My Embarrassing Day in Seville

My Embarrassing Day in Seville

Every once in a while we need to have a good laugh.  Take ourselves a little less seriously.

You know those moments where you’d crawl under the nearest rock if you could?  Well, in the spirit of a good laugh, I’m going to share one of my embarrassing experiences with you.  I hope it brings a smile to your face.

My husband Chris and I traveled to Portugal a number of years ago, and decided to spend a few days in Seville, Spain.  While overseas, we opted to take trains, bus coaches and boats rather than rent a car.  Great way to see the countryside without having to focus on driving in unfamiliar territory.

To get from the Algarve (Portugal) to Seville, we first took a boat and then rushed madly to the nearby bus station, as we were running late for our bus’ scheduled departure time.  We made it just in the nick of time.  We were the last ones on the bus.

It happened to be a double bus, attached by an “accordion” like this one:

Accordion Bus - Metro Cincinnati

As we were the last to get on, we had to sit in the very last row of the back bus.  I started to sweat a little at the very thought of it (I had a decade-long case of motion sickness when I was a kid, and if you’ve ever experienced it, you’ll understand why this made me nervous), but pushed that aside in my relief that we made it to the bus in the first place.

The driver pulled out of the station, and we were on our way, excited about our new destination.  Then… the driver proceeded to drive like a maniac – as much as possible with a double-length bus.  He sped like crazy, weaving in and out of lanes, then braking hard every chance he got.  Speeding.  Swerving.  Braking.  Speeding.  Swerving.  Braking.

It was muggy in the bus.  And our driver’s apparent enjoyment of swerving and braking gave me the opportunity to quickly discover that my seat was broken. So, every time he applied the brakes I flung forward toward the seat in front of us.

Recipe for disaster.

Let me pause here for a moment.  If you’ve never suffered from motion sickness, it’s important to know a few things for the benefit of those who do:

  1. for someone who’s feeling carsick, it’s important to be able to focus on something in the distance.  Curves, swerves and hills – and being in the back of a bus with minimal visibility – make this difficult.
  2. being heavy on the brakes and braking more than necessary is bad
  3. swerving and taking sharp turns, except when absolutely necessary, is bad
  4. Even if #2 and #3 are necessary, vomiting will likely ensue

Back to my story.

There I was, trying my best to brace myself against the seat in front of me and breathe deeply.  Chris was next to me, oblivious of my plight, talking animatedly to the fascinating couple from Brazil sitting next to him.  I would have loved to talk with them as well, but instead decided to focus on keeping my stomach’s contents inside me.

The speeding-swerving-braking continued for what seemed like an eternity.  Finally, the kind Brazilian woman next to my husband pointed out that I didn’t appear to be feeling well.  He tried to help and she tried to find an anti-nauseant for me, but it was too late.  I was past the point of no return.

Finally, one of them found me a plastic bag (thank goodness for small mercies) just in time.  I clutched onto that bag for dear life and did what needed to be done – several times – as I kept flinging forward in my seat.

Then we arrived in Seville.  And the bus stopped.

I almost cried in relief… though the relief was temporary.

I stood up, only to find out the plastic bag had a huge hole in it.  There was vomit all over my shirt.  And it was hot outside.  So hot.

Ugh.

I was a disgusting, smelly, pale mess.  I decided the main course of action, after shakily getting off that detested bus, would be to change my shirt and rinse out my mouth.  So I went into the public washroom of the bus station.

Then I found out that you need to put coins into the stall door in order for it to open.  AAAAAUGH!!!  I hadn’t changed any money over to the local currency yet!!!

Thankfully, a kind stranger who I will forever be grateful for, saw – and no doubt smelled – me and held the door of her stall open for me as she was leaving.  I went in, changed my shirt, and cleaned up as best I could.

Having regained a tiny shred of dignity and a bit of colour to my face, Chris and I left the bus station on foot, in the heat, pulling our luggage behind us, looking for a hotel room for the night.

(Hmmm… isn’t it strange that none of the hotels seemed to have a vacancy)?

Okay, what’s one of your embarrassing experiences?  Please share!

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Happy Valentine’s Day!

Happy Valentines Day

Happy Valentine’s Day, everyone!

Thought I’d pop in to wish you a wonderful day and gently remind you to love yourself today – for where you are in your life right now, for how you’re growing, and for the amazing person you are.  Because you are amazing, even when you don’t see or feel it.

Be good to you, okay?

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Your #1 Fan

Your No. 1 Fan - guest post from U.R

Today I’m excited to feature a guest post from Kat Cowley of Uplifting Reflections.  Take it away, Kat!

It was no surprise that lady Beyoncé brought the dome down during her Super Bowl half-time performance.  You have to give props to a woman who can wear sky-high stilettos and dance a storm for a crowd of millions.  As the cameras panned on her adoring fans (many of which sacrificed multiple paychecks and vacation days to watch her perform) it dawned on me how emotionally invested people were in Beyoncé.  A person they had never met.

