Saturday, March 16, 2013

My inner voice is loud too ;)

Common talk describes the inner voice as being a quiet, barely audible sound, maybe even just a feeling. I guess I’m not surprised that when mine decided to talk, it’s loud. Really loud! Megaphone loud.  hahah.  We must be related ;) 

This last stretch of time here at PVS has been transformative and quite pivotal for me. I will even go so far as to say this last week/two/month has been one of the most clear and positive periods of my life (and that’s saying a lot!). I’ve been waking up alive and giddy and positive and motivated...the cherry on top being, I’m also waking up calm, peaceful, and most amazingly: unhurried. 

It more/less started with our plans here for a silent retreat.  I was excited because I felt I needed it, but nervous.  Not because of the literal sense of being silent (I know it’s hard for people to believe, but I oh so do looooove my alone/quiet time), but nervous because you are not supposed to do anything. nothing. zippo. nada. zilch. No writing, no art projects, no phone, no internet, no to-do list. You’re not even supposed to read!!!  Luckily you can walk, but nothing that will distract you from just being you. Even your thoughts should try to be avoided, the intent is just to feel.  You’re basically meditating all day.  Whoa. Whoa. whoa. 

So what’s the point you may wonder? Ahhhh... the point, the grand point. The point is to clear all the noise out of your world for a while. All the outside commotion of emails and facebook and chores and worry and stress and small talk and niceties. When all that is gone, all you have space to hear, is you. The you that’s way down deep. The you that knows whats best for you and what you really want and who you really are, without the fears and worries and doubt that have been burdening you, building up in you, since the first time you got teased, were told you couldn’t do it, or mocked for doing something wrong or badly. The you that pays no heed to all the social rules and fads and trends and protocol for being ‘cool’, and does only what feels right.  A silent retreat is all about feeling. Trying to stop your thoughts and just feel. 

During silent retreats (or silent day or week or whatever), it’s very common to have emotions run high. Anger, frustration, tears... stuff tends to come up in you that you have no option but to deal with, since you can’t avoid it by doing something else: Turning on the boob tube, playing a game, reading a novel, busying yourself with chores or social media. It is so commonplace for us to distract ourselves from that negative emotion that is coming up! Not so fast in a silent retreat!!! You can’t (well, not supposed to) distract yourself from it, so you just feel it, and look at it. What’s that emotion about?! 

WELL, in my case, I had a fabulous self discovery and realization when I started looking at my irritation!!!!  Back to Naomi (my blackberry bush!). She was originally going to be involved in the Silent retreat, but not only backed out last minute, but left a note that we were basically ‘banished’ to the outdoor kitchen! I was soooooo cranky about this at first! I have no proof, but it seemed as if we were getting ‘punished’ because she didn’t get to be as involved as she had wanted to be during the planning phase.  I could see that this was actually a good thing, being out there and not having to deal, but I just couldnt drop the crabbiness over it, so I starting just looking at it.  Then it hit me, like a ton of bricks: 

“Whenever you see wrong in others, remember, it is wrong in you”.

I alluded to this in my first PVS blog, about how life is a mirror and the troublesome things I see in Naomi are some of the things I do myself, not even realizing how HUGE of a lesson it would become for me.  The day I got back from my roadtrip, someone had put a calendar in my room, and the February quote just happened to be that one! At that moment, when it hit me, the prior hints all seemed like huge bright flashing signs preparing me:  You.Do.That.Too.  Good lord, I thought!!  I’m irritated at Naomi for ‘punishing’ us all because she didn’t get her way, but how many times have I done the same thing?

Ouch!!! That’s the word for this realization! The vast majority of days, I am exuberant and animated and sharing joy; everybody knows when Becky’s having a happy day because everything I am feeling radiates out of my pores, almost as if were an actual scent. I think this happens with all of us,  whatever we are full of-  love, happiness, optimism- it overflows out of our bodies...  even if we are full of shit! ha :) In my case, it also overflows when I’m full of bitterness :(. I was so frustrated that evening, and the problem is not so much that I experienced a negative emotion (they can help you grow and learn depending how you deal with it- case in point), but moreso the awful trouble is that I withhold the flow of the good stuff too.  All the love and glee that was still in me, stayed in me. With that being in such vast contrast to my everyday energy, everybody notices and it creates an uneasy aura. 

This is an awesome lesson, for me and everybody. If I, if we, get upset about something or are dealing with an issue, we do not need to stop letting the positive qualities emanate. A pea under the mattress should not effect the whole being... and especially not have it effect everybody around as well!  Wheewww! That feels so good, to have an understanding of that and be able to look out for it in the future!!! Yaaayyyyyy Naomi for being such a wonderful teacher (although surely not in the way she hoped!!!)

The first two days of the silent retreat went like this:  Wake up. Meditate. Yoga. Tea. Sit and enjoy the view. Brunch. Walk down to the river. Explore, Hike. Jump in the freezing river. Sun-bathe. Run back home. Shower. Dinner. Tea. Watch the sunset. Read (both times were growth books, so I considered that only 1/2 cheating ;) Meditation. Sleep.

The amazing thing about these days was having absolutely NO rush. Normally I’d want to get back and check some things off my to-do list... but why would I go back just to not do those things?  Both days my river excursions lasted close to 5 hours. It was blissful (minus the poison oak! ha).  It became clear how many things I make priorities,  that are really not priorities at all. Did anyone notice I was off-grid for 3 days? Of course not (well, maybe my mom ;) and it wouldn’t matter if anyone did anyways! 

Since then I’ve experienced a wonderful shift. A non-rush shift.  A cup of tea and a chat? Sure, why not. Do I want to stay up and watch a movie with Naomi? Let’s do it. An I’m-just-going-to-sit-here-and-be-quiet-and-not-do-anything-because-it-feels-good moment? Yep yep yep!!!! 

Ohhhh so good!!! AND THERE’S MORE!!!

