Thursday, August 6, 2015

I am

"The privilege of a lifetime is to become who you truly are." -C.G. Jung

Ten minutes to touchdown and I couldn't sit still. I craned my neck to get a better view of the distant twinkling lights, the lights that I'd seen so many times before and that now beckoned me home like a beacon of hope and new possibility. I'd never been this anxious to land and run out into the airport lobby, searching desperately for long lost friends, the very ones who sent me off on my adventure 18 months ago. 

I was finally going home. 

The month leading up to our departure date I was irritable and restless, counting each and every hour until I would be back where I fit in, back where I had good friends, had family members close by, and a city that understood me. The months and months of physical isolation, of knowing there was no way back, only forward, had taken a toll on my spirit. I'd been down in the dumps in Guam, despite my beautiful Instagram pictures and my frequent island adventures. I was heartsick and I needed my home. 

Matt shifted in his seat, examining the approaching lights. He turned to face me. His face was lit with excitement, a boy's eager innocence unveiling itself through his mature features. He clapped his hands on his thighs rhythmically, just as excited as I was. 

I had wondered what this moment would feel like for months, weeks, days. I imagined how I would be feeling right in this very moment when I was on the flight out of America. I wondered who I would be, how I would feel, how I would see the world. Would I see it differently? Would I be humble and patient? Would I look down on my friends and family with disdain? Would I understand them even better or even less? Would I be a weirdo? An earthen, spiritual, hippie warrior goddess? Would I have caught malaria and come back with a fever-fried brain?

Now, as I sat in my beloved tribal leggings and dream catcher shirt, with my head half dreaded and my skin bronzed, I realized that I felt totally and utterly different and impossibly and irrevocably exactly the same. I was changed, yes. But the change was not as I thought it would be. 

I was more me than I'd ever been in my life. But I was equally the most comfortable and uncomfortable in my own skin than I'd ever experienced before. I couldn't quite put my finger on it, but the cognitive dissonance I was feeling had been keeping me up late at night for the last few months. 

I also realized, in that very moment as we were circling the runway, that the weight of the responsibility of individuality had crashed into me and had settled upon my shoulders. 
I began to realize that I no longer had popular opinions or common ideas and that they might not be well received by friends and family. An onslaught of scenarios of rejection and ridicule plagued my subconscious, moving in and setting up shop for a long term visit. 

I pushed this thought to the side and let my excitement propel me through the next few weeks, soaking in all the things I missed about California. I saw old faces, revisited favorite spots, and settled into my beautiful, artistic new home. 

Unbeknownst to me, over the course of the next two months, I unconsciously diminished who I had become while abroad by eagerly wearing my old clothes (I can still feel the wave of relief I felt when I opened my suitcase of tucked away treasures and held my old jeans to my chest), the ones which no longer represented me, by hiding my dreads, and by downplaying what I'd gone through, the things that I'd seen. 

I unconsciously ran back to my old lifestyle and habits, drinking to alleviate stress and worry, complaining and criticizing. I felt a great chasm open and I tumbled through it to darkness, my new and authentic self falling with it. 

For the last two months, I have lived in a state of near constant fear of what people had to say, how they felt about my life and my decisions, sensitive to their disapproval and misunderstanding. I was especially sensitive to the flinging of their insecurities, fears, and doubts disguised as concern ("just be careful because....") onto me. I had enough fear swallowing my attention as it was, I couldn't handle theirs too. 

I started keeping to myself, stopped using social media, and spent a LOT of hours in front of the television, willing it all to go away. I stopped taking care of myself, stopped painting my nails, stopped showering as often, and tried to numb and self medicate as much as possible.

I retreated as far as there is to retreat, using July as an incubation period, nurturing and healing myself back to health. And this period of hibernation and isolation only led to self-examination. And this is what I discovered:

My journey through the world was a journey through the layers I'd added on over the years that I called "me." It was a trek through the vacuous and vicious jungle of my inner most fears, insecurities and doubts. It was a road to transformation, lined with raging fires and debilitating personal disasters. 

And I had to walk through the flames to make it out again. 

When I look back on where I've been, I see moments of personal triumphs and defeats, not cities and rivers and mountains I visited. I see ugly, raw truths that were exposed to me over the rice paddies in Hampi and in the dusty, bumpy capital of Nepal. I see the pain, the anguish, the moments of utter despair from my haunting past, and only flickers of rickshaws, cows, garbage, circus schools, and lush foliage. 

I also see the moments of pure illumination, pure golden haze in an ash-strewn venture. I see moments of enlightenment, perseverance, and accomplishments. I see unadulterated ecstasy, the nirvana of conquering my own mind, of abolishing demons and fears by shining the light on the depths of my mental closets. 

I don't see the towering green mountains of the Himalayas or the rooftop in Rishikesh overlooking the Ganga where I read and read and read. 

I see the story I wrote in the first dark and dingy Ashram, I see the beginning of my journey as a writer, the first rush of exhilaration upon reading my own work. I feel the feelings I felt, the mixed jumble of alphabet letters that were once full emotions sloshing around my gut, driving contractions of anxiety through my shoulders. 

I feel the belief of knowing this wasn't just "a trip" and that this "trip" would not come to an end like everyone else believed. It was the beginning of my journey, the very first step in a staircase of many, to diverge from the majority and truly become who I am meant to be. 

I feel the lightness of having released so many truths, having slew so many dragons, having given myself the room to grow and breathe. I feel the lightness from shedding all the layers of mainstream thoughts and opinions, the heaviness of really examining ideas and concepts for my own self, and the fullness of having allowed my true essence to shine through and guide me to my final destination.

With the blue moon in full effect, the mysterious nature of my own mind was revealed to me and this is what I birthed: I am an artist and I accept myself. I am free, no matter where in the world I am, no matter if I am imprisoned or enslaved or in jail, I am free. It is not something that anyone can give to me, it is what I AM. It is an innate quality and it starts and ends with me. 

There was some deep, hidden block that made me reject my art, my self expression, my vulnerability, my willingness to live fully. Something embedded deep judged, critiqued, ridiculed, isolated, and tortured me these last 15 years of my life. It told me I wasn't good enough, I wasn't cool enough, I wasn't pretty enough. It kept me from my own greatness, holding me prisoner, disconnecting me from vitality, from the true source of Life. But I wasn't backing down this time, I wasn't afraid of it this time. I faced it, with its snarling teeth and jagged, sharp claws. I told it there was no way it was going to win and I wrangled it to the ground when it leapt. I conquered it and stood over it, my foot pinning it to the floor. And as soon as I looked down at my foe, it vanished, for it never really existed in the first place. 

I conquered fear. 

