Friday, September 6, 2013

The Summer of Authenticity

19 States, 18 highest mountains, 7 countries, 1 world Championship...
  a motorcycle and a rainbow helmet :)

It’s been over 9 weeks since I’ve posted a blog... whoa!  I’d say that’s way too long, but the reason it’s been postponed is I’ve had incredible experience after incredible experience- not because of where or what I’ve been into (although those have been ridiculously fantastic), but because of who I’ve had the pleasure to spend time with.  Amazing, authentic people all over this world.

As is typical, I was perfectly happy to do my own thing this trip... even eager... to explore and adventure during the days, but have quiet nights to work on my business plans. But, almost a little too auspiciously, I kept meeting fantastic people that lifted and inspired and encouraged me. So wonderful in fact, I couldn’t spare a moment away to write a blog :).  I’m finally ‘home’ (to my mom’s house) and am reminiscing with amazement. Sooooo many stories worth telling!  

There’s the story of accidentally finding out two of my BFF’s are preggo (YAYYYY) while hiking in NH, there’s the story of renegade camping in Boston w/ my summit pal Bill,There’s the story of ‘bear hunting’ w locals in Hungary, of hitchhiking with a professional ice hockey player (who’ll be in the Olympics in Feb!). There was meeting and spontaneously couchsurfing with a World Champion Gold Panner (yup, it exists!). There’s the story of even just being in Europe, joining 100’s of my US teammates for the World Championship of Dragon Boating. There’s the story of drunkenly climbing the club rafters at our team afterparty ‘because i’m a monkey’ and the ensuing story of exploring my ‘sapio-sexuality’ ;). The story of seeing 7 shooting starts w/ Balazs, getting a personal tour of Czech with one of my shero’s Helena (all the while with her world record size toe blister), there’s the people I met within the stories of cliff jumping in Austria, being homeless on the Croatian coast, jumping out of trees and swimming to an island in Slovenia, buying a booby pillow in Czech, hitchhiking in a private bus with a girl named Andra in Croatia, and learning how to make fire with a 10th century Viking in Hungary. There’s the awesome stories of meeting the amazing Olga, and our getting lost for hours in the pitch black night. There’s the story of how the gift she left with me allowed me to meet Preet, who abandoned his plans to embrace my shenanigan one, and then joining up with our 3rd musketeer Zoltan, and making it just in time to watch the incredible fireworks over Budapest. Oh, and the bus driver that flat-out propositioned me for sex when I was short $1 for the ride home!!! Back in the US, there was randomly stripping down in the street and joining a naked bike parade in Philly, stumbling upon a hostel that serves ‘karma soup’ and meeting Ann and Kim, my (soul) dobbleganger,  and finding out we have the SAME plan for a new business - adventure life coaching! WHOA!! (collaboration planning in effect!) There was a magical trail run w/ them in the dark and pouring rain in Blackwater State Park, WV, then there was yoga and a dinner party and a slumber party at Ann’s house, who 24 hours before had been a complete stranger, yet we ending the day snuggling up for reading bedtime stories together :0). And of course getting caught being naked on the mountains... that happened many times actually :). 

You know a place is awesome when they serve this :)   The Purple Fiddle in Thomas, West Virginia. 
I suppose it’s kind of evil to just give hints of these big awesome stories. It’s just too much too cover here, but since each story is blog worthy, I like to write just enough to keep them in my memory (so when you ask me about them I can remember. And you should ask... it’s highly entertaining stuff;). 

Even if none of those wild/funny/crazy stories had happened, it still would have been an amazing summer. Traveling for me is not about getting someplace, it's about being wherever I am. It's the sensations and the feelings and the random small conversations.  The sharing of tears with amazing friends, belly laughs about speaking the wrong language, painting toes for 3 hours, midnight yoga, accidental polenka shots, the silence of the mountains, the persistence of suitors, the butt aches after 10 hour days on a motorcycle, seeing and sharing the family history of amazing friends, soggy ghetto hiking shoes, swing dance lessons, meeting the man with the deepest voice ever, Hungarian folk clothing dress up, dragging my poor innocent luggage off the back of my motorcycle, or the sleeping on said motorcycle at 1am in a gas station parking lot somewhere in Jersey. Trying to write a blog on the train, but giving it up because Jocelyn was too interesting to not talk too. Hiking 3 miles in the wrong direction in VA and turning an 8 mile hike into a 14 mile one ;). Amazing sunrises and sunsets at 60mph, riding in the rain, hiking in the rain, dancing in the rain :). Falling in love with mountains and waterfalls over and over. Falling in love with country life over and over. Arbitrarily meeting and connecting with a shaman that has reinforced my intuitions. Feeling and knowing I’m exactly where I should be. Understanding what energizes and enthuses me.  I am ridiculously in love with scenery. I am ridiculously in love with being alone. But I must give credit where credit is due. This summer, it was people that were most memorable. .....the moments of “icharba choding” :).

