On Winning, Wide Open Spaces, and Why I Hate Football But Love Superbowl Sunday

Three years ago today, I went to a football party with my ex, a last ditch attempt to relate to his friends.  I was the weird yogi art teacher he met in philosophy class, and they were the friends he’d had since his days playing high school basketball. Nice people, we’d just historically had nothing in common. I knew before I left the house that this party was the last place I wanted to spend my Sunday…. but I went anyway. I have a hard time hiding boredom from my face, or pretending piles of chicken wing bones don’t freak me out. My ex was visibly frustrated. “You don’t have to be here” he said with an eye roll.

He wasn’t meaning to say something philosophical, just expressing his ever expanding contempt at my inability to be normal. But what he’d said hit me like a cosmic two-by-four. YOU DON’T HAVE TO BE HERE. Holy hell… he was right. I didn’t. Why was I?

It was a personal accountability epiphone/ life-changer moment.

I left the party ten minutes later, spent four hours finishing up the online TESL course I’d been putting off (most likely to do lots of other more socially acceptable things I didn’t really enjoy), then I spent the evening doing yoga and drinking wine and finishing a painting.  I went to bed alone that evening while he partied with his friends, not yet understanding why I felt so light.

Something in me had shifted in the moment I walked out that door.  As a lightbulb went off about how I almost wasted an entire afternoon being miserable for no reason, I had instantly become incapable of believing my own bullshit when I complained about how the life I had wasn’t the life I wanted. On the drive home, it hit me how many moments I hadn’t even asked the question, “Am I enjoying this?” and was just navigating my world on autopilot, slightly unfulfilled.

Best shift ever. I ended up spending the next month on the lost coast of California doing Tai Chi, meeting really amazing people, and climbing mountains, several months in Asia riding motortaxis and teaching English, and the fall road tripping out West, discovering   expansive landscapes and echo chambers hidden inside silos that mirrored the same way I was beginning to open up inside and understand that every decision I made reverberated and came back to me magnified.  I was creating every limitation and every opportunity I’d ever had.  A ton of responsibility in that realization, but also an infinite amount of possibility.

By the end of year, I refused to settle for anything in my life-when I couldn’t job I wanted, I started an online business.  I found new ways to make money that felt less restrictive.  I quit wasting weekends going to social events I didn’t enjoy, and as a result found a group of friends who continue to inspire me.  I stopped settling for ‘meh, I guess I don’t hate this’ so I could find my ‘hell yeah, this is the gooooood stuff’.

So I may not give two flying fucks about sports, but I love Super Bowl Sunday.  Because it’s my anti-excuse day, the day I remind myself:

You are free to do whatever you want, but more importantly… free to not do things. You are free to say no to things that feel restrictive, inauthentic, or not in integrity with who you are. You are free to dislike things, people, and experiences, and choose new ones.  You are free to turn down opportunities that make logical sense but don’t give you joy. You are free to find new opportunites, go to a new place, do a new thing. You are free. Don’t waste that, even for a moment.

And sometimes, it’s the day I book plane tickets (!), then take stock of the two new online jobs I have as a result of not settling, and give myself a pat on the back.  I don’t even know who plays in the Super Bowl, so I guess I won’t be making any bets. Except this… when we say no to things that don’t light us up to make space for what we love, for the things that make us feel expansive and joyful, we win.

 

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Fears I Faced This Week, or How I’m Only A Little Douche-y

For New Years, I decided instead of having one specific resolution, I’d take on 365 of my most limiting fears. This week instead of focusing on anything specific, I did a bit of a loose- ended random fear round up. Maybe because I’m starting small, or maybe because even letting go of the little fears liberating, my “Year of Fears” is already turning out to be unexpectedly fun.

Day 1-

Fear of Sharing Excerpts From The First Draft Of My Book With Others

So I wrote a book… or rather, a sketchy outline and pile of pages that wants to be a book when it grows up.  The fairly normal response to me telling people that is, “Can I read it?”, to which my answer is, NOOOOOOOOO. But at some point, I’m fairly sure books are meant to be read… so…

Strategy– Read one of the roughest excerpts at writers’ salon.   Result– I stumbled over about 8 paragraphs and didn’t even die…  neither did my audience. Cool, that was easy. One fear down, 364 to go.

