LUGGAGE Lady

Contemplations about Life, Love, & the Pursuit of Meaningful Existence…

Archive for the tag “gratitude”

Travel’s Priceless Souvenir

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“I’ve orchestrated my life around travel because nothing else truncates imaginary woes or realigns perspective so stealthily.” ~ 💗Luggage Lady

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Two weeks after graduating college, I tucked a second-class Eurail pass into an overloaded backpack and jetted off to Europe. I saw the opportunity as a luxurious postponement of reality, but my ‘delusions of glamour’ shattered the moment that plane skidded to a halt. Far from lavish, the summer of ’88 revamped my sheltered mindset and fortified my coddled heart. Not a day goes by that I don’t thank my lucky stars (and my parents) for this gift.

Twenty-seven years and 56 countries later, here are a few introspective observations:

🌎 Hunkering in Dachau, Germany’s dank concentration camp gas chamber, death’s stench lingered in my imagination. Sickened by such incomprehensible horror, I focused on those who’d somehow survived the senseless carnage, praying they’d gone on to lead wildly fulfilling, dignified lives — complete with every well-deserved amenity.

(I have never experienced true suffering and have no excuse whatsoever for not adding positivity in my brief time here.) 

🌎 Swaying on unsteady legs in an African AIDS orphanage, jet-lagged and longing for caffeine, the guide announced the arrival of his American friends and the children swarmed. Frail arms clung to my knees, giant eyes gazing upward. I bit my cheek until I tasted blood to keep the pooling tears from falling and knelt down to join them.

(I know nothing of hardship. Overfed, overwatered, and otherwise overindulged — I have absolutely nothing to complain about — ever!)

🌎 When my Guatemalan tour guide asked if he could show me his new house, I agreed but worried what he’d be omitting from our tour as a result. I can barely recall the rain forest, but touring his minuscule cinderblock home, as he proudly pointed to the concrete floor and explained how he’d had dirt flooring his entire life, is something I’ll never forget. Shame prickled in my gut for all the creature comforts I had — and took for granted. Yet, there he stood, with his shy wife and cooing baby at his side, all of them beaming.

(How few material possessions we need! Family, love, friends, and the dreams we build together represent real wealth.)

🌎 I’d already been advised not to wander out of this Turkish port town’s tourist area and shooed from a mosque. Instead of visiting the woman’s designated prayer trailer, I roamed the residential back streets. My heart froze when I heard voices chanting, “American, American.” Before I knew it, a giggling boy and girl were grabbing my hands — just wanting to say hello.

(Political and religious zealots may capture the headlines and fuel fears aplenty, but they rarely represent the spirit of the people.)

🌎 As we prepared to sail away from Thailand’s Phi Phi Islands my husband smacked his empty back pocket and gasped. He’d forgotten his wallet in a massage parlor the previous night. The cynic in me thought we were more likely to be struck by lightning than to ever see the contents of that wallet again. Not only did he get it back, but when he offered a tip of gratitude, the business owner vehemently declined, saying, “You come back and visit me again — that will be my thanks.”

(Most people are good and decent and moral — and cynicism is such an unattractive waste of energy!)

🌎 Beyond the rear gardens of St Petersburg’s Summer Palace, my husband spotted his ideal food venue: a shish kabob cart packed with locals. Turned out, the chef/owner was Armenian and thrilled to have Americans patronizing his establishment. He brought a complimentary sampler platter to our table and sat down. The only problem? His English was extremely limited and, as you can probably guess, we didn’t speak a lick of Armenian. But, boy oh boy, did we ever have a blast communicating about his family and how he ended up in Russia, where we were from and what we did for a living…

(The desire to share one’s story is universal. Cultivate magical connections whenever possible.)

🌎 A darling travel mate was inspiring some Cuban school children to smile for our photographs. She shouted, “Cheese!” Seeing their confusion, she repeated the word in Spanish: “Queso!” Her sweet, albeit — completely lost in translation —  effort sent our group into giggling fits. The vision of middle-aged gringos practically rolling on the ground elicited enormous grins from the kids. Mission accomplished!

(A friendly demeanor and hearty helping of humor can overcome just about any barrier.)

