The Lovelight Project

Shining the Light on Happy, Healthy Living

Yogini on the Scene – Day 5

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What an awesome birthday! Fellow yogis hugging me before and after classes, workshops and breathing sessions, yummy food, sunshine, new opportunities for teaching … I walked around all day with an overwhelming feeling of gratitude for both myself and the Ocean Yoga Festival.

For those not breathlessly following along (kidding!), I had been living and teaching yoga in the small, beachfront town of Amed on Bali for a week when I stumbled upon a collective of groovy people getting together for a free yoga festival just 10 kilometers up the road, and during the week of my birthday, no less. So I was feeling pretty blessed from the start of the festival on Monday. But today was, shall we say, icing on the cake.

A good group of participants in a life coaching course led by Eline. Thanks, sister, for the great encouragement!

I woke up to a sweet note from my boyfriend, who surprised me with tickets to a big folk music festival in Australia. He’s currently reading The Fest Life Guide, so he’ll be a wise and ready for festival fun by the time we roll in with our tiny home in December. Happily, I ordered kue dadar pisang for breakfast. This is a traditional pancake rolled around a banana and covered in brown sugar and coconut, and it is delicious. Topped off with some strong Bali coffee, my happy belly and I scooted over to my first yoga class of the day.

“I hope you don’t mind, but this is going to be a chakra-themed yin class,” the teacher announced, bracing herself for backlash. Instead, I couldn’t help but clap my hands together excitedly. I love all of those things! Since I was the last to arrive, my mat was set up front and center; my joy was thus the de facto opinion of the rest of the class. Of course, as a Reiki master, I knew a lot about chakras anyway; but the yin felt so great. I could tell I had been caring for my body.

My notes at the bottom of my life coaching worksheet. BOOM!

Feeling stretched and blissed out, I enjoyed a jamu at Life In Amed while chatting with my parents, who kindly stayed up late for the 12-hour time difference. Then I was off to Hidden Paradise for a life coaching course. There, we paired up and talked about our goals for the year and how we were setting about to overcome any obstacles in our path. Well, I was on track here, too. I’ve got a plan that includes working toward my holistic health, creating more streams for passive income, focusing on love and ensuring more travel and adventures throughout the globe. And I’ve been actively working to create an infrastructure to make it happen. I felt really ahead of the game. My workshop partner suggested I find ways to create milestones, so I could see my success. It was a great idea.

Over to Blue Earth, I caught up with some new friends, ordered a tropical tempeh salad and participated in a Transformative Breathwork session. This involved the group lying down with our heads toward the center as we all breathed deeply through our mouths as the facilitators played djembes and random percussion and sang a tribal-type of scat vocals. All around me, people were breaking into serious, deep-seated sobs. How great that they were able to let go of some of that hurt they were holding on to. And then I realized: I’m so good emotionally, too.

Some of the percussion “tools” the facilitators used to get people to feel their emotions through breath. It made me really miss my djembe and my old percussion instruments!

I am a big “feeler of my feelings.” I don’t particularly care if they’re weird or socially awkward. I easily express my emotions because that way, they don’t own me. When I feel sadness bubbling up, I actually say out loud, “Oh, I feel some sadness bubbling up.” And then I cry. And then I move on. I did this exact thing two weeks ago. It feels good to cry when you have to. So, when I heard my fellow workshop participants finally giving themselves permission to feel what’s really going on down there, I deeply recognized and honored all the work I’ve done on myself over this last year.

Oh yes! AND I got to pet a kitty today. Best birthday ever.

This workshop – this festival – was exactly the milestone I needed. When I was teaching SUP Yoga yesterday (two more classes have been added over the weekend!), it was so wonderful to hear how the students appreciated my teachings – lessons I learned from years of study and experience. I am doing the work, and I am seeing the fruits of that labor. That knowledge is one of the best birthday gifts I’ve ever received!

Of course, there’s still a long way to go … and two more days of the Ocean Yoga Festival. I sure hope my laundry is done in time for tomorrow’s 8 a.m. Vinyasa Masterclass! I have to work off that kue dadar pisang somehow ….



Yogini on the Scene – Day 4

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Note: I’m posting this technically on Day 5. I was too tired to walk to where the Wifi was working in my little bungalow resort last night.

My day started quite early: 2:44 a.m., to be exact, when a 6.0 earthquake centered not too far away rattled me from sleep. I got out of bed and went outside my bamboo bungalow, but no one else was up. The ground stopped shaking, and I went back to bed. I realized I’ve now lived in the “Ring of Fire” long enough to shrug my shoulders and not give it a second thought.

Smoothie bowls are delicious and totally Bali. This one came with jasmine tea for $2.50

And somehow, I woke up a few hours later feeling great. I decided to take a run through my hilly neighborhood while it was still relatively cool out, but afterward at breakfast I got wrapped up in conversation with a woman who had taken my yoga class two days prior. I realized I would be cutting it close to make it to the yoga class at Balila Resort, which was another venue participating in the Ocean Yoga Festival. I decided not to stress and took my time driving the 10 km from my place into Amed proper. I realized later this was a good move.

I did my work at a coffee shop and had a smoothie bowl at Dread Light for lunch. While I was relaxing there after lunch, the person working there came up and said, “Hey, are you staying here? Because we’re going to leave.” And he and the other woman working there got on a scooter and sped off, leaving me alone in the restaurant. I looked around. There was a smart phone on the table, a box full of cash tips, all kinds of stuff. I had to laugh at their trust as I left cash for my food and left. Bali is pretty special like that.

Last night, I had a conversation with a woman from Java who told me that there are ghosts in Bali, that this is something that locals believe. If you ever feel scared, that means there is a ghost nearby. You are supposed to tell the ghost that you mean them no harm and ask them to not harm you. You are then to ask them forgiveness if you did anything to upset them. It seems the worst thing you can do is complain. Ghosts don’t like that. So, I imagine if I had taken anything from that restaurant, it wouldn’t be the last I heard of it.

To initiate the Relaxation Response from meditation, you must focus your mind on something repetitive — anything — and make an attempt to let go of everything else. An attempt!! You don’t have to meditate perfectly for it to work! Yay!

My first stop in the Ocean Yoga Festival today, then, was for the Ayurvedic Meditation workshop at Blue Earth. Now, I’ve always struggled with Ayurvedic medicine, a sister science of yoga, because the first thing you’re supposed to figure out is which of the three doshas is most predominant in you. Well, every test I’ve ever had clearly tells me I’m a fairly balanced tri-doshic individual. That’s actually good thing, except when trying to understand how Ayurvedic practices are supposed to help me. Well, impressively, I learned a lot about Ayurvedic practices in relation to meditation, and I really understood it. It was good practical stuff, with lots of experiential learning. I really enjoyed it.

