Walking the labyrinth

This Wednesday I had a morning appointment in Saint Paul, and I decided to make a stop at the College of St. Catherine in order to walk the labyrinth.

labyrinth walk
Photo credit link – Meditate in a Labyrinth

Have you ever walked a labyrinth? I realize I should have taken a photo while there but I was without electronic devices on my walk, so I did not. However, I found a great article on how to meditate in a labyrinth, so I am cribbing a photo from that, and the link as well.

I did not use the methodology described in the Wikihow page, since I found that later. I did use it as a meditative experience, starting from the outside and walking toward the inside. Then I spent some time on the inside, taking a few deep breaths, and slowly walked back out again. I walked barefoot, and did not worry too much about the acorns in my way, though I did nudge away a few small branches that had fallen along the path for the next person.

My intention was to reflect, and consider the big changes happening in my life, the opportunities that are ahead, and any possible fears that come up. It was a walking meditation, a slow and intentional walk back and forth through the “folds” of the labyrinth. It occurred to me how I knew just a bit about meditation last time I was there, more than a decade ago, but walking through it had a sacred feeling.

labyrinth visual.JPG
Photo credit link – Fractal Enlightenment

As we traverse through life, our paths are not linear. Some of them meander and fold back on themselves. Some of them seem to go in circles, and we wonder: Are we in the same place AGAIN? But really we are never in the same place twice. Even if an event seems similar, or we seem to repeat a mistake we have made before, we are not exactly the same people this time.

Our lived experiences give us a different context. This is why I love the work of Marion Woodman so much. She understands that many of us learn in a non-linear way. We forget things we have learned, or sometimes we must re-apply lesson we have learned, but in a different way, or in a different relationship.

Our learning and wisdom are never lost, even though it may seem like we did not absorb a lesson the first time. Maybe we are able to see the situation in a different way, and are ready to learn. Maybe there was resistance the first time, and we were not ready for that lesson. We receive multiple opportunities and invitations for our souls to expand and grow.

This is why I appreciate the labyrinth and the symbolism of using it as a journey both inward and outward. We can incorporate our soul’s voice and also our “outer” experiences along the path. This integration ultimately leads toward wisdom.

cristy@meximinnesotana.com

 

Starting my Summer Sabbatical

This weekend we visited our families in Bemidji and relaxed after a busy week of finalizing my corporate position. While I am excited to start my “new thing” I also know that I need a break from the intensity of work for a while.

In the corporate world, it is not as common to take a break of more than 2-3 weeks (at the most) in the U.S. as it is in academia. But I have been dreaming of a break like this for quite some time now. I expect it will be ~2 months for me, and will conclude with my 2-week honeymoon Sept 5-19 with my husband (1 year wedding anniversary).

In the academic world, typically sabbaticals have are granted as a year free from teaching duties that could be devoted to research, travel and writing. Traditionally this occurs in the 7th year. Sabbatical is related to the biblical “sabbath” in origin, the day of rest referred to in Genesis. Leviticus refers to an entire year of rest in the 7th year, as a way to respect the natural rhythm of crop-harvesting, and allow the land to lie fallow.

I love the concept of cycles of intentional activity balanced with intentional rest. An over-focus on productivity in our culture seems to rob us of the ability to rest and play without guilt. We feel like we have to “earn” our rest, and then, if we work very hard and have saved up a lot of money, maybe we can retire formally and finally rest.

sabbatical
Photo credit link

Personally the idea of going from full-time work, to full time retirement has always seemed weird to me, and not at all desirable. Work often gives us a sense of purpose and satisfaction, even while it can be the source of stress and struggle at times.

If you love your work and it is well suited to your skills and interests, it is something you may not wish to escape. While you may decide to “down shift” in your later years, or work less than full time, the idea of going from 100% to zero has never appealed to me.

Granted, in the days when work was largely physical and humans had a limited capacity for this enduring effort, it certainly made sense. Today, knowledge work demands high focus during “productive time” but can also require rest and intentional play for creative generation.

What if more of us had a more flexible approach to work and life, where we could take a couple of months off every year to recharge and refresh? How might this affect our quality of work, our quality of life, and perhaps even the planet and the environment?

My theory is that quality vacations and sabbaticals may afford the kind of down time that helps us appreciate what is good about our lives, and also what is missing. This time off has required us to put away some savings, and make some sacrifices in terms of luxuries and spending. To me, it is entirely worth it. I have planned 2-2.5 days a week to “work” and plan for my consulting launch.

I am truly grateful for the opportunity and shall make the most of it. My husband tells me the time will go fast, and I am sure it will. I have a stack of books, some Udemy courses to finish, a road trip with my sister, and other connections to renew. I shall savor my journal and writing time, will meditate every day, do yoga, dance and perhaps create some art.

What would you do with a nice, juicy sabbatical of a month or more? I would love to know. 

cristy@meximinnesotana.com

 

 

Can I ask you a favor?

