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What happens in the jungle, stays in the jungle

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I woke up this morning, made myself a cup of coffee and grabbed my phone. It has become second nature to reach for the phone these days. Luckily, I have not become “zombified” by my technology, but this brings up a great point. We live in a world where phones and computers run our lives. We depend on them for everything! Directions? Google it. Connection? Facebook him/her. Exciting event? Tweet it! Cool photo? Instagram it. It’s funny that these words have morphed into verbs. Can you imagine telling someone 20 years ago, “I Tweeted?!?!” Taken out of context, it almost sounds dirty. I think I just got a good laugh out of it.

I love social media. Our world is better because we can connect with our friends, our families and even people we have never met before… people we would never meet otherwise. Information is readily available at our fingertips, and who can complain about that?!?! We can find directions easily, sign up for cool outings and activities, pay bills, find inspiration and stalk people. Wait, that last one is a big no-no! 🙂

Leaving all jokes aside, we live in a pretty wonderful time. We can use social media to create positive change and to inspire one another. I do, however, find the need to disconnect once in a while… don’t you?!?! It sometimes becomes a bit of an obligation to notify everyone about everything, and quite frankly, who wants to hear about the indigestion pizza gave me last night; or how long the line is at the grocery store. I see some incredibly random posts sometimes and wonder, is that person feeling lonely at this moment? I don’t laugh, indigestion is no laughing matter. I feel for them… Maybe they just need a cyber hug. Or some Mylanta. Either way, I refrain from responding. I put my phone down and just think. I think of the most peaceful time in my life.

This brings me to a cool yet stressful incident I experienced while visiting Central America with my cell phone. Yes, we went together. We ate together, traveled together, God knows, we even slept together. It was an exclusive relationship. Until one day, at a friend’s house party, some sexy and exotic women stole my love. I don’t blame them in the least bit. Quite frankly, I thank them. It had become a dysfunctional relationship, to say the least.

For two days straight, I lamented. Even food didn’t taste so good. Talk about a bad case of indigestion. Where was my shiny red cell phone? I felt cut off from the world. No texting, no news feeds, I felt abandoned… people around me thought I was acting out, yet they offered their condolences. ‘Could no one help?!?!’

I accepted that my love affair was over. My phone was gone and this incident had forced me into a new way of thinking. What to do?! Where to go?! I mean, there were miles and miles of beach, rain forest and jungle surrounding me. Surely I could find something to fill the aching gap in my heart.

I took some surf lessons, I went zip lining, I ate good food and laughed a lot. The stories of the people around me were real. They didn’t come from a newsfeed, they didn’t even get recorded somewhere. It was fleeting, real and it was beautiful. I felt happy. I felt present. Everything that I saw, heard and experienced, happened there, in those moments. I couldn’t take any of it with me, except the lesson.

What am I suggesting? No, don’t throw your cell phones in the trash bin. We can’t pretend to live in a cave. Technology is awesome. Use it in a positive way. Share your thoughts, post your pics, inspire and make people laugh. However, find a time throughout your day when you can turn everything off and pay attention to what’s around you. Don’t tweet it, don’t post it, don’t photograph it. Instead, see it, hear it, feel it, smell it, taste it. When you’ve taken it all in, exhale and let it go. It’s not so easy to fly to the rainforest on a daily basis, but we can certainly create that quiet space within ourselves.

Emptiness is a precursor to expansion

Recently, I realized that I’m in a state of transition. I have one foot out the door and the other holding me back in place. Where am I going? I’m not sure. All I know is that I’m no longer running from something, this time, I’m running toward something.

All the ghosts of the past have vanished into thin air, becoming one with the dusk sky. There is a sweet nostalgia to it all, my memories begging to be freed, some, struggling to remain. I’ve been caging up emotions, locked up for fear of losing my true self, losing my grip on my desires if I somehow let go. I have been fighting this internal battle of holding on and also screaming to move forward, from people, places and goals that no longer serve me on my current journey. In a moment of complete stillness, I realized that I already have let go. I’m not holding on to the past any longer, perhaps the emptiness comes from that space that was created in the process of letting go. Emotions and blocking thoughts were released and now there is a gap, a large empty space that no longer holds emotional residues of the past. It’s a paradox if you think about it. Releasing clutter should be followed by joy, feelings of freedom and exhilaration. The truth is different though. No matter how difficult some thoughts and emotions are, whether it is fear and jealousy clogging up your pipes or resentments clouding your aura, regret, or simply stagnation of creativity and spiritual flow, it all leaves a gap when it dissipates.

If you have a bucket full of dirty water, it stinks, it breeds more nasty bacteria and it begs to be emptied, to be cleansed. Whether you have the ability to consciously dump it or you accidentally bump up against it and empty its contents that way, the bucket remains empty afterwards. It no longer stinks, it no longer begs to be released, it’s a peaceful feeling, yet the reality remains: the bucket is now empty.

It’s quite scary to feel the emptiness but it is so essential to understand the process of spiritual cleansing and the natural expansion that takes place with it. The bucket is indeed empty now, there is no more fear of failure, competition, regret, stagnation, envy, or even resentment for what once was. It’s like a still winter night, one where no birds are singing, no wind is rustling through the trees, everything is quiet and you are alone with your mind and your spirit.

