Monthly Archives: July 2012

Spanish Holiday: Part Quatro (part of the Boys of Summer Series)

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This is the fourth installment of a story I wrote about the zen of traveling.  I am using it for DBC blog posts as part of the Boys of Summer Series but also to inspire single people to follow their dreams and dare themselves stretch a bit. After all, that is what living is all about stretching and growing, right?

Two weeks later I am on a flight to Barcelona. A paid off credit card in hand and the prospect of a local and possible state wide stories negotiated.  The day before I go, the SARK quote pops up in my daily reading. This quote brings the realization of physical travel contributing to the mystical experience of the spiritual journey.

This is the quote:

“I am much more comfortable staying put spiritually.  If I allowed myself to travel, where might I go?  I believe it involves the ability to put comfort aside, and boldly investigate new spiritual territory”  SARK

I fly Delta to New York from National Airport in Washington, DC then onto Barcelona from there.  Every airline seems to do things differently so I will go into a few things to look out for when using this particular airline.(Please note that this story was written in 2009 and things may have changed.)  Things that are bad:  there is no power for electronics in Economy but there is in Business Class.  I did not know this and had a deadline to make with another story I was writing and the battery on my laptop died out in the first hour of the flight.  A steward said he would take my computer up to Business class and never returned.  When I asked another attendant she said she would investigate the situation she agreed to and also never returned – during an eight hour flight!  Things that were good:  The food was edible.  The flight was on time even though we spent more than an hour on the tarmac waiting to fly out. There was a reasonable selection of movies and the entertainment was free.

Upon arrival at Prat in Barcelonca I realized that I had left my hotel address at home and had no way to retrieve it because although I had purchased an international phone service through AT&T I did not get a technology package. (Good tip here: If you have an iPhone make sure to turn your “Fetch New Data” setting off so you don’t get charged for all that international data transformation which can be really expensive.  You should also set a “Passcode lock “ on your phone to prohibit any misuse of the phone that could result in a costly bill.)  I looked for a Wi-Fi space in the airport which I was told by my AT&T representative would work for free abroad but a code was needed to which I had no access.  I ended up waiting for thirty minutes for the airport information booth to open where a lovely young woman supplied me with the address for Market Hotel (Passatge Sant Antoni Abad, 10, Barcelona).

Since I had no idea where to go I was forced to take a cab rather than cheaper modes of transportation of bus or train.  Since it is Sunday morning and I have not slept in nearly twenty-four hours (I lack the blessed ability to sleep sitting up in a cramped airline chair.) I decide to just check into the hotel and get a little sleep before going out to see some of the city in the afternoon.  Market Hotel is so named in honor of the San Antonio Market which is about two blocks away.  Though the hotel website claims it is in the heart of L’Eiaxample area of Barcelona according to my guidebook it is actually in El Ravel.  The hotel is known for its restaurant which has a separate entrance on Compte Borrell.  It is a bit difficult to find the hotel entrance which is located around the corner on a side street that more resembles an alley way.  The hotel décor is contemporary Euro-Asian.  Rooms are minimal chic and quite comfortable but like most European hotels, the typical room is tiny by American standards.  The first room I was put in was so small that access to one side of the bed was completely blocked by a small waste basket that just fit in the space between the side edge of the bed and the wall as the double bed sat in the center of the wall.  The other problem with the Market Hotel is the noise which is the result of two issues.  The interior of the hotel boasts tall ceilings and large heavy doors for rooms and other access.  Keeping with its minimal look there are lovely hardwood floors in the narrow hallways where the guest rooms are located.  The sparceness and lack of any artwork or carpet to help absorb sound coupled with the apparent habit of Catalunyan house keepers to let doors slam themselves shut makes the hotel very noisy.  Its location next to a construction site and the sounds from its own construction work (a fifth and six floor being added) keeps the noise levels at cacophonous levels from early in the morning until late at night.

 

If you can get past the noise it is really a great deal.  There are few affordable esthetically pleasing hotels in Barcelona and even fewer in convenient locations in the city.  Just bring earplugs and something to help you sleep if you are a member of the light sleeper club.