I had to leave a few minutes early, however; I got to teach SUP Yoga! You know how excited I was for this, and wonderfully my students were as well. What a fun afternoon class, with warm ocean waters embracing those in the class (present yogini on the scene included) who fell in. We got to watch the sun set behind Mt. Agung, challenge ourselves with something different and bliss out with a fantastic savasana. Everyone in class said they loved it just as much as I did.

My view on the way to ecstatic dance before I bit the dust and called it a night. That Mt. Agung sure is pur-tay!

Afterward, I changed out of my wet clothes and hopped on my bike to head to Balila Resort for real this time to enjoy the ecstatic dance, which is another one of my very favorite things. I checked Google Maps and saw the fairly easy connection of backroads to get there. Well, the thing was, these backroads were not really roads. They were piles of sandy gravel and rocks that someone laid down in a general direction, and Google Maps was really being generous with the size of this line on the map. I spilled my bike going down a gravel embankment (grateful as I know so many who have been seriously injured on motorbikes – I just added to my collection of knee scars). Luckily there were a few men around to help me right my scooter. When I asked if I were even going the right way, one man told me to follow him. But he was going to lead me through a river, right next to where a man was taking a bath. I was suddenly very tired. I aborted mission, turned around and headed back home, where I ate a delicious meal and called it a night.

Day 5 is the biggest day of all, at least for me … it’s my birthday! How amazing that my gift is a day filled with yoga, meditation, life coaching, learning and love!

Yogini on the Scene – Day 3

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“It feels so good here.”

Fishing boats on the water are a peaceful start to the day in Amed

I was talking with Carla, a woman from Mexico, living in Thailand, who was staying in Ubud when she heard about the Ocean Yoga Festival. We had just finished an Open Heart Meditation and were lingering at The Griya. She was talking about how good the festival’s overall vibe was. Was it Amed in general, with the lack of traffic or massive influx of tourists like in Ubud or Canggu? Was it the energy from the ocean or the sun reflecting off Mt. Agung? No, I said: It was trickle-down karma.

Unlike any other festival that I’ve been a part of – and I’ve been to lots, just check out The Fest Life Guide to read my wisdom from a decade of music festivals – this one was organized by a group of people who simply wanted to give back. No one was getting paid. No one was even volunteering. Everyone was just sharing their time and energy to create something for the benefit of the participants, the community and, hopefully, the non-profit organizations that had donation boxes scattered around at the event’s many locations.

In Indonesia, like most places around the globe, the government is understandably strict about the fact that you must have a specific visa if you are working. This includes anyone who wants to volunteer for an organization or even tries to barter. It’s why I still get the bill for my room even though I’m sharing my love of yoga with fellow residents of my guesthouse. I just love practicing and sharing yoga, and somehow, I stumbled upon a town with people who feel the same way.

Bio-hacking 101: Mind, body, breath. And repeat.

The people who are organizing the Ocean Yoga Festival make up a collective of locals and expats who simply wanted to share their knowledge with the community, free of charge. By steering clear of the normal money-based system, (where, you know, yoga teachers have to eat too) they were able to put together an event designed to simply to help others.

This, believe it or not, is actually yoga. It’s called Karma Yoga. It is a specific branch of yoga, in which people connect with their highest selves through what is known as selfless service. That is, no one is expects to get anything out of their work except for, hopefully, a little better karma. The SUP Yoga class I’m teaching tomorrow? I’m just sharing a form of asana practice and exercise that I really enjoy. The Reiki and Life Coaching session I ran earlier in the week? I didn’t get anything out of it, except for the good feeling I had when one of the women asked if she could take a picture of my white board of notes after adding a page of scribbles to her notebook as I talked. Maybe what I was sharing would help her live her best life. That’s all I want for anyone.

Rabbits took over my yoga class, presumedly to protest the fact that there are dog, cat, cow, crow, crane, lizard and cobra poses but no bunny pose.

See, it feels really good to serve others.

But I’m barely involved. There are others who have put in a lot of effort to pulling this off. And even though they didn’t care about the outcome, so far this free festival has been awesome! This morning, I took the long and rocky road back to Kelapa, a surprisingly lovely resort hidden well off the main road, for a slow flow vinyasa class. A bunny hopped in as we were settling in, and then while in Tree pose a kitty scrambled under me. Don’t climb this tree, kitty!

Afterward, I drove over to Blue Earth for a coffee and ended up talking with a woman who was also a fellow journalist who was considering becoming a life coach. She talked with me about some of her concerns and obstacles of working as a coach, and I had to laugh: She was saying the exact same thing that I did before I started working with clients. I told her, “I’m just two steps ahead of you on the path, but not for long. You’re about to surge ahead!”

Then, after dropping some rupiah in the donation jars, I walked up to the lecture on natural bio-hacking. As someone who loves a good cold shower, intermittent fasting and a bunch of other new-agey bio-hacks, it was great to remember the simple powers that facial expression, posture and breath have on your daily life.

I hopped back on the scooter to the Open Heart Meditation, where the facilitator actually used the words, “Let your heart and body dissolve into the love and the light. Enjoy the process and smile.” Love and light? Enjoy the process? Smile? She was speaking my language! I call my life’s work The Lovelight Project, and anyone who knows me knows that I love to smile. And everything, oh everything, is in process! After the meditation, I felt even better than I did all day.

Real time blogging smiles on day 3 of the Ocean Yoga Festival

Tonight, there’s a kirtan I plan to attend, and tomorrow I’ve got a bunch more things circled on the schedule. I’m so grateful to the collective of people – many I consider my new friends – who are making this week happen. They’re not getting paid. They’re not doing anything but sharing what they love – and I love that too.

So, on behalf of every yogi and yogini on the scene here, I’d like to say, “Thank you!”

Yogini on the Scene – Day 2

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When I hopped on my scooter this morning, my belly was full with lak lak, a tasty, sweet and traditional Bali breakfast (or potential dessert, really). I just read a loving message from my boyfriend. I was on my way to a yoga class with a teacher I had yet to meet in a place in Amed I had yet to visit. Honestly, I don’t think my smile could have been much bigger.

A peaceful fountain at Life in Amed, one of many venues where the Ocean Yoga Festival is happening this week

The Ocean Yoga Festival has been a wonderful time in Amed, and I only just completed the second day. As the appointed Yogini on the scene, I am participating in (or teaching) classes throughout the week and sharing what I’m learning. Day one offered me breathwork under the imposing beauty of Mt. Agung, a yoga flow that let my body take the lead and a myofascial class that, to be quite honest, had me focusing on not making an ouchy face. With that class, you use lacrosse balls to roll and release your connective tissue. I made an off-the-cuff comment to a friend before class about how I just had a massage and felt great. I actually had no idea what kind of tension my body was holding on to. It’s the kind of thing where you feel great when you’re done, let’s just put it that way.