I learned this word recently, "Icharba chode." It’s a japanese word, that means “once we have met, we are like brothers or sisters”. So pretty much a strong and significant first connection. I feel like this happened more times just this summer than in some lifetimes!!  I won't be able to keep up an everyday relationship with all of them (in fact I can't keep up w/ my current loves!) but they impressed upon my heart and life in the best of ways :).  I am so grateful.

It’s hard to put into words my emotional’s a powerfully irreversible state, an unconquerable attitude that everything is as it should be (like this video on steroids :) It’s an awareness and perception that we can learn and grow from every experience we have and definitely every person we encounter.  So much AMAZINGNESS out there!!!!! So much love to give and receive! So much unlimited joy to just be scooped up and used over and over!!! Soooo much to learn and soooo many people to learn from!!!  

The story I most want to share is the one of Franco, the 72 year old Italian grandpa that picked me up on the side of the road in Austria. No doubt because he didn’t want someone else too- he was the epitome of father figure:). He didn’t speak a lick of english. I spoke enough spanish that we somehow managed a few details. I found out he was from Napoli, has 2 kids, 4 grandkids, and he lives in Venice. We rode together for about an hour, and it was wonderful in every sense of the word... and with very little conversation.  What impressed upon me was how kind he was, and by the end how much he really had started to care for me, and I him... Yup, that can happen without words.  He made a point to figure out how to convey to me that if I was going to hitchhike, to only ride with one man, never 2 or 3 ;). We stopped for the bathroom and he shared his fresh peaches with me. I started to sing and he made obvious his approval (despite my total offkey-ness). We pointed around at the amazing Austrian scenery and made sounds of awe. When he finally dropped me off (farther than he was going, so he could find a ‘good’ spot), he send me off with the last peach, a few apricots, a bar of wafer chocolate, even his last few sticks of gum. Basically anything he had to show his affection. 

Communication is so much more than words. Real communication is in fact most apparent without language. Just this summer, I’ve been exposed to Hungarian, Czech, Austrian, Slovenia, Croatian, the French of Montreal, the southern accent, the Boston accent, the New York accent, a jillion more... but no matter what, no matter where, everywhere and everyone understands an authentical smile. My ride with Franco was a beautiful reminder, an amazing lesson in how we should always communicate. Consciously striving to share your feelings without words. Speaking with your eyes, your smile, your gestures. Intentionally trying to express your heart, letting it show.  I wish I’d taken a picture of Franco. He was adorable. Short and chubby and with kind eyes, my favorite feature in a person :).

All the connections I’ve had lately have been so prominent and significant, noticeable numerous...has it been fortuitous or the universal’s calculated plan? I think option B... but either way, I had to just step back for a second. What’s linking me so easily to all these people from the get-go? What links me to all my BFF’s for that matter?? Regardless of personality, I’m attracted to authenticity behind the words. Authenticity IS a form of communication! 

Authenticity is when what you feel and what you do align with what you say.  You can try to mask a feeling, your thoughts, your state, but to anyone listening to their intuition, they know something is amiss.  The most amazing thing, is that when you find your own authenticity, you provide a safe environment for others to share their’s as well. Think of your best friends-- you feel safe right? able to be completely genuine?  What if you felt safe all the time? What if you were always absolutely authentic?... and then others feel safe...and the circle continues and grows. It’s a phenomenal process :) 

So who goes first? You or them? Let it be you :). Be willing to be vulnerable. Be willing to be real and wholehearted. I love this video by Brene Brown and this book is phenomenal if you are looking for a good read about that :). Real connection happens when one is willing to be completely honest and open, revealing/accepting/laughing over flaws as well as strengths, admitting fears, sharing desires, asking questions, really listening, really caring, being open to learning/sharing/trading knowledge and insight.  Real connection happens when you drop preconceived notions about someone based on their clothes, their style, their hair, and sometimes even their words. Real connection happens when you drop preconceived notions about how you should be or act too.  Real connection happens when you are real.