On the third day, we did our yoga in the afternoon. It was nice out, so we did it on the deck. It was peaceful and calm and just nice. With most yoga classes, you end in what’s called corpse pose (shavasana) where you just lay on your back completely relaxed. Since there was no rush, no where to go, or nothing to do, I just stayed there for a while, no intention but to stay as long as it felt right. I was breathing very deeply, paying attention to my breath go in and go out (a good tool for beginner meditators).  The next thing I knew, I felt my body just renew. It was tingly all over from head to toe and I was acutely aware of every part of me. I started to question it but just kicked that thought out, I wanted to enjoy it! My hands started an odd curl and my mouth got really pursed. For the next hour or so I was gripped by this great feeling. I moved to whatever felt right, a few stretches, always slow-motion pace, wanting to hold onto as long as I could. Finally I got up, took about 5 minutes to walk 30 yards to the kitchen to make some tea. On the table someone had left a book called Living with Joy.  It seemed serendipitous, so I started reading. That book just spoke to me like I was having a conversation with the author!!!  FANTASTIC read if you want a book reco :). 

I don’t know what happened in my meditation, nor does it matter, I just know it was fantastic. The deepest meditation I’ve EVER had, and it makes me understand how some people decide to make it such a huge part of their life. Jamie has been explaining it to me, and although I mentioned before there is a lot of God talk here that doesn’t sit so well with me, some parts are starting to ease in.  ‘God’ is a term that has been convoluted in my mind, kind of like ‘hitchhiker’ maybe is in yours?! ;).  It's gotten muddied up because I've subconsciously associated it with religion (that I wrote about here before), but when I take it away from that, it's pretty nice actually :). God doesn’t have to mean a big man in the sky unless that’s what you want it to mean. God is everything. A fly, a bird, a whale, a tree, you, me. It can be a dude if you want, a lady, an aura, a feeling, a song, a breeze, a warm cup of tea. Sometimes you have to have faith without facts... and I think that’s what God is to me. It’s mother nature, its love, it’s learning, it’s serendipity, it’s trust, it’s positivity, it’s getting what you want when you ask for it. It’s knowing you are right where you are supposed to be, and that’s what I felt, to the umpteenth degree!! 

So, do I think I had a moment with God? Hmm... maybe? I don’t know, it doesn’t matter, but what I do know, is that this week has been flipping ridiculously great!! Just day after day of incredible things happening, inside and outside of me. 

Meditation compels not thinking... but unless you are some devoted master, you’re going to think! A lot actually!!! You work to push these frivolous thoughts away, and get to a peaceful silent state. In my humble opinion, the most aweeeesssommmest part of meditation is that somehow, when you get there, the thoughts that then do sneak thru are blatantly direct, clear, incontestable, outstanding thoughts!!! I really do think, when you allow yourself to get quiet and still, that your inner voice is the one that starts talking!!!  Mine was loud and clear, telling me some goooooooddd stuff :)

I thought about how the merging of my two business ideas makes perfect sense, logistically and ideally! I thought about how I’m ready to move to the next phase of life and make my dreams a reality. I thought of all the long difficult steps it’ll take to get there and it electrified me with anticipation! I thought about how the end of my last relationship was such a godsend, me not being ready for it at all, and how his being so young and so eager to conquer the world is what allowed that end to come, inspiring me all the while.  I thought about how I want my mother involved in everything I do because she’s the most incredible person I’ve ever met. I thought about how I want nothing more than to do something significant in this world even if takes 70 more years. I thought about how all my passions are coming together with my strengths and opening incredible doors. I thought about the path of life I’ve taken and how every step of it has been critical in getting me where I am. I thought about how I used to be scared of what people would think, but now I can just say, ‘This is who i am’. I thought about how every single person I know has something amazing in them, and has come into my life for some crucial purpose, even the blackberry bushes and the people that don’t agree or even like me, especially then even. I thought about how I’d rather be no where other than where I am, here and now, always :)

Holy cajole people!!! This life is precious and wonderful and you can have all that you want in it!! I am no one special, just a girl like any other, but I get everything that I want. I make wishes all day long, and I can tell you what they are because I have no fear that they won’t come true. Every one of them is some form of asking for peace and joy and love and health and happiness and that everything will turn out exactly as it’s supposed to for myself and all those I love and I have contact with, and that I will have the wisdom and courage to understand when that is happening.   Change your attitude, change your life!!!! 

Whewww!  Life is good! 

Then more awesomeness was just happening everywhere. I still haven’t come down from my high and it’s like two weeks later!!!! Talks with Jamie are always so inspiring because you can say ANYTHING to him. This is def something I want to manifest in my own life, for SURE! Test me people... did you send me your suggestions yet??! haha.  We had a campfire circle one night and everyone went around and shared one great thing about each other, and one thing the other could improve on. I’d been sharing my self-realizations that day, and BOTH girls (Julie and Aliyah) agreed, the withholding happiness when upset was my thing to improve upon!! That was amazing and appreciated. It’s one thing for me to see a flaw, but knowing it is also felt by others puts a fire under my ass to fix it :).  We finished the outhouse building and plumbed in a whole new bathroom, and it felt so good to be a significant help to aid toward this place’s mission. I had a super awesome river adventure. I’ve been making lots of art. My relationship with Naomi has been beautiful and loving.  I’ve been overflowing with ideas for Follow No Crowd and Barefoot Village. An adorable excited dog we named Agnes even showed up for 2 days and made me so happy!!! There was a moment of sadness when the cost for the concrete truck (for which we’d been preparing for days) was going to be too expensive and we’d have to put it off (meaning I wouldn’t be able to help) until Jamie sold his Vitamix. I just blurted out from no where I would buy it so we could do the pour (sooo... I have a vitamix for sale if anybody wants it!) and it felt so good and right to be able to make that happen, despite my recent $ issues.

