This isn’t just for my peeps, my fellow coaches-in-training, although I hope they’ll feel the love from it; it ain’t just for Mark and Dave, although they inspired me beyond belief; and it’s not just for those I’ll serve but it sure is a shout out to them. It’s for all of you and it’s because of you that I have the inspiration, the motivation, and the presence to stop and write.
The coach training was and is a powerful group of good people, led by Dr. Mark Atkinson and Mr. Dave Asprey. The class is designed for those interested in helping further the movement known as Bulletproof (as in the world renown Bulletproof Coffee) which means living a life of joy, vibrance, and resilient health.
Signing up for the class was a no brainer for me and probably for most of my fellow coaches. When Dave put out the opportunity to sign up with a full curriculum and schedule (as well as a pass to the Bulletproof Biohacking conference which I’ll post about soon), it took me only a few hours to make the decision. The value was worth way more than the price.
When I arrived in Pasadena on the morning of the 21st, I was beyond stoked. I was itching to get into the Westin and start meeting and experiencing. Mark told us coming into the week that the two days of in-person training for the class would be 100% experiential. The man is honest.
Bulletproof coffee flowed freely as did collagen bars and conversation. Everyone was fueled by the highest quality fats, grass fed Anchor brand butter and brain octane, the shortest of the medium chain fats contained in coconut and palm oil. The bulletproof Vibe vibration plates were set up and always monitored by a staff member, although we all took a few more risks than might have been approved if said staff had not been geeking out on the same combination of caffeine and caprylic acid that we all were.
And then class began. Mark almost immediately taught us how to find out place of peace, our present moment awareness using multiple methods. My preferred is the hara meditation (another post coming up), simply because it is so efficient and practical.
Until 8 pm that night we guided each other through personal growth blockages, old emotional damage, and simple conversation that allowed us to not only bind the way a coach and his client would, but also learn exactly what it’s like to be a coach. It’s not simply about the diet you choose or the exercise you prefer. It’s living a life of awareness and that is what allows the choices of diet, exercise, and mental performance to become all the easier. When you can be present enough to make the right choices without having to use mass amounts of will power, then your energy is upgraded through the roof and then you have the ability to say, “wow, with all this extra energy and awareness, what is it that I really want to do with myself? With my life?”
By the time day two ended it seemed like we’d been together for only a moment and also for a week. We hugged and laughed and confessed to loving one another. We were sad it was over but happy to have nine months left of online interactive class time. And with that we said goodbye, only to see each other the next morning at the Bulletproof Biohacking Conference!
The last post i offered was about the conclusion (or should I say intermission) of a European escapade. I hinted at further plans and harped about home and the importance of creating one. I don’t particularly want to write about myself but I feel like to move on with this blog I need to sum up my progress since. That was January after all.
I flew back to America, spent three weeks and my parent’s house in Byhalia, Mississippi, and moved to Orange Beach, Alabama. I interviewed the morning after I arrived for a position as a resident firefighter with the Orange Beach Fire and Rescue Department. I was awarded the position and began fire school shortly after. I’m living in Orange Beach in an old brick house with three other guys, one of which is my brother and all of which are fellow resident firefighters. Our position entails that all of our schooling and training is paid for as well as our housing in exchange for our time working at the stations. We’re paid a stipend every month of around 350$. Essentially, it’s an excellent program that allows young aspiring firefighters an opportunity to have the expenses of fire college, EMT school and paramedic school paid for while getting on the job experience. There’s some in’s and out’s to the job that I won’t go into detail about here.
I also work part-time as a server at Orange Beach’s finest restaurant (and I mean that), Fisher’s Upstairs.
I’m enjoying my time here and fortunately Kate, my lovely girlfriend of 2+ years, moved down and took a job at a local waterfront restaurant within walking distance to her little house that she shares with her best friend, Mary.
Now that that’s summarized, on to the good stuff.
I’ve been attempting to continue with a piece of writing that I began in Portugal, a bit about home. Being away from home gave me such amazing insight into what it means to me, and now that I’m back in a place where I have my comforts and