My Friends,

Hubby and I are planning our September vacation/honeymoon trip to the U.K. and I would like to ask your advice if you either live or have traveled to England and Ireland.

From September 5-19 we will be traveling. We have already reserved AirBnB’s in London (St. James Park), Plymouth (with day trip to Cornwall planned), Wiltshire (close to Stonehenge), and Liverpool. We are hoping to fly from Liverpool to Dublin for 3-4 days there and then will return to London for a couple of days before the final flight home.

London by night
Photo credit link – London by night

Questions:

What is the train transportation like? Is it better to just buy the Rail Europe passes to use the trains? What about the Oyster card? That seems like a great deal for getting around London.

While in Ireland, we hope to visit Belfast and Londonderry (where my husband’s family originated). Any advice on things to do in Ireland for non-drinkers? Not that we never drink, but we are not especially into it, and I like historical things, but am not particularly interested in breweries.

Other transportation advice while we are in the area or suggestions for what to visit are welcome. My grandfather was from Cornwall, so we would like to see that Southwestern part of England and perhaps see Land’s End as well.

I know that a number of my readers are from the U.K. and surrounding areas. Hey, if it’s possible, let’s meet for tea while I am in your area! It would be fun.

Thank you in advance for any advice you are willing to give us. I realize some of this can be located on the googles, and I will be doing research that way as well. But sometimes people can give you the inside scoop and that is infinitely more helpful.

Cheers,

cristy@meximinnesotana.com

 

Wellness Wednesday – vacation

I recently implemented Wellness Wednesday as regular feature to my blog to give it some rhythm and focus during my week.

This week, since I have a vacation coming up starting on Saturday, I want to focus on the wellness practice of scheduling vacations at least twice a year, and being committed to taking them. This can be challenging in the U.S., where we do not have mandated vacation time by law, and companies have discretion about how much vacation to grant.

However, whether paid or unpaid, time off is a very important part of self-care that allows us to recover from stress. It also allows for time away from the day-to-day grind that can sometimes sap our energy and dampen our creativity. A change in setting and in the rhythm or pace of our week can provide the necessary variety to rejuvenate our ability to generate new ideas.

I used to believe I could not take a vacation, that people could not cope without my absence. Now I look back on that as a youthful delusion. Planning ahead, putting it on the calendar, and committing to taking it means I anticipate activities in advance. I allow others on my team to be resourceful and solve problems in my absence. I make sure to communicate on any pending projects where input may be required.

Mount Rushmore
Photo credit link – one of our planned vacation stops

In order to fully enjoy vacation, I typically do not check email and I use that ubiquitous auto-responder for my email box. I used to invite people to call me for urgent issues, since I do not check email. I no longer do that. If something is truly urgent, they will probably call. But since I am not a physician (like most of our customers) and lives are not on the line if I am not in the office, fortunately, very little rises to that level.

When planning vacation, if you can take 2 or more weeks off in a row instead of just one, at least once a year, do it! One week of vacation allows for tasks to pile up while you are gone, and you may have a full inbox, because people will wait for you return rather than seek someone else out in your absence. For a two week vacation though, I find that people either solve their own problems, or find someone who can answer their question, and it seems there is less of a “build up” while being gone.

Another reason to take 2 weeks, if you are anything like me, it literally takes me the first 3-5 days to truly get my mind AWAY from work, and get into the rhythm of vacation. If you only have one week off, take means only 4-5 days to truly enjoy yourself once you find that rhythm. If you have two weeks (or more), you can truly immerse yourself in the pace and enjoyment of your vacation.

For me, this June’s vacation will be a chance to connect with my husband and share some new adventures on our motorcycle. We will see Mount Rushmore and Crazy Horse (South Dakoka) and Devil’s Tower, Wyoming. I’m excited – I have never been to either one.

Do you have vacation plans for this summer? What will you do to make sure you are ready? 

cristy@meximinnesota.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Saturday Share

It’s Saturday and time again for some blog love to a favorite that I follow.

I also discovered Simple Life Experiment: less stress, less stuff, less waste by Lisa, a minimalist. She recently started a podcast as well, which is short and sweet and gets right to the point as well. Check it out when you are looking for inspiration on ways to live life with more of what you want, like love and joy, and less of what weighs you down (stuff and perfectionism).

simple life experiment

Cheers & happy weekend!

 

Sunday AirBnB

Now and then the hubby and I escape to Bemidji in order to visit family. But I am a little bereft when I have no place in which I can escape for solitude. So I sometimes search out an AirBnB so we can have a retreat. This time around, it’s a cute little two bedroom apartment. I really love the plaque over the headboard (which is crafted from a refurbished piano, very creative in itself)!

AirBnB plaque

Since I love the message, I decided to post and take a holiday from writing my usual Sunday haiku.

Happy weekend, amigas/os! Enjoy your limited time on this earth. Treat it as the precious resource that it is.