Feeling Hopeful

Hi All! Hope everyone is having a beautiful week wherever they may be. I wanted to give a little update since I was aiming to write in here at least a couple times per month. There isn’t huge news and my dream of owning my tiny home feels so far away, but in reality it will sneak up fast. I am fortunately in a good position right now to put much of my income into savings, so it will stack up quickly!

I have been eyeing a ton of different tiny home builders, but I have only found a couple that fit my needs. I am looking for builders that have a layout that matches my vision, are flexible with personal design requests, and are affordable. It has been difficult to find builders that match those three things, but I have found two! And out of those two, only one has been actively communicating with me, but luckily it has been the one that has felt most right for me. I am trying to stay open too, as not to put all of my tiny home dreams in one basket.

Another thing that I have been working heavily on is getting my budget in order. As long as I stick to a specific savings goal each month for one year straight, I should hopefully have enough to purchase a tiny home without needing to finance one, which is ideal for me. I have been debt-free for a year (shout out to Dave Ramsey and his whole team for inspiring me with the plethora of YouTube videos that inspired me to become debt-free!) My end goal with my tiny home is to only have the monthly expense of land to place it on.

Alongside of scouring ads online of tiny home listings, I have also been scouring ads online for tiny home communities to live in. There are a surprisingly large amount of tiny home communities, but that’s counted across the whole nation. In my state there are only two tiny home communities, one of which is three hours away from family and friends. So naturally, I contacted the closest tiny home community to friends and family; I found out that there’s a pretty long waitlist to get in it, but the lady that owns it added me on and has been super kind in all of our interactions, I’m feeling good about the community there!

Most exciting is that coming up in February I am going to a Tiny Home Festival. It will be so nice to see layouts up close and personal! I hope to connect with a builder or two as well that can dream up my vision with me. That’s all for updates though at the moment, but thanks for stopping by to read and dream along with me 🙂

Tiny Home Vision

Hi All! It has been a long time since I have touched this blog as I have had some pretty major life changes in the last couple of years, but I’m going to attempt my hand at it again! I hope that all is well with you, reader, wherever you may be.

I have recently gotten really into tiny homes. I have watched almost all of the mini-documentaries on Netflix regarding tiny homes and have watched a good chunk of YouTube videos all about tiny homes: from learning about construction of tiny homes, to learning about rules on what kind of land you can stick your tiny home on, and seeing all the different styles of tiny homes. I have scoured through dozens of online used tiny home listings. All of this obsession has truly led me to one thing and that is: my tiny home vision!

I started this blog almost ten years ago to keep track of my goal to meditate daily and then it sort of twisted and turned more into random musings. Well, now I’m gonna use this blog to keep track of and focus on my newest goal and vision: buy my own tiny home within two years! That is the goal and with previous goals and plans of mine, I always found it nice to record them somewhere like a blog, where it might inspire others who are following along and it has always helped me to reflect while on the journey and after the journey.

I have always been a minimalist and not super into materialistic things. I have even lived in a couple tiny places before: a studio called “The Treehouse Studio” in Portland, Oregon because it was literally in a studio on top of a home, nestled next to the biggest tree on the block and I also lived in a couple huts near the salty air of the Pacific Ocean while working at farms on Maui. Some might have described the spaces that I lived in claustrophobic, but they were truly everything that I needed in my day-to-day life.

There are so many things about the tiny house lifestyle that are appealing to me too. I love the idea of having a place that is easy to move with me since I can’t seem to stay in one place for too long. The simplicity of a tiny home is another draw of it; to only have to spend an hour on cleaning up my whole place sounds divine. Lower costs all around, from the actual purchase of a tiny home to the monthly utilities would feel like a big weight lifted! Only bringing into my home that which I really need and use seems appealing as well, really living and embracing minimalism.

So welcome to my newest edition of this blog! I hope to inspire and ignite others’ dreams and visions, whether that goal is to also live a tiny house lifestyle or something completely different…either way, I hope this new little project of mine inspires you too in some way. I am hoping to log-in to this blog at least a couple times out of the month with updates on where I am at with my savings and budgeting towards buying a tiny home. I also want to record any insights or new things I have learned about tiny homes. I will also give updates about whether I plan to have one custom built or buy a used one. The options feel endless right now, it’s been a while since I have felt this inspired! Until next time, take care and thanks for reading!

30 Day Detox from Social Media

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Hello my fellow blog readers!  I have been meaning to get around to sharing my experience of going thirty days without my precious Facebook and Instagram, but life has gotten pretty busy.  I have written blog posts before about going without technology, such as my 10 days at my first meditation retreat and the weekend I turned my cell phone off, but this was a unique experience in and of itself.  It made me realize how much I look at my social media sites when I feel lonely and bored. It also made me feel closer to my best friends and family members because I actually spoke to them on the phone or texted with them more than just following their social media posts.  I am sharing word for word what I wrote in my journal during the 30 days sans social media and then there is a little recap at the end. I hope that this is beneficial and inspires you in some way, that is my ultimate wish in sharing my writing ☺.

Social Media Detox from March 26-April 26, 2019.

3/26/19

I noticed my first pull toward wanting to check my Instagram as I was going on a walk with my friend (I had just posted on my Instagram that morning and wanted to check on any “likes” or “comments” that I received).

3/27/19

Already feeling a profound emptiness when I look down at my phone and there is nothing-no text messages, no phone calls, emails, and definitely nothing to scroll.  Lonely is another word that comes to my mind.  Frustration, but that might have to do with PMS, haha.

3/28/19

My first full 24 hours without social media and I honestly have this feeling of freeness that I haven’t had in a long time.  This feeling of being more of who I really am and being okay with who I am. Happiest I have felt in a long while, a stronger sense of self-esteem, more confidence than I have felt in a long while.  Really doing well with self-care too! I ran today, meditated today, wrote three full pages in my journal, I spent quality time with a buddy, talked with new people in the town I just moved to, feelings of true presence.

3/29/19

There is a serious feeling of emptiness that I feel today.  The dopamine levels in my brain feel very low with no social media to excite it.  I have been reading my online horoscope and my hormone horoscope app (an app on my phone that informs ladies what they might be feeling physically, mentally, and emotionally depending on where we are at in our cycle).  Both of these apps have been on my phone for months, but I never use them because I am usually scrolling on my social media.

I took my friend to the Amtrak this morning and as we were waiting for her train, I reallllly wanted to check my social media, I actually felt physical pangs of frustration in my chest when I realized I couldn’t scroll.   I ended up reading a book instead, which is great because I have been trying to finish the book for months.

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3/30/29

Most likely because I have had a friend visiting me for the last week (I relocated to a new city three weeks ago) and she left last night, I have felt a sense of loneliness today.  I awoke this morning to see nothing on my phone and sensed a feeling of dread/loneliness. My new job hasn’t started yet, so I have had much more free time than what I usually have.

