The Risk of Living

July 12, 2013

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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.

Well this is pretty goddamn profound.

“You are what you love and not what loves you.
When we were kids, all we did was play. We literally just played and we did what we loved to do. We created. We were drawing all day, we were singing all day. We didn’t care what people thought about us or what our ex-girlfriend was doing. We didn’t even care about that stuff – who we were gonna get to date us or what’s the boss think at the company; we just did what we loved to do. We created and we played all day. Literally, all day…

There’s a level of effortlessness that shows up by you enjoying the process of working on yourself. That’s the goal of life, and when you do that, the results will show up when they’re supposed to…”

– Kyle Cease

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“.

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!!! 😉

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!

30 days.
Every day:
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.

Happy LightLiving!

It’s True!

March 2, 2013

“Cherish your visions. Cherish your ideals. Cherish the music that stirs in your heart, the beauty that forms in your mind, the loveliness that drapes your purest thoughts, for out of them will grow all delightful conditions, all heavenly environment; of these, if you but remain true to them, your world will at last be built.”

– James Allen

Photo by me, Italy 2013

Photo by me, Italy 2013

I’m a Maker, Baby

January 19, 2013

I realized today as I was walking through the snow that I am a content producer. I love to make stuff, and I love to share. When I’m going down the path of fear, I just consume stuff I find online and regurgitate it on Facebook and Twitter; some people say I post too much, some thank me for all the inspiration I fling about. But it’s not fulfilling.

I read so much, I listen to so much music, I take so many many pictures and videos, I have so many ideas to write about, I have so much jewelry crap I’ve been dragging around the world with me and hiding in my suitcase.

When I can shake The Resistance, when I’m allowing myself to be led up the path of my heart, I’m creating.

I’m starting to unblock. These past few weeks I’ve been making videos, making mash-ups, making mixes, making websites, making jewelry. I’ve been singing, playing harmonica, playing guitar, playing my chicken egg shaker. I’ve been creating. I can feel the floodgates opening. It’s about time.

I wonder if the inspiration is coming from the snow. I’ve never lived in snow before, and it’s certainly conducive for keeping one inside… creating.

Today’s Daily Dose of Sanity from the as-named book by Alan Cohen:

“God lives in your heart. If you take your heart to church, there God is. If you take your heart to the woods, there God is. There comes a time in every person’s evolution when he or she must decide the truth for him- or herself. You are the one who has to live with yourself, and the closer you live to what you believe to be true, the happier you will be and the greater the contribution you will make to the world.”

Lone tree near my house, somewhere in the Italian countryside, Italy 2013

Lone tree near my house, somewhere in the Italian countryside, Italy 2013

NOW.

October 25, 2012

I was reminded by a beautiful woman today that we are essentially love, light, and ecstasy. I know this, but I don’t yet totally believe that it’s the truth about ME, and I am constantly forgetting.

Which is why I read spiritual and inspirational stuff every day. Which is why I meditate every day. Which is why I try to do as much yoga as I can. Which is why I’m living in a spiritual community with a bunch of other people who are trying to live this truth. Which is why I collect quotes.

Like these:

“Live each moment completely and the future will take care of itself. Fully enjoy the wonder and beauty of each moment.”
– Paramahansa Yogananda

“Our true home is in the present moment. To live in the present moment is a miracle. The miracle is not to walk on water. The miracle is to walk on the green Earth in the present moment, to appreciate the peace and beauty that are available now. Peace is all around us — in the world and in nature — and within us — in our bodies and our spirits. Once we learn to touch this peace, we will be healed and transformed.”
– Thich Nhat Hanh

“Realize deeply that the present moment is all you have. Make the NOW the primary focus of your life.”
– Eckhart Tolle

BE HERE NOW.

Coincidence. Synchronicity. Manifesting. Magic.

Lucky shot – stuck the camera out the window and took a photo of Assisi behind us, without knowing there was a rainbow in the sky!

Whatever you want to call it, I love it. I love finding evidence of magical creation in my life.

We’ve been taught that we live in a logical world. But we’ve been lied to. We’ve been taught that logic will keep us safe. But the illusion of safety keeps us limited, trapped, unempowered, and fearful.

