Thursday, February 26, 2015

26 Things to Be Grateful for at 26, OR 26 at 26 on the 26th

Today officially marks the "I've made 26 trips around the sun" mark! I went to bed past midnight last night, and realized it as I was climbing under the covers. A great sense of accomplishment and gratitude came over me, and that gratitude has only picked up its pace as the moments have passed today.

This morning, I woke up and was trying to fall back asleep. I don't have to go to the high school today, so why rush out of bed and into the day? It's wide open, and I've got time on my side. Plus, it's my birthday. I don't want to be tired on my birthday, I'd rather sleep in! Well, 9 o'clock is sleeping in for me, and when, within half an hour of my eyes opening the doorbell started going crazy, I was forced to get up. Of course I waited to see if anyone else was going to go for it -- I'd heard Antonio (my flatmate) on the other end of the flat and knew he was up -- but no one took the bait. Ok, I'm closer to the door, and I'm awake, I'll get it. Plus, I think deep down I knew it'd be for me.

What a way to wake up! I opened the door to be greeted by the postwoman, eyes still partially glued shut, boogers still in the corners, and hair doing God knows what; a package for Allison Fedor, that's me! She scanned the code and handed it over, my eyes lit up and opened as far as their I-just-woke-up state would allow, and I transmitted a big smile to the face looking back at mine. (Can I just say my mom is a superhero? I mean, seriously, to get out of bed because a birthday package is being delivered? The timing couldn't be any better. You rock, mom!)

The morning has followed as such:
Opening the package, which is a Valentine's Day/Birthday/Easter combo, and full of treats that are waiting in the freezer for Lent to end like a bear waits out winter, among other little things;
Finishing my healthcare application so I can have insurance the next six months in the States, in spite of spending 4 1/2 of them abroad (thank you, mom!);
Going on Facebook to lavish myself in the love that friends have left behind, as well as dish it back;

[[ I decided that I want to wish a great, magical day to as many people that wish me one. I think it'd be a positively wonderful way to make this day even better, and soo much more full of love! ]]

Buying a flight to Rome in May for the long weekend, which I decided to make one day longer (sorry colleagues, I'll make up those couple classes on a different day);
Confirming all the hotels we need in Napoli, Sorrento, and Capri, Italy for Friday-Wednesday (yay for a Dual Birthday Bash in Southern Italy!!!);
And making some oatmeal-wheat germ pancakes (and breaking a glass in the micro because I over-heated the honey, whoops)!

Overall, Awesome! I've still gotta pack my pack and work for five hours, but tonight, I'm on my way to Madrid to hang with one of my best friends before I catch my flight tomorrow afternoon. So much excitement! (Maybe a little too much, I'm feeling quite erratic. hehe)

But I want to celebrate my birthday by making a list of 26 Things to Be Grateful for at 26, as Overflowing With Gratitude is my new State of Being, so, here we go!

  1. Waking up to a package from home (see above)
  2. Knowing I have health insurance for the next 6 months (see above)
  3. The love that people have shared with me on this day that's only just begun, and in general
  4. The fact tomorrow I enter my 20th country, and finally step foot on Italian Terrain (!!!!!!)
  5. Having jobs that fund my travel habit // dedicating the next four years of my life to travel
  6. Being able to share my first time in Italy with one of the most amazing people I've ever known
  7. Being able to celebrate my birthday in conjunction with Amazing-Being-From-Above's in Italy
  8. Good, healthy, clean, organic-ingredient-based food
  9. Water [with lemon/honey/vinegar in the morning]
  10. Having learned a second language and taken up a third
  11. My creativity 
  12. The condition of my heart and mind
  13. Jesus' major sacrifice so I might live this life // we might live these lives (This is really #1)
  14. The Conscious Shift 
  15. Love
  16. Friendship, family, and soul connections
  17. The Earth and it's ability to be explored
  18. Having left my home country to go to a new place and pursue my dreams and change my entire life
  19. The confidence I have in myself, and trust I have in God, that fuel my curiosity about the globe, and eliminate my fears of wandering around it
  20. Long weekends used for travel
  21. Exchanges of positive thoughts/words/energy
  22. Backpacking and nature
  23. The water in any/all river/lake/ocean/sea/swimming pool/rain form(s)
  24. An abundant life in endless different ways
  25. Everything I see when I look around me
  26. The person I've become, and the changes I've endured
This list could be so much longer, but for the sake of time, and keeping it 

26 [items] for 
26 [years] on the 
26th [of February], 
I will not. 

Look around you, in you, above, below, and next to you, and try to count 10 things to be grateful for. I bet there are so many! Now, do that every single day, and you're life is going to completely change. I don't know how, I can't tell you that, but I can tell you, assure you, promise you, it will, and it'll be awesome! (Like you:)

My birthday party in my mind

I'm sending a crrrrrrraaazzzzzyyyy amount of Love & Light to you right now. I can't even handle how much is flowing through me right now, you've gotta take some! It's for youuuuuu!!!!! :-*

Happy Birthday, Happy Life to us all!

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Deactivation Adventure: Summary

Last night I bit the bullet and reactivated Facebook. I'd made it just about two weeks (I say this to make myself feel better about not having been able to make it even two full weeks. But since I was only some hours shy of the 14 Day marker, I'm calling it like it is, "just about" two weeks), and was feeling pretty anxious to get back on it and drop some lines of love to some friends I've been missing loving on.

Interestingly enough, in the book I'm blowing through right now, Choose Yourself, by James Altucher (which I HIGHLY recommend reading, and will do a review of when I finish it later today), he even talks about Facebook being a good thing for us (weird, right?). In his chapter, How to Release the God Hormone, he is listing off different ways that we can release oxytocin (aka the happy chemical) in different ways that don't involve sex or child birth (proven to work for men or women). One of the things he says is, to release oxytocin in a nonsexual way, go on Facebook. Why does he say this? Why should we use Facebook to help release oxytocin? Well, I'll let his words explain it best...

I like to browse my Facebook time line and occasionally "Like" a photograph posted by a random friend from thirty years ago. I would never in a million years call that friend and say, "That was a real cute photo of your baby that you posted." But liking the photo is my way of connecting with someone that I felt close to at some point in my life [...] Guess what? Turns out, using social media in this way releases oxytocin. 

This is pretty much what I was talking about in this post here, where I discuss the fact that I appeared, to myself, to be more egotistical and self-centered at some point during My Deactivation Adventure, because of exactly that. I always "Like" and share positive content, so taking that outlet away, where was I to direct it? (And please don't answer, "The people around you," because yes, I'm aware of that, and putting it into practice as well. But this is a different kind of love.) And that's what I was craving last night.

I felt so amazing, so good, so full of love, and I wanted to share it. So I signed back in, which turns out is all it takes to reactivate, sent some sweet messages dripping in that good, gooey love (not that gross stuff you're thinking of), and that was that. Well, that was almost that. I also had a slight "panic attack" when I saw a post from someone, which brought back all the obsessive, desperate feelings I was feeling before I deactivated. Then I laid in bed, trying to fall asleep, feeling this intensity inside me, and also feeling like a crazy-freakazoid-stalker with an abundance of issues, who'd just throw out two weeks of self-work in an instant. I think it was just the first reaction from having logged back in. Some sort of a panic of, "What will happen now? Where does all this stand?" Today, I'm fine, and there's no signs of stalking. :)

Overall, My Deactivation Adventure proved to provide everything I was hoping it would -- an opportunity to work on myself, become in love with myself again (though a slight bout of egotism wasn't what I had in mind), and re-center myself around the one and only thing I want to be revolving around in this life on Earth: G O D.

(( Kind of how I'm feeling these days... MAGICAL ))

Have a happy, happy Tuesday! There's a lot to be grateful for!

This morning, before I got out of bed to even pee, I opened my journal and wrote a list of 20 things to be grateful for in the moment. Could have easily reached 100, but I was pressed on time.
Try it, and see which way your day goes!

Blessings, Love & Light to All

Monday, February 23, 2015

Deactivation Adventure: Days Ten to Thirteen

Considering that I logged back into Instagram yesterday and it told me my last post was two weeks ago, I assumed I'd been logged out and deactivated for two weeks. So, you can imagine my surprise when I just counted out the days, and realized today is only day 13 of My Deactivation Adventure. But it makes perfect sense that I would notice this and decide to write an update again, on Day 13. Thirteen has always been my number.

In all the sports I've ever played that required each player to have their own number (four in all), my number always ended up being 13. I didn't even realize this, until I had already been sporting the number in both volleyball and basketball for a season or two, then made it a point to always have 13 when it was time to pick numbers. There was one season of water polo at uni that I wasn't #13, and that's because it "belonged" to an older girl. So I had to wait out her graduation before I could reclaim my fame as #13. (How horrible is it, that now hashtags are so effing popular, I can't even write anthing with a number sign in front of it, without thinking I'm hashtagging something!? At least spell check doesn't recognize this word as being spelled correctly, yet. Yet. At least...)

