On Route to Mexcio: Must Love Horses

 

My only full day in Athens, Georgia included a visit from the farrier.  A farrier is a specialist in equine hoof care, including the trimming and balancing of horses’ hooves and the placing of shoes on their hooves, if necessary.  I was fascinated at his work having never seen a horses hoof up close and had no idea what trimming or putting on horse shoes would entail.  I was also fascinated and appalled at his running racist commentary – a view into southern, conservative America.  Quite an education for me. It was election day in the USA and I didn’t remind him or encourage him to vote.  Erev, my mentor in no way reflects this type of thinking – she is an amazing woman with the most generous spirit I have ever witnessed.  She is a champion mounted archer. How cool is that!?!?!?!?!?

Erev
Erev on a galloping horse

I haven’t been on or even near horses since I was a teenager.  I love horses and dogs and this new adventure has me surrounded by both.  My host in Mexico has horses in Phoenix and in Puerta Penasco.  I visited with Erev in Athens, Georgia for a few days on route to Mexico and we spent a half day with her horses.

I spent a morning in Phoenix at the ranch observing Jorge training 3 of the 4 horses.  Jorge is a volunteer from Spain staying in Phoenix for a while as he travels in the United States.  He is a real horse whisperer and it was fascinating to watch him.  He spoke gently in a soothing, soft voice to the horses.  He continually explained to me what he was doing and why.  It was mesmerizing to watch and a lesson for sure in patience.

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Volunteer from Spain, Jorge training horse

Why all this talk and time with horses?  Many of you may know that I am studying now to become a Kohenet, a Hebrew Priestess.   This past spring my cohort and I were initiated and this summer we will be ordained.  I am very excited about the whole process. Kohenet is a training program in spiritual leadership for women on a Jewish path. It is also a movement, a sisterhood, and a network of communities. It is creating a paradigm of earth-based, embodied, feminist, Judaism. I am now working with a Kohenet mentor who uses horses and archery to teach energy-work.  The archery helps with my ability to concentrate and to focus.  Horses are known for their incredible sensitivity.After a day in Phoenix my host drove me to Puerto Penasco in Mexico.  It is a small fishing village located on the Sea of Cortes in Mexico. Commonly referred to by American visitors as Rocky Point, this small fishing town has blossomed into a popular modern day vacation destination. Rocky Point is a little over 60 miles from the USA border which makes the seaside city a popular drive to destination by visitors from the USA.  It is here that I will be managing 10 AirBnb properties.  Check it out.

Sandra Laya Puerta Penasco
SandraLaya in Las Conchas, Puerta Penasco, Mexico

 

 

Quite the Adventure: My Bags are Packed and I’m Ready to Go.

I have been planning this trip for quite sometime now and it has just come to fruition. The dream was a winter out of the snow and somewhere near salt water, sand and sunshine.  I am only semi-retired and not independently wealthy so there was a financial challenge to overcome.  Hmmmmmmmmmmmmmm…..how to have it all????

I questioned my friends and acquaintances, scoured websites, and sent my prayers out to the Universe.  I’ve been very intrigued with the concept of Workaway. Take a look at  their website – so many opportunities around the world.  In the end, I found an opportunity through a good friend of my mine with her sister in Mexico.  For the next 4 months, I will be volunteering in Rocky Point, Mexico helping with their AirBnb business.  Check it out here.

The first hurdle was to get there without spending a lot of money.  Travelling across the USA for free.  There had to be a way.  I found it with Toronto Drive-Away Service.  I applied online in September and heard back from them promptly.  Early in October they gave me my assignment.  I drove a brand new Honda CRV to Fort Myers, Florida for a couple of elderly snow birds.

Honda CRV

It was a great adventure – driving across country on my own with the radio cranked high singing to the Beatles and a variety of 60’s music and other pop era’s.  Yowza!!!  This is not for the faint of heart.  I hit every type of weather – lots of rain on and off, snow in West Virginia for a few kilometers, bright and blinding sunshine and then absolutely torrential rain on I-75 just a half hour from my hotel.  It was terrifying as traffic slowed to nothing and no one could see.  I quickly exited the highway and waited it out in a parking lot.

