Category Archives: Inspiration

Holland in 2012

My street
My street

It was the day after my sister’s wedding when I boarded a plane for my first solo trip. This wasn’t the original plan. But life happened and I was no longer going to a wedding in Finland. Instead I decided to visit the country where my great-grandmother emigrated from._MG_9246 As usual, I didn’t have much planned after the first few days. Thanks to the sage advice of Rick Steves, I had a great room in Amsterdam. From this corner of the world, this old city began to feel like my own.

I rented a bike and rode all over town. I stayed a couple blocks away from where Anne Frank once hid through her adolescence. On my third day, I was flagged down while riding my bike and asked why I was alone. They had seen me coming and going over the past few days. I was a regular now.  We visited and kept in touch after I returned home. Traveling alone allows you to meet people and have conversations you otherwise never would._MG_9278

Martine was a beautiful lady I met on the train heading north to the islands. Her husband, a professor, had passed away a few years before. She loved to travel, but her friends would rather stay home. So she traveled the world alone. I loved talking to her._MG_9329

I had only a faint idea of my Dutch heritage. I knew my family were called Freislanders and that they came from the islands. Not knowing which one, I picked Terschelling and had a lovely time there. This was not a big tourist destination. It seemed mostly Dutch people traveled there for holiday, but not foreigners. I inquired about my relatives at the local museum on Terschelling, but the lady there told me instantly that they did not come from that island. She knew from the name._MG_9347 It was a small island. I traversed it on bike and saw some beautiful Dutch horses on the way. She gave me the name of a website which I looked up once I got home. From there I was able to find my relatives and trace them back hundreds of years from marriage license information.

IMG_2485 Some of my favorite books are the Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis. In the “Voyage of the Dawn Treader”, the group sails to the end of the world where the water gradually gets more and more shallow. This Wadden Sea went on endlessly shallow. A person could walk for ages and not get deeper than the knee.

The last town I visited was Delft, where the famous blue and white decorative ceramics are crafted. Here I had a fancy bathroom and a sound night’s sleep before returning home.IMG_2505

It was my first solo trip and a great, life-changing experience. I learned that I’m okay on my own. Even then I’m not alone.IMG_2481 IMG_2492

 

Taj Mahal in 2000

Dad and I had arrived in New Delhi at night. The temperature had cooled so as the cab driver drove us to our hotel room, we watched the crowded streets as thousands of people flocked to the grassy fields and park areas for late night picnics. Before dropping us off at the Ramada Inn, our taxi driver taught us to greet the people of India. “Namaste” means “all of god’s goodness be with you.” It’s a beautiful word.

We toured the carpet factory as Suresh and Sushma led us through. Sushma was quiet, but she instantly felt like my friend. The guy in charge of mixing carpet dye was ancient and worked over a large kettle of liquid to which he would add the dye later mixing it with the wool for custom rugs. “He can smell the color!” Suresh told us with conviction.

After our rug tour, they sent us a driver to take us to Agra. It was a long drive. On the way we would see many trucks overturned, presumably crashed in order to miss hitting something in the road such as a person or a cow. There were many cows and monkeys roaming about. It was fascinating. Also, people all along the road for the 230km journey were seen squatting, defecating, and carrying on in squalid living conditions. It was sad and exhausting and eye opening.

The Taj Mahal was a beautiful building constructed as a mausoleum for the wife of some big shot. It was beautiful and ornate but much smaller than I had imagined. One must take off their shoes before entering. There are millions of visitors here. Fortunately we made it through without contracting disease to our bare feet.

Taj Mahal
Taj Mahal 2000

There were many people on pilgrimage visiting the Taj Mahal. One couple I spoke to had come for their honeymoon. Several people asked to take pictures with me and my dad. With my short blonde hair, his guess was perhaps they thought I was Sharon Stone.

