I’m in Ashland, Oregon!

November 11, 2013

Hello, people!

DSC05544

Happy Autumn!

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!

IMG_7889

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!

 

Advertisements

Work/Play

May 2, 2013

“A master in the art of living draws no sharp distinction between their work and their play; their labor and their leisure; their mind and their body; their education and their recreation. They hardly know which is which. They simply pursue their vision of excellence through whatever they are doing, and leave others to determine whether they are working or playing. To themselves, they always appear to be doing both.”  

-Francoise Rene Auguste Chateaubriand

I want to live like this!!!

I’m getting closer. Today was a lovely mix of work/play. Which eventually will just be play. “Productive Play” I suppose would be a better term.

I’m still trying to upload yesterday’s video – It’s very very strange that every time I try to upload it to Youtube, it doesn’t upload the file I tell it to, it uploads Day 12’s fireside video. There must be a reason.

I’ve found in my life  that there’s a good reason when technology doesn’t cooperate with me. And it’s always in my favor. I’ve been saved from purchasing something I didn’t need to/the wrong thing on a number of occasions. Like at the end of the great Road Trip of 2011 when I tried to buy a $167 Amtrak train ticket from Boston to Washington DC. I made a number of attempts, but the Amtrak site wouldn’t accept my credit card. I eventually gave up and decided to wait til the next day to try buying the $167 ticket again.

That next day, while on a whale-watching cruise with a girl from Slovenia (or Slovakia?) who I was couchsurfing with, I met a woman who was celebrating her birthday. We got to chatting and over the course of the boat ride – during which we saw about 20 amazing humpback whales – this woman mentioned that her husband, sitting next to her, was a train conductor.

For Amtrak. And…. the train he conducted… went from Boston to Washington DC.

I am not making this is#t up.

Two days later, they picked me up and put me on a train to DC with him. For free.

The woman even made me a gift package – cookies, juice, a sudoku puzzle book, a pen and a journal. These people gave from the pure kindness of their hearts. It was a beautiful, magical, heart-opening experience for me.

And the point I started with was – if technology doesn’t want me to upload that video for you, fine. I trust there’s a reason. I’ll try re-editing it tomorrow, or just moving on.

So today, after work/playing on Academy affairs this morning, I took the rest of the day to follow blisses. It turned out to be a beautiful magical day. I feel intensely connected to myself, my soul – authentic, in-joy, in the Vortex, in the Flow. Intensely happy with life, with what I’m doing, with the Me that I’m becoming, with the open potential and possibilities of the future.

Clearing out half my clothing feels like it’s unblocked a lot of energy. OR, the energy was unblocked, enabling me to have the clarity to release so much. Chicken/egg/chicken/egg.

Also, rather unfortunately, my bedroom has been invaded by ants tonight. They’re big black and red ones, and they’re streaming in a crack in my window, crawling up my legs, across my keyboard, on my arms. I don’t want to smoosh them but I also don’t want to be bitten. So far so good. Every few minutes I’ll send one air-born from my arm or leg with a whoosh of air. I hope they don’t break legs or carapaces upon landing. Ok wait ants don’t have carapaces. Thoraxes, I suppose.

Like the Bumblebees, the Ants must have a message for me – so I went to Google Guru for answers.

Here’s the main message of Ant medicine:

“PATIENCE. Ant’s medicine is the strategy of patience.

Ant people are active, community-minded folks who see the greater future needs of their town. Ant people are planners, like Squirrel, and are content to see their dreams being built a little at a time.

If you have Ant medicine, you … are content in knowing that “what is yours will come to you.” This knowing is good medicine. It shows a trust in the Universe to provide. If Ant meandered into your spread today, it is time to show a little trust and patience in some life situation. You may have forgotten that you will always receive that which you need, at the time you need it most. It is not on the horizon or just around the next anthill, you may need to use some strategy. How can you put to use your power of creation until “it” arrives -whatever “it” means to you at this time? Ant is working for the good of the whole. Are you? If you are, be assured that the whole wants the same goodness for you, and that it will be provided.”

From http://scottfoglesong.printandwebdesign.com/32-ant.pdf

 

Well, I’m definitely working on building my dreams. And I’m definitely community-and-greater-future-minded. And Trust has been my main focus lately. Trusting that everything is working out, trusting that I don’t need to worry. And lastly, I’m definitely putting my powers of creation in, and things are shifting, things are happening…

From The Better Man Project

Happy LightLiving!

