Tuesday, December 1, 2015

It All Makes Sense Now

 While browsing the web last Sunday morning, I came across an op-ed in the New York Times that got my attention. It not only grabbed my attention, it took hold of my senses, my intuitive one, and wouldn't let go.

The op-ed  was titled Addicted to Distraction by Tony Schwartz. How apropos as I cannot even recall how many hours I spent online beforehand, moving about from one place to another, like a restless child.

Schwartz writes, "Addiction is the relentless pull to a substance or an activity that becomes so compulsive it ultimately interferes with everyday life. By that definition, nearly everyone I know is addicted in some measure to the Internet. It has arguably replaced work itself as our most       socially sanctioned addiction."

Whew! Well that was an answer to a much needed prayer. A question I most definitely recall asking myself lately. What the heck is wrong with me? Why can't I seem to focus?Why can't I write? 

“The net is designed to be an interruption system, a machine geared to dividing attention,” Nicholas Carr explains in his book “The Shallows: What the Internet Is Doing to Our Brains.” “We willingly accept the loss of concentration and focus, the division of our attention and the fragmentation of our thoughts, in return for the wealth of compelling or at least diverting information we receive.”

Straight forward and definitely to the point. Again, an answer to a prayer.

Synchronicity works like that. It works hand in hand with intuition and presents answers to our prayers sometimes within minutes. We just need to pay attention and better yet, look at everything around us with new eyes. I did in that moment and decided I needed more. I needed to buy the book.

On page 35 Carr answers yet another one of my most recent prayers, Why does it seem like I've lost a connection to my intuition lately?

"If we stop exercising our mental skills, we do not just forget them: the brain map space for those skills is turned over to the skills we practice instead." Ahh. Well that says it all.

Living intuitively takes practice. It is definitely a mental skill. Too many people think it is a gift that only comes to a special few. But through experience, I can assure you, that's just not true. It's about hearing that still, often small voice or feeling that we all have inside and then following through.

Next time I get that feeling, and I know you know that feeling too, that one that feels dark and heavy, like I'm wasting my time, I hope I remember what I've learned here today. Move away from the screen and breathe. Empty the mind and remember the gifts of living intuitively.

Friday, March 13, 2015

Christmas Markets Along the Rhine - Day 9 Strasbourg, France

With daffodils sprouting as signs that spring is just around the corner, I've decided it might be a good time to finish sharing about my Christmas Markets trip down the Rhine!

While my intention was to wrap things up before Christmas, all my efforts at the time seemed to go nowhere beyond my computer screen. Looking back it appears my heart and mind were sitting on opposite sides of the ocean.

Once you've experienced Christmas on such a grand scale, it's hard to go back to less. However, I'm not talking substance. I'm talking energy.

As you can clearly see from my pictures, Strasbourg was over-the-top gorgeous! It shouted Christmas with bustling crowds and glitter and gold with the largest and most ornate ornaments I have ever seen. But in spite of impressing with the biggest and best, there is something more, something you can't physically see that captivates the senses.

When I booked my trip a little over a year ago, I wasn't even aware, until I was finishing up with the young sales rep from Grand Circle Travel that Christmas Markets were involved. Shopping? Not for me! What in God's name had I done? I'm sure the salesman was thinking, Oh no! I have just lost this sale. But quickly he assured me, as his wife had taken the same trip the year before, that even if shopping was not my thing, that she had experienced something much more profound. Something much more important.

Looking back, this wasn't the first time something inside of me just knew better.   Looking back, this wasn't the first time my eyes missed the one visual thing, Christmas Markets, that would have instantly turned my logical head away with thoughts, No thanks! Not for my ailing back or my pocketbook. Definitely not for me. 

Miraculously, the world we cannot see, the one of the intuitive, was able to place a veil over those very words, Christmas Markets, just long enough, to move me in a direction to the one perfect undertaking that would end up being not only inspiring and educational, but unbelievably fun.

While I'm sure the salesman's wife probably didn't return home empty-handed, and neither did I, what we both brought back that couldn't be found in a suitcase or missed by a soul at home, were three magic words. His wife's three magic words that somehow blessed and kept this deal alive. The spirit of Christmas.

