Yoga and Travel : A Guest Post by Wesley Vonn

Wesley – Blogger and Health Aficionado

Yoga and Travel – The Connection is Deeper than you Think.

Yoga is more popular than ever before, and many people rely on yoga as a means of staying in shape and of maintaining top mental health. However, the benefits of yoga often go beyond what even its practitioners realize. Here are some of the ways that yoga affects travel and some techniques for those who wish to travel while maintaining their yoga study and practice.

Yoga Eases Travel Burdens

Vacations are fun; traveling may not be. Fortunately, regular yoga practice can make traveling more pleasant. Those who are taking long trips by car or by airplane will benefit from the better circulation that yoga provides. In fact, some doctors even recommend yoga as a means of avoiding potentially dangerous blood clots that may develop while sitting still for lengthy periods of time. In addition, yoga being largely meditative in nature, learning to meditate can ease the boredom of especially long trips.

Yoga is Portable

Compared to other forms of exercise, yoga is easy to do while away from home. Even without a mat, it is possible to create a great space for yoga even in a small hotel room, and many hotels now offer yoga classes for travelers who wish to practice yoga with others.

Make sure to perform some due diligence before booking a room in order to find the right hotel that does offer these classes complimentary.

On my most recent trip to Las Vegas I used a hotel review site to find the best hotel in the area that suited my needs for fitness coupled with the right price. Doing this search helped me find the right Las Vegas hotel for my particular personality.

Travelers may also wish to take a trip to local yoga facilities when visiting a new area; working with different instructors can lead to new insights. Some airports even offer rooms designed to allow yoga students to practice while waiting for their flights.

Yoga Relieves Travel Stress

Often, travelers visit areas for business purposes, and business meetings can lead to considerable amounts of anxiety. By regularly practicing yoga and continuing to do so while preparing for a meeting, students will be able to enter the meeting in a relaxed, focused state. Doing so may lead to better outcomes. It is little surprise that so many businesses encourage their employees to practice yoga, and those who focus on the meditative aspects of yoga will reap rewards for their practice.

Although yoga has evolved for thousands of years, yoga’s popularity today has made it far more accessible to travelers. On your next vacation or business trip, see for yourself, those who practice before and while traveling will likely enjoy their vacations and business trips more than those who do not.

The Role of Yoga in your Child’s Wellbeing: A Guest Post by Danny Mitchell

Danny Mitchell writes about yoga, fitness, parenting at www.travelinsurance.org

Yoga has been practiced for thousands of years both as exercise and for spiritual meditation. It is highly controlled athleticism that allows the body and the mind to connect. It is great for adults and it can do wonders for children too, in both mind and body. In fact, yoga will help children learn to control themselves in every facet of their being.

Also, they will become more athletic, thanks to difficult poses that need strength and endurance. They will become mental warriors, because they will have to learn to reach a mental state that will allow them to both push themselves and stay calm at the same time.

Childhood is the best time to teach children skills, so here’s why you should get started NOW!

Flexibility and Stamina
For many, the main reason for children to practice yoga is to improve their flexibility. Being limber helps a child improve their ability to play sports and games. In addition to this, it is great exercise for a child who does not like to run around too much. It will increase their stamina.

Patience
Children will learn patience with the slow rhythm of yoga. They are not dancing or moving around. Instead, as they learn, their muscles will become stronger, thanks to determination. Yoga is a great way to make sure that your kid is patient and determined at a very young age.

Self Awareness
Becoming aware of their mental and physical spirit at a young age is a fabulous thing for any child. Through yoga, they will develop skills such as thinking before acting and recognition of limitations. Furthermore, a child will become aware of how much more powerful the mind is over the body. If they believe they can do a difficult position, then it will happen.

Mental Serenity
Yoga is renowned for its calming capacity. It is a form of meditation. Your child does not need to reach their limit each session, but a good workout followed by a quiet rest can teach a child about both the value of hard work and moderation. In this rest (known as Savasana), kids also can learn how to push stressors out of their mind for the time being, which is perfect for kids who have tests and adolescent troubles to worry about.

In conclusion, yoga is one of the best ways to improve your child’s well-being, both mentally and physically. They will become stronger and more limber after each session. They will learn that being calm and quiet is not a chore. In fact, it is rather relaxing and it can help calm a child’s apprehension over school, dating, family, etc.