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

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

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

Do I love this?

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

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

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

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

Back to the recovering heroin addict.

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

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

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

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

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

Re-Birth Day

March 19, 2013

It’s my birthday!

I’m 34.

I’m living my dream of living in Italy. I have a community of amazingly loving and supportive friends who are like an international family. I get to breathe fresh air and be in nature every day.

I’m healthy. I’m getting back in shape after the last two years of over-eating in an imperfect attempt to ground myself while leaping into the void, trying to figure out who I am and what I want, not to mention traveling and gorging on sugar and regional delicacies (medialunas, anyone??). I’m doing yoga every morning, meditating, journaling, visualizing, and affirming. 

I currently have 55€ cash, $19.23 in the bank, and about $50,000 in debt, mostly student loans, along with medical bills from the rabid bat attack of summer 2011, and the last of my credit cards, and as of right now no solid and apparent source of monetary income.

A week ago, during a life coaching session with my friend Lakshmi in Portugal, we determined that I should be a spiritual counselor, despite the terror that brings up for me. So I started the website The Divine Reminder-er. It’s under construction but I’d love your feedback.

I’m living at the Academy of Art, Creativity & Consciousness and I eat at Ananda in exchange for the work I do for the Academy – basically running it while the founder Dana’s away in the States, working on the website, organizing the calendar and communications.

Swami Kriyananda, the founder of the Ananda communities, flew in from India a few days ago, and I heard him speak for the first time on Sunday. He radiates love, joy and life. I cried through most of it. I also realized that this path, his path, Ananda’s path – with the gurus and Swami and Hong-Sau meditation and Kriya yoga – is not my path.

My path is to be as authentically me as I will allow myself to be. My path is to connect to the infinite divinity/my higher self within me, directly. My path is to follow my heart, my bliss, my excitement, my intuition. My path is to step into my own power, my own wisdom, my own divinity, and to share it with others. 

That’s why I cried when I saw Swami Kriyananda. I could feel the power of my own calling. It’s been getting louder over these past years, and it terrifies me. I’m afraid of being truly me. I’m afraid of standing up, standing out. I’m afraid of being rejected, abandoned, isolated. I’m afraid of being as weird as I know I am.

Weird.

Adjective: Suggesting something supernatural; uncanny; of, relating to, or caused by witchcraft or the supernatural: magical; of strange or extraordinary character; odd, fantastic.

Noun: fate, destiny, soothsayer.

Archaic: Of or relating to fate or the Fates.

Root: Middle English wird, werd, werde: fate, having power to control fate, from Old English wyrd, fate; akin to Old Norse urthr fate, Old English weorthan to become — word, worth.

“There is a weird power in a spoken word.” – Joseph Conrad

 

Today, I am the most authentic I have ever been – authentic, author, writer of my own story. I’m also physically authentic – no nail polish, no shaving or waxing my body (yes, I have hairy armpits and legs, for the first time since they began to grow in at puberty), and today I am cutting all of my dyed hair off – a practice I’ve kept up for the last 21 years, as I also started dying my hair blonde around puberty, when it went from white-blonde to ash blonde, and a brunette Jewish girlfriend introduced me to Sun-in. She ended up giving me her bottle as it only turned her hair orange.

I’m done with the violence against myself, done with the rejection and denial of who I am. I want complete and total love and acceptance for my weird, powerful, authentic self.

I feel like I’m coming to a zero point in my life, a complete destruction of the old in order to fully step into my … not my potential, as that word was used to punish me too many times when I was young, a ruler to make me feel guilty about the external expectations I wasn’t living up to. It’s in order to fully step into ME, who I truly am when in alignment with my heart/soul/authentic higher self.

