May 11, 2013
Aaaand I’m back!!!
Day 16 of my 30-day LightLiving simplifying-minimizing-decluttering challenge!
Lots of good stuff, clarity, new plans!
Today’s Five Releases:
1. Makeup brush
2. White Buddha tank
3. Green Ganesh tank
4. Basket I made
5. Vibrams with a hole in the soles
1. Red Buddha tank
2. Patagonia Geode necklace
(Going to focus more on the letting go as I’m planning to start traveling again – watch the video!)
May 4, 2013
I’m taking a Hiatus from vlogging for a few days. Why? Because:
I’ve run out of room.
I’m halfway through a 30-day decluttering/minimizing challenge and my hard drive is so full that I can no longer download the videos from my camera.
Oh, the irony!!!*
So I’m in the process of transferring all my thousands of photos and videos to my terrabyte external drive…which is over halfway full.
I’ve been trying to manually transfer photos in batches the last few weeks, organizing them in the old labelled folder system (hey, I was on PCs from age 12 to 32 – 20 years!) and right this second iPhoto says I still have…11,656 photos and videos to go. *sigh*
With 11,656 photos to go (I think I started around 15,000) this manual thing is gonna take waaay too long.
So I’m gonna figure out how to do this the right, simple, easy way! And I’ll let you know (if you ALREADY know, you can leave me a message in the comments – help a sister out!). From a few seconds of checking with Guru Googleji it looks like I might just be able to drag-n-drop my iPhoto Library on to the eternal… but I want to have some on my computer too, and I don’t want to always have to have my eternal drive plugged in.
I was thinking about this topic earlier: I didn’t get the souped-up speakers or the extra hard drive because I allowed the men I was asking for advice to talk me out of it. “You don’t need that much storage!” “You can add memory!” “You can get some good speakers!” Wrong on #1, that’s really implausible on #2, and #3, As a nomad/aspiring minimalist I really don’t like to have to have things plugged into my computer – external hard drives OR speakers.
So, next time, I’m going big and getting my computer tricked out EXACTLY how I want it! Considering I spend hardly anything on shoes, clothing, makeup or hairstyling products, an extra grand or two once every few years on a swanky Macbook or Air seems totally reasonable to me.
I’m off to sort out the photo stuff so I can continue bringing you more videos and photos.
In the meantime check out the thunderheads we had today!
*(modern Alanis definition of irony)
May 2, 2013
“A master in the art of living draws no sharp distinction between their work and their play; their labor and their leisure; their mind and their body; their education and their recreation. They hardly know which is which. They simply pursue their vision of excellence through whatever they are doing, and leave others to determine whether they are working or playing. To themselves, they always appear to be doing both.”
-Francoise Rene Auguste Chateaubriand
I want to live like this!!!
I’m getting closer. Today was a lovely mix of work/play. Which eventually will just be play. “Productive Play” I suppose would be a better term.
I’m still trying to upload yesterday’s video – It’s very very strange that every time I try to upload it to Youtube, it doesn’t upload the file I tell it to, it uploads Day 12′s fireside video. There must be a reason.
I’ve found in my life that there’s a good reason when technology doesn’t cooperate with me. And it’s always in my favor. I’ve been saved from purchasing something I didn’t need to/the wrong thing on a number of occasions. Like at the end of the great Road Trip of 2011 when I tried to buy a $167 Amtrak train ticket from Boston to Washington DC. I made a number of attempts, but the Amtrak site wouldn’t accept my credit card. I eventually gave up and decided to wait til the next day to try buying the $167 ticket again.
That next day, while on a whale-watching cruise with a girl from Slovenia (or Slovakia?) who I was couchsurfing with, I met a woman who was celebrating her birthday. We got to chatting and over the course of the boat ride – during which we saw about 20 amazing humpback whales – this woman mentioned that her husband, sitting next to her, was a train conductor.
For Amtrak. And…. the train he conducted… went from Boston to Washington DC.
I am not making this is#t up.
Two days later, they picked me up and put me on a train to DC with him. For free.
The woman even made me a gift package – cookies, juice, a sudoku puzzle book, a pen and a journal. These people gave from the pure kindness of their hearts. It was a beautiful, magical, heart-opening experience for me.