So in the spirit of Christmas that I now imagine as something from the likes of a Grimm's fairy-tale, weaving its way through the wintry air, spreading its magic, I will leave you with a quote from a Frenchman that truly says it all. And if your heart jumps along the way, as mine did, while you read these words and take in the delights I captured on these European city streets, maybe you will leave all logical concerns behind you too. From The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupery, "And here is my secret, a very simple secret: It is only with the heart that one can see rightly; what is essential is invisible to the eye."

*Save $100 instantly when you book your first trip with GCT. All you need to do is mention my name, Mary King and customer number, 001982899. Then you too can earn cash rewards - up to a free trip (I am already halfway there!) after your eighth referral. Grand Circle not only takes care of your every need before and during your trip, they continue to take care of you after! Check out new trips for 2017 that have expanded to include a Trans-Canadian Rail Journey.)

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Christmas Markets Along the Rhine - Day 8 Baden-Baden, Germany

You would never think that something as simple as opening the drapes in the morning would give me something to look forward to, but that's what happened as we moseyed along the Rhine. Maybe just being away, somewhere different, far from, the concerns and cares of home, helped contribute to this feeling, but the large picture window in my room became more like a frame, presenting a variety of delightful scenes making it the perfect way to start the day. 

The modest looking homes nestled among a splattering of pines outside Plittersdorf, Germany, welcomed us on day eight. Something about these cozy scenes inspired me to spend time drawing, which was a benefit in many ways. Not only did it push me to try my hand at something new, but also unconsciously, it became a form of meditation.

As a tree lover, I was looking forward to this day. Although my pictures don't do it justice, our ride through Germany's Black Forest, on our way to the gorgeous small city of Baden-Baden, captivated me. There's something magical about the woods for me, different from all the other forms of nature.

As we passed through the countryside, my imagination went to places like those visited by Grimm's characters, Hansel and Gretel. It felt like we were on the outside, looking in, at a snow-globe as we pressed our faces to the windows of the motor coach. The sprinkling of powdered-sugar like snow completed the magical fairy-tale scene, making it really feel like Christmas.

The city of Baden-Baden (est. 55,000) best known for its healing waters, is a popular European spa resort. It's unfortunate I didn't know beforehand. The German word Baden actually translates to "bathing, to bathe, baths". If you ever get to a town with 12 springs known for their restorative healing powers, by all means, make it happen. If I had done some homework before we arrived, and had more time, I might have been able to immerse my degenerative spine in waters that Europeans have been gravitating to for over 2000 years. Perhaps a good soaking in one of their mineral springs could have been the healing my back definitely needed that week. Having a hot tub on the ship was helpful, but not enough to eradicate something I was born with. But who knows? Maybe time spent in a healing spring could have been miraculous.

Baden-Baden was given its double name in 1931. Although I didn't think about it at the time, the town of Baden, in the state of Baden, is simply like New York in New York. Most people just don't call it that. What comes to me is the song from Leonard Bernstein's musical, On the Town (1944). "New York, New York, is a helluva town!" Otherwise, it is just New York!

My tour director, Sarah, compared Baden-Baden to Martha's Vineyard. Although both are wealthy resort towns, they are clearly on two ends of the visual spectrum. My mind holds memories of Martha's Vineyard as a comfy, casual beach town dressed in weathered wood and faded blue jeans. Baden-Baden on the other hand sits in the northern foothills of the Black Forest and presents itself draped in fine elegance tempting the senses in a different way. From start to finish, through town, past the posh storefronts, hotels and restaurants, to the grand casino and even the Christmas market, everything was high-class and a step above all the other places we visited.

*Save $100 instantly when you book your first trip with GCT. All you need to do is mention my name, Mary King and customer number, 001982899. Then you too can earn cash rewards - up to a free trip (I am already halfway there!) after your eighth referral. Grand Circle not only takes care of your every need before and during your trip, they continue to take care of you after! Check out new trips for 2017 that have expanded to include a Trans-Canadian Rail Journey.)