Yoga is a way of being. If your children learn how to control their mind and body at such a young age, then there is no telling what they can carry out down the road!

Why you should Guest Post: A Guest Post by Debra Johnson

Debra is a blogger, editor & an experience holder of nanny housekeeper.  She welcomes your comments at her email Id: – jdebra84 @ gmail.com

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Why you should Guest Post

As a blogger you may already have a hard time keeping up with your own personal blog, so suggesting that you guest post for a another blog sounds silly. But before you throw the idea out, consider a few of the many benefits to guest posting:

Practice: It’s like that old saying, practice makes perfect and with blogging that can be very true. The more you write the better you get. Not only does your grammar and punctuation get better but also the way you form your ideas and link words together. Guest posting allows you to practice elsewhere than on your personal page.

New ideas: The great thing about guest posting is that you can guest post for whatever blog you want to. If you have a passion for cooking, you could guest post for a cooking blog. In addition to fun new ideas, each blog has a different set up and writing style. Most blogs you guest post for will have rules and guidelines that they want you to follow. Some of them will request a certain format, style, word count and font. You may gather some ideas on the look of your blog too.

Get your name out there: The more you put yourself out there the more coverage you will get. When you guest post your name and link are listed. A reader can click and go straight to your blog, instant new reader! The more blogs you post on the more readers you can gain in return. Make sure your guest post content is full of great information so that it entices the reader to visit your blog.

There are many more benefits to writing guest posts than these three. Take the time to guest post and guest post often. Find sites that are similar to yours as well as ones that intrigue and interest you. Have fun with it and explore!

 


Parenting and Practicing Yoga: Maybe Tomorrow by Ian Hoke

Ian Hoke is a husband, father, and teacher living and working in Zurich, Switzerland. Catch more of his thoughts at his education blog.

Maybe Tomorrow

I am, by no means, a yogi. I have practiced, enjoyed, and benefited from yoga, in particular from the practice of Ashtanga. For several years I delved into and became absorbed by my yoga practice. My practice developed into something regular, five to six days a week. My body felt stronger and simply more comfortable than it had for years. My mind was more focused and disciplined. The two years in which I explored Ashtanga were also the first two years of my eldest daughter Dorothy’s life.

Dorothy is like a clock, wedded to routine, and has been from three months old. The predictability of her schedule and the amount of freedom afforded by life in Chengdu, China, where a teacher’s wages made us fabulously wealthy allowed me to attend several yoga classes each week. Household chores were nonexistent. My job was relaxed. Once per year, we flew to a fabulous Thai island for a week of clean food, yoga, and massages. These were, in the words of H.I. McDunnough, the salad days.

When I arrived in Switzerland, I practiced several times, tried out some new yoga studios, and ultimately stopped cold. The reasons for this are myriad, but can be boiled down to a poor reaction to change on my part and a reduction in what I perceive as my free time. For the first year in Zurich, I could easily have continued to practice, but in May of last year, we had a second daughter and I no longer see any spaces at all for practice. I have no doubt that opportunities exist, but I do not see them.

As such, the past two years have seen my body weaken, my posture slump, and my mind become more distracted. What I learned through my brief yoga practice, I still know. What I gained in a concrete sense, like improved discipline, is gone. But what I wonder is this: Am I stopped on the path or have I lost the path entirely?

That yoga is a tradition emphasizing the importance of gurus makes sense to me now more than ever. What is a teacher if not a guide who cares enough about the long view to keep us working today, against human nature that seems remarkably myopic? I have not found a teacher yet, or maybe I have and chose to forget. In a virtually connected world, the importance of physical proximity to one’s teacher remains clear, uncluttered by wires and silicon chips. I don’t have that.

What I do have is a mat and the knowledge of part of the Primary Series. What I lack is the will to roll out that mat and begin. I should. I may. It would be, for a man with two special daughters, powerful modeling that inaction is no thing, no way, and that right action is better.

I think “Maybe tomorrow,” but there is some today yet remaining.

Parenting and Practicing Yoga: Featuring “My Children and Yoga” by Paul Dallaghan

Welcome to the first in a series of Guest Posts: “Parenting and Practicing Yoga”.

