The Lovelight Project

Shining the Light on Happy, Healthy Living

Living in the NOW

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Yeah, yeah, time is an illusion. That’s such OLD news. I learned that … when exactly? Let’s see – I live in Florida, so, when I learned it there were leaves on the palm trees and it was sunny, and it was warm out. So that was … oh, never mind.

Ever like a photo on Facebook and then suddenly find yourself in the black hole of Facebook photos of a person you hardly know (or know all too well)? One click and suddenly it’s four years ago and there is that person, kissing someone you’ve never seen before, smiling with slightly fewer laugh lines. Was it really four years ago or was it yesterday?

This is me in 11th grade. Or is this me yesterday?

This is me in 11th grade. Or is this me yesterday?

My haircut, skin and weight are basically the same today as in high school and college. Did my 20s even exist? Am I a different person now? Are you?

There are people who hold on to the past. Others worry about the future. It’s hard to know what is really in the NOW in people’s heads and hearts and what isn’t.

I was recently contacted by an ex-girlfriend of an ex-boyfriend. She wanted to get some advice about him, share experiences and hear what it was like to be on the other end of the heartbreak with this particular individual. As I was messaging her, I remembered what it was like to be extra skinny with sadness after that breakup. I remember one day, when I was crying in my bedroom (again), I literally cried out for help. Suddenly, a bright red cardinal flew to the bird feeder outside my window. Then suddenly a blue jay flew in and knocked the cardinal off. To my amazement, a woodpecker flew in right behind and knocked the blue jay off. It was the beginning of my recovery into life in the NOW again. (<– soundtrack alert)

I like to write NOW in all caps because that is when time happens. Breathe. There’s a moment. Just as fast as those birds came and went, that moment is gone. Breathe. There, another NOW. I had a brilliant politics professor in college, Mark Roelofs. He has Parkinson’s and wrote notes on the blackboard in the shakiest of handwriting, and I will never forget him making a giant arrow pointing down on the word NOW. That’s really all that matters.

Literally, I no longer have enough stuff to fill these suitcases. Emotional baggage is, um, another thing.

Literally, I no longer have enough stuff to fill these suitcases. Emotional baggage is, um, another thing.. He has Parkinson’s and wrote notes on the blackboard in the shakiest of handwriting, and I will never forget him making a giant arrow pointing down on the word NOW. That’s really all that matters.

So why is it so hard to let go of the past? That ex-boyfriend, whew-boy, I was hanging on to some baggage with that one for quite a while. Then the next one came along and provided me with all kinds of additional hang-ups. And the next, and the next! Even today, I was talking with my current boyfriend’s parents about friends their age who are single. His dad said, “The thing is, when you reach a certain age, you’ve got all this baggage!” Of course, that statement applies to just about anyone who didn’t find their life-long sweetheart by the age of 20.

How do we stay in the NOW? You just do. Birds fly in and out.

What’s hardest for me is understanding and recognizing when others are still holding on to the past in their heads and their hearts. I struggle with it. I am unable to control whether my loved ones are fully present. Sometimes I feel like I am being cheated on by time. Sometimes I am.

I think it’s true to say that those who have difficulty living in the NOW are not especially thrilled with their NOW. It’s easy to put on those rose-colored glasses and romanticize the past. We were soooo happy! None of this pain that is sometimes just inherent in the present moment. Myself, I can look longingly into the future, thinking some day, yeah, some day. Some day, it’s going to be just perfect.

So it’s not just a matter of staying in the NOW. It’s coming to terms

NOW this is happening!

NOW this is happening!

with the NOW. It’s being happy exactly where we are in space and time. It’s recognizing the lessons of the past and seeing how everything we’ve done has brought us to this exact moment. It’s knowing that everything we do at this exact moment will be propelling us into a future that has yet to exist, but is just as it is meant to be.

Today at the gym, the clock was missing. My trainer said it was running slowly, so he fixed the time. And then it ran even slower. It needed a new battery, so he took it down. Is that all that it takes to stay present? Sometimes we all need a fresh battery, a fresh shot of energy, and it’s easy to get: Breathe in, breathe out.

Signs of Success

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I’ve been working on myself this year, much of which has been chronicled in this blog! Now that we’re approaching autumn (not like you’d really know it with the south Florida heat still drenching me with sweat), motivation is a little tough. I find myself getting a little whiny and grumpy, because I want to reach the finish line.

Are we there yet? Are we there yet? Are we there yet?    

Nope, Operation Tighten Up 2015 is for the WHOLE YEAR. That’s the thing about New Year’s resolutions. It means I am committing myself for a year to a goal of basically solving all my problems and making my life more streamlined and awesome (click for blog soundtrack). Yo, I’s gots this.

Because, wouldn’t it be wonderful to have your entire life together: to feel really put-together, to look put-together, to make really smart decisions because distractions don’t exist. Getting my life on a narrow track was like pointing a laser beam of (love)light directly to a future of success.

