slipped away.
It took a week in Thailand for my oldest to completely recover. My boys are once again healthy. Laughing and free to play as children should.
My Hubby and I are about to take our two boys on an around the world journey. Europe, India and South East Asia. Lots of places to explore in only 4 months. But we are a family inspired by adventure and we are up for the challenge.
BK (Before Kids) we travelled fairly extensively. Then we embarked on our biggest, most challenging and most rewarding journey ever…. children. Many things changed, but we never lost our desire to travel. We have been dreaming of travelling with our boys for 5 years now.
So many thoughts could have got in our way. Can we afford it? What about work? What about the house? When would be the perfect ages? Is the world safe?
Those questions only motivated us to make it happen. To believe.
First I want to acknowledge just how privileged we are. We were born into privileged families, in privileged communities, in a privileged country. We are white and middle class. This dream did not mean we had to sacrifice. We had to make choices. Choices that so many do not have the pleasure to make just because they were born into not so fortunate circumstances. I want my boys to ground themselves in gratitude. To be aware to just how privileged they are, and to promote change so one day every one can make choices instead of sacrifices. To honor diversity and support those who are less fortunate.
Some may say I use and abuse my privilege because I choose to travel. Am I selfish? Yeah I am. I still have much learning to do, and I crave personal satisfaction. My desire to travel comes from a deep inner place. I love the adventure, the unknown.
Travelling made me the person I am today. My parents always took me on camping trips in the summer. I celebrated my 13th birthday in Mexico. Grade 12 was my first real adventure with a whirl wind trip to Europe. Then at age 19, against many peoples’ advice, I made a choice. I left university, and went travelling.
That 6 month trip, 27 years ago, changed my life drastically. No amount of schooling could have taught more about the world, the people who we share it with and how to navigate everyday life. More than anything though, travelling encouraged personal growth and discovery.
I am thankful I can give this gift to my children. Promote curiosity, independence, self discovery, belief in humanity and diversity.
Money? Saving aeroplan points for the last 5 years has covered all our flights. We make good incomes and made some choices of how to spend our earnings. We have enough to cover our costs. And if we fall short, we have jobs to came back to.
House? Find someone to move in. Easily done and we are grateful.
Work? Husband is seasonal so winter is his time off. I was willing to walk away from my position but my leave was granted. Again I am grateful.
Kids are the perfect ages. 10 and 13. Old enough to understand. Young enough to still think their parents are made from cool stuff.
But the world has so many dangers? So does driving in my car. I am not naive to what is happening in the world. But I choose to still live. I refuse to let media frighten me and let fear hold me back. To let the few who promote hate and pain dictate how I live. There are more people in the world who choose loving kindness. I hold faith in the beauty and compassion of the human race. I believe in the grace of humanity. I want my children to hold that grace as well.
I am a nurse and I walk alongside the dying and their loved ones often. They have taught me to embrace life. To live with a whole heart. To not put off what I can do today.
Life is a gift. It is fragile. Follow your dreams. Cherish those around you.
For one day, death will come and take us all.
“We do this thing. We open our hearts to the world around us. And the more we do that, the more we allow ourselves to love, the more we are bound to find ourselves one day.” Stuart McLean