Day 2- Being a Writer Makes Me Self Absorbed/ Promoting My Work to Build a Writer’s Platform Will Turn Me into an Insufferable Narcissist

A mentor once told me that 50% of being successful as a writer is about building a writer’s platform. Whaaaaa? Noooooo…. Just writing! I thought, I’m not trying to produce blockbusters, I just want to do what I love and maybe have it resonate with a few people. And pay the bills.

Then I realized there’s probably a reason aspiring writers are launching Myname.com sites, and everyone from Chuck Paluhniuk (hero!) to Cheryl Strayed (Wild author) are self-promoting via social media.

Daaaamnit, I might have to make sure I write good things I’m confident enough to share and learn how to do that tweetering thing? Ugh.

Strategy: This…

day 2 photo

Jenny Monet’ shared Jenny Monet’s post, at JennyMonet.com.

Then I took a whole heap of smug selfies, because I can think of nothing more uncomfortably self-absorbed. Basically, I spent the afternoon being as narcissistic as possible and again… no one died.

Result: Eckhart Tolle once said that worrying about our ego is just more ego, and my equally wise best friend once said, “Jenny, you’re a bit of a douche already” (thanks Meg). If I write things I believe in, and am already a bit egotistical, then building my writer’s platform will go just fine.

Day 3– Because I’m a traveler, don’t own a home, a car, or even a couch, people think I’m poor/unsuccessful.

Strategy: Took a Greyhound bus which I figured would make me feel poor. Result: Saved money, listened to this really lovely podcast about networking, enjoyed two hours of free time, and realized this was about the most absurd leftover from childhood fear ever. Left my inner-poor-kid at the mall, so she could go buy a new shirt and look cool at school, and I could get on with being awesome.

Day 4

Fear that I’m not doing as well as I could be/should be/think I am (in other words, big time Imposter Syndrome)

Strategy: Hung out with a friend from college who has known me for long enough to be a good judge of whether I’m moving forward (13 years) Result: Reminisced and remembered how in my early 20’s I was a disfunctional alcoholic who spent my afternoons nursing my hangovers at my job at Verizon. Considering a decade ago my entire skill set consisted of a talent for bonging beers and yelling song lyrics while standing on furniture, I’m doing pretty damn well. Realized not only I accomplished about a million things I would never have dreamed of back when my goals were ‘find the party, drink the party, sort of remember the party’, but also… I’m happy. For someone who nearly died of depression in my early 20’s, being HAPPY… #1 success EVER.

Since this lovely photo (age 20) I have learned how chairs work and that cigarettes are gross.

FullSizeRender

Day 5

Fear of telling people I have ADHD, because it will limit my professional opportunities if people doubt my ability. Fear that every time I get distracted, forget something, or waste even a minute of my workday, that my ADHD actually does limit me.

Strategy: Announced my label on Facebook with this photo..IMG_5194

a compilation of my yearly goal folder my giant bulletin board, and all the other office supplies that have been my key to  grad-schooling, and business-running,  travel planning, and general adulting for the last decade. also, the Buddha, because he makes a really good office assistant.

Result: Realized that as a result of acknowledging ADHD early on, I’ve actually damn good at time management. Also, found out that I know a bunch of really successful ADHD people hiding their label for the same reasons… ADHD is misunderstood and when channeled and managed makes us awesome at achieving and creating.

The only true downside?  I might kill a forest with my exorbitant use of post-it notes (which I will make up for by saving gas on Grey Hound busses?).

Day 6

Fear that finding consistent and enjoyable remote work to support my travels is a pipe dream, that the only way to have a good job is to be tied to a location/ ‘oh-dear-god-don’t-make-me-work-in-an-office-ever-again-phobia’.

Strategy: Set goals for the next day to push myself a little harder, be a bit more optimistic about freelance options that aren’t mind numbing.   Result: Woke up in the morning to an email from an old online boss, offering me work. …I didn’t even email her, I just wrote a To Do list the night before and woke up with a job? Holy hell, my day planner must have been designed by wizards.

Realized that if I can get online work in my sleep from old bosses I hadn’t actually contacted, and that I’ve stumbled into some decent online gigs in the past, I’ll probably kick some serious ass if I actually apply for the good stuff. Mostly I doubt myself because other people don’t believe freelancing works.  Cool, more jobs for MEEEEEEEEE.

