Countdown to 2015 – 6 – Excuses be damned!

The countdown to 2015 continues. For our next trick, let’s send our excuses straight to the place where the sun don’t shine. So by now we’ve started thinking about our intentions for what we want 2015 to look like, answering questions and dreaming big. We’ve focused on gratitude, acknowledging how important it is to recognize what we do have. We took all of these thoughts and good energy for a wander in nature and then we took our passions out to play.

It’s not necessarily a linear process, but all things that we can take together to shake it up and get ready for a new year. Do you notice that contemplating our passions often tends to coincide with excuses and obstacles for why we can’t pursue them?

“I would if I could…”

“I’d love to, if only…”

“I don’t know how…”

“I’ll do it when…”

“…but…”

I’m the most guilty of saying, “Well I would, but I don’t have the money now.” Until one day it occurred to me that I didn’t even know how much money it would take to do the thing I was saying I couldn’t afford.

Maybe it is true that I didn’t have the money in that moment and I could choose to give up there and stay stuck. Instead, I now scribble that information onto the “Known” list. I take a look at what else I know to be true and then I start to figure out all of the unknowns. In this example, how much money would it take to do x?

I think there is a lot of information hidden in our excuses. We may even believe they are logical ‘reasons’.

They often point to where we feel scarcity in our lives…

Not having enough money

Not knowing what it is we want to do

Not having the resources, knowledge…and you knew this was coming…not having the time.

“I don’t have time is the grown up version of the dog ate my homework.” ~ Unknown

or they point to where we feel responsibility in our lives…

I have a mortgage.

I have a job, benefits, tenure, etc.

I have debt.

I have kids, family and relationships to tend to.

Responsibilities are legitimate things, absolutely. They also point to the outcomes of previous decisions we’ve made in our lives, again giving us information about our values, desires, habits, choices, resources and circumstances.

How you spend your time, money and energy is indicative of both your priorities and your responsibilities.

“We either make ourselves miserable or we make ourselves happy, the amount work is the same.” ~ Carlos Castaneda

What comes next is a lot of good news for you if you’re willing to get into a staring contest with your excuses.

If you want something, it is almost always possible and doable. This has been a huge lesson for me the last two years and then I’ve had it demonstrated to me over and over again.

You just need to decide how much you want it, get curious and prioritize accordingly.

“Forget all of the reasons it won’t work and believe the one reason it will.” ~ Unknown

“yeah, but…”

shhhhh…

“no really though…”

zip it. 

It doesn’t mean you will not have to take risks or give things up or make changes…all challenging things to do and ultimately all reasons why it can be more comfortable to blame the excuse rather than do something about it. AND…it’s all worth it to go after what you really want in life.

Here is the challenge and the opportunity to get your head and your heart working together instead of playing tug-o-war…

Excuses be damned. If you could do anything in the world with your life, what would you most want to do, as you see it now?

Whatever your answer, do you really mean it?

What is stopping you? (If nothing, than awesome. Share your experience in the comments!)

What do you know to be true? What are the unknowns?

Are you going after it? What are you discovering?

Are you not going after it? Why not? What’s in your way?

What’s really in your way?

How could you approach it differently?

What have you tried to do about it and what happened?

Now what?

What is a different way to look at it? This is an invitation to get creative and unconventional. Find out what it would actually take and then start figuring out the path to get there…knowing the path is sometimes a puzzle and sometimes a paved highway.

I have met parents with kids who are traveling and living in other parts of the world.

I have met artists who are using their final pennies to pursue their craft while waiting to get into school…and opportunities are showing up.

I have met dreamers with ideas who are engaging in entrepreneurial pursuits on the side of their jobs until they can make the transition.

I have met healers who are trading their talents in exchange for services when money is not yet there.

I have met adventurers and I myself have invited in and accepted the generosity of others knowing full well that we will give it back tenfold when we are able.

This is intended as an invitation. This is meant to be exciting and freeing.

“If it is important to you, you’ll find a way. If not, you’ll find an excuse.” ~ Unknown

It took two years from the time I had the inkling to follow a dream and the time I worked my way through shifting priorities and refocusing the circumstances from past decisions. For me this meant deciding to sell my house and my car in order to free myself of attachments and financial responsibilities before coming to Argentina.

I did it. It worked. It’s a practice…this whole “excuses be damned!” thing and I continue to be dedicated to it. I’m hoping to help inspire others to do the same through the book and interactive guidebook I am now writing.

