The Lovelight Project

Shining the Light on Happy, Healthy Living

Drop it Like It’s BIG FUN

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And just like that – after a year of slowly plugging away on a personal project, something I had to sneak into between working gigs because it wasn’t about making money but sharing a story – I am now a published author with a book title on Amazon. With a click, I went from being someone who says airily, “Oh, yeah, I’m working on a book,” to someone who did it. My book dropped.

In today’s modern self-publishing world, I guess it may not seem like that big of a deal. I’m not like my amazing friends who have agents and publishing deals and New York Times #1 best sellers (damn Amie sets that bar high) … but I’m closer than I’ve ever been. And tomorrow, I’ll be even closer. What does it take to reach a goal? Persistence, effort and believing in yourself. Let’s break it down.

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Woo! I published a book!

Persistence

My book is called Operation Big Fun: The Fest Life Guide, and the idea came to me as I was riding in the back of Jeffrey’s RV with Jody, Joni and Ema after seeing the Allman Bros. perform their last festival show at Lock’n in Virginia. I was a good few states away from my rental home, and the folks I caught a ride with up to the festival decided to “leave early to beat the traffic,” which was perhaps the most ridiculous thing I had ever heard in my life. Somehow, I was able to find friends with a willingness and room for me to join them on their travels home. Somehow, I figured out a way to transport my overpacked belongings across the festival grounds to their VIP RV. Somehow, I ended up having just the very best time. As I was singing along with Joni’s beautiful guitar, lounging on a pile of Mexican blankets with my feet up on the cushy seat, I realized that my somehow wasn’t just chance. I had used my experience, wisdom, connections and skills to make my festival experience the best imaginable. I didn’t quite realized it at the time, but I was divinely guided to share what I knew.

So, with my pen scribbling a draft table of contents as the RV bumped and bobbed along the country roads home, I started my first book. It was just a dream at that time. Four years later, it’s a finished product. A whole lot has happened in my life in those four years. I went to a bunch more festivals and learned a lot more. I also quit my office jobs, sold all my belongings, transitioned my writing career to being completely remote, learned how to sail and lived in 10 different countries (with plane tickets to two more in my pocket!). And yet, this whole time, I knew that if I plugged away at this idea, I could make it a reality. I could be a published author of a book.

Effort

About a year ago, I was living in the U.S. Virgin Islands in a studio apartment with a sleepy kitty. I had ended a long-term relationship and writing all kinds of public relations work that was paying the bills but not fulfilling me creatively. I was teaching yoga four times a week, dating handsome men and drinking a little more than I should. It was time. I pulled out that scribbled piece of paper I crafted in the back of my friend’s RV and opened up my computer. And it began.

Me as a DN

My desk in the Caribbean where I wrote most of the book, evidently with messy author hair. RIP T-shirt.

They say that the hardest part is the start. Once you start something, Newton’s Third Law of equal and opposite reaction takes over. When you pull, it pulls back. The wheel begins to turn. For the less scientifically inclined, it’s as simple as The Secret. You put effort when you wish it to go, and suddenly it’s all you can do.

Well, that’s not exactly true, now is it. There were weeks when I did absolutely no writing on my book. I would be swamped with paid gigs. I would be sailing to the British Virgin Islands. I would be too busy having fun. And then, an angel would appear and say something as easy as, “So, how is your book coming?” or “What kind of writer are you? Do you write books?” It was the stark look in the mirror that reminded me that I needed to return my efforts to what I found important, what I wanted to persist. And so, I sat down in the chair and opened up that computer file again.

And while people may turn their nose up at the concept of self-publishing, the end result is a lot harder on the author. Not only did I have to write the best piece I could, I had to find the pictures that I wanted to include. I had to find a designer who could execute my cover concept. I needed to learn how to format a book for a Kindle and then format a book as a paperback. I needed to learn every aspect of the process, something that authors who have publishing companies just pay someone else to do. Since I have a background in marketing, some elements were easier than others. But I had to put effort into it all to make it happen.

Believing in Yourself

The most helpful thing – besides YouTube, of course – was my friends, both new and old, who asked me about my book. My mother often asked me about the book, and who knows how she’ll actually feel about it … I had to send her a note to warn her about the sex, drugs and rock ‘n’ roll in it. She might not like the book, but I know she likes me. And, so do I. I knew I could do it.

As I travel and live outside my comfort zone on an almost daily basis, I have to constantly come back to the concept of being my own best friend. I knew I could write a book. I knew I could live in a country where I didn’t know the language. I knew I could get on a scooter today and drive it further than I ever have driven a scooter to get myself to the coffee shop in Chiang Mai, Thailand, where I’m writing this blog post.

Of course, I’ve had my setbacks with everything. A few weeks ago in Malaysia, I was working out and fell down, scraping my knee badly and crying about how alone I was. But I ended up slapping a bandage on it, calling a Grab and teaching a great yoga class less than an hour later. Same with writing: Some days, man, you gotta slap on that bandage and keep on going.

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I have always been a writer with ridiculous hair.

Why? Because there’s a trick to being the kind of person who says they’re going to do something and then doing it. And the trick is persistence and effort. The trick is in the doing, not the dreaming. I see this a lot with people who want to work remotely. They dream of it, but then don’t put in the effort, persistence and belief in themselves to make it happen. For me, I knew I could “try” to write a book, or I could just do it.

And what now? I have a plan to share my story with as many people as possible, but again, this isn’t about money. This isn’t about fame. This is about me being 7 years old, sitting at my little desk in my Pennsylvanian bedroom, digging my little toes into my green shag carpet and sticking my tongue out in concentration. That was when I realized that I am a writer. I am a poet. I am journalist. I am a copywriter. And now, I am a book author.

 

Doing The Work

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OK, so let’s start with the punchline, which is simply that I am actively avoiding work while writing this blog post. But I digress …

I’m a member of many groups in Facebook of digital nomads – of which I could have

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“I’m working!” said with the same voice as a 6-year-old would say, “I’m helping!)

been labeled four years ago if such a label even existed – as well as solo traveling females, which, well, hi. These groups are a big mix of men and women, young and old, seasoned and green. The latter often ask questions like, “I’m still in school and I want to be a digital nomad. How do I do that?” Or the slightly less open-ended, “I want to be a professional writer. How do I do that?”

 

Well, as a professional writer for the last 20 years, I can tell you the answer. If you want to be a professional writer, the first thing you have to do is write. You have to actually sit your ass on a chair and do the work. You can’t be a writer if you do not, in fact, write. Getting paid is the second level of work. In order to get paid to write, you have to hustle. You have to reach out to editors, post your own content (hi again) and get an education that provides you the skills for better writing. You have to read a lot and think about ideas and the way to describe how life unfolds in front of you. You have to actively do everything you can to be a professional writer if, in fact, you would like to be a professional writer.

