Swinging Forward

Our process for returning home has begun. Yes, we’re still in South America but truth be told, we’re not entirely here anymore. We’re traveling less now, and the exhilarating and terrifying idea of going home is more than merely creeping into our minds; we’re making arrangements, lists, and decisions to re-enter the US. It feels like swinging. Remember the last time you sat your grown-up butt in a good solid swing and let yourself feel the child-like sensations of swinging? I did it recently at our hostel in the tiny town of Malargüe, Argentina.

The swing-set is just to the right of our countryside Eco Hostel.

I settled into the swing, stuck my legs out straight forward, leaned my body back, and fell into that familiar pumping motion that would take me as high as I dared. I stayed there for a good while, sensing the butterflies in my tummy as I experienced a fraction of a second of weightlessness at the apex, feeling simple joy. I took in the tranquil countryside in front of me, felt the wind against my body, my hair blowing in the breeze, smiled. Ahhh…I hope I remember to give myself these simply pleasures in life more often when we return home. Eventually, I was ready to move on. I stopped pumping my legs, sat fairly still in the swing, let the momentum gradually slow, gaged when I felt comfortable to let go, and let the slower momentum of the swing propel me forward to stand on my feet. If I let go too early, there was a high probability of falling and hurting my happy 53-year old body. If I held on too long, until I stopped entirely, it would have been boring, no fun at all to step away from my delightful adventure. That’s exactly how this transition feels to me.  

Like any time of big change in my life, I recognize the familiar feelings of exhilaration and terror. I’m excited to reshape my life and, at the same time, I’m mostly afraid of the money aspect. I know from past experience that staying in touch with my feelings and gathering information will energize (rather than paralyze!) my forward momentum. Keith and I have been sharing our hopes, fears, and feelings, and to learn more about the process, we watched an online program called RELAUNCH! by Cate Brubaker. (Thanks to my friend Christine Martell for this hot, timely tip.) The fifteen presentations and interviews led us to discussions from perspectives we would have never come to on our own. My favorite parts were hearing other people’s stories about their challenges, fears, excitement, etc., working through some exercises to get a grasp on our own feelings, and the ideas for actions to make re-entry smoother.

My tried and true way of understanding my thoughts and feelings is journaling. Recently, I noticed two familiar patterns related to change showing up. I tend to get uber-focused and let all the fun slide right out of my life. Focus is a good thing, in moderation. Right? The other thing I noticed is that I tend to rush toward the next shiny thing/experience/plan and forget to be where I am now. My response to seeing these patterns is to book a wine tour and take a motorcycle ride out into the countryside of Mendoza -- ASAP!

So now, less than a month away from our departure date, we’re traveling less, giving ourselves time in Mendoza, Argentina and Santiago, Chile to prepare for our step out of travel, and into home and working. Exact answers to the question of, “What’s next?” are still evolving. So far, we have a pretty good idea that we’ll live in the Northwest and some ideas for what we’ll do to make a living. We’ll share that adventure as it unfolds. For now, we know that we’re flying ourselves and our bikes to Los Angeles on February 23, 2017. From there, it’s one baby step at a time, the same way we made it 38,000 miles away from our home in Newport, Oregon.

In the spirit of learning,

Jalene

P.S. Here's a snippet of our ride to Mendoza.

(To enlarge the image, click on it then hover over the bottom of the photo to see the complete description.)

Reaching Our Goal

After 508 days and 35,595 miles of riding our motorcycles...we reached our goal! We arrived in Ushuaia, Argentina, the southernmost city in the world, the afternoon of New Year's Eve 2016. Holy moly...we made it!

I wanted to share  what I noticed with you using a stunning Patagonia backdrop, but there were two problems with that idea. First, there's a lot of wind down here, which is not good for recording a video. Second, it took me some time to wrap my head around it all. A week has passed and I'm ready to give it a whirl.


Here are a couple photos from the entry to Ushuaia.

We just arrived on 12/31/16 with our traveling buddy Florian (from Germany) and Stephan (from Italy) who we met that morning.

We were really happy to be there!

Here are a few photos from the very end of the road.

Beyond here, there are only tiny islands before Antarctica. 

The GPS says that we're at the "end of the road." Wow.

Our friend Florian posing -- he's so cute -- plus, you can read the whole sign.

In the spirit of celebration!

Jalene

P.S. My friend Sandra wisely shared that what I'm noticing about this trip will be unfolding for quite a while to come. I'm sure she's right. Accomplishing big goals in our lives have a ripple effect.

Curiosity & Desire Retreat

Hola!

