I’m sitting in a lush garden in Sauraha, at a restaurant that was open at 7AM. With wifi and espresso. This. Never. Happens. Here.
So I’m eating my fried eggs with yak cheese (locally made) in this stunning botanical landscape when I hear from one of the servers that rhinos show up here quite often.
We’re talking wild rhinos. Not the kind at Disney Land. In this garden.
The actual location of the photo above is a mere few feet from the edge of the jungle so elephants, tigers and rhinos often roam over that line.
It’s their home not ours.
I was instructed last night by a long time local who was born inside the jungle before it was a national park that if you’re chased by a rhino you have to run away zig zagging as they like to run in a straight line.
Important fact to know.
Last time I was here I was almost crushed by a few elephants who were fighting. I don’t want to die on my vacation. Sometimes things are too exciting.
And more of the twin baby elephants that were born here the last time.
But the most fun thing to do is hang out with the villagers.
First visit to the village of Dharmpor in Nepal
I was sure I didn’t hang out anymore but I discovered that this is what many people do here. Rest, relax, and don’t kill themselves working. This may be just for the men, the women sure look like they’re working non-stop.
We had an amazing day yesterday working on the land that is being developed for Beyond the Four Walls, which many of you know empowers women. Little do most people know, Wolf Price, the founder has been here in Nepal for 10 years and it really takes a team to get anything done. The fact that plumbing and electricity get installed at all is a huge undertaking. The workers don’t always know how to do it even when they say they do. So you have to know people and get help from others in your network.
This is not easy, it is similar to any business, where you have to cultivate a network of people who you really like and want to spend time with. To make your businesses evolve.
I’m learning tons, and yesterday I pulled rusty nails out of recycled bamboo to be used to build a fence, everything gets used here.
I’m also eating things I can’t identify but it sure tastes good.
If you want to know more about this social venture and donate check it out here. www.b4wnepal.com
Discover the best island in the world. Relax, rejuvenate, and re-set your life.
Escape your jam-packed life and luxuriate in one-on-one private photography instruction with any camera you have.
Breathe pristine air, see astounding emerald green cliffs, swim in silky turquoise water, and experience rainbows almost every day. There’s one in my backyard right now!
Soothe and ignite your spirit with me, a Kauai local, guiding you to discover the potent power places on island.
Yes being in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, the furthest land mass from any other chunk of land, has its secrets.
Kauai is a blended holiness of earth, sea, and sky.
Allerton Garden, www.bartnikowski.com
What’s Not Included:
1. Crowds of people.
2. Bad food experiences (I know the best places to eat from surprisingly simple locally sourced food to lavish top notch restaurants.)
3. No wasted time doing things you wish you hadn’t done.
You’ll see remarkable vistas.
I guarantee you’ll fall in love with Kauai.
Yoga and Meditation with me on the stunning property of the Islander Resort where your gorgeous studio is located.
Wake up and do yoga and meditation with me every morning, or sleep in after sweet dreams in your ocean side luxury studio. No driving, I come to you.
Daily private shooting guidance with any camera you have.
Learn how to use the specific camera you bought.
Relax under palm trees on a drop dead gorgeous beach. Read a book, get a massage.
Eat at the best places with guaranteed fresh food, your culinary masterpieces are a foodie’s divine experience. I know where the best restaurants and local dives are that will make you swoon with a satisfied smile on your lips.
3 nights accommodation in a luxury studio on the ocean with your own private lanai. Hear the ocean waves all night long.
Every day, you’ll experience enchanting power places that will open your heart and as Shirley Wu, a recent private retreat participant has said below, “It will change your life.”
Get a new lease on life
Private Retreat Waimea www.bartnikowski.com
Experience the magic of Kauai and see your luxury studio here
Have the best sleep of your life hearing ocean waves all night from your luxury ocean side studio with private balcony overlooking the turquoise sea.
Your Studio on the Sea www.bartnikowski.com
Who Am I?
I’m an award-winning photographer, author of 4 books, certified kundalini yoga teacher, and worldwide educator.
After shooting professionally in Palo Alto, the heart of Silicon Valley, for 29 years, raising my family, and leading programs at Stanford, Apple, Intel and in 32 countries my home is now on Kauai.