Usually, that’s not the answer most of those greenies want to hear. Like everyone, they want to take a magic pill and transform magically into whatever you wish to be. But it

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I don’t remember Jack and the Beanstalk being so bad ass, but here you have it. Remember, “magic seeds” are part of a fairy tale.

doesn’t work like that, now does it.

 

I just started jogging again. I’ve done it pretty regularly for the last two weeks, and I even bought a pair of trainers and running shorts, which I wear for the 30 sweatiest minutes of my day. I’ve done this good habit long enough now that I can write it down. See, I’m a jogger. I can’t just buy a pair of running sneakers and say that I want to be a jogger. Gosh, how can I become a jogger, one of those people who don’t look like they are dying while shuffling their feet down my block? Because no one wants to be these red-faced losers – no, we want to be fit joggers! How ever could you possibly become one of those people? Here’s a hint: Jog.

So, faithful The Lovelight Project readers know that I’m a big believer in the fact that “The Universe Provides.” This, by the way, is different from The Dude Abides. It really does. Here’s an example. This morning, I was making my daily scroll through Facebook as probably everyone (except my Dad and Stephan, who gets his first, requested shout-out in my blog!) who is reading this. My friend Savannah posts a random video about how great jackfruit was. It reminded me that there was a jackfruit tree in the backyard, and it had been raining a lot. In fact, I need to add after my last “I’m so f-ing awesome” post, I ended up trudging 20 very wet minutes in a downpouring rain from the bus so there. Well, anyway, I look outside, and there’s a huge jackfruit on a low-hanging branch.

But – here’s the point. I still had yet to enjoy the Universe’s gift of a jackfruit. I first had to

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Me and a jackfruit, which is really heavy, I might add. 

get a stool that I could stand on to reach that branch. I had to walk outside my gate around the corner where the tree was overhanging and position the stool cautiously on the uneven ground (Ha! No Obamacare for me! I’m a functional ex-pat!), climb up and use clippers to cut the thick stem of the jackfruit. I had to make sure it wouldn’t fall to the ground and split, and then I had to brush a gazillion ants off me (jackfruit are SUPER sticky, by the way). I had to go back to the house, retrieve a bucket and fill it to the brim with water. I had to lug the bucket back to the ant-covered fruit and dunk it in the water. I carried it back to the house, washed the ants off, washed my shoes and then the bucket (did I mention jackfruit are really sticky?) and soon, I have to take a knife to the fruit to expose the amazing meat-replacing goodness found inside.

In other words, I had to do the work. I wanted to eat jackfruit. That’s one way to do it. Sure, I could have biked to the market and bought some pre-cut pieces of jackfruit laid out quite nicely on a little plastic tray – but I’d have to pay for it. I bet you can see where I’m going with this.

Look, sometimes a bird will drop a magical holy breadcrumb into your praying hands, you eat it and then suddenly your dreams of having a baby come true when you give birth to Hanuman, the warrior monkey god. But Hanuman’s mom, Anjani, was doing the work. She was praying. She was actively looking deep in herself and living in such a way that the gods would bless her. She wasn’t sitting on a couch eating a bag of potato crisps/chips wishing she could be fit enough to job around her mildly hilly Malaysian neighborhood without dying. She made it happen.

That’s right! It’s not the Universe making it happen. It’s actually you. Maybe it’s God working inside of you, maybe not – you get to figure that part out. In fact, you get to figure everything out. So, what magical thing are you going to make happen next?

FLOWING

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This morning just flowed! I slept in – completely ignoring my alarm, which I set only because if I want to work out before the wickedly hot sun crests over the mountains behind my tropical home, I better get up. But it was overcast, so it was no big deal to exercise an hour and a half later.

And boy that work out was awesome! I have this high intensity interval training routine, which I do along with just simply jogging around my minorly hilly neighborhood, and

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Me post-work out. I try to sweat every day … not hard in Malaysia.

there are rounds of jumping jacks, crunches, squats, leg lifts, dips, push-ups and burpees. The goal is to accomplish as many rounds as possible in 30 minutes. I’m around 2.25 rounds, and I’m getting better each time I complete it.

After that, I took a quick shower and called a Grab, which delivered me for $3 on time and with pleasant conversation to my yoga class, which I now get to take for free because I am subbing for a few classes there and teaching a workshop. It was a great class, taught by my new friend Gwen, who is a pro at opening up the side body and got deep in my hips that were screaming at me for doing those squats.

From there, I strolled to the pharmacy – I walked a few blocks with the other woman in class, and I happened to save her not once, but twice from being hit by a car. At the pharmacy: No problem, here’s my prescription for $4. Onward to the copy place to make flyers for my yoga workshop, and I needed an ATM. No problem. One was on the way, and the people at the copy place were really nice and even gave me a discount.

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Come to my workshop! Click here for the Facebook event! 

Back to the yoga studio, I gave them a color copy of my flyer (cost me 39 cents) and then strolled over to the bus stop, where the minute I approached a bus immediately appeared. I had correct change ready as I told the bus driver “Tanjung Bungah” with such a normal tone, it was like I lived there for more than two months. I got a seat and pulled out some candied tamarind, which I had bought en route along with a jasmine tea for a snack. I got off the bus at the correct stop, walked home and as I was unlocking the door, it started raining.

And just like that, I was flowing through my life … without stress, worry, anxiety or anything but a smile on my face.

My friend Mary taught me a specific usage of this term, but in a bit of a sarcastic way. She told me that when she’d misplace her keys or couldn’t feel like she was getting it together, would say, “FLOWING!” This would remind her of divine timing and guidance, and it would relax her. Kinda like, “Serenity NOW!”

Flow is a big part of my life, well before I hooked up with my former bandmates of Intercoastal Swell. The whole vibe of that band was to simply flow with art and the music, that the journey was the destination, that life was better when you simply relaxed into it. Well, here I am, years later, flowing.

I’m currently housesitting in a very peaceful spot in Penang, Malaysia. I’ve been here about two months, and I’ve traveled enough to realize it take about a month to six weeks

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My chill spot with a big yard with interesting and constant birdsongs

to really understand an area. There’s always that phase where I’m pulling out my maps.me app and wondering if I’ve headed in the right direction. My sense of direction is not amazing, but my ability to read a map is fierce.

Since that time adds up when you move every few months (or less), I’ve come to enjoy the time when the flow isn’t quite as pronounced as it was this morning. Today, I was whisked away on a white cloud, floating from Point A to Point B without a worry in mind. Everyone I saw (except Gwen!) was a stranger (Oh, I did see the guy who was sweeping the streets from the Grab car window. Yesterday, I let him use my bathroom). And yet I was completely comfortable.

