The buzz word for 2015 is COMMUNITY Why?

5 Mar

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For the past year all I’ve heard are the following words or phrases…community building, community managers, community, communities of practice, community exchanges, buzzing communities, online communities…and the list goes on for a while. Also my husband happens to work at the World Bank as a coordinator of their communities of practice program, and he started out as a community builder in undergraduate developing a Bosnian Diaspora Network. Before meeting my husband I had no clue that people actually took the time to create/build communities.

So what is a community? According to Webster Dictionary it’s the following: a group of people living in the same place or having a particular characteristic in common or a feeling of fellowship with others, as a result of sharing common attitudes, interests, and goals.

I never thought of starting a community or joining one because I was fine with my “tribe.” I’ve always had my social circle of friends, in which we shared similar characteristics or interests, to share trips, food and talks with and it came quite natural to have this community or circle. Also all my cousins in Spain have their  social circle of friends that get together quite often to have drinks, picnics, excursions and just to hang out. They don’t use any fancy online tools to organize these outings or plan months ahead to see each other it just comes natural. I also always remember my grandpa knowing every neighbor and employee at the supermarket and taking joy in socializing with them on a daily basis. These communities were organic and shared a common interest of a desire to belong to something and know that they were not alone in this world because someone had their back.

And according to the book Blue Zones one reason some people live to a 100 and more is because of the following:

As the years went by I realized that my lenses were quite narrow because I was fine with my tribe and not worried about the bigger picture of being part of something that was greater than just me such as my neighborhood, city, workplace, association, religion, homeless, health clubs, business, etc… If I wanted to make an impact I had to get out of my little circle and know that as a citizen of our planet Earth I had obligations to be there for others. If I had certain skills or passions I needed to share them with people who could benefit from them in some way.  Thanks to all those community organizers like our President Obama real change has happened and for that people are better off.

My passion is wellness travel helping people decompress their emotions and be more satisfied with their lives by taking them to historic unknown small towns or sites to gain new perspectives and appreciation for their lives.  Since I was a little girl I’ve enjoyed travel and have seen how therapeutic it can be and what a positive impact it has had in my personal life.  I wanted to share that discovery with the world. And for the past couple of years  I’ve bonded with several wellness practitioners because I was looking for ways to feel better both mentally and physically due to all the stress I had in my life.  I’ve delved into yoga, meditation, therapy, healthy eating (yummy green smoothies), energy healing, reiki, creative expression, art expression….ok you get the picture I’ve tried it all. All those things have helped me grow in some way which is why I wanted to combine the wellness with the travel. To my surprise I found many people who found my passion for travel exploration and wellness as a great combination to help them through tough times. I decided that I needed to create a space for those people because nothing like that existed in DC so I started the “DC Wellness Full Spectrum” community  to get like-minded people together to help one another and create a strong bond…it’s really that simple. I believe one should build a community only when something doesn’t exist on the subject matter or idea.  There are too many communities that in the end are very similar all working toward the same mission. A community is about collaboration so if you see many communities that are very similar try to bring them all together into one nice community.

Since there happens to be a void in using travel and wellness as a means to help one’s well-being I’m currently working hard to connect people and get them to feel like they belong to something that will bring about good change. I really get joy in reading people’s posts or when they engage with one another online but the best part is when we’re all able to  meet in person to talk about the common factor which is helping improve one’s well-being. My question to you is, how do I get people to become active participants in order to create some type of impact? Please answer the question on the community.

 

 

Lexington, Kentucky lleno de caballos y nieve y mucho mas!!

27 Feb

Pasamos un día en Lexington, Kentucky pero pudimos disfrutar de todo lo típico: ver los caballos que ganaron premios en las carreras del Derby y otras famosas; hicimos un tour para aprender como hacen whiskey, que por cierto esta hecho con maíz; y como la Universidad de Kentucky, reconocido por el baloncesto, esta en la ciudad hay mucho estudiante muy talentoso como Marcus Wilkerson.

Espero que disfruteis del video!

Lexington, Kentucky and Snow and a lot of it!!

27 Feb

Our Kentucky experience ended in Lexington full of horses, bourbon and snow. Fun fact about bourbon it’s made out of corn…who knew!

We were stuck in the historic snowpocalypse. It’s always nice to be a part of  something. We went out to buy some groceries and a guy in his truck stopped to give us a ride because he saw that the snow went up to our knees and it was hard to walk. Like I said in my las post about Berea there’s something about how nice and genuine people are in Kentucky.

We also caught a show with local artists such as Marcus Wilkerson

Hope you enjoy the video!