 

Journal Entry March 18, 2012

February 19, 2013

Last year a friend introduced me to a website called Penzu, an online diary. I wrote only one entry, on the eve of my 33rd birthday. At the time I was living in Buenos Aires, and since the seasons are flipped in the Southern Hemisphere, it was the end of summer/beginning of fall.
Here’s that entry, unedited:

Sitting cross legged, slightly damp, on my slightly stinky and sticky pink yoga mat. The birds are rustling and clucking in the leaves that climb the walls around me. The sky is a pale blue above, cloudless, knowing. The cicadas shreik intermittently, the crickets calm and consistent in the background. The brakes of buses squeak in a tire shape, traffic hisses by. My forearms are sore from yoga yesterday with the serious and intense spanish-speaking instructor who smashed a giant cockroach with a wood-colored yoga block. I feel the tightness of my hips stretching down over my knees and into my shins. The dove calls actively, seeking a response. A plane roars overhead – it must be loud at the distance for me to hear its rumble so easily from the ground. The air moves like someone’s walking past, cool on my upper lip. A bus acellerates. I don’t remember how to spell acellerate. How many words should I write? I suddenly crave coffee; the smell of cinnamon haunts my tongue. I remember mornings in Miracle Mile, at the Hauser. I would go to the gym or for a walk in the park; on the way home I’d stop at Organics to Go. They had the best-tasting coffee I’d ever had. No bitter, not burnt, not stale. Smooth, rich, soothing. I’d put a splash of half and half, half a packet of sugar, and cinnamon, bumping the cannister gently so as not to overwhelm the coffee. The fine powder would float in the air. I’d swirl the coffee with a wooden stick, always feeling a tinge of guilt to immediately toss the stick, used for 2.3 seconds, into the garbage; though the garbage was separated and labeled for recycling. I’d begin the walk home, sucking coffee through the little hole on the lid, filling my senses – my nose, my mouth – with the fragrance and spice of the mild cinnamon coffee, the cream, the sugar. I would feel comfort, relief from the facts: I was 31, I was alone, I didn’t know what I wanted or where I was going in the world, I made myself hate my job by framing it as a trap, a struggle, something to rebel against, something I couldn’t free myself from.
A loud bird is rasping. It could be a cicada… Oh yes, it is. The volume on these babies is incredible. He does the build-up, the separate calls, getting closer and closer, until he unleashes one loud long scream. I wonder if he makes that sound with his legs, his wings, his mouth, his throat? What mechanism enables him to produce that vibration, and to expand it at that level?
I am moving to Patagonia. The doubts have been visting. Was I wrong to stop working with Jonas? Am I just running away, giving up, refusing to take action yet again in my life, refusing to do anything challenging and uncomfortable? No matter. I’ve made the choice. I will continue to learn and expand at the pace that I choose. I invite trust, faith. It’s a constant choice, a re-programming into appreciation, ease, joy. I don’t want to struggle anymore. I don’t want to fight. I want to allow. I want to accept. I want to appreciate.
Today Kelly arrives. I must shower, I’d like to drop off my laundry, and then catch a bus to the airport. Her flight is on time. I wonder how long it will take to go through customs. I wonder how much of the stuff she received. I wonder if she’ll have Jonas’s microphone screen. I wonder if she’ll have my boots. I’ve accepted the fact that she might not have the screen, the boots, the largest package from Amazon with my speakers and wifebeaters and lotion.
I’m trusting that money will work out, as it always does. I choose not to stress. I choose not to dwell in the negative. I choose to hire my team of Angels and trust them to handle it. I choose ease, release, joy, trust, faith.
That other site said 750 words. I could go for 750 initially. Or even a thousand? Let’s do 750 for now. The site says 750 is three pages. Three Artist’s Pages. Did that help me? I’m not sure I did. When I got to the magical spot in 2011 I’d been doing rampages of appreciation for a month or two, Abraham’s Vortex meditations and Vortex work. I do feel that I need morning rituals to keep me on the positive, life-clearing and affirming path; or I fall back into fear, self-loathing, guilt, etc.

Buenos Aires, Argentina

The leaves that climbed the walls around me…

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

Today.

January 18, 2013

Morning maté and eggs laid fresh by chickens that live in gypsy caravans
Crostini and raw honey with roommates sussurating in French
A still duo-chrome world outside the windows with white snow draped thick on black branches
Fog and god misting over the mountains…

QP-I-hope-you-live-web

KITTEHS! In Italy

September 17, 2012

Zenzero l’Impavido.

Kittens. Nature’s antidepressant.

Neve la Timida.

When we moved into our apartment, we were greeted by a small, sleek, cuddly calico cat. We decided to name her Bella – I know, cliché, but it’s fun to come home and say “Ciaooo Bella!!!” We later found out her real name is Matilda, but we still call her Bella.

Bella and Neve.

