Friday, January 5, 2007

Back in the USA - and Back in the HOLE

WOW - I am back in the USA. I have a layover in LA and am able to see my parents who are vacationing with friends over new years. That is nice, seeing how I missed the entire holiday season, starting before Thanksgiving.

Anyway, I get on yet another airplane on Friday morning and come cruising into Jackson Hole. I step out of the plane and take a deep breath, smelling the clean, mountain air. A feeling of joy overcomes me. I have made it home from travelling around the world, and I can honestly say that I live in the most beautiful place I have ever been. I can't wait to see my dog, to get home, and to start working. (Yes - I LOVE Grand Dynamics) It's good to be back.

Soon enough I am greeted by Geanie cranking my favorite tunes and Telos, my chocolate lab, licking my face.

I get home, and begin my transition process back to Grand Dynamics, and reflection on what all this has meant...

Wednesday, January 3, 2007

From Russia with Love

I manage to make it to the airport on time. Anastasia and I have a bit of a debate as to whether my baggage I left is at the same airport that I am flying out of. A few moments of panic, and then we realize that everything is in line. I make my way through the airport check ins. At one point a security guy is going through all my luggage and finds a horn from Kathmandu. He squeezes is and jumps up, startled. He looks up and around, gets the attention of another security checker, and squeezes it again. They both break out in laughter and I follow suit. Wow - Russians laughing with me at the airport! A great way to finish my trip. It was almost as funny as when I realized my zipper was down for about an hour in the airport... ummm, yeah, another good one. Maybe that's why everyone was smiling and laughing at me?

I continue through the check in process and get to my gate. As I proceed, the security checker finds my bottle of Absinthe, and quickly takes it away! WHAT?! Duty free is right there! I proceed to make several arguments, none of which is understood. As I stand there, pleading my case, I hear off in the distance, "Welcome to Russia!" I look up to see a beautiful Russian girl with long blondish-red hair, smiling at me. "Hey - can you talk to these people for me?" I ask her for help. She comes over and soon she explains the options. "Leave the bootle here with them, or drink it." Ummmm....Okay.... I crack the bottle and announce to the rest of the people waiting that there is free Absinthe for the drinking! I thank my new found friend, Alena, for the support and we share several shots before we get onto the plane. As we head to our seats, Alena invites me to join her later in the flight. Spicaba! I pass out and have beautiful dreams, spawned by this historic, dark liquor...

I wake up and join Alena for the rest of the long flight. We talk about many things, including a the Economist article about Neurology and Brain Science. This comes right after I am explaining to Alena about Plato and the Allegory of the Cave, and we discuss whether or not we we can ever know what is real and what is fantasy. (Literally, I open the magazine and that article is referenced in the section we are reading - sweet.) I make one dire mistake of telling Alena that I know how to Salsa dance (that's another story)... By the time we land we have built a stong connection and one that we plan to build on. What a great way to finish up the trip. Out of Russia... with love! And I mean that as a great metaphor. The entire Russian finale experience transformed from one of a cold confrontation and challenge, to a warm grateful feeling, with love. What better concept of Self Actualization????

Tuesday, January 2, 2007

MOSCOW and the Learning Zone

I have one more day in Moscow. My travel from St. Peterburg begins by missing my flight. I misread the departure time and thought it said 1:20 - instead of 12:00. Oops. I catch a flight an hour later and am shocked that there is no penalty fee. As I contemplate my last night in Russia, I waiver between "going big" and getting a $600 hotel room downtown and relaxing for the last night, or going back to the hostel. I am feeling much more confident now and step out of the airport ready to dial in my last day. I decide to take Moscow head on, and quickly negotiate a taxi for 1200 rubles (800 less than what I paid the first time!) I return to Godzillas hostel and and welcomed with open arms by the reception folk. It was nice to see them again. Everything is feeling much more comfortable. I take a nap and head out for the last night. One of the highlights is a Russian shot called the Green Dragon. The shot is topped with Absinthe and it goes down in flames! (Email me if you want the recipe!) Rock and roll... i party fairly hard and end up back at the hostel hanging out with a VERY random guy, playing music and jamming until the wee hours.

I arrived in Russia without any experience of the culture, the language, or knowledge or my surroundings. It was a bit nerve wracking and personally challenging. The experience was definitely out of my comfort zone. By the time I returned back to Moscow, I has the basics of the Russian Language, a comfort level with the culture and an overall confidence in travelling in this foreign land. This was a perfect Learning Laboratory of the comfort zone and how it works. NOW - I have expended my ability to travel in general, and my experience has provided me with a greater sense of confidene and knowledge that i CAN and WILL always handle new and challenging situations. Embrace the Learning Zone. It may be uncomfortable at the beginning, yet the rewards of expanding your capacity as a human are well worth the effort!

Monday, January 1, 2007

2007 - The Beginning

This is going to be the most incredible year of my entire life. I am filled with optimism, excitement, and passion. I begin the year with a very fulfilling conversation with Nathalie, from Switzerland. Funny, she is Italian, living in Switzerland, and speaks French. I am an American, with roots from Germany and Scotland. We are in Russia. We communicate in Spanish. Pretty interesting.

We reflect on the past year, and on the notion of facilitation and leading others to solutions through reflection and questions. This leads us into the theories of relationships and Self Actualization. The conversation flows and later on I pause to think about the new beginnings that 2007 will create.

How have you transitioned into the new year?

Have you clarified your visions, roles, and goals?

What is it that you desire to create in your life in the new year?

Snovum Godum - Happy New Year

The new year is upon us. Today I spent much of the morning writing and reflecting. I rounded out the last hours of the new year by checking out several local bars and local hot-spots. The Nord Hostel is perfectly located for the festivities and I wind up in the central square when the bells toll... Huge stage, band, crowd... Snovum Godum is the cheer for Happy New Years in Russian, and is heard all around. Dancing in circles, jumping up and down, freezing my ass off, and generally great fun.
I meet up with a few other Russians and we head inside to warm up for a few minutes. This is when I realize that I have lost my travel journal. I think back and remember having it in one of the cars I took earlier in the evening. I must have left it there... I am distracted by the thought of all the contacts, reflections, and insights that have drifted away from me. After going to the one other place it might have been, I make a conscious choice to let it go. What is done is done... i head enjoy the street scene and head back to the hostel. I meet a couple of really funny Russians outside the door and we have a blast drinking vodka. For entertainment, I watch one of them go up to about 40 people and ask if they speak English. Oddly enough, not one person out of the bunch that he asks says yes (surprised?) Anyway, the celebration continues into the wee hours and eventually I float off into sleep...