3/31/19


I’m really feeling an emptiness today not being able to look at my social media.  I am really coming into the realization of how much I use social media as a bandage for my feeling of loneliness.  Also, I felt a little guilty today because I accidentally cheated last night when I met a new friend in town and he gave me his Instagram name, so I plugged it into Google and stalked his Instagram pictures for a few seconds until I realized that counts as being on social media.

4/1/19

My sister really triggered me this morning when I informed her about my social media fast (I explained to her how my friend changed the passwords on all my accounts) and she told me that I remind her of an alcoholic, that I sound like an addict and that she’s generally concerned for me.  It really hurt me and I told her that instead of labeling me, I need support and encouragement. I am going to take some space from her.

4/2/19

How interesting, the chapter that I’m reading in “Women Who Run with the Wolves” has a section in it labeled “ADDICTION” and I came across this great quote which resonates strongly with what I have been learning most about what’s needed with social media use: BALANCE. There’s nothing inherently wrong with social media, it’s when we become unbalanced with it that it becomes a problem.

“To alright all this, we resurrect the wild nature, over and over again, each time the balance tips too far in one direction or another.  We will know when there is reason for concern, for generally balance makes our lives larger, and imbalance makes our lives smaller.”

4/3/19

Having feelings of lightness and freedom.  I have been getting things done that I’d otherwise be sitting on if I had social media to distract me.  I have finished multiple books, got paperwork done for my move and for my new job. I also attempted to go to an open mic show at the chai shop down the street from me, but there was a sign on the door that it was canceled.  So I went home with no backup plans, but still wanting connection, so instead of going onto Facebook or Instagram, I ended up going onto my Couchsurfing profile and ended up surfing it for an hour…I totally used it as a replacement, haha, but still….generally felt good today.

4/6/19

FOMO (Fear of Missing Out) is at the strongest than it has ever been in my life.  I went solo-camping this weekend and ended up meeting these awesome folks; we shared drinks, a bonfire, stories, laughs, and s’mores all night.  At one point, one of the gals I met broke out her phone and had us put in our social media names into her profile so she could add us and we could all stay in touch.  I had to explain to her that she could send me the request, but that I won’t be able to accept it until April 26th due to my social media detox.  They were all fascinated and interested in my decision to detox from social media for a while.  Each one of them explained that they have been feeling the pull to get away from social media for a while as well.

4/7/19

I am realizing that social media is a big energy drain.  With all of the judging, comparing, and feeling the need to keep up with everyone.  Lately I have been feeling a lot lighter in the mind and have more energy for other things.  I have been super busy learning my job and hanging out with new friends, at one point this week I honestly forgot that social media was a thing….like, I forgot that it existed (no joke!!) until someone had mentioned it.  I honestly get stressed out when I think of re-entering the social media world.

4/8/19

Damn.  My feeling of guilt is STRONG!!  I went onto Google and looked up both my Instagram and Facebook to see if I got any new comments or like, as I was looking at my profiles, I thought to myself “You know damn well that you’re cheating from your 30-day detox right?” And then instead of beating myself up, I just observed my antics….observing without judgement.  Observing without judgement is such a powerful action, a practice that I’d like to try and do more often.  Also, I just moved to a new town a month ago and I only have a few friends here so far and to be honest…I was feeling pretty alone lately.  Anyhow, just wanted to come clean on that. Otherwise, things have been going pretty strong with the detox. I went camping, hiking, and worked this weekend.  I finished a book today, which I am pretty sure I’d still be reading for another couple of months if I was currently using my social media. I am still having this feeling of the whole world being at a party that I wasn’t invited to.

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4/15/19

Only 11 days left and I am feeling like I might stay off social media for good.  Things feel more simple, it feels like the 1990s again. The more I think about it, social media is really kind of freaky…..we stay in touch with dozens (actually more like hundreds and thousands) of people that we aren’t maybe necessarily meant to be in contact with anymore.  Also, all of the pictures are fabricated (filters, scanning through multiple pictures and finding the best one) and it’s always intended to get a bunch of likes so how real is it when we are really just trying to please people.  I dunno…just some thoughts.

The biggest takeaway that I got from doing this experiment, if you will, is that my feeling of PRESENCE with people in real life was so strong. I noticed how I was having these really lovely in-person connections with new friends and acquaintances and also my self-esteem skyrocketed!  It was such a relief to not have millions of pictures being thrown in my face of “See! THIS is what you need to be, do, and have to be better.” Instead, I was able to meditate, connect, and go within more to figure out what I was truly needing in any moment. Life became a little more real, my head hurt less from staring at a screen so much, and I really had some profound moments. 

Revamping before 33!

The road to 33 is looking good!

I have gotten so off track from my initial intentions with what I wanted to do with this blog, but that is going to change!  When I started this blog (gasp) almost five years ago I entitled it “Ilona’s Meditation Challenge” because that’s what it was going to be.  My original plan was to write down what I noticed from starting a daily 20-minute meditation practice and it kind of twisted and turned into something completely different, it became a bit more random.  That’s okay though because from it I have gained a ton of blogging friends and acquaintances.  I would like to steer this blog vehicle though back on track and keep at it.

With my 33rd birthday coming around the corner it has hit me that I truly am not getting any younger here.  So with that, I want to work on sharing a blog post at least once a week about all things MIND, BODY, AND SOUL!  I want to inspire others to be the best versions of themselves, to help remind them that WE CAN CHANGE OUR WAYS and that IT IS NEVER TOO LATE.  The only way that we can make that truly happen though is to have the desire to change, that is the first step.

So in the coming weeks, I will be challenging myself (as my blog page is now accurately named) to post one blog post per week that has everything to do with: meditation, healthy eating, exercise, and anything else that you can think of that helps to heal MIND, BODY, AND SOUL.  I am going to release any guilt that I have held onto about wasting time or any ways in which I have been unconscious.  I want to change within, bring it out into the world and inspire others if they too have this similar goal.

Please join me in these coming weeks.  I plan on sharing what I notice with my two daily meditations (I have now been meditating for 20 minutes in the morning and 20 minutes in the evening.) I will be sharing book reviews (I am currently reading When Things Fall Apart by Pema Chodron.) I will be recording guided meditations for you to listen to and try out. I might even try my hand at making a video or two!

The point is, we are all in this together.  Everything is truly connected and everything we thought we knew is not going to last.  So let’s prepare ourselves now so as not to freak out when the crumbling begins (which it has already started a bit anyhow.). Let’s become more conscious together.  Let’s take a look at our bullshit stories that keep running/ruining our lives and transform them.  Please take my hand and cross this river with me.
Peace!

From my jog this morning:


Amen to that!!!!!

