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For the last 8 weeks I have spent more time in planes and abroad then ever! Here is a quick run down of my recent travels:
8 May-Trevisio, Italy
No sooner did I finish classes at Cleveland State University at the beginning of May, I was off to the Rollerblade annual sales meeting in Treviso, Italy. Sales meetings are always exciting as we get a preview of the product line and brand initiatives for the coming year while having the opportunity to meet with people from around the world who are committed to growing the sport as well as the Rollerblade market share.
13 May-Portoroz, Slovenia
How could I go to Italy and be so close to my skating friend Frank Pirc and his wife Wilma without a stop in Portoroz, Slovenia? Portoroz was just a short roll away (about 2 hours by car) so I couldn’t pass up the chance to spend some time with my friends by their beautiful seaside home as well as go for a skate to the old Venetian city of Piran with Frank. The ICP did its first certification in Slovenia in 2000 and I reconnected with my long, lost, love and husband Greg in Portoroz in 2003, so this place certainly holds a place in my heart.
17 May-Dubai, United Arab Emirates
With a horrible infection caught on my way to Europe ramping up during my stay by the time I made it home to Cleveland I was so very sick! However, with no rest for the weary in sight, I had one night in my own bed and quick trip to the doctor before I was off and flying again. This time to Dubai, United Arab Emirates.
Armed with A LOT of meds and a “positive attitude” (attitude really is everything) I would hopefully be ready to conduct a Level 1 Certification Program there within 2 days time. Well thanks to the meds, my attitude, a great UAE host (Certified Instructor Andreja Marolt) and my new friend “Tylenol PM” I was just about fully recovered and ready to roll by the start of the program!
We had a very diverse group made up of participants from Oman, Philippines, Slovenia, Syria, and Venezuela! So much fun working with everyone there and as well as helping program host Andreja Marolt with ways to best promote skating and the Rollerblade brand in the country and Middle East region.
26 May Chicago Illinois
Landed, slept, and off to Chicago the next day for a poster presentation at the Association Psychological Science Convention. My colleague from Cleveland State and I presented our latest yoga study. It was an honor to be at the convention and to have the opportunity to continue to be involved with on the science side of yoga. Taking into account all the travel, sickness, etc. I was reminded of the importance of spending more time on the practical side of yoga. Lots of Yoga Nidras being done to keep my slept deficit due to all the time changing, to a minimal.
28 May-27 June Ohio USA
Home for a whole month!
Taught a lot of ice hockey lessons and spent time helping my daughter finish up the school year and get organized for summer activities-summer reading, swimming, softball, etc.
Celebrated Memorial Day with my favorite US Coast Guard veteran, went up to the Lake Erie Islands for a last minute visit that included going to a party on the famous “Ship House”-The Benson Ford , cheered on the Cleveland Cavaliers for their last game ( I have deep seeded issues with being let down by Cleveland Sports–this is a topic for another blog post!) and joined in the 1.3 million people celebration parade-Wow, what a season for the Cavs! Was thankful for the abundance in my life, enjoyed the emerging summer warmer and generally rested up for upcoming back to back trips.
27 June-July 7 Singapore
Concluded my daughters weekend birthday celebration and was off on an evening flight through San Fransisco and on to a 16 hour flight to Singapore (one of the longest flights in the world!) for certifications and related programing.
Although I like to think of myself as a person who has a balanced life, apparently the universe is telling me otherwise because 4 hours into my flight to Singapore (my 15th trip there since 2000!) I came down with conjunctivitis-not only in one, but in both eyes! Landed at 6:00am, in line at a doctors office by 8:00am and by 9:00am and only with $67 USD spent (Can the uS learn from Singapore’s medical pricing structure??) I was off with multiple meds to tackle the eye goop and the day!
Professional development workshops, Sled Dogs Snowskates Ambassador program as well as two certifications and a fitness workshop, not to mention my birthday and man, many late nights with a great international group of friends rounded out my 9 days in Singapore.
