Goals, Life, life hacks, speaking up, Travel, Unschooling, Women

Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness….

“Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts. Broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all one’s lifetime.” Mark Twain

This year has been a kind of a travelling year for me. To Virginia, in the U.S and far from my Sydney home, for a conference (and a meet-up with friends). To Melbourne. Twice so far. To Adelaide and to Canberra, many times each.

And, as Twain wrote in his book about travels {The Innocents Abroad/Roughing It) , travel allows you to see people, in all their humanness, in a different way. You see the architectural choices that differ from region to region. You participate in the natural landscape, both developed and undeveloped. Your sense of the seasons changes. The understanding of other places and ways to live grows.

I find that travel leaves me pleasantly haunted for light-drenched other worlds – the places I have visited and the home to which I return.

Take Virginia, for example. Not my first visit to the States but my first visit post the November election and results, and my first trip to a Southern-ish (southeastern) state. I flew from Sydney to LA; from LA to Charlotte, North Carolina; from Charlotte to Newport News, VA.

I would call Newport News a small city, a planned city. Somewhat reminiscent of my trips to Canberra (but that description will come later). Except for the chain stores and chain restaurants. Barnes & Noble. Chilli’s. Olive Garden. Red Lobster.

I walked. A lot. The almost-spring weather was colder than I am used to but burst into gloriously warming sunshine mid-day. I walked from the university to the Mariner’s Museum ( a 30 minute walk, whose length shocked my co-presenters and the lecturers from the university. ‘We use cars’ one told me. Indeed, the only other walkers I saw the whole week were fitness walkers , on specially designated nature and walking trails. displaying eerily beautiful lakes with forests of a kind you just don’t see in Australia. Deer even).

The history sold me. I uber-ed to a plantation home, one that had been used by the Confederates to shore up supplies and to shoot at Yankees from redoubts. I trailed along the famous area of the Monitor and Merrimac battle. Gracious, generous friends (I would say internet friends but we met that day in person and they are more than passerbys on social media) drove me to historic Williamsburg.  Living museums reenacting Colonial and Revolutionary-era life.

I was there, rooted in the smells and air and memories of   a part of America’s history.

I was there, talking to friendly strangers and taxi and uber drivers, of their lives, of the minimum wage, of health care and the military and opportunities and education costs.

We may differ in our understanding of government but there was no difference in our humanity. They were a friendly bunch, especially to weird Aussie women who travel alone and speak  fast and funny. I hope that we Australians are as friendly to those who travel here.

At the conference, I met people from Kenya, Cameroon, the Philippines, Ireland, Turkey, in addition to those from the States. I was the only Australian. Our sharing of stories of lives around the world highlighted for me, not our differences, but our similarities. We all longed for many of the same things, for meaning, connection, intention, ‘the good life’ (and what that  means was a discussion in itself. An unfinished discussion.).

In our diversity there also existed some homogeneity. There was open welcoming: “Come”, one said. “Come and stay with me in New York for a few days. Extend your trip.” But that will have to wait for another time. next conference, perhaps?

Because every time I travel I rekindle the urge to travel more. Big trips and small trips. Local and afar. My travel appetite is never satiated.

I lean forward to “the next crazy venture beneath the skies” (Jack Kerouac, On the Road).

virginia
Richard Lee Mansion, VA.

 

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Catholicism, Life, religion, Unschooling

Filling that page

Sitting in Mass on a Saturday in January. Reading the reflection provided by Father.

With what shall I fill the page of my life, my year?

With whatever it is that God wants.

“I think of this new year as a white page given to me by Your Father on which He will write, day by day, whatever His Divine good pleasure has planned. I shall now write at the top of the page with complete confidence Dominie, fac de me sic it vis, Lord, do with me what you will, and at the bottom I already write my Amen to all the proposals of your Divine will.” Sr. Carmela of the Holy Spirit.

That is the excitement of a new year. The not-knowing.

It can be frightening, I know. Yet it can also be freeing. Being open to His will, and being open to serendipity, can mean that our lives, and the lives of our family, are strewed with possibility.

In prayer and contemplation I like to think of adding something to our lives. Many resolutions at this time of year are riddled with don’ts or I won’ts or I musts (eat more vegetables, drink less alcohol, give up carbs, not be grumpy or angry or despairing..). It is freeing, however, to give these don’ts or wants in prayer and to think of things to add to our lives.

Turn on music. Hire some DVDs. Go to the library for new books. Declutter and see what amazing new-to-you, once forgotten, discoveries you make.

Dance. Sing. Cook. Enjoy a home-cooked meal or salad, eaten slowly, with family or with friends or even on your own with a good book.

Find movements that make you smile, that make you feel like a child. That makes you feel tough and cool and oh so athletic.

Start a family journal or scrapbook or blog or animoto or iMovie.

This is not the year for shoulds and musts and don’ts. This is the year of being with Him and of where that takes you and of, in the meantime, strewing your life and the life of your family with interesting things.

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