One day, about two weeks after we’d moved in, Bella showed up with these two little fluff balls following her. We immediately tried to grab them, as you do with kittens, and they hissed at us and tried to puff up and look ferocious. This, of course, elicited a lot of squealing from us girls.

Zenzero being fearless.

We called the orange tabby Zenzero l’Impavido (Ginger the Fearless) and the white one Neve la Timida (Snow the Timid).

Neve being timid.

When we sit outside for breakfast in the mornings they’ll scamper about, pouncing on twigs and leaves, pouncing on each other, and generally spazzing out.

Neve living il dolce far niente.

After living with a wise woman in Patagonia (yes Ginny, that’s you! 😉 ) and learning about Native American animal symbolism, I wondered – what can kittens teach us?

Lost in deep thought.

Observing them, I see that through playing they develop what later become skills – focus, courage, determination, secret attack strategies. I see that they grow a little, day by day.

Developing secret attack strategies.

They’re full of energy, they’re curious. They’re present.
They encourage me to be more playful, to be ok with risking looking silly.

Zenzero picking olives.

Then, of course, there’s the pure joy that you feel when you see a spunky, wobbly little kitten bounding around aimlessly. Feeling this joy, this wellbeing is, I think, the main point of life.

How can we have more fun, today? How can we be more present, more joyful, more playful? How can we enjoy life a little more than we did yesterday?

Having kittens around is a good start.

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 asked for a sign, and I got it.

But the problem with asking for a sign is that when you get one, you still have to make the choice:

Do I follow it?

Do I base my life and future on magic and synchronicity and trust? Or do I follow reason and rationality and logic?

I almost gave in. I almost went the safe route and went home, back to the States and my family. But instead I chose to follow the signs.

(This is an extremely long post – probably the longest I’ve ever written – so if you don’t have the time or inclination to read the entire thing, scroll down to the end for the punchline!)*

BILL MOYERS: “Do you ever have the sense of… being helped by hidden hands?”
JOSEPH CAMPBELL: “All the time. It is miraculous. I even have a superstition that has grown on me as a result of invisible hands coming all the time – namely, that if you do follow your bliss you put yourself on a kind of track that has been there all the while, waiting for you, and the life that you ought to be living is the one you are living. When you can see that, you begin to meet people who are in your field of bliss, and they open doors to you. I say, follow your bliss and don’t be afraid, and doors will open where you didn’t know they were going to be.”

 

Nomad Adventure

I’ve been nomadic since June 2011, driving across the US and Canada before flying south to Buenos Aires, Argentina in October 2011, and then heading even further south into Patagonia in April 2012.

“Don’t fall off,” my ex business partner warned me. “You’re running out of land.”

He said I was running away. Perhaps. But running away from one thing is running toward something else.

What am I running towards? Myself. I know that’s a silly thing to do when I’m right here with me all the time. But I see this journey I’ve been on as a process of lightening. Across the continents I’ve left a trail of fears, guilt, obligations, and ‘shoulds’, and who I am and what I want is coming into sharper focus.

Funemployment Ends

I’ve been lucky enough to have a little unemployment from California funding my journey. When I signed up after being “liberated” from my day job in March 2011, I was told I’d get 99 weeks, about two years of what my friends have termed “funemployment.”

Two weeks ago, about 53 weeks into the 99, the Federal Government announced they were cutting all extended unemployment benefits to Californians. Effective immediately. My cash flow stopped suddenly, eight months before I expected it to.

I’d known my unemployment could end at any minute – I could’ve been called in for an interview in California – so the news wasn’t a total shock. But it did change my plans for the rest of 2012.

Luckily, serendipitously, synchronistically, I have a few thousand in the bank.
I have never had a few thousand in the bank. I’ve always lived paycheck to paycheck, and I’ve had credit card debt since I began traveling to Italy once or twice a year during a long-distance relationship in college.

But I made the decision to be “financially free” (ie debt free) in 2010 and stopped using the credit cards. This year, I had a perfect opportunity to cut down more of the debt – I had the unemployment coming in, I got a good tax return, I received a few grand from my father’s death, and I chose to take a job in a remote town in Patagonia that covered all room/board expenses for a few months so I could focus on paying down bills. Nothing to spend money on out here, not even a restaurant.