Day 7….Fear of sharing my fears. This my friends, is what it’s all about.

I have been known to present myself as a ‘don’t give a shit what anyone says, I do what I want, I have it all figured out’ opportunity-landing-globe-hopping-smooth-sailing badass. But maybe I’m really a messy human, who doubts myself, feels uncertain, gets nervous when I dream the big dreams, and makes douche excuses so I don’t have to do things that scare me. Or maybe… I’m both.

Maybe we all are both- swirling stumbling bundles of courageous badass and risk avoiding wimp… bold heroes of our own lives in some moments and superstitious kiddos scared of the dark in others. And maybe…We can both love both parts of ourselves and still choose who we let run the show.

Strategy: This long winded blog. Result: TBD.

Year-o-Fears: 365 Opportunities for Expanding Levels of Creative Badassery

 

New Year’s Eve was my first opportunity to see a ton of old friends after returning to the states a couple weeks ago. Upon hearing that I’d just returned from South America, a friend of a friend said this- “I wish I could travel like you do but I would be too afraid.”

I laughed, thinking of the moment I booked on my one way ticket to Thailand over three years ago. I was on my way to an easily navigable country nicknamed “the land of smiles”, and yet because I’d never left the country, my excitement was barely noticeable over full scale irrational terror. Little things like layovers in Abu Dhabi and Taipei and going to downtown Detroit to get my new passport expedited seemed as daunting as climbing Everest. Based on my level of irrational fear, you’d have thought international airports were full of wasps and vengeful ninjas and that the agency where I had to go get my expedited passport was tucked down a flaming side street in Hades instead of downtown Detroit (although the two do have similarities).

After having the “I wish I could travel” conversation more times than I can count, I’ve realized-

  1. There are a ton of non-traveling-people who think that I travel because I’m fearless. That is absurd, because travel is actually really easy if it’s what you want to do, and “fearless”? It’s not a real thing. We all have fear, it’s what we do with it that matters.

2.We usually aren’t having a conversation about travel at all- it’s the restrictions we impose on ourselves as a result of being unwilling to do things that feel uncertain or scary and then wondering why we don’t feel completely alive. Travel is just a symbol of the big ugly fear monster hiding under the bed that is keeping us from our dreams.

Historically, I have been afraid of a TON of things, potentially more than the average person. Luckily, I also think fear is totally boring, and as  novelty seeker to the Nth degree, I dislike being bored way more than I dislike feeling afraid. As a result, I started to treat Fear like an acquaintance I run into at the coffee shop that I’m not crazy about. I’m polite, because Fear has on occasion had an interesting thing or two to say, but after a few minutes, I’m like “Heyyyyy homie, this has been great, but I have more interesting plans. No, sorry… you aren’t invited”. And then I go do something new and awesome.

….Except sometimes Fear is kind of tricky bastard, and he offers to buy my coffee, and it’s something really tasty like double caramel chocolate marshmallow pumpkin spice, so I say yes. Before I know it I’m sitting down with Fear, listening to him talk about something useless like Donald Trump’s hair or scented candle parties, and wonder where the hell my day went, because wasn’t I supposed to be off being a badass?

Which may be why up until that conversation I hadn’t set a single interesting New Year’s resolution, beyond a vague intention to write more often- I got caught up in drinking metaphoric lattes with Fear.  Luckily the conversation around being afraid reminded me of why I started writing publicly in the first place (and why I probably need to get back to doing it regularly)- because despite having stacks of notebooks full of words and the dream of being a writer since I was a kid, I had a HUGE fear of being verbally vulnerable. And because I was afraid of the thing, and being afraid of the thing was limiting, I did the thing. Now I’ve got a bazillion blog posts, a couple thousand readers, and this year I accidentally-on-purpose wrote a whole damn book, which is both exciting and terrifying. You guyssss… what am I going to wear when I meet Oprah?!

And by the way… Fear numero uno? Sharing rough unfinished excerpts of my book with… humans. Fortunately, last night served as an opportunity to do just that- my friend Joe put on a writer’s sal0n so a group of us could kick off a new year of creativity, I read a thing, and I had the pleasure of listening to a group of other talented writers share their raw work. The universe is so good to us when we set intentions to expand, as is surrounding oneself with others committed to doing the same. Anyone else? Year-o-fears?

