Recalibrating

Haven’t posted in a while but it’s not because I have nothing to say and it’s also not because I haven’t had the time. As mentioned, one of the reasons I decided to travel was because I was unsatisfied with my life in Toronto. Part of that was due to the lifestyle I was living but part of it was also an internal tugging that was telling me there was something more and that I could figure it out if I left behind everything to go travel. Well I guess I’ve been on a fragile path lately being hit with many realizations and not knowing what or how to express.

Following synchronicities and intuition has definitely led me to have experiences that have been right for me, whether presenting me with the right challenges, opportunities for growth or just really special moments that have confirmed my path. I’ve been able to really focus on internal, personal growth. Books and podcasts and conversations with awesome people have been instrumental for this; each appropriately finding me at the right moments as well. Still a work in progress but my mind is much more clear with regards to many things including emotions from the past which have been tainting my present reality.

The details I’ll save for another post but for now understanding and patience are what’s driving me. At the same time, the increasing clarity has created a greater drive in me to find direction/focus. Ruling out what I don’t want has been much easier than deciding what I do want and when you have a year in front of you, it seems like plenty of time to figure it out however in my 7th month of travel now it feels like the months are flying by…but it’s definitely becoming more clear and I know where my heart is.

What am I doing? I am recalibrating. Away from unnecessary stressors and inputs, I am at a lake in the mountains, where the air is clear and where I help tend to plants, chickens and the land; where I live in an ever-changing but stable community of like-minded people who work together to design and maintain a regenerative living space.

In the “real” world, I’m 32 starting again with almost nothing to present by the 1st world societal standard for a person of my age. In another sense, I took a path that I realized was in the wrong direction for me and decided consciously to acknowledge that and reroute with more insight and purpose. I can’t say I have any regret though it is definitely a jolt to the system (personally and macro-scale ;)). It’s a climb that’s worth it.

Patience is key with many things in life, subtle signs will lead the way. Stay open y’all ❤️

Late Post (written June 17th)

Spontaneous decision-making still running off the current of synchronicities.

Sometimes change flows in a way that feels like a natural beginning and ending to each experience but sometimes change requires a hard decision and some form of sacrifice. I’ve mostly been able to make relatively easy decisions in my travels because usually they have been decisions to extend my stay in a place that feels right but recently, I hit a bump in my experience and have been feeling the pull to bail out early, which if you’ve ever felt the itch that comes with disconnection you’ll understand.

I was planning on staying in Pedasí, Panama until around the end of July thinking I would likely catch a flight to Colombia after this reforestation project. Truth is, I got to Pedasí and found love for this little town – houses with so many flowering plants and fruit trees you can’t help but smile, a 45-min walk to the beach for beautiful moment alone to absorb it all in, and a cute little panaderia with amazing croissants and café – but I haven’t been clicking with the reforestation project. This due to no fault of the project but a lack of connection to where my own interests lie.

I could have mustered up the persistence and followed through with the commitment I felt I had made to the project but my conscious was telling me there would be greater integrity in following my own truth. It might just be a rationalization to feel less guilty but you can feel a difference in existence when you are doing something with a full heart versus when you have one that is wavering and it manifests in all sorts of ways. Hence sometimes it is better to let go.

So now what?

Colombia had been in the plans but another path has been pulling me. I reached out to a friend in Guatemala after the volcano erupted there to check in that all was well and this started the ball rolling. All the signs started pointing me there so I’ll be heading to Guatemala in a few days to help my friend with an herbal clinic for volcano survivors and then staying to volunteer at the Fungi Academy.

The rainy season has begun here and for me it’s feeling like a period of many changes, internal and external. I’ve been keeping up the meditation practice and change in perspective from the 10 days I spent in Vipassana meditation as well as the vegetarian diet. I’m still fighting old patterns of behaviour and habits of thought but a journey worth having is never a short one. I hope that in sharing I am contributing to the positive motivational forces for self-development, love and compassion that exists in the world which I regularly am fueled by.

Much love to all ❤️

Encouragement

Feeling a little nervous about the days to come. Sometimes travelling is the adventurous part of the journey but it’s also hectic, uncertain, squishy and a lot of thinking time. If I can burn through a couple podcasts, its great but sometimes I start listening and then my mind goes off on its own hectic, uncertain journey.

In terms of transport, San Blas was supposed to be a figure-it-out-as-I-go trip but after various conversations and some personal debate I decided to take a shuttled tour to the islands. It seemed expensive though and since I don’t swim I typically find myself with little to do on beaches and I’m not particularly inclined to them. For this reason, I thought about skipping San Blas but after a week in the city a change of pace seemed necessary. Also, a friend recommended San Blas to me (all her other recommendations were thus far on point) and I skipped Bocas del Toro so I figured I could shoulder the cost. Glad for that!