As of today, we've been traveling for 481 days. It's hard for me to get my head around! I've had a job since I was 14 years old and we left on this trip when I was 52. I know how to do work. Traveling, on the other hand, has been a challenge in many unexpected ways. I have a doosey to share this time.

But first...the backstory...

We started our trip with a Horizons Unlimited Traveler's Meeting in Nakusp, BC in August 2015. Our plan was to attend another one in Argentina in December 2016. It was the perfect bookend to our trip and located on the way to our end goal of Ushuaia. When the time came, we found ourselves 750 miles away from the event. To make matters worse, the event was no longer "on the way" so it would need to be a round trip. That's 1500 miles out of our way for a 2-day campout with about 20-30 fellow travelers. I seriously hated to miss it but I didn't have it in me to do an extra 1500 miles.

New plan. Keith, and two men we met during our travels, rode together to the event while I stayed at "home" in Puerto Varas, Chile. After some pondering about what to do with 10 days dropped in my lap, I decided to design what I call my Curiosity & Desire Retreat, a combination of being an artist-in-residence and a woman on retreat.

Some of you will think this is cr-azy

and some of you will think it's co-ol!

Here's the thing...we're in the last phase of our trip and seriously talking about what going home will look like on multiple levels. There are big frickin' changes coming! This total break from traveling is a deep, expansive, juicy time for me to wonder and be curious about who I am now, and what I want next. Maybe you've had this feeling. We want to know what's next but can't quite put our finger it or, more likely, we know what it is but it scares the hell out of us, and we wish we wanted the safe, easy thing. That's where I am.

There are way too many details to share everything with you but I want to share the essence of it. I'm six days into it with another four to go. Its been strange not having Keith around all the time, humbling to flail between what I think I "should" do and what I "want" to do, frustrating not to see a clear path to my next phase, and freeing to play, learn, and wander down any rabbit hole I wish.

My goal is to answer the question of whether I want to pursue finding a job I love, or starting a business I love, when we return from our trip. The bonus question is, if I want to start a business, what would the focus be? To approach these questions from different perspectives, I built a structure to inspire wonder, thought, and creativity. 

The basics of my Curiosity & Desire Retreat:

  1. I set aside precious time and space for me.
  2. I set up a written foundation for my time with what I want to do daily, how much time I will spend doing it, and a place for me to check off that I have done it, so I can celebrate with funky, happy-dance moves. 
  3. I gathered inspirational material such as poems and quotes.
  4. I set the intention of listening to my body’s needs, my heart’s desires, and my mind’s knowledge + eating healthy, exercising, and resting + being willing to be surprised through showing up, wondering, being curious, and doing the work.
  5. During my Curiosity Retreat time, I'm working with a whopping 34 questions by hand-writing my answers in multi-colored markers, and taping them on the walls so I can see the themes and patterns emerging. I research topics of interest to learn more.
  6. During my Desire Retreat time, I do whatever I feel a desire to do. The photos at the bottom are some of my creative work. It's my first attempt at a mandala! Ha!

I made a one-minute video to show you my crazy, cozy, creative space.

If you feel like you're in transition and would like to talk with someone, I'd love to hear your story. Email me. I appreciate the work it takes to make our big choices in life, and know it can be a tough, lonely time. I don't have the answers however, I love meaningful conversations about struggles and possibilities, gremlins and muses, realities and dreams. 

In the spirit of learning,

Jalene

I realized that you might like to read the poem so here's the full size image :)

The Dips

During a particularly deep "dip in our trip," I made this 2-minute video to share about it. (Pardon the occasional wind noise.) Little did I know, it was going to get a little deeper before I made my way out of it.

Here are the links to the books I mentioned in the video: 

The Dip: A Little Book that Teaches You When to Quit (and When to Stick) by Seth Godin

Presence: Human Purpose and the Field of the Future by Peter M. Senge, C. Otto Scharmer, Joseph Jaworski, Betty Sue Flowers

The vast simplicity of the Salar de Uyuni in Bolivia is one of my favorite spots.

Back to that dip I was talking about. It continued until we took a longer break in Santiago, and I dug deeper into my basic needs to understand why I was so off-kilter. 

Like cream rising to the surface of fresh milk, letting go of everything I know to take this trip has allowed my needs to rise above my wants. By letting go of my house, job, friends, family, exercise routine, relaxation rituals, stores I like to shop in, restaurants I like to eat in, closet full of clothes and shoes, jewelry...you get the idea...I've had a chance to distinguish between my needs and wants in a new way.