I have lost this crystal so many times, and it keeps coming back to me! The last time it took a walkabout, I found it months later at the bottom of my closet. Stoked!

I have lost this crystal so many times, and it keeps coming back to me! The last time it took a walkabout, I found it months later at the bottom of my closet. Stoked!

So, to back up , this life-changing undertaking started toward the autumn of 2014, when my new love and I were wining and dining, laughing and loving, partying and losing things, surfing waves and not caring about much else beyond each other’s eyes. It was fantastic! I had just finished months of fun traveling via airplane to visit fabulous friends, and I basically did everything on my 2014 vision board. Party! Pizza Party! But by the time 2015 rolled around, with its four nights of Phish in Miami, the vision that created that vision board started to blur. It was time, as they say, to tighten up.

I embarked on the mission with full-force determination, first acknowledging that my 1,400-square-foot home was busting at the seams with stuff. I organized! It felt great! Things were so tight!

Then a month in, I found myself sitting next to my boyfriend over a truly Sublime vegan dinner in Fort Lauderdale, wistfully stating that I was ready for an adventure. He said, “Well, I have the perfect tool for that.”

And suddenly Operation Tighten Up 2015 kicked into high gear, as I agreed to move on to his sailboat and embark on a journey around the world! Weeee!

I ended up selling all my possessions and, amazingly, actually getting my entire security deposit back on the rental home of the last eight years. I’ve been living on the boat now for a few months, and we’ve been super-busy getting her ready for our travels.

And that’s when things got real. Operation Tighten Up 2015 wasn’t even CLOSE to being over. Know why? Because I needed to also tighten up my waistline. I needed to tighten up my career. I needed to tighten up my mind. I still needed to get it together, baby!

“It’s a process!”

My man and I started to repeat the phrase, “It’s a process!”

Do we ever really have it all together? Those people who seem to … I don’t know, my guess is either they have a crew of professionals working for them or they are good at bluffing. Doesn’t it feel like there are always endless things on the to-do list? When is the car NOT messy? I don’t even have kids!

Last month, I joined a gym for group training (holy crap, squats!). I started walking the bridges over the rivers. I stopped with the endless treats (boo!) and embraced healthy eating. I take naps. I drink a lot of water. I meditate and read Yogic texts. I spend a least an hour or two each day in front of the computer, working on freelance writing.

And suddenly Operation Tighten Up 2015 is three-fourths finished. I am really ready to see signs of success.

It’s important to remember that change is not a linear path. Change is exponential in nature, which means there is that point at which it feels like you’re even going backwards before, wham-o!, you shoot forward and realize your goals. We like to think it’s all Point A straight to Point B. That way we could look on our map and see, indeed, we are almost there. It’s not like that.

Thanks to the Moonshot Moment of Indian River County, Fla. for first showing me this wonderful graph.

Thanks to the Moonshot Moment of Indian River County, Fla. for first showing me this wonderful graph.

Instead, when wallowing in an irritating plateau that comes right before the big leap toward success, we must look for signs of success along the way.

OK, yeah: My things are gone and guess what? I don’t miss them at all. That was a success. I can do push-ups when a month ago I really didn’t think I could. (And, wow, Pam made my day this weekend by asking if I lost weight! No, the scale isn’t budging but I’m feeling stronger. That is a success.) I am in talks with a national magazine publisher who wants to run my feature story in the next issue. That is a success! And when people aren’t meeting my expectations, she writes nicely, well, I am working on adjusting my reaction. That is also a success.

We still have a lot of work to do on the boat, but we’re getting there. I cleaned up all the dusty foam from the fire extinguisher. That was, indeed, a success.

I’m ready to sleep in, instead of going to the gym in the morning. I’m ready for a big coconut milk ice cream sundae. I’m ready to lounge about on our sailboat, preferably off the coast of an island I’ve yet to visit. I’ll get there. I know I will.

To change my paradigm from the whiny Are we there yet? kid to a successful adult, I’ve reinstituted my daily list of Ten Things I Am Grateful For. That’s a big number, and it forces you to dig deep. Sure, I’m thankful for cuddles from my furry companion and deep, real love from my boyfriend. By focusing on those types of things, I give them energy. I increase the numbers of things I am grateful for. I see more signs of success, because I am utilizing the help of my mind to solve my problems and Tighten Up.

Meanwhile, anyone want to join me for Operation Big Fun? I don’t think I need to wait until the end of the year for that, and – believe this – I don’t think that is mutually exclusive of getting it together, either. Maybe it’s time to add fun to the current to-do list … right under “file blog entry”!

Rushing Slowly

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What a great line in Sunday’s New York Times from adventurer Tim Cope: “There’s a wonderful saying among Kazakhs that if you have to rush in life do it slowly.”

Faithful TLLP blog readers know that I’m always on time for my own life, but now that I no longer find myself rushing to and from my previous four jobs, I’m really letting this wisdom sink in.

