Reflections on the ‘bul

For the first day or two after I arrived in Istanbul, I felt like a deer caught in the headlights of a Mack truck. There are SO many people, and SO much traffic that literally, every inch of available space is taken by someone or something. For me, this was quite ironic because I have a tendency to people-hate when I’m out in public. Now before you judge me, just hang on. I don’t deny that I like my personal space, but who doesn’t? And the truth is that it drives me insane when strangers invade my space. If you’ve read any of my etiquette posts, you know that I offer plenty of valid examples on why space invasion ain’t cool. The way I see it – if I can manage not to invade your space, then you most certainly CAN avoid invading mine. All you need to do is pause for one moment, and realize that there are other people in this world besides YOU.  Anyway, I definitely had to keep an open mind while traveling in Istanbul, which lead me to one conclusion: Istanbul is the perfect place to conduct therapy sessions if you have  personal space issues – just don’t carry any weapons 😉

So I’ve been home for about 3 weeks now, and I am very aware (and grateful) of how much free space surrounds me, even when I’m walking downtown during a busy lunch hour. In Istanbul, even the water and skies are constantly filled with boats, fisherman and seagulls. No matter where you go, you are constantly assaulted (for lack of a better word) by some kind of stimuli.  While I was there, I didn’t know how I felt about Istanbul. Probably because I had no time to think about it – I was too busy trying to keep up with everything that was happening around me, while simultaneously trying to avoid getting my ass run over every time I crossed the street. All of this led me to the (delayed) realization that while in Istanbul, I was  living IN THE MOMENT. No past, no future – just the present moment. The NOW.  Now that I’m home again, I realize just how awesome Istanbul is.  Its architecture and people, its food, its stray dogs and cats, its carpet salesmen and shops upon shops of Turkish delight and baklava, all of its nooks and crannies that make it so easy to get lost, and finally, the call to prayer that restores balance.

It also dawned on me that Istanbullus look you right in the eyeballs. They don’t look past you or through you, or go out of their way to avoid you – No. Despite the insane hustle and bustle of their city, Istanbullus acknowledge you with each passing glance. You are SEEN. This is very different from the society in which we live, where we are all so self-absorbed that we see nothing past the tips of our noses, and view anything beyond that as an intrusion. They SAW me. Amazing! For me, this was incredibly validating because for the last year or two, I have very much felt invisible in many of my relationships, and I forgot what it was like to simply be acknowledged by the people around you. This realization thus confirmed that I made the right choice(s) when I opted to walk away from certain relationships where I seemed to be nothing but a fixture. Bye bye, love, as The Beatles would say. Actually, I think I prefer a gentler reminder: Hit the road, JACK!

Despite everything that was going on in Istanbul, there was something missing… I didn’t realize what it was until today:  the big knot that took up residence in my gut a few years back. My stress gauge, my anxiety detector, the cause of my IBS, my resistance to all things worrisome or unfamiliar. Since I’ve been home, I’ve been very focused on not falling into old patterns, so last week when I started to feel a familiar disturbance, I knew exactly what it was and where it was coming from. I’m still working on keeping that bitch in check.

I didn’t go to Istanbul with any crazy expectations of what would or should be; I just knew that I needed a change and I knew that this trip would be the catalyst for everything else that would take place this year. No pressure, eh Istanbul? What I came home with was so much more than I could have imagined. I know that I left all the residual shit that I had going on, behind in Istanbul. Certain chapters were closed and that’s that – I’m done. The heaviness that I felt in my chest is gone too. The best way to describe it is to say that before Istanbul, my chest was filled with cobwebs – kind of like the spider’s lair in Lord of the Rings. But now, those cobwebs are gone. I can breathe freely again and it feels great! There was definitely a shift that took place during the retreat. I don’t know what it means yet, or where my path will take me, but I do know that I feel a hundred times lighter, and I’m a happy camper. That little grey cloud that was hovering over my head, giving off those shit vibes? Kicked to the curb by a bright, shiny ball of fire that I’m sportin’ like like a halo.

Rock on, Constantinople.

Photo: RAnnDomized

Photo: RAnnDomized

 

Namaste y’all,

A

 

Hello, Lover – The Grand Finale (Pt. 3)

This is the last set of pics from Whistler. To see my previous posts on Whistler, click here (part 1) and here (Part 2).

 

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Eventually, we had to come back down…

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On the road home…

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A pit stop at Shannon Falls….

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Scott the slug/ Photo: RAnnDomized

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Thanks for the memories Vancouver.

 

Namaste,

A

 

 

 

Hello, Lover – The Grand Finale (Pt. 2)

To see/read Part 1, click here.

A few of these pics were taken while I was in the bubble, so there was a bit of reflection going on. Click on the images to view full size.

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Stay tuned for Part 3 (and that will really be the ‘grand finale’)…

A

Hello, Lover – The Grand Finale (Pt. 1)

After several posts about Vancouver, we arrive at the grand finale: WhistlerLELELELELELE!

