Top 20 Books About Adventurous Lives

Anyone who knows me KNOWS that I am a book fiend, and my favourite type of books, fiction or non, are ADVENTURE stories. Books about epic journeys, weird upbringings, living in nature, or simply unconventional lifestyles.

Books are my biggest love, and adventure stories are an amazing way to get inspired and see yourself in others. Not everyone who lives a crazy life starts out as an athlete, a confident person, or naturally adventurous. The most inspiring people to me are the ones who do something amazing or scary, even if they have trepidations or doubts – they push forward because they feel called to do something with their lives. You can, as well. Read on and get inspired!

Vali Myers: A Memoir– Gianni Menichetti

This woman is my biggest inspiration. An artist I have written about before, she lived a wild and crazy life. Originally from Australia, she saved her money and moved to Paris, lived on the streets, became an opium addict and moved to Italy to get off drugs, living as a recluse for 40 years with a menagerie of animals and her young lover, while traveling to NYC to sell her art, eventually settling back in Australia before her death. Her home, lover, and animals are still in Italy, and he is the author of this awesome biography. Highly recommended.

Four Corners– Kira Salak

This woman is a total badass. She became the first woman to traverse Papua New Guinea solo, by boat and foot, a wild land that is one of the last untouched places on earth. She also has an awesome article she wrote for National Geographic about her ayahuasca experience and it’s effect on her depression. Everything I read by her screams of bravery and passion for existence.

Tracks – Robyn Davidson

One of my VERY favourite books, and also now a beautiful movie! In the 70s this young lady decided she wanted to cross the Australian desert with her dog and camels, which she trains herself over a period of 2 years. Beautifully told and inspiring, HIGHLY recommended!

On Foot Through Africa– Ffyona Campbell

Ffyona was the first woman to walk around the world. Though her journey had controversy due to skipping one part during a pregnancy, she went back to complete it later on. Of her 3 books, this one was my favourite. She spent 2 years walking from the south to north of Africa.

Rowing the Atlantic – Roz Savage

Roz is a powerhouse, and like Robyn Davidson, knew that a seemingly “ordinary” person can do extraordinary things. Roz became an ocean rower simply because she wrote out her perceived obituary and compared it to one she would have preferred. This led to her being the first and only woman to row across all 3 oceans. Totally epic.

Beyond the Horizon – Colin Angus

Colin, who lives in the same city as me, departed on a 2 year trip to circumnavigate the globe by human power alone. By bike, foot, and rowboat, he began in Canada, rowed to Russia, biked across Siberia and Europe, separating from his travel partner and then completing the journey with his fiance, rowing across the Atlantic through two hurricanes and a squall, then biking from Costa Rica back to Canada. AMAZING!

Kite Strings of the Southern Cross – Laurie Gough (Also known as Island of the Human Heart).

An incredibly beautiful travelogue of a woman in Fiji, plus chapters of her other travels. One of the best travel books I’ve ever read, along with her other, which I loved just as much, Kiss the Sunset Pig, in which she is searching for a cave she once lived in on the coast of California, recounting many other travels along the way.

Touch the Dragon: A Thai Journal– Karen Connelly (Also known as Dream of a Thousand L ives).

I read this book after going to Thailand, and found myself yearning to go back immediately. Karen’s teenage year living with a family in rural Thailand is exquisitely written, and I implore you to read it and everything else by her. She is a stunning writer.

Flaming Iguanas – Erika Lopez

An illustrated road novel about a girl named Tomato on her motorcycle. Can it get any better? I dunno. In fact, just thinking about it makes me want to read it again.

In Search of Captain Zero – Allan C. Weisbecker

Sell your house, grab your dog, load up your surfboards in your camper and take off in search of your lost friend. This memoir of a man in his late 40s is epic and true, and a testament that leaving it all behind to go after a pure and exciting adventure is what life is all about. Also recommended is the film Surfwise.

Atlas of the Human Heart – Ariel Gore

One of my favourite writers! This accounts her teenage travels to Asia and Europe, after dropping out of high school. Poetic, beautiful, and will make you wonder if you’ve really been living.

Today is the Last Day of the Rest of Your Life – Ulli Lust

Probably one of the best books I’ve read this year, AND a graphic novel to boot. A massive tome detailing more teenage adventures of two crazy punk girls in the 80s, traveling and hitching through Italy, and all the horrific and wonderful things that happen. As soon as I read the description of this book I felt like it was meant for me. One of my very favourite comic memoirs.

Wild – Cheryl Strayed

This extremely popular memoir of a hike on the Pacific Crest Trail is gorgeous and tempting. Even though long hiking journeys I read about seem grueling, they are always so full of beauty that they tempt me out of the indoors and into the forest, where we really do belong. So many of the books I love begin with horrible circumstances, broken hearts, turmoil and sorrow, only to be satiated by wilderness. Strayed is a gorgeous writer.

A Walk in the Woods – Bill Bryson

This book made me laugh my ass off. Two men on the Appalachian trail – Bryson really knows how to craft a travel tale, and make it funny as well. Another book that got me interested in hiking.

That Oceanic Feeling – Fiona Capp

One of the books that inspired me deeply, this is a memoir of a lady who sets out to surf a tough surf break in her later 30s. She lived quite a drive away, and hadn’t surfed in many, many years, but was committed to her goal. A great reminder that it is not too late to start pursuing your passions.

Child of the Jungle – Sabine Kuegler (also known as Jungle Child).