Yes, I sold my belongings in Palo Alto, California in 2009 after photographing 722 weddings, families, babies, angel investors, and authors. I kickstarted my global life teaching, shooting, and writing.
Meeting saints, sages, the Dalai Lama, and remarkable people worldwide taught me how to change my life and stop worrying.
Yes I teach photography and yoga but the true essence is this, how to have more happiness and peace in a have not world.
I love what I do and strive to empower you to have profound adventures and live life full throttle at the highest octave.
3 Day Retreat for you solo or with your friend/partner, includes all one on one private photography guidance, 3 nights in a luxury oceanside studio with private lanai being lulled to sleep with the soothing sounds of ocean waves, and morning yoga/meditation under magnificent palm trees and a sapphire blue sky.
$2000 includes 3 nights accommodation
Private and exclusive for 1 or 2 people
$4500 includes 5 nights accommodation
Dates Available November 2016 to May 2017
Your retreat is scheduled at the best time for you. What dates are best for you?
Call 808-542-4566 and talk with me.
Or schedule a phone conversation at a time that is convenient for you and I’ll call you, to answer your questions.
Obie V. said about his retreat:
“It was the best vacation of our lives! I never would have gotten the photos I captured without you.”
“It transforms your soul.”
– Shirley Wu
“I can’t wait to come back, my husband and I loved it!”
See you in Paradise. Book now as these spectacular oceanside units are taken fast!
If you want to learn more, get in touch now before 2016 steam rolls into 2017.
Here’s what you’ll discover here…
Suddenly you’ll be swimming with sea turtles, or simply luxuriating on spectacular Anini Beach on the north shore of Kauai. Here I am enjoying the crystal clear turquoise water with wild and free turtles, below.
I swam with sea turtles here yesterday. Don’t wait. Join me on Kauai – you may never want to leave.
Private retreat shooting in Princeville www.bartnikowski.com
The flora and fauna is off the charts astounding. They don’t call Kauai the Garden Isle for nothing.
You get 3 days of a customized program:
You decide what you want to do without an ironclad itinerary.
You want to go to the longest beach in Hawaii? No problem, we’ll take the day and go see this world treasure below that the Dalai Lama says is the place where souls leave the planet and you may feel like you’re in heaven here too, I do.
Polihale State Park
Or you may want to see what National Geographic says is one of the top 50 tours you have to go on in the world, Allerton Garden, in the National Tropical Botanical Garden. This is where the former Queen of Hawaii personally gardened and where Jacqueline Kennedy retreated after JFK was shot.
This a power place extraordinaire you’ll feel it in every step you take.
Dates vary: Apply for your private training October to September
3-Day or 5-Day Intensive
Call me 808-542-4566,
or email, email@example.com
Escape the city, relax and refresh your soul on Kauai, the pristine, sacred, and undeveloped island of Hawaii where no building is taller than a coconut tree.
Learn how to get the best photos you’ve ever taken, shooting from the heart.
Don’t read the dry camera manual, join me and have a spectacular time discovering and shooting power spots on Kauai even if you’ve never picked up a camera before.
Each day will be different starting with Yoga and Meditation under swaying palm trees on a bright green lawn next to your oceanside luxury accommodation.
Or you can sleep in if you like, this is your private retreat for you solo or with a friend/partner.
Poipu Beach www.bartnikowski.com
We will explore, discover, eat delicious food, and be astounded at the lush landscapes and stunning shores of Kauai.
What Shirley Wu said after her 4 Days of Yoga and Photography Guidance:
Optional Morning Yoga, it’s guaranteed you will recharge and transform doing kundalini yoga and meditation every morning. Even if you’ve never done a pose before.
This session is not for advanced yogis, it’s for beginners. But if you’ve been doing yoga for a while, I am a certified instructor and can inspire you more deeply with your practice.
Yoga blooms open your heart. You’ll enjoy the day more fully and get that little kid ecstasy feeling.
Yes, you get the benefit of teachings I’ve learned and practiced from saints and meditation masters in Thailand, Nepal, and India.
Private Retreat Waimea www.bartnikowski.com
This is not only about learning photography and yoga, it’s a kick in the pants for your spirit that will open your world to a new you and change your life.