Here's where I am now. I've let everything go. We're still traveling so I can't put my whole life back together again but, I can make choices about my basic needs. That's where I'm focused. I'm identifying my "minimum requirements for self care" (a term used by Jennifer Louden) so I feel like myself, comfortable in my own skin. Louden's writing prompts have helped me to get at the topic from some new angles.

For example, some of what I've learned is that time alone on the bike isn't enough for me. It was easy to get time to myself at home but on the road, I have to let Keith know that I need a few hours to myself with no interruptions. This is hugely important for my sanity and I wasn't giving it to myself! Another example is what I've started calling stretch projects, in which I challenge my mind or body or heart. The time I spent creating my ebook, Journaling Whys & Hows, fed my need to share about a topic that's super-important to me and to be visually creative. As a "thank you" for reading my blog, I'm giving it to you for free! Use the promo code thankyou.

I'm pretty sure I've made it through the dip in our trip. I've learned more about my basic needs, am in the midst of a 2-week (or more!) break in Santiago, Chile at an awesome hostel with other motorcycle riders, and Keith and I are laying out the next to last leg of our trip, which will take us to our goal of Ushuaia, Argentina. We haven't quite figured out the last leg involving how or when we go home, yet.

Whew. Who knew there would be so much to learn when we left our house 443 days ago!

In the spirit of learning,

Jalene

What do failure and extraordinary have in common?

Peru's Colca Canyon wowed Keith and me. The canyon is known for its Condors, and as soon as we spotted our first ones, with their graceful, delicate gliding style, we wanted to stay longer in the expansive grandeur of the canyon. But, we couldn’t. For the first time in a year, we were on a schedule. We had tickets to Machu Picchu on a specific date the following week so, we set out to make the most of our time in the area.

With two different visions of how we wanted to explore the canyon, we decided to go our separate ways. Keith took off on a ride to the canyon bottom, and I hiked down to an oasis spot called Sangalle. Let’s just say, it wasn’t quite what I expected. Click on the video below and come along with me.

In the spirit of learning,

Jalene

Living With More Heart

Sunrise on Lake Titicaca.

Hola!

We're 13 months into our adventure and I'd like to share with you how traveling is opening my heart in a new way.

I’ve been practicing a couple of new-to-me concepts, which are changing how I understand the people and places we’re visiting, and what I believe is possible for the future.

From our hotel balcony, I’ll share a bit of what I’m experiencing, and in the background you’ll hear sounds from the shores of Lake Titicaca and the small town of Copacabana, Bolivia. It's a touristy town near the border with Peru so don't be surprised if you hear a very recognizable song in the end :)

If your curious about the book, here's a link to it: Untethered Soul 

From my heart to yours, I send you love.

In the spirit of learning,

Jalene

 

Travel Tools

When we left  home just over a year ago, I did my best to pack everything I thought I'd need for two years of motorcycle travel. Some things I got right. Some things I shipped home, tossed, or gave away. And some things, I didn't realize how much I needed until I tried to live without them for several months. Strangely enough, roadside stretching, in the photo, is connected to one of those things. 

 

In this video, I talk about the tools I've discovered that make travel way more fun. Surprisingly, they're more similar than different to life at home.

In the spirit of learning,

Jalene

Experience-ing

As we rode from Moyobamba to Yurimaguas in Peru, deeper into the hot, humid Amazon region, my helmet time was consumed with thoughts about the word experience. How is it that Keith and I can technically have the same experience and yet, come away with different interpretations? The answer came in the form of a poem that I tried to catch before it disappeared.

Experience-ing

 

A super-verb!

Containing within it,

our lives,

our stories.

During,

and after an experience,

our outer and inner worlds,

collide.

And, poof!

A new story is born.

New meaning is made,

to change our lives,

either,

in an un-detectably minor way,

or,

in an un-deniably major way.

 

Our experiences infuse meaning,

into our lives.

What you see,

what you notice,

what you pay attention to,

how you interpret, story-tell, make meaning,

of your experiences,

emphasizes shadow or light.

 

Like a star,

no two alike,

zillions of them,

illuminating and energizing our lives.

 

by Jalene Case, Yurimaguas, Peru, July 21, 2016

Stuck

We arrived in Quito Ecuador on May 9th with a plan to stay for two weeks to do maintenance on the motorcycles, have our teeth cleaned, our riding boots re-soled, and pick up two packages that had been sent from the US to our friend’s mailing address in Quito. A straight-forward To Do List, right? Today is June 24th (46 days later!) and one of the packages, containing important stuff from home, STILL hasn’t been released from Customs.