AND THEN, right after that, I went over to the neighbors house for a ZYTO test. I had done a bunch of architectural drawings and ideas for them during my first stay, and she, Amrita, offered to do this test for me as payment. It’s a neat test, going through all of your nutrition and checking your organs and internal health. I was a bit skeptical about how a tiny little machine (that you just put your hand on) could tell all that... but WHOA... it came back indicating EVERY single part of me that I’ve been nervous about or ever felt was out of balance (of which I mentioned nothing about beforehand). I’m a new believer.  For instance, remember how I had all sorts of stomach issues in India? When I got back to America I really felt something wasn’t right and did a gazillion dollars worth of standard MD tests that all came back as nothing and it was an awful experience with the doctor since I have no insurance. Well, this ZYTO test showed that my stomach and large intestine are WAYY out of whack; a colon cleanse and lots of supplements were suggested. Amrita said she’d never seen a recommended dosage so high for the cleanse. That was just one thing that made me trust it, there were many. We get to the end and it’s hundreds and hundreds of dollars worth of stuff (they have a nutrition business) and I've got to sleep on it. We end up working on her house plans a little more, and she gives me a couple free bottles in trade!!!!! THEN, next morning she calls. She really likes working with me, and is preparing ALL of the supplements and cleanse items for me, she would like to give them to me in exchange for the ideas I’ve given and to pitch in architectural advice along the way! Woohoooooo!!! I LOVE TRADING SERVICES! I am a socialist at heart!! Who else wants to trade stuff?? I need some house work done and some website building and some graphic design and some videographyyyy... oh and possibly a colonoscopy ;) !!! hah! Call me :) 

Amrita's business is called Radiant Light Nutrition, check them out
if you are interested in Quantum State Nutrition!! ;) 

Joking aside, its really just been like bam-bam-bam one thing after another of goodness! I can’t hardly contain myself! I came here open for anything to happen, to learn, and holy wow did I get that!!!! I loveeeeee how much I am learning and realizing and accepting and forgiving and understanding and I looooove how much more there is out there still to learn and realize and accept and forgive and understand!! I love this roller coaster we call life sooooo much!!!! 

And guess what else?!??! My mom is here!!! My wonderful amazing mother Debbie Jo! I picked her up on Wednesday, we checked out the area, and then she helped out with the concrete pour on Thursday!  Not surprisingly, she was a hit at PVS!!! We just left yesterday... heading out to start our "West-Coast-Where-Should-We-Settle-Roadtrip of Discovery" :). Woohoo! 

AND...the last amazing thing???! I’m super skinnnnyyy!! Not skinny by any skinny skinny standards, but skinny by my standards and that’s all that matters! I can’t believe how easy it is to eat right when someone cooks healthy for me;)!! haha!  We were eating big delicious vegetarian meals, keeping me totally full all the time, and I'd get my sweet fix with an apple or a caffeine free chai tea (and okay.. the occasional chocolate too;)! Yayyy!  I really have to learn to do this for myself.. or better yet,  I’m sending out vibes to the universe that my future better half will love to cook ;) 

Monday, March 11, 2013

Tests, tests, I love tests!

Rarely ever do “bad” things happen in my life. Even when they do, I’m always so sure I can learn a lesson from it I don’t really consider it bad. The label works only in that it’s typically not the most pleasant of experiences. I’ve learned you just have to put in the time and effort to get through it, the more positive the attitude the faster it works itself out. Most of the time, if some issue does come up, it’s sandwiched between lots of good stuff so I hardly notice, and then fast forget. My selective memory trait is a pretty beneficial one :).

Just recently, I had a rather unusual grouping of unfortunate/stressful/painful events crop up. When they first started, it’s wasn’t exactly desirable, but whatever, you deal with what comes. Then they starting compiling, and when one afternoon I had to deal with ALL of them, it became a sort of game. How composed can I stay? How unruffled can I keep my feathers? :). It was so concentrated, I literally started thinking of it as a test....  

And I looove tests ;).  I’ve always loved them, and luckily excelled at them: logic tests, social tests, physical tests, IQ tests, ACT, SAT, midterms, whatever.  I grew up with them, my dad also being a lover of tests. Even as tiny toddlers, he’d say to us girls, “I’m thinking of a word; It rhymes with bed, and starts with R” and all of us would yell RED! Once, the morning after my 21st birthday, still completely inebriated, I staggered into my 8am finance class for a big exam, hardly remembering anything when I woke up later that day.  Score? 100%. That’s pretty dang good right there ;). 

So first, someone hacked into my Comcast account and started ordering a bunch of equipment and services. I caught the confirmation emails, checked with the renters (it was not them) and emailed, online support chatted, and called all within 48 hrs, only to learn the items had already been “delivered”!!  My renters confirmed, not only were there no packages, but they were home all day the day they were supposedly ‘left at door’ by UPS. Ack! Called again, changed my password, removed the orders, but got told I’d have to pay for the equipment!!!  I was in contact w/ UPS and getting driver names and was (still am) sure it was some scam between a comcast/ups employee. More stuff got ordered. Called again, changed password, removed the stuff. Repeat, Repeat! It just kept getting ordered! UGGGH! I probably spent upwards of 8 hours on the phone with them. It was just so crazy it kept happening despite the passwords! Nice security comcast ;).  I was fully prepared to file a police report about it.  My general trend is to get snippy with customer service people. Of all the times I’ve been bitchy in the last couple years I’d say 90% of those have been on the phone (awful and counter-productive, i know!).  On ‘game day’ (two weeks in and call #6 or so), I resolved to keep upbeat and cheery. I took some deep breaths before dialing, and then, guess what?? I got the nicest, most helpful CS girl ever!!! She just took everything off, no fuss, no issues, no worries about the equipment! It’s been over a week since and no new orders!! Phew! 

Then, post huge-roadtrip, (2,545 miles equals some serious gas money), my winter renters back in Miami petitioned me for a discount; they decided to head home to Canada 2 weeks early. This created some real tumultuous internal debate in me. I have a signed contract AND had an early conversation they would pay thru March even if they left sooner... it had been discussed!! These two things alone make it cheeky of them to have asked... BUT, I understand. It’s probably something I would do too... push my luck for that discount;). UGGGGH! Not to mention we had gotten chummy during the time I was still there, so I wasn’t feeling being the hard-ass landlord. I reluctantly compromised, leaving myself $750 bucks short for March!!! Not to mention no renters, (hence no income) in April. Shoooot!  I’m banking on this being a karmic generosity, and will surely get a big break somewhere along the lines. Serendipity and I go way back ;). 