The Guna Yala Islands (renamed from San Blas by the indigenous people in 2011) are incredible. The moment I stood on the dock on Panama’s Caribbean coast I could feel that the environment held something new for me. Sometimes a city is a city or a beach is a beach, but sometimes you come upon an environment that is far out of ordinary and has its own ways which forces you to reset the things you think you know. This, I’m learning, is one of the beauties of travelling.

The magnificently clear waters and scattered beige islands with palm trees were unreal to me. It was like a postcard or a travel ad; a place that looks so beautiful it’s out of reach – or undeserved.

There are 355 islands and 49 communities, all belonging to the Guna people after their revolution in 1925. The Guna have designated some islands for their people to live on while others are for tourism. Tourism is currently what brings in the most money to the islands but the Guna don’t require much money between themselves. They still live on the philosophy that the land gives freely and so they should do the same with one another. Giving and trading is the way their people acquire what they need and it seems clear that the Guna people recognize that they don’t need much to live.

Personally, being out of my normal comfort zone in terms of the landscape, I didn’t set my expectations high but somehow it seems to chance that the right circumstances find me and give me more than I could have asked for at times I least expect it. So cliche but true. Part of this is meeting awesome people who share a similar mindset which is now starting to become a given wherever I go. I can’t have enough gratitude for this because when you’re constantly moving locations and meeting “strangers”, it’s the one thing that for me has created instant bonds and more significantly, it’s an encouraging sign to keep going in the direction I’m headed. However it was new friendships and encouragement that was highlighted for me this time.

Encouragement is so key and I’ve downplayed it’s value a lot in my own life I guess because encouragement has up until now been more like peer pressure. Not that I’m easily swayed by others but I’ve seen and experienced enough situations where this type of encouragement has opposed a person’s (or my own) better instincts and has oftentimes had negative results. However, it seems that when encouragement is a push that aligns with instinct it is transformational. New friends have encouraged a lot of amazing experiences into existence for me and in Guna Yala I got my first experience snorkelling because of it. There would have been no way I would have jumped off a boat into the sea (even with a life jacket) to see the variety of starfish metres below us if it hadn’t been for the encouragement of a new friend. It was like facing a fear of heights by jumping out of a plane with the life jacket as my parachute. Even after I managed to let go of my deathly grip on the boat, looking down into the depth of the water was another matter. But I did it and it was freakin amazing and worth it! Encouragement!!

Back from San Blas now and in 2 days I’ll be in a 10-day silent Vipassana Meditation. I’m looking forward to this but it has also crossed my mind that 10 days seated in silence will be intense. I’m intimidated but again encouraged to jump off the boat in my mind and let the meditation centre this time be my life jacket.

Random thoughts

It’s funny I have no clue whether anyone ever reads this thing since I don’t have the monitoring application installed on my iPad so it basically feels like I’m writing a journal to leave in public and it’s weird but cool. It’s probably better to not have immediate feedback as with Instagram ‘likes’ or such – def not New Yorker material here but whether you’re still reading or not it’s all good. Doing something for it’s own sake is the best way to be happy and I really think that in some ways it’s a shame that we tie work to money, entangling livelihood with passion.

There are many thoughts that I struggle with on a day-to-day basis and writing is often the best way for me to work out those thoughts – there is time to reflect and re-read to see if I’m making a logical argument or just full of shit. It’s a struggle particularly because a lot of what I believe is outside of the mainstream and talking about it almost comes off as an insult or idiocy to those who embody the ideas I challenge which is not my intention at all. I think it’s important not to get caught up with classifying ideas as good or bad, right or wrong. Most things truly are subjective and if people didn’t have right to challenge them, well we might as well be in North Korea. In an age of political correctness, I think in many situations we are limiting our expression in order to appease folks who like neat little boxes for everything or are just overly sensitive. Maybe also a product of our culture is our need for a rapid-fire response as opposed to a delayed, thoughtful one. Question, clarify, challenge, provoke!

It’s been greatly inspiring and motivating meeting so many people during the last 7 weeks here who are doing their own thing; others in my peer group who like me have chosen not to settle but instead explore; families who are motivated to travel and expose their children to other cultures; retired folks who have many detailed adventures behind them and are yet collecting more. To all I owe much gratitude for helping ease my mind about my own decisions and thoughts. It feels right and I’m constantly inspired by others who are living unique lives, pushing boundaries and thinking outside the box. I’ve been surrounded by others whose values resonate with my own; others who coincidentally have interests in the same things; repeat my thoughts but aloud in the following moment. This is synchronicity and I’ll take it as my guide. Get rid of all desires, fears, and most of all ego and I believe synchronicity will find you and catch you in its current. It’s true we have to get out of our own way before we can let it but your fate is yours once you accept it.

I still struggle however with the idea of carrying the shit from “real life”. I admire those who follow politics or business or even certain tidbits of pop culture but a part of me can’t help feeling it is more or less meaningless. It’s nice to know what’s going on in the world but to what end is it useful other than in conversation? Through our political vote? I’m not so sure…If we all chose to check out, the system would be a farce. It currently is a farce but we play along giving it merit. Systems and institutions don’t give a shit about people – people have nuanced circumstances and responses, the system has rules and procedures; people often follow tit-for-tat rules of engagement but in the system you’re expected to keep doing right even when you are wronged time after time; systems pitch ideas that are ineffectively filtered and accepted by people because our filters have been warped by it. I sure we wouldn’t make the same choices if the other options were clear.

