My Sister Karen Is Sexy (Attention grabbing Title)

Or What I Learned From Deliberately Engaging In A Demanding Journey.

I learned first hand that the following quote is true:

"Always say "yes" to the present moment.  
What could be more futile, more insane, than to create inner resistance to what already is? 
What could be more insane than to oppose life itself, which is now and always now? 
Surrender to what is. 
Say "yes" to life-and see how life suddenly starts working for you rather than against you."
~Eckart Tolle

I had a great trip visiting my sister. She is amazing.
My trip was hers too. I am betting she is also jet lagged.
No two days were alike or even similar.
After the initial difficulty I had adjusting to how unfamiliar everything was,  I learned to stop "deciding" that certain aspects seemed difficult. I made a conscious choice to just take it all in.
I decided to resist nothing (within reason, of course).
Love motivated me to keep going despite the following challenging moments:

-A Missed flight. (Allowed me some rest and relaxation)

-Non-stop crying infant on the plane ride from Chicago to Japan. (Was taken care of by an Ambien)

-Airsickness. (Allowed me to experience the kindness of a complete stranger)

-Feeling lost and stranded at the airport due to Karen being stuck in traffic
(with no means of communication either- an oversight on my part--led me to practice the mantra:
"infinite patience produces immediate results")

-Car rides from point A to point B where cars, motorcycles, humans on foot, trucks, kids on makeshift scooter pads on busy highways, buses and dogs--yes, dogs too-- muscled each other out for the right of way. (this became my prayer time)

-botched plans due to non-stop rain, impenetrable traffic, coded car system that makes Karen's car use complicated on fridays... (I observed all this in awe of my sister)

-the lengthy distance of Karen's Little House On A Mountain (aka the ashram)

-Impromptu college kids sleepover blaring a horror movie soundtrack in Karen's house.
(Nephew Mihali,  I love you. Thank you for showing me that despite the inconvenient location of your home, that friends travel the distance to hang out there. Your family's warmth draws people in--this truly made me smile)

-Allowing tears to flow when I held Niece Aneka's baby for the first time.

-Experiencing and surviving a dangerous rip current in the ocean during a trip to my friend Marge's awesome beach house. (more on this later)

-Moving a really large armoire that belonged to my dad from our ancestral home up to Karen's house.
(watching it miraculously not come crashing down on top of our heads)

-Experiencing a tension filled meeting with the brokers and the buyer of the house we grew up in. (Nothing a good cry did not take care of)


Half-way through my Philippine trip, I felt sick.
A sore throat, cough and flu-like symptoms.
I thought to myself:

Manila. Is. Kicking. My. Butt.

My friend DZ asked me if the Philippines was different or if it is that I am now different. (or a combo)
I replied:
I am not much different-my inner core is the same, it's just that the experiences in the Philippines are not subtle.
And I have been away from it for too long.

Just when I was tempted to go fetal and stop saying yes to the present moment (my physical state rendering me vulnerable)
another friend of mine--Vinia,
informed me that she and her husband had just assigned one of their cars with a driver for my sole use for the remaining half of the trip.

A surprise blessing!
Without her knowledge of how challenging moving around had been for me--they gave me this unexpected gift.
When Karen found out,
she immediately asked me: "Why,  did you complain???" (the nerve)
I said, "of course not!!!!"  (I had been practicing saying yes, I can't believe that Karen did not notice!!)

Their act of generosity energized me to keep on going!

Karen and I were able to visit more people and places (that I otherwise would have scrapped due to the strain it would have put on Karen if she had to do the driving AND PARKING!).
We were all able to attend a really funny and entertaining Mass.
We ate our way around Manila.
We visited another chapel where Karen was barred from entry due to her short skirt. (made me laugh my head off)
We were able to make several trips to attend the wake of a dear friend's mom, who died while I was there.
And, most important--
I was able to keep returning to Karen's Little House On A Mountain--despite several invitations to sleep in more convenient and familiar locations.


This trip has taught me to be more flexible.

While I did not accomplish my plan to:

1. Run everyday. (life got in the way)
2. Bike. (I said no)
3. Get around by public transportation by myself.  (the unfamiliarity and change intimidated me)
4. Set aside a time and space for prayer and meditation (have you been to Manila??)

I did learn to make peace with uncertainty.
Case in point,
On my last plane ride en route home yesterday, my plane suddenly hit severe turbulence.
I had not ever experienced such a thing.
Passengers screamed when the plane suddenly dropped, bobbed and banked wildly to the left and to the right.
I put down the book I was reading (The Four Agreements by Miguel Ruiz: thanks Erica!)
and mentally started reciting "The Lord's Prayer."
I prayed that my family would be okay in the event of an "unscheduled runway-less landing"

But I never panicked.
I realize that those past 12 days spent working on not flinching during James Bond-like car rides,  prepared me for that turbulent last leg home and I think, just about cured me of my travel anxiety.

I am tired from my trip, but I am well.