 

 

 

 

La amabilidad de gente en el pueblo artístico de Berea, Kentucky

22 Feb

La semana pasada estuvimos en Berea, Kentucky. Esta a nueve horas de Washington, DC, tienes que atravesar todo el estado de West Virginia. Me encanto este pueblo por la energía de los estudiantes que van a Berea College.  La universidad anima a los estudiantes a usar arte y música para seguir con las tradiciones de la artesanía de los Appalachians y para expresar su creatividad.

Lo que mas me impresiono es que los residentes nos hablaban aunque no nos conocían porque nos quieren contar sobre la historia de Berea. Tienen mucho orgullo en su pueblo.

Cuando estuvimos en la oficina de turismo escuchamos a música blue grass y quisimos saber de donde venia. Lo que descubrimos fue tres señoras ensayando en una oficina pequeña pero de todos modos nos invitaron a escuchar. Hay algo en la música blue grass que te hace pensar del campo y la libertad de estar fuera del estrés de la ciudad.

 

 

Our Very Own Impromptu Blue Grass Music Concert

22 Feb

Last weekend, I ventured out to the eastern part of Kentucky because my husband has a fascination with blue grass music. He did some research and said we needed to go to Berea, just outside of Lexington, because it’s known as the capital of folk art and it’s near Renfro Valley, where the Kentucky Music Hall of Fame is located.  I’m always up for an adventure so off we went to Berea. It’s about nine hours from Washington, DC. You drive through Northern Maryland into West Virginia passing through Morgantown and Charleston.

The one thing that stood out about Berea was the people we encountered. At the Welcome Center, we heard someone playing music in the back office so we decided to peek in to see who was playing the amazing blue grass music. We found three wonderful ladies jamming out to some classics, and without hesitating they invited us to listen to their private practice session. They also didn’t mind that we were taping them.  We learned that each lady had a relative that either played in a well-known blue grass band or had some impact with music in Berea. It wasn’t only this encounter but everywhere we went we met free-spirit, easy going and kind people who loved to showcase their art and music.

 

 

Porque los que viven en Washington, DC tienen suerte?

28 Jan

Desde que llevo viviendo en Washington, DC  he descubierto tanta belleza de pueblos pintorescos, historia de la Guerra Civil y una gran naturaleza que no hay ninguna razón de siempre subirse a un avión y escaparse a un sitio exótico.

Este fin de semana visitamos el condado de Highland en Virginia, esta localizado en el oeste del estado y hace frontera con el estado de West Virginia.

 

Why those of us who live in Washington, DC are so lucky!

28 Jan

Since I’ve lived in Washington, DC I’ve had the chance to discover all the natural beauty and history that surrounds us. Last weekend, I spent some time in Highland County, Virginia. And stayed in the beautiful historic charmed town of Monterey in the beautiful Bed and Breakfast Arbogast Inn. There’s no reason to always jump on a plane to get out of the city try to focus on the beauty that’s within reach, it’s also a lot cheaper.

Enjoy!

Two days spent with monks??

4 Jan

You’re probably wondering how is it that I spent some time with monks. Well, like most great things that have happened in my life it wasn’t planned. Meeting Oprah was also not planned!! Even my own wedding wasn’t really planned; we just went to the courthouse and got married. Since I encountered Oprah on stage at the Life you Want Weekend Tour last September, I promised myself that I was going to work on living out the vision I wanted for my life: “to let go of fear, anger, and guilt in order to build a positive and good life for my family, job, and well-being. I would take the necessarily steps followed by action to live a healthier and more fulfilling life.”

I started going to a therapist to help clear my thoughts, judgments, fears, and angers. It has been great to talk to someone who really listens without judgement and gives you objective and factual advice.  I also started incorporating yoga and visualization meditation into my daily morning routines and meeting like-minded people. I decided to take it a step even further and spend two days in solitude at Our Lady of Guadalupe Abbey which is an Olivetan Benedictine monastery in Pecos, New Mexico.

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An artist carved the Virgin Mary holding baby Jesus out of a tree. You’ll see it on one of the trails near the monastery.

Most of my life has been surrounded by constant noise and activity with never a moment to do nothing. At work and with family people are always looking for immediate answers/solutions to questions and to problems. There’s never time to think about a situation or a problem because in the world we live in everything needs to be now or you’re just “too slow to the game” or people think you just don’t understand. Pico Iyer, well-known travel writer, recently did a TED Talk about “The Art of Stillness”  and it really caught my attention when he said, ” to enjoy life you must learn to be still in order to not be exhausted or distracted at events or with people.” When you give yourself the opportunity to be still your mind becomes clearer and you’re able to give your  true full self to people and life. When you’re constantly going you’re never really there. Also, when you’re still you find out what moves you most and where your true happiness lies.  According to Reflections of Buddhist physician Alex Lickerman, M.D.”Silence is a terrific substitute for self-control, not only creating its appearance, but over time and with practice its substance as well.