Exhausted after twenty-one hours of travel and no sleep in more time than that, I was able to get in about two hours of decent sleep as my room was located across the hall from the house keeping room and staff were constantly banging doors and other equipment for hours.  I awoke conveniently before Spanish lunchtime which is between 2:00 and 3:30pm, showered and asked the front desk staff if I could switch rooms.  They were very nice and accommodating.  In fact all of the staff were friendly and helpful. The front desk staff in particular go out of their way to help guests find restaurants, provided directions and arrange for tours, cars or whatever.  English is the standard tourist language which makes it easy for Americans.  My second space in the Market Hotel was much bigger featuring a large bed with floor to ceiling beams for posts a space where I could work and a dressing area with big picture windows on two sides. Once settled into the new space, I decided to get lost in the city just to see what would happen.

Spanish Holiday: Part Tres (part of the Boys of Summer Series)

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This post is part of a continuing story.  To see the other parts click Part 1, Part 2, and enjoy….

So how is that pitcher of Sangria doing?  Time to make another and read on?

TRAVELING TO FILL YOUR SPIRIT continued…

Fast forward a few more days.  My phone rings at work.  It is the mortgage broker, Karin Jimminez, with whom my personal finance guru connected me.  “Rates are going up” she says, “We need to move on this refi right now”.  A little background:  I am divorcing my husband of twelve years and need to lower my fixed expenses.  Michelle, my personal finance advisor thinks that I can refinance my house and lower my monthly payments while eliminating my debt by absorbing it through the loan.  Karin is the genius mortgage broker who can make this strategy work.  Something that has to do with the Personal Property Tax payment and the refinance results in a small windfall of cash for me to split with my soon to be ex.  Michelle gives me permission to do something fun with the money.  I check the cost of flights but even though they are pretty cheap, I am still on the fence.

I email Kirana to clue her into my plan and we decide to talk on the phone.  During a conversation about what I might want to do she begins to explain the “guru energy” of the center.  Swami Satchitanda (of Woodstock/Peter Max/Yogaville fame) was big into creative expression she tells me.  The yoga center just seems to attract music and well known spiritual musicians like Krishna Das and Tina Malia.  They ask to play there she does not seek them out.  When I ask her why she thinks that is she says that Swami Satchidanda taught that creativity is an expression of the divine.  This is exactly what Julia Cameron is teaching and what I am investigating in my own self.  Instantly I say to her “I am coming.”  I now have the reasons, the money and the spiritual guidance.

Ricardo is pleased. But I really don’t know what he is thinking.

We Interrupt This Program: Sadly this is NOT a news flash

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I  interrupt the posting of the continuation of Spanish Holiday to bring you this what- is- not- really a news flash anymore:

I was slated for a dinner date with a man tonight.  Someone I met at Salsa who seemed really fun and nice.  I enjoy dancing with him  and he is a little flirty but hey, that is part of the fun of going to a regular Salsa gig.  Anyway, today, by total chance, I learned that he is married with two kids.

Geeze Loueeeze!  That makes 5 married men who hit on me this summer already!

Though it was tempting  to go ahead with our plans for the evening and be wickedly amused by his flirtations and watching him squirm when I asked him to be sure and say “hello” to his wife and kids from me at the end of the evening, I did the responsible thing and texted to cancel the date.  No need to waste my energy even at the expense of a good dinner.

I know the Universe is functioning perfectly but…

Please, please, please, dear readers, send out some good single man karma for me.

FOLLOW UP:

So after I posted this I got a phone call from the man in question.  He wanted to know why I had cancelled and I told him that I don’t go out with married men. This was his response: He said in a defensive tone (hold onto your hats, ya’ll, ’cause this is rich),

“I didn’t do anything wrong.  You didn’t ask me if I was married.”

HOW ABOUT  THAT?!!! According to this guy It is my fault he asked me out on a date and I didn’t know he was married!

