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 ♥ 

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.

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

Habitz

rawr + shit

rawr + shit

I wrote the following 39 days before I *jumped ship* on my structured life (noted below). And did so with a man who in some ways is just so much what I should not be dating (he dumped me when I was sick, 8 days into our 20 day trip) - but weirdly... Somehow... It's working. I'm really not even trying to explain it. Anyway here was me, trying to fix me, before I repeated what has fucked me up, yet again. 

My general existence is very planned and orderly  - work, gym, outdoor exercise, reading, work, side-work, sleep, friends. But also batshit crazy. This means that my life equation generally nets out positive, however there are 1-3 monkey wrenches per year that fucq my shiz up. Let's call those monkey wrenches men. Not all men. Most men come into and are spat from my life easier than a wad of gum. But these monkey wrenches... man, they throw me for a total loop, I'll forfeit sleep, watch my phone, jump when they say how high, throw my goals and plans out the window. Their usual profile is as follows:

  • Older than me
  • Dreamer with big, fun plans
  • Obnoxiously hot
  • We share a weird other-worldly chemistry
  • Annoy me at first, then quickly expose an emotional side that makes me want to save their life and make everything ok
  • Generally a pretty messed up history with their dad (sometimes mom) 

There have been 3 extreme cases of these men and about 6 smaller bouts.

Thanks guys. 

Note: Poor man choices is not my only area for improvement, I specifically have work to do on my general anxieties which lead me to binge eat, face pick, have a reactionary attitude, be fairly self-unforgiving, and also chronic masturbation (jk that isn't a problem). 

Change vs. Stability

Meaning. We are all searching for it and for so many joy and meaning are derived through a home in the 'burbs, marriage and having children. But that linear path has not been for me. I even map out a storyline in my head of how it could go and what feelings I would have...  Or how it could work given my current place in the world. But really, life right now is sweetly surprising, though at times challenging and continually forcing me into unknowns. Those unknowns are showing me how to adapt and grow as a person. After 5 mos. of communicating with a man I'd never met, continents away, we basically moved into the world together. Now our lives are running on parallel tracks. For two fiercely independent creatures we have our moments where we look at one another like... "Dafuq...?"

 

I'm starting to crave some stability though - regular check-ins with family and friends, a secure line of income, choosing the dive school we will enroll in and a general idea of which direction around the globe this journey might go. Also regular bathroom habits. I cannot stress enough how much the concept of "regularity" flies out the window for someone accustomed to a western diet. 

But full control and western creature comforts? Hell no. Yesterday was my favorite day (so far). A group of us from the hostel traveled with some locals via motorbike and tricycles to a Nagtabon, a remote beach with stunning views. I learned how to motorbike a semiautomatic, we had hammocks, fresh grilled fish, pork + rice, played volleyball, sang along to a ukulele, and took in the breathtaking views with gratitude in our hearts.  

And now here we are, sitting in a van en route to El Nido with Israelis, Germans, and an American from Seattle - jamming out to his band's reggae EP created while they were trippin' ballz. I wouldn't spend the holiday season any other way. 

Pimp My Hut

hut-bungalow-pai-circus-hostel

Circus life continues. Free lodging in exchange for a few shifts of "work" per week. Me coloring on chalk boards while showing guests to their room, T staying up late night and hushing guests/breaking up debaucheries of all sorts... Sex on the trampoline + fist fights to name a few.

Our bungalow (hut?) just got pimped out (like pimp my ride but more of a glamping twist). I was whining about my sore back and trying to get a back-rub out of the deal but somehow this inspired T to renovate our space (and once began he was a man possessed). AKA borrow mattress pallets + plastic rug + fan from empty staff bungalow next door, rotate bed and bug net horizontally for optimal space utilization, check on-site storage for odds and ends to score a coffee table and re-jigger our clothes line inside so towels would be out of head range. Plus I scored the backrub as well.

Benefitz of pimped bungalow:

  1. Cozy environment to invite in others for a smoke of Indonesia's finest
  2. Babe magnet, "So you're T... I hear you have the best bungalow and you pimped it out... Can I see?" - "Probably not a good idea, my girlfriend is in there sleeping right now." "Oh"... I WILL CUT YOU
  3. Menta l health and less of a feeling of transient-homelessness

5 Steps: Social Media Cleanse

Almost finished with a month off of social media (10d 1h 40m 54s left) and it's my 2nd cleanse this year (first was in response to this article). "But you work in social media" you might be thinking...

