Saturday, November 6, 2010

Boise: Shanti-Shama-Peace

Shanti's Tattoo

Boise, Idaho.  A place I haven't known much about, and admittedly, a place I've never had a desire to visit.  I thought my stop would be a quick one-nighter on my way through Idaho, but happily, I was hit with yet another dose of serendipity on the road.   My pie-baking goddess friend, Beth Howard,  came through again and connected me with a Boise friend who recently relocated from Los Angeles.  That friend turned out to be Shanti Sosienski

Meeting Shanti was profound and symbolic to me in many ways.  First, her name.  "Shanti" in Sanksrit means "peace."  The name of my blog, and of the yoga rug I invented, is "Shama," which also means "peace" in Sanskrit.  I have a peace tattoo on my lower back.  The purpose of my road trip is to find inner-peace.  Shanti - Shama - Peace.  The connection couldn't be ignored.  The second thing that gave me shivers was discovering that Shanti wrote an inspiring book called "Women Who Run."  In her introduction to the book she writes that she took up running just as her life was falling apart. She explained to me that she initially felt she was running away from her life and then, as running helped her heal, she realized she was running towards a new life.  I recently blogged about how this road trip was initially a way for me to run away from my broken life, but that I am discovering that I may actually be running towards something.  Finally, she has tattooed her forearm with my favorite Gandhi quote about change.  My mantra for this road trip is plastered on my dashboard in the form of a decade-old Post-it Note that says "I Welcome Change."  Okay Universe, I'm listening! 

California Transplants: 
Heather, Meredith & Shanti
The night I arrived in Boise, Shanti immediately whisked me off to her friend Heather's house for wine and homemade pickled vegetables.  Heather is from California and I took an instant liking to her...she and her dog even took Yoda and me for a fantastic hike in Boise's scenic Rocky Mountain foothills the next day, which are also a paradise for mountain bikers.  We were joined by another California transplant, Meredith Clark, whose company Chandi Design makes the most beautiful and unique chandeliers I've ever seen.  Over the next 2 days I met a total of 8 people through Shanti who are from California.  Then, when I had Princess' flat tire (!) fixed at Boise's Toyota dealership, 6 of the service people were also from California.   Seriously, I think Boise is some big fabulous secret about which all Californians but me know.  I can understand why people in the know want to keep it under wraps:  it is an affordable mixture of urban sophistication and outdoor playground with a mild climate and small town charm.  In fact, Outside Magazine just named Boise the Best Overall Town in the West.  

Boise Guest House
Shanti introduced me to her artist friend Eve-Marie which resulted in Yoda and me staying at Eve-Marie's charming Boise Guest House, which features 6 comfortable and artistically decorated hotel suites in a renovated historic home from 1895.  I was so happy to have a kitchen, and craving greens, that I bought some organic kale at the local Co-op and ate the entire head for dinner one night.  Each room is decorated with Eve-Marie's original art, and the place radiates magical, healing, happy energy.  I was thrilled to discover a "guest book" in the lobby in the form of an antique typewriter on which guests can type their comments.  If you visit Boise, you must stay here!

Yoda makes a friend in a Boise bar
(he's from California!)
Shanti and her friends made a well appreciated pitch for me to move to Boise.  To demonstrate that Boise has many available bachelors, Shanti even lined up 3 dates in one day and let me tag along!  I gave her my seal of approval on each of them.  Knowing my restrictions with Yoda's separation anxiety, the first night Shanti took me to a bar where they welcome dogs (the highlight of Yoda's Boise experience).  I was very impressed by the sense of community in Boise.  I think everyone is so dang happy because they make a point to take a break in their lives and have FUN.  The North End is filled with professionals: doctors, lawyers, firemen, nurses, entrepreneurs etc., and they all gather together every 6 weeks for some sort of theme party.  For instance, in March it is the Sensory Illumination party in a warehouse, where fire dancers and ceiling dancers entertain the costumed crowd.  In June it is the Esthetic Evolution party, which is 3 days of camping in the woods.  In December it is the Santa Rampage party, where everyone dresses up as Santa and elves and goes bar hopping through Boise.  The Boise crowd realizes that life is more than titles, working long hours, or pretentious parties.  To them, it is about putting on false glittery eyelashes, feather boas, and crazy costumes and just having a good time and connecting with others.  I've always been a bit of a wanna-be hermit, so although I doubt I could keep up with them, I do admire their desire to have fun and forget about work now and then. 
Flying Yoga
The morning I left Boise, Shanti, a flying yoga instructor, gave
the perfect parting gift for a road tripper:  flying yoga back traction.  I've never heard of flying yoga, but after this blissful stretch I'm sold!  It's interesting that my visit with Shanti ended with partner yoga.  Being supported in the air by a partner's legs is an exercise in trust.  Trust that she won't drop me.  Trust that I won't fall on my head.  Trust that I should just let go of my fear and be in the moment to enjoy the stretch.  It was a gentle reminder as I continue on my road trip that I need to carry that same trust with me in life.  Trust that this road trip is leading me to where I need to be.  Trust that I'll be okay. Trust that if I just stay in the moment then I'll eventually find peace.

Thank you Shanti, from the bottom of my heart, for these important lessons of the road.

Shanti - Shama - Peace

Shanti and the traveling bottle of wine

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