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

 

Keeps:

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!)

Happy LightLiving!

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Hiatus

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!!!*

This is like the chubbly 'before' picture...

This is like the chubbly ‘before’ picture… still working my way towards minimalism!

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!

Mashed potato clouds!!!

 

*(modern Alanis definition of irony)

I’m on Day 14 in my challenge to become physically/materially lighter – enlightened, if you will!

Today I was motivated to tackle my entire wardrobe. Audit time!

I didn’t choose five things to release or three things to keep – I pretty much just went through every item of clothing I own with the question:

Do I love this?

It’s pretty easy to tell if you LOVE something. If you don’t say YES, then you don’t LOVE it. Simple.

As I mention in the video, I would love to own just three of different clothing items – three long pants, three tanks, three sweaters, three long sleeve tops, etc. I edited out about half of my wardrobe and will be keeping it in a box until the end of the challenge to see if I can do without all the things I don’t love. I’ve also got a few pairs of paints that haven’t exactly been fitting for awhile, so if they don’t fit at the end of the Challenge they’re out.

In the video I promise the story of the blue dress.

It’s 2007ish. I’m on a business trip down to San Diego with my broker boss, a rather emotionally unstable recovering heroin addict (which I had no idea about at the time I took the job with him). Crazy people love me because I’m calm and I don’t abandon them; I suppose I love crazy people because I’m inspired by their grandiose visions and it makes me feel valuable to be “needed” and to be one of the few who are capable of working with them for more than three months. I’m breaking this karmic/familial pattern right now with a much more conscious visionary person I’ve been working with… Time to be my own non-crazy visionary.

Back to the recovering heroin addict.

We were down in San Diego for a meeting to negotiate the possible sale of a $350 million dollar shopping center near Disneyland. Yes, $350 million dollars. I stood to make almost $100,000 on the deal as assistant to the broker. Our buyer was the head of General Electric Acquisitions, and their main agent had taken a liking to me. This was about six months before the 2008 Great Real Estate Bust in the US; I knew it was coming a month later when our General Electric man informed us that all of GE’s purchasing activities had been frozen. Bad, bad news.

Anyways, before the storm came, we had this high-profile meeting, everything at that point going very well for us. It was a beautiful sunny summer San Diego day. After the meeting, my boss, who was supposed to be sober at the time, decided we should celebrate with Mexican food and a few drinks. I was down, but was horribly, horrendously uncomfortable in the business suit and heels that I was wearing. Yes, a business suit and heels. I HATE HATE HATE business suits and heels. I don’t know that I will ever put either on my body ever again for the rest of my life. At this point I’m pretty sure it’s highly improbable.

Eager to ditch my suit and heels, we wandered into Old Town in San Diego and I grabbed the first cute dress I could find – the blue strapless dress in the video – and a pair of white flip flops.

What followed was about 8 hours of guacamole and tequila in Old Town and Gaslamp (Downtown) San Diego. I will be forever grateful to my friend Kan who let us crash in her living room, and even slept on the couch with me (my boss on the floor) as I was afraid my incredibly inebriated boss would try to make a move, as he’d already blatantly hinted at few times during the evening.

I don’t really drink anymore; if I do it’s just a glass of good wine here in Italy. Definitely no more tequila. After writing that story out and considering the energy that comes with that bue dress, I think it’s time to let go of it.

While I was living with a wise woman in Patagonia a year ago, I learned about Native American traditions and spirituality, and I learned about the meanings of animals. This wise woman had a deck of cards and book about Animal ‘Medicine’, as the Native American teachings refer to it.

I think that anything that we use to bring meaning to our lives can be helpful – it can be belief systems, astrology, religion, ‘signs’ from the Universe/god, synchronicity, even science (what we think of as modern “science” has really become more like Scientism – just another set of beliefs that makes us feel safe). Anyways, it’s all about the meaning you give to these beliefs, and if you use these ‘clues’ as part of your personal growth, development and expansion.

Twice in the past month while recording videos, I’ve been interrupted by Bumblebees.

Back on March 10, 2013, I was recording a video out in front of the Academy of Art, Creativity & Consciousness in Italy on a beautiful spring day. I was talking about life, about figuring out my calling/purpose, and about attempting to  authentically follow my dreams and intuition.

Cue Bumblebee. Later that day I googled the meaning of Bumblebees and meant to blog about it, but never did.

Then again on April 18th a Bumblebee gets right up in my/your/our faces/the camera lens. Ok, ok, I’ll write about Bumblebees!

The fascinating thing is how synchronistically aligned the symbolism of the Bumblebee is with what I’d been talking about in the video, what my focus has been the last month or two (focus itself, and creativity), and the lifestyle I’m living (COMMUNITY! If you don’t know, I’m living in a spiritual community in Italy…).

Key words:

Focus

Action

Creative endeavors (hello making videos!)

Community

Personal power

 

 

The following info was gathered from various websites:

Bumble Bees are focused, industrious, powerful, loud, and proud.