If you are interested in Guest Posting on this topic, don’t hesitate to leave a comment or contact me at nat(dot)devalia(at)gmail(dot)com.

I’m happy to have Paul’s permission and honoured to post his article on my blog. The article as published originally, as well as many more articles both by him and others, at the Centerd Yoga website – Resources section.

Paul is a senior Ashtanga yoga and Pranayama teacher, founder of Samahita Retreat Centre in Koh Samui, Thailand.

My Children and Yoga

I am often asked the question: “Am I teaching my kids yoga?” My typical response is: “They are teaching me yoga.” Tongue in cheek it may be but nevertheless much truth lies within that response. At the same time, stepping back in to the parental shoes, what should I be teaching them and where does yoga fit in? Is it merely introducing them to the asanas and telling them to breathe?

Anyone who has the good opportunity to raise a few kids knows that it is the seventh series. It does require sacrifice and tests your patience and inner abilities to control yourself just so you can be a normal human being, and not this ogre screaming over minor things in the course of life that have all accumulated here today and burst out in one mass of frustration (whew!) Not that that ever happened to me but you can read about it on parenting blogs everywhere. Shocking stuff really. As Chekhov once said, “Any fool can handle a crisis, it’s the day-to-day stuff that wears you down.”

So when I consider what yoga means to me it is an opportunity for willing self-reflection, a building of character, an effort to be nice, ultimately working on myself. It’s obviously all the things I am doing in life. And much of that has, and should be, spent and shared with my adorable children (eh, sometimes, no, of course, most of the time:)).

The time taken to practice is the training time in working on myself, refining the nervous system. I am happy to report that over the years of practice I have seen a positive change. I have seen myself transform in terms of handling and being with the children. In that case it was not the practice alone but being given the precious situation with the children to temper it, to mould it. In other words, the practices without corresponding life situations would be close to impotent.

The big lesson here is that my response to whatever it is coming up with the children, while being primed so to speak, is actually the teaching I give them, the yoga I pass on. Especially in their formative years. In years to come will they remember their daddy’s asana practice or ones I showed them or will the memory of being together, sharing, having fun, bonding, be embedded in them? A thoughtless reaction borne from frustration, not properly channeled, sticks much stronger in a child’s memory. I have witnessed a particular stimulus bring up a frustration in me and from there I have observed the pre-existing pattern of how I could act. Fortunately, I feel from awareness practice over the years, I have the wherewithal to see the two options inside and am able to channel that force, energy to respond in a more constructive manner with them, which may include a stern rebuke or a patient response to further explain. And may I say, this is a work in progress, by no means perfected. But that is exactly what I mean by the interaction with the children being the yoga lesson.

As a first principle then I value love, care and time shared together as the primary yoga with children. Next to that is the set of values I have worked on in my life that I aim to share with them. In terms of a yogi it is easy to hone in the values from the yamas and niyamas. I am grateful to my kids (and wife) that I am able to look at these everyday, inculcate them, live them. Believing in ahimsa, I will promise them that I will not hurt them. I have to look at that on all levels: physical responses to mind games and emotional care. Am I living a life based on truth, honestly, or is it just when it’s convenient?

Though these and the other values are often considered obvious they can easily be forgotten in the course of a day. To live with these values of being kind, honest, respectful, loyal and faithful, and knowing what is enough is to share them with your children. They will naturally have the opportunity to form their own values over time and have their own personalities but these are universal and essential. I prefer to see signs of caring coming from my boys than them being the “best”. This may again seem obvious, especially to one not involved, but be clear, time and opportunity all too easily slip by. You have to make a clear inner resolve to “be” it at all times. I see this as one of the true values of what yoga has taught me and also what I have learned during my time with my parents. My wife and I have not forced any formal religion on them as they are exposed to many through our life and the community but already they know certain Sanskrit mantras as we’ll do them together at night when giving thanks.

Finally then we come to the techniques of yoga, the practices of asana and more. I know that constructive skills learned at an early age can be invaluable throughout life. At the same time it is important for anyone, including my children, to come to a practice of yoga by their own volition. But my wife and I do have both the duty and opportunity to introduce these elements. Already the kids have played with yoga poses and are quite adept at using it as a term to get rid of me, “papa, go do yoga”, if they don’t want me around (which of course is very rare:)). I also see they are a little young to properly engage in it yet. That is a popular question: what age should they start? Some say 8, others 12 or as long as the child can take care of themselves (through dressing, feeding and teeth brushing). So that leaves it a bit open. In my opinion it comes down to a certain amount of maturity to want to do something. At this stage soccer is much more valuable for them than yoga. It’s their primary choice and it really gets them moving. Of course in time they’ll find this ‘stuff’ their parents do can help their football playing.