I drove 12 hours on day one and spent the night at the Holiday Inn Suites in Beckley, West Virginia that I easily booked on Hotwire and left a 5 star review on Yelp.    I slept well and was up and on my way to Athens, Georgia very early the next morning.  I arrived there 6 hours later.  I spent a lovely day with my friend and mentor, left my luggage and drove another 12 hours to Fort Myers the next morning. Spent the night at the Hyatt Suites, met the couple (whose car I was) delivering at an airport shuttle office, took the shuttle over to Southwest’s Terminal and flew to Athens an hour and half later.  Read my reviews of the Hyatt Suites and Southwest Airlines on Yelp.

Choosing what to pack and how to limit my luggage took lots of my brain power.  I need warm clothes for the drive down and for my stay in March in Connecticut, boots and water shoes, clothes for being around the stables and clothes for fun, clothes for meeting clients………….I love my clothes.  I had to limit myself to luggage I could manage solo and also the limitations of the airlines.

Bags are packed

I know this is the time for me – time to get healthier, face my fears head on, ramp up the adventure meter and experience something new everyday.  There’s no stopping me now.

My Closet Bedroom

I’ve been in my element these past few weeks.  I created a bedroom in my closet.  The closet is about 6 feet by 7 feet and I have loved having all that storage space!  I had an abundance of items organized in that closet – my clothes and everything else.  The apartment is only 400 square feet in total.  It’s small but more than enough space for me to live very happily. I often have friends and family over and can comfortably entertain a dozen or more guests.  I frequently have overnight guests too.

A few weeks ago I was scrolling Pinterest when I found this photo.  I was so inspired.  I went to my closet, took a look went back to the sofa, got up and looked again.  I repeated that scenario at least 3 times until I just couldn’t help myself. I started hauling everything out of my closet – clothing, suitcases, shoes, boots, boxes, jewellery, coats and so on and so on and so on.  A lot of stuff.

Pinterest

After washing the floors and the shelving, I moved the single bed into the room.  Now what to do with all the “stuff”.  Of course,  a quick trip to Ikea would have quickly solved all my problems but I didn’t have that amount of extra cash and I also prefer to use recycled products whenever possible.  Ol, I admit, I am very frugal and I hate waste more than anything.

That same week I found a dresser in the parking lot of my daughter’s condo. I am so lucky when it comes to finding things that I need.  Looking around my place right now there are many great finds.

the dresser
The dresser (free)

Then I started scouring Marketplace on Facebook.  I was hoping to find something cheap, in my neighbourhood  and that someone might deliver. No small wish list.  Here’s what I found this week.

 

 

The storage box
The storage box $15 picked up
The wardrobe
The wardrobe $40 delivered

 

The clothes are in the dresser, the wardrobe and the storage box.  I emptied a few shelves in my linen closet moving all the towels into the bathroom and all the bedding into the storage box of my Ikea Beddinge sofa.  Before the move, I had the beautiful quilts that my Grandmother made there but now I am showing them off in my new bedroom. I moved the shoe shelf into the entrance way and gave it a beachy look.

Beachy shoe rack
Shoes and boots

I love my new room.  I love the bold red accents.  I am surrounded by my favourite things.  I now have more living and dining room space and having a private bedroom is fabulous.  My rent is the same but now I have a one bedroom apartment.  This is the best of tiny space living!

Bedroom
My new bedroom

 

 

My Mother’s Day Rant – Wishing you Joy and Happiness

It’s Mother’s Day and my birthday.  I am such a lucky woman.  Totally blessed with loving daughters, a lovely little apartment, a small pension, a great little job that I can do from home (teaching English to children in China online) and more than enough.  My cupboards are generally filled and I am able to have a few of those luxuries that make me smile and add to my contentment.

 

Some people don’t think I have a lot but I have everything that I want and need. To others I have a heaping helping of abundance.  I have so many friends that have been devastated from the military occupation of Palestine – homes destroyed, children murdered……that is what the opposite of my life can look like.

But my joy and sense of abundance is not in comparison to others, it’s just what I feel.  Nothing works more successfully for my sense of joy than writing out my Gratitudes.  This is a habit I acquired more than 20 years ago.  I was inspired by Sarah Ban Breathnach in her Simple Abundance book, by Oprah, and by the Secret (book and film).  I write out 5 things that I am grateful for from the previous day.  If I get off this path and I start to feel lousy, I reboot with this practice and quickly am restored to my grateful and abundant self. I always urge others to just give it a 14 day trial and just see how it feels.

simple-abundance

I love a little self indulgence – cosmetics, having my hair coloured and styled (yup, folks, I am not a real blonde!!), acquiring new clothing (at least, new to me), dressing up my living space, flowers, plants…………..I love surrounding myself with “pretty things” and I love delicious, fresh and healthy food!  I also totally adore my daughters and my grandson!