Also yesterday, I taught a workshop on holistic health and energetic healing. I shared the concept of the Wheel of Life with participants. This is a great tool to use, especially when working with a life coach (this is one of the first things I like to share with clients). Sometimes you may feel overwhelmed and unbalanced, but figuring out the areas of your life that are working and then focusing on the ones you seek change can help you create a plan toward success. And when I write success, I of course mean holistic health. Then I talked about Reiki and the different kinds of energy. Basically, I helped answer one participants question, “When someone says, ‘I don’t like their energy,’ I have no idea what that means.” Now she does!

I have certainly seen fancier things created from latte foam, but I look for love any place I can find it … even in my coffee.

I teach yoga at Meditasi Bungalows, so I had to head back yesterday evening. I had some vegetable soup and crashed early. This morning, I was super-charged and excited for class. Something that I really love about this festival is that it’s giving me reason to visit many places in Amed I would have never seen. My first stop this morning was Life In Amed, a cute hotel with a lovely, breezy yoga shala. The teacher, Ting Ting, spoke in a gentle, soothing voice as she led us through breathwork and poses. My favorite part of the class was when she offered me a hands-on adjustment during the first warm-up twist. I realized I was mailing it in. Just by placing her hand on my back, I amazingly could twist a lot further. I loved it.

I swung by Blue Earth to do a little work and grab a coconut latte (they made a little heart in my foam!), said hello to the owners and festival originators, Matthew and Patricia, before backtracking to The Griya. This five-star resort has a special menu this week (get the watercress and broccoli soup, it’s delish!) and is a simply beautiful place to work. I got all my writing assignments complete just in time for a really interesting talk on Vedic Astrology by a healer named Kimmana. WHO KNEW that the stars lined up to create a special you for exactly what you need to accomplish in this lifetime? Oh wait. Yeah, I knew that too. But it sure is fun to get guidance from your own special chart.

This kind of made sense. Can you believe his ascending sign in relation to his 8th House? OMG.

This afternoon, there was a SUP Yoga class, and I was bummed to hear that it had filled up. I taught SUP Yoga for years when I lived in Florida, and it was the best way to make money! Well, I was beyond excited when the organizers asked me to teach a class … and this time, any money that anyone wants to give will go straight into donation boxes. It really doesn’t get any better than that. I’m so excited to get back to SUP Yoga! Here’s why I love it so much: First, there’s no “mailing it in,” like I had done this morning. If you’re not focused, you’re wet. Second, SUP Yoga redefines success. When my students fall in the water, I can see as they’re falling that they’re disappointed in themselves, that they feel like they failed because they got wet. But the water feels great, refreshing. Suddenly, they realize it was kind of nice to fall. Failure becomes success. What an amazing lesson!

AND I got to teach Yoga today. Did I mention I love yoga? More tomorrow!

After laughing with some new friends I made through the festival, I returned to Meditasi to teach another yoga class. It’s the new moon tonight, so we practiced moon salutations. It was challenging for the students, but everyone did great. As a reward, when they sat up after savasana, we were all treated to a beautiful red and golden sky as the sun was setting. It made for a magical end to the day. And the best part? I get to do it all again tomorrow … and maybe … even better!

Yogini On The Scene

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And the birthday celebration begin!

Namaste! Feeling pretty awesome at the start of the Ocean Yoga Festival in Amed, Bali

During my month while teaching yoga in the peaceful and quiet beachfront town of Amed, Bali, I stumbled upon a friend of a friend on Facebook. She is a fellow Reiki master and yoga teacher, and so I offered to connect. She said, “We should meet up at the Ocean Yoga Festival!” Turns out, some cool folks decided to organize a free yoga festival right in the very town where I happen to be living, right over my birthday week! I was over the moon!

Kicking off this morning and happening all this week, the classes and workshops are spread out over the five kilometers of Amed, a coastal town that stretches from one breathtaking bay to the next. I’m staying at the lovely resort called Meditasi Bungalows, which is just enough outside of town for me to be the only Western person jogging. This means, by the way, that all the locals who are sitting outside their homes in the shade give me thumbs up and encouragement as I run past them in the sweltering heat.

A slice of life: the School Truck in Amed

Amed is different than the other towns I’ve lived in on Bali. Ubud, famous for its aptly named Yoga Barn, has as epic statute of Arjuna in the midst of battle – a feeling you’ll understand as you fight through the nearly overwhelming traffic in its narrow streets as you surrender to the idea that you may be late for yoga class (I never was, but I did get my shoes stolen there. Insert karma here.) In Canggu, there’s a lot less yoga and a lot more surfing – as well as its share of drunken tourists and endless smoothie bowls (Best Smoothie Bowl Award goes to Bali Bowls!). But Amed is simply authentic.

On the way to the first event of the festival this morning, I drove my scooter past little girls in maroon and white uniforms, complete with matching caps and pigtails, holding hands on the way to school. I saw fishing boats dotting the horizons and then using the fresh breezes to spinnaker their way back to shore. Women with pretty sashes tied around their waists squatted to place colorful offerings of gratitude and burning incense outside their doorways. I loved this town even before a free yoga festival arrived.

The first class that I took this morning was an Early Bird pranayama class taught by Matthew of Blue Earth Village and Apneista, who came up with this whole awesome festival in the first place. His big yoga space overlooks a clear view of Mt. Agung and some smaller but equally awesome mountains in the distance. He led a group of about 15 or 20 yogis – (I was impressed by the turnout; it seemed pretty early when my alarm went off this morning) – through alternative nostril breathing, bhramari breathing (humming bee breath) and kapalabhati breath, which is also known as skull shining breath. The most amazing part of the class? Realizing that I hadn’t had any coffee yet but was feeling energetic and ready for the day!

Getting ready for a sweaty class on the first day of the Ocean Yoga Festival. At one point I stacked my blocks to block out the sun. Get it? I blocked out the sun. Ha!

On the way out, I saw a yogi looking a little lost, so I gave him a lift on the scooter to the next class, taught by Anastasia at the beautiful The Griya resort another five minutes or so back toward Meditasi. With the sun shining brightly (and a little hotly) over the water, she led us through an Intuitive Flow. We focused on moving in a way that honored what our bodies were telling us. “Listen to your body” is fairly regular yoga blah-blah-blah, right … and yet, through the practice I realized how easy it is to use your mind to decide what your body is telling you instead of really feeling your body. It’s a sneaky mind trick to translate your body’s language, and it’s one that I do All. The. Time. I could hear my body saying, “Slow down, Suzanne. It’s the week of your birthday!”

As is my bad habit, I dutifully ignored myself as I packed up and headed to Hidden Paradise, where I’m about to give a lecture on Holistic Health and Energetic Healing. After that, I head back to Blue Earth for a Roll & Release class (mmmm … myofascial!). I duck back to Meditasi to teach a yoga class for those who are staying over on that side of Amed. And then – a whole week of yoga ahead!

