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The universe is calling you.

There’s a life inside you, a universe speaking, singing, stomping, hell, at this point maybe even dancing. But you won’t hear her if you don’t turn down the noise in your life.

Quiet the pandemonium.

Learn to be still, if only for a second (tweet).

Discover the real you behind the ideas, notions and limitation our minds subscribe to.

You don’t need to travel to Europe or to Costa Rica to embark on such a journey in your own life. You can do it right now, right here, with me, today.

Many of us never do this until we’re forced to and even then we resist. I know I have.

My wish for you is that you experience the joy that comes from inner silence and spontaneous laughter.

I hope you can feel it now.

Namaste.

 

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Choose life paths with no clear ending.

The past few months have been symbolic, both literally and figuratively, of running down paths without knowing where they will lead. I’m decidedly calling it pleasure and creative research.

I’d find myself running up and down trails in Germany where the road would split and it wasn’t clear to me where to go next.

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One would think that running wouldn’t feel stressful or that it’s easy to run on trails because you simply follow the markers.

But sometimes the markers aren’t easy to read.

Sometimes you want to go into the woods and off the main path and it’s not clear how you enter the forest, how long this particular path is (if it’s a path at all) and if it is a path, are you prepared enough to run the full thing? Do you have enough water, time (is the sun setting), or the proper shoes?

Once I decided it didn’t much matter which way I went, and gave myself permission to turn around if need be, I began to feel more at ease with “making the wrong decision”.

There were dozens of times I felt called to investigate paths that turned out to be the opposite of what I had anticipated.

They were dead ends.

They led me to beautiful views or open spaces to practice qi qong in.

They led to me into the woods.

Sometimes, after 45 minutes into a run when the sun would begin to set, I would feel nervous. The markers weren’t as prominent and I felt lost.

And yet, every single time that happened, I was a mere 10 minutes away from the “end” of the path.

I’m learning that really, there are no wrong turns (tweet it). 

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As I have began to run everyday and incorporate qi qong and meditation into my daily routine, I’ve felt more relaxed and creative. Learning to consciously embark on paths with no ending in sight has opened something up in me that’s deeply enjoyable and grounding.

While traveling, I began doing #the100dayproject on Instagram to channel this creativity and use it as a source of active meditation. It’s one of the most enjoyable nuggets of wisdom from my travels thus far. If you’re not familiar with Elle Luna’s #the100dayproject, I highly suggest you check it out.

You are so lucky. I could never do that.

People have told me how lucky I am and how envious they are of my traveling. And you’re right; I’m super blessed.

But I had to seemingly lose *everything* to land to where I am today. I fought against what got me here, and in some ways am still resisting it, thinking I knew better than the universe. We all do it on some level, right?

“Losing” everything over the course of a year and having a whopper of an exit from San Francisco was what it took for me to realize just how truly blessed I am. And, how truly small of a life I was playing. 

It took saying ciao to a job, a booming business, 2 boyfriends, my home in Brooklyn, 3 family members and a massive chunk of my identity.

When your sense of security is shaken and broken down to its core, something shifts. I was so concerned with things like my savings account, my Roth IRA and health insurance before I left San Francisco. I never felt like I was in the right place or doing the right thing. I was stressed about money and yet now, with no formal salary per say, I feel free as a bird.

And generous, I’m so much more generous with myself and others. Sometimes I think losing is easier than gaining, because we’re forced to our knees in humility. We fight less and accept more and it’s in those moments that life begins to flow.

Much of what we consider our reality is a set of deep-rooted illusions we mistake for truth (tweet it).

As you begin to peel away the untruths, layer by layer, something profound emerges. Unmistakable. Subtle even.

It’s worth seeing. It’s worth finding under the muck and disorder of our lives.

And she’s so often seen lingering on the other side of a path with no clear ending.

Want to keep up to date on my travels and insights from the road? Sign up for my blog here. 

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You want to change your life? Change your scenery. 

As I get ready to fly back to NY, I’m already feeling fear set in. I want these good feelings and blazing insights from my past month or so in Europe to ride on.

I remember the state I was in upon leaving and I don’t want to go back to that place.

