I was recently given a writing assignment... about thrift shopping for your wardrobe on a budget. Not meditation, not spirituality, not even food. Thrifting. The word Pinterest was mentioned in the same sentence. I immediately went into a panic. Me? First of all, I'm not that artsy, girly type. And, well, budgeting isn't exactly … Continue reading Facing My Fear… of Thrifting
When we last left off on my Spanish adventure, we had completed a jam-packed, fun filled day in Valencia. And once again, on minimal sleep, we were up at 6am to make it to the train station for our next leg: Seville! (pronounced Se-bi-ya not like The Barber of Seville. Come on, don't be THAT American.)
This time we had a four hour train ride so we got in a decent nap which was good because I was dying. This was the first time that the thought, "Dear God, what have I done?!?" popped into my head. I had a dreadful feeling that I had bit off more than I could chew in my itinerary planning.
That is until we got into Seville, dropped our bags off at the hotel, and ran to a restaurant as fast as we could. We were starving. Did I mention how much I love Spanish tapas? Yes? Too bad, I'm going to say it again. I LOVE SPANISH TAPAS. OK, now I'm screaming at you. But look at this.
Grilled octopus in squid ink. I'm getting hungry just looking at it. I will tell you that the moment they put this in front of me all my sleepiness went right out the window. Good food just makes my heart beat fast like that. And it tasted even better than it looks! We also had skirt steak with chimichurri sauce. Both were delicious.
With our stomachs full we felt recharged enough to explore beautiful Seville. Our first stop was The Plaza de Espana in the Parque de Maria Luisa. This was built in 1928 for the Ibero-American Exposition of 1929.
If you visit make sure you have Euros to pay for the row boats, which I desperately wanted to do. We were both fresh out and hadn't had time to stop at an exchange center so I bartered with a local vendor to exchange U.S. dollars for a small fee. And, even though my boyfriend and I weren't the best rowers at first, we got the hang of it and it was so worth it!
After walking through the beautiful park we made our way to Hotel Alfonso XIII, a very expensive luxury hotel our cab driver had told us was worth the visit. He claimed they had the best cafe con leche in town so, obviously, I had to check it out. The hotel was amazing and very upscale. I felt a little like Julia Roberts in Pretty Woman as I squealed in pleasure at the wide array of scented lotions in the bathroom. We sat in the central courtyard which had natural sunlight and a serene atmosphere and got ready for our pick me up.
Barcelona was a dream. Breathtaking architecture and mind blowing food. Read about it here. Now, on to Valencia!
The first mistake my boyfriend and I made planning this trip was over-ambition. We made it back to our hotel from our amazing fourteen course meal at Moments at 1:00am. And then we had to pack. Our reservation had been at 8:30pm, which was also the earliest possible dinner time. Spaniards do things late. My kind of people but not when I foolishly schedule a train to Valencia at 7am the next morning.
So a little loopy, we woke up at 5am and were on our way! Luckily, we got to sleep two and a half hours on the train because then we were off and running.
Our first stop was the Valencia Cathedral. Inside, we took a tour and saw some beautiful art work. And then the piece de resistance, the Holy Grail.
Apparently, this is the chalice Jesus drank out of at the last supper. The Moors brought it over on a ship when they conquered this area in 715 AD. But who knows for sure. There are eight different chalices around the world claimed as the Holy Grail. But I'm gonna go ahead and say this one is real. Because this is the one I saw.
We also saw this:
This is the real human hand of Saint Augustine. It has never fully decomposed. I was unhealthily obsessed with this piece. It was gross and amazing at the same time. OK. Enough about that. I promised you food.
We rented bikes and rode through old town into the City of Arts and Sciences. We were starving at this point so we stopped at a little outside cafe for some sangria and jamon sandwiches. Jamon sandwiches are literally just prosciutto on a baguette with a little butter. But they are DELICIOUS. I also must note that in the U.S. I am not able to drink milk. (I'm an almond milk girl.) But in Spain I had all kinds of dairy products like butter and cafe con leche and I never had a stomach ache! My theory is that there are too many antibiotics or other preservatives put into our food. So thanks for that U.S. Thanks. Oh, and by the way, this was our background during lunch.
Yes, that is real. And no, we didn't only have one bike. It was just nicer for the picture.