So, what make comfort? I have a particularly low level of anxiety. You may wonder how.

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The KOMTAR government building: The best landmark in Georgetown with the best name

That in itself is something I think about, because the woman whose house and cats I’m caring for has a substantial collection of books about winning at the art of negotiation, getting your way, reducing anxiety and worry and basically winning at life. I had previously read Eckhardt Tolle during a difficult phase after a tough break up, but I’m really good – I’m flowing!

This doesn’t happen by accident! You have to practice flowing. You have to learn to be comfortable rooting in the ever-moving water. You have to set yourself up for success. Maybe that means CBD oil, maybe yoga or breathwork. In the short term, you have to study the maps, look for the landmarks and see the signs to point you in the right direction. You have to find your own divine timing and divine guidance without fear and with love. Your flow is your own.

So … are you ready to flow with me?

Life Unfamiliar

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I was standing a queue with my new friend, a fellow writer from the U.S. who is traveling throughout Southeast Asia and had just bought a one-way ticket to Chiang Mai.  We were on the mainland of Penang, Malaysia, awaiting the opportunity to pay 1.20RM, which comes out to about 30 cents, to board the ferry back to Georgetown on the island.

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My first time on the ferry. Unfamiliar to me, a twice-daily commute for everyone else.

I had never been here, and neither had Krista; we were returning from a dinner party. And yet we basically followed the crowd down a walkway and found ourselves standing in line. Without discussion, we paid the man in a glass booth and received a small receipt with a UR code on it. We walked a few steps and discovered the code provided access through a turnstile that led to a waiting area for the ferry. We sat down and had to acknowledge something:

That completely foreign situation did not stress us out in the slightest.

In fact, when ordering from the restaurant where we really could not understand the menu the day prior, we were fine. Figuring out where the bus picked us up? We can do it.

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THIS is the bus map! Note how the bus just magically arrives at a destination without using the roads. Need to change routes? Good luck!

Finding a good place to stay and a quiet place to work (she has a cool blog: Reroute Lifestyle) – we did that too. We’re making friends, seeing interesting places and loving the confronting reality of life unfamiliar. 

How familiar is your life? Do you know everyone around you, know where to buy what food you like? Do you know where everything is at the store, and what places to avoid at night? What is a mystery to you?

For me, I have created a life where I am sometimes shocked to see things that are familiar at all. I am always finding beautiful people to befriend, people with big smiles and kind hearts – so it’s not all odd. But the way I move through my everyday life presents surprises at every turn. Even ordering a cup of coffee: In New Zealand, I had never heard of a flat white (it’s delicious), and here in Malaysia, I had to Google “kopi-o” (you drink it from a tied plastic bag and straw, and it, too, is delicious).

Such is the way of the traveler, I know, which is why so many people enjoy it and so many people hate it. Life unfamiliar is not for everybody. There is comfort in having roots, and life is easy when you have most things sorted. You’ve already figured things out. You don’t have to wonder which key opens the lock. You know to take the umbrella with you because you know what happens when the sky looks like that.

Why ever would you want anything else?

It’s a good question, and one I often ask myself as I am embarking upon more and more  unfamiliar paths. I call it living the “one-way ticket lifestyle,” where I fly to one destination and greatly enjoy everyone I meet and everything I experience to the point of thinking how lovely life would be if I simply stayed. Then I buy a ticket and fly onward.

Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.
– Robert Frost

I put energy into my root chakra, known as the muladhara. While I constant pull up roots by changing my home every few months, in reality I am growing roots that stretch throughout the world. I am laying a foundation for the expansion of my greatest self. As I am constantly confronted by not knowing and comforted by the knowledge that it all works out, I actually become more safe and secure in my world. A handsome man called me a “poor confused girl” the other day. I had to laugh. Technically, yes – I’m not rich, I wasn’t sure I was in the right spot and I am a female. But in reality? My cup overflows, I was indeed in the exact right spot and I am a strong, powerful woman.

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Catrina and I hiking up the Bridle Path to Lyttleton in New Zealand … We took the bus home.

So how does one turn from being a poor, confused girl to feeling completely secure in a world where you have never gotten on the ferry before and somehow you have to figure out how exactly you’re going to get back home after a dinner party where we all had a number of vodka cocktails?

The trick, I believe, is to have your taproot firmly grounded beneath you. See, I was confident in my ability to figure out the ferry. I was confident that I will have enough to eat and find ways to make money if my current opportunities dry up. I am, at the heart, confident in myself.

I went to the local market here in the peaceful neighborhood of Tanjung Bungah in Penang yesterday, because I wanted to buy some chocolate to add to the cookies I was making for the dinner part. Once there, I saw a man chopping a foreign fruit. Anytime there is a fruit I haven’t eaten, I buy it. Last trip to the market, I purchased a durian. Those spiky fruit have an interesting, pulpy seed that people go crazy for. (Smartest thing

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A durian. My friend Alex likened the consistency to “dinosaur poo.” Nice.

I did all week? Ask him to crack it for me.) This time, I saw my first sea coconut.

“Here, take the flesh and put it on your face. It will get rid of all your freckles,” a man said.

“But I like my freckles,” I replied.

In fact, I like most everything about me. I was talking to this same handsome man other day about needing alone time, and how his last relationship lacked it. He found it hard to believe that me, a woman, loved alone time. When else can I write, play my ukulele, practice yoga, meditate, shuffle about the kitchen and make totally amazing oatmeal-banana-walnut-chocolate chip cookies? The reason I am so comfortable by myself – and at a dinner party and on a crowded dance floor and across the table from a date in a romantic restaurant – is because my taproot is strong. I am grounded even when I have no idea what is going on around me. I may not know how to get to where I want to be, or whether I actually even want to be there, but I have faith in myself that I will figure it out.  THERE IS NOTHING TO FEAR.

This isn’t a characteristic that happens overnight. It takes making executive decisions to create a practice of embracing life unfamiliar. When I was considering where I wanted to go to university, my mother took me to visit a college in Ohio. Everyone looked exactly like me and probably thought like me, too. What was I going to learn about life there? Then we visited a college in New York City, where no one looked like me and I had no idea what was going on. Four years later, I knew all kinds of nooks and hidden gems in that city – and in my heart.

Feeling comfortable and rooted comes from feeling good about yourself on a base level. Acknowledge and verbalize the accomplishments you have made when you were unsure, when you step through the fear without letting its flames lick you. Those are powerful moments that help us grow and open. I wish more of those unfamiliar, wonderfully confusing, ego-busting moments in my life – and maybe yours too!

