WWB Passioneer: Meet ‘The Peregrine Dame’ Who Travels the World Solo But Never is Truly Alone…

Mar 17, 2016 by

Passion Flower/World Wise Beauty Passioneer

 

 The World Wise Beauty ‘Passioneer Series’

 I am so thrilled to feature my next WWB Passioneer Rachel Parsons, who is founder and executive Producer of ‘The Peregrine Dame’. Have you caught her travel series on Public Television yet? You can find it on most PBS member-stations and Create TV. Hopefully we’ll see more of her nation-wide soon. If ever there was a woman who embodied the title of Passioneer, it is most definitely Rachel. When a friend brought her to my attention the first thing I thought is “oh she is a female Anthony Bourdain without the food focus’! I mean this to be a great complement, as I think Anthony is a fine journalist and an engaging storyteller. What makes him special to me, is his focus on culture, and willingness to understand the complexity of the cultures he explores. Food is just the conduit for him to learn more about cultures and people different from him. Okay well enough about Anthony, this is also what I find outstanding about Rachel Parsons too! In fact to illustrate my statement, I will share a blog post of hers entitled “Why Travel Will Save Our Species (if we do it right) so you can get a sense of her ‘beautiful mind’ before you watch her engaging persona in her series. I think you should follow Rachel, because even if you are not planning on globe-trotting any time soon, you will be inspired by her sense of adventure,competence, intelligence and courage. So let’s get to know our exciting Passioneer…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lauroly Q-  Welcome Rachel! How did you decide you would take your passion for travel and create your own travel show? More specifically, was it a passion for travel, or a passion for culture that inspired your enterprise?  I think there are two different kinds of travelers. There are your traditional tourists and then there are your wanderers in search of meaning and connection. But wait before you answer that, I wanted to share the meaning of your brand name ‘The Peregrine Dame’ for our readers because ‘Peregrine’ has different meanings but the more recent meaning sheds light on your inner spirit!

 

PEREGRINE: The current meaning of “peregrine” has wandered a bit from its earlier meanings. The word originally meant “foreign,” as did its Latin predecessor peregrinus. But even before “peregrine” appeared on its own in English, it was part of the name of that well-known bird of prey, the peregrine falcon. The bird’s appellation derives from “falco peregrinus” – literally, “pilgrim falcon” in Medieval Latin. Peregrine falcons typically nest in high places, such as on cliff ledges or, in modern times, city skyscrapers. Because of the nests’ inaccessibility, medieval falconers who wanted young peregrine falcons to train had capture them on their first flights or migratory “pilgrimages.” That practice led to a new sense of “peregrine” (“engaged in or traveling on a pilgrimage”), which was later broadened to “wandering.”

 

Rachel Parsons: Neither. It was my intense interest in fighting the ignorance and xenophobia I encountered here in the United States. When I came home from my first trip abroad alone, before the show was an idea, I told people what I’d done and I had a lot of responses along the lines of “That sounds dangerous, weren’t you afraid?” Interestingly, I got more of that kind of response from men than women. I suppose then that it was my passion for changing my own culture that was part of the impetus. The other factor was that I worked in scripted television and film for many years in different capacities, and I got tired of telling fictional stories and stories I didn’t care about. I wanted to work in documentary-style television but had no contacts in that area of the business, so I made my own project. It became important to me to show a wider American audience that the world is not nearly as scary as mainstream media would have us believe. That it’s all right to go out alone, your experience will be richer for it.

Lauroly Q-  You just made me think of another broad minded Passioneer, Eleanor Roosevelt. Her quote ‘to reach out eagerly without fear for newer richer experience’ speaks to your passionate project. Here is another ‘passioneer’ trait you have. I read in one of your Facebook posts that you only pick places to travel you genuinely like and have a real curiosity about. What attracts you to certain places and cultures? Did you start out with a bucket list or has it unfolded a little more serendipitously?

Rachel Parsons: I’ve never had a bucket list. For the purposes of filming a series, sometimes locations come down to what’s efficient for the shooting schedule. But broadly, I’ve been fortunate to have been exposed to many different cultures in the U.S., and certain things certainly draw me to certain places. I only wanted to go film in Buenos Aires, in the first season, because I’d been studying Argentine tango at home, and I was very interested in Eva Peron’s life. I wanted to go dance. Some news stories definitely affected my desire to go to at least two of the locations for the second season which was filmed in Southeast Asia. I wanted to see the rebuilding efforts in Tacloban, Philippines, after Typhoon Haiyan’s destruction, with my own eyes. I also wanted to know what people in Myanmar were anticipating in the run-up to their first (mostly) fair general election in the past 25 years. My personal interests always spur the overall plan. When you’re new to travel, particularly solo travel, you have to go to places that really excite you. Otherwise, you’ll lose enthusiasm early on and that’s a killer. The thing is the more you go, more places you never even thought of start to become attractive.

