May 9, 2012
Advice on how to find more happiness in my life, from my 110-year-old self, who is colorfully dressed, quirky, lives in an adorable house, has traveled the world and created joy and beauty and has a wonderfully smile-creased face. She also still does yoga and is quite limber.
31*-year-old Michelle, here is my advice to you:
Don’t worry so much. Don’t be so scared. Everything works out perfectly.
Live your own truth – protect your body and your mind – they’re the only things that will stay with you your whole life. Well, your mind might go, but you’re stuck in this body. Nothing else stays – not your spouse, children, clothing or friends, not your house or your money or your pets. Don’t drink. Don’t eat toxic crap. Don’t burn your neurons up on drugs that aren’t even that much fun.
Listen to yourself. You already know all the answers. You don’t even have to ask anyone else.
Stop sleeping with guys. It won’t give you the connection you’re looking for. Only you can give that to yourself. Save your emotional, sexual, and mental energy for someone who will reflect it back to you evenly and is committed to co-creating more of it with you. Otherwise it’s a slow leak. You’re never gonna fill your hot air balloon enough to lift you to your highest heights unless you conserve all of that precious, lovely energy you create. Look at all that emotional energy that’s been drained out of you by boys. Not their fault, they were (mostly) sweethearts, but you know you don’t need it.
Feel your feelings, mourn your sadness, and don’t be afraid of pain. You’re strong. You can take any amount of pain, and you are so wonderful and creative that you know how to catalyze that pain into growth and learning and ultimately, more happiness. So rejoice in pain. When you feel pain you know you’ve got a golden opportunity for heart and soul growth. You’re one lucky bitch.
You ARE one lucky bitch. Everything always works out in your favor. And I mean everything. The universe truly smiles on us. You are sooo lucky that you got this beautiful charmed life. Enjoy it, trust it. You are loved and supported always.
Live beyond your fears. Squeeze every last bit of love and joy out of this sucker. What’s there to be afraid of? You’re immortal. Your fears are just psychological constructs, remnants of the lizard brain that thinks that if you make a wrong move, you’re caput. Well guess what – #1. You won’t die of ANY of the things you’re afraid of, like honesty and karaoke and vulnerability and having messy feelings and looking like an idiot fool, and #2. There are no wrong choices. So go ahead and follow your impulses – do whatever the hell it is that you want to do. It’s your life, there are no wrong choices, and NONE of the choices you make are gonna kill you.
Love more. Love more. Love more. ESPECIALLY yourself. You are gorgeous, sweet, talented, kind, intelligent, caring, trustworthy, dependable, strong, loyal. ANY person is lucky to have you in their lives, and you are lucky to have a great travelling partner like yourself. So love yourself more, every day, as much as your huge heart can.
Create. Creation is your intellect combined with attention combined with love combined with divine spirit. The things you create are as beautiful as you are, because you have a beautiful soul. So you are creating beauty and sharing it with the world – what better gift could you possibly give? Your creation is your love made manifest. And you’ve got a lot of it. The only thing that stops creation is fear. Don’t let fear win. Don’t listen to it. NONE of it is real.
Prioritize. This life is long and it is short. Spend it doing what makes you happy. Figure out what those things are and build a map for your life based on that. Otherwise you’ll end up living someone else’s version of happiness (or fear). That’s a waste of your beautiful life.
Accept the now. Be grateful for the good (and there’s a lot). Release your fears. And trust that everything will work out perfectly. It always did.
*I am now 33; I wrote this back in 2010 or 2011 while while on retreat at the Metta Forest Monastery near San Diego, CA. Apparently I meant to post it to my other blog, www.amicamore.com, but never did. I’m so glad I found it, and I’m glad to report I have taken my own advice – I stopped sleeping around and drinking since this writing.
April 23, 2012
“We’re making tortas fritas out front! You want a fresh one??” Anne hollered up to my loft above the kitchen, where I was attempting to meditate. Though yes, I did want a fresh torta frita (fried bread, kind of like a savory donut), I declined in order to continue my meditation. “Ella no sabe lo que está perdiendo!” Jorge shouted. She doesn’t know what she’s missing! But then I heard Ginny whistle from her bedroom, and Anne was already back outside, so I climbed down my ladder to help Ginny into her wheelchair and we rolled to the fire outside. Anne and Jorge were flattening balls of dough and tossing them into a pot of hot frying oil over the fire, and Emilio was serving maté to everyone. It was chilly out, the tips of my fingers numb, but the hot tortas fritas and maté helped enliven them. I ran back inside to get some local honey to put on the tortas, which taste like fried biscuits, and we sat around the fire, chatting in broken Castellano (Spanish) and English and laughing.