If you like what you’re reading, please consider backing my kickstarter campaign for this project called, “Let’s Go on an Adventure!”. Also please share my campaign with others who might be inspired.

I have 6 days left in my campaign when I will get all funding if I reach my goal and nothing if I don’t. Any donation helps!

This is number 6 in a series of 10 personal development blogs counting down to 2015, in hopes of inspiring an adventurous, fulfilling year ahead. Follow this blog to receive the others in this series and check out more of my story at erinkmac.com.

Thank you for tuning in!

Countdown to 2015 – 7 – Passion Play

As the countdown to 2015 continues so does our opportunity to focus on what we want out of the coming year. Here’s what we’ve got so far:

10 – Setting intentions – thoughts and questions for inspiration

9 – Gratitude – an absolute must

8 – Wandering in Nature – taking a look in the mirror via the wilderness

And now for number 7, how about a bit of passion play.

I’ve been focused on “passions” maybe more than anything else in the last 2 years as I’ve been trying to pursue my own. My working definition of passion is something that goes beyond a hobby or interest; something that we want to dive into and get lost in; something we want to learn more about and explore and share; something that lights us up inside and makes us feel so alive.

“I began to realize how important it was to be an enthusiast in life…if you are interested in something, no matter what it is, go at it at full speed ahead. Embrace it with both arms, hug it, love it and above all become passionate about it. Lukewarm is no good. Hot is no good either. White hot and passionate is the only thing to be.” ~ Roald Dahl

With vulnerability, I admit I used to get jealous of people who were living their passions or who were doing things that I wanted to have as my passions…the people who were born on top of a mountain and have been climbing them ever since. I thought of them as a different, untouchable race.

Honestly, when discovering how much I love to climb mountains my first feeling was despair for the lost years growing up in the anti-mountain midwest.

This has really changed for me the last 2 years as I decided to focus my whole life on finding my passions. I shifted my perspective and realized that I want to live in a world where everyone is living fully and passionately and connecting and supporting each other in this. With all of my attention there, I became a student of passion.

I got outside my comfort zone. I looked at the things I was interested in and made a point of doing more of those things and noticed how I felt…treating them more like a right than a luxury. In doing so, I met others doing similar things and often doing related things that were bigger, bolder and creative…things that hadn’t even tickled my consciousness.

Here are a few things I’ve learned from those interactions:

It helps to become an admirer. Seek out people doing things that make you say “wow. I wish I could do that.” And then rather than taking the role of bystander…be inspired to take action. Court someone as a mentor if possible. Study what they do. Be curious and ask questions…to them directly or to the great all-knowing google.

Seek out resources. Seek out community.

Keep trying new things. When was the last time you tried something for the first time?

The imagination is key here…even with an inkling of what your passions are, you can start to play around with them.

Pick an interest or passion and brainstorm, without restrictions or judgment, different adventures to have with that activity. Write out goals, possibilities, things to explore. Dream big and broad and then pick one of those dreams and start pursuing it.

What would it take? What would it look like if I wooed this? What do I need to know? What do I need to do to make this happen?

It is magnetic to be around someone who is pursuing and living their passions. Opportunities seem to open up and connections are made. This is one thing that I love about travel…you often meet people doing something they love and you also encounter a lot of perspectives that you wouldn’t otherwise in your familiar surroundings.

It is never too late to play with our passions and to pursue them and pursue them some more. I guess it would only be too late if we reach the end of our lives and realize that we never did.

“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.” ~ Mark Twain

2 years ago (as of yesterday!) I left the USA for Argentina on a journey of self-discovery to design my life around my passions.

I’ve launched a campaign on kickstarter.com called: Let’s Go on an Adventure! to help me turn these passions into something to give and share in a book and guidebook that I plan to publish. What I love about Kickstarter is that it is all about bringing together people to support each other’s passions.

I have 7 days left in my campaign. All or nothing…not to be dramatic, but you really do get everything you’ve raised if you meet your goal or you get nada.

To give people a taste of thoughts on pursuing your passions, I am doing a countdown to 2015 with ten blogs over ten days. They are focused on personal development practices, specifically around preparing for a glorious, adventurous new year. Number 7 here is focused on pursuing passions.

If you like what you’re reading, please consider backing my campaign, any donation helps; also please share my campaign with others who might be inspired. You can find out more about me and my story at erinkmac.com.

Follow this blog to receive the others in this series. Thank you for coming along on this adventure with me, the countdown to 2015.