 

What I personally learned on my two days of solitude with no phone, books, make up or

pictures(FYI:the pictures in this post are from a previous trip I took, to the monastery, with

my family a couple years ago). It was just me, myself and I.

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-Being silent is really not that hard. However, even though I went on a two day silent retreat I’m not a changed person or saw the light beam upon me. It takes time and practice to slowly feel inner peace within you. I’ll have to practice the act of being still for many more years in order to reap the true benefits. Some say it takes eight weeks to start feeling some ease and mindfulness in your mind, body, and spirit.

-Yes…I was staying at a monastery where monks live but I didn’t think I would encounter them because I was out most of the day doing my own silent retreat. Of course….never say never because on Sunday I was invited to eat breakfast and lunch with them. I couldn’t believe the monks invited me to eat with them but there I was sitting at the other end of the table watching them eat. Most of them ate in silence. I was able to observe the peace in their faces and how gentle they moved and ate.  During breakfast time there was a disagreement between two of the monks and instead of getting mad one of the monks simply smiled and calmly stated his opinion. He didn’t need to scream, insult or give explanations why he disagreed he just simply stated his opinion in a calm manner. I guess when you have inner peace there’s no reason to get out of control.  I was so blessed to have witnessed such kindness and calmness.

-My many walks: the lake was frozen but it still maintained its beauty. I had fun throwing rocks because they were like hockey pucks, just gliding on the ice. I sat near the lake for a long time because I felt I could just stare and talk to it in a way that’s hard to talk to others. Nature is so comforting because no matter how many changes it goes through with the seasons it still maintains its beauty and calmness. The lake taught me that no matter how the external world may treat you try to keep your true essence intact.
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-Things are not as bad as we think and we’re stronger than we think. I was completely alone but I felt fine. Before going I thought I would be scared of being on my own away from familiar surroundings and people. I thought that I would not be able to sleep or go on walks. Well, for two days I went on plenty of walks where I was the only one on the trail. And as you can see I survived, and actually I wanted to spend more time there.  Lesson Learned: stop exaggerating and creating stories in the mind of things that still haven’t occurred. If it still hasn’t happened there’s no reason to worry. It’s not until you’ve personally experienced something that you could then think about it as it happened, and try not to embellish the experience:)

I would like to thank the monks and nature for teaching me about calmness, about being present, and about staying true to my core self!!! Please share your thoughts on the Google Group about the post or about a time you were in silence.

 

 

It’s time to wake up!! Just write

4 Dec

Since I left my full-time communications job in July, I have been on a self-discovery transformative journey. For too many years, my creativity has been blocked inside causing strong back and stomach pains. I was also always complaining and jealous of others who were working on cool and innovative projects. I finally had it with jobs that didn’t fulfill me and put me in a box of following the straight line. I was ready to be a rebel and not follow that straight line but a curvy one. I started to research groups that could help me uncover my creativity in some way. I wanted to be with like-minded people who enjoyed expressing themselves, being vulnerable and open to self-discovery through travel, wellness, arts, self-care or therapeutic exercises. I thought that it would be impossible to find those people, especially in DC, but I was wrong when I found the group “The District’s Wonder & Creative Lab”. I read the description of the group:

Greetings Goldstreamers! Join our local wellness group and embark on a journey of unblocking creativity, reawakening inspiration and learning how to tap into your artistic vein. The sessions will be based on the The Artist’s Way: A ( 12 step) Spiritual Path To Higher Creativity by Julia Cameron. Must bring your own copy of the book. Open to those who are searching for creative outlets to stress, confusion and despair. Among many things, together we will learn the significance of writing “Morning Pages” in experiencing a more spontaneous and mindful day, share our processes and encourage each other on this journey towards self discovery.

The description personally hit me because it was exactly what I was looking for. I decided to venture out on my own and give the group a try. I instantaneously felt like I was at home because I was with people who were in my same boat. The group leader Katerina also has a way of bringing out your creative side, and I’ve truly connected with her due to both having the desire to help people improve their well-being. For so many years, I thought something was wrong with me for not feeling excited about work or having my whole life revolve around work. I guess the piece of the puzzle that was missing was that I wasn’t meant for a 9-5pm job but for a career of constant learning and creating.

