Monthly Archives :

February 2024

You Can’t Rush Toenails — or Healing

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You read it here first: Your trauma heals as fast as your toenails grow. We all want to know how long it takes to move on from a bad experience, and that’s the answer. At least, that’s my theory.

If you’ve had a heartbreak or something traumatic happen — which is everyone, by the way, every single person in this existence — you’ve probably wondered when the pain would end. I certainly have. Wouldn’t it be wonderful to have a sticker or something that proclaims definitively that you’ve healed whatever wounds you are carrying around?

Your toenail could be that proof. Years ago, a full bottle of wine slipped out of my shopping bag and fell on my big toe. My toe stopped the bottle from shattering all over my kitchen, for which I had gratitude, but it hurt like hell. I was alone in my house, and it didn’t do any good to scream. Instead, I got a frozen orange out of my freezer and put it on the toe. It was soon black and blue.

It took months to grow out. I had gotten a cover-up pedicure as it was reaching critical mass, and the nail tech promised me it would not break off in a creepy way that snags on socks. She was wrong. But eventually, the toe was back to normal. There’s a natural, clear timeline with nails growing out. You can’t rush it.

You can’t rush your healing, either.

I’ve just started The Body Keeps Score, but I know all about storing trauma in the body. As dedicated readers know, I completed the 10-day silent Vipassana course last August, seven months ago. Since then, I’ve undergone a significant process of internal

Positive reinforcement for growth is hard to come by, especially for Generation X. I'd like you to know that you are doing a great job healing yourself!

energy releases.

These releases feel uncomfortable: mostly shots of pain down the side of my leg and bubbles of gas internally moving, somehow, spontaneously. I went to acupuncture appointments, lots of yoga classes, and dance classes. I’ve done more meditation, squats, massage, and lots of adjusting my spine. I can crack my back better than most.

Lately, I’ve noticed my hip is feeling a little better. I’m still moving it a lot. But now the muscle of my left hip, which always felt like the root of the worst of the pain, has stopped searing. Instead, it’s been fluttering painlessly. I can feel it sometimes when I put my open palm curiously on the spot. It feels like a softening.

“You should just decide it’s a healing sensation,” my friend Danny said to me, echoing the same advice on manifesting positive outcomes with thoughts that I’ve said to him a thousand times. I needed the reminder.

But then, I could just look at my toenails. I don’t think there’s really any science to support this theory, but I suspect a correlation.

Healthline, the omnipotent online medical resource, reports that toenails grow more slowly than fingernails. Human toenails grow an average of 1.62 millimeters a month, a length I understand because I live in Europe. Americans will need to do some math.

Let me help: At the average rate, it takes a little over six months for a toenail to grow a centimeter, or a little more than a third of an inch.

The theory got interesting for me because, around the same time as I completed the Vipassana course, I also had a short relationship with a man who treated me to a pedicure before attempting to steal my passport and play all kinds of crazy-making head games. I wrote about it in the preface of One-Way Ticket. He was looney tunes, but, like, in a clinical way.

I knew I had some psychological scars when I arrived in Spain on October 1, but I focused on finishing the book that I had been working on for the last two years. I was in the final editing stage when I fielded calls from the London Metropolitan Police Department to ask me about the man.

Because I love you, I'm not including a picture of gross toes.

But I had other scars, too. My toenails developed leukonychia. This is a condition when white spots appear on the nail bed due, often, to aggressive nail filing at that pedicure about six months ago. So, in essence, my toenails were traumatized at the same time as my psychodrama with a crazy dude in London.

By the way, have you been in a psychodrama? My friend reached out to me recently with one: Some guy came to her yoga class and was a total creep-a-zoid, staring at her and basically freaking her out for no discernable reason.

Eeek! Eeek! Eeek! We all know that Psycho shower scene, and it's, um, totally traumatic!

“He didn’t actually do anything,” she explained. “It was his energy. Is this even making sense?”

Psychodramas are designed to make you doubt your own sanity. I wish there could be a 1-800 lawyer popping into this blog and telling you that you may be entitled to compensation if you know what I’m talking about. If only suffering really worked like that.