Countdown to 2015 – 8 – Au Naturale, Wandering in Nature

The countdown to an adventurous 2015 continues with Nature, that sexy beast, coming in at 8. So with 10, we set intentions and with 9 we expressed gratitude for where we’ve come from and what has come to us. I can’t go further without mentioning the essential component of ‘time in nature’.

Why? Well, we’re all nature. We can start with that. We’re energy, vibrating at our own unique frequency, alive and connected to all that is alive. I believe we are at our happiest when we are most fully living our true nature, the ultimate expression of our essence and I think time in nature can turn our attention there.

I would bet on my infinite potential human life that there are studies about the good effects that time spent in nature has on a being’s mind, body and soul. Just today I read that this is a known contributor or common denominator in the lives of centenarians (people living to be over 100 years old).

Mostly I can just speak from personal experience.

When I am trying to process something there is nothing that helps me more than taking a mindful wander in nature. Depending on what is on my mind, what I want to be on my mind or what I am trying to get out of my mind, this mindful wander may be an adrenaline induced, heart pounding, sweaty climb up a mountain or it may be a slow, barefoot walk through a peaceful forest listening for the quietest sound I can hear or sitting in silence at the side of a lake.

Is there anyone who doesn’t find a mountain or ocean or flower to be beautiful?

Pachamama, Mother Nature, is my favorite artist in the world. The chaotic creativity of a buzzing jungle, the intense colors of a sunset that don’t even seem possible, the equal parts mystery and reason in the cycles of the sun, moon, tides, seasons and connection of it all…it is sheer mastery.

The Earth is a great healer too; it can provide everything we need. Shelter, food, medicine, each other, beauty… It is not a coincidence that we have evolved from cultures who were highly reliant on and educated in the dynamics of nature and the elements as a Provider and Teacher.

I cannot say with confidence that there is anything more humbling than a stormy ocean at night, a towering mountain adorned with crackling glacial ice or any other circumstances when nature decides to show her immense power and demand your respect.

And yet nature is also the most delicate of places…the peaceful, soothing sound of a flowing river, the calming “shhhhhhhh” of rustled tree leaves; everything perfectly in balance, ebbing flowing, responding, embracing what is.

In my humble opinion, the greatest of adventures happen in nature. It offers the most intensely beautiful experiences with all sorts of unpredictable circumstances…the greatest challenges rewarded with awe-inducing scenery that makes your head and heart ache with trying to understand how it is even possible.

And it can make you feel so small. I think this is beautiful. Sometimes I purposely picture myself in a natural place and I zoom out to a star-level view and I realize that I have a place in the world and yet anything seems possible from that perspective as I’m just a tiny person in an expansive universe.

Quite simply, nature mirrors us or we mirror nature. This makes it a magnificent teacher when we choose to spend dedicated time outside. Even in a city, we can go to a park or notice a flower growing in an unlikely place. I think it is so important to commit to going further into the great outdoors, the wilderness too.

If possible, an extended time living in nature is ideal…days, weeks, months. Notice all of the different sounds, species, colors and scents around. It is a gift and it is a lesson to live in a place long enough to notice the changing levels of the river, for instance, and to watch buds turn to blossoms.

“And the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom.” ~Anais Nin

And now I’ve lost myself in my love letter to nature, so back to the point.

When processing something or when setting an intention, take a moment to go wander in nature while focusing on the question or desire and then notice what shows up. Maybe even pick a plant, rock, lake, animal, flower…whatever draws your attention and sit in its presence and notice its energy and where your thoughts, emotions and energy go.

Make a point of getting outside as often as possible, the more remote the better, but any nature will do. Notice how all of your senses are stimulated.

Plan an adventure in the great outdoors.

Sleep under the stars. Go somewhere where you can see the stars. Wish on a star.

Play outside. Create something outside. Be sure to have a hobby that is done in nature. It is no coincidence that moving to the 300+ days of sun and mountains in Colorado changed the quality of my life.

Read a book about our connection to nature…my favorites are by the author Bill Plotkin: Soul Craft, Nature and the Human Soul and Wild Mind. Or read some John Muir, National Geographic or learn a bit about Teddy Roosevelt.

This blog post could be a book and so I’ll leave it here for now.

My love of nature has brought me to the mountains of Patagonia, where I am living on a lake in Argentina and writing a book about my transformative adventure from Corporate America to Patagonia…in pursuit of my passions and wanting to help others find theirs through this book and interactive guidebook.

