Posted Kamana Hunter
It was the moment of the Bloodline Healing workshop that touched me most deeply. My eyes swelled with tears as I witnessed Abbey, a Native American Elder, embracing Eliana, a young Jewish woman. My chest filled with a pure satisfaction as Eliana sobbed and Abbey soothed. These two participants were perfect strangers before this workshop. Their embrace was perfect.
ImageOjo Caliente Hot Springs in New Mexico is a historic sacred site of Tewa speaking tribes. The first bathhouse was constructed in 1868.
It was all happening in a heavy wood yurt that sat in the bare New Mexico Sun. Ojo Caliente, the first health spa in America, was constantly pushing its hot mineral water into the man made hot tubs. The large yurt was just a short walk from the hot tubs, and soon our bodies would soak in the curing waters to wash away the dirty smudges and heavy family burdens that we were expressing in the yurt.
Abbey had journeyed from a far away reservation to come to this workshop. Though she was the youngest of her siblings, she was born with the a strong and giving heart. Even as a child, she was someone who carried herself with the authority of someone much older than her position as the “baby of the family”. Early in her life, she had cared for her family by emotionally supporting them and ensuring the many responsibilities of family life were fulfilled. Her service to her family became even stronger when a few early deaths filled her family with grief. In that grief, they had come to lean on her without realizing that she was serving as unconventionally young Elder. For years, she emotionally carried her grief ridden family. But it was not a recognized role. To them, she was necessary, but her contribution was assumed and unseen.
Now, in her later years, Abbey’s grandmotherly heart was reaching the guarded Eliana at our workshop. Eliana didn’t trust her parents or the elders in her family. She moved away from them as soon as she could after years of unspoken emotional neglect. We asked her to participate in an Ancestral Dialogue, an often cathartic opportunity to speak to the deceased loved ones of her lineage about her family struggles. But too many emotions surfaced after she introduced her family tree to the group. In short, she didn’t want any contact with her ancestry because her family always seemed to need so much from her. Instead, Eliana forged a transparent wall, a tense force field around herself to protect herself from a family that had betrayed her. She needed support, but it could not be familiar. She needed a trustworthy stranger.
“I understand what you are going through,” Abbey said. “I know what its like to be left in an unspoken way. But you’re not alone right now,” Abbey moved towards Eliana gently. Her inviting dark eyes put Eliana at ease. Tears fell down Eliana’s face, as a wave of empathy washed over her from Abbey. The ice wall around Eliana began to melt as she stretched out her arms like a forgotten child. They embraced. Abbey spoke softly into her ear, consoling and validating the younger woman. It was the female mentorship and guidance that Eliana did not get from her overwhelmed family.
Eliana cried, expressing how she had always needed this kind of support, sharing how her mother and grandmother failed to see how important this nurturing embrace truly was to her. But Abbey knew. That deep caring instinct of an elder took over. In her younger years, Abbey carried the burdens of her grieving family. But now, Abbey was being seen in her eldership in an appreciated way. It was no longer a hidden job that was done from behind the scenes. Abbey too was receiving a healing by being recognized for her gifted heart.
My heart also swelled with gratitude and celebration, because I knew that I had played a part in bringing together these two women from different worlds. Like a resonate symphony, the whole group was moved as they gathered close to the hugging women. Some cried, other smiled, as we all witnessed the courageous and intimate healing happening before our eyes.
“I really needed this,” Eliana said. “Thank you, Abbey…Wow, this was intense! I knew I needed to be at this workshop, but I didn’t expect this to happen.” The group laughed, as many of them shared that they felt the same way. They were walking a path unknown to the routines of their life. Healing needs change in order to happen.
At sunset, the hot water emitted steam into the cool night air. After feasting on fresh cornbread and tender Rainbow Trout for dinner, I slid into the thick heat of the moonlit mineral spring that was nearest to the rock canyon. I too, had received a healing today. By seeing these two strangers embrace, my trust and faith in humanity was growing. “Perhaps we just need more safe spaces like this workshop in order to realize our full healing potential,” I thought to myself. After our group session in the yurt, my heart felt clearer, the burbling water felt more vivid, and the taste of the fresh lemon water lingered on my tongue. “This is why I do this work,” I thought to myself. “It helps me to feel more alive!”
Each time I facilitate a workshop, I too walk into the unfolding healing process. Just like Abbey and Eliana, each participant brings the group a special gift to the gathering. As I daydream about our October 10-13th, 2013 Bloodline Healing Workshop at Brandeis-Bardin in Southern California, my heart becomes bright with excitement. I look forward to being on that sacred land, that refuge from the everyday pressures of our busy lives. Who will come to this retreat? What cross cultural bridges will be forged? What unexpected gifts will perfect strangers share with each other?
About the Author: Kamana Hunter
This article first appeared on We Said Go Travel.