As Buddha teaches with the Four Noble Truths, suffering is inevitable, but the good news is that we can choose to end our suffering. That sounds good! I would like to end my suffering. Wouldn’t you? I mean, duh.

But, um, hey Buddha? How long will it take? Can we let go of our trauma in just a snap? Is war over because we want it? The answer is clearly yes. I love hearing spiritual teachings about the possibility of entering bliss eternal, whatever that looks like in your head, instantly. I love the idea of hopping in the afterlife express lane out of this life of suffering.

Unfortunately, most people have to do the work to condition themselves enough to be on their feet when they cross the finish line, so they can know where to run when the express lane prevents itself. If you’re like me, we really ought to start stretching more. Maybe it’s instant, but I think it’s a good idea to prepare just in case it’s not.

And so, for the last months, I went to therapy, worked creatively, exercised until I was sweaty, and ate healthy, whole foods. I’m also weaning myself off an unhealthy dependence on dark chocolate. I’ve been meditating regularly and practicing yoga, and I’m just two weeks away from celebrating my third year of being sober from alcohol.

I also have been watching the white spots on my toenails grow out. I’ve been keeping them short, as it feels good to see the healthy nail bed grow back. It’s getting there. It’s not all gone yet. But it will be. Change is constant — and we have the power to heal our bodies, hearts, minds, and, yes, toenails.

Dance in the Streets!

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It’s not too much of a stretch of someone who wrote a book entitled “Operation Big Fun” to write a blog about the wild, crazy, and super-funny street party that is Carnaval. It finally wrapped up here in the Canary Islands of Spain, and it ended with a bang of confetti all over my head.

However, I must admit I had been basically hiding from Carnaval for the last month, as I’d instead been working on creative projects and trying to get healthy by moving my body at the gym. I’ve been so focused, in fact, that my friend Tricia repeatedly recommended I have more fun.

The 2024 Carnaval theme was "Carnavales del Mundo." This included an out-of-place American who didn't know she was supposed to wear a costume like Halloween.

But I never felt like I was really missing out. I checked out the schedule of events, and there were no headliner musicians I couldn’t miss. Nor was I particularly interested in buying a ticket to one of the galas. I don’t drink alcohol at all and can’t handle that much crowd energy anymore without a good reason.

I passed the epicenter of the Carnaval grounds many times on my way to my weekly group meditation. It resembled a small fair in the United States with its rides and booths. “El Barco” was the Viking Ship and just as terrifying, I’m sure, given the likelihood of a person who works at the carnival forgetting to check all the screws before starting up the old contraption.

I didn’t attend any Carnaval parties, in part because I was also still exhausted from the long string of fiestas that take place during the entirety of November, December, and January. Of course, Christmas — which is celebrated here on Christmas Eve and Christmas itself — is a big deal for this Catholic nation. New Year’s Eve is a huge party anywhere. Here, the Epiphany on January 6th is an even bigger deal with a parade with the Three Kings. Carnaval started before that and lasted all the way until yesterday.

Although this morning, as I was lifting the kettlebell and enjoying a view of the passersby on the paseo, I saw a couple walking in elaborate costumes. So maybe nothing’s over. You just don’t turn it off. A little research showed me there was a drone show today and a concert by a Marc Anthony tribute band. I missed it.

I actually wasn’t even sure I was going to get out the door to go to the parade yesterday. When you’re in a creative project, if you’re

Unlike in the U.S. Virgin Islands, this Carnaval celebration features drag queens. Even the 10-year-old boy next to me watching the parade was, I think, Marilyn Monroe.

anything like me, you’re drawn inward in a way that’s almost magnetic. As I said, my level of artmaking has been verging on serious. That’s no good!

So, I was reminded about how ridiculous and hilarious everyday life is by just wandering out on the streets yesterday for La Gran Cabalgata. This is the final, massive street parade that ends with yet another all-night celebration. I knew I’d skip out on the all-nighter since I had already scheduled a yoga class this morning. But I do love a good parade.

