The evolving journey!

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imageThis will be my last post from this beautiful town of Tomar in central Portugal.  How I got here was nothing short of the grace of God.  It was not without a lot of tears, all well spent.  I would come to find out on my arrival to this town, it would be home to the “worlds largest matchbook museum” 

Once upon a time, in the history of this country it was against the law to own a lighter.  There was a huge industry in making matchbooks. The tools used to light a fire.  The museum itself is nothing to light a candle to.  As I walked the rooms and viewed thousands of matchbooks and matchboxes, I was struck by the enormity of how big a fire this would be if this place were to catch on FIRE!  Akin to seeing a firecracker factory go up in smoke. Then it begs to ask, why would anyone collect all these matchbooks? Because the graphics are amazing and entertaining. I never saw the same matchbook twice.  Strike while the fire is hot.  This town is filled with all sorts of quirky tidbits.  I believe it was not until the 70’s that the law was changed, after the last revolution.

Not far from this museum is a tile factory.  Actually the tiles are not made there.  They are hand painted and decorated at this spot.  A group of local women artist paint everything Portuguese and more on tile and then fire them.  Tile is to Portugal as Mickey Mouse is to Disneyland.  My second day in this country I went to an actual tile museum. I had learned about this museum on Sunday morning watching a news show on CBS.  I had no idea that day that I would actually be visiting that museum.  It did not disappoint.  Yet due to the airlines luggage weight rules, I have to leave most of the tile behind.  But I have had some special ones custom made.

I will be leaving this beautiful part of the world and all the wonderful souls I met along this path.  There is so much that I missed and someday when I return more awaits.  A match has been lit and I look forward to the next adventure. Obrigada Tomar!

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Where oh where are you tonight

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It certainly has been sometime since I got back here. After much time and travels it is about time. Where did I go, well I went everywhere and there.

To travel in good health is priceless. The sites have been overwhelming and breathe taking. I could never choose just one.
The methods of travel have been varied. Sometimes by car,boats,trains and best of all my own two feet.

Some places I would love to return to. Others, well been there done that. But the place I like most is the place I currently call home. Isn’t that where my heart is? Today it is. So much of this adventure has been about putting my heart into every place I go.

I was drawn to this area of the world in part by a movie I saw a few years ago, The Way. I have in NO WAY come anything close to that much growth, but I have opened my mind and heart to a more grateful way to live.

Next time here I will get more into the sights and people I saw while I was away from here. This is not much for a do over on my BLOG, Brilliant, Loving, Obvious, Gab. But it is a start!

You can’t get there from here

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The map may show that this is the way, but it can be wrong.
The other day on my walk around the Mata with head phones blaring I was stopped by an elderly woman trying to get my attention.
In this country I could be a super model. Not because I am dropped dead gorgeous, thou I have been told I look like a particular actress. Only for the reason that I seem to tower over many of the people here. They are not height challenged, they like I are elderly and shrinking.
I have spent a good portion of my adult life being blessed with adopting some mighty fine seniors. I was not fortunate to grow up with living grandparents. So I decided that if I liked them I would keep these wise soul on my path. Only it is really hard to keep anyone. When you are making friends with people decades older than you chance are they won’t be around to see you elderly. The gift of meeting,loving,sharing people who have been there done that, is the story of what was happening before I got here.
On these castle grounds many stories have been crossed.
So even thou I could not understand much of what this women was trying to ask me, I was able to figure out that the way into the castle was not the way the map said. The entrance to the castle was what she was looking for.
I hated to tell her that she was not going to be able access the castle on that path. Sounds like no big deal except this garden has some steep inclines and she had come so far up. In the time of our brief exchange her companion caught up to us. She broke the news to her. You can’t get there from here.

I couldn’t just run off and leave them. It was hot and they had no water. My mother instincts kicked in and I changed my pace so that I could see that they made it down the garden. When we reviewed the map and used sign language to show where they would need to enter the castle, they opted for the nearest cafe and I went on my way.

Some days on the path in the garden I am met by butterflies and stray cats. This day was a couple of old broads on an adventure.
Now I have a friend visiting from Sedona and I get to share this tiny town where the people are small but their hearts are big!image

The tale of two concerts

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When this adventure across the pond began, I didn’t see a Rolling Stones concert on my radar. Yet there I stood with a huge mass of humanity the other day. Keith Richards mentioned he was happy to be here or anywhere for that matter. There was a best seller about his life and plenty of other reports about his life out there to testify to his statement.
I was glad to be there too. Great energy for a group of us advanced people. I saw a lot of my peer group in attendance, we are getting old. I met some grandpa aged men who told me they follow the Stones any time they tour in Europe. Followers of the Grateful Dead were called “dead heads”. Are followers of the Stones referred to as “stoners”?