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July 23, 2013 | 2:59 am
Posted by Lisa Niver Rajna
True Weight Loss Story: Lisa Niver Rajna lost 58 pounds while Traveling the Globe
Lisa Niver Rajna is a member of the prestigious Traveler’s Century Club, a unique group limited to travelers who have visited 100 or more countries. She enjoys trekking to new locales so much, she even co-authors a popular blog with her husband, We Said Go Travel. Over the last few years, Lisa has been hiking, biking, boating and walking across Asia but there was a time when she could barely walk a mile without feeling exhausted.
She has so many stories she could write a memoir, and she did, but the adventure that gave Lisa the most satisfaction was her weight loss journey. Though it spans years and thousands of miles, it’s one of her favorite tales to share.
In 2001, Lisa was single, fit and working on a cruise ship. Then, the tragic events of September 11th enfolded. Subsequently, her company went bankrupt, she stopped traveling, moved in with her parents and turned to food for comfort. Her weight crept up so slowly, she actually argued with her doctor who told her, “I don’t care if your clothes still fit. You gained more weight.” After an honest self-assessment, she finally saw what the doctor was trying to tell her. Initially she started walking, and made it her mission to keep going until the weight came off. At the time, Lisa was a science teacher. ”For three years, I walked to work. It was two miles each way,” she said. “There were several other teachers (who were younger and lived closer) who all drove every day. When it was rainy, cold or dark, it was hard to keep going but I chose to walk.”
READ THE FULL ARTICLE on DietsInReview
Lisa's memoir, Traveling in Sin, is available on Amazon. A true tale of transformation through Love and Travel!
July 16, 2013 | 6:44 pm
Posted by Lisa Niver Rajna
This exuberant and unique travel memoir is written in the voices of the story’s two leading protagonists, George and Lisa, who meet on-line in January 2007. After exchanging emails and dating, the couple travels to Fiji over the summer of 2008 where George reveals his lifelong dream to travel the world for a year and urges Lisa to join him. With much convincing, the duo embarks on a journey that takes them from French Polynesia to New Zealand and Australia. From that point on, the "true" adventure begins as they journey by land across vast portions of Asia covering Indonesia to Mongolia. During these adventures, Lisa shrinks down her waist size while developing her inner courage and belief in herself; George learns to open up his heart to form a team-based relationship that leads to a culminating special proposal.
Peppered with humorous characters, tears of joy and disaster, and different realities related to their varied social strata and travel style, George and Lisa meander around Asia seeing the sights, building their relationship and returning triumphant to the United States in love and excited about their imminent wedding. They both took a leap when leaving their jobs, home, cat and cultural clutter, and land together as a team with a new life.
Buy this book on Amazon.com.
Find out more about Lisa and George at We Said Go Travel.
June 24, 2013 | 1:35 am
Posted by Lisa Niver Rajna
My friend Baruch and I wended our way up into the northern Galilee in Israel, up into the mountains. Just a few kilometers from the Blue Line – the UN determined border between Israel—we drove past an Israeli Army outpost and its patrols dressed in their heavy uniforms in all that heat. The day hovered at 45 degrees Centigrade.
But as we drove higher, a brisk wind began to blow—hot but at least the air was moving. We had come to visit Baruch’s brother-in-law, Chananiya, who lived on the goat farm he built, structure by structure—a place surrounded by blooming olive trees and verbena, wild flowers and goats whose bleeting punctuated all the deep silence that surrounded us. Two Israeli flags that once flew over the clay structures painted in Moroccan blues and yellows were ripped to shreds.
The weather up there, like everything else about the place, was different, more intense than the rest of the country, saturated with heat and wind. The silence was so thick it felt like a blanket draped over the noise of the world. Way down below the few cars I could see wending their way through the verdant green of the north looked smaller than toys. Now and then I heard a goat bell tinkling, then more silence, then trickling water traveling through the single pipe that ran across the dusty earth from a nearby Moshav.
Read the full article on We Said Go Travel.
About the Author: Amy Friedman is an award winning author and a judge for our We Said Go Travel Independence Writing Contest.
ENTER YOUR TALE OF TRAVEL AND FINDING FREEDOM. FREE ENTRY, $1,000USD IN CASH PRIZES, ENTER BY JULY 4!
June 6, 2013 | 8:54 pm
Posted by Lisa Niver Rajna
In Tiffany Hawk’s novel, Love Me Anyway: A Novel, Emily and KC seek new lives flying towards their unrealized dreams. Approaching their new job as United Airlines flight attendants from different runways, Emily explains, “For KC, picking up and heading to Chicago meant she was a grown-up. For me it was proof I was young after all.”