I was curious to see if this Carnaval parade would be different than the one I enjoyed in St. Thomas and St. John of the U.S. Virgin Islands. There, the adult parade was filled with groups in matching, revealing outfits. There were plenty of sexy men and women, the latter of which highlighted for me how very different beauty standards are for different cultures. The soft, fleshy bodies that were shaking down the streets of Charlotte Amalie weren’t how I’d want my body to ever look, and yet they were beautiful, full stop!

The last parade I attended was in New Orleans two Halloweens ago. That city really knows how to celebrate! The parade was filled with marching bands, dancers, and even guys dressed as dead Elvises riding motorbikes. My bag was filled with all kinds of freebies float riders threw to me. In fact, I befriended the people around me so we could work together to manage our pile of goodies.

Indeed, the Canary Islands do it differently. The first thing I noticed on my way to the parade route was that nearly everyone in attendance was dressed in really fun and creative costumes. Both children and adults wore costumes, and many families created themes in which everyone participated. Some were elaborate, but most were simply fun.

This was a creative and almost free costume -- he put some forethought into where those dark pixels were!

There were lots of Mario Brothers, Carmen Mirandas, Minnie Mouses, M&Ms, pirates, hippies, steampunks, old folks, superheroes, King Tuts, and Barbies. Gym bunnies, soldiers, cats, and more than one La Calavera Catrina in an interesting crossover from the Day of the Dead. Yes, of course that’s also celebrated here along with Halloween.

Marching in between the big floats, I saw Trump waving a big American flag, Fidel Castro chomping a cigar, the Pope in a car with a squad of Secret Service protectors. I also spotted a few male London Buckingham guards (who were wearing miniskirts and stilettos), a few bums who offered to share some uncooked bacon with me, and a guy in a trench coat who, when he flashed the crowd, displayed a pixelated board that thankfully edited out what we didn’t want to see. I also liked the guy who had a mohawk and a ghetto blaster radio who was a punk rocker, as well as the crew of friends who dressed up like a yellow Guagua, which is the local bus.

The parade kicked off with the Reina of Carnaval 2024, a beautiful woman on a very fancy and sparkling float. Next, we were treated to the top three runners up to the crown. Then was the little girl version, the Princesa I guess, before what was very different: Drag queens. There’s a major drag queen show, in which one is crowned the belle of the ball. We got to see this year’s queen as well as the runners up, too.

Then it was float after float. Unlike in New

The Pope had his own security detail, but I noticed they were drinking on the job.

Orleans where they throw out everything from packets of coffee to moon pies to cups to Cracker Jacks, no one three anything except confetti. Only then, it was just one float with bags of the stuff. Instead, the floats were clearly ticketed parties with revelers drinking excessively — and obviously. I watched more than one parade participant kinda sway and do that telltale, slow-motion half-blink. But everyone seemed to be having a blast.

Since there wasn’t much built-in reason to interact with the people on the floats, I found myself enjoying the rest of the community who joined in to walk behind and dance to the pulsing pop music blasting from the speakers of the moving parties. I knew some of these songs — it’s the same remixed crap I have been dancing to at the gym almost daily for the last two months. However, everyone else seemed to not only know the songs but know every word and were willing to sing along unabashedly.

We were all laughing and dancing in the streets, which reminded me of how joyous and fun life can be. I have a group of friends who organize “playshops” instead of workshops, and that inspires me. As I continue to be my best self and focus my energy on completing meaningful projects, I have to remember how lucky I am to have the opportunity to do the good work.

You may have heard that children laugh 300 times a day while adults only laugh 17.  Well, I definitely laughed more than that yesterday

Isn't she the most beautiful Queen of Hearts you've ever seen? Spoiler: That's a dude, an old dude.

— and I didn’t need a drink of alcohol to do it, either, by the way.

Everything started around 4:30 p.m., and the parade was only a few blocks away. I enjoyed about three hours before I decided to return to the comforts of my quiet apartment. After all, what’s more fun than rest?

Suzanne’s 5 BEST Health Products from Around the World

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You won’t BELIEVE what number four is! Well, maybe you will. It’s not that crazy. I’ve been dragging my feet about this blog idea because it’s so click-bait-y.