I’ve launched a campaign on kickstarter.com called: Let’s Go on an Adventure! to help me turn these passions into something to give and share. What I like about kickstarter is that it brings together people who are working towards something, who have something to share with people who want to be a part of making it happen.

I have 8 days left in my campaign. All or nothing…not to be dramatic, but you really do get everything you’ve raised if you meet your goal or you get nada.

To give people a taste of the type of material that will be in the interactive guidebook/journal, I am doing a countdown to 2015 with ten blogs over ten days. They will be focused on personal development practices, specifically around getting ready to plan a glorious, adventurous new year. Number 8 here is focused on spending time in nature.

If you like what you’re reading, please consider backing my campaign, any donation helps; also please share my campaign with others who might be inspired. You can find out more about me and my story at erinkmac.com as well.

Thank you for coming along on this adventure with me, the countdown to 2015.

Countdown to 2015 – 9 – Gratitude

I am so grateful to write this post. Countdown to 2015…number 9 is brought to you by GRATITUDE. I am of the opinion that every intention, relationship, adventure, challenge, triumph, day, night…and yeah I’ll say it, life and death…should start with gratitude. I think it is that important.

If we can’t start from a place of gratitude, recognizing the good in the world and in our lives, we have nothing. I mean to be dramatic.

Expressing gratitude creates a mindset and a soulset (new word?) of abundance, possibility and positivity. It acknowledges where we’ve come from, what we’ve received and what good was there and is there. It is a response to the energy that has acted in our favor. It is a gift back to that source.

“Everything is energy and that’s all there is to it. Match the frequency of the reality you want and you cannot help but get that reality. It can be no other way. This is not philosophy. This is physics.” ~ Albert Einstein

Even in the worst of situations when the only thing we may have to be grateful for is to be alive, what a crazy wonderful thing that is…to be alive.

There’s that joke by Louis CK where he talks about flying and how people are getting pissed off about their wifi not working on a plane, for example, when they should be enjoying how crazy cool it is to be sitting in a big hunk of metal flying through the air at turbo speed.

There are thousands of studies that link gratitude to a state of well-being, happiness, personal growth, even good sleep. It is not a coincidence; it is truth. And it is easy. There is value in acknowledging that we are not alone in this world. We are supported and we are connected and we are part of a greater whole.

Some ways to keep gratitude front and center in your life (and please share others in the comments!):

Do something for someone…maybe someone you know or maybe a stranger…that is unexpected. Reflect on what you are grateful for and then share that in some way with others.

Keep a gratitude journal…handwritten or use an app. Record something you’re grateful for every day. Some days may be easier than others and some of the richest material may come out of the hardest days.

Let the last thought when you go to sleep as you shut your eyes be about the things that happened in your day that you are grateful for. 

Say “thank you” and mean it, maybe even hold eye contact while doing so if you’re face to face.

Take the opportunity on Thanksgiving and other milestone marker days to spend dedicated time thinking, writing and expressing what you are grateful for.

Set up some sort of sacred space in your home dedicated to your life, your intentions and such, where you can place notes and objects and reminders of what you are grateful for. Create imagery around it to keep it in your awareness.

Reach out to someone right now and tell them you are grateful for them and why. 

Journal about what is good in your life or even what is hard in your life and find the things within that for which you are grateful.

When you’re feeling your best of best or your worst of worst, let the first thing you do be to express gratitude…to acknowledge what there is to be grateful about in the situation.

Thank yourself for following your intentions and your passions and acknowledge what you’ve done for yourself.

I am so very grateful to have been on a journey of self-discovery for the last two years. I’m grateful for the experiences, the people who have supported and encouraged me and for realizing my talents and passions that I now wish to share.

I am grateful to have discovered a passion for adventure, transformation and for writing. I want to share that.

I’ve launched a campaign on kickstarter.com called: Let’s Go on an Adventure! to help me turn these passions into something to give and share. What I like about kickstarter is that it brings together people who are working towards something, who have something to share with people who want to be a part of making it happen.

I have 9 days left in my campaign. All or nothing…not to be dramatic, but you really do get everything you’ve raised if you meet your goal or you get nada.

To give people a taste of the type of material that will be in the interactive guidebook/journal, I am doing a countdown to 2015 with ten blogs over ten days. They will be focused on personal development practices, specifically around getting ready to plan a glorious, adventurous new year. Number 9 here is focused on starting your year with gratitude.