As my specialty lies in the breath I am always aware of how I or others breathe. I have noticed the rapid breathing of my children as infants to a more normal one, still quick, as young children. When they have been upset I have put my hand on their upper abdomen and tried to get them to be free there and breathe. I have tried but it is difficult because the emotion at that age overrides the rationality and a reactive state takes over. It’s almost an inevitable part of human growth. And at this young age to keep an awareness on the breath is almost impossible. It requires maturity. Yet if I can introduce an awareness on the breath early on I feel I have done some good for these growing boys.

In a sense I could breakdown the sharing of yoga with my children into different ages and phases. Early on it is all about the care and love. These should dominate throughout life but naturally change color and shape. The sharing of clear, strong values is imperative to their growth and maturing, something that becomes more relevant as they get into later childhood and adolescence. Then finally, the practices themselves, that are initially play but later, really post-puberty, constructive and formational. From their mid-teens on it’s really up to them. I myself only began yoga at 23. I had many other things to experience and pass through. All things being equal it would have been great to have been exposed earlier but that cannot even be considered as life had its path of experiences to share with me regardless of what I think I could have done. So it’s all about what I do with it now. I hope to share yoga in all its ways with my children: through love, kindness and caring; with strong, clear values that carry them through life with integrity so they develop in to adults that are of value to society and all beings everywhere; to the practices themselves, full of their own inherent wisdom and refinement that can help transform their nervous systems and enrich the children’s growing years into adult life.

Yogaholic

It was when Maher and I lived in Lebanon that I started to attend yoga classes on a regular basis. It went from 1 session a week, to 3, then 5, and eventually up to 7 or 8.

I started at the Sivananda Centre, two doors down from my flat in Gemmayze. It was interesting, and gave my knees and ankles a break; it seemed to strengthen and balance out the damage that my other physical activities were causing. But the Sivananda didn’t manage to captivate my wandering, hyper-active mind and body.

A few months later, I heard about a 4 day Jivamukti workshop hosted at the Sivananda Centre. It was taught by a couple of teachers from New York. I managed to get into the last session. The room was packed. The yoga was HARD. Halfway through the two hours, my clothes were soaked in sweat. The teachers talked about alignment, the flow of breath and movement. We did related postures in sequences that reminded me of dance; and played with some of the wilder poses. I was challenged. And immediately hooked.

It turned out that the woman who organised the workshop was one of their students, and that she’d just moved back to Beirut from NY. So that’s how I met Dani Abisaab. One of my first teachers. It took me a few more months to get to one of her classes, but once I did, I stalked her around Beirut. She beamed me a smile every time I entered the room. I was welcome in her space. I focused on every word she said, and I paced my countless after-class questions so as not to annoy her! She was never phased. Always calm. Under control. I was sure she could hear my mad inner thoughts screaming and running around.

Much later, Dani started a Sunday evening class at the Sivananda Centre. Of course, I was there every weekend.

My Mondays were no longer as daunting as they’d been all my life.

That’s when on some days of the week, I took 2 classes a day. I kept up with some Sivananda, and even some Ashtanga Vinyasa with different teachers.

When I left Lebanon at the beginning of 2006, to join Maher who’d already moved to China a few months prior, I made a pit stop in Mysore. By then I’d already decided to focus on Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga.

Dani’s challenging, well-prepared, interesting and informative Vinyasa classes were a solid base both for that, and for my Teacher Training later that year.

After years of being out of touch, we’ve recently discovered each others blogs. Check out hers: Yogaholic. http://danielleabisaab.blog.com

While she is back in NY attending yet another Teacher Training, she’s kindly hosting one of my posts: “Jet-Lagged in Montreal”. http://danielleabisaab.blog.com/2012/01/18/jet-lagged-in-montreal-2/

Winter Wonderland with a bit of Salsa : A Guest Post by Paty Melendez

(As part of the series: A Monday Morning Guest Post in Multicultural Mothering)

Patricia: I was born in the Dominican Republic to a Dominican mom and Peruvian dad. I left DR when I was six years old and grew up in many countries around the world, mainly in Latin America but also in Africa and Europe. I guess you can describe me as a ‘Citizen of the world’, ‘Third culture kid’ etc. I speak Spanish and English.