And I'm here to tell you that I'm no longer ashamed of myself.

I'm no longer afraid to stand tall in my body and in my personality and spirit. I'm no longer holding myself back from what I will be. I'm no longer letting nonexistent future scenarios dictate how I live my life. I went to India to conquer fear and it took me coming all the way home to realize it doesn't exist anywhere outside my own head. And now I'm free

I am an artist. I am a writer. I am a hippie. I am a revolutionary. I am a woman. I am a goddess. I am a soulful spirit, aching everyday to be expressed. I am seductive. I am powerful. I am kind. I am generous. I am nurturing. I am a mother. I am a maiden. I am a crone. I am. I am. I am. 

Namaste, you beautiful souls. 

Friday, February 13, 2015

The Truth Behind My Silence

It's been a long time since I wrote from the heart. It's been a long time since I've been able to write from the heart. Today, in a brilliant moment of clarity, I realized why I've been so silent and why I haven't been able to write about Guam. I knew all along that it was because I was being untrue to myself and to my journey but all the pieces finally came together. 

I moved to Guam last August after ten months of traveling throughout Southeast Asia and I've had a hard time adjusting in the six months I've been here. I'm from California where my life was super fast paced for the last...I don't know, ten years of my life? I was under severe amounts of stress and up to my ears in debt and really living above my means for years. I was so wound up all the time that when it was time to "relax" on my days off, I wanted to release all the pressure and I often did it through unhealthy means (read: I partied with my friends, a lot). 

The unhealthy habits I had did two things: put me further into the hole financially and wrecked havoc on my health. I was never truly healthy (even when I was exercising, I was working out so hard that I was probably doing more harm than good) and I was never truly fulfilled. Sure, I was "happy" or what I understood to be "happy", but I was never completely fulfilled on an emotional or spiritual level.

After traveling through SEA, and really daring to lose it all (I left behind my debt, my friends, my family-whom were all very upset with me) to find what I was missing in my life, I came back to Guam and went straight back into the lifestyle I left in California: bartending and watching TV. 

It didn't sit right with me the very moment I started my job. But I had to work; we barely made it to Guam and only had $10 to our names. 

While traveling, I got accustomed to really being the master of my universe, determining how I spent each day, who I worked for, what kind of work I did, and for the first time in my life, I really began to unwind and heal. I went to see an Ayurvedic doctor in India, and just by body-reading, he was able to tell me that I'd been under an extreme amount of stress for years, had damaged my liver and kidneys from partying ("it is very common in western societies, especially in the youth" he said) and that what I needed was good nutrition and meditation.

In the last year, I've found that it's been very hard for me to consistently do yoga and to meditate. Inside my head and my heart has been a violent storm of emotions and un-comfortability as I've pushed myself outside the box and forced myself into new situations and experiences. I hadn't made peace with my family and as much as I hated to admit it to myself, has trailed after me throughout my travels like a scary shadow, lurking in darkness, waiting to catch up with me.

Starting work at the bar, I was no longer around soul-searching hippie backpackers, I was right back in the numb-yourself-with-intoxicants-so-that-you-can-continue-to-lie-to-yourself-about-your-life crowd. I was right back in the staying up late, eating poorly, spending every dollar you make lifestyle. 

I wanted to quit as soon as I started work but I didn't, because I wasn't sure what I would do for money in the meantime. (Besides working on a project that is still under wraps, but I knew that would take time.) 

Then I found Wealthy Affiliate after I had set the New Years Resolutions to become a better person and to devote myself to learning and bettering myself every day. I knew it was a sign from above, that my intentions had been met and returned back to me. 

So I jumped. Feet first. Throwing all caution to the wind. 

Since then, I've totally decompressed all the built up anxiety, worry, frustration, hatred, all the toxic emotions I'd been feeling for years and years.
I let it all go. 
I became my truest yogi, began practicing acts of self-love everyday and made room for my healing.
I did (and still do) yoga every day. I go for an evening beach walk every night where I listen, truly listen, to the gentle lapping of the waves. I am finally present in every moment instead of letting my thoughts get so in the way of experiencing what's right in front of me that I'm whisked into a nonexistent storm of thoughts and emotions triggered by past or future events. No, instead I'm totally present, working on my business, taking personal development classes, reading, writing, drawing, exercising, eating, and most importantly, laughing. 

I'm the healthiest and happiest I've ever been in my whole life. The tension is finally gone, the anxiety finally gone. I laugh with such ease now, that I know I've never been relaxed, ever, in my life. 

I finally realized why I was brought to Guam, why I needed to be here, be immersed in slow, island life: I needed to heal. I needed to undo all the self-inflicted damage I’d done over the years and I needed to learn how to persevere. I needed to learn how to stick with something all the way through till the end, something I haven’t done since college. Changing my mind has been the theme to my life for as long as I can remember and that’s probably why my career didn’t turn out the way I’d planned it. I’m definitely happy I ended up where I am, but now I’m ready to see my dreams all the way through. But more importantly, I’m ready to heal and ready to live this life without negative associations like fear and anxiety and tension and worry like I have for most of my life.

Guam has brought me such peace. I couldn’t see it while I was at the bar because I was affected by other’s negative energies, but now that I’ve left the bar and live in this cocoon of self-love and passionate creativity, I understand why my journey brought me here. 

Being able to do absolutely everything I'm passionate about every day of my life and only having to answer to my conscience, my own internal boss, has set me free. It has made me truly appreciate that I live in paradise, that I have the love of my life walking this path with me, and that I have the whole world at my fingertips. 

Life is too short to spend it doing something you're not passionate about. Life is too short to lie to yourself about what you want or what you want to be. Life is too beautiful to let your mind run the show, clouding your vision and drowning out all other sounds until you're never fully present. Your life is in your own hands. You can make it anyway you want, despite what other people say, despite what even your own mind says. You are free, you are worthy, you are alive.

Sunday, February 8, 2015

Cinnamon Sticks, Hot Chai, and Pine Needles--Are You Sure I'm in Guam?!

"Life will give you whatever experience is most helpful for the evolution of your consciousness." --Eckhart Tolle

Christmas in Guam!

December has always been a month of reflection, relaxation and spending quality time with the ones I love most. The cinnamon-scented candles, the hot cups of chai, the smell of pine drifting throughout the house—Christmas has always been my most cherished time of year.

This is probably why the first half of the month was especially hard on me this year, being away from my family and friends on a tiny island in the South Pacific Ocean.

The memories I’ve made with my family (like when I surprised my big sister with matching Christmas morning pajamas or when my mom and I would spend the day shopping at Santa’s art shop) and friends (like when my parents hosted our cheerleading Christmas party my senior year or when we’d go to Tommy T’s the day before Thanksgiving every year) have been the best parts of the holiday season—laughing and just being genuinely grateful for each other. 

