One Year Ago Today

June 11, 2013

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Monday, June 11, 2012:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Starting with myself.

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

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

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

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

 

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

Advertisements

Super Tramp Nomad Life

September 24, 2012

I wrote this post about four months ago, but like many maaaaany blog posts I’ve written, it’s been languishing in my Drafts folder awaiting further editing. Well, I’m in Florence now, and I don’t feel like editing – I feel like going out into the summer rain and getting some gelato. So that’s what I’m doing. Please excuse the unedited rambling, says the perfectionist.

May or June, 2012, El Huecu, Argentina:

One of my oldest friends has been traveling the world since November of 2010. The other day on Facebook she posted a photo of a beach in Sri Lanka, white sanded and turquoised watered, palm trees in the distance and a few puffs of cloud in a pale blue sky, a surf board stuck in the sand. The caption: “The view from my office; busy day.” Someone asked, “Your office? What are you doing out there?” And she replied, “I’m a hobo.”

A hobo. Wiki says the word “may come from the term hoe-boy meaning “farmhand,” or a greeting such as Ho, boy!… or from the railroad greeting, “Ho, beau!” or a syllabic abbreviation of “homeward bound”.

Writer H. L. Mencken wrote this:

Tramps and hobos are commonly lumped together, but in their own sight they are sharply differentiated. A hobo or bo is simply a migratory laborer; he may take some longish holidays, but soon or late he returns to work. A tramp never works if it can be avoided; he simply travels. Lower than either is the bum, who neither works nor travels, save when impelled to motion by the police.”

I’m not sure if she’s a hobo or a tramp. It’s a shame tramp has taken on a negative connotation. I want to be a tramp! Or do I?

Being a hobo has definitely simplified my life. I’ve let go of a lot of my possessions and I’ve learned that I can live with less and less.
I feel content where I am right now, with my life right now.

Though I’m the most content I’ve ever been, there are a few small things I still struggle with: I am still working out procrastination blocks, especially when it comes to painting and writing, and I’m not currently living my intention to meditate two hours a day – one in the morning yes, but that second evening hour hasn’t happened more than a few times. I haven’t rolled out my yoga mat since I left Buenos Aires (I haven’t shaved my legs or armpits either, which is kind of awesome). I’m also eating more than my body needs, out of avoidance and self-soothing.

But I’m practicing acceptance. I saw a quote by Thich Nhat Hanh the other day that resonated with what I’ve been coming to comprehend – ‎”To be beautiful means to be yourself. You don’t need to be accepted by others. You need to accept yourself.”

A woman that I met here in Patagonia, who lives on a beautiful remote ranch, was wondering – does being out here in the middle of nowhere make people crazy and eccentric, or are the crazy and eccentric ones the ones who are drawn to this kind of life? And I wondered – crazy and eccentric compared to what? Eccentric, ex-centric, deviating from the circle, not having the same center. The same center as society? And of course we don’t all have the same center – our hearts and souls call each of us to our own paths, our own hero’s journeys and personal legends.

This song found me the other day as I was laying on some rocks and watching the clouds:

Ella sings of the murmur of the cottonwood trees that you see here in Patagonia, brought to Argentina by settlers, the only plant around here that’s taller than two feet. Cottonwoods, or alamos, reach straight up, towering three stories above the flat desert floor, crowding around ranches. ‘Don’t fence me in’ could be talking about physically being fenced in, but I think what’s more poignant is the longing for emotional freedom – to not be emotionally and psychologically fenced in, trapped by the opinions, expectations and judgements of others; and by the internalized fears and limitations that have been programmed into you.

It seems to me that out here, away from the crush of the judgment and opinons of the “normal” world, people are able to truly be themselves. They’re free. They’re not subject to what others think of them, and they have the freedom be wholly, unlimitedly, crazily, eccentrically themselves.

Homeward bound, searching for that center within, our souls,

We can only be free by accepting ourselves, and loving ourselves – hobo, tramp, whatever.

IMG_1093

I find the worst things inmy life are my fears, my internal limitations that keep me stuck, that keep me suffering. The Buddhist word for suffering literally translates to ‘a stuck wheel.’ I am afraid, so I don’t do, nad then I paradoxically create the exact situation I was trying to avoid. My avoidance creates the suffering, the discomfort, the negative consequences I’m trying to hide from, that my fear is trying to protect me from. You are the only one who can fence you in.