I met Øivind at university in the UK, where we now live. He is Norwegian and grew up in Oslo, speaks English and Norwegian, and can defend himself pretty well in Spanish!

We have a little girl called Mia; she is the apple of our eyes, born in August 2010. I don’t speak Norwegian, but I better get my act together soon otherwise Mia and her dad will have a secret language.
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Winter Wonderland with a bit of Salsa

As we gear up for the festive season I’ve been thinking about the contrast between Ø’s traditions and mine; and about our cultural references surrounding Christmas. How will Mia take in these differences? Mia’s dad is from a Nordic country and I am from an island in the Caribbean, even though I left when I was very young. Most couples take turns on whose family they spend the holidays with; this means adapting to each others’ traditions; but in multicultural couples it is also about adapting to another’s culture.

This year we will spend Christmas in Norway with Ø’s family. It will be Mia’s first Winter Wonderland Christmas experience. Christmas in Norway is very different to Christmas in the Dominican Republic, or in my family’s home.

Ø’s Norwegian Christmas experience = cold and short days, a tranquil environment, a burning fireplace, carol singing, food, presents and a beautiful snow-white outdoor.

My Christmas experience = food, presents, a big family gathering and lots of dancing; and the setting was wherever we found ourselves!

My experience in Norway has always been very nice, though very calm compared to what I am used to. Despite that, it involves a packed schedule: Christmas Eve at my in-laws, Christmas day at Ø’s aunt’s house, and Boxing Day with some close family friends. In between, there are beautiful walks in the forest and by the stunning, frozen Oslo fjord.

At my family home, we celebrate Christmas Eve with a big dinner and the next couple of days are relaxed, meeting other families (if we are in the Dominican Republic) and friends, informally. In the background there is always music.

What traditions will Mia absorb? I realize that of course I cannot choose what things Mia will enjoy the most; we can only expose her to the things that make us happy in the holiday season. Having the Christmas tree up on December 1st marks the start of the festive season for me. For Ø the tree goes up a couple of days before Christmas. I could go down a list of all the things that we grew up with, from celebrating advent, the spiritual meaning of Christmas, Santa or no Santa, to the Three Kings day.

The truth is that I would love for Mia to just take in the best of both worlds – enjoy the traditional picture perfect white Norwegian Christmas with the warmth, and lively togetherness of my family celebrations. White Christmas with a bit of salsa!

Being far away from our families means that during the festive season we travel back to see them, but I guess that as time goes by there comes a point when we will start to create our own traditions in the place we call home, even if this place keeps changing!

How do you combine your family celebrations? And how do you do it if you and your partner grew up celebrating different holidays?

Best wishes wherever you all are during this festive season and Happy New Year!!

Three Cheers for Family: A Guest Post by Maro Adjemian

As part of the series : A Monday Morning Guest Post in Multicultural Mothering

Maro: I speak English, French, Spanish (although it’s getting rusty), and not as much Italian as I should. I grew up in small towns not far from Ottawa, first on the Quebec side and then on the Ontario side, but my background and extended family reach from Armenia to Hawaii. My husband, Eric, was born in Montreal to Italian parents. He speaks English, French, Italian (although he denies it, since he doesn’t think his grandparents’ dialect counts), and a bit of Spanish.

We have a baby girl, Myriam, who was born in March 2011. She’s working on her consonants these days- baba, dada, ida, lida, nana… but I’m not sure which language, exactly. I’m not sure she knows, either.

Three Cheers for Family

Yesterday, Myriam and I went to visit her Nonno (grandfather in Italian).  He came to the door to let us in, and immediately bent down to see M in her stroller.

“Myriam! Come stai?”

She beamed and waved her arms in excitement.

He plucked her out of her stroller and peeled her snowsuit off of her, tossed her up in the air a few times while she shrieked with joy, and then handed her an orange to play with. She was delighted.  As an afterthought, he said, “Hi, Maro, how are you?”  M didn’t even look at me. She was engrossed in her orange.