 

Spanish Holiday (part of the Boys of Summer Series) Part Dos

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This is the second installment of a traveling to fill your spirit story I wrote for myself about a trip to Spain I mad 3 summers ago. It is included in this blog because hopefully it will inspire my single mid-life sisters to get out and do things that scare them or at least are fun because it makes us more aware and alive.  To read part Uno, click here.

 

Remember I was just contemplating why I should not go to Spain and visit the young, enticing Ricardo while he is studying Spanish for the summer….

But then the wheels start turning in my head. Julia Cameron author of the “Artists Way” says that one way to unblock ourselves as artists is to allow ourselves to have small pieces of our dreams if we cannot fully realize our dreams immediately.  I want to live in Spain but I cannot arrange that immediately therefore isn’t it better to have one week in Spain than no time in Spain at all?  Wouldn’t Julia tell me to go for it?  And what about that creative block stuff?  I stopped working on my novel about three weeks ago, finding one excuse after another not to work on it in the mornings when I had supposedly carved out time to write.  Maybe I need a little dream indulgence magic to get it going again.  I am also at a place in my writing career when it is time to expand my audience from the 60,000 that read the weekly paper to which I regularly contribute.  A new angle is needed since I am committed to them in terms of the types of stories I write.  Then there is the spiritual aspect to traveling that feeds my soul and puts me in the ultimate “the-Universe-will-provide-what-I-need” mystical state of being.  I long to see the world and I’m not going to see it making excuses and staying at home.  I am at the middle of my life and the days of traveling comfortably are becoming more limited with each passing year.

Then it hits me.  What if I can write a story about my trip?  A story that can be sold Nationally?  Then if I can find the money to go I can write the expense of the trip off my taxes as a business expense.  Great!  But what to write about?  Where will the money come form?  I am not going to depend on a 24 year old party animal to make my trip to Barcelona worthy of National publication.  No, there must be a better angle.  I decide that if this trip is to come to fruition the Universe will provide a way.

A few days later I am in my Thursday afternoon yoga class with my teacher, Nora Pozzi.  Nora is cool.  She is from South America and speaks Spanish which opens up a lot of opportunities for her.  During an asana while listening to her Latina accent my heart jumps.  There is a yoga studio near Barcelona where Nora went to teach the previous year.  I told her then that I wanted to go there to and teach yoga but there were the problems of: A) I am not qualified to teach yoga and B) I do not speak Spanish.  The link to Nora (and ultimately me) is the woman who owns the yoga center is from Richmond.  Maybe I could get a local or statewide commitment for a story about her initially then sell a bigger story about the center and yoga to a national publication.  Karmic inspiration- YES!  I ask Nora for the contact information for Kirana Stovers at Integral Yoga Barcelona.

Now that I had the story angle I needed to find the money to go.  As an untried freelancer there would be little chance of me selling this story ahead of time much less getting someone to pay for it.  Not impossible mind you but given the short time frame  (it was May and the time to go on the trip was June) not likely even for someone with my chutzpah to sell it.  How is the Universe going to swing this one?

Spanish Holiday- The Boys of Summer continued…

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I am Jonesing for a trip right now but it is simply not in the cards this year.  So in my stay -cation frustration I deliver to you, gentle readers, a tale from an unsolicited story I wrote about a trip I made to Spain.  Yes, a boy of summer story for us middle aged gals out there who, despite best efforts, are single on these steamy sultry summer nights.  So for your fantasy pleasure, ladies, I give you  THE STORY OF THE YOUNGER MAN (which actually is about the zen inducing state of travel with a younger man element thrown in).

I will be posting this in installments so go make yourself some sangria (click for recipe here) and sit back and enjoy .