“Las Unicas Barreras Son Mentales” Buenos Aires, Jan 2012

Las unicas barrierires son mentales- The only barriers are mental. The only limitations are mental. My only limitations are mental. I have created the sitations in my life that I don’t like, that make me uncomfortable. I am 100% responsible for the good that has come to me, the good that I’ve refused to accept, and the bad that has come to me. I’m like a racehorse. I’ve put the hobbles on myself and then wonder why I can’t run free the way my heart longs too. I wonder what’s stopping me, holding me back, tripping me up. Well, it’s me.

Love and Cities

June 25, 2012

I wrote this blog post about a day and a half ago in the airport, waiting to fly out of Argentina, but by the time I went to post the internet connection had gone out. I am currently sitting in the lovely kitchen of my lovely couchsurfing host in Firenze. Directly after this posting I am going to head out into the Tuscan summer sunshine and get reacquainted with my old love. (Oh, I’m talking about the city, not… a person. He’s married to an American now, I hear. 😉 )

Buenos Aires

I’m sitting in the Ezeiza International Airport outside of Buenos Aires, waiting for my flight to Italy.

I love blogging in airports. I love being in airports and eating a bunch of crap food cuz hey, I’m at an airport, what choice do I have? I even love picking friends up from the airport.

I got here really early – three hours before my flight. Synchronistically, a friend who lives in BA was flying to Europe the same night as I, a bit earlier, so we split the cab fare and a lovely chat.

Check-in and security took me about 11 minutes. I don’t remember having been in such a nice airport – friendly security, nice design, comfy chairs. Kind of funny as Argentina is a strange combination of first and third world. I would expect an airport like this in Germany, not Argentina. Of course, I was reminded I was still in Argentina by the porter guys with dark hair and blue eyes out front who asked me if I knew how beautiful I was, and the boxes and boxes of Alfajores stacked in the duty-free shop. I’m pretty sure I’ve consumed enough Dulce de Leche to last me for a long, long time.

I have about 60 pesos left that I should probably spend before I leave. Right now that converts to about $13 US dollars, but judging from what the Argentine government’s been doing lately, it seems another economic collapse is on its way. Either that or the president will be ousted. So I should probably spend my pesos before they’re worthless.

Over the past few days I’ve been wondering how I’ll feel about Firenze when I get back there. When I came down to Buenos Aires, everyone asked me: “Do you LOVE it there?!?” And the honest answer was: no. I never loved the city of Buenos Aires.

Buenos Aires did grow on me the longer I was there – mostly, I think, because of the wonderful people I met, Argentines and Expats and travelers, many whom I know will be life-long friends. That, and the desserts.

But as for the city of Buenos Aires, I didn’t love it, though I didn’t hate it either. The drawbacks of the city never bothered me much – The broken sidewalks, the piles of doggie doo-doo everywhere, the stinking fumes of exhaust, the cars that try to run over your toes, the inattentive waiters, the artless tagging on the fading elegance of old unkept French-influence buildings, the shantytown slums hidden near train stations and developments. But six months living in a city as dense as Buenos Aires was definitely not healthy for my soul.

Of course, there were certain aspects of BA that I did love: the smell of all the blooming flowers and trees during the springtime and summer, the jasmine everywhere, the haunting fragrance of Damas de la Noche, the Tilo trees; how you could hear birds singing day and night, even over the sound of traffic (at least in the barrios I spent the most time in, Colegiales, Belgrano, Saavedra, Coghlan); all the tall leafy black-barked green trees that arched over certain lovely streets, like Melian and Olleros; all the cafes that I could go park my butt in for 8 hours without being bothered with a bill or feeling like the waiter wanted me out – ever; the delicious food and pastries and cakes and helado and licuados that I discovered; the abundant public transportation; the beautiful street art (photo of my favorite artist at top); the crazy mix of adventurers and travelers that stream endlessly through the once-cheap Paris of the South; the ability of foreigners to live there endlessly and uninterruptedly without immigration or visa problems, made possible by simply popping across the river to Uruguay, getting your passport stamped, and popping back; and the Argentines who are so kind and cry when you leave, even when they’ve only known you for a few weeks.