Within my first month down in Patagonia, and just before unemployment ended, I’d paid off every card but one. For fixed expenses I’m down to one credit card, one hospital bill (from the rabid bat incident last summer) and my college loan.

So, synchronistically, the unemployment couldn’t have stopped at a better time. I had some money and low monthly expenses.

Now What Do I Do?

But what to do next?
I was at a crossroads.
I was being tested – what kind of life do I want to live?
Do I take a risk, or play it safe?
Do I go home, to the comfortable and secure, or do I take the leap of faith, the step into the unknown?

Fly back to Los Angeles and move in with my mom?
Fly to Oregon, a place I’ve wanted to live since I was eight, and move in with my aunt?
Fly straight to France, where a friend has a house I can stay at, and figure out a way to make money under the table in Europe?

I was torn. And a little scared. What if I ran out of money? Maybe I should go home and get a ‘real’ job. Going back to the States didn’t sound half bad, either – safer, more reasonable, more comfortable. I’d get to see my family and friends. I speak the language, it’s familiar, I know I can work legally, I don’t have to keep moving because of visa limitations. And I don’t even speak French. Of course going to France would be fun, but I’d only planned to go there because I had a free place to live, and it would be good to see my friend.

I realized that this indecision was the same old fight that’s existed throughout my life – the fight between the heart and the mind, fears and dreams. I’ve been trying to figure out and follow my dreams this past year, and it’s still a work in progress. I’m still sorting out what’s me and what’s other people, and I’m still working out the blocks that I sabotage myself with.

So now I had to decide – Do I give up on the adventure and go back to safety, comfort, the known, the secure? A 9-5 job in the States?

Or do I continue living outside of my comfort zone, pushing my limits, taking heart-based risks, living all this spiritual and inspirational stuff that so fascinates me?

And does it even matter? Any path can be an adventure an growth experience with the right attitude…

I know sounds like it’s all fun and games and first world problems, choosing what country you want to fly to next. But my uncertainty and all of the options, were making me anxious and uncomfortable. Freedom equals responsibility, and when you no longer have anyone or anything to blame for holding you back, it can be a scary and daunting thing.

I decided I would go home. I’d fly back to Los Angeles and spend the Fourth of July with my mother (something I don’t think I’ve ever done, since it was traditionally a holiday I spent with my father), and then after about a month I’d fly to Portland, and stay with my aunt while exploring Oregon.

The Universe Won’t Let Me

I had a return ticket on United Airlines from Buenos Aires to Washington DC that I’d pushed back from December to April. However, when I went online in April to change the return flight from April 18th to July 1st, thinking I’d spend the Fourth with my best friend in DC, I got an error message. I tried again and again, but it wouldn’t go through. Finally it showed that my reservation was changed, but I would have to make a call to United Argentina sometime before my departure to pay for the ticket change.

I later realized it was luck/synchronicity that I hadn’t been charged for that ticket change – turns out my friend wouldn’t be in DC for the Fourth of July anyways, so I had no reason to go there. So in May, when unemployment stopped and I decided to fly back to LA, I tried to change the ticket again. All I got on the website were error messages, so I started calling United.

I called, and I called, and I called. It was either busy, or when I would finally get through to an agent, the phone system it would immediately hang up on me. I ran out of money on my phone, so I bought another 40 pesos of credit, and then another 60 pesos. Busy, busy, hang up. I finally got through to a woman – “Please don’t hang up on me!!!!” – and she started the process of figuring out what fees I would have to pay. After about 4 minutes on the phone with her, click – disconnected. I’d run out of money again.

So I stopped. Why was this so hard? One of the lessons I’ve learned in the past few years is Don’t Push. Take action, then let go. Relax, allow. I’ve learned through experience that when I push something to happen, in the end it doesn’t work out anyways. This has been especially true, oddly enough, with technology. Technology tends to work in my favor – when something’s not working smoothly for me, I’m not supposed to do it. One of the best examples of this: last summer I was trying to buy an Amtrak train ticket online from Boston to Washington DC, but the website kept giving me error messages. I decided to stop pushing and wait til the next day to try again.

The next day I was on a whale watching cruise in Provincetown, MA. I met a friendly woman who was celebrating her birthday with her husband. Her husband, it turns out, was a train conductor for Amtrak. A few days later they picked me up, drove me to the train station, and I got on the train he conducted with him – the train from Boston to DC. For free. The cost of that train ticket I hadn’t been able to buy online? $160.