OH, this book is just soul food for me. Reading about a childhood growing up in the jungles of New Guinea, how beautiful! Makes me swoon just thinking about it. It was also made into a movie which I also love and suggest you check out.

Into the Wild– Jon Krakauer

Probably one of the best known books on living in the wilderness, and with an unfortunate end, it is still a very inspiring and fascinating story. I love the movie even more.

The Sex Lives of Cannibals –  J. Maarten Troost

This book was unbelievably funny. The writer and his wife went for two years to the tiny island country of Kiribati (heard of it? Likely not, but you won’t forget it after reading this). Seemingly paradise, the bad side soon reveals itself in glorious hilarity. Troost is a fantastic comedic writer, but he also makes you want to visit this beautiful place, despite it’s weird quirks. My favourite funny adventure travel book.

Chasing Waves – Amy  Waeschle

A beautiful account of a female surfer’s first experience and how it leads to obsessive travel and pursuit of wave-riding. Very helpful in alleviating my major wanderlust and surf-lust, though it also made me yearn to get moving and get wet.

In addition to all of these books, I highly recommend reading the travel blogs of Katwise, which I devoured! Completely amazing stuff.

Please tell me all of your recommendations, especially if they are not very well known! I am always looking for more adventures to read!!

How to Love Someone Without Scaring Them Away

 

I am the first to admit that when I used to get involved with someone, I would fall hard and fast like granite. I know I’m not alone. This is pretty typical, because INFATUATION feels like LOVE…sort of.

Infatuation feels frenzied, intense, overwhelming, like you NEED the person. You are drunk on them, they are your addiction.

Love feels more centered, calm, and REAL. It feels natural, and DEEP. It is so easy to confuse the two, especially if you haven’t yet experienced long-term love feelings, and I certainly had not in my earlier life.

Here’s the guide to getting involved without scaring them off!

 

1. KNOW that it is not love right away, it’s infatuation.

Infatuation is FUN, but do not confuse it with love. Love at first sight is bullshit. You might argue with me on this because it happened to YOU – but hey! I never said it never works out. Even if you have had a lifelong love affair with the person you “fell in love with”  immediately, it was not love – it morphed into it.

You do not know a person, not truly, for years. Everyone is on their best behaviour at first – you start to love how amazing they are, idealize them, and think that having them in your life will make YOU a better person, and you want to do the same for them. You want to drown in each other because your pheromones are off the charts and you want to surf that wave of serotonin every fucking day until you pass out, just to wake up and do it again.

When you start to feel like you are in withdrawal from not being around them, ask yourself if you’re in love with the person and all their faults, or in love with your image of them, or their POTENTIAL (ugh)! In the beginning, that’s all it can be. Love is based on reality. If your partner seems to have no negative side, you are deceiving yourself. Perfection is a fantasy.

2. Have a really amazing life of your own.

Never give up the things you love doing in order to be with someone new. This is fucking terrifying for them. I will never forget this guy I was nuts for in 2005. I was planning to visit him (an addition to an overseas trip I’d been planning already), and at one point he said he loved me so much that he’d pick me over music, which was his major passion. We hadn’t even met in person yet. It was in this instance that I started to feel major trepidations. I should have just ended it there, but lo and behold, when we met, it didn’t take long for me to get absolutely sick of him and understand why clinginess was so absolutely nauseating. I’d never really dealt with it before and it made me look at myself and how I tended to scare people off.

When I got involved with my current sweetheart, I was planning to embark on a solo trip to Thailand and Australia for a month. We were not officially a couple, but we were absolutely smitten with each other and there was part of me that didn’t want to take off for so long.

But I was older, way smarter, super confident and independent. I knew it wasn’t love at that point, even though I adored him (I’d known him for 16 years but not romantically). There was no way in hell I was going to stop my life in order to “be” with him. If it was anything worthwhile then it would continue when I returned. I’d been planning this trip for 2 years – can you imagine if someone just was like “nah” and cancelled their dream vacation to be with someone they just got involved with? Would that make you admire the person? It would give me the creeps. Why would you give up your dreams and passions just to hang out and fuck someone you barely know all day? That can happen the majority of the time outside of everything else, but never make your relationship your ONLY reason for living. Being someone’s ONLY source of pleasure is completely awful, because then you feel pressured to live not only your life for you, but for them, too, and they will always depend on you to feel awesome.

3. Figure out how they feel loved

There are 5 particular ways people show love according to The 5 Love Languages, and you should figure this out pretty quickly if you want them to feel appreciated and cared for. However, at first, keep everything simple, sporadic, and wait a while before doing anything over the top. Do they feel loved when you make time for them? Give them presents? Do they feel most loved when you speak about it out loud? Show them physically? For me, effort means everything. Getting a ton of presents would make me feel awkward and smothered.

4. Do the opposite of what you usually do

One of the best things I ever did in terms of relationships was to do the complete opposite of almost everything I did in previous ones. This is the best way to break out of a pattern, especially if you are in the habit of becoming needy or obsessive, and scaring off potentially wonderful partners! Make a list of your typical relationship habits – dig deep, and then commit to trying everything contrary next time and see what happens. This changed my entire life, and I use this method in everything I’ve struggled with, not just relationships.

 If you do what you’ve always done, you’ll get what you’ve always gotten. ‘ – Tony Robbins.

5. Don’t talk too much shit about your past relationships, if ever

This just makes you seem obsessive, and that’s never a good thing. No one wants to hear about your old woes, unless they ask or it is pertinent to the conversation. If you are endlessly negative, it’s going to push that person away and then they will wonder what you’re going to say about them!

