I am conducting an experiment in community building and trust. I believe that when we consciously choose to provide value to the world and be of service, the universe provides us with everything that we need. I also believe that we are the creators of our lives, and though we can't change what happens, we can change how we react to what happens and make what may seem like a disaster into a wonderful opportunity.
The next few sections are a bit about the events and choices that led to the Raw Vagabonding Tour coming to be, but if you're short on time or just want to skip straight to the point, you can scroll down to The Bigger Picture Comes Together and read from there.
The Back Story
In October of 2008, I got fired my job and considered it to be one of the best things that has ever happened to me, one in a series of blessings. Had it happened a year or maybe 2 earlier, I probably would have gotten upset, frustrated, and angry and sunk into an ugly depression plagued with anxiety attacks about my lack of money and stress about how to pay the bills. I would have wasted countless hours and tons of energy choosing to feel crappy about my situation and would have gone on dozens of demeaning, energy draining interviews searching for another meaningless job that did nothing to benefit humanity and served no higher purpose, but paid my rent. But something happened to me last year, and since then I have been choosing to create a life of my own decision by stepping into my power.
So instead, I said,"Thank you!" and walked out of that office with the biggest smile on my face. I had been wanting to quit for several months already...I had been slowly chiseling away at the pieces of my life that no longer fit who I wanted to be - places, people, things, habits - to clear the path for what I really wanted, and when I finally decided to switch to a raw foods lifestyle, everything just made so much sense on so many levels and it all clicked into place with a deeply inspiring passion. I felt called in a way I had never felt before. I devoured book after book, website after website, blog after blog pending endless hours educating myself, trying new recipes, watching videos, listening to podcasts. I was kind of obsessed with this fire burning inside, but was enjoying every single minute of it and found it all so fascinating and exciting. I was floating on a cloud of bliss. For years I had known I needed to find a way out of the trap, that there were more important things in life, that we are here to love and enjoy life, not to toil away behind desks in a constant state of stress never really achieving our true potential, and that we are all destined for greater things. When I was 19, I read Buckminster Fuller's Critical Path and his words about how he had chosen to devote the rest of his life to only doing things that were beneficial to all of humanity struck a chord, and he became a role model and radically shaped how I viewed the world and how I chose to live. At 19, I wasn't at a place where I was ready to make such a radical shift and I loved being in art school and creating, but I did hope I would someday have the dedication, drive and honor to live in such a harmonious way and find the courage to stop compromising for the sake of a pay check or a false sense of security. When I found raw foods, the path of illness that had led me to it all made sense, and I was able to see it too as a blessing. I knew I needed to work with people who had been put through the wringer with the health care system like I had and show them that if they simply chose to take their health into their own hands and take care of themselves they would find the answers. I knew I needed to work with people who really wanted to make changes, and serve to inspire and encourage them on their paths and provide them with the information they need to make their own educated choices, as I had already experienced what it was like to try and convince people who didn't want to change to take matters into their own hands, and knew that it was like leading a horse to water and watching it get more and more dehydrated. Slow, painful, draining and not good for either party in the long run. I placed my intentions very specifically on that "people who want to make changes" part of the plan, and 2 days later an email appeared to a raw food group I was on asking for someone to help them, and I got my first client, Emily. She was great to work with, had such a warm, positive energy to her and I got such a deeply satisfying feeling from helping her. She began to ask me to make some food for her to buy, and with that I began to shift into chef work as well. I was so excited about the direction my life was taking and saw this as an opportunity to spend some of my time being of service doing something I truly loved and earning enough to finally have the time I needed to work on my artwork. I signed up for a course at Living Light with the intention of learning more so I would be better able to help more people and expand my client base so that I could quit my job and escape the verbal abuse that was making each day more and more draining and full of anxiety. I guess the universe heard me, and knew I didn't have the strength to quit on the spot, so instead I got fired just a few days before the course started and knew it was a sign to devote my time and energy to this path of healing and nourishment, and oh, how amazing my life has been as a result.
