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Archive for the ‘Growing up’ Category

Money Matters

I am SO bored of being broke. I am SO bored with believing that I really don’t want or need money in my life. My previous boss and now good friend, Lisa, once told me way back when I was twenty-two years old that I had a negative relationship with money. Too bad she didn’t know that before she hired me to run her Spanish fundraising office for her NGO in Ghana!

I never understood what she meant until recently. It’s true. I diss money. I diss people with money. I’ve always viewed it as something negative that strains relationships, prevents you from doing things you want to do, and ends up in the hands of people who exploit it when there is so much poverty in the world. Phrases like “I hate money” and “Money can suck a big one” and “Ugh, I hate sales” probably were not inspiring old money bags to fork me over my fortune the past years.

This summer, unemployed and paperless in Spain, my friends paid my rent for me. I almost got in a fight with some punkis over a durum. Any nice meal out or drink was usually invited out of the good will of a good friend. My whole trip to the US and Burning Man were incredible gifts from my friends. There is nothing more humbling than asking for favors, or even worse at times, being offered favors without even asking for them. When I am in more fortunate situations, I love treating people and I have been known to let people borrow money as well. So I’m sure it always work itself out. But I much rather be in the giving spot than the receiving end. Any day.

But the financial tides are changing. Oh, they are! Because I’m growing to love money. Money is slowly growing to love me too. Money is in the process of pardoning me for all the bad things I said and did in the past. I know we have a beautiful future together, if we can just get through this difficult time things will be great! Even the medicine man in Senegal and the Shaman in Mexico told me I’m going to be wealthy. Money, you and I cannot deny our destiny. The spiritual gurus of the Southern Hemisphere see that we are meant to be together! I apologize a million times over for how I treated you, dear money. Please forgive me. And let’s move on.

The Power of Attraction, and also my hilarious Basque friend Fernando, both swear that visualization and manifestation can bring you what you want. I feel like in other areas of my life this has always been the case, so why not try with money now! The secret is that you are supposed to see yourself with what you want (money in the bank!) and to act as though you already have it. For example, make a plane reservation and plan that trip, and the money will somehow manifest itself. This month was a good example. I came back from the US and signed up for three courses in October that I couldn’t afford. Hula hoop dance. A women’s retreat. And my doula training. And guess what? I attended each one! Ok, so I am now down to small change to hold me over the rest of the month, and I still need to pay back my friends from their help this summer. But regardless. Things are happening.

That’s not to say you can sit in a corner waiting for the money to just appear, of course it requires some action as well. But slowly and surely I am taking action. I’m now working in sales, and that requires a proactive mentality. And I’m changing my attitude and the way I speak about money. My new favorite phrases are ones like the following: “I love money” and “Yes! I just closed another deal!” and “Meet me at the Liceu on Friday night, Carmen is playing and I have great seats!”

Don’t worry. I still value many things above money and will always keep my priorities in line. I still prefer to walk then to drive a car. And I still prefer to shop at thrift stores, and to find random stuff in the street to decorate my house. But let’s be honest. I love to travel. I love being able to fly home to see my family. I love concerts and eating at nice restaurants. I would really love to own some shoes that don’t fall apart while walking down the Rambla of Barcelona, which force me to walk home through piss streets in my thin sock, which also have holes (happened to me this weekend). I would love to be able to invite a friend for dinner or to the movies. And yes, it would be awesome to actually have a bit of savings for the next rainy day. Or for future retirement, since as of now I have no pension plan in any existing country.

Money, I love you. Now please come make my world go around!

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I think it’s safe to say that I’ve lived through some pretty crazy and remarkable experiences, but few compare to Burning Man. I cannot define Burning Man. But to set the scene a bit for those unfamiliar with the event, 50,000 people meet in the desert of Nevada to camp in a creative, communal and dusty environment for one week. There are art installations and djs. Pimped out bike riding and topless teeter-totters. The only things available for sale in this city are ice and coffee. Besides that money is prohibited. Lots of love and very very very little clothing during the day and tons of fur at night. 1,500 art cars that you can hop on and off to ride through the desert sands. And on the last days they burn a huge wooden structure of a man and a temple.

Got it? Probably not. It’s just too hard to explain. I think each person has his or her own experience and I don’t feel the need to classify or reduce the experience into a conceptual heading. What I can do, however, is share my own experience of Burning Man with you.

The best way I can describe my experience of Burning Man is by comparing it to the blind man scene in the movie Amelie. I imagine myself feeling something similar to the blind man when Amelie spontaneously takes his arm and leads him through the streets of Paris describing all the things around him he can’t see. For me Burning Man was all about the random acts of kindness from strangers. And how these acts and these strangers create a new sense of clarity. And not to mention an overwhelming, breathtaking rapture of the senses. It was just a moment. A whirlwind in time. But after it was done my soul glowed new colors and I’ve spent the last week with eyes closed trying to relive it all, to somehow keep those memories, sights, sounds and tastes all present.

Bliss: my favorite art piece and the perfect portrayal of how Burning Man makes me feel

For some people Burning Man is a giant rave, an art festival, or a hippie thing. But for me, Burning Man is simply generosity and kindness. I should now mention that it was not just kindness from strangers. It was also extreme kindness and goodwill from amazing friends of mine that wanted to make my first Burn experience comfortable and memorable. Without them I would not have been able to fly to the event from Spain in the first place. Without them I would not have had a tent or sleeping bag to take 1-2 hour power naps every evening/morning (a dj set starting at 10am keeps you from getting any more sleep than that). Without them I would not have had wheels to move freely around the playa, one of my most favorite things to do. Without them (and their spare fur coats and leg warmers) I would have frozen my ass off. Without them I would have completely forgotten to eat. Without them, I would have cried and laughed alone.