Our deepest impact and responsibility is first with ourselves. How hard do we work to make ourselves better people? Not better as in better looking or having more economic value but better as in more trustworthy, more reliable, more self-sufficient, more generous, more sympathetic. We look to other people and things to add value to our lives but we haven’t given all we can to ourselves, internally. We can’t affect change in other people, and likewise other people won’t be able to help us, we can only become less of a burden by taking care of ourselves. Independence is a gift; a gift to ourselves and a gift to those with whom we have relationships because love is truer when it is not based on dependence.

I know I constantly risk sounding like an ignorant fool and I’ll admit to an extent that I am (though I wouldn’t say blissfully so). I am to my core a pragmatist and if there is no immediate utility to something, it will be lost on me. I’m observing from an obtuse angle; I try to consider more critically the conditions of people as a whole. I can’t live in a blind state because at some point I embrace my own frustration as a sign which leads me to question and analyze. I’m blessed for that though it might sound like the opposite.

Anyway, on to the next…my time at La Mariposa, as mentioned, has been really great from beginning to end. Next I’ll be on to the island of Ometepe for about a week then my next 3 weeks are booked for a permaculture design & herbalist course which I’m super excited for!!

My apologies for so much rambling but thanks for reading!! ❤❤❤✌🏼

Aprender

Learn, learn, learn. Feels like my Spanish is on par with (if not better than) my French right now which is crazy because I spent about 5 years in middle/secondary school learning French. But I’ll testify as many do, that immersion in the culture and language is the way to go.

Volunteering with different projects is also a great way to learn new skills and practice Spanish. I am grateful that this opportunity exists.

It’s a shame that our schooling system doesn’t incorporate more of a learn and work approach by including hands-on training in real-world skills. Glue, paper and crayons can go a long way but not much farther than the age of 10. Real work often takes a degree of observation, precision, and feedback which I’m not sure is present in other youth activities unless they are extracurricular. Not advocating for child labour, I just believe practical knowledge and a sense of self-sufficiency are much needed in our culture.

Educación es importante. There are many habits that we inherit and seem like common sense or a given to us however we happen to come from an informed culture and things like daily dental hygiene and the importance of general cleanliness are a result of that. On the flipside our culture often skews or exploits many practices, setting the bar higher and higher and companies bank on our desire for aesthetics. Fresh-to-death clothes, sparkly whitened teeth, fingernails did. It’s nice but it’s also nice to live free of it 😉

One more month at La Mariposa and I’m contemplating how to get the most out of my time here. As mentioned, I’m enjoying the approach of learning and working so I’m planning on more of it as I continue my travels.

Much love to all,

Vina

Ambivalence

Ambivalence is the perfect signal of internal conflict and I’ve used it to explore almost all aspects of my life. It’s that struggle of having opposing feelings about something or someone making it hard to resolve how you ultimately feel and/or confounding the decisions you want to make with regards to that thing or person.

 

The feeling of ambivalence makes us uncomfortable and can be rationalized into submission if we want OR it can be a crux point where change happens. I have struggled for a while now about my feelings towards work – enjoying the challenges and people while hating the lifestyle imposed on me (sitting all day, occupying the best hours of my day and best days of my life, etc.). If I played out the next 5-10 years of my life, I could see what my potential to achieve would be as well as what the limitations on my life would be but it was hard to determine an alternative.

 

I’ve received some undeserved praise I think for going abroad to volunteer but the truth is I’ve been mostly looking for an escape over the past year or so. In addition to my ambivalent feelings about work, I’ve become somewhat consumed with frustration over the modern way of life. Whether that’s mostly because I regret what our consumerist culture is doing to our world or whether it’s because despite my best efforts I continue to miss the marks of socially-recognized measures of success, I can’t exactly say. Nevertheless, the combination of factors has resulted in my increasing cynicism and need to break out before I spiral too far downward.

 

Self-reflection has brought me here and while I’m completely satisfied with the path my life has taken, the opportunities afforded to me and the internal personal growth I’ve experienced as a result, I also now feel completely mis-matched to this way of living right now and almost like I’m tired. Tired of swimming against the current; tired of constantly having to defend myself – why I’m not interested in getting my nails done or wearing high heels, why I’m still not married, why I choose to read rather than to have a social life, and why all the above choices don’t mean I’m a crazy cat lady in the making.

 

I don’t mean to get too serious or rant excessively but again I want to share a bit of my own perspective because it helps build the context to my actions. There are push and pull factors to everything and I’m explaining the push part here. I could ramble for some more paragraphs easily but I’ll stop now in hopes that I’ve gotten my view across and perhaps even given some food for thought.

 

Thanks again for following and reading.

Much Love,

Vina