Thursday, December 30, 2010
Monday, December 27, 2010
Sunday, December 26, 2010
Wednesday, December 22, 2010
Brian and I had our last date night in Troy on Monday, martinis at Daisy Bakers and dinner at the new Dinosaur Barbecue..
Monday, December 20, 2010
Friday, December 17, 2010
One of the statements that resonated with me when we listened to him speak at this group was this : "Zen is doing only one thing at a time." Yes. I agree with this. In those moments that I am truly present, truly alive and aware, I am doing but one thing. One beautiful precious thing. But those moments are rare. Multi-tasking is an innate behavior in me that I am working to battle daily. It is celebrated and rewarded in our culture. But I don't like it. I want to just talk to someone on the phone, just drive my car, just eat my meal. But boiling our lives down to individual experiences seems impossible to me sometimes. Should I not listen to music while I am in the car, or talk to others while I eat my meal, etc...? But then I think about it and realize its something you work towards- not submit entirely to - like just slicing a beautiful tomato, or just looking someone in the eye and talking to them intently. The more you can create those moments of just doing absolutely one thing, I think the more aware, alive and conscious you are. And the more conscious we are, the more conscious the world is. I want to work on this on my trip. To not be thinking in the future about the next location, not thinking in the future about where we will eat, sleep etc. all of the time. Be present in the moment experiencing and enjoying where we are, what we are doing and how it feels, smells, sounds, and tastes. Cherishing each second with the understanding that that is all that we ever have. As Tolle said with a laugh, The future doesn't exist, you never get there. There is only always the now....
Wednesday, December 15, 2010
I have been thinking lately about why I wanted to do this. What I am hoping to accomplish in the next year. If any of you know me, you understand this trip is not a "vacation". It has a purpose and there is much I desire to accomplish with this gift of free time (away from a full time job). These are the goals I am thinking about:
1) To learn more about sustainable living practices through wwoofing and education
2) To gain clarity about what type of “work” I should do to make the best contribution to the world I can
3) To open myself up musically and sing often
4) To write regularly in order to process the experience of our year abroad
5) To develop a regular meditation and yoga practice and continue my studies in philosophy and religion
6) To connect with all sorts of people around the world and learn from them
7) To understand how American policy affects other countries around the world first hand, and try to understand what America really means to everyone who is not American. To try and understand what it is like to not be American
8) To learn to live with very little. To eat less, consume less, want less, worry less, and do less. To “be” more
9) To be more physically active on a daily basis. Four years in a full time job in front of the computer has been harmful to my health
10) To see this amazing, big, wide, diverse, beautiful, and crazy world up close
11) To develop a richer and deeper connection to my husband by experiencing and striving for all of the above together
A tall order for one year? We'll see. Number 5 and 8 are really most important to me now and I hope they will help me feel ok about not being constantly productive.
This is really happening. Oh...my...God...
Monday, December 6, 2010
Last night I saw this compelling documentary called We Live in Public and it touched on certain feelings I have about internet life that have been bothering me for the last few years. I have done research and explored extensively the phenomenon of internet addiction, and even did a presentation at my agency to try and encourage my superiors to take seriously this burgeoning problem. My research unveiled that internet addiction is indeed very real and very debilitating, and can destroy lives in the very same way drugs and alcohol do. Aboujaoude (2006) found that 3-13% of Americans are “internet addicted” and experience negative consequences. I won’t go into detail now, but the experience of learning about the destructive nature of the internet across the world was sobering.
Do you feel like the internet has become one big advertisement that you cannot escape? It bothers me that every email we send, every website we go to is tracked and logged and our preferences are churned and calculated so advertisements come to us that will be most alluring. M.T. Anderson wrote an incredible novel called FEED that predicts a future I believe is entirely possible and horrifying. Having a chip placed in our brains with a constant internet “feed” is not too far off from behaviors many are engaging in now. I feel that the internet can definitely fuel a drive to consume consume consume.
These issues spread too to cell phones… No one wants to leave their internet at home! How often do you walk down the street and see people with their eyes looking up at you with a smile to say hello? No, more often heads are down furiously texting or viewing content on smart phones. When I go to the movies at the mall, I see large clumps of teenagers slumped over couches gazing at their phones and completely ignoring each other. Or they are walking in groups talking on phones and texting, not communicating at all directly with one another. When I went to the Apple store recently a young kid that worked there came up to me and said “Wazzup” as his greeting to ask what I needed. I talked with him and tried to engage him but felt and saw this vacancy in his eyes. The ennui of youth? The desensitization of our youth from internet overstimulation? I know I am making sweeping generalizations here, but I feel like something powerful is happening that needs to be discussed. As I think about having children, our technological age concerns me. I want my children to beg to be outside gallivanting around in nature with other children, not begging to have their own cell phone or laptop. Not fighting with them to get off of the computer. I want them to be connected in person to others, to be connected to the natural world. I realize this will have to be balanced with technology, but I think about it.
