Seattle Sights, Sounds, Activities, and Lessons. Traveling during COVID-19.
June 24 to August 9, 2020
If you have read my previous travel blogs, you may know that prior to and/or during the trip, I create an intention for what I would like to experience. In addition to the purpose of this trip, which was to clean up and renovate my parents homes in Bellevue, I'll write down some activities I know I'd like to experience and how I'll feel when I am living them. Why? The end product of an experience is an emotion and by planning what I'd like to experience it actually elevates the moment. Plus, it creates a long term memory which is the multiplication of information with emotion. If the emotion is zero, it doesn’t matter what the information is because it won't stick.
What follows are not only great experiences and adventures, but also meetings and lessons throughout.
Roles: What is your role or roles where you are?
As a blooming health coach, focusing on nutrition and mindset so far, the first role, asked of me by my mother, was to ensure my father gets proper nutrition. Another role was to assist my father with renovating one of the homes we own. In addition, I wanted to focus on growing my health coaching business as in the midst of an online business building group for half of the trip.
The trip was full of wonderful adventures and liberating emotions, as well as intense circumstances that were uncomfortable, including the covid stuff. The whole trip happened to require a whole journal (not a large journal, maybe 50 pages). I did not anticipate the trip would be as extended as it was nor that I would write that much. The journal provided a space for me to capture ideas, thoughts, emotions, creations, questions, plans of action, quotes, doodles, gratitude, adventures, notes, reframing unpleasant situations, fears, and so much more.
In this travel blog, I'd like to share some great lessons I learned, nutrition tips, approaches to travel and adapting to an environment and balancing the roles I had. Since the trip was 6 weeks long, this blog contains some but not all that I experienced.
Upon one of the first evenings there, it happened to be the 26th yahrzeit (anniversary of passing) of Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson, and I listened to Rabbi Simon Jacobson (previous podcast episode with him here) deliver an online speech about the Rebbe's sharp ability to thrive under pressure. It is the pressures and challenges that brought out the best in him and the best of leaders. It was a dear foreshadowing to the trip, which had brought its own internal and external challenges.
Lesson from Papa: 3 Steps to Exploration
Every now and then my father shares a key lesson to life that I will write down and reflect on. In previous recap blogs, I have some email newsletters with Lessons from my father. I have a little over 40 now that I am beginning to put into a book. The one I learned this trip is great for embarking on a exploration:
Mapping - where are you?
Resources - what do I need to have and/or do I have?
Culture - what is it like here?
I found these very helpful even in a moderately familiar environment. Mapping helps with grounding oneself with location, what to anticipate, and what to experience. Resources helps with taking inventory of what I have to align with my intention. Culture helps me observe what goes on where I am, so I can adjust appropriately.
Learn about your Family History
I realized a few years ago that I didn't really know much about my family history, so I aim to approach every trip with my parents or relatives as a way to learn more. It was insightful learning about the turbulence experienced throughout WW2, as well as the beautiful ways things and people line up.
Also, seeing the high school my mother went to school at and one of the first apartments my father lived in was a rich sight to see!
I got to meat up with podcast guest, Luka Hocevar at Vigor Nation (the photo is a slideshow)
One of the intentions I had was to meet up with Luka Hocevar and I'm happy to say it happened. I had been creating an online mindfulness and performance program that I wanted to see if I could bring him. Ultimately, working together has not yet ripened. Nevertheless, I left with a great lesson: Time to gain my own experience sharing what I know with others.
3 Hiking Thoughts (for more photos check out my social media pages)
I had some wonderful opportunities to go on a handful of hikes this trip and had some awesome insights:
1. Sometimes life can feel like I’m surrounded by endless trees with no way out. Only by ascending to a greater height can one begin to rise above the tree line, and see the whole forest. Observing from this greater awareness shines light on where one is... What’s really liberating is that this can be done in day to day life. Every morning one can tune into their connection with God, thus ascending their perspective. To get beyond the emotional reactions requires great observance and objective judgment. Rather than resisting an emotion and labeling it “bad” which drives behavior to push it away, observe it as unpleasant. It will pass, so why waste energy and time stuck on it? Observe it equanimously and continue on the trail!
2. One that stuck with me was shared by naturopathic doctor I met, Dr. Adam Rinde (on my third hike of the trip):"Coming down is actually more difficult than going up." Which is true in bringing down what one experiences into a comprehendible way that others can understand. It is our purpose to grow and reach new heights, but then to share them to others and make it a dwelling place for God; to spiritually elevate this physical world . Perhaps the reason the way down is harder is because of the challenge to express what was at the destination into a understandable way… Just imagine how great of a challenge it must be for the Creator to share great knowledge into our finite minds; to describe an experience so inspiringly and accurately that the reader feels it and takes a step to ascend themselves up a mountain - physically and spiritually speaking.
3. Often what makes a view is the person that's viewing it. What state of being am I in during the hike?
4. You never know what surprises await you...
How to respond to overwhelm in a new place (especially during Covid)
Often during a trip that is not necessarily a vacation get-away, it is common to feel a little overwhelm from being out of routine; or, in the case of this trip, how to balance many things and keep them fresh and not redundant. Here are 2 things to keep in mind:
1. Give yourself permission to be and to let go of what you can let go of. It helped me to look at all the roles I had during the trip and to decide which one would ultimately help accomplish the others.
