7 Things to Never Do On Your Flight

Going to India with my Lunch

Going to India with my Lunch

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1. Never forget your lunch. You will not find fresh fruit or fresh anything on board so plan ahead. Your pastrami sandwich (I only did this once) may annoy others with its fragrant aroma but you won’t have to wonder if you’ll get sick from the scary Styrofoam contents of an in-flight meal. Singapore Airlines and Japan airlines are the exceptions. I have never eaten better food on an airplane in my life.

Food items that travel well: nuts, cheese, apples, and dark chocolate

I always get hungry when I arrive at the airport as I’m finally relaxed after frantically packing. I usually eat my lunch in the waiting area before boarding.

2. Be warm enough – dress in layers. Wear your heavy clothes, and strip down if it’s too hot. It’s always too cold for me.

3. Do not get irate when they try to take your hand luggage away, ask to talk to he manager as you have sensitive video/photo equipment and don’t want anything damaged. He may ask to inspect your bag and then you smile engagingly, and produce your professional photography card. If you don’t have one invent one. This is a secret and I shouldn’t even be telling you this.

4. Earplugs. I don’t mind squalling babies at all. I mind hearing someone else’s idea of good music, plane sounds, loud talkers engaging in annoying conversations when you are trying to sleep in the middle of the night on a 20-hour flight across the Pacific Ocean. Loudmouths in any nationality take heed. Just close your lips and let us sleep.

5. Never feel you are bothering the person sitting on the aisle when you ask if you can get up every hour. Too bad. Sitting in coach is ultimate confinement. Get up, chat, move around and have some fun. I always end up meeting some kind people at the toilets in the back of the plane.

6. Never forget your reading material. Your computer, Kindle, and iphone will run out of juice and you’ll need a real magazine to get thru the hours. Pony up the cash and just do it. Its fun to see real photographs printed on paper that you can touch.

7. Never look at the clock. It’s just like being in labor to have a baby. My midwife covered up all the clocks in my house with infant size pampers when I was in labor and it helped enormously. If you don’t know what time it is you can’t complain how long it’s taking.

There are many things you can do on a 19-hour flight. Eat, read, chat, rest, meditate, watch films, walk around, write, or make a new friend.

What ways have you endured, I mean managed long flights?

What I’ve Learned After 7 Years of Full-time Travel

 

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How did I get here in Chiang Mai, Thailand drinking smoothies every morning being happy and grateful to be alive?

I didn’t listen to people telling me I was nuts. Who said, “You shouldn’t go to that country because you can’t be sure of being safe.”

30 countries later I’m still going strong!

My eyes have been opened so wide it almost hurts to see the world without sunglasses. The light is so brilliant — its hard for me to see that at one time I didn’t have this life.

 You can have it too. I know what you’re thinking. Actually we think too much. And you can think yourself right out of doing anything if you give it too much of your attention.

1. Attention is a gift.

That’s the first thing I learned. Whatever you set your mind on blossoms and takes off.

Works the same with negativity and voices in your head telling you can’t do something. If you listen then you can’t do it. Put your attention on what you want to happen. Act as if it all ready is happening. 

Say you signed up for a Women’s Only coach on a train in India and you get on the train at 2AM and find out your coach is full of only men. You either leave or accept it.

They didn’t listen when I told them to stop smoking and cut the chatter crap so I could sleep but thats another story.

2. Time is not the hours on the clock face.

Time is your life span from birth to dying. What do you want to do with your time?

I want to travel and see the world. Work and play all over the globe.

Take the first baby step and the universe opens up to you. I didn’t believe this either at first but it miraculously happens when you decide to walk towards your Big Dream.

3. Money is attracted to boldness and magic.

Yes you can be a location independent entrepreneur. You can do your job on the road, you can teach English in almost any country on earth and get paid for it, you can have an online business, and you can teach belly dancing. I teach photography all over the world and write books.

And I have a magazine in the itunes store Vagabond Travel Photography Mag. Discover the world and learn how to take Amazing photographs Go see it here.

4. The Unknown is Your Friend

I used to plan too much. “Honey why can’t you meet me in Colombia in February – how come you don’t know when you’ll be there?” I said to my son who has been to 50 countries. I’ve only been to 30, I gotta catch up.

Now I know why, because I’m not planning either.

Less planning is more fun.

5. You never know what is around the next corner or who you’ll  meet today changing your life instantly. Today you might decide you gotta go to Bali to work on your surfing skills. I don’t stay on the board too long so I need practice.

Or I need to photograph Ladakhi people high in the Himalayas and how they live life, or teach yoga to women in Nepal living in mud huts. Or go live in an igloo, ashram, temple, seaside bungalow, or tent.

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And you can do it!

 

Your mind is malleable. It may be more flexible than your body. Get inspired by people who are living the life you want to live and open the ethers in your soul.

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How do you do that?

 

You stay fresh, eat fruits and veggies, relax and be like a kid. Open to everything but if it feels off you walk away.

 

Being Happy Inside my Skin. This may be the title of my next book.

 

And then being so happy and grateful that you can give things, time, love to others.