 

 

I know there are so many people that just can’t acknowledge Joy – they feel so deeply the hurting in our world.  I understand it but if I don’t indulge myself, if I don’t create balance for myself, I won’t have the energy to help others and to be a dissident voice on this planet. I am all about balance.

Now on my Priestess path – my ordination as a Kohenet is just a year away – I believe that we are created in the image of the Divine.  I am so blessed to feel that Love and Inspiration. I encourage those of you who can find that Presence to embrace it – to Love yourself.  I encourage you to acknowledge your Gratitudes, to indulge in what you love, to smile even when it hurts.  “Fake it til you make it, Baby.” The People are rising – let’s change this world.  Let’s make a difference!  Let’s spread love and respect.  This is your day!

Be Mine Valentine (committed to me)

 

I am no relationship expert.  Although, I have had many – I have had more failures than successes.  Well, I suppose many would sum it in that way.  I, however, look at back them as experiences, learning opportunities and mostly, a lot of fun.

Just days away from Valentine’s Day and I am getting excited.  My beloved and I have been making plans for weeks.  We’ve been married since the summer of 2012.  We?  Me and me.  I and I. Self-love.  I married myself and I highly recommend it.

I planned a lovely, simple wedding on the beach (my favourite place) in the evening.  The whole day was leading up to my ceremony was fun with a bit of shopping and a delicious meal.

July 2012 I promised to love myself.  I promised to honour and protect me.  Now as Valentine’s day approaches I see it as a day to recommit.  I want to have a day to honour Love, in general , and to honour a commitment to the one person who  will be with me until I die.  The one person who I want to love and take the best possi ble care of.   I am proud to say I love me. My commitment to my health, my safety, my well being and contentment is all part of my “marriage”.

I am also blessed to have wonderful people in life that I love,  my grandson, my daughters, their partners and my amazing friends.  However, my life changed the day I married myself.  Something flipped in me and a new contentment washed over me.  It has stayed with me over the years.  There was a moment when I realized I really wasn’t alone.

Whether you are in relationship or not, I invite you to explore making this personal commitment – to love, honour and respect YOU.

Time to Kick Ass (or at least reduce mine)

Well, it has been quite a while since I had the motivation to share the thoughts constantly streaming in my very active brain.  You know the ongoing dialogue that interrupts all the attempts at meditation and the “what I think are brilliant ideas” that come to me while I am out walking.  Yes, the ones that I never remember when I get home.

I am back on track with my healthy life style plan and the best plan of action for me is to share and to have my family and friends (and readers) keep me real.  I have read that this works for some and not for others but it is always a great idea for me.  I was being very strict with myself in the weeks prior to my doctor’s appointment mid January.  I then was a little more lenient in the past 2 weeks – no weight gain but no weight loss either.

I like to use the old weight watchers plan –pre 2010.  It is the best one for me – only some vegetables are free points and everything else needs to be weighed and calculated.  It has worked every time for me and I have been so blessed to not gain anything back since 2004 when I first put it into use.  I managed to drop another 15 pounds since last August and then plateaued.  I think it is time to put more exercise in the mix at least 3 days a week and walk for nothing less than a half hour on the other days.  I have lost 80 pounds in total so far – 20 more to go.

For me the best diet secret is just not to have the bad stuff in the house.  I am watching my sugar intake so I have pretty much eliminated packaged foods (maybe a package of Ryvita crackers once in a while), removed the maple syrup, divide my meat in portions before I put it in the freezer as well as removing fat and skin ( too tempting when you are cooking at 5pm and already hungry), and stocking the freezer with frozen vegetables that are easy to cook in a hurry or when I need to snack.  My favourite go-to splurge is all you can eat sushi every few weeks.

If you want to try the very old weight watcher’s plan without the expense you can try this resource and you can calculate your point value here.  You can also find the value of thousands of food right here.  On the old system you can calculate your point allotment here.