Who would?

Flash back to San Francisco, close-up of me, on my bedroom floor.

Full on grief had set in. It was as if I was facing everything I lost only a few months earlier plus the “new” stuff too.

My grandma passing.

My dog, Luna, being really ill.

The end of my 8 year relationship, business and home in NYC.

Now boyfriend number two wanted space (and lots of it) and I was let go from my job.

I was in a state of complete shock.

If you asked me how I got from San Francisco to New York, I couldn’t tell you. I had cried for almost 2 weeks straight, stopped eating and all bullshit aside, if it wasn’t for the kindness and support of friends and family, I have to wonder how much longer I’d have stayed on my bedroom floor in a puddle of tears, alone.

Upon arriving to Buffalo, I was greeted by a house full of love and three, excited pups.

My mom embraced me.

I could feel the mix of gratitude, heartache, concern and joy to see me swirl around her. “Thank you Screen Shot 2015-05-26 at 8.21.12 PMfor coming home,” her eyes said.

They had bought some of my favorite foods: Orange Milano cookies, lobster tails from Wegmans and fresh asparagus.

“You could stand to put a bit more meat on your bones,” she would later confess to me.

I sat at the dinner table as they buzzed around in their normal way, chattering on about their days. It was pitch black outside, the kind of darkness that makes you wonder where the sun goes to at night. The kind that reminds you of just how shitty and lost you feel inside.

The crisp Buffalo air acted as an uncomfortable reminder of how far I had traveled, and how unfamiliar any feeling of home had become.

“Where the fuck am I,” wondered.

But I was silent.

Numb.

I knew I had a long way to go and that this was just the beginning.

I started by changing things on the outside.  

Everything else was too painful to look at. I couldn’t stand a face-off with the internal landfill, yet, although the unmistakable scent of discarded dreams, soul carnage, and dried-up tears were ever present. I didn’t know where to begin or have the strength about me to rummage through it anyhow, so I began with what I knew my heart would welcome…

Rome: my soul’s true home.

After a little less than 2 weeks in Buffalo, I hopped on a plane to Rome, Italy. Thus began the external journey.

A change in scenery and the chance to be on my own helped to quiet the thoughts in my head and the super-charged emotions in my body so that I could finally tune in and hear me.

Yes, the sweet, gentle notes that come from joy and inner silence. And equally loud, if not louder, the voices that sound off bodily neglect and emotional trauma.

I had ignored my health and this was the price for re-entry. 

Being in Rome wasn’t all a walk in the park.  With some distance between me and the events leading up to it, I can begin to see the wisdom in my time there.

I ate obscene amounts of gelato, pasta and limoncello. I ran in the park behind my house daily and that park, by the way, is epic. My private loft? To die for and the weather… well San Francisco can suck it. I made some amazing friendships and began #the100dayproject there.

But Rome was also a time of cleanup. I arrived with a heavy heart in hand and intentionally spent most of my time alone, which led to lots of reflection. And while reflection is great, it’s also confronting.

Angels showed up every step of the way.

IMG_8986I’m teary eyed as I write this, standing in line for United, waiting to check in.

One of the beautiful things about losing everything, and I say everything with an air of impermanence, is that if you’re open to it, or forced into it even, you begin to see how you’re cared for. You begin to notice the benevolence and abundance around you.

Not being able to care for yourself invites the people in your life, and even strangers, to stand for you.

And people have been giving me a fucking standing ovation. In my worst state, my lowest low, my “Lauryn, can you really, possibly cry anymore?” kind of state, God showed up in droves.

My landlord, Ceti, a woman who just happened to accept my Airbnb request, fed me almost daily. As her daughter, Fabiana, brought me to the train station on my last day in Rome, she confessed to me the reason for the food. In true Italian-mama-style, her mother was genuinely concerned for me and my lack of eating.

She could see that I was sad and in general, a woman traveling on her own in Rome is still seen as strange. Thus, she took it upon herself for almost two weeks to plump me up and include me in family outings. And believe me, I ate… a lot.

