life coaching

The Inner Journey of the Solo Traveler

Pokonji Dol Beach, Hvar Island, Croatia

Pokonji Dol Beach, Hvar Island, Croatia

After leading a yoga & success coaching retreat in Dubrovnik this month, I did some solo travel north of there in Hvar and Split, two places I’ve been meaning to get to for years now. They did not disappoint! I’ve listed some special places I visited and restaurants I loved at the end of this blog. I haven’t taken a trip by myself in a while, so I found myself reflecting on solo travel - how much it’s changed for me over the years and how much it’s changed me over the years.

I started traveling alone about 11 years ago. I had been in a 4 year relationship where the ending was clearly imminent, and I felt confused and lost about myself and what I wanted. I was compelled to leave town, and hopefully with it, the negative feelings I was having. I only left for a few days and treated myself to a luxury weekend at the Ojai Valley Inn & Spa where I played golf, got a 90 minute relaxation massage, and ate at wonderful restaurants around town. I’m laughing as I write this because my first solo travel experience wasn’t exactly toughing it out somewhere in a distant, exotic or culturally diverse area of the world, and there wasn’t some grandiose intention of healing my life through travel. At that time in my life I had little awareness of how to utilize my time alone for self-reflection, self-nurture, or self-discovery, but I followed a compulsion and it was the first time I had gone anywhere by myself for more than a day without it being for work.

And it felt foreign to me, uncomfortable, and too indulgent. At first I found my mind hyper-focused on my problems and feeling sorry for myself for having to do all these things alone. But then I slowly realized, oh wait, I can give myself permission to enjoy doing what I want to do, when I want to do it. I don’t have to refer to anyone else to decide how to spend the day. Good thing! Oh wait, but I always liked for someone else to decide what to do and when to do it because I didn’t really know what I wanted.

I had always been fiercely independent and self-sufficient in taking care of my external security needs like living expenses, but when it came to my internal needs I really didn’t have a clue because I filtered my needs through the lens of what others wanted. Dare I say I had some co-dependency patterning that affected every relationship I had been in, romantic or otherwise. I began to do some self-inquiry into my people pleasing nature, and the ultimate lack of self-referral. It was the first time I became aware that I needed to understand who I was and what I truly wanted for myself, and traveling alone could give me an opportunity to do exactly that.

Since that weekend, I’ve done so much solo travel across the world and love to spend pockets of time in foreign lands alone, wandering, enjoying the process of self-discovery through following my intuition and seeing what adventure, people, experiences it leads me to. Solo travel represents the Solo Life Journey we all are on, walking each of our individual paths ultimately alone, learning about our true essence and how to engage life from an honest place inside of ourselves, hoping that it leads us to the feeling of being fully alive.

The days I spent alone exploring Hvar and Split led me to some of the most magical places I’ve ever been and in those moments I was present to the very nature of my existence and it’s essential part in the web of life. Being with myself, and being myself, in a completely new and foreign place, I felt at home.

I normally don’t give recommendations for my travels, but I did find some lovely places and ate at some wonderful restaurants so I thought I’d share!
Although I enjoyed both Hvar and Split, I found the energy on Hvar and the surrounding islands to be more peaceful for me. I was only on Hvar for a few days but my favorite beach Mekicevica or Robinson’s Beach, which was recommended to me by my airbnb host. After finding Pokonji Dol beach, you keep walking through a forest along the cliffs until you come to two small secluded coves, the second of which is Robinson’s beach. There is also a quaint restaurant behind it with fresh grilled seafood and good local wine. If you go early enough, you can have the beach to yourself until around 11am or so. Perfection! I also highly recommend taking a boat taxi to one of the Pakleni Islands for a beach day and lunch. I went to Palmizana for a more beach club kind of day and ate at Laganini which had a great DJ and fantastic food.
It was high season in Croatia at the time so Split was very crowded including the local beaches but I was able to find one that was quite beautiful and again mostly empty before noon called Kasuni Beach. It was about a half hour walk from the center of Split. I also had some truly incredible meals in Split, two of the restaurants I’ve listed below and are a must if you go. Croatia also has some pretty amazing white wines, my favorite being the Posip (it happens to have an alcoholic content of 14%, go figure it’s my favorite).

