I’m in Ashland, Oregon!

November 11, 2013

Hello, people!

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Happy Autumn!

For the past six months I’ve been on somewhat of a sabbatical from consistent blogging. Though I haven’t been sharing as much as I’d prefer, I’ve still been focusing on my soul-healing and joy-following journey around the world. After about a year in Italy, I returned to the States in June of this year to celebrate the lives of my grandmother and father, who both made their transitions while I was out of the country.

Since returning stateside I’ve been roaming the west coast – Washington, Oregon and California. I spent a few months living in Rogue River/Grants Pass, Oregon, with my Aunt Jody and good friend China Brooks. I went on a gorgeous camping retreat on Mount Shasta, then roadtripped down to San Francisco and Los Angeles and San Diego, reuniting with friends I hadn’t seen in years. Reunion is one of my favorite things in the world – the joy of reunion is worth the separation.

My intuition talked me into going to Burning Man super last minute – two days before the Burn started. It was transformational, as always, and ended up redirecting the course of my life. I ended up living in San Francisco for a bit afterwards with friends I met on the playa, then went to visit Portland for the first time ever before coming back down to San Francisco for the month of October.

And now, I’m in Ashland, a spiritual town known for its Shakespeare festivals and for being the home of author Neale Donald Walsch, the guy who channeled “Conversations with God” (which I still haven’t read… I tried to read it in Italian but didn’t have the patience).

China and I are living in a beautiful 117-year-old yellow Victorian house for the month, working on creative projects and learning how to be in healthy relationship in close quarters. Ie, practicing talking about our feelings, being totally transparent about our fears and vulnerabilities, and laughing at our crazy egos!

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Yes, there are ghosts in the house, though after the first night they seem happy we’re here, and at our request they haven’t done anything to spook us… yet.

Here’s a tour of the downstairs!

 

Coyote Before the Burn…

August 27, 2013

I’m headed to Burning Man in about an hour.

It’s Monday. I decided I was going on Friday.

Making the decision, committing to this last-minute leap, was terrifying. Last time I went, in 2010, I planned for 9 months in advance.

On Friday, when I was wavering – do I stay or do I go? – a friend reminded me:

“Everyone describes Burning Man as transformational. Every year. So. That’s what you’re all about.”

And she is damn right. I am about transforming ourselves into OURSELVES, our true radiant joyful divine selves. Remembering. But even the reminders need to be reminded sometimes. Thank god for good friends.

So I made the decision, I committed, I took the leap, and everything has worked out so seamlessly and perfectly that I had to laugh. I can’t recount all of the brilliant synchronicities because any minute some new friends are coming to pick me up in an RV and we’re headed out to the Playa.

But while I was watching the sun set tonight, a Coyote ran by me, within about 15 feet. Whenever I see an animal nowadays, I immediately look up its Medicine, which in Native American teachings means its Message.

Coyote had some perfect messages for Burning Man:

“If you have [seen Coyote], you can be sure that some kind of medicine is on its way – and it may or may not be to your liking.
Whatever the medicine is, good or bad, you can be sure it will make you laugh, maybe
even painfully. You can also be sure that Coyote will teach you a lesson about yourself.

If we forget to be children and take life with laughter and ease, Coyote
appears to pester us until we let go of the inner pain that keeps us from knowing the joys
of life.
The cosmic joke is not just on ourselves but on everybody else.

When you destroy the illusion of who you are to others and be yourself, you will have restored your innocence.
Get ready for more of the laughs – lots more.
When was the last time you did something just because it was fun? 
Find it amusing and laugh. If you can’t laugh at yourself and your crazy antics, you have lost the game.

Coyote always comes calling when things get too serious.”

 
Text taken from this awesome site.

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The smokey pre-Burn/post-Burn skies above Reno, Nevada. By Maya Lila di Vento

 

 

Disappointed or Envious?