So, I stopped pushing for the United ticket to Los Angeles, and started wondering – maybe I’m meant to go somewhere else? Fly straight to Portland, Oregon? Fly straight to Marseille, France?

“Remember that sometimes not getting what you want is a wonderful stroke of luck.” – Dalai Lama

 

Answer from the Goddesses

After a few anxiety-ridden days of ruminating over what to do, I sat down with Ginny in front of the crackling fireplace in her room for a maté and confessed my confusion and anxiety over where to go next. I was overwhelmed by choice. I described the frustration I’d been experiencing – my struggles with United Airlines trying to re-book my ticket, the 100 pesos (~$20USD) I’d wasted calling their Argentinian 1-800 number over and over, the repeated busy signals and hang-ups. So this left me asking:

Why? Why wasn’t this working?

And then I saw Ginny’s Medicine Bag. The Medicine Bag is full of cards, runes, and books with Native American teachings. She had a deck of Goddess cards that I particularly liked, so I decided I’d ask the Goddesses where to fly to next.

I pulled out the deck, shuffled the cards, and asked: Where do I go?
California, Oregon, France, or hell, why not Italy, my favorite country in the world?

I expected some generic message from the card that might push me on a certain direction – a card about home or mother might mean I should go to California, forest imagery might be Oregon, adventure might be France…

I pulled a card and flipped it over. And I burst out laughing.

The card said:

FORTUNA: The Roman goddess Fortuna was the same as an earlier Italian goddess who presided over the earth’s abundance and controlled the destiny of all human beings. Her name, derived from Vortumna, “she who turns the year about,” came to symbolize the capriciousness of life and luck, the vagaries of fate as the wheel of life turns around. Her festival was celebrated in October. Fortuna gives way to approach the ups and downs of life, a perspective that can offer us some equanimity as we proceed on our journey.”

 

I laughed until tears squeezed out the corners of my eyes.
W.T.F.
I later flipped through the deck, and that one was the only card that mentioned Italy.

Italy. The country I fell in love with on my first trip to Europe at age 18. The country I left my first boyfriend for, spending a semester there studying abroad (when I had to return to the States I was quite depressed that I hadn’t spent a year). The country I went back to after graduating from college, intending to stay there forever, but then coming back to the States because I was afraid I wouldn’t be able to pay back the $40,000 student loan I had (at the time the currency was the lira, not the Euro). Italy, the country I returned to four times in as many years because I fell in love with an Italian (my second boyfriend, a relationship that ended because of the distance and the fact that he was kind of a mammoni that wouldn’t move out of the house, and I got tired of waiting for him to get his own place so I could move in). The country of the language I love to speak and the food I love to eat.

So, I got my sign, my answer. Loud and clear.

And I’ve decided to follow it.

More Syncronicities

When the Goddesses said to go to Italy, I started thinking of who I knew over there.
I emailed a friend of my best friend in DC who I’d forgotten had just been relocated to Rome for work, and asked if I could crash on her couch if I came to Rome.

She said she had a guest room ready for me.

I emailed another friend I’d met 11 years ago on the way to a Radiohead concert in Verona. I told him I might be heading to Italy this summer, and asked if there were any good shows coming up.

He told me Radiohead was playing in Florence on July 1st. All their other dates were sold out but there just happened to be a few tickets left for Florence.

Ok, ok, Goddesses, Fortuna, Universe, fate, I get it!!! I’m going, I’m going!

So before I even booked my flight to Italy, I bought a Radiohead ticket online. The purchase went through without a hitch.

“Until one is committed, there is hesitancy, the chance to draw back. Concerning all acts of initiative (and creation), there is one elementary truth, the ignorance of which kills countless ideas and splendid plans: that the moment one definitely commits oneself, then Providence moves too. All sorts of things occur to help one that would never otherwise have occurred. A whole stream of events issues from the decision, raising in one’s favor all manner of unforeseen incidents and meetings and material assistance, which no man could have dreamed would have come his way. Whatever you can do, or dream you can do, begin it. Boldness has genius, power, and magic in it. Begin it now.”
– William Hutchinson Murray from his 1951 book entitled The Scottish Himalayan Expedition.