Buenos Aires

I’m interested to see how I feel going back to Firenze. Did I not love Buenos Aires simply because I don’t fall in love with cities anymore? I really loved living in the natural beauty of Patagonia. Maybe cities just don’t hold the allure that they once did.

Or is it something that Italy holds that Argentina doesn’t for me? I fell in love with Firenze when I spent a single day there in 1997, when I was 18. I told the people I was with at the time that I would be back. And I went back, seven times in as many years. But now seven years have passed. I wonder if I’ll still be in love, or if that feeling was just a side effect of my youth, of romantic idealization, of escapism…

I suppose I’ll find out in a few hours. Have the feelings faded with time, or are they still here?

All my stuff, November 2011

One year ago, I moved out of my home in Los Angeles and began my Nomad Adventure.

This morning, I woke up in the room I’m renting in Buenos Aires, Argentina, the same room I lived in before I moved down to Patagonia. It’s got a giant lovely desk/workspace, cute private patio, backyard with pool and jungle, and sweet landlords that have adopted me as their third daughter. I got up and meditated for an hour, then thought about painting, but didn’t today. I made myself some ñaco, a toasted whole wheat porridge they eat down in Patagonia, and drank a maté as I read A Daily Dose of Sanity and Soul Lessons and Soul Purpose in the jungly backyard.

After breakfast and reading I dumped my entire wardrobe onto my bed in an attempt to to minimize. I want less stuff less stuff less stuff, and paring down is difficult as I’m going from the middle of winter here in the Southern Hemisphere to the middle of summer in the Northern, but I’ll need cold weather stuff in a few months when I work on an organic farm in Ireland. I didn’t make much progress. I gave up and worked on my playlist for the Nowhere festival I’m attending in Spain (Euro Burning Man, basically); then I Skyped with one of my oldest friends, who’s currently living in Thailand and has been traveling the globe for the last year and a half.

And then I went to belly dancing class. I love belly dancing, I wished I’d been going the first six months I lived here in BA. And to end the evening, I Skyped with my mom, my lovely mother who never asks when I’m coming home, when I’m settling down, when I’m getting a real job, when I’m going to have kids.

Today, like every day, I’m grateful for this life. I’m grateful for this crazy adventure I’m on. I’m grateful for all the incredibly kind people I’ve met in the past year, all the fascinating and fascinated fellow travelers, all the people with big giant hearts. I’m grateful for the mysterious ways in which everything works out perfectly, and I’m grateful for the magic and synchronicity that have been happening on a daily basis as I practice listening to my heart and following my bliss.

I’ve rarely felt lonely in this past year. I’ve been anxious and scared a million times, for sure, but not often lonely. I’ve rarely missed LA, or any of the stuff I thought I might – mexican food, my convertible, the beach. I have missed my friends back home, but Facebook and Skype help a lot with that, and I’ve met a number of soul-friends during my time in Argentina.

This Saturday, I fly to Italy. From there I’m going to Spain, maybe Switzerland, maybe France, back to Italy, maybe Germany. I’m excited to see where Fortuna leads me. I can’t even begin to guess where I will have been and what will have happened by this time next year. But I know whatever it is, it’ll be an adventure, and I’m grateful for that.

Leaving Patagonia

June 5, 2012

I’m sitting at a café in Zapala, Argentina, en route to Buenos Aires, listening to a sometimes cheesy nonstop 80s mix that changes approximately every 45 seconds. Everybody Wants to Rule the World, one of my all-time favorite songs ever, was just mixed into MJ’s The Way you Make Me Feel, a song Ginny and I used to dance to at the ranch.

It’s strange being back in a place with sidewalks.

Patagonia, Argentina

The town of El Huecú. No sidewalks.

I’m feeling a little anxious. Partly because of this town, partly because I’m in transition, and partly because I asked a woman working at the bus station if there was somewhere I could leave my two bags so I didn’t have to drag them around town with me during my 6 hour wait between bus rides. She directed me to a red booth. A guy let me in to put my bags in a side room and then turned to the next customer. I stood in the doorway – Nada mas? – No name? No ticket? Nope. Nada mas. Ok. Ok, Mister Señor, I am going to trust you and leave everything I own with you – my entire winter and summer wardrobes, all of my journals and jewelry-making supplies, all of my Vibrams and underwear, all my books and the geodes I found in the mountains, my yoga mat, my meditation cushion. I guess I’ve got all I really need in the backpack on my back – my iPod, my Macbook, my toiletries, my sleeping bag, a pen and journal and my kindle…

The Gibelli's

On the way to the Gibelli’s ranch.