🌎 Whether marveling over the Inca’s artistry at Machu Picchu or rocketing across the sky at roughly 600 mph, I can’t help but stand in awe of mankind’s ingenuity. From architecture to innovation, brilliance abounds! 

(Next time I start flapping my jaw about spotty internet coverage, or shrinking airplane seats, or any other deemed ‘inconvenience’ — may I honor humanity’s achievements by respectfully clamping my teeth over my tongue.)

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Travel’s Priceless Souvenir??

The empowering realization that we awaken our best selves each time we stretch outside our comfort zones and engage another, whether interacting globally or within one’s community: Greeting, smiling, listening, learning, and appreciating the diverse souls populating our planet, while celebrating how similar we truly are — hearts beating and breaking, just the same.

Machu Picchu -- WOW!

(photo from our Machu Picchu 42-mile hiking adventure 2013)

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Ever Grateful for YOU

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May the faintest illumination allay all traces of gloom
A whispered word evoke cheer in your heart even amidst chaos
May providence veer you fluidly from harm
A song renew your spirit
May your blessings be bountiful enough to share
And giving elevate your essence
May love lavish endless color across your days
While the gift of family and friendship provide safe harbor
May you know inner peace and hone this asset
Forever seeking
Passage to soulfulness…

♥ ♥ ♥

Your support means the world to me, precious readers. Sending you ALL my deepest gratitude & love — on this special day — and always! 😘

Ode to Cabin Crew

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I wanted to be a flight attendant for as long as I can remember. More than twenty years later, I still pinch myself from time to time. Although my experience has been overwhelmingly positive, there’s a dark side no one really discusses. We’re supposed to be social butterflies with contacts spanning the globe and bags expertly packed for our next exotic excursion, after all. Lonely, isolated, and disconnected are probably not terms most would associate with cabin crew. The truth lies somewhere in the middle. Maybe part of it is that we’re so busy caring for others that we forget to care for ourselves. Perhaps we bottle up the day’s negative energy, like the mountains of trash we collect but forget to throw away the former. Or maybe because we’re trained to calmly handle countless emergency scenarios, we’re terrified to admit when we need a lifeline of our own. Whatever the reason, we must do our best to look out for our sky family, honoring the fact that we’re forever united by wings…

💗I dedicate this to a dear sky angel who left this world far too soon. Rest in peace, sweet friend.💗

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Hired for our upbeat personas, quick wit, and reassuring smiles

We’re kindred spirits united by similar dispositions

Our aluminum-tubed office affording a collage of continuous change

Crewmates bonding as seamlessly as the airplane generates lift

 

Perhaps it’s the liberation of zipping

Seven peaceful miles aloft across azure skies

Teetering on sparsely padded jump seats

We share stories those closest to us may never hear

 

Whether swapping tales of adventure

Or unfathomable challenges, lessons, and heartache

We inspire and garner fresh perspectives from one another

A myriad of personalities merging at 37,000 feet

 

Not just a career

But a dynamic lifestyle

Cherished wings

Symbolizing fortuitous passage to a boundless world

Thump against my ever-grateful heart

 

And yet – somewhere between the ‘hellos’ and ‘goodbyes’

A sense of impermanence looms

We’re independent souls

Or we wouldn’t have chosen this profession

 

But sometimes

When that hotel room door clicks shut at the end of a grueling day

A lonely heart slips beneath the covers

Brushing away a tear or two

And questioning

“Who’s going to have my back when my smile falters?”

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(♥ Photo courtesy of a dear colleague’s friend. Check out her site, featuring the precious model above: http://karlaquiz.com ♥)

🌎 See also: Love Letters to Malaysia Airlines

Perspective is — Everything

Perspective

Docking in Corner Brook, Newfoundland, I peered out at the torrential downpour. Gusty wind blew rain in every direction. A lone guitarist huddled in a wooden crate, crooning “Sloop John B”  to welcome us. The zip-line operator canceled our tour, and all I wanted to do was crawl back into bed with a hot toddy and the book I’d brought.

My husband wouldn’t hear of it, having already revised our plans to hike along the river. And so, I retrieved every piece of waterproof gear I’d thought to pack and trudged toward the ship’s gangplank. As we neared, commotion ensued. We watched an elderly gentleman being hoisted onto a stretcher and whisked away via ambulance.

