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.

Who is Away 2 Be anyway?

A few months ago I sat down with a friend in Nicaragua after a morning of surfing and yoga. She asked me, “What is behind the name Away 2 Be, anyway?” To her chagrin and that of many students from teaching days past, I responded, “What do you think?” Our friends chimed in with their opinions and mentioned the not-so-subtle double entendre. “Yes”, I said, “Away 2 Be is all of that”. And again, I repeated one of my ubiquitous teaching quotes and said, “There is no wrong answer. Away 2 Be is whatever you want it ‘2 Be'”.

Let’s look at is this way: When we are “away” from what we know, when we step “away” from our comfort zone and shift our perspective, we are able “2 Be” more authentic, more observant, more aware.

The number “2” reminds us that we are always connected. Never alone. That there is more than one.

We might look at the name Away 2 Be and recognize that connecting with ourselves and with each other allows us to move from point “A” to point “B” and connect with the world.

By providing and facilitating meaningful personal, local and global experiences through yoga, consulting and international travel, our hope is that everyone finds “a way to be” that is genuine, authentic and purposeful. We focus on people and relationships before anything else.

It is then that we will be able to make positive changes in this world. So whatever the name, whatever your practice or however you choose “2 Be”, let it be authentic. Let it be true. Let your story guide you. And let us know if we can join you!

 

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

The perfect way to honor mothers.

This year.  What a year!  Amidst life, loss, transition and wander, a few things remain constant:

Love.
Hope.
Change.

As I pause to write, I think of another constant in the lives of many: The Casa Materna Mary Ann Jackman.  The Casa Materna is one of the primary reasons Away 2 Be came to be.  It embodies the model we believe in: accompaniment.  The Casa Materna is a steadfast haven for the women of Nicaragua. Each day, expectant mothers are welcomed through the doors of the Casa to ensure the safe birth of their children. Each day the staff care for and walk with the women as they prepare for motherhood.

The Casa Materna and the staff love as a nurturing mother loves.

Every May I reach out those I know, in solidarity with the Casa Materna, to reflect upon the Casa’s impact, but this year is different!  2016 marks our 25th anniversary, Kitty Madden’s 75th birthday, and (wow), even I will be 35!  In 25 years, the Casa Materna has welcomed over 17,000 women and has been integral in drastically reducing the maternal mortality rate in Nicaragua.

The Casa Materna gives us hope for a better world.

To celebrate this remarkable anniversary and Mother’s Day, we invite you to give an alternative Mother’s Day gift to the mothers in your life! Your thoughts and prayers are enough.  Your compassion is enough.  Your commitment to “do good” is enough.  If you are able to donate, that too, will be enough.  This year, we are committed to raising $12,000 more than last year to compensate for an absence of funds as our supporters in Switzerland focus on the refugee situation at home.  Consider $2.50, $25 or $250 in honor of 25 years of dedication to reducing maternal mortality!

The Casa Materna is continuously evolving.

Recently, a friend said to me, “the only way to truly express gratitude is to keep doing the work”. We will strive to do just that with Away 2 Be.  Please reach out if you or someone you know would benefit from a visit to the Casa Materna.  Being with the women and staff of the Casa is an unrivaled, life-altering experience and one that will inevitably remind you there is good in the world.

We are grateful for your constant presence with us.  May we continue to love.  May we continue to hope.  May we continue to evolve as we walk with each other on this journey.

Stay tuned for more updates and photos from Away 2 Be.  (Just a hint: This message is coming to you from Ecuador!)

Happy Mother’s Day!

Susan Lambert
Founder – Away 2 Be
Liaison – La Casa Materna Mary Ann Jackman

 

Why am I here?

In consulting sessions or on programs with groups abroad, the first question we usually ponder together is “Why are we here?” It’s a question many of us ask when in new scenarios, when humbled by a mountain top, or in those moments of humility so expansive that our eyes begin to weep. I asked this question of myself recently, before formally answering in public. To better understand what my own response would be, I sat on a beautiful terrace as the sun was rising in the East and setting in the West and the following is what seeped out of my pen:

 

Why am I here?

Hope.

That the world will be different

because I’ve seen a different world.

I’ve seen a world in which smiles supersede greed

laughter resonates beyond tears

faith smolders fear

and ubuntu prevails over all.

I’ve seen this world and who am I to keep it for myself?

It has become a duty to share

what I know

who I know

where I know.

To allow others

to see beauty in themselves

exceptional in the mundane

compassion within stories.

I see a utopic world perhaps, but

I choose it.

I choose this version of vision

over peril and violence

over unmistakably ignorant rhetoric.

I choose to share what I’ve always seen

what I am a part of

and so are you.

 

 

 

Find all you need.