This is what Kauai did for me and this is why I live here now.
You’ll discover the power places of enchanted Kauai, the most gorgeous island in the world. Yes it will all be revealed to you from a local who loves living here.
Contact me for more information and to schedule your 3 or 5 day retreat at a time that is good for you in the next 6 months:
Phone: 808-542-4566 in Hawaii HST
Who Am I?
I’m an author of 4 books, award-winning photographer for 27 years, and educator in Silicon Valley and worldwide.
I’ve led programs at Stanford University, Apple Computer, Intel, and globally.
You’ll get the benefits of the photography business I founded in Palo Alto, California in 1985 shooting for $500 per hour, down the street from Steve Jobs. I worked with clients from Apple, Intel, Yahoo, Google, and the lawyers, angel investors, doctors, CEO’s and realtors who lead and inspire Silicon Valley.
All my secrets are revealed in my private sessions.
It’s guaranteed you’ll see improved results in your own photos, learning my tips from photographing people and nature in 32 countries. And it’s fun!
Your deluxe room is included in your private retreat. You don’t have to hassle with searching for the perfect spot to stay, this is it!
Here is the view from your private lanai, above.
In the afternoon/morning we’ll be visiting potent power places on Kauai.
Secret Beach in Kilauea,
Ke’e Beach on the spectacular North Shore,
Poipu, on the south side…
Does this appeal to your sense of adventure? Join me!
You’ll get the benefits of living life here as a local. But with deluxe accommodations by the ocean in a stunning setting.
After your heart-expanding yoga session, we’ll discover remarkable, secluded places and learn how to mindfully capture the incredible nature here with any camera you have. Angle, Light, Composition and Timing are the focus, not Photoshop or fancy digital trickery. Nope!
You can shoot with a digital or film camera, point and shoot, or DSLR with all the bells and whistles.
It’s guaranteed you will return home with amazing photographs.
You’ll be visiting Ke’e beach, a sacred Hawaiian (Hay-ow) where we’ll swim, snorkel, and enjoy the Bali Hai cliffs around us. And Polihale State Park, the longest pristine beach in Hawaii.
Allerton Garden, www.bartnikowski.com
We are all flowers on this earth and we need open space around us.
You’ll get that here. And smiles are plentiful on this island.
Come with me to catch the seductive effervescence of ocean, sky, and emerald green cliffs. Serene places, stunning nature, waterfalls, and art walks in picture perfect tiny towns, Hanapepe Art Walk, and dinner at Hanapepe Cafe which is only open Friday night.
Yoga and meditation every morning under swaying palm trees on an emerald green lawn.
Or you can sleep in.
Easy photo walks every day and I do mean easy of Kauai’s incredible and stunning power places.
April to October private retreats are available
3-Day or 5 Day personal retreat
Your private retreat on Kauai includes
Oceanside deluxe lodging. 3 nights.
All yoga/meditation, photography, and guidance
Bon Voyage drinks and pupus for a divine sunset at the St. Regis on Kauai photo below
5 Day Retreat
Testimony from the last private retreat I led here on Kauai:
“It was the best vacation we’ve ever had and I never would have gotten the amazing photos I got without you.”
– Obie V.
“It transformed my life.”
– Shirley Wu
Write me at firstname.lastname@example.org for details.
Or best to call me in Hawaii, 808-542-4566, you’ll get a real live human on the phone, me.
More Praise from private photography sessions with me:
I’ve always wanted to live in a shack by the sea and now I do.
I’m writing and sleeping in an off-grid cabin, surrounded by trees, on a mango, papaya and coffee farm.
Never been happier.
I’m in Hawaii I have nothing to complain about.
Here’s what I do every day, awaken to birds serenading me after hearing ocean waves crashing in the distance all night long.
Walk 50 feet or 20 meters to our community kitchen, make a fresh cup of Kona coffee, (I’m in the center of the finest coffee bean estates in the world) and then walk 30 meters (90 ft) to see the Pacific Ocean outside my door.
After deciding yes, the waves are calm enough I get into my bikini and go see if the wild dolphins have turned up to swim in Kealakekua Bay here on the Big Island. They birth and nurse their babies right down the street.
My hut gets wifi but I can’t clearly connect with Skype. Oh well. Gotta get in the car to go Skype.