Never Underestimate the Healing Powers of……

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Life can throw curve balls at us, some days are tougher than others. We are all in need of healing as long as we are living in these bodies, in this world. I thought it would be fun to make a list of what has helped me in healing myself from the struggles life can seem to make. I would love if you added activities/actions that have helped you to heal your mind, body and soul in the “comments” section below. Hope you enjoy! 🙂

Never Underestimate the Healing Powers of…..

–Curling up under a blanket and getting lost in a book.
–Waking up in the morning and drinking a full glass of water.
–Getting a back massage from a friend.
–Finding a new park or neighborhood that you have never been to and going for a walk in it.
–Writing three full pages of whatever is on your mind and not stopping until you get to the third page.
–Savoring a warm cup of hot chocolate/tea/coffee, drinking each sip mindfully.
–Sitting for twenty minutes, doing nothing but focusing strictly on each in-breath and each out-breath.
–Volunteering in your community.
–Playing music with others.
–Cooking a meal that you have never cooked before.
–Running/jogging for twenty minutes without stopping.
–Writing down what you dreamt of the night before.
–Drawing a picture.
–Painting a picture.
–Photography (check out my photos from Freak Alley in Boise, Idaho if you have time: Freak Alley.)
–Writing a story.
–Catching up with a friend that lives near you over a bowl of steaming Vietnamese pho.
–Hugging others fully, with two arms and for longer than three seconds.
–Caring for a furry friend.
–Having life conversation with an elderly person.
–Having life conversation with a child.
–Watching a good movie.
–Traveling to a city that you have never been to before, alone.
–Listening to music.
–Being here, NOW, over and over remembering to come back to right here, right NOW.
–Playing a childhood recess game with your adult friends.
–Getting a new haircut.
–Going for a hike in nature.
–Biking.
–Skating (roller skating, roller blading, skateboarding.)
–Working in a garden.
–Sampling new beers or wines.
–Blogging.
–Exploring a new city with friends.
–Walking alongside large bodies of water.
–Writing down three things that you are grateful for on a daily basis.
–Learning a new skill.
–Having a phone date with a friend far away.
–Kissing a good kisser.
–Going on spontaneous road trips/drives/car rides with music blasting out of the car speakers.

The Mentalist’s Handbook

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On a recent stop to one of my favorite indoor locales, the library (nerd alert!)  I came across the book, “The Mentalist’s Handbook” pretty randomly while I was trying to find a good beginner’s book about meditation for a friend.  As I laid my eyes on the picture that was on the front of the book, which was a girl with eyes connected to a light bulb (as seen above), I was intrigued.  The picture looked eerily familiar to a collage that I had made almost ten years ago.  I thumbed through the first few pages and was instantly hooked when I read the author’s introduction.  It almost felt as if I was reading my own words.

I’d been fascinated with the power of the human mind and it’s purported ability for astral projection, communication with the spirit world, and psychic feats for as long as I could remember, reading any related books I got my hands on and talking to whomever would share with me stories of their own experiences.  I was sure there was a reason for such phenomena to exist, and I had a sense that it was all related somehow.  But no one could explain any of it to my satisfaction.  Could this all be true?  I was insecure too, about being called a fool for questioning the limits of human knowledge in the rational world that we live in today.”  —Excerpt from “The Mentalist’s Handbook.”

As I stood there in the library reading parts out of the book, I lost track of time.  I was so eager to get started on the exercises that the author shares to help you reach the “aetheric” plane (yep, the author spells it with an ‘a’ in front of it, as they did in the 18th and 19th centuries), which the author explains as: “There is another world beyond, yet inside, the material world you and I know and inhabit.  This place is at once different from and the same as ours.  Everything in this other world looks as though it is made of light.  In fact, all things on the aetheric plane are made of a superfine substance known as aether.”   To me, the word “aetheric” is synonymous with “astral” (see definition below) which is the term I am going to use from now on when the author states “aetheric” because to me ,that’s just easier.  What can I say, old habits die hard!

The meaning of the word “Astral” per Oxford Dictionary:

1. {attributive} Relating to or resembling the stars. ‘astral navigation’

1.1 Relating to a supposed non-physical realm of existence to which various psychic and paranormal phenomena are ascribed, and in which the physical human body is said to have a counterpart.  ‘spiritual beings from the astral plane’

After I brought the book home, it stayed on my book shelf for weeks, staring me down.  One rainy afternoon, after moving into a new place that doesn’t have a T.V. or anything else to distract me, I finally took the book down off the shelf and started reading it as eagerly as I had when I first looked at in the library.  I completed the first three exercises that the author recommends, but I didn’t record any of them.  Then I placed the book back on the shelf and another two weeks went by until I picked it up again.  Picking it up this time, I decided that I would actually take the author’s recommendations and record what happened for me doing the exercises.  I downloaded a free recording app on my phone and started the book all over again.

For the first exercise in the book, I recorded what happened for me, I did one recording before the initial exercise and one recording after I performed the exercise.  If you’re interested to hear the recordings, just click the two icons at the bottom of this blog post, they are just a couple minutes each.  In this first exercise the author basically asks that you find a quiet space in your home to sit and strictly focus on nothing except for your breathing as it enters, fills, and exits your body.  The author also recommends that for each documentation that you do for each exercise, you should record a brief play-by-play of your general state of mind, your diet for the past twenty-four hours, any thoughts weighing heavily on your mind, and any abnormal external conditions that may affect your session.

For me, this first exercise was fortunately pretty easy because meditation is something that I try to practice every morning for about twenty minutes.  I had ate a pretty healthy diet for the twenty-four hours leading up to the meditation, although I still wasn’t feeling completely 100% myself because I had drank too much wine the night before.  I notice that when I am slightly hungover or tired when I meditate, my mind constantly wanders and can’t seem to stay focused on the breath.  I had a couple distinct things occur for me in the fifteen minute meditation, the first one was a strong tonal change that I felt on my right ear about ten minutes into the meditation.  The second thing that happened for me was that I felt a ton of activity on the crown of my skull, it felt as if it had opened up and was merging with the air in the room.

I am excited to check out more of this book and see how I do with it.  I understand that me posting about this might come up as controversial to some, but this excites me and I have learned to follow excitement without reservation.  The author asks in the beginning of the book to record what happens for you in the exercises and then to send him your recordings afterwards.  So between my recordings and blogging I plan to eventually send this all in to him.  I plan to still write my regular blog posts in between this, but plan to see more postings about this book in the future and thanks so much for following my journey!

Peace!  🙂  Ohhhhhhh and P.S.  If you do listen to the audio below, I am just warming up to this whole audio thing, so I’m hoping the recordings will get better as I do them more! 🙂

Meditation Musings

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My friend and I reached the top of the hilly incline to a viewpoint that overlooked the Pacific Ocean.  The vastness of the ocean view and the sound of the waves was something to meditate on.  I set my maroon colored water bottle on the ground beside me and sat down on a big boulder, asking my friend if she’d mind if I meditated for a few minutes.  She gave me the go ahead, “of course not, that’s a great idea!”  I closed my eyes and became aware of touch points–my bottom on the boulder, my feet planted firmly on the ground, and my right hand cupped in my left hand with the back of my hands on my lap.  When I felt 100% grounded, I started focusing on my breath, the cold air gently moving up through my nostrils and the warm air moving out.  After a few minutes, I opened my eyes again.

