Away 2 Be turns 3! (Our newsletter.)

Away 2 Be. 

Believing in People.

It’s our 3rd Birthday!  In three years, we have traveled from Nicaragua to Nepal, from Ecuador to Spain.  We have hiked to waterfalls, learned how to make tortillas and pinolillo, and we even swam with sea lions in the Galapagos!  Everywhere we go, we discover good people are everywhere and benevolence prevails.  Thank you for supporting us!  Whether you participated in a meaningful travel experience abroad, a session in your school or business or a yoga class somewhere in the world, we appreciate your love and encouragement as we focus on personal, local and global changes and shift the paradigm of “service” and “doing for” to “accompaniment” and “walking with”.  Sustainable innovation and peace depends on the power of relationships.  Our success is because of you!

To continue supporting Away 2 Be:
1.  “Like” and follow us on FacebookInstagram and Twitter.
2.  Invite your friends and family to do the same.
3.  Check out our website!
4.  Sign up for a meaningful travel experienceconsulting session or yoga session.
5.  Do good things with good people.
¡Gracias!  Asante sana!  Dhanyabad! Solpayki!  Thank you!

(To view the full newsletter, click here.)

 

Zoom! 5 ways to shift perspective.

How do you choose to see things differently? How do you zoom in to see the intricacies of something and simultaneously zoom out to see the beauty of the whole?

You’ve seen Away 2 Be on Instagram and Facebook. We tout the ideals of presence and shifting perspective. We admire the notion of stepping back to see the whole picture, the whole person. We revere the philosophy of accompaniment. But how do we do it? How do we recognize the beauty of now and see the good in humanity when the world suffers from injustice and poverty, malice and hatred?

On Away 2 Be programs and in our workshops, we do an activity called “Zoom”*. We look at a picture up close and try to guess what it is. As each picture progresses, the same image zooms out. With each new image, we recognize our judgment is neither right nor wrong. We learn that each person, though seeing the same image, has a different impression of what it might be. We discover, upon finally seeing the whole image, that we still don’t have the complete story. And maybe we never will.

I recently visited Tippet Rise, an outdoor sculpture gallery in Montana. From Patrick Dougherty’s “Daydreams” to Alexander Calder’s “Two Discs”, each piece at Tippet Rise also verified that the whole is a collaboration of details and can been seen in a new way when we choose to step back.  When I first approached “Daydreams”, I was so close that I only saw two windows.  It wasn’t until I walked to the road that I noticed the windows were part of a house and the house, (a schoolhouse), was entangled by trees, emulating the desire for the child within to escape into his own creative mind.

As artists and philosophers, analysts and entrepreneurs, mothers and sons, we try to make sense of our world, yet we will never fully understand it.  Photographers seek the perfect angle. Journalists choose questions to elicit truth. Painters dip their brushes into palettes of confusion, hoping their stroke resonates with the onlooker. Writers choose symbols yearning for meaning. Sculptors entice viewers to look at their works of art from different perspectives. Global leaders are always willing to listen, learn and change their minds. Travelers know that the destination will be enhanced by the journey.  Regardless of our vocation, it is imperative to be a thought leader for others, to present an experience causing others to question their own perspective.

So how do we shift our perspective? How do we zoom in and out? How do we become the photographer that recognizes, despite the multitude of lenses in her pack, she will never be able to fully articulate that essential moment in her life?  How do we look at the whole sculpture?

It’s simple. Here are 5 strategies to see things anew:

  1. 1.  Choose to recognize how little we know and how much we will always have to learn.
  2. 2.  Choose to ask questions and gain information through your experience instead of someone else’s.
  3. 3.  Choose to take risks, be vulnerable and face fears.
  4. 4.  Choose to be willing to change your mind.
  5. 5.  Choose to step forward and back, left and right, zoom in and out, go upside down, until you have seen all angles and know you still don’t know it all.

Away 2 Be challenges you to be authentic, open-minded and present. We invite you to connect with yourself in order to make meaningful changes in the world around you. We hope you will join in us at home and abroad on one of our adventures!