I have been noticing a lot of little "coincidences" like this within the last week -- little signs or signals that I'm on the right track, things I think about and then they appear, number sequences that tell me something, or little things that match up. Right now, with the number 13, and then another strange one that happened to me on Saturday night...

On Thursday or Friday, I'd been thinking about a film. I was pretty sure I was mixing up two different films, but either way, I had a desire to watch it. Then, on Saturday night when I got home, my roommate was watching TV, and he flipped to a channel, and what do you know? The film, "The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo," the one I'd been thinking about, was on and had only started 15 minutes before! (I did figure out through watching it I definitely was blending two films, and still have no idea what the other is, but it was TGWTDT I'd really been wanting to see.)

There was another thing incredibly similar to this that happened to me just a day or two before, though now I am at a loss for what it was. However, these little manifestations have been appearing and happening with great frequency in the last week, and I think it's because I have been working on healing my mind!

Yesterday I touched on the difficult time I've been having in one of my jobs. Now, I know that the mind is our most powerful tool in life, so I've known that I hold all the power I need to make this situation better: the power of thought. But I've been having a really hard time overcoming it, since the source of "negativity" is something I have to face at least twice a week. It definitely makes it harder to overcome something when it's constant, because you have very little time in between experiences to get your mind straight. But it must be done.

As I said yesterday, I am in my final three months here in Southern Spain, in these jobs, and in this chapter of Life Abroad, and I want to finish them well -- full of love and light, living up to my purpose of sharing it. In order to do that, I have got to get my mind right, and start putting out thoughts of love to all those who are making it hard for me to exhibit it. This is a choice I finally, forcefully made last week, and since....the manifestations have started to appear again.

It used to happen to me all the time, I could think about something I was in the mood for in one instant, and within a couple days, somehow it would come to me. Like with the film this weekend. But it's been a while since instant manifestations have occurred, and I'm certain this is a sign I'm on the right track, and going to see beautiful results over the next days, weeks, and final months. (Yay!)

I'm not saying that all of this is because I deactivated my Facebook and took a break from social media, but I do think it's played a HUGE part in getting my mind right.

Before, I was not centered around God at all, because when you're in love, you tend to revolve around the person who has captured your attention. This is beautiful, but it's not really that healthy. It's never good to put that much of ourselves into another person, or place such an expectation on them (to return what we feel/give), because they are a human, and they can never meet it. I don't say this to discredit people or say they can't be enough. What I'm saying is that I had reached a point of giving so much to another person, and wanting all I was giving and more in return, and no one but God can give me all the fulfillment, attention or love I need. It's just how He designed us -- dependent and empty, only able to be properly filled by Him. So while it's taken me really deciding to get my mind in check to make these changes, I know that I probably wouldn't have been so capable had I kept my social media active. Facebook had become a source of desperation, need, and somewhere I was going to try and find fulfillment that it could never, ever, ever provide. Deactivating was definitely the right thing for me to do.

I think I'll reactivate it sometime between this evening and Wednesday afternoon, but haven't really decided. There are some messages I'm anxious to send (since my mobile is generally without credit, I can't respond to a couple texts, and I don't want to leave them in limbo), and I feel so bursting with love, I want to share it with everyone. (I know it seems strange that I would turn to Facebook to share this love, instead of the people around me, but I plan to do both. I will channel this love into the lives of my students, but also, I have a lot of great friends I'm connected to on Facebook, and I love making a big post proclaiming love that can reach them all at once. It feels amazing to release love and admiration for others, then see the "like," which I take as a symbol that it's been received and internalized.)

So that's what's going on on this end! How are you doing on yours?
Feeling good, strong and capable of handling all that's to come? I hope so!

I wish you all the happiest of weeks, and hope that you do something good for yourself today, and every day!

Blessings, Love & Light

Sunday, February 22, 2015

For Your Consideration // Fasting Favorites

Ash Wednesday was celebrated this past Wednesday, marking the start of Lent. Which means that way back when, when Jesus was wandering through the desert, being harassed nonstop by the devil, trying to come to grips with the fact he was soon to die a torturous and painful sinner's death, and praying instead of eating and drinking, He was setting yet another example of a practice that we Christians, Catholics, Orthodox's, and the likes would continue to follow hundreds of years later.

This year's lent season will come to an end on Thursday, April 2nd for Catholics, and Saturday, April 4th for Christians. Which means that for the next 40-42 days, we'll all, depending on what we've decided to give up, be losing weight, trying to stop swearing, less drunk, promiscuous, and/or stressed/socially connected via media than in the days that came before these. I know that each religion observes Lent in a different way, but the basis of the fast is meant to have the same meaning for us all.

It's a time when we are supposed to try and fast from things that have got a firm grip on us. The point of doing this, is to choose something that we often yearn for, something that we love -- sweets, coffee, alcohol, smoking, swearing, tea, meat, social media, etc -- so that when the hunger strikes (no pun intended), we turn to God in prayer, instead of to whatever it is we want. It's a way for us to submit to the Lord, and try to increase our dependence on Him, deepen our relationship with Him, and overcome, if only for the Lent period, our human thirsts.

What people fast from varies, but with a little research, I learned that the Top Five Fasting Favorites of this season would be as follows (in no particular order):

  1. Sweets
  2. Soda
  3. Alcohol
  4. Fast Food
  5. Social Media
Not such a surprise, right?

For as long as I can remember, I've given up sweets for lent, and this year is no different. I often find myself wandering into the pastry shop without even wanting to, and eating unhealthy sweets simply because I think it's what I should do after a meal, a hard class, or anything strenuous that might warrant a sweet treat as a reward. So for me, Lent is a great, Godly excuse not to eat sweets, and to get a little healthier. However, I realized that I wanted to give up sweets and was kind of using Lent as an excuse to do it, which doesn't really make it purposeful or a sacrifice. I knew I needed to amp it up a little bit, because it's not really a sacrifice if you want to do it, and that's not the point of the practice. That said, this year on top of sweets, which I indulged in pretty much daily, I am fasting from something I'm even scared to proclaim/make this official:


I have at least two coffees/espressos a day, and would consider going and sitting in the sun to have a coffee one of my favorite past times/one of the activities that gets me out of the house the most next to work, so this one, this one is a real, real fast for me. A really annoying one already, and it's only been a few days. I don't even see a reason to leave the house on days I don't have work or social plans, because while sitting in the sun is always nice, it's a whole lot nicer with a coffee in hand. There's just something about reading a book, coloring, writing, or studying AND drinking a coffee. (Which is probably why it's nearly 4 o'clock on Sunday afternoon and I haven't even changed out of my pajamas yet. Yes, my pity party has begun.) And considering the fact it's my birthday on Thursday, and I'll be in Italy for five and a half days starting on Friday, in Napoli nonetheless, the birthplace of gelato, without the ability to drink coffee or eat sweets, this is a proper fast. Nor will I be able to try the coffee or sweets in Bratislava, Slovakia, Vienna, Austria, or Budapest, Hungary whilst I travel around these cities/countries during the Easter break next month! 

My gosh, as soon as I realized all this, I immediately wanted to take it all back and give up something else. I almost started pleading with God to just excuse me this lent season, and promise I'd make it up in the next one(s). But, that's not how it works, and the fact I wanted to take it back right after I'd uttered it, is a good sign. This is the right track. If it's going to be this hard, it's going to be that good, and pay off that much more. (Pray for me please, I am so sad I won't be able to indulge in endless tiny, Italian coffees all day, or eat tiramisu and gelato for breakfast to say "Happy Birthday to Me!")

That said, yesterday I came upon an article about what Pope Francis is saying about lent, and it made me reconsider everything. (No, not to the point where I decided I could just not fast from sweets and coffee, even though that's kind of what he was saying, and trust me, I tried to make a case for it to God. In the end, I decided I'd rather just be obedient for a change.) This article on puts it nicely, 

According to Francis, fasting must never become superficial. He often quotes the early Christian mystic John Chrysostom who said: “No act of virtue can be great if it is not followed by advantage for others. So, no matter how much time you spend fasting, no matter how much you sleep on a hard floor and eat ashes and sigh continually, if you do no good to others, you do nothing great.”

So, if we’re going to fast from anything this Lent, Francis suggests that even more than candy or alcohol, we fast from indifference towards others.
In his annual Lenten message, the pope writes, “Indifference to our neighbor and to God also represents a real temptation for us Christians. Each year during Lent we need to hear once more the voice of the prophets who cry out and trouble our conscience.”
Describing this phenomenon he calls the globalization of indifferenceFrancis writes that “whenever our interior life becomes caught up in its own interests and concerns, there is no longer room for others, no place for the poor. God’s voice is no longer heard, the quiet joy of his love is no longer felt, and the desire to do good fades.” He continues that, “We end up being incapable of feeling compassion at the outcry of the poor, weeping for other people’s pain, and feeling a need to help them, as though all this were someone else’s responsibility and not our own.”