6. Allow them space to be themselves.

Let them know, with actions and not just words, that you want them to be able to express themselves, and that you will not get in their way. Loving someone hard means allowing them to do what they need to do to be THEMSELVES. If you want to be with a musician (for a very good example) don’t expect to come first. Often, when people are intensely into something (which is very attractive), you will always come second, especially in the beginning. Is this bad? Not necessarily. If they feel loved enough to be able to live life the way they want and be who they are, they will respect and appreciate your relationship so much more. To try and hold someone back is the worst thing you can possibly do in a relationship – and the same goes for if someone is trying to do this for you. Even worse, if you find yourself being held back by someone, get out FAST. Sometimes it happens without you even realizing it! You will feel so repressed that you will explode, and probably not in a purely positive way (happened to me). Make sure you let your loved one be who they need to be, and make sure they let you do the same.

That being said, if you are being completely neglected, that person is not right for you, and you should not try to change them. Find someone more suitable.

7. Don’t put in more effort than the other person, make sure it is equal.

If you are putting in everything you’ve got, and they’re not, then it’s completely unbalanced. You might even be putting them off. If they are not matching you in enthusiasm, back off, or just give it up completely and find someone else.

8. Look at the relationship as a journey and not a destination.

Have FUN. Don’t take relationships so seriously, and don’t grasp on as if it’s your last hope. You want to know you are truly compatible with someone, and it really doesn’t take a huge amount of time to figure that out. You don’t want an air of desperation, because that is gross and off-putting to everyone. Get to know someone slowly, and if you feel in your gut that it’s not going to work, then DON’T CONTINUE. That is a waste of time. That is cruel to the other person, especially if they really like you and hope for something more serious.

If you go into something with the thoughts of MARRIAGE! KIDS! then you will probably jump in way too quickly and find out later that it was a poor idea.

9. LISTEN to them and COMMUNICATE

See everyone as your teacher. If you listen and take an interest in what your loved one is doing, even if it’s not what you’re into, the effort will mean a lot. Besides, you should always be learning from your partner.

Also, be clear and don’t expect anyone to know what you want or read your mind. Passive aggressive behaviour and not being open are going to stack against you, quickly. Say what is important and what is necessary.

10. Don’t hide anything important

Your sweetheart doesn’t need to know all your tiny weird habits, but declare anything big that might change their whole perception of you.  This may very well scare someone off, but that means they are not right for you, and you have saved both of yourselves some time.

11. Remember things that are super important to them. Little things count the most.

Forgetting important things cannot be rectified by flowers and apologies, unless it’s a rare occurrence. Make sure you pay attention.

12. Make sure that you are well matched before getting deeply involved.

The most unloving thing to do is to ignore your instincts and have someone fall for you if you know early on that it’s unlikely going to work. Your intuition will guide you. Listen to it!

13. Don’t make your whole life about them, and make sure they don’t make their whole life about you.

Put your energy into yourself, your friends, your animal companions, your work – so many people make the mistake of putting ALL their energy into one other person. It does take energy and effort to grow something beautiful with a partner, but in the beginning, chill out and continue to live the life you were living pre-other-person. It’s hard to do, I know, because it’s ultra-exciting. That doesn’t make it love.

14. Things have to grow, not just appear.

This was something I heard from an ex of mine, after we broke up – we were together two weeks. I was 25. I was SHATTERED. I hadn’t felt like that for someone in a long time, and I just threw myself into it – so did he, but he freaked out, obviously. Even though it took me quite a while to figure out what had happened (it seems so obvious to me now), I completely agree with him. Love doesn’t just magically happen. It IS magical, but love grows. Infatuation can be instant, but like I said before, love must be cultivated, tended to, nurtured over time. You can’t just stick a seed in the ground and expect a fucking rose to be there the next day. It takes a lot of patience and coaxing, and it will develop IF everything is right. You can tell fairly quickly what is missing, and if it worth continuing. Some things just won’t grow, no matter how much you pour into the soil.

15. Enjoy YOURSELF

The typical “If you can’t love yourself, how can you love anyone else?” thing is annoyingly true. If you need someone else to validate your existence, you need to turn inward before getting involved with anyone, and make yourself into a person you are proud of. You have to think you are awesome, or you are going to settle for a lot of shit, including shit people. When you are full of love for yourself, confident, and know you are amazing, people notice, and they will flock to you. You will have your choice of amazing people to have in your life.

16. Knock the Jealousy

If you try to own someone, show that you mistrust them, and generally monitor their every move – you’re going to piss them off and scare them off. I mean duh. If you are that mistrusting of someone, either don’t be with them at all, or get confident in yourself. Jealousy is stupid and a relationship killer.

I hope these tips help, because I know they have worked for me. Please leave any other suggestions in the comments!

 

Recommended Reading:

I Need Your Love – Is That True?
Why Men Love Bitches
The Vortex
Be the Person You Want to Find

Dropping Labels and Dogma

So, there has been a lot of drama lately in the raw food community, and it has raised some questions for me.

Who’s side do I take? No one’s. Instead, I am questioning labels in general. The labels people put on themselves AND others, and what I want to use for myself, if anything.

I have thought about this before and was comfortable with certain terms, but now I even question those because in certain people’s eyes you will not be enough.

