Going Home – 7 lessons in 70 days of quarantine (onboard cruise ships)

‘Happiness can be found, even in the darkest of times, if one only remembers to turn on the light

JK Rowling

Life is fair, normal, usual, routine-like when everything goes as planned, everything falls into place and you get what you wanted. Life is fantastic when you surprise yourself and do even better than you thought! Hey- I probably deserved it – you’d tell yourself. 

It is when life surprises you to the point where you don’t know where to turn to -this is all new to you- and you look up to the sky and ask ‘ why me?’ – ‘why now?’ – ‘why this?’ – that you actually start growing. That there is a shift, that you start questioning yourself, you stop taking things for granted. ( dunno why but Fight Club comes to mind)

Its once we get out of the confort zone that we finally realize that we are at some level a bunch of control freaks, that we cannot master everything and even if we would try- we would fail miserably. Fail to change the un changeable, that which is beyond our power. It’s then we would most probably be still and give ourselves a pat on the back with a disappointed ‘at least I tried’.

Today is the 71st day since my control-free process started- since we entered the quarantine, basically since it all began. Feels like a lifetime. Today is also the last day on the ship!!!!  (For a while) as tomorrow I am supposed to fly home- this time for good ( one more controlling lesson since my last flight cancellation- and with the biggest smile on my face now I will just say- never trust anything till you step into the damn plane!  🤪)

In these past weeks I have filled two notebooks of thoughts, impressions, affirmations, anger, frustrations and practices compassion for me and others. However here you will find just a short outline of what this whole time meant to me. 

In an effortless moment, after packing ( deja vu all over again), I sat on the couch, grabbed a coffee and pondered on what I lessons I am taking home with me tomorrow. 

I know that it has been forever since I saw the world, connected to the land, walked barefoot, played with a dog, hugged a tree (yes I do that sometimes!) and of course saw my loved ones – especially now after the whole virus hysteria.

This is not about the difficulties though- but the overcoming, the process. Slowly, when you’re facing the same situation over and over again, your system starts to defend itself in some ways and starts doing things differently with the aim of lowering the impact and making it easier on yourself. You want to find your own space, your shelter, your bubble (first lesson) and so you feel more like yourself , you find your own element.

For sure the invitation to introspection was something that we all were aware of since the beginning. We observed that finding that space within really helped coping with what’s going on these days, raising your vibration and keeping your mood up became top priority ( at least for me since otherwise hey, had days I didn’t know why I should get out of bed!) 

Hence, maybe we picked up some confidence with meditation, realized it is something we can actually do and it does magic! Talking from experience -meditation (along with writing) were the instruments I knew I had to help me build this shelter, in coping with my emotional fluctuations. (And if you haven’t done yet, you should try it now! I recommend insight timer app for meditation- it’s free, full of options and it even has a timer! As for writing, there are tons of journaling courses, just get a notebook and a pen and let it out!)

On the other hand, when the shit hits the fan, when you are told your flight got cancelled you won’t get on the yoga mat and blissfully close your eyes mumbling ommmms ! No! You simply can’t. You will be angry, dismissive and to hell with everything! What’s the point? Temperature, masks, gloves, washing for the 10,000 time and then repeat? 

Hey I am telling you- it’s normal! You are not alone! We reach the point of fighting it, the rebellion, (2nd lesson)for sure as we want things to be as they used to. Especially because it’s not like we can track it and know at least for how long it will still go. 

We have no idea what the future will look like, we have all these question marks in our heads and nobody can answer us. Damn right we’ll be furious. You know why? Well you got it right- we don’t do well with uncertainty. And once again- you gotta let that out. You have to stop and breathe. Just breathe. 

 It’s been a great lesson of adaptation (3rd lesson) wasn’t it? Not to mention creativity (4th lesson)– how much more obvious can this be for me and you to understand that we create our own reality? Building new habits, unlearning other less useful ones, find that movement is such a great privilege- get out of that confort zone, pay attention to those excuses, whether you create your own workout plan, do some online yoga or take long walks wherever.