Susan Lambert

Founder, Away 2 Be

(Proudly, a hopeless optimist)

 

*Zoom is an Away 2 Be activity inspired by Istvan Banyai’s book entitled, Zoom.

Let’s do some good!

So this is how my life works:

I am loved. I am supported. I care more than I can handle, about the world, about it’s people. And I wander to places without a plan. I show up. I do my best to listen. I try to learn from instead of do for and I think that very intention is the reason I have wound up with a network of good people I consider my soul-friends around the world.

And sometimes I feel that I’ve been connected to certain people long before we have met. Recently this very sentiment occurred when I met with George. We sat down for a coffee in Quito and within minutes realized we had mutual friends in both Peru and the United States. In fact, George’s godson is my friend’s nephew! (The term “serendipity” has started to lose poignancy in my life because of its consistent presence.)

As we talked, George’s eyes welled up, not because of our connection, but because of his connection with friends and fellow citizens of Ecuador who tragically lost their homes due to the 7.8 earthquake on April 16th, 2016. George described his dear friends who have decided to cut down their own bamboo to build houses for those suffering. To date, the Caemba Casitas project has constructed 122 houses and 3 children’s centers serving hundreds of Ecuadorians. George and his friends have spent hours, days and weeks constructing these homes.

Those of you who know me know I believe in accompaniment over service, in relationships before help. Yet in times in which basic needs aren’t being met, when families are struggling to survive due to circumstances beyond their control, our duty is most certainly to be of service. We are all one. We must serve our brothers and sisters in need.

Here are a few ways you can help:

May your journey be meaningful. May you connect in meaningful ways with those you know and those you don’t. May you recognize all of the good in the world.

Susan

Founder, Away 2 Be

A day full of love and wander in Nicaragua.

Thursday, Feb. 18th

The morning started with awakening of the dogs barking, birds chirping and the sounds of the city coming to life. I climbed down my bunk bed and debated about how I wanted to begin my day, cold shower, stretch and yoga on the front porch or just the opportunity to make coffee and tea for my beautiful friends that I have grown so much closer to because of the experience of sharing Nicaragua. I opted for making tea/coffee in our little Casita kitchen. We shared fresh piña and melon before we headed across the street to the Casa to enjoy a traditional simple breakfast prepared by our hosts. But nothing is simple at the Casa. The food is prepared with love and the highlight of the morning is checking in with the mothers. Did anyone go to the hospital last night? Did any new mother’s arrive? Which women are bonding? How is everyone feeling? Even without Spanish it’s so easy to communicate with the mothers and thanks to our wonderful guide, Susan who oozes with love, warmth, respect and true compassion for the staff and the mothers, we made friends quickly.

After breakfast and our goodbyes we headed out for our day’s adventure with Matagalpa Tours. We were greeted by a handsome guide named Daniel, with curly hair, who learned English by watching US television, his two favorite shows were “Nine and a half men” and “The big bang theory”…….go figure. First stop was a chocolate factory just outside of Matagalpa. What a way to begin a busy day, learning how “real” chocolate versus “candy” is made. I will never buy Hershey’s or Nestles again. The highlight of the morning was dipping cashew nuts in a plate of chocolate sauce just made that morning. All of the workers were women and the realization of the power of the Nicaraguan women was just starting to sink in.

From chocolate, we drove off-road to the campo for lunch prepared by a local family. The campo had a preschool, a little church, small houses, dogs, a storefront where campo families bought pollo and a coffee plantation where our lunch hosts lived. The patriarch was 83-year old, Enrique who couldn’t help but try out his English with us and had an eye for Susan. Much to his granddaughter’s horror he asked Susan for “just one little kiss”. By far my FAVORITE meal of the trip, (and the food has been fantastic every where we have gone), was the lunch prepared by the family. Vegetables, rice, beets, chicken, beans and a carrot, orange and lemon drink that was as tasty as it was colorful. How this delicious meal could have been prepared in the simple dirt floor kitchen attached to the back of the house was beyond me, but we loved every taste and ended up fighting over the fried plantains! The family was so proud, “Everything we serve we grow on the farm. All orgánico!” It was obvious to us that love mixed with family, new friends and sprinkled with contentment and a desire to share a meal and a culture is the best recipe for a memorable lunch.