HEY YOU! Have you already scrolled down to the list? Do you know any of them already? Companies that produce these click-bait numbered lists are just trying capture your attention for a few minutes. They feed on your own egos in the name of the algorithm.

I’m a sucker for it! I always click on those “10 Best Places for Young Professionals to Live in 2024” lists. Part of me hopes that I’ve lived in all of them. I barely give a think to how the random editors compiled the list. I just start clicking.

I’m part of the attention economy just like the rest of us. It’s hard to encourage people to invest in reading. That’s why there are so many marketing best practices like bulleted lists, all-caps, and other easy-to-scan, broken-up sections of “content.” Attention spans have dropped 47 seconds since measured in the early 2000s, when they were 2.5 minutes.

In the Galapagos: Me and Chucky D, which surprisingly is what Charles Darwin said he liked to be called. How well are we adapting to the changes of the natural world around us?

I usually skip the story in food blogs when I’m looking for a recipe. I scrolled past writing just last night when I needed the red lentil to water ratio for cooking a quick dal (it’s two cups water to one cup red lentils). I’ve worked as a professional writer for almost 30 years! You’d think I’d give it a quick read.

So, I get the joy of QUICK TIPS. I’ve even curated a list of searchable travel tips on The Lovelight Project’s travel and explore page.

But counting the clicks isn’t what this blog is about. I’m not trying desperately to keep your attention. Affiliate marketing is not how I make money. It’s okay. This isn’t a money-based experience we’re having. Maybe now’s a good time to take a breath.

Still with me? Long-form writing has become a disruptor concept to the attention economy.

Art is in the written word.


Top Reasons Art is So Cool

!!! Not too many exclamation marks. AI will find out. You can’t write AI without it tracking you. It’s tracking you. *She shifts the gaze back and forth*

Not everyone has time for art. You may not have that kind of time. You have to scroll past the blah-blah-blah. Go straight to what you can buy. Maybe that will relax the nervous system. That’s another secret about the attention economy: the constant consumerism will keep you in a state of anxiety. It’s an addiction, and addictions make it hard to focus on anything else.

Check out Edgar Degas within the collection of the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Especially something that doesn’t really have anything to sell you. French impressionist Edgar Degas famously said, “Art is not what you see, but what you make others see.”

So, click-bait is the opposite of what I normally go for. If you’ve ever read any of my writing, you know that I are more interested in ideas that get me, at least, thinking and feeling. If you are willing to feel — not everyone is, that’s the thing about the world today and always — you have to give a little time. Give the idea time to marinate within you. Consider the energy.

When you invest time like this, it may be a risk. What if you don’t learn anything? What if you already know the five products that I love and that’s that? Everything requires a cost-benefit analysis these days, especially with what kind of content you are intentionally consuming these days.

Busyness is a modern social psychological condition. And yet, you have time to scroll away on social media. Or whatever your drug of choice is. Maybe you’re into, I dunno, dance classes at the gym. If you’re anything like me, you’ve got all kinds of things to do. How are you doing on that new year’s resolution with those new habits, anyway?

Rest, by the way, is an excellent habit to adopt. It’s free. I plan to make daily rest part of my next 60-DAY CHALLENGE TO CHANGE initiative. I hold an accountability group every 60 days. The name sounds kind of click-bait-y, so I wrote it in all-caps. I hope I don’t stress myself out by holding myself accountable for calming my nervous system and balancing my hormones.

Rest, by the way, isn’t lying back and scrolling social media. Rest relieves you from the pressures of the world. Art is a great way to escape the norm. When you read a story or check out any kind of art, you’re allowing yourself an opportunity to feel the ideas and energy. I hope you know the difference.

Don’t fool yourself by thinking that a small breadcrumb of knowledge is a worthy exchange for your precious time. Let yourself experience life fully!

That’s exactly what I was doing yesterday I was when I found myself with a small cut. I pulled out the powder I bought in Argentina that works really well healing the skin. I tried to remember what it was called. I made a mental note to research it (Mental notes are written in disappearing ink!). Since weekly blogs have been part of my current 60-DAY CHALLENGE TO CHANGE, I thought maybe readers would be interested in a list of these products I love.