This time last Christmas, I was in the South of India in a coconut hut on the beach, drinking rum while listening to an Italian folk band with Kowboy and Matt—the traditions and loving memories plaguing my mind and bleeding my heart.

Guam has been very challenging and healing and my feelings about the island have flip flopped every other week it seems like but something about the joy of the holidays, the feeling of belonging and having the warmth of friends on island has finally solidified the fact that Guam is now my new home. From our roommates making handmade Christmas ornaments (thanks Brittany) and actually getting a real Christmas tree (I love you Paul) to happy hour cocktails and buying super awesome presents for each other, Guam’s magic and love has finally seeped into my heart.

December in Guam is rough ;)

When we first arrived here, I knew there were many things I needed to fix and I had a long list of goals and achievements to hit by the end of the year. I was ready to implement everything I’d learned on the road—from eating healthy to gardening to practicing yoga consistently to paying off my debt— and Matt and I hit the ground running. Our second day on the island, I got offered a bartending job at one of the busiest (and best) bars in Tumon and Matt finished all his enrollment and VA paperwork. By the end of the first week, we were set up in a new apartment, had a few new clothes, and a steady income. By the end of the first month, we had a monthly income of $6,000 (the most I’ve ever made), we’d paid back the people who helped us get here and started paying off debt (we paid off $8,000 in 3 months!). Considering we’d just arrived with just the clothes on our backs and a backpack full of cheap Indian clothes—I’d say we made quick work of the island.

Christmas came early! My little baby :)

A large part of my discomfort reintegrating back into domestic life was that we were in a beautiful but scary place: our lives were blank slates and we were building our lives from the ground up. Absolutely everything we bought and did now—from the shoes on our feet to the dishes in our cabinets to going to school to rescuing a kitty—were a reflection of our post-traveling selves. 

How often do people get that opportunity to completely rebuild their lives, exactly the way they want it?

This coupled with my eager anxiousness (I just want everything right now), I got very much ahead of myself which took me out of the moment, out of appreciating the beautiful journey we are on, and made me focus on all the things the island doesn’t have for this new life that we are building. 

It wasn’t until Matt sat me down one day and said, “You are never happy. Anywhere we go, there is always something wrong with (insert country name here). There’s always something missing, something you wish it had and you’re never satisfied with what we do have.”

That hit me like a load of bricks—I am happy, everywhere we go, I am happy just being with Matt but I focus on all the shortcomings of our new town/city/country. I wish I could blame it on San Diego being so awesome and me being so spoiled the last five years I lived there but I know that isn’t true(—Although seriously, San Diego HAS IT ALL).
It’s me. I fault-find with every new place we visit, Guam being no different. I criticize. I blame. It’s a way to shirk the responsibility of realizing that I’m the one at fault. (Some of you may be nodding and also thinking that I do this with people too and you’re right. “So and so is great but…” I intend to change this too. In fact, it’s the biggest reason I want to evolve this trait.) 

This year...

So I began thinking about 2015 and my New Year’s Resolutions and the person I want to become and I started asking myself, “What can I do to better myself?” and “What can I do to eliminate that pesky criticizing, always-unsatisfied voice?” 

Two years ago on Christmas Eve, I made the Resolutions to stop complaining and to stop gossiping. 

Just doing these two small things impacted my life in ways I could never fully explain. It made my life easier and brighter and happier (okay, I still gossip but not nearly as much as I used to!). 

Now this December, as I think about how I am standing on the precipice of a new chapter in my life, I Resolve to stop fault-finding in others, to stop criticizing, to let go more easily, and to let it be.

I’ve heard all these tidbits of advice for years but now that I have truly witnessed the effects of these actions, I am ready to start embodying these qualities and applying them. My year of travel forced me to grow in so many ways and I’ve come out the other side a better person and building a life that reflects just that. 
My life is beautiful and perfect—though I couldn’t see it the last few months because of my nitpicking and critical eye—and I want to honor it everyday by becoming a better person and preparing myself for the next chapter (wedding ideas and baby mania have been oozing out of my head since we settled down in Guam—I think I’ve been abducted by aliens—Help!!). 

After reflecting on everything I’ve accomplished this year and everything I want to accomplish in the future, I am letting go of the tiny voice inside my head that says I’m not there yet or I didn’t finish my goals on time (there were plenty of goals I intended to finish by December but I’ve finally accepted that some goals take longer than expected). I am letting go of the persistent desire to do more, be more and just bask in the warm light of being. 

I am very happy and proud of where I am today. Though some of my motivations and actions have been doubted or discredited, I know in my heart of hearts that I know what I am doing with this life and where I am going: Always forward. Fixing what I can of the life I left back home so that I can start my new life and my family with a clean slate and a fresh beginning; every day I am working towards bettering myself and the world around me. 

Welcome, 2015!!!

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Bloody Knees and Immigration Fiascos in Thailand

“The brick walls are there for a reason. The brick walls are not there to keep us out. The brick walls are there to give us a chance to show how badly we want something. Because the brick walls are there to stop the people who don’t want it badly enough. They’re there to stop the other people.”  
-Randy Pausch

Barbed wire fences and scooters. Overstayed visas. Immigration penalties. Throwaway plane tickets. Stress. Doubt. Reevaluation of life direction. This is the untold story of the Thailand leg of our journey.

I guess it was bound to happen. Sooner or later, it was going to happen. Part of me doesn't want to admit it, and another part of me reminds myself that I live my life transparently; that's what makes this journey authentic and honest. Ten months, four countries later, I am finally travel worn. I find myself dreaming of a home, of a kitchen filled with healthy food, of a place I can call mine again, preferably with a fluffy animal running around and snuggling in my lap.

This feeling started on the train from Bangkok to Chiang Mai. I was looking out of the window, watching the deep shades of green blend together in a jungle smoothie. I was filled to the brim with gratitude and fulfillment. "This. Is what I can't not do. This is the most satisfying thing I've ever done in my life," I told Matt. He smiled at me and squeezed my hand. Thailand was the jewel of my eye; ancient golden temples nestled in mountainsides and great white Buddhas perched atop, looking down over the valleys and hills, protecting the life residing under a glorious afternoon sun.
But as dusk approached, a small quiet voice was whispering sweet nothings of cryptic unease and the familiar feeling that something was missing. Eighteen hours of traveling was surely the source of this discomfort so I merely shrugged it off as jet lag and exhaustion. I was smitten with Thailand, one of my biggest dreams was coming true, was true, in this very instant and it deserved all my immediate attention.