This begs the question: If I am with my mind and I am with my spirit, who am I? I am space, infinite energy that always was and always will be. I am not in the now, I AM the now. The brain is inclined to panic, it needs to feed the ego some form of illusory fuel, while the soul is at peace and urging you to embrace the stillness and to quiet the mind.

The emptiness is scary but it is also beautiful. Letting go creates contrast within ourselves, it allows for space in order to rearrange oneself internally, to take a break from the mental grind. The emptiness is an infinite hollow but if we think about it, that’s what the spirit is……… Limitless space.

The challenge is to stay in that space long enough to reconnect with the self, the true self. These situations always present two doors: fear and love. If we panic and cut ourselves off from the source of existence, we end up filling our bucket with more “jenk.” It will stink the same way it always has and it will breed more still water that begs to be released. If on the other hand we choose love, we remain in the now, we allow the stillness to remain uncontaminated by any illusion. We boldly choose the contents that we want to fill our bucket with, instead of drawing from the same polluted waters and expecting different outcomes.

Empty your bucket, embrace the stillness and know that emptiness is the heartbeat of the universe. Release the fear and understand the concept that even an “empty” container is not empty. Space fills everything, energy is infinite, it takes limitless forms and it is open for personal interpretation. All is possible and pure in the mind of the Universe, you just have to make room for the expansion.

Kale Chips

Kale Chips

 

Ingredients:

One bag of pre-washed kale (remove stems)

Instructions:

Preheat Oven to 350 degrees.

Wash and rip the kale leaves into smaller bits, place on a cooking sheet.

Use a tablespoon of olive oil and sprinkle evenly.

Lemon pepper powder, salt and pepper to taste.

By hand, mix all ingredients, massaging them into the leaves.

Cook at 350 for 15-20 minutes.

(Swirl kale chips around with a wooden spoon after 10 min to cook evenly; for very crispy chips, cook longer).

Te Amo

Today I was on the train and got lucky enough to get a seat. As I was listening to my music and observing the people around me, I noticed a lady standing in close proximity. She had her back to me, I wasn’t able to see her face. She had curly brown hair, a white shirt with a black tank top underneath, some rather unattractive navy colored pants and an overall unflattering appearance…. Or so it seemed. And for a split second I challenged myself to see her differently; to REALLY see her. I envisioned her as a young child, perhaps my daughter’s age; running around, messy curly hair flying all over, laughing out loud and exuding joy. And somehow I felt overwhelmed with emotion.

This morning I set my intention to send love to someone and I couldn’t quite feel connected to any train of thought no matter how hard I tried. So here I was, sending love to a faceless stranger. Was she beautiful? I don’t know, I couldn’t see! Was she a kind person? No idea! Was she important to anyone or inspirational? Who can say?!?! But I sent her my love, all of it! And as beautiful and genuine as it all seemed in the moment, I couldn’t help but ask myself, “Are you nuts?!” But then I saw a ring on her finger and engraved on it were the words “Te Amo.” And we think Source isn’t listening!

Bohemian Dreamin’

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What is fashion?  It is the expression of personal style.  No other woman embodies this concept better than the California gal. Here, on the West Coast, the Bohemian dreams of yore have been brought back to life by women who are not afraid to express their identity.  Whether a free-spirited hippie, a surfer who loves to play guitar, a chic trendsetter who enjoys wine tasting and basking in the sun, the Californian girl knows how to stand out in a crowd.   By mixing vintage pieces with modern trendy accessories, flowy fabrics with floral and tribal designs, a completely new and unique style was born.  This is truly a fashion revolution, a movement toward promoting self-identity, courage and creativity.

Compassion

Tonight I had dinner with a friend and as I was walking to the train station I came across a homeless man sleeping on the ground, in a dirty sleeping bag. I felt a pang in my heart, a sudden adrenaline rush. Almost the same sensation one gets when being in danger or needing to make a sudden life or death decision. I just wanted to feed him. He had no shelter, no food, no one to keep him company. I think in most cases people would feel removed from the situation, then try to empathize momentarily and cover it up by a sense of gratitude, a “Thank God” for all I have. I felt none of that. I just wanted to feed him. I felt his lack, his pain, his need in my bones. It was raining. I had on a rain jacket and he had nothing but his dirty sleeping bag and a half empty bottle of water.

I set my belongings on the ground, pulled everything out of my bag and gathered some food to offer him. All I could find was a banana, an apple and some spinach (I didn’t make my smoothie at work today b/c I was super busy and decided to wait). I had some tomatoes and a bag of Sea Salt Kettle chips my friend gave me. I placed them next to his head and he opened his eyes just enough to say “Bless You.” I felt humbled. My eyes just filled with tears b/c I knew I couldn’t help him out.
There is so much suffering around us and we don’t even stop to acknowledge it. I’m on my way home to a cozy warm bed and a fridge full of nutritious food. I have warm water to shower with and clean clothes to change into. I understood something tonight: Sympathy is not compassion. Feeling sorry for someone and using that to leverage gratitude for what one has is not selflessness. That’s finding an emotional antidote to remove us from the pain and suffering of another. Compassion is feeling someone’s pain, allowing it to take over and change you, even for a moment. Only then do we connect truly, only then do we transform. I believe that this fleeting transaction was more than me leaving food on the concrete for a helpless man sleeping in the rain. It was a deep understanding of self. I felt not only my human quality but his as well, on a deep and unified level. Sometimes there is no giver and no receiver. It’s just energy connecting to its source.