A Few Short, Action-Packed Months Pass
My thoughts shifted more towards community and sustainable life as a whole, and I knew I needed to go even bigger than consulting - I decided I wanted to someday create an intentional permaculture community. I got a sponsorship to study permaculture and biodynamic farming in Europe for 6 months. I decided I would sublet my apartment and drive cross country once again (it's one of my favorite pastimes) to spend a few months with my parents doing some emotional healing before moving to Europe for the program. My dad has his first heart attack and got diagnosed with diabetes one day when I was only 12, and I remember fearing his death, a feeling that also shaped my life over the years as I watched him continue to smoke, have another heart attack, several surgeries, a stroke of the eye, foot ulcers and bypass surgery on his leg. I saw at an early age that there was a link to ill health and not taking care of ones self, even though it took me a long time to put that into action in my own life. Nothing could thrill me more than my dad deciding to go to the Tree of Life and work with Gabriel Cousens to reverse his diabetes and actually finding a way to afford the program, but I have no intention of trying to change my dad (who is a bit healthier now - he quit smoking shortly after I did), as it's his life and he would have to come to that sort of decision on his own, without my persuasion. But he did always want me to be a doctor instead of an artist, so I am hoping that I can at least be a positive influence through my own actions and he might pick up a few things on his own just by me being around and letting him be him, and loving and accepting him for that. My mom has been intrigued by the whole thing since day one and is always asking me to send her books and information, and she loves food and has noticed the changes in me from conversations on the phone, so I know she'll join me in the kitchen and that we'll have lots of fun together. There is a correlation in my family between stress and eating, so I am hoping to slowly unravel some of those issues and make better sense of them myself. So my brain is buzzing on the high of long-term community building, doing beneficial things for humanity, and putting some energy into healing some family issues just by being present.
The Bigger Picture Comes Together
I attended an amazing weekend workshop about abundance and community given by the owners of Cafe Gratitude, and met Brandie. I had been thinking about an image of a girl on a bike on Philip's blog, and how badly I want to cart around my raw food treats on my bicycle on this land I have yet to purchase in the intentional community I know will one day come together, which I had sent to my friend Adelaide, whose intentions for a permaculture community are so very in synch with mine. Adelaide is an amazing person with a great memory. She recognized Brandie's name and Smiling Dog Cafe from the blog post I had sent her, and we begin talking about my upcoming cross-country trip and I tell her about how that little photo of her on her bike made me so happy and excited, and within a few minutes, a plan to stop in San Luis Obispo and stay with her and help out in the Smiling Dog Cafe for a few days on my way across the country is made. But we're at a workshop on abundance with a wonderful, loving community, and that combined with all the synchronicities is so terribly inspiring so about 3 minutes later the seed that we planted sprouts and begins growing wildly...I decide to turn my entire trip into one huge community building experience. Everything fit in with my desire to be of service and build community, so I decide to give away my consulting services to people by donation (not just monetary - I believe in the gift economy a la Burning Man), help people with any garden projects they need help with, attend potlucks and connect with amazing people and make them all part of my journey (and yours) by blogging my experiences here. I had been doing a lot of work-trade since I lost my job in exchange for yoga classes, meals, and numerous things and it has been an amazing experience to step away from the trap of needing a job to have a quality-filled life, so I decided to see if I can work-trade at a few raw food restaurants, helping them in the kitchen and doing a write-up of their restaurants here on my blog in exchange for some lovingly prepared meals. Blogging about the entire experience here will bring exposure to the lovely people I meet on my journey, and connect them to other like-minded souls. I hope it will help foster deeper connections, and inspire people to be active in their communities and pool together to get things done. The power of community is a strong and beautiful force. Maybe someone will even one day use this treasure map I am creating when they travel to similar areas, similar to me seeing Brandie on Philip's blog.
I am confident that while being of service, whatever you need, the universe delivers. I believe we are all connected, we just sometimes forget, and I know we have an abundance of everything we need. Anything you could possibly need, someone else has too much of it. By working together, we can balance things out so every one's needs are met. We are all in this together - there is no them, only us. I believe we can foster community online, and I am glad that will be part of my journey, but I also believe in the power of direct action and going out there and doing things to be the change we want to see, which is why I am packing my blender, juicer, dehydrator and loads of goodies into my trunk and getting on the road to do this. I also believe in asking community for help. We each bring something to the table, and often doing small things together can bring the biggest changes. I know I can't do this trip alone, and I need to enlist the help of all of you.