Sorry Not Sorry

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I’ve been having vivid dreams, and last night was no exception. In my dream, I was in trouble. I came out of the bathroom, and there was a security guard waiting for me. He actually took me by the ear and starting leading me to wherever I was supposed to go. I

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When did people start pulling others by the ear? Why was a security guard doing this to me in my dream last night?

said to him, “Really, that is simply not necessary.” He released my ear and deposited me in a spot where I was to wait for whatever talking to I was in for. Then I woke up.

Um, I’m sorry?

I’ve been thinking a lot about apologies lately, because for the last month or so I’ve been flittering around New Zealand and living communally with strangers in hostels. Often, there is an unchoreographed dance that take place in the large kitchens during meal times. In bathrooms, there’s plenty of being in the way, and the dorm-style bunks involve piles of luggage and sometimes-smelly hiking shoes lining the doorways. There is plenty of apologizing, constantly.

This is making me think about the difference between “I’m sorry” and “Excuse me.” I am meeting people from all over the globe, and there are cultural difference as well. “Lo siento” means, literally, “I feel that,” while “Me disculpa” means, basically, “It is the fault of me.” In French, “Je m’excuse” is different than “Je suis désolé.”  Subtle stuff, but I’m a writer so words are important.

Often, I find that when living in close proximity with others, one is quick to simply apologize for existing. As in: “I am totally standing in your way, and I’m sorry I am existing in your path. But I need to stir my noodles as well.” Then there’s the apology that comes from bumping into someone. Then there’s the apology for being bumped into. That’s what got me thinking.

What is the boundary between apologizing for existing and honoring yourself for existing? I tend not to apologize for being bumped into, but I hear people do it constantly. Instead, I would smile and say, “Oh, no worries.” And yet – it is simply another cultural difference. I had a conversation with a Kiwi friend and a French friend, and they both agreed that the person who was the “victim” in the situation ought to own up to their role in the conflict and apologize as well. My French friend even went as far as to say that if a boyfriend were to cheat on her, she would apologize to him for whatever she might have done to cause that poor behavior.

This is very different from the American way, and better, I think. I used to think that there was a global epidemic with people who were unable to apologize for things they really ought to. This opinion came straight from my own experience: Ex-boyfriends, who by all accounts were wrong, but would dig in their heels and demand, “I DIDN’T DO ANYTHING!” instead of simply being sorry for even upsetting me. And yet, to what degree was I at fault? What a burn to the ego to apologize for being hurt: It’s pretty awesome.

On the other hand, I have been bumped and nearly sat on by Asian tourists here who fail

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Um, excuse me! Excuse me again. Just enjoying the water here. Yep, excuse me.

to even acknowledge my existence. At first, I thought they were being rude, and then I quickly recognized that personal space simply does not exist where billions of people live basically on top of one another. Why apologize for invading something that doesn’t even exist? I’m grateful to have this lesson months before I head to Asia for the first time. I really am the one who should apologize at the silly notion to think they were rude in the first place. How ethnocentric of me!

Recognizing personal upset as a deserved, justifiable lesson that requires an apology is a big evolutionary process. It seems too easy for some people to cross their arms over their chest, jut back their shoulders and stick out their chins and “stand their ground.” As in: “This is MY place in the kitchen! This is MY pot of noodles! How DARE you try to get a cutting board while I am stirring my noodles!” It’s ridiculous. If saying “I’m sorry” feels like a blow to your being, a simple “excuse me” honors your existence while also acknowledging that your bodily demands conflict with another’s.

My favorite apology is “lo siento.” It’s energetic in nature. I feel that conflict, and I want to verbalize it. I feel you. I feel you, bro. (Insert fist bump here) Another Spanish apology is “con permiso,” which means, “With your permission, I would like to pass.” And then there’s the simple “Pèrdon.” Why are there so many options in some cultures and so few in others?

Even with my own self-work and my interest in helping others, I’ve still certainly done

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When an apology becomes a helping hand to another in the world … it’s a beautiful thing!

enough in my life that warrants apology. The old “hurt people hurt people” saying holds true; when I’ve lashed out at someone, it’s because I was hurt as well. Yet, doubling the hurt will not make the initial hurt go away; quite the opposite. The apology and the deflation of the ego is what will make that hurt go away. The only thing that really hurts is the ego. When that’s removed, you’re just learning a lesson.

And yet, in my dream last night, I really didn’t feel like I did anything wrong. I didn’t have any guilt, and I had no reason why I was being dragged by the ear by a security guard. I didn’t know who I was waiting for, or what to expect. I woke up curious. Maybe I was wrong. If I was – or even if I wasn’t – I’m sorry.

Angels All Around

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I’ve been traveling quite a bit lately, having touched down in four countries since the last blog post. (The customs officer in the US said, “Are you traveling for business, pleasure or to just find yourself?”) Currently in New Zealand, I spent yesterday in a kayak roaming around the Milford Sound in the majestic Fiordland National Park. Waterfalls splashed down from

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The World Heritage Site of Fiordland National Park in New Zealand

the heights into the cool waters below, where seals frolicked and showed their teeth around my vessel. Gulls, shags and paradise ducks rode the winds above, as snow-capped mountaintops gleamed from beyond in the sky. The massive rocks dwarfed everything around them and played tricks with the mind’s concept of distance.

While most of these epic mountains were covered with lush, green trees, there were some sections that were stripped away clean due to recent rock slides. My kayak guide explained that once an avalanche occurs, moss will begin to grow on the rock. Once the moss is thick enough, beech saplings will take hold within the spongey material and start to grow. Once the trees get big enough, they begin to grow roots long enough to intertwine with the trees around them. Together, the trees help each other grow while the moss creates a foundation on the otherwise treacherous ledge. It is a literal network of support.

While traveling, I have found that beech trees on mountain sides are not the only ones benefiting from a support system. Time and time again, I have met people who can

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Looking for – and finding – angels everywhere

only be described as angels. These are people who appear exactly when I need them to, eliciting comments from me such as: “I really don’t know what I would have done without you.”

Just recently, two friends and I were hiking – walking, as the Kiwis say – through the bush on the mountains behind Akaroa. This sweet French town in the outskirts of Christchurch was the perfect place for a steep hike, and our plans were to end exactly in time for a happy hour glass of wine accompanied by a live pianist. We stopped by the information center, took a picture of their simple map and set out for the Purple Peak. We passed waterfalls and hiked high enough to unveil beautiful vistas overlooking the harbor. Wildflowers lined our path, and my friends humored me by slowing whenever I felt my heart beating out of my chest. We were about five hours into the hike when we came upon the Visitor’s Center. As we had followed signs to arrive at the Visitor’s Center, we presumed it would be near where we parked the car. As it turned out, it was about 8 kilometers away.