And the point I started with was – if technology doesn’t want me to upload that video for you, fine. I trust there’s a reason. I’ll try re-editing it tomorrow, or just moving on.
So today, after work/playing on Academy affairs this morning, I took the rest of the day to follow blisses. It turned out to be a beautiful magical day. I feel intensely connected to myself, my soul – authentic, in-joy, in the Vortex, in the Flow. Intensely happy with life, with what I’m doing, with the Me that I’m becoming, with the open potential and possibilities of the future.
Clearing out half my clothing feels like it’s unblocked a lot of energy. OR, the energy was unblocked, enabling me to have the clarity to release so much. Chicken/egg/chicken/egg.
Also, rather unfortunately, my bedroom has been invaded by ants tonight. They’re big black and red ones, and they’re streaming in a crack in my window, crawling up my legs, across my keyboard, on my arms. I don’t want to smoosh them but I also don’t want to be bitten. So far so good. Every few minutes I’ll send one air-born from my arm or leg with a whoosh of air. I hope they don’t break legs or carapaces upon landing. Ok wait ants don’t have carapaces. Thoraxes, I suppose.
Like the Bumblebees, the Ants must have a message for me – so I went to Google Guru for answers.
Here’s the main message of Ant medicine:
“PATIENCE. Ant’s medicine is the strategy of patience.
Ant people are active, community-minded folks who see the greater future needs of their town. Ant people are planners, like Squirrel, and are content to see their dreams being built a little at a time.
If you have Ant medicine, you … are content in knowing that “what is yours will come to you.” This knowing is good medicine. It shows a trust in the Universe to provide. If Ant meandered into your spread today, it is time to show a little trust and patience in some life situation. You may have forgotten that you will always receive that which you need, at the time you need it most. It is not on the horizon or just around the next anthill, you may need to use some strategy. How can you put to use your power of creation until “it” arrives -whatever “it” means to you at this time? Ant is working for the good of the whole. Are you? If you are, be assured that the whole wants the same goodness for you, and that it will be provided.”
Well, I’m definitely working on building my dreams. And I’m definitely community-and-greater-future-minded. And Trust has been my main focus lately. Trusting that everything is working out, trusting that I don’t need to worry. And lastly, I’m definitely putting my powers of creation in, and things are shifting, things are happening…
April 28, 2013
Good news – I made it through last night without puking! Woo hoo! Felt much better in the morning.
So for today’s keeps and releases:
Releases (all necklaces I made – either putting up for sale or gifting):
1. Lapis lazuli necklace
4. Prayer Wheel necklace
6. Turquoise howlite necklace
1. Book: Barron’s Italian Verbs
2. Book: L’Italiano Perfetto
3. Panasonic Lumix camera
While I was cleaning out my hard drive today, trying to get enough disc space free to upload this video, I came across a PDF I’d downloaded called ‘The Soulmate Secret: Three Keys to Manifesting Your True Love.’ Speaking of soulmates, I actually really like an article I read the other day of Ram Dass’s explanation of Soulmates (“then you are left with the work to do. And it’s the same work. When you trade in one partner for another, you still have the same work. You’re going to have to do it sooner or later.”)
Anyways Key #2 from the Soulmate Secret PDF: “You must let go of physical, psychic, and emotional clutter.”
Workin’ on it! (and virtual clutter too…argh!)
April 26, 2013
Today was a very long day, and I did not feel like picking my 5/3.
So I didn’t.
I did, however, still record a video for you!
I mentioned a few of these things in the video, but here’s a full recap of my day:
I started the day with some of my morning rituals round 6:30am, meditation at 7:30am, then breakfast with friends out in the sunshine; over to the Academy of Art, Creativity & Consciousness to clean and translate some marketing materials for our open house in the afternoon; more cleaning and organizing and chatting with friends. Then ate a giant lunch out in the sunshine with friends again. Washed some dishes, back to the Academy for some schmoozing and translating Italian/English, enjoyed a moving classical music rehearsal, a short hike with a friend, ate some INCREDIBLE homemade cheesecake for another friend’s birthday; talked with friends some more, met some new people, schmoozed some more til dinner time. Ate dinner with friends and watched the sun set. Helped wash dishes in the kitchen for an hour and a half (with some Russians and two monks who’d flown in from India, one originally from Las Vegas and the other from Uruguay), took a little moonlit stroll and listened to Radiolab, recorded the video above, Skyped with China, chatted with my friends/roommates, edited the video above, took a shower.