Fear #1 tackled, 364 left. 2016, lets go!

All love, Jen

 

 

***Dear readers- Thanks visiting. Please note- I am in the process of migrating websites. For future updates, please follow me at my new address, Jennymonet.com

https://jennymonet.com/2016/01/02/year-o-fears-365-opportunities-for-expanding-levels-of-creative-badassery/

Year-O-Fears: 365 Opportunities for Expanding Levels of Badassery

New Year’s Eve was my first opportunity to see a handful of old friends after returning to the states a couple weeks ago. Upon hearing that I’d just returned from South America, a friend of a friend said this- “I wish I could travel like you do. But I would be afraid.”

I laughed, thinking of the moment I booked on my one way ticket to Thailand over three years ago. I was on my way to an easily navigable country nicknamed “the land of smiles”, and yet because I’d never left the country, my excitement was barely noticeable over full scale terror that I was moving to another continent. Little things like layovers in Abu Dhabi and Taipei seemed as daunting as climbing Everest. Based on my level of irrational fear, you’d have thought international airports were full of wasps and vengeful ninjas and that the agency where I had to go get my expedited passport was tucked down a flaming side street in Hades instead of downtown Detroit (although the two do have similarities).

After having the “I wish I could travel” conversation more times than I can count, I’ve realized-

  1. There are a ton of non-traveling-people at home who think that I travel because I’m “fearless”. That is absurd, because travel is actually really easy if it’s what you want to do, and fearless? It’s not a real thing. We all have fear, it’s what we do with it that matters.

2.When it comes down to it, we usually aren’t having a conversation about travel at all- it’s the restrictions we impose on ourselves as a result of being unwilling to do things that feel uncertain or scary and then wondering why we don’t feel completely alive. Travel is just a symbol of the big ugly fear monster hiding under the bed that is keeping us from our dreams.

Comfort-Zone.png

Historically, I have been afraid of a TON of things, potentially more than the average person. Luckily, I also think fear is totally boring, and as  novelty seeker to the Nth degree, I dislike being bored way more than I dislike feeling afraid. As a result, I started to treat Fear like an acquaintance I run into at the coffee shop that I’m not crazy about. I’m polite, because Fear has on occasion had an interesting thing or two to say, but after a few minutes, I’m like “Heyyyyy homie, this has been great, but I have more interesting plans. No, sorry… you aren’t invited”. And then I go do something new and awesome.

….Except sometimes Fear is kind of tricky bastard, and he offers to buy my coffee, and it’s something really tasty like double caramel chocolate marshmallow pumpkin spice, so I say yes. Before I know it I’m sitting down with Fear, listening to him talk about something useless like Donald Trump’s hair or scented candle parties, and wonder where the hell my day went, because wasn’t I supposed to be off being a badass?

Which may be why up until that conversation I hadn’t set a single interesting New Year’s resolution, beyond a vague intention to write more often- I got caught up in drinking metaphoric lattes with Fear.  Luckily the conversation around being afraid reminded me of why I started writing publicly in the first place (and why I probably need to get back to doing it regularly)- because despite having stacks of notebooks full of words and the dream of being a writer since I was a kid, I had a HUGE fear of being verbally vulnerable. And because I was afraid of the thing, and being afraid of the thing was limiting, I did the thing. Now I’ve got three years of blog posts, a couple thousand readers, published content, and this year I accidentally-on-purpose wrote a whole  book, which is both exciting and terrifying. You guyssss… what am I going to wear when I meet Oprah?! 😉

I also realized in 2015 that despite my having nailed solo travel and verbal vulnerability, I still have a ton of ridiculous fears, and that I’d rather not spend 2016 tricking myself into hanging out with any of them. So I’ve decided that every day this year I’m going to openly acknowledge a fear, do the thing I’m afraid of, and instead of letting the fear buy me coffee and getting to comfortable hanging out with it, I’m going to let it go. Probably out loud, because that’s what writers do and otherwise my inner bum might decide, “Naw, I’m over that whole fear resolution. It’s a lot of work. I think I’m going to just get in shape and eat healthy for my resolution like everyone else.”  365 days, 365 fears….a whole year-o-fears.do one thing everyday that scares you

And by the way… Fear numero uno? Sharing rough unfinished excerpts of my book with… humans. Fortunately, last night served as an opportunity to do just that- my friend Joe put on a writer’s salon so a group of us could kick off a new year of creativity. I read a thing, and I had the pleasure of listening to a group of other talented writers share their raw work- the universe is so good to us when we set intentions to expand, as is surrounding oneself with others committed to doing the same. Anyone else? Year-o-fears?