Do I want to be called a raw foodist anymore? A fruitarian? A VEGAN? I don’t know. And I don’t think so. I know what I stand for and that is what is important, not what someone ELSE thinks of me based on what I call myself.

I know that I do not want to contribute to the harming of animals. But what if I wear my old leather belt or shoes? That I bought years and years ago? Does that make me not a vegan? I give a shit about the planet. I always want to adhere to my basic ethics and will work around them, even if I can’t be perfect, which is impossible anyway.

What if I eat a gourmet raw meal? Does that take me out of the fruitarian club? Fine. Whatever. Do I get my Raw Foodist Card revoked if I eat nuts or miso or dried fruit? What if I get sick to death of bananas? What if I WANT to eat a whole whack of avocados in a day? Funnily enough, I felt and looked best on a high fat raw diet, it was only when I upped my fruit intake ALONG with it that I felt shit – so it’s one or the other, really.

I do feel best on a high fruit diet, but there are times when I question it – like when my skin is super dry or I got horrible dandruff, or other weird personal issues I don’t want to discuss on here. They are minor issues, sure, and I dealt with them for all the other benefits – but during my first two years raw, where I was eating whatever I wanted in whatever quantities  satisfied me, I felt great, grounded, happy, and looked my BEST.

And so now I am thinking of dropping all labels entirely, and just saying I eat a plant-based diet, live as ethically as I can from day to day, make the best choices I can, and eat almost entirely raw plant foods with an emphasis on fruit. My main focus is to be as healthy as possible, and I lost sight of this to cling to a label, or aspire to attain the status of “fruitarian” because I like the idea of it. But does anyone I know give a shit if I’m a fruitarian or not? No. The only people who seem to care are other fruitarians/raw foodists, and the ones who DO NOT care are the ones I admire the most, anyway.

I want to stay honest, and seriously, if everyone did this, there would be a lot more solidarity between everyone, less hatred, etc – it’s ridiculous.

My decision now is to not follow anyone’s protocol in particular – not that I ever did. Over the last 6 years of me being interested in and following a raw lifestyle I have learned from multiple people with differing views, and taken knowledge from all of them – of course 80/10/10 has made the most sense to me but even that I do not agree with entirely.

I keep questioning it all. I stick to my ethics and beliefs and even if something I try doesn’t work, I will keep seeking out what does, and it is not necessarily what one or two people claim is the best way.

I actually feel horrible for being judgmental – this rubbed off on me from particular people in the raw food movement. Before following certain people I was really passive in my approach and just did my own thing and only shared my experiences out of pure joy and not judgement. I was also influenced a lot by the negative attitude of my ex who slowly dragged me down over a period of 3.5 years into becoming kind of mean for a while. I started hating people! And I don’t! I take some responsibility of course. It was a set-back, and part of the reason I left is that I was turning into a person I didn’t like when I was with him.

I am done with labeling myself for the same reason I stopped labeling my sexuality ten years ago. When you label yourself you are ripe for criticism, guilty-feelings, and if you are on a JOURNEY, as everyone is, and things shift, you don’t have to feel BADLY or like you are not ENOUGH. Life is FLUID. You shouldn’t have to feel bad if something didn’t work out for you, and I don’t want to contribute to people feeling bad about their choices!

I like to look at all sides of things and make my own assessments – I don’t want to like or dislike someone based on what they eat or how much they weigh or how fit they are or if they smoke weed or trip balls in the woods. I want to live it up and do my best and be open-hearted. I want to be around POSITIVITY and I want to be REAL.

Being a happy, goofy person does not equal fake, and being a judgmental, ego-driven, aggressive, critical person does not make you “real.” Everyone, especially online, has their schtick, it is not necessarily fake, just like how you behave at your job to the public does not necessarily make you fake – it just makes you conscious of how you want to present yourself, how you want to be seen. Just because someone isn’t making videos when they’re in a bad mood and showing that side of themselves, does not make them a fake person. If I stay home when I’m in a rotten mood so my friends doesn’t have to see me like that, does it make me fake? Or should I go anyway and ruin everyone’s fun?

I will always be real. What I post is going to be reflective of how I feel in the moment. Sometimes I may seem serious and sometimes I might seem ridiculously happy and positive and vibrant. It’s called BEING HUMAN. My emotions shift! How I feel about something today might change tomorrow based on NEW INFORMATION I get. I am no better than you or anyone else. I don’t want to be put on a pedestal. I want to be relatable and set a good example of healthy living and what it can do for you. If I ever feel phony that is a warning sign that something in my life needs to change, and I take it seriously and make the changes necessary. I have tried being fake and it never ever works. I suck at it. Because of my inability to be a phony, I have lost a lot of jobs and people tend to take me the wrong way.

I will always adhere to a raw food diet, or a high raw diet – I don’t know how I will feel about certain foods from day to day! It depends on my mood! Right now I am all raw and have been for ages. That could change at some point, as it has before for brief periods of time. I still believe raw foods are the ultimate, that a human diet needs the bulk of calories coming from whole fruits and vegetables, but I really don’t give a shit what you eat as long as you’re a nice person and you’re trying your best. I’d prefer if everyone left animals alone and didn’t eat them, but I am not going to make you feel like a pile of shit for it.

I have been going towards this way of thinking for a while now, but all the drama going on has just cemented my decision.

Love to all of you.

Lorra

Passion Muses: Vali Myers

The biggest inspiration to me is Vali Myers, a fiery demon angel who covered the world in her goldleaf and fine ink, gypsy dancing and hordes of animals; a fox in human form.