It’s now 1:30am Italy time, and I’m about to head over to the Temple of Light. I signed up for a shift to sit vigil for Swamiji, who left his body on April 21st. I’ll be meditating in the temple with him from 2am-4am. Should be a beautiful experience. The moon’s full tonight, and with springtime here the weather’s slowly been warming up.
My day was busy but full of friendship and laughter and stories and hugs and deep conversations about the meaningful things in life – relationships, truth, reality, death, love, joy, creation… So grateful, so appreciative of this wonderful community and the amazing life that I have.
April 19, 2013
Yesterday’s video was accidentally set on private; sorry about that! It’s now public so check it out:
And here’s today’s video, Day 7:
(Check out the beautiful Italian clouds!!!)
The Three Keeps List:
1. Black Vibrams – I’ve been wearing Vibrams for three or four years now. I love them so much I can’t imagine life without them. Well, I could, but it would be really blistery. I really should be sponsored by Vibram, considering how many people I’ve prosthelytized to over the years and around the world (Argentina REALLY wants Vibrams!).
2. Inspiration book 2009 – I started making these little books in 2006. They’re part inspiring quotes and photos, part mini vision board, part life tips, part happy memories.
3. Inspiration book 2010 – Out of one of these books I read the 12 Keys to Happiness from scientist Sonja Lyubomirsky’s book The How of Happiness - These are keepers too!
1. Expressing Gratitude
2. Cultivating Optimism
3. Avoiding Overthinking and Social Comparison
4. Practicing Acts of Kindness
5. Nurturing Social Relationships
6. Developing Strategies for Coping
7. Learning to Forgive
8. Increasing Flow Experiences
9. Savoring Life’s Joys
10. Committing to Your Goals
11. Practicing Religion and Spirituality
12. Taking Care of Your Body: Meditation + Physical Activity + Acting Like a Happy Person
Yep. That’s pretty much it. I think I’ve got these covered! (At least, I work on them all every day. Still fine tuning, of course.) I origionally heard about Sonja’s book from Philosophers Notes, one of my favorite things ever – all the best personal growth/spirituality books summarized into 20 minute audio bites and 6-page PDFs. Highly recommended.
The Five Releases List:
1. X-mini MAX speaker - I did a TON of research when trying to find good portable travel speakers (I always obsessively research any electronics pre-purchasing) and I finally went with these guys. Not only is the sound excellent for their size, they’re not outrageously expensive, they charge via USB (no need to buy batteries) AND they run for 4-5 hours without being plugged in – perfection! I ordered these while I was living in Argentina and had a friend from the States bring them down as it’s quite difficult/expensive to get electronics with Argentina’s closed economy… they lasted for about 6 months until someone else broke one; then I used the single one for another 6 months until this one fritzed out too. Damned planned obsolescence.
2. Cannon charger – Also while in Argentina I had my friend bring me a new Cannon camera to replace the old Panasonic Lumix (which I’ve been recording most of these videos on). The Lumix stops working occasionally – ever since I took it to Burning Man and it got playa dust inside the lens – hence those spots that show up in most of my videos. Anyways, after more obsessive electronics researching, I got the Canon Powershot ELPH 300. It was my very favorite camera ever. Super compact, clear bright colors… the Lumix’s High def video and wide lens is a bit better for video but the ELPH definitely too better photos. And then, one day, I was hiking in some mountains in Patagonia, and somewhere during an off-trail 3 hour hike, my camera disappeared. Poof. I did the extremely steep 3 hour trail every day for the next 7 days, until it rained. Then I gave up. I never did find the camera. I hope some gaucho found it while he was horseback riding and was able to see the video of me and my friend Anne standing at the top of the mountain in high wind, screaming. Anyways, the camera was claimed by mother earth, and I no longer have any need for this charger. Why do I still have this charger one full year after losing that camera? No idea.
3. Art Eraser – I thought I lost my Faber-Castell eraser (oh, that name makes me feel like I’m back in art school). But then I found it. Donating this to the Academy!
4. Mystery key – I hate having old mystery keys. It torments me.
5. Brown hat – I was given this very good Wallaroo hat by a friend shortly before I left LA. I’ve worn it maybe twice in the past two years. They’re really good quality hats, but I just never wear it.