As you’ve probably gathered by now, I really liked Vancouver. A lot. I love that it’s so inherently connected to nature, that the people are friendlier and more in tune with living a healthy lifestyle. I appreciate that the city is smaller and surrounded by awesome views of the mountains as well as the infamous seawall. Vancouver just rocks. All of that being said, the highlight of my trip (besides the food and coffee – ha ha!) was definitely Whistler. We always intended to go up there – from the moment I booked my flight. But we hadn’t really given much thought to what we wanted to do while there. On my end, I wanted to hike. And see bears. In fact let’s be honest: my mission whilst in Vancouver was to see at least one damn bear (in particular, the elusive white black bear) but no matter where I looked, there was nary a one in sight <sigh>. Anyway, I wasn’t that interested in Whistler Village because REALLY – who goes to Whistler to shop, dudes? I can see the same village at Tremblant! When we got to Whistler Village, we had a wander and came upon a nice big sign advertising some kind of “Peak-to-Peak” adventure, so we investigated further. After speaking to a very nice guy who presumably worked at Whistler (I dunno – he seemed to know what he was talking about), we all agreed that we were going to do the Peak-to-Peak. What is the Peak-to-Peak, you might ask? I will tell you! Or rather, Whistler’s web site will tell you:

Spanning the distance between Whistler and Blackcomb Mountains, the new world record-breaking PEAK 2 PEAK Gondola is a breathtaking, 4.4-kilometre journey to infinite possibilities. Redefining the Whistler summer experience by creating limitless new ways to get up-close-and-personal with the mountains, this engineering marvel breaks three world records.

  • Longest unsupported span of 3.024 kilometres
  • Highest lift of its kind at 436 metres above the valley floor
  • Completes the longest continuous lift system on the globe

Sounds awesome, right? So off we went. We began our gondolian (Annism) adventure at Blackcomb’s base, and proceeded to take several lifts that would eventually drop us off near Whistler’s summit <squeal!>. During this adventure, we had to change gondolas a few times – I lost track of how many after like, three. I do know that after two lifts (I think), we were dropped at a base where Christine’s is located; Christine’s is a fabulous restaurant located on Blackcomb that serves fresh, local cuisine. Not only was the food amazing, but the view was stunning. They have a great observation deck where you can snap a few money shots while waiting for your meal to arrive. We resumed our gondolian adventure after a late lunch and after a ride in the bubble (those really fancy lifts that shield you from the elements) and breathtaking views of both Whistler and Blackcomb (and logging trails and crazy-ass trees), we finally reached the last lift.

I was eager to sit my ass down and get going until I saw the lift – a rickety metal contraption that was completely open. Umm, hello? We’re almost at the highest point of this mountain and surely you will agree that it’s a hell of a lot colder up here than it is down there so why, pray tell, is there no bubble to transport me?! I was wearing shorts, by the way – ’cause that’s just how I roll.  Anyway, we sucked it up and got on  the lift, with my brother muttering “I’m looking sideways! I’m looking sideways!” repeatedly (he’s not that great with heights and apparently looking sideways was helpful. OK weirdo). Elly on the other hand, was worried she’d crap her pants before we reached our destination. As for me? Well, I was feeling a little nervous being so incredibly high up and having my ass flown around on a metal contraption that could drop me to my death at any moment. So I took pictures. In-between not looking down and worrying about falling out of the gondola, I snapped madly away to make sure I didn’t miss a thing. At least if I plunged to my death, I would leave behind a photo journal of my trip to Vancouver, right? Right.

When we reached the top, we stepped off onto a rocky trail and walked the rest of the way up to the summit. The SUMMIT people! I spent a lot of time on various sides of the mountain because I really wanted to take in every vantage point. But my mind was set on being at the very top, so I set off toward what looked like the highest crag, and I (carefully) climbed my way up. Oh. My. I have to pause here because I honestly don’t think anything I write can convey the awesomeness that is Whistler. Breathtaking. Stunning. Jaw-dropping. Beautiful. It is while all of these thoughts were flying through my head that it hit me: complete and utter silence. This realization took my breath away and I allowed myself to bask in the moment, to feel peace in my heart. Definitely inspiring. I resisted an urge to get into Tree pose for fear of falling off the summit and hurtling to my death.

So, here are some photos of Whistler. I’ll be splitting the Whistler posts out because I have WAY too many pics! Click to enlarge, always.

Photo: RAnnDomized

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So, before I wrap this one up, this is what we ate at Christine’s – if you go to Whistler and do the P2P, I highly recommend this place.

Meaty burger (my brother’had this)/Photo: RAnnDomized

Chicken with fresh veggies/Photo: RAnnDomized

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Stay tuned for Part 2, where I could potentially plunge to my death! Except that I’m writing this post, so you already know the ending.

Ta,

A

Seawalls on a Grey Day

On my last day in Vancouver, I spent the day walking the seawall with my brother. We must’ve walked 15-20km that day and I couldn’t think of a better way to end my trip.

The lighting in these shots is so-so; it was a pretty cloudy day so some of these look a bit dull despite some manual adjustments. Oh well… can’t get a perfect shot every time, right? Unless you start working with a digital SLR…. and I will be – as soon as I can get my hands on a battery charger for the Nikon DL 70. Anyone know of a place in Midtown NYC? I’ll be headed there in 2 weeks and I’m sure they’re cheaper.

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The Blue Heron seems to be a lot more accessible than bears are!/ Photo: RAnnDomized

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I’m not sure, but I think the seawall has penguin crossings…. at least that’s what this led me to believe!/ Photo: RAnnDomized

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If you haven’t checked out my previous posts about Vancouver, you can do so by going here:

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Part 4

Part 5

 

Namaste

A