My legs already starting to burn, we hiked out to the main road and began the long, hot walk back to town. About 10 minutes later, a man in a campervan drove our way along the otherwise desolate highway. He stopped and offered us a ride, which ended up being even longer than we could have imagined. He saved us at least three hours of walking along a paved road. He was, quite simply, an angel.

There are so many examples of this. The man who shepherded me to the bus station in Buenos Aires during the airline strike. The neighbor who accompanied me to my hostel in Cancun after I found myself walking in circles with an increasingly heavy pack, searching in vain when my map proved erroneous. My friend in the Virgin Islands who let me borrow her car and sleep on her couch when I found myself homeless due to, in

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This is me “NOT FREAKING OUT” with a huge pack, thousands of people and no flights out of Buenos Aires. It’s easier to relax through life when you know angels are here to help.

retrospect, the most fortuitous chain of events. The couple here at the hostel in New Zealand who left me with $20 worth of delicious food before they left. The man who gave us a lift two days ago to the petrol station when our car broke down. A friend who reminded me that there are good, good men out there with open hearts. I need these people in my life. I need to hear what they tell me. They appear with divine timing, with divine guidance.

All these people are fellow beech trees, intertwining their roots into mine, helping me stand tall on a soft bed of moss. We lock elbows together, shine our hearts forward and march forth into this wild world. The more I look for angels, the more I find them.

I read Angel Cards. These are oracle cards by Doreen Virtue, a new age-y intuitive type who has many different kinds of these tarot-style decks. As I was packing up to begin adventures around New Zealand, I couldn’t find my deck. I must have left it in some country or another. While searching for a replacement pack in the small, generally un-noteworthy town of Timaru, I met a man who owned a crystal shop with a 7-foot-high amethyst7-foot-high amethyst with a sign encouraging visitors to touch and feel its energy. When he didn’t have the deck, he recommended I try a shop in Queenstown – where I was able to purchase the last deck of the cards I liked.

Later at the hostel, I read the cards for a woman in the bunk next to mine. As I was doing so, I realized that I was serving as her angel. My roots were helping to hold her up, as well. I am traveling with a young Australian woman, whose schedule matched mine and was willing to chip in on the costs of petrol and the rental car. Just as I was her angel,

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Angels have a lot to teach us, if we are willing to listen and ask. Never doubt that angels are all around you!

allowing her to see areas of the South Island of New Zealand that she might otherwise miss, she was also mine. She shared new music and made me laugh. Our roots intertwined.

Last night I was playing my ukulele on the grass outside yet another hostel. A group of men who had just completed a three-day trail walk in Te Anau asked if they could join me. As they shared their wine, they requested songs for me to play. I was happy to oblige. As I finished a song, one of them said, “That was, actually, brilliant.” His kind words will continue to bring energy to my singing for quite a while.

Angels are everywhere. If you have been one to me, all I can say is, simply, thank you.

 

Murder in a Sacred Space

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Perhaps because so much of my life was living in an American suburban and urban world of strip malls, air-conditioned traffic and florescent lighting, I am acutely aware of natural, outdoor spaces that are sacred. Do you feel this too: the actual breath-

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Garden of the Gods in Colorado, USA is sacred as well.

taking moment when you enter a space that is powerful, magic?

 

The more I travel, the more I am blessed to find these places – a good motivation for more adventures. In fact, as I am Googling away to learn about the different sacred spots in the globe, I realized that I had already made plans to visit one in a couple weeks.

Of course, not all of the sacred spaces on Earth have been documented, and not every site is going to agree on the definition of “sacred”. Sometimes the energy is really subtle. Some areas are special because they serve as backdrops for memories, but the sacred sites radiate higher vibrations that make me step back in awe and wonder.

Five places that I found exceptionally magical:

  1. Jesus’ tomb in Jerusalem, Israel: I’ll start big and religious, but I’m neither religious nor big. I traveled to Israel for a magazine article almost 10 years ago for a magazine article I was writing. Only three people are allowed inside the tomb at a time. It crackled with energy.
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    Me at Panther Meadow

  2. Warm Mineral Springs in Florida, USA: I honestly believe this is the Fountain of Youth, and I’m not the only one. It’s on the National Historic Register as the spot Ponce de Leon of Spain was looking for it when it stumbled upon St. Augustine, which currently swindles tourists to drink sulphur water. It’s a weird, outdated spa facility that houses truly a miraculous healing environment. Really! Swim there to feel like a million bucks yet have a hard time wrapping your head around it because the facility is so filled with odd foreign tourists.
  3. Panther Meadow in California, USA: Click here. You’re welcome. It’s at the foot of Mount Shasta, a well-known sacred site (and that link is of a totally far-out and right-on guy who I stumbled upon).
  4. Puerto Mosquito in Vieques, Spanish Virgin Islands, USA: I wrote an entire blog post about this glowing lake. Now, the small island has been decimated by this year’s hurricane season. Edie Widder, whose name I once misspelled in a newspaper article more than a decade ago, was interviewed recently on this topic; the storm impacts to the extreme concentration of bioluminescent dinoflagellates are unknown.
  5. And this little hill along the Rio Diamante in Villa de 25 of Mayo, Argentina, which was where I was yesterday:

I enjoy walking with the dog every day along this 30- to 45-minute trail behind the house

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My favorite spot on the walking path is under that tree. I’m not alone in liking it, as I discovered yesterday.

where I’m staying. It is a beautiful path with wild asparagus, wildflowers of every color (I pick myself a different bouquet almost every day) and so many shorebirds. Of course, I tread lightly as half the time is spent avoiding large piles of horse shit, since much of the path is over pastureland. To get there, you walk through the backyard and out their metal fence (beware of barbs, but no worries because you can get a free tetanus shot from the small villa clinic by simply walking in at 7 p.m. and asking in broken Spanish). You walk over a large cobblestone beach along the river, which honestly is a creek at that point, and then head back upland. When it is very rainy, there’s a short bit of a swamp through which to trudge to get back to the road.

 

After the swamp, which always feels a little precarious with the high swamp grass with paths previously tread by horses and dogs, you head up a very small hill, just the slightest bit of natural elevation. I’ve seen a few cross-country bicyclists and a couple families by the river, but I’ve never encountered another human on my walks through the pasture land here in the country. It’s so peaceful and wonder time for introspection. So, I was in a deeply receptive place when I was first taken aback by this location.

This magical place is underneath a weeping willow tree. When it was still chilly (seasons are opposite in southern hemisphere, which at first blew my mind), I would stop there and enjoy the view. A few times I heard a massive swarm of bees, but could not see them even after looking for a while. There were interesting fuzzy, dark green plants growing only there – like weeds, but … comfortable.