The most emotionally damaging issue has been in dealing with the orphanage coordinator in Africa. If you recall, I just really fell for the kids there (see this blog to revisit the beautiful experience). Despite my own budgetary concerns and a nagging aversion about the underpinnings there, I committed to sending two kids to school...directly to the their young, innocent, beaming, shouting, ecstatic faces:). It was a magical moment.... so gratifying and rewarding... that unfortunately may have been a lesson learned the hard way :(. Making a commitment to children pretty much locks you in (parents all over the world nod in agreement ;), the thought of letting them down or having them think I didn’t actually care about them weighing in heavily when the troubles started, especially with no way to communicate with them directly.  Actually, my real blunder was in trying to override the system. I didn’t have a good sense about the way the place was run, but in the end knew it was better than the kids being on the street. Without that full trust, I tried to bypass the coordinator and spoke to her (peacefully and without hiccup) that I would pay the school directly.  Doh! That was dumb, it’s her that I ultimately have to deal with. I won’t recount it all, but it’s been months of strife. In gist, there was unexplainable switching of the schools and illogically large extra costs added in. My instincts naturally went into question mode....resulting in a loooong series of defensive and offensive, mistrusting, hurtful emails.  With no real options to find out any facts (I tried calling the school, soliciting help from a few people I met there) we got to a point where I just gave in; it seemed legit enough, we were cordial enough, and ultimately I just couldn’t let those babies down.

Since payment and the kids ‘supposedly’ starting classes, almost two months ago already, I’d been asking for a photo of them in their uniforms (the coordinator has a smartphone and posts pics to facebook often enough, so it seemed a cinch request). A zillion excuses and long stretches of no communication ensued, and more upsetting: no updates. Do the kids like school? How are they doing? Is Mwajuma catching up in her english with her special classes??  All I found out was that she doesn’t have a uniform... which was soooo incredibly suspect. Last fall while I was there, Tatu (my singing buddy) got sent home from the same school just for not wearing her tie!!! 

I am not without blame, in creating and intensifying the situation, my skepticism getting the best of me over the course of the irrational dialogue. It’s like I came home and forgot that things don’t work American style anywhere else! Customer always right? Courteous, professional, business etiquette style responses? Forget that! It's real and raw!! Haa. I had wanted to establish some trust first, hung up on the unexpected, unexplained changes,  it being such a huge sum of money more than expected, and wanting to make sure it was being used correctly. I kept trying to just explain that, instead making things worse, female emotions running high. 

Between our language barrier (her english is decent, even good, but not great) and certainly some cultural differences, our communication was sucking hardcore. Every time I asked even an uncomplicated question, she was taking it as a personal attack on her integrity. She even threw the racist card at me. It was just brutal. My heart was hurting over what to do.  In the end, all I want is to help these kids. I finally accepted, it was time for a peace offering. There was no way I could continue paying for SIX more years (until they graduate) with this kind of communication, but I couldn’t see just pulling out either. I needed to be the one to make a leap of faith. I sent a very calm, composed, compassionate email, offering to deposit the funds (plus some for her time and effort) in their account rather than to the school, in exchange for me getting to feel like I’m at least a little bit involved in their lives. A few updates and pictures is all. I’m happy to report a wonderful reply from her, and this lovely, albeit fuzzy, picture! Here’s Mwajuma and Rogati, looking sharp in their uniforms! They even made a sign!!! Awwww :)

Thank you to my amazing friends that donated towards the cause. With the unanticipated extra fees and all the drama, there was a time I thought I would have to cut my losses and withdraw.  But with that extra help, seeing this picture, and the status of our current emails, I’m giving her the benefit of the doubt that all is just as it should be. I’m trusting because I have to, because I did spend almost 3 weeks with her and she’s not a bad person, because it feels better in my heart and soul to just have some faith without facts. She says she’ll keep me updated and will send receipts. I’m feeling already like it’s going to be as rewarding as it originally felt to be. Yay :) who wants to buy a fundraiser hat? I’ve got 40 left! :) 

On a sillier note, I lost a toenail after my 42 mile Skyline-to-the-Sea hike! I exclamation that because I feel like that makes me a real hiker ;).  Unfortunately, it’s ugly as sin!  Random fact about me: I always have my toenails painted.  Even if it’s chipped and terrible looking, it’s there. My sister’s gave me a complex about my long toes (which I now appreciate!) as a kid, and I’ve got big feet anyways, so I suppose this is my attempt to keep them girly.  9 toenails is not working so well!  Grow nail grow!!

The issue that is most unwelcome (it’s lesson pretty well concealed), is my horrid Poison oak rash! It’s allllll over me!  Both forearms, the backs of both knees, completely covering my stomach, a little on my face and even some on my ear lobe!! That one is brutal when it gets-a-itchin’....if I could I’d likely Mike-Tyson it off;).   I tap on it, I blow on it, I press it against cold, against hot. I cover myself in mud, I shower with fancy soap, I take some homeopathic pills... I still itch like crazy! Mind over matter, mind over matter, mind over matter...until i give in, falling victim to that momentary ferociousness, the barbaric, violent scratching of skin!!  It feels so orgasmic in that moment... so contradictory to the self-sabotaging ramifications of doing it!  Extra itch, nasty sores, and of course prolonging and spreading the whole issue!! I feel like I’m detoxing or something!! My 3 hour off-trail hike thru the bushes along the lakeshore was totally worth it though :) As of today, it’s looking quite better, feeling a little better. Phew!!!! I think I’m in the home stretch:).

