Non Zen AF

The last time I wrote I had just exited 10 days of silence and meditation. I am still meditating regularly, and you know what?

I am still the control freak, anxious ball of OCD emotions I always was.

Surprise, sur-fuckin-prise! I was definitely not expecting a metamorphosis from the experience though, and something the instructor said has really stuck with me:

on top of Swaziland

on top of Swaziland

You will still get angry. You will still experience emotions and exhibit bad behaviors, but what used to be 5 hours of anger might only be 3. Regular practice will slowly and consistently continue to improve this.

This was especially true on my Prodigal return to the United States (first time in 15 months) for Christmas. After so long away from one's family I think the traveler tends to romanticize them, idealizing them into a perfect clan - at least I did. Well when I got back, reality struck. I was sleeping on the couch and no one wanted to be my personal chauffeur. Not even for Epic Anderson Animal Rescue Road Trip 2016. 

Despite some letdowns, I was home. And my perfectly imperfect family was there for me, and I for them. Catching up in person was delicious, under-cooked brownie delicious. And the 6 days flew! 

I had dreams...!

This time at home was supposed to be about ridding myself of 80% of my belongings and making travel money from them. Well that sure as hell was not possible, here is why:

  • 6 days (including Christmas) is not long enough to list and sell something online then ship it
  • I am never going to host a garage sale
  • It does not make sense to donate / sell an item that I will end up re-buying in the future
  • Furthermore - as wonderful as Minimalism feels, the concept of un-weighting myself is potentially a burden to the environment if the secondhand shop cannot sell it, thus adding to landfills

So instead, I reduced 8 bins to 4. Then donated a truck full of bags to AMVETS. 

Dreams do come true...

  • I got a new 52 page passport while in Buffalo, they turned it around in 24 hours. This was obviously necessary for my last minute, financially irresponsible jaunt to Zanzibar
  • I thought I needed surgery on my ever-exciting reproductive system - but while in Bogota the doctor was unable to locate any issues via ultrasound! WHATTTTT?! IZ I NORMALZ?
  •  I had thoughts of South America and learning Spanish, and here I sit in Yopal, Colombia typing away. A volunteer opportunity came up teaching kids English and I took it. Teaching is hard. Spanish is hard. Missing someone is hard. And I don't regret the decision for 1 second
  • ❤ I'm in stupid, crazy, last-minute-flight-booking, move-down-to-Argentina-for-you L O V E... Yes. Me. ❤ Headed South in 23 days!

I keep reminding myself of the note in my phone: If I step outside my comfort zone today, then I will grow.

Not all dreams though. Yet.

I haven't started the dog sterilization non-profit yet. I guess we will call this the *leisurely information gathering* phase of my life.

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. 

Eat, Pray, Play in Ubud

Just in time for the Year of the Monkey + VALENTINE'S DAY, here's a MUST list for Ubud (Bali, Indonesia)! Ubud was the setting for the Love portion of the book Eat, Pray, Love and was also the site of days 4-7 of my first date with my ex... You know, the "date" that kicked off my traveling, nomadic life!

temple wandering

temple wandering

EAT at Naughty Nuri's. You do not want to miss this spot while in Ubud. Seriously "The best martinis in the world" - just ask Anthony Bourdain - and a rack of ribs that are so delicious that I polished off the entire rack and then half of a second! When you arrive just seat yourself anywhere there is room at one of the communal tables. 

Another must EAT is the Baba Guling (suckling pig) at Ibu Oka. This is one of Indonesia’s most famous dishes, prepared very early in the morning. Make sure to seek it out at lunch time to ensure the freshest and bestest roasted pork and availability. Definitely a must have in Ubud or anywhere in Bali.