I found this to be really interesting and wonderful, and wanted to make sure I shared it with you all. It's such a true thought, "No act of virtue can be great if it is not followed by advantage for others," so while fasting and getting healthier will make me happier overall, in turn benefiting those around me (joy spreads), since they aren't the intention of these selected fasts, there needs to be more. 

The last months have been quite difficult for me at my assistant job. I am very tired of being surrounded by people who aren't interested in what's going on, and are quite judgmental, critical, and self-centered. (Also of feeling like I'm dedicating the majority of my time and energy to a purpose that's not passion-driven or wanted by either end.) I know this is normal for teens and preteens, but it's exhausting to look into death glares all day every day and be on the receiving end of such disrespect, especially when my nature is to love and nurture. But now, I'm in my last three months with these students, and I want to leave knowing that we've had a good time together. I don't want to leave, think back, and say, "Well, it was an experience, but one I could have lived without." Nor do I want to leave, and have them there thinking, "Thank goodness she's gone, she was such a worthless ____!" No, I never want that to be the case in any interaction. 

So, to try and combat this possibility, I am also taking up for Lent, a fast from any negative thought or word against these couple groups we've got that are particularly difficult. I know that thought can overcome all and create a new world before our eyes, so I'm going to practice it with all I've got the next 42 days, and just see what happens in the class and around the school! They're not bad kids, and everyone needs love, so they are being taken under as part of my new little "experiment". Let's see what happens!

What are you going to fast from? 
Have you set some lent intentions? 
Will they benefit others and not just yourself? Let me know!

I hope you're receiving all the healing vibes I'm sending your way, and have an amazing Sunday, filled with Love and Light! Absorb all the goodness in the Earth, and release all that doesn't serve you. Life isn't meant to be spent feeling badly, so live it up, and love all the way through!

Blessings, Love & Light

PS. I logged back into Instagram today (a_fedorio)! Two weeks had passed without it, and I've gotta say, I did really miss it. But I'll post about that separately, and be back on Facebook on Tuesday or Wednesday!

Saturday, February 21, 2015

--> EgoActivation

In my last post, an update about My Deactivation Adventure, I mentioned I wasn't sure if I was becoming slightly more egotistical, but didn't want to elaborate too much on it in the moment. It wasn't the point of the post. But now I will, because I'm finding this process and potential realization very interesting.

Usually, on Facebook I am sharing A LOT of love. I comment nice, uplifting, encouraging things that are dripped in love, and I am sharing inspirational quotes, stories, messages, and images. A lot of my purpose and intention with the site is to use it as a platform to connect to others in an inspiring and beautiful way. Of course it plays a role in how I feel about myself, which is why I deactivated it and don't particularly care for it, but on the other hand, I am realizing how uplifting it also is. Because to give and share so much goodness from a pure place, results in the giver feeling extra great. Whatever we give, we also receive, so by eliminating this source of Goodness Giving, I've also taken it away from myself. And as a result, without this exchange of inspiration happening, I am focusing a lot more on myself.

All that energy and focus that was going to others and building them up, is now internalized, but in a different and not-so-pure way. Which, while overall it is having some positive affects, is also potentially having some negative ones in regards to Ego Boosting and Self-Centeredness. A lot more of my activity is directed at Me and done for myself instead of others, and there's just a lot of Me going on in general.

It's good to take time for ourselves, and it's important to focus on ourselves sometimes, but I think that too much of it can become a bad thing. I don't think I've necessarily hit this point of it being a bad thing, but the combination of having taken away my largest audience to indulge in exchanges of love and kindness with, the place where I have the highest concentration of conscious friends, and facing so many closed or unconscious/unaware adolescent/adult minds each day, and I kinda feel like I shut down the love factory a little bit. Of course, being physically sick as well wasn't probably helping the situation, and the more my health improves, the more my mind improves, the more my life improves, etc, but still, to feel like I'm hopping up on my high horse hasn't been very concerting.

This is all really just an introduction to what's going on, because it's something I've only just picked up on and began to observe. So we'll have to see where it goes in the next 4-5 days of deactivation, but these are my initial observations and assessments. However, last night I finally went to the Ateneo Culture Center here in Écija, and met some lovely people who are definitely living and thinking outside the box (just what I needed!), which is sure to change the course of everything all over again! (In the ways I really like/love:) Whatever happens, I'll keep you updated! ^_^

Have you experienced similar things at any time you took a break from social media, a person, a group, an activity, etc? I'd love to hear how your focus and Being responded to it all. :)

Hope you have a happy Saturday, filled with relaxation, laughter, and love! Life is lovely, give thanks, and take pleasure in everything that happens. :)

Blessings, Love & Light

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Deactivation Adventure: Days Six to Nine

I stopped doing daily reports on how My Deactivation Adventure was going, because it seems redundant to keep saying, "My health is improving slowly, but I'm still a bit sick, and I still really want to be able to go waste time on Facebook." Therefore, I took a break, and decided to write about some other stuff. But now I'm back to do a little update, since almost five more days have passed from the last little log.

I continue to miss Facebook 0%, but do still find myself wanting to go on it when I don't feel like doing any of the things I should do, or just want to kill a bit of time on the computer. However, whilst this may be what I'd really like to do, I press onward, happy as a clam without it, and though sometimes a little annoyed I can't, the feeling is fleeting, and I'm left turning to other, more productive things. Actually, I'm much happier this way.

Not enough days have passed without Facebook for me to forget about it entirely, and knowing I plan to reactivate it soon definitely doesn't help me "just forget about it". These factors considered, I'm not sure if this experiment will yield all the affects I want it to, but I could see how it would if this deactivation were to be for an extended period of time. Knowing this, I will likely give it a shot when my birthday has passed. Or, to be honest, the longer I go without it, and the closer the day approaches, the more I want to just skip right through my birthday comment blunder, and humble myself with some continued deactivation. (This being a result of the personal appreciation and love I'm gaining through not having Facebook to assist me in my self-assessment/daily judgement sessions. I find that I care less about seeing how many beautiful birthday notifications I get, because I am becoming more satisfied with myself in general, and therefore need the validation from/of others less. Which is awesome, because it was the intention! But I am starting to wonder if I'm becoming slightly more egotistical. To be discussed later...)

If I were planning to just leave my profile deactivated, not indefinitely, but nearly, I think it would free up a lot of mental space. I enjoy scrolling through the Newsfeed, popping open endless tabs of new photo montages, lists, articles, and trippy videos to sift through as much as the next person, but does that content actually enhance my life? Does it contribute any greatness that I could not otherwise achieve? I don't really think so. Because, while I may learn some things, a lot of it is simply reading for the sake of being up to date on the topic, and since I'm in the business of trying to live a passion-filled life, much of it is just a way to participate in conversations I don't really care about having in the first place. (No, I do not agree that by choosing to not watch the news I am choosing to be ignorant, just as little as I agree that I am choosing to be stupid and close-minded by focusing myself on absorbing things of interest. I am here to maximize life, and that means dedicating myself to my passions, not trying to fit into any group or society.)

So, in the end, this thing I thought I couldn't survive or stay connected without, isn't sending me into a panic attack about losing all my friends, or causing me to fear my family has no idea what's going on in my life, nor any of the other irrational things I could have anticipated upon deactivation. In fact, a few friends have already reached out via email or on the phone, because they wanted to send me a message but couldn't find me. Now these are the friends I'd like to keep around -- the ones who notice they can't get a hold of me with the quick, simple, ease of dropping a message on Facebook while they happen to be on the site, and actually make the effort to contact me in another way. The ones who want it badly enough, they're willing to work a slight bit more to make it happen.

Before, I wondered how I'd keep in touch with many of my friends without Facebook, since it's our main means of communicating. Well, now I see how, and now I do agree that the friends who you're meant to have, will be in your life with or without this Socially [Dis]Connecting Site no matter what. Yes, I can absolutely say, I'm a fan of the deactivation!

Give it a try if you so dare to, I promise it'll be quite revealing. ;-)

Sending love and light to you all, and wishing you a very blessed day!

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

The Moment You Make Up Your Mind

Whenever I put forth a new initiative, take up a new practice, or begin to implement a new thought process or pattern, a pivotal moment always comes up within the first two or three weeks of doing so.

I've found it is very easy to feel at peace and adapt these new ways of thinking/accepting at first, but then for some reason, instead of it becoming embedded like a real habit, they often get left behind, forgotten, or given up on in a moment of mental "weakness". And I never really thought about this until right now.

