We have lived through an historical moment. Has it changed you? It has certainly changed me and reinforced my desire for Bliss.
Less is Good
The transition from "stay at home" to "normal" has an interesting vibration to it. There is an energetic buzz and a sense of exploding excitement over the opportunity to return to doing all the things we did before the pandemic.
While following the directives to stay at home I learned a valuable lesson: I don't need very much. I don't need fancy food or cocktail service. I don't need live concerts (although they are fun) or pedicures. I don't need to go shopping for new clothes, toys, or belongings. I don't need to be doing things all of the time. Less is more.
I grew up playing with whatever was available. We would run around the fields, climb trees, build rock & tree forts, and build mud pies. Our imaginations allowed us to create anything out of anything.
The first time my sister visited me in Tahoe she said, "You live in a postcard." When I guide tours and classes people ask, "do you ever get tired of this?" My answer is, "Never." I get to live the dream and value that I do it in Lake Tahoe and recognize how the choices I made in life helped me to get here. At Bliss Experiences our intention is to help you develop similar values for your life.
Every day I get to look at a beautiful lake, run through the forest, walk on the beach, stand on top of a mountain, hike through the desert, bike, ski, paddle and play. The pandemic has added stress to my life, but enjoying Tahoe has helped me to manage it.
Patience & Empathy
People fled the cities when the pandemic hit. There was a general perception shift that the mountains are safer than the seaside. Our tiny community became inundated with visitors and new residents. The lack of infrastructure, staff, response teams, inability to educate, and enforcement became increasingly evident and the impact has been significant.
Tahoe runs on tourism. We have gotten better, throughout the years, at supporting and sharing information with the influx of visitors that come to the basin every Winter and Summer. This year was a new opportunity for us to learn and change our practices.
As a business owner I had to become more patient. Messaging from my business had to change. I had to constantly remind myself to try to understand the perspective others have; they are just trying to do something "normal" The pandemic has helped me become more patient and empathetic with myself and others.
Sense of Community
Small businesses are the soul of our country. As businesses began to shutter it was obvious that the corporations and larger ones would survive. Small, individually and family owned business needed our patronage.
Bliss Experiences promotes and partners with the small businesses and professionals in our community. The pandemic further reminded me to remain in touch and to continue to bolster them. As we emerge from this historical moment we will continue to grow our list of providers so that you can continue to experience Bliss with them.
I believe that when spending time with someone it is important that your full attention be dedicated to that experience. When teaching classes, guided lessons, or out on a tour I am fully focused upon making the experience special for those joining in.
Now that we are using more virtual tools including live video streams it's easy to be doing many things at once: live feed while recording for later while doing an Instagram live and chatting over text.
I chose to continue to practice focusing upon the task at hand even while learning to use new formats for teaching. I have noticed that, as I venture back out into the world, I would rather be with a small group and have dedicated conversations than in a place where there is a larger crowd and many distractions. Being present and enjoying the moment makes for a far better experience.
When Bliss Experiences opens we will continue to honor quality of experience over quantity of participants so that we can be dedicated to making yours the best.
Our incredible, amazing, super, fabulous group has been working so hard and going non-stop. We all deserved some time off. We separated into small groups or couples and spent the day any way we wanted.
Some people headed to the silk farm where you can see the Khmer people making silk thread and scarves. Others, to the crocodile farm where, yes, crocs are turned into food, purses, shoes and more. Others headed to the market for some shopping.
In the evening, the group came together for a dinner theater. The Apsara Dancers performed traditional Khmer (Cambodian) dances.
it was dark when we got into the van to head out to three locations within the Angkor (city). With headlamps lit, we were granted special permission into the temple Banteay Srei, early. We walked through the grounds and perched ourselves on the landing surrounding one of the temples for an early asana practice. Surrounding us was the sound of frogs, birds and the resounding chanting of the monks at a nearby monastary. As the sun slowly shed light upon the land, we turned off our lights and quietly watched the sun shine upon the temples.
Next, we hiked up to the River of the Lingas. The Linga or Lingam is representative of masculine energy. The complimenting symbol, Yoni, represents feminine energy. At the river, three gods are represented; Siva, Krishna and Brahman.
Our last stop was at a temple that truly shows the results of time. Beng Maelea or Lotus Pond, is a temple in disrepair. For most of us, this was the favorite. We all enjoyed seeing a temple in its most authentic state.
After rising with an asana practice and some free time this morning, we found our way to JWOC. http://youtu.be/-mwTaT0l8Q4
We were able to meet some of the staff and participate on the English Conversation class. We really enjoyed seeing the location and were amazed by how big JWOC is.
After some rest, some of us headed out to town again. Some for Italian and some for adventure!
Our photos cannot do justice to the scale and magnitude of use temples, carvings and history held within the walls of Angkor. The city of Siem Reap holds much history and strife. The temples, fallen by nature and the Khmer Rouge as well as thieves have stood the test of time incredibly well. As we walked, miles, through fallen stones and restored facades, we still could not imagine the people who, 6000 years ago, built these buildings.
Today, we traveled for 6 hours by "speed boat." Our ride took us from Phnom Penh City to Siem Reap. The experience was quite different from the airport arrival just a fee days ago. The boat traveled at around 40mph. There was seating inside or on the roof. Once outside of the boat there was nothing to keep you on except for your own balance and strength.
Siem Reap is an area of mixed lifestyles. The water front holds residencies of floating villages and slum huts. The stench of rotted garbage is so powerful you can barely breathe. As we traveled to our hotel we saw houses up on stilts and lavish palace-like homes built above the levy. The separation of the classes couldn't be more obvious.
At the market, they cater to tourists, seeking goods and food that are both authentic and surprising.
We all agreed that today was a very full day. We began with a public by-donation practice at Nataraj Yoga. The group was a mix of our yogi retreaters and some of the teachers and practitioners at Nataraj.
After a quick lunch, we hopped onto the tuk tuks and headed to the Children's Surgical Center. Our visit theory really put a positive spin on things. The hospital is a non-profit supported by generous donors. Opened in 1998, they offer free public surgery on a "no appointment needed" system. People will arrive throughout the day and sign in. Most often, they are seen the same day, or, the stay overnight on mats or benches outside of the hospital so they can be seen the next day.
Meeting Piseth and the Nataraj board members before receiving a presentation, making out donation and offering a Master Class.
Chelsea shares some photos with the orphans a portion of our group visited at an orphanage just outside of the city.
Our work began today. We visited and made donations at a yoga studio and an orphanage. We were graciously received at each. They were honored to accept the donations and grateful for our visit.
Afterward, some of us traveled to the market. There are three main open markets; Central, Russian and the Night Market. You can find just about anything there.
We wanted to give our group a true introduction to Khmer culture. Therefore, after arrival and some freshening up, we headed to the Killing Fields. It's hard to grasp that just 20 years ago this country won it's independence. The population had been devastated and their citied destroyed by the Khmer Rouge. The monument dedicated to teaching about this terrible time was well worth the visit.
Our Destination: Phnom Penh, Cambodia
This is the capitol and largest city in Cambodia. Many of our travelers have already arrived in Cambodia and have been taking the time to acclimatize and adjust to their new environment. Susan, our trip manager, has been updating Jenay, the director, on the general environment of the area. According to local sources and her observations, the city is safe for American travel. The most exciting sight is the flier for Lake Tahoe Yoga hanging up at Nataraj Yoga!
Jenay Aiksnoras, Experience Curator