Indeed. And the second I start these cleanses and grant myself access only to work-dummy accounts my anxiety reduces and my productivity absolutely skyrockets. I don't feel like I am missing the "coolest thing ever", I stop caring about engagement ring porn, I start a blog, launch business ventures with a friend or two, have time for consulting work, ... etc. Remember when your only feedback loop on your thoughts was the one in your head plus the ones you received in-person or on the phone with someone you chose to reach out to? Oh right. Real life.

I certainly love social media for a great many things. It is an excellent photo repository (specifically my incriminating twenties), great for birthday reminders, easy to reach out and send a quick note to someone you've lost touch with, and a really fun way to share some of the quick hilights of one's life with a larger group all at once. But seriously, the amount of self-importance people tie to their social media persona is on par with a personality disorder. "I feel really bad when I don't log onto facebook because people expect to hear about what I'm doing." Are you Oprah? Then nope. No one is counting on your status updates except your ex boyfriend who is stalking you via a dummy account buried somewhere deep in your "Friends."

So here is my challenge to you. do a cleanse. Maybe 1 week, maybe 31 days. longer? Perhaps, but the goal is not to eliminate social media, just become less tied to it as a key facet of your persona. and to keep it simple, here is a handy 5-step plan:

  • Maybe not for you, however 1 year ago I cut my facebook friends down from >1k to <500. If i wouldn't say hi to someone on the street then why should they see my vacation pics?
  • Delete all of the social media apps on your phone / tablet and logout of the sites on browsers. Also logout of accounts on your computer browsers (only tricky thing is logging into the accounts that you created thru Facebook - Spotify, etc. This is a planned margin for error but just resist the urge to look at notifications if the Facebook homepage should popup)
  • If you think people will actually try to get in touch with you, have a non-dramatic status update like "Social media cleanse, see you in 31 days! [text if you need me]" or something like that. avoid some dramatic and long, judgy post, people will think you're trying to be elitist (which you probably are)
  • Get a free countdown app for your phone, I use T-Zero
  • Avoid the temptation by enjoying nature, calling friends you haven't spoken to, exercise, brainstorm a way to earn $ on the side + do it, read a book

You will be shocked at what getting back 1-2 hours (more?) of your life each day can accomplish.

basic bitch, coffee shop selfie, doin work

basic bitch, coffee shop selfie, doin work

some other great resources: wired, pcmag, blog

Futurez

Future planning, what a glorious thing. At 21 it seemed perfectly reasonable to be married and knocked up by 30...

5 years and 2 weeks ago i recalibrated my goals. I was 26 then and thought of my biggest and best dreams, they scared me, delighted me, and made me so excited for the future. By now i am supposed to be married and have child 1.

It's funny how priorities and dreams change. I read those goals now and although the same key themes are present in my life, the specifics are so vastly different!

Things that are the same:

  • Financial goals (kinda the same)
  • Career goals, #killin those
  • An interest in exploration, locally + worldly
  • An interest in meaningful, deep relationships
  • Still a total romantic, it's going to happen... Someday

Things that are different:

  • Friends have changed
  • I don't want to own HOMES (and definitely not the luxury ones I had mapped out)
  • Kids? Not even sure at all...
  • An extreme jump-off into frugality

This is the way I see my goals now, same exercise but different execution:

goals world map watercolor best things

Snap

And who the fuck am I to blog about spending? 

Looking back one might say that my twenties were a well orchestrated symphony of financial ruin. Since my first credit card at 20, I had managed to rack up expenses well in excess of 30k (not including 12k in student loans), ranging from worldwide vacations, cosigning on boyfriends debt, a naughty bulldog and her maintenance, a few surgeries (one on COBRA), cars I couldn't afford, keeping up with the Boston scene... 

Based on that resume, I would at best qualify as a funny statistic about what not to do. Except here's where it gets interesting... I will be debt free in 86 days, and on top of that have a healthy (i.e. above average) amount in my retirement accounts.

My financial seismic shift occurred in a car accident on 4.29.14 at 7:42am. since then, thousands of tiny pivots have brought me here. 

broken-foot-snap-money-expensive-car-accident