They say that new habits form in 21 days. But what I've witnessed in myself when I implement a new thought pattern, is that it seems to happen, for the most part, very easily. For example, with my recent realization/decision that I need to just accept everything, everything, everything, hold no resistance, and just take it as it is, while trying to infuse it with my love -- in highest regard to my mental/emotional Highs and Lows. So of course, the last couple days I'm feeling good about my new initiative, things are going pretty well, I'm feeling more loving towards my students (in spite of some snappy moments at the high school yesterday), and I'm trying to accept it as it comes, reminding myself to Remain in God's Love. Seems easy enough right now, and it appears as though I should easily be able to maintain this until I pass the point where this New Way of Processing simply becomes How I Process: it'll become a new habit.

So then why, of all the times I've consciously practiced positive thinking in my life over the last four years, do I still find myself laying in bed when my alarm goes off, dreading waking up and walking into high school? How has this not become the habit I practice in the morning yet?

I know that this is incredibly unhealthy and not a conducive thought practice, yet I engage in it most Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday mornings (although I have noticed a strong correlation to this process and the mornings I have to be at the school in the first hour). What changed along the way? When did positive thinking not become a habit, and become forgotten? And will it then happen again, with this Other New Initiative? Or is it simply that it's incredibly hard to be positive about something that you are almost certain will be so trying? (Another topic to be posted on later..)

What I've decided is this:

Yes, new habits form after 21 days, but there comes a point with everything, where we actually make the choice whether we're going to stick to it or not. Kind of like we've made the first choice to make it a habit and stuck with it so long it has the chance to really become one, but then we have to re-decide to make it a habit, just as it's approaching that time where it would become one.

It's like deciding that I'm not going to eat pastries and desserts everyday, making the choice for a week, feeling good about it, then deciding to reward myself for my strength by having one, okay, maybe two, sweet treats. You see what happens there? I form a new habit, but somewhere in my subconscious realms, I have it categorized away as "this is a treat, I deserve this treat," (insert any other unhelpful excuse here) and then the whole thing crumbles.

With each new habit, especially when it deals with our thought processes, it's important to be aware of it the entire time it's happening, because the moment will arrive, when you're tired, external factors are playing against you, possibly your physical strength is low, ladies, we could have just started menstruating, and a million other things could be coming into play, and then it's not going to be so easy to be so strong. It's in this moment that the devil will test and try us, try to catch us up, make us slip and trip, and cause all the hard work we've been putting in to fall away quicker than Simba's father in The Lion King. (But actually much quicker, because they showed us that horrifying moment in slow motion. PS. Thanks, Disney.)

I can be as aware that this moment will come as I want, which is good, and I'm glad to be conscious of it, because then I can prepare myself for it. It will just take extra mental strength right now, to get firm in what I want for myself and my mind later, and then superhero strength in the moment to stick with it. But we can, brothers and sisters of mine, yes we can! We can be victorious and see our new mental patterns become our way of life, and then we will see our lives become Wow. I want a Wow Life. In many ways, I believe and feel I've got one, but I want to know it's in my mind as well as in front of my eyes. (Everything starts inside!) And that's what I'm after! So bring on The Moment I Make Up My Mind, because I've got God, and I'm ready to kick it in it's face and into its grave!

PS. Someone help me. I think I've been surrounded by pre-teen and adolescent energy, emotion and thoughts for too long, and they are infiltrating my subconscious, causing me to make statements like, "I'm ready to kick it in it's face!" something I'm incredibly against, and actually think is one of the worst possible things you could do to another. (DON'T KICK PEOPLE IN THE FACE. Kiss their cheeks softly and whisper loving compliments into their ears. Spread Love:)

Anyways, love you guys! Hope you're feeling mentally strong and ready for whatever is to come your way today! I'm right there with you! 
Into the battlefield of life we go, Happy Hump Day!

Blessings, Love & Light

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Thumbs Up From Above

Yesterday morning I had a big, huge, major, whoa-my-gosh-what-a-world this-is-going-to-change-everything realization, which you can read about here, but just in case you don't want to, the summary goes like this (as said/read in a voice going the speed of light and never stopping for any breaths till the final period has been passed):

I have highs and lows and I've been wanting to figure out how to, essentially, stop them for good, but haven't been able to make the lows stop rolling through town on their dark horses; which while mystical, magical, beautiful and breath-taking, are too strong, too dark, and stomp out the love and light I try to live in, breath in, exhale out, be, see, and pass on, so, what can I do? How can I overcome them? What's the solution? (Will it ever end!?!) Well, BAM! Here comes yesterday to tell me: ACCEPT THEM, then they lose power over you, and then, like any competitive person likes to hear, "You Win!" Oh yes, oh yeah, that's the way to play. So, on the the accepting game!

Got it? More or less? Great, continuing on with today's amazements then...

(And yes, I may have just made up a new word, but it seems like in the English language, we are fond of taking a real word, adding a prefix or suffix to it that doesn't usually belong, and then calling it a word. Usually no one flinches. [Remind me again why I'm an English teacher, let alone preparing people for Cambridge Official Exams..? Hmm.. Shh, don't tell Cambridge.]) But back to the Amazements of The Day...

Paulo Coelho and Ralph Waldo Emerson once said/wrote/thought some variation of, "When you make a decision, the whole universe conspires in your favor to help you make it happen." And seeing as I have recently decided, with every cell of my Being, every part of my heart, and every assurance in my mind, to accept my lows with my highs, my moments that lack love with my moments of I-just-need-to-hug-a-stranger-right-now, my bright, beaming moments where there's no doubt I am a representation of God's Light, with the moments you'd hope I wasn't religious or engaged in a spiritual relationship, because, wait, where is He in all that sass, I am now putting forth a new practice of accepting all these phases of my cycle, today God has been delivering me so much information to support this. Essentially, I'm getting the Big Thumbs Up from the Universe right now. (Awesome. Always awesome. Feels better than a pat on your back.)

The first thing I found, which left me pretty stumped, and also reconsidering all the snide remarks I've made about astrology and star signs in the past, was this beautiful explanation of the New Moon in Aquarius on Mystic Mamma.

Aside from the insanely impeccable timing of the New Moon transitioning from Aquarius to Pisces (my sign, heeey!), which makes me feel almost certain that God has got His hand in this (causing the reconsideration of said snide, astrologically-directed past comments) a lot of the information I read resonated on a very deep level with me. It seems to apply wonderfully to the processes I've been, well, processing, as well as the realizations I've been coming to. One such example is this,

“…This powerful 29th degree Aquarius New Moon is all about anchoring in the Light but not doing it in a way to escape, deny or ignore the shadow. We do so that we can illuminate the shadow and help heal the rift and duality in ourselves and the world around us.”

I mean, I don't think I even need to write any commentary, because how much clearer does it get than that? It's exactly what I am processing and working on now!

And then, as if these Astral Insights weren't enough to make my Everything Is Aligned geek-dar start beeping, I clicked over to the Consciousness Videos tab on the site, and came upon this Vintage Ram Dass Gem!

Or here

Just like that, inner peace has been restored, and I'm so certain that this is going to help launch me into my next dimension of living, breathing, and Being!

Acceptance has always been the key, it's always been something I've known and tried to practice, but now, it's time to stop letting "how hard it is" or "how annoying/loud/disrespectful they are" stop me from actually using and doing it! Time to get accepting, people! I am that I am that I am and that I am is Good Good Good because it's from God! Amen!

I love you
Have a great week

All Right


Monday, February 16, 2015

My Morning Mind-Blower

If you've been following my blog for a while or are part of my life, then I'm almost certain you've become aware of my frequent "highs and lows." For example, here you can get an idea of what my highs are like, and then just imagine, that my lows involve very little love and light, and me being essentially irritated with everyone and everything, especially, and namely, myself.

So for the longest time now, I've been trying to discover the source of these irritating mood swings, so I can stomp them out, and say goodbye to them forever! Which as we all should recognize/realize, isn't the way it works, nor what will ever really happen. It's not in God's design for our lives. In which case, the question becomes, "What do I do about them?" or, "How can I better handle them?"

This pair of questions have played through my mind like a favorite song I can't seem to forget, and as I was writing in my journal just moments ago, I had a fairly major breakthrough! Here is what I wrote -- it started with a prayer:

Lord, please help me achieve consistency. 

(Something I am consistently asking for, as well as balance.)

I guess, the moment I stop being so resistant to my constant state of changing, is the moment I will be consistent, because the highs and lows, swinging of the pendulum, will lose its power over me, and I can/will live in peaceful acceptance.

Hmm-Hmm.. yes, this must be one of the final stepping stones to me fully accepting myself and loving myself:

Accepting and loving the fact I'm not always energetically or mentally the one I want to be. And not trying to overcome the "lows" through the "power of suppression," but instead, just going through them with a smile, knowing I traverse the plains with God, and that it's a temporary period.