“She was an Amazon. An indomitable creature, a stoic and spartan nomad soul. A primeval, telluric, pagan spirit.”
— Gianni Menichetti on Vali

She was born in the 30s in Australia, later working in factories to save money for dancing lessons. She left for Paris at 19 to pursue a dance career, ending up living on the streets of the Left Bank, a haze of opium and darkness, though she kept living through her drawings, eventually being exiled from France.

“We lived in the streets, in the cafes, like a pack of mongrel dogs. We had our very own codes. Students and people with jobs were kept out. As for the tourists who came around to gawk at “existentialists,” it was all right to con them. We always managed to have rough wine and hash from Algeria. We shared everything.”

She married a gypsy man named Rudi, went back to Paris, then left together to quit opium. They went walkabout through Europe, finding a small little house in the Italian valley of Positano, called Il Porto, and they lived there with a brood of animals, which grew larger every year – dogs and cats and foxes and goats and donkeys and a gaggle of others.

Then came a beautiful Italian boy named Gianni, who Vali took as her lover, she tattooed his forehead and her own face with curlicues and dots, a spirit moustache, and a paw print on Gianni’s third eye. A girl named Caroline lived in a cave nearby.

“She gave me my first tattoo in the first month I lived with her, a five-petaled flower around my navel. I find that a rather beautiful place. And from then on we began to tattoo each other, and a lot. I covered her feet and hands with a blue lace of tattoos. She did my right hand, and I did my left one. For me, that tattooing was my initiation, and a kind of spirit marriage. Indians believe that tattoos stay with you forever, because after death the soul still keeps them.”
— Gianni Menichetti

She lived as a recluse for 40 years, working on her drawings, caring for her menagerie, crawling over cliffs, adoring her pet fox, Foxy, walking to the city for dancing, then coming back in the morning, working on drawings by oil lamp until the sun came up. She would work on pieces for years, the finest ink work, a meditation, almost always including a doppelganger of herself.

❝I just draw – ever since I was a little girl. People always try to label it, but you can’t label this work, it’s original. It’s like asking why do you dance? You do it because you have the spirit inside you… If I didn’t draw I’d go mad. Artists are like shamans – they have that compulsion and nothing can stop them.”

She began selling her art in Europe and New York, moving into the Chelsea Hotel with many other famous artists of the 70s and 80s. But she always returned to her valley, where Gianni awaited, Rudi had become a drunk and taken leave, so it was just Vali and Gianni and the dogs and eels and all their other animal companions.

“When I feel joyous, I dance, and when I don’t, I draw. The feeling to draw is so strong, that if I had to go to prison, I’d see it as an opportunity to sit and create without any distraction.”

Later in her life, she moved back to Melbourne, Gianni staying in Il Porto to care for the animals. She was a spitfire until the end, she died at 72 in 2003.

“Let it all be animal, my life and death, hard and clean like that, anything but human… a lot I care, me with my red heart in the dark earth and my tattooed feet following the animal ways.”

“From the ice and the watery depths, Vali could turn in a moment to fire in her wild imagination. She loved Semiramis, the legendary queen of Assyria, who flung herself on a flaming pyre at the death of her favourite horse. She always yearned to belong to a tribe. She had such a strong instinct for sharing. But, being such an extraordinary individual, I always felt she belonged to a non-existent tribe, or to one that vanished a long time ago. She never belonged to her own time anyway. She would have loved to have lived in the very old pagan days, without man-made gods and just the religion of nature.”
— Gianni Menichetti on Vali

~~~

I feel such a strong connection to this woman – even our art style is similar. Her adoration of animals is parallel to my own, the way she lived in seclusion in nature with a sexy young man as her lover, her wild, barefooted dancing ways, her gypsy style, her tattoos and passion for living, her wanderlust, her disgust at typical life, that a regular job would be like a suicide, that she always longed for a tribe – so many things in common with her that how could I not be inspired and feel a kinship?

I re-read her biography when I went away on my trip, to be renewed by the way she lived, to remind me of how I had lost my damn way, how I had been swayed by bullshit, and to be brave, so brave, and only focus on what is really important to me, my lusts and passions and to never hold myself back, to rejoice in wild ways, for that is who I am, my soul is burning, as hers was, and I tattooed my love of her on my arm, to remind me: LIVE, damnit, so that when you die, you feel satiated.

This reminds me of me and my dog, so much.

“I’ve had 72 absolutely flaming years. It (the illness) doesn’t bother me at all, because, you know love, when you’ve lived like I have, you’ve done it all. I put all my effort into living; any dope can drop dead. I’m in the hospital now, and I guess I’ll kick the bucket here. Every beetle does it, every bird, everybody. You come into the world and then you go.”

~~~

More about Vali:

Vali Myers Art Gallery Trust

Witch of Positano tumblr

Gianni Menichetti

A more in-depth post of Vali

Vali Myers: A Memoir by Gianni.

Night Flower: The Life & Art of Vali Myers

Films about Vali

How to Break Up With Someone You Love

 

I have thought about writing this post for over a year, and I only just ended my long-term relationship in January. I knew it would be an important post for me to write, and that I would have to be fairly personal to write it, and of course respectful of my former partner.

When you know deep in your heart that your relationship is holding you back, yet you still love the person, it can lead to some drastic sacrifices – meaning, you can completely lose who you are. For me, my passion was fading. I became an anxious person. I took on traits of my partner. I repressed myself, much, much more than I had realized, and when you repress yourself for too long, you will eventually explode.