Here are some great restaurants that I highly recommend:

Hvar Restaurants
Macondo
Giaxa
Laganini and also Zori - both on the island of Palmizana

Split Restaurants
Bokeria
Food & Wine Zinfandel

Heart Connection in Marrakech

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I’m back in Italy after completing a truly special yoga retreat in Marrakesh. What seemed like an ordinary retreat (we laughed, we stood on our heads, we bargained like crazy, and we rode 2 different kinds of animals), when reflecting deeper, was anything but ordinary.  There were many stand out moments including the gorgeous lunch in the Atlas Mountains, the incredible outdoor tagine cooking class at a mansion riad in the desert, the shopping mania and antics in the souks, and the out of nowhere monsoon hail storm that swept through our outdoor restaurant leaving us tucked in a cozy tent to have our farewell dinner by candlelight.  But what makes these experiences stand-out moments for me has less to do with the adventure or circumstances and everything to do with the magic that happens when people open themselves up to connection and experiences they aren’t familiar with.

 

The cooking class was taught by two very talented Moroccan chefs who were very engaging and jovial while teaching us how to make incredible traditional Moroccan dishes.  The class took place at a spectacular riad in the desert where we cooked tagine outside by the pool after being served Moroccan mint tea and pastries.  The event was set up graciously by a Moroccan friend of mine who also gives the tours of Marrakech.  I trusted he would set something up special and it was beyond what I imagined.  The food was outstanding (my favorite meal of the entire week). And despite the language barrier, as one of the chefs didn’t speak English, the sentiment of deep appreciation came through anyways and by the end of the night, we were all sitting around the dinner table laughing, smiling, enjoying each other and grateful for our new Moroccan friends.

 

Beautiful new friendships were indeed a wonderful result of being together for a week in this exotic and sometimes chaotic land.  The souks are comprised of a maze of narrow dirt streets with vendors selling their handmade wares… and some not hand-made. Over the week, one of our lovely guests bought 20 fake Goyard bags as gifts for her family. The last day of the retreat some of us went back to the souks for a little shopping before flights out of Marrakech.  One of the other guests had asked her to buy some more Goyard purses for her as well if she had the time and bring them back to California.  Well, she didn’t have any extra time but was determined to get them.  We got caught up in one store for a while and by the time she was heading to find her Goyard store, it was essentially time for her to head to the airport.  But she insisted she would somehow navigate the souks alone and find this one store that had the purses.  We wished her luck and I was truly worried she would miss her flight. 

Well, she in fact did find the store and after her last desperate purchase, with sweat dripping down her face, she was swept off by the store owner on the back of a moped weaving through the craziness of the souks to grab a taxi. I won’t go into more detail (and there is a lot more), but basically she nearly missed her flight.  It struck me as such an act of kindness to risk missing her flight because she had promised to get these purses for her new friend.  Her story truly moved me…and made me laugh out loud. There were many examples of kind gestures and demonstrations of love throughout the week.  Offering a heightened experience of inspiration and expansiveness, travel seems to set the stage to open our hearts and heal our lives.

After this last retreat, what has become certain to me as it pertains to my work (which I have only created in the past 5 years) is that the highlight for me during retreats is to witness meaningful connections being made between guests.  And when I think about it, connecting people has been a pattern of mine since a very young age.  I’ve always had a passion for bringing people together, whether it was in the form of having parties at my home (God knows I’ve had a million of them!), making time for fun gatherings for my employees, planning trips for groups of friends, and now in the platform of wellness retreats. I absolutely love bringing people together and setting the stage for deep connection to occur. So it’s no surprise to me that what brings me the greatest joy from these retreats is to see new friendships being made. 

I haven’t had one retreat where I don’t see guests as perfect strangers develop meaningful friendships. I truly believe that this is one of the reasons I’ve been put on this earth. When I started this retreat business, it was impulsive and not thought through clearly, but I was driven by a profound inspiration to bring people together in beautiful places.I didn’t realize at the time that my soul was speaking through me and that the bigger soul intention has always been to create an environment conducive to helping people wake up to the Universal Truth that All is One. Somehow by following my passion, my purpose found me. The greater overall lesson I learned (and which has also helped me deepen in trust) is that we don’t have to know with exact clarity what we are “meant to do”, whatever that means. We just need to lean into the things that spark something inside of us, that sets our heart on fire, and trust that living with passion is enough to show us the way forward. It always does.

Conscious Endings

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Conscious Endings

2018 is coming to an end and for some of us it can't come fast enough. See ya later 2018, don't let the door hit you on the way out. It was definitely a shake-up kind of year with plenty of disruptions on both the personal and global levels.  But as always, there's divine perfection in the chaos and a reason for all the events in our lives. 

New beginnings and new endings represent the cyclical nature of our lives, something to be honored and acknowledged when the time is right. They both hold something bittersweet for us, something that reminds us of the impermanence of everything and at the same time that we are always evolving and growing.