Then there is Naomi. Ahhh Naomi, she’s sooo sweet and endearing...yet so easily flustered, and her passive aggressiveness soooo exasperating! Jamie was right... ‘feisty’ is the PERFECT word to describe her! ha!  It’s been very difficult for me, watching and seeing major insecurity behind sooooo many of her fits and monologues. I’ve battled wanting to do something, say something, to ‘help’ her.  I want her be happier, more confident, less affected by such minor things. What an asshole I was! She doesn’t need ‘saving’, she needs compassion. Compassion is wholly outside of judgement. It is a simple acceptance, loving and finding value in every person, at whatever stage of life they are in. She has been the greatest thing for me, playing a real pivotal role in my own growth. It’s indisputable, that I am in the greatest, most joyful part of my life thus far. Nothing can keep me down. She, like many though, is going through a very difficult time. Among other things, just trying to accept the physical and mental limitations that are coming with her age. It’s been an immeasurably wonderful reminder and lesson for me, especially right now, on the verge on starting a new company. I often had lived by the hypothesis that everybody would of course always, and right now, want to be happier, more confident, more positive, have the ability to brush things off easier. The thing is, all of our lives are exactly where they need to be, as we’ve made them.  Her soul, everyone’s, is taking care of itself in precisely the way it needs to for her at this moment. She is learning exactly the lessons she needs to learn and if she wants a change, she’ll bring it into her own life. Our souls are infinitely powerful and good like that ;)

She has been a blackberry bush for me, a prickly painful plant... but in the end a magnificent fruit produced.  My job is simply to always strive to be my OWN highest self. She compliments me daily, tells me how much she’ll miss me and what she loves about me and why it’s so nice to be around me.  THAT was my role. To see her pain thru her outbursts. To see the positive she already has instead of zeroing in on the areas she could improve. I feel totally grateful to her, this place.  My purpose is clear. If someone asks me for advice, for help, ‘how-do-i-do-it’, I’ll respond in thoughtful, sensitive, regard. Otherwise, I am simply living in the highest realm of myself I can live, sending out love and light, and if that does a deed, I have done right by the world ;)

Amen to that!!! This was an AWESOME reminder, especially for my new business!!!! 

Throughout this little life test, this game of, ‘Lets see how many little issues we can throw at Becky and test her happiness factor’, I managed to keep a pretty darn cool composure... so, I win! I’d say passing with a nice A- :)  

 And!!!!  Because I pass, I do believe I’m getting a reward!!!! I’ve since had possibly the most motivated and excitingly clear and vision-full week of my life! So much clarity and plain-as-day signs, my inner voice is speaking to me with a megaphone! I think it’s been a gift!!! A gold star on my exam form perhaps!?!?! Maybe it was even a graduation to my next grade of life!!! I do feel higher/smarter/more evolved/clearer/wiser... it’s euphoric!

.... that blog to come :) 

Monday, March 4, 2013

Pacific Coast Highway Roadtrip Fantasticness Guide :)

My last roadtrip blog left me in LA for a weekend hiatus. It was a weekend of tacos and too many vegan cookies and neighbors and catch-phrase and indecipherable board games and laughing-so-hard-your-stomach-hurts. It was beach crossfit, beach volleyball, the world famous “mess” plate of greasy yumminess, jacuzzis, waffles and whip cream, mimosas, unexplainably ruined clothing, and the craziness that only Sereen Bean and I with our outrageous personalities can get into;).  We met when we were only 5/6, so it’s an honor to call her one of my best friends this many years later, when we’ve grown and changed and developed into our true selves, unlike many early friendships that fizzle with time or distance or incompatible morals and views. The one sure common thread linking all of the people I hold so close to my heart? Attitude. I am universally attracted and drawn to people that have an amazing attitude, and Sereen has been put to the ultimate test. Late last year, her boyfriend of seven years died. He was only 37. She went thru some awful stuff in dealing with it; before, during and indisputably still... but I have to give credit where credit is due, I don’t think her attitude could be any better. You can’t just fall over and die too; well, you could, but what good would that do? My intention for the visit was to be whatever she needed, and as it turned out, being a distraction was just the thing! My forte :). We filled those four days with enough memories and inside jokes to laugh on for years, but of all the fun and amazingness had, the most significant and worthwhile part of the trip for me were the moments when the diversions wore off, reality and mourning crept back in, and I could just be there. The night we sat and talked for hours about life and its obstacles. About love and it’s ups and downs. About attitude and dealing with crisis and being strong because there really is no other option.  Seeing my oldest friend in simultaneous weakness and strength, and her wisdom and poise in both.

I left Monday morning feeling a deep pride for the friend that she is, and 100% sure that she’s a survivor.  That some days and even more nights will suck royally for her, but she’ll work thru them. Time is a healer, and I’m pretty sure time is nicer to those that bring light and love and positivity into the world. Sereen, you are a real rockstar of a human being :).  

Love you Sereen :) 
Unplanned coordinated outfits... no wonder we're friends ;)!

My roadtrip continues, with a roaring engine in my soul that we can never know what life will throw at you, so it only makes sense to make the absolute gosh dang most of it!! 

Los Angeles to San Francisco, one of America’s top “things-you-must-do”.  The Pacific Coast Highway, PCH. A stretch of blacktop dedicated to simply allowing all humans a chance to marvel at nature’s incredibleness. 5 days to drive only +/-450 miles... taking in scenes of such beauty should not be rushed :). There are turnouts everywhere, and I advise stopping at all of them. My trip was so successful, in fact, I think I will put it out there as a model, so when you make this trip (because it’s worth it!) you won’t miss anything fantastic!!!!! Soooo, here it is:

“A guide for a PCH Roadtrip of Fantasticness” ...beejfromm style ;) 

1. On your way out of town, stop for a quick run up the Culver City stairs. Try and do a handstand on one, then be mind boggled over the rumor that Woody Harrelson’s brother has supposedly gone up all of them in this upside-down position!  Whoa. If anyone can verify (or prove untrue) this rumor I'd greatly appreciate it.

2. Take the touristy drive thru Beverly Hills and Rodeo Drive. Especially South Rodeo Drive. Considering the reputation, there are some really quaint, modest homes, worthy of seeing. Pass thru the ridiculous retail section and don’t buy a thing :). Continue along N. Rodeo Drive, and be widely impressed by the diversity of the architecture (gaudy, classic, prairie, country, victorian) in the homes and the impeccibly clean and fresh and beautiful street with it’s painting perfect trees!  Ponder whether the pronunciation of Rod-ay-o, (as opposed to cowboy rodeo) is similar to those that say Tar-jey (as opposed to Target) in order to give it a classier vibe?!? Seems pretty possible :) 

3. Have lunch at Crave (I, with another wonderful friend Bianca- whose birthday it is today!!! Happy bday Bianc-dadonc! Love you!). Note the super cute/colorful artistic menu board, the third so far here. California hippies got it going on :). Try not to get a stinking expensive parking ticket for being 2 minutes late to the meter though, dang it! 