I am inspired to keep this up because my last Doctor’s appointment was successful.  All my numbers were on the decline!  Yup, cholesterol, blood sugar – everything – the doctor was very pleased and won’t see me again for 6 months.  I want to reach my goal weight of 150 pounds by then.  It’s important for me to talk numbers and I wish more of us did.  I am certain that if I knew that so many women weighed in the same range as me, I wouldn’t have felt like the biggest one around.  I wish that I had that measuring stick instead of the chart that said I was supposed to weigh 130 when my starting point was 160.   I had no idea that a size 14 was average.

I started losing weight in 2004 – dropped 35 pounds – felt fabulous and svelt and didn’t try to lose again until my diagnosis with Type 2 Diabetes.  I then dropped another 20 and was able to go without medications for another 2 years.  Last year my numbers were escalating and I am now on a few medications that are working well.  For those of you familiar with Diabetic medication – Metformin does not work for me – the side effects leave my joints sore and stiff and cause a lot of digestive problems.  I recommend not relying on your family physician but getting an Endocrinologist as soon as you are diagnosed.  I am taking 2 new medications – Trajenta and Jardiance.  They are working for now but my goal is once again to be medication free.  That is why I am working so hard! I continue to have a monthly acupuncture treatment and to take my Chinese Herbs daily.

It’s all about health and healing.  I am committed to this journey. Help keep me honest.  I love sharing recipes and food ideas, exercise plans and anything that has been successful.  I wish I knew all this when I was younger and I wish that I put a stop to the slow weight gain of 5 pounds every year but there is no sense in crying over that spilled milk.  I am sure there are a lot of important lessons in it all.  At least I know that being overweight did not stop me from doing anything – EVER!

Time to kick ass!  Or at least reduce mine.

Wedding Review- Andrea and Rob

We had the absolute pleasure of Sandra Ruch officiating our wedding ceremony. From the moment we met Sandra it was clear that she truly cared about us and wanted our day to be tremendously special. She spent an evening getting to know us and helped guide us through what turned out to be a very personalized, well executed, and beautiful ceremony. Thank you Sandra for caring so much about us and delivering a beautiful ceremony.

AndreaRob2016

Andrea & Rob

Feedback – Kenana and Dave

Sandra Ruch was absolutely amazing! She went above and beyond to provide us with a ceremony that my husband and I both loved. She provided with us with many readings and gave us an outline of how the ceremony would go. She was professional, responsive and gave us lots of ideas! Our guests thought the ceremony was beautiful and memorable.Thank you so much Sandra! Kenana & David 09/17/2016

Kenana & David

Kenana for Sandra RuchKenana and Dave.jpg

#Busy, Tired, Stressed

busy-tired-stressedHow did this become our badge of honour?  I want to be able to say that I had a great day, a relaxing day, that I am organized and rarely feel overwhelmed. I want to say that there are enough hours in my day.  That I have time to make proper meals, time for exercise, time to meet with friends, time to read a book, time to watch a movie, a documentary or a silly sitcom.  I want to say it with pride because I actually do.  I have been able to create a simple life that most days is balanced and fulfilling.

my-goal-is-to-create

When I call my Mom (keep in mind that she is 96) and tell her what I have been up to, she says, ‘My you are a busy woman”.  I want to explain that yes, I have a full schedule but I am doing things I truly enjoy and I have a life that is very satisfying.  I know that she thinks being busy is very important or what I want her to say because that is what society dictates.  I know that my mother always ridiculed people who napped so I never tell her about my naps.  I love a nap…now that I am older and working much less….a delicious nap might last 2 hours….ok….2.5 hours.  Why not?  If I nap, I can stay up later and fill the time with one of my projects.

mom
Mom at 95

All this doesn’t mean that I don’t get busy, get tired, get stressed but when it does happen, I want to realize that this is not a state of being I admire.  I am looking at ways to continue working and by that I mean continue working past the average retirement age.  I want to work at things that bring me joy.  I want to undercover my passions.  I want to share them with others and earn my living doing just that.