Imagine you are flying to Spain on this nice airplane>>

TRAVELING ZEN- One woman’s adventures in letting go

“I am much more comfortable staying put spiritually.  If I allowed myself to travel, where might I go?  I believe it involves the ability to put comfort aside, and boldly investigate new spiritual territory”  SARK

The first time I read that quote while preparing for a trip to Spain, I missed the word, “spiritually” in the first sentence completely causing my mind to make a connection between physical travel and mystical travel.  UNIVERSAL TRUTH THAT THE MIND FOLLOWS THE BODY AND VISE VERSE – “AMAZING THINGS HAPPEN WHEN YOU CONNECT THE BODY WITH THE MIND”

Traveling itself is an act of spiritual feeding.  Daring to go into the unfamiliar and experience the unknown is brave.  When we are in a strange place without a regular schedule, responsibilities or the normal accoutrements of daily  living the focus of life changes.  Acts that one takes for granted like how to turn on the water for a shower or unlock a door suddenly become important issues.  One is forced to concentrate on the moment and mundane tasks which what “living in the moment” is all about.  Living in the moment is a goal of many spiritual paths therefore traveling brings one a step closer to enlightenment through training of the mind to focus on the moment.  When the mind stops it’s constant monologue of interruptive thought one is open to the power of the Universe to bring what one needs.

A pure example of this is a recent trip to Spain.  I adore Spain.  My hope is to someday live there.  It is simply the most civilized society ever created.  Spaniards know how to live.  The Spanish wake early, do some work, come home in the middle of the day, consume  a big meal and some time to relax, then maybe return to work and at ten at night are out eating tapas, spending time with their loved ones.  They are relaxed.  They speak from the heart.  They appreciate beauty and design and the food is fabulous.  The European mindset of using only what you need makes so much sense to me- I adore how the electricity goes out in your room when you are not there. I love how in a hotel you need a little plastic card to turn on your air-conditioning.  I love how cities are built so people can walk everywhere.  But my income level prohibits me from even visiting Spain much less moving there anytime in the foreseeable future so I usually just wax poetic about it to anyone who will listen and eat tap pas in a local restaurant when I can drowning my sorrows in pitchers of Sangria or  the soft bubbles of a good flute of Cava.  So it is easily understood why I became wickedly jealous of my  young colleague, Ricardo, when he told me he was going to Barcelona to study Spanish for the summer.  Ahh, to be young and without the obligations of spouse, house or children.  What fun to have the ability and the parental bankroll to just go somewhere and learn something new and useful that will offer many life changing moments.  He is living my dream.  Then he did something that made my envious heart skip a beat. He leaned in close to my ear and  in a low voice with smiling eyes said, “Why don’t you come visit?”

There are about 500 reasons why I should not go to Barcelona and visit Ricardo during his summer sojourn.  Many of those reasons are mundane like where would the money come from to take such a trip just for fun? and how would I arrange childcare for my nine year old daughter? and do I have enough vacation time?, blah blah blah.  Other reasons are ridiculous like what would people think of a 46 year old soon to be divorced woman flying across the ocean for a little visit with a 24 year old half Brazilian  hotly of a man with a reputation for living La vida loca?  And not least of all, what does he mean exactly by “come visit?”  This statement is full enough of possibilities that simultaneously confound, flatter and terrify me.

WHAT WOULD YOU DO?

Tune in tomorrow to find out what happens next…

Man-no-man

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I just thought I would post this to ignite a conversation.  I have to admit I am a bit skeptical of Suzy’s views here.  Particularly the implication that it is low self worth that makes a woman kid herself that she doesn’t need a man.  I thought it was low self worth that made women think she NEEDS a man.

This is her post:

Tired Of Convincing Yourself You Don’t Need A Man?

by SUZY

WECanDoIT  Tired Of Convincing Yourself You Dont Need A Man?

Sure You Can Do ‘IT’, But Do You Want To?

As a single woman over 40 and beyond there is a conversation that goes on in your mind that you may not even be aware of.

It’s the conversation that tries to convince you that you don’t really need a man in your life.

It can happen during those times you have been feeling lonely and depressed about not meeting a good man.

A romantic movie can trigger that feeling or hearing about a woman from your divorce support group who just got engaged to her ideal mate.

It can be triggered by that feeling of being overwhelmed from handling every problem on your own.

Everything from financial issues, health concerns, car issues, family issues to plumbing issues and the list goes on and on.

Life can be daunting at times even for the resilient type of people that seem to handle everything in stride.