Bee is the ancient symbol of good fortune, joy and harmony. In the dream world, bee comes as a gift from Spirit. He buzzes about in order to awaken us into the moment. Alert and aware, we see that life is sweet and filled with brightness, color and light. Bee also teaches us to engage fully in our creative endeavors. The key is to focus with intention and to be single-minded in purpose.

The bee symbolizes community, brightness and personal power. Follow the bee to discover your new destination.

The ancient Druids saw the bee as symbolising the sun, the Goddess, celebration, and community.

ALL bees are productive, they stay focused on whatever they are doing and do not get sidetracked from their goal.

They hold the power of service. Their movement from one plant to plant represents the interconnectedness of all living things. It’s their drive to contribute to the common good of the community that is noteworthy.  The bumblebee is a messenger bringing the secrets of life and service.

If this is your power animal and your energy is scattered, the bumblebee can show you how to become focused again.

If you are stung, the message here is – WAKE UP! Follow the rhythm of your own heartbeat. Listen to your true self, your higher self. Heed your inner voice and wisdom.

Ask for bumble bee help when:

•          You need help communicating with other people.

•          You question if you are aligned with your goals in life.

•          You wish to heed your inner voice and wisdom.

Access bumble bee power by…

•          Extracting the sweetness of life.

•          Being productive while the sun shines

•          Pursuing your dream, no matter how great it seems.

The meaning of bees in dreams speak of:

•          industry,

•          action,

•          communication, and

•          our ability to consciously choose the results we want in our lives

When we dream of bees it may be an indication that we are ready to communicate our spiritual gifts, or perhaps we should more clearly recognize the treasures that reside within us.

 

Fascinating stuff. So I encourage you: look into those little clues that the Universe gives you. If certain animals pop up often in your life, or in your dreams, google their meaning and symbolism. These clues and synchronicities might be mirrors of what you’re seeking to learn.

 

P.S. Random Wiki fact: Bumblebee colonies are often placed in greenhouse tomato production, because the frequency of buzzing that a bumblebee exhibits effectively releases tomato pollen.

Is that not AMAZING??!? That a FREQUENCY can release pollen from a PLANT??????

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

2. Fatima’s Eye necklace

3. Prayer Wheel necklace

4. Prayer Wheel necklace

6. Turquoise howlite necklace

Keeps:

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!)

Happy LightLiving!

Skip Day!

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.

Come visit!!! 😉

I did record a video today, but I’m unable to edit it because iMovie isn’t loading because…

My hard drive is full. Ha! Ain’t that ironic??

No, not really. It’s part of this whole clutter/hoarding pattern I have, that fear that makes me hold on. That pattern I’m working through with this challenge!

I’m starting to see that my clutter is slowly diminishing – my stack of books a few books shorter, a few less lipsticks in my toiletries bag. Slowly and surely… I’m the turtle of decluttering.

It’s almost midnight here in Italy, and I want to get in bed soon. Tomorrow I will transfer more photos to my quickly-filling terrabyte hard drive so I have enough disc space to run iMovie so I can make you more movies.

In the meantime, here are today’s lists:

Today’s Five Releases:

1. Orange Buddha statue – gift from a friend. Don’t love it, letting it go.

2. Lip balm – bought here in Assisi. I think it chaps my lips more. Out!

3. Book: The Little Flowers of St. Francis – Not even sure where I found this. St. Francis is awesome but not into reading the book. Bye!

4. Socks – another lovely gift from a friend who mailed these socks to me from KOREA! But I don’t wear socks. Gifting!

5. Hiking boots – I wore these frequently in Patagonia whilst I lived there for two months. – the rocky terrain was a bit much for my Vibrams and I was out of practice hiking. I used them so much I actually wore a hole in the bottom of the sole. Which actually isn’t all that impressive if you take into account how shoddy Argentine manufacturing is. Time to toss these.

Today’s Three Keeps:

1. Wool scarf – I wore this scarf almost every day this past winter in Italy. It’s my very favorite scarf for the following reasons: a. It matches my eyes! b. I bought it in one of the best cities ever, San Francisco! c. It’s made in Ireland, like my dad was d. it’s lambswool so it’s soft and super warm. Love it!

Love this scarf!

Love this scarf!

2. 1T External hard drive – I’m slowly transferring all (most) of my 14,000 pictures over onto it… so now I LOVE it. (please last forever, hard drive!!)

3. Typewriter messenger bag – I got this bag off of Etsy to put my laptop in. It’s got an awesome turquoise typewriter graphic over a global map. Love it.

Thanks for being on this journey with me! Two videos for you tomorrow!

– – –

Update – here’s the video!

 

Transitions

April 22, 2013

Today I touched a dead man’s hand.

It was softer than I expected – not rigid and cold, but seemingly still alive.

I thanked him. Thanked him for the beauty of his vision, for what he’d created on this planet, and for all the lives he’d touched, including my own.

I’d seen him alive, for the first time, almost exactly one month ago, March 17, 2013. I wasn’t sure what to expect, but when he began to speak I was moved to tears – he radiated love and joy, and as he shared simple messages of love and unity, he would himself be overcome with emotion, the power of his joy blocking his voice. Very old and slightly stooped, he mumbled his words, he told jokes, and he laughed as he looked slowly around the room. Pure love, joy, and light radiated from him.