After a quick walk through the coffee plantation lead by one of the daughters who proudly explained the family business, (Daniel spotted a sloth lounging in a tree), we said our goodbyes to the family and headed out on a 6 mile hike through the mountains, dry rain forest, farms and orchards tucked into the side of the hills and even a cow pasture. We spotted monkeys, birds, frogs and thankfully no snakes Destination: a waterfall. We crossed bridges took our time enjoying the most clean air and beautiful vistas and arrived at our spot after about an hour and a half. The river was amazing, reminding some of us of Yosemite, or the Gold Country in California. Quiet, clean and remote we sat along the rocks and listened to the birds, the river flowing and the water rushing off the side of the rocks. Walking back towards the van, we passed a group of children playing baseball with a ball made out of socks and a wooden bat that was a fallen branch. We had learned that baseball is the national sport and soccer is growing in importance. Watching the children swing hard, run the bases and lose the ball in the vegetation reminded me that children are children wherever you are. Children are born with the spirit of love and adventure and laughter is a universal language.

Driving back to the Casita we saw the most beautiful sunset peaking out through the trees and our driver just seemed to time the ride perfectly. But there was one more surprise. Off the road was another waterfall that was developed for tourism. A six-mile hike was NOT required to see the falls. The site was closed, but of course Daniel was able to chat with the guard to open the gates to let our little van in. We scrambled off the van and walked down a set of stairs to be greeted by orchids clinging from trees, begonias with their white flowers dripping with moisture and turned a corner and found the waterfall flowing. I was thankful we didn’t have to share this with tourists just our small group of six…….perfecto.

As we headed back to town the Casa was calling me. Did anyone have her baby today? Did any new mothers come? Which of these strangers from the many different campos bonded? I couldn’t wait to hear the news and say my hellos to the mothers, knowing my day was very different from theirs, yet still feeling an intimacy and connection that I will never forget.

-Jan

Peace. How to find it.

My culminating assignment in college was a paper written in both Spanish and English about perspective and the world between reality and fiction. I conspired with Hume, empathized with Rockwell and sought to live in Borges’ world of Tlön. I concluded the precious space in between is where peace transpires.

Today we celebrate the International Day of Peace. This is a day designated to honor what is good and who is doing good in this world. We recognize war and injustice while preserving hope in those capable of shifting the paradigm from fear to empathy.

Living in the mystery and the unknown, I’ve been told, is one of my geniuses. I enjoy the sheer frustration of knowing that I don’t. I find myself in perpetual in betweenness, with an insatiable curiosity of people and the world. I am frequently found between countries, cities, and ideas, and in those places, Away 2 Be was born.

Away 2 Be facilitates personal, local and global connections by eliminating the often-uncomfortable in between. We are the bridge between you and yourself, you and your local community, staff, and team, you and the world. Through yoga, consulting and facilitation sessions and meaningful journeys abroad, Away 2 Be enables you to connect authentically and perpetuate peace within yourself and all that surrounds you.

To Hume’s pre-determinism, Rockwell’s bell pepper and Borge’s land between the mirror and the self, I humbly accept this challenge of shifting our current perspective and I invite you to join me on the journey. Away 2 Be was created as a conduit for change, for connection and above all, peace.

How will you create peace today and beyond?

 

 

 

Dear Human,

As we travel around the world, the need for effective communication and empathy becomes more and more apparent.  Often there is an overwhelming desire to “change the world” quickly and urgently. However, it is the small things we do, the connections we make that will inevitably create sustainable, positive shifts in the world.  This is a letter I wrote in India to those with whom I may never be able to connect, but will always remember.

Dear Human,

Dear man with the drums and man with the large balloon, dear child asking for shampoo and woman with baby asking for a bit of rice, dear man on the street without legs, dear human on the sidewalk, too forlorn and forgotten to know your strength as you lay nearly naked, dear old, wrinkled woman bringing your hand to your mouth, the universal symbol for food, dear youth, pretending you, too are a tourist, trying to coax conversation, dear one, running after me for a chance to maybe, just maybe take hold of my water bottle for your future use, or maybe my hand to hold.