I have this theory that if it wasn’t for a few basic needs like elimination and procreation, we could easily spend the course of our lifetime on public transportation without ever needing to leave. Allow me to explain:

In Central America, for example, one can be on a bus, (often dubbed “chicken busses”, often filled with people…and sometimes chickens too), and in mere minutes, encounter the following items:

  • Water
  • Soda
  • Food (to be more specific, tortillas, fried goods, chicken (dead), coconut cookies, chips, tamales, etc.)
  • Nail clippers
  • Valentines Day greeting cards
  • Batteries
  • Shirtsleeves
  • Medications of all kinds

In fact, even spiritual needs can be met on these busses. Time and time again, both young and old have willing proselytized and shared His message with me as we meander along dirt roads and through green pastures.

I have received small sheets of paper describing that the the note handed to me is instead of a worse violation: robbery, and if I don’t want to be robbed, than I ought to dole out a few cents.  I oblige.

And it’s not just on busses. From a taxi, you can buy a mattress, cashews for a snack, the local paper. You can have your windshield cleaned, and depending on the duration of the stoplight, your whole car too.

On trains, I’ve eaten delicious rice dishes and drunk perfectly-spiced chai.

I know what you’re thinking: but you are sitting the whole time. Au contraire! You should have seen the tabata intervals we did on a train from Mumbai to Karnataka, or the way we do pull-ups on the busses wherever we go. And for an arm workout? I couldn’t begin to tell you the number of babies I’ve held, while travelling to and fro. People seem honored when their children are held… or perhaps relieved. I wonder where those babies are now? Are they traveling by bus, car, train? Might they greet me soon, with the things they carry?

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

Arrival to Nicaragua

The first step outside of the airport baggage claim into the Nicaragua air brought me immediately back to my last visit, and every visit here – the warm humid air and distinctive scent of the air. Our friend and guide Susan greeted our group of five California women.

Our driver was Frank, who proudly hoisted our luggage to the roof of our small van. On our drive to San Simean, on the Laguna Apoyo – a beautiful lake created by a volcanic crater- I spied a Rotary International sign 🙂

San Simeon is a tranquil property with small, individual huts with grass roofs. The perfect spot to acclimate to our visit in Nicaragua. The resort is run by a wonderful group of local Nicaraguans and owned by Daniel, a Swiss man who created a dream for him. The evening meal was simple and fresh – flavorful chicken and rice. We shared a bottle of wine and talked about the hopes for our visit here. After dinner we engaged in lively game of Yatzee, which entertained two Canadian men eating at the next table.

I ended the day in bed under a mosquito net, listening to the wind and feeling completely at peace.

–Dana

7 tips for staying healthy on the road.

Oh, the woe of travel! For some, travel is an excuse to “sit still”, eat and drink things you otherwise wouldn’t and hope the waiter doesn’t delay bringing the next margarita. For others, travel is an opportunity for adventure and discovery. And for many, travel is for work.

Regardless of the type of traveler you are, feeling healthy while away and upon your return will do nothing but cure your travel woes and remind you of the great fortune you have to move and engage and wander through the world.

So here they are, in no particular order, by popular request, our seven tips for staying healthy on the road:

1. Routine-Establish one. Find a healthy practice you are willing to do every day, be it five minutes, twenty minutes or an hour. This is something you will make time to do whether or not you feel you have time. (My routine looks something like this: Roll out of bed, drink warm water, sit and breathe, 5 minutes of stretching, 10 pushups, 10 abs, 10 one arm handstands, 10 minutes of writing=more or less 25 minutes total.)

2. Intervals-No gym at the hotel? In a city where jogging about as a solo female just won’t do? Think you don’t have the time? Do intervals. They’ve been proven to be a highly effective way to get your body in shape. Fast. (I travel with a list of at least 15 different interval routines. I’ll randomly pick one, sweat for 20 minutes or so, and feel satisfied for the rest of the day upon completion. Check out this app for a timer and this site for some ideas.)

3. Green powder-This was mentioned in a recent “packing tips” blog. Due to the fact many places don’t have the requisite green items on the menu, I highly recommend “green powder”. Take some each day. This is our favorite.

4. Sugar-Do what you can to avoid it. You’ll feel better.

5. Move-Okay, so the intervals are intimidating, you’ve got a 5-hour flight ahead and meetings all day long. Keep moving. Get up from your seat, and if the flight attendant expresses disappointment in your impressive airplane handstands, explain to her that you read this blog, that moving is a part of your regimen and if you don’t do it, your muscles will atrophy. If confrontation isn’t your thing, at least do some neck stretches, use the bathroom more than you actually have to and try “eagle arms”. Your traps and shoulders will thank you. **See an upcoming blog on “airplane, airport and when-you’re-waiting yoga”.

6. Breathe-It seems like a silly suggestion because we have to do it to survive, but when we remember to breathe consciously, we are actually increasing optimal health. And when we remember to breathe, we often slow down, allowing for time to take that “mental snapshot” of wherever we are, appreciating whatever it is we get to do.

7. Hydrate-Duh. But not just a little…a lot. Go for two liters of water a day. At least. I try to drink my body weight in pounds in ounces of water each day. (And then you’ll have to visit the restroom more, and then you’ll move more, and then you’ll feel better over all).

Let us know your thoughts. Do you agree? What are your tips for staying healthy on the road? Contact us here.