But this is not a review of the performance. This is about how it took me almost 33 years to get to a Stones concert. I do not recall what that tour was named. This tour is named FIRE 2014.

I had a back stage pass to a tour that the Stones did in December 1981. Only I didn’t make it to that show as the place I was living burned to the ground and I became to distraught to cope.
I could not stop my pity party to go party with the Stones.

This past week back in Sedona a Forest fire consumed the landscape. Hundreds of acres of beautiful views destroyed by the flames. Once upon a time I had been a volunteer firefighter in Sedona. We trained for just that kind of event every year. We were told it was not a matter of “if” but more likely “when”. It seems “when” finally arrived. Fortunately no homes or lives were destroyed in the fire.

I know first hand what loosing everything materially feels like. That fire in my life was just the beginning of an ending. The best lesson I took from the fire in my life was not to get attached to material things.

The stories of the Phoenix rising out of the flame have materially appeared in my life. Giving me the opportunity to do something I had planned on doing some decades ago. So even thou Mick and the boys have gotten older they still can rock and roll. SedonaStella sang along.

Nana’s GAP YEAR

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Caps and gowns are being fitted and worn this time of the year. The hustle and bustle of change is in the air. Families gather to celebrate the big milestones in academia achievements.

Some famous and not so famous are invited to give long winded speeches about the meaning of these transitions. Hostages sit in blazing heat and their Sunday finery. It is not just a crowd of students going in a new direction. Some of the faculty won’t be back. There are parents anxiously awaiting a tuition free life.

If I ever master my fear of public speaking I would love to give a commencement speech. A captive audience’s are so few and far between. Though one beer bong after any speech most of the crowd won’t be able to recall anyways.

Which brings me to this “gap year” concept. After a few of my Portugese friends explained what the young people do here after high school, I decided that is what I want to do. I had never heard of it before but I like the idea of a gap.

After some research, Wikipedia tells me how it is all not that uncommon in parts of Europe. It is highly discouraged in America. Not real sure why that is, hindsight I wish I had encouraged my child to take a gap year. Only scholarships are much like a “KMART blue light special”, they do not wait for a gap.

In my gap year, or how ever long it takes I spend time thinking about the word “gap” and many ways “gap” show up in my life.

I remember when the big retail store The Gap opened up in the 70’s. They were cutting edge in providing fashion for a generation in the middle of a gap. The gap of a war ending and the greed pursuit beginning. In time that retail business would be swallowed up by some big conglomeration. It would go on to open things like The Gap Baby.

Then there is the voice on the London Underground which at every stop along the ride you are reminded to “mind the gap”. What a gap it is between the train and platform. One long wY down if you don’t mind the gap.

And of course there is that space between your two front teeth. You get braces for that gap! Not to be forgotten, but now a days I have a few, gaps between what I was going to say and what I am thinking.

Back to the gap year. It is too late for me to go back and take that gap year over. Besides if they had given me a chance for a gap year, I probably would of picked the year between kindergarten and first grade.

I am living that gap year that many young people get here. I am seeing the sights, sitting in cafés with out distractions. Finding my way to museums, monasteries and concerts. I know what was on the beginning side of my gap. Not sure what will be the end of my gap. But until then I am filling the gap with fun.imageimage

Grow where you are planted

Most days here in Tomar my choice of exercise is to walk the Mata. The Mata are gardens that surround the castle across the street from my home.
To express my gratitude for these beautiful gardens, I pick up any trash I may see along my path. Somedays there seems to be more trash, other days not so much. Someone who enjoys a particular type of candy leaves the wrapper along the trail. I don’t pick up all the trash, but I do always pick up that wrapper. I try to refrain from judgement of the candy person. So much to see in this garden and I want to be of service here in this beautiful part of Portugal.

When something unexpected sprouts up in a garden, that plant is refered to as a “volunteer”. The other dimageay I saw a Palm tree growing in these gardens. I have walked this many times since arriving and never saw it. It was taller than many of the pine trees, so how I had missed it is beyond me.
I have never had much of a green thumb. My gardening days are now spent picking over other’s bounty at the weekly farmers market.

That tree reminded me of the word volunteer. I have practiced being of service by volunteering where I am planted. Last summer I was fortunate to volunteer for an agency that helps the mentally retarded in upstate New York. In Santa Fe my volunteer time was for an organization which benefit people in need of palative care. My longest volunteer time was spent with the fire department in my old home town.

Picking up trash i see along my walk is my small way of volunteering where I am planted. The concept of volunteering is an outward expression for all the gratitude to be present to enjoy what is planted. There are so many different volunteers growing in this garden called earth. I am grateful to be of service in this small way.

Plenty of time to spare or is there?