PRAY (or meditate or do whatever the fuck... just no physical contact between males and females!) at Pura Gunung Kawi: This is my favorite temple in Ubud, take a motorbike as the tour companies charge too much money and then you'll have time constraints. There are 2 options to get there:

  •  The front entrance where you will find 200+ stairs and hawkers trying to sell all of their wares OR...
  • The back entrance via Google Maps. We obviously took the back entrance (hehe...) and Google brought us to a local neighborhood which seemed to be a dead end. The locals there welcomed us (and were used to people getting mixed up) from a tiny pagoda where they were carving wood figurines for tourists (the ones for sale on the street in the town). One offered to take us to the temple via the rice terraces! Although we avoided the entrance fee, our guide asked us to buy something from the gift shop on the back side of the temple (a hair pick for $2 USD). Then afterward we chilled in their pagoda for a while and they even gave me a little wooden elephant to take home (we tipped our guide even though he didn't bring up payment).  Thank you to Google for being wrong (this time…).

Bring a sarong or other covering (knees must be covered for men and women) - otherwise you can borrow one from the front entrance at the temple.

PLAY in the Sacred Monkey Forest Sanctuary: No trip to Ubud is not complete without playing with the monkeys. Some of these monkeys are quite wild, however the tame ones are a delight and will play with you. Note: Do not antagonize them, especially not screaming at an alpha, while staring him in the eye, while he climbs up your body for the banana treat you are holding out for him (oops). There is a small conservation fee to enter that allows you to explore the temple and see monkeys everywhere!

Special reminders:

  • DO NOT BRING FOOD WITH YOU!! Buy bananas from the banana lady and offer them to a monkey that seems interested 1 at a time. To do so, hold it up as high as you can then hang on tight. One or two monkeys will likely jump onto you, climb up, grab the banana and possibly sit on your shoulder to eat it - so make sure a friend is ready with a camera.
  • Take all your valuable possessions (jewelry/phone/etc.) off for this visit, or else Curious George may walk off with your cell phone 

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). 

Breathe

What's new you ask...

  • Hit by an SUV yesterday (no damage to the bike or me), hustled the guy for a ride to work + $45 in potential damage (mental? lol)
  • Won a trip to tahoe for this weekend from an outdoorsy dating app I recently looked into via Bostinno (but didn't really pursue for one specific reason or another... that's a whole 'nother tale) AND get outfitted in reebok gear to do my first ever Spartan Race!
  • Launching studdly.com next week
  • Cleaning up the brand new site I've mothered from infancy at my actual job
  • Cali in 9 days to see the love of my life, Melissa (one of them, sorry Eileen, Maggie, Stephanie...)
  • Then right into a 20 day magical mystery tour
find your soul soul cycle meditate boston bike bicycle

It turns out I can be an absolute fucking machine (no not a fucking machine, or can I...?). When it comes to getting shit done I am a perfectionist and I push myself really hard. This can be a blessing and also a curse. When it comes to social commitments, however, it can become deadly to my mental health. As an introvert (yes, truly) I stop functioning when I overcommit. Last saturday my angel (Maggie) came over and I couldn't dress myself because I had filled my itinerary and queue so full. So some things got axed (some really hurt to let go, like committing to learn Wordpress - she's a total babe and yet a total cunt). 

Wanting to do it all vs. wanting to retain my humanness - the ongoing struggle.

Over the last year (since the break) I've started to meditate 2-4 times each week as well as take a regular inventory of my life. The things that are not giving me joy, exciting me and furthering my goals have been sacrificed one by one. My friendship circle has grown smaller, and yet stronger. My passions are becoming more refined. And allowing some time to breathe has opened up the door to extraordinary possibilities. If something doesn't bring you joy LET IT THE FUCK GO. Do. It. Now. 

UPDATE. Some rules were made to be broken... I have been so #cheapasfuck that I had a friend cut my hair a few weeks ago and almost had another friend highlight it this weekend, but the cost/time analysis did not work out in the favor of buying supplies for and then learning a trade. So my one true splurge lately is for an appointment with my hair soulmate Kashmir tomorrow - #wwlbwd*

*What would Luke Brian's wife do? A hashtag crafted during a long ride back from Buffalo w Maggie where we decided we should marry hot-southern male-country-singers. My plan to marry Luke Bryan involves an elaborate scheme of catfishing his wife into cheating emotionally with another hot-southern-country-male-singer then exposing the truth to Luke, wherein is in unable to resist my charms and we live happily ever after. Oh, and he has a big dick. Also oh, Maggie has dibs on Sam Hunt.