After so much resistance and struggle we learn to slowly let go and in the event of even losing more of our freedoms- we learn to do the best with what we have and appreciate simplicity.

Simplicity (5th lesson)- what’s your relationship with simplicity? Didn’t you notice how simple life is and how little you need overall? Self-sufficiency, mindful consumption and constant appreciation (6th lesson) are key here. 

What is there to appreciate? I am sure that during these past weeks we have changed our connection to the world surrounding us- to the elements,nature, animals – we are more appreciative even for the little time we have outside and then of course- our home ( which now became our little universe full of possibilities 😌), food and last but not least connection!. 

If you would ask me what’s my biggest intake in this whole period I will undoubtedly say – friendship ! ( 7th perfected lesson) connected with friends  People that speak my language – and I m not talking about linguistics here – so that you don’t have to translate your soul ( as a saying very well puts it).  We shared, laughed, recollected those good old times and completely forgot about space and time! ( reminds me of this romantic Croatian term ‘pomalo’ which means free from time!) 

Life is made of moments and I must say that these times have warmed my heart and helped me go through those sleepless dark nights. Hardship and adversity is part of the process of learning- but how incredibly interesting it is to see how different we are- how perspectives change, as if we have different set of eyeglasses to reproduce the world around us. 

Each from our own bubble, yet being there for each other, celebrating togetherness, find ourselves in others’ fears, longing for normality, hoping for a better tomorrow. I can say that I mostly cherished this beautiful, compassionate human connection and found that the answer is not only within us, it is also between us!

Tomorrow is my moment – I am finally going home! I have been there for long in my imagination- felt the warmth of my mother, the smoothness of my bed, the green trees and the birds singing. Tomorrow a new chapter begins – for I will step out of the ship- grateful to have received me for all this time, for the people I shared so much and that became my family. Tomorrow I will finally see this new world, real world! Wish me luck, for I haven’t stepped in the plane yet!🤪😁 ✈️ ☀️

On Earthing and Interconnection

Today I ‘ celebrate’ two months since I last touched soil. It was the 10th of March, we were in Key West, US and me and my friends went out for shopping and a well deserved lunch. Coming back I looked a bit melancholic as I took the last glimpse over the place, as if a part of me would say ‘ cherish it now for you won’t get this soon’. 

If you follow my posts you already know that since then we have been on an ongoing quarantine on the ship- even the transfer from one ship to the other was with the tenders hence still floating. (Not that there s a problem with that- still better floating than sinking -one thing I know for sure-  I am pretty much cherishing the floating too at least till we reach our destination 😆)

earthing is first when it comes to things I miss and learned to cherish in this period of time. 

Used to be anxious with every crossing or long periods of time ( mostly two weeks) that we were stuck on board. And what a sweet feeling that was- the moment you get to jump around like a wild animal, take deep breaths, walk around and explore the full experience of being on a steady ground. 

it makes sense that nature grounds us and surrounds us with positive energy and helps you raise your vibration. Hence being on land, connecting with the trees, the flowers, the animals around is so precious that maybe at times we take for granted. Sadly, we learn to appreciate thing when we no longer have them.

Of course, floating has its benefits as well as we have created here a bubble. 

On the ship this last period wasn’t easy but I learned to connect in a unique, novel way – I took baby steps and learned in the process the importance of movement– haven’t worked out so consistently ever before – admitting to myself that it is something my body as well as my spirit needed most. 

The sun -and generally sunlight meant a lot especially when you have no access to a window in your cabin. Then the rain– couple of times we were blessed with it and always felt like dancing as if I embodied the beloved Zorba, dancing and seeing the miracle of the skies! 

The people – and how they looked at it- made me realize how we are different yet the same. I have once more understood the meaning of the Mayan ‘Lak’ech’ which is ‘I am another you. Like shopping- we all have the set of products available to buy yet we make decisions according to our own preferences, needs, set of values, vibration.

In this I got better at setting healthy boundaries, and allowed myself the space I needed to be. Oscillating from one mood to the other as unpredictable as the weather, you learn to just step back and do a restart.