4. Officially hit the blacktop, as laid-back as possible. Enjoy the sky and the ocean and the trees and life. Stop many times just to enjoy the view, at the Richfield Pier, then in Carpintera, a cute lil ocean town, with awesome tree lined streets. Put your feet in the sand, then drive on barefoot :).

Near Richfield Pier


5. Stop in Santa Barbara. First see their famous fig tree. give it a climb and try and take your own picture in it, unsuccessfully ;). Then park, (for freeeee!) and walk out on their historically significant wood wharf. Eat some candy, marvel at the obvious investment the city has put into their downtown beautification, at the green and the birds and sand sculptures. Drove out thru Main street of this reallllly beautiful city. 

Side note: with an earlier start here, a bike rental would be quite ideal :) 

Sweet figs!
Santa Barbara wharf
6. Drive on to Refugio state park, arriving just before dusk. Set up your tent, then sit and watched the sky change colors and the ducks be ducklike and the trees and mountains turn to silhouettes.  Drink lots of water so you have to get out and use the bathroom a few times that night, and love on the stars that exponentially duplicate and light up the night. 

7. Wake up early and head off, first thing passing thru Gaviota tunnel. Note a sign seeing that the population is 150. Wow. ha. Park at the trailhead for Gaviota Hot Springs. Make sure you have two single dollar bills to pay, so you don’t have to leave a big apology note that you only had a $20...oops. Notice two big signs warning against mountain lions, and for this, hike with a stick in one hand, camera in the other   ;0). 

8. Don your birthday suit, and sink into the clear, but murky, hot water. Be thoroughly entertained by not only the bubbles that come from the ground, but those that totally cover your body... especially interesting to note how they accumulate in a certain patch of hair ;) hehe. Plan to have a second towel because it, and you, will reek of sulfur until your next washing! 

Here comes the sun, do do do do

9. Stop for lunch in Lompoc, stop for a .50 cent thrift store shirt in Guadalupe, stop at Oso Flaco lake... mostly because the name is cool. Skinny bear lake :) Pass by the sign for Harmony and double take the statistic, “Population: 15”.  Can that even be considered a town? ;) Keep the windows down and sing loudly to whatever is on the radio even without know the words. I do believe song writers are born on an open road ;).

10. Arrive to Pismo beach, electing to save $80 by not renting an atv, and spend $5 instead to take your own truck out on the sand :)  It’s a nice stop, a pretty beach....a killer spot for a beach party or a leisurely day in the sand if one was so inclined to come back during the summer (waayy too chilly today). Leave the windows down so you can splash yourself as you drive thru the mini rivers!!

Pismo Beach

11. And then, Shell beach!!! Whoa, yes, this is the spot! It’s cliffffsss and huge rocks and amazing staircases down to the sand!! I suggest walking down the one at end of Wilmar Avenue, back up the one at the Sea Crest hotel and back, to get the full essence of it. Climb the huge solo beach rock while you’re down there :). After, whether you like looking at houses or not, spent some time (me 2 hours!), driving thru the residential neighborhoods, scoping the houses and the views. Most of the drive is cliff side (again a wonderful gift to the public) with ginormous parks dedicated to the magnificent vistas. There is a small section with like 8 SICK homes on the cliff side. With a location like that, plus unique and interesting architecture, hard to not be dazzled! 

note:  I’m adding ‘awesome staircases in nature’ to my list of things I want to design :)

Shell Beach!
I really liked this place :) 
12. Just as you’re leaving, notice a sign advertising Monarch Butterflies, and make an awesomely worthy u-turn to go back. It’s a free butterfly garden and exhibit!!! 2013 boasts 23,050 monarch butterflies here now for migration! Sooo neat! First you see hundreds of them, the bright orange fluttering every which way.  As you walk back thru the trail, you think there are none :(. Then you notice, a few big odd thick branches in the trees. You wander to the random telescopes set up for viewing..... and realize these odd branches are really 1000’s of butterflies, “clumping” all over each other!!!!  It’s friggin’ amazing looking!!! Super awesome random find!!!

13. Driving on then, pick up a hitchhiker (see note below for the fearful hearted).  Chitty chat to discover he, Lee, had just had a doctors appt with bad news, a fight with his dad about it, and needed to get away, even though it meant walking. Giving him the 12 mile ride brightens his day :) 

Side note: I’m sorry for those of you that don’t agree, and I do appreciate your concern, but I am standing up for hitchhiking. Becky getting on soapbox: Millions of cars driving, most of them with one person inside, going in the same direction as a person walking along the side of the road. A person walking does NOT signify murderer, rapist, druggy, or loser. It simply signifies a person without a car at that moment, many times of which I have been. I really hope hitchhiking makes a come back in my lifetime, along with fanny packs and big hair :).  I trust my intuitive sense when I stop, exercise caution, and am perfectly comfortable that I am taking a very small risk in exchange for the greater good: A world in which we share resources. You don’t have to do it, but hear me out that it’s not all bad as the news harshly portrays it.  Read this story about my own amazing hitchhiking experience last year for a alternate tale that should make the news! Miss you Ty!! 

14. Drive on, becoming accustomed now to choosing “route 3”  (if you have an iphone) on your gps, which usually takes the most scenic, slowest, roundabout way. Pass by Los Osos state park with it’s odd (but neat) waterways in otherwise big open fields, up over the golf course (which looked pretty good if you are looking for a reco), down the tidy street hills to Morro Rock, the big attraction here in Morro Bay. Its the last in a chain of 7 (well 9 really, 2 underwater) volcanic plugs coming from the east, this one showcased with it’s massive size and in-ocean location.  You can drive to it, but don’t even think about climbing it. There’s a ‘keep off’ sign about every 10 feet, deterring those of us who may like to find signless spots and act oblivious ;). It’s still certainly worth the visit: the beach, the city view, and especially the jetty with it’s giant waves crashing up and over it.