We arrived in Chiang Mai at 8pm and stepped off the train into a humid, warm summer night. I hadn't done any research about places to stay and had no idea where we were in relation to any guest houses but Matt wasn't worried. As we walked towards the station we fell into line with a group of backpackers and asked them if they knew of a guest house. Yes, in fact they did and we were welcome to share a cab with them.
We hopped into the covered bed of a fire engine red pick up truck, by far the coolest taxi I'd seen yet. He dropped us off at Chiang Mai Backpackers guest house, across from an impeccably manicured riverfront with big drooping trees and purple lotus flowers floating in the water. The streets were clean and orderly with a noticeable absence of stray dogs and garbage. It almost felt like we were in a western city again. We checked into the hostel and set out to find food. The hostel owner, a smiling, big bellied Thai man gave us directions to a street market full of Thai delicacies along with warnings of what not to eat (don't eat anything they didn't make right in front of you, stick to cooked food) and must-tries (mango sticky rice). His jovial personality gave me the feeling of being in someone's home: at ease and well taken care of.
Down the street to our left was the market, full of street vendors with multi colored umbrellas. With wide eyes and empty stomachs, we scoured the warehouse-sized market for the best of the best and loaded up on fried chicken, vegetable stir fry, coconut water, and mango juice. Feeling like a million bucks with our bank full from our Nepali paycheck, I felt like I was on vacation for the first time in months.

The next morning, we roamed around the day market which was now full of groceries and clothing while sipping 7/11 French vanilla coffees and bought organic soaps from a cute boutique shop. We had booked an 11 o'clock van ride north to the little town of Pai, where we planned to stay on an organic farm recommended by our friends from Sadhana Forest in India.
The three hour ride was full of twists and hairpin turns on a winding road up through the mountains. Between moments of nausea and jubilation, the ride was breathtaking and painful.
The driver dropped us off in front of the farm and we headed back into wilderness. I hadn't heard a peep from that pesky voice in days and had completely forgotten about it.
Our first ten days at the farm, we soaked in the serenity of natural living and meeting new people from all over the globe, bonding over cooking in the bare bones kitchen on the farm and learning how to make fire (much harder than it looks, trust me). We tilled rice fields and watered the garden, foraging in the evenings for dinner ingredients. We went into town with our new friends and had pad Thai and practiced tight rope walking at the circus school and performed in a circus show. We rented a scooter (don't ask me what happened, my knee is finally healed with a lovely scar) and rode elephants and tubed down the river in the rain with beers in our hands wearing ridiculous plastic ponchos over our bathing suits in the water. (Yes, I said plastic ponchos over bathing suits.)
Life on the farm was wonderful and peaceful and healing. The ghost of a desire long left behind began to haunt me in the quiet moments I found in solitude on the farm. I was fulfilled and engaged in living and grateful but something was...nagging at me, pulling on my conscience, quietly willing me to listen. I couldn't discern what it was saying and I grew restless, searching for meaning in the clouds and looking for signs.
It didn't dawn on me until after my American friend living in Bangkok left the farm. The five days she was there, we chattered nonstop until our throats were raw and our cheeks were sore from laughing. We'd both been desperately starved for a close female friend and the moment we met, it was love at first sight. We spent our evenings on the porch overlooking the rice paddies exchanging stories of our wild early twenties and things we wanted in the future. She told me of her kindergarten class, full of sweet Thai children who wore crazy colored socks and mimicked her Cali accent and told me her adventures in navigating the Bangkok public transit system and vacationing on her holidays. I fell in love with her life, wishing I could have a place that I called home but still having the freedom to explore other countries close to me.
In the wake of her absence from the farm, I finally heard the message loud and clear. I was tired of traveling. I didn't want to go home but I didn't want to keep moving. I wanted a home base, somewhere that I could work legally and settle my debts and clean up the mess I'd left at home and still travel.
To my utter relief, Matt was feeling the same way. He had mentioned going to Guam earlier that month and now he suggested we revisit that idea. He looked into schools and found a program he wanted to enroll in and started filing his VA paperwork. I started looking for furnished housing and jobs. This was it.
I began daydreaming of matching coffee mugs and color coordinated bath towels and linens and suddenly Guam became a white light of kitchen supplies and real adulthood, a place to call my own.
I have always been a believer in signs from the universe and wondered slightly if we were making the right decision. I still wasn't sure how we were going to manage to get there and wasn't even sure if we could afford it.
Right on time, a sign- or more like an obese lethargic cow squatted right in the middle of our roadway to Guam The Safe Haven and threw a gorilla-sized monkey wrench directly at our foreheads, ricocheting into the road and causing a four car pileup on top of our mangled corpses. *ahem* I digress... Back to the story.

I found out, much to my dismay, that we couldn't renew our visas like we had planned and had to leave the country. In six days. We had very little money, flights were stupid expensive, and I was PMSing. Holy hell. A storm of hot emotions, short tempers, and suppressed doubts erupted out of my giraffe-like body as quick as a flash flood in the desert.
After the dark clouds passed, I swallowed my pride and admitted we needed help and found the resources to get us halfway to Guam with a one way ticket to the Philippines and plans of buying our tickets to Guam after pay day on the first. We had a friend whose family had just moved back to Manila and said we could stay with them for two weeks. I was filled with relief and excited to be squeezing in one extra country before settling down in Guam.

We said goodbye to the farm and took an overnight bus to the airport. I watched the sun rise up over Bangkok from the bus window on the expressway, watching the twinkling lights of the city shimmer against the pink backdrop of a new day. We arrived early for our flight and were the second people to check in. The guy ahead of us was a backpacker and the attendant seemed to be giving him a hard time about something. I got a strange feeling and my palms started to sweat unexplainably.
We stepped up to the counter and another cow carcass of a road block fell through the airport skylight and rained down blood drops of confusion and panic. We needed an onward ticket out of the Philippines or we couldn't board the flight. We couldn't buy it online, we had to buy directly from an agent upstairs. The agent upstairs didn't open for another half hour and our flight was leaving in two. If we didn't board our flight, we faced overstaying our visas and paying hefty fines when we did eventually leave.
While we waited for the office to open, Matt got down to business and began problem solving. I cried. Hard. Like the floodgates to the Hoover dam opened up in my tear ducts and I bawled with no reservations about the gawking onlookers. I felt defeated for the first time on the trip. I just wanted to go HOME wherever that was, lay on my couch for a month and hide from all this awesome adventuring. On top of feeling defeated, I felt ashamed for feeling defeated when I'd made it so far and also felt ashamed for feeling disappointed in myself. The triple threat of sadness: shame, disappoint and defeat. This was the lowest of low for me, much lower than I felt after I got ran over in Nepal and spent all our money on x-rays.
I asked Matt,"Are we making the right decision? I feel like the universe is trying to tell us we are going the wrong way with all these obstacles."
To which he said, "Sometimes, all the universe is saying is 'try harder'."

