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How to prepare for a cozy night sleep at 12,795 feet

I recently got back from Peru (half work and half vacation). We did the Salkantay Trek, which is an alternative to the Inca Trail, since they only allow 500 people on per day and lots of people want to hike to Machu Picchu – i.e. the next available reservation to hike the Inca Trail is in September (almost 5 months away).  One thing to note, we only saw about 25 people at the most on the trek we did… I liked that. You can do the Salkantay Trek in anywhere from 4-7 days (depending on how much you want to see, and how much time you have). Because of limited time, we did it in 2-days, then headed to Machu Picchu then Cusco.

As I often quote, “life begins where your comfort zone ends” … well, congratulations to myself, because, the first day of the trip was one of the biggest mental challenges of my life … and anything but cozy and comfortable. It’s kind of crazy when you get altitude sickness, there is little you can do to relieve it, aside from going down to a lower elevation… and you have to be smart about paying attention to the symptoms (because, being alive is fun), but those mental and physical challenges can be good for you from time to time… and the world is so much more fun once that challenge is over (funny how that works). What’s even funnier, is once it’s over, you usually just want more.

Day One:

Well, I didn’t necessarily do what you should do, but here’s what you shouldn’t do if you want to have a nice night’s sleep above 12,000 feet.

O.k. ready, don’t do this: Get two hours of sleep, get on a plane in Lima at 6:00 am (at sea level) to Cusco (11,200), hike for 6 hours, then sleep at 12,795 feet. Don’t be fooled, although I am smiling in this picture below, my head is about to explode from altitude sickness.  I did a lot of different types of Ujjayi breathing throughout the night (yes, seriously) drank a ton of tea, thought I was going to die a couple of times (half kidding), but thankfully survived. 

What I should have done: Got a good night sleep the night before my flight, flown to Cusco, acclimated for a few days, then started the trek like a normal person. Oh, and drink lots of tea (I actually did do something right).

One point: As miserable as I was (literally one of the worst night sleep of my life), when I got out of the tent in the middle of the night to use the “ladies room”, I saw one of the most beautiful sky’s I have ever seen. Millions of stars and glowing glaciated mountains. I won’t ever forget how brutal that night was, but even more so, I won’t ever forget how magical that sky was, seriously, never. Pretty amazing.

Day Two: 

Tired? yes. Head pounding from the altitude? yes. Hiking for 10 hours straight? brutal. Worth it? um, yes.

@ 15,000+ … the mountains behind us are 20574 ft.


Day Three:

Machu Picchu … I would live in one of those houses if I could.

Day Four:

Cusco … No more altitude sickness, wine and cheese  … and my Spanish is getting better. Life is good.

Peru travel information:

A very real story … and a small request from you.

On this site, my friends and I usually talk about pretty light-hearted topics, and every once in a while, like in life, things get real.  My dear friend Jenn was mugged last week after her yoga class … just a typical night, but ended up to be anything but. Here is her very honest story about what happened… and a small request from you. Shared with love, Traci

Meaning in My Mugging By Jenn Perell 

It’s been one week since I wasn’t shot. Nothing is different and everything is different. Nothing is the same and everything is the same. Just like it would be if that hadn’t happened… So, what happened? To my friends that have asked, but I haven’t had a chance to tell – rather than keep telling the story over and over again, I’m going to put it out here for you and the world to see.  I understand that there are support groups devoted to telling your story. I don’t feel like I need a support group – but I do feel like stopping people on the street and telling them to pay attention! Be vigilant! You life is at stake! That’s normal, right? Ha. No, but really, I’m okay.

It was crisp and clear on Tuesday night. I had just finished yoga and was driving home over the Golden Gate Bridge. Starving, (as per usual after a solid power vinyasa class) I remembered my fridge was empty. I needed to grab something to eat on the way home, so I called in a jicama salad and a taco from my favorite Mexican cantina just a couple blocks from my house. It was cold out so I didn’t want to walk. I was stoked when a spot opened up right in front of the restaurant. There were just a few people out on the streets. I ran in and grabbed my food and popped out just as quickly. I almost j-walked to get back to my car, but saw a police car at the stop sign and thought better of it. Took the crosswalk like a good citizen and hopped back into my car extremely happy at how the night was shaping up. Good class, good parking, good food, ready for a good shower and a cozy night in.