A bit later Anne, Ginny and I climbed into the truck, throwing Ginny’s wheelchair in the truckbed next to the canisters of diesel fuel – there’s no gas station in town, and often the gas station the next town over doesn’t have any gas to sell. We were going to the one year anniversary party of the Bomberos Voluntarios de El Huecú – The Volunteer Firefighters of El Huecú. We went to the main plaza of town, a grassy square with pine trees. In the middle townspeople and Bomberos were taking photos, milling about, and there was music blasting over the speakers. We kissed a bunch of people on the cheeks – Como anda? Bien! – until it was time to head to the cheif volunteer firefighter’s house for an asado. Ginny had donated a goat for the BBQ, along with a few other estancias. There were about 50 or 60 people there, and many goats flayed open and strung up like Jesus on the cross to cook over the open fire. There were also fresh-fried empanadas, potato salad, cabbage and tomato salad, chimichurri sauce.
I noticed a man with a plastic container pouring something onto his beef and egg empanada before he took each bite. “What is that guy pouring on his empanada?” Anne: “I think it’s chimichurri sauce… Oh no, wait. Oh no. Oh God. It’s sugar.” We burst out laughing. An hour earlier we’d been making fun of how everything in Argentina has sugar in it. EVERYTHING. The coffee grounds come with sugar in them. When someone’s talking about juice here, what they mean is Tang. Workers don’t want water; they want Fanta. If it’s not sugar, it’s salt. I took a bite of one of the salads at the asado – super salty. Too salty for a second bite.
Finally, the moment we’d eagerly been waiting for – the goats were done BBQing. Women came around with big trays of goat meat, goat ribs, goat fat. I got a piece of meat attached to a vertebrae. The skin was crunchy, the meat delicious – like beef but juicier, fattier. Anne grabbed for her favorite, a rib. “Wait… is this a rib? What is this? It’s got a joint.” She examined it, puzzled, and flexed it, showing it to a large local woman sitting across from us. “Cola.” Tail. It was a goat tail. “Oh… hmm. Um.. It tastes very… goat-y.”
The three of us cut out before the cake painted with flames was served – Ginny needs her siesta! – and walked/rolled across the dirt street, where someone had a padrillo – stallion – for sale that Ginny wanted to check out. The man disappeared into a small wooden stable, from which the noises of a monster emitted. After a few more minutes of ominous sounds coming from the stable, a big muscular horse shot out, white with grey dapples and a black Gladiator mohawk.
We had some close calls at being trampled or kicked by this horse on steroids, and he even bucked a few times for us, but I was too busy trying stay out of the way to get a good picture of that. I thought he was beautiful, but Ginny didn’t get that “have to have him” feeling, so we loaded her back into the truck and drove slowly home alongside the wide, dry riverbed.
March 11, 2012
I know I’ve done a horrible job at sharing Argentina with you via this blog. Not to mention my road trip across the US last summer. I was reviewing some photos and video last night, and there are some beautiful ones. Perhaps someday when I’m bored and have absolutely nothing to do, I will finally disinter those photos and videos for you. But considering the infinitude of interestingness on the interwebs, and immediate access to practically every book known to man on my Kindle, I’m not sure if that’s realistic.
Anyways, as far as Argentina goes at least, I’d like to make it up to you by directing you to my friend’s blog, Go!Dream!Live! No wait, it’s Dream!Go!Live! Which, when delivered to my inbox, I always read as “dreamg olive”. She does what I aspire to do – consistently shares her experience and photos of life in Buenos Aires.
It’s not that I haven’t been writing. I have been writing, lots, every day. I just haven’t been converting any of that into bloggage. I think I just need to get back into the habit of posting, and the only way I’ve successfully made habits for myself is by doing Challenges. But I’ve been focusing on the No Sugar Challenge. One at a time.
So! The No Sugar Challenge!!! On March 13th, in two days, I will have officially and successfully completed 30 days of No Sugar. This is, by a long shot, the longest I have ever gone without eating refined sugar.
What did this lack of sugar do? (And coffee – I didn’t really drink coffee at this time either, as they pretty much go together for me – I can drink coffee black, but here in Buenos Aires coffee means medialunas or cookies, and those were definitely out).
-Skin: My skin cleared up. The acne and little bumps I get, especially on my forehead, have pretty much gone away, and my psoriasis is less red. However, I did up my dairy intake exponentially while not eating sugar, so I continue to have a few pimples around my jawline and my psoriasis didn’t fully clear.