This summer has been wonderful, seriously wonderful, but there were definitely some rough patches. Some of the more intense ones of my life actually. Some moral dilemmas, some painful realizations, some major differing of opinions... all tough and tear-worthy (and story worthy too!) but an essential part of the beautiful whole. Even through the weeping or frustration, there was an appreciation and an infallible belief that everything happens exactly as it should.  A tree needs sun, but can’t grow without rain and some dirt :). 

A big part of the hard times I’ve gone through lately have been those moments where I could feel that communication was not open, not authentic. When I could sense insecurity, but words of courage came out. When there was disapproval behind the eyes, but a smile on the face. When the words didn’t match the action.  When intentions were purposely hidden and even lied about. I don’t just prefer them, but I actually like people that will openly admit they are selfish, or screwed up, or scared, or insecure, or an asshole- sooooooo much more than those that are, but pretend they aren’t.  The world would be boring if we were all the same, and good lord, the world would be exhausting if we were all like me. ;). We are who we are, so embrace it.  If you don’t like something, work to change it, or at least understand it more, so you can accept it and work with it.   

If you realize you aren’t the best communicator, if you hide behind a false persona, if your facebook is much more exciting than your real life, if you find yourself judging others, or using the word ‘should’ far too often-- that doesn’t have to be the final answer.  Authenticity and the Art of Communication isn’t always easy in our modern world... the good news is we can improve it the same way we grow any skill. If someone really wants to learn about something, like how to play the guitar, or get better at a sport, they’d read books, watch videos, seek advice, practice, practice, practice. 

I’m going to mention Brene Brown again here-- she’s awesome. Check her out :). Her book about the Gifts of Imperfection is fab.

The best thing you can do for any relationship- be it your lover, your friend, or a stranger that may very well be someone you could ‘icharbachode’ with - is to be authentic. The next best thing is to open a door of communication, which is not just welcoming, but inviting to their authenticity. Be willing to be first. Get rid of the phrase "supposed to". Create a space for them to feel safe in, to share their thoughts of both themselves and of you! Ask questions! Then witness the wondrous effects. Does something come up that you never even knew? That surprises you? If it’s a woman, most likely something will shock you... we are stereotypically horrible about harboring issues within. ;0) 

Not so much me, this harboring issue... I would implode if I didn’t share every thought I have (okay not every thought;). I recently changed my email signature to include my life’s “all-encompassing existence.”  Yep, I managed to roll it up into one sentence!!!  

Under my name and info (send me an email and see!) it says:


Always open and eager, to create or grow, receive or trade: 
joy, wisdom, insight, skills, advice, opinions, views, criticism, praise, ideas, suggestions, fun, and most certainly gratitude.  Thank you!! :)

“Everyone is a teacher, everywhere is a classroom, and I, am an eternal student”

It rolls up everything I am/I want/ am working to embody. I’m only 1/3 thru my life, so I’ve got tons more growing and learning to do, but I am positive I don’t have the fear of authenticity or desire to fit-in that plagues our society. Talks of sex, body image, odor, shape, size, fear, embarrassment, guilt-- there’s nothing off-limits. It's my goal to make anyone around me feel they can be authentic. That they can give their opinion. Their advice. That we can talk about anything. Do you feel that safe space around me?  I sure hope so.  Does your lover or your best friend feel that from you?? That's a great place to start :)

I’m striving to make all communication safe. No judgement, no defensiveness, no overreacting, no jealousy, no assuming. It’s not always easy, I need practice practice practice :).  That being said, feel free to practice your communication, your authenticity, with me ;).   Comment, call, write, yell, cry, or otherwise express your thoughts, be them of the sun or the rain, or even the dirt variety, all are necessary for growth :) 

I love my helmet!!!!!! Even my ponytail is growing!!! 


  1. posted the karma soup picture!!! I typically don't comment on your posts, but this one was awesome Becky!! Right on point with so many things :-) Keep it up girlie.

    1. I loved that you sent me that pic.. I had actually taken one too, and decided it was totally worth sharing when you brought it up!! And thanks for deciding to comment-of the sunny variety too!! Feel free too even your other thoughts too :) I love communication!


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