Same as India. I had to walk by the Ganges River avoiding cow flops to get to skype there at night.
But without the cow shits. It’s clean and pristine here.
If you really wanted to live off the land here on the Big Island without cash you could.
But I like to eat yogurt with fresh papayas in the morning and macadamia nuts sprinkled on top so I’m shooting, writing, and leading retreats here in paradise.
My work is my play.
Join us to swim with wild dolphins in July with me. Check it out here.
Sure, you can spend a fortune living in Hawaii but if you want to hear ocean waves crashing every night, and live simply then you too can live in an off grid cabin. But you have to be on the island to get it so farmers and owners can check you out.
You can find care taking jobs, house-sitting gigs, or for about 15 thousand $ you can move here and get a car and apartment but you know it’s also fun to drop out of the sky and see if this will all work — living off-grid and finding out if the communal thing is a yes.
My four walls are my own. No one above me but tree limbs and they did have to be cut back. It sounded like a horror movie in here every night. Couldn’t sleep a wink with clawing tree limbs on my roof.
But with dolphins for neighbors and birds singing all day what more could you want?
My neighborhood beach park
Write me at email@example.com or comment below and discover life in Hawaii – stay tuned for more.
How did I get to live on this incredible beach? I googled it.
Where are the most mesmerizing beaches in the world I wondered, 2 months ago, in Chiang Mai, Thailand.
Lanikai Beach in Kailua popped right up. It’s official. Its been voted on by global citizens and travel warriors; Lanikai is in the top ten of divine shorelines in the world.
I’ve traveled the planet in 31 countries and this is the best beach, the one I live 2 blocks from right now.
No matter how I wake up in the morning, on the wrong side of the bed, happily, or didn’t get enough sleep; I open my eyes and remember where I am.
I am walking distance to nirvana.
So I literally jump out of bed and get into my bikini, throw a dress over it, and walk or bike down the hill to my personal portal of the divine.
Lanikai means heavenly water in Hawaiian. Boy did they get that right.
Now I’m spoiled for life. Nothing compares to it. This morning I could not even wait for my cup of strong coffee I bolted out the front door knowing I could get an Americano at the old style Hawaiian market, the only store within walking to this hallowed and holy spot on earth.
It slips my mind a bit how luscious it is until I round the tennis courts and see the 10 billion dollar view cresting in front of me. A swath of cobalt blue with emerald green lush islands beckoning good morning. I quicken my pace or I slow it down. Depends on the moment.
The salty air calls to me.
I relax into my bones and my spirit is renewed. You can’t look at that view and be blasé.
It’s drop dead gorgeous. Nothing matters now. Only the crisp air warmed by trade winds, and the salty sea for swimming. Our local Lanikai beach with no facilities, no showers, no toilets, no cars, and no loud bad taste music blasting in your ear drums while people blow smoke in your face and yell at each other. No that does not happen here.
So that’s why there are 2 to 4 million dollar homes here. And most people rent out there homes to make a good bit of money. I’m renting a room now in a lovely townhouse overlooking volcanoes, trees and the golf course where Obama golfs for goodness sakes.
People are affected by the gorgeousness. We say good morning to one another. When I’m driving, other drivers let me in the line-up if there is a backlog. Politeness is off the charts here.
It must be because of the heavenly nature of the sea, the fact that turtles like it here and are regularly spotted, paddlboarders, babies and lovers frolic in the turquoise pristine water.
Every morning I swim at Lanikai, after doing yoga and chanting. I feel blessed.
Maybe I did something right in another life to land here.
This place is better than the photographs reveal. But if you can feel the energy in these photos and it tells you to come then you must, you will never be the same person again; this will change and renew your mind and soul.
Living out loud and laughing is the prescription to life’s monsoons. If you don’t laugh every day your enthusiasm gene dries up. It’s that simple. But it took me decades to figure out. What happened?
I got out of my comfort zone, left my leather couch and plump pillows, and started traveling. And not the way I used to travel; spending $500 a day for trips to Maui, staying in luxury resorts, skiing at Squaw Valley sipping cocktails, jetting off to Bora Bora and scuba diving in the Caribbean.