Panorama wowza
The crashing waves at Morro Rock jetty

15. Back to main street, eat at a cute cheap taco waterfront place with super nice employees and watch the sunset, listening to the seals honk. Peruse the cute shops (noting that they close way early, so plan to arrive sooner if you can).  Fall for a super cute overly priced car magnet, intending to send a happy message to all the cars that pass you for driving so slow.  Find out your truck isn’t magnetic on the back, put the magnet on your driver side door instead, and be happy every time you go in and out of your car, which is 20+ times a day :). 

Morro Rock, Morro Bay 
It works :)
16. Drive to the Morro Bay camp ground and be surprised again to see a $35 camping fee. Do a quick google search, and find that you can get a hotel for $30 (well $40 w/ tax)!!! Elect to go for the hot shower, a warm room, a comfy bed, free wifi and continental breakfast, for less than leaving no trace. Hmmm... ponder the ludicrosity of such a deal.  A low cost campground would do well here in Morro Bay if someone needs a new business idea! 

Side note: Heard the exxxxccciiitttting news that my middle sister Julie got engaged this night!!!! Wahoooo! This is soooo excitingg!!!! So happy for you and Josh sister!!! 

17. Quick drive thru of a super darling town called Cambria... cutest car wash you’ll ever see!

18. Wake up fresh and sulfur-less, driving only a short while to your first stop, to see the elephant seals. Whoa! Huge!!! and hundreds!!! many even 1000’s!!! As it turns out, around Valentines day (conveniently) is mating season... and umm... yeah... it was!!! The reality of the 30 minutes I was there:  I was watching Elephant Seal porn!! haa!! The males are savages! and the females belloooowww. The volunteer guide says they do NOT consider it conscentual! OMGosh! I feel.... dirty?? haha

Elephant Seals!!! Wow!

Caught this one mid-sand tossing! 
19. Pick up a backpacker. John, who’s heading up to Jade Cove. Pre-advise him you’ll  be stopping a lot, and give him the options to wait or join or keep going or whenever he chooses. Be happy when he choose to join! Over the next 3+ hours, drive and hike and chat about finding each own’s unique path in life, making your way to two different waterfalls. First, a steep descent to the beach at Ragged Point to see the Black Swift Falls (and find a seal skull!) then to the Salmon Creek falls. This one is awesome. We had to rock hop up the creek a while, even did a tightrope act across a jimmied bridge to get there!!! Of all the waterfalls the whole trip, this was my favorite :)  From there we got to Jade Cove, which I would never have gone to if it hadn’t been for John.  It’s very popular for rockhounds (which he is) because you are allowed to take Jade if you find it.  We ate lunch, and then I left him to find his treasures!  

Side note: Another perfectly friendly, safe, and pleasant hitchhiker story. Just sayin’ ;)

Awww California, I love you :) 
Black Swift falls.. waaay at the top, see it?!

Salmon Creek Falls! 
John mid tightrope walk! Cool! 
Side note #2: Right in this area is the famous Hearst Castle. You may be interested to take the tour... seeing it from the road was enough for me :)

20. Limekiln State Park is next. You can park up top and walk in for only $2, compared to $10 for driving in. Chat for a while with Ranger Mike. He is super friendly and talkative... he bets I’ll like this park better than the Big Sur one’s. He is righttt!!!! If you're feeling energetic, take all three trails to a pretty neat waterfall, unexpected giant lime kilns (ahh.. the name makes sense now), and get giddy about the dozens of ghetto-made creek crossings and the magnificent, majestic, amazing redwood trees!!!!   Try and get there in late afternoon, so the sun filters thru and creates some major “Natural Glitter” on the paths :) 

Perfect :) 
21. Head to the Esalon Institute.  A community of likeminded souls, who meditate, do yoga, be good people.  Unknowing arrive to find it’s by reservation only, but be nice enough to the guard that he allows you to go in and explore for a bit. Watch the sunset from this amazing cliffside property, in the giant lawn that is sprinkled with viewers, chairs, hula hoops, frisbees and balls. Umm... awesome? Yes!  Walk out thru a ginormous garden, quite possible the most well kept one you’ve ever seen.  

Side note:  This place is extremely similar to what I want for Barefoot Village.  BV will have a more artsy, funky edge to it, but this is awesomely similar prototype.  

22. Upon exiting, be informed by the guard that you could join the ‘night baths’.... a 1am-3am soak in their hot springs. Yes please!!! Park your truck and feel soooooo good about life! Take the photo below!! Get into a “focus frenzy” and write a blog (or a letter!) about love and let happiness take over your heart! At 1 am, join 8 others, escorted by flashlight to an amazing building perched way down just above the shoreline.  Note the bathtubs everywhere on the deck! Cool! Spent the next two hours in a giant tub to yourself; Naked, floating, listening to only the roar of the crashing waves, and your own heart beat amplified under the water. With an open view to the perfectly clear sky, see the biggest, longest most amazing shooting star you’ve ever seen, and know there is a magic at work in your universe!! 

First attempt, self-timer photo. Wow. An amazing day this was!!!! LOOOOVEEE!

23. For your first excursion the next morning (for me on Valentines day) go and see the incredibly famous, worthy of it’s praise, McWay waterfall at Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park.  It’s right off the road, a short trail that rounds the way, progressively bringing the falls into view. The water bursts from the cliffside cove onto an appropriately inaccessible beach, guarding it’s pristine view.  It IS as awesome as they say: postcard perfect ;).  

Side note: Although beautiful anytime, this landscape would probably be better viewed  in the afternoon light, with the sun shining on it from the west. My photos don't do it justice.

