Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Listening To The Drum of Your Heartbeat

Tonight, in the spirit of always accepting a new experience, I attended a drum circle.

I'd like to share it with you, because it was truly wonderful.

But honestly, I don't know how to describe the experience with words.

Much like traveling, the evening was a wonderful adventure that left me more worldly, insightful and mindful.  Unlike physically traveling, though, we weren't there to share memories, but rather to support each other as we embarked on our own separate adventures to our own places in each of our lives.

Solitude and connectedness, simultaneously.

We each had a very different experience, as we were all there for different reasons, so I can't really describe the drum circle to you.  Only show my perspective.

I truly lived the world tonight as my heart matched the beat of the drums and I simply co-existed with the world around me for one short moment in time.

Whether you are religious, spiritual, somewhere in the middle, or none of the above, I encourage you to attend an event such as this.

Meditation, prayer, daily gratitude or just quietly sitting can have a very calming affect on your thoughts, your day and your outlook on life.

Personally, I felt instantly peaceful and creative.  I saw new beauty in my familiar surroundings and felt inspired by my neighborhood.

Friday, July 4, 2014

From Canada to America for the 4th of July

I had a friend show up in town this week from Canada. 

We had met while both living in Paris, and when I picked him up from the airport, it was the first time we had seen each other in over 2 years.

Removing the foreign element of Paris, where we had both bonded over being new to the place, was strange, as I was now seeing him from a different perspective.

At first, the novelty of meeting someone new in a new place seemed gone, then I realized
that just wasn't true.

This was the first time I got to see him were we were both more comfortable, we both spoke the local language, for starters.  And I had a chance to share my city, my local haunts and make new memories.

I also learned the importance of rediscovering my own town.

For a long time, I have felt bored, quite frankly a little stuck, in my small college town.  But this week, I got to see it with fresh eyes, as I explored it with a person that I once explored the Latin Quarter with.  And I had almost  just as much fun ;)

Like the good 'ol days, we ate too much food and drank some wine.


I showed him some local staples, like large American portion sizes, the college football stadium, vapor shots (that's for another day),

and fireworks.


It was 4th of July weekend after all, and I wanted him to have a traditional American time.

We had a BBQ, watched fireworks and lit some of our own, which were exciting anticlimactic:

The week of July 4th, 2014, will always be a fond memory for me.  I had a wonderful time, hung out with a friend that I had missed a ton, and saw my town with a new appreciation.

And now I challenge you to do the same. 

When you host couchsurfers, travelers, or visiting friends, it's easy to play tour guide and tell them about your city.  But I challenge you to discover it with them.  Do something new, or do something familiar with a little more sense of adventure.

And keep that attitude all year;  Take yourself to the movies, a new restaurant, or sit in the local park.  Ask someone on the street for directions or a restaurant recommendation.

Who knows, you just might find something unexpected.

Thursday, July 3, 2014

The Game Changer: Part 2

And Then There Was Dublin.

Not quite ready to fully dive into Couchsurfing by crashing at someone's apartment, my friend and I chose to find an event to attend when we went to Ireland.

And that's how we ended up in a crowded pub in Dublin at 10:45 in the morning on St. Patrick's Day.  People from all over the world were there - France, America, England - coming to celebrate the Irish holiday. 

Rather than just being another bar where you don't know anyone, and you talk just with the person you came with, it was a highly social "hello old friend" type atmosphere.  It was only open to CSers, so we knew that each person was there to share an experience, tell a story and learn about each other.

The sense of having a place to belong was overwhelming.  Here I was in Ireland, where I didn't know anyone, and I had a whole group of friends and fellow expats that were there to support me, offer up their advice and share a memory.

I learned that day, that those memories are better shared, too. 

Whether that moment is with a stranger whom you are standing in line with or a bff since high school, shared memories can transcend cultures, geographical space and time in order to connect us with our fellow humans.

And it leaves the world a happier place, knowing that somewhere out there is someone you shared a smile with.

That's just one of several values held by Couchsurfers:

- to share your life
- create a connection
- offer kindness
- stay curious
- leave it better than you found it

From that point on, I got it, and Dublin was the springboard from which I jumped headfirst into Couchsurfing, (which I explained more here).

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

The Game Changer: Part 1

What is Couchsurfing?

I honestly have no idea how I first stumbled upon the Couchsurfing website, but I've never had anything else change my life so profoundly.  After reading their values and the vision that they have for the world, travel and "friends you haven't met yet (Couchsurfers)," I knew: I found my people.

What a beautiful idea it is to share your "life, experiences,  journey, home, extra almonds or a majestic sunset. To believe that the spirit of generosity, when applied liberally, has the power to profoundly change the world."

And that's how it works: travelers, hosts or just curious bystanders (as I once was) create a profile with basic information, about themselves, their outlook on life, experience with CS and even information about their couch.  You are then a member a 7 million person community full of other seekers in the world. 

Travelers can search for a place to stay based on location, dates, and host information (age, roommates, number of spaces available, etc.).  They then send a couch request to a specific host, or make an open post that they are looking for a place. 

Hosts can also reach out to travelers in a last-minute host group or by responding to an open request.

A request can be anything from a meet-up for coffee and good conversation to recommendations for local must-sees, or a stay of several days where you open up your home to a traveler.

Then there are meet-ups and events.  Events held in over 100,000 cities around the world of couchsurfers who just want to get together with their family of travelers.

That's where I started to test the waters.  Any time I traveled to a place, I looked for local events.  One day, my friend and I decided to amp up our St. Patrick's Day experience.....