Emily’s high school sweetheart turns out to be a dangerous husband swinging calphalon pots, demanding perfection in the kitchen and no commentary allowed as he once kicked “his wife out of the car and left her on the side of the road late at night just for reminding him to turn on his headlights.” Carl’s escalating behavior frees Emily to leave home, however, her father and step-mother have tried to restrain her with their philosophy, “expecting too much from life would only lead to disappointment…Doing what you love was only for people with money or connections or both.” Despite these obstacles, she learns the ropes with KC and allows her deep desires for travel, love and being bolder to guide her.
KC’s seatbelt of beliefs about being abandoned by her father and her mother’s illness restrain her. She wears her secrets like a life vest but they are not helping her stay afloat. She does buoy up Emily, who says, “KC makes me want to try anything. She makes me believe I can have a rewarding career, a full passport, and true love. If I’m going to fail, I want to fail trying. “
May 31, 2013 | 2:11 am
Posted by Lisa Niver Rajna
In The First Rule of Swimming by Courtney Angela Brkic, Luka taught his granddaughter: “The first rule of swimming was to stay afloat.” Madgalena and Jadranka, two sisters who grew up on Rosmarina Island, Croatia, must find a path to balance in this novel. Through the details of decades of family history during the war and after, each family member discovered truths among what was told and what secrets went unsaid.
While Magdalena remains in Rosmarina and becomes a teacher, Jadranka “was not so much irresponsible as a force of nature, difficult to predict and difficult to contain.” Jandranka explained her philosophy: “Who needs a plan when the possibilities are endless?” Others commented about Jandranka, “She has always moved to her own music.” Her efforts to understand herself and her past create ripples throughout the family that turn into waves of understanding.
Their cousin, Katarina, spent one memorable summer with the girls on the island after her family moved away to America. The trio had challenges as youngsters, which reappear when they are reunited as adults. The sisters felt that Katarina’s family “had picked an easier life, and it only seemed fair that they should lose something in that transaction.” The two girls did not want to share their island with their cousin but involving her and connecting with her was crucial to their ability to move on with their lives.
As the novel evolves, every family member reveals surprising tales; the pieces of the puzzle fit together to create an endearing portrait of what we do for love.
Love to read books about travel? Read more reviews by Lisa Niver Rajna
May 17, 2013 | 9:53 pm
Posted by Lisa Niver Rajna
SUMMER 2013 INDEPENDENCE TRAVEL WRITING CONTEST
FREE ENTRY, $1,000USD IN CASH PRIZES
WeSaidGoTravel.com invites you to enter its Summer 2013 Travel Writing Contest with $1,000usd in CASH prizes and no fee for entry. The theme for the Summer 2013 contest is “Independence: A Place You Feel Free.” We hope your article will inspire others to travel more and find freedom! Enter from May 11, 2013 to July 4, 2013. We are looking for an article about your act of freedom–a place you chose or that makes you feel free.
THEME: Independence: A Place that Makes You Feel Free
1st Prize – $500usd
2nd Prize – $350usd
3rd Prize – $150usd
RULES go to http://www.wesaidgotravel.com/writing-contest
Enter by midnight PST on July 4, 2013
JUDGING: Richard Bangs, Amy Friedman and the We Said Go Travel Team
INSTRUCTIONS go to http://www.wesaidgotravel.com/writing-contest
May 10, 2013 | 7:56 am
Posted by Lisa Niver Rajna
The theme for our first travel Writing Contest was INSPIRATION! Our Judge, Richard Bangs, selected Rachel Zimmerman Brachman's article, "The Whale and The Trampoline," as our FIRST PLACE WINNER.
Our INDEPENDENCE WRITING CONTEST begins May 11 and ends on July 4th. We hope you will choose to share your stories with us and perhaps win some of the $1000usd in CASH PRIZES!
Something puzzled me as I drove my rented all-terrain vehicle through Barrow, Alaska. Why did so many homes have trampolines in their yards? In a place where it’s cold and dark most of the year, trampolines seemed out of place.
I had always wanted to visit the high north, but I never imagined I'd make it to Barrow, Alaska -- 320 miles north of the Arctic Circle. I was traveling with NASA scientists who wanted to compare the polar regions on Earth with the icy moons in our solar system. My job, as a NASA educator, was to meet with the science teachers at the local schools.
The hut where I stayed was a few minutes' walk from the Arctic Ocean. I wore my winter coat, hat, gloves, scarf, and boots, even though it was mid-August. The temperature was 38 degrees F, with a wind chill below freezing. I heard stories of winter temperatures reaching minus 120 F, and I couldn't imagine anywhere being that cold.
I visited an ice cellar, where families store their frozen salmon, seal, and whale. Since the ground is permafrost, people can dig a deep hole in the ground and carve out a cave 20 feet below the surface. The cave stays 18 degrees F all year, so food stays frozen. I got to taste muktuk -- whale skin and blubber -- a treat for the people who live there.
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