After I was done feeling like the skid mark of the universe, we bought the cheapest tickets to ANYWHERE outside the Philippines for ANY date and hustled our booties downstairs to check in. We had one hour till take off and still had immigration to go through.
We ran from the check in counter through security to immigration and waited for twenty minutes in line to get our exit stamps. Our terminal was the furthest from immigration and we ran like wild banshees through the airport, my duffle bag whacking me in the butt at every step. It felt like a high-intensity movie scene and I was waiting for James Bond to appear behind us, running at top-speed.
We made it to the gate with a few minutes to spare and boarded the plane sucking in air, positive I had just ran my first mile in ages.
While I still maintain the stand that traveling is not a means for escaping your problems, watching Thailand disappear beneath a layer of fluffy white clouds felt like the closing of one chapter and the beginning of a new one. I was weepy and still sad during the flight but mostly preoccupied with my meal and movie and when we touched down in Manila, hope started to leak through the darkness.
We breezed through security (they didn't even ask to see the onward tickets we'd been forced into buying!!) and walked into one of the friendliest countries I've ever had the pleasure of visiting.

Looking back at our year in transit, I see my emotional journey as an archway: the beginning and ending of the voyage were rocky, full of worries and stress with the middle being the strongest and sturdiest, with little to no fear or doubt. Our time in Nepal I conquered many foes, emotional and physical alike, and felt the heartiest and bravest. But upon leaving, the actual act of moving began to wear on me and broke down some of the thickened skin that I'd just grown.
While I was in Thailand, I realized that what I set out to find in November had been found somewhere between the Arabian Sea and Gulf of Thailand, somewhere in the white capped Himalayan peaks and the depths of the Pai Valley. I'd accomplished and attained that inexplicable, elusive element that forced me out of a happy job in Carlsbad and out into the unknown. This thing, this entity, this bodiless creature that I felt obligated to explore, investigate and identify one year ago was finally decoded and realized in my tenth month of travel. I was ready to move forward, to change directions and start yet another new venture. I no longer felt I needed to prove to myself that I could make it abroad one year, no longer felt pushed forward by an evasive, unidentified force of nature. This realization set me free and allowed the room to accept that changing life direction is a necessary part of our own personal evolution and the pathway to growth and prosperity.
Being okay with changing direction and stating exactly what you want and then going after it is the only way to get what you honestly want out of life. Staying happy and fulfilled sometimes means letting go when goals and objectives have been achieved and creating a stimulating and challenging environment, pushing yourself past self-imposed limitations and blockages. Even when cow-carcass road blocks and immigration fiascos take you to your weakest moment, always remember that it's darkest before dawn and something truly magnificent could be waiting around the corner for you. Never give up.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Living a Teenage Dream

"People think a soul mate is your perfect fit, and that's what everyone wants. But a true soul mate is a mirror, the person who shows you everything that is holding you back, the person who brings you to your own attention so you can change your life. A true soul mate is probably the most important person you'll ever meet, because they tear down your walls and smack you awake." -Elizabeth Gilbert, Eat, Pray, Love

For some time now, I've been searching for the words for my next blog. They just weren't coming. I searched high and low, grasping at any little bit of inspiration I could find. Until yesterday, I believed I was uninspired. I blamed the metropolitan lifestyle we'd been living the last two months. I blamed the other projects I'd been funneling my energy into. Never once did I think I was in the middle of a huge life transition. Nor did I think change was bubbling under the surface of awareness, mixing and blending and dying and birthing. Until the final clue in a series of, at first glance, unrelated events came to me yesterday morning when we moved into our new (American-style) house.
I'd been searching for Elizabeth Gilbert's sequel to Eat, Pray, Love for a month and finally, through serendipity, I found it in our new home, hidden within a shelf of books. Her second book is called Committed and is about her forced entry into holy matrimony (again) and her journey of acquiring her lover's green card for the US.

By no means am I announcing an engagement. Or a pregnancy, for that matter. 

But it put the pieces of my personal transformation together, one that I was all too oblivious (or more like unwilling) to notice. What I am announcing, though, is the death of my long-lived wild child single life (my 'basicness' if you will) and the birth of this adultish me and life.
The story that has been bubbling under the surface of awareness is finally ready to come into expression and I've just about been bursting to write it for a few days now. This story is my long awaited, highly anticipated love story.
Let's start at the start (as most stories do): For those of you who don't know me, I'm going to give you contextual background information about me, my "way back then" narrative.
Relationships have never, ever been my thing. As much as I wanted them to be, I have always been a wild, single lady (though I haven't always behaved as such). In high school, I was too busy with cheerleading and honor classes to have a boyfriend (or so I told myself). In my early twenties I was what you would call a serial dater: I had a fear of commitment like a cat afraid of water. I believed relationships meant compromising what you really wanted to do and I wanted to live my young years without regard or consideration of anyone else. I was afraid of having regrets about not experiencing those quintessential wild years where inappropriate behavior and bad decisions were dismissed based on naivety and youth. I also enjoyed casually dating, reaping the benefits of fancy meals I couldn't normally afford, good wine and conversation. I also had a crazy side, I loved going on girls trips to Vegas, I loved drinking alcohol and having a good time. I often said in those years that I had an alter ego ("Naomi") because it was like I had another living being inside of me, waiting to come into expression (it's a safe bet to say she was born of repression).
I lived the first five years of my twenties exactly as I wanted. (Though this isn't to say that that hopeless romantic heart of mine didn't lead me down some wistful lanes of forcibly trying to push emotionally unavailable men into the relationship corner. This dichotomy of my heart wanting one thing and my mind wanting another has always existed and led me haphazardly through the dating world, zigzagging me back and forth between 'singlin' and minglin' to 'one is the loneliest number'.)
I didn't understand relationships weren't about compromise or sacrifice; I only believed this because of one sour relationship in my late teens that ended (strategically) right before my 21st birthday.

In fact, this was one of the very reasons I left America. Only a handful of friends knew this before I left. I was so in love with my friends and my life and San Diego that I had become complacent. Somewhere along the line, the alcohol and the partying had erased very fundamental parts of me. But I was so happy I couldn't see this and anyways-isn't everyone's ultimate goal to be happy? A small sliver of awareness knew I needed to get out of that cycle of partying and poor monetary decisions and when I was given the opportunity to follow a true dream, I took it.