If you like what you’re reading, please consider backing my campaign, any donation helps; also please share my campaign with others who might be inspired. You can find out more about me and my story at erinkmac.com as well.

Thank you for coming along on this adventure with me, the countdown to 2015.

Let’s Go on an Adventure in 2015!

We have this package of “a year” that we celebrate with champagne and kisses and often resolutions…the Earth has made another trip around the sun, through the cycle of the seasons, the shortest and darkest days, to the longest and brightest days. I don’t need to look too hard to find reasons to celebrate life and this seems like a pretty damn good one. I’ll take it.

So amidst all of the celebrations, I like to spend some time reflecting on the previous year…

What were my intentions last year? 

What did I do to work towards them? 

What were the key decisions and turning points in my journey towards those intentions?

Did any of them manifest? Have any of them changed?

What were the surprises? How did I respond?

What were the challenges and the lessons? What did I learn about myself?

Where did I find synchronicity and serendipity?

What were the highlights? The lowlights? and why?

What were my relationships like this year? What new people showed up in my life?

What did I let go of? Where did I explore something new?

And I like to then look forward to the next chapter of my story…

How have my intentions evolved for what I want for my life?

What do I want out of this next year?

What opportunities are available? 

What are my priorities?

How can I apply what I learned last year?

What do I need to do and what do I want to do?

What am I willing to do to make it all happen?

What resources do I have?

What’s my plan for checking in with my intentions and tracking my progress?

How do my dreams for the next year fit into the dream for my life?

This may seem a bit intense and those of you who know me know that that is sometimes true, but I like to think about it as passionate and intentional. I’m not doing this because it’s a “thing”…hashtag resolutions…I’m doing it because I actually do intend to make these dreams a reality. And when I’m intentional about setting intentions, the universe seems to conspire to help them become a reality…always in a way I don’t expect and not always on my time frame…but it happens.

I should also say that the questions are just meant to help guide me in this mindful exploration. I like to get creative and have fun with the process too. When I’m done, I end up with a list of meaningful intentions for the new year. And by all means, I celebrate.

New dreams, realms and possibilities are opening to you now.
New dreams, realms and possibilities are opening to you now.

One of my intentions, my Top Priority intention for next year, is to write and publish my book on my transformative adventure from Corporate America to a life designed around my passions and an interactive guidebook to personal change to go with it.

I’ve launched a campaign on kickstarter.com called: Let’s Go on an Adventure! to help me make this happen. What I like about kickstarter is that it brings together people who are working towards something, who have something to share with people who want to be a part of making it happen.

I have 10 days left in my campaign. All or nothing…not to be dramatic, but you really do get everything you’ve raised if you meet your goal or you get nada.

To give people a taste of the type of material that will be in the interactive guidebook/journal, I am doing a countdown to 2015 with ten blogs over ten days, starting with this one. They will be focused on personal development practices, specifically around getting ready to plan a glorious, adventurous new year.

If you like what you’re reading here, please consider backing my campaign, any donation helps, and also please share my campaign with others who might be inspired. You can find out more about me and my story at erinkmac.com as well.

Thank you for coming along on this adventure with me and stay tuned for the countdown.

Write Now

I know this is going to sound biased coming from a writer, but I highly recommend everyone have some sort of writing practice as a personal development tool. If nothing else, it’s fun to be an adult and find your diary from when you were 6 years old and pouring your heart out. I sometimes picture myself at 80 years old reading the things that I’m writing now.

One of my favorite things to do is carry a little moleskin notebook around with me ‘a la Hemingway’. Here’s an exhausting, but not exhaustive list of the types of things I write down in there: the occasional ‘To Do’ list, book recommendations, my intentions for the year (at the front, so they are regularly in my face), little pieces of wisdom I learn from someone or discover myself as I’m out experiencing this highly stimulating world, inspiring quotes, dreams to be worked with later, more bits of wisdom, agreements I make with myself, doodles, and ideas as they pop into my head that I want to journal about or act on later. Last year I put my vision board in this little book so I could carry around the images with me. I also made a list of things I want to do regularly at the back of the notebook, where I give myself a “point” when I do them. I don’t know why a drawn line helps keep me motivated, but it does.