My father-in-law retired this year, just in time to become an eager and available babysitter.  He took fine arts in University once upon a time, and used to do ceramics. He still has his potter’s wheel and equipment, and a couple of years ago he gave me pottery lessons at my request. Now, we go and visit once a week. M hangs out with her Nonno, and I work on my pottery. It’s a win-win-win arrangement. I’m not sure who enjoys their time together more: M or Nonno. And I treasure the couple of hours a week I have to spin a wheel and get lost in my thoughts without worrying about my baby. It’s nice to have an opportunity to zone out and completely lose track of time in the way artistic creation allows you to do.

I grew up 5000 kilometers away from all four of my grandparents, so I never had the sort of relationship with them that my daughter has with hers. We wrote letters to them, and spoke on the phone, and once a year they came and visited us or we went and visited them. I always felt close to my extended family. I never really thought about what a difference it would make if we lived close by.

I never really expected my kids to live close to their grandparents, either. As a child, I used to proudly tell people that on my father’s side of the family there had been one immigration per generation for the past four generations. People would ask me, “And will you continue the trend and be the fifth generation to emigrate somewhere?” and I would reply, “probably”.  I used to flip through my parents’ National Geographic collection and dream about all the places I could go.  When we were little, my brother and I played a game with our globe. We took turns spinning it as fast as we could, and then letting one finger drag on its surface as it turned. Wherever that finger landed when the globe stopped spinning is where we would live.  Often, of course, we ended up living in the Pacific Ocean. But many other possibilities also presented themselves.

A decade or so later I went to University and studied International Development, and then Geography. I assumed I would end up living somewhere in Africa or Latin America, at least for a few years. It’s funny how life happens to you. You take one step after another as they present themselves, and you often end up somewhere very different from where you expected to find yourself. I read somewhere once that life is like “stepping stones in the fog”. You only see one at a time, and you step forward not knowing where the trail of stepping stones will lead you in the end.

And so here I am, living in a Canadian city where I have spent most of the past twelve years, surrounded by extended family. Almost all of E’s family lives in Montreal, and in the past couple of years my parents and two sisters moved here. Myriam sees her entire extended family on a very regular basis and she’s only 8 months old. And I think it’s great. It’s convenient and wonderful to have excited and available family members around who can babysit when I need to do something or go somewhere baby-less. After Myriam was born they filled up our fridge with good food and helped clean our apartment. When we visit them, they play with her and give E and I a chance to eat dinner uninterrupted. The traditional family support system makes a lot of sense.

When I thought about being the fifth generation of immigration in my family, I thought mostly about the benefits of living in another part of the world. The richness of leaning different languages and getting to know other people and cultures, as many of you guest posters have talked about.  I didn’t think about the richness of living surrounded by family in a familiar place and culture. Right now I’m happy to be here, both for the extra help and support it gives us, and because of the relationship my little one can have with her doting extended family.

“If you are happy, be happy. If you are angry, be angry.”

Here’s a piece of a blog-entry: “Gratitude, Shmatitude”, by jmlindy of Snide Reply. She’s a mum, a teacher, and a writer, among other things. The post is a good read, and her blog a good one to bookmark.

Check it out here: http://jlwrite.wordpress.com/2011/11/21/gratitude-schmatitude/
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One Christmas, my mother gave my siblings and me really nice fleece sweaters from Land’s End. Each sweater had a surprise in the pocket…a crisp large denomination bill. I decided to use my mom’s idea for my son. I found a cozy shearling-lined hoodie that I knew he’d like. I put a large denomination gift card in the pocket. I put it under the tree. He loved it. He looked for other presents. There were none. “That’s it?” he asked, “a hoodie?”

“It’s nice hoodie,” I said.

“It’s a hoodie,” he said. “I got a hoodie.”

“Put it on,” I said.

“Mom, it’s a hoodie. It’ll fit.”

“Just put it on. It was expensive. I want to see if it looks good on you.”

“Fine,” he said. I figured he’d put his hands in the pockets, the way everyone does when they try on a hoodie. He stood in front of me, arms limp at his sides, disappointment draining from his pores.

“There,” he said. “It’s on. It’s a hoodie.”