My birthday week couldn’t be any more different than last year, when I was living by myself (with the company of a sweet cat and an even sweeter dog) in a farmhouse along the Rio Diamante in a small village in Argentina. I spent my birthday last year drinking Malbec, building a wood fire and taking a long walk. This year, I’ll spend it practicing yoga and laughing with new friends along the beach in Bali.

My perfect morning view in Amed

I’m so grateful to be the Yogini on the Scene! I plan to post updates from the festival throughout the week, because it’s going to be such fun! It’s completely free, but there will be plenty of donations raised for good causes: helping the children of Amed, first aid and emergency relief, recycling efforts and pet health. You can read all about it on the Blue Earth Village blog. That means the entire festival is yet another practice in Karma Yoga, which may be my favorite kind of yoga to practice day in and day out. See you on the mat, yogis!

Hugging My Future Self

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I would like to hold my little hand – Rusted Root

Wouldn’t it be so nice to be able to go back in time and give your former self a pep talk? Think about a difficult time in your life, how at the time the crisis brought stress and sadness and then, with time, you overcame and (hopefully) even learned from it. How encouraging it would have been to have a visit from your future self, telling you that everything was going to be alright.

Well, I was blessed with that exact thing, during my first hypnotherapy session with therapist Diana Morrison.

I was hypnotized one other time in my life, during a past life regression about a decade ago. Even though I was part of a large group, I was able to clearly remember two separate past lives. In one, I was an African shaman woman who wore an amazing red coral necklace and was a powerful healer for my tribe. I took a lover from the village market and got pregnant, only to have the child be stillborn; this caused my tribe to no longer trust my healing powers and ostracize me. I was killed

Benjamin Franklin, aka my past life

Benji Franklin, Lady Killer

while picking medical berries in the jungle by an arrow to the heart by a mistaken hunter. The second life, I *may* have been Benjamin Franklin. I mean, I’m just saying. All I know is that I was a powerful and respected statesman who grew up on a farm and eventually found myself addressing fellow politicians and holding important papers in early colonial American. I was a womanizer, though; I had a vivid memory of a woman scorned slapping me on the steps of the library. I expired naturally at a very old age.

So, I’m very open to hypnosis and I understand its power to tap into the subconscious. Of course, there is so much going on in our minds that we are barely conscious of. For years through my yogic practice, I have worked to mindfully confront, accept and control my emotions, which are usually seated in the subconscious and for many the ruler of their day-to-day lives. Part of this practice for me involves verbalizing when sadness bubbles up. I say aloud, “Oh, I feel some sadness that needs to be realized.” And then I cry. And then I let the sadness evaporate, and I go about my day. Many people I know feel sadness, try unsuccessfully to suppress it and then it lingers, sometimes pushing them into depression.

As a result of my conscious work with my subconscious emotions, I have been able to come close to mastering equanimity, which is one of the four sublime states of Buddhism. My highs aren’t super-high, and my lows aren’t super-low. When I used to get really excited, now I’m cool. When I used to fall into a pit of despair, well, I’m cool then, too. Because I spent energy rewiring my brain in regards to my emotions, I do not let them control me (most of the time). Are you on an emotional roller coaster, with a


Me carrying everything I own as a happy Buddhist. Not for nothing, but I kinda have a resemblance to Mr. I Figured Out The Electricity In Lightning

life filled with drama? It’s possible to get off.

Our habits and beliefs live in our subconscious as well. People whose knee bounces up and down quickly when seated at a table certainly aren’t consciously doing that habit. Smokers often light up before they even realize they’re doing it, and those who judge others by the color of their skin often deny they are racist because they’re not consciously doing it. You may think that your beliefs are supported by hard facts, but simply think about the weather: What’s hot to you might be cold to someone else. It’s what you believe to be.

Just as I was able to get a grip on my emotions, it’s also possible to rewire your brain to change habits and beliefs. All of this, of course, is easier said than done. I did the work on getting in touch with my emotional state after months of time by myself and years of yoga. If you haven’t cried on your yoga mat, you’ve either figured out all your stuff – or it’s time to go deeper.

Well, I was ready to go deeper when I discovered Diana Morrison. Based in Canggu, a beachy neighborhood in Bali where I’m headed, she has an online hypnotherapy and counseling practice that’s available to anyone in the globe. This time, I was ready to address my habits surrounding food. As faithful readers know, I’ve been following various fasting regimes for the last four years. I enjoy some aspects of fasting, primarily that it creates space in my life to focus on the many life projects that I juggle all the time. But fasting is not easy, and it greatly impacts my social life. Plus, it messed with my menstrual cycle, which I really don’t like. I was also finding that on my off-days, I was overindulging in treats. So then when I would schedule a day of fasting, there was a part of me that felt like not eating was a punishment for eating too much the other days. Even though I was basically maintaining my weight, I was having a hard time creating a healthy balance. I wanted to address it, and I was ready to change.

With Diana’s easy online calendar, I scheduled a Skype call with her for the next day. I was sitting comfortably on the sofa in the quiet apartment where I was housesitting in Korea when she called. First,


Me surrounded by the epic meal called bibimbap in Korea

I filled her in about my relationship with food, which is healthy in some ways – I’m a vegetarian who eats lots of whole foods, drinks plenty of water and enjoys cooking meals from scratch – and very unhealthy in other ways. I have a sometimes-over-powering sweet tooth, sometimes drink too much, sometimes eat too much, sometimes snack even when I’m not hungry. Growing up half-Italian, there was always “more in the kitchen” and the overarching familial belief was that food was love. When I was really young, my parents used to joke that I was solar-powered because I ate so little. At some point, that changed.

Diana, who specializes in all this, talked to me first about the revolving cycle of food restriction (in my case, fasting), inevitably eating “bad” things and feeling like crap … and repeat. Anyone who’s ever been on a diet knows this cycle: You’re doing really good, and then suddenly you “fall off the wagon” and are mad at yourself. Maybe you’ll feel the need to exercise really hard or double-down on your dieting, or you give up and feel even worse. You’re punishing yourself. You believe you failed. You’re a failure.

So, how do you get off this roller coaster and still fit into your jeans? The answer – just like with emotions – is mindfulness. The next thing Diana did with me was a short mindfulness exercise to help me get back in touch with my body. If I really only ate when I was hungry, and if I really only ate exactly what my body needed, there would be no problem. My unhealthy eating practices were simply a result of not being mindful of my body. By repeatedly listening to the mindfulness exercise (she taped it and emailed me), I could rewire my brain to only want the amount and kind of food that my body needed. It just took some focused effort.

Then the powerful stuff: hypnosis. With her techniques and training, Diana was able to deeply relax me. That’s when she introduced me to my future self. I saw me! I was so happy and free, even more than I am now! I ran up to me and gave me a big hug. It felt so wonderful! My future self told me that I absolutely had the power to change any habit or belief that I wanted, that I loved myself enough to let go of the concept that food was anything other than the important and targeted fuel my body needed. My future self told me to stop polluting my body.