So there I was in the heart of Palo Alto, California, down the street from Steve Jobs, home of all things silicon chipped, 25 years of a successful photography career: great clients, author of a book, what was missing?
I didn’t know the name of it yet but when my 18-year-old son, Wolf, asked me to visit him in Nepal while he was volunteer teaching I said hell, yes!
Kathmandu. It sounded mystical. A dream destination. So I took 2 months off and left California with 50 rolls of film, my Nikon F-3, and a heart full of wonder and awe on Christmas Day 2005.
Suddenly, the unknown snatched me in its jaws.
It was that exact moment after flying over the Himalayas and seeing my son waiting for me in the tiny Kathmandu airport that my heart leaped into overdrive – this was it! The life of being a vagabond I had always wanted but didn’t know what it was called. The air sparkled with possibility and luminescent light. The atmosphere shown with a prism quality that shivered my nerve endings and made me wake up.
Yes, being on the rooftop of the world made me see the light.
Kathmandu felt like 3rd rock from the sun – everything was different – the food, the light, the people, clothes, statuary, and religion. I’d never been in a tuktuk, or eaten Tibetan momos, never seen such gorgeous people before. Nepal was on the US embassy’s unsafe-don’t-visit list but my son was there. I’d walk through fire to see him.
So I was getting my Nepal visa at the airport paying with US dollars not knowing what I was spending until he told me the exchange rate. I could get a hotel room for $12 a night not $200? And it was clean and quiet too.
I was off and running. Drunk on my own freedom.
In Kathmandu, I taught photography to the staff of the Nepal Youth Foundation. Olga Murray, the charismatic and brilliant founder of NYF invited me to teach after I asked her if I could help and it made my trip to Nepal an experiential dream. But it was real and they even gave me taxi money, instant friendship, and wildly delicious meals.
I fell in love with the staff and it fueled me onwards to lead more projects in other countries; many times receiving room and board to do photography, teach, write or all three.
And I discovered it was fun to work without a thought of money; to be liked for doing what I love to do. Taking photographs, teaching, writing, playing with people, babies, elephants, and laughing. And that’s how I became the CEO of fun.
I’m getting rich with experience on seeing how the world lives outside my former bubble of a life devoted to the almighty buck, cashmere, and comfort.
I’ve had an astounding education in life: being a professional photographer, a published author, a hitchhiking hippie, leading programs at major corporations in the USA, photographing the Dalai Lama, riding elephants bareback in Nepal, and learning how to fall off a surfboard, not to mention all the other crazy capers.
But when people tell you you are nuts that usually means you are on to something wonderful.
The thing is…
There’s no better way to learn how the world works than to roll up your sleeves and get filthy with experience like this. I’ve been stupid, smart, lucky, well-off, broke, mocked, and loved and I’ve learned something from every second of it.
People with more money than I have, ask me how I do it. But it doesn’t take a lot of money to do what I do. Doesn’t take much planning either. I just go where my heart calls me to go. And I discovered after teaching photography and yoga in foreign countries worldwide that I could make a living at it. How?
I started teaching travelers and ex-pats in Dharamsala and boom! I had a pocket full of Indian rupees and noticed I didn’t need to visit the ATM.
That’s when it hit me: I don’t have to go back to the USA to earn money. Scotty, beam me up into the ethers of my greatest dream – being free and discovering the world!
So I went back to the USA sold all my stuff and gave the rest away – no more stress, furniture, insurance, car maintenance or rat race. Poof! All gone.
I’m a permanent traveler now on an open-ended worldwide adventure.
Take the leap and do it now before you think about it too much. Grab the time off for yourself and don’t wait until its been 15 years since you had 3 weeks off in a row like I did.
Start with an easy country like Bali or Thailand, you’ll be safe in an exotic world spending very little money if you enjoy homey guesthouses for $10 to $15 a night. You won’t be inside much anyway.
Spread your wings and take off – you know you want to!
Stay in touch, find out where I am now on the planet, and get seriously kick-ass advice on being a location independent entrepreneur. Go to Vagabond Travel Mag now and subscribe in the itunes store.
How did I get here in Chiang Mai, Thailand drinking smoothies every morning being happy and grateful to be alive?
