Zen AF

2 weeks ago the longest I had meditated was for about 20 minutes. And by meditation, I mean... If I had an itch or a limb fell asleep, I dealt with it! So perhaps it was a little presumptuous to assume I would be an All Star Meditator for 10 days of silence at Vipassana...

the backdrop for noble silence

the backdrop for noble silence

But here I was. Technology free, meditating for 10+ hours each day and cutoff from all things civilization with 30 others, our teacher from India and a handful of volunteers. Not allowed? Speaking, except to the teacher in regards to meditation. Writing materials. Killing. Stealing. Lies. Intoxicants. Yoga. And Sexual Activity, which I took to mean also with one's self. I adhered to all of the rules. Kinda.

Cast of Notable Characters

  • Charlotte (#1-4): My roommates with 8 legs, constantly watching me, specifically in the bathroom. Remember, no killing...
  • Rat 1 & 2: Female students who I had an unsavory feeling towards. I was trying not to have aversions to both and ironically they were friends from beforehand, something I was unaware of whilst naming them
  • Thomas the Tank Engine: Male student who graced us with a hefty yoga breath every 5-10 minutes in the meditation hall
  • New Bestie: Another female student was totally amazing. I could sense her wildness and energy bursting thru the seams of her fancy maxi dresses and shimmery hair wraps, even in the silence. I knew we must be friends

Buzzwords

Noble Silence: Silence of body, speech and mind - no forms of communication, not even writing notes or gestures
Aversions: Things you are keen to avoid in life and during meditation, examples include thoughts of certain Rats or a throbbing numbness in your hip. The idea is, by thinking of these things you give them power to take over a larger part of your brain and experience, ultimately leading to greater misery
Cravings: The flip side of Aversions. Things you relish in and give great attachment and positive feelings to in your brain. By holding onto these, you also set yourself up for misery because in their absence you will be miserable
Sankaras: The best example for this is seen when the black hornet-like swarm explodes out of the big guy's mouth in The Green Mile. Sankaras are the source of misery in a person - each one is created when we have an Aversion or a Craving for something and we don't remain equanimous (calm and impartial) about it. If we allow it to take root it settles in and sets us up for future miseries, ultimately multiplying as more and more Sankaras are let in. The beauty though, is that through meditation we can start letting go of old Sankaras that have hijacked the ship

elephant-capetown-street-art-blog-meditate

My Brain On Noble Silence

Remember, for the duration you're not allowed contact with the outside world nor are you allowed to document your thoughts. This creates a certain brand of freak-out in one's brain that one might lose these Very Important thoughts and that they might be lost Forever. Another thing to realize is that when you give yourself this degree of silence and space, powerful memories are allowed to resurface as well as details you haven't experienced in decades... Like the name of the kid next to you in 2nd grade and his haircut (hi Jeremy Andrzejewski, nice lightning bolt fade). As it turns out, some of my experience was not lost Forever. Here you go:

Days 1-3: Ow. This position does not work. My legs asleep. My muscles in between my ribs are having shooting pains. On the left. On the right. Ok, more cushions. Hm. More pain. Hold still, no moving. There is a spider on me. Oh shit I just scratched it, there was no spider. Nice, the pain is numb I am bored. This is only the beginning? I wonder if I will make it. I wonder if anyone is thinking of me? What happens if someone dies? I hope they don't tell me til the end. I'm pretty sure self pleasures are not allowed, right? The landscape is goddamn beautiful. Seriously, my hip is on fire. That girl is unfortunately so Rat-like that I can't name her anything else, I'll do it with love. Rats aren't so bad.

Day 4: OMG. Full body scans. Are. Amazing. And they're umm, intimate? You can pinpoint every single sensation from top to bottom and back up in your body. It's like ___ is here with me. Holy. Wow. This wooden stool. Is hard. And amazing. I can feel the pain in my hips oozing out as I hold still on the plank. This hurts. Not thinking about it hurts. But it's getting better. Rat just spoke to me, I smiled, don't talk to me bitch. I'm in Noble Silence. That other girl, she is so rat-like as well, Rat 2 is thee. I haven't had my period in 2 months. Stupid polyp on my uterus. Maybe I can meditate it away or at least meditate my period to come. Beautiful, wonderful, fertile and luscious uterus you willllllll bleed and it will be magical.