-Energy: I started waking up earlier. 5:30am most days. I love getting up early, and I love not feeling groggy. That could be as much from stopping coffee as from stopping sugar. This past week I’ve been feeling exceptionally exhausted, but I think that’s mostly due to the intensity of the Vipassana course I did last week, and a lot of emotional processing I’ve been doing. And, probably, my body trying to digest all the cheese.
-Weight: I lost a little weight, but not much, due to the large quantities of cheese and organic yogurt (sugar-free) that I’ve been eating. And steak, and pizza… I met a wonderful Dutch girl at Vipassana and during her four days in Buenos Aires I HAD to take her to all the best food spots. Of course. And, um, I bought a beautiful book called Pizzerias de Buenos Aires…
Oh and near the end of the month I also found that amazing raw sugar-free chocolate at Buenos Aires Verde, and a few days ago discovered sugar-free helado at Juaja, my favorite of which is the lemon ginger. YUM!
-Clarity/Mood: I have a lot more clarity when I’m not eating sugar – clarity as to what I want in life, what really makes me happy, insights into myself and others. Last time I gave up alcohol/sugar for a few weeks, a series of events occurred that led to me leaving Los Angeles and moving to Argentina. And this time, a series of events occurred that led to me making plans to move to Patagonia. Anyways there’s increasing research about the drug-like negative effects of sugar on your mood and body, and things react differently with different people. I definitely have a negative reaction to sugar. I’m aware of this. It doesn’t mean I won’t be eating sugar on March 13th – I will! – but I hope that sugar (like alcohol) will become an increasingly rare addition to my diet.
I love not eating sugar. I also love eating sugar. So, that’s that.
And aside from the dairy and sugar-free treats, 70% of my diet this month has been fruits and veggies, so that’s awesome. I’m quite proud that I went a whole month without caving to medialunas or the apple crumble and dulce de leche they had the last day of Vipassana, or the other things that tempted me every day of the last month.
As I was saying at the beginning, my apologies for not having shared more of my journey with you up to this point. I’ll be posting some photos and maybe a video tour of my current home here in BA, and hopefully filling you in on some of the best eateries and cafes (like the very photogenic Bardepan). My 33rd birthday is next week and a friend is flying down from San Francisco; we’ll be revisiting all of my favorite things about BA before heading down to Patagonia.
Love and light and cheese!
February 22, 2012
Along with giving up sugar (and, I just realized, all other intoxicants, ie coffee) I’ve decided to give up commitments, obligations, guilt and shame.
It’s been magical. Yesterday was one of the best days of my life.
More to come – I’m working on a couple of drafts simultaneously – but I had to share these quotes I found on a website that details how to live on a boat:
One of the most tragic things
I know about human nature
is that all of us tend to put off living.
We are all dreaming of some
magical rose garden over the horizon
instead of enjoying the roses that are blooming
outside our windows today.
- Dale Carnegie
I like to walk about among
the beautiful things that adorn the world;
but private wealth I should decline,
or any sort of personal possessions,
because they would take away my liberty.
- George Santayana
February 19, 2012
I’ve been refined sugar-free for six days now!
I’m feeling happier. I think there are two reasons: 1. Sugar causes mood swings and 2. I’m not hating on myself for sugar binging or not acting in integrity with what I want to be: healthy.
The cravings haven’t been too bad. I did eat a lot of dried fruit and nuts the first few days, and I’m eating more dairy than I usually do (which is barely any). But I’m ok with that!
Yesterday I bought some freshly-made organic yogurt and honey from the El Galpon Farmer’s Market in the Chacarita neighborhood of Buenos Aires (the only place I know of where you can get organic stuff in BA…). The yogurt comes in a big beautiful bottle and was delish with the super-dark grainy honey:
Yes, honey’s technically a sugar but, unlike refined sugar, honey’s not toxic to your system, doesn’t cause dramatic blood sugar spikes (it may actually IMPROVE blood sugar control) and has an insane number of health benefits: it’s anti-fungal, anti-bacterial, and anti-viral. You can use it to help heal burns and wounds, you can use it on your face to clear up acne (which I do occassionally). It can help with sore throats, allergies, even weight loss! As I’m reading more about honey the list is getting way too long (athletic performance, free radicals, cholesterol, immune system, anti-cancer…jeez!) so for more info check it here and here and here. (I’m pretty sure all of these are from raw honey, not the honey you by in a regular store, which is probably counterfeit honey from China.*)
Unfortunately, according to one of those honey sites, the answer to the question “How much honey can I eat every day?” is NOT “Eat as much as you can.” Damn.
Even the Bible mentions honey, according to the editors of Wikipedia. Funny honey quote:
“While Jonathan was passing through the woods during the war against the Philistines, he found honey dripping on the ground; he plunged his spear into it, and ate enough to restore his lost strength. He was, however, sentenced to death because he ate honey on a day of abstinence”.