Now, as I am approaching my 26th birthday, (I am now accepting gifts), I have been thinking a lot, I mean A LOT, about said wild child Nicole. I've had a death grip on her ever since we left the US, even though I specifically left to let her go (among other things). I've spent so long building up this false-and yet very much honest-part of me, that it's been a real bitch to let her go. But, over time, it's happened. Somehow, miraculously, it's happened.

I haven't wanted to admit it to myself. I haven't wanted to admit it to anyone, truth be told. I have been afraid to admit just how much, on a subconscious level, I've known I stepped into a new chapter in my life. How now, looking at the next five years of my life, I am seeing traveling, businesses, investments, engagements, weddings, houses, dogs, babies, all the things I've always wanted but never wanted to admit.

I said I'd give you a love story and here it is: I have known for about five years that I was the one for Matt, and he was the one for me. Don't ask me how I knew, I just knew. (Turns out he knew before I knew.) We met through my neighbor whom I was seeing, six years ago. I only had a few conversations with him but I distinctly remember one specific night. We were at said neighbor's house listening to country music. Said neighbor was drunk on rum while Matthew and I were sober. Said neighbor, who was typically emotionally closed off and unfeeling (a great choice, Nicole), was getting particularly sappy and emotional over this one country love song. I was actually equally appalled and enamored at the time. I remember looking at Matt and he was staring at me intently, with this look that said "he's so wrong for you, it's ridiculous. You guys won't last." And I knew that he knew that I knew and I just looked at him like "well, what can you do?" (Come to find out six years later, this was the moment "he knew".)

Fast forward through the years and Matt and I stayed friends after the neighbor was long gone. We used to go salsa dancing together and he'd tell me about his girlfriend at the time and how she was too good for him and he'd tell me about his wild escapades and I'd tell him about mine. We wouldn't speak for months and then randomly catch up on the phone for hours, talking about horoscopes to dogs to gossip to science. Then the physical attraction boiled over and we played a cat-and-mouse game back and forth for years, me always trying to push for a relationship, him always uninterested in this prospect but interested in string-free relations (like most men in their 20's...and 30's...and 40's...). We'd see each other for a while, I'd start to annoy him, he'd push me away-the same old story I'm guessing 99.9% of women have experienced at least once in their lives. Finally, after another long text conversation about why he was emotionally unavailable, I had just had it with him and sent him a text saying "One day you'll realize I'm the one. You're making a huge mistake." (The arrogance!) I actually had forgotten all about this- he reminded me this the day he asked me to be his girlfriend two years later.

Fast forward two years, I haven't seen him in a year and quite honestly had had given up, and we catch up over wine one random night. I happen to have an extra ticket to see Swedish House Mafia and I need someone to go with (as friends, I wasn't interested in his antics anymore). He goes with me. We dance. We laugh. We fall in love with his two best friends Hannah and Blaze. He asks me out. During the finale of the concert with fireworks exploding above our heads, the skyline of LA illuminated in the distance, rain sprinkling on us. It was magical. It was beautiful. I was doubtful. I thought we were just love drunk on red bull, music and Jameson and he'd reconsider in the morning. He didn't.

I can't really describe the events that took place over the course of the next six months without devaluing the magic and wonderment I experienced (like having fireworks following us...everywhere). I lost my job two weeks after we got together and I spent a blissful month of unemployment reveling in being a child again, falling in love and seeing the world through rose colored glasses.

Being in a relationship was a massive change for two people who spent a majority of their lives wild and free, so naturally we hit a rough patch in July and when he asked me to go to India with him in August, I was floored. He made it clear that we both had different intentions and goals and that we'd be going on the trip as individuals on different tracks. I truly believed when I left for India that I'd be coming home alone in one year. I never thought that we'd fall madly in love with each other and start building a future together. I never dreamed I would accomplish so much and make good on following through with goals.

While this was a very brief (in my opinion) synopsis of our story, there is a greater point I am getting to. I've somehow grown up in just a short seven months. I've really come into this new role, this caretaker, this woman who can cook (praise baby Jesus) and clean and make better decisions. Matt makes me a better person. He makes me stick to my agreements (damn him), calls me out on my bullshit and pettiness (much to my frustration) and keeps me on track with working on my goals everyday. I've often said over the last two months that I feel like I'm in training for wifery (or maybe wife hood is better suited instead of sounding like I'm in some sort of wife hatchery over here) and motherhood.
Our love, with it's comedic and unlikely roots, has given me the support and room to grow as an individual and a partner, to allow myself to accept that I want things in the future (a wedding, a baby, a house) that my old career-oriented, female-empowered self wouldn't allow me to admit to wanting. (Isn't that the dilemma of modern women: career vs. family, or both and trying to balance everything while not being driven into the ground by stress and anxiety?) What's even more miraculous is that I can see these things now. It's tangible, it's real, even if we are still a few years off.

Coming to Nepal has given us our first real dose of alone time. Pretty much the entire last year, we were surrounded by our friends, living in shared spaces, cramped quarters with little to no privacy. Our newfound aloneness gave us time to truly explore each other's company and our love has grown deeper and stronger in these last few months. Our long-standing friendship had given us something that many just-met lovers don't always have: an honesty about our pasts, an honesty that came from companionship through our wild and crazy years. We told each other about our lives without shame, guilt, or embarrassment because we weren't worried what each other thought, weren't worried about being accepted or loved. In fact, I believe that this knowledge of each other's past makes us appreciative of where we are as adults and partners. This friendship, bred in honesty, has served us well in traveling (if you ever want to know if you're a right match, try traveling through India, when patience is tested to the max and imminent sickness looms over your heads) with long hours of non-romantic traveling conditions. Most nights, we sit in the dark sharing secrets and stories and building an intimacy that only comes from companionship. Our love is steady and strong, not furiously passionate and apt to explosive blowouts and intense make up sessions like first loves often are. We give each other space when we need it and walk away when disagreements start to gain momentum. We don't smother each other in our insecurities or self-doubts, we lift each other up and call each other out on pettiness and immaturity. This is the love I've always wanted and waited a long, long 25 years for. But it was worth the wait- every lesson I learned before I arrived here has served it's purpose in our relationship and made me a stronger and better person. This love has made my life easier, has made everything fall into place, and has given me a stairway to my dreams.

Author's side note: In editing this blog, I realized that I didn't particularly paint a picture of romance, in fact I focused on our younger whoring and blundering misadventures and glossed over the better-than-movie romantic moments we've experienced. For the first time probably...ever, I am keeping those cherished moments to myself, honoring the private moments that I've waited my whole life to experience. The side effects of such a love has been courage, strength and joy-more than I could have ever asked for. In the words of Lao Tzu, "Being deeply loved by someone gives you strength, while loving someone deeply gives you courage." 