Yes, you read that correctly: Four jobs! Hey mon! Gotta go to work! Before I finally left a politically stressful job passing a

Oh my, do you know how many times I stood behind a table, wearing that shirt, talking to people about children's programs? A LOT.

Oh my, do you know how many times I stood behind a table, wearing that shirt, talking to people about children’s programs? A LOT.

referendum to continue funding children’s programs, I was working 30 hours a week in the office, then teaching six or seven Yoga classes a week, writing freelance articles for magazines whenever they were thrown my way (which was a lot) and also doing energy work as a Reiki master for those who came into my life in need. On top of this, yes, I also was fairly active as a marketing consultant, helping non-profits and small business owners rework their web sites and envisioning success beyond their current sights. And I had a life! I surfed, dated, met friends out for drinks, traveled and petted my kitty.

But once I decided to slow down, I realized how unmanageable that all was. For starters, I wasn’t healthy. My adrenals were all messed up. In my 30s, I had stress acne, which wasn’t helped by my obsessing over the imperfection. I didn’t get my period for a while. And no, I wasn’t pregnant. Sheesh.

It was beyond feeling unhealthy. I wasn’t me. I was rushing from me, rushing as a way to avoid being. It’s part of our smartphone culture now: When you have a moment to breathe in your fast-paced world, you better be checking in with social media or your email. With your face in your device, no one can accuse you of slacking off. And yet, of course, nothing really comes of that.

I saw my friend Jim out tonight while roller skating, and he told me another good quote by James Taylor (you know, with the whole “Suzanne the plans you made put an end to you” b.s.): “The secret to life is enjoying the passage of time.” I’m on it.

View of my marina from the Roosevelt Bridge, where I was totally walking during rush hour and making my former self jealous.

View of my marina from the Roosevelt Bridge, where I was totally walking during rush hour and making my former self jealous.

Living on the boat now with only two jobs, really – I’m still teaching Yoga, mostly privates and subbing whenever needed since I let go of all my regular daily classes, and also freelance writing – I have more time to myself. I exercise now, everyday. I’ve become one of those people walking the bridges of whom I used to be so envious while speeding from here to there, usually late. I take daily naps, sometimes for 20 minutes and sometimes for two hours. And you know what? That’s helping me lose weight because I’m not desperately trying to fuel up to continue a crazy pace. I allow myself to take a break.

I’m also moving slowly as I learn how to sail and live on a vessel. Clamping the extra sail on the bimini won’t work if I’m struggling and cursing, but taking my time makes it possible. Bundling up the main sheet, storing foodstuffs, maintaining the composting toilet … sometimes I feel like I am SCUBA diving, moving in slow motion while I complete a task. And then it’s done right, I’m not injured and I’m relaxed.

It’s not easy to slow down. Yoga tradition teaches us about the gunas, three ways of being that describe life around us. Basically, you’re either tamas (the couch potato), rajas (the go-go-go) or sattvic (with your head in the clouds). So by slowing down, I’m able to balance all of these ways of being. Like today, I went to the gym, then met a publisher to work on an upcoming editorial calendar, then over to a private Yoga session, then back home for a nap before writing. That’s pretty rajas. But then on Sunday I allowed myself to lounge about and read the New York Times and listen to Ethio-jazz. (Ohh, that link is the soundtrack for the blog!)  And Monday I spent time reading Be Here Now to plan a Yoga class. Now when I realize I’m all go-go-go, I stop and be-be-be.

American culture doesn’t give much value to being. What a shame. We’re so worried about making money that we don’t

Me and my boyfriend's skateboard. It's fun to travel slowly -- except when it's so slow that you zone out and the board trips on a crack in the sidewalk and you scrape your knee right on US 1. There goes looking cool!

Me and my boyfriend’s skateboard. It’s fun to travel slowly — except when it’s so slow that you zone out and the board trips on a crack in the sidewalk and you scrape your knee right on US 1. There goes looking cool!

register the negative impact that makes on our lives. By slowing down, I’ve found that I’m more patient with myself and those around me. I’m not so demanding. There’s no need to shoehorn everything into one moment; instead, I can honor the moment just as it is.

The key to this, of course, is recognizing the abundance of time. During the busy day today, as I was heading into the shower in between the gym and my meeting, I saw a friend who told me a long story about what’s going on with her. And I stopped and listened. She needed someone to listen. I was glad to be a sympathetic ear for her. Then I looked at my watch, and booya! Right on time for my life, baby.

Do I have a long to-do list right now? You betcha! I’ve got four writing assignments, going to bake a cake for my friend’s birthday (did someone say rum cake?) and I have to finish the bimini project on the boat. But I’m rushing slowly. I know I don’t have to do it all immediately. And if you have someone in your life that makes you feel that way, I encourage you to reevaluate your relationship with that person. Especially if that person is you!

On Being an Adult

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So I have another saying: I can do whatever I want, because I am an adult! Yes, I have to remind myself out loud that I am a full-fledge, actualized adult – and announce the joys of being so to whomever will listen (or read, hi!!).