When I’m working towards a goal or making a change in my life, my sense of awareness is heightened. I am curious and ask questions and notice the little things around me. I think I’ll remember something later, but often just don’t. This little gem of a notebook becomes a treasure trove of these thoughts and discoveries. It lets you capture things “real time”, gives you a flavor of where you’re at with things when you look at it as a whole and also gives you a souvenir from that time in your life. And of course I realize this can be done electronically, but not for this chick. You’ll forever find me with my moleskins covered in random stickers. Flipping through the pages and seeing my own handwriting or scribbles is more intimate and holds more substance.

“I never travel without my diary. One should always have something sensational to read on the train.” ~ Oscar Wilde, The Importance of Being Earnest

And then there’s journaling…not just for traveling! Time never seems to tire, always just trucking along, tick tock, tick tock. We have experiences, we change, we grow…we let go of things, we gain new things, we let go of people, we meet new people. We make big changes and little ones, we live, we dream and hopefully we live our dreams. I can’t express how much I have learned about life and myself from regular journaling. Sometimes I’ll sit with a specific question or something I am trying to work through and write it all out, one of my principal methods of processing. Other times I just give myself a page limit, say 3 pages, and I free associate anything and everything that comes to my mind. (Julia Cameron calls this ‘morning pages’ in her book The Artists Way)

For journaling I actually type instead of going the handwritten route, which seems so contradictory to what I just said above. I’m living out of a backpack right now and so it simply makes more sense. If I could afford it, I’d have a sherpa just for my journals. Instead, go ahead and tease me, but I use the “handwriting” font on my MAC and type away. I like to do this in the morning as sort of a meditation…thoughts come up and they go on the paper. It honors the chaos by giving it a destination somewhere besides my brain…and then I can read it later and experience myself from the outside. I also like to journal at night with a glass of wine, by a fire and/or some cozy writing space. It doesn’t have to be a class or work, get comfortable and have the glass of wine.

New Years is coming up and my birthday is in June…for me, these are two natural milestones for reading back through my journals. Any cadence or milestone is great, whatever works, but definitely do it. I notice themes, ideas that unfolded into action and reality, relationships that have evolved, places where I got stuck, the things that helped me get unstuck, the new things I’ve tried, the feelings I’ve felt and what triggered it all, and little nuances that seemed like nothing at the time, but become the keys into my soul.

A few more little things I do that have been cool to do and to have later:

I keep a gratitude journal separately and I do join the modern ages for that one and use an app. There are apps that let you take pictures to go along with a daily entry. The one I’m using right now has a list of by date and title I’ve given to each entry, and then I can click on it to read what I wrote. Some days it is harder than others, but those are maybe the most important days to find something to be grateful for, the simplest thing. This is my first year doing it and I’m excited to look back through the year.

I also keep a running list of new things I’ve done in the year or “big” things I’ve done…no rule here, what makes the list is just according to me. I think it’s both important and fascinating to see what you’ve done, how you’re spending your time, what your priorities are, what goals you accomplished. It can point you to your passions, dreams, challenges, and new goals.

“We write to taste life twice.” ~ Anais Nin

If you like this post, you might like the big project I’m working on now. Please check it out: Let’s Go on an Adventure!

Let’s Go on an Adventure!

The year is coming to a close and a new one will start shortly… It is a time of year where I like to do a bit of reflecting about what has happened this year…who I’ve met, places I’ve experienced, things that I have learned. I also like to start setting intentions for the upcoming year…what am I working on? Where am I going? Where do I want to be going?

This year, one thing is clear: I will publish my books in 2015. I’m really excited to announce my Kickstarter campaign that I’ve launched to help me reach this goal and I’d be eternally grateful if you check out the link, back my campaign, and share it if you’re inspired. The campaign is a for writing and publishing a book about my transformative adventure from Corporate America to Patagonia, including an interactive guidebook for pursuing your passions. 

Continue reading Let’s Go on an Adventure!

Settling into Mendoza

It was tempting to keep traveling north and explore more of Peru, but I had a feeling pulling me south back to Argentina. It occurred to me that although the adventures I have had this year have blown my mind, the feeling was fleeting. It was fleeting because I hadn’t yet created the life to support being able to do this sort of long term travel/ wandering. The goal was never just to travel, although wow…how amazing that has been. The goal was and is to create a new life entirely around my essence, passions, and values. With exploring other cultures being one of my great passions, it made sense to start this journey by traveling. Really simple actually: I love this, so I’m going to do more of this and see what happens. (click links to read my article and other blog that talk about these things a bit more)

I knew that doing this alone was important too, but wasn’t exactly sure why. What I’ve learned is that traveling alone has really let me leave a lot behind; job, commitments, familiar crutches and time suckers. What has come with me are fears, habits, and who I am as a person, how I process things and make decisions, what I feel. So traveling solita exposes me to unknowns and I learn to listen to myself, process things myself and really to just be myself in the truest sense.  Sometimes it is lonely and sometimes it is such a gift and opens up all sorts of opportunities.