When I pulled up to my driveway I saw two men on the corner. My neighborhood can be somewhat annoyingly homogenous; white and predictable. These men did not look like they belonged in my neighborhood.  In order to park my car, I have to get out and unlock the garage and then get back in to pull in. For half a second it crossed my mind that maybe I should stall and stay in my car but then I chastised myself for stereotyping these young thugs in their baggy pants. I pride myself in seeing everyone in their higher being. Where did that prejudiced thought come from? I shifted my perspective and chose to acknowledge them with a smile. We’re all just people trying to get home on a cold night…

I hopped out and unlocked my garage. They were getting uncomfortably close and then they were on me. One man grabbed my arm and shoved the gun into my back with his other hand. The other guy started rubbing my body up and down the sides. I tried to turn to tell them, “Don’t do this. Don’t do this.” Some part of me actually believed I could talk them out of it. No such luck. “Give me all you got. Give me all you got.” I had just come from yoga. No pockets. No money. No phone to hand over. “I don’t have anything.” But he insisted, “Give us all you got!” After investigating my body further and realizing I really didn’t haven’t anything on me he went to my car. The guy with the gun shoved me into my garage.

My building is a charming old Victorian with a few un-charming little quirks. My garage, for example, can only be opened from the outside with a key. In other words, if the door closed behind this guy, I would be locked in with him, with no possible escape. I was not going to let that happen. As he tried to shove me deeper into the garage, I shoved back. I wasn’t fighting so much as I was unwilling to lose ground. Regardless, he didn’t like it, “I’m going to shoot you. I’m going to shoot you.” He snarled repeatedly to me as he would hold the gun up to my face so that I could see his finger on the trigger of his grey Glock before he shoved it back into my stomach and pushed me deeper into the garage. Each time he said it I would look into his eyes and implore, “No you’re not. No you’re not.”

He seemed taken aback by my reaction. Did I not realize he was holding a gun on me? So he would tell me again, squeeze my arm harder, and try to push up against me taking me further from the street and deeper into my garage. “I’m going to shoot you!” So I started to scream. “HELP ME!” As soon as I did, the little bit of fear that I had seen in his eyes multiplied. So I screamed louder. “Shut up! I’m going to shoot you!” As he pushed me further into the garage I screamed and tried to pull away. I pulled my arm out of his tight grip but he still had hold of my sweater. I kept screaming. He yanked on the arm of my sweater to try to pull me back into the garage. When he pulled I pulled my body in the opposite direction slipped my other arm out of the sweater and somehow matrixed myself out of that thing. I ran. I got just past the threshold of the garage before he grabbed me again. I was still screaming “HELP ME! HELP ME!”

Now that we were on the sidewalk, we could see his buddy. Buddy could see and hear me loud and clear. He jumped out of the car and started to run back to where they had come from. The guy that had me pulled me in tight and then shoved me to the ground as hard as he could and beat feet. (That’s cop lingo for made a run for it;) I got up and ran after them. What? You really never know what you’re going to do in these situations, so please don’t judge me for telling you just how it happened. I saw them dash around the corner a block down the street. I was in a daze as I made my way back towards my car. People started coming out on their balconies and opening up their windows. “Should I call the police?” Uh, yeah… “What happened?”

I didn’t know what to say. I was alive. I hadn’t been raped. My car was still there. What had happened? “Two guys and a gun.”  “Which way did they go?” (Good thing I had gotten up and watched!) I was able to tell them what they looked like, what they were wearing and which block they had turned on. I went back to my car and realized my phone was missing from the dash. My center console was open but nothing important had been in there. “Theft. They got my iphone.” I also noticed that my wallet was still on the front seat – right behind the food I had just picked up. Amateurs.

I shouted out answers to the people in their windows on their phones with the police. A few people were making the same report all at the same time. I heard one woman saying, “I don’t know how long it was going on. I heard screaming but I was waiting to find out if it was real. It was real.”

It was real. I waited for the police to arrive. The first thing they did was get my tracking info from my phone to try and find the assailants. Yes, I had it turned on. Unfortunately they had already turned it off… The rest of the details of the night are pretty inconsequential. The police were very nice. CSI came to take prints but couldn’t get any. The men were not caught.

The men were not caught… So when I see people casually walking down the street at night – especially women, alone, a little tipsy, texting, paying no attention to the world around them – I just want to shake them and tell them to: “Get present! Your life is at stake.”  But then I’d be the girl stopping people in the streets to tell scary stories. I do not want to live in fear and I sure as heck don’t want to give other people a reason to worry. And we’ve all been that girl. It seems like every other person walking down the street is either on their phone or looking down texting.  I was lucky this day that I was very aware. I had meditated that morning, I had just come from yoga, my head was clear. I was not on the phone. I saw those guys up on the street when I had gone to get my food a few blocks away, I saw them as they walked in front of the cop car I walked behind instead of j-walking, and I recognized them on the corner. I was paying attention… But I didn’t listen to that little voice that told me to pause. And who knows what would have happened if I had. Maybe nothing would have happened and they would have just kept on walking. Maybe it would have meant a gun to the head instead of the stomach. Honestly, I can’t live in “what if’s” but I can say, “Pay attention to your life”. Not just for safety either – the world is pretty cool out there if you actually take the time to check it out. And why not stay observant at home as well. If you hear someone screaming, “Help me, help me!” just go ahead and call the police.

