Changing Lanes

Following on from the various mentions of my tumultuous spiritual journey this year things seem to be getting somewhere. I understand there are changes coming and I have to be patient, I’m just not always so patient! So anyway, lately I’ve had a pretty big question in life (I’ve had a few, but one in particular being the most time pressing). I’ve been mulling it over and trying to decide what to do when BAM the universe basically lays out the path on a silver platter. Has this ever happened to you? When something happens coincidentally but it just fits where you are SO WELL that it is insane? Anyway, that happened.

It’s almost like it’s saying “Nah mate, you’re going this way”.

On a tangent but still kind of the same tangent, when I was in New York I forgot you have to press “credit” to get money out of ATM’s overseas (because duh) and I couldn’t get any money and I was so woeful. I was feeling sooooo alone and on the opposite side of the world to everyone I knew, I wasn’t sure when my family were arriving and I was sitting in Bryant Park trying not to cry. Because sometimes the world gets you feeling like that. So I finally realised the error of my ways and went on my way, wandering down to Grand Central Terminal (which is pretty damn grand, as the name suggests). I was just walking through when I spotted a 2 year old that I recognised (as you do), the whole of New York City and I bump into my relatives!

So thank you Universe, for all the times you lead the way. A+++
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New York New York

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So while I’m having a lazy morning I thought I’d share some of the tips I picked up in New York. WHAT AN AMAZING CITY. The vibe, it’s something else, and it was an eye opener as my first overseas solo travel experience! I stayed at the Hostelling International hostel (Upper West Side) but when I was joined by family we moved to Chelsea. While the hostel was good and close to a subway station I’d say solo travellers would be better downtown in Manhattan because it’s busier. Otherwise you can head to Brooklyn where Williamsburg will remind you a lot of Sydney’s Inner West – but a lot more packed in! Here are some of my tips:

*Starbucks are the public toilets of New York. They’re on every corner and you don’t have to buy anything. A great tour guide told me this – it’s really important info!!

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*I loved the Met & Natural History Museum but don’t even try and do/see everything, I heard MOMA is really good too, so your pick! The general admission fees are suggested only… you can choose to pay less and they ask you this! At the Natural History Museum I paid extra though to see some of the special exhibitions. I saw Dark Universe which I LOVED, the theatre is a globe, it’s pitch black and the top of the globe is the screen! It’s about space and the size of space. The globe also acts as the largest sphere in a series that shows you the comparative size of planetary bodies – very fascinating! Also let’s not forget getting to meet an actual T-Rex skeleton!

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*There is shops EVERYWHERE, best I found was Macy’s (I’m so in love. It takes up an entire block. Go to the mezzanine and show your passport for a 10% off card), also shopping at bottom of Broadway (from about Franklin Street and up towards times square direction) and 34th Street on the Empire State Building Block.  Times Square has shops but it’s super busy, and all the same shops are elsewhere. Stores like Sephora & H&M are everywhere. The supermarkets (like Gristedes)/pharmacies are worth checking out too – OPI and Essie nail polish are under $10. The Pharmacy’s (CVS/Duane Reade/Walgreens) are like priceline/7-11 hybrids + beer. Century 21 was ok, there’s one at the Lincoln Centre (66th Street & Broadway) and one in the finance district.

*We did the Grayline bus tour… lots of people suggested doing this to get our grounding and see where everything is then decide where you want to go. http://www.grayline.com/tours/new-york-city/new-york-city-hop-on-hop-off-tours-all-loops-nyc-double-decker-tour-48-hours-5870_5/ I have mixed feelings… I went on twice and the first time our guide, Johnny was really good, he told us so much interesting information/history about each area. The second guy was an Andy Warhol/David Spade mix look alike who told us he gatecrashes NYC parties all week.

*Central Park has it’s good bits, I like the statues, I wouldn’t count it as a highlight but I did go on the carousel and see squirrels (this was a highlight for me). Also saw people playing baseball and didn’t go into the zoo (there’s a fee – cheap I know!) but walked past.

* Food I liked – Le Pain Quotidien (I went a couple of times to the one near the Flatiron Building – which is a beautiful area too!), Pret a Manger, Friedman’s Lunch @ Chelsea Market. There is a lot of really crap food but also a lot of really nice fresh food.

*There are cheaper souvenirs in Chinatown, which is also right next to Little Italy. Not highlights for me though, but I didn’t get to explore much.

*My favourite areas: Chelsea Market http://www.chelseamarket.com/ and the West Village/MeatPacking district (cobble stone streets, maybe a bit more Paddington). Then there is the East Village (apparently this is where the cheap trendy eats & drinks are), it’s a bit more Newtown. I found just walking around it’s the kind of city you can just look at! I liked 9th Avenue downtown more and walking down the Bowery was good. For drinks and late night apparently the East/West Villages are the best. I checked out Brooklyn (I caught the subway from Union Square) but only Williamsburg, it’s very inner west/newtowny too but more cramped in. Then there is SoHo and NoHo (south of Houston St & North of Houston St!) and Bleeker Street, but the shops there are a bit more expensive.

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 *Magnolia Bakery cupcakes, OMG. I bought the cookbook they are that impressive.

 *Don’t order an Iced Coffee, it’s normal coffee with ice in it. Unless you’re into that.

 *Staten Island Ferry is free and you get a good view of the Lady! If you do though, everyone automatically goes up the stairs, don’t – go downstairs, there’s an open area that’s not crowded. Also Battery city park you can see her and it’s near wall street (I didn’t get to the bull) and there is a Century 21 down that end and also the 9/11 memorial… I found that to be really touching and very confronting.