Then as spring arrived, there was an eruption of wonderful smells and colors at the top of this little hill. Delightful purple wildflowers suddenly covered the ground, and the sides of the path were lined with fragrant white flowering vines. It felt so good, this sacred space: a gift from heaven. I sat there many times in the last few months, looking out over the river to the mountains, with the biggest grin on my face.

But yesterday, my spot – which often was the highlight of my day – got darkly complex. As I’m all-but skipping up the embankment, I came across a murder scene underneath the willow tree! Feathers were everywhere! More feathers than I have ever seen in a pile. Dark gray outer feathers, the white soft, smaller inner layer of feathers. The dog sniffed a few times, wasn’t too interested and started to wander. I gasped and stopped in my tracks to survey the scene.

Thrown toward the trunk of the tree was the bird’s head, and its tail was under the pile of feathers. No blood. It looked like a gray dove. What happened? Someone or something (my guess is a dog?) did an excellent job stripping the body of feathers. I started to collect the biggest feathers.

I’m not one to be scared of death, although gore and danger are certainly not my thing. Many people are scared of death, and the obvious display at my sacred spot really spun me. In the last few weeks, a cousin died and my ex-boyfriend had near-death accident that he is currently recovering from. Another friend got hit by a car. People on a female travel social media site I’m on worry all the time about their safety. There’s #metoo and then there’s death. It’s a lot to be worried about, physically.

I am not a worrier. Was the bird? Was it a nervous type? Birds here are kind of fearless –

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A highly recommended Angel Card deck by Doreen Virtue

there are hawks that dive-bomb the dog in the backyard, which is hilarious to watch all the animal frustration. Just as I was writing this, I saw the cat returning proudly to the house with a lizard in her mouth. But the lizard managed to wiggle an escape and high-tail it, literally, through a chain-link fence. Near-death is everywhere, all the time.

 

I have been taking a moment to contemplate my relationship with death, not to sound morbid or anything. (Although I guess I am approaching middle age.) Doves are the symbol for peace, and a recent angel card reading I gave myself included the SIGNS card. This means I need to look for signs. Whoa! OK! I think the murder of a peace dove in my special spot is a sign. It didn’t feel like a war has begun, though. It feels like I no longer need an external symbol of peace. What war has ended inside of me?

What war can you end inside of you?

 

 

Forty Things – Forty Years

lovelight

Ah, 40. I looked at my reflection in a glass patio door today, really looked at myself. I am feeling wonderful, completely. But for some reason – maybe it was the Khruangbin that I was grooving to, the laundry drying in the sun, the fact that I had finished my work early and had the entire day to enjoy, the chickpeas cooking on the stove and the dough rising, the fact that all my bills are paid, the hawk screaming in the sky or the goats bahhhhing from the little Argentinean finca next door – I stopped.

Yes, age is simply a number, but at some point, it goes from being a curse to a badge (and then beyond, I guess, may I find out). You go from being “just a kid” to an “adult,” and if you’re lucky a “senior.”

Forty years, upon my head,
To have you call me child
Ship of fools. – Good ole Grateful Dead

But there the different kinds of adulthood badges. A major part of being an adult is financial independence. This comes to some really early, in their teens, and some have an endless and epic failure to launch. This means being able to support yourself and your lifestyle, and it usually results in a big house-full of things as proof of successful adulting.

So now that all my material possessions are able to be carried through a crowded airport in Argentina when the employees are all on strike and all the flights are canceled, (trust me on that one), am I back to being “just a kid”?

With time also comes patience, foresight and planning, spiritual connection, ability to open your heart more to others (usually this really hits people who have kids, so I’ve heard). Older people have built up a certain level of wisdom.

All of that is nice, but unquantifiable. How do you know you’re a grown up? Since I no longer have material possessions, I tried to think back to things that I’ve accomplished with my life thus far. Because statistically, I’m rolling into middle age, which is crazy. I still get pimples! Yet this is life. This is 40.

I tasked myself to name 40 of my accomplishments. In no particular order:

  1. No cavities!
  2. Sticking a handstand for a solid 20 seconds that one time on the dock. Maybe this is a lame accomplishment, so I’ll add the ability to nail a headstand with regularity in Yoga classes AND also tumbling over in spectacular, hilarious ways, and loving both the success and the failure
  3. Graduated Phi Beta Kappa from college and with honors from high school
  4. Catch excellent and fun waves; I’m also skilled on flatwater with a stand-up paddleboard.
  5. Helping people heal themselves with Reiki energy work as a Shihan
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    #5: Look at this badass “Earth Keeper” crystal!

  6. 25 years of vegetarianism
  7. 25 years of growing my leg hair
  8. The ability to build warming fires
  9. Music: learning the ukulele and djembe, singing, playing music professionally
  10. Hugs! So many hugs!
  11. Created and implemented a successful political campaign that will benefit thousands of children and families in perpetuity
  12. Developed lucrative professional writing career that allows for travel; I am my own boss.
  13. The ability to let go … to shed my possessions and all that is familiar and resist fear.
  14. Captain of varsity field hockey team and lead many in school plays, as well as president of numerous environmental and social clubs starting in 6th grade until senior year of university
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    #11 and #20: Me repping the Children’s Service Council of Martin County in Florida

    Been engulfed in heartwarming, blissful, healing, romantic love and prioritizing love in all forms for all beings every day

  16. Knowledge of good manners, including proficiency in formal dinner table settings and dancing a waltz or the cha-cha in high heels
  17. Naturally remaining somewhat ageless (did you know I was 40?)
  18. Lived in many different countries, including ones with non-English native speakers
  19. Sharing the teachings of Yoga professionally with a 200-hour certification
  20. Being a young professional in corporate, non-profit, small private and government jobs: I also quit all my jobs without burning bridges.
  21. Donated 10-inch-long locks of hair, twice, to nonprofits benefiting cancer patients
  22. I’ve picked up a lot of trash, through volunteering with civic clubs or individually
  23. No tattoos!
  24. Learned to ride a bike (and walk, crawl, etc.)
  25. I can drive a manual shift vehicle, albeit not very well at all. Maybe I speak Spanish a little better – a statement that makes me hang my head! I’m working on this!
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    #30 and #7: @sailboatdreams – follow Julie’s Instagram!