The police said these kinds of criminals prey on old people and single women. They’ll typically grab your phone and maybe your purse, push you to the ground and run. I asked what I should have done differently or what you are supposed to do in these kinds of situations. Give them what they want. But I didn’t have anything. If you end up in private with them (like in a dark garage) unsure what they’re after – do everything you can to get away. I asked what the likelihood of actually getting shot was. He said if a man gets involved and the assailants feel threatened it’s much more likely. Men, be cool (not tough) if a gun is involved. I asked about the screaming. He said that that was pretty risky. These young hooligans are not trained to use guns, probably have their finger on the trigger (my guy did) and “accidents” happen. In my case, the screaming seemed effective – but you never know which way it’s going to go.

I guess you just feel it out. That night, I saw fear in his eyes. Obviously I was scared, but he was too. He was desperate - in need. I walk away from this situation with a heavy heart but a strong soul. I feel blessed to be alive and blessed to live a life that keeps me typically so far from the kind of desperation I came so very up close and personal with on that night. These young men found it necessary to threaten my life – for a phone. My heart goes out to them and to the many people living in such hopelessness that they’ll do such terrible things. I send waves of compassion out and hope to find a way that I can make a difference that might help other people from being part of a situation like this on either side. I’d like to allow this to be a call to service – to be a positive influence on kids that could go that way.

The night of the incident, I posted on Facebook a brief description in hopes that we might have a better chance catching them as a community so they wouldn’t just go on and do it again. I was overwhelmed with support. Thank you virtual family! But I was also disheartened at a couple responses talking about how “those guys are evil” and “I hope they both get hit by a bus” or “I hope they’re caught and tortured”… I’d just like to say that these guys were human. I absolutely do not even a little bit condone what happened, but an eye for an eye makes the whole world blind! Perhaps we could reframe it and feel the fear they must be living with in order to go to these extremes. I’d like to let the fear in his eyes be a call to service and use the energy generated around this to go somewhere that would serve people that could end up there in the future. I have ideas about what I’m going to do. Do you? If you’re feeling inspired at all, I urge you to go do some good in the world so we can break the cycle rather than further it. Will you join me in making meaning of my mugging? I hope so. Peace in. Peace out.

P.S. I promise, I am totally fine, feel blessed, and honestly feel more empowered than ever before. I just re-read this and it feels a little heavy so I have to let you all know – I am okay! Love love love…

Check out more from Jenn @ liveweal.blogspot.com.

Escaping the “Me, Me, Me, Me, Me” Bubble

Photo Credit: Amy Wilbanks via Elephant Journal

Recommended Reading: Self-Help is Bullsh*t by Deborah Williamson via Elephant Journal

While I do believe it can be beneficial to wallow in your own sorrow on special occasions (See: Don’t Underestimate the Power of the Occasional Sh*tty Day) and as a Coach (and human being) I believe that it’s essential to give yourself the right kind of love & attention … I also believe in balance, and love this article by Deborah Williamson that talks about benefits of escaping the “me, me, me, me, me” bubble that we all love so much. Enjoy!

Peru … Coming Soon.

Every time I travel, it always takes a few days to start to feel “normal again” (… but not too normal of course) at home (I’m almost there) and get caught back up in the daily activities that, on this trip, I gladly forgot about on the top of a mountain. Then once that normalcy sets in again, that’s usually the moment I start planning my next trip (I can’t help it). Anyway, I can’t wait wait to share all of the pictures from my trip to Peru and some tips on how to prepare for a cozy night sleep at 12,000+ feet. I just need one more day to do my “chores” and then I get to write all about my trip (writing is always my reward). Stay tuned.

Hitting the redirect button

Photo: Pinterest

Written by new blog contributor, Ali Schiller.

Since my second baby was born I have had little time to myself and even less to meditate. I decided to take a class on meditation for mothers (which was really great by the way and I loved the space/place it was held at www.bloomretreat.com).

It got me to notice the mind chatter that has been going non-stop, unchecked. Silly things, important things, all jumbled together in this non-stop dialogue.

I sat with it for a few days and I realized I wasn’t really going to get more time to myself anytime soon so while five, ten, twenty minutes of quiet meditation time may or may not find it’s way into my day I had to come up with something simple and easy that I could do to open up some space in the chatter.