I ran across this Anais Nin quote that I love:
“There are very few human beings who receive the truth, complete and staggering, by instant illumination. Most of them acquire it fragment by fragment, on a small scale, by successive developments, cellularly, like a laborious mosaic.”
I feel like this challenge is slowing putting a few mosaic squares in every day… gradual change, transformation, unfolding. I’m really enjoying this challenge, but I’m not sure how I’ll still have stuff to get rid of at Day 30. We’ll see…
“Be as simple as you can be; you will be astonished to see how uncomplicated and happy your life can become.” - Paramahansa Yogananda
“Sometimes letting things go is an act of far greater power than defending or hanging on.” - Eckhart Tolle
“You will never do anything in this world without courage. It is the greatest quality of the mind next to honor.” -Aristotle
“Every artist was first an amateur.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson
April 19, 2013
Two years of Nomadic living on three different continents and I STILL feel like I have too much stuff. So I’m doing this 30-day challenge to declutter, minimalize, lighten my load and my life!
Releasing 5 things I don’t need/want/love and
Choosing 3 things I love/want to keep.
And posting a video! Every single day!
Simplify, clarify, focus, freedom!
KEEPERS: The three things for today that I own and I love and am keeping:
1. Turquoise and magenta zipper top – This is my #1 favorite item of clothing at the moment, and has been for almost 3 years now. It’s made by Green Apple Yoga Wear, and though I’ve worn it LITERALLY hundreds of times (and even washed it occasionally , it looks as good as the day I bought it. It’s 70% bamboo viscose, 25% organic cotton, 5% spandex. I got it back in 2010 when I went to New Mexico with my bestie Katy; we went to a yoga class at the amazing Body Yoga studio/cafe/boutique in Santa Fe (I LOVE Santa Fe) and it was love at first sight. Totally worth the investment.
2. Book: Earth Dance by Elisabet Sahtouris - I love this book. I originally heard Elisabet speak at Deepak Chopra’s Sages & Scientists conference in 2011. This conference was one of the highlights of my life – and not just because I showed up without a ticket and talked my way into a $2,000 event on sheer will and enthusiasm, but also because I felt like I’d finally found my metaphysical/scientific tribe. I just found the entire book online, but I’ve highlighted up the copy I have and I love keeping physical copies of my favorite books to flip through. Random passage:
“Slime molds thus are capable of specialization and cooperation under hunger conditions, if not otherwise. Note that we have now found hunger as the prod behind the cooperative evolution of nucleated cells, the invention of cooperative sexual reproduction, and the evolution of multicelled-creature cooperatives – all creative responses very different from the competitive struggle Darwin attributed to food shortages… Our present human process of globalizing seems to be forming us into a new planet-sized multi-creatured cell, in what we might call a fractal biology of repeating evolutionary patterns.”
Yeah, I’m a nerd. I love evolutionary biology, and I love unconventional ideas and outsider science. FYI, the whole competition/survival of the fittest model that we’ve been taught is incorrect; it’s misrepresentation of Darwin, who discusses cooperation, love and moral sensitivity MUCH more than competition. Darwin’s teachings were twisted and misconstrued for political and economic means – ie to support capitalism rather than communism. Anyways, back to our regular programming:
3. Gold eye powder – Super glittery metallic. I get compliments every time I wear it. One of the last cosmetics I’ve kept. By Sugarpill.
RELEASES: The five things I’m releasing today:
1. White blouse – Not that flattering or comfortable. Don’t love it.
2. Doll tank – Also not that flattering or comfortable. Don’t love it.
3. Nail polish – I’m done wearing nail polish. I don’t want the chemicals seeping into my flesh (as they do), and I don’t want to worry about upkeep. Simplify, simplify, simplify (this is also why I chopped off all my dyed hair. Natural is so much simpler!).
4. Old chap stick – Badger Creamy Coco Cocobutter Lip Balm is one of my favorite chap sticks ever. It doesn’t have any nasty chemicals, and it’s one of the rare chap sticks that doesn’t make my lips MORE chapped, like 80% of the chap sticks out there. – I love this stuff and I’m bummed that I’ve finally scraped the last remaining bits out of the tube with my thumbnail. I’ve been out of the
5. Shhh…it Happens Poo-Pourri bathroom spray – This is the best bathroom spray ever. Also non-chemically (made with essential oils), you spray it into the toilet before you go and it creates a ‘smell barrier.’ Totally works. But I haven’t used it since I got to Europe so time to let it go (I’m gonna donate it to the Academy).