I'm sorry I didn't take a picture of our jamon sandwich but you can see a typical one in the photo at the top. Next, we rode all the way down to the beach and had a delicious meal of cod fritters (left) and grilled cuddlefish (right). Everything melted in your mouth and the flavors! I can tell you one thing, Spanish food is not bland.
I attended the first annual Best You Expo in Long Beach, CA this past Saturday. And IT. WAS. AWESOME.
But, at first, I came in skeptical because I got the tickets for free. And let's face it, how good could it REALLY be if they're handing these things out like demo tracks on Hollywood Boulevard? (And even THOSE cost $10 if you actually take one. Trust me. One time I was chased.) I received the tickets because I've taken a class on mindvalley.com and they sent me an email. I needed some kind refresher so I signed up for one along with another friend of mine.
When we first got there I still wasn't 100% sold. I was worried there would be red tape, like we could only see the speakers in the booths in the basement, who would tie us up and torture us with meditation until we bought their self help program. But it turned out we had access to everything. Still didn't know what everything was. But we had it.
The first speaker talked about basic concepts like living in the now, instead of the past or the future. I've heard that one a billion gagillion times but, still, it was fine... until he showed us the trailer of the movie he is producing based on his life. Dude, I love your passion, but 1: You had a typo on the slides you showed us, proofread; and 2: your video quality was grainy and dialogue unoriginal. I did not come here to see a similar version of my own life under florescent convention center lights. I wanted ANSWERS.
The second speaker we saw was on the Main Stage and deemed herself "The Happiness Guru." She was a very quirky lady who was OK being 100 percent herself. That in itself is a great message because I'm already second guessing my previous paragraph. Was I too mean? Will they know I'm just joking? Do you think the anonymous guy I was talking about will be one of my 57 readers? Anyway, she talked a lot about not listening to anyone else and following your own intuition. Also, don't focus on money. Focus on what makes you happy. Great. I really like writing this blog but I also need to pay rent. Suggestions, PLEASE?
Then comes Kyle Cease. Whom I am now IN LOVE with. (He has a fiance but does that REALLY matter in Hollywood? Joking. Kind of.) This isn't a physical thing, though. I love him because he is ME. He's doing what I want to do. And doing it very successfully and effortlessly. He is a stand up comic that uses his comedy to make people laugh at reality, simultaneously bringing a transformational message. I mean, he opened with ten minutes on how bad the venue was, calling the convention center an airplane hanger, calling out the other booths making noise. "Alaska airlines flight now boarding at Gate 1," he retorts when when we hear someone talking on a bullhorn off in the distance. I cannot do him justice but trust me, he was hilarious. He then went into the core of his message and I want to share the three main points I learned from him.
- FALL IN LOVE WITH NOT KNOWING
Fall in love with anything that is happening. Remember, what you resist persists. I instantly know this is why I was called to this Expo. He goes on to say that you'll never be happy WHEN something happens. First, BE happy, then something happens. Don't worry about being right or wrong. We only do that because we're trying to get something. If we're trying to get something that puts us in a place of lack and pushes it away. Translation in my head: Stop worrying about how many people read this. I do this because it's a passion of mine and makes ME happy. And like five people consistently read it.
Also stop worrying about what's going to happen. He points out that we get anxious by the thought, "I don't know what's going to happen." That's because we have a belief that we SHOULD know what's going to happen. Instead, feel your anxiety or your control issue, love it, and let it go! FALL IN LOVE WITH NOT KNOWING! That's when freedom happens!
- TAP IN TO YOUR INNER APPLE TREE
We've all heard that we can go inside and access the infinite, unconditional love that we are. That's the basis of meditation, getting in touch with God and hearing the truth from our souls. But how often do we REALLY trust this? Kyle assures us that we all have an Oprah or a Ghandi inside us so stop trying to be successful. Trust and let God and life flow. Stop being addicted to controlling things we can't control. Go inside and ask yourself, "what feels light and expands me?" Then follow that passionately. Stop caring what everyone else thinks! He asked us, "Do you think Elvis passed out comment cards after a show?" Do you think he cared? NO! He was freaking Elvis!