Fear #1 tackled, 364 left. 2016, lets go!

All love, Jen

……………..

***Dear readers- I’m in the process of moving. For 2015 words and written shenigans,  visit my old blog AlmostOpenBook.com.

 

 

 

Danger- Under Construction

Today I had to go to the Policia de Migracion to get a form filled out for my new Ecuadorian visa. Based on the map, it was a little over a half hour walk, towards the outskirts of the city.

The route seemed simple enough and both because I’ve been trying to avoid taking cabs both to burn off the mass quantities of empanadas I’ve been eating and because I can buy at least four more empanadas with the cost of cab fare, I decide to walk. (Yes, I plan an absurd portion of my life around consuming melty-gooey cheese pockets from my favorite vendor. No shame, totally worth it.)

About fifteen minutes into my walk, I start to get into a sketchy area with more boarded up buildings than pedestrians, and notice that I’m entering a construction zone. Red tape marked PELIGRO (danger) forms a makeshift barricade, a weak attempt to keep pedestrians from being pummeled by one of the excavators that are moving from street to sidewalk haphazaradly. Dust and gravel are flying from every direction, and I’ve entered a part of city far from the familiar centro, where there are almost no people and just wires, piles of raw material, and cavernous holes dug in the ground to begin laying tracks for the tram that will run through the city in 2017.

I should just take a cab the rest of the way, I think. But something in me needs to walk through that construction, needs to stride confidently past the banners declaring “this place is unsafe” with determination. Out of habit rather than rationality, I shove my passport under my clothes, before remembering the danger here has less to do with getting mugged and more to do with the giant chasms in the ground and machinery designed to destroy entire buildings… and then I continue on.

It ends up taking me nearly an hour, three detours, and nearly getting backed into by a bulldozer to reach my destination.  The reward for my perseverance? I discover a mural of a woman with a butterfly on her face, wings in her hair, staring up at a crescent moon, a lovely juxtaposition of personally meaningful symbolism in one painting. She is nearly hidden behind a pile of giant concrete pipes, right in the heart of the construction zone.

 photo (2)

More significant is  finding this lovely rough creation right in the middle of a construction zone… it feels perfect. Yesterday I launched my Facebook writer’s page with very little idea how a writer goes about properly utilizing social media but a growing awareness that I should begin to figure it out.  I also started working on a new site to compile my published work. I felt uncomfortable sharing this while these things and my writing career are still under construction, but then it hit me… as a creator, everything I do is in a state of construction and as I hope to continue to grow and expand, it always will be. In fact, any creative endeavor is always a work in progress- including our lives, constantly being built and rebuilt, some structures crumbling or being torn down to be replaced with new ones.

I believe to discover the best parts of life, we have to be willing to walk through a few construction zones, sometimes take a few detours because a jackhammer is tearing up the street we’d marked on our map. In fact I’d argue that sometimes the best part isn’t the destination, it IS the construction zone, and we can stand right in the middle, the dust blowing in our face, the steady scream of demolition and building, step right up to the red tape marked DANGER and find something beautiful. Equally as important, we must also be willing to create a walkway right through our own construction zone to allow others to walk through the messy spaces of our life and appreciate whatever we are in the process of creating.

So, welcome to the heart of my “construction zone-. Join me at Facebook.com/Jennymonetwriter, and my incredibly unfinished new website, JennyMonet.com. Don’t mind the dust flying, I’m a work in progress. All love, Jen

…THIS is real.

Authenticity does not do the dance

Of “look how real I am”

It shows up quietly in the background

In each moment.

Or loudly shouting… when my authentic reaction is

Fuck you for objectifying my tenderness.

And assuming it was only of value,

When it looked like you needed it to.

Real? I am real in my inability

To have compassion in this moment.

For the person who encouraged my real creative heart

But immediately discarded my light as invaluable

When it wasn’t created for his purposes.