This emotional investment spans to all public figures or icons we admire.  It got me to thinking about how much our society would improve if this emotional adoration shifted to us being our own #1 fan.  Instead of adoring how someone else dressed, danced, sang, acted, or showcased their beauty, we got that pumped up about ourselves.

You don’t need a Twitter following of 100 million or a shelf full of Oscars to be a big deal.  After all, there are plenty of statistics that show us people forget “acclaimed” achievements ALL the time.  (Try naming the last 5 Miss America’s or the last 3 Nobel Peace Prize winners if you don’t believe that).  But EVERYONE can name a friend they can count on to pull them out of a funk, the friend they turn to for a fun night out, or the friend who can light up a room with their presence.  YOU have a fan club – know it or not – you have one.  Why not give due props to what everyone else sees?

Get excited about you.  You offer this world a unique dimension.  You offer your friends a special “character” that only you can fulfill.  You bring love into your relationships that has your specific touch.  No one else can be what you are to people.  Control your self-talk and keep singing those praises.

So, go on with your #1 self.  If you can be that big a fan for someone you don’t know, you can be 10 times that type of fan for yourself.  Let’s acknowledge our own showstopper status, celebrate it and inspire others to be great, too! (Sky-high stilettos optional).

Kat Cowley

If you enjoyed this post, you can find Kat at www.upliftingreflections.com doing her uplifting thing.

 www.katcowley.com

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Spice it Up

Spice it Up - BSoL

I’m excited to have a guest post over at Kat Cowley’s Uplifting Reflections.  Here’s a teaser:

“If you do what you’ve always done, you’ll get what you’ve always gotten.”
~ Anthony Robbins

We’re fully into 2013.  Yep, it’s now February, and some of you may be asking yourselves where your 2013 “get up and go” got up and went.

Perhaps you’re feeling stuck, wondering, How did I get here?  I didn’t picture my life looking like this.

Don’t worry – there’s hope!  View the rest of the post here.

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Carpe Diem

Wheresoever you go - Confucius - 585

Over the past couple of days I’ve had memories of old events pop into my head out of the blue.  Memories of carefree, joyful times.

One particular memory was of a time in high school when my beloved friends and I would walk to school, being completely silly and belting out songs from musicals like Grease.  We were 14, I think.

We had to cross a river (in reality it was a probably a small stream, but everything looked big back then!) on the way to and from school.  On our way home one day we realized the bridge had been washed out by a storm.

Hmmm… what were we to do?

We thought about it for a split second, then scrambled over branches that hung over the river. We giggled nervously, a bit scared at the daring feat we were attempting.  After all, we could fall, get soaked, dump our backpacks – or my saxophone – in the water, and probably get in serious trouble if our parents found out.

But we did it!  We crossed the river to “safety,” dry backpacks in tow.  And a buddy somehow actually managed to carry my saxophone across in his teeth!  When we got to the other side, we continued our crazy singing and dancing, laughing all the way home about our exciting adventure.

I hadn’t thought about that day for a long, long time.  But it brought a huge smile to my face this morning.

Then it got me to thinking – how would we approach a similar situation as adults?

Imagine: you’re taking a walk to a place you really want to be (maybe a great cafe), and need to cross over a stream to get there.  As you approach the bridge, you realize it’s under repair and can’t be crossed!  What do you do? Do you laugh about it?  Curse a blue streak?

And once your initial reaction is over, do you take off your shoes and wade through (assuming it’s safe and not winter in a cold climate), find a different way to cross, or turn back?

As adults, we’d likely turn back.

But why?  Assuming you’re not in danger, why not cross the stream?  Why not stretch yourself and do something out of the ordinary, something unusual and maybe even unthinkable?  You’d get a little wet – so what?

Remember a time of being carefree, and not being concerned about doing everything by the book or because it was practical?  When your heart guided much of what you did?

So… now that we no longer have the raging hormones of teenagers, and have gained a bit of wisdom from experience, why not let our hearts have more of a say in what we do?

The next time you’re faced with what seems like a stumbling block, look closer: instead of turning back, maybe you can jump on or around that block – and have some fun in the process!

Carpe diem – seize the day!

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We’re All Connected

Connection - full size

I believe we’re all connected in one way or another on this crazy journey of life, and we’re part of something much bigger than ourselves.  I’ve felt that way for a long time now.

Have you ever met someone – or simply met eyes with someone – and instantly felt as if you really knew them, though you’d never previously met?  Tonight I stumbled across this poem I wrote back in 2000.  Thought I’d share it here.

(disclaimer: I am not a poet, so please read it for sentiment and not poetic merit).

Connection

We’re connected, you and I.
All of us.
Not in a moment of touch
Or in a lifetime,
But in all eternity.

You can sometimes see it
As your eyes meet
With a passing stranger’s –
Who is really no stranger
At all.

Two souls embrace
In a split second
For all eternity.

Then you walk on
As if you were never touched
At all.

~ Christine, January 29, 2000

Do you believe we’re all connected?

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Happy New Year!

Image

I’m enjoying the holidays with loved ones – I hope you are too – but wanted to stop in and wish you an incredible 2013!