 

Lauroly Q- When you travel and immerse yourself into a culture, do you feel changed by your experiences? I  would imagine as a journalist you maintain a certain amount of objectivity, but what makes the world traveler different from a tourist?

Rachel Parsons: I have definitely been changed by my experiences. I am a less cynical, more accepting human than I was. And I began life as a very cynical human. Being on the other side of the world alone has made me realize that I have to extend trust to total strangers. I was fortunate to be a self-reliant sort already, but traveling has made me rely on people I don’t know in a way that has elevated my opinion of humanity. Travelers generally reach out to and trust others more. We’re not naïve, or gullible, I think we’re the opposite, actually, but for me, it’s been transforming. Unless you’re reporting on the business of travel, there is no objectivity in travel journalism. It’s all subjective. I’ve studied journalism and anthropology, both disciplines that train objectivity into people.

So yes, I look at aspects of some cultures in a more objective way and try to really understand the root cause. Like being in a massively overpopulated country where people cut in lines all the time. My knee-jerk American POV is that it’s rude and I get irritated. But seeing overpopulation firsthand makes me understand that it’s not rude in that society, it’s a survival mechanism. No one would get anything done in any reasonable amount of time if everyone let everyone else go first. That’s a gross simplification, but it illustrates the cultural perception issue. And yes, it’s the tourist who will piss and moan about being cut in front of, and the seasoned traveler that will understand the behavior in its context. Still doesn’t mean I love it, but I get it and it’s the understanding that develops tolerance and that’s the point of travel, for me.

 

LaurolyQ- What world culture has made the biggest impression on you? Is there one culture that has imparted wisdom meaningful to you?

 

Rachel Parsons: The thing that has made the biggest impression on me has been the deep similarities between all the cultures I’ve experienced. They’ve all given me something, but the striking thing I’ve taken away from going around the world a couple times now is that we are all much more alike than we are different. And people will say, “Yeah, right,” but it’s true. Most of the time, people in vastly different cultures want the same basic things: if they have family, it’s to be able to take care of themselves and their loved ones; to live in safety; to be able to do something fulfilling with their time; to be healthy. We focus so much on the differences, but they are negligible compared to what ordinary people actually want. I guess the short answer then is that THE world culture has made the biggest impression.

 

Lauroly Q– What a great answer! I feel my own international travel definitely contributed to a wider world view and a less ‘myopic’ perspective as well. In some sense our experiences and the people we meet along the way do shape us don’t they?

 

Rachel Parsons: Yes. I think in most senses our experience and the people we meet shape us. Even trivial interaction. If someone is rude to us for two seconds in the morning getting on the subway, for many of us, half our day is spent agitated and angry. That’s the negative influence shaping our mood, our outlook. On the positive side, I’ve been incredibly lucky to be touched by overwhelmingly positive experiences and people in every aspect of my life, but especially traveling. I know bad things can happen, but I’ve had a wonderful run with people all over the world being kind and open and welcoming and curious. It has challenged and shaped my world view, for sure. For the better, in my case.

 

Lauroly Q- So true and wise Rachel. Our daily interactions do add up and matter. That’s why I think manners and civility matters so much. Okay now for a more practical question. For the many women who may be thinking of traveling solo, what are your top 3 best tips for them to take seriously before they embark on a trip?

 

Rachel Parsons: Trust instinct, not imagination. Instinct is instant and accurate, imagination is that monster that will convince you that all the terrible things out there will get you. That’s what creates the fear that prevents people from doing what they want to do. I studied a street-based mixed martial art for many years. If it’s something that will make you feel more secure, go take some self-defense classes. My rule of thumb is that I am no more nor less aware of my surroundings when traveling than when I am at home. I live in L.A., so a higher level of awareness is appropriate when I’m home.

Listen to locals when you get to a city, not to the Americans that have only heard that a place is dangerous but never been there. Lastly, remember that for most of us, we live in the most dangerous country we will ever visit. Unless a person is really keen to visit a war zone, there is a higher rate of violent crime in most of our American cities than in many of the places I’ve traveled. I say this with respect for people who have had bad experiences and I know I have a higher tolerance for risk than some, but the best tip is to use your common sense.

