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

Warning! Don’t Trust Your First Impression

Next time you’re in a group of strangers – a restaurant, a lecture hall, walking down the street – look around. Let your glance rest on each individual. As it does, notice the thoughts that pass through your mind

How could he let himself get so fat?
That guy over there looks like Uncle Bill.
I like that dress. She has great taste.
That man looks successful.
Did she look in the mirror before she left the house?

people-1099795_640 (1)

We are judging people ALL THE TIME. It’s an automatic, unconscious reaction springing from the amygdala. That’s a part of the brain commonly known as the primitive or reptilian brain because it is akin to brains of reptiles that existed 200 million years ago. 

The amygdala is iguana-1057830_640the source of territorial instincts and primal emotions such as fear, greed and aggression. It existed in early man long before the rational mind evolved, and it reacts much faster.

When we meet people, the reptilian brain makes a snap judgment as to whether they are friend or foe, can help or hurt us. A message to accept or reject shoots to the conscious mind and corresponding feelings arise. We make decisions based on those feelings without knowing anything about a person or situation. That’s why our first impression can be dead wrong.

We decide very quickly whether a person possesses …traits we feel are important…even though we have not exchanged a single word with them. It appears we are hard-wired to draw these inferences in a fast, unreflective way. Psychologist Alex Todorov

scroll-315451_640It all goes back to our earliest days on earth when survival depended on instantly detecting and responding to danger. A charging tiger demanded a fast response – one that got feet moving before the conscious mind knew what was happening.

The primitive brain was a lifesaver for our ancestors but can cause unnecessary conflict and division in our world. We still tend to reject people based on differences like race, religion, and appearance. While first impressions can provide valid clues to a person’s nature, they can also make us reject people worth knowing and trust people we shouldn’t. 

Consciously we know better than to automatically trust someone we just met, but we are hesitant to question our automatic rapid assessments. While first impressions can be insightful, they are not to be depended upon because they are based strictly on superficial evidence:

Spoken word accounts for 7% of an impression
Tone
of voice = 38%

Appearance
= 55%

The great majority of mankind are satisfied with appearances, as though they were realities. Machiavelli

Put It to the Test 

Choose a television program you haven’t seen before. Turn the sound off and watch the characters. Notice how quickly you judge them strictly by appearance – looks, clothing, body language, facial expression. You instantly like/approve of some characters while taking an instant dislike to others.

If you take an instant dislike to someone…  

you may be seeing a trait you don’t like in yourself
making a negative association from your past
categorizing and generalizing people
feeling jealousy or envy

A lot of critics are lazy. They don’t want to look closely and analyze something for what it is. They take a quick first impression and then rush to compare it to something they’ve seen before. Willem Dafoe

Our perception is tinted – and sometimes tainted. We have opinions that were formed in the past by culture, peer groups and gossip. woman-1172718_640Individual likes and dislikes are motivated by personality and conditioning. We are also influenced by our emotions, the mood we’re in at any given moment. Everyone is a unique combination of memories, feelings, beliefs and values that dictate first impressions. They reveal more about us than the other person.

First impressions can be dead wrong and dangerous. They prevent us from truly seeing and knowing people. They lead to faulty decisions and lost opportunities. Fortunately, we also have a rational mind that can temper or override instant assessments. Don’t deny your first impression. It is automatic and will be heard. But it doesn’t  have to have the last word.