Lessons Learned from a Nomadic Lifestyle

We tend to think of our physical journeys and our soul’s journey as two separate things, but they are the same. The urges of our soul motivate our choices and the things we do impact our souls.  They are intricately entwined. 

Travel is more than the seeing of sights; it is a change that goes on, deep and permanent, in the ideas of living. Miriam Beard

Physical travel has literally been a big part of my life’s journey.  My husband had recently retired when we married in 1995. He yearned to travel. At the time, I was more of a home-body.  The perfect answer: a motorhome. For the next 6 years, we lived and traveled full-time all over the United States and Canada. Then it was time to see the rest of the world. We took countless small cruises, sailed around the world twice, spent extended periods of time in China and India, and toured all over Europe and the U.S.  

So much of who we are is where we have been. William Langewiesche

When we sold our last motorhome, we automatically assumed we needed a home and bought a condo in Boca Raton, Florida. We rarely used it so we sold the condo on 1/11/11, and officially became nomads. It has been 6 and 1/2 years now; a journey of the soul as much as the body. 

I soon realized that no journey carries one far unless, as it extends into the world around us, it goes an equal distance into the world within. 
Lillian Smith

A nomadic lifestyle teaches you…

The Simplicity of Life 

You Don’t Need a Lot of Clothes  

It is amazing how little we actually need and use in day to day living. Outside of clothing required for work, we tend to wear the same clothes over and over. Take a look in your closet and notice how many items you don’t wear often, don’t really like, don’t fit anymore. Clothes and shoes that are just taking up space. 

You Don’t Need a Lot of Food 

Occasionally we rent an apt. for a week or a month and make our own meals. On the road, we choose hotels that serve breakfast. In Europe, we often opt for half board – breakfast and dinner are included. Otherwise, we generally have a late lunch, and at night we snack on the cheese, crackers and fruit we usually carry with us. 

You Don’t Need a Lot of Things 

We do carry a laptop, phone, and 2 Ipads. In the States, we can find pretty much whatever else we need at the Dollar Store – such as nice wine glasses and mugs. 

The Gifts of Travel

Humility  

Travel makes one modest. You see what a tiny place you occupy in the world. Gustave Flaubert

Travel is humbling because you realize how little you know. And what you do know might, just might, be wrong. Perhaps my country, my culture, my religion isn’t the best one or the one that is right for everyone. 

To travel is to discover that everyone is wrong about other countries.
Aldous Huxley

Awareness

To my mind, the greatest reward and luxury of travel is to be able to experience everyday things as if for the first time, to be in a position in which almost nothing is so familiar it is taken for granted. Bill Bryson

The brain loves novelty. It is more alert and alive when presented with new experiences. 

The world is full of magic things, patiently waiting for our senses to grow sharper. W.B. Yeats

Acceptance

Perhaps travel cannot prevent bigotry, but by demonstrating that all peoples cry, laugh, eat, worry, and die, it can introduce the idea that if we try and understand each other, we may even become friends. Maya Angelou

When you can’t communicate with everyone around you because you don’t speak their language, you learn to reach out in other ways, with a touch with a smile. And then people reciprocate in kind. We have found that natives usually go out of their way to welcome and help a visitor.

If you reject the food, ignore the customs, fear the religion and avoid the people, you might better stay at home. James Michener

Courage

Man cannot discover new oceans unless he has the courage to lose sight of the shore. Andre Gide.

Entering unknown territory can be fearful or exciting. Physiologically, those two sensations are the same within the body. Depending on what you label that feeling, you will be open or close down. Fear rejects and closes the energy field. Courage vitalizes and opens the energy field. 

Travel is about the gorgeous feeling of teetering in the unknown. Gaby Basora

Growth

The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes. Marcel Proust

New experiences change us. A life without change tends to become static and close-minded. This is where the merging of the soul’s journey and the physical journey can be most easily seen. We are larger people, more aware, more accepting, more adventurous for having stepped into a new experience.