 

Lauroly Closing-Thank you so much for wandering over to World Wise Beauty Rachel! You are a true World Wise Beauty and I hope you come back and visit often! I will be looking out for your public television series and I hope others with a passion for travel and culture follow The Peregrine Dame. I know there are wonderful outtakes and extras to catch right now on your site. Your work is worldly, wise and very PASSIONATE!

Rachel Parsons: Thank you! I’m happy to be a part of the community, it’s been a kick! The second season of The Peregrine Dame will come to public television stations nationwide later this year. Follow me on Facebook for updates!

 

 

 

 

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WWB’s WISDOM WRAP: Desperately Seeking Shut-eye In a 24/7 Sleep Deprived Culture…

Mar 14, 2016 by

 

 

Desperately Seeking Shut-eye In a 24/7 World

 

 

 

 

Okay let’s ‘wrap’ about sleep. Did you know that it was Sleep Awareness Week? The National Sleep Foundation created the awareness campaign and their website shares a cornucopia of information on  everything you need to know about sleep. If you are in tuned in to on-line media, you may have noticed quite a bit of ‘how to’ advice on getting more sleep. treating sleep disorders, and the natural ways you can improve the quality of your sleep. And how do we end this important week of sleep awareness? Why of course by setting our clocks forward by one hour for Daylight Savings Time! How are you feeling today after losing yet another hour of sleep?

So, on top of all the well-intentioned media reports on the importance of getting more sleep, we are also hearing additional reports on how by tinkering with our clocks we may disrupt our natural circadian rhythm. Really? Unfortunately, yes. Think about jet lag, and you will start to get the idea. But you have to laugh with me, because aren’t there a million other things interfering with our sleep already? There are certainly ways to improve the quality of our sleep, but like everything else in wellness it really depends on your body, how you are treating your body, and what is contributing to your sleep deficit. You are unique and truly a bio-individual. Each and every person has their own individual needs when it comes to caring for their body.

I would say a high percentage of people in our society have sleep issues and another larger percentage have genuine sleep disorders related to health conditions.  These are the two big elephants in the room. Cultural values and chronic health conditions. Sleep issues are more common because we have created a ‘culture’ that very much interferes with getting a good night’s sleep. Like everything else, we can’t point to one thing in our culture that is making us sleep deprived. It is a combination of cultural forces and some of them we can resist and some we can’t. Technology has progressively changed how we live our lives and there are good things to point to. But we also have a 24/7 expectation that everything must be done and can get done. The important thing to realize, is that every step of the way, we have choices on how we decide to use the technology. This is where our values come in…

Technology is here to stay but it doesn’t have to steal our zzz’s. We can make certain lifestyle decisions that support wellness and won’t interfere with getting a good night’s sleep. The good news is, we can correct our bad habits. It is not until we hit crisis mode do we suddenly admit–‘oh wow I guess sleep is pretty important to my existence’. We don’t worry because our pharmaceutical industry has a pill for that and down the slippery slope we go again to ‘quick  temporary fixes’ that ultimately don’t address the real problems. Which leads me to the other percentage of people who have real sleep disorders…

So in the context of sleep, just think about our ‘speciality’ driven medical world, and how we ride the ‘doctor carousel seeing various specialists to uncover our sleep issues. Where are the good primary doctors  that honestly say to their patient who has serious medical conditions like diabetes, obesity and autoimmune conditions, “diseases can be systemic and until we get your condition managed, your sleep can suffer”. We are holistically a ‘system’ and sleep is an important component of our system, and we need it ‘desperately’ to function well. Treating the whole person ‘holistically’ is the ticket to better sleep for all people struggling to get a good night’s sleep. Follow this link to the Sleep Foundations website to learn just how many sleep disorders there are, and review the many diseases and conditions they are associated with. It’s stunning really.

On the bright side, Functional Medicine is now becoming more ‘culturally acceptable’ because we now realize that proper nutrition, fitness, and sleep are all required for living as a human-being.  I have interviewed some of the best leaders and experts in this area of  healthcare, so I hope you take the time to glean their wisdom and learn more about their books.  Now I know as a blogger I am supposed to provide a few bullet points to help you get a better night’s sleep. But as you have noticed I am not your typical blogger. I love being a conduit and sharing wisdom. Sometimes wisdom is often just ‘common sense’ we forget to pay attention to!

What I will do here now is better than bullets, especially if you read this far. I will share a book full of wisdom. But before I do, I will share the author’s forward to help you understand how I recognize and identify ‘wisdom’.  The book is from 1994 and re-released in 2000 Mass Market as Sleep RX, 75 Proven Ways to Get a Good Night’s Sleep by Norman D. Ford. If you search Amazon for him you will discover he wrote numerous books covering a broad array of health and wellness topics. He takes pride in sharing information that has been medically proven and heavily researched which is always a great place to start, don’t you think?

