from Rooftop of Buddhist Monastery in Zanskar Valley, Ladakh, Himalayas of northern India

Dream, Dream Big

At a young age I was fortunate to have my mother’s words, repeated time and again, to go for what I wanted in life. “Nothing is impossible if you want it and work hard to make it happen”. My father would say “Go for what you want and work out the details later”. My mother lived her words and was a maverick in many ways, making change for the wellbeing of others or the planet despite all obstacles, and there were many. With my father’s words, I have gotten jobs I wanted when there were no openings; by continually returning and saying I wanted to work there. I went to Peru on a one-way ticket and $120 not knowing what I would do or how I would make it. Found a job teaching English to geologist in a mine at 12,000’. Stayed a year. Don’t worry about the details. Go for what you want and the rest will unravel along the way, clearing the path. As a child, I didn’t realize the impact these messages would have for me, profound impacts. 

New Zealand
Early on I realized I never wanted to work to survive financially. I wanted to work because it was meaningful, because I was passionate about what I was doing. I am very fortunate that most of my jobs were just that: teaching and working with homeless women to get their high school diplomas and move on into college, same with women freshly released from jail, women on welfare, refugees from around the world, primary school teaching, anthropologist, archaeologist, project coordinator for the Charles Darwin Research Station – Galapagos, international school teacher, etc. I never worried about the money. It was always enough to allow me to get by and continue doing what I loved. 

I have had so many fantastic opportunities to share with others and give all of myself. There is absolutely nothing more rewarding. Too often I think we are conditioned to look out for ourselves first. Sorry, but that has not proven to give me happiness. 

It has been a journey of reward, daily reward. The more I give, the more I receive. The more I give from the heart, the richer my present. And for me, giving, or generosity is not just sharing my extra whatever, it is giving something that is a little difficult to let go of, something I am attached to and love.  Then I am truly giving. 

From years of being poor, both as a child and adult, I learned to be fully aware of everything I spent money on. When I spend money, it is a clear, conscious choice. I generally ask myself “Do I need it?” no, I already have three pairs of pants. If I have a goal in mind, I try to minimize all the little stuff that takes away from my goal. If I want money to travel, I don’t buy the cup of coffee or eat out. I don’t buy new clothes but always second hand. I never bought a new car. I am afraid we get so conditioned to buy, spend without thinking and then we feel trapped that we don’t have the freedom or money we want to do what we want.

My backpack for five months..
I am so, so grateful I learned these messages in my life. I am wearing a seven-year-old t-shirt as I write this, not ready to give it up as it still works for my needs, but if you want it or need it, it’s yours! Less is more. The less I have the freer I am. A couple years ago I returned to the US and sold my beautiful home in New Mexico and everything I owned from a lifetime of living and traveling around the world. Burned all docs from taxes to thesis. Selected some photos of family and friends and trashed everything else. Left there with two suitcases, and could have left more. Now I live in a little passive solar house, 30’ x 12’ and it is still more than I need. When I travel, which is often four months a year, I pack a carry-on 30L backpack, maximum seven kilos. It doesn’t matter where I go or for how long or even what climate. If I change climate zones, I go to a second hand shop, give away all my hot weather clothes and buy a new set for winter weather. Life can be so simple if we let go. Stuff really means nothing. I can find what I need anywhere in the world. We all share the same basic needs from toothpaste, clothing, dishes, electricity, adaptors, whatever. Connecting to others, sharing all that we are, seeing different ways of living, perspectives, customs, values, these are what open me and give me such deep joy and gratitude. I love gratitude. Changes everything. Saw a great saying a while back “What makes me think I will be grateful for this new thing I want, if I am not grateful for what I already have”

And no fear. Fear is faith turned inside out. Spiritual faith,  or faith in oneself, or faith in the goodness of people, this is what helps me move forward. 

No what if’s. What if the car breaks down, I am robbed, raped, I get a flat tire? When standing on the road for my first hitchhiking trip at 17, I accepted that whatever happened to me it would be part of my journey. If I was to be raped it would be so I could help others who had been raped. It allowed me to move forward with faith instead of fear. Now I ask myself “What’s the worse that could happen?” I die. And that’s ok. I will die someday, someway, when it is my time. I have had a rich life, a beautiful day. I am ready to die anytime.

So dream. Dream big. Whatever your true heart desires you can make happen, but it definitely requires first noticing and then letting go of the distractions to the goal, making sacrifices. It is all about our choices and which paths we choose to take.

Waterfall in Laos..


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