Furthermore, travel offers an opportunity to recreate yourself. 

When you’re traveling, you are what you are right there and then. People don’t have your past to hold against you. No yesterdays on the road.
William Least Heat Moon

People will see you as you are when you encounter them. Travel teaches us not only who we are but who we can be. It forces us to break through self-imposed boundaries and extend ourselves.

Even those life journeys that do not turn out well have gifts for us. We learn through mistakes. We grow through trials. 

Not until we are lost do we begin to find ourselves.
Henry David Thoreau

In all things, we find what we are looking for. We get what we give. Nowhere is this more evident than in our travel experiences.

Though we travel the world over to find the beautiful, we must carry it with us or we find it not. Ralph Waldo Emerson

PLEASE NOTE: We sail back to Europe on April 22, 2017. Future blogs will be about the 6 months we are spending overseas. You can subscribe and follow on www.gerioneill.com

Thoughts to Ponder from Former Presidents

This month we celebrate President’s Day. It is a national holiday created to honor the births of George Washington and Abraham Lincoln. Two other presidents were also born in February – William Henry Harrison and Ronald Reagan. The words of these four gentlemen are worth pondering.

  1. GEORGE WASHINGTON 
First President and one of the Founding Fathers of the United States.
Born: February 22, 1732
President: April 30, 1789 – March 4, 1797
Died: December 14, 1799

 

George Washington was the only president to be elected unanimously. In accepting the presidency, he believed he had given up “all expectations of private happiness in this world.”

Observe good faith and justice toward all nations. Cultivate peace and harmony with all.

If the freedom of speech is taken away then dumb and silent we may be led, like sheep to the slaughter.

Some day, following the example of the United States of America, there will be a United States of Europe.

I hope I shall possess firmness and virtue enough to maintain what I consider the most enviable of all titles, the character of an honest man.

2. WILLIAM HENRY HARRISON

William Henry Harrison Sr. was the 9th President of the United States, and the last president born as a British subject. 

Born: February 9, 1773, Charles City County, Virginia, VA
President: March 4, 1841 – April 4, 1841
Died: April 4, 1841, Washington, D.C.

William Henry Harrison died one month after taking office. The wet and freezing weather in which he delivered the longest inaugural address in history may have contributed to his death. His vice-president, John Tyler, assumed the presidency. He was the first to take office without being elected to that office. People questioned his legitimacy and nicknamed him ‘His Accidency.’

There is nothing more corrupting, nothing more destructive of the noblest and finest feelings of our nature, than the exercise of unlimited power.

The liberties of a people depend on their own constant attention to its preservation.

Times change, and we change with them.

Sound morals, religious liberty, and a just sense of religious responsibility are essentially connected with all true and lasting happiness.

A decent and manly examination of the acts of government should not only be tolerated, but encouraged.

All the measures of the Government are directed to the purpose of making the rich richer and the poor poorer.

3. ABRAHAM LINCOLN

Abraham Lincoln was the 16th president of the United States, revered for abolishing slavery and preserving the Union.

Born: February 12, 1809
President: March 4, 1861 – April 15, 1865
Died: April 15, 1865

Hours before he was assassinated, Lincoln said, “I believe there are men who want to take my life and I have no doubt they will do it.” He did not want to go to the theater that fateful night but was unwilling to disappoint people who expected him.

Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man’s character, give him power.

America will never be destroyed from the outside. If we falter and lose our freedoms, it will be because we destroyed ourselves.

A house divided against itself cannot stand.

When I do good, I feel good. When I do bad, I feel bad. That’s my religion.

Most folks are as happy as they make up their minds to be.

You can fool all the people some of the time, and some of the people all the time, but you cannot fool all the people all the time.

The philosophy of the school room in one generation will be the philosophy of government in the next.

4. RONALD REAGAN 

40th president. Seven Congressmen moved for impeachment following his invasion of Grenada.