Day 5: Holy. Fucking. Shit. My period came. I have magical thinking. No really. My brain is magic and I am making things happen with it. Rat 1 & Rat 2 just freaked out over lactose in some food thing and THEY LEFT! Additionally, I am pretty sure I willed this chickpea curry dish to appear, I envisioned it yesterday at lunch and it is here. I am magic. I am dying. I have the worst cramps in the entire world, why oh why did I will my period to come, oh god, I can't sit this way anymore and I am dying, I am grimacing, how many Sankaras am I building, but this is real physical pain. Alright, body scanning to other areas makes it a tiny better. No it doesn't I'm dead. [8 hours later] I am a lioness and I want to roar to the moon right now. I can do anything. ROAAARRR!

Day 6: I am in less pain. I am magical. I am tired. What's the point in this? I am bored and ineffective. My body scans aren't as intimate anymore. I am creating Sankaras with all that craving, time to scan these atomic bodies with equanimity. Borrrriiinnnggg. I've worn flat patches into my ass from this wooden plank. Ah well persist on. I wonder if anyone is thinking of me.

Day 7: Full body scans have become less sensational now that I am not feeling every tingle. Ah well, time to settle into monk-dom. "Control yourself - take only what you need from it - a family of trees wanting to be haunted" - could be a worse song in my head. I love this song. Everyone I know needs to do Vipassana. I don't think I could possibly ever convince my dad... 

Day 9: Did I just time travel? I had this same sensation when I was 8, like I am incredibly heavy and immobile, and floating inside myself with really loud voices coming through the loudspeaker that I can't understand. Shit. I am those loud voices. I am with myself back then right now. "It's going to be OK Lu, you are so good and it will all be so beautiful even though there are some really tough things, but you will get through them, you are so very loved." Holy shit. I am crying and I love myself. Fuck.

Day 10: "Why were you crying so much?" My teacher asked me this when I was about to leave on the final day. There were only two instances of this. Once when I was dealing with my magical period and the obscene cramps and the other when I time traveled. I let him know and he clarified for me. When we are young, typically under 9 years old, we are able to sense past lives and have almost a 6th sense that we tune out as we get older. The 8 year old experience could have been this, in turn, meditating in silence was able to bring me back to past experiences with powerful clarity. I buy it. 

Upon Reflection...

Hm. The world moves seamlessly when I'm not in it. Like, it's actually totally fine. I hope I can remember to play my part in it a little more slowly. The day after we finished I could feel the change. I work with more focus and clarity and I'm taking note of my negative emotions and watching them pass rather than getting sucked into their vortex.

I met with New Bestie and New Bestie 2 (another beautiful, peaceful soul from the course), we had margaritas and buried ourselves in blankets in the sand for sunset and laughed for hours about our shared greatest Sankara, boys. I am so loved. I love so much. 

Improvements

I said I could drive. I never said I drove well.

my handiwork

my handiwork

Accordingly, within 3 days of arriving here in Montenegro I drove the jumper van off the road. In the middle of the night. On a mountain. Alone. 

My lack of depth perception has resulted in similar scenarios in the past: off the side of a cliff, hitting a house, and bashing into the cement pillar at the Walden Galleria (and that was just my first year driving. Curious? Read about it here).