I like this! <3 I think it'll work!

And I do believe it will work, because for the longest time, I tried to deny the existence of these periods in which I am not so full of Love and Light, as to not give them more energy and make them greater. Which is silly, as I know and believe, "What you resist persists." So really, that was never a good practice to try and uphold. Instead, I must learn to accept and love this ever-changing and swaying parts of me, and know that just because I'm in a period of less love, doesn't mean I'm not still love, nor that I temporarily stopped carrying the torch of the Lord's Light (this is not possible, as He lives in me, and goes where I go). 

Oh, how I love these mornings where I can just write, dive deep into myself, and let God reveal answers to questions I wasn't even meaning to ask! What a beautiful therapeutic practice writing is for me -- so many revelations come my way with pen in hand. I know writing is part of my destiny, and am thrilled by the opportunity to watch how it becomes a more prevalent part of my life. I've also come to grips with the fact I really do want to start a Youtube channel at some point, too, in spite of my fear of failing at it. But I think, I'd like to wait and do it before I begin The Adventure That Never Ends (the big backpacking/volunteer trip), because a travel-and-volunteer-based channel is more my thing than one in which I simply talk to you all. ***Coming Soon to a YouTube link near you!***

I hope you've taken some time to seek and Be inside yourself today. It's of the utmost importance in this world we live in, that makes us feel like simply sitting and breathing is not an accomplishment of any great sort. When in actuality, above all else, it matters most. Protecting your heart, and breathing deep breaths of gratitude, these are the keys the health and happiness. :)

I love you, world. 
I can't wait to be roaming around free in you, exploring all there is to be explored, and letting the Lord deliver to me the people and places I'm meant to see! Ahh, what a lovely dream! 
(And soon to become my reality) 

Blessings, Love & Light from Above

PS. I'm getting a new tattoo today! Pictures and a post to come soon!

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Deactivation Adventure: Day Five

Can I just say, it blows to be sick, staying at home in bed or on the couch all day, and not be able to go on Facebook! I mean, seriously, I couldn't have timed this worse!

I don't really know what happened between Friday afternoon, when I was hyper-productive and dancing around the house, and yesterday, when I felt like my head had doubled in size due to congestion, but my burst about being better was certainly short-lived. I understand that if the congestion is in the chest, then it must come out through the nose and mouth, so I'm aware that's what's happening, but my goodness, I want to be healthy again!

Last night, a few friends came by so I could paint their faces for Carnaval, and when one of them plugged in her phone, she unknowingly flipped off the surge protector. This caused my clock to go out, and instead of resetting the time when I plugged it back in, I decided not to worry about it till later. Well, later turned into today, and since I sleep with my phone off if I don't need the alarm, I had no idea what time it was during the night. Which is why I woke up at 12:45. O_o Couldn't believe it.

But in spite of the 12 1/2 hours I spent in bed last night, I am still tired today, and I am tired of watching things, but don't know my brain is really in the mood to do Italian homework, study Food, Nutrition and Health, The Human Body as a Machine, or my new book about plant medicine. Thank God I found Ratatouille on Youtube! In short, I just really want to go on Facebook, and take some comfort in stalking the lives of the people I love. Maybe seeing all your smiles will help me heal faster? Boo-Hoo, bad timing.

Anyways, that's pretty much all I've got for right now. I think I might try to do something more productive than hunt down free, full-length movies on Youtube and rewatch "Horrible Bosses" and "Bad Teacher" for the 50th times. But I also kind of doubt it, based on how uncooperative my eyes are being right now in the Staying Open Department.

I hope you all have a nice, relaxing Sunday, full of goodness, and perhaps some God! ;-)

Love you shiners near and far!


Saturday, February 14, 2015

Deactivation Adventure: Day Four

I almost didn't write anything today, because I don't feel that much has changed since yesterday. I still think about going on Facebook when I "have nothing else to do," and especially since I spent today at home healing, it would have been nice to have it to fall back on to kill the time.

However, I am grateful I couldn't. Because, instead of wasting three hours on Facebook or posting things on Instagram, I watched two sermons from Elevation, saw Special Forces in French with Spanish subtitles, therefore practicing my Spanish and French (for the day I actually begin to seriously study it), which resulted in a MASSIVE crying fest, and ended with me begging God to help the world, and asking Him why people do such things to other humans (it was a really good film, in my opinion, and probably blended with my I'm-Sick-and-This-Is-the-First-Day-of-My-Period emotions perfectly), and then some girlfriends came over so I could paint their faces for Carnaval. Which I was supposed to go out and celebrate with them, but bailed out because of my health/the wind/the fact I don't like drinking outside with massive crowds of people. So here I am, writing to you all, and potentially sounding far more pathetic than I intended to. I'm happy, that's what counts. :)

I wouldn't say the urge to go on Facebook is less than yesterday, but definitely less than last night when I was pretty much shouting it to myself comically. There is nothing I miss about it, other than it's ability to fill the time when I want to be occupied, but not really do anything useful. And of course, the lingering curiosity to know how many notifications there are there. Although, since it's deactivated, people can't even access me. Hmm.. wow, this adds a whole new level of relaxation to it all!

Now, knowing that the notifications aren't building up, I am even less interested to go on it. I know there are none, so it's not as though I'm missing out on anything by not checking it. This is great! A whole nother bit of weight has just been lifted off! Kind of like the moment you go on holiday, and then it really hits you: you have no where to be, nothing to do, and are totally free to flow how you want to, until it's over! Ahhh, what a nice sense of relief!

This just keeps getting better and better! ;-)

Carnaval in Las Palmas Gran, Canaria, 2010

Blessings, Love & Light to you all
I adore you

Friday, February 13, 2015

Deactivation Adventure: Day Three, Part Two

This morning I wasn't even thinking about Facebook, and didn't have any interest in going on it. Well, now it's night, and that has changed.

I think it's because all morning/afternoon I was doing stuff around the house, off the computer, and not "where Facebook can be found" (I have long since deleted it from my mobile). But now that I've been doing things on the computer for the last couple hours, I've run out of things to look into for my future trips, and it's time to study a bit, I just keep saying, "I want to go on Facebook."

I've known for a long time that it was a page I would use to kill time and procrastinate, and now I am so glad I have eliminated the option for myself. It forces me to get over my procrastination faster, and on with the things I should do.

So thank you, Allison, for forcing yourself into higher levels of productivity. >.<

I love you, no matter what. (And I'm actually really glad we're doing this.)


Deactivation Adventure: Day Three

Ok, I am in an energetic frenzy right now (the good kind)! I feel like my old ADD self, flying around the house, trying to organize/clean my room, do laundry, clean the house, and take care of a million things at once, each one sparking a new idea or leading to another little project I start doing, only to remember 15 minutes later what my original thought/intention was, go back the first one, and then begin again the cycle of starting new things, and being surrounded by 10 partial projects. Of course they'll all get done, just not with all my concentration on the same one at the same time, and with many little breaks to do weird things like write, dance, twirl, chat, etc.

This has always been the way I do things. You should see me when I'm moving out of/into a new place -- it's madness. It would probably drive a lot of people insane, and make them feel like they're not getting anything done, but this is how I function, and it's been working for me the last nearly-26 years. I'm in no hurry, I've got time, so why be intense about it? Nahh, let's just dance, chill, wobble around, and enjoy the craze! Crazy-unconventional ways of mine, with you I continue to thrive! (And the random and heady outbursts of laughter, dance sessions, costume parties, and silly moments that come along with it I'd never want to trade!)

Anyways, onto the point of this post! Though I guess to share my joy and excitement with you all was/is also a huge part of it... Today is Day Three of My Deactivated Adventure (from Facebook & Instagram), and honestly, I haven't even wanted to go on it once! They say it takes about three days to break a habit and get past the "hardest days", and I guess that statistic actually does apply to me when it comes to social media (it never seems to have applied in the past when I've quit certain things). Woo!

Also, my physical health has improved drastically, even just from this morning! I didn't go to work at the high school today, because last night I was told I could stay home and heal if I needed to. I woke up 15 minutes class was supposed to start (plenty of time to throw on clothes and get there in time), but was/am still having a pretty hard time breathing, and since Mother Nature decided to deliver today, there were some new, added pains in the mix. But in comparison to how I felt yesterday, well, let's just put it this way: I just got done having a semi-wild solo dance party around the house... yesterday, just walking down the stairs left me gasping a bit, and making it to work was kind of like crossing the Sahara. Cheers to natural healing remedies!!!