Ceti, Fabiana and the Cittipelli family: if you’re reading this, know that I am forever in gratitude to your kindness and selflessness. I consider you family. Dogs too.

To all my angels: thank you times 1 million.

You guys are reason alone to celebrate life.

Special shoutouts to some folks below:

Screen Shot 2015-05-26 at 8.22.31 PMHayden, Sohrab<3, Carlotta, Gabrielle,the Cittipelli family, Vera, Laura, Amber Rae, Andrilisa, Ishita, Tobi, the German/Ethipian family I met last night on the bus, the hotel staff in Baden-Baden, the old man at the trail head…

My family: Mom, Dad, Chrissy, Julia, Christen (truly, thank you), Luna, Sophie, Armando, Melissa, Matt and Sharon.

Lyft: Ben, Cassie, Cal, Katie and the original A-team.

And to all of you who have liked my Instagram/Facebook posts, shared helpful insights and sent your love to me, know that I have felt it.

Thank you for being on the journey with me.

Want to keep up to date on my travels and insights from the road? Sign up for my blog here. 

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3 Magical Lessons from My Travels Abroad

IMG_9217I didn’t know what to expect coming to Europe but more than anything, I knew I wanted/needed to shed a heavy heart.

[FYI: I’ll be posting more pics/stories/insights to come. Sign up for blog updates here and follow me on Instagram to stay in the know.]

The best part of this trip, though? The journey isn’t over.

Upon moving to San Francisco a year ago, without fully realizing it, I stopped nourishing myself. For almost an entire year, I was starving myself of creativity, physical movement, sacred spaces and deep, healthy connections.

Gifting myself a trip throughout Europe has begun to turn that around for me and fast. I’m learning to lead with what I love and need, and discovering through much trial and error. Below are some of my key lessons thus far.

#1 Give yourself space to cry and do “nothing”.

I have planned next to nothing on this trip, have moved on the wind’s time and have taken action based on what’s felt easy. #howdareI

There were many days where getting out of bed was my big accomplishment. And I did my best to love my A-type self right through it.

It’s ok to do nothing. It’s normal, in fact. Dare we say healthy. There is deep wisdom in the art of stillness, one I’m beginning to appreciate more and more.

Rather than choosing cheap hostels where I’d share a living space with 6+ people, I chose beautiful Airbnbs that gave me the privacy and sense of security necessary to feel whatever came up.

The intentional “let it be” attitude removed the pressure of needing to plan my day, act according to what’s expected of a typical “traveler” and learn what my body deeply desired.

Sometimes that was sleep, and a whole lot of it. Other times it was to move my body in the park and run in Villa Pamphili.

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There were plenty of impromptu cry sessions, which wouldn’t have been possible or as nourishing had I not treated myself to one of the most sacred things on earth: space.

How much space, both internally and externally, do you have in your life? (tweet it) 

Pre-San Francisco departure, the amount of space in my life was in the negative. I didn’t realize this until I went off and spent almost 45 days with myself, traveling.

How can you gauge how much space is in your life?

Internally, reflect on how much empty space is in between your thoughts. Space comes in the form of being present, of literally stopping to smell the roses and enjoying the seemingly insignificant happenings in your life. Your body will also feel relaxed. Lack of space may consist of racing thoughts, feelings of being suffocated, and as if you’re a prisoner of your own mind.

Externally, ask yourself how much time you have for yourself? Do you have your own room or place you can go to in order to unwind? Do you feel guilty for taking time away? Are the people in your life supportive of your time alone?

Personal space is essential (tweet it).  This trip, and how it’s aided in the recovery of both my health and heart, has shown me that.

#2 Discover what nourishes you.

[The picture below is actually a shot a sunset over the Black Forest in Baden-Baden, Germany, which I ran/hiked in various times the day before. #nofilter

Before I left for the airport today, I ran 3 miles in the woods and hit the gym. It felt right, it felt easy and I was doing it because I genuinely wanted to. Taking care of myself has started to feel fun and natural again, as opposed to this task that needs to get done and might negatively impact my relationship, job or [fill in the blank].

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For me, it had been a long time since I decided to “get to know myself”. Truth be told, I don’t know that I ever deliberately asked myself what I liked, regardless of what other people thought.