Driving vs. Dating

As it turns out, there are quite a few parallels between my driving and dating styles. I can't really see where I'm going, avoid it when possible, but when I start, am fully committed, even though I can't really see where the edge is. This has led to some dramatic and cataclysmic breakups. The good news is that I might be improving at one of these - and it isn't driving. 

lulakilla-old-logo-blogger-travel.png

Back in February I co-branded this blog with my then-boyfriend of military background, hence the old grenade logo.  But I think it's pretty apparent that my "killa" side has almost nothing to do with violence, and not for lack of trying. I stabbed a tarantula to death in the Philippines with a machete, yet to this day, feel bad about it. I've gone vegetarian, and am debating doing the vegan thing. And oh, the dogs. In Portugal I volunteered 4 days a week at sanctuaries and found an endless supply of love. So goodbye grenade logo and hello perfect, new design, crafted by the oh-so-talented Maggie based on my tattoo that Nini @ NINja Ink created (pictured below, in case you have forgotten what my ass looks like). 

Maybe most important, in a recent relationship, I opened myself up to be honest and vulnerable. When incompatibilities came up I didn't lash out, get nasty or run to another guy as a quick fix. And do you know what? I'm beginning to think my small heart grew three sizes.

Ow My Ovary

looking up with dad

looking up with dad

Last week I was informed that my notions are too romantic.

Let me back up. I have one ovary. In 2010 the gynecologist found an ovarian cyst the size of a softball resting comfortably on my left ovary. Said cyst had suffocated the ovary and its eggs had died. Aka half of my half babies (are you following me?). 

Instead of rushing down the altar and into motherhood, my thoughts about dating and life evolved. Maybe I won't be able to have kids once I'm ready. And maybe I'm open to finding a man who already has kids of his own so as to take some of the pressure off of me. And that man I am suited to be with, he will love me if I can have kids or not, because it will be us first.

That right there is my too romantic notion. I'm not so sure though. We're all just bunches of atoms configured together in a majestic pattern that has somehow lucked out and received this dope, unique soul. For me, a successful life is going to be without misery and avoidable physical pain, plus adventure and a lot of people (and animals!) around me that want the best for me (and vice versa). I think it would be great if that group of people involved my own spawn, but I can't consider it a failure if my remaining eggs don't cooperate.

A friend and I even brainstormed a Kickstarter campaign to fund the freezing of a couple eggs. The play would be that I spend a ton of time volunteering, US insurance is a joke, I'd like to slow down my biological clock, and (most obviously) my genetic makeup MUST be replicated. But asking for money is not an option for 3 reasons:

  • Old-school Irish pride
  • I don't like getting all science-y about something so natural as getting knocked up
  • And to mom's point: 
Right now, the life you are living is one of beauty, travel, independence and freedom (from debt, obligations, a relationship, a reg job). That is a wonderful and enviable thing. For any number of reasons, you did not choose the June Cleaver, Leave It To Beaver life—more Jack Kerouac hits the road. And that carries natural consequences.

Asking for money to fund your eventual/potential/maybe and never-before-expressed desire to have a child (even to me) while you are living in paradise might strike some as disingenuous, whimsical, an afterthought, and even irresponsible. Like: Why doesn’t she settle down like the rest of us schlumps and marry good-enough, boring Joe and get knocked-up the regular way while she still can?
— Mom
romantically inclined.

romantically inclined.

So for now, I'm going to be a little more romantic than usual and take my time. If it's meant to be then it will all come together... 

Infested

Tonight I made pesto pasta in the electronic teapot in my hotel. And it made me so fucking happy. 

Little pleasures like this really matter while enduring a harrowing bed bug infestation. In the last 6 days I've accumulated around 50 bites covering my upper back, face and arms, oh and 9 on my knee, for good measure. For those of you that don't know, bed bugs hide in mattresses, bed frames, walls and travel in clothing and other objects. They can lay dormant for up to a year as they wait for their favorite thing, human blood. For some reason, they LOVE mine. So although I was staying in a relatively nice hostel, someone before me must have left them behind, because, 24 hours post check-in the nasty bumps made their debut. 

(L to R: selfie on day 2; note-to-self in phone; gratitude journal, May 17th)

After a day of scratching I went to a dermatologist who immediately diagnosed me and prescribed some stuff (ugh $). Then I washed all 15kg of my clothes on the hottest setting and was moved into another dorm room in the hostel, with promises of an exterminator. But hello, I woke up this morning with new bites. Cue 3 more rounds of laundry, bagging of belongings, checking into a hotel to cortisone my naked body on repeat while I Netflix & chilled with bae (me), and the teapot pasta. 

tick infested pups, bed bug infested Lulu. samesies.

tick infested pups, bed bug infested Lulu. samesies.

