Saturday, October 24, 2015

Planning Trips

The Stay-At-Home Gypsy needs to always have a trip planned. Going somewhere, at some point in time, it doesn't matter when or where, there just needs to be a destination lurking out there. A definitive adventure. Something to dream about when life becomes mundane. Something to think about when the daily routines start to pummel the soul. A window, a beacon of light, a future escape. As long as there is something planned, life can go on.

I am going to Croatia in May. That is 7 months away but it brings me joy every day. Images of Dubrovnik flash through my mind and it is intoxicating. I plan my days there in my head. . .two days in Zagreb, well, maybe three, then on to the coast. Maybe I will take a day trip to Montenegro? Maybe not. Who cares? In my head, I am EXPLORING and it thrills my soul.

I read about the country - its history, its culture, its stories. I find every book I can find about the Croatia - both fiction and nonfiction. I listen to Croatian music, I learn some basic phrases (IstraĹžiti!), I watch Rick Steves roam the streets of Split on my TV. I immerse myself.

I google hostels, I browse through, I create different experiences in my head. Do I stay in private hotels and spend my down time reading and napping? Do I stay in a boisterous hostel surrounded by young travels from all over the world? Do I rent a room and immerse myself in local culture? I experience all options, the good and the bad.

I travel there every single day in my head. It is my private escape. No matter what is going on around me - work, stress, traffic - in my head, I retreat to my own make believe Croatia.

In this way, each trip that I take lasts for months. It gives me ongoing joy and excitement. I may not be able to travel as much as I want, but I make every trip count.

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Putting Myself First

You know how when you fly, and the flight attendant stands at the front of the plane and does the little song and dance about how to fasten your seat belt, where the exits are, and what to do if the plane suddenly plummets in a ball of flames? Yeah, I know, no one ever pays attention to the poor flight attendant, who studied hard in flight attendant school to master those erratic arm movements and mad pointing skills, but there is one instruction that has always stood out to me:

     "Place the oxygen mask on yourself first before helping small children or others who may need           your assistance."

It seems selfish at first. What? Give myself life-saving oxygen over my helpless child? Allow him to gasp for air while I am sucking on that sweet O2? How could I?

It's obvious, of course, because you can't help others if you are debilitated. Or dead. You have to be strong and at your best if you are going to be there for others. It makes sense when you are sitting in row 14 seat A looking up at that little closed hatch ready to grab that face mask and pull it over your face the instant it drops. You are ready.

So how come in regular life, when there is not a smartly coiffed flight attendant directing our actions, are we so willing to ignore ourselves while helping everyone around us? Why do we disregard our own needs while making sure the other people in our lives are taken care of? Why are we so busy slapping oxygen masks on everyone else while we slowly suffocate?

I did this for years, especially after my son was born. My own needs came last. And it was killing me.

I have learned, no, I am in the process of learning, to put that oxygen mask on myself first and breathe deeply before helping those around me. To put myself first. Initially, it felt selfish to focus on my own needs - to say No to people, to claim my own space, to ignore the judgments of others. But it gets easier, and after breathing that sweet oxygen for a while, it becomes much easier to help those around you while taking care of yourself.

Saturday, October 17, 2015

Chasing a Croatian Girl: A (brief) Review and (big!) Recommendation

Read this entire book this morning - highly recommended for Stay-At-Home Gypsies everywhere. His writing style is similar to mine (awesome and hilarious) and his experiences adapting to living abroad are fascinating. Also, his viewpoint of America ('Murica!") is spot on.

Read it. Then book a fucking ticket somewhere. Seriously, people, travel. If you do ONE THING in this life, get the hell out of this country for a few weeks. This place is like a giant bubble of artificial existence. I feel like I'm in the Truman Show sometimes. If only I could cross that ocean. . .