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!)
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!
April 13, 2013
I’ve been a nomad for almost two years now and I still feel like I’ve got too much stuff.
It’s weighing me down and I’m ready to shift. Time to take clutter-clearing to the next level!
I’ve been stalking minimalist bloggers online for years – there’s the ‘100 Things‘ Challenge, where you try to get the items you own down to 100; there’s minimalist fashion, where you choose 33 clothing items to wear for 3 months.
But I’m gonna do it my own way.
I will also be recording a video every day to share the process with you, delving into the psychological reasons for clutter and holding on. (And you get to see all my junk!)
The video part will be especially challenged as I’ve never really vlogged, but China Mae Brooks is one of my vloggy inspirations and lately I’ve been feeling compelled to start vlogging. (Plus I’m living in Italy and it’s springtime and you should really enjoy it with me).
So that’s that.
I want to be lighter, freer, clearer.
Love lets go when fear wants to hold on.
I Choose to Let Go.
April 13, 2013
Just in case you don’t already know this, Satan exists.
And its current name is Monsanto.
I’m now in a place (emotionally and spiritually) where I can hear/read about Monsanto without having a nervous breakdown (as I did in January 2011, though I probably didn’t mention it to you as it was a small one).
Why am I talking about this depressing topic? Well, the ElephantJournal article “Monsanto: The Most Evil Company in the Universe” showed up in my twitter feed today.
And you know what? I was ready. I was ready to face it. I feel strong enough in myself at this moment that I knew I wouldn’t start crying or get utterly depressed. I was ready to shift on this topic.
Though I’ve tried to avoid it the past year or two, I was actually thinking about Monsanto around the time of my birthday last month. I am doing Creative Life Coaching sessions with Lakshmi (she’s amazing) and she mentioned that the topics that upset us most can show us where our passions lie, and hence the direction to move in in our lives – our purpose for being here on the planet on this go-’round.
I wrote the word “Monsanto” in my notes; at the end of our session I copy/pasted/Skyped my responses to her questions and exercises and sent them back to her.
Lakshmi lives in Portugal; much of Portugal is GMO-Free, and Lakshmi hadn’t heard of the corporation Monsanto.
So when she saw the word she thought I was talking about the Portuguese town of Monsanto – which I, on the other hand, had never heard of, but had seen a photo of once.
Here’s some crazy synchronicity:
This town Monsanto in Portugal is pretty much THE COOLEST PLACE I HAVE EVER SEEN.
IT’S BUILD INTO/WITH BOULDERS!
You don’t even understand. Aside from living in a tree house (see my post on how I Want To Live In a Tree Boat House – yes I made it up), living in boulders is pretty much my wet dream. I’ve loved rocks since I can remember, I grew up bouldering in Southern California, and I have spent hours clamoring over and sprawled across boulders. I don’t really understand why, but I love boulders big time.
So when I saw how this heavy word, THE most upsetting word in the human language (for me anyways) could be shifted in an instant to something so unbelievably cool that I hadn’t even known had existed -
This gave me hope.
Hope that I could overcome the rage/fury/terror that would come up when I heard or saw the word Monsanto.
Because now I know a secret. That yes, Monsanto is a horrible evil life-threatening monster that is overrunning the globe and polluting nature with man’s hubristic fiddling (and the results of man’s hubristic fiddlings are never good; the Greeks knew that).
But now I know that when I think of Monsanto the horror, I can ALSO think of Monsanto the Magical. Monsanto the Magical Boulder Town, which I will someday visit, I sweartogod, if not possibly live.
Anyways, what do we do when faced with the satanic behemoth monster that is called Monsanto, the one that helped make the nuclear bomb and agent orange and DMT and bovine growth hormone?
Here’s what we do:
1. We educate ourselves as to what vendors sell/products are made using Genetically Modified Organisms and we consciously choose to stop “feeding” them with our money energy (I’m sorry to tell you that Whole Foods surrendered to Monsanto back in 2011, hence my breakdown).