August 16, 2013

Someone in my family told me they weren’t sure if they were disappointed or envious of me. This person said that I have so many talents and gifts, I could’ve done anything I wanted with my life, and they didn’t yet seem to think that I’d done what I was “supposed” to – echoing something that’s been repeated to me since I was young: “You’re not living up to your full potential.”

At the same time, this person admitted that they didn’t know anyone else with my capacity for enjoying life.

And so they were unsure: disappointed with what they felt I hadn’t accomplished,  given my intelligence and abilities, or envious that things always seemed to work out for me and that despite a lack of clear and commonly accepted life accomplishments during the first 34 years of my life, I seemed to enjoy life more than most.

Their disappointment interested me. Within their mind there was an invisible ruler that I wasn’t measuring up to. Not good enough, incorrect, I was doing life wrong.

Yet I believe that I am doing exactly what I came here to do – enjoy life, live it, gain experience, wisdom and understanding through living and studying spirituality, myself, and the world, and share it with others.

Some people might be hurt by being told by someone that they were disappointed in them. But I saw the judgment as the judgment against oneself, a projection of the fears that spin in the mind.

The Risk of Living

July 12, 2013

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I’ve said this before but I feel it’s time to say it again -

Living your dreams is terrifying. When you begin to follow your soul’s truth, your ego will freak the f#@k out.

Your ego is your small self, everything you were taught, purposefully or inadvertantly, about this physical material world. You were taught to be afraid. You were taught you would die. You were taught that you were weak and at risk. You were taught to avoid pain, avoid being different, avoid standing out. You were taught to avoid being YOU. You were taught that to survive you had to protect and defend, to hide, to change.

But that’s all backwards. There is no safety, no security, no protection. The only risk you run in this life is never really LIVING it. You have a deep and unconscious belief that your fears and worries will protect you, but really all they do is keep what you truly want out – the experience of being alive, the experience of giving and receiving love, the experience of joy and connection and intimacy. These experiences are not found but created via your conscious choice, by giving that which you seek, by opening, by being authentically, truly you.

Well this is pretty goddamn profound.

“You are what you love and not what loves you.
When we were kids, all we did was play. We literally just played and we did what we loved to do. We created. We were drawing all day, we were singing all day. We didn’t care what people thought about us or what our ex-girlfriend was doing. We didn’t even care about that stuff – who we were gonna get to date us or what’s the boss think at the company; we just did what we loved to do. We created and we played all day. Literally, all day…

There’s a level of effortlessness that shows up by you enjoying the process of working on yourself. That’s the goal of life, and when you do that, the results will show up when they’re supposed to…”

- Kyle Cease

“I never decide if an idea is good or bad until I try it.

So much of what gets in the way of things being good is thinking that we know.

And the more that we can remove any baggage we’re carrying with us, and just be in the moment, use our ears, and pay attention to what’s happening, and just listen to the inner voice that directs us, the better.

But it’s not the voice in your head. It’s a different voice. It’s not intellect. It’s not a brain function. It’s a body function, like running from a tiger.

…Being open to using your instincts instead of going, “Oh, that’s not going to work.” Or listening to the part of your brain that goes, “Oh, that’s out of tune.” Or the part of your brain that says, “That’s too loud.”

You have to shut off all of those voices and look for these special moments — these moments that you accept you have no control over.

So much of my job is to not think — to be open to what’s there, and then use my intuition to see where it takes me.”

-Rick Rubin from a fascinating interview… check it out.

 

 

New Paradigm

July 1, 2013

I feel like I’m living in a magical new reality. Which means that I AM living in a magical new reality.

I’ve been wanting to share all these stories and I’m not even sure where to start. Things have been happening so quickly, flowing so powerfully, that I can’t even seem to put the words together to describe what I’m going through.

“I’ve never been so alive…”

 

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Upon meeting one of my soul-friends in this lifetime, during our first 10-hour conversation, he said to me: “You are not alone.”

And these simple words filled my eyes with tears, and he realized that this was the message he was meant to give to me.