As for me, I don’t have a Facebook page. I had one for a little while but I realized it was making me deeply uncomfortable and gave me an “icky” feeling so I cancelled it. I have a MySpace page for my music promotion alone, but even that makes me uncomfortable. And now that I have started this blog, I have a number of these “icky” moments, but I am trying to explore where they emanate from and why they occur. I think my body/soul is not comfortable with the over-documentation and over-exposure of our lives. I think that constantly documenting and proclamating what we think and do (increasingly every moment) takes us out of and not into the present moment. I believe it also may be becoming an unhealthy way to define our own self-worth. How many online friends do I have? How many comments are on my blog? How many people looked at my pictures? How many people follow my tweets? I feel like these behaviors/desires hearken back to high school and junior high when we all just wanted to be accepted and loved and noticed. The desire to be shown we are special and important I have always believed is very dangerous to the spirit and the soul. It is blinding. But it is so strong, that ego is so strong.
I am trying to define this blog in a way I am comfortable with. I want to communicate with others about my thoughts and feelings in an honest and open way framed around a specific theme so that this space does not become just an online journal. I want to keep many things about myself and my life private. But I do see the value in open communicative forums such as this to share ideas, challenge ideas, educate, inspire, and open each other up to new ways of thinking. I get that. But I need to be careful with this. Not worry about who is reading or why, what and how many comments appear, etc. I have to admit this blog is a sort of experiment for me. Can the internet and this global technology be used in a healthy, useful, maybe even spiritual way? Or is the eventual result for many too much time and energy wasted on activities that do not help us as humans to grow, evolve, find peace, or share love and compassion? I’m not sure yet. I do love reading the blogs of those I am close to, I feel like it helps me get to know them so much better. But I would so much prefer to talk to them in person about the issues they write about instead of read them in a removed way. As with everything else, I understand the use of technology and the internet is all about balance. Knowing when to step away, to turn it off, and when to use it etc…
And of course there are so many benefits to the internet that I am not addressing here. Community mobilization, education, support, etc. I truly recognize this. But I can’t ignore the sinking feeling in my stomach that internet bullying and obsessive compulsive internet gamblers/porn watchers/bloggers/gamers/
So despite all of this, Brian and I are bringing our laptop with us to travel. Skyping is a cheap effective way for us to communicate with others and I want to write while we are abroad. I was hoping to abandon all technology on this trip, but we are giving in. I want to be careful with that too. I want to spend days, even weeks away from the computer to help quiet my mind, and to be released from the intense stimulation.
My research showed that in China and Korea there are already well developed treatment programs for internet addiction. And that in Korea, children are learning “netiquette” in preschool and many internet gaming cafes were closed. I’m curious to see around the world the impact of the internet on various cultures…
Wow, lots to say about this. I feel like there is so much more to explore….Not trying to sound doomsday here either (though it may seem like it) and Im not trying to knock the internet in general. I think what I am referring to is overuse of it. I just think it is important to question our social reality and really ask ourselves questions about our use of technology and not assume there is no harm or danger there because high usage is the norm? Other questions beg to be explored too(i.e. cellphones not giving us cancer because we don't have conclusive evidence yet?) etc etc etc. but I will stop for now :)
Wednesday, December 1, 2010
Sunday, November 28, 2010
Saturday, November 27, 2010
Wednesday, November 24, 2010
Sunday, November 21, 2010
Tuesday, November 16, 2010
Monday, November 15, 2010
Sunday, November 14, 2010
Wednesday, November 10, 2010
This weekend I spoke to a clairvoyant for a while. I have always been drawn to psychics, tarot and palm readers, etc. I’m not sure why, and I am not sure I believe any of what they say, but I find their interactions with me and their thoughts interesting. This woman strongly believes in past lives and the idea that souls come from and go back to a source energy. That the purpose of life is to all evolve to a higher level of consciousness. And that souls “choose” the hardships they wish to experience in their lives in order to evolve to different soul ages. There are supposedly 5 ages of souls according to the “Michael teachings” that she talked about.
I feel like this really sort of makes sense. I can see infant souls, baby souls, mature souls around me. Their characteristics seem spot on. Why does it feel so silly to admit that reincarnation could be possible? Evolution of souls could be possible? We can’t prove that this paradigm doesn’t exist, so in my mind, I can’t let go of the possibility that it does.
A friend told me about a deep meditative experience he had where he started seeing all of these faces flash before his eyes and he could feel within that the images were himself in all of his past lives. When he described the faces he saw, the ethnicities, I got the chills. I could see what a powerful vision it was for him.
