Nine time zones, four skis and a yoga mat

Traveling through nine time zones to arrive in Chamonix, France provided the opportunity and challenge to accept new circumstances as they are.

Our adventure began by dropping our slightly overweight bags off at check-in and waving goodbye to our most prized possessions as our ski gear was whisked down the conveyer belt and presumably into the belly of the same plane we were about to board. There are many opportunities for stress during a fifteen hour journey, and I excel at seizing every one of them. Despite the fact that I practice yoga every day and teach up to ten classes a week, often reminding myself and my students to “accept the circumstances we are presently in,” and “mindfully be completely present,” I am a traveling stress case. My imagination is replete with every possible worst-case scenario. My time spent awake is wide eyed and worried and my time spent asleep is eyes darting behind eyelids, dreaming of disaster.Try as I might, I am challenged by the concept of accepting things as they are.

To be honest, I often would rather stay home. Yet, there we were, 100 lbs of clothes and ski gear each, leaving the comfort and familiarity of home for the complete unknown of the Alps. All things considered, the voyage went smoothly: we had three seats between the two of us, the seat recline button and personal entertainment system functioned properly, the book I had selected was engaging and entertaining, unlimited red wine was provided onboard and our host in Chamonix met us on time. In my mind, however, the day was filled with disaster: we had to pay $100 for an overweight bag, a swiss army knife was confiscated at security in Vancouver, we had to sprint through the Heathrow airport (with 50lb backpacks) to catch our flight to Geneva and we were relieved of our duty-free wine at security in Heathrow.

Fortunately, faithfully strapped to the outside of my backpack, was my yoga mat. I managed to find 20 minutes to unroll my mat and practice a few sun salutations and warriors (prior to the sprint through the airport, upon realizing that we were at the wrong terminal) and the relative seclusion of my mat provided an opportunity to reflect on how good it is to be on the move to a new country and a new mountain range. Acceptance of the challenges and triumphs begins, for me, with acceptance of myself and acceptance of the circumstances which I cannot change. Often, by stepping into the sanctuary of my yoga mat, I can find that acceptance.

The point, however, is regardless of what disasters did or didn’t befall us, there was little that could be done about any of it. By agreeing to travel around the world, we were compelled to accept our circumstances. Accepting my present circumstances, regardless of how I got there or what I plan to do next is my challenge to myself on this adventure. Wishing that I had brought thicker socks or an extra camera lens or obsessing about whether I should have brought one pair of ski boots or two is unproductive.

All I can do right now is accept what I have and don’t have and get on with it.

-Kate

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