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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

Leadership. How to.

“Leadership” has become a word whose frequency buzzes to the point of not being able to hear the word at all. Close seconds in our world of oft-used, sometimes-fulfilled buzzwords in global education, travel and group facilitation are “design thinking”, “paradigm shifting” “innovation” and “sustainability”. Up and coming words like “accompaniment” and “meaningful” will soon take the place of “service” and “empowerment”. Words are simply that. They convey messages to make the non-tangible tangible. And as we attempt to discover the newest and greatest and most grandiloquent means of expression, it is important to instate action that can defend the words we try to embody.

On voyages to other lands and in classrooms, schools and businesses, I have done my best to “facilitate” as opposed to “teach”, to be humble enough to invite varying opinions and perspectives in order for our group or team to create the best possible experience or solution. It is only when we can “walk the talk” that we will be able to become true leaders, people that are willing to see our own strengths and be vulnerable enough to recognize when others can compensate for our limitations. We all have talents that deserve to shine and if we try to “go it alone”, our talents are easily masked by the minutiae of where we don’t excel.

Below is a leadership tool you are welcome to adopt. In the classroom and in the world, I have used this tool, or some variation of it, to elicit accountability and group buy-in to our process, to allow me to step back and others to step forward. Each day, there is an individual or team that is responsible for different aspects of our experience. The below list was created with student travel in mind, but can certainly be adapted to any team scenario. Use it in your classroom, your home, your office, or on your next global adventure to enhance empathy, collaboration and effective leadership.

Use this tool and avoid the urge to uphold the popular terminology that will forever change. Your actions are what will remain in-style. By facilitating true leadership, the positive results on our world will be permanent.

 

Leader(s) of the Day Responsibilities:

Daily Schedule

  • At the beginning of the day, display the daily schedule, goals and activities and review with the group

Group activity

  • (At the beginning of the day and when needed)

Choose a ‘word of the day’

  • This word can be intention-setting or something helpful in the host community or new setting

Choose a ‘question of the day’

  • Choose a question that will elicit thought and can be referred at any time, particularly when reflecting

Group check-in

  • How is everyone doing?
  • Hold up fingers 1-5. If you are 1-3, look to 4-5 to uplift you and vice versa
  • Thumbs-up scale for good, somewhere in the middle for not so good, down for not well

Prepare

  • Review daily activities, what could happen and how to be prepared for any potential situation
  • Make sure everyone has what they need for the day’s activities

Time keeper

  • Help to keep us on time and round up the group when its time to go

Thank and greet whomever is hosting us

  • We often have to “say words” when we arrive and depart any given place. This is a great chance to practice speaking in front of a group and speaking from the heart

Help to organize/clean

Make sure everyone in the group is present, on time and healthy!

Sweep

  • Check the premises of wherever we are to be sure we have everything/all trash is picked up, etc.

Write blog

Lead Closing activity

  • Choose next day’s leaders
  • Answer ‘Question of the Day’

 

Insight on Packing.

To pack.

A necessary verb, though one that many of us loathe.  There you are…excited by the imminent adventure ahead.  The journey awaits, as do the people you will meet and the unsolvable mysteries that will greet you upon arrival.  But first…What will you bring?

People always say to me, “You must have this packing thing down by now.”  That is an absolute fallacy.  I wish I did.  I wish I could say that over the almost 20 years I’ve travelled internationally and over a lifespan of traveling domestically via plane, train, car and by foot, that I have a “system,” that preparing for each destination is a cinch because I do it so frequently.  But alas, without question, I find myself awake in the wee hours the night before every departure packing according to a very non-efficient method of “process of elimination”.  Everything that might come with me starts in a pile on the floor.  From there, I tediously determine the value of said item: Definitely.  Definitely not.  Maybe. 

The most difficult? 

The shoes.  The bags.  The jackets.  And the hardest of all:  When traveling to vastly different climates.

Allow me to impart some gentle wisdom around items I now never leave home without:

  • Green powder – Roughage for those destinations that don’t deviate from starch-heavy fare.
  • Hand-held mirror – For contacts and the occasional lipgloss.
  • Lavender oil –  For planes, trains and headaches.
  • Two tennis balls in a sock – For sore muscles, tight shoulders and a ball game at-the-ready.
  • Yoga mat – For creating a space for stretching and inverting anywhere.
  • Extra bags – They’re always handy.
  • Toms/vans/slip-ons – Perfect for taking on and off before entering your tent, someones home, a temple or mosque. (Laces are a hassle.)

As far as the other stuff?  Well, usually you can find what you need wherever you go.  I mean it.  I used a tree branch in Kenya for a toothbrush, bought organic face products from a street vendor in Mumbai, and even managed to find a great pair of super fly high tops in Peru.  Wherever your destination and wherever your origin, do your best to remove stress.  Roll stuff up.  Pack light.  Shift your definition of “clean,” and go for it! The journey is about the people anyway.  Not your stuff.