And now I’m suddenly recalling the bone-numbing loneliness of my youth, which began to dissolve when I began to meet soul-friends on my twenties… I suppose the loneliness was also partially covered by music, alcohol and sex too (oh and packing every waking moment of my life with work and play).

These last few years of cutting music(dance/house music), alcohol, sex and busy-ness out of my life has given me time to experience and begin to heal that loneliness on its deepest levels.

I see that I’m in the final run now as I observe my attachment to the men I encounter in my life as I begin to date again. Very, very, verrrrry interesting…….

I can feel the edges of an opening in my chest, like a black hole or a pit that opens downward to the earth that I’m going to have to go through to get to the other side, reemerging into wholeness.

w-HOLE-ness.

Alone => all one.

Today’s post was inspired by this photo on Facebook – see, Facebook CAN be good. ;)

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One Year Ago Today

June 11, 2013

I’m typing this on May 5, 2013 [Happy Cinco de Mayo!] but I’ve scheduled it to post on June 11th, exactly one year after the journal entry I just found.

Today (May 5th) I’m doing spring cleaning on my totally full hard disc. I need to make room for my many new projects, or else my computer freezes up and I can’t Skype with clients or upload the iMovie movies I’ve been filming and editing for Youtube.

As I’m hunting, researching (can I delete this file, Guru Googleji??), deleting, and organizing, I’m coming across old bits that I’ve written over the past few years.

The post from June 11, 2012 that I’m sharing today was especially moving because I wrote it in the moment of sadness and confusion that comes in that moment of suspension between hearing your heart, taking a leap into the void/unknown, and landing exactly where you’re meant to be. (Another friend calls it “the dangle zone).

 

On June 11, 2012, I was dangling. I was renting a bedroom for a month in Buenos Aires, Argentina, having left Patagonia and waiting in the city to get my passport renewed. I’d already purchased a flight to Italy, based entirely on a Goddess card I’d drawn – Fortuna, the Roman/Italian Goddess of Fate – but I didn’t know yet exactly WHAT I was going to be doing in Italy.

I was trusting enough to have bought the plane ticket but I was still afraid. It was a strange time to be in Buenos Aires because almost all my friends from when I’d lived there before had left – gone home or moved on to other destinations – and the closest friend I’d had there and I were no longer speaking.

The amazing thing is that in this post I asked for community.  A few days later I came across an interview about the Academy of Art, Creativity & Consciousness, and my heart knew – it SHOUTED – I AM GOING THERE. I thought it was just an awesome-and-exciting-sounding Academy. Little did my mind know that The Academy of Art, Creativity and Consciousness was adjacent to the intentional spiritual community of Ananda Europa.

My conscious mind had no idea. But my heart knew. 

And when I arrived, I found a community, a large extended family of wonderful people.

I guess I’m telling you this story backwards, giving you the happy ending before the frightened beginning.

The following is an unedited  journal entry. I’m not really comfortable sharing unedited work – it makes me feel exposed and vulnerable – but f#@% it, I’m doing it anyways.

 

Monday, June 11, 2012:

A woman in Kundalini class today made my day – she brought her son, who I estimate was about 9 years old. I love that age, 9, 10 – when children are getting old enough to begin to engage like adults, but with none of the rejection and sarcasm – they’re still open and eager. This boy participated in every pose. Occasionally I’d take a peek at him and would always end up grinning widely – when we were smacking our mats shouting ‘har,’ he was flailing away with gusto. And he stayed with every pose too – never gave up. It gave me such joy to see a young boy completely open and accepting to what 99% of people (Westerners anyway) would think was insane.

I love Kundalini because it’s one of the most spiritually connected forms of yoga I’ve found. It’s not always a physical workout – it’s generally more mentally challenging, holding poses and doing repetitions.

The other day I felt one of the strongest pangs of loneliness I’ve felt in years, at least since the great breakup of ’09.