Whatever your experiences were in 2012, just remember: this new year is a clean slate.  A fresh start.

Whether or not you have New Year’s resolutions in mind, take some time to look back on the past year and give yourself kudos for how far you’ve come.  Maybe you accomplished a personal goal, built or nurtured positive relationships in your life, or simply realized you want to make some changes.  These are all important steps on your journey.

Then, take some time to think about what you want for yourself in 2013.  Allow yourself to dream big!  Pick one area to focus on first, and think of some small steps you can (and will) take to head in the direction you choose.

In the meantime, I wish you a happy and safe New Year’s Eve.  And may 2013 bring you more love, laughter and fulfillment than you’ve ever experienced!

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Searching for Light in Dark Times

However long - the dawn will breakMy heart has been so heavy since hearing about Friday’s tragedy in Newtown, Connecticut.  Though we don’t want to imagine the depths of sorrow, shock and despair directly impacting so many, these events affect and deeply sadden all of us.

If you’ve been reading my blog for a while, you’ll know I strive to find the good wherever possible.  But in this case, I’ve been struggling to make any sense of it whatsoever.  I’m a mom of two young boys and am absolutely horrified by what the families and community must be experiencing.

So where is the glimmer of light in this unbelievable tragedy involving innocent people who had barely started their lives?
After thinking about it for some time, I realize there is light in this – at least in the aftermath – however faint it may seem.  And as the people in Newtown walk a long and difficult road through darkness, I hope their saddened hearts will allow them to see and feel its warmth.

The light is found in the outstretched hand offering to lift them up, the courage and kindness of others, the coming together of a community – local and global – in support and love and the desire to help them through.

I hope that, in time, the community will be able to find solace and healing in the kindness of others.

Rather than focus on the perpetrator of these events, let’s focus on the courage of the teachers who took steps to save the children, the first responders who risked their lives to protect others, and the outpouring of love.

Please hug your loved ones a little closer, and tell them how much they mean to you.  Don’t put it off for another day.

Two beautiful related posts:

Making Sense of the Confusion – Live Through the Heart
In the Arms of Angels – LifeSublime

I will also be posting this on my other blog, The Brighter Side of Parenting.

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Stressed? 3 Relaxation Tips

Last week my brain was spinning out of control.  Countless fragmented ideas flew around in my head, all madly vying for attention.

If I wasn’t working, I was thinking about things I want to create, ideas I want to put in motion and content I want to write.  But I couldn’t seem to grab onto any specific idea long enough to really examine it.

It was kind of overwhelming.

When things get chaotic it’s easy to start breathing shallowly without even realizing it.  Which can lead to tensing up and becoming anxious.  Which makes it harder to slow down, breathe deeply, gather your thoughts and stay calm.

Kind of a catch-22.

And then I remembered a recent call with a dear friend who reminded me how important it is to BREATHE.  Just breathe.

And that really is the answer to so much.  When you breathe deeply, you slow your heart rate and calm yourself down.  You’re much more able to clear your mind and refocus your thoughts.

Here are a few tips to help bring you back to center:

1. Get horizontal.
Lie down and close your eyes.  (This assumes you’re in an environment where you can reasonably do this – if you’re in public, you may want to skip directly to Step 3).

2. Tighten and then relax your muscles. 
Tense every muscle in your body to the extent you can, including the ones in your fingers, toes and face.  Do this consciously.  Hold all that tension for a few moments.

Then, slooooowly relax all the areas that are tensed up, working your way consciously through your body.  Release the tension in your fingers, for example, then move on to your palms, and so on.  Letting go of all the physical tension feels amazing, and by the time you’ve done it, you’re ready for step 3.

3. Breathe.
Take a deep breath in through your nose, imagining the breath filling every part of your body, even your toes.  Allow it to expand your abdomen (don’t suck in your gut on the inhale).  Hold it for 5-10 seconds if possible.  Then slowly and deeply exhale, tightening your abs towards the end of the exhale to help push out “stale” air.  Do this as many times as it takes for you to feel calm and centered.

Ahhh….. now you’ll be able to view things from a clearer perspective.

How about you – do you have any tried-and-true relaxation tips?

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Dear Santa, Just One Thing…

Dear Santa,

I don’t usually write a Christmas list – I have so much to be grateful for and don’t really need anything – but there is one thing that I’d like to ask for:

I’d like everyone in the world to get a big warm-to-the-tips-of-their-toes HUG.  You know, the kind that makes you feel understood, loved, appreciated and oh-so-happy to be on the planet right at this very moment.  The kind that makes you misty-eyed.  The kind that reaches right through to your soul.

That’s what I wish for.  And I know that’s a lot of hugs, and you may not have time to give them all out yourself.  So maybe you could start a big HUG MOVEMENT, one where people take the time to hug – really hug – each other.  I was reading about a Free Hugs Campaign started in Australia awhile back.  Maybe something like that?

Please, this Christmas, pack your sack full of love rather than toys.

I hope you have a wonderful Christmas!

Sending you love (and a huge hug!),
Christine

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