For example, in the biz world I play in, blogging is pretty normal. Most everyone blogs, writes or creates some form of content. And while yes I like to blog, I’ve been greatly influenced by what I’ve done before and by what has felt normal or acceptable in this space. But that doesn’t take into account what I really want to say or create, does it?

Can I talk about my day to day life, spirituality and lean into comedy and pure art, I’ve wondered. Can my work be imperfect and act as a place of discovery without fucking up my reputation or business?

Bottled up self-expression, which are really gifts in the making, can leave one to feel stagnant, limited and suffocated. It’s not good for your body to keep all that juiciness locked away.

#3 Learn what you like to do, eat, see and be.

Previous to this adventure, of course I could tell you that I love to travel, but omg, did I learn how much I LOVE to eat. Like if there’s yummy, new, local eats, count me in. The picture below is a little spot I ate at in Bologna, Italy. That’s butterfly pasta. I basically imagined I was eating hundreds of miracles (read about the meaning of butterflies if what I said makes no sense to you).

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And I love to have gorgeous forests be a main staple of the cities I visit, right behind my house if I can swing it. City centers and tourist sites aren’t my jam, but nature bragging most certainly is.

And yes, a private room is important to me so shared dorms  are a no go most days. And yes I want yoga, running and lots of time to create.

I didn’t know how much I love bubbles (!), aimless wandering and hadler (spelling?).  Or that stress in your chest isn’t normal. Pain in your heart, for what?

I deeply cherish having developed a practice of getting to know what I like through spontaneity. For all the people in the world who don’t know what they like, especially us women, I encourage you to get down to brass tacks and discover it. It’s one of the funnest and most fruitful investments you will ever make.

The journey continues…

The journey is going to continue on to Costa Rica, for what I expect to be 2 months (?). I’m gifting myself the chance to practice yoga, meditation and acceptance through an organization called Pachamama in Guanacaste, Costa Rica. It’s a legit jungle and the spiritual bootcamp I think I’ve always been looking for. I mean, come on. If I seriously considered the Marines, I can seriously consider this.

Until next time.

Want to keep up to date on my travels and insights from the road? Sign up for my blog here. 

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Are you to blame?

 

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“Cuando crezcas, descubrirás que ya defendiste mentiras, te engañaste a ti mismo o sufriste por tonterías. Si eres un buen guerrero, no te culparás por ello, pero tampoco dejarás que tus errores se repitan.”

– Pablo Neruda

“When you grow, you will discover that you defended lies, you cheated yourself or suffered for foolishness. If you’re a good soldier, you won’t blame yourself for that, but nor will you allow that these mistakes repeat themselves.” 

Part of the pain, I think, in growing in consciousness, in becoming more attuned to our actions, is to realize “the lies we defend” and in some form or another, discover that we have in fact “cheated ourselves”. That it wasn’t anyone else or external circumstances that got us here, and that we truly are the master weavers of our fates.

Like that of a tiny spider.

No, lamenting, it wasn’t the mailman, your boss or the dick neighbor who lets their dog shit on your lawn everyday that got you here.

It was your own two feet.

And while I say this with conviction, I also say it with compassion.

There’s no one to blame here, not even you.

After having exited an emotionally abusive relationship, I was/am invited to look at what we uphold in the name of fear, illusion and denial. When we lose connection to ourselves, when we forgo our own inner wisdom and truth, we suffer, needlessly.

What piece of internal wisdom might you be ignoring today, on this beautiful Sunday? And why is it that we so fear that internal voice? Why do we wince, flee and even shun her wisdom or run for the highlands just to avert her grace?

Over the past few years, I continually return to this question, mostly in times when I’m at the brunt end of her loving wisdom.

My own whispers as of late have been to retreat and cocoon, to unravel the “lies we tell ourselves” and open up to a new path in my life. I’ve felt deep pulls toward expanding myself creatively, trying new artistic mediums and pushing the edges of what I’d normally share and express.

And it’s scary.

I know that the path I’m on leads me to a new place; it’s about embracing a new way of living and stepping into the work I believe I’m here on earth to do.