“Sooooo, how do you meditate exactly?”  My friend questioned.  I hadn’t realized that my friend of fifteen years didn’t actually know what I was doing on the boulder.  “Do you just try to think of nothing?” She asked.  I felt a surge of excitement in my belly and started telling her about all that I had been learning about meditation since I moved to Oregon six months prior.  Moving to a new state without a job secured and not knowing a single soul was a pretty traumatic shock to my system, but had I not pushed myself to do it, I don’t think I would have landed on the path that brought me to a practice that has brought me the most healing in my life: the practice of meditation.

After stopping a tobacco addiction, an addiction to pills, and ending a long-term relationship with an alcoholic over the course of time between my sixteenth and twenty-sixth years on this planet, coming to Oregon alone was like a re-birth into a new life.  I forced myself to join community groups and among them, found a meditation group that met every Tuesday.  I had been reading a lot of self-help books about meditation and listening to a guided meditation CD that my mom gifted me with before I made my trek from the Midwest to the West Coast.  At the Tuesday night meditation group, I learned so much more about meditation and am forever grateful for the veteran teacher that created the group.

I explained to my friend about what I do during my meditation, that I constantly pay attention to my in-breath and out-breath (I do the Vipassana technique, one of India’s most ancient techniques of meditation.)  That thinking about nothing isn’t the purpose of my meditation, the purpose is to become aware.  Stories, ideas, to-do lists, what someone said to me earlier that day that hurt me, someone that I need to contact later, and many other things will come up in my meditation.  The point though is to not get stuck or attached to any of those things, to just be aware of them and continually coming back to breath, to presence.  Eventually, with a daily practice, you truly become aware of the nature of the mind and how easy it is to come back into the moment of NOW with the breath.

The practice of meditation has helped and healed me so much, layers upon layers of my self have been coming off.  Just when I think that I have come to the deepest aspects of my soul, of consciousness, new ideas and concepts come to me.  Out of all the travels that I have done, meditation has been the most intense journey out of all of them.  It hasn’t been easy picking up this practice, but I can definitely tell you that it has been worth it.  I want to help people bring this healing modality into their lives, so anytime a friend asks me about….it’s guaranteed I will turn into a motor mouth and this blog is another avenue in how I want to help people with this.  If this post has helped even just one person in getting interested in meditation….then I have done my job.  🙂

On the Cheap, a List of Ways to Have Thrifty Fun!

I wanted to do one last quickie post before writing my long adventure story about Ireland.  Two months ago I thought that I had my whole next year planned.  I quit my job to do some adventuring in Iceland and Ireland for a couple months and then had a job lined up for me to teach in China starting on February 9th.  Well, as I am sure all of you have experienced before, sometimes plans don’t always go as they’re supposed to.  In my case, I am still awaiting papers from the government that I need to get authenticated before I can even adventure down to San Francisco where the nearest embassy is located to try and apply for a visa.  At this juncture, the government can’t even give me an estimate of when my papers will be ready as they said that they are 14 weeks behind, so even when they do get to mine….it could still be weeks before they send them back to me.

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In the last three weeks, my meditation practice has centered me full force.  I have definitely had some anxiety and stress as bills are piling on, but my daily 20 minutes of meditation has kept bringing me back to the present, to the breath and to the reminder that there is always something to be grateful for.  With my savings dwindling down and my days being filled with job hunting, I have reached panic-mode a few times in my head. Thank goodness I have found two temporary jobs until I figure out my next move.  I have figured out a multitude of ways to still have fun, despite the fact that I haven’t been able to spend money the last few weeks.  I wanted to share this list because I remember with my post Never Underestimate the Healing Powers of…. I got a lot of feedback from readers who shared their ideas too…so please, if this resonates please share creative ways to enjoy life without moola in the comment box below!  I listed some of my favorites below.

broke–YouTube videos and/or Meetup for free yoga work outs.

–Attending group meditation sits that are strictly donation-based through The Vipassana Meditation Website

–Walks in the park.

–Hiking these gorgeous Oregon mountains (best done when you can carpool with others to save on gas money).

–Cooking and baking at home, I have discovered that I suck at making stir-fry and sweet potato burgers, but I am pretty good at black bean with beets burgers :).

–Inventing new NutriBullet smoothies every morning.  I have come up with some of the weirdest concoctions, but my favorite is: spinach, mixed greens, carrots, bananas, strawberries, blackberries, blueberries, mango, peanut butter, coconut flakes and cashew milk……..pure yummmmminessss!

–Inviting friends over, they bring over wine/beverages, I make us snacks, and we watch movies or talk about metaphysical subjects all night long…..this soooooo beats going to the bars

–Blogging!

–Running/walking outside, because let’s face it folks….gyms are freaking expensive, ayeeeee yi yi!!!!!!!!!!

–Movies and popcorn at home, yeeeahhhhhh!!!

–Doing trades with friends, sharing our skills with each other

–Checking out a crap-ton of books from the library.  🙂  Current read: Love Hurts

 

 

Meditation Intermission, Let’s Talk Facebook Here

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I  was going to have my next blog post be about my Ireland adventure, but my heart is guiding me to take a little break in the adventures and share something that has been gnawing at me.  I deactivated my Facebook a little over two weeks ago and I wanted to express what has happened for me in doing so.  I have a few blogging friends that have also gone on the Facebook-free wagon and I’ll be featuring those lovely ladies on this post as well.  First and foremost I would like to mention that while this might be a blog post that is bashing Facebook, I don’t want anyone to read this and get upset.  The main reason I wanted to post this was to get thoughts from my blogging friends out there, I’m curious if anyone else has been going through similar experiences with Facebook or if I’m just possibly over thinking it all and I just need to chill out :).

As I was hiking at the beautiful Powell Butte here in Portland the other day, an inspiration hit me to create a questionnaire/survey to be taken by people that have deleted or deactivated their Facebook accounts and when a couple friends expressed interested in it, I decided to get the ball rolling.  I myself answered the questions to the survey, as seen on the first one below.  I also have a few blogging friends that answered the survey following mine and one friend that is not on the blogosphere that answered the survey as well.  Basically I wanted to get a feel for what it might be, collectively, that is driving a lot of us to turn our Facebooks off.  I wanted to get some answers and then share them so that other people out there in the world that might be going through similar feelings can feel less alone in this.    Let’s face it folks, Facebook is everywhere and if you don’t have it there is a serious feel of alienation…well, take a look at my answers and see how I feel!