And I did – I got to a point where the true, fiery nimbus came out – she BURST out, cackling (rather psychotically), not letting anything get in her way. However, that pull-back was still there, to be mindful of the other, despite the weight upon my soul.

Have you ever been in this situation? It was rather new to me, I have always been the person to work hard (not that I didn’t this time – I did, believe me), to stick with it, and be heartbroken. To hurt another was rather foreign to me, and I was terrified. It absolutely gutted me, but it was so necessary to my well-being. I did not stop loving who I was with, but the love morphed into a platonic love, and it was not fair to me, or to him, to continue.

I struggled with this decision for almost 2 years. I justified staying for so many reasons – my partner had lots of good traits, but over time, the bad ones just clashed with me so much that I was quite literally losing my mind, turning into a person I did not recognize, almost worse than me in the past – the unhealthy, depressed, anxious cynic – now phony, irritable, lashing out, lying…so unlike me it was insane, and when it got to the point where I was being dishonest, I had to get out, immediately, because it was not who I am. I have always prided myself on honesty and I always refused to be fake – I am no good at it anyway. It was obvious I was going to leave, though I ignored my own needs and was eventually a brutal, horrible girlfriend – me leaving was really best for us both.

So over the last 2 years of grappling with my feelings, here is what I have learned. Some people might have an easy time letting go, and I’m not one of them. If I have loved someone, I care for them forever! To part is not easy for me.

~

Realize you do not need to BE with someone to love them.

This is something I discovered via questioning my beliefs – in the past, when someone I loved left to go back to where he lived in LA, I questioned the belief: ‘But I love him, I have to be with him!‘ And to turn that around, to “I don’t need to be with him to love him” was very powerful. It still works when you are the one doing the leaving. The other person may not believe you, but they don’t have to. YOU know it. Reiterate it to them. It seems cliche and phony, but if you are sincere, hopefully it will come across, even if they can’t see it immediately.

Be selfish.

There is so much flack out there about being selfish. Everyone seems to have an opinion about other people’s relationships, what they should do, who they should be with, why they should stay or leave, what is acceptable and what is not, what is a deal-breaker, and what should be supported. But really, how can you be a good partner if you are miserable? You can’t, to anyone. If you are like I was, you could be so miserable that you don’t even like yourself – then how could anyone else? To be happy with others, you need to be happy with you, so you need to make sure your relationships are good ones. Of course, relationships take work, but there is only so much you can do when things are not right – you can’t force it. When it’s forced it feels gross. Make yourself happy. Give yourself what you need, especially if your partner will not, or cannot, give it to you.

Be empathetic

If you are a normal person, you will probably know how horrible it feels to have someone leave you. Do it with the UTMOST compassion, regardless if they have been a shithead to you, or an angel. Even wonderful people can be wrong for you, and even shitheads can have broken hearts. Be as kind as you can.

Be Open

At least listen to everything they have to say. You don’t have to agree or respond, but listen to them. They at least should have the opportunity to say what they feel. If you feel threatened or attacked, retreat.

Be Accepting of their reaction

They may beg you for another chance, they may threaten suicide or a number of things, they may hurl insults at you or be in utter agony. They might surprise you and agree! They might be completely cold and not even look at you. Whatever they do, it might not be what you are prepared for, so be prepared for anything.

Be adamant/firm – with them AND yourself.

No matter how much they beg or threaten, do not falter. It’s difficult but in order for you BOTH to move forward, it is imperative that you cut the cord completely. Emotional manipulation is not cool, and what that person decides to do after you leave is their business, not yours. Their problem, not yours.

Be SURE.

Don’t do what I did – I tried leaving several times. The first few times, I changed my mind the next day. I felt horrible for hurting him, and when I was 100% sure I wanted to leave, I had to be damn strong in order to do so. Don’t hurt them more than you have to. It’s hard to leave that comfort zone. If you’re not ready, don’t do it. But when you do decide, make sure it’s for real, or you are likely to keep hurting them, and if you love them, why would you want to prolong the agony?
Be positive. Question everything. Put YOU first. If you aren’t happy you will take it out on your partner, and then nobody is happy.

Be direct

I wanted to cop out so many times and just write a note and leave it at his place. I wanted to do it over the phone. I wanted to send a text (better than a post-it). I wanted to get someone ELSE to do it (that happened to me when I was 15, no fun). I knew none of these were acceptable, especially for a long-term situation, or an adult.
It sucks, but do it in person (if you can – I was once involved with someone overseas so I couldn’t exactly do that when I ended our relationship – so pick the next best option). Write a letter if you have to, but at least give it to them in person and stay while they read it, or discuss it – I did this, even though it was refused, and then I had a lead into what was going to happen.

Have support/Expect Criticism

The person doing the leaving doesn’t seem to get much sympathy, at least not in the open. The person being left (I hate the word dumped, especially in a loving situation – you never DUMP someone you still care for – you leave the situation – that person is not garbage – can we nix this term?) tends to get the sympathy. If you have mutual friends, some may take the other person’s side, some may take yours, and some may take neither. If some side with your ex, let them. Don’t expect all the support for yourself – your ex needs people on their side, too (but don’t put up with any nastiness from anyone! it will show you who your friends are, at least).

After I left, I had to replace certain habits with others (as in, instead of chatting with him several times a day, I’d call my mom to talk instead).