So with my goal in mind and embracing this unique opportunity of the ultimate alone time, the travel aspect started to feel like it was fleeting. I felt like it was time to settle for a bit and focus on writing, reflecting on what I’ve learned and to decide what is next for me in this journey. Mendoza had always been in my mind as a great city for living and I traveled for a week by land to make my way back to the land of Malbec.

Image

I took a pit stop in San Pedro de Atacama, a very picturesque desert in Northern Chile with many a volcano gracing the horizon. The vast emptiness of the landscape resonated with the emotions that I was feeling…I thought it had been scary traveling alone at times, but as soon as I headed south to “officially” start living my new life, every fear and doubt bubbled into my chest. I felt so anxious, I missed seeing new landscapes even before I arrived in Mendoza. I took these thoughts by bike out to a laguna for the day. That night I met a writer, a girl starting a fair trade business with her sister and a guy who is creating a documentary on healing in the Amazon…sooo, basically my life. Point for synchronicity!

Image

When the bus came into Mendoza I remembered what an oasis it is, the green tree canopies shading every street in this dry desert town. I walked through the familiar streets and welcomed this city as my new home as I passed flower stands calming my fears with thoughts of buying a fresh bouquet to make my apartment my own. It is spring here now and the whole city smells like a flower. It’s incredible.

Now all I have to do is find an apartment. Who knew what a cultural experience this could be? For weeks I told anybody and everybody that I was looking for an apartment. The usual response was something along the lines of “ok great, I’ll let people know.” “Thank you, but can’t you just tell me a website I can go to? I want to find a place this week.” Now that I’ve been through the experience I can see why people laughed when I said this. A lot of people live at home until they are married, even into their thirties. People tend to stay in places for a long time with a typical lease being 2 years and requiring someone to vouch for you. There are websites as it turns out, but most things happen by word of mouth.

So I started trying to do things to meet people and put myself out there. I started going to a language exchange group to practice Spanish and share English. I met with the Vines of Mendoza, a company through which you can buy a vineyard and make your very own Mendocino wines. (I’m allowed a shameless plug in my own blog, no? I’m now writing for The Vines blog about the wine experience and culture of Mendoza). I met up with friends that I made at the hostel while I was here in April and May. After a week on buses and the most intense neck cramp, I treated myself to a massage and a local woman at the spa offered me a room in her home, although she didn’t have water or electricity somehow. So all of this helped me get acquainted and involved in Mendoza as a home and eventually I did find a place for a month and immdiately bought some flowers. Oh the luxury of my own space!!!

At first I was so excited, all I did was stay in and write and cook and watch movies in Spanish to keep practicing. I found that being in nature isn’t just a hobby or occasionally fun, but something that is critical to my happiness. So I took a weekend trip to Uspallata, a mountain town where I was able to watch the sun set over a river and the full moon rise with my new Mendocina friend who had gone horseback riding and hiking with me that day.

Image

Image

Part of me felt intimidated and tired of always going out on my own and always trying to meet people. And yet, when I stayed holed up in my apartment in the city I missed interactions and the impromtu invite or conversation. So I said yes to an invitation to go to a wine tasting event for the day. And I sought out events in Mendoza and was able to find a polo tournament and talk some friends into going who brought more friends and suddenly we had the most wonderful day in the sun, tasting champagne and watching the horses and riders compete against a gorgeous mountain backdrop.

Image

Image

Stay tuned for more stories of my life here (there are many now) and also for my book. I finally started writing it and as you can imagine, am feeling quite inspired by the adventures I’ve had this year.

Gone Journeying – A Call to Adventure

Are you familiar with The Hero’s Journey? If not by name, you’re likely more familiar with it than you know. King of myths, Joseph Campbell, identified a similar structure in myths throughout countless cultures, eras, and in our own individual lives that shows up with striking frequency. So much so that many a movie, novel, or personal transformation story echoes this mystical pattern. Creative geniuses of the likes of Bob Dylan and George Lucas have been known to acknowledge being guided by this pattern.