And best of all? My future self was totally fine with food,

Expecto Patronum

“Expecto Patronum!” – the best scene in the Harry Potter series, when he knows he can save his past self because he already saw himself do it.

didn’t have a problem at all. What more confidence did I need? I know I can change because here I was, showing myself that I already had.

I’m committed to change my beliefs and habits. I’ve decided, with Diana’s advice, to make my fast days about spiritual growth, rather than anything to do with weight. Fasting should not be a punishment, but it can be an opportunity to have a quiet, introspective day or two that helps me be my best self. In the last few days since the hypnotherapy, I’ve made mindful food choices and already feel better. In Bali, I’m even better positioned to fuel my body when I’m hungry with smoothie bowls and fresh fruit. I’m one step closer to my best self, and I’m impressed how just one hypnotherapy session made so much difference. It was a gift to hold my little hand, to lead myself toward a better me, one day at a time.



Not Everyone Wants Help

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I was out on a date recently and asked a really lovely first-date question: “So, what are you best at?”

I answered how I wanted to hear myself answer: “Helping people.”

That is what I want to be the best at. I want to help. I open doors for people, smile at someone

“Here to help!” I pick up trash pretty much everywhere I go.

who is having a bad day, pick up a piece of litter so someone else won’t be distracted from the beauty of a park, lead yoga sessions so my students can relax, work with people to create a life plan that allows them to fulfill their dreams, write articles that provide useful advice, balance chakras, tell funny stories that make people laugh, inspire people to learn something about themselves or the world or simply pet someone’s kitty while they’re out of town.

I like to say, “Here to help!” And I really mean it.

Ever since I was a kid, I remember my parents instilling service into my life. I was required to clear the dishes and clean my room. I made a little extra cash pulling weeds and painting the garage door. I babysat. I fed the neighbor’s fish. I helped my mom set up her classroom before the school year began. I cleaned my grandmother’s house. I even spent a middle school-era Spring Break at a community service camp, where a few good-doers like myself mixed with juvenile delinquents busting out court-ordered community service orders to paint the houses and mend the front porches of low-income folks in my town. (My parents were super-stoked when I came home with a boyfriend from the other side of the tracks! This is called foreshadowing, for the literary types.)

I’m a solutions-based person, interesting in finding solutions so people can get past their problems and on to the next amazing thing that will happen in their lives. I love it when I can facilitate others as they overcome their obstacles and find success. There’s nothing better than others reaching their own potentials and giving back to the world. It’s almost like I’m just paying it forward: By helping others, I am creating a friendlier, more loving and fun world that I get to live in. The more happy people there are, the more happy people around me. I never said I was best as selfless service!

But alas, I recently learned a lesson that not everyone wants help. I’m in a Facebook group

A truth bomb from the OG peace warrior

about women who are living in Korea. I’ve been in the country for about six weeks, long enough to know that I must quell my American instinct of crossing the street when the “walk” sign isn’t lit, even though there are no cars approaching. I am supposed to just stand and wait for the green light, just like everyone else. No, my skin isn’t a glossy white, and I’m not listening to K-Pop, but I am understanding the cultural values of assimilation and subservience. This is a work-hard, play-hard country – but the fact that often workers go out drinking with the boss and must continue to drink (even until passing out) and laugh as long as the boss wants them too is really saying something.

In the Facebook group, a woman posted a concern she was having: She kept going out with guys, sleeping with them and then they would disappear. She was fearing that she wasn’t “girlfriend material,” and wanted to know if anyone felt the same way. This wasn’t a Korean problem, of course. It was more of a problem for people who had low self-esteem, did not understand themselves enough to understand what they wanted in a partner and thus constantly attracted the kind of people that caused them misery. From the outsider perspective, it was fairly obvious that she needed to take a break from dating and certainly casual sex and take a long, good look in the mirror. So, here comes Ms. Fix-It: I suggested in the comments section that she talk to a licensed therapist.

My Spirit Animal: Richard Scarry’s classic repairman extraordinaire

Outrage ensued! Not only was the original poster horribly offended that I should suggest such a thing, numerous others chimed in at how rude I was. One woman even told me that I was a “terrible human” for suggesting such a thing. The moderator blocked me from commenting on the page for 24 hours. It was amazing. Retrospectively, I guess I was too straightforward in my recommendation and should have couched it in more niceties, but I didn’t say anything remotely unkind. I honestly thought I was helping her.

In this post-Trump era, I’m certainly gotten used to people lashing out at my opinions on Facebook. Two years ago, when a friend – a real friend, someone who I went out for drinks with and laughed about silly stuff together – told me in no uncertain terms that he thought I was stupid, ignorant and uneducated because I had the audacity to support Hillary Clinton over the monster holding office now. When I received the barrage of angry, condemning messages from him, I cried. A month later, when a Republican, conservative friend of a friend told me to “go to the toilet and find a snack,” I was really taken aback. Now, well, I see this is the evolution of social media and American society in general.

Instead of getting my feathers ruffled and puffing out my chest as I read the angry reaction to my seemingly normal comment (a few people did support the idea, but they too were immediately blocked), I looked within myself. What could I learn from this? What I realized, simply, that not everyone wants help.

This woman did not want a solution to her problem. She wanted other people to say, “Girl! It’s those jerky guys! You do YOU! Wooo!” She wanted people to commiserate. She wanted to vent. She did not want to change. As Marshall McLuhan says, “The medium is the message.” If she really wanted to change, a Korean ladies Facebook group was not the medium for it.

And guess what: That’s OK! I am constantly trying to dig deeper into my pit of compassion (luckily, I have yet to find the bottom), and I realized that by jumping ahead of where this woman was in her life, I was showing not just a lack of compassion but also impatience: Like, come on, lady! *Insert eye roll* Just go to a therapist, figure your stuff out and carry on!

Photographic evidence that I have the ability to STFU and listen to someone, in case you thought otherwise

That attitude is simply not fair. And so, even though I’m not sure my comment warranted such backlash from these women, many of whom are ex-pats having lived in Korea for much longer than I, I understand it. I understand my role in it. And really, isn’t that all we can do? I recently read an article about how when people do things that do not make sense to us, it’s not that they’re doing illogical things. It’s that we just do not understand the totality of their life experience. What they are doing makes sense to them. They may have never had the opportunity to develop skills or critical thinking that would allow them the self-analysis needed to work through their own problems. Because, of course, even therapists don’t know the solution to your problems – only you do. You have to figure yourself out (professional therapists and life coaches help you do that). That’s part of our job here on Earth.

Does this mean that I should stop helping? Of course not. But part of being an effective teacher is meeting people where they are. If Johnny wants to be a better person but can’t read, you’re not helping him by assigning him a book report on Eckhardt Tolle’s “A New Earth: How to Create a Better Life.” As a trained journalist, I spent a decade listening to people and then trying to process their thoughts in an easy-to-understand way for everyone else. I listened a lot. But I want to listen better. I want to know how you want me to help.