But simpler still; it’s about being present.

It’s about focusing on the space around us, internally and externally, and tuning into the heart whispers that we’ve learned to ignore.

Sometimes they’re hard to hear. I talk about the unruliness of ignored creativity in my TEDx talk about innovation.

Sometimes they’re buried under trauma, pain, fear and a life of being outside of our bodies and inside our phones.

I used to tell a favorite person of mine that he was lucky to know his calling in the world, that I envied his position and thought it was foolish that he doesn’t do more to realize his dreams, given that he already knows what they are.

But what I discounted was what it felt like to stand at the cliff and hang glide into the sunset of your present life, piercing the clouds of heaven, into the darkness that ensues before the sun rises yet again.

I discounted the bravery and tenacity that it takes, the sheer and utter faith required to embark on such a journey. I thought I was the teacher, but really, in that moment, I was the student.

We all face our night.

Such is the path, it seems, of those who feel destined for something. We tiptoe around the work, trying to be and do everything else but that one thing we truly feel called to do in the world.

For years, I have wished for an extension of time to do nothing. To travel, read, study and reflect. To train in the spiritual nature of things and to get down to business with myself.

At some point, and sometimes in tandem with the external building, I’m realizing we have to face ourselves. There’s no more avoiding it; it’s just too painful.

Years ago, in a business course I took, a friend commented on another student’s journey. He simply said, “Your fear no longer serves you.”

Your fear no longer serves you.

I think it’s when we reach this point that we realize it’s time to grow up and out of the self-made prisons we’ve wedged ourselves into. For me, it’s been about learning to let go. And intuitively, I realize, that this next leg is going to require me to pack lighter. It’s the moments like this where we’re invited to wrap ourselves into our night, so that we may emerge as butterflies do.

To see who you truly are, I guess, means cleaning all the gunk, debris and sticky plaque that’s hardened around you, making your spirit difficult to sense. That’s the real work. That’s the real block to creativity and life force as we know it, and it’s often times the last place we want to look or focus our attention on.

Our aversion to our work, whether internal or external, and the lengths we will go to delude ourselves, has [almost] no limits. It seems that life will serve you a shit sandwich in all of your favorite hiding places until you just can’t hide anymore. Until the moment when stuffing yourself into relationships that don’t get you, jobs that don’t appreciate you and endless happy hours cannot hide, until truly, the smell of your own shit is just too unbearable.

Something in you breaks and you surrender.

And in these fragile moments of rebirth, a sense of calm and spaciousness rush over you. And maybe, if only for a second, you realize that the “soul-sucking” job/relationship/house/etc.  may not be to blame. That truly, there’s no blame anywhere. Your mind may not understand it, but your body hums this sweet, soft lullaby, tears streaming down your face, a combination of joy, regret and yes, sweet surrender.

“Si eres un buen guerrero, no te culparás por ello, pero tampoco dejarás que tus errores se repitan.”

In the thick of blame, of projection and of the anger at [insert what you’re mad about], you realize the lies (illusions) you’ve upheld and maybe can start to see how they guided you to this precise position.

And that to move forward, you must let go, and that to let go, you must lay down the burning embers of blame, anger and frustration, regardless of where they are pointed. Lay down the smoking gun; the war is over.

After all, the lies didn’t, maybe, seem so horrible initially because, well,  your colleagues seemed to get along just fine sippin’ on that Koolaid. Your family, friends, heck, everyone you know (!) seems to be feeding into the American/German/Mexican [insert any nationality or religion] fuckin’ dream and you wonder, are you the only one unhappy?

Are you the only one who sees the world differently?

Are you the only one awake or sober enough to move forward in a new direction?

You might be. In your circle and world, it might just be you (for now), which makes your steps forward all the more important.

Because now you know better.

Now you’ve seen your hand in creating this life for yourself and there’s no one to blame, not even you. This can be painful to witness, but it’s also the beginning of freedom.

So forgive yourself for the moments spent sippin’ on that untruth, which is really the essence of our own misery, and get to steppin’.

We need you out there, buen soldado.

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