 *The subway is really easy. You can get a weekly metro pass which is unlimited.

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 *Avenues run Nth/Sth and streets run east to west. They’re mostly one way, even streets run east and odd streets run west, essentially making every corner a compass. Downtown doesn’t have the number system and so you should probably have a map.

 *I turned my roaming on but my mobile data off and my voicemail off and just relied on wifi. There is quite a bit of free wifi.

 *There is probably more Irish pubs in Manhattan than there are in Ireland.

 *Taxis are really cheap.

 *Grand Central Terminal is pretty grand.

 

I hope these are helpful!

Have you picked up any good New York tips you can share?

Byron Bay

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I’m currently in Byron Bay (beautiful!) and waiting for the rain to ease, will post some more pictures once I’m back in Sydney. Later today we are heading to the Crystal Castle and will be doing the peace experience and seeing the Kalachakra World Peace Stupa – can’t wait to share what that is like!

You can read more about it here.

Restlessness and the Ordinary

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How cute is this gallery wall near my place, I love it!

So I’ve been feeling really weird lately, spiritually and mentally restless. I do get restless, and through out my twenties this just meant bouncing from one thing to another. Now I’m in my thirties I feel like it’s the first time I’ve actually had to weigh up my needs against my wants and my “now” wants against my “future” wants. It’s a strange sensation, but supposedly one that serves well as you get older! I’m not unhappy, don’t get me wrong, I’m just… restless!

I’ve been loving the idea of impermanence, and it just keeps popping up everywhere, as ideas often do once you fix on them.

I am so completely fascinated by the idea that we are matter expressing itself as a human.. matter that never stops changing and moving and interacting. I am quite literally a cluster of ever-changing and fluctuating energy in the form of protons, electrons and neutrons and so on. Did you know for example ninety-eight percent of our bodies’ atoms are replaced each year? I learned that from this article (which is great). The idea actually makes me feel really excited.

My friend went on a Vipassana retreat over the holidays and talked about how hyper-aware it made him feel, in terms of that idea of you being “a concentration of energy in a sea of matter”. Vipassana means “to see things as they really are”. During the retreat you practice noble silence (not talking to people) and do A LOT of meditation. I’d like to try it, but I think it would be a real struggle, but maybe a worthy one. The no talking maybe not so hard because I asked and you are allowed to talk to animals/insects/trees if you wish (don’t judge me) – but the sitting still to meditate – that I think I would struggle with. But from a spiritual point of view that struggling against your need to always DO (hello restless heart!) I see as a good thing, and probably something to consider. Have you ever done anything like this, or are you interested?

In other news, I’m planning a trip to the UK and Ireland and maybe some of Europe in August, so that’s exciting! I also started archery (so fun) and aerial yoga this year (also so fun). I highly recommend hanging upside down for any reason, it’s fun, and makes you feel good.

And on the opposite side of restlessness and constant moving a reminder to appreciate the every day and always look for the magical in the ordinary:

“As it is, we are merely bolting our lives—gulping down undigested experiences as fast as we can stuff them in—because awareness of our own existence is so superficial and so narrow that nothing seems to us more boring than simple being.  If I ask you what you did, saw, heard, smelled, touched and tasted yesterday, I am likely to get nothing more than the thin, sketchy outline of the few things that you noticed, and of those only what you thought worth remembering. Is it surprising that an existence so experienced seems so empty and bare that its hunger for an infinite future is insatiable? But suppose you could answer, “It would take me forever to tell you, and I am much too interested in what’s happening now.” How is it possible that a being with such sensitive jewels as the eyes, such enchanted musical instruments as the ears, and such a fabulous arabesque of nerves as the brain can experience itself as anything less than a god? And, when you consider that this incalculably subtle organism is inseparable from the still more marvelous patterns of its environment—from the minutest electrical designs to the whole company of the galaxies—how is it conceivable that this incarnation of all eternity can be bored with being?” ~ Alan Watts, The Book: On the Taboo Against Knowing Who You Are

I found that lately too, also on Elephant Journal (great website). Maybe the universe trying to remind me that restless though we may be, there is beauty here, always. We just have to stop and look for it.

Happy New Year

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Did you have a good new years eve? Generally I’m not a fan of anything big, and judging by social media I’m not the only one. I saw that a study thinks it’s because we are disappointed when our expectations aren’t met. For me it’s just that I’m not always in the mood but the killer is getting home if you go anywhere (I’m in Sydney – we do a good new years but public transport, not so much). That said I actually had a really good time. It helps to not set expectations! We just had a few drinks in Surry Hills then came home to watch the fireworks from the Erko rail bridge then bed, glorious bed and to wake up in 2016!

2015 was a great year of learning for me. If I had to describe it in a spiritual sense, I’d say that I feel like all my atoms have come apart into a swirly pool of glitter and air and now they’re figuring out how to go back together. It’s crazy and beautiful and probably sounds totally nuts but I’m excited to run with it.

I went home to Wagga for the holidays, we have some great neigh-bours (they’re horses, get it?) and I just love flying over our gorgeous countryside!

 

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Also, I saw Star Wars and have you seen it because it is SO GOOD. Here’s R2-D2 & C3-PO in Lego @ Myer:

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And those Doctor Who leggings I invested in last month:

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I hope you had a great Christmas and here’s to an amazing 2016!