“Look in the freaking pockets,” I said.

Between Worlds: A Guest Post by Heidi Nevin

(As part of the series: A Monday Morning Guest Post in Multicultural Mothering)

First, thank you, beautiful Natasha, for creating this forum and inviting us to share our perspectives.

I was born in Crete, Greece and raised in Maryland, USA, on a beautiful, 86-acre, off-the-grid homestead. My parents, products of the hippie era, were inspired by the simple, self-sufficient lives of the Cretan villagers, and we had no electricity or indoor plumbing in the hand-hewn house where I grew up. Instead of a TV, we had a trapeze in the living room. It was a paradise for kids, and I grew up with an innate love of nature and a keen sense of responsibility for the health of our Mother Earth. My parents strove to awaken in us an awareness of the effects of our actions and to provide us with an alternative to the modern lifestyle of rampant consumptive greed. They supplemented our public school education with frequent journeys overseas, and by the time I was 18, our family of four had toured nearly 25 countries, mostly on tandem bicycle.

As an adult, I continued to travel widely and for longer periods, eventually spending nearly 7 years in India and Nepal studying the Tibetan language and practicing Buddhism. Before long, as hormones would have it, I fell in love and married into another culture, another race, another language, another dimension. Tsultrim and I come from wildly different worlds — he a monk from a tiny village in Tibet, I the product of an American subculture of left-winged eco-hippies. We were married in 2003, first on the black market in Nepal and later in our flower garden in Maryland. During 8 tumultuous years of marriage, we have made nearly that many moves across the planet, from my country to his and back again, one of us always suffering from culture shock and social isolation. The learning curve has been, and continues to be, incredibly steep. Yet for some reason — no doubt our stubborn Taurean personalities and a fat load of karma — we’re still together, still laughing.

Along the way, we have been blessed with two gorgeous kids — our daughter Clara, aged 4 ½, and our son Tashi, aged 17 months. Admittedly, part of the reason I wanted to have a second child was to give our first-born a companion, someone who would truly appreciate the complexity of her multi-racial, multi-cultural, multi-lingual situation. I worried that she would be friendless and alone in her ever-shifting world, with no one to share the long airplane rides, discuss her weird parents, or understand who she really was.

We traveled in Asia during both of my pregnancies, but I drew the line when it came to their births — those were occasions when I truly needed my own family, culture, and language, everything that I equate with the safety and comfort of home. Both our children were born in my parents’ new home in Oregon, USA, gently lifted onto my chest by the loving hands of home-birth midwives. I love to think that Tsultrim’s graceful presence at the births of his children purified generations of Tibetan tradition, in which men have avoided (and been excluded from) the ‘filthy’ scene of childbirth.

Shortly after both births, we returned to Tibet bearing the new baby, washing our cloth diapers in the freezing winter water and soaking up the salt-of-the-earth goodness of Tsultrim’s beautiful family. These journeys were terrifying and traumatic for me, the fretting new mother of an infant, and with each passing year I have yearned more and more intensely for a stable home, for roots in nurturing soil, for a solid community of like-minded mothers and the support of my family. The carefree wanderlust of my youth has long since faded away, leaving in its place an anxious, fearful woman rapidly approaching her 40th birthday, still without a place to call home and no prospects for one on the horizon. The Buddha’s teachings on non-attachment and impermanence do little to ease the ache in my heart, the pull to plunge my fingers into warm brown earth. We are settled in the Chengdu mega-metropolis for the (un)foreseeable future, not living the lavish life of the typical expat but camped out in my brother-in-law’s apartment, while Tsultrim tries his luck at selling construction supplies in the booming Chinese economy. We all sleep in a row on the floor of our single bedroom, our clothes and medicines and children’s books stuffed into a few small shelves. Clouds of fog and smog hang heavy in the Chengdu sky, and miles of constipated highway snake around us in every direction.

Even as I celebrate our children’s immersion into diverse cultures and languages and watch them grow and thrive in each, I wonder how I will share with them the lessons of my childhood, the deep reverence for the natural world that comes with being of and near the earth, season after season, year after year, in a place called home. Can a family of nomads engender a sense of place and belonging in its children? More importantly, will there ever be a place where we all feel at home, such that we can live a gentle, carbon-neutral existence on this fragile planet?