Travel alone. It’s a party!

Traveling alone to a new destination is like arriving to a party stag…

The crux:

You knock on the door.  This act takes the most effort and commitment and energy.  To your chagrin, the door opens.

You purchase your plane ticket, click the button and feel that rush of excitement, apprehension and pride for choosing to go for it.  You show up.

The decision:

You are certain they are all staring at you.  You want to leave. To call mom.  But for some reason you stay.  You realize you’ll never meet these people for the first time ever again. 

You will never see this place for the first time ever again. You know there is potential and opportunity awaiting you.  You know there is more to learn and discover and apprehend.  You start walking.

The action:

You pour a drink.  You meet others pouring drinks.  You find the snacks.  You meet others masticating empathetically. 

You walk to the nearest cafe, wishing that giant appendage on your back wasn’t bright yellow with the words “North Face” splayed across it zippers.  You sit and try your hand at the few coin phrases you learned on the plane.  

They laugh at you.  With you.

The transition:

You pretend with all of your might that you’re “in”, despite your own expertise in knowing you’re all playing the same game.  You start to acclimate.  The portal you entered through seems to change slowly, like a polaroid appearing more clearly.  You begin to see anew and remember first impressions only happen once and that is all and everything they are.  The initial angst you felt already seems like a foreign land.

When you finally kiss the host adieu, when you click that button again, you realize you’d rather not leave.  You’d rather stay.  To learn. To engage. To change and shift and see it all for the first time.  But you can’t.  Your time has arrived.  

You take a picture.  You press the shutter.  You hold on to what you can, and know, intrinsically, that all of it will not last forever.  But you can be sure your life has changed.  You are a better version of you.

So do it.  Go for it.  You will grow and learn and make mistakes.   And if you want support and suggestions and encouragement, we’re here for you.  Heck, we can even plan your adventure for you and connect you with some of the most wonderful people and places in the world.

You have our permission.  Now go!

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?

 

 

 

From a far to Afar

This is a letter written in Mumbai this summer to Afar Magazine, another company who seems to have the tools and the vision to make meaningful travel possible for those who desire it.  (Response pending.)

Dear Afar magazine,

This is the current scene: A rooftop restaurant post-sunset.  The yellow, red and blue boat hulls in the harbor have that perfect, saturated glow as if to kiss this day adieu.  Incessant horns seem far away now, resonating stories below and hoping to ease their tired voices soon.  Birds squawk.  Heads nod.  This is Mumbai.

I am writing you simply to say, thank you. You embrace all that is this world in a few matte pages filled with colors and words and stories authentically portraying the beauty and the veracity of the variety that abounds on this planet.  You show us the elaborate and engage with the socially conscious.  You encourage travel, not through a window, but through fresh eyes, new perspective and meaningful interactions.

The first thing friends ask me when I return to the US is, “When are you leaving?”  The sincere inquiry enables me to reflect on a life I have stumbled into; one of wonderment and “wanderment” and one whose great fortune cannot be denied. 

In seventeen years of international travel, I have been welcomed into Maasai bomas in Kenya and ventured on Hedzabe bush hunts in Tanzania.  I was embraced by Rwandans, shared tea with the Turkish, ate roti and masala on the floor of Indian homes and stared back at the cui on my plate as I celebrated the earth in Peru.  Nicaragua has become a home for me and Spain will always have a piece of my heart.  My travels have been vast and intimate, adventurous and soulful, alone and surrounded by others, chaotic and tranquil, spontaneous and purposeful.  And one certainty prevails: benevolence exists no matter where I wander.  Around the world, requited smiles shatter walls built with the mortar of language and fear.

I founded a small business, Away2Be.  We facilitate innovative education, and interpersonal and intercultural connection through local and global relationships.  First and foremost, we encourage the connection with self through yoga and reflection.  Secondly, we engage in meaningful conversations with educators, students, local leaders and corporate clients alike about global issues, leadership, interpersonal relationships and effective communication.  We travel abroad and walk with and learn from the people of the world. We believe sustainable, global change depends on the power of these relationships and personal stories are the pathway to peace.

Because our values align and because I so appreciate all you do, I write you this message.  I would love to collaborate and communicate with you further.  I am based in Denver, though probably spent about 8 months away last year!

Let’s continue this work of traveling deeper together! 

Namaste!

Susan Lambert

Owner, Away 2 Be

www.away2be.com

Birds fly as a young traveler walks home in Mumbai, India. Meaningful travel abroad brings us closer to home.

Gateway of India

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.