When did you first create your Facebook and what caused you to join?  I remember my cousin talking about Facebook around 2005-2006, but it seemed to be mostly popular with kids going to big colleges/universities, so I didn’t think it was for me.  I did have a MySpace and was pretty addicted to that, I loved updating my backround songs on MySpace and changing the background designs, I even met my first long-term boyfriend on MySpace, haha.  It was actually that boyfriend that inspired me to create a Facebook account in about 2008 and I got hooked/addicted to it pretty quickly.

How long have you been off of Facebook now?  I deactivated my Facebook about 2 weeks ago, but this isn’t the first time I have done this.  I was without Facebook from about October-January last year, so the longest that I have gone without Facebook is for almost 3 months.

What motivated you to deactivate your Facebook?  Wow, where do I start?! Honestly, I had a lot of reasons that motivated me to finally hit the “deactivate” button on my account.  The biggest reason was that I decided it wasn’t helping me with my mindfulness practice.  When I was traveling with my friends in Ireland, I got completely distracted after I put up a new picture on my Facebook account and got a ton of likes/comments…this in return took my attention away from the fact that, “holy shit I’m in Ireland!”  Instead of being where I was, I was sucked into a screen.  I have an addictive personality by nature, I have given up a lot of addictions, but I was definitely noticing that I was completely addicted to the excitement that I got when my phone lit up with new alerts on Facebook.  I was also motivated to deactivate so that I could focus on my life, with an impending career change and figuring out where I was going to live next, I really had no time for distraction.  Another motivating factor was CONNECTION, I want to feel real, raw in-your-face connection.  I love intimate gatherings, I love going on hikes with friends, I love talking about weird metaphysical stuff with friends and I felt like a good majority of my “connection” on Facebook felt robotic.  And lastly, I felt like my energy was being sucked away on things not for me!  I would have Facebook friends that would air all of their dirty laundry on there, they’d rant about their personal lives and discuss their hatred for certain politicians.  It hit me that when I scrolled down my Facebook feed, it made me physically ill sometimes just taking on other people’s negativity.

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How has life been for you since deactivating your Facebook?  It has been incredibly enlightening!  I have gotten a ton accomplished!  I got all of my affairs in order to go teach English overseas, even though it looks like that will be put on hold because Visa paperwork isn’t going through (stay tuned for that future blog post, haha) I have picked up on my writing again–finally completing TWO FULL BLOG POSTS, I found temp work here in Portland until I plan to take off, I have had get-togethers with close friends, I have had deep, soulful chats with friends, hikes/walks/runs in nature.  I have cooked and baked more.  I have had long phone chats with friends/family that live across the country from me.  I have felt energetically clear and I feel like I’m being less pulled into things that were never meant for me.  When I went on Facebook, I’d feel like my mind was kind of static-like…I don’t know how to put it in words I guess,  but basically I just felt like there were too many things pulling at my energy.

What are some things that you miss about Facebook?  There are friends and aquaintances that I definitely miss, people from previous jobs that I have worked at, seeing friends’ kiddos growing up, there were plenty of positive posts that I miss.  But I got to thinking lately, never ever in history have we been able to stay connected with people from our past the way that we can now days….but maybe, just maybe, we aren’t supposed to stay in contact with every single person we meet.  It’s all about vibration, we come in and out of each other’s lives for certain times and then we exit….letting go gives us freedom to move on and forward.  I have so many memories of all of the amazing and sweet souls that I have been blessed to come into contact with in my life, but it doesn’t mean I need to know what they are having for breakfast today.  Instead, I choose to smile at the memories and come fully into where I am and who I am with right now.  Facebook has served it’s purpose for a time in my life, I do have gratitude for the connections it indeed brought me, but just as we have to let go of people in our life…I’m going to let go of my old attachment to Facebook.  I do miss posting my blog posts on Facebook and I should come clean on that–I do have a Facebook page for my blog website, but I can’t see any other people on Facebook, it is strictly for updating my site on there.  I have 111 Facebook followers (thanks guys!) on my page and I didn’t want them to miss my new posts. :). Anyhow, let’s read my blogger friend’s thoughts….

The beautiful Gina from Virtually Gina answered the Facebook survey I sent her, read her thoughts below!

When did you first create your Facebook and what caused you to join? Spring 2008. My then-fuckboi (now-husband) Jeff had just moved to Florida and it seemed like it would be a good way to stay in contact with him.

How long have you been off of Facebook now? This round of deactivation has lasted 16 days. I’ve had a few Facebook-free stints. The longest I’ve gone was four years without it (2009-2013).

What motivated you to deactivate your Facebook? In 2009, I wanted to heal following a particularly nasty break-up. Most recently, though, I have found that an active Facebook life clutters my mind in a way that I don’t appreciate. When I’m off of Facebook, my mind starts to settle. Life becomes quieter. I find it easier to live moment-to-moment without that alluring “pull” of the blue-and-white F-bomb. (Get it? That’s supposed to be funny.)

How has life been for you since deactivating your Facebook? Quiet and, at times, fulfilling. I’ve done a lot more baking and reading. I’ve posted one blog, done a few art projects, and even taken to altering a few items of clothing. I like to get crafty with my raiment; it helps me stay fashionable without impinging on my bank account.

What are some things that you miss about Facebook? Seeing thoughtful posts from co-workers and friends, links to interesting articles, photos of my BFF Katy’s kids, and the occasional invite to an event that I would actually attend. I have to keep in mind that in order to access the aforementioned items, I have to sift through tons of ego-based posts, annoying selfies (including my own – haha), photos of people’s kids whom I’ve never even met and probably never will, links to boring articles, and invites to events that I cannot or would not attend in the first place. So, finding items of quality on Facebook sometimes feels like sifting for diamonds in the rubble.

Aleya from Alohaleya shares her answers to the survey below and she wrote a recent article about Facebook as well, read that here: Is Life Better without Facebook?

When did you first create your Facebook and what caused you to join?  I first created a Facebook account in 2006 or 2007. I think it was for curiosity more than anything. Most of my friends were on it so I had to see what all the fuss was about. 🙂 I don’t think I was that addicted to it though – I remember cancelling my account about a year later. 

How long have you been off of Facebook now?  I’ve been off Facebook since June 2016. I’d been on and off a few times in the past few years…but this is definitely the longest I’ve been without it. I seemed to have moved past the temptation phase of reactivating my account.  

What motivated you to deactivate your Facebook? So many reasons, very similar to yours. It was not only eating up my time, but I didn’t like who I was while using Facebook. I was judging and comparing a lot, and feeling bad about myself.

Now, one can argue that Facebook isn’t the cause of those things (i.e., we can’t blame Facebook!). But there’s something about the setup of Facebook, the way it provides a continuous feed of other peoples’ thoughts, opinions, and photos – many of which are negative and fear-based – that it takes a LOT of effort and discipline to not get sucked into all the ego stuff it activates. It just wasn’t worth it to me anymore. I wanted all that gone – I wanted to consciously focus my time and energy on things that were life and soul-affirming. Like reading books! 