2. Don't resist the resistance. Sometimes life seems to be like a succession of unpleasant variations. Acknowledging what is coming up without resisting it, allows it to pass much quicker and simpler.
Perform New Experiments
It's pretty easy to get into routine of things that quickly become predictable and boring, so one thing I implemented was to perform more experiments. And I did it with meditations, which also can become complacent. It needs to have meaning to it, so I began a three step process after reading a new blog by Dr. Joe Dispenza called Think-Box and Play-Box:
Prior to meditation, I would review what and why I am doing this meditation
During meditation, I would just play because I did the thinking beforehand
Afterwards in a journal, I would review what went well and how I executed the knowledge, and what I would bring to the next meditation to improve.
I found this helpful not just in meditation, but more so in improving the quality of daily experiences like power-washing the patio at my father's home.
Quotes to help Let go and Trust - I had written in my journal
"if you are pained by external things, it is not the thing that disturbs you, but your own judgement of them. And it is in your power to wipe out that judgement now"
- Marcus Aerelius
Then ask, where or to whom is my attention invested? And what are the thoughts and emotions connected to it - are they anger, frustration, or the like or are they uplifting? Can I give myself permission to be without continuing those unwarranted thoughts and emotions?
"Trust that your soul has a plan and even if you can't see it call, know that everything will unfold as it is meant to." - Deepak Chopra
"What lies behind you and what lies in front of you pales in comparison to what lies inside of you." - Ralph Waldo Emerson
Tip with Nutrition and Health
In addition to helping my father with nutrition, I started helping a relative with nutrition and would like to share some key tips:
We decided to focus just on one meal first, which was breakfast. By getting a healthy breakfast down, it could highly influence the remainder of the day and prevent the afternoon crash.
Get some light movement in prior to the first meal
Many common breakfast foods and beverages, like oatmeal and coffee, can easily be changed by adding, subtracting, or substituting a few ingredients. I think breakfast should be nutrient dense, but should not make you feel tired and heavy. Try the latte with a whole milk or dairy free milk, the oatmeal with steel cut oats, raw nuts, and berries.
Focus on where you are being healthy, you're most likely doing very healthy things - walking daily, eating good foods, etc. - so believe that you are healthy and are getting healthier.
Add some mindfulness and awareness to how the food informs your body by taking note of the following:
How do I feel before eating?
How am I consuming this food? Apparently, chewing more and slower aids digestion.
How do I feel after eating? When it gets to the next meal (or a few hours after a meal, like breakfast), note how you feel?
Write down your Fears (especially during Covid):
Fear often escalates that which doesn't need to be escalated. Writing down what I feel fear towards whether it's business related (posting a blog, recording a podcast) or travel related things (going on a flight during quarantine) and even if it's not something I really fear, helps settle into the present moment and approach the following in a more positive manner. Like so:
Write down something you're afraid to do.
I am afraid to fly during covid
I am afraid to post a blog
Then write, and I scare myself by imagining
… I will catch the disease
… no one will like it
Finally, replace it with a positive image of the desired outcome
… I am well prepared with my mask and abide by the rules, and arrived to my destination in great health!
… turns out I really enjoyed sharing my writing and other people enjoyed reading it!
The act of acknowledging a fear helps breath through it and not letting it stop you. There have been times I had been fearful to post a blog. Once I recognized it was a fear, it quickly went away.
Thought on one of the Torah Portions
During one of the weeks in Seattle the weekly Torah portion was Ve'etchanan, which means "I requested." One key part of the parsha was that Moses' request to enter the land of Israel was denied. However, based on the endless love he had for the Jewish people, he knew that by not entering Israel it would benefit the Jewish people in their growth and trust in their own individual connection with God. Each of us has to be our own leader as we continuously arrive into the land of Israel and the era of the Messiah.
Any event that occurs must be deliberately chosen by righteous men like Moses. Perhaps he requested, but ultimately went forth with what would benefit us.
Love thy Neighbor, not the 'other'
On the flight home I saw someone with a shirt that said, "Love each other" and it made my think about the great principle to "love your neighbor as yourself." A human being is a home, a dwelling place for G-d. There is no 'other' since we are all One. Thus, the principle says thy neighbor rather than other.
Update on the Home Renovations
In the 6 weeks I had been in Seattle, I was able to help with some things from cleaning out the backyard - power-washing, pulling out roots, beginning of installing a new fence, cutting out thorny bushes, etc - while also assisting my father with the interior renovations - creating a new washer/dryer room, updating the kitchen.
Looking back I do feel I could have invested more energy into helping my father with the home, but overall I did the best I could at balancing the roles and intentions I had.
As of the time of writing, the house is not totally finished, but we're excited to see it fresh.
Other note-worthy experiences:
Paddle boarding was one of my intentions that arose in a serendipitous way during my final week. I got to paddle board in the middle of Lake Washington with sight of downtown Bellevue, downtown Seattle, Mount Rainier, Olympic mountain range, and Kirkland... What a spot to stand on water!
On the about me page, I have a short story about going to my paternal grandmother's grave. On this trip, it was meaningful to visit my maternal grandparents' graves.
On writing about travel experiences, the more I write, the more I remember and want to share... Ah, there is beauty in what is and isn't shared.
As always, thank you for reading!