The fantastically ironically named soundtrack for this blog post is definitely Ship of Fools, for the line: 30 years upon my

Talk about doing what you want! Capt. Trips would have been 73 yesterday. We miss you Jerry!

Talk about doing what you want! Capt. Trips would have been 73 yesterday. We miss you Jerry!

head/to have you call me child. (P.S. Happy birthday, Jerry!)

There’s something about being an adult who is petite and cheery, who likes to roller skate and hula hoop and has only one key – for a bike lock – on her key chain: Simply, I’m not always taken seriously. But that’s OK, because I’m an adult and I can do anything I want to.

Not like I’m a little kid, of course. I woke up crazy-early this morning and went to the grocery store, and I totally was not carded for my wine because no one underage would go to the grocery store at 7:30 a.m. and buy cabbage, tofu and one bottle of wine.

I’m an adult! And if I want to go to New York City for the weekend to visit my boyfriend, because I’ve got some money in the bank from selling all my personal possessions, why not? What else would I use it for besides wonderful experiences? I took in a Frida Kahlo exhibit at the New York Botanical Garden and watched a fantastic, interactive art video/spoken word piece at the Bronx Museum all about trying to get to “Plan B by any means necessary!”. My man and I danced around on skates in Central Park in a pop-up skate jam, and I ate fruit on

Frida was another fully realized adult, burdens and all. A treat to see this original self-portrait on display!

Frida was another fully realized adult, burdens and all. A treat to see this original self-portrait on display!

the High Line thinking about Jung Uk Yang’s solo exhibit at the Doosan Gallery I happened upon. I bought a shirt at Patagonia. I was kissed on the Brooklyn Bridge.

I did what I wanted.

Of course, this philosophy extends well beyond vacations. It’s everything we do, all the time. We carve our own path every day. Mom and Dad no longer get to tell me what to do and where to go (My parents always prioritized independence any way, to a fault, perhaps). Do you have kids like so many of my friends? Isn’t it funny to suddenly be the one to tell someone else what to do all the time? At what point did it switch?

I think it’s when we got … cue scary music … RESPONSIBILITIES! It’s when we started taking up the burdens of the world, to move society forward in some way, to evolve and “figure things out” that we become adults. It’s also about that time that life starts to beat us down.

So, scary stuff: Two days ago, a fire erupted on the S/V Tortuga, my boyfriend’s sailboat. I was tidying, writing and doing chores – being a very good little girl! – when I smelled something amiss. Seconds later, I saw a thin sliver of smoke coming up through a cabinet behind the chart table. I turned off the A/C power switch and probably wasted 30 seconds being in denial and confused. I opened the cabinet door under the chart table and saw a LOT of smoke! OH SHIT! I grabbed the fire extinguisher and emptied it to no avail. I saw flames. I grabbed a pitcher of water nearby and emptied it over the flames, which persisted. Thankfully there was still a little water pressure to fill up the pitcher again at the sink. I dumped it again over the flames, and it went out. It was the inverter. It spontaneously combusted! My guardian angel ensured I was right there to save the boat, my kitty and my life.

It was traumatic, of course. I’ve been total PTSD Central since it happened, crying and being upset. I was walking down the dock when I realized that my shoulders were slumped forward in defeat. Ugh. Adulthood.

YES I am a superwoman ... cinched waist and all. Sheesh, way to make her all Barbie, free Internet clip art.

YES I am a superwoman … cinched waist and all. Sheesh, way to make her all Barbie, free Internet clip art.

Wait a minute! There is a reason that I say time and time again that I get to do anything I want to! That’s because I do. And that also means taking control of my mind and not letting the bumps in the road (at sea?) get the best of me. I’m a superwoman!

So, with the power restored surprisingly easily (thanks to my friend Michael and also, hey, my quick thinking and fortitude), I’m working on normalizing. And that involves doing whatever I want to do all the time.

Because here’s the thing: I WANT to help society move forward and evolve and figure things out. That’s what is so awesome about being an adult. It’s a mighty responsibility, one that shouldn’t be shouldered lightly, but a wonderful opportunity to do good in this world. It is the very heart of The Lovelight Project. I’m grateful I have another day to be an adult. Are you?

Escaping the Maze

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Know what it feels like to be stuck in a rut? It’s like there’s a literal ditch in the ground carving out a walking path. I’ve been there: Get out of bed, go to bathroom, dress and walk to car, into office, out of office, home, repeat. It’s a long, winding maze … leading to unhappiness.

My friends, my friends, I'm in a rut.

My friends, my friends, I’m in a rut.

When you’re in a rut, friends ask what’s new and you just shrug your shoulders. Nothing. Nothing is new. You’re low on energy, motivation, creativity and general joie de vivre. It’s no way to live.

Getting out of the maze is actually pretty simple: Change.

As you know if you read this blog, I have divested all my worldly possessions except for a hope chest filled with mementos, some files and basically whatever fit into my boyfriend’s 32-ft sailboat. It has been a major project, to say the least.