Naturally, everyone's first reaction when they saw my state-of-being/speaking yesterday was, "Have you gone to the doctor?" And their second reaction, when I told them that, no, no I hadn't, nor was I going to, was, "That's not good. You should go to the doctor." Yeah, sorry, no thanks. I'm not against doctors, I actually happen to know some future ones I love very much, and have a mother who is a pharmacist, but I am not keen on walking to the hospital, to have to wait for an unknown amount of time, to see someone for less than five minutes, that is so over-worked and burdened they don't even have time to look me in the eyes while we speak, and can only think about getting me in and out as fast as possible, so they simply write me a prescription and send me off to wait in yet another queue, in another place I've had to gasp my way to, so I can spend my money on something that's probably got some sort of toxin in it anyways, and isn't guaranteed to work. And it doesn't matter to me if my health care will cover the expenses of seeing the doctor. I just don't want to. That is a last, last resort in my life. (Now accepting any/all tips on how to naturally overcome asthma!!!)

Instead, I popped by to visit my friend, who is an herbologist, and ask her what I should take. In her store she had this MIRACLE medicine, that I swear, without it, Vitamin C, and this Composor 13 of garlic and thyme (a liquid, you put 25-30 drops into a glass of water three times/day and drink it), there's no way I'd having been dancing 10 minutes ago, or dancing on my bed right now as I write this (thank you, AC Slater on soundcloud!).

It's called S.O.S. Active, and it's a 60mL bottled blend of (in Spanglish) ginseng, propolis, gelee royale, echinacee, and natural fruit juices blended with honey. They come three to a pack, and you drink one throughout the day, for three days. It's designed for chest congestion/related pain, and sore throats. And it tastes deliciousssss! So much so, that I have to tell myself as I'm drinking it, that it's meant to be taken throughout the day, not all at once like a shooter.

(Thiiiiiisss stuffffffff)

So yes, overall, my physically condition is improving at a fairly rapid speed, and my mind is just soaring with goodness! I feel so much more re-centered around the things I want to be focused on (God, God, and more God), and couldn't be happier I've decided to take this break from Facebook and Instagram. (Although, there are sooo many things I want to share via IG. lol. Soon, soon.) It's been especially cool, because my The Human Body as a Machine and Health, Nutrition and Food courses via open2study are really interesting, and giving me a lot to learn/focus on. Yay for learning!

That's All For Now, 

just wanted to check in and tell you how great this experience of deactivating has been for me. If you're feeling overly-stimulated/stressed, I'd highly recommend taking a break from your online social life -- really helpful!

Looooove, love, love, love, love, love, loveeee to you all! Wish I could huggg you! Imagine that I am -- I am!!

Blessings, Love & Light



Sooo much good energy!!!!


Thursday, February 12, 2015

Deactivation Adventure: Day Two

So naturally, since I've started to heal my mind, everything else is falling back into place, even though physically I'm deteriorating; with clouds and cobwebs in my chest and an incredibly sore throat. But that being the case, since now I'm feeling right as rain about myself and have my normal confidence level's coming back, I thought, "How silly to have deactivated my Facebook over all this. It was always my problem, of course, and now it seems so ridiculous to have taken it 'to the extreme' like I did. I feel completely better already, so maybe, I'll just reactivate and get on with a socially interactive online life!"


I may be feeling way better already mentally, but I know that this is probably just Satan trying to get me to go back to social media sooner than I'm really ready to. It happens this way a lot when we make a decision about something that we think/know will be better for us in the end -- we have our first 24 hours of success, start to feel stronger or "completely healed," and then think, "Hey, yeah, I can handle that. No problem! Let's just go right back to what was contributing to our unhealthy state," .................less than two days ago.

I mean, come on! Where's the logic in that? We may feeeel clear-minded and bright-eyed, but honey, I'm pretty sure that whatever it was that was getting you so down and messing you up so much can't be cured in just a day. That first day is just the beginning, so if you stop now and just go back into the old ways thinking that your "new mind" will take you through the same stuff as before but better, you are slightly twisted in your thinking.

That'd be like a drug addict stopping for one day, feeling like, "YES, I can! I am!" and then deciding to go to a party with all their old friends who do drugs, because THEY feel strong enough to say no. Not going to happen. (Take it from someone who has been trrrrying to quit smoking weed for the last five years, and has hardly liked it at all in the last nearly-12 years they've been doing it. Doesn't matter how many months I'm off the crap, I get around certain friends, those old habits kick back in, and before I know it, I'm sitting on the couch thinking, "Gosh dang it. Why did I smoke? I don't even like it! Ok, this is definitely the last time I'm smoking. The final test has been taken. I keep trying it, hoping I'll like it and it'll do something good for me, but nope... always the same. I. Am. Done!" ...till the next day the whatever-it-is gets passed my way, and I'm right back to that mental game of Foosball. [But hey! Proud to say I haven't smoked in almost two months, and that I truly am through with that not-serving-my-higher-self-or-purpose-stuff!!! Friends, please don't even try to pass it to me. I'm out!]) And that is exactly what is happening now with Facebook.

I was told I could go home when I showed up to work this morning, because I think I probably look about as bad as my throat/chest feels, so after finishing watching an AMAZINGLY PERFECTLY ALIGNED sermon at Elevation, the first class of my online Food, Nutrition, and Health course (open2study is a free, online resource full of cool courses to take!), and a ridiculous amount of BuzzFeed videos on YouTube, I decided to take a nap. You know what I dreamt about during my nap? I couldn't believe it when I woke up and remembered, and was freaking out in my dream when I had completed the act entirely unconsciously...

I dreamed I went on Facebook. 

My gosh, talk about shame! Yes. Yes, yes, I actually was dreaming I just signed on Facebook, was commenting on stuff, liking things, I had two notifications, and then, when I was clicking out of the page, I remembered, "Oh my gosh, I deactivated my account! That was just yesterday! I didn't even make it one day before I went on without thinking twice about it! How could I not realize that till now??" And so began again my thoughts of, "Maybe I should just stay activated now."

I can't wait to step into my 26th year of life on Earth after this 2 1/2 weeks break from all the input. And you know what I'm realizing? How many flipping times a day I would just go over to Facebook, because I was already on the computer, and didn't know what else to do. Now, I'm writing more on my blog, something I've been wanting to for the last three years, and I think, pretty soon, I'll start using the time to practice the banjo, juggling, poi-ing, and Italian! Awww yeah, this Deactivated Adventure is the one for me! ;-)

Love you all

Shine bright
Shine strong
Smile often
Live long


Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Deactivation Adventure: Day One

It's been less than six hours since I deactivated my Facebook, signed out of Instagram, and uninstalled the app from my phone. Clearly not long enough to feel any withdrawal symptoms, but long enough to notice changes in my behavior, and be given time to observe it.

One thing that's striking me as fairly hilarious, is that I keep thinking of how I'm doing with this, things I'm thinking or feeling, realizations that are coming to mind, and my first thought is to go share them on social media! Then I realize, I've cut myself off and can't.

There is no feeling of sadness, disconnect, or isolation I'm experiencing thus far, but I do find it strange that, in spite of having very good friends at my disposal via Whatsapp (a communication app, much like texting, but that runs off WiFi and data plans), my first instinct is to share news with a larger, more distant audience. Is it for the likes? Is it for the notifications? Is it to get input from more people? Is it to try and demonstrate myself? Is my Ego that much in control of me? Or, is it simply that this has become the habit? I figure it's a heady combination of them all, in one way or another.

I am at an emotionally, mentally, and energetically draining/confusing/difficult time right now, and felt that Facebook had somehow become a major contributor to it all, which is why I decided to temporarily deactivate my account. Now, shake your heads in shame all you want, but when I say this next part, you know, as well as I do, that you'd likely do it the same way, or at least can feel for me...

My Deactivation Adventure is only going to last about 2 1/2 weeks, because my birthday is the end of the month, and to be unabashedly honest, there are few things that make a soul soar like reading through numerous heartfelt birthday messages and comments. Even the ones that are generic somehow count, because they saw your name on the side, and decided you were worth the moment it'd take to write, "Happy birthday!" (**insert smiley face here, maybe**) The last few years, I have been brought to tears, and gotten more rowdy than a gospel church while reading through them, and that's not something I want to give up. Especially not now, in my "state of crisis." So, in time for my birthday, I shall reactivate, check in with the world, and then potentially, deactivate again for a long time.

I have been wanting to delete my account entirely for at least three or four years, but since I had so many friends in other countries I wanted to keep in touch with, didn't. And then, when I moved abroad, I often read from my sister, mom, and grandma, that they pretty much only knew what was happening in my life because of Facebook. (Truly sad, but truly true.) So I haven't deleted myself from it's toxic throws, because I genuinely use it to keep in touch with certain people while we're living hundreds or thousands of miles apart.