Based on this and correct me if I’m wrong, surely you have felt the same at a point – Isn’t it that when faced with change, when living in uncertain times, you tend to feel alone, to feel left aside, you question your decisions and choices and even judge yourself for arriving at such an uncomfortable point. 

Change is frightening. All great things start from there though. ( just thinking back at all those times when I stepped on a foreign land in incredible countries such as India, Peru, Egypt, Iran! – places I always wanted to be yet couldn’t really refrain from asking myself – what have I done? Am I ready for this? Have I gone mad???:))

And then out of the blue, this voice would tenderly whisper – you are not alone Alex! Our biggest human trait is the need to connect– and here I am surrounded by likeminded people- same as me- fearing, hoping, being anxious and even saying thanks for the same opportunities we all get- to be part of each other’s story. 

What storyline you are following is completely up to you ( and here we go back to my previous article) – you are the creator here. You might even need some space to figure it out,  reminding yourself that the best psychiatric in the world is the one inside you! Allow that space to sit and observe and when in doubt, just remember that we are In this together. Look around and learn to re-connect!

From control to surrender & living your dream

( things do happen- and as I am writing from my comfy balcony suite, cruising on the Atlantic on the way to Europe and eventually home soon… was wondering) …

Have you ever noticed how when someone asks you ‘ how’s your day so far’ – whatever you come up with you’ll eventually start believing it and what’s worse, prove it to be true?

These past weeks have made it clear to me that with more you allow yourself to feel lousy, to let your guard down, chances are that you will be dragged in this swirl of negative stories, attracting more and more that confirms it. It took me a time to actually get it – in real time experience mind you- that I was writing my script every day and according to that my day will go. 

Can you let go of your stories for a moment and decide to start your day on a different line?

It wasn’t that I had to lie to myself – I understood that I cannot. Things I was missing in my life were still missing. Furthermore, the list will go longer day by day. Uncertainty was still there. It was about finding the good, the right, the beauty in things. I invited in an old pall – gratitude and as a workout line I used to here very often- got comfortable with being uncomfortable. 

‘ if you want to live a life you never lived, you have to do things you ve never done!’

(Just in case you are the planner, the one obsessed by lists and plan b’s like me…)

Once more I got that I am the victim of the rules I live by. You are the result of what song you’re playing to yourself every morning. So set in for a change. Arise at a different hour, do something you haven’t done before and Ask yourself:

What to do today for a better tomorrow!? For a better me?

As I was enjoying the sun this morning ( used to say that I love the sun but Sunbathing for me is just too much) – realized that we are all going through a process of metamorphosis. We need to heal. To reconnect and reconcile. We have to look into how are being taught to see things from a perspective that maybe we never considered. 

I managed to stay two hours in the sun, meditated, did some work- and while my brain was saying something, my body had a different stand in this. I was controlling instead of flowing with it. I got over the sweat, the heat, the heart pumping in my head – just because I couldn’t refuse myself the warmth- and the cool ocean breeze. Just because I did it differently.

surrendered

my goal became mastering surrender till it becomes my second nature, till I learn to accept it with more grace and ease, till I am ok with not knowing but with the ‘how it feels’.

I think that everything around us is a proof of this simple and basic idea- to surrender, to let it be, to flow, to live the present. The sea and its waves, never the same, in a constant move and rhythm. The wind. The birds flying around. The puffy clouds. The rain and the tiniest snowflake. 

Once you do that you will allow to see life smiling at you in every moment- you will be surprised and recognize the miracle of each step, look, touch, sound and smell you are taking. You will learn to celebrate rather than adapt. 

Look around you and see it yourself. Maybe you should consider it. Learn to be better at surrendering. 

Living with uncertainty- lessons in quarantine (on a cruise ship)

What is the Intention?