All children believe in magic. And as children we’re encouraged to believe in magical lies – Santa Claus, Tooth Fairy, Easter Bunny. Eventually the lies are revealed, and we’re taught that to be an adult means to accept the fact that magic is a lie, and to grow up we must relinquish our magical powers.

Well, I think that’s crap.
There have been more, but here are a few magical synchronicities that have occurred in the past few days:
#1
On October 5th, I wrote: “Maybe I should take an improv class.” I wanted more laughter in my life, and I wanted to be actively participating in comedy, rather than solely consuming it, as we do by watching funny videos online, movies, etc.

The next day, I found myself in a Clown Workshop. A famous clown, Moriss, from Milan had come to the Academy to give a one-day workshop, and though I don’t have much interest in Clowns or Clownery, I had to be at the Academy to open the doors, so I decided to join.

The Clown had a red nose, white and black face paint, and strip of long hair on the front of his head that he strung through a toilet paper roll, wrapped around and rubber banded, giving himself an absurd, blunt unicorn horn.

The Clown spoke of love. Loving everyone you meet, looking at them with love, feeling it in your heart, having an eternal smile on your face, smiling at everyone you meet because you are loving them, open, fearlessly. He spoke of using the power of Clowning to break out of the normal oppressive boundaries of daily life, the dead feelinglessness of the people in cities, trapped, joyless, in subways and on busses. He spoke of learning to stop thinking and of learning to just feel, and react. Feel and react, without planning or thinking or worrying about judgment. Like a child does.

We did an eye-gazing exercise, a hugging exercise. We learned a few clown secrets, we learned the foundations of juggling. We did improv performances for each other, our courage bolstered behind the red clown noses we wore. It was, of course, terrifying for me to get up in front of everyone and attempt to make them laugh. But I did it anyways.

(I also told the Clown about Burning Man, which he said sounds like his idea of heaven on earth. Yep.)

#2:
October 8th was a grey and foggy day here in Umbria. I wanted to stay at home and work on some personal projects, but I’d told a few people that I’d be available at the Academy. So around 10am I packed up my laptop and put on my boots. It was cold outside, and the walk from my house in the countryside to the Academy is about 20 minutes along a lovely dirt road.

I stepped out the front door, and it was raining. Hard. I don’t have an umbrella, and I didn’t want my computer getting wet on the walk to the Academy. So I figured I’d wait for a break in the rain. There is one guest staying at Villa Gioia (where I live) who has a car. Briefly I thought: maybe he’ll come by and give me a ride! But he didn’t appear.

About ten minutes later, one of my roommates came home. She’d walked home and gotten fairly wet, but she had an umbrella she’d left in her room, and offered it to me. I accepted, ans as I stepped out of the house to make the trek to the Academy, a car I’ve never seen before pulled up. Aside from the occasional guest who has a car, cars rarely pass by the Villa.

The car stopped in front of me and a good-looking italian man rolled down the window. “Vuoi un passaggio?” Would you like a ride?

Why yes, yes I do.

So my new friend Gianluca drove me through the rain to the Academy.

#3:
Yesterday I skyped with my friend Captain Dave in Marseille, France. He goes rock climbing on the weekends, and I expressed how much I wanted to go rock climbing. I have been telling various rock climbing friends around the world that I want to go rock climbing for the past few years, but it just hasn’t worked out.

Today at breakfast, out of the blue, a member of the community here at Ananda walked up to me, and asked: “Do you want to go rock climbing tomorrow?”

Why yes, yes I do.

I know he hadn’t heard my conversation Skype conversation – no one had.

Believers in logic say that it’s just coincidence, a result of me looking for meaning behind happenstance. But if you have the choice, why not choose magic? We create the meaning in our lives, our experience is a result of our beliefs. If I can choose to experience and enjoy a magical life, why wouldn’t I?

As I was typing this today, sitting in the after-rain sunshine in the rolling hills of Umbria, Italy, a big fat ladybug walked up to me, and sat on my arm for awhile.

Which reminded me of this post about Life and Ladybugs that I wrote back in January of this year.

“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.”

Magical.