It was my second day back in Buenos Aires. I was attending an Acro/Aerial Yoga/Dance class, one that I used to attend with friends. Those friends were now no longer in Buenos Aires. So there I was, the English-speaking beginner, surrounded by Latinas who’d been doing the class for some time. Occasionally I would attempt to pull myself up the fabric a few feet, on the red strip, the “easiest” level as it was the firmest. But most of the time I sat on the mat, watching the other girls climb and spin and drop gracefully to the mats. And then, out of nowhere, a sharp stab of sadness, of loneliness. My eyes began to fill with tears and I quickly blinked, not wanting anyone to see me sitting there, about to cry. How would I explain that in Spanish?

As I said, it’s been a few years since I felt that alone. And I’m noticing that I’ve been having bouts of sadness since returning to BA. I thought I was adapting to it fine but am beginning to see how hard this is on me. My closest friends are no longer here, and on top of that I’m not speaking to Jonas anymore. I think that’s the main thing – Jonas. I miss him. I want to meet up with him, to walk with him, to talk to him – or to listen, really. He always did do a lot of talking. Sometimes we’d be riding bikes and I’d wish he would just be quiet for a few minutes, as I tried to navigate cars and adoquniado and enjoy the ride without straining to hear and comprehend what he was talking about.

I’m feeling a little lost. What am I doing with my life? What’s my meaning, my purpose? Why am I here, not just here on planet Earth but here in Argentina; why am I going to Italy? I want to feel important. I want to feel like I know why I’m doing what I’m doing. I want to feel safer.

I do not feel safe. I feel expose, alone. I feel like I might be making a huge mistake. I feel like I might be making the wrong choices. It’s all me now. What do you want, Michelle? And why? Are you sure? Are you sure all this traveling won’t just leave you alone? With no husband, no children, no friends, no family, no community?

I’m scared. I want a community. I want to share things with people I love.

I guess the world is my community now. I can share things with everyone. I can love each person I meet.

Starting with myself.

I can trust. Trust that it’s all ok. Trust that if I follow my bliss, it will multiply and expand and support me. Trust that this fear is just me moving to the next level. Sit with the fear, sit with me, sit with my inner child who is terrified of being abandoned, being alone. Sit with my ego that fears that it’s incapable of having a real relationship. Well, I did. I had a fantastic, loving relationship that was more joyful and respectful and affectionate and passionate and connected than anything most people experience in their lives.

And it wasn’t him. It was me. It was me loving the reflection of myself that I saw mirrored in his eyes. IT was me connected with my highest self, my self that is eternal unconditional love and joy and enthusiasm and passion for life. It was me. I don’t need to fear anymore that I won’t find that again, because it’s not about finding. IT’s a bout living. It’s about creating. It’s about being my authentic self. I loved who I was in that relationship. I can be that person all the time. I can deeply love everyone. I can deeply love myself.

And my biggest challenge: following my heart. Not my mind, my heart. What does my heart want? What does my intuition want to do?

I would like to sit in silence and ask myself, Michelle, what do you Want to Do?

 

Michelle wants to get in bed for a bit. And read “Free Play“.

I was floating on the edge of a large emerald-green lake in Southern Oregon, grabbing at the egg-sized natural pumice stones that were bobbing about – floating rocks! – amid the submerged and gnarked branches of a giant fir tree that must’ve made a glorious sound when it came crashing and splashing into the water from its great height.

My aunt Jody was nearby. When she’d handed me a buoyant stone, perfectly shaped and sized to my hand, though surprisingly lightweight, I’d had the idea to collect some good specimens and sell them – all natural, hand-picked pumice stones from Southern Oregon! People buy pumice stones,  and I’ve been encouraged to come up with innovative ways to make money and trade by a book I’m reading about living on sailboats – ‘Seasteading’ or ‘Sailing the Farm,’ I forget which. I’m reading both right now as I found free PDFs and saved myself about $50 for an out-of-print book.

Back to gathering the floating pumice stones amidst the driftwood.
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