Most of you haven't had a skin condition that marks you in such a miserable and obvious way since the chicken pox, so let me explain, the red bites come in clusters, mostly on your arms, back, face - they can raise into hives, and are so itchy that each night I wake up scratching the shit out of myself. These welts then either blister or open into sores, and as of Day 6, are still quite visible. Did I mention they were on my face? A quick Google search yields interesting responses to bed bug outbreaks such as alienation, depression, oh and suicide. Nice. 

So, I did what any logical woman would do. I joined Tinder. Insert Marilyn Monroe voice "If you can't love me at my worst...blah blah..." In fact, this was not my reasoning but still pretty funny. My first dating experience in Portugal was nice, but isn't that the kiss of death? Nice. Although my sores didn't frighten him away, his lack of a job did frighten me away. 

Through all this I've managed to work, buy a bike, find an Airbnb for the next 2 weeks and volunteer with the dogs at Goldra (a dog sanctuary with 110+ dogs!!). While picking ticks and fleas from the body of an abandoned 4-week-old puppy, it dawned on me that maybe I don't have it so bad. 

Chocolate Cake

Last night I got 2 wonderful presents. 1 was chocolate cake. 

I'm a few days into a 30 day social media cleanse - removing Insta-gratifications and the pseudo-connected feeling that apps can bring, while adding free time and a considerable amount of mental space. Yesterday was devoted to sightseeing, including a Port wine tour, climbing an ancient church tower with 2 Korean friends, and eating at a vegan co-op with some hippie guys that are obsessed with Rainbow (note: don't call it a festival - also of note, don't let them know you work in marketing, because that's totally like, selling out man). 

Porto, the home of Port wine

Porto, the home of Port wine

At one point I was skipping down a path and taking panoramics of gorgeous Porto, giggling at my good fortune. This moment was in sharp contrast to a meltdown, hours later. Let me explain, I am so grateful to be alone right now and devote a considerable amount of time thinking about what this means. The train of thought led to questions on why we need a partner at all. And if that's the case - why the fuck are we even here on the planet, when all we do is destroy it? Cue the tears - thanks wine. 

And the tears wouldn't stop. And then I was sobbing and leaning on a park fence in the dark, crying into the night when 2 girls stopped. 

They asked me if I was OK. And they cared about my response. And they didn't leave. Because I wasn't OK. Then they insisted I join them for coffee. This gift of kindness was exactly what I needed. My loneliness stemmed not from a lack of people to interact with, but from a lack of loving interactions. This love doesn't need to be a romantic one, and it's defined by special human beings that come and go and sometimes stay. But really, the length of time is irrelevant. 

I spent a few hours with my new friends and they bought me chocolate cake. It was the best cake I've ever tasted. And today I walked to the Atlantic, pranced into the waves and waved to the East Coast and my friends back home. We are looking at the sun at the same time now ♥ 

Badass Guide to Vietnam

And just like that, my 3 months in Vietnam has come to a close. I jumped in over my head to experience as much as possible, and still only scratched the surface of this kickass country. To sum up it up, I've created the Badass Guide to Vietnam. This Guide is in no way recommended and will most likely not workout for others as well as it has for me. 

a canine constellation

a canine constellation

Breakup with Boyfriend, Force Solo Travel Upon Oneself

  • The topic of my breakup is getting old and I'm bored talking about it. Ultimately, I manned up against my fear and decided not to run home after the breakup. This journey will be defined by something greater than a failed relationship.