As we close out the year, it's important to take some thoughtful time to complete and integrate our spiritual lessons in this Earth School so we can fully engage in a new cycle of creative rebirth in 2019. If we can let go of the energetic dead weight from the past, we clear space for inspiration, clarity and new opportunities to enter our field of potentiality.   Bringing awareness to what's trying to be resolved in the deeper, subconscious realm will lead us to the healing integration we are seeking in order to move powerfully forward into expressing our greatest potential. 

To consciously end your 2018, take out your journal, center yourself with meditation and a quiet space, and then answer the following questions:

1)   Identify 3 things in your life that are trying to end.  What feelings come up when you think about letting go of these things?  Resistance, fear, excitement, sadness, etc. Name them specifically.  Let them speak to you on their terms, fully expressed.

2)   What choices must be made in order to ensure the completion of these endings?  Are there new self-care or boundaries needed to be put in place?

3) Is a new theme(s) trying to emerge in your life? Are you excited for your new creative beginning(s) or does fear come up?

4) Write down the greatest vision you have for yourself in 2019 including how you want to feel, what you’d like to experience, and what kind of person you’d like to become. What choices can you make to begin aligning yourself with this vision?

The Energy of Money

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Every choice we make either enhances our power or depletes it. How we choose to spend our money becomes a transformative discipline upon which we can empower our lives, galvanize our dreams, and reach our potential.

The topic of money can be a trigger for even the most evolved beings especially given the right circumstances. We live in a world with a strong cultural belief that our worth is based on how much we have.  It breeds fear, greed and negative self-worth. Money offers the illusion of validation and intimacy, motivating us to acquire as much as possible in addition to becoming obsessive about it.  And in some cases, it can lead to financial trouble and a leak of personal power and self-esteem. Have you ever wanted something so much (new shoes, a car, a computer, etc) and after you finally attain it, you notice it doesn’t take long before you already have your mind set on the next must-have purchase?  In this mindset, there’s an unconscious desire to feel “enough” through the fleeting satisfaction of external items or experiences, leaving an emptiness and a reminder of our “not enough-ness” because what we are truly seeking is a deeper, lasting satisfaction with ourselves and our creations.

We all have a desire to achieve ease and freedom around money, whether rich or poor.  But if we slow down and begin to understand our personal story around money and what money really represents for us on a deeper level, our awareness can lead to deep healing, maturing, and set us on a positive life trajectory. 

What is freedom?  I love George Kinder’s definition from Seven Stages of Money Maturity : “It’s living under the conditions that allow us to truly be ourselves, where our souls can flourish.  It is our birthright to be free and that path to freedom can be found and followed.  Our personal responsibility in life is to discover the circumstances upon which this can occur and do the personal work necessary to create this.”

Money is a neutral tool to create a means of exchange. It’s a condensed version of value, power, and choice. It represents freedom however the presence of wealth doesn’t provide emotional solvency. It doesn’t necessarily correlate to virtues such as generosity, personal responsibility, and kindness. Inner freedom comes from developing a loving, intimate relationship with oneself and having a strong sense of self and self-worth. Our relationship with money is simply a reflection of the relationship we have with ourselves. The self-love we have, the less money (or anything external) will have a grip on us. Healing our issues with money is a game changer and can completely change the quality of our ives on a daily basis.

If you’re interested in beginning the self-discovery process around how you relate to money, what your values are and how you are creating your life, you can begin by thoughtfully answering these questions:

1.) What beliefs about money did you formulate from your childhood, including what your parents told you and how you were raised? Was there a particular event that happened that left a lasting impression on you about money?

2.) When you think about money, what are the prominent feelings that come up for you? Do you worry about money, and what do you tell yourself when you’re worrying?

3.) What does money represent for you? What do I really want to use my money for? If you think about what you really want to achieve in life, is your money flowing towards supporting your goals? If not, why not?

4.) Is there a pattern in the way you spend money that causes you suffering? If you’re aware of your spending patterns, it’s a great idea to begin a daily journal. As you go through your day, have a heightened sensitivity & awareness to your feelings as it relates to money.  Try to identify what the feelings are that arise and see if there’s a pattern around these feelings. Gratitude and clarity or resentment and victimization are just some examples. Journal about it and keep tracking these feelings.

This is a process and it can take some time to understand your story fully, so be patient and compassionate with yourself as you come to terms with your awarenesses. Then you can take steps towards letting go, gaining practical financial knowledge and cultivating virtues around money. But I will leave that to another blog!

A few wonderful books I recommend on this topic are:

Seven Stages of Money Maturity by George Kinder
The Soul of Money by Lynne Twist
The Energy of Money by Maria Nemeth

As always, sending love and blessings to your process…