I didn’t listen to people telling me I was nuts. Who said, “You shouldn’t go to that country because you can’t be sure of being safe.”
30 countries later I’m still going strong!
My eyes have been opened so wide it almost hurts to see the world without sunglasses. The light is so brilliant — its hard for me to see that at one time I didn’t have this life.
You can have it too. I know what you’re thinking. Actually we think too much. And you can think yourself right out of doing anything if you give it too much of your attention.
1. Attention is a gift.
That’s the first thing I learned. Whatever you set your mind on blossoms and takes off.
Works the same with negativity and voices in your head telling you can’t do something. If you listen then you can’t do it. Put your attention on what you want to happen. Act as if it all ready is happening.
Say you signed up for a Women’s Only coach on a train in India and you get on the train at 2AM and find out your coach is full of only men. You either leave or accept it.
They didn’t listen when I told them to stop smoking and cut the chatter crap so I could sleep but thats another story.
2. Time is not the hours on the clock face.
Time is your life span from birth to dying. What do you want to do with your time?
I want to travel and see the world. Work and play all over the globe.
Take the first baby step and the universe opens up to you. I didn’t believe this either at first but it miraculously happens when you decide to walk towards your Big Dream.
3. Money is attracted to boldness and magic.
Yes you can be a location independent entrepreneur. You can do your job on the road, you can teach English in almost any country on earth and get paid for it, you can have an online business, and you can teach belly dancing. I teach photography all over the world and write books.
And I have a magazine in the itunes store Vagabond Travel Photography Mag. Discover the world and learn how to take Amazing photographs Go see it here.
4. The Unknown is Your Friend
I used to plan too much. “Honey why can’t you meet me in Colombia in February – how come you don’t know when you’ll be there?” I said to my son who has been to 50 countries. I’ve only been to 30, I gotta catch up.
Now I know why, because I’m not planning either.
Less planning is more fun.
5. You never know what is around the next corner or who you’ll meet today changing your life instantly. Today you might decide you gotta go to Bali to work on your surfing skills. I don’t stay on the board too long so I need practice.
Or I need to photograph Ladakhi people high in the Himalayas and how they live life, or teach yoga to women in Nepal living in mud huts. Or go live in an igloo, ashram, temple, seaside bungalow, or tent.
And you can do it!
Your mind is malleable. It may be more flexible than your body. Get inspired by people who are living the life you want to live and open the ethers in your soul.
How do you do that?
You stay fresh, eat fruits and veggies, relax and be like a kid. Open to everything but if it feels off you walk away.
Being Happy Inside my Skin. This may be the title of my next book.
And then being so happy and grateful that you can give things, time, love to others.
That’s the secret to success. It’s not money or big achievements and awards.
I’ve done a lot of things I set out to do, but with many more I want to discover, I expand every day and want to leap into the fresh waters of the unknown; I see that time is this — it’s what our spirit loves doing and being. It could be meditation, travel, teaching but whatever it is the message is live today like you will die today. Because we will die. And it could be today so lets live at a higher exalted octave than we ever have before.
1. Be inspired by the birds singing. I hear them right now off my terrace in Thailand. They know how to fly. So can we.
2. Sleep enough – then your skin looks better and you have energy.
3. Move that amazing body of yours – yoga, walking, surfing, swimming, skateboarding just do it. You don’t have to motorbike across 4 lines of roaring traffic praying today like I did. Go walk around a lake with no cars intruding.
4. Take steps towards your dreams. Don’t give up.
Your new mantra: You can do it, you can do it, and you can do it.
Thank you for your enthusiasm, attention, and beauty, I am grateful to all you darling hearts – you have been there for me, and I couldn’t have done it without you.
Now that I am immersed in no electricity, no TV, no wifi, and no cheese either I have a different perspective. I cannot dash out and get a rich cup of brewed coffee right now. If I want that I have to walk far into the sunshine on a winding path through rice fields with buffalo plowing the earth. I don’t want it that badly.
I have been staying at the Thosamling Buddhist Institute for Women and I have not left this sacred soil in 10 days. There is no traffic, no tooting horns, no crappy music, and no yelling. It’s Slow Here.