2. We learn to grow our own food.
3. We create local and independent seed banks to protect and share naturally-occurring heirloom seeds.
4. And we enjoy the f#@% out of our delicious, local, organic food.
And then, we all go visit Portugal.
February 19, 2013
Last year a friend introduced me to a website called Penzu, an online diary. I wrote only one entry, on the eve of my 33rd birthday. At the time I was living in Buenos Aires, and since the seasons are flipped in the Southern Hemisphere, it was the end of summer/beginning of fall.
Here’s that entry, unedited:
Sitting cross legged, slightly damp, on my slightly stinky and sticky pink yoga mat. The birds are rustling and clucking in the leaves that climb the walls around me. The sky is a pale blue above, cloudless, knowing. The cicadas shreik intermittently, the crickets calm and consistent in the background. The brakes of buses squeak in a tire shape, traffic hisses by. My forearms are sore from yoga yesterday with the serious and intense spanish-speaking instructor who smashed a giant cockroach with a wood-colored yoga block. I feel the tightness of my hips stretching down over my knees and into my shins. The dove calls actively, seeking a response. A plane roars overhead – it must be loud at the distance for me to hear its rumble so easily from the ground. The air moves like someone’s walking past, cool on my upper lip. A bus acellerates. I don’t remember how to spell acellerate. How many words should I write? I suddenly crave coffee; the smell of cinnamon haunts my tongue. I remember mornings in Miracle Mile, at the Hauser. I would go to the gym or for a walk in the park; on the way home I’d stop at Organics to Go. They had the best-tasting coffee I’d ever had. No bitter, not burnt, not stale. Smooth, rich, soothing. I’d put a splash of half and half, half a packet of sugar, and cinnamon, bumping the cannister gently so as not to overwhelm the coffee. The fine powder would float in the air. I’d swirl the coffee with a wooden stick, always feeling a tinge of guilt to immediately toss the stick, used for 2.3 seconds, into the garbage; though the garbage was separated and labeled for recycling. I’d begin the walk home, sucking coffee through the little hole on the lid, filling my senses – my nose, my mouth – with the fragrance and spice of the mild cinnamon coffee, the cream, the sugar. I would feel comfort, relief from the facts: I was 31, I was alone, I didn’t know what I wanted or where I was going in the world, I made myself hate my job by framing it as a trap, a struggle, something to rebel against, something I couldn’t free myself from.
A loud bird is rasping. It could be a cicada… Oh yes, it is. The volume on these babies is incredible. He does the build-up, the separate calls, getting closer and closer, until he unleashes one loud long scream. I wonder if he makes that sound with his legs, his wings, his mouth, his throat? What mechanism enables him to produce that vibration, and to expand it at that level?
I am moving to Patagonia. The doubts have been visting. Was I wrong to stop working with Jonas? Am I just running away, giving up, refusing to take action yet again in my life, refusing to do anything challenging and uncomfortable? No matter. I’ve made the choice. I will continue to learn and expand at the pace that I choose. I invite trust, faith. It’s a constant choice, a re-programming into appreciation, ease, joy. I don’t want to struggle anymore. I don’t want to fight. I want to allow. I want to accept. I want to appreciate.
Today Kelly arrives. I must shower, I’d like to drop off my laundry, and then catch a bus to the airport. Her flight is on time. I wonder how long it will take to go through customs. I wonder how much of the stuff she received. I wonder if she’ll have Jonas’s microphone screen. I wonder if she’ll have my boots. I’ve accepted the fact that she might not have the screen, the boots, the largest package from Amazon with my speakers and wifebeaters and lotion.
I’m trusting that money will work out, as it always does. I choose not to stress. I choose not to dwell in the negative. I choose to hire my team of Angels and trust them to handle it. I choose ease, release, joy, trust, faith.