Current 80s mix song: Roxanne

Why is it so hard to pack less shit? Do I have that little faith in my ability to be comfortable and happy, to adapt and survive in any situation? I’ve got this deep fear, this anxiety about not having enough… I’ve been trying to change that programming for as long as I remember, being a child of packrats (or “collectors”); I keep letting go, letting go, letting go, but I still don’t feel like I’ve got much less than I used to.

IMG_1042

Free as a bird.

It’s a Tuesday morning, 10:30am on the dot. People are lined up outside the banks as they often are in Argentina, about 20 deep. Driving into this small town on the Cono Sur bus, I saw spray painted on a wall: “Guns and Fuckin’ Roses.” Now that’s a fan. On the way to this café I passed by a clothing store with a cute jacket in the window. I haven’t seen a clothing store in two months. I haven’t had that temptation, that thought – Do I want to buy that?

IMG_2134

It doesn’t matter what you’re wearing when you’re branding cattle.

The simplicity of country life. It is so profound – no stores. No advertising. Hardly any people. No traffic, aside from the occasional herds of cows and goats that block the dirt roads and stare at you dumbly. No restaurants or cafés.

The Gibelli's

This is where I learned to drive stick. Put the clutch in when cows appear!

Current 80s mix song: Danger Zone

That was one of the things I loved about Burning Man – for a week, you didn’t have to think about money. Your brain didn’t have to go through its automatic, silent, constant calculations – do I want to buy that? How much would that cost? How much money do I have with me? What’s my checking balance? Do I want to spend $4 on a cup of coffee right now? I would look cute in that jacket. I wish my skin looked as good as that girl on the poster. Maybe I need to buy a new facial scrub.

Patagonia April 2012

“Shopping” for patio flagstones.

Current 80s mix song: What I Like About You

When you’re in nature, you’re not calculating. You’re not comparing. You’re not processing the million bits of information that come at you when you’re in a city.

Patagonia April 2012

Air doesn’t get any fresher than this.

In the countryside, you’re admiring the clouds. You’re breathing clean, fresh, pure air. You’re seeing the colors of the leaves turning from fall to winter, the branches reddening. Your fingernails are never clean for more than 20 minutes after a shower, because nothing’s paved and dirt and dust are a part of your environment that cannot be separated, conquered and divided, or controlled.

Patagonia April 2012

Fall colors at the Chacra.

Current 80s mix song: Can’t Touch This

It’s peaceful. I had a profound sense of contentment, of peace while I was at Ginny’s ranch in El Huecú.

Patagonia, Argentina

My view from the house every day. I love this mountain!

My skin is incredibly clear and soft right now. Is it because I’ve hardly been drinking any coffee? No milk (aside from powdered) or cheese, no eating out at restaurants, no pizza, no ice cream? The lack of air pollutants? Lack of stress? All the maté I’ve been drinking/ I can’t remember the last time my skin was this clear.

Patagonia, Argentina

Typical Saturday lunch: goat asado and tortas fritas.

I’m having a cup of coffee. It’s not very good. But the sugar packet has a cute drawing of a mountain, sun, waterfall, river, and some kind of hoofed animal – it looks like an Impala, maybe, with horns. Do they have those here?! It does say Patagonia on the bottom…

I stopped at a kiosk on the way here to get money for my cell phone, and a few bars of chocolate for the bus ride. They had about 30 different kinds of high-quality chocolate bar, a more impressive display than I’ve come across even in Buenos Aires. In El Huecú, you only had 2 or 3 kinds of quality chocolate to choose from.

Patagonia, Argentina

They scream like children when they die. Rest in peace, goats.

Current 80s mix song: Material Girl

This café I’m writing in is half full. People are rushing by outside. I’ve seen a two women with unusual headdresses, perhaps some kind of folk dress. There is a lot of noise. I haven’t heard this much noise in two months. In El Huecu, the only noises were dogs barking, roosters crowing, the occasional truck, wood cutter and turkey gobble. Horses whinnying for hay, birds chirping madly or the strangely indigenous loro parrots shrieking by the hosteleria.