How has life been for you since deactivating your Facebook? It feels a lot simpler. I have more energy to devote to the things I really enjoy doing. Things feel more authentic – because hardly anyone is truly authentic on Facebook (including me, when I was on it).

What are some things that you miss about Facebook?   Knowing what’s gong on in my city/community – I’ve missed hearing about some fun events, because most people I know communicate them through through Facebook. It’d also be nice to share my writing, blog, etc. with the wide network I had before, but…oh well! Overall, I’m happier without it.

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Nicole from Beninlife shares her answers to the Facebook survey below:

When did you first create your Facebook and what caused you to join?  I joined Facebook in 2005, though I cannot recall the reason why! I suppose MySpace was being phased out and Facebook was becoming more popular so I joined the trend.
How long have you been off of Facebook now?   The first time I deactivated my account, I stayed off for three years! Then in 2009, I bought a house with my former partner and thought we could post home improvement projects for our friends and family to see, so I reactivated it.  The second time I deactivated my account was just recently, in December of 2016.
What motivated you to deactivate your Facebook?  The last year, there has been an intense build up around the recent Presidential elections.  I did not realize at the time, but reading several posts daily that seemed to be dividing society on political, social and environmental issues finally resulted in me being in a constant state of anxiety.  I am currently serving with the Peace Corps in Benin, West Africa and I realized I was not being present with my community nor the projects I was working on.  I would constantly check Facebook to see if I missed anything, as this has been my only connection to the states since arriving in Benin in 2015.  This addictive behavior really disturbed me, so I decided deactivating my account was a simple solution to decreasing my anxiety and increasing the level of being present within my daily life.
How has life been for you since deactivating your Facebook?  My life has become so much more simple!  I was worried at first that I would lose connection with friends and family back home, but in fact our connection has increased.  I have become more proactive in sending emails, making phone calls, updating my blog, and writing letters.  As far as my community, I have been able to focus more on my projects as well as integrating. I realized that everyone is watching the U.S.A right now, and the biggest action I can take is showing the locals in Benin that Americans can be kind and that we are here to help versus discriminate.
What are some things that you miss about Facebook?  Facebook had become my news source, which is a good and bad thing! As I cannot verify the validity of the news sources that are posted on Facebook, I have a newfound interest in researching credible news sources and staying more informed on world issues objectively.

And last, but certainly not least, Chaya from Chaya Grossberg shares her take on deactivating Facebook:

When social media first became popular, I was going through some major challenges that had me isolated and not able to read, write or use the internet much for a few years. This was in 2000-2003. When I emerged from that, I thought people still used floppy discs. I had been on 7 psychiatric drugs and bedridden from drug induced fatigue and mental impairment for about a year…but was still a writer at heart.

After that I briefly dated a guy who lived across the street from me, who I literally met while I was moongazing one night (quite the opposite of online dating). He talked about Friendster and would use it to invite his friends to events and parties. This seemed very foreign to me. A lot of the time I couldn’t tell if he was talking about his friends or his “Friendsters” since it seemed a lot of the people he was Friendsters with weren’t actual friends, though I couldn’t tell. I eventually tried Friendster in 2006 because another friend suggested it as a way to meet guys to date and I was coming out of a relationship that was hard for me to move on from.
 
This worked poorly to get me a date with a guy I had no interest in!
 
I resisted Facebook, but joined in 2008, I believe. I didn’t get a smartphone until 2014, and didn’t have internet at home, so I would only use Facebook in conjunction with everything else I did online for about an hour at the library, or at an office where I worked. I still found it pretty annoying, and tried to keep most of my interactions off of it. If someone wrote to me on there, I would email them back instead of replying on Facebook, or sometimes even call them instead.
 
I was excited to be able to reconnect with old friends though. I’d had so many powerful connections in childhood, high school and college and in my earlier twenties that I felt sad to lose due to moving away and different life paths and had actually fantasized about some way to be able to stay in contact with all of them. So that part was very exciting to me at first, tracking people down, getting surprise friend requests from old friends, seeing people’s photos and what they were up to. I didn’t get addicted right away, though. I would only use the internet for about an hour a day, so I made lists of things I needed to do (I still do this, but with a smart phone it’s much harder to limit access), and there wasn’t endless time for Facebooking.
 
I have been off Facebook now for about 4-5 months. I deactivated a month and a half before the 2016election and then went back on for one day, right after the election. I’ve gone back on a couple of other times for a few hours, including on my birthday, but even the birthday withes on Facebook had completely lost their charm.

When I first deactivated, I thought it would just be for a week or so, maybe a month tops. Up until then, I knew I was addicted to Facebook, but like many people, I needed it to create events, spread the word about things I was doing, market my business, share my writing, find out about events, stay in touch with new friends…the list was endless.

And then one day… none of those things seemed necessary or relevant, and I had reached a breaking point. Facebook was ruining my life. I felt like I had thousands of Facebook friends but almost no real ones. I realized I was looking for real friends on Facebook, when I needed to leave Facebook to find people who were interested in engaging off of Facebook! Simple logic, but it hadn’t occurred to me before. I thought that if I expressed something on Facebook, my friends on there would want to talk to me about it by phone or meet up in person (which did happen a few times, but more often than not people were on Facebook to engage on Facebook), when in fact they were just as addicted to Facebook as I was, and therefore didn’t have time to engage in real life.
What motivated me to deactivate Facebook was this extreme isolation I was feeling. It actually felt like I had reached a point where I knew it was my only choice for living a “real” life where I was actually present some of the time. I still get addicted to texting, email, and other internet and smartphone related things, but it does feel better now.
I wanted to see who I was without Facebook. It felt like such a powerful addiction that it had taken over my life. The few times I went back on I was flooded with negative emotions such as anxiety, jealousy, sadness, shame, embarrassment and generally feeling competitive with or rejected by others (even when I got a lot of likes and positive comments). All I could think of was who didn’t like me or my posts, and my Facebook friends who were no longer really in my life. I’ve moved around a lot and therefore have lost touch with thousands of friends. Facebook had become a reminder of everyone who was no longer in my life. Being Facebook friends with these people started to feel much worse than not having any contact at all, because it simply reminded me that these people were no longer actually available to me for real connection.
I felt this heaviness around Facebook, like I was expected to keep up with so many people and like it was an unpaid job to keep track of what thousands of people were doing or thinking.
I would also get jealous of people who were more popular than me and always got hundreds of likes on everything they posted. I would literally think there must be something wrong with me or my friends must strongly dislike me or find me annoying if I wasn’t getting as many likes as so and so. But there was no amount of likes that would ever make me feel better and in fact, the more likes I got, the more obsessive I became and the more “rejected” I felt.
Since I deactivated, all of that has fallen away! I no longer feel preoccupied with grief over people who are no longer actively in my life, or jealousy over people who are more popular than me. There are hundreds of people I no longer think about much at all, but when I do it feels more grounded.
 