 

The Universe Won’t Let Me Again

The next step – the hunt for flights. The cheapest flights I could find on Kayak.com from Buenos Aires to Italy was an Aerolineas flight into Rome on June 25th. I checked every other Italian airport, including Florence, but they were all $300 or more than flying into Rome.

So, I tried to book the ticket on the Aerolineas site.

It wouldn’t go through.

I tried a few more times. Error, error, error. But there was an 800 number to call! Oh god. So I called, and got through immediately. A helpful woman with a Peruvian accent suggested maybe I was entering a four-digit expiration rate for my credit card rather than a two-digit. So I tried online again. Error.

I stopped. Why wasn’t this working? AGAIN?? I thought I was doing what I’m supposed to do!

I couldn’t book that train ticket to DC because I would get a free one the next day.
I couldn’t change my return flight to DC because my friend wasn’t going to be there.
I couldn’t change my flight to LA because I was apparently meant to go to Italy instead.

So why was Rome giving me problems now??
Perhaps there was a cheaper flight available? So I dug deeper. I googled ‘cheap flights Italy,’ I checked old emails from my Italian days to see if there was some travel site I’d forgotten about. I tried searching different dates, for the entire month of June, for the end of May. I tried searching all the airports, again. Nothing cheaper than flying into Rome. So I called Aerolineas again, and shortly got through to a man who put me on hold while he tried to figure out my issue with booking online. As I sat on hold, I flipped through the 20 or so tabs I had open in my browser.

And then I saw it. Somehow I’d missed the search result, or misunderstood it since the flight had a layover in Rome: a flight from Buenos Aires to Florence, a few days earlier that I’d been looking for, on June 23rd. For the same price as flying into Rome.

I hung up the phone.

I booked the ticket to Florence.

It went through without problem.

Florence. The first place I ever fell in love with. My second home. I hadn’t been there in seven years.

I screamed.

I’m going to Florence.

‎”Life is a fatal adventure.
It can only have one end.
So why not make it as far-ranging
and free as possible.”
– Alexander Eliot

 

I’m still afraid. I’m afraid I’m being stupid, afraid I’m making the wrong choice, afraid I’m wasting my money and my time, afraid I’m wasting opportunities, putting my comfort and security in jeopardy.

But the day I finally booked the ticket to Florence, I saw this post by Kute Blackson, summarizing and affirming the truth that I know in my heart, the truth that my head hasn’t quite been programmed as default yet:

“The fulfillment of your dream is not simply a matter of resources. But about your resourcefulness. How resourceful are you willing to be? How committed are you to your vision?

There is always a way. Always. Perhaps not the way you have always been doing it. But the way it’s seeking to happen for your highest good, which may not be the way you thought. So get yourself out the way so the way it’s meant to be can unfold.

The obstacles you might face along the way are simply opportunities to expand yourself, innovate and tap into other dimensions of your creative power that has yet to be expressed.

The fulfillment of the dream you have cannot be fulfilled by being the same person you have always been. It will require you shed the limitations of your previous self so that you stand in the greatness that your dream is demanding of you now.”

It’s about playing full out and giving everything you have to each moment, leaving nothing left on the table. So, lick the plate of your life clean.

You might have no road map for where your dream is taking you. But this is the time to trust your ‘Souls GPS’ to navigate you home. It’s your vision that will bring light to the path you are to travel.

Your dreams are the way in which the Divine seeks to dance in physical form through you.

The universe will respond to you at the level of your commitment.

Your excuses will get you nowhere.

Your commitment is key.

Commit.

For real.

Love. Now.”

 

And that same day, my Note From the Universe:

There are no accidents, Michelle.

If it’s appeared on your life radar, this is why: to teach you that dreams come true; to reveal that you have the power to fix what’s broken and heal what hurts; to catapult you beyond seeing with just your physical senses; and to lift the veils that have kept you from seeing that you’re already the person you dreamed you’d become.

And believe me, that was one heck of a dream.

Tallyho,
The Universe

 

So, for now, I’m following dreams, allowing life to be magical, and going with the flow. Stay tuned!

*Afore-promised punchline promised to those who weren’t willing or able to read the whole thing: After my income flow stopped and I encountered a series of obstacles and website blocks, I didn’t know where in the world to go from Patagonia, so I asked the Goddesses: California, Oregon, France or Italy? And drew a card. The card told me to go to Italy. I arrive in Florence on June 24th.