And that’s why I’m giving you:


This list is in no particular order and consists of products that work great, are relatively inexpensive, common in the country and less-so elsewhere.

Top 5 International Products I’d Buy Again

1. Polvo Cicatrizante Proser

When I rode a horse over the countryside of Argentina, I held on the strap so tightly that I ripped the palm of my hand up. I went to the pharmacy and showed them the wound, and they sold me this product. At 250 grams for under $14, it will last you a lifetime. I see from the description that it’s “specifically formulated for horses,” which is hilarious because I use this on my face sometimes.

2. Tiger Balm

You’ve likely already seen Tiger Balm, but (like dragonfruit) there are two types: red and white. White Tiger Balm is more common in the West because it is milder. It can serve as a Vicks VapoRub when dabbed in the nose or even lips. The red version is stronger and is a great for aches and pains. Both are great to stop itching from bug bites. It’s also a bug repellent, and I once saw it for sale as a spray at the Ego Pharmacy. An often-overlooked benefit is relief from flatulence, which I can’t even.

3. Thai Crystal Deodorant

There’s plenty of debate on this topic, and I welcome all your naysaying in the comments. But don’t knock this Thai Crystal Deodorant without trying it. I bought a stick for a couple of dollars in Thailand and used it daily to stop myself from being stinky. Then, when I visited my parents during the start of coronavirus (they were really stressed out), I cleaned out my childhood bathroom closet and found a stick I purchased when I was in 8thgrade from the local natural food store. Score! Talk about doing my future self a favor!

4. Boroleum ointment

Speaking of my hometown, I need to give a shoutout to the New England version of Tiger Balm, kinda, called Boroleum. While Tiger Balm is a more versatile ointment, this stuff always pulled me through the dry, cold, crappy fall into winter into spring weather of Lancaster, Pennsylvania. I wish I had a tube now as I’m living in Las Palmas in the Canary Islands of Spain. We’re experiencing the calima, which is dust that comes off the African Sahara desert. My nasal passages are a little congested.

5. Jamu

You can make this ginger and turmeric drink I discovered in Bali, Indonesia at home. But warning: It’s a little bit of a process to make, however. I found it online here. It is the answer to gastrointestinal distress, as it is a traditional medicine from the home of the cutely name but super-gross phenomenon of Bali Belly. But you have to give thanks for everything, including Bali Belly.

Honorable Mentions: Japanese bathroom anything, palo santo, and white sage.

Were you worried that I wouldn’t actually give you a real list after you clicked? Well, I did. And now’s where I continue to engage you by asking for what I missed in the comments. But I’m serious. What would you add to this list? Let’s share and connect, for art’s sake.

A Fond Farewell to the Green Tupperware 

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Divesting to the point where everything you basically need for yourself can fit inside a 65L backpack and a carry-on requires forethought — a lot of forethought. What goes in your kit all has to be perfect, or as close to perfect as you can get.

My divestment journey led me from a three-bedroom home with a shed and patio that I had rented for eight years down to a 32-foot sailboat, and then down to the pack. Then, I went from the pack to a 23-foot RV for three years. And then back down to a pack again.

Here I am before 6 a.m. waiting for a bus leaving Germany in 2023. On my back is everything I own ... including, sniff, a certain green Tupperware container in there somewhere.

You can probably imagine there are certain things that I can’t imagine living without. For example, as a menstruating female, I need my Diva cup and reusable pantyliners. With these small items in my pack, I never have to worry about how the women in Bali or Ecuador or Istanbul handle their times of the month. Wherever I am, I’m sorted.

Really, when you get a pack dialed in, everything in it is required and exactly what you want. That is, the goal is to own everything you need and nothing you don’t — and be able to carry it all.

I find the hardest part of living out of a backpack is maintaining a great capsule wardrobe of clothing while also wearing said clothing. It is easier when always living in relatively warm climates. But … climate change is real.I want to be comfortable and look nice all the time. I’m just a nomadic writer; I’m not trying to be an influencer. Unless I can influence you to care for the environment!