I realized I was also okay with letting people forget about me, if that would happen due to me not being on Facebook. In fact I feel much lighter and like I’m not holding onto all these people or expecting them to hold me in their consciousness all the time. Then when someone does reach out to me, it feels real, and when I think about people or reach out to them, I know it is because I naturally want to do so. I’m not reacting to Facebook “propaganda” or pressure, or putting any weight on others to respond to me in that way.
 
Everything feels lighter and it took awhile, but I’ve attracted some other friends who don’t use Facebook, or who hardly use it.
 
Everything in my life got better when I left Facebook. For the first few weeks I felt so high, and so pleased with myself for finally kicking my addiction. I don’t miss it at all! It was like night and day how I went from my life revolving around Facebook, to my life revolving around my actual needs and actual real life connections.
 
I do get isolated sometimes, which has always been an issue for me as someone who enjoys a lot of solitude, but now I don’t numb out the isolation with Facebook. I either feel it or reach out in a real way like by making a phone call or going out. I do still sometimes engage in other addictive internet behaviors when I’m isolated, such as excessive reading, but at least I am targeting specific topics that I want to read about rather than scrolling mindlessly and passively on a newsfeed about infinite topics that I’m not actively choosing.
 
Not being on Facebook makes me feel sort of like everyone else is caught in a fake reality, but I don’t judge anyone for using it. I simply pat myself on the back because I know I made the right choice for myself. Every time someone mentions this or that Facebook group, I simply feel relieved that I won’t be checking it out.
 
Now that I’m off I have no idea how I ever had the time or mental space to absorb that much constant mental stimulation. I used to get really curious about certain other people from my past and look them up on Facebook; this was part of my addiction. I was neglecting my own life to passively observe what other people were doing. Now that I don’t do that, it seems so obvious that minding my own business is a healthier and more integrated lifestyle for me.
 
A lot of the activist organizing (and arguing) that took place in my Facebook feed (and in my mind) no longer even seems real. It literally seems like just mental activity in other people’s minds that has no relevance to me whatsoever.
 
I also notice that I use email and texting more, and I sign up for more email lists because I don’t feel bombarded with input.
What do I miss about Facebook? I miss some of the really amazing writing of my friends and even some writers and celebrities who only post their writing on Facebook. I wish they would put them on blogs as well so I could follow them. I even considered emailing some of my favorite Facebook posters to ask them to start blogs, but never got around to it.
 
I miss seeing posts about spontaneous opportunities to meet up with people, and being invited to the private events of new friends who don’t know me well enough to invite me personally when I’m not on Facebook.
 
There’s a website called allevents.in that allows me to see all of the public Facebook events in my area, so that helps a lot (anyone can use it). I don’t miss people constantly marketing to me and inviting me to their workshops and whatnot (except for the very small percentage which actually interested me).
 
I actually don’t even miss asking for advice about practical things on Facebook. But every once in awhile I do. Every once in awhile Facebook seems like it would be the perfect place for me to post a question, a request or share something I wrote. But I know it’s a slippery slope, so I generally refrain and use google or call a friend instead. I post things on Google plus, Patreon, and my own blog, where I don’t get sucked into any rabbit holes of scrolling or obsession or distractions that waste my energy that I could be using to face my own life and address my problems.
One other thing I miss is links to really good articles. But I don’t miss it that much. I get less news for sure, but even that feels pretty healthy so that I can focus my energies more constructively on things I can actually do something about. Reading the news can make me feel powerless. Instead, I’ve mostly been reading things that inspire me or help me improve my health, or interesting stories. I like having less input too, because it allows my imagination more space to find its own realities and solutions.

Following the Heart; Adventure Part Dos.

image6The Northern Lights as seen from Iceland.  Photo Credit: Eyal Saiet

As promised from my previous post, I am going to blog about my adventures overseas that I was blessed with throughout the last half of December and first part of January.  I am currently going on a third day of being cooped up inside after Portland’s worst snowstorm in decades, so it’s forcing me to finally write and I am loving that fact!  Who would of thought that one of the things that I dread most (snow) would bring me to finally working on one of my prized passions (writing)? I will take it. 🙂

So after playing around in the Redwoods for a few days and volunteering at a meditation course for ten days, I headed back to Portland for a quick reorganization of my backpacks before flying overseas to Iceland.  My friend Heather was gracious enough to let me crash at her place in Portland for the couple nights before my flight.  The day I was to fly out of Portland I decided that it would be a good idea to go on a long run at my most favorite park in Portland, Mount Tabor.  As soon as I left her house, my jogging shoes almost stepped on half a globe lying in the street.  I kid you not, how synchronous is that?  I took a picture of it for proof!  I took it as a good indicator that I was on the correct path.

image1-4Signs…

My flight to Reykjavik, Iceland was easygoing, I sat next to a sweet young couple that held hands the whole plane ride and excitedly told me about their plans to rent a car to drive around the whole country of Iceland for nine days of holiday.  The 7 1/2 hour flight from Portland to Reykjavik went incredibly fast as I filled it up with movies, music, reading, and a couple meditation sessions.  We had a smooth landing and arrived at around 8:00 in the morning.  As I embarked on the one hour bus ride from the airport to the main Reykjavik bus hub I noticed that the sun wasn’t even close to coming out.  It hit me that I arrived to a country that is notorious for short winter days and it happened to be December 21st, the shortest day of the year….yikes.

My sweet Air BNB host, Dia, picked me up from the bus terminal and navigated the snowy highways cautiously, she informed me that they hadn’t had any snow up until two days prior to my arrival.  I felt as if I was back in my homeland of Minnesota, the dark day mixed in with the fresh powder of snow was all too familiar.  After arriving at Dia’s house and stashing my stuff, the sun was just starting to come out, around 9:45am.  Dia explained to me how to get into town from her place with the city bus that had a bus stop directly in front of her apartment.  I had been up for almost 36 hours at that point, but I was so excited to explore that I definitely caught a second wind.

The city bus pulled up in front of Dia’s apartment pretty quick after I arrived, I greeted the driver and plopped down on the warm seat.  Hearing all of the Icelandic language being spoken around me along with the grey glow of light peaking through the city bus windows had me pinching the back off my hand to question if I wasn’t just actually dreaming.  To me, being sleep deprived upon entering a foreign land is one of the most surreal experiences ever.  It was really nice being on the bus and taking in the brand new views without having to worry about driving in the massive amounts of snow.

image2-2 A view of Reykjavik harbor in the distance

I got off the bus as soon as it entered the main Downtown area of Reykjavik.  I marveled at the cute European shops and art murals lining the streets.  After walking the streets and just taking in the new culture for about an hour, some hunger pangs hit me.  I realized I hadn’t ate a full meal since lunchtime in Portland the day prior.  My first stop was at an ATM which involved the ATM eating my Icelandic money back into the machine and there was no phone number anywhere listed on the machine.  I went into my head and spiraled a bit thinking, “Damn, it’s colder than Minnesota here and Iceland stole my $80 and I don’t know why I decided to come to Iceland in December, am I crazy?!”