I’ll feel loving later.

Human. I’m doing human.

Would you like an authentic reaction?

Here it is…

Thank you for objectifying me

In the most elusive way

So I can reaffirm

That I will not be a puppet

Of what a spiritual being,

creator,

artist,

revolutionary

Should look like

You can silently speak

That my art ‘should’ look differently

How my heart should behave.

But I am not a performer.

I am a goddamn human being.

The intersection of sacred and profane.

Poems half full of love, and half full of

Ugly, dripping, salty swear words,

Anger mixing with appreciation.

Thank you for reminding me

That I am no leader,

And neither are you.

We are all just humans.

Following each other in circles.

If I am the chosen one,

So is everyone else.

I do not write or speak,

To be judged by anyone

Your praise, your criticism

Are of equal value- none.

Sometimes my authentic being is love,

And sometimes she is a shouting, crying, bitching,

Moaning, yelling, fearful,

Petty asshole.

I’m okay with it.

….Gasp.

She accepts herself even when she’s ugly?!

Yes.

Sometimes,

Like this moment…

When I don’t even feel loving.

What am I?

Who am I?

I am this.

This is real.

l.scalding-sun

Love is STILL the Movement

I’ve been thinking about what it means to be a “strong woman” a lot lately. In the last two days, I’ve had men I don’t know make lewd comments to me from a car window or a sidewalk FIVE times. One of those times, a man drove by me, told me it was his friend’s birthday, and with a lick of his lips and a creepy wink, told me I owed him a gift. When I turned away, my face probably crunched up in an angry expression, he yelled a string of expletives after me that I won’t repeat.

My friend asked me why I thought this happening so often in such a short period of time… was it the weather, the rolled down car windows? Was it the neighborhood? Was it my blonde hair?  I’d had the same thought- was it a full moon? What the hell was going on?

But in that moment, with no hesitation, these words popped came out of my mouth- “It’s because it’s what my soul needs.”

…I promise you, my response surprised me as much as it did her- my soul needed me to feel objectified? Huh?

I sat with that thought all evening, fell asleep confused. When I woke up this morning I realized what it was about. It was about reaffirming purpose and how sometimes purpose is less about action and more about our own way of being in the world …My way of being in the world.

For the past four months, I’ve been writing a book about my story, about abuse, about being a woman, and underneath it all, about the deeply ingrained social construct that any of us are here to be someone’s something. It’s about not wanting to be an object of affection, or an object at all, about this society in which we objectify ourselves, and about unconditional love… for self, for others, for humanity.  I know, without a shadow of a doubt that sharing that story at some point will be my purpose, but right now, I’ve felt a little without a cause, because that book is still a pile of pages barely cobbled together, and it’s a story I’m not ready to share…not yet.

Then I realized I always have something to share from moment to moment. And because it’s so damn simple, it’s also so damn elusive.  Being.

Right now I don’t have a published book, or a organization I’m supporting, a clear career goal, I don’t even know where I want to live at the end of the summer, but while I’m here, I’m showing up in the way I think the world should be.  If I’m exhausted by this consumerist culture (and I am, I so am), I could leave, move  to another country, where the rules don’t apply to me because I am an outsider, where I don’t feel so pressured to be something I’m not… but I’m not somewhere else.  I’m here. It’s now.

So today I will rebel by accepting myself. I will be an agent of change by loving EVERY part of my essential self so deeply that I can show up so authentically enough and fearlessly enough to see the heart of every single person around me, and accept them for all that they are, instead of all the ‘things’ they and society needs them to be.  My purpose… is as it always has been, to love the hell out of the good, true, alive souls all around me. Everyone.

Do I know that on some level, I am moving towards a life that empowers women? Yes, but today I don’t feel a need to “fight against” masogyny or objectification, I just need to walk around in a world that anticipates we will treat each other like objects, and to see with my heart, instead of my eyes or even my mind.   The hardest part of that, of not seeing others as object is that it means I can’t fight them, I can’t see a single one of them as enemy, even the ones who’s words batter my often exposed heart.

