November 11, 2013
For the past six months I’ve been on somewhat of a sabbatical from consistent blogging. Though I haven’t been sharing as much as I’d prefer, I’ve still been focusing on my soul-healing and joy-following journey around the world. After about a year in Italy, I returned to the States in June of this year to celebrate the lives of my grandmother and father, who both made their transitions while I was out of the country.
Since returning stateside I’ve been roaming the west coast – Washington, Oregon and California. I spent a few months living in Rogue River/Grants Pass, Oregon, with my Aunt Jody and good friend China Brooks. I went on a gorgeous camping retreat on Mount Shasta, then roadtripped down to San Francisco and Los Angeles and San Diego, reuniting with friends I hadn’t seen in years. Reunion is one of my favorite things in the world – the joy of reunion is worth the separation.
My intuition talked me into going to Burning Man super last minute – two days before the Burn started. It was transformational, as always, and ended up redirecting the course of my life. I ended up living in San Francisco for a bit afterwards with friends I met on the playa, then went to visit Portland for the first time ever before coming back down to San Francisco for the month of October.
And now, I’m in Ashland, a spiritual town known for its Shakespeare festivals and for being the home of author Neale Donald Walsch, the guy who channeled “Conversations with God” (which I still haven’t read… I tried to read it in Italian but didn’t have the patience).
China and I are living in a beautiful 117-year-old yellow Victorian house for the month, working on creative projects and learning how to be in healthy relationship in close quarters. Ie, practicing talking about our feelings, being totally transparent about our fears and vulnerabilities, and laughing at our crazy egos!
Yes, there are ghosts in the house, though after the first night they seem happy we’re here, and at our request they haven’t done anything to spook us… yet.
Here’s a tour of the downstairs!
August 27, 2013
I’m headed to Burning Man in about an hour.
It’s Monday. I decided I was going on Friday.
Making the decision, committing to this last-minute leap, was terrifying. Last time I went, in 2010, I planned for 9 months in advance.
On Friday, when I was wavering – do I stay or do I go? – a friend reminded me:
“Everyone describes Burning Man as transformational. Every year. So. That’s what you’re all about.”
And she is damn right. I am about transforming ourselves into OURSELVES, our true radiant joyful divine selves. Remembering. But even the reminders need to be reminded sometimes. Thank god for good friends.
So I made the decision, I committed, I took the leap, and everything has worked out so seamlessly and perfectly that I had to laugh. I can’t recount all of the brilliant synchronicities because any minute some new friends are coming to pick me up in an RV and we’re headed out to the Playa.
But while I was watching the sun set tonight, a Coyote ran by me, within about 15 feet. Whenever I see an animal nowadays, I immediately look up its Medicine, which in Native American teachings means its Message.
Coyote had some perfect messages for Burning Man:
“If you have [seen Coyote], you can be sure that some kind of medicine is on its way – and it may or may not be to your liking.
Whatever the medicine is, good or bad, you can be sure it will make you laugh, maybe
even painfully. You can also be sure that Coyote will teach you a lesson about yourself.
If we forget to be children and take life with laughter and ease, Coyote
appears to pester us until we let go of the inner pain that keeps us from knowing the joys
The cosmic joke is not just on ourselves but on everybody else.
When you destroy the illusion of who you are to others and be yourself, you will have restored your innocence.
Get ready for more of the laughs – lots more.
When was the last time you did something just because it was fun?
Find it amusing and laugh. If you can’t laugh at yourself and your crazy antics, you have lost the game.
Coyote always comes calling when things get too serious.”
July 12, 2013
I’ve said this before but I feel it’s time to say it again –
Living your dreams is terrifying. When you begin to follow your soul’s truth, your ego will freak the f#@k out.
Your ego is your small self, everything you were taught, purposefully or inadvertantly, about this physical material world. You were taught to be afraid. You were taught you would die. You were taught that you were weak and at risk. You were taught to avoid pain, avoid being different, avoid standing out. You were taught to avoid being YOU. You were taught that to survive you had to protect and defend, to hide, to change.
But that’s all backwards. There is no safety, no security, no protection. The only risk you run in this life is never really LIVING it. You have a deep and unconscious belief that your fears and worries will protect you, but really all they do is keep what you truly want out – the experience of being alive, the experience of giving and receiving love, the experience of joy and connection and intimacy. These experiences are not found but created via your conscious choice, by giving that which you seek, by opening, by being authentically, truly you.
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“.
April 25, 2013
Letting go of clothing is particularly difficult for me. I have let go of so much of my clothing in the past two years – first clearing out 3/4 of my wardrobe before leaving California, then slowly releasing items as I traipsed around the world.
I always feel like I have too many clothes. I think it’s because I aspire to have only items that I love; since I haven’t yet reached that goal, it naggles at me.
It’s interesting, clothing. I suppose in my formative years I identified very strongly with my clothing – I puffy painted every single item I wore until I hit puberty; then in high school I wore all kinds of ‘weird’ stuff – metallic satin silver skirts, gold velvet pants, blue velour 70s thrift shop finds. I think the fear of the difficulty of finding stuff that I love has stuck with me. And so much of our worth and perceived attractiveness – mine, anyways – is tied up with the packaging we present ourselves in. I have a fear that I might be getting rid of some of my value if I get rid of something that I might “need” to make me look good. I know it’s crazy but it’s still there.
I’ve also realized that my fear of not having money in the future to get what I need when I need it is tied to my general lack of self-worth when it comes to work – ie, deep down I don’t believe that what I have to give is of any value, so any kind of work situation makes me extremely uncomfortable on deep subconscious levels. Part of the personal healing work I’ve been doing lately is working through those blocks.
I came across this list of characteristics of Adult Children of Alcoholics. A lot of what I said above is tied to the characteristics listed; it’s comforting to see them listed and know that I’m not just innately flawed, retarded or lazy; there are reasons for my blocks and fears, and that I can work through them with time. And I see the progress I’ve made. I’m getting close to some breakthroughs. Hell, doing this video challenge is somewhat of a breakthrough, in a way.
Today’s Five Releases
1. Grey skirt
2. Black tights
3. Turquoise sweater
4. White sweater
5. Magenta sarong
Today’s Three Keeps
1. Turquoise sarong
2. Smartwool zipper sweater
3. Blue & brown Hard Tail top
Thanks for joining me on this journey!
April 21, 2013
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.
PROBABLE CAUSE: Represent the minor details of the future.
NEW THOUGHT PATTERN: All details take care of themselves.
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
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).
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 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.