Upon the mini-freak out, I decided to anchor in at a little convenience store and munched on a unique Icelandic cheese panini.  I wrote half a dozen post cards and watched the day-to-day workers and students passing by the front window. After eating and calming down a bit, I decided to venture back out into the city.  I walked a lot for the rest of that day, getting lost a multitude of times and stopping in to warm up in stores every 20 minutes or so as it had been a while since I have had to deal with below freezing weather.

Anxiety hit me from time to time because it had been a while since I traveled a foreign country on my own.  I tend to have a bit of the good ol’ A.D.D. too and sometimes forget that I need to be paying attention to landmarks and street signs since I didn’t have another set of eyes with me.  At one point I got so in a trance taking pictures of the beautiful graffiti art that encompasses Reykjavik that I got lost, trying to find my bus stop.  It just so happened that a blizzard decided to start at the same time.  I didn’t end up bringing my warm winter jacket to Iceland because I knew I’d only be in Iceland 3 days and I didn’t want to trudge it around for the 2 ½ weeks that I’d be in Ireland.

image2-3image1-5 The trippy artwork that inspired me to get lost in Reykjavik :).

I brought out my paper map of Reykjavik from my backpack and after looking at the street signs, it hit me that I was completely turned around.  I asked a couple that walked past me in the desolate residential neighborhood I was in for directions and they informed me with broken English that they weren’t from Iceland either.  I started to head down what seemed like the correct direction, only to be brought into an even more desolate residential area. The snow was coming down so hard and it was becoming hard to see.  My clothes were completely cold and sopping wet.  I realized that if I were to have another mini-freak out it wouldn’t help me to get drier or find my way out of being lost.

The neighborhood that I found myself lost in was eerily quiet, I could only here the soft patter of snow landing on the ground and parked cars around me.  There wasn’t a store, person or car driving in sight.  It felt slightly as if I was in a nightmare that I had created all on my own.  Again, my inner child started freaking out in my head and that’s when it hit me that I was forgetting to breathe.  I practice meditation not to escape life, but to utilize it as a tool for when difficult situations (such as the one I was in) arise.  The breath centered me and I came back to the logical reasoning of heading back from the direction I came from before going further into the void.  I came back upon the street where I initially realized I was lost and ran into a human angel that stopped, looked at my map and pointed me into the correct streets to get back to the bus stop.

The bus stop had a warm store near it that I got a hot espresso from and warmed up my bone-chilled body the best I could.  I glanced at the clock in the store and it hit me that I had been up officially for 43 hours, instead of further exploring the city, I decided in my sleepless state of mind that would probably be best to head back to Dia’s place.  And it’s good I did because I got lost two more times realizing that I had taken two of the wrong bus transfers to get back to Dia’s place.  When I finally was on the right bus, my head kept nodding off as if I was a heroin junkie and I almost missed my stop because I was half asleep.

After sleeping for 12+ hours at Dia’s, I ended up sleeping through my alarm and missed catching the tour bus that I had signed up for the day prior that was to take off at 10:30 that morning to a few Icelandic nature spots at the famous Golden Circle.  My mind went into spiral mode again “oh mannnnnnnnn, an ATM stole $80 from me, the food has been crazy expensive here, and now they’re probably going to make me pay for a second ticket because I was a slacker that slept through my alarm.”  I came back to my breath yet again, “Chill Ilona!  Chill!  The girl that sold you the ticket yesterday was an absolute sweetheart and she will be a sweetheart about this situation too I’m sure.”  I was completely correct on that accord, the girl was super kind again when I got to the tour bus location and she booked me onto the next bus without any extra fee.

image5 Making peace with the bitter cold in front of Gullfoss waterfall.

The Golden Circle was beautiful and jaw-dropping despite the bitter cold.  The tour consisted of Gullfoss waterfall, Strokkur geyser and Thingvellir National Park, but it was a speed version of it as we only had four hours of daylight, it made me crave thoughts of coming back to Iceland in summer months and driving around on my own.  As we loaded back onto the bus to head back to Reykjavik, the stars looked amazing and the clouds had an other worldy color that for a split second I mistook for possible Northern Lights.  I realized that I had only one last night in Iceland and it would be spent in the city, so my chances of seeing the Northern Lights, I was told by many, was slim to none.  The tour bus driver informed us that some people come to Reykjavik for a whole week and never end up seeing the Northern Lights, it’s truly all about timing, clear skies, and luck.

image4 Strokkur Geyser doing it’s thang!  It goes off every 5-10 minutes.image3-2 Thingvellir National Park, where you get to walk between the American and Eurasian tectonic plates!  They are pulling apart at a rate of a few centimeters per year.

After the bus dropped us off, I walked the city streets unsure of what to do next or where to go, I stumbled upon a delicious Chinese buffet.  As I settled in with my Icelandic beer and first mouth-watering plate, I turned my almost-dead phone on, I had just a little bit of battery juice left.  I noticed a few messages from a fellow traveler that I met through an online traveling website and had been corresponding with the couple weeks leading up to my trip.  He had rented a car and was just coming back from the countryside into the city and wondered if I’d like to go find some hot springs with him?  PERFECT!  What an excellent last idea for my last night in Iceland, I thought to myself.  My new travel buddy, Eyal, arrived to the Chinese buffet at the speed of light and joined me for a drink.  After we talked and gained a rapport, I realized I was with a cool human and we started our hot springs hunting.

The first hot springs that we were trying to get to didn’t end up existing, or if it did it exist, it didn’t want us to find it.  The second hot springs we came about was in a first ring city right outside of Reykjavik and it turned out to be a foot-soaking hot springs.  As we headed back to his car we both looked up and spotted green skies.  Wait what?  Green skies?!!?!  The colors grew thicker and wider and stretched upon the sky as if it was an amusement park light show.  It danced and changed length or size.  Eyal broke out his camera and started taking time lapse photos.  The wind chill was hitting our bones, but at that point the light show above our heads was so wild that I didn’t care if I got frost bite.

By the time the natural light show was over, we attempted to go to one last hot springs, only to find that there was no water in it.  I was so completely elated that I got to see the Northern Lights that I was happy to head back to my air BNB without having a hot springs soak.  Eyal and I agreed to drive to the airport together the next morning since we both had flights around the same time, only his was to Norway and mine was to Ireland. My host and her husband were home and they let Eyal crash their floor impromptu and Dia packed my backpack with chocolate from an Icelandic chocolate factory that she works at, it was a lovely last night in their home.

Stay tuned for the Ireland adventures on my next blog post!  Thanks for reading 🙂