I don’t think we need to wait until we are sixty to start this journey.  It seems important to excavate, explore and dig deep to find your authentic self now – today.  We all have one.  I left Canada at 48 with a plan to travel for a year.  I came home 2 years later….a radical activist and what felt like a very different person.

meme-2-whent-the-whole-world-is-silent-2

I wasn’t a different person– I had just uncovered another part of me that I had missed.  It feels now like so much of all those personal discoveries are coming together – all my passions, all my interests, all my desires and yes, maybe all my dreams.

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SandraLaya Creating

peace, joy and love

 

Pick Yourself Up, Dust Yourself Off and Start All Over Again

So here’s the thing.  I love writing and I love my blogs.  I was so excited about my Sixty in the City idea.  I couldn’t wait to get started.  Ideas flowed in my head and my heart.  When I was out ideas, words, sentences, paragraphs, and pictures poured in.  This is my passion.  I love sharing ideas and hopefully inspiring others. Ok, so what happened ….why did I stop?  Why do I have lists of blogging ideas in my “To Do List” and why haven’t I written in months? Why?  What stopped me? Hmmmm…… time to explore the usual suspects.

loose-cassette-tape-650x280  The old tapes I suppose.  What do I mean by the old tapes?  Those are those thoughts that flow through our mind.  Crap that other people told us or crap that we repeatedly tell ourselves?  Can’t, shouldn’t, wouldn’t, couldn’t.  Yowzers!!  How did that stuff get into my head?

 

half-fullI pride myself on a cup that is more than half full and often spilling over.  I think that I am a “take charge, get it done, kind of Womyn”.  I never leave dishes in the sink or laundry unfolded.  I plan my meals, plan my grocery list, take time to cook healthy from scratch food, keep my home neat and tidy, stay in touch family and loved ones, remember birthdays and special occasions, make lists and check things off. Yup, you got it….I can busy myself with a lot of mundane details and tell myself that I was too busy today but tomorrow….no the next day….ok no….next week….  I’ll do it….cause I love it.  What’s going on????

Looking back over the years (and when you are sixty, there are a lot of years to look back on) I know that many times when I was on the brink of following my passion to have my own business as an Alternative Healing practitioner. My passion for facilitating groups to inspire womyn to create the changes they want for themselves and for the world…..I didn’t follow my own advice but instead took a different path.  Consistently a solid, dependable job or contract  would come my way and how could I say no to stability and normality?   I am not criticizing those choices.  I was a sole support parent with 2 amazing daughters who I wanted to provide for.  I am certain that isn’t all there is to this pattern, though. My daughters have been self sufficient and stable on their own for over a decade.

Last spring I found a great inspiration partner.  We both wanted someone to keep us on track to achieve our goals.  We met every other week and we created a whole system to keep us motivated.  It was so exciting and so organized.  sunraysWe called our goals sun rays and each ray was a stream that we wanted to pursue and follow.  In this time I got my licence to marry couples and started officiating weddings.  I was blogging very regularly and many of my ideas were unfolding .  I started my training to become a Kohenet (Hebrew Priestess).  I was doing it!!! And… Then…I …Stopped !!!!!!!!!  Right in the middle of doing what I was sure I loved and what I am still sure I love.  What happened? One thing only….I got in my own way.

The really awesome part of all this is that it’s ok to stop and it’s ok to start again.  The old but timeless song, “take a deep breath, pick yourself up, dust yourself off and start all over again.” Listen hear

fred-and-ginger

What have I done?  I found my old mentors again …..Sarah Ban Breathnach, Louise Hay and Sark.  I dug out my vision journal and I have enjoyed looking at it again.  (some photos from my old vision book)

Today I am going to start working on expanding that vision journal with my new visions and discoveries.  Sarah Ban Breathnach suggests that you get piles of old magazines and cut out pictures that you are drawn to, putting them into separate piles for the various parts of your life.  Here is a description from one of her books.

You can usually find Sarah’s books in second hand book stores.  I suggest starting with “Simple Abundance”. Currently I am using “Something More” as my guide.

I am ready to commit to me again…..that means healthy choices and exercising, it means writing out my gratitudes from the day before, giving thanks to the Goddess, reading something inspirational.  It means making a commitment to my personal success by creating an action plan and following it though.  For me it means stepping out of my usual comfort zones.  It means finding joy in all the little spaces like walking barefoot on the beach in November in Nova Scotia or wandering through the Allan Garden Conservatory in Toronto on Boxing Day when it is cold and rainy outside.

 

 

 

What does it mean for you?