My purpose and my strength… to be fierce in my loving, to hold compassion for the ones that are hard to love. ESPECIALLY the ones that are hard to love. To remember I’m separate from NO ONE. Not even that sneering man who shouted ugliness from a window. To not condone his ugly words, but to notice the hurt in my own heart when I am treated like an object, and channel it, to let that self compassion fuel compassion for a deep level of disconnect in him I cannot understand, and to hope that someday someone looks him in the eye and reminds him of his buried aching heart under whatever experiences and fear made him forget who he is.

can you?

To see others from a place of love, to need nothing, but to witness the good underneath-  today it is enough, it is my rebellion, it is what makes me a strong woman.  It is the only movement I need to be a part of.

PS I have a secret… I think loving, deeply, truly loving… might be your purpose too.

A New Measure of Success


Must we quantify success?

Fine. I get it…

We’re a society in love with numbers.

I don’t hate math.

But if we must keep some sort of count,

To wrap our human minds around value,

Let us not do it in hours of work,

Dollars in the bank,

The weight of jewelry that exists only to say,

“Look, I’ve done the things, To buy the things, so I can be the things”

Success? If we so need tangibles

Physical, quantifiable evidence

Of a life lived well,

Let us keep count in eye crinkles.

Yes, eye crinkles. 

Lets measure the depth and length,

Of those smile lines that have become fixed In the corner of our eyes.

Lets count the number of moments

We’ve worn joy on our faces.

The Abundant Bohemian

Last week, I wrote about my becoming a digital nomad, and opening life to travel/adventure/and career freedom, as well as announcing the launch of my new project, LifeCreative.org. Along that same vein, this week I’m honored to share an abbreviated excerpt of my dear friend Joe’s recently published book, The Abundant Bohemian: Live An Unconventional Life Without Starving in the Process. Joe’s book speaks to the either-or myth… that we must either choose a life of passion OR a life of success, he suggests we pursue both.  It includes stories of people who have indeed accomplished a life they love and prospered, as well as shares his own story of stepping out of his comfort zone. Enjoy!

abundant

 When I was twenty-two, I stepped off a plane at the Charles De Gaulle Airport in Paris, the first time I had traveled abroad.  Alone, no one meeting me at the gate, no hotel arrangements, and no plans until my study abroad classes started two weeks later.  I was fearful, proud, and exhilarated.  For people who grew up traveling, this experience may seem almost passé, hardly warranting me the title Brave Adventurer.  But my previous travel experiences were limited to visiting extended family a few states away and enjoying long weekends at American cities for soccer tournaments.  My family didn’t have the resources for exotic travel, but I lived vicariously through the stories my father told me of his travels through Europe while stationed in Germany in his Army days.  He and his buddies would take off on furlough, hop a train to anywhere and have experiences that would last a lifetime.  Those stories, along with the adventure novels I devoured growing up, had planted the travel bug deep within me.

Stepping off that train into the unknown (unknown to me, and when it comes to life changing experiences, that’s what matters) did not disappoint.  When I returned home, I would not be the same person that landed that day.  I met people that were unlike any I had known before, but had more in common with me than most people that I’d grown up with my entire life.  I had food that I didn’t know existed and developed a love of wine, trains and cafés.  I made deep friendships that will last a lifetime.  I had mugs of beer on mountain peaks in the Alps and in underground pubs.  I discovered nude beaches aren’t really the titillating experience I thought they’d be (anyone you would want to see naked is clothed and everyone you wouldn’t want to see is strutting in the buff).  A Czech Republic train conductor demanded a bribe before he would stamp my ticket and let me off the train.  I ran out of money.  I had moments of joy, confusion and loneliness.  Occasionally I had the sneaky feeling that someone was insulting me in a language I didn’t understand.   I loved every minute of it.  I had much to see and learn, but a life-long traveler had been born.

Many of us never cross our border because we think we can’t afford it.  But tell that to Chris Guillebeau, who, though still in his thirties (and not a trustfunder, by the way) has traveled to all 193 countries that are members of the United Nations.  I recommend you check out his blog at ChrisGuillebeau.com and his book, The Art of Non-conformity, for more of his story and for tips on travel and other unconventional living and working advice.  His stories, from running marathons in Cuba to interviewing aid workers in Sudan, paradoxically make the world feel bigger and smaller at the same time.  Another great source for traveling without breaking the bank is Scott Ford’s packabagandgo.com.  On a trip, Scott gave up his seat on an overbooked flight for a free-flight voucher, and by continuing to do this each subsequent flight, he took 52 trips in 52 weeks and racked up one million frequent flier miles, all for free. (Another perk was free hotels along the way.)  Creativity is not limited to screenplays and oil canvases.  Scott has turned inexpensive travel into an art form.