I ventured into Mother Nature’s wrath, swirling air immediately snapping my umbrella inside-out. I slipped on waterlogged tree roots, my new shoes squished, and I worried that the camera in our drenched backpack was being destroyed. But, oh how vibrant the autumn foliage adorning the forest trail appeared dripping wet, and how serendipitous that a cluster of trees should materialize just as the heavens unleashed buckets, and how satisfying to hear an abundant river gush…

Five miles later, my umbrella had been reduced to metal carnage, mud clung to my backside, and water dripped from my eyelashes — but I couldn’t stop smiling. Accustomed to my prissiness, my husband thanked me for maintaining such a chipper attitude. I just shook my head and said, “I bet that gentleman would give a million bucks to be hiking in the rain right now.”

Timeless Souls Plucked from the Spring of Our Days

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A high school friend recently asked me to write something for our upcoming reunion. I struggled for weeks. Then, I thought about the plans being made to honor those classmates who’d left our world far too soon. Several of these losses occurred while we were still teenagers. The impact on our young minds was profound.

As I began writing, however, I realized this wasn’t just for the Class of ’84. This was for every courageous spirit who has endured unimaginable tragedy and found the strength to move forward, anchoring families, friendships, and communities with awe-inspiring perseverance.

I dedicate this to you with Love and Admiration.

♥, LL

(Photo from our journey to De Hoop Nature Reserve in the Western Cape Province of South Africa, 2009)

Might We Dance Again?

IMG_7582  Pouring heart and soul upon the page

Unmasked for all to judge

At times, feeling inconsequential

Misunderstood

But you opened your arms

With unimaginable support

Erasing those fears

Swaying and twirling

Generously sharing your own inspiring insight

Our introspective dance drawing us close

Pouring heart and soul upon the page

In pursuit of meaningful existence

Hand-in-hand

Might we dance again?

♥♥💃♥♥ 

Oh, how I’ve missed my WordPress World!!!! Thank YOU ALL — from the depths of my wandering soul — for not abandoning Luggage Lady during my lengthy hiatus! I very much look forward to reading your beautifully uplifting, thought-provoking blogs once again. And for my cherished readers, it is my sincerest hope to publish something of value here at least once a month. 😘

 

For Salvaging My Dream…

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Pecking computer keys in the wee hours

Few aware she even writes

Hunkered in the shadows

Defining herself by “other things”

An artist?

Unworthy!

Just a floundering girl

Filling her document folder

Material swiftly abandoned

Homeless amidst

Shock and awe journalism media

Wavering attention spans

Preoccupation

Isolation gradually devouring

Until a one-dimensional figure

Staring idly

At pulsing cursor

Was the uninspired hull that remained…

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Then I found YOU!

Generous souls

Benevolently lifting

Hailing

From every corner of the globe

Rejuvenating with spirited support

In this frenzy-paced world

YOU selflessly carve out a moment of your day

To read, offer feedback, and gracefully pass through with a loving nod

YOU hoist my bar higher each time

Whether near or far

Our Connection

Propels my heart

Fingers fluttering across keyboard

In creative rebirth

Delivered by your welcoming chorus

Yet I stand before you

Struggling to articulate…

How do I sufficiently thank

YOU

♥ CHERISHED READERS ♥

For Salvaging My Dream?

Reeling with Gratitude

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I confess: I’ve spent a lifetime playing it “safe.” Unless I could spy a clear-cut path to assured “success,” I shied away from “risky” opportunities. In regards to my writing, I surmised, better to be unread than to have my creativity slaughtered by critics!

Then, I met my husband and tried to wrap my mind around his life-story:

A high school oops given up for adoption…a ward of the state for seven months…adopted by a couple who would divorce by his seventh birthday…raised solely by his adoptive father who turned to the bottle to ease his solitude…beaten routinely…escaping to join the Air Force…only to return home and helplessly watch his only parent succumb to cancer…orphaned at twenty-three…after which he would track down biological parents who ultimately wanted nothing to do with him…

???!!……………………………………………………………….!!???