See the full list here.
April 17, 2013
Today’s Five Releases
1. Nail file from yesterday – I realized I already had a metal nail file! So no need for this pink one.
2. Black top – Here at Ananda Europa there’s an attic where everyone puts the clothing and stuff they no longer want; I found this top there. It has the Gayatri Mantra written on it, which is one of my favorites chants. But, it’s too short (the top, not the chant). Out!
3. Book: Release Your Brilliance by Simon T. Bailey – I didn’t even recognize the synchronicity of this title. RELEASE! Ha!
“Seek the guidance of people who can help you live your assignment. Some people pass through your life, and others come into your life. Those who pass through will intersect with your life at a specific point in time or during a particular event. Be open to those who appear during these times. Whether or not you or they know it on a conscious level, their sole purpose is to help you reach the next level of fulfilling your Universal Assignment and releasing your brilliance.”
4. Book: El Principito by Antoine De Saint-Exupéry – I love the Little Prince. I bought this copy in Spanish in Argentina.
-No, pero puedo depositarlas en el banco.
-Qué quiere decir eso?
-Quiere decire que escribo en un papelito la cantidad de mis estrellas. Y después cierro el papelito, bajo llave, en un cajón.
I just realized who I’m going to give this to – a friend is doing the Camino del Santiago next month (and I would absolutely love to go with him…). I’ll give him this book to brush up on his Spanish!
5. Business cards – I got these cards ages ago when I started blogging. Actually they’ve got the same ship that you see at the top of the page. My name isn’t the same now so time to toss them.
Today’s Three Keeps
2. My Life Book – Get instructions on how to make your very own Life Book here: chinabrooks.com/life-book
AND I JUST discovered her little video of us working on our life books – that’s me on the floor back in 2011, I guess, cuz I was still blonde! (I didn’t even know this video was out there. Love it).
3. Manduka Eco Travel Yoga Mat – I love this mat. Most yoga mats are made with chemical crap, and they’re too thick or heavy to travel well with, or your hands slip. I’ve been traveling with and using this mat for a year and a half now and it’s still in great condition. Highly recommended!
In the video I talk about the process of releasing triggering the fear of abandonment – I originally heard the idea from Eloheim – see the video on clearing clutter here. Good wisdom.
Also in the video you saw some photos in my Life Book of the Abraham-Hicks cruise to Greece – I WANT TO GO ON THIS. Feel free to buy us both tickets!
April 15, 2013
Life is Choice. Choose what you don’t want. Choose what you do.
Your choices in this moment create your life.
What are you choosing?
(In this video I also show off a bit of the Italian springtime at the Academy of Art, Creativity & Consciousness and the surrounding Umbrian countryside).
Today’s Five Releases:
1. Mittens that someone gave me for the cold Italian winter. Winter’s over! Woo hoo!
2. Book: The Language of Soul, Harold Klemp, left to me by a friend who moved to Portugal.
3. Earplugs (I haven’t worn earplugs for 2 years. Bye bye).
4. Hat. I don’t love it. Also – WINTER’S OVER!
5. Robe from 1996ish. Yes, the 90′s.
Today’s Three Keepers:
1. Nacho Monkey, my travel buddy of the past 11 years that I originally bought at the Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory with my best buddy and fellow Italo-phile K one night after Italian class at the Italian Cultural Institute in Westwood, Los Angeles. That same evening K bought a little dog and named him Winchell after the donut joint. She and I loved eating nachos and late-night donuts after a few hours of dancing.
2. Teeny tiny Ganesha statue that I bought a few days ago here at Ananda. I love Ganesh and I love teeny tiny things!
3. Pocket belt from Esty which is one of the best things ever because I generally dislike purses and they’re impossible to dance with. This purse/belt perfectly fits my camera, cell phone.