As much troubled these times are, I am sure that all of us can find some good , easy to pin aspects that we can draw attention to, one of which could be a more genuine lifestyle and a definite reverence for the simple things in life. Hope we can at least agree on that!:p

It has been a time to reflect and take it easy for me too, and slowly slowly to align and adjust to the current situation. Align innerly and adjust outwardly. and remember to be grateful even for that which was not there for you. Yeah… good luck with that!:))

On another hand, I observed how easy it is to fall in the trap of victimization– and wherever you look at a point, on the social media, you would see people complaining about how critical they are living and how devastated they are that they cannot go to the mall, honor their vacation tickets or go for a walk in the woods ( random examples-) not that I don’t miss these things yet I have other basic needs to meet before those. 

Yes, we all refer to this isolation differently and chances are that you that are reading this article now have a higher level of expectations from life than an Indian mother of six from the slums of Mumbai.  Therefore let us not undermine the needs we have and try to rapport to them accordingly. With patience and awareness, compassion and understanding- for maybe the universe has been more kind to us than others.

remember things are not like they seem

So what is the life on a cruise ship these days? Of course situations can differ with the company, the health status onboard, position, even background and life expectancies- as we ourselves are the ones that set the tone to how we perceive the 🌍 so keep that in mind…!

And to make it clear- just because you see photos with sunsets and smashing wavy blue horizons, that doesn’t mean we are at the beach or that we are roaming the city – as I have heard that as well ( although I must admit Miami would have been much more on my taste now with less people/ traffic/noise around- Too bad- it wasn’t meant to be for us, Miami. Maybe next time?)  😆 

What was the Focus?

On staying healthy, positive, creative with food, get proper sleep and workout in the open deck whenever possible ( much needed vitamin D). Here I should add that while I have a great respect for the simple pleasures in life, when it comes to food I might be a bit picky- given the available resources- pssst once brought my espresso machine in the jungle and learned my lesson:))) suffice to say that I had to make some slight adjustments. Therefore had to say goodbye to the vegan, gluten & sugar free Alex – she had to bite her tongue and adjust to the situation. The Motto became- adapt or starve 😏 Survival mode on.

Hence yes. Besides the fact that one we were safe ( no case on board), two we were in this together and three had the space to at least walk around and take fresh air ( even if with limited time) there was also free internet that made such a big difference as life for so many days without being able to get in touch with the loved ones would have definitely been a nightmare! And oh- talking about nightmares- kept on dreaming cookies for a while so you Should know what I ll do when this will be over. 🤩

Quarantine therefore also meant social distancing, strict rules and limited provisions. Add to that the vague information, living from one day to the other with no news (basically the situation of the sailors stuck on ships is not that clear to you because the media doesn’t talk about it much -guess it’s just a tiny fraction of the population so just adds up to the general hysteria) and you are actually practicing – uncertainty– the biggest lesson in this past period of time.

Why uncertain ? mainly because of the fluctuations of the spreading of the virus, here in the US – depending on the mood of the CDC ( center for disease control and diagnostics) changing decisions from a day to another- then of course the local governments, closedown airports and the discouraging news from home- wherever home is for you, chances are you were still stuck. 

Now let’s take a moment and let’s reflect together on this- when you thought of uncertainty, did it ever cross your mind that you will ever reach this point? Unsure of what tomorrow can bring, of your health and well-being depending on others, on all this external net that now is visibly so linked to your course of life? On your loved ones- when and where you will be able to see them yet not putting them in danger? On your job, on your summer months vacation and all this time you planned for this NOW that suddenly is … cancelled/ postponed until ‘ further notice’ – haven’t heard this expression so many times ever! For the fact that you don’t know where to turn or to whom to get some answers? 

I have read this somewhere and it really makes sense to transcribe it here: 

‘There is no need to create precise plans because the one who creates is your fixed and limited personality, which relies on your past experience- therefore will bring more of the past into your current life.’

Let us reflect on that and until next time, take a look at your relation with uncertainty and how easy it is for you to let go of controlling the outcome, planning and searching for answers. How easy it is for you to flow like a leaf on a river – a metaphor I use quite a lot these days to remind me ( I admit I am a control freak eh!)) of the natural flow of life.


(Ps. Miami at different times of our stay in port. )