And something inside me opened. I was suddenly aware of a deep terror within me that I’d never recognized – I was struck by the sad truth that I’ve always been afraid of stepping into my own wisdom and power. Something broke free within me, and I realized that it was time. It was time for me to become who I am.

This internal shift led quickly to a few external shifts that I’d been considering for some time beforehand – chopping off all my hair and changing my name being the two main ones.

This man was Swami Kriyananda, a direct disciple of Paramahansa Yogananda and the creator of the Ananda communities worldwide. He left his body today. I’m sure he’s now joyfully reunited with the Divine, and I’m sending love to all those who will miss him.

Today I am taking the day off from the LightLiving Challenge; will begin again tomorrow.

In today’s video I share my Five Releases and my Three Keeps, I share some gorgeous photos of Italy, and I also share some tears. I’m quite uncomfortable expressing fear or sadness and crying in front of other people; but as it’s my fears that got me crying this morning, I figured I might as well face one right away by posting a video about it!

Following your dreams is terrifying. And by following your dreams I mean follow your intuition, your heart path, and doing what you feel called to do, even if you don’t know why. I felt called to do this challenge and to make videos. This morning someone asked me what the point was – WHY was I doing this challenge? What is the point of making videos every day? What is my goal? Ie, How is this contributing to me figuring out my life and how to make a living??

And then all the fears came flooding out. I don’t know! I don’t know what I’m doing! I don’t know what’s going to happen! I don’t know how I’m going to pay bills! I don’t have answers. I’m just trying to do what I feel is truest for me, even if it makes no rational sense.

I have so many fears that I’m trying to work through. I’m trying not to just give up, to go back to the old secure and deadening life of regular paychecks and car insurance payments. Why is that such a huge question? Why do our entire lives focus around HOW WILL YOU MAKE MONEY? Money, a completely made-up thing… funny how something that’s just a belief can upset us so much.

When I was crying this morning (before the video), I sat there breathing through the fear/pain/sadness, breathing deep and strong, almost hyperventilating, my face tingling after a few minutes. I could feel the energy moving through me, my head hurting, my neck tense. I kept gulping air. And then it began to dissolve. It came back to me how I’d been taught as a child that it was wrong and shameful to cry. Growing up I’d always gone to my room alone, put some music on my headphones, and muffled my sobs into my teddy bear. I don’t think I  cried in front of any of my friends until I was into my twenties.

In the last week, a few odd things in my body have come up: My knuckle’s been hurting in an arthritis-y way for a little over a week. Three or four days ago I stubbed my pinkie toe on a rock so hard that it turned purple. I won’t subject you to a photo of my toe but let’s say that it swelled up and resembles a cherry. Or a purple grape.

Yesterday, I totally ate it while climbing down a hill and skinned my knees. I’m not usually klutzy. I’ve also been binging on chocolate and bread.

I realized that all of these things were signals for the underlying emotions bubbling below – subconscious attempts at distraction, sabotage, or getting my attention.

I checked my book “Heal Your Body” by Louis Hay to find out the meanings:

 

PROBLEM: Joints (Knuckle)

PROBABLE CAUSE: Represent changes in direction in life and the ease of these movements.

NEW THOUGHT PATTERN: I easily flow with change. My life is Divinely guided, and I am always going in the best direction.

 

PROBLEM: Toes

PROBABLE CAUSE: Represent the minor details of the future.

NEW THOUGHT PATTERN: All details take care of themselves.

 

PROBLEM: Knee

PROBABLE CAUSE: Represents pride and ego.

NEW THOUGHT PATTERN: I am flexible and flowing.

 

 

Well, there you go. 

So why share all this? Well, one, because it scares me, and I’m practicing doing things that scare me.  And two, if you’ve ever felt afraid or alone or confused, maybe this will help remind you that you’re not alone. There is no feeling or emotion that you’ll ever have that no one else has ever felt. We’re all in this crazy life game together, here to play being sad and fearful. It’s part and parcel with the pleasure and joy of being human.

One thing I will say about all this – I’m learning how to edit videos. I’m learning how to let go of more crap. I’m learning how to ‘ship’ stuff I create – blogs and videos – every single day. I’m learning to create and share  while caring less and less what others think of me.

And most importantly, I’m letting go. Of crap I don’t need, and also of some of my fear.

Thanks for joining me on this journey!

 

Today’s Release List:

1. Chemically shampoo

2. Sesame oil

3. Box

4. Book: Raja Yoga

5. Book: The Yeast Syndrome

 

Today’s Keep List:

1. Turquoise & gold earrings

2. Blue crystal earrings from the Dalai Lama in Milan, 2012

3. Buddha earrings from Fern’s Garden, Belmont Shore/Long Beach (the sell Jacob’s Wind chimes, which are the BEST wind chimes EVER).

Photo by me! Spring in Bloom, yesterday, Italy, 2013

Photo by me! Spring in Bloom, yesterday, Italy, 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