“Once you have identified your particular sleep problem, the book then describes exactly what you need to do to RESTORE blessed sound sleep. You may believe the pharmaceutical industry and sleeping pills are the only way to beat insomnia. But the truth is that sedatives and similar drugs only worsen our sleep. A prescription or OTC medication may induce sleep for a few hours. But like almost all drugs, including caffeine, nicotine, or alcohol they distort and disrupt the natural sleep process. The reason is that sleeping, like eating, breathing or making love is a natural mind-body function that only a healthy mind and body can accomplish. This book is designed so that once you identify your sleep problem, you can select the most appropriate and beneficial Sleep RX’s and use them to create your own holistic program to restore youthful sleep.” ~Norman D. Ford

 

 So if you are desperately seeking shut-eye the most important bullet I can share is this one…

  • TAKE CARE OF YOUR WHOLE BODY, IT’S THE ONLY ONE YOU HAVE TO LIVE IN!

Books like the one I have shared here can guide you wisely, and arm you with the information you need to seek out medical help when all else has failed. In the meantime, start with things you really can manage like daily rituals and habits which have no side-effects except possibly a good disposition! 🙂 

P.S We women have complicated hormones that can also affect our sleep patterns. Getting in tune with your body and observing what ‘triggers’ can throw your hormones out of a whack is important. Sometimes it is hard to tell which one is causing disturbance, because as mentioned in my last post our bodies are like a big ‘symphony’ and when something is out of tune, it affects the whole performance. It’s wise to learn more about your hormones at various stages of your life.

 

 

 

 

 

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WWB Passioneer Library: Meet the Author of Newly Released Book ‘Frientimacy’ Who is On a Mission to Save the World…One Friend at a Time

Mar 3, 2016 by

 


The World Wise Beauty ‘Passioneer Series’

Excited to present my next featured ‘Passioneer’ and to include her newly released book ‘Frientimacy’ to WWB’s Passioneer’s Library.  Shasta Nelson, M.Div has previously been featured here at World Wise Beauty when I selected her as WWB Icon in 2013. If you don’t know what M.Div at the end of her name means here is a quick overview for you. In short she has a Master’s degree in religion. Regardless of your religious affiliation, you will discover through Shasta’s books, that she is one very ‘soulful’ woman who is deeply committed to improving our intimate connections to one another.
Shasta’s first book, a runaway bestseller ‘Friendships Just Don’t Happen’, was so  inspiring to women because she helped so many of us realize how important friendships are to our health and well-being. Beyond her book, she also created tools via her Girlfriend Circles website to help women around the world connect and make new friends. In addition to being featured at World Wise Beauty, Shasta has been on the Today show, Katie Couric’s show Katie, The Early Show, and on Fox Extra. She’s been consulted on friendship matters by writers and reporters from such magazines as Cosmopolitan, More, Real Simple, Redbook, and Good Housekeeping and from such newspapers as The New York Times, Chicago Tribune, and the San Francisco Chronicle. On her way to being the world’s best friend, let’s learn more about Shasta’s new book and why the word ‘Frientmacy’ is so meaningful to us all in today’s disconnected world.

 

Lauroly Opening: Welcome back Shasta! I am so pleased to have you back at World Wise Beauty. I enjoyed our last Q&A featuring your first book “Friendships Don’t Just Happen!’ so much and remember thinking “what a great friend you must be!” I selected you back then as a WWB Icon because your work and focus is driven by insight and wisdom, and you truly are advancing wellness culture. The truth is you are now becoming a good friend to women around the world, through your books and your Girlfriend Circles community. What a great mission you have to inspire friendships around the world! You really believe healthy friendships can save the world? Tell us why…

Shasta Nelson M.Div, Author of ‘Frientimacy’

Shasta Nelson: I do! Healthy relationships are the most important health issue of our times— physically, emotionally, mentally, and spiritually. Loneliness is strongly correlated to cognitive decline, increased stress, a weakened immune system, unhappiness, and a shorter life. When we are in healthy relationships with others we are truly healthier and happier. Plus, as I teach in my new book, our relationships are where we do most of our personal and spiritual growth so they are not only the method for greater health and vitality but also the vehicle for greater maturity and peace. For example, you can read a book on boundaries or listen to a sermon on forgiveness— but it’s only in our relationships where we get to practice those life growing habits. Our friendships are like the health clubs of our souls!