  26. Physically all the parts still work – a couple broken bones, two sprained joints but they’ve healed. I wake up without pain, and that’s saying something
  27. Used daily journalism to force removal of road bedding on beaches, draw attention to water quality and politically pressured officials to acknowledge needs of environment
  28. I can change an impeller on a boat, fix irrigation systems and do light automotive repair, and I don’t let sexism stop me
  29. The ability to make yummy meals out of whatever I can scrounge in a kitchen, as well as bake my own tasty breads and make yogurt
  30. Earned a master’s captain license from the US Coast Guard; I professionally sailed and captained boats up to 47′.
  31. Ability to make excellent cappuccinos and lattes and know the difference
  32. I am able to and enjoy SCUBA diving, snorkeling, swimming and freediving.
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    #32: Obviously adulting

  33. No kids! Look, I know having kids is the biggest accomplishment for parents, and I love kids. But I am doing my part to reduce the human burden on the planet, because not getting pregnant actually takes some planning.
  34. No arrest record! I have never been behind bars … “The man can’t keep me down!” But my fingerprints are “in the system”: I pass Level 2 background checks and have a TWIC card.
  35. Roller skating backwards
  36. I’ve hiked to 1,700 feet above sea level on the Appalachian Trail, and I’ve been 1,000 feet underwater in a submarine in the Atlantic Ocean.
  37. I’ve read many, many books, magazines, newspapers, legal documents, white papers, essays, blogs, e-books and zines. I like to read; I am curious and love to
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    #10 and my #17 inspiration, the beautiful Kallyn and P.S. She’s Jewish wearing a Santa cap. That’s straight up #40, #16, #15 and #13 … not to mention #33. You rock, girl!

    learn. (Currently reading young adult fiction, so, yeah … the final Hunger Games … will Katniss kill Snow? DON’T TELL ME!)

  38. I’ve sat in meditation for 8 hours at a retreat but also enjoy meditating in much shorter durations almost daily.
  39. I can bust out up to 50 push-ups, and I can also run 5K. Both require some weeks of working out, but it’s doable.
  40. I own my own feelings and accept responsibility for my actions. That being
    said, I am content!

Phew! That was tough. I’m wondering which ones impress you and make you think I’m an adult, and which ones you think are lame and make you think I’m a kid. What does that say about you and me? I hope I have another 40 years to ponder it.

 

El Campo

lovelight

When traveling, often the first question people politely ask you is where you’re from. That is always such an awkward question to me, because I am not rooted in my hometown or frankly any town I’ve ever lived in. Still, there is truth in understanding someone based on where they’ve lived.

I’ve lived in many places so far, but this is the first time I’m living in the country.

So, to answer that initial question, I grew up in suburbia. East Petersburg, Pennsylvania

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Me in my suburban front yard when I was about 5 years old.

was a very, very small town outside of Lancaster, which is only slightly big enough to be called a city. East Pete was a lovely place for a kid: There was a creek that my friends and I could investigate, piles of leaves to jump in, honeysuckle to eat, wild raspberries to pick and not-too-crazy hills to sled and ride our bikes down. I could walk to a store with my friends, and that was about the extent of it.

When I was a little older, my family moved closer to the city, but not too much closer. It was still suburbia, with a few more shops in walking distance, a bigger creek to investigate, a pond to ponder near and hills to hike with my friends. Once I could drive, we’d escape the suburbs to go see live music in Philadelphia, which wasn’t too far away. But it was still pretty far away. In these small suburbs, I learned that the world is safe, fun and filled with family.

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Me is the suburban kitchen where I grew up. Now eat your veggies!

In other countries, the suburbs is even not a thing. Where I am now, in the countryside of Argentina, I’m either in the small Villa or I’m in the city. In between is vineyard, no subdivisions or strip malls. I tried to expand this concept to people in Dominican Republic and was met with very strange looks. And it’s true. The suburbs are strange.

At the first opportunity I had, I moved far away from suburbia. I moved to New York City. To anyone who lives remotely nearby, it’s actually called “The” City. That’s where I went to university, and I really enjoyed the first taste of independence as an adult. I bought this vintage, long, black pleather jacket with embroidery and a fake-fur trim, and I wore it over my bell bottom jeans and turquoise vintage printed top and walked down Broadway. And you know what? No one cared. It was a beautiful moment when I realized that I could be anyone I wanted to be. Unlike in suburbia where neighbors peer out their windows at you, I was completely free to be myself in all my glory. I learned during my time in the city that limits are really in your mind. I was immediately able to stop caring what other people thought of me. It was awesome.

But city life can be a drag, too. Although I checked out a lot of live music, museums, art exhibits, parks and awesome parties filled with creative people, I was tired and uptight. It is really hard to lounge around on a sofa all day when there are endless, interesting events going on all around you all the time. Some days, though, I really needed to relax. When I graduated, I moved to the beach.

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Me, relaxing on the beach — Note the Fort Lauderdale condo in the background. This is definitely not the Caribbean!

 

Florida living was cool; I rented a house about five minutes from the beach. It was suburban, too, really, but different because I spent so much time in the ocean. For years, I spent all my free time snorkeling, surfing, bodysurfing, collecting shells and relaxing on the sand. But after a while, I couldn’t deny that Florida is also filled with strip malls and people honking at traffic lights. I went on a date with a man who was proud to have never read an entire book in his life. I had to go.

Suburbia, check. City life, check. What’s next? Sailing life, duh! I got rid of most of my things and moved on to a sailboat. I lived in the Bahamas and the Dominican Republic for a year or so before moving back on to land in the US Virgin Islands. Caribbean living is very different as well. I learned a lot of patience there and embraced the joys of a life without endless consumerism offers. Then I sold everything I owned that I couldn’t carry and started traveling (missing not one but TWO Category 5 hurricanes, still feeling gratitude there). I

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To help the US Virgin Islands recover from Hurricanes Irma and Maria, you can donate here: https://www.usvirecovery.org 

lived the last month housesitting in the desert, where I was reminded of the blessings I could offer the beings around me (and in turn, receive). It all helped prepare me for where I am living now.

As I write this, it’s still a little chilly here in the countryside of Argentina, but the intermittent warm days have ushered in fresh buds on the fruit trees. Since I don’t speak Spanish very well, I’m not doing a lot of socializing yet. Every morning, I wake up naturally (there isn’t even a clock in the bedroom) and put on coffee. I’ll make a little breakfast, then feed the dog and cat. If it hasn’t rained, I water the yard. There’s a horse that comes over and asks for water as well. One day I played my ukulele for her and she was so relaxed she almost fell over asleep! I felt like the horse whisperer. I like to pet that horse for a long time.

Every day, the dog and I take long walks by the riverside in the shadows of mountains. We trudge through a small swamp and then meander our way back through the brush. I have to watch where I’m walking because it’s a horse pasture. There’s shit everywhere, but then, I see horses grazing every day as well. The shorebirds yell loudly whenever we are nearby. There’s one big tree that is literally swarming with activity – I can hear the bee nest but I have yet to find it.