There are things I will need from the community at large to make this work. I will be couchsurfing my way across the States (it's the best way a human can ever travel and I love my CS community) but will still occasionally need places to sleep, internet access to blog about this magical journey, people to come out to play and join the fun and share slivers of their lives on this planet, people to make music and dance and celebrate life. I will need information on: local raw events, lovely people I should connect with, people who would like to learn more about raw or who have something great to teach, local food co-ops, farmers markets, herb shops, people who make local products to be featured on this blog. Anything you have to offer to be of service in this journey is appreciated, and you can email rawvagabonding(at)gmail(dot)com if you'd like to help. My friend who is joining me for a portion of the trip put word out that she needed a laptop, so someone donated one to us, and another friend donated his time to fix it. It's really amazing how everything just falls into place. :)
Here are the dates and locations for the first leg of the tour (the rest will be announced shortly):
February 12-13th - San Luis Obispo
February 14-15th - Los Angeles
event: February 14th - LA potluck - click here for details and to RSVP
February 16-17th - Death Valley
February 18-22nd - Las Vegas
event: February 21st - Raw Potluck Brunch in Vegas - details to be posted shortly
event: February 22nd - Raw Potluck Dinner in Vegas - click here for details and to RSVP
February 23-25th - Bryce Canyon, Zion National Park
February 26-28 - Moab/Arches
Then it's down to Arizona to do a week-long work trade at Grace Grove, a raw retreat center just outside Sedona and visit the Grand Canyon.
After that, we'll head to Santa Fe, Austin, Houston, New Orleans, and then who knows...maybe Tulsa? Memphis? Nashville? We will see where the universe takes me, what direction synchronicities point in...There is no specific end date, though I will eventually end up back east to spend time with my family.
Things you can do:
Spread the word! Add links to this post on your blog, twitter and facebook to help build and prove that if we all work together, we can accomplish truly amazing things.
You can follow the journey here, on twitter, on facebook, and on We Like It Raw. I strongly suggest using things like the facebook group to contribute as well - post photos and information and connect with others. I really want you all to be part of this journey.
Email us if you'd like to contribute or join in the fun along the way or have suggestions or information, comments or just want to say hi. Help us organize events in your local community.
And lastly, if you still want to do something to help, but aren't sure what to do, or don't have time, I will be accepting donations to help defray the costs of gas and food via paypal. These donations will help fuel the car, put food in people's bellies and allow us all to spread the message of community, trust and abundance out to more people. Even if you have no money, know that if each person who visited this site only contributed $1, they would be making a huge difference. It's not about the individual amount - it's about the collective power of community and every contribution counts.
Donations of any amount are gladly accepted.
I will be giving away my services on a donation basis - if you grow something, trade me produce, if you are a massage therapist, give me a massage, a hairstylist - i could use a cut!, if you know about car stereos, help me get the cd unstuck from my player. If you feel you have nothing to contribute, know that that is not true and that everyone has something to contribute. Tell me a story, share you life. If you provide the food, I will even prepare a delicious raw feast for you and your family. Or maybe enough people will donate funds to allow me to give away the meals for free to those who really need it most. I'd love to give talks at events about my journey through my medical hell and how raw food helped me heal and transform my life. If you know people who want to get healthy, but put off taking care of their health because of financial issues, or if you know of any events where I can speak about healing, send an email to rawvagabonding(at)gmail(dot)com.
This is also a way for those of you in the community to have an opportunity to share your goods...Thanks to the lovely folks at Fearless Chocolate and Love Street Living Foods, we will be giving away lots of raw chocolate and other goodies along the way. If anyone has any other products they'd like us to share, or extra copies of books or anything else they have an abundance of, here is your chance to get the word out for free. We will give away anything you want to get in the hands of community. Drop an email to rawvagabonding(at)gmail(dot)com and let us know how you'd like to contribute.
Thank you for taking the time to read this. I look forward to connected with as many of you as possible in various different ways and working together to create the change we want to see in our world.