24. Take your slow poke time over the next few miles, an amazing stretch of road, of coast, of mountains and trees. Stop at a neat gallery, a library (that I skipped and then heard it's totally cool-grr), and then for sure at Nepenthe. Wow. This is a restaurant perched over possibly the best view yet.  It’s spendy, but certainly worth the extra bucks to and sit and eat, looking out at this absolutely incredible piece of America. The restaurant doesn’t open until 11:30am, but their gift shop is pretty amazing and easy to kill time in anticipation, not to mention a stroll around the grounds. Overall 5 stars.

How cool are these birdhouses at the Big Sur Coast Gallery?

Cool fence tucked into the woods
Can't complain about a thing :) 

25. There’s a beach you’ll hear about, Pfeiffer Beach. It’s well known, but unmarked from the road, but be sure and double back as I did if you should miss the turn off.  If you get to the Big Sur River Inn, you’ve passed it, but this is a great place to stop in and inquire... and take a moment to sit in the best seats of the house: chairs actually in the river!! (Another benefit there, free wifi, so if you did write a blog, you can indulge with a delicious chai tea latte and a chocolate caramel brownie, and post your blog :).  It’s only a few miles back to this amazing Pfeiffer Beach, one of my now favorites, as it has sooooo much going for it. A nice 2 mile drive thru the trees. Then a short walk thru them, to emerge right onto the sand. Ginormous rocks fill your view, sitting just off the sand's edge, waves thrashing thru the caves within them. Cliffs all along the edge andddddddd areas of purple sand to boot!!!! Definitely a magical beach.

I love this beach!!
A bit of everything! 
How cool is that??? Purple sand!!!

26. Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park after that. There’s a short hike and an 1,100 yr old redwood they call “Colonial” to visit. Hopefully you got more sleep than I did the night before.  My tiredness kicked in. The waterfall trail was closed, so I started the other trail hike, then realized I really didn’t want to finish it. I stood for a moment and pondered the “consequence” of not actually getting to the end. No consequence at all ;)... and turned back.  I am evolving :).

Redwoods rule!
27. This next stretch of blacktop is perfect for drooling over the homes and their accompanying pieces of incredible cliffside land, as you’re now nearing city life again. As you enter Carmel, zig zag your way thru the residential streets, and prepare to be amazed. It’s almost like riding thru a Disney scene, so perfectly put together, thought out, luxurious, brilliantly, impeccably maintained, and tactfully tasteful.  Cruise on down to the water, find a bench (park for free!) to take in the always amazing sunset, and the bonfires blazing on the beach.  After, a stroll thru downtown will further validate your suspicion that being uber loaded must be a requirement to live here!! Everyone I saw was dressed to the 9’s (granted, it was Valentines Day, so it makes sense, although I hear that’s an everyday event). I have a bit of an contradictory spirit here. I love the obvious care and thought and precision that has gone into everything... but not so much the price tags that tend to accompany it. Unless you’ve got a fat wallet, prepare to simply window shop :).

Carmel by the Sea sunset :) 

28. If you couchsurf at Walter’s house, maybe he’ll loan you his bicycle as he did me the next morning!  Ride Monterey’s amazing waterside bike path, which leads you along the harbors and marina’s, passing by otters doing their cute bathing ritual and seals loafing on rocks, appearing almost like the rocks themselves. It leads you to both the main touristy spots of Monterey: Cannery Row and the Fisherman’s Wharf. Both are worth exploring. Cannery Row is a real treat; cute and clean and unique little shops. There’s a store called Del Sol in which every single item changes color in the sun! Cool! There’s a sock store, a hat store, and a store where the clerk passes you his phone number;). Past that is the popular Fisherman’s wharf, with about 7 different restaurants all vying for ‘the best clam chowder’.  You could potentially have a free lunch by just accepting all the samples they each offer as you stroll by ;). Also here you can hold a bunny and sing with homeless men :). A bicycle tour is def the way to go here!  Once back home, grab the car for a sunset drive (appropriately on Sunset Drive road) around the peninsula. It’s a undeniably breathtaking place. There’s really no spot here that’s not amazing. Monterey gets a big two thumbs up :).

Those are seals on that beach! 
Seals on rocks!! haaa! 
Bike Ride Monterey= good stuff!! 
His bunny jumped off his lap so I scooped him up and joined in :) 
29. The next morning, give yourself plenty of time heading north, veering off at Santa Cruz onto Highway 9, which is an awweeeesome small road in lieu of I-17. Stop to see an old covered bridge and at the hill lookouts as you driving thru an entire forest of redwoods. Be lucky enough to have a local friend who meets you, with a meet-up group, for a morning mountain biking session on the Russian Ridge!!!! Long views over the hills, brutal climbs and sound-effect worthy declines :).  Wooohoooooooo...awesome country!!! 

Mountain Biking!!! 
Kate!!! SOOO nice to catch up!! 
30. Continue the highway 9 amazingness into Palo Alto, where you spend the day catching up and thoroughly enjoying time with old friends, touring the town, being impressed at the ‘country feel’ that such a big city can have. Toss in a super fun game of sand volleyball at Stanford while you’re at it, then dine on a yummy home cooked meal, courtesy of great hosts Kate and Ginty!!! Thanks guys!!!


This is a completely natural, mid-game, unposed photo. Ginty is an intense player!! ;) Ha!

So there you have it! A surefire way to have an amazing PCH roadtrip!!!  .....Okayyy... so’s not reeeally a guide. It’s just what I did... and it was awesome (and you so could use it as a reference ;)!!!  I recommend going full of life and love and openness and willingness and with a seize-the-day, make-the-most-of-life attitude for this trip. Actually, in all you do. Everyday is a good day for a good day :)

Random shots of awesome :) 

Random shots of awesome :)

Random shots of awesome :)

Random shots of awesome :)

Random shots of awesome :)

Random shots of awesome :)

p.s. Before heading back to PVS, I ended my 3-week journey with a 3day/2night trek... but I’m saving that for another blog:).  This one has reached my writing capacity, and possibly the end of your attention span! In two weeks I’ll finish the journey thru San Fran and back up to WA. You would be correct in presuming (and I’m suuuure licking your lips in anticipation over) the future writing of “A guide for a PCH Roadtrip of Fantasticness; PART 2”!!! Ha :)