So, this next part has nothing to do with sugar or honey, but… Well, actually, it does, in a roundabout way.
Some of my favorite bits:
“All those paths lead to one answer “we are all one and our only job is to be unconditional love and remember”.
It’s all in the remembering… From broken and alone to whole and complete and part of the whole that is The Uni-verse…
I am broken when I forget and whole and complete when I remember.”
Mollie’s bio led me to google the documentary she produced, May I be Frank, a documentary “exploring the transformations possible through healthy eating and positive thinking”:
Which looks AMAZING.
So, to tie this all together – I’m pretty sure Frank was eating way too much sugar. I haven’t seen the entire movie yet, so maybe honey even played a roll in his transformation.
I think we’d all do a little better with less sugar, more honey!
*If you are getting your honey from Walmart, Target, Cost Plus, Sam’s Club, Walgreen’s, Rite Aid, CVS, or individual packets from Smucker’s, McDonalds or KFC, there is a 70-100% chance that it’s not actually honey, as defined by the food industry (containing pollen), and could be watered down with high fructose corn syrup. Trader Joe’s honey, thank goodness, is legit.
February 13, 2012
I am addicted to sugar. I never felt truly addicted to smoking or alcohol or drugs – none of which I put in my body anymore – but sugar still kicks my ass. Anyone who’s followed my blog these last few years has read about my trails and tribulations with sugar many, many times.
I am also allergic to sugar. It makes my system acidic, causing inflammation, which makes me break out (little tiny pimples all over my face) and contributes to flare-ups of psoriasis. I’ve had psoriasis consistently for almost two years now.
I’ve given up sugar a few times in the past, but never made it longer than a few weeks. I tried again at the beginning of 2012, but after 6 days (during which I felt amazing) I caved and went back to my cycle of sugar binging.
So this time, I’ve decided to place a wager. I’ve bet my friend China Brooks that I can go 30 days without eating refined sugar, starting today. She also is going sugar-free, and if either of us give into temptation during the 30 days, we have to Paypal the other $25. I don’t generally make bets but I’m pretty sure I’m too proud and stubborn to lose one.
Many people are unaware of the truth about sugar – how addictive it is, how toxic it is, and how prevalent it is in processed foods. I’ve experienced the physical, emotional and spiritual gains that come with giving it up. I’ll be exploring these over the next 30 days as I share my experiences and struggles and, hopefully, win my bet.
December 7, 2011
Most days here in Buenos Aires I feel like I’m doing a triathlon – yoga, biking, running, walking for miles. All of this exercise, of course, justifies the occasional sugar overload. Today after my morning bike/run with a friend we shared french toast, a pear muffin, and an alfajor filled with 2 inches of Dulce de Leche. I only felt a little sick afterwards…
November 15, 2011
The jacarandas are blooming here – spurts of vibrant purple; squishy flowers blanketing the sidewalks. Makes me feel at home, like I’m back in LA. A strange LA.
The school uniform for some children is a white knee-length coat. This makes them look like little mad scientists.
When you order a cup of coffee, it comes with a shot of sparkling water and a little cookie (or some kind of candy, candied orange peel, or chocolate). It’s like snack time.
A young fit-looking dog walker passed by the window of my favorite cafe. She had 14 dogs leashed to her. Big dogs – Burmese Mountain Dogs, Golden Retrievers, Black Labs. A moving mass of fur.
Whenever you leave an apartment building here, you have to have a key to unlock the front doors to get out. Seems dangerous to me.
Walking along residential streets you often come across small booths with windows, about the size of a porta potty. Homeowners on the block hire guards to man these booths and watch over their property. The guards just sit in the booths all day. But at night, the booths are empty…
Breakfast here is coffee and bread – normally a couple of medialunas, mini croissants. Or a combo: today my combo breakfast came with a selection of muffin, pastry, and toast. I had a banana muffin, a chocolate croissant, and two slices of perfectly toasted freshly baked bread, with sour tangy cream cheese and some kind of fruit preserve that I can’t quite make out – passionfruit? It almost tastes like sweet sun-dried tomatoes…
The Argentine diet seems to consist of meat, pastries, and dulce de leche. Yet only 18% are obese, and 50% are overweight – much less than in the US. Is it smaller portions? Periodic skipping of meals? More walking and use of public transportation?
You can sit in a cafe for hours without being bothered, or talked to, or looked at, by a waiter. For them to come over, you must flag them down. Which can be nice, or can be annoying, depending on how much of a hurry you’re in.