Born: February 6, 1911, Tampico, IL
President: January 20, 1981 – January 20, 1989
Died: June 5, 2004, Bel-Air, Los Angeles, CA

Before entering politics, Reagan was an actor and was considered for the role of Rick in the movie Casablanca.

We can’t help everyone, but everyone can help someone.

There are no constraints on the human mind, no walls around the human spirit, no barriers to our progress except those we ourselves erect.

Trust, but verify.

To sit back hoping that someday, some way, someone will make things right is to go on feeding the crocodile, hoping he will eat you last – but eat you he will.

Information is the oxygen of the modern age. It seeps through the walls topped by barbed wire, it wafts across the electrified borders.

How can a president not be an actor?

There are no great limits to growth because there are no limits of human intelligence, imagination, and wonder.

Life Lessons from the Panama Canal

We recently completed a cruise from Fort Lauderdale, Florida to Los Angeles, California via the Panama Canal. Though we have transited the canal many times, I looked at it differently on this journey. I saw it as a metaphor for life. 

1. BE PATIENT. Great ideas take time to manifest.

The idea of cutting a pathway across central America to connect the Atlantic and Pacific was first conceived in 1513 when Balboa spied the Pacific Ocean. The Panama Canal did not open until
1914. Before that, ships had to circumvent South America.  

Everything starts with a thought. Contemplation, imagination, and daydreaming lay the foundation.

2.  SET YOUR GOAL. Where are you going and why?

The goal of the canal was clear: construct an opening between the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans thereby creating a new shipping route that saved thousands of miles* and avoided the treacherous passage around Cape Horn. 

What do you want to do and why?

*14,000 miles from New York to San Francisco around the Cape versus 6,000 miles through the Panama Canal.

3.  DO YOUR HOMEWORK. Study the landscape. 

The French attempted construction of a canal at sea level in 1881. They did not take into account the rainy season, climate, and changing elevations.  After millions of dollars were spent and over 20,000 lives lost, the project was abandoned. 

Know what you are getting into.

4.  EXPERIMENT. TRY SOMETHING DIFFERENT.  

In 1903, engineers from the United States undertook the project with an entirely different method. They adapted to the rising and falling topography by incorporating locks to raise and lower ships.

If one method doesn’t work, try another.

5.  CUT A NEW PATH. EXPECT TO STRUGGLE. 

The building of the canal required years of extensive clear cutting, dredging and drilling through jungle, mountains and rock cliffs.

There is always a way – over, under, around or through. Finding your way takes time and effort.

6.  TAKE CARE OF YOURSELF. Have resources in place that will nourish and energize you. 

A dam was built to create Gatun Lake, a manmade reservoir that supplies the water that fills the locks.

 Take time to rest and refuel.

7.  SEEK GUIDANCE. No one succeeds totally ALONE.

Train tracks run along each side of the canal. Little silver cars have cables attached to the ship that guide it through the canal.

Listen. Learn. Accept help and guidance from others.

8.  LOOK TO THE FUTURE. Be prepared to expand.

The ever-growing size of cruise ships and freighters necessitated the building of a third set of locks that opened in May 2016.

Ongoing success requires ongoing growth.

9. ANTICIPATE COMPETITION. Success attracts attention and competition.

Over 14,000 ships a year pass through the canal bringing jobs and millions of dollars into Panama. Consequently, the thought of building another canal through Nicaragua has attracted interest and investors.  

Be prepared to continually prove yourself and demonstrate your value. Always be the best you can be and do the best you can do.

Are you in a relationship? Working? Building a business? Are you an artist? Volunteer? Going to school? Raising children? In one way or another, we are all building canals – moving from Point A to Point B. We can learn valuable lessons from the greatest canal of all. In summary…

Everything starts with a thought.
What do you want to do and why?
 

Know what you are getting into.

If one method doesn’t work, try another.

Finding your way takes time and effort.

Take time to rest and refuel.

Accept help and guidance from others.

Ongoing success requires ongoing growth.

Always be the best you can be and do the best you can do.