I see you.

I hear you.

I feel you.

I’m sorry if you think I don’t.  I’m sorry if I walk by without making eye contact, without smiling or greeting you, or embracing you, or asking your name and your passion in life.  I want to.  I wish you knew that.  I wish you could know that I care.  My intent is never to ignore the humanity, the humanness of you.  For you I hope for a better life, a better situation.  It is because of you I will continue to do this work, to focus on sustainable, long-lasting change.  I know it is impossible for you to see.

Maybe I am wrong.  Maybe if I hugged you and bought you rice and gave you the shirt I wear, things would be different.

But I know they wouldn’t.

I see you.

I hear you.

I feel you.

Could I listen to your story?

Dreaming of Utopia

“We are not handing out gifts, but we are brining forth the gifts inside the people themselves.”

—Jacqueline Novogratz

A persistent conversation and conundrum in the international travel and education field is with regard to “service” and “helping”.  We are beginning to see shifts in our practices and our values, recognizing sustainable, global change depends our commitment to simultaneously learn from one another.  We dream of a utopia where poverty, malice and war cease to exist.  I wrote this in India recently, while pondering this great value transition I am witnessing around the world.

My utopia is to relinquish the word “help” under the pretext of superiority.  Can we change this word to “support,” “facilitate,” “learn from,” “be with”?  It is difficult to understand, especially as this paradigm of “service” (a word often utilized and brutalized to the precipice of our benevolent demise), gains popularity.  Intentions are pure, clean, just, positive and good.  Yet rarely are we privy to witnessing how often our good intentions are undone and redone only to one day cut the ribbon, exposing the facade of what wasn’t needed, but extremely well-intended.

Rarely do we know the whole story, the real story.  We can’t.  We never will.  What we have to do is continue to ask and listen.

Listen.

There is momentum in our shifting perspective, a shift of questioning who is served, who the desired recipients of “service” are. 

So let us absolve “help” and “service” and “doing for,” and embrace “join” and “togetherness” and “walking with” as we build relationships and sustainably innovate to allow communication and creativity to be the driving forces of impactful change.

 

The Experience of a Lifetime

In December of 2104, three women, Molly, Nancy and Ruthie visited Nicaragua with Away 2 Be.  This is what they had to say about their experience:

It was a dark day on December 1, 2014 when three women (three friends) from Vermont gathered their carefully packed bags and their courage to begin a ten day adventure in the warmth and beauty of Nicaragua. We would meet our trip leader, Susan Lambert, when we landed in Managua International Airport. And, so the adventure of a lifetime began.

The hugs, tears and laughter that were exchanged with Susan upon our landing were followed by loving messages of welcome she had created and left on our pillows.   She gently and skillfully oriented us to our surroundings and prepared us for the days ahead. We were like sponges – willing and anxious to absorb whatever lay ahead.

Our itinerary, full of beauty, wonder and time for reflection, was beginning to unfold. We were immersed in the remarkable geography and history of the country.   For two days, we stayed at a resort bordering a volcanic lagoon and explored the surrounding villages. During the next several days, we toured a family-owned coffee farm, a weavers’ coop, a chocolate factory and a children’s library built in one of the barrios. We shared time with local potters and restaurateurs and spent four days at the Casa Materna MaryAnn Jackman in Matagulpa.   Through Susan’s interpretation skills, we were quickly able to understand the roles of those we met and they learned a little about us as well.

All of our experiences were exhilarating but the time at the Casa Materna absolutely filled our souls. The staff, each and every one, was so genuine in their welcome. Though we did not share a language, we were able to communicate heart to heart very quickly. Eight mothers-to-be were in residence on the day we arrived and by the next afternoon, there were thirteen. The women were, of course, shy but curious about us. During the next four days, we were assimilated into their lives and those of the staff with extraordinary generosity and graciousness.   Our Susan, a long time board member and liaison for the Casa, facilitated those interactions with such grace and joy. We soon felt like we were part of the fabric of this incredible organization and the lives of the women they were serving. We were sharing meals, dabbling in crafts, making tortillas, taking walks, trading family pictures, exchanging gifts, celebrating festivals, laughing and communicating as if we had known each other for months not days.