That’s the secret to success. It’s not money or big achievements and awards.

I’ve done a lot of things I set out to do, but with many more I want to discover, I expand every day and want to leap into the fresh waters of the unknown; I see that time is this — it’s what our spirit loves doing and being. It could be meditation, travel, teaching but whatever it is the message is live today like you will die today. Because we will die. And it could be today so lets live at a higher exalted octave than we ever have before.

1. Be inspired by the birds singing. I hear them right now off my terrace in Thailand. They know how to fly. So can we.

2. Sleep enough – then your skin looks better and you have energy.

3. Move that amazing body of yours – yoga, walking, surfing, swimming, skateboarding just do it. You don’t have to motorbike across 4 lines of roaring traffic praying today like I did. Go walk around a lake with no cars intruding.

4. Take steps towards your dreams. Don’t give up.

Your new mantra: You can do it, you can do it, and you can do it.

Thank you for your enthusiasm, attention, and beauty, I am grateful to all you darling hearts – you have been there for me, and I couldn’t have done it without you.

Love, Dream, Discover,

Mary

8 Things to Do in India

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You won’t be reading about the Taj Mahal here. Now, I’m not saying don’t go. But I’d like to inspire you to have experiences in India you can’t have anywhere else but in India.

India confounds me, trips me up, shakes me to the core, and blasts my preconceived ideas every time I show up here. It’s a good thing. My heart is drawn to the Himalayas and this is where I have spent all of my 4 visits here; for months at a time in the northern most states of Ladakh, Himachel Pradesh and Sikkim.

This is where I am called to go.

Don’t go to India for less than a month like I did on my first trip. You’ll soon see that you need at least 6 months to dive into this vast country. But don’t see it all – pick any one of these 8 things to do and you could easily stay in that place for many weeks as I’ve done and I never felt it was too much time in one location.

You realize how much India affects you after you leave her. Just like an old lover. You realize how good they are after its over. And once that happens you’ll keep coming back for more.

I still haven’t seen the Taj Mahal… it’s on my list but I never seem to get to it.

Here’s what has inspired me to stay in India and discover her secrets. Enjoy the journey, you don’t know where it will lead you but that’s most of the fun!

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 Tikse Monastery in Ladakh

High in the ethers of the Himalayas is this ancient monastery. Just down the street is Hemis monastery, so old that even Jesus visited it. You can stay here at Tikse (near Leh) for about $6 a night and the view is drop dead incredible. You even get a bed. The monks do their morning chanting and you can join them or not. Food at the monastery isn’t bad either. Go and go now, this place has a celestial feeling that flows through your veins. Your feet just might lift off the ground. See my video here.

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Go to the International Yoga Festival at Parmarth Ashram. Its the first week of March every year and has a full line up of amazing teachers from all over the world. I have gone to the festival twice. It changed my life. You’ll enjoy being on the banks of the Ganges River in the holy section of Rishikesh, in Ram Jula. Saints and sages have walked here. You can too.

Go to the Golden Temple in Amritsar,

Dharamsala to see the Dalai Lama and

Sikkim, a Northern state of India filled with forests, on the backside of Mount Everest.

Check it out.

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The Golden Temple in Amritsar will knock your eyes out. Here it is in all her midnight glory. Yes that is really gold leaf!

Go see a teaching of the Dalai Lama. ImageYou will be blessed by his love radiance and we all need that.

See more photography of the Dalai Lama and get it for your own delicious projects.

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The Truth About Meditation in India

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Now that I am immersed in no electricity, no TV, no wifi, and no cheese either I have a different perspective. I cannot dash out and get a rich cup of brewed coffee right now. If I want that I have to walk far into the sunshine on a winding path through rice fields with buffalo plowing the earth. I don’t want it that badly.

I have been staying at the Thosamling Buddhist Institute for Women and I have not left this sacred soil in 10 days. There is no traffic, no tooting horns, no crappy music, and no yelling. It’s Slow Here.

When I am in the USA I am reminded that Results and Speed are what matter. There is no process. We have to achieve and be successful Right Now. But try telling that to these butterfly pupas – they are on their way to being butterflies. They will break out and fly. In their own time.

We forget that.

Before I got my first publishing contract for a book I wrote, Everyday Naked, I wrote for 5 years and didn’t tell anyone about it. I just wrote.

When I wanted to show my writing to someone other than my dog I put together a book proposal and went to a writers retreat where I met my publisher.

Interesting, how a few people reacted when I told them about the book being published. Most people were happy for me but I also heard, “Did you know someone?” or “I didn’t know you wrote” which means I didn’t know so how could you be an author all of a sudden.

Because it wasn’t all of a sudden. They didn’t see me in my room writing every day being in my pupa stage. When it was time to bust out I flew out of my cocoon. But I was in there for 5 years writing every day.

And now after a bazillion years of meditating, (OK it’s been 25 years) I still am learning how to do it. Maybe when you try it you’ll get to a more profound level in less time but I’m only just seeing that some how what I was doing before was daydreaming while meditating and I’m very good at daydreaming.

