Lit. “human flourishing”; a contented state of being happy, healthy and prosperous.
The pursuit of happiness. WTF? How? I feel like I have been struggling with this my whole life. The struggle is very real. I have struggled with anxiety and depression and essentially just finding my way. As like so many other people, travel makes me happy. I am not just saying that – like truly very happy. At peace. Settled. But I can’t do it all the time. I need to work and I love what I do. (Not at the moment, but in general). So I am looking to cultivate happiness when I am at home and on the road. One way I want to do this is through creative expression. I have always thought that I have no creativity in my bones. So here is where I will start. A huge shout out to http://www.theintrepidtraveler.com for the words and graphics.
In my attempts to write more. I will use these as prompts to tell a story about travels I have done in the past.
A chance encounter with something wonderful.
Older, ex-teachers in Famagusta, Northern Cyprus.
While I was living in Kuwait, my mother came to visit and we went to Cyprus. My mother and I don’t always see eye to eye when on vacation. I want to do museums and historical stuff and she wants to shop and wander around markets. We usually manage to find a balance. On this day when we passed into Northern Cyprus from the south, we first went to a museum about the division of Cyprus and the invasion by the Turks. Then we went shopping. As we wandered in and out of souvenir shops, I very quickly lost my interest but I just wandered behind my very excited mother.
In like the 456th shop, I was leaning on the counter and the gentleman behind me asked me how I was doing and offered me a seat. I sat down with him behind the counter and we started talking. He was just about 75 and had lived in Northern Cyprus his whole life. We just sat and talked. For an hour. About nothing and everything. I told him about living in the Middle East. He told me about living in Cyprus through the invasion and the changes that have come. Mostly we talked about kids. About teaching. He was a teacher for 40 years. His passion for his students was palpable. He said the same thing about me. He ordered some tea from the restaurant down the street and we just talked.
Now, several years later, I could not tell you what we really talked about specifically but I can say that the experience touched me deeply. It was one of those moments where you make a connection to someone in someplace that is truly wonderful. What I remember about that moment was on overwhelming feeling that we have more similarities than we have differences. Across generations and cultures and location, I was able to find a man who has the same teaching philosophy as me and who sees things the same way I do. This truly was a chance encounter with something wonderful.
Autistic. Yeah you heard that. I really am convinced he is. He doesn’t tick every box but I would say he is on the spectrum.
- Repeating the same behavior – paces around the dining room table – alternating the direction he goes each time.
- Awkward social interactions – withdraws from social situations; goes to the park where other dogs are playing and sits on the bench; at community BBQs or parties if he can’t be on my knee he will just lie in the middle of where people are standing with his head on the ground and not interact with anyone; when we are out walking and he sees someone else walking a dog he will go around the dog and head for the person.
- Limiting behavior – doesn’t like toys and will ignore new toys brought into the house; will only really play with toys made from my old t-shirts; does not play new games or like going to new places.
- Lacks eye contact – doesn’t like to look anyone in the eyes.
- Lack of enthusiasm for longer than a couple of minutes at a time. If he does play, loses interest very quickly.
- Attachment issues – separation anxiety; needs to be touching; will come and press his face against the back of my leg and hold it there when I am cooking in the kitchen.
- Irregular eating pattern – he won’t eat every day and barely likes food; won’t eat treats; one day will eat one thing and then the next he won’t; spits food out on the floor.
This Thanksgiving, I headed off to Mexico City with a couple of friends for a few days. While there, I had an experience of connection that moved me to tears. We were wondering around by the Teatro de la Cuidad and there were some indigenous Aztec dancers performing. We wandered around and found a spot against a wall and just watched.
I was immediately transported home. Saskatchewan is home to almost 200,000 First Nations people (out of a population of a million) and growing up in a home that valued multiculturalism and diversity, we have attended several different Indigenous People’s events including powwows. I have always found the drumming and dancing captivating to say the least. The beat of the Aztec drums was the beat of the Plains Indian drums. There was a sameness. A peace. A connection.
The most interesting part of the clothing I saw here was the shoes. They had bells of some sort attached to them. They sounded like the jingle dance. I could not get a good look at them. So I waited for one woman to stop. I asked her in my broken Spanish if she spoke English. She did not. I felt compelled to speak with her and my Spanish is brutal. I was compelled. I had to.
Using my limited Spanish skills, I asked her to look at her zapatos (shoes). The bells looked like little shells. They were ayoyotes nuts. I explained to the woman how I am from Canada and this reminds me of the Indigenous people there. Because I was struggling for words, I spoke about hermanos (brothers). I told her I very much loved the dancing and just put my hands to my heart and said, “Gracias. Mucho gracias.” She looked me straight in the eyes, held my gaze for an extra moment, hugged me tightly and said, “gracias. I love you.” When I pulled back, both of us had tears. I walked away and the tears came again. I am not sure why, but I was so very moved by this interaction; this connection and I will hold this moment in my heart. Always. As I walked back to my friends, I just thought: “This is why I travel.” Well that…and the food. We went for tacos after. Oh my days, they were something else.
I have lived in Saskatchewan, the Canadian Arctic, England, Kuwait and Guatemala. All of those moves have been easy. But China is my next move. I guessing this will be so not easy. After 13 years on the international scene, one would think I would be used to moving. This one worries me. In order to alleviate some of this crazy, crazy fear, I will do what I LOVE to do. Make a list.
Clothes: Pants and Shorts:
- Jeans – 2
- Old Navy Khaki Style – blue, black, green
- Old Navy Dress Pants – red, grey, black
- Yoga/Exercise -3
- Shorts – blue, pink, black, hiking
- Plain T-shirts – black – 2, white, blue, red
- Random T-shirts – 5
- Blouses/Work Shirts – 10
Skirts and Dresses:
- Maxi – black, black and white striped – 2,
- A-line – grey, black, striped Navy
- Dresses – 10
- Black fleece
- Black North Face – 2
- Red Hoody
- Flip flops
- Toms – black, blue, red
- Boots black, grey, red
- Winter Boots
- Coconut Oil
- Castile Soap
- Sleeping bag and liner
- Blowup coach
- Some mugs
- Guate placemats
- Evil Eye
- Van Gough Candle Holders
- 2 Cameras
- External Hard Drive
TO DO BEFORE I GO:
- Renew passport
- Extra passport photos
So don’t get me wrong, I love my dog. Love him. He is cute and cuddly and full of love. But….well, he is a complete nutjob. He brings me joy and absolute anger. Some mornings he has anxiety attacks and when he does, I put him on a shelf in my closet. It calms him immediately. He wags his little tail and just watches me get ready.
This morning, I was getting ready and eating watermelon. So I gave him a piece. He gobbled it up. He loves watermelon. So I gave him a few more. Gobbled them up. Then I gave him a bigger piece that had a micro-sized bit of white rind on it. Not green but white. He literally ate all the red bits and spit out the white. Spit it out. How in the world is that even possible? I have heard of fussy dogs, but this takes the cake.