That other site said 750 words. I could go for 750 initially. Or even a thousand? Let’s do 750 for now. The site says 750 is three pages. Three Artist’s Pages. Did that help me? I’m not sure I did. When I got to the magical spot in 2011 I’d been doing rampages of appreciation for a month or two, Abraham’s Vortex meditations and Vortex work. I do feel that I need morning rituals to keep me on the positive, life-clearing and affirming path; or I fall back into fear, self-loathing, guilt, etc.
September 25, 2012
Today I did something I’ve been wanting to do for 12 years.
I climbed to the top of the Cupola, the dome of the Duomo in Florence, Italy. 463 steps up.
For once in my life, I have no photos. I somehow forgot my camera at the Academy in Assisi, so the Radiohead concert, this week in Florence, and the Duomo climb are undocumented. Most of you know that I loooove to take photos, but it’s been a refreshing change to just be totally present for life instead of looking at everything through a 3″ screen. The world is more holistic.
I arrived at the Duomo at 8:15am in order to avoid the crowds. I took the bus from my couchsurfing host Dario’s house, using a trick he showed me – I bought a bus ticket with my cell phone. With my cell phone!!! What you do is send a text with the letters “ataf” to 4880105. It texts you a ticket and charges 1.20 Euros to your phone. The virtual bus ticket is good for 90 minutes.
I love technology.
There is no technology at the Cupola. No new technology anyways. Ie, no elevators.
The entrance to climb the Cupola is on the left side of the cathedral when you’re facing the front, and it costs 8 Euros. There was a group of about 20 dewy-faced German girls in front of me, and a Taiwanese woman wearing heels. She exclaimed over my Vibram Fivefinger barefoot shoes, as did a few other people I met during the climb. They all agreed that my footwear was the most suitable for the occasion.
We all huffed and puffed and worked up a sweat – I consider myself to be in fairly good shape but this was a workout. Not recommended for claustrophobics. It was fascinating being inside the sides of the dome itself – you could see the walls curving overhead within arm’s reach overhead – and there are walkways that ring in interior of the dome so you can check out the details of the frescos of naked people getting their skin flayed open and being strangled by pitchfork-wielding devils and demons. There are also depictions of heaven and cherubs and god and all that, but the hell scenes are much more fun.
Construction on the dome was started in 1420 and completed in 1434, making the Cupola 578 years old. FIVE HUNDRED AND SEVENTY EIGHT YEARS OLD!!! The Duomo (the whole cathedral) is even older, started in 1296. From the pavement to the top of the dome is almost 300 feet, about a 30 story building (no wonder we were huffing and puffing).
It wasn’t as windy as I expected at the top. The sun was still low in the east and there were few clouds in the sky. The giant shadow of the Cupola stretched west across Firenze, and I felt a bit bad for the people who lived in its shadow and probably don’t get any direct light until almost midday.
Chaotic harmony is what Firenze looks like from above. The colors are uniform – warm golds and yellows, umber and sienna and terra cotta. But the architecture is chaos. Hundreds – thousands? – of years of building on top of buildings, chopping down neighboring towers, adding on rooms and passageways. Done with skill and a strong aesthetic, but still chaotic.
I spent a long time up there, longer than the German girls or the Taiwanese woman in heels. I wasn’t taking photos, obviously, as I was without camera. I just absorbed it. I tuned into the presence of the city. I identified all the buildings I knew, and picked out the general area of the apartments I’d lived in on Via San Zanobi in 2000 and 2001. I stared at the towers on the hillsides I remember staring at and sketching in art class so many years ago. I watched the early sunlight reflecting like shining liquid silver off the Arno river. At one point my eyes filled with tears at a wave of joy and gratitude that surged within – the joy of being in Italy, the joy of this wonderful life. High up above in the center of it all, I felt love. I’ve loved Florence since I set foot in it in 1997, at age 18, and its consistent reliability, its beautiful lack of change, is reassuring, intimately familiar, calming.
And then the bells began to ring, all around me, from Santa Croce Basilica, from San Lorenzo. 9am. They rang as they have for hundreds – thousands – of years, as they will for hundreds – thousands – of years more.