So I’m still in my pupa stage when it comes to meditation. And mindfulness. But one thing I am learning is to be more gentle with myself, and less goal-minded which is difficult to drop. Why?

Because we are supposed to be PhD’s in everything we attempt and this kind of Western logic takes a while to drop. So the photo of the pupas helps me. Every one of us is a butterfly in the making. We’re all in this together – we’re all pupas. It’s easier for me to see this in Asia where I can happily live without a Mercedes Benz and have a more relaxed attitude about time.

You don’t have to go to the Himalayas to see this but it sure helped me to go without all my comforts to start to see that we are all the same. And that’s why when the Dalai Lama is out teaching in the world he doesn’t just talk to the luminaries like Richard Gere, he talks to the hotel staff, the old people waiting for hours to catch a glimpse of him, and to the babies who don’t even know His Holiness they are just playing outside while their parents wait for him. I’ve seen him do it. And it makes my heart glad.

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I was blessed and grateful to be at the teachings this year in Dharamsala, India and to have a press pass to photograph the Dalai Lama. The best part of being there was that he directly teaches me to be happy being a pupa, not just the butterfly. By his example watching him interact with people he shows how to Go Slow and not be Fast. He seems to forget his bodyguards pressing in protecting him and reaches out to people and holds their hands reminding me to do the same.

Butterfly on Green Leaf

Butterfly on Green Leaf

10 Reasons to Quit Your Job Now

My New Backyard in Belize

10 Reasons to Quit Your Job Now

The Dalai Lama said, “Asians don’t know how to worry.”

He must have noticed that people in the USA are about to have heart attacks from thinking too much.

I have the solution. Quit your job and leave the West behind – spread your wings and fly!

Here’s my list to inspire you:

1.You’ll get younger (not older.) Studies have shown, keep learning

and you won’t age. Those brain cells need revitalizing.

2.Stress kills, quit, and find something you love

3.Go live in another country. It costs less than staying in the USA working.

For example:

My rent per month in 2012 in all the countries I lived in this year:

Belize: $450 for a shack – it was on the Caribbean Sea, folks!

Guatemala: $300 for a lovely house with private terrace overlooking Lake Atitlan utilities included.

Tulum, Mexico: renting a clean basic room on the Yucatan a few kilometers from the sea for $20 per night or if you like rustic, $8 per night for a hostel or camping on the beach, same price. I liked the beach until I got rained out.

Half Moon Bay, California $600 for 2 weeks for a small 2-room house walking distance to the glorious beach.

Bangkok, Thailand: fully loaded hotel room – AC, own bathroom, king-size bed, wifi in room, proper air flow, quiet and all for $21 per night.

Loei, Thailand in Issan. Room in guesthouse: use of kitchen, wifi in room, fan only, kind family, shared spotlessly clean bathroom, $6 per night.

Chiang Mai, Thailand: Guesthouse $12 per night; wifi in room, AC, fridge, good bed, Quiet.

Pai, Thailand Best Deal of the Year: $200 per month (incl. utilities) for my own house in Pai with a breathtaking view of the sunset, quiet, mountains, hot springs, and clouds floating by (no wifi in the house, no AC, I loved it!)

So the high cost is no longer an issue.

$200 US dollars per month folks!

$200 US dollars per month folks!

4. Don’t think about it – just dive in. Luangpo my meditation master and spiritual friend in Loei, Thailand says, “You thinking, thinking, you aren’t in Thailand. Look at heart, look at body.” It’s all about the moment.

Anything you have to think about for too long usually doesn’t work.

5. You discover the wonder inside you by slicing off the past.

There is nothing familiar: no anchors to hold on to — you are free floating.

I’m not saying the past is bad. Just that the Past is Over. The Present is where it’s.

6. What do you live on?

You live on your wits.

You can volunteer and receive room and board

You can give massages, cook, teach yoga/meditation, English, you can do it!

I currently, teach photography, yoga and meditation, write and shoot for Vagabond Magazine, and get hired to shoot photographs.

Set up a business for tourists – guiding, teaching.

Run an Internet business

Do the business you are doing now as a consultant from Asia, Belize, or Fez, Morocco.

Teaching yoga on the Caribbean in Belize

7. “I’ll do it next year”never happens.

Once you do it – you will wonder why you didn’t do it sooner.

Teaching Meditation in Pai, Thailand

8. OK you do have to pay back your bills before doing it. So did I.

Now I have one bill: for my storage unit back in California for my photography/art stuff, china dishes from my Mom, glassware and artifacts.

9. Being free is a choice. Choosing to be happy is also a choice. I choose happiness every day even when I’m feeling bratty.

Santa Cruz, Guatemala terrace of my home overlooking Lake Atitlan

10. Invest in your self. Rather than the stock market or a house.

Give your self the option of re-inventing yourself. Only you can do it – no one else will do it for you.

Dharmasala, india View from my bedroom

Jump in! Don’t think about it. Bathe in the sweet waters of wonder and awe.

Write and tell me what you feel and how you will implement your new plans!

Me, teaching yoga in Belize

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