Day 2 of "A Course in Miracles." I've really enjoyed doing these exercises. They may seem a little nonsensical at first, but then I'll have HUGE moments of clarity throughout the day. Like yesterday, I was at a Soundology Lab at Wanderlust Hollywood (which includes an amazing sound bath full of gongs, bowls, and chimes... which also lent itself to a little light napping; awesome because I'm no longer allowing naps in my Time Management schedules. Hooray for multi tasking!) At the end of the class we did a seven minute chant "Ra Ma Da Sa Sa Say So Hung." (which I just realized was Hung instead of the HUM I was saying when I looked it up just now.) You can listen to this beautiful chant HERE . The point is, these words truly didn't mean anything. I literally had no clue what I was saying (apparently, its about life and stuff) but they made me so calm and full of joy!
I think that's a good thing. If you give something a positive meaning that works for you, great! Just be observant throughout the day of both the good or bad meanings you make about things. I'm guessing this will eventually culminate in us realizing that our judgements may or may not actually be true, and we'll finally get control of our ego minds. But, for now, just realize that the things alone really don't mean anything. Like the toaster I pulled out of my cupboard this morning. Doesn't mean anything... except that I get to eat some toast and that's pretty cool. Damn, am I giving meaning to the toaster now?
Here's Lesson Two of "A Course in Miracles":
I have given everything I see in this room (on this street, from this window, in this place) all the meaning that it has for me.And here's my experience of this!
OK. I promise tomorrow no more cat jokes. Maybe.
When I ask you how you feel about hugs, what do you say?
“Omg I LOVE hugs!”
Lies. People don’t love hugs. I mean we DO hugs. Obviously I hug my mom and Dad goodbye or I’ll hug a friend I haven’t seen in awhile. But these last about 1.5 seconds. And I NEVER hug the random guy I meet at a job interview. Or at Subway ordering a foot long. I’m not trying to get abducted. Or worse, have him smell my after gym B.O.
So I was blown away when I attended National Hugging Day at Agape International Spiritual Center yesterday, and was told that in order to feel the full effect of a hug it must last for over TWENTY SECONDS. It’s hard for me to wait the twenty seconds I put my coffee into the microwave after pouring too much almond milk in it. You want me to hug a stranger for 21 seconds?!?
I’ll tell you why I HATE New Year’s resolutions. I never complete them. Not even a little bit. Statistically no one does. OK I didn’t actually look up any facts about this but come on, unless your resolution was brush your teeth every day, most people conveniently forget about their resolutions after the first 30 days. Or 5. And then that failure leaves me frustrated and ringing in another New Year crying while listening to Ed Sheeran and singing to my cat. Just kidding. I was crying because his love songs are so beautiful. And I didn’t sing to my cat. I danced with him.
It's been four days since I've been officially out of work. A huge amount of emotion has run through me. Strangely, I had many feelings of sadness due to leaving this job. Not because I love serving people at a restaurant. (or at my old place of work being their actual servant!) I think I mourned the loss of community. Now, every day I'm by myself. And while I definitely crave more alone time to be productive, I'll also miss being a part of something bigger than myself. Of course, this is the time to create something NEW to be a part of that is bigger than myself! But that leads me to my next fear... how do I do that???
An author named Brad Warner wrote a book called It Came From Beyond Zen! The book cover is complete with cool Sci-Fi lettering and a Buddhist monk entangled by a green slimy monster with 7 eyes. The blurb about his book mentioned he uses humor to put classic Buddhist teaching into modern language. He also used to be in a punk rock band and wrote another book called Don't Be a Jerk. My kind of guy. I was sold. I mean clearly our life purposes are the same. Except for the part where he's an ordained Buddhist Zen monk and I'm a waitress. And the part he was in a punk rock band and I still struggle to get from a G chord to a C chord on my guitar. And he knows who Dogen was and I had no idea. OK. Enough. We both don't take meditation so seriously we wear Mala prayer beads to breakfast and drink boba tea while dissecting our own auras. Good enough for me.
And we're in the home stretch!!! Day 20 of Deepak Chopra and Oprah's 21 Day meditation challenge Desire and Destiny. I've learned a lot on the journey. #1: Sometimes I bite off more than I can chew. #2: Sometimes it's OK not to hit every single deadline as long as you're making progress and enjoying yourself on the way. And #3: I need to learn social media and marketing because at this rate I'll grow my page slower than my grandma can figure out how to send an email. And that is SLOW. But I really have learned a lot on this journey, along with my fair share of struggling. The biggest perk has been that the meditations give me a thought to focus on in the midst of my many emotional mood swings, peppered with anxiety and a dollup of depression.