Lauroly Q- What a great term! Health clubs for our souls. I loved your title for the book too too. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if more of us used your term “Frientimacy’ rather than ‘Frenemy’. Frenemy is such a cynical term and really says something about how our society is giving into superficial relationships and connections. Yes, we do have to get along with people we don’t like in the real world, but we don’t need to collect them as friends. Your quote in the book “Most of our loneliness isn’t from not knowing enough people, but from not feeling close enough to a few” is so profound. It gets right to the heart of intimacy gone missing in our friendships. You share in the book the idea that our culture isn’t really conducive to developing good friendships that would foster intimacy. Sounds disheartening, but that’s why your book and personal mission is so very important! Expand a little on our cultural challenges and how they can create what you call intimacy gaps in our friendships…

Shasta Nelson: Exactly. There should be no such thing as a frenemy; if we’re in relationship with someone where there is more pain than reward, then it is not a friendship! In fact positivity is one of the three requirements of friendship— if the relationship isn’t satisfying then it needs to be either repaired or acknowledged as being something other than a friendship. And that in itself is one of the challenges of our culture is that we prefer to avoid conflict instead of lean in with the hopes of improving things. We often choose to put up with things as long as we can and then end it when we can’t tolerate it anymore, but the path that leads to greater intimacy usually involves some disappointment and hurt that have been worked through at some point. But probably the biggest culprit of our culture not being conducive to intimacy is that our time with others feels so limited; we live in a world where we are so busy, where productivity and efficiency are prioritized, and where stress leaves us exhausted. For too many of us, scheduling in time with friends simply becomes one more to-do item on our task list.

Lauroly Q- Another great quote from your book is “we don’t need better friends, we need better friendships’. I think this is just so very wise, and the meaning behind it relates to all our relationships. When you are living in a ‘me focused’ and ‘everybody is replaceable society’ you are not really doing a lot of self-reflection work. How many of us ask ‘How can I be a better friend’? A good portion of your book focuses on obstacles to intimacy and there is so much wisdom to be found on every page. You say when one feels a lack of intimacy, the first thing to explore is ourselves. Surprise to many I am sure! You used a metaphor of ‘intimacy as exercise’ which resonates so much with me.  It is true that so many people think “intimacy should come easy without sweat, effort or ache.” You invite your readers to not avoid emotional or relational sweat. Why should friendship be hard?

Shasta Nelson: It’s not that it should be hard, but rather that it’s impossible to be in relationship with someone else and not bump into unmet expectations, disappointments, or frustrations at their actions and choices. So what can feel hard is figuring out how to respond to those very common experiences. Our tendency is to take things personally, to blame them, or to stuff our feelings. Intimacy as exercise reminds us that our relationships are an invitation to practice new skills and grow more healthy. We go to the gym understanding that we’re going to sweat and feel sore, but we do it because we value the results. Likewise, it’s my hope that we’ll lean into moments that might feel awkward because we value the intimacy that is on the other side of honest conversations, shared feelings, and forgiveness. That’s not to say friendships should be hard or that pain has to be a part of every relationship, but we’ll inevitably face challenges in every relationship and those are our moments to practice new skills that can lead to better results.

Lauroly Q- I will keep saying this–there is so much wisdom and insight in this book. You have tackled many important topics when it comes to human connections. You really emphasized the importance of ‘vulnerability’. To understand what that means we only have to think of that expression ‘she has seen me at my worst and loves me anyway.’ To be vulnerable is to expose parts of ourselves that aren’t picture perfect. In a society that has become so obsessed with the illusion of perfection, how do people learn to let their guard down and be vulnerable? When is it safe? I think you address this so wisely in your book.

Shasta Nelson: Yes it was really important to me to talk about how to do vulnerability in a safe way, which means essentially to do it in conjunction with the other two requirements of friendship. I teach something called the Frientimacy Triangle which gives us a visual understanding of how to reveal and share in a way that is incremental and intentional. In a nutshell— we can’t just keep telling people to go be vulnerable or to think that the way to intimacy is vomiting our life story on new friends. We want to share ourselves in a way that feels good to us and builds the relationships deeper!

Lauroly Closing: Shasta I hope everyone can see why I selected you as a WWB ICON. You are truly a World Wise Beauty! We just touched on just some of the wise ideas you share in ‘Frientimacy’. There is so much more in the book. It really is very thought-provoking book while also being very digestible. This impressed me in particular, because you took a very big subject like ‘intimacy’ and help us really understand it through the lens of friendship. You walk us through the hard and messy stuff and also share authentic parts of yourself, which makes you all the more endearing. The world has found a real friend in you, and we are lucky to know you! I of course encourage everyone to buy her book and join her in the mission of making the world just a little bit ‘friendlier’! 🙂

 

 

 

 

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