New Economy, New Relationships

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I didn’t have much in the way of expectations when I booked an express train to Busan, a Korean beach town about four hours by express train and metro from my flat. I got myself a cheap bed in a hostel near the beach, packed a bag and left.

Besides a sunburn, this weekend offered me a reminder about the different types of relationships we have in our lives, and how the ones that are important may not be the ones you are thinking of.


Big family near medium-sized Buddha, attachment near detachment in Busan, Korea

I’m a bohemian. I travel constantly and have for the last four years. I work online from the comfort of whatever couch or coffee shop I happen to choose. I’m part of the community of people in this new, remote and global economy, and I’ve read lately how this segment of folks calling themselves digital nomads are akin to the employees of the Industrial Revolution or even the techies active in the early 90s online boom. It’s not a stretch to hypothesize that we are creating a new turn on how the economy works for everyone.

Why? Well, for one, I work whenever I choose. When I talk to my mom, she always asks me, in a distressed and worried voice, “So, are you WORKING?” As if my money is drying up … as if, contrary to my reality, I’m not actually saving money while traveling the world. Yes, I’m working! On the 260-km/hr train to Busan, there’s high-speed internet access. I did three hours of work, then spent a few days touring the city and playing my ukulele on the beach. Heading back to Seoul, I finished up another assignment and, combined with my overall low cost of living, have made more in my five hours of work in the past four days than I did back when I worked in an office all week.

This provides me time for creativity and exploration. I choose to fill my free time with life experiences, cultural adventures and learning about the world around me. I was able to learn a new musical instrument. I also wrote a humor book that a friend recently told me made her laugh out loud – the absolute best compliment I could have received! I can


With a group of new friends, exploring the Sticky Waterfall outside Chiang Mai, Thailand

exercise every day, cook plenty of meals and live a low-stress lifestyle. Not every digital nomad has this type of life, but I think this freedom to live as we choose is exactly what we all seek.

But, no. We seek more. We seek connection. We seek love. Besides chatting every week or so with my mother, but my interaction with my family is extremely limited. The last time I talked to my nephew, he had to catch himself calling me “Suzanne” instead of “Aunt Suzanne.” Even before middle school, I was a black sheep of my family. It used to make me sad. But I’ve changed my thinking completely. Now I am beyond grateful for this, as it has created the foundation I needed for the free lifestyle I live in continued travels around the world. If I had great attachments to my family, I could not live the life I do. If my family was constantly pressuring me to come “home” so they could see me, it would be more challenging to explore Asia, Oceania, South and Central Americas and the Caribbean. What I used to see as a lack of caring was actually the gift of freedom to be myself.

It’s not the length of the relationship that matters to me, but the quality. What type of people am I bringing into my life? This weekend, I was at the beach and when I awoke from my nap, I discovered a huge Korean family had set up literally all around me. So, I


Sharing the best Moscow mules of our lives and making memories in a secret bar in Korea

watched them. There were many cousin/siblings around the same age, and they were teasing each other and getting each other wet in the freezing cold ocean. One girl was quite overweight, and I watched as the boys all gathered around her, starting to pick her up to throw her in the ocean. She freaked out and wriggled out of their grasps, and it was clear that it really wasn’t about the water – in minutes she was swimming – but the fact that she was self-conscious about being picked up. She started to sulk away sorely, and then a man – I’ll call him Dad – rushed over to her and put his arms around her. He encouraged her to turn back to the sea, and another older boy came up and walked with them as they clearly were talking her into only “getting in up to her knees.” These men wouldn’t let her stay upset. Before long, she was laughing with everyone else. These are the types of people I want in my life.

I’m so thankful that, even though it’s been a couple years since I’ve had someone whom I would call “boyfriend,” I’m blessed with the kindness and company of men (and women) who make me feel special. In fact, what may seem like ancillary friendships are actually quite meaningful to me. Just this morning, I woke up to a video call from a friend exactly halfway around the world. I’m still smiling at the thought of her face!

Good people are easy to find, and often it’s so much easier to connect with these people when we are alone. When you’re with your mate or your relative, you’re talking to that person and others are less likely to engage with you. But when you’re alone, the world opens up to the possibility of every kind of relationship. For example, after the beach, I decided to try a vegan restaurant I had heard about. I took the subway and figured out through Korean signs and Google maps where it was. I started to walk up the steps when


A new friend, new ideas, new conversation, new connection, new experiences

a man came down.

“Are you looking for the vegan restaurant?” he asked me, as I nodded. “Well, it’s closed from 3 to 5 p.m. I’m hungry too! Hey, follow me!”

And with that, we both made off down the street and he led me to another vegan spot that was somehow tucked behind a corridor of pipe fittings and booths that were clearly for the working locals. We enjoyed lunch together, then returned to the first restaurant to share green tea. He and I talked Buddhism and Thailand, cultural and karmic implications of being a female and a male, and the impending typhoon that was about to hit Busan. And days earlier, I met a Chinese woman in my hostel who just happened to want to check out the exact spots in Busan that I was considering. Without having to do any research at


We’re all exploring and understanding the world together. No, Allison doesn’t speak Korean either.

all, I joined her and had a fun-filled day of connecting and adventuring. Both of these two new friends were looking out for me, making sure I didn’t turn away sadly. They were kind people, so unlike me and yet so very much like me.

Another new friend I met in Busan, an American who recently graduated from university, told me she was working on a study about the importance of meaningful relationships in the health and longevity of senior citizens. My question to her was whether those relationships – the kind with people that you can confide in, call in times of crisis – were vital because those individuals had always needed it, or if my (I guess you could say) more superficial ones were just as important to me.

It’s worth exploring. Perhaps the bohemian lifestyle is not just changing the world economy but also changing the way we interact with other people. What happens when we find equal value in hearts of good people from all over the world, rather than just those “special” people who are in our lives due to geography or biological history? Do we have the same longitudinal health benefits? Can we have the same quality of connections? Can we be even more happy?

My 14-Day Water Fast

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Fourteen days! I hope you are exclaiming out loud. That’s a lot of time. (cue soundtrack, feel free to click and listen in the background). I’ve had lots of questions from the few people I’ve shared this experience with, so it’s a long post. Feel free to comment with more questions.

Faithful readers of this blog know that I’ve been experimenting with and following a variety of intermittent fasting regimes for a few years. I really enjoy fasting, and when I was on the sailboat I was even featured in a cookbook on 5:2-loving vegetarians, which way how I originated started. There are so many methods. Let me break down the most popular intermittent fasting styles in the debatable order of serious business:

  • 16:8, which limits the eating window to just eight hours of your day.
  • 5:2, which is eating up to 500 calories two days per week.
  • Alternative Day Fasting, which is what I did for a few months in the last year.
  • One Meal A Day, which limits that eating window to a single meal.
Fasting App

The countdown was on!