I’m calling it Operation Tighten Up 2015, and what it’s done is pushed me very far out of my comfort zone and from whatever rut I had found myself in. It’s kind of stressful. I’ve had a few people recently tell this to me, and I’m letting it sink in. There’s something very reassuring about a rut. There’s something very disconcerting about change.

Think about ruts: Like in the Grand Canyon, water makes its way in the path of least resistance. If you are mindless about your life, you will be like water and create a tiresome rut for yourself. But, also like water, you can cut your own path. There are a few things you can do if you realize that life is boring you:

1. Look for signs. When talking to your friends, don’t bitch about things. Instead, look at the good in your life. Find gratitude for

If only it were that easy to recognize signs, opened doors and paths ... but it can be. JUST LISTEN TO YOURSELF!

If only it were that easy to recognize signs, opened doors and paths … but it can be. JUST LISTEN TO YOURSELF!

that old hallway while waiting for the next door to open. It’s going to open. But you have to look for where it is.

2. Take a risk. No need to be so dramatic as I’ve been this year, but do something that you don’t know will work. Here’s an example: My boyfriend’s car needed a part changed, and he’s out of town. So I went to AutoZone and bought the part, watched a YouTube video and shuffled up under the steering wheel and did the job myself. I’ve never done car repair before. I just decided it was something I could do because I’m not a complete dummy and tried it. It worked!

3. Take action on your dreams. What do you want in your life? Seriously, what is it? Most people have no idea, but this is why we are here. What do you dream to do? Write it down and don’t judge yourself. Be authentically you – and WORK to make it happen! There’s intention, and then there’s action. You need both to live an amazing life.

It’s also good to realize that there are endless ruts everywhere, waiting to trap us into a mindless routine. For example, like most American women, I used to have a big closet so filled with clothes that it overflowed into another smaller closet. I loved thrift shops, so most of what was bulging out was purchased for a couple dollars and worn quite well. But when I moved onto the boat, all I had was a little locker and some space bags. It was embarrassing, all the clothes that I was holding on to and not really wearing. I had to continue to let go, push myself out of my fashion rut.

So I did some research: Along with watching my fair share of TED talks that spoke to divesting and minimalizing the clutter in your life, I found a great video blog called The Daily Connoisseur. Jennifer L. Scott preaches the feasibility of the “Ten Item Wardrobe.” I purchased some key pieces that were missing, and whittled my wardrobe down.

This reality for so many speaks to the fact that we cannot buy happiness. When we seek happiness in possessions, it'll never be enough!

This reality for so many speaks to the fact that we cannot buy happiness. When we seek happiness in possessions, it’ll never be enough!

Why is this so difficult for women? I believe it is because we are conditioned to wrap our identity around our possessions and our clothing. It’s easier to understand who we are if we judge ourselves and others on what they own and what they wear. But of course when you think about it, we’re fooling ourselves to be so superficial.

And what’s wonderful about Scott’s blog is that she offers the reality of a choice: You can still look cute and own only a few pieces of clothing. She encourages viewers to purchase pieces that are lovely, wearable and diverse. Now I have a few dresses that I could wear on the dock or out to dinner. Since I left my job, I did away with my work clothes. When you simplify your life, it’s easier to simplify your wardrobe.

When you have fewer items in your closet, it’s easier to pick what to wear. It’s easier to pack for a trip. You just do it effortlessly, and suddenly you have time for the next thing. You have more space in your life to decide which way to go next. You become so light that you don’t wear a path into your life. You start to escape the maze by floating up and away.

Soul Time

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I have a personal mantra I like to say to friends when I feel like they’re starting to freak out about being late: “I’m always on time for my life.”

Granted, I’m late an awful lot for relatively informal engagements (right on time when professionalism rules or for live music!). I honestly think it’s more important to relax and flow through life instead of rush just to fulfill a social obligation of not wasting my friend’s time. I mean, really. Is there anyone who I made wait for 5-10 minutes who were unhappy during that time? If I ever pissed you off, I’m really sorry.

Sorry not sorry! My pal Harvey taught me to say, “Don’t be sorry, be silly!” And that’s because we are all operating on Soul Time all the time, regardless of what the watch says. It’s a beautiful reality that we often forget in this culture of 15-minute billing intervals.

Tangent 1: It’s not just Time, it’s SOUL TIME! (Click that link for this blog post’s first song on the soundtrack, followed by this one!)

Tangent 2: One time I made an appointment with a nutritionist at the local hospital here in my small town, and they said, OK, see

What was great about Google images was that I typed in "plastic food" and a picture of a hot dog came up. Seriously.

What was great about Google images was that I typed in “plastic food” and a picture of a hot dog came up. Seriously. And what is that thing behind Mr. Cheeseburger is this picture? A fat, bloody Kit-Kat?


you on Monday for your hour appointment with the nutritionist. I get there, and she’s showing me plastic forms that kinda look like broccoli and piles of rice to explain to me portion sizes and healthy food choices. I truly learned nothing, but whatever, I had health insurance and paid $35 for the hour. Then I get a bill explaining, it turns out, that I actually made four 15-minute appointments and had to pay something crazy like $300! I fought and fought that, and got them to cut it in half and begrudgingly paid it. If that nutritionist’s time was really that valuable, I’m in the wrong field.