I am so grateful. I went to Burning Man with the idea to actively participate in the gifting tradition. But once there I realized it was not possible. All I could do was soak it all in. I was so overwhelmed by it all. All I could do was say thank you. Next year I plan to be much more participative and will do my best to help a virgin Burner. I want to be not just the blind man, but also Amelie.

Not only did I see shooting stars every night (real ones), but according to the stranger that now calls himself my husband, shooting stars shoot out of me in broad daylight. Although he was drunk and licked my witness post-(fake) nuptials on the 4th floor of an art structure, I think he was on to something. Internally I was glowing and glittering. And the beauty of Burning Man is that you let your insides out. I was lucky to share some of these shooting stars externally with friends.

photo by Dave Adams

To make this particular event more significant for me, I turned thirty during Burning Man. I cannot imagine a better way to bring on this new decade than wearing a costume and dancing beneath the stars in a neon-lit desert with some of my closest friends. And not to mention watching the sunrise over the desert horizon with my best buddies sitting directly above me, their furry feet swinging from the rafter as I tried to hide out below them in the embrace of a guy that encouraged me to let go and be myself. He may actually deserve his own separate blog entry. Maybe he’ll get one. We’ll see.

Now let’s talk about sex. I live in Spain, a country where sexuality is pretty open and nudity is normal. We go to topless and sometimes nudist beaches and people make out for hours on street corners with zero shame. But Oh My God, I’ve never been in such a sexually charged environment in my life as Black Rock City, Nevada. The combo of really hot people wearing little to no clothing, mixed with the tradition of leaving all inhibitions at the door, made for a seriously hot and tempting gathering of free-spirited folk. I behaved fairly well, all things considered. But I still feel some of this energy dripping from my pores and can’t help but look around to see if someone’s ready to lap it up. I wonder when it will wear off? Until then, watch out Barcelona. This Burning (Wo)Man is on her way home!

My final anecdote about Burning Man concerns hula hooping. Burning Man has a way of making hula hoops stay up around your waist. I’ve never been able to hula hoop, no matter how hard I’ve tried over the years. But at Burning Man on my 30th birthday, I just picked one up and went for it. I remember screaming, “Holy crap! How is it staying up?” I invented the side-crab crawl, running horizontally back and forth all the while still incorporating the hoop. I almost died of laughter. Over the days I sought out hula hoops everywhere. They began to fall less and I learned to dance a bit and move my arms around more freely. There was no magic involved, but it sums up Burning Man perfectly for me. If you stop worrying about and over thinking something or trying too hard, it usually just works itself out. Being that I showed up to Burning Man with a huge bucket full of worries, I’d say this was my biggest lesson learned.

I was given the playa nickname, Hula Hoop. And I think it’s the perfect name to explain how I felt out there. Playful and sexy. Worry-free and in constant state of surprise and awe. My goal is to buy a hula hoop in Barcelona and to practice in the park. And not necessarily to learn new tricks or because I want to grow armpit hair. Just for no other reason than to remember how to be completely free and smile uncontrollably.

Thank you to my friends for making my first experience and my birthday so memorable. I am SO grateful. This is just the beginning…

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Sitting here in the sports bar of the Philadelphia airport awaiting my continuing flight to Kansas City, I have two things on my mind. One, I am thirsty for a locally brewed amber lager. It’s the first thing that I crave when coming back to the States. And two, I turn thirty in exactly one week.

Apparently, thirst for alcohol and thirty are now more related than I thought. I just ordered a beer and started fiddling through my wallet full of USA cards and miscellaneous objects, looking for my American drivers license since the bartender was inevitably going to ask for my ID. But, to my surprise and utter disappointment he didn’t ask for my ID. He poured me a beautifully golden pint and walked away.

This is the first time I have NOT been carded in the States. And it’s kind of a big deal. Bars are really strict about carding “young-looking” people here, especially in the airport. I asked the bartender if he wanted to see my ID, and he responded, “No hon’, it’s cool. I know you are old enough.” He laughed. I laughed along with him, all the while trying to keep the wrinkles around my eyes from crinkling too much and adjusting my bra straps for extra leverage and push.

Apparently I no longer look like I’m in my 20s.
Maybe that’s because I’m no longer in my 20s.

I have not given too much thought about turning thirty, mainly because I am not afraid of getting older. And in general, the 30s are supposedly awesome years for women. It’s when women seem to be at their peak and I look forward to reaching my peak as well! That said, I think it is affecting me on a more subconscious level. These past few months have been full of new life aspirations, many of which have to do with “settling down” and finding a career path and some stability. These are sure tell signs of getting older. I had been warned by many that turning thirty marks a big turning point in the lives of women, but I honestly believed it would just happen and things would remain the same. But truthfully, I do feel different. These past nine months have been full of radical changes and journals full of new thoughts and desires. Not to mention a biological clock that ticks like crazy. Perhaps this 30s business is getting under my skin after all.

So here I raise my cold, sweating lager glass to make a toast to my thirst and my upcoming thirties! I will embrace this new decade of my life with open arms and perhaps some anti-aging creams.

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