Tattoo Coverup - Ninja Ink, Hanoi, VN

  • At 21 I thought it was cool to have a bear paw tattooed on my ass. At 31 I want something with more meaning. I have a note in my phone of places people that I meet suggest I visit - low and behold I had a mention of a tattoo shop in Hanoi (recommended on an island tour in the Philippines). I am in LOVE with the watercolor creation Nini made possible. It symbolizes a lot too:
    • ∵Δ∴Δ is a math poem my cousin Natalie has tattooed on herself. "Because Change Therefore Change" - simple, beautiful, geometric.
    • The moon and paws create a *canine constellation*. Dog paws symbolizing my relationship with my dog Olive whose death ultimately gave me the freedom to take off on this journey, as well as the ongoing relationship I have with pups and animals around the world (and my recent decision to be a vegetarian). The moon a nod to Vietnam and the Communist hammer & sickle

Walk the Shit Out of Everywhere

  • Springing $20 per month for a data plan was absolutely worth it. I've found hidden gems up crumbling staircases, seen some weird shit (dog meat alley in Hanoi...), and avoided a sedentary lifestyle without fear of getting too far lost.

Going Vegetarian

  • It will be hard they say. The food is boring they say... LIES.

  • Not going to turn this into a soapbox, but really it's my own blog so yeah I am. I had such an extreme problem with the Vietnamese eating dogs, "How Barbaric!!!" I thought. But then, I've been eating slaughtered animals (preferably bloody, rare steaks) my entire life. Why should it bother me with dogs? And I've loved many a cow, pig, goat that I've met. Then there are concerns like the quality of meat from slaughterhouses and the truth that eating meat creates more carbon emissions aka ruins our fucking planet. Personally, it's been an easy choice, with occasional slip-ups due to language barriers.

Redefine My Career

  • A work in progress for sure, but I have found a part-time role with a yoga brand that pays the bills. The remainder of my time is my own, and I am using it to create the life I've dreamed of. This life will not include a traditional 9-5, it will include animal welfare, and it will include a shitload of autonomy (go ahead, try and manage an INTJ...).

Book Now, Research Later

  • I really like knowing things, but I've noticed that there is a very low level of pre-planning necessary to yield a better experience. Musts include: Visa details, low-cost transport to-from airport, accommodations for first 2 nights in a new place (skim reviews for cleanliness and mattress quality). Also, don't book pricey tours ahead of time - once you're on the ground there is always a better option.
  • For people traveling through places more quickly than me this probably isn't an option, but when applying the principles of slow travel, I find the most joy meandering along and making conversations with strangers.

Also, in no particular order:

  • Pet all the dogs. All.
  • Use the block feature when you know you're about to take a turn down a toxic path.
  • Feel the feels. Bad, good, happy, ecstatic, depressed, confused, lost. 
  • Invest in yourself - I bought a Fujifilm XA-1 before I had a steady income because I believe in myself and what I can do with it.
  • Take risks - like a 54km bicycle ride through the mountains of Da Lat on a shitty mountain bike. Worst case scenario? At the 40km mark it rains, the gears break, you hail a bus. Simple ;)
  • Make friends - say yes when they ask you to hang out and accept their kindness. Realizing I'm not alone but a part of an ever-changing community melts my ice-like heart. 

Saying Yes

The Universe gives back what we put into it - gratitude, love, money, even fear. It is endless in extent. 

After a foot shattering car accident in 2014, I took this to mean that saying yes where others might not would lead to extraordinary things - and it did. It also led to some really shitty things. Let me explain. 

oh Burning Man...

oh Burning Man...

Romance

Thanks to Tinder in 2014, I met an enigmatic, wild-child like myself. Within 2 days we booked Burning Man and Europe. We had so much fun together, but because I said yes to too much up front, it was nearly impossible to end things after I found him in the back of the Bronto-Bot with another girl. So we proceeded to Germany, France and Amsterdam, where this darling asked if I wanted to watch him with one of the Red Light girls. No.