Of course, there's the argument I constantly consider of, "Won't the people who're really meant to be in your life be in it no matter what?" And yes, I do believe this to be the case, but I also know, that if it weren't for Facebook, I wouldn't have reconnected with or met so many of the amazing people I have in the last year. For example, I wouldn't have been able to reach out to my Norwegian friends whom I hadn't seen for four years, and tell them I'd be in their country, enabling us to meet up, and me to actually be hosted in Oslo; nor would my new Portuguese friend have been able to contact his Norwegian friends to hook me up with a place to stay, or tell me within the last couple weeks that he's going to be a father(!!); nor would a former Couchsurfer I had (and friend) have been able to put me in contact with the people who hosted me in Brussels last weekend, and so on and so forth.

I live on both sides of the coin with this thing, but for now, one thing is certain: I want to enter my 26th year of life (which I'll do on the 26th, so, please keep it in mind;) with as clear a head and steady a heart as I can, and currently, Facebook wasn't helping me achieve it. So It's Out. For now. We'll see what happens with my mind over the course of the next couple weeks, but my hopes are high that I'll walk into my new year of life more centered on God than I've ever been, and more satisfied than I could imagine! Bring it on!

Blessings, Love & Light to you all

Who will actually see this, if I can't share it on social media? 
Congratulations to those of you who were meant to read this post, 
you have found it, 
and it you. 
Welcome, I love you 

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

A "This'll Be Funny When It's Finished" Adventure

An Incredibly Unexpected Adventure
This'll Be Funny When It's Finished

Upon dropping out of my Integrated Kinesiology course, I went straight to and booked three weekend trips, partly to make myself feel better, and partly because more money and time to travel was one of my main reasons for dropping the course in the first place. The first trip I booked was to Brussels, Belgium, and so the last weekend I went.

In the end, my galpal decided to book with me, but since she would be arriving from London in the morning, we planned to meet at our host's house that night when I got in. My flight was scheduled to land at about 23h, and I figured I'd be at the house by half past. Our host (and now friend) had told us that from the airport to the station near the house, it was about 10 minutes, and then just a few minutes on foot to the house. She also informed us that they lived in the Red Light District (RLD), so if we found ourselves in front of a brothel, we were in the right place. Ok, no problem. I've got directions, screen shots of maps, and my friend is going to meet me at the train station when I arrive. Simple, simple, no stress. Wellllll, it wouldn't be my life nor my type of travel if something that seems so simple and straight-forward actually played out to be so.

When I arrived at the airport, I saw signs for the station and followed them, only to discover it was a bus station, not train. Confusion started to set in, and deepened the longer I looked for a train stop without finding one. I had thought my host spoke English well enough not to mix up "bus" and "train," but just couldn't seem to find any train. But I did find a shuttle service that would take me to the city, so I decided to confirm there was no train, and then take the shuttle. Well, you can imagine my surprise when I saw that the shuttle was going to cost 17€ for a one-way ticket! I had been trying to budget 20€/day, because I've got 5 nights in Italy coming up at the end of the month, so to have to use nearly that within the first 10 minutes I'd arrived, simply to get to the city...!? My gosh, I couldn't believe it! But it appeared there really was no other way to get there, so I bit the bullet and bought the ride.

Now, when I arrived, it was -1°C, and the line was so long, I had to wait in line for nearly half-an-hour to take the next shuttle that came. This wouldn't have been sooo bad, because I had plenty of layers, but I was concerned about arriving to the train station on time to catch the last one. Our host had told us the last one ran around midnight, and if we missed it, it'd be a costly cab to get to their place; and after having spent 17€ on the shuttle ride there, I was not in the mood for another expensive mode of transport! Finally, I was on the shuttle leaving the airport around 23:45. Hope of making the last train slowly dwindled, but I was trying to be optimistic.

Now, in the midst of not finding any train station and having to pay so much for a lift, I had started to think that maybe, just maybe, I hadn't flown into the actual Brussels airport. But since it said Brussels on the ticket, I assumed it was at least close to the city. It wasn't until I'd been on the shuttle for 25 minutes, and passed a sign on the highway that said 33km to Brussels, that I thought, "Oh yeah, I definitely didn't fly into the airport that any of us thought/were talking about." Thank you, Ryanair. Their money-saving ways are annoying in a somewhat-comical kind of way.

Note to all: Ryanair almost always uses airports that are a minimum of 40 minutes from the city they actually indicate/make you think you're going to. Check in advance so you can potentially avoid expensive to-the-city costs!

So, I changed my hopes of making the train, to hopes of arriving to the train station I needed to get to in the first place. My phone was at about 8% battery by this time, so I turned it off after sending some messages to my friend saying, "Did you have to pay 17€ for a shuttle to the city?? Holy smokes! Ok, well, I'm waiting in line for it now, see you soon!" Battery percentage is sacred while trying to arrive to a new place, and I somehow always find myself arriving whilst my battery is on it's last breaths.

We made it to the station around 00:30, and I tried asking everyone who got off the shuttle and headed for a taxi if they were going near where I was trying to get. Nope, no one. But not only was no one going to that area (probably because they hadn't booked their hotels in the Red Light District, I don't know, maybe..), but I was informed that it was also "very far" from where we were. Awesome. ("Very far" I would later find out on the trip, equaled a half hour walk, which usually I would be completely game for, but considering the hour, the cold, the backpack, and the lack-of-map/phone battery, it wasn't my best option in the moment.) So I got a cab, by myself. My cab driver, who was an incredibly kind man from Ghana, would later tell me that he was surprised when I told him the address I was going to. That usually, if it was a man, he'd ask what he was looking for -- African, East European, etc (in reference to the nationality/color of the women working in The District, since they all have their own streets), but that since I am a woman, he was a little confused and surprised.

I was actually quite glad to have gotten in his cab, because while I felt a little distressed about my budget deflating so fast upon arrival, he was so nice, and we chatted the whole way. He told me how many of the women working in the RLD had been brought over by someone, and owed them loads of money, so even if they made 1,000-2,000€/month, they might only live off 3 or 4 hundred because they had to pay the person back who'd gotten them into the country. (I would also later learn that the women pay about 1,100€/month to rent their work space, cannot live there and are forced to rent an apartment, too, and earn as low as 20-30€ for 10 minutes.) We talked about how we felt about the RLD's and how I never knew how to react to it as a woman (does looking them in the eye to share a smile come off as kind, or judgemental?), the difference between life in Africa and in the big cities, and I learned about his brother and the town he lives in 40km from Brussels/why he lives there (for the sense of community). And then, I arrived, after having driven through the entire African Area of the RLD at prime time. Another 20€ gone, but worth it to give him a fare and have a nice chat with a nice Being.

My glory moment had arrived! It was nearly 1 in the morning, I'd been in transit for over 6 hours, and was so looking forward to getting in the door and passing out. I turned my phone on to let my friend know I was downstairs, and was nervous to see she hadn't read any of my previous ones, but got off my "I'm here" messages just before my phone died. By this point, I was in the entryway of the building, kind of hiding in the dark behind the closed door because I didn't want the men passing on the street to see/hassle me.

The entryway has two doors in it, one which led to The Lady's workplace on the ground level, and the other, which led up to the house I was meant to stay in. So I'm standing there, and begin to knock fiercely on the door, hoping someone will hear it and come let me in. Well, no one opened the door I was hoping they would, but The Lady did happen to open her door, and there I am, in a dress, tights, boots, and layers, with a backpacker's backpack on, heart sunglasses perched on my head, and a stupid nervous/friendly/surprised smile plastered on my face. She thought I was a client trying to enter her place.

She's looking at me, and I just say, "Hi, sorry! I'm trying to get into the apartment. How do I get in there?" And she points to the door I knew I needed to get through, and says, "You enter through there." "Okay, thank you," I say, in my sweetest voice. She shuts her door, and in the following moment a 20-something guy walks in the entryway, looks at me, realizes that no, I'm not waiting for her, and enters her place. It is then that I begin to bang my head on the door and try to fight back the tears that are being brought on by exhaustion, desperation, and fears of spending the night sleeping in the entryway between a RDL Lady's door and the one I want to enter worse than Alice.

Then I result to buzzing every single button on the doorbell that there is, over, and over, and over, and over again. I figure that someone at least has to hear that, but when there is still no smiling face appearing to open the door, I begin to wonder, "Where the hell is she!?" and "What am I going to do?" And then, I notice there is a bar on the corner. I know this will mean walking down the street, past the slow-rolling cars, small groups of men, and windows lit up with red lighted frames, full of dildos, skyscraper heels, and S&M gear, but really, what other choice do I have at this point? I need to get my phone charged so I can try and contact someone, anyone, and, so I can begin to look for a backup sleeping plan, because it appears this one isn't going to work out.