Everyone surprised me and respected my decision. Everyone understood. Seek out the people who will do the same for you. If no one will, get better friends.

Keep a distance

This may be tough if you still want them in your life, but as someone who is friends/on good terms with every single person I’ve ever dated (except the last, unfortunately), I know that sometimes it can take years to reconnect, but if your partner really does love you and miss you, they will want you in their life regardless. But give it time – you both need to heal. You need to re-balance, they need to mourn (and so might you). You need to reconnect with yourself and feel as strong and dynamic as you can before you venture forth again with someone new.

Mourn

Let yourself be as miserable as you need. When I tried leaving the first few times, I felt like I had been dumped. I made lists and tried to find reasons to stay because the severing felt too abrupt, too harsh, and I hadn’t really made my concrete decision – I still loved him in a romantic way.
When I did finally leave for real, I just let guilt and sorrow overtake me. I dealt with the images playing over and over in my head. I wrote it out. I bawled. I talked to my friends and cried to them. I let people at work know that I was sad for a reason, but I still managed to get through it. Take time off if you have to, no one needs details.

Get away

If you can afford it, get away. I was lucky that my trip away coincided with my split, but I also made sure it happened before I went away – this was because I knew that I had to end things, and that going away would help me compose myself. It would also distract me and challenge me, plus the healing of the sun, cheap daily massage, and heavenly fruit was nourishing, and I damn well needed it.
If you can’t afford to go away, at least have a media cleanse and make your home a retreat for a weekend, as much as you can in your circumstances.

Write

This has been a necessary thing for me my entire life – it got me through my teenage years without succumbing to heinous things like drugs or booze, especially since I was a loner and didn’t have anyone to confide in. Journaling did well enough.
Also, this is KEY to figuring out patterns. I write so much of my life down that to look back and see how often I wanted to leave my partner, and that I was writing about how boring my life had gotten – I could see my gradual decline over the years. It can be illuminating and humbling, the best sort of counsel.

Channel your love elsewhere – to yourself, your pets, your friends.

If you feel like you have no one to lavish attention on anymore, seriously, give it to YOURSELF. I have felt like this in the past when I’ve been heartbroken – and I spoiled the HELL out of my dog, I focused on the love of my friends, and I really spent effort on myself. Often when I feel like crap (especially after I left my ex), I felt so badly about myself that I said “WHY BOTHER?” and wanted to binge on shitty food, be a schlub, and physically destroy myself, when really, times like this are when you MOST need to treat yourself WELL. You should NOT feel guilty for doing what you need to do, so CELEBRATE yourself for being strong, and when you treat yourself with love, even when you don’t feel like it, your brain will catch up pretty quickly and remember that you are indeed awesome.

Don’t believe in forever – believe in right now.

I used to believe in this, because it is what we are told our whole lives. I never think this way anymore. It is idealistic and focuses on the future, when all we have is right now. I love you right now. Isn’t that what matters? Why do you need to know I will love you in two years? If I don’t, will you not love me now? It’s a foolish way of thinking and takes away from really living.

Falling out of love does not negate what you had with someone. I still have fond feelings for many people in my past, and never feel like I wasted my time knowing them and loving them. So many relationships end – but don’t we learn from them all?

In fact, I am glad of all the heartbreak I’ve had, because it formed me into a better person, a better lover, and much more present and mindful of my behaviour in relationships. It made me more open to seeing the other person’s possible perspectives, more empathetic and definitely more loving.

So please, do what you need for yourself. Your partner will live, and you can still love them, even if they won’t accept it without the relationship. You can love them so hard. Too bad if they don’t like it.

 

Highly Recommended Reading:

I Need Your Love – Is That True? – Byron Katie

The Love Of Others

For the people in my life, I want you to know

I adore you
It doesn’t matter if I met you yesterday
or 35 years ago
or in another life
I know if it’s real
and i will show you

if you are my friend
i will miss you

if you are a soul mate
you don’t have to be my lover
there are so many souls i connect with
but yet so few that truly lock

if you are my friend
then i admire you
i may not be interested in everything you like
but i will share in your joys

if you are my friend then
your effort means more to me
than anything else

i don’t care what your job is
i don’t care what your income is
i don’t care what is between your legs
or who you let between them

i care that you are kind
that you are fun
that you are open
and that you are a vibrant light
that shines bright in my life

and i want to do the same for you
i will respect you
forgive you
and show my sorrow if I have wronged you

and i will always care about you
whether we fight
whether we go years without speaking
whether we never see each other again

there is always enough love in my heart
to include you
there is infinite space in this small organ
like a house of leaves
it feels bursting

Some Photos From Thailand and Australia

If you’ve been reading a while, you will know that I went overseas in February for a month!

I had never been to Asia, and nor had I traveled alone to this extent. It was glorious and much-needed. A huge treat and confidence booster. I cannot recommend either country enough. I am in love with Thailand, and already adored Australia. Here are my favourite pictures that were taken on my journey.

In Pai on the bamboo bridge, Northern Thailand.

Elephant wash.

Mango feast by the river.

Christy, Colleen, and I in Chiang Mai’s Night Bazaar.

At the waterfalls of Doi Suthep.

My most favourite gimpy dog, Gimpy (I can’t remember her real Thai name). In Pai. I wanted to take this dog home!!

Eating watermelon on the deck of my hut. It was about $15.50 a night. With that view out the back.

 

My SUGARCANE JUICE totally matches my bag, woah. Sunburn in full effect.