When I met Brian, on our first date there was a moment when I looked at him and he felt so familiar to me. I really felt like I had known him before, that I had a strong love for him already, even though I barely knew him in this life. The psychic said that was because we have been part of this cluster of souls that move away and back to the “source energy” together. That we pick each other often to help us through our life journeys. It feels so easy with Brian every day. Maybe we have known each other for lifetimes and that’s why? Why not?
So what does this have to do with our trip? She told me that some of the specific areas we will be visiting will have strong/tough energy for me because of difficult past life experiences. That I suffered in certain regions and will feel that energy coming back to me when I am there again. I find that interesting and am curious what my reactions will be.
I used to dismiss the reincarnation idea entirely due to mathematics. If souls keep returning to earth, but the population keeps growing, aren’t then humans only fractions of the original souls? If you don’t consider earth as the only place for souls to explore, then those mathematics go out the window. I think we can often become earth-centric in the way we become America-centric. And maybe only a few souls came from “the source” at first to test the waters, and more and more then came… Wow, I sound very new-agey!!
We watched “Fierce Grace” recently, a documentary about Ram Dass post-stroke. A powerful film that moved me in many ways. I highly recommend it…We have also been listening to Alan Watts.. I love thinking/talking about these spiritual questions and letting the thoughts that develop because of these conversations, incubate inside of me.
Wednesday, November 3, 2010
As we work to prepare for our trip, there are many unknowns that trouble me from time to time. Are we going to be able to sell our car? Are we going to be able to find a home for our cat while we are away? Are we going to run out of money too soon? Will Brian be able to find a job when we come home? In our lives there are always unknowns, but our choice to leave what is secure adds a few more to our plate. For me this is intentional. I want to work on how to accept and embrace the unknowns of my life with grace and confidence. Celebrate them in fact. Be present and accepting of all that is now.
On the wall of my cubicle I have a little note that says “Non-Resistance, Non-Judgment, Non-Attachment” and another that says “To complain is non-acceptance of what is. Either take action, or accept the situation”. Both of these thoughts were garnered from this book. I think this book changed my life. It really did. Now Tolle didn’t necessarily share original thoughts and ideas on spirituality and presence, but he explained them in a way that resonated with me powerfully. The concept of your thoughts not being you, that the voice in your head is not your spirit, but a monotonous phonograph replaying all of the thoughts that limit you, hinder you and stunt you from growth and presence really started the transformation that has been happening inside of me for the last 2 years. I’ve re-read and re-listened to the book a number of times. Being in the now is a muscle you must continually exercise to have it be prominent for even just moments a day. It is worth it. Those moments are the best moments I have experienced in my life. Present with the world, with a loved one, with a pet, etc. and not worrying about the future or past whatsoever. Giving my full and active attention to one moment as it unfolds. What a beautiful thing. I am hoping to create a life that encourages the emanation of these moments more often. Tolle would maybe say that I don’t need to do anything, just “be” in whatever situation I am in. That may be true, but when your life is full of hectic activities that you don’t necessarily want to be doing, maybe the chances of hitting that “now” are slimmer?
I have a dream of working part time when we return to the states and spending that extra time doing activities that help our family live more sustainably. Gardening, cooking, canning, sewing, etc. Living on less so we can enjoy our family more. Using this trip as a springboard for transformation. Leaping into the unknown with no parachute and feeling the wind and air tickle our skin as we descend into something different. Waiting to see what the universe has to offer.
Tuesday, November 2, 2010
I am aware that Brian and I's round the world trip is not very environmentally friendly. We are taking many plane rides, many of them quite long. Today I bit the bullet and looked up what our carbon footprint would be for the trips we have booked so far for the two of us. For plane rides from:
Albany, NY to San Francisco, CA
San Francisco, CA to Wellington, New Zealand
Auckland, New Zealand to Melbourne, Australia
Brisbane, Australia to Bali, Indonesia
Bali to Bangkok, Thailand
and Bangkok to Osaka Japan
The 2 of us will use approximately 15,000 lbs CO2. That does not include any busses, trains, etc . This website allows you to invest money in green practices to help offset the cost of your carbon footprint. I was shocked at how low the cost was for both Brian and I for our trip so far by plane.
In many of the books and blogs I am reading now about urban homesteading and environmental responsibility, they mention over and over to consider only traveling locally or regionally to avoid making such a huge impact on the earth. I have been struggling a bit with this quandary.
1) Explore the world to help develop a more evolved/diverse worldview or
2) Stay close to home to contribute to your local communities and to protect the earth.
Paying these small fees helps to assuage the guilt I have for taking these plane rides, but there is still the philosophical question hanging in the air. Your thoughts?