How did this happen?   How did differences dissolve and get replaced by kinship in such a short time?

So much of the bond we established during our time at the Casa was based on sharing the privilege of motherhood – the anxiety, challenge and wonder of it all spanned our cultural differences. Ruth, Nancy and I took time to think about our own journey as mothers, as we reflected on the experiences we shared with the women at the Casa. During our group yoga exercises filled with laughter and some tears, we learned of each other’s hopes and fears related to family and parenting.

As Susan’s Mom, I reveled in the woman she had become. My heart was bursting as I watched her interactions with her Nicaraguan family and the skill with which she wove Nancy, Ruth and me into this life. She lit up the room with her joy, spirit of adventure, compassion and caring.   She has chosen to be a “giver” to our world, who has already made an enormous difference in the lives she has touched. What a privilege to be her Mother!

The lives of the mothers-to-be at the Casa, are enriched by the love and caring of the staff members who have given their hearts and talents to ensure that the journey of motherhood gets off to a good start for those who come through their doors. They share the most intimate days and hours before new life begins. They laugh, cry, learn and love during the short time that they spend in each other’s company.   Each clearly considers it a privilege to be present to one another during this momentous time.

We left the Casa with tears, hugs and the memories of a lifetime tucked into our hearts. In the kindness that surrounded us during our time there are lessons for our planet. Nancy, Ruth and I experienced the hope and optimism of people who know the importance of treating people as they would like to be treated.   We watched in awe, as one person after another, welcomed us into their lives with open arms and huge smiles, rather than fear and misunderstanding. Imagine an international community where such behaviors were commonplace!

Our best wishes and Happy Mothers Day to our new Nicaraguan friends and soulmates!   Many thanks to all of you for who you are and the work you do that makes this world a much better place.

 

Happy Mother’s Day

People are Gifts

Written by Molly, Nancy and Ruthie, 2014 visitors to Nicaragua

This morning we packed our bags (in order to be able to fully enjoy our day), did yoga, read a poem on transition and our chose our daily angel cards.  (Ruthie-Adventure, Nancy-Beauty, Molly-Harmony, Susan-Intention). After our serene beginning, the wind blew and locked us out of our place.  Not to worry, Socorro came to our rescue (literally)!

The mothers-to-be seemed tired from the previous evening’s events.  What a fun adventure and opportunity we had last night!  We essentially “trick-or-treated” for the first time in our adult lives in order to enjoy “La Purisima”, a celebration on the eve of the feast day of the Immaculate Conception honoring the Virgin Mary.  It was strange to be surrounded by hordes of people singing to the Virgin, holding out bags to be filled with candies and fruits.  We had VIP entrance to the houses since we accompanied 9 pregnant women.  They were shy and reserved, yet excited to spend this special night in Matagalpa while donning their best duds and new jewelry from their own Purisima celebration.

Today, after another lovely breakfast of eggs and gallo pinto at the Casa, we again walked with the mothers.  We noticed an enhanced connection and ease of communication among the women, many of whom have been together for a number of days.  Maria, the first woman we met when we arrived to Matagalpa, who had been on bed rest, is now leading the group op the hill.  Today’s exercises had us all in stitches as we acted out our favorite animal and did stretches accordingly.  There were tears too, as we called loved ones present to our circle.  (You were all present).  Of course, as we shared pieces of our stories, we wondered about the longer life-story of these young women.

We strolled the city, today much quieter than the rest of the week, to find special things for special people.  Our friend, Nohelia joined us again this afternoon for a visit to Molino Norte, a women’s weaving cooperative.  For Ruthie it was a dream come true to try her hand (and use her muscles) weaving with a giant loom.   (We all tried!)  The weavers explained to us the life-changing benefits of the jobs that were created for them in order to make a living out of their art.  Purchases made!

Fifteen minutes up the road, we found ourselves in yet another paradise, Selva Negra, a coffee farm with stunning vistas, a cool breeze and mountains enveloping the grounds.  We dined in the sun with friends, old and young, from near and far, as if our paths had always been intertwined.