First off,  I could not fathom how a man forced to grow up with zero maternal love was capable of loving me so completely. Furthermore, how did a person raised under a banner of rejection and abuse achieve such sky-high dreams? I, a child blessed with a “Beaver Cleaver-type upbringing,” had known no such hardship. How could I begin to understand the anguish of not having a soul on this planet to call family?

I’m not qualified, I silently panicked! What could I offer — besides unwavering love?

I did the only other thing I felt capable of — I started writing a fictionalized version of his experience. What started out as an education about the lingering wounds of adoption, evolved into an endeavor that superseded fear. One I will never give up on until it is worthy of ALL who have walked — for whatever reason — in abandonment’s painful shoes.

Rehashing a manuscript, again and again, can leave one numb. Starting this blog inspired me to keep my writing fresh. Where I struggled in my fictional world, here I found salvation. But NEVER in my wildest dreams did I expect to find such an incredibly supportive community…

Reeling with gratitude, I can only bow my head and say — THANK YOU!

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Special Thanks to:

Teacher as Transformer who nominated me for the Very Inspiring and Sunshine Blogger Awards. He is truly the teacher we all wished we had in our younger days. I am elated to have discovered him — better late than never!

Global Light Minds who nominated me for Blog of the Year. Wendy’s daily snippets are my number one inspirational indulgence. Follow her, you won’t be disappointed!

***

I wish to nominate the following blogs:

Eric M Vogt’s Blog — His intriguing background captured me from the git-go, but his amazing writing will change your world for the better…

Untetherednunbroken — Beautiful, eloquent, soul-stirring and so very real…

The Silent Muse — An incredibly prolific writer. My finger hurts from hitting the LIKE button so often…

Aarthi — I have no idea how she writes so consistently beautiful every single day…

MindRetrofit7 — Add another star already, Angel!

Global Light Minds — Add another star, Wendy!

Withering Words of Mind — Kent is new on the scene but certainly not new to the written word, what a magical find…

For all those I missed in this talented pool…or haven’t had the privilege of discovering yet, I can’t wait to read your delightful words!! XO

Around the World on a Few Magical Phrases

As a privileged guest in over forty countries, I always try to pack basic foreign language skills. I’m not talking about investing in a Rosetta Stone course for a two-day jaunt, but rather the simple gesture of memorizing phrases such as: “hello,” “please,” and “thank you” that will seamlessly bridge a pathway to positive encounters. Best of all? There’s no need to stress over the precise pronunciation.

Case in point, on a recent journey through Poland to Hungary to Austria/Germany, I struggled less with my Polish and Hungarian (!) than I did with my German, where “thank you” stuck to the roof of my mouth before oscillating off my tongue in a tangle of incorrect vowels. On more than one occasion (I wish I could blame on Oktoberfest), I actually blurted out what sounded a whole lot like, “Thank you…Donkey,” leaving my husband to shield his red face.

We eventually queried our hotel receptionist in Vienna as to the degree of offense my mispronunciation might be causing. To my delight, he did not laugh, assuring me that no one would be the least bit insulted or confused by my efforts at gratitude.

So take it from the donkey lady herself, give the native language a gallant whirl and disregard any smirks or raised eyebrows (if only from your traveling companion). I promise your display of respect will supercede any enunciation gaffes…

Thank You Military Personnel

I was working a flight over Labor Day Weekend when one of our country’s finest came aboard. As flight attendants, we had three clues:

(1) His camouflage backpack.

(2) His humble attitude (he sat in the very last row).

(3) A fellow passenger who’d spoken with him in the gate area and couldn’t wait to tell us about our esteemed cargo, making certain we were aware he hadn’t been home from Afghanistan since Christmas!

He slept the duration of the flight, but upon landing our lead attendant announced that we had military personnel on board and could everyone kindly give him the courtesy of deplaning first? I’d heard about this respectful gesture being extended in various venues around our beautiful country, but until I stood at the front of that airplane and listened to the thunderous applause, while this brave defender of our freedoms marched up the aisle, high-fiving every passenger sitting on the aisle (with others reaching out as far as their limbs would allow — just to make contact), I had never experienced the magnitude of appreciation from my fellow citizens.

I am boundlessly grateful for the military men and women who keep us safe each and every day — and for those who take the time to acknowledge their service and sacrifice.

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