And then there’s the extended fast, which is what I just completed. Why? There’s lots of reasons, but honestly the biggest motivator was that I really needed to drop some weight I gained while having a simply fantastic time, freewheelin’ around and adventuring in Mexico, New Zealand, Malaysia and Thailand over the last six months. I was really in a nice, introspective space when I lived in Argentina, and I fasted regularly and was healthy there, while also drinking copious amounts of Malbec, which was produced 10 minutes from where I was living. But I could barely care about fasting and my weight once I sat down to my first meal of beans, rice, cheese, salsa, guacamole and margaritas in Mexico. New Zealand was filled with a massive amount of hiking, as well as dinner dates. And, if you don’t know, Georgetown in Penang, Malaysia is a foodie’s paradise with perhaps the best Indian and Chinese food found outside those respective countries. And Thailand? Forget about it! Without a doubt, these months were filled with a overwhelming lust for life.

Don’t get me wrong, I also run or do a HIIT workout almost every day, or, when I was in New Zealand, I was hiking an average of three hours every day. I still looked beautiful, so it wasn’t some intervention by friends or me having a case of low self-esteem. In fact, the decision to fast for two weeks was divinely guided, coming from meditation. Fasting is super-good for you. I can’t go into the whole thing, because it’s amazingly easy to go down a black hole with this. And trust me, over this fast I’ve watched so much on YouTube! Here’s a link to a science-y ripped dude you may enjoy.

My fast was also divinely timed. I started two weeks ago when I moved to Korea. That’s the ideal time because the first day was travel, and it’s pretty easy to say no to airplane food. Also, I didn’t know anyone in Korea! There would be no awkward social invitations or opportunities that I would “miss out” on by not eating. Finally, Korea is known for their BBQ. No thanks.

Plus, everyone who knows me knows that I love a good challenge. I was born ready.

My allowances over the fast were tons of water, of course, along with one shot a day of drinking vinegar (My supplies were limited by the Korean grocery store options), a tablespoon of salt in warm water if I got light-headed, a multi-vitamin, jasmine tea and black coffee, the latter of which, quite interestingly for a former barista, I lost the taste


If you think my ego will let me share my “before” picture, you’re crazy.

for by Day 6.

Each day, I ranked my state of Mental Clarity, Physical Strength, Sleep, Energy Levels, Stress Level and Overall Feeling. I also took notes, so I’ll condense below:

Day 1: With the last delicious taste of vegan khao soi and hot ginger tea at my favorite restaurant in Chiang Mai, the fast began. I hopped on a red-eye to Korea, and just basically stayed in the blur the rest of the day. I politely declined an offer by the owners of the cat I’m caring for to go out to eat and crashed hard.

Day 2: I had hunger pangs a few times during the chilled morning (they left first thing), but it was nothing insurmountable. I took a bath, did some yoga and a little work. Felt overall pretty good.

Day 3: In the morning, I took a long walk around my new neighborhood of Songdo, Incheon, which is just outside Seoul, and it ended up being longer than originally planned. I arrived home, did a little more work, another bath (decided this was to be a daily thing) and watched a movie. I wasn’t hungry, but I started to feel a little rundown.

Day 4: I had the straight-up keto flu! This is infamous for people who follow a ketogenic diet, which is a whole other thing besides intermittent fasting. But it’s complementary because it mimics what fasting does to the body regarding the way it produces energy. I was down and out, but still mentally sharp. I worked a little from bed, watched a movie and had some time to think about my life. I dragged myself to my mat to do a gentle yin yoga class. In the midst of this deep rest, I had some good divine guidance regarding relationships in my life. I was cold with muscle soreness, but my mind was churning wonderfully.

Day 5: I started having crazy dreams, really vivid. I felt a little better and did a bunch of work. But I was still too tired to take a walk around the park, as I had planned. This was the only day that I didn’t do some movement; it really did feel like I had the flu, minus the sniffles or stomach ache.

Day 6: I was hanging in there! I went to a yoga class held at the park next to my flat, which was lovely but knocked me out. I headed home and took a three-hour nap. I was dizzy in the morning, but the salt drink solved it. I worked and really didn’t think too much about food.

Day 7: I woke up from more crazy dreams still feeling sluggish and weak. Slowly got up and discovered that coffee didn’t really taste that great. I noticed my sense of smell was keener when I washed my hands with lovely vervain hand soap. I did some more yoga, did some more work and watched another movie. I was in good spirits this entire time. I was getting things accomplished with my work, enjoying the light, airy flat.

Day 8: A week in, I finally felt like I had rounded the corner. I walked to the pharmacy and picked up an enema, hey, and even took an hour-long walk around the park. Had a great time playing the ukulele. I took another nap, was starting to feel better physically.

Day 9: This was when it all started to feel worth the challenge. Even though I had a dream about “missing out” on a vague cultural event involving food, later in the morning I actually had the thought, “I don’t even need food.” I wrote steadily all morning, then took another, brisker walk in the park. I didn’t even take a nap!



Day 10: On this day, I felt amazing! At one point in the afternoon after a little more work (did you think I was retired?), I got a burst of energy. I had a great yoga practice, played the uke for a bit and walked to the grocery store. There I bought provisions to break fast and simply wasn’t tempted … I didn’t wander down the candy aisle or sniffed around the bakery. I was fine. I even lugged my groceries home. I ranked my Overall Feeling a 9 out of 10. I was making friends through other friends around the globe and online, but I pushed everyone off. Each night I chilled at home.

Day 11: Sleep was so amazing. It felt like a cool night in late October when I was growing up, when you left the windows open even though it was chilly enough to need to add an extra blanket to be all snug like a bug in a rug. I awoke early and refreshed and worked steadily until the afternoon, when Spotify somehow shuffled to Madonna’s “Lucky Star,” which resulted in a dance party for one in my living room. I was really feeling that great!

Day 12: The awesome routine continued, waking up feeling awesome, working a bunch, having a long walk in the park, followed by a bath and a nap. After the nap, I had a great brainstorming session regarding some of my personal projects, including marketing my new book. I was thinking so clearly and with forethought, seemingly crisper than ever. This, by the way, is also a famous effect of going into ketosis, proof that my body was now switching over its fuel-burning system, becoming more efficient.

Day 13: Grateful that I felt so wonderful, I had the opportunity to teach a yoga class in the same pavilion in the park to a nice class. It was a blissful, long class; afterward, I had to politely decline the offer to go to Indian food with some students. For the last week, my skin had broken out, but today it had basically healed. I did a lot of work on personal projects and stayed busy. But I also remembered how much I enjoyed cooking and preparing food. I missed that hobby.