Patagonia April 2012

Mountain shrouded in mist.

Current 80s mix song: She Bop

About 24 hours from now I’ll be back in one of the densest cities on the planet. I am not looking forward to the polluted air or the noise of traffic. I am looking forward to acro-yoga classes and getting a delicious fresh-baked medialuna, and for the adventures to come.

IMG_1044

Adios, nos vemos!

Goodbye, Patagonia! I loved you. Two months flew by and were over sooner than I expected. Thank you for your space and silence and fresh air. I know you were responsible for the beginning of a new chapter in my life, I’m almost certain I’ll be back to see you again.

Patagonia April 2012

Sunrise hike.

Current 80s mix song: Groove Is In The Heart (I know, technically 90s, but damn I love this song)

I slept for a full 12 hours last night. My friend K left yesterday morning after being here in Buenos Aires to visit me for 8 days, so we’ve been running around like crazy, staying out late, and eating tons of yummy and exhausting food. Coffee, cheese, sugar, and red meat are all delicious but digesting them tires out my body!

But here are some photos you can drool over (and a few of the scenery too):

Thin crust at La Guitarrita

The Pink House - Argentina's version of the White House. Extra pink at night.

Dulce De Leche insanity at 1810 Cocina Regional, one of my favorite BA restaurants

Delicious (free) pizza at El Cuartito (free because the waiter fell in love with me). Free pizza always tastes better.

This girl LOVES her pizza.

El Cuartito

Sidewalk Parrilla in La Boca

Eternal longing in Recoleta Cemetary

My favorite helado/gelato/ice cream is at Jauja. Lemon ginger, peanut cream, mint chip...

To burn off some of the pounds I’ve packed on these past few weeks, I went to an Aerial Yoga/Silks/Acrobat class, my second. That isht is hard. I can only pull myself about 12 inches off of the ground but once the teacher puts a knot in the fabric it’s much more fun.

Time to join the circus?

That's me!

After class a friend invited me for lunch at a Peruvian restaurant. The funny thing is that they had chicken noodle soup on the menu. I haven’t seen chicken noodle soup since I got down here 6 months ago, and I was wishing for chicken noodle soup just this morning after I woke up with a scratchy throat and runny nose.  Manifest!!!

I spent the rest of the day walking around the city, running errands before I head down to Patagonia – curry powder for my friend down there, stocking up on my favorite soap and cookies, etc. While wandering I was listening to the awesome Guru Singh podcast. Guru Singh is a Kundalini Yoga teacher at Yoga West in Los Angeles; he always starts class with a profound 30 minute lecture that I’ve missed since leaving LA.

In this podcast Guru Singh was talking about how every problem contains the solution.

“What keeps us from this stage [solution/change] is that our challenges, our problems, and our questions identify us.

And we would rather maintain our identity than solve our challenges.

That’s not you being a bad person, that’s you being normal… we have to break that pattern.”

Check out Guru Singh’s tweets here! Yes, he tweets.

This is your brain on sugar. Street art in Buenos Aires.

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!

 

I love lightning. One of my earliest memories is looking out a window, watching a lighting storm from my mother’s lap.

In Southern California, land of endless sunshine, lightning was rare. The weather was fantastic but boring. So perhaps it’s just the contrast, but one of my favorite things about Buenos Aires is the weather.

Summertime in Buenos Aires means the air gets unbearably hot and heavy with humidity. But some evenings, at the end of one of these smothering days when you just sweat for hours and the skies are motionless, at around 9 or 10 at night, a sudden wind will begin to gust crazily. And within minutes it’ll be pouring rain, lightning forking across the sky.

Here’s some video* I took from the balcony of my last apartment, in December 2011.