           Perhaps not surprisingly, another reason many refrain from traveling is fear, the most common concern was the risk of being away from work so long.  “Are you worried about losing clients?” I was repeatedly asked.  The answer is no. I’m sure I’ve lost out on opportunities to make money because I wasn’t available, but that opens up an opportunity for someone else and as long as I maintain the income stream to meet my needs, the tradeoff is worth it.  

You also don’t have to travel to expensive or exotic places to experience the joys that travel has to offer. After experiencing a devastating divorce and losing his job, William Least Heat Moon bought a van, packed it with food and travel gear, and took off across the United States with $454.00 to his name.  His idea was to go wherever the road took him, to meet new people, and to just be open to what may happen.  “A man who couldn’t make things go right could at least go,” he wrote.  “He could quit trying to get out of the way of life and live the real jeopardy of circumstance.”  He documented his journey in his book Blue Highway, a bestseller that was translated into thirty-nine different languages and is still popular thirty years after publication.

 As with Least Heat-Moon, the need to travel often follows an upheaval in life.  Other times it comes from the sense that one’s life is stuck.  You need new experiences to open the flow of energy and rediscover your passion and creativity again.   The Australian Aborigines have a tradition of going on a “walkabout,” which Miriam-Webster’s dictionary describes as “a short period of wandering . . . as an occasional interruption of work . . . making a ritual journey.”  We all need a walkabout from time to time. We don’t grow when locked in routine for too long.  I believe from time to time we all get that faraway look in our eyes and long to be a nomad, a gypsy, a wanderer.  It pays to acknowledge and feed that part of our souls.

           Make travel a priority, my Bohemian friends.  And not to a theme park or to a cruise ship.  Strap on your backpack and hit the road, the bush, or the sky.  If you can’t go to far off places, you can still leave the familiar, the comfortable, the fixed. New ideas and new inspiration await at every turn.  Step out, Bohemian.  You may not recognize yourself when you return home.

The above is an abbreviated excerpt from The Abundant Bohemian: Live An Unconventional Life Without Starving in the Process. You can find it at http://www.amazon.com/Abundant-Bohemian-Joseph-Downing/dp/1633370135/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1419609806&sr=1-1&keywords=the+abundant+bohemian

You can also follow Joe’s blog at www.abundantbohemian.com

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Almostopenbook.Com is the blog of Jennifer Monet’, writer, wild-eyed-wild-haired adventurer, and lover of life. She offers travel coaching, mobility solutions, and resources to earn a living while turning your passion for adventure into a reality at LifeCREATIVE.org.

I Am This.

 

The silence was beautiful and wild,

I knew nothing of the next moment.

I was in love with the open spaces

This canyon had created in my soul.

Just two days here-

The swirl of words in my mind stopped

Long enough for me to listen

To the wind.

 

The coyotes danced behind my tent.

Unafraid, I listened to them

Make love to the sky.

Each one shouting praise over the other.

This is ours! We are this!

coyote

 

I only leave the canyon,

To buy fresh vegetables and rice.

But as I drive up the gravel road,

Back into the land of wires and words.

My phone rings.

I’d willingly forgotten the sound.

The steady buzz,

Someone always needing something.

I answered, and a voice I’d left behind speaks,

“What you have-

This isn’t beauty, this is nothing.

Having nothing is failure.

You can’t need nothing.”

 

How dare you be happy,

And act like you did it yourself,

Say you need nothing.

He shouts,

You need me.

 

I love my nothing

Because my nothing belongs to me, I want to say.

I found my heart again, I want to say.

But he’s talking over me already.

Come home. Do the things.

Be the person,

I need you to be the person.

I. Need. You.

 

He pours concrete into the spaces of my soul

And I let him.

Fill me with words- doubt, should, must, do.

I can’t hear the coyotes anymore.

I can’t find the silence.

My mind fills, and I leave my canyon.

I say no goodbye though.  I will return.

To howl at the sky-

This is mine! I am this!