Rock Me Gently

Rock me gently,
Rock me slowly
Not having been much of a Neil Diamond fan I was surprised to find myself humming these lyrics as I awoke a few weeks back. Most likely my body’s way of telling me to go gently on myself as I transition back into life in Vancouver after nine months away.
The place I proudly called home for the last 30 years.
All that changed long before I embarked on new adventures. The stodgy boundaries of my comfort zone screamed for boot camp. It meant removing myself from all things familiar and taking that all-important first step. 
Of living everything. 
Of giving up control. 
Of being OK with not knowing. 
What I got was nothing short of amazing.
Probably the smartest thing I’ve ever done in my life.
It was a year of warmth and solitude, with no agenda, no itinerary. I reveled in all things slow.  Stopping to watch something that would normally pass me by on my way to get somewhere. Allowing myself to do nothing tangible or productive without self-judgement or guilt. When you have no destination but the journey itself you get to experience life in a whole new way. 
A good traveller according to Lao Tzu is “one that has no fixed plans and is not intent on arriving.” 
I like that.
I met more people than I could have ever imagined, shared dinners with strangers, slept in countless beds, listened to amazing stories and learned more about places than I’d ever thought at the outset. 
All this I am sure, because I was alone. 
With no one to join me at events, or turn to in an emergency, or walk with everyday, or talk with at night there was both a discomfort AND a heady freedom. 
Strangers are eager to help out the solo traveler. The vulnerability of being alone resonates with people everywhere it seems. Launching yourself into conversation with total strangers is the order of the day. There’s no holding back.
The flip side of course, is with too much solitude comes loneliness. I experienced plenty of both. Yet glad to say that tears were more often triggered by a gratitude and joy for being alive than by sadness.
My girls traveled with me everywhere: a photograph of one, the ashes of the other left in some of the most beautiful places imaginable. The poignance and healing in that simple act no words can fully express. Over the year, what used to gut me each time I unscrewed the cap from it’s small container gave way to a comfort and joy, allowing me to mend just a little more each time, knowing that another part of me was letting her go.
I’m now convinced that a grieving heart can only be healed through gratitude and wonder.  
I remain full of questions and am all right with that.In the words of the marvelous poet, David Whyte
Let my history then
be a gate unfastened
to a new life
and not a barrier
to my becoming…



Image: DepositPhotos

10 + 1 GREAT Reasons to Become a HOUSE SITTER


Looking to travel? On a budget? No home to exchange? Consider work as a house sitter… looking after someone else’s home in exchange for free accommodation. I like to call it gentle travel. Here’s my list (in no particular order)

  • It’s a Win-Win. You save money and homeowners enjoy their time away knowing their home, pets, and garden are being taken care of.
  • It provides you a home base while seeing another part of the world. For experienced travelers this is a huge PLUS. Living out of a suitcase and traveling every day can be exhausting. As one gets older and wiser housesitting holds increasing appeal, AND you get to cook at home saving on the high cost of eating out.
  • You have time to get involved in community events. Spending a few weeks or months in one place allows you to visit weekly markets, attend classes and workshops, and find your favourite shops and eateries, all the while connecting with locals. 
  • Homeowners frequently inform their friends about your pending arrival and provide you with many contact names and numbers. This is an exclusive advantage of house sitting. You can establish and nurture friendships or enjoy the solitude of your own company. Either way the choice is yours. 
  • It moves you out of your comfort zone – ALWAYS a good thing. 
  • Many homeowners allow you to use their vehicle, especially if you’re in a remote location. This saves you the cost of car rentals and leaves you with money in your pocket for another visit to your favourite bakery! 
  • It can be a wonderful way to share your love of animals without the permanent responsibility of pet ownership. (You’re often required to care for homeowner’s pets and gardens.) For solo travelers it has the added benefit of companionship and security. In taking care of a veggie garden you reap the benefits of super fresh produce and yes, more savings!
  • It provides a living situation that you would never have known had you stayed at home. You get a peek into how others live and may even get some ideas about how you might change things upon your return.
  • As a house sitter, you have a place to invite family or friends to visit, providing you have approval from the homeowners. 
  • Through Skype and email you’re able to ‘meet’ before the housesit begins. This is a huge comfort for everyone. Tip #1 The more you know about each other before the house sit begins, the better.

So there’s my top 10. If this piques your interest, subscribe to my blog (on the right side of the screen).

And here’s the new BONUS benefit:

  • Being a house sitter is good for your mental health! Engrossed in the book, The Brain That Changes Itself, the need to keep neurons firing and creating new connections is paramount to brain health. House sitting is a great stimulator. Navigating the layout of another’s house, their neighbourhood and especially their kitchen, requires focussed attention: another key factor essential to long-term plastic growth. 

 

Image: DepositPhotos