 

“This life of separateness may be compared to a dream, a phantasm, a bubble, a shadow, a drop of dew, a flash of lightning.”  – Buddha

“I roamed the countryside searching for answers to things I did not understand. Why thunder lasts longer than that which causes it, and why immediately on its creation the lightning becomes visible to the eye while thunder requires time to travel. ”  – Leonardo da Vinci

“Genius unrefined resembles a flash of lightning, but wisdom is like the sun.”  – Franz Grillparzer

“Bring in the bottled lightning, a clean tumbler, and a corkscrew.”  – Charles Dickens

“Electricity is really just organized lightning.”  – George Carlin

*This video was my first-ever video edited using iMovie! Well, first completed video anyways. I started a Burning Man one, but I really have no idea if I will ever finish it due to the massive amounts of footage and photos I took… 

Sugar + Honey + Frank

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:

Argentine Yogurt and Honey, fresh from the farm.

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”.

D’oh!!!

 

So, this next part has nothing to do with sugar or honey, but… Well, actually, it does, in a roundabout way.

I was reading The Daily Love and came across this awesome blog by Mollie Angelhearthttp://thedailylove.com/always-come-back-to-love/

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.

Holstee Manifesto

This is comprehensive and profound. However, my advice wouldn’t be to quit your job.

My advice would be to be so honest and authentic that they have no choice but to fire you; then you sign up for unemployment to support a minimalistic lifestyle while you heal your heart and learn to hear the messages it’s been trying to tell you all these years. Preferably in another country.

As I sit here typing this post at Baraka cafe in Palermo Soho in Buenos Aires, Argentina, a Ladybug landed on my table.

I’m sitting inside. What is a Ladybug doing inside of a restaurant? Maybe waiting to order. Waiters are slow in Buenos Aires, Ladybug. Hope you’re not too hungry.

I have blogged about Ladybugs twice prior to today:

once on August 8th 2010 (the date on the blog is wrong for some reason), and

once on January 27th 2011.

At the time, my research indicated that Ladybugs are supposed to portend the arrival of true love. I’m guessing in these cases it must’ve been true love for myself, as there aren’t any men in my life (not in a sexual way, anyways), I haven’t even dated anyone since November of 2010 (!!!), but I HAVE been working diligently the past few years on allowing true self-love.

Back to the poster.

I love this bit, and I feel like I’ve been following it:

If you are looking for the love of your life, stop; they will be waiting for you once you start doing the things you love.

And here’s one I’d like to start doing:

Ask the next person you see what their passion is.

Here in Buenos Aires, you meet a lot of travelers and nomads and expats. Inevitably we ask each other, “What’s your story?” to get a summary of where they came from, how they got here, what they’re doing now, where they’re going next. It’s fascinating but does get repetitive. I think I’ll start asking “What is your passion?” instead. More fun for them to answer, and more illuminating for me.

Back to the Ladybugs.

I just found this assertion of Ladybug symbolism that has nothing to do with true love:

When ladybugs appear they are a sign from the universe that you are being protected and that you are safe as you work hard to promote yourself and your ideas. Ladybug tells you to be cheerful in your work and to share the joy of your creativity with others.

Alright. That sounds good. And more suitable for what I’ve been doing since August of 2010.

Or there’s this:

Ladybug’s medicine includes carrying the golden strand that leads to the centre of the universe, past lives, spiritual enlightenment, death and rebirth, renewal, regeneration, fearlessness, protection, good luck, wishes being fulfilled, protection.

Damn. That pretty much covers everything. Also found this:

Though small in size the ladybug is fearless. As fear cannot exist amongst joy, the ladybug brings a message of promise, for they get us back in touch with the joy of living – we must let go of our fears and go back to our roots, to love. We are also taught to restore our trust and faith in the universe, we have to get over ourselves, our egos, and allow life to take its course going with the flow.

Ladybug showing up in ones life foretells a time of luck and protection, where wishes start to become actualised. Worries will quickly disperse when ladybug appears as they shield us from our aggravations, paving the way for new found happiness – aim high, you will get what you focus on. However, ladybug also cautions us not to force things or try to hard to fulfil your wishes, go with the flow and let things take their natural course. Your wishes will come true when they do – in their own time!

Woohoo!
Finally, I’ll leave you with a GREAT mix, which I was listening to as I wrote this, by my impeccably-tasted (if that makes sense) friend Tommy B: Click here to listen some funky nudisco house and even download it for free if you’re so inclined! Legally!!!
[New update – as I’m finishing this post, I just got a text from Fernando. Not sure who Fernando is… Who knows, maybe he’s my Javier Bardem. {{Reference to my Eat Pray Love life}}] .