Nai Harn Beach, Phuket.

Me and my pal Gilles. He’s 8. He reminded me of Bart Simpson – sweet but bratty!

Me and Baby in Mai Khao, Phuket. She followed me to the beach when I got to where I was staying. The sun was in our eyes.

By a beach fire in north Phuket.

Me and Jasmine, who was there with her boyfriend Karolis, staying at the same huts on the beach as me. They were early 20s from the UK, super nice.

Melbourne:

Effin’ pool party! Shannan and Mahala in the back (I stayed with Shannan).

Me and Shannan at Dandenong Ranges. Like my shirt? Fruit thought-bubbles! Also…the shirt says “Little Miss Dirty Mind.” What a damn perfect shirt.

Me at St. Kilda’s Beach. It was hella windy.

Shannan and Mahala at the beach on our road trip down Great Ocean Road.

Moi.

GOBS of street art in Melbourne. TONS.

I Want to Do Everything

I need to cast off “jobs” and gain “EXPERIENCES.”

I need to turn sleep into an imagination factory – dreams into drawings, dreams into novels. dreams into music.

I need to bless every second with conscious OOMPH. i need to fire up every moment with a zing that it would not have otherwise – those zings are always there – neurons and atoms and little crazy invisible things happening, if we tune into them we can jump in and  ride their carpets – dancing and flipping cartwheels on top of radio waves.

It’s time to ride the wild ribbons of life, people. put on a cowboy hat and prepare to hang on, because when you are truly living, you end up naked, vulnerable, and absolutely glowing.

A Purpose For When You Feel There’s No Point

Aimee Mullins

Are you obese, or depressed, or really sick?

Do you feel like you have no purpose, do you think you are useless, whatever, no good, a waste, that you have nothing to offer anyone or have no purpose in life? That you are just gonna waste away and nothin’ you can do about it?

I can tell you a purpose. You can be an inspiration.

For me, who is already slim and fairly fit and very healthy (I wasn’t always!), I am most inspired by the massive transformations people have. I need to continually be inspired in order to remember how important being healthy is, how important LIVING is. I am most inspired by people who are told “You will need to take these pills forever” or “You are going to die unless you have gastric bypass surgery” or “You will never walk again” or countless other things – and then those people prove everyone wrong by IGNORING what EVERYONE says and by believing in themselves. They find one SHRED of love for themselves and hold on to it like it is life support, and they do one little bit at a time, until they get better, and better, and better, and they feel more self love, and people start noticing, and the onlookers spur them on, and so that momentum grows, and then those people start being heroes, and you can be one of those people, too.

If you are really at the END of your rope – a miserable curmudgeon, someone who is extremely overweight, someone with eating disorders, someone on massive amounts of pills for an “incurable” disease – you can change all of this and be a beacon of hope for others, to show them it CAN be done, and there is ALWAYS room for more inspiration, there is ALWAYS room for more people that show us what can be done when we ignore the bullshit and follow our hearts.

The thing is, even when what you are working on healing is “invisible” (like mental issues), people around you will notice a change – you get this glow about you. Even if you are not losing weight rapidly, your skin will start to shine and your demeanor will be sparkling. You become a magnet for good things, which becomes a whirling dervish of positive vibes. They keep coming, and that’s what makes it even easier to continue.

Your purpose, now, is to transform for the good of everyone, not just you. Start where you are, take photos, take videos, and chronicle your journey. It makes no difference if it takes days, months, or years – It will uplift someone so much that they will make positive changes in their own lives – beauty and love transform others, and then it goes on and on and on, endlessly.

THAT is a grand purpose to hold in your mind, and when you accomplish your goals, you will be free and clear and know what you are meant to do in life. In the meantime, be an inspiration.

One last thing: temporary slip-ups are not failures. Even I have days where I don’t adhere to my highest aspirations – I brush off and keep going. That is the secret of succeeding – even the most amazing people have days and moments they are not reaching the bar they have set – just try again, and you will reach it.

Why I Don’t Want Everyone to Like Me

I don’t care if you like me.

Why? Because there is billions upon billions of people in the world. How can they all like me? It’s asinine. No one can have everyone like them so stop trying. It’s an impossible task. Work on liking yourself. There will always be someone who finds a flaw in you, or someone who doesn’t like an inflection in your voice, or thinks your face is weird, or who thinks you are too tall/thin/fat/stinky/giggly/morose/loud/quiet/vivacious/etc – who cares? There are plenty of people who will jive with you (and me) – it’s called flocking – people who get you, will get you. If they don’t, oh well.

Find people who mesh with your style, your thought-patterns – and find others who are not normally your style who intrigue you, too – if you always stick with the same sort of pals, you won’t really grow or learn.

But the people who hate on you, just move on. When they don’t like you, that makes a space for someone who does, OR space for YOURSELF.

Imagine for a minute that EVERYONE liked you. Would you have a moment in the day for yourself? Would you be constantly telling people “Sorry, booked til next June, I have so many plans! Ahh, people won’t leave me alone!”

I dunno how celebrities do it, but I can kind of see how they can brush it off (hopefully) – they don’t even have enough time to talk to all the people who LOVE them, let alone waste time on people who don’t!

It’s a waste of energy. Do you have people in your life who love you? A few? Then that is gold. And it is also a sign that you have plenty of awesomeness to share, and the people who will adore you will find you, just put yourself out there. Ignore the bad stuff – there is always bad, but look through it, there is always bitchin’ stuff on the other side.