I offered my daughter a trip of her choice to celebrate the completion of her master’s degree. I imagined we’d be going to a beach somewhere but, surprisingly, she chose Washington DC. We just got back.

One of the gifts of travel is that we come back a changed person. Our psyche gets stretched in ways we can’t anticipate, and it never really rebounds to its original state. This is good. It shakes us out of our bubble of safety and complacency. It renews our world perspective.

One can’t help but think about politics while in DC. I was reminded that we were teeny tiny tourist visitors crawling around like ants, compared to the big mucky-muck elected officials who actually do the work and are responsible for decisions that affect the whole country. I realized that my semi-obsession with political news is pretty ridiculous. The phone puts those stories right up in my face, when in reality they are far far away from my life. (Kind of like getting attached to tv characters in a soap opera). Then, after sitting in the gallery while the senate was in session, I also realized that my political focus really belongs on who gets elected, and letting them know what’s important to me, my family, my community, and all humans.

Big City life sure is different from rural remote living. Having grown up in Detroit, this was not news to me. But I’ve been removed from that, living in Grand Marais, for 35 years now. In DC we used public transportation, riding with everyday people. Parents with their children, grammas on the way to the store, nurses on their way to work, un-homed people, bodies on various drugs, women with their pimps. The Empath Me struggled with letting all that flow through, not absorbing it. I couldn’t help but lose sleep thinking about some of those folk, putting out prayers for their lives and safety.

Then there is just the overall city environment. Regular sirens, helicopters, airplanes. Traffic, car horns honking. Wherever I was, I needed to be constantly aware of where my purse and phone were, who was around me and how they were moving. I didn’t know the area, and sometimes ended up in places that weren’t very safe.

Hurricane Lee was bearing down on the East Coast, its path unknown. There were flood warnings (and we were staying in a basement rental). Then someone texted me that there had been a mass shooting at the Senate. It turned out to be a mistake, that it was “just” a domestic femicide (I prayed for that person too).

There was just so much more to put me on edge at any given moment. It’s constant. I imagine you feel it just reading this? I could never live in that situation. It’s amazing that anyone does. I felt tension in my body that I didn’t want. I was clenching my jaw a lot.

My usual go-to for relaxation is Nature. In a big city, that’s limited to trees hemmed in by buildings and pavement, little birds flitting back forth to the curbside trash. When I really needed to relax, I would close my eyes and think about the trees around my house––feel the space between them, listen to the leaves rustling in the breeze, breathe their lovely air, and drink in their beautiful green energy.

Now that I’m home, I have some work to do to regain my Soul Center. I need sleep and meditation, long walks in the woods, quiet daydreaming, transcendent channeling. I’m also on a treasure hunt for Glimmers,* to refuel my gratitude and positive attitude.