When I am in the USA I am reminded that Results and Speed are what matter. There is no process. We have to achieve and be successful Right Now. But try telling that to these butterfly pupas – they are on their way to being butterflies. They will break out and fly. In their own time.
We forget that.
Before I got my first publishing contract for a book I wrote, Everyday Naked, I wrote for 5 years and didn’t tell anyone about it. I just wrote.
When I wanted to show my writing to someone other than my dog I put together a book proposal and went to a writers retreat where I met my publisher.
Interesting, how a few people reacted when I told them about the book being published. Most people were happy for me but I also heard, “Did you know someone?” or “I didn’t know you wrote” which means I didn’t know so how could you be an author all of a sudden.
Because it wasn’t all of a sudden. They didn’t see me in my room writing every day being in my pupa stage. When it was time to bust out I flew out of my cocoon. But I was in there for 5 years writing every day.
And now after a bazillion years of meditating, (OK it’s been 25 years) I still am learning how to do it. Maybe when you try it you’ll get to a more profound level in less time but I’m only just seeing that some how what I was doing before was daydreaming while meditating and I’m very good at daydreaming.
So I’m still in my pupa stage when it comes to meditation. And mindfulness. But one thing I am learning is to be more gentle with myself, and less goal-minded which is difficult to drop. Why?
Because we are supposed to be PhD’s in everything we attempt and this kind of Western logic takes a while to drop. So the photo of the pupas helps me. Every one of us is a butterfly in the making. We’re all in this together – we’re all pupas. It’s easier for me to see this in Asia where I can happily live without a Mercedes Benz and have a more relaxed attitude about time.
You don’t have to go to the Himalayas to see this but it sure helped me to go without all my comforts to start to see that we are all the same. And that’s why when the Dalai Lama is out teaching in the world he doesn’t just talk to the luminaries like Richard Gere, he talks to the hotel staff, the old people waiting for hours to catch a glimpse of him, and to the babies who don’t even know His Holiness they are just playing outside while their parents wait for him. I’ve seen him do it. And it makes my heart glad.
I was blessed and grateful to be at the teachings this year in Dharamsala, India and to have a press pass to photograph the Dalai Lama. The best part of being there was that he directly teaches me to be happy being a pupa, not just the butterfly. By his example watching him interact with people he shows how to Go Slow and not be Fast. He seems to forget his bodyguards pressing in protecting him and reaches out to people and holds their hands reminding me to do the same.
I wondered when I would leave home to explore the world but I was only four years old.
I had to wait until I was at least nine.
So I just kept riding my orange push-pedal fire engine around the block knowing that one day I would fly free.
For fun, I would walk downtown to the city library and get lost in the stalls reading books and smelling the rarified air of literature. There was adventure in those books. Wild wonderful global explorations that called to my heart.
I’d be exploring when I got taller. But for now I could read the book, Mary Poppins and how she floated from cloud-to-cloud and visited worlds I could only imagine.
Someday I would discover the world just like her.
Arrive when and where I wanted to then float off to a new place.
I brought home armloads of books and was determined to read every book I found interesting. I started reading before kindergarden because I wanted to discover the worlds beyond my own boundaries of Canandaigua, an Upstate, New York, Finger Lakes town.
Canandaigua was bursting with colonial houses and wide front porches, full attics and large basements. It was the land of snowflakes freshly falling on every Christmas morning guaranteed. Sleigh rides, snowball fights, and building forts in the heaps of snow.
It was a good place to grow up.
But it was so cold my face froze one winter and I had a large patch of red on my cheeks when I drank alcohol for years. After I moved to the tropics my face returned to normal.
My cheeks had thawed.
I knew I wanted to be an artist but kept it to myself in my medically inclined professional family.
My bestfriend Cherie and I hatched a plan to run away on a motorcycle with one suitcase bungeed to the back – off we would go in to the rarefied air of world exploration.
Today I bungeed my rolling suitcase to the back step of a red truck – a pickup-like affair transporting people in Thailand to their destination for cheap – 50 cents a ride. They did not charge me the inflated tourist price so I gave him more than a 100% tip after he helped me move my luggage in the pouring rain off the truck.
The drivers never do that – I’ve been in Thailand 6 times and that is just not done.
So I have arrived!
I just realized right this minute that my deepest dream I held in my heart as a child has come true.