July 7-July 11 Ohio, USA
Home in just enough time for a swim meet, to re-pack, get the house in order and to get my daughter ready and off for a one week sleep away camp! Not one photo taken to capture these days! Other than the aforementioned, I was pretty much dead to the world and breaking all “rules of travel” as I slept mostly all day thus wide awake by 2am on most. Which as ridiculous as that was it was really perfect because 2am in Cleveland is 8am in Spain! Spain here I come!
July 12-July 21 Spain
Off and skating in Burgos! From a ICP Level 2 program, “Working with Children” workshop, a visit to Madrid’s SnowZone to promote Sled Dogs Snowskates and a local Burgos night skate, Spain was all about skating.
This is the first certification related trip EVER where I was joined by my husband Greg. He was a great sport throughout all the skating programming and became an expert navigating the streets and highlights of the city of Burgos when he was on his own. He even joined in and skated a 1.5 hour night skate! For someone, who in 14 years of marriage has been out on inline skates for about 15 minutes, to skate unscatheed through the streets of Burgos, Spain with Backfliphouse skate club for over 1.5 hours, was truly impressive!
A huge thanks to ICP Examiner and ICP Country director for Spain, Natalia Santamaria, for making the long weekend of programming such a great success and for the wonderful hospitality. Muchos gracias also to her husband ICP Instructor Antonio Rico for shuttling us to skating venues and for keeping us well fed with wonderful homemade Spanish meals!
At the end of the skating programming we made two short trips to Natalia’s family’s village where we attended a village celebration in honor of the Virgin Mary and had dinner at the family’s “bodega”. There we were treated to authentic Spanish fare and drank homemade red wine. Experiencing local life like this was very unique and not something that an average visitor to Spain experiences. Very fortunate to have this opportunity.
The trip was bookended by two lovely days in Madrid that included lots of sun, many kms of walking and great local food.
Another amazing trip in the books. Can’t believe this is my life!
July 21st Cleveland, OH USA
Home. Always in awe of air travel and feeling blessed to arrive home safe and sound.
Until the next travel adventure….
So it is almost a week since I returned from the sunshine and warmth filled annual inline skating event “The Great EsSkate” in Miami, FL USA. Considering that it is Valentine’s Day and I am reflecting on all the people and things that I love, it is a perfect day to also profess my love for this skating event.
The Great EsSkate has been an early February staple 14 out of the last 15 years. Something for us Northerners to look forward to in hopes of getting out of the frozen tundra that is our reality. A welcomed reprieve from this year’s “Polar Vortex” winter we are experiencing in the Northeast. My trip was worth every penny of the astronomical 2 months out flight I purchased for nearly $600 bucks to go from life on Lake Erie (or is it the Moon?) to a few days of life on the Atlantic.
From my sunrise yoga practice on the beach each morning with a group of skaters, to my daily indulgence of cafe con leche, to skating without a care in the world over the Venetian causeway, to meeting up with dear friends for dinner, or just sitting by the pool soaking up some much needed sun, I truly cherished every moment. “This is so lovely” was my mantra for the 3 glorious days I spent there.
For me, and probably may others who have attended multiple Great EsSkate events, it’s a bit of a “Ground Hog Day” experience. But in a VERY good way. The amazingly run skates (thank you Event Director Gene Cook and the National Skate Patrol), the sunshine and warmth (thank you South Florida in February), and the familiar faces who share a love for skating, are the constants that keep me coming back year after year for the exact same experience. Nowhere in the world is there an event, at least not to my knowledge, that brings skating, warmth and fun together better than the great EsSkate does.
So on this snowy Valentine’s Day in Euclid, OH with a lot of love in my heart, I am feeling very blessed to have had my weekend in Miami, FL. Thank you to all the wonderful volunteers who keep this event going each year, to that new friends that I met, and to the old ones that agreed to eat Haitian food yet again this year.
Lots of love to all of you who make this event a love of mine and who will keep me coming back next year!
Tomorrow I will be heading to Mumbai, India to conduct skating programs for the Inline Certification Program. This will be my second trip to India with the first to the Bihar School of Yoga in Munger in 2011. It is amazing to me that in a span of two years my two passions; studying yoga and teaching skating, would bring me to India twice. Not many people have the opportunity to go to India at all-but twice in two years?!