After realizing Tinder might not be my best bet, I joined Match. I met 2 men off the bat. The first was an ex-pro football player. He was hot AF, unmotivated, loud, and totally my type. I ripped myself away from him and went for the sweet, dorky, tech guy. Not one for learning lessons, I accelerated the relationship by suggesting the Love Study (a fun exercise, but give it some time it really speeds up the L word) and then we booked a trip to Colombia. 5 hours into the trip I felt claustrophobic. For the remaining 4 days I drank myself into a stupor and broke up with him on the flight home.

A week after Colombia, I reached out to a friend for Southeast Asia travel advice. She connected me to her brother in the Middle East. You see where this is headed... Yup. After 5 months of talking online he booked me a flight to Bali. My heart was overjoyed. I had taken 5 months to get to know this guy and even though we hadn't talked on the phone that much, our core values seemed to align. After our 3 week vacation he asked me to leave my life in the States, my career, and live the nomadic lifestyle with him. With trepidation and a few glasses of wine I said yes, despite some pretty big red flags that had already come up. We all know how that wound up. Here I type, solo again.

Work

Last year as I paid off my debt, I was also learning how to position myself as a freelance digital marketer (an ongoing learning process). I had an intense deadline at work to launch a new website in time for a major campaign, had said yes to 3 freelance jobs and had just launched my blog. On one day in particular, Maggie came over as a bereft and naked me couldn't even make a decision on what clothing to wear. 

time to make big girl choices

time to make big girl choices

The next month I went to Bali. What a shock that I didn't want to return.

You can change your mind!

I am not suggesting that saying 'No' is the best option. I am the perfect example of how taking risks can have some extraordinarily awesome consequences. However, as a woman and a people-pleaser I need to get better at saying 'No' and changing my mind as soon as things don't feel right.

Here is the problem: When I change my mind I feel like I've failed at the decision in question. This guilt leads to me sticking with bad choices far longer than necessary. 

Traveling solo as a female is the perfect time to employ saying 'No.' It's a matter of survival. No, I will not meet an exes friend, late night at a coffeeshop. Yes, it was a poor decision to take a cab with the 2 men I met at the sushi restaurant.

Ultimately, I have no regrets. But as this journey progresses, I am getting better at pushing back and creating a forcefield around myself of un-fuck-with-ability.

Wagon to a Star

Sitting here on a flight over Vietnam I'm realizing my recent relationships have been driven by my wanderlust. Burning Man. Europe. Colombia. Southeast Asia.

funemployed = working to live, not living to work

funemployed = working to live, not living to work

Not deliberately and not so these men would fund it (I paid my own way every time). But to avoid doing this on my own. I don't know why. And it feels cowardly.

This trip is a vacation from the vacation that is my life, with one of my best friends. It isn't a solo adventure, but it has the makings of one, like the training wheels for where I'm headed next. And wouldn't you know, it's March. I had planned a solo vacation for this month 1 year ago. Then I met my ex, then we quit our jobs together, traveled together, loved together, broke up. And so here I am doing exactly what I dreamed I would be doing now, but from a very different path.

yoga-inversion-vietnam-wanderlust

I don't feel like I was dishonest in the relationship, and hindsight is 20/20, yet part of me wishes I had been brave enough to kick this life off on my own. A part of me wishes it had worked with him. And all of me is trying to forgive myself for when I let things get ugly.

Looking back there has been a pattern of "hitching my wagon to a star". In other words, I have often dated men with big dreams and been comfortable being their sidekick, losing sight of what my dreams were and trying their dreams on for size.

So here we are.  Me having a revelation about patterns that have gotten me in trouble in the past, pouring it out. Feels a lot like this post. But how many times do you have to make the same mistake before you learn from it?

puppy-blog-vietnam-traveler-dating

Maybe I don't know the answer yet, but I'm making some moves in the right direction:

  1. For my time left in Vietnam I'm going to explore the country through little excursions; alone and with some of the unique humans I keep meeting
  2. Book my flight out of here, quite possibly to Portugal for a really cool opportunity that has come up
  3. Research animal non-profits where my skills could be used for good (Africa?)
  4. Stay on this path, but allow myself to make mistakes and missteps, laughing all the while

I know that I'm going to knock everything off this list and I'll keep you posted every step of the way. Promise.