There’s a movie called What the Bleep Do We Know? (www.whatthebleep.com) that I saw awhile back and in it there is a part about the connections in the mind that left me with this really neat visual of why I repeatedly have the same thoughts over and over again. I’ve literally wired my brain that way, an example of it is when you hear a song and it makes you think of a time in your life when you heard that song a lot, like Gnarls Barkley’s Crazy will always make me think of the summer before I got married. It’s just wired into my brain that way. Well, let’s just say the paths I’ve been wandering down lately were really getting old and boring and weren’t particularly serving me so I came up with this quick trick.

Whenever, I notice that I’m having a thought that doesn’t serve me, makes me feel bad, sad, mad or puts me in a funk, I check it by silently saying to myself, “redirect”. It seems silly but it really works. It’s not that I’m turned off to those things but I don’t allow myself so much time on that path and by practicing this technique of redirecting my thinking, I am in a generally better, brighter, and more productive mood. This is what I used to get from meditation that I’ve been missing so much. It’s a more active meditation. I know I am not my thoughts, but having a way to check them, and consciously choose new ones, by hitting the “redirect” button, is giving me a boost. I shared this with my girlfriend, and she texted me all week that “redirect” was working for her too.

Try it and see what you think!

Link

Decisions and Change

Written by new blog contributor, Jenn Perell.

Struggling with decision-making?   Me too.

I work with a lot of people who are trying to make decisions and create change in their lives. As a coach, I guide them in figuring out their own best possible solution to their situations. When it comes to my own life; however, I sometimes forget to take my own advice and listen to that voice within that is a pretty great compass guiding me in the right direction. So in struggling with change and how to make decisions, I’d like to remind myself and share 3 simple strategies I find the most helpful.decisions don’t make themselves.

1. PERSPECTIVE.
Step back and create some space to see the bigger picture.

Sometimes we can get caught up in the day to day and forget what we really want in our lives or how we ended up where we are. If your decision feels impassable, I invite you to step away from that and check in with life. What is your life purpose? What do you want to see happen in your world in the next few years? (Outside of whatever issue is pressing.) What are your BIG phat life goals? Now, how does the issue and your potential decisions around it affect the bigger picture? Does this serve you or hinder your progress on your path? Sometimes we have to give up something that seems important at the moment in favor or something that we know ultimately has more meaning…

2. BE PRESENT.
Live in the now. Are you happy right now?

We sometimes get so wrapped up in creating the future of our dreams that that we forget to live in the present. Stop and check in. Are you happy right now? If not, make a change. Unfortunately, this perspective can be easily misconstrued. Being present is clutch, but living from creating momentary happiness can be a bit self-sabotaging… I say this from experience. My motto at the beginning of the year was, “I do what I want”. It was kind of fabulous. Yet… life fell by the wayside, and the more I “did what I want” the more stressed I felt. Not to say that it wasn’t liberating – it was FUN, but it was also sort of like… cheating on myself. While the freedom was somewhat satisfying, I was left very unfulfilled. Being present is much more than just making yourself happy moment by moment. It is being with the happy and the sad, being in pure and clear awareness of what is really going on. The question, “Are you happy right now?” has had a significant impact on my life personally, but it must be used in conjunction with the BIGGER PICTURE. Use presence to alert you to when and how you can make “happy right now” coincide with “the bigger picture”.

3. LISTEN
Listen to the whisper from within.

There is so much noise in the world, so many opinions, so many options. Listen to what matters. Depending on the change that you are making, outside influence may have a large or small impact on your decision. In either case, there are other people who will be affected by your decision. Communicate with these people and listen to their concerns, ideas, and suggestions. Can you just listen without overlaying their words with your opinions? This is an art to cultivate. Then let all those voices and ideas go, and take some quiet time to yourself to listen from within. You can call it meditation, you can call it crazy. I invite you to try on crazy and listen to the Voice within. At first, you might find that there are many voices. Little voices of doubt and concern and judgement – and then there is the one that is right. You know it when it speaks. It just feels right. It takes quiet and presence to hear it and feel it. Listen.

Get some perspective, Be present, and Listen.
I need to go meditate now.
Peace in, Peace out.

About Jenn 
Live. Laugh. Love. I’m a yoga instructor and life coach pursuing a master’s degree in Holistic Health Education. I’m being showered with a wealth of knowledge and I love to share. Live lightly and thrive! www.liveweal.com

Heading South

Photo: Pinterest

I am heading to South America for a couple of weeks (half work/half vacation – Machu Picchu) and taking a little break from the blog… plus, I have a book that I need to finish this year (because I promised myself I would) so I need to work on that a bit too. ;) My friends may be sharing of their articles while I am gone, so enjoy.

Should have some cool pictures of my trip to share when I get back.

Adios for now! 
Traci