I’m in Ashland, Oregon!

November 11, 2013

Hello, people!

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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!

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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!

 

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.

Upon meeting one of my soul-friends in this lifetime, during our first 10-hour conversation, he said to me: “You are not alone.”

And these simple words filled my eyes with tears, and he realized that this was the message he was meant to give to me.

And now I’m suddenly recalling the bone-numbing loneliness of my youth, which began to dissolve when I began to meet soul-friends on my twenties… I suppose the loneliness was also partially covered by music, alcohol and sex too (oh and packing every waking moment of my life with work and play).

These last few years of cutting music(dance/house music), alcohol, sex and busy-ness out of my life has given me time to experience and begin to heal that loneliness on its deepest levels.

I see that I’m in the final run now as I observe my attachment to the men I encounter in my life as I begin to date again. Very, very, verrrrry interesting…….

I can feel the edges of an opening in my chest, like a black hole or a pit that opens downward to the earth that I’m going to have to go through to get to the other side, reemerging into wholeness.

w-HOLE-ness.

Alone => all one.

Today’s post was inspired by this photo on Facebook – see, Facebook CAN be good. 😉

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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“.

Aaaand I’m back!!!

Day 16 of my 30-day LightLiving simplifying-minimizing-decluttering challenge!

Lots of good stuff, clarity, new plans!


Today’s Five Releases:

1. Makeup brush

2. White Buddha tank

3. Green Ganesh tank

4. Basket I made

5. Vibrams with a hole in the soles

 

Keeps:

1. Red Buddha tank

2. Patagonia Geode necklace

(Going to focus more on the letting go as I’m planning to start traveling again – watch the video!)

Happy LightLiving!

Hiatus

May 4, 2013

I’m taking a Hiatus from vlogging for a few days. Why? Because:

I’ve run out of room.

I’m halfway through a 30-day decluttering/minimizing challenge and my hard drive is so full that I can no longer download the videos from my camera.

Oh, the irony!!!*

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

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

So I’m in the process of transferring all my thousands of photos and videos to my terrabyte external drive…which is over halfway full.

I’ve been trying to manually transfer photos in batches the last few weeks, organizing them in the old labelled folder system (hey, I was on PCs from age 12 to 32 – 20 years!) and right this second iPhoto says I still have…11,656 photos and videos to go. *sigh*

With 11,656 photos to go (I think I started around 15,000) this manual thing is gonna take waaay too long.

So I’m gonna figure out how to do this the right, simple, easy way! And I’ll let you know (if you ALREADY know, you can leave me a message in the comments – help a sister out!). From a few seconds of checking with Guru Googleji it looks like I might just be able to drag-n-drop my iPhoto Library on to the eternal… but I want to have some on my computer too, and I don’t want to always have to have my eternal drive plugged in.

I was thinking about this topic earlier: I didn’t get the souped-up speakers or the extra hard drive because I allowed the men I was asking for advice to talk me out of it. “You don’t need that much storage!” “You can add memory!” “You can get some good speakers!” Wrong on #1, that’s really implausible on #2, and #3, As a nomad/aspiring minimalist I really don’t like to have to have things plugged into my computer – external hard drives OR speakers.

So, next time, I’m going big and getting my computer tricked out EXACTLY how I want it! Considering I spend hardly anything on shoes, clothing, makeup or hairstyling products, an extra grand or two once every few years on a swanky Macbook or Air seems totally reasonable to me.

I’m off to sort out the photo stuff so I can continue bringing you more videos and photos.

In the meantime check out the thunderheads we had today!

Mashed potato clouds!!!

 

*(modern Alanis definition of irony)

Today's sky in Italy

Today’s sky in Italy

No video again today. Have I fallen off the wagon?? I suppose so. Will I get back on? Who knows! I’m working hard not to worry about it or feel guilty. Maybe the day of going through my entire wardrobe was more draining than I realized!

I think the main problem has been time. This week I’ve begun work/playin fixed hours at the Academy, 8:30am-1:30pm every day – the first time I’ve had fixed-hour work in almost two years – AND I now have THREE websites I’m building!!! Woohoooo! I am super excited about that. I’ll share the sites here when I’m done.

So between the Academy commitment and the other projects, I wasn’t able to motivate myself to film/edit/upload video today. It’s quite labor intensive.

Oh we also had an event at the Academy tonight – an expert on Vastu came and spoke. Vastu is kinda like feng shui, but the original Indian version. It deals with architecture and energy and human alignment.

A concept I really liked was sun time vs. moon time vs. earth time. Sun time is when the sun is up; moon time is when the moon is up (which changes over the course of the waxing and waning of the moon), and earth time is when neither sun nor moon is up. The different times have different energies.

I don’t know about you but for me these past few days have been super powerful energetically. Today I had all kinds of realizations, and I am feeling super ALIVE and clear. It’s exhilarating but also challenging to contain. Contain, that’s an interesting word, a remnant from the adults yelling at the children – CONTAIN YOURSELF! Sit still! I was definitely not taught as a child how to channel the immense energy I have – I was taught to suppress it, because the adults around me didn’t know how to manage their energy either. And both of my parents had a LOT of energy.

One of my realizations today:

All my life, people have labeled me a ‘free spirit.’

At first they love it about me.

And then they get disappointed when they place their expectations on me.

Half of it is me, of course, accepting their expectations. 

I no longer want other’s expectations.

I want to free others from the burden of my expectations, the burden of my choosing to feel bad and blaming it on them if my expectations aren’t met. 

Instead I choose to love others exactly as they are, in the present moment, in whatever reality we happen to be interacting in.

I choose freedom for others – the freedom from being responsible for my feelings.

I choose freedom for myself – the freedom from feeling shameful, bad, or guilty.

I choose to trust that everything works out for my highest good, and for the highest good of others.

“The greatest gift you have to give is that of your own self-transformation.” ~Lao Tzu

Photo by Me Italy 2013

Photo by Me Italy 2013

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That Italian light!

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Goodbye sun.

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.

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!