This past week, a few friends and myself were expecting to take a trip to Puerto Rico. Excited to see the art and other attractions of Old San Juan, to explore the lush landscape of El Yunque National Forest, as well as to soak up some sun on the beach, we were disappointed to find that our trip was delayed multiple times for factors outside of our control. The cost quickly seemed to outweigh the benefit of our adventure, and we decided to cancel our plans.
However, as we all know, the Universe is always guiding us in the direction we need to be going.
The morning after canceling our tickets, we found ourselves in a car with a couple more friends, making the 14-hour trip to New Orleans, Louisiana. This incredible city, although within the United States, radiates a liveliness and culture that make it extremely unique and, in some ways, foreign and unfamiliar. There is such warmth and welcoming exuded from most everyone you meet, and an extreme loyalty and love for the city by its inhabitants, that was beautiful to hear and observe. New Orleans is intoxicating and alluring, and the city presented and affirmed many lessons that will resonate with me forever. I would like to share a few of these thoughts with you in this week’s post, in the hopes that you can also use them as guiding pieces in your daily life.
After speaking with some locals, we learned that New Orleans is a place where Africans and American Indians shared their cultures, while also intermingling with European settlers. The city has been able to establish a public culture that transcends all groups that are part of its diverse population. According to a guide site for New Orleans, “They are more than a mosaic of identities, instead, they have to share a new cultural identity. Creole cuisine, jazz and other forms of local music, Mardi Gras — all these famous attributes of the city give New Orleans a powerful sense of identity.” All people are connected by their love for the city and the lives they are able to lead as part of an open-minded and non-judgmental culture. This unorthodox style of living may be odd or unappealing to some, but I found the level of respect and understanding inspiring, and believe that we should carry these mindsets wherever we go.
Lesson 2: Dance Through Adversity
Only to further reflect the welcoming nature of the local population, we had an extensive conversation with a woman who had lived in the area for 75 years, and learned that the NOLA mindset is to “dance through adversity”. I think this makes for a wonderful mantra, and is an extremely positive outlook to have while on your journey through life. There will be challenges on your path, but as opposed to allowing these obstacles to weigh you down and block you from pursuing your passions, just shimmy off your worries and salsa your way around these walls. No matter where we went, music was playing, which only further reflected this idea. The next time you are feeling lost or surrounded by negative energy, put on some upbeat music and move your body in whatever way feels best, and most natural. Let the music carry you to happier place, where your mind can be free and your thoughts can wander and dance. You may be surprised by the resolutions you find and, regardless, you will be in more positive spirits.
Lesson 3: Dare To Be Weird & Blaze Your Own Path
As I’ve alluded, New Orleans is a place where you are made to feel comfortable in your own skin, and where you will see a variety of types of people and behaviors. I believe that the confidence we experienced, and the freedom to be ourselves that we felt, should be goals we all strive for each day. Dare to be unapologetically you, whether that means dressing the way you want, eating the foods you like, or choosing to associate with the people who make you feel best. Remain conscious of others, and do not hurt yourself or anyone else in the process, but be brave enough to blaze your own path and do what is healthiest for your mind, body, and spirit.
Lesson 4: Be Open To New Experiences
With a rich culture and history, New Orleans had a lot of new experiences to offer. Although not necessarily what we were accustomed to, if we had closed ourselves off to some of the foods, music, interactions, and places we encountered, we would have had half of the adventure that we did. Treat life in the same way, and begin each day with your mind, ears, heart, stomach, and arms open.
Lesson 5: There Is Always Something To Celebrate
We were lucky enough to experience the St. Patrick’s Day parades our last day in New Orleans, and we quickly learned that celebrations are nothing new to this area, and are also not uncommon. I thought this further represented the fun-loving nature of the local population, the idea of dancing every day, and the ability to find happiness and pride in every aspect of life. We can each learn from this outlook, and should strive to be equally appreciative and excited by even the smallest events and accomplishments that we have each day!
Have you all been to New Orleans? What did you think, and what lessons did you learn? If you haven’t been, what lessons do you have from your own travels? Share with us! 🙂
Love and Light,