“Release is necessary for growth, for space is needed for growth. And the truth that all of you share is that 5-10 years from now your lives will not be the same. Your energy will not be the same; your emotions will not be the same. So trust that. Trust that you are always moving, and that is as it should be.” ~ Zapharia/Lee Harris
April 14, 2013
“It takes a lot of courage to release the familiar and seemingly secure, to embrace the new. But there is no real security in what is no longer meaningful. There is more security in the adventurous and exciting, for in movement there is life, and in change there is power.” -Alan Cohen
Today I picked my first ‘five to release’ and ‘three to keep’ in my 30-day Challenge. Oddly enough, I discovered that picking the five to release was easier than choosing the three to keep.
The Five Releases:
1. An old black purse from Target that I’d kept so I’d have a decent-looking black bag for ‘nice’ occasions. But I never go to ‘nice’ occasions anymore, and I have my tan Mandarin Duck bag that’s nice enough if I ever do.
2. A box that someone gave me to store/organize jewelry supplies. It was originally a chocolate-covered date box from Abu Dhabi. The idea’s nice but it’s cardboard so not really sturdy enough.
3. A book called The Spirit of Prophecy from the Land of Assisi Refuge and Salvation by Massimo Coppo. A friend met this pilgrim man who was traveling through Assisi and selling this self-published book; to be nice he bought a copy, but since my Italian friend doesn’t read English very well, he gave it to me. At first I was excited by the gift, hoping it would have some profound truths, or at least some crazy ravings. But it’s not very interesting. Here’s an excerpt, picked at random:
“Well, this is what Marcello later wrote about his retreat, in a note for which some priests had pressed him, and which he first of all submitted to his confessor (who wanted it to be given the title: Fragments of a prophetic story which the Lord is accomplishing inthe land of Assisi”): “On the 15th August 1981, the feast of the Assumption, I withdrew myself for forty days, as it were into the desert, in the former barn of a farmhouse at Rocca Sant’Angelo… I wanted to imitate Jesus, Moses and St. Francis.”
4. A book called Un Indovino Mi Disse (A Fortune Teller Told Me) by Tiziano Terzani. This book sounds much more interesting. I found it in a book swap box by Santa Chiara church in the Bosco di San Francesco (St. Francis’ Woods).
“Warned by a Hong Kong fortune-teller not to risk flying for an entire year, Tiziano Terzani—a vastly experienced Asia correspondent—took what he called “the first step into an unknown world. . . . It turned out to be one of the most extraordinary years I have ever spent: I was marked for death, and instead I was reborn.”
However, I’ve had the book since November, and though I can read Italian, it takes a bit of effort, and if I haven’t read it yet I probably won’t. So I’m going to pass it on.
5. My very favorite very comfortable pair of Teva flip flops that I absolutely love. I think I’ve had these for five years (maybe more), and though there’s an ever-growing hole in the bottom of one of them, I still kinda want to keep them, just so I have a pair of flip flops for around the house. But I’ve decided to toss them and make room for a new pair – otherwise I never really think I NEED a new pair, as I’ve still got these disintegrating ones hanging out.
The three things I love that I’m choosing to keep:
1. A journal my friend Kalyani gave me for my birthday last month.
2. A compass and hematite necklace that I made.
3. A golden Ganesh and citrine necklace that I also made.
The keepers were harder to choose than the letting go-ofs because I really only want to keep things that I LOVE. And I realized while looking around that I have a lot of items that I’m ambivalent about.
Though I’m already having doubts about what I’m releasing – What if I need a black purse? (answer: I can borrow one from someone). What if I can’t find comfortable flip flops so far from REI? (answer: I’ll be fine even if I don’t own flip flops right now). What if it turns out I do want to read ‘Un indovino mi disse’? (answer: I can get it in English via Kindle).
I opened to a random passage in another book that I’m keeping for the moment. Here’s some poignant wisdom from Paramahansa Yogananda:
“It is rare to see a truly “free” man. Most people think they aer free, while their minds are utterly fettered by psychological chains. These are harder to get rid of than ordinary chains; for in their subtlety they are difficult even to recognize, not to speak of how to destroy them! It requires a great deal of knowledge to cut those psychological restraints.”
- from Journey to Self-Realization
I’m very aware of my self-imposed limits to how free I am. I’ve freed myself from a lot these past two years, but it’s a continual process of letting go. I feel that this challenge will give me a final solid push through the paper chains of my fears. At least, I hope so!