The group works together on reading The Artist’s Way: A Spiritual Path to Higher Creativity by Julia Cameron. The book really makes us dig deep to bring out the artist in us. I never thought of myself as an artist since I can’t paint, sing, draw, design, dance…..you get the point. However, my personality and the things I enjoy are all signs of an artist. I enjoy dabbling in a few things: editing videos, learning new programs like Photoshop and Premiere, traveling, and blogging. Also, in the book the author says we’re all artists. We were created by God, or whatever you may believe in, and we’re creations put on this earth to create. My greatest creation is the one I’m currently embarking on owning my business of organizing wellness travel retreats.

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The main exercise of the book is “Morning Pages” in which you have to write 3 pages of long-hand writing with a pen(no computer) first thing in the morning when you wake up. As soon as the alarm goes off instead of pressing the snooze button or getting up to go to the bathroom you must take out your notebook and just write anything that comes to your mind. No thinking….you’re not writing a master piece it’s just about letting your conscious dictate what to write on the pages. Wow…..this exercise has been my savior. I never thought writing could be so therapeutic. Most of my life I’ve been scared of writing because I’ve always had someone butcher my writing saying it was no good or that I couldn’t write. I lived with this shame and fear until the lightbulb went off. My writing sucked because I was forced to write about things I didn’t care about or that didn’t make sense, basically forced to write bullshit. Morning pages has taken that shame and fear of writing away. I just write and for once I’m not worried about what anyone else will say about it–most liberating thing ever. I actually enjoy writing because once I start writing those morning pages I just can’t stop. I’ve had too much fear and shame built inside me. These morning pages have opened me up and are allowing the creative, strong, and proud Adriana to emerge. She’s tired of hiding.

How has writing helped you? Post on our Google Plus group- a group for people interested in wellness-improving one’s well-being

 

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Rediscovering myself in San Francisco

7 Nov

It had been at least six years or more since I took a solo trip. When I was single living in Europe I used to travel everywhere by myself. I think subconsciously my mind and body needed to take a solo trip. It was time to go back to the days of wandering a place with a map and camera, and that’s exactly what I did in San Francisco. I spent two days wandering all over the city. I needed to know that I still had it in me and hadn’t become too co-dependent.

Every morning I was in charge of my day, I didn’t have a boss or a husband telling me what I needed to do.  It was great to be able to plan out my days and go the places I wanted to visit. I decided to walk everywhere but I soon realized that walking around in San Francisco was a true work out due to the very very steep streets. However, I sure did build up my legs.

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I loved San Francisco’s creativity energy both in its people and buildings. In the area near Yerba Buena Park you’ll see innovative benches and other structures. San Francisco has an initiative called, the Living Innovation Zone Program (LIZ) which makes it possible to use public space in new and exciting ways, like the picture below.

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I later went to the infamous gay neighborhood in the Castro District, and stopped by the Starbucks to charge my phone. It was a great experience because two men, like in their 50s, gave me great advice about the things I should visit in San Francisco, and told me to take the train down Market Street to the Ferry Building. During our conversation a true New Yorker interrupted us to complain about the steep hills and having to walk up them. Later the conversation turned to how today’s youth doesn’t have to fight how the baby boomer or earlier generations did. The two older men said how they had to fight for everything like workers, gay, women, voter and city rights…just to name a few. One thing that made me laugh is what one of the men said, “well the youth of today has Taylor Swift.” It was great to be in a conversation with a true New Yorker and two men who had been living in San Francisco for over 30 years. Its moments like those that you appreciate the ability to witness all the great and quirky things that this world has to offer.

 

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I also ventured to two parks: Buena Vista Park and Dolores Park. I was a little scared going up Buena Vista Park because you’re surrounded by these huge redwood trees and you don’t know what’s hiding behind them. At that moment you feel a little vulnerable but then you take deep breath in and realize that nature in no way would ever hurt you. And the Dolores Park took me back to what it would’ve been like to have lived in the 70s with all the hippies. At the park it was full of free-spirited people hula-hooping, dancing, and smoking. It felt good to be able to let loose a little and not worry what others think. In San Francisco everyone is its own person.

And finally, my days always ended at the Embarcadero looking out at the Bay Bridge as cars drove to and from San Francisco and Oakland, a reminder that life keeps going no matter what.

Life lesson of what I discovered on my solo trip: Life is going to keep going with or without you so you better join the ride or stay put and feel sorry for yourself. Many times when I was alone I would catch myself thinking of something and saying, “poor me,” but on the last day I stopped myself by saying “life in San Francisco is vibrant and doesn’t stop to analyze everything and feel sorry for anything it just lives. So this post is to “JUST LIVING.”

Please, share any life lessons you’ve discovered on your trips on the community group. 

 

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