By limiting our understanding of time to the concept of Linear Time instead of Soul Time, we are shorting ourselves dramatically. The Law of Abundance tells us that we have enough time for everything we need, and yet it feels like we can never do it all in a happy, relaxed manner when racing against the clock.

Soul Time also helps us aging gracefully, by accepting that building up Soul Time increases our wisdom and lessons learned in our hearts in such a beautiful way that there is never a reason to feel the least bit upset about visual cues of Linear Time aging. Soul Time aging is awesome! Ram Dass wrote a fantastic book about changing, aging and dying called Still Here. Highly recommended.

Relying on Linear Time also fools us into thinking that we have complete control on our lives. That’s why we are so upset when

"Oh, I am so disgusted with everything! I am so much better than everything around me! My time is more important that this drudgery! I am so mad!" Isn't it better to just chill out instead of suffer like this Spazy McGillicutty?

“Oh, I am so disgusted with everything! I am so much better than everything around me! My time is more important that this drudgery! I am so mad!” Isn’t it better to just chill out instead of suffer like this Spazy McGillicutty?

things change and the situation doesn’t meet our highest expectations of perfection. Ugh, traffic is so bad, you might say, looking at your watch in disgust. But what a wonderful opportunity to meditate or even plan out gifts for friends, think about a delicious dinner to prepare with a loved one or dream up your next vacation. It’s really all about limiting suffering, as far as I’m concerned. So if I’m happy daydreaming, score!

Besides, if I’m behind the wheel freaking out, what’s actually happening is that I’m nervous about what I think is going to happen. Like, when my parents are in town, I know that if I’m more than one minute late, they are standing at the front door of where we are meeting, anxiously awaiting my arrival. I don’t want my parents to be inconvenienced; but who knows might happen on the way there? Maybe they were caught up. Really, by being worried about time and the cultural expectations associated with its perceived lack of abundance is simply creating dramas in our minds.

The idea of Soul Time has really hit home with me in regards to my plan for extended travel on my boyfriend’s sailboat to

The captain of my heart and me sailing S/V Tortuga ... full-time whenever in Soul Time.

The captain of my heart and me sailing S/V Tortuga … full-time whenever in Soul Time.

remote locales with currently undetermined itineraries. Originally, the plan was to cruise over to the Bahamas before hurricane season began. Then much-needed projects, money-making opportunities and other parts of life’s realities held up that initial plan, and we have yet to depart three months later.

The thing that I must remind myself is that EVERYTHING IS HAPPENING ON THE EXACTLY CORRECT SCHEDULE. This is my life. It’s not on hold. It’s not “late.” You remember when you were in school and a kid said something like, “Well, I was supposed to be in the next grade up, but I was held back.” Sorry, kid. You were supposed to be in this grade. That’s why you’re there.

It’s all a surrender to the flow. I am grateful for this time, living on the boat yet still near land. I am taking care of so many things that would have gone undone had we left. I clipped a New York Times article that defined flowing as “the voguish psychological term, which refers to the heightened satisfaction and enjoyment derived from clearing out extraneous concerns and immersing yourself, Zen-like, in the task at hand.” Ah, the NOW is an awesome place to be.

As my friend Mary would say when she can’t find her keys or feels like time is running away from her: FLOWING! Just go with the flow, she means. It’s all happening exactly the way it’s supposed to, because we are always on time for our lives. That’s the beauty and freedom with living your life on Soul Time!

“Nothing with a Face or a Mother”

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That was always my mother’s explanation of her vegetarian dietary choice, which she made when I was 14 years old, about three months before I joined her in her vegetarian diet.

My parents and me, about to enjoy dinner. My mom is a vegetarian, like me, and my dad is the founder of PETV, People for the Ethical Treatment of Vegetables

My parents and me, after a delicious dinner at The District Table. My mom is a vegetarian, like me, and my dad is the founder of PETV, People for the Ethical Treatment of Vegetables.

And I have followed this way of eating faithfully up until about a month ago, when I ate fish in preparation for my plans to cruise for extended travels in my boyfriend’s sailboat. There will be times when we’ll be a week or more at sea, with food stores dwindling or pricey, and there is sure to be fresh seafood aplenty.

Yes, I ate something with a mother AND a face (yay for a reason to include this Dr. Demento favorite!). But before I get into it, let me provide a little more backstory on myself.

My mom and I were always what was known as the “lacto-ovo” vegetarian, for those not up with the vocab; that means we would eat milk and eggs. Otherwise, no meat, no fowl and no fish, but yes to cheese, butter and all the by-products of the meat industry. For 22 years, I was a strict and healthy lacto-ovo vegetarian.