The two friends of the 20-something who'd entered The Lady's place were waiting outside for him, and I ask them if the bar on the corner is open. Thankfully they speak English, and we chat for a moment, me explaining that I'm supposed to stay in the apartment upstairs, but my phone has died, no one is answering the door, and yes. They kindly ask me if I know the number, holding out their phones as a gesture of offering it to me, but I tell them that the numbers are in my phone, which is dead, so really, I need to charge it. And it is in this moment that the 20-something-year old comes strolling out the door and down the steps, hair frazzled, with a slightly goonish look on his face (the kind people wear after pleasure has been had), and he says hello. I ask him how he is, and he says he's good, to which I want so badly to reply, "Yeah, I bet you're good," in a highly sarcastic tone, but don't. Then I say goodbye and thank you, wish them a goodnight, and walk down the street to what would become the icing, whipped cream, and cherry on the cake...

As I'm approaching the bar, I notice it seems partially closed, but that it's still semi-full of people. There are a few young guys outside it, so I ask them if it's open, and it's about at the moment they are telling me yes and opening the door for me, that I realize that there is not a single woman there, nor is there anyone that isn't swagged out, drunk, high, or cross-faded or black.

A side-note: I am not racist, but I use these race/color adjectives to help paint a picture of my situation at the moment. I'd like to think it wouldn't have made a difference if I was walking into a bar full of white guys, Mexicans, Muslims, or any other color. Either way, I was in the Red Light District of a city I've never been in before, at 1 o'clock in the morning, by myself, with no phone, and carrying all my stuff on my back and in my purse.

So there I am, walking into this bar, backpack on, reggae music is blasting, beers are spilling, spliffs are being passed around, and it is no exaggeration to say that not a single head didn't turn and stare at me as I walked in, giving everyone my "Hello, how are you" smile. No one in the joint spoke highly-communicative English, so I took out my phone charger and held up my phone to signify, "Can I please charge my phone?" The man working invites me to come behind the bar, plugs in my phone, and then asks if I'd like something to drink. So I ask for a beer, thinking it might help me blend in a little more. I try to explain to him what is going on, while he is trying to tell one guy to calm the eff down, because, "Man. Muslim man see woman, go crazy. Get crazy because of woman. Man, see woman, is crazy." And then try to explain to a younger guy that no, no I won't give you my phone number, to which he continues to say, "You, give me phone number." And I continue to reply, "Yes, but why? Why would I give you my number? We don't even speak the same language. It wouldn't make any sense. It doesn't make sense. We can't even communicate. No, no, I'm not going to give you my number." All communication being done in broken English, and a blend of French on their parts, and English and Spanish on mine. I finally just divert my attention, and walk away to check the status of my phone.

By this point, I am ready to get out of the bar. The music is too loud, it's too late, I'm too tired, and it's not where I want to be at 2am. The place was loaded with cameras, so I had some sense of security, but I was also beginning to wonder what time it would close, and where I would go from there. There was plenty of money in my account to take a cab to a hotel or hostel, but I just couldn't come to grips with that plan quite yet. I was still holding out hope of getting into the house. I'd called my host, and she said she was at a party across town, but would try calling my friend, who was supposed to be waiting for me at the house. None of her housemates are home, so it's up to my friend to save the night.

It wasn't so comforting when she said that no one was going to be going home till about 6 am, and she couldn't get hold of my friend either. But I didn't want to worry her, even though I'd sent an SOS prayer request message to my family for optimism and humor to remain with me, and told her I'd figure something out. And, if all else failed, the man who worked at the bar had begun to tell me I could sleep in his apartment.

He kept asking if I had a hotel, I kept responding that I was supposed to stay in the house of a friend next door, and he kept telling me, "You, American, good people. You, you sleep. No problem. You sleeping, I no bother you, no problem. You is sleeping on couch, I is sleeping other room, no problem. Problem, you call politie (police). Apartment here, politie here (gesturing that the police station is next door to the apartment). Politie my friend. Problem, you call them, they come, they save you. You American, nothing happen to you. You no have no problem." I was actually seriously considering his offer, because at first I thought he meant the apartment was above the bar, and I knew there were cameras downstairs, so if anything were to go sour, I could jam downstairs and sit in plain view of one of them, or try to sleep in the smoking room off to the side.

In all honestly, I didn't have any bad intuitive feeling about it, and was incredibly curious to trust God so far as to go sleep on the couch of my new friend, but still a little hesitant, considering he was easily twice my size and I'd known him for less than two hours. We'd also been talking a lot about how he goes walking every morning, because that and smoking weed help his injured leg he got, from what I understood, in a walking accident? So he kept telling me, "You, you sleep. You is sleeping. You sleep on couch, I is sleeping, in the morning, we walk. We is walking. At 9 (shown with fingers and said in French), we is walking. You, me, walking." And I kept telling him, "At 9 (shown with fingers and said in English and then Spanish), me, sleeping." (It often helps in communication situations like this to speak back in the English you're spoken.)

Finally, everyone leaves the bar, with the exception of one Belgian guy who's missing a fair share of teeth (the only other non-dark-skinned person in the place), the man who works at the bar, and another guy (his friend?). He offered me another beer, and then after going through the "you sleeping, I sleeping, then in morning we is walking" conversation again, we started talking politics.

He is a HUGE fan of George Bush, well, both of them, Jr. and Sr.. He loves Republicans, and says, "George Bush, character. Straight man, good man. Yes, I like. Respect. Honest man, good man." As well as some, "America, good people. Good country. I like America. Yes, respect. No hurt each other, no cause problem, good people. You good people." (I didn't have the heart to tell him how many wars we've started or about all the murder records that are set in my hometown.) I just keep telling him that they're all the same, democrats and republicans, that I like neither, and giving him endearing looks of, "Well, if you think so."

Just before this, my host wrote me to tell me one of her housemates would be home in about an hour or so, so could I hang in there that much longer? By this point, it was 2:30, and I figured, well, if the bar will be open for another hour, I've already hung in there an hour and a half, what's another hour? I saw the silver lining, and knew that another hour would be a breeze so long as the bar stayed open. Thank You, God, we've got this!

We ran through the sleeping/walking convo a couple more times, I tried to learn some French, and then before I knew it, she was writing to tell me her housemate would be home sooner than expected, arriving in a few minutes! OH MY GOSH, YES! I have hung in there till the necessary moment, and am going to reap the reward for doing so -- entrance! A bed! Safety!

Of course by this time the conversation was going somewhere, and since I'd been given the gift of hope [entering the house], my mindset changed, and I was thoroughly enjoying myself, but I was also really ready to get inside. I told my new mates it was time for me to go, and Kaaba told me to wait, because he was going to walk me. Farewells were bid, and then I was finally on my way to entering! He walked me to the house, which was an incredibly sweet and appreciated thing to do, and as we arrived, I saw my coincidentally-Spanish savior. I said goodbye and thank you so much to Kaaba, and told him I'd go by the bar to have a coffee in the morning to make up for not going on "our walk."

It's 3am. I am inside the house. I receive a tour, and Juan says to me, as we're approaching the door my friend must be behind, "And this, is the guest room..." (Everyone involved in the situation was so curious to know what had come of her.) And as I open the door, there she is, lying on the mattress on the floor, under the covers, lights on, fast asleep.

I die. I can't even handle the look on her face when she shoots up and sees me standing there -- I wish I'd taken a photo. She's so dazed, she's no idea what time it is, nor of the adventure I've just had. She asks what time it is, and I tell her it's about 3am, and I've been hanging out at a bar down the street with what I think are likely the pimps of many of The Ladies on this block for the last two hours. It takes her a little while to figure out what she's just heard, then jumps up, hugs me, apologizes, and the three of us laugh heartily as I retell the story of what I've just lived.

In the moment it was happening, I had sent a message to my family saying, "Pray for me please. I'm currently living one of those, 'this'll be a funny story in the future' moments in Brussels. But I'm so tired, so my humor has been passed out for a long time. I'm not in danger, I'm just in a 'wtf is going on' time. :-P" My poor parents.

It really was one of those moments, and the funny-ness of it didn't take more than a couple minutes to set in. And truly, I think knowing how funny and wild of a story it would be in the end made it easier to accept it in the moment. Though I still wonder what would have happened if I'd taken the offer to sleep on the couch. When my friend and I went for a coffee the next morning, I asked her as we were walking away, "So, do you think I would have been safe?" And she said, "Well, he definitely would have tried something. The thing is, I don't know how forceful he would have been. But he definitely would have tried something." (Perhaps she decided this after he said, "I love you, baby," as we were leaving. Which was a pretty fast jump from him just calling me baby by the end of the previous night.)

Yes, quite the travel experience. And I don't want to say it was all brought on by my bratty attitude going into the trip of "I really don't want to go, I'm so tired, I just want to hang out here and relax in town, but my friend booked a flight, so I can't bail," but I am also quite curious to know how it would have gone had I been all positive and excited about it. However, no harm was done, and I did score a pretty good story out of it, so ;)