The good thing about only owning the most practical things is that it’s easier to be an environmentalist. I buy few items and try to repair as much as I can. I was smart to buy the cork glue and sealer from the official Birkenstock shop in London earlier this year, but the repair only lasted so long. My sneakers (also called trainers and tennis shoes) are wearing out with all these hot dance moves, too.

Now that I’m renting an apartment for some time, I’ve allowed myself to purchase some new clothes from the secondhand shop located literally downstairs from my apartment building. I pass it every day, so I often pop in to see what they’ve got. I was on the lookout for a new pair of pants — and I scored big this week! Modern cut with a frayed edge and a perfect fit, they cost 2 euros, or $2.16.

Most things you can replace, which is important to remember.

Unfortunately, my green Tupperware that I carried in my pack, the sailboat, the RV, and even in that rental house is almost impossible to replace. First, sit back kids: I’m going to tell you a story that takes place in 2009, which is hard to believe is 15 years ago. I was working at the Boys & Girls Clubs as a communication director.

This is a simple ode to a wonder-inducing Tupperware product, the "Mini Max."

That afternoon, my boss came into my little cubicle located in a hallway that led from the administration offices to the club itself, where I often went to play four square to take a break from writing grants. It was before my boss hired this dude from Newark, New Jersey who wore gold chains around his furry neck and made me cry. It was before all that, when my boss said, “Gosh, Suzanne, I can’t think of anything to encourage you to work on” at my review.

It was a fun job for a while.

“So, Suzanne. I’m hoping you can help. I have to go to a Tupperware party, where the ladies are donating a percentage to the Boys & Girls Clubs,” she said. “Will you come with me to represent the club?”

I went, and at one point I found myself sitting at the back of the room. I was totally zoning out, as of course I had no interest in plastic food storage containers sold in a multi-level marketing scheme. I was so in another world that my mouth was agape.

“I KNOW! It really IS amazing!” the woman at the front of the room said, holding a piece of Tupperware. She was talking to me.

She continued to engage me about this Tupperware, which came in a set of three for $30. These pieces were all green with circular, watertight lids that snapped on. Each piece could be folded three times, making totally different sizes as well as provide for flat storage.

Everyone, including my boss, turned to look at me. I was self-aware enough to realize that I looked like I was so impressed by Tupperware that my mouth was literally hanging open with wonder and awe. Embarrassed, I bought a set.

But here’s the thing: That Tupperware was actually awesome. I used it all the time. When I lived in Chiang Mai, Thailand, I would bring the green Tupperware to the pad Thai restaurant just down the road from my apartment for them to fill up with takeaway homemade delicacies for the equivalent of $1. I saved so much plastic with that plastic reusable thing.

Because it folded flat, I could shove it in my carry-on bag. If I wanted to buy something to eat on the plane, no problem. It helped me to be waste-free, or as close to it as I could get.

So, it was a sad day, not long after the end of the holiday season, when I reached for it under the counter in my apartment to discover that the lid had mysteriously disappeared. My roommate and I searched every cabinet in the kitchen. We had had a few parties with plenty of leftovers.

I splurged for the fried egg on top of that homemade pad Thai for $2. Note the container, shown here in 2018 back when it still had a lid.

“You’re just going to have to accept that it’s gone,” my roommate said. “I can only presume it somehow ended up in the trash.”

Again, I was too embarrassed to display my deep sense of loss and grief. But it’s there. I may be able to buy a new one, but shipping to this island isn’t as easy as you may think.

That’s why I need to dedicate this blog to the green Tupperware container that traveled from Florida and through the Caribbean, then around South America, Oceania, Asia, back throughout North America, and then over to Europe. You never got to see Africa, little buddy, and it’s so close.

Where is the lid, you may still be wondering? Because, if you’re like me, you don’t believe that someone would throw away a clearly matching green lid. I suspect that it ran away, Tom Robbins-style, with the less-special but still handy plastic camping fork that also somehow had been lost in my shuffle.

They probably are off together on an adventure to find the black puffer jacket that stuffed in its own pouch. That jacket was lost on a Deutsche Bahn train somewhere in Germany. That’s a long way away, guys. I wish them luck … and plenty of pad Thai again someday.