When I first became a vegetarian, I was so grateful to have my mother along for the culinary adventure. It wasn’t rebelling that way. So many kids are laughed at or worse, made to eat crap and develop really unhealthy habits of sneaking “acceptable” stuff like French fries and Doritos. (Read here about why junk food is so bad for you.)

Sure, there was a fair share of laughing at me. My cousin still makes jokes about Tofurky to this day, more than a decade since we stopped sharing Christmas dinner together. I remember when I worked as a lifeguard at a local apartment complex, some creepazoid tried to endear me to him by offering to “dive down and pick up the leaves at the bottom of the pool for my lunch.”

Insert dummy laughter and my 17-year-old disgusted face.

When a creepazoid tried to flirt with me

When a creepazoid tries to flirt with me

I had chosen the vegetarian diet for a number of reasons. It dates back to sixth grade, when we were dissecting a frog and I learned what meat actually was. It was that little muscle on that little frog leg. Gross, I’m sorry. Barbaric. Why ever would someone think to eat that? That’s the simple origins of it: I have a problem differentiating meat from its reality, and I never thought it was something humans were really supposed to do.

Tangent: When I was in eighth grade, it was dissection time again, and I wasn’t having it. A precocious and socially conscious vegetarian, I wrote to PETA about my quandary. Stoked to have someone join their righteous outrage, they sent me a super-big pile of every paper and collateral material they had. I marched into my science teacher’s room and said I didn’t want to dissect. She asked why, and I dropped the entire pile on her desk and said “This is why.” She had me do some BS computer program instead, and this is one reason why I am poor at anatomy.

Over the years, restaurant employees have turned from “Um, you can have a salad” to providing all kinds of fabulous meals. A list of awesome vegetarian-friendly restaurants is available at www.thelovelightproject.com, where you might be discovering this blog!

Two years ago, as I was preparing myself for my Yoga teacher training, I decided to go vegan, which is a much stricter diet. That means not eating meat, fish, fowl AND also not eating or buying all the by-products including cream, butter, milk and honey.

Insert endless debate about whether bees are really animals and aren’t they happy and no! they are slaves and hey one time a swarm of bees was in my house, man! Whoa, are you allergic? What were we talking about? Oh yeah, this is total bullshit, right? What IS honey, anyway? I read this interesting article.

So, being a vegan is really hard and takes real dedication, and I honor everyone who is living the vegan lifestyle. Especially those who are living it without being annoying. When I was in college, I was the president of Earth Matters, the environmental and social justice club at NYU, and we were totally in cahoots with the vegan club. I remember our efforts got soy milk in the cafeterias, and isn’t crazy to think it wouldn’t be there now?

Veganism was a lot of work but worth it. I remembered what food tasted like for real, not covered in butter or cheese. Breakfast in restaurants was difficult, but not impossible. I had to get used to drinking my coffee black (I gave up sugar a while ago, but not cream until two years ago), but again, that’s actually what coffee tastes like. Don’t like it? Maybe you shouldn’t drink coffee.

Annoyingly, I gained weight. Am I the only person you’ve met who gained weight when going vegan? I sure was. I blame the over-nutrition: I was so focused on what I could eat that I ate it all! Nuts, beans … hello five pounds!

How could I let an aversion stop me from THIS?

How could I let an aversion stop me from THIS?

Anyway … that was how it was until I sold all my possessions and moved on to a boat with plans to cruise indefinitely with a man who loves to fish. Now before you start judging me as a love fool (who knows, you may be right – stay tuned), there is a lot of spiritual text on this topic that makes sense.

Meat, for me, is what is known as an aversion – the opposite of an attraction. It is a klesha, which are obstacles to realizing our highest self. By labeling myself, I am identifying with my aversion to eating meat products. This is a great way for me to separate myself from others and, frankly, suffer. It’s one way to forget the One Love.

So when my boyfriend shot a snapper on the reef, I ate it. And I felt gross! I had a major tummy ache, but otherwise I was OK. So I bought some enzymes for round two, which happened about a week ago. I had a bite, and the reaction was way worse! It was like I felt all the pain and suffering of that fish. I cried and went to bed early. I really didn’t understand it.

I’ve had a little time to think about it, and it is what it is. At this point, I plan to only eat fish that has been freshly caught by my love and is really necessary for my nourishment. I don’t ever plan to eat fish out at a restaurant. And I guess, for now, I’m going to feel bad as a result. I’m working on that.

I didn’t see the fish’s face, and I don’t think the fish even saw his mother – but I did think of my mother’s rule, wondering the benefit of having rules for eating. What is the root of my suffering when eating a not untasty meal? Is it the energy from the fish? The simple biology of my gut bacteria? Or my own Self-imposed rules?

When Failure is Not an Option

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For a while last year and earlier this year, my friends and I were part of a band that was really more like a movement of art, music, flow and fun called Intercoastal Swell. The gigs we played around town – at the Pineapple Festival, Coffee Bar Blue Door, Arts Fest and elsewhere – felt like a mini festival, as we spun fire and hula hoops in the streets and created live art to original

Joshua the Man and me, during one of the band's rare and wonderful practice sessions.