Not only is it incredible to have another chance to travel to India in such a short span of time, it is a VERY auspicious time to be in Mumbai in particular. From 9 September-19 September the Mumbai Ganesh festival will take place. It is one of the biggest celebrations in the city celebrating the Birth (rebirth) of Lord Ganesh-the remover of obstacles. It is believed that Lord Ganesh bestows his presence on earth for all his devotees during this festival. According to one article I read “It’s a giant street party with a special spiritual meaning!”
“Aum Gam Ganapataye Namah” (Prostrations/Salutations to the Lord of the World )
The Ganesh mantra is believed to remove all evil and obstacles that prevent you from reaching your goals. Through the years there have been quite a few obstacles in the way of the certification program- in India and elsewhere in the world so count me in as one of Ganesh’s devotees now and forever more!
Thank you again to Certified Instructors Ajay, Dhiraj, Jatin, and Pankaj for bringing the program to India for the first time. Your tireless efforts are very much appreciated. Thank you also instructor candidates for taking on the challenge and seeing the benefit of bringing safe and effective inline skating instruction to the children of India! And lastly, thank you in advance to Lord Ganesh for blessings and removing any obstacles that may come my way.
Two weeks ago while sitting in Changi Airport waiting for a friend to pick me up and take me to my hotel, I “checked in” on Facebook. Within 1 minute a a friend of mine who lives in Singapore posted “Welcome home!’ What a wonderful welcome and sentiment as this would mark the start of my eighth visit.
My first trip to Singapore in 2000 was for the Inline Certification Program, and as director, I was invited to conduct a Level 1 program to certify potential inline skating instructors. Never having traveled to Asia, the 24 hours in transit and the 12 hour time difference really knocked me out. But what knocked me out even more was hospitality that was non-stop throughout my first visit and has continued in each subsequent visit over the past 12 years.
So the Singaporeans are welcoming AND they love skating-what a perfect combination! Considering that Singapore is only 268 square miles and is the second smallest country in Asia (the Maldives are smaller…and getting smaller by the day–Note to self: Get to the Maldives soon before they disappear!) there sure seems to be a lot of skaters. The parks are full of them and there are so many skating instructors making a living out of selling skates and skating that the competition is fierce. Friends of mine in the US and Europe who are in the skating business would give their third wheel for that kind of 1990’s competition again!
The purpose of my visit this time was to meet with my friends and colleagues who support the Inline Certification Program (ICP). We conducted various meetings to see how best to move the program forward in Singapore and throughout the region and made plans for our upcoming skating conference in July.
Since our first program in Singapore in 1999, over 250 instructors have been certified in that country. Thanks to the efforts of the first program advocates and ICP Examiers, the ICP is even recognized by the national governing body of roller sports- Rollersports Singapore. This kind of success is a testimony to the program itself and the team in Singapore.
While I didn’t conduct any certifications during this visit, I did have the opportunity to meet with the new batch of Apprentice Examiners (AE’s) and assist in their training. We reviewed ICP teaching methodology as well as skill progressions and bench marking. As a group, the AE’s have a strong understanding of skating and teaching as well as a desire to see ICP continue to prosper and succeed. A perfect combination for future examiners and leaders of the program in Singapore!
On one evening, a few of my friends organized an urban night skate on my behalf. Having already skated many of the beautiful parks that are scattered across the island I really looked forward to the opportunity to explore downtown Singapore.
We rolled by the seafront with gorgeous views of the Singapore skyline, up and down the MRT (subway), passed WWII Monuments and the “World’s Biggest Fountain”, and underneath the “Ship in the Sky” Marina Bay Sands Hotel & Casino and Singapore Flyer Ferris Wheel! We covered it all in less then 2 hours-what an amazing skate!
In addition to seeing my skating friends, I also had the pleasure of spending some time with a yoga friend, whom I met several years ago on one of my visits. Like me she is a life long student of yoga and when we meet we enjoy sharing our latest yoga endeavors with each other. She has recently embarked on learning the ancient yogic language of Sanskrit which is quite an undertaking. Since my word recognition in Sanskrit doesn’t go beyond the ubiquitous character “OM” I too hope to begin my studies as I believe this will strengthen my understanding and connection to yoga.