Monday, May 5, 2014

Naked Face: An Abandonment of Makeup

“Beauty is not in the face; beauty is a light in the heart.” ~Kahlil Gibran

Snapchat of my naked face! Ahh!!

The last thing I expected when I left America was to learn that I had self-esteem issues. I thought that I had outgrown them in high school and was confident in myself. Little did I realize that traveling would put all this into a new light and make me face some demons I had swept under the rug over the years.

Being the extreme budget traveler that I am, I can stay in the simplest and most barren of guest houses and hostels. In fact, I prefer it. Having gotten over my need for luxury in Rishikesh, our first stop in India, our accommodations don't usually have a mirror (who knew a mirror was a luxury?).
Not having a mirror was an adjustment at first. I have looked at myself in the mirror everyday of my entire life! I used to study myself for hours (especially when I was a teenager), changing outfits, posing in various "vogue" positions, changing my hairstyle, trying new makeup, obsessing about blemishes. I think this is normal (at least I hope, otherwise I just made myself look incredibly vain) and I believe the culprit is our media and culture. Our culture puts such an emphasis on how women look, how they dress, how they appear, so that we are innately concerned with our reflection, always checking for perfection or improvements.

No mirror meant no makeup (can you imagine trying to apply mascara by touch?) and no long hours of inspection of my face, stomach, and butt. I couldn't obsess about what I was wearing because I couldn't look in the mirror and after a while, I just stopped caring. Makeup while traveling became less and less important as our schedules filled up with activities, learning and sightseeing and taking time on my appearance meant cutting into adventure time.

Here is a list of what I learned in the absence of mirrors:

1.) I only conditionally liked myself.
              This is a big one, probably the most significant realization I had in my forced abandonment of makeup. When I was living back home, I wore makeup all day everyday. If I didn't have it on, I felt less attractive, less alluring, just less. My confidence was based on what kind of a hair and makeup day I was having: great makeup day, great day. Bad makeup day, less of a great day (I have an unyielding optimism so I'm always happy). I couldn't go out at night, especially to bars and nightclubs, without makeup on or I would feel unkempt, frumpy and unpolished. There were very few days that I would wake up in the morning, look at my naked face and say, "wow, I look radiant today." I always felt like I could look better, and therefore be better, because I knew what I looked like with makeup on. My makeup was my confidence. This idea was only reinforced by the amount of attention I received when I was wearing makeup versus when I wasn't. The attention I received was a direct result of my confidence which was directly related to my belief in the power of my makeup (see the relationship here?). Had I believed I was beautiful no matter what was on my face, I would have received the same amount of attention (from men, coworkers, strangers and friends alike). How many of us feel this way? Sure, we can go to Walmart with no makeup on and not think twice about our appearance but when it comes to being in a situation where we want to "put our best face forward" and impress people, how many of us feel more confident in our makeup?
This idea of confidence stretched over to clothing as well. I left America with little clothing with the intention of buying all my clothes in India so I could "blend in" (ha, what a misled idea). I left most of my western clothes back home and left the idea of dressing to impress. The clothes in India are more like pajamas, loose fitting and conservative. The idea of being sexy in India is scary with the amount of attention a woman already gets just having light skin and hair. The last thing I wanted to be was sexy because I didn't want to draw unnecessary attention to myself.
Now, wearing baggy clothing and not wearing makeup had a serious psychological affect on me. I went from feeling sexy and confident on a regular basis to feeling unattractive, bedraggled, and gross.
In reality, I looked no different. I looked like ME, the me I used to be when I was a child, when I was natural, when I didn't care what anyone else thought. My ego got a serious reality-check. I started questioning where my confidence came from and started questioning the messages advertisers and the media were sending. (In truth, I have always had these questions and suspicions but have kept them quiet because I didn't want to stop wearing makeup so why question it and feel like a hypocrite?) With the promotion of makeup in the west, advertisers and companies are telling women they aren't good enough in their natural state. You aren't beautiful without these products. You are less. You need to buy these products and you will consequently feel better and people will notice you. Instead of focusing on developing what's inside ourselves, we have been distracted into focusing on the outside. Not in totality, as many women I know have depth of character and personality with interests other than the application of makeup and donning personality-presenting outfits; we're multifaceted creatures!
Now I had to rebuild my self-esteem without the lie of makeup and build something strong and true.

2.) My awful skin was a direct result of my eating habits.
Here's a revelation that took some time manifesting. When I was in America, I ate like shit, truth be told. I was addicted to horrible, processed food (Oreos!!) and I drank alcohol quite frequently. When I went to India, I stopped eating processed food. I had heard over and over again that you are what you eat and if you are eating crap, you look, feel, and are crap. Within the first week of being abroad, Matt noticed a dramatic change in the appearance of my skin (I couldn't see myself so I had to take his word for it). I hadn't made the connection that food was affecting my skin yet. It took a few more months of experimenting with my diet and noticing different results.
This epiphany finally occurred when I went to Sadhana Forest in the south of India and began a new vegan diet. I never intended to take to the diet as I had always thoughts vegans were "out there" and extremists but since Sadhana was preparing my meals, I was forced into eating delicious healthy meals (oh, the horror!).  Not only were our meals vegan, they were nutrition-based. We ate specifically for energy and health. (You can be a vegan and still not be eating a well-balanced, nutrition based diet.) We didn't cook with oil. We ate based on color. We ate a detoxifying breakfast. We ate an energy-producing lunch. We ate a smaller dinner. (This is a very basic description of all the awesomeness and mindfulness that went into these meals.)
By this time, I definitely noticed a radiant glow emanating from my skin (I finally found a small mirror by this time). I was also putting essential oils mixed with coconut oil on my skin on a regular basis to eliminate my acne scars. I started seeing my natural beauty that had been there all along. The strongest indicator of our food directly affected how we looked was when a friend we met at Sadhana left the first week we were there and came back a few days before we left. It had been four weeks since she last saw us and when she saw us again, she asked us if we did something different to our hair or changed something about our faces. She said we looked absolutely amazing, especially Matt. His face was rounder, more filled in, his eyes were clear in the whites, not yellow like before, and his skin was glowing. The only thing we changed was our diets. (If you are intrigued by this topic, I recommend reading The Thrive Diet by Brendan Brazier. He talks about how nutritional stress is 70% of the stress we have in our lives and by eating for nutrition, we can become healthier than we've ever been and become a better, more active and productive person.)
I liked looking at myself with a clean face. I was healthy and genuinely happy, focusing on the internal instead of the external. I was nourishing and loving myself in a healthy way. Not rewarding myself with processed sweets and alcohol like I used to back home. (Funny how back home, I rewarded myself with nutritional stress.) I really let it all go in Sadhana, becoming a mud-covered natural free woman! I still haven't given up shaving my legs and armpits though, fyi.