Almost missed the plane?  How could that be when I arrived with so much time to spare?
The alarm was set but not needed as I was too excited for Barcelona to sleep. Packed and ready to go I headed to the train station while most of the towns people slept. Who booked this early flight I wondered and remembered, I did. It was nice to see a few other people were also waiting for the train at that hour.

A nice couple began chatting with me. Their English was far better than my Portuguese. They were enroute to visit family in Italy. We had the train mostly to ourselves until we got closer to the city. They offered to share a cab from the train to the airport. I accepted. When we arrived at the airport, they refused to let me pay my share. They were paying it forward and I was to be the recipent of their kindness.  How does this happen to me twice in my life?

A few years back I went to visit a sister in New York City. I was to take a cab to her place as per her instructions. As I waited my turn at the taxi stand,  a mother and son were in line in front of me. We struck up a conversation and they offered to share the cab with me. I accepted. They were from Denver and in New York to visit family. We arrived at their destination first and the women paid the whole fare including mine. I was so grateful and surprised to say the least. Someone had paid it forward and I was the recipient. It was my turn to pay it forward.

Gestures of kindness do not all have a financial string attached.  This I learned in repeatedly over the last couple of years.  I am in debited to many who paid it forward to me by showing random acts of kindness.

A few years passed since that cab ride in New York City. I found myself sharing a cab into the city once more. This time I was first to arrive and my turn to pay it forward.  I was so grateful to be able to extend the kindness was given so freely to me.

 

So how did I almost miss the plane? I got lost in the moment of how wonderful my life is. I put my headphones on and sat at the gate singing to myself. Since I don’t know the language I was going by the sign that said I was at the right gate for that flight.  Problem was I didn’t hear them announce a gate change while I sat there.  Fortunately I plugged back into what was happening around me and ran to the right gate. Making it in time to be the last to board. The first to arrive the last to leave.

It is that time again…

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Where does the time go. I say that with such ease but there was a lot of work in filling that time. Along with that work was a tremendous amount of pain, or as some say, blood sweat and tears. How time flies when you are having fun. No time like the present. There are many clichés about how “time” evaporates.

I have now been here in Portugal for a month. Now all I want to do is figure out how to stop time. This little town of Tomar in some ways has been stopped in time. Old castle walls, aqueducts that go on for miles. Not stuck in time is the kindness the people here share. More and more they are welcoming me into their community. I had a chance encounter with some people I was introduced to on my daily walk around the Mata. The people I have regular contact with, the grocery cashier, the bank teller,the waitress at the cafe all smile and welcome me. I know they are paid to be kind, but there are people not paid to be nice. Like me. Well I am not paid in the monetary way and over paid in the grace way.

So they have a ritual that the young people partake in here every year. It looked like a giant water balloon fight held in the middle of town. Kids on home-made parade floats are pulled by tractor tossing water balloons at their peers. Fortunately for all those involved the weather cooperated. It was fun to watch and not get wet!

There was another ritual I unknowing participated in here. The country’s Independence Day recently passed. For that event it is customary to shoot off a cannon gun for each year since the revolution, all 40. Well that scared me wide awake as I thought someone was taking a sledge-hammer to the place. When I opened the window to see who was the culprit, I heard the cannon noise continuing. Relieved that this 13 century building was not being bulldozed, I did not go back to sleep.

These are the little things that fill time. So blessed am I to be able to be a mindful observer. I am spreading my wings and going to see what Barcelona is all about. All part of the vision I set for myself when the year began. There is value in my time and it is priceless. All of which I have learned living one day at a time.image

Take this on face value

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It seems that these blogs have taken a “face” theme. This one will not be an exception.
I have begun to recognize familiar faces in town on my daily adventures. The woman in the beauty shop shows up in my first yoga class. All expected results of living in a small town. I may have moved from one small town to the next. There is a comfort feeling to seeing familiar faces. This past weekend I had a visitor from my previous small town. Seeing a familiar face from a previous space and time warmed my heart. It helps that it was someone I wanted to see again! I have always been one of those people who has good facial recollection. This I consider an asset for eye contact brings a sense of human sharing. Thou I do not think I could positively identify anyone outside of my immediate family and long time friends.
No two people have the same face. Ask any twin!
I am grateful to live at and in a time where I can see the faces of the people who matter much thru multi-media such as Face-Time and Skype. Because there is just something wonderful in seeing a friendly familiar face. Take that at face value!

Inside the castle walls

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Along the path to those castle walls I met a new face. The next castle produced two more new faces. It wasn’t long before I found myself sitting at the local cafe with these beautiful souls who shared unconditional love. Taking the road less traveled in my life now continues to unfold with blessings. So getting past my walls has not been as painful as I thought.image