Joshua the Man and me, during one of the band’s rare and wonderful practice sessions.

music. The name is a homage to the interconnectivity of life on the coast, mixed with the energy of a swell that makes the ocean such a magical place. The band lives on, in different incarnations, and I loved that I will always be a part of it.

The music and flow never ended, of course, but as if by a lunar-influenced tide almost all the members have or are about to make their way to the next phase of their life journey. Joshua, our singer/songwriter extraordinaire, and Didgeridoo Master Jake traveled to Colorado, but then Jake’s car broke down so in the amazingly lovely Manitou Springs they remain. (Seriously, that little town is epic with delicious, sparkling potable springs bubbling in fountains throughout the quaint streets. There’s also a restaurant that makes a mean huevos rancheros, and I can’t wait to return.)

Ditta the artist moved back to New Jersey, and beautiful spirit Maddie is finding herself in Orlando. Alex, our lead guitarist, is moving to Philadelphia for love. Vocalist, videographer and vibranta Brittny and multi-instrumentalist Malik are heading out this week to meet Joshua and Jake, perhaps scooping them both up and heading onward to San Diego. Wilkie, my favorite uke and beat box beast, and Firestarters JT and Sean are holding it down on the Treasure Coast.

As for myself (I played a variety of percussion and specialized in good vibes), I am a handful of weeks off from cruising with my love to places known and unknown. Of us all, I will be the one most intimately enjoying the literal intercoastal swell.

So, as Brittny and I were jumping around in the super-low tide of the shore pound recently, to honor her last time at the beach for a minute, we were talking about this beautiful, liminal moment almost the entire band was in. Are you familiar with the concept of the limin? That’s when you’re at the crossroads, actually moving through a threshold of life. The limins are those times that you look back and say, oh yes, that’s really when I realized that things were changing. That’s when you make those decisions and say, yes, I’ll go that way, not that way. You go down the path you’ve decided is right for you. You pass through the doorway. You are on your way.

I guess some people believe it takes a lot of guts to do what we are doing, because frankly we are all living the bohemian lifestyle. Oh! Theme song for the blog post time. But I don’t think it’s a matter of guts, because for all of us, the big adventures we’ve created for ourselves isn’t anything that’s scary. The journeys are actually obvious. For each of us, it’s exactly what we know we are going to do. So there is no reason to be worried or scared. At all. Really. It’s called being alive and realizing how you want to live your life.

Because failure is not an option! Let’s dissect that concept a little bit. Technically, you could say that Jake and Joshua “failed” because the car died and they never made it back to that

This quote was on my refrigerator for quite a while.

This quote was on my refrigerator for quite a while.

rental in Stuart, Fla. But why would you think that? They are hiking and meeting people and spending time with Joshua’s nephews and generally having big ole smiles. It doesn’t feel like failure to me. Alex, who is traveling because he wants to be with his love, may feel like it’s a risk. Is it really? Isn’t a bigger risk deciding NOT to try a life together with someone he feels so strongly about? Wouldn’t it be sad if no one made big moves for love? What a sad world this would be.

It’s all a matter of perspective. I suggested this to my parents, who were understandably worried about my plan to sell all my worldly possessions (look Ma, no storage!) and move on to my boyfriend’s sailboat. What if it didn’t work out? my mom asked. Well, here’s the backup plan: Pack a bag and buy a plane ticket. Hey! Now I’ll have great contacts in Colorado. And I have friends in Charleston and Mount Shasta and Woodstock and Atlanta and Pittsburgh and San Francisco and Portland and the Jersey Shore and Idaho who I would love to see. That doesn’t sounds like failure to me, since my general plan is travel and love anyway. And yes, love is everywhere.

I have a mantra for creating success. I live an “active, no expectations lifestyle” – or at least I try. (Sometimes I fail … see what I did there?) The active, no expectations lifestyle is a sure-fire method for reducing suffering. If you have no expectations, chances are you’re not going to be disappointed. How will it be for Alex? Or Brittny or Ditta? Or me? If we all have no expectations for how life is going to be, we’re never going to be sad that it’s not another way.

Yay! Congratulations to my friends moving to Colorado this week! High love!

Yay! Congratulations to my friends moving to Colorado this week! High love!

But the word “active” is in there, too. We need goals. We can’t just wander around, floating on the intercoastal swell. That’s no way to reach our highest self. We need to set goals. For example, I had a goal of ridding myself of unnecessary possessions, and that’s still a work in progress. I have a goal of writing a book or two. I have a goal of experiencing new people and places, thinking about new ideas and allowing myself to swim in the depths of love like I’ve never done before.

If I’m not active in these goals, they will never be realized. So I remain active, but detached from outcome and expectation. The big-picture goal, of course, is not to suffer, right? Sounds good to me.