Being stuck sucks. Waiting, uncertainty, and disappointment have led to feelings of boredom, anger, helplessness, depression, confusion, frustration, and (thankfully!) gratefulness for the people who try to help us.

I’m finally gaining some deeper perspective and want to share with you.

The thing is, this big adventure, this epic trip of a lifetime turns out to be a lot like “real” life. Shit happens and we have to deal with it. And in fact, dealing with it is tougher on the road because we have fewer resources. However, through darkness come opportunities for deeper learning. This, too, is like “real” life but it feels condensed out here, like a gourmet balsamic sauce simmered down for rich flavor.

We may be stuck due to a package but we're not forced to stay in the same place. This is Quilatoa Lake high in the Andes of Ecuador.

Being forced to slow down has opened me in unexpected ways. I’ll do my best to describe what I mean.

Through a podcast, I discovered the book Untethered Soul by Michael A. Singer. It’s teaching me a new way of understanding who I am based on a different perspective about the two parts of our inner selves. Singer describes the observer (the true self), and the inner voice (the part created by outside influences). You know how it feels when you read something that resonates with you as true, and you can physically sense it in your body as you process the new material in your mind? It feels like that and it doesn’t stop there. I’m experimenting with what I’m learning to change how I re-center myself and meditate.

And, I’m learning how to reprogram my thoughts by using EFT Tapping (Emotional Freedom Technique). This isn’t the first time I’ve heard of this method but it’s the first time I’ve truly worked with it. I figured after hearing about it a few times from different people, it’s time for me to pay attention. Since I’m a total newbie at it, I’ll share this definition from the internet to describe it: Tapping on ‘meridian points’ on the body, derived from acupuncture, can release ‘energy blockages’ that cause ‘negative emotions’. It seems like the perfect time to learn this technique.

I’ve found myself lost in thought about these two new-to-me concepts for big chunks of time because we’ve had ample unplanned time on our hands. I’ve also worked more on an ebook about the reasons and options for journaling, and discovered a writing group on Facebook, in which I’m receiving and giving feedback on projects.

During this time of feeling stuck, my friend Sandra asked if I would share what’s been challenging and what’s been great during our travels so far. (As of June 24th, we’ve been out here for 318 days.) Since I felt a bit on the gloomy side, I enthusiastically dove into the challenging stuff and effortlessly made a long list. Then, I tackled the great stuff list.

Chimborazo Volcano in Ecuador.

I noticed a few things after I finished the lists. First, it felt therapeutic to pour it all out onto the page. Second, I was surprised that although the “great” list was shorter, it felt bigger, more important, more life changing. Third, the two lists together could be titled What People Don’t Tell You About Long Term Travel Because You Wouldn’t Listen Anyway. If I had read these challenging items before we took off on this trip, I would have read them with my rosy colored glasses and plunged ahead anyway.  Thank goodness.

Despite this frustrating time of stuck-ness, I’m grateful to be out here. I know I’m expanding my understanding of myself, my relationships, other cultures, what I want and don’t want in my life, and more importantly, I appreciate that I don’t know how it will all play out. This time of being confined by one lousy package is no fun. I won’t lie. But now, I wonder how this extraordinarily uncomfortable 46 days of waiting will influence my life?

Being stuck shows up in all of our lives, stuck in routine or habit, creatively stuck, stuck in a way of thinking or feeling. During those times we realize that the only control we have is over our own thoughts, feelings, and actions. This quote I read recently from Caroline Myss sums it up, “My job is to let this world transform me.” 

In the spirit of learning,

Jalene

Appearance vs. Being

Nine months ago, my husband and I hopped on our motorcycles and embarked on a radical adventure. Nine months without going to a full time job, which I did for 34 years. Nine months without a remotely regular routine. Nine months of not seeing the person I was accustomed to seeing in the mirror. Who is this new woman's face and why does she wear the same old clothes day after day? 

I had to wrestle with the concept of appearance for a few months before I appreciated its meaning to me. I share my experience in this 3-minute video as I consider the affect our appearance has on our lives.

After you watch the video, here are some questions for you to ponder about your appearance.

At what age did you become aware of your appearance?

Do you recall a scene or something that someone said to you about your appearance that changed the way you thought about it? If so, how might this still be influencing your appearance today?

Complete this sentence: If I could experiment with changing my appearance, I would...

Being comfortable with our own appearance means letting go of comparing our current selves to our younger selves, to the media's portrayal of women, to other women, to what we think we 'should' look like or what we wish we looked like. To be sure, appearance plays a role in our lives but it need not be the starring role, that goes to how we show up in our lives. 

In the spirit of learning,