Day 14: Today! As I write, I’m an hour away from breakfast. Not that I’m counting or anything …

I spent the morning working a little on my projects and took a long walk in the park, then made myself a wonderful salad with the produce that the homeowners had left. They left a bunch, and frankly I just pushed it off, dealing with it. I was really surprised that a lot of was still perfectly fine! I also cut up a quarter of a watermelon, which is what I will eat first. Then I plan to wait an hour, let that insulin spike settle down. Then I’m enjoying a huge green salad with homemade Italian salad dressing, macadamia nuts and some kimchi. Now I know I will be exploding then, but I also discovered that the homeowners had left some bananas, which I froze weeks ago. You can puree frozen bananas and turn them alone into creamy vegan ice cream! Dessert!

Tomorrow, after some kefir and blueberries, I’m heading to the jjimjilbang, where I will be getting a body scrub by an old Korean woman who also will be naked, before returning to the baths and later putting on my issued pajamas and enjoying a sikhye and a nap in the oxygen room. In the evening, I am meeting up with a friend and trying steamed veggie dumplings and a Cass beer. Honestly, I could have continued fasting … but I’m keen to explore!

So, does that mean nothing happened, that I’m back to my normal ways? No. This has been a time of deep rest and introspection, and it’s been a gift I’ve given myself. Physically, I dropped the 12 pounds – or about 5.5 kg – or two pounds shy of a stone. I’m almost exactly the weight I was a year ago. All the extra energy I stored has been burnt, which makes me think about the impermanence of things. Experiences do not require any sort of holding on to be in your heart, no souvenir, no picture, no ounce. So, while of course I’ve been a minimalist for a while, I’m different mentally, too. This, my first long fast, has been a wonderful learning experience about myself. I know fasting isn’t for everyone, but trust me, when I bite into that first sweet taste of watermelon, I will be so happy. In fact, I still have an hour to go … and I’m already happy.



When Patience Pays

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Almost three years ago – July 22, 2015 – I wrote a blog post called “Escaping the Maze.” I was in the first year of my nomadic life, and in the post I gave tips on how to push out of the well-carved ruts that tend to suck us into the same old patterns of life. At the time, I was still working to reduce the number of clothes I owned, and I used the idea of the Ten Item Wardrobe as a way to consider pushing yourself out of a comfort zone.

Oh, to have known how far out of my comfort zone I was actually about to push myself! I had indeed escaped the maze, but it was more like entering “The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe” than a simple TED Talk reference on minimalism. I had


I learned how to drive a scooter this month! I also played in waterfalls, fed elephants, allowed fish to nibble my feet and got so many Thai massages.

crossed into another realm, one where so many things were unfamiliar and it was actually OK.

From seeing the Grand Canyon as a rut where rushing water cut a path after years and years of wear, now, tomorrow, I am visiting the “Grand Canyon” outside Chiang Mai in Thailand and jumping from the highest cliffs into the waters below. Just like I jumped into the freshwater ceyotes in Mexico. Just like I jumped off the starboard side of a sailboat into the Caribbean Sea. Just as I jumped out of an airplane over a glacier in New Zealand. Ruts aren’t things to escape now. They are things to play in and around.

How did this change occur? How do you turn from someone who is nervous and analytical, wondering if the plans are going to work out into someone who is confident that, when you strap everything you own to your back and walk out of an airport, you can find your way in a country you’ve never been?

I still have more than 10 items of clothing in my wardrobe, but not many more. How did I go from having checklists upon checklist in Operation Tighten Up to actually being tight? Faithful blog readers know you have to Do The Work, but there’s another component to change.

Enter the magical element of time. Patience.

Do you know the story of how I discovered patience? I love this story, so forgive me


Buddha has patience, and patience is required when you visit Buddhist temples along with throngs of others.

if I already told you. It was about a year and a half ago, when I was living on St. Thomas in the U.S. Virgin Islands. I was teaching a wonderful yoga class in this tiny, breezy studio about 20 minutes from my little studio apartment, which I rented for a few months. I had locked up the studio doors after another heartwarming class and walked a few minutes down the busy road. On the island, you can wait at designated stops for public transportation called the “Safari.” These open-air trucks – I mention these in Looking for Same – don’t really operate on a time frame. They are independently operated vehicles that just come around when they come around, and you flag one down and pay either $1 or $2, depending on how far you go (and that is sometimes a matter of debate), and it gets you close enough to walk yourself home. In fact, there was a guy (another shout-out to Curtis!) who sold beers and bush rum shots from the back of his pickup truck, which was usually parked exactly at my Safari stop. It was a good system – most of the time.

This one day, I was waiting and waiting on the side of the road for the Safari to come. My friend texted me and said she got a table at the restaurant where we had planned to meet. I hadn’t even caught the bus yet! I was started to do some calculus in my head: Maybe I could hitch? Maybe I could call a taxi? I didn’t know many people with a car on the island at this point … just as I was really thinking I might as well start walking, the Safari came.

Now, it is custom in the Virgin Islands to greet everyone in the room or public vehicle with a “good morning,” “good afternoon” or “good night.” It was amazing how these people were able to identify when it was 12:01 p.m. to switch from “good morning” to “good afternoon.” Anyway, so when I hailed the Safari that day, I climbed in and looked around and everyone and said, “Good morning.”

The passengers, as is custom, returned the greeting to me. This included the Rastarian man who I happened to sit next to. He looked at me and continued the friendly conversation, again, as is custom:

“How are you today?” he asked.

“Well,” I started, trying to shake my frustration from my head as I was finally on the way to meet my friend. “I wasn’t sure the Safari was going to come! I was waiting for a really long time!”

The man turned slowly, looked at me and smiled. He uttered one word with that Jamaican, “I’m probably stoned” accent that I’ll never forget:

Paaaaaaaatience,” he said, so slowly that it actually took patience to hear him say the word.


Noodle: The Cutest Pup in all of Chiang Mai

And that was it. Now, every time there’s a point where I can feel myself battling against Divine Timing, I take a breath and hear that man saying the word “patience” to me. And now I wait for the right time.

So, what does waiting for the right time have to do with the comfort zone? Because, the time has come to move out of mine! I’ve been living in Thailand for the last month, housesitting and caring for the cutest pup in all of Chiang Mai, and it’s an incredibly easy city to live in. There is a reason some of these places in the world are hotspots for digital nomads: It’s amazingly inexpensive. The weather is wonderful. The people are kind. I rented a motorbike for a month and scoot from free meditation session to vegan brunch to a quiet café to work, then back home to jog or swim in the pool, maybe head out to a $5 massage or $2 fish pedicure, grab dinner – maybe freshly made veggie pad Thai for $1 – and then connect with friends or chill. People smile at me. I smile at people. It’s a very comfortable place.

So why would I ever leave? For one, there’s the issue of visas, which involve the most minimal amount of hassle to extend. But my current visa only lasted 30 days. And because I heard the famous quote recently by IBM’s old CEO Ginni Rometty: “Growth and comfort don’t co-exist.” I’ve done a lot of growing since I wrote that blog three years ago. I’ve still got more room to grow!