3.) Women wear makeup and provocative clothing to compete with each other, not to attract a man's attention.
Men love natural beauty. I hear men saying this all the time. They hate makeup. This is most evidenced by the jokes they make among themselves about girls that sleep over at their houses and look one way before they go to bed and wake up looking like a monster when her makeup is smeared all over the place in the morning (or getting sick at the club, throwing up and having her makeup run down her face, or being at the gym and her makeup sweating off her face, or being in the rain get the idea). Makeup is a lie. We don't actually look the way we look when we have makeup on. So if men like natural beauty, who are we wearing it for? Other women. We are competing with them. We are competing with our girlfriends, with strangers, with family members. We compete for attention, for desire, for affluence, and even for resources. Even as a taken woman, I still feel the need to get dolled up when I FaceTime my girls back home (and by "dolled up" I mean taking my hair out of the bun it was in and finding the most complementing lighting-some habits die hard, people, I'm working on it!). I know my girls don't care if I look good or not but something inside me wants to look my best because they are beautiful and I want to be beautiful right alongside them. No one wants to be left out of the beauty pageant that is our day to day life.

4.) A genuine smile is the most beautiful thing a woman can wear.
Cheesy. Cliche. Obvious. I know you've all heard this one before but I'm going to reiterate this point. Sincere happiness will turn the ugliest of women into a radiant, stunning woman. Why? Let's talk physiology for a moment. When you are constantly frowning or screwing your face into looks of scorn and disgust, what muscles are being used? What is happening to your face? Didn't your mom ever tell you that your face was going to get stuck that way when you were a child? With repeated use, your face actually changes as the facial muscles accommodate your repeated moods (form follows function). If you're constantly frowning, chances are your lips turn downward at the edges, your brow and forehead have wrinkles and your eyes have a dim, darkened look to them. Anyone can spot an unhappy person in a crowd and can tell whether or not they're generally a happy or sad person. Body language and facial reading are the first languages we learn as humans. We learn to interpret what facial expressions mean and correlate emotions with them. What happens when you constantly smile? If you grew up smiling, chances are your cheeks are larger, your lips naturally curl up and there's a light emanating from your eyes. Being happy changes your physiology, changes your actual face. It's not just some new-age hippy anecdote, it's science. It's biology. If you are not happy with the way you look, chances are you are not happy in other areas of your life as well. The cycle goes round and round, everything connected to each other. If you are not happy with other areas of your life, chances are it shows on your face and changes the way you physically look. So. Happiness=beauty. (Side note: if you want your children to be beautiful, give them a happy childhood full of laughter and love and their faces will reflect it.)

Having learned all this in six short months, I still feel the urge to wear makeup and to wear sexy clothes (if I had any--a girl can imagine!) and strut my stuff. I'm not saying I'm condemning makeup and all those who wear it, I just think it's important to ask ourselves if we are genuinely happy with the way we look and if we're not, is it a result of our culture telling us we're not good enough? Being aware of the issue and actually doing something about it are two very different things. My goal is to continue having a naked face, to not succumbing to the pressure of western society to have a polished, makeup-adorned look that fits in with the accepted image of our time. I'm still in a cocoon outside of western culture, though Kathmandu is the most progressive city I've been in in the last six months, and it's easy to talk about what I've learned, far from the reaches of media and influence. Taking a stand in what I believe in, that all women are beautiful and complete without adding anything to themselves, is the road I want to take in creating change. I want to teach my future children and the girls of the future generation that they are enough, they are beautiful, their talents and skills make them shine from the inside out. If you see me starting to succumb to the desire to wear makeup upon my return back to the US, remind me of my mission! I'm only human and need a kick in the butt every once in a while. How do you feel about makeup? What are your thoughts on self-esteem and personal beauty? I'd love to hear your thoughts on this subject; drop me a line in the comments!

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Sex, Lies, and Scandals

Now that I have your attention (the title was intentionally misleading, muwahaha), I wanted to point out some new features and give you a brief update on our life statuses.
As a woman who grew up with her nose constantly in books and head in the sky, it's no wonder I am just NOW figuring out how the internet and subsequently, this blog site work. With that being said, I have added in new features!! 


  • If you would like to receive an email when I post a new blog, you may enter your email into the box on the left hand side of the page under "Follow by email".
  • If you would like to follow me on google+, I have added in a button that will allow to do so! Super simple :)
  • I am a newly blog-stalker-crazed-mad-woman and I have a list of blogs I stalk-I mean check-on a regular basis. I pull inspiration and learn from these wonderful women (I gravitate towards the feminine perspective naturally so women outnumber men in this list) and if you are like me and love learning, I recommend these blogs for you! Also, if you have a great blog you'd like to share with me, leave a comment in this blog and I'll check it out and add it to my obsession list! 
  • I also added in a list of my most popular blogs if you are a new reader (my dark side of the moon one is in the lead, with 50+ more views than the rest of them! This makes me wonder about people's innate attraction to pain and the revealing of one's most intimate thoughts. Maybe others share in this darkness?) 
  • I'm also thinking about adding in a health section and some other cool new features, we'll see. 

Life Updates!! 
Also, with the start of our ex-pathood in Kathmandu and the temporary hold on traveling, I won't be having anymore travel-related blogs (which are usually more focused on the emotional lessons/epiphanies/self-discoveries made as a result of the traveling anyway) but I will still be posting life/journey/health/wealth/ramblings blogs and updating you on our adventures within our new settlement and new career-oriented path. 
Coming to Kathmandu has really changed the way we were living. Before, we were travelers: in a semi-vacation mode with eating at restaurants and dhabas, hanging out with other travelers and relaxing, reading a ridiculous amount of books (this hasn't changed), and just generally living for the moment. Now, we go grocery shopping, make our own food (I learned how to coooookkk finally! And successfully made my first curry and chapati!), do our laundry (by hand, mind you), focus on our businesses and work and Game of Thrones (ya..about that...). Sounds like what you're probably doing at home, right? Well, that's what we are doing, just in a new country. 
The season of change is upon us (hello, spring!) and that's what Matt and I are doing. We are living and working and creating a sustainable future for ourselves, just in the midst of the Himalayas where power and water are metered (6 hours at night, 6 hours during the day) and thunder storms happen randomly and within seconds (there's nothing like watching Nepali's run for cover at the first sound of thunder, knowing the rain will be coming as quick as a flash flood). 
Anyways, that's it for my digression. Hope you enjoy my blog! 

Remember: send me blogs you love!!! I love reading anything about cooking, writing, traveling, yoga, health, pretty much anything awesome! 

Love you all!