So what is it? In short, the “hero” of the story experiences a “call to adventure”…some sort of pull, feeling, or event that tells the hero that their current situation has become too small and it is time to go out wandering to discover something new. This might appear as a feeling that is magnetic, a ‘must do’, without being able to actually see the magnet. In some cases, the call is not recognized or it is dismissed, often leading to a more dramatic and often painful “yank” to adventure. The universe now has the hero’s attention, and the hero commits to crossing the threshold and going on this journey. The hero goes out wandering and often encounters signs and guides along the way, as well as barriers and obstacles to overcome. Typically there is a climax as the hero is faced with the biggest challenge yet, a death of old ways and a birth to a new revelation. Ultimately, through the course of this journey, the hero learns, grows and receives a gift, his personal, unique gift. He is then faced with the task of returning back to his community, crossing back over the threshold as a transformed hero ready to share this gift.

There are many types of travelers that I meet. There are those who have a break from school or their job and are using it to travel. There are those who are moving abroad to work, either with a job lined up or the willingness to find some sort of work that will enable them to live abroad or travel. There are those who are going for months or even years, those accomplishing huge adventure goals, those taking a short vacation to experience a new place. There are those who are taking a break, maybe a sabbatical and have a job or commitment to return to. Here I am wandering Argentina, out exploring and meeting all sorts of these travelers and I feel so different from them. I feel this weight or responsibility. I think travel is a wonderful thing for many reasons, and I respect all types of travel. So what is this feeling? It finally it hit me…

I am not “gone traveling”. I’m gone journeying, a heroine’s journey to be exact. The purpose of my wandering is to pursue the call to adventure that I felt first as the “yank” and then felt more gently once I accepted it. (I touch on this in an article I recently wrote for elephantjournal.com.)

DSC_3649

What am I doing? Well, after fighting it for some time, I gave in to the whisper to go wander foreign lands right  now. I sold my house, car, most of my things, and set out to get in touch with my essence and design my life around it. Not to “find myself”, but to fully “be myself”. I’m not traveling, I’m not jumping into an expat life, I’m not looking for work. I’m on a journey to have my unique gift revealed to me. This journey could happen with or without travel. Ok, well travel is part of it 🙂

So why travel? Well, because you are alone if you are going about it the way I am. Things are different, foreign, there is a threshold to cross and dance with the unknowns. I am trying to look at things in a new way and this facilitates that because newness surrounds. And for me, I love to travel. To create a life around what I love, I started with something I know I love…travel. This is why it made sense for me.

So why alone? Because it is uncomfortable or maybe a gentler way to say it is that you are out of your comfort zone. This is a heroine’s journey. It is a rite of passage, which is very common across cultures and eras as well and is experienced alone and often in nature. Along with travel, nature is such a great teacher and mirrors so much back to you. It teaches me my tools and forces me to come up with new ones as well. It teaches me what I am capable of when I have courage and take action. What frustrates me? What does that tell me about me? What am I afraid of? Why? Is it a familiar feeling? What am I doing about it? How am I processing it? What excites me? What is it about it that lights me up? Who have I attracted doing this journey, and what experiences? What have I learned in the process of preparing to leave and throughout wandering? What do I do when I get to a new place? How do I approach people and situations and how do I want to be approached?

My journey is a conscious one and one grounded in intention. I am getting answers to all of these questions. I am pausing to reflect. I am still discovering my passions, talents, and my unique gift. I’m still out on the journey. There absolutely have been challenges along the way and there continue to be. At times I’ve actually been too obsessed with The Journey and have had to learn to just be again. I need to be guided by what I love and continue to fine tune what I learn when I do that. One component of this is that it’s a “can’t turn back” sort of situation. Once you cross the threshold into this journey, it is almost impossible to turn back. But history also shows with this pattern that if the hero moves forward with conviction and awareness, the hero perseveres. It’s not a coincidence. To me, it is an energetic response to the heroine owning her true nature and letting it out to play only to find it was within her all along.

This looks different for everyone, but the components often resonate. It feels right to share this story because I think we benefit a lot from sharing our personal experiences and connecting with what resonates. And I think the hero’s journey is just so simple and awesome. Have you felt the call to adventure? What do you love? What would it look like to let yourself dedicate time to fully pursuing what you love?

To read more about The Hero’s Journey (or Monolyth), well, just google it! Or you can read the book where Joseph Campbell first references it called The Hero With a Thousand Faces