We turn the corner on our walk to get on a dirt road that leads back to the house. This is when I see the neighbors. One old man works every day in his yard, tending what seems to be a garden. He always stops and greets me as I pass. There’s a house across the road from his that is teaming with children. Dogs rush out to greet us. Sometimes a motorcycle goes by, and the driver will say “Hola.”

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Meet Marianna! She is my neighbor and the first real horse friend I’ve ever had

Sometimes I walk or ride my bike into the Villa, and some days a friend will drive me to the city of San Rafael for provisions. But I am really enjoying the quiet of the country. I write, play music, read, watch movies, practice yoga, cook and day-dream. If I want to interact with people, I turn to social media – but never for long. I’ve already learned that people who lack compassion need to be welcomed with an even more open heart.

Living in the country is a wonderful way to return to myself and listen to myself. When the big plan of the day is collecting the dandelion leaves from the yard for a salad, things are good. I am studying Spanish and practicing my music, focusing on my health while also enjoying a glass of local Malbec.

It’s the simplicity that is so magical. It seems too easy to complicate life in the suburbs and certainly in the city. On the islands, too, I seemed to have drama following me. Now the biggest drama is me breaking a glass jar filled with some nuts and dried fruit. My response? Get a broom and sweep it up. It’s really just that simple.

Forward, Never Straight!

lovelight

Forward, never straight! Just walking one foot in front of the other (AKA straight) may get you somewhere, but it won’t get you to where you could dream to go. You want to move forward, not backward, not sideways. It is the only way to truly progress in life … and you only know the best way for you if you listen very, very closely to yourself.

littlevoice

Google for the win! I searched “little voice on your shoulder” and discovered THIS.

There is a voice inside of you, (its name is Intuition) telling you exactly what you should be doing right now. In your heart of hearts, you know exactly how to propel yourself into the next awesome stratosphere of your life. You know better than anyone what is right, without having to debate. How often do you listen?

 

Today, I am thinking about my little voice – and how I followed it. I am currently on a different continent, nearly 6,000 km from the island I lived on just five weeks ago … an island that is now looking at a serious amount of destruction due to Hurricane Irma. The homes of my friends are destroyed: filled with sand, crawling with crabs, all their possessions lost. Some of my friends are still unaccounted for. Boats sunk. No power. No supplies. No flights out.

I had many opportunities to stay on St. Thomas, but somehow, I knew that was not what I should do. Retrospectively, I was pushing myself to get off the island, even though all the “easy” options had me staying right there. I could have moved on to three – YES! THREE! – boats that were moored in St. Thomas. I could have rented another apartment or moved in with a friend whose boyfriend just moved out. I could have worked as a captain on my friend’s sailboat, which she chartered out to tourists to sail around St. John, which is also

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Heartbreak in the British Virgin Islands from Hurricane Irma

facing massive destruction.

 

Had I chosen any of those options, I would have been facing a post-hurricane disaster right now. I would have been burdened by thousands of dollars-worth of my belongings, a sweet kitty and no way of making money, since there is no internet, no yoga classes, no power to charge up my computer. I would have been suddenly moving backward – sideways at best – instead of moving forward.

It was hard to hear during the last week in June when my plans to sail south fell apart, but that little voice said, “Suzanne, step it up. The challenge is on.”

To anyone who saw me in July, they probably witnessed my eyes rolling toward the back my head with craziness. I was homeless, frantically selling my surfboard, paddleboard, SCUBA gear, djembe, clothing and books, while creating a wild game plan of housesitting for strangers around the world. In a couple weeks, I had bought airline tickets and set up Skype meetings with homeowners in towns I’ve never been to and where knew no one. At the same time, I decided to learn a new instrument and a new language. Seriously, who does that?

Someone who is listening closely to that little voice.

Because instead of dealing with the mayhem of a hurricane – as I type it’s hitting the town in Florida where I lived for more than a decade and could have also very easily

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My favorite time of the day is Golden Hour, this time in the heart of Argentina drinking yerba mate with new friends.

moved back instead of moving on – I am enjoying the peace and quiet of a country cottage in a lovely pueblo in Argentina. Today, I took a long walk along the Rio Diamente with the sweet dog I’m watching, and I played ukulele by the fire. A cute cat is currently on my lap. I am drinking yerba mate.

 

Yesterday, friends asked me if I felt like the universe was conspiring in my favor, to get me to leave the islands and Florida before disaster struck. Yes, it does feel that way.

Looking back, it wasn’t clear why I felt the need to get myself down to a huge backpack of belongings, ukulele and computer all in the span of a few weeks. But my little voice – my intuition, the gap between conscious and unconscious – told me it was time to let go of all the attachments, all the relationships and the habits that were not serving me. It was time to propel myself forward.

News flash: Change is not easy. The last two months were really challenging, as I searched for recipients for the things I couldn’t fit on my back at once. I had to find a loving home for my beloved kitty (an original option was having her stay on island! I am so grateful those plans fell through … a situation that was stressful at the time). Then once I delivered Penelope to her new comfortable home with my friend Dave, I flew on and learned to get along in a strange town without knowing anyone. I had to find own footing and friends while also furiously learning Spanish. I was so unsure of myself. But I

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Penelope is a furry companion to all – especially people with three different kinds of cat food, lots of comfortable space for napping and comfortable laps. Thanks Dave!!!

did it.

I flew into Buenos Aires in the middle of an airline strike. Thousands of people crammed into the airport, and no one was working. All the flights were canceled. Did I mention my Spanish allows me to pick up about every fifth word someone says at a normal talking speed? By the grace of God, my friend’s father just happened to be in Buenos Aires that day. He was an angel who helped me catch an overnight bus to the small town where I’ll be living. Did I mention that amazingly good wine is $4US a bottle here?

My point is, dear reader, that I have no idea what I’m doing. I definitely know I’m not going straight … but I’m definitely moving forward.

I feel incredibly blessed to be so connected with my highest self to have enough faith to do the things that are so very foreign to me. Just today, I’ve Googled: “How to build a good fire,” “How to make yerba mate,” and “How to use a bidet.” Seriously, which way do YOU face on that thing?

Or another way to ask: Which way is YOUR forward? You don’t need to know what’s at the end of your road; in fact, that’s probably impossible. I was repacking my over-stuffed pack in New Mexico to head to Argentina last week, and it felt like that scene in the Harry Potter series, when he looks across the pond and sees his Patronus and realizes that he can do it because he already had. I knew I could fit it all in, because I already had.

I can do what is best for me, to propel myself forward, because that little voice deep inside of me already knows what to do. I just have to listen to myself. Are you listening to yourself?