Thanks to all the friends who took time out of their busy schedules to meet with me and for the Singaporean hospitality that always seems to catch me by surprise. Their friendship and support is what keeps me working toward a better ICP and I look forward to seeing them all next time I am “home.”
Thanks to Joerg at CIBT and I guess Cox & King the Indian visa grantors, I received my visa at 11:30am on Saturday, for my 4pm flight to New Delhi on Sunday! I had already let go of going so I guess that is why it all worked out!
On December 11th I flew from Stuttgart to Munich to New Delhi, then to Kolkata where I was received by a driver to be transferred to the Kolkata train station. The ride from the airport to the train station was pretty much the most interesting thing I had done in a long time. Wow. So much to see that I certainly haven’t seen before.
All in all I didn’t really see much of the typical tourist spots like the Taj Mahal because of the 11 full days spent in India, only one was spent outside of an ashram. This actually suited me just fine because as my friends and family know, I am not the typical traveler.
After a 5 hour train ride and a very sketchy arrival at the train station near Rikhia where I wasn’t received as planned (quick thinking and a well timed taxi got me out of there), my first night was spent in Rikhia, at the Rikhipeeth ashram. Here I joined the others from my group who had just finished attending a huge celebration, Yoga Poornima, at the ashram. In the morning we left for the next ashram in Munger by car- a 5 hour car ride that would have taken less than two on a German highway. For someone who flew over 70 thousands miles this past year riding in cars and taxi’s in over 15 countries in Europe and Asia, I can say unequivocally that when it comes to driving, nothing compares to India.
The next 9 days were spent at the ashram, “Gange Darshan”, in Munger where we didn’t leave the premises except for a short walk to an affiliated ashram. I signed up for the ashram experience, and that is what I would be getting!
The program that I attended was “Ashram Life, Yoga & Satsang Week.” The programming was wonderful from beautifully lead early morning yoga classes that included pranayama and meditation to two daily satangs with Swami Niranjanananda! Also, our Cleveland group was asked if we would like to transcribe Swamiji’s lectures and a few of us jumped on the chance! It was such a blessing to be able to listen to his words over and over, and in my case over, and over, and over (not so good of a transcriber!) to really let the meaning and the message sink in!
Living the typical ashram life, our accommodations were bare bones, no hot water or central heating in the dorms and daily “seva” or selfless service which consisted of cleaning the dorms, bathroom facilities, etc. Food was authentic Indian fare that was simple but delicious. Other than a close call with “Delhi Belly,” my stomach made it through unscathed thanks to some anti-diarrhea meds and Siprol that my friends had on hand.
It is suggested that yoga aspirants spend at minimum of 15 days ever other year at an ashram. I completely understand why. Being there is a reminder of how little one needs to survive and how much we have and take for granted.
Next stop Varanasi! After waiting for a train that was over 6 hours late (this is to be expected in India) we road off sharing our train compartment with a few nice Indian men as well as a few cockroaches and mice, (also to be expected in India) into the night passing rural India as depicted in a Discovery channel documentary to Varanasi where our last night was spent in a hotel. A real hotel with hot water, a bed with a mattress and an all you can eat breakfast buffet. As a group we gave thanks for the abundance before us!
According to Wikipedia, Varanasi “is regarded as a holy city by Hindus, Buddhists and Jains. It is one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in the world and probably the oldest in India. The fog was the thickest I have ever experience fog to be but we managed to still take a boat trip on the Ganga. Cows, funeral pyres, Ganga bathers, and hawkers abound, this was authentic India!
The sights, sounds, and smells of India and certainly the ashram experience are probably not for everyone. While there I tried to picture some of my nearest and dearest along side of me and all I could do was smile. It is a place that would certainly challenge even the most broad of comfort zones!
That said, for over 10 years I had hoped to make this trip and it finally came to fruition. God willing I will be going back again, and probably again and again. Low maintenance family and friends who have open minds and hearts may come along!