You may be a divorced woman and single mom whose had to climb your way out of the rabbit hole since your divorce.

You’ve worked hard and long to learn what it takes to be a strong, independent woman who can handle everything on your own.

It’s very obvious to anyone that knows you…you don’t need a man in your life. In fact you wear it like a badge of honor.

Or you may be a divorced single woman whose self esteem is damaged to the point that you can’t quite believe that any decent man would be interested in you.

If you’re a single mom you think who would be interested in a woman over 40 with two teenage daughters.

That was what I thought after my divorce.

Or you may be in your 50′s or 60′s and figure you’re too old to attract a man other than a guy in his 80′s.

So you convince yourself that you don’t really need a man in your life.

You can muddle through on your own okay.

In either scenario you’re in denial.

If you’re a strong independent woman you don’t want to deal with all the underlying emotions that are the residue left after divorce or from childhood.

So you play out the role of the strong woman ‘I don’t need a man card’, and that does a very good job at keeping any decent men at bay.

On the other hand if you’re a woman whose self esteem is keeping you stuck… then to protect yourself from the disappointment and rejection… you convince yourself you don’t need a man in your life.

Using your low self worth as your armor you can easily keep yourself hidden from the good guys.

So why do I say you’re in denial?

Because underneath all the pain that divorce bestows on you is the desire to be with a trustworthy man that has your back and will love and cherish you through both the good and the bad times.

And yes men like that do exist, I’m sure you know some of them as husbands or sons of friends.

In order to fulfill your heart’s desire to meet your soul mate you need to stop believing all the myths that are floating around the single women over 40 and beyond crowd.

Myths like:  ‘All the good men are taken after 40′ or ‘Men your age only want to date younger women. ‘

Or what about the self talk you listen to in your head like: I’m too old, too fat, too tired, too busy, too ugly etc.

If you’re finally worn out from convincing yourself that you don’t need a man in your life and are ready to open up to what you really want… then start acting and speaking the truth.

Stop telling your story to yourself or others and start letting friends, family and co-workers know that you are ready and willing to meet quality men.

That’s the first baby step.

By doing this your denial will start open to the truth of what you really want and your ‘authentic self’ will show up in place of the ‘pretend self’ you’ve been showing up with.

Now you will start to see some subtle shifts and changes begin to emerge and you’re on your way freedom through honesty rather than denial.

Hugs,
Suzy Weiss

Dating Coach For Smart Women

A Man and His Dog

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Someone once told me that if you want some perspective on how a man will treat you in the long run, take note of how he keeps his car.  The theory goes something like if he maintains his car well, changing the oil regularly and taking care of maintenance wether he does the personally or via a mechanic and keeps it neat and clean he will make sure to take good care of you and work diligently to maintain the relationship.  If the abuses his car, ignoring  regular maintenance and allows it to get dirty and junked up inside and out then it is a sign of how he will be at maintaining your relationship.

That has certainly been my experience with men but I have heard conflicting opinions on that topic.

But what I do know is that you can definitely tell how a man will treat you by observing how he treats his pets particularly his dog.

For example:

A guy can appear to be a loving keeper of his dog, taking it with him whenever possible, letting it sleep in his bed and petting her constantly while he watches TV.  But a little more observation can reveal another side to their interaction.  When the dog can’t  go with him does he leave her for  long periods alone? Does he check to make sure she has water or food before he leaves her?  On weekends does he sleep until afternoon ignoring the dog’s communications to go out though it has been 10 or more hours since her last walk?  How often does he take her on long walks? What grade of  dog food  does he feed her and is there a regular feeding time? If the dog has fur (as opposed to hair like a terrier breed),  how often does he brush and bath her ?  Does he take his dog for regular vet visits and how does he react to the cost of the vet’s services?

Pay close attention to those details because after the first glow of romance fades, he will most likely  treat you in a similar fashion,

So if you want to know how things will be in the long run check out the state of the pooch.

Men out there… Are there any tried and true ways that you know of to determine how a woman will treat you in the long run? I’d like to hear them.