Where in the World

Last night it dawned on me that there is a 1 in 7.4 billion chance that I will ever see my ex again. That's some deep shit.

flowers for the woman at UPS who SAVED MY LIFE!

flowers for the woman at UPS who SAVED MY LIFE!

I'm ok with it and I am also crying less. And talking to boys. No comments on that topic though. Seriously. I am not putting a dude on this blog again unless there is a fucking ring (but not a blood diamond ring). It's pretty apparent that my "picker" is broken, so perhaps I stop that stuff altogether for a bit. But there is that whole sex part. Dang...

More importantly, what is next? WHERE? Making travel decisions with your partner takes both of your interests into account. Like motorbiking north from Ho Chi Minh to Hanoi. But as we all know, I am a terrible driver (Exhibit A, Exhibit B), so in the absence of boyfriend the simplest way to keep myself alive is sans motorbike. 

The luxury of being able to work as a digital nomad does not escape me. I have paying clients, a low cost of life, and until the end of April until my visa expires. But I feel frozen in making a decision. Typically decisive and rash, all of a sudden I cannot even identify what climate I want to be in. Part of me wants to hop on the next flight to Buffalo and hole up in the spare room at my mom or dad's. But a bigger part of me has decided that this "trip" will not be about a failed relationship.

Peace, respect, love? I'll add them to the list...

Peace, respect, love? I'll add them to the list...

As luck would have it, opportunities keep coming up. A roommate (Gary ♥) told me to watch for signs from the universe; more specifically, 3 signs to guide any one decision. Since then, I landed a part time gig with an awesome yoga brand, I have an offer in Portugal, and my awareness for coworking spaces and the digital nomad community has expanded. I was also kicked off one Facebook Group for nomads after cracking a Chaturbate joke. It's all a learning experience, and my brand of humor isn't for everyone, apparently. 

Next week one of my favorite people in the world, Maggie, is visiting me. We are taking to the islands, blogging, working remotely, hiking, and I get some soul-achingly-necessary girl time. 

I am drenched in the opulent luxury of choices. And I feel really fucking lucky.

Fear

"Everything you want is on the other side of fear." 

The well known quote rings true to me, especially this week when I made another terrifying decision. I ended things with T. There have been many tears and moments of angst. And there is this magnificent peace. It's totally fucked. 

I have no regrets about my decision, even though I’m completely alone now in Vietnam. As many know, I am a list person, but I couldn't even bring myself to write a list on why it needed to end. I was that disappointed in myself for what I had put up with from a man I dated for only 4 short months. 

But there were good things too (aren't there always?). He helped me rip off the band-aid on a life that wasn't making me happy any longer. I felt safe and physically protected with him, and he was a teammate. For a while, anyway.

But this isn't a vacation. It's the rest of my life. And the little voice in my head kept reminding me of three things:

  1. We were great at planning and accomplishing goals together, but lacked joy
  2. The fights were really nasty
  3. In a tight spot he folded, and in an incident I’d rather forget, he betrayed me

So now what? When the going gets tough, Lulu crunches numbers. I used this fancy budget tracker and determined exactly how much money I owed him ($459.73) and am debating purchasing the motorbike that was custom-built for me (another $400, jury is out on that one).

making new frandz

I signed on for a shared workspace for the month (Dreamplex, $89), paid for March rent at a new place with friends ($200), have been drumming up quite a bit of digital marketing projects ($?), and decided to stay for the remainder of my 3 month visa here in Vietnam.

Things aren't a fairy tale at the moment, but the support from friends and family around the world has made me feel connected, loved and a little less alone. I'll end on these words from each of my parents:

Don’t run away from, medicate, or fuck away the pain. Be present to how life is right now. Let it burn off the stink. Be compassionate with who you are and where your life is right now. How would you talk to your 13 year-old Lulu? What would you tell her? Do you extend compassion and gentleness to yourself?
— Mom
In adventures it isn’t possible to fail. Most people won’t ever get on the boat.
— Dad