I handed out candy to a few children who were begging. This quickly turned into a throng of children surrounding us with palms open and raised, begging for more. My dad tossed the bag into the crowd and we left.

There were beautiful people there, colorful, desperate, hopeful, talented, happy people there. I don’t understand India. I don’t understand the starvation while emaciated cows roam the streets. I don’t understand the filth and poverty that so many millions of people live in, nor the abundance of others. There were so many bright smiles there…and so many lost and desperate souls.

What’s Your Story

I took a road trip this weekend. I love road trips. The sun was shining. The music was blasting. The red and blue lights twinkled in my rear view mirror. Wait. That last part wasn’t so great. I’m convinced that the speed limit on the 5 should be no less than 100 mph. Since the California Bullet Train is at least a millenia from completion, please give us this little favor. How many times can a person traverse the vast expanse of the Dust Bowl actually going the speed limit? Nevertheless, I enjoyed my drive to not-so-sunny San Diego. In fact, the only sun I saw while attending the Storyline Conference at Point Loma was this beautiful sunset. If there’s only going to be 10 minutes of sun for the weekend, this is how I’d like to see it.

Sunset at Storyline Point Loma
Storyline at Point Loma

Palm fronds littered the streets and trees fell in the soggy ground and high winds. Meanwhile, I sat in an auditorium and listened to awesome speakers like Jon Acuff, Bob Goff, Donald Miller, Kristen Howerton and Anne Lamott. Also, this guy was here…

And this guy

The Storyline conference is to help people figure out how to live a more meaningful story. I discovered this group after reading several of Donald Miller’s books and then reading his storylineblog.com. We were encouraged to look at the different events in our life, both positive and negative. When we can find a redemptive purpose for our suffering, some meaning behind the negative things that happen, then it ceases to be suffering. “Joy is what you experience after the pain changes you” says Donald Miller. Bob Goff encouraged us all to Live in Grace and Walk in Love and also to see people for who they are turning into, their better, future selves.

When I look back at my life at the age of 75, what do I want it to look like? Instead of ending with regret at not having invested enough in important relationships or ignoring dreams, do this:

-Cultivate deep friendships
-Be Grateful
-Don’t ignore your dreams
-Project who you were created to be onto the world
-Keep work & relationships in balance

This list was made as a warning after a nurse listened to the 5 most common regrets of many elderly dying:

-They ignored their dreams
-The worked too much
-They didn’t say what they thought
-They wished they had made more friends
-They wished they had chosen to be happier

I love that happiness is a choice and it has to do with gratitude.

Storyline Sunset
What will you think of your life when you’re 75?

So, the conference was great. In addition to that, I got to visit with two dear friends. I stayed with one in Escondido. She has three beautiful kids whom she’s homeschooling. I played volleyball with both these girls in college and it was so fun to see them as moms. Tired moms. Are there any moms of young kids that actually have energy? Please, I’d love to hear from you. The second friend I visited on the way home has four boys. This is the girl who said she would never have kids. She’s an awesome mom, and also runs a school. On my drive down, I also got to pay a quick visit to two old surf buddies too. Kids were everywhere, mostly boys. In fact, of the 4 friends I saw, there were 9 boys, one girl, and one more boy being born as I type this.

As I drove into Palm Desert to visit my friend Deb, I was running low on gas. I was running low on oil. I needed to pee. 400 yards from my exit, the car started to sputter and cough. It coughed up the off ramp and through the stop light and into the gas station where it died. I had no power steering as I coasted to the pump. The timing could not have been more perfect. I filled what I needed to. I emptied what I needed to. I got to church almost on time. I got to see my dear friend and not get towed out of the desert. It was amazing. The sunset. The gas pump. The speeding ticket. The old friends. The weekend was a reset. It filled up my gas tank, and my oil, and relieved me. Okay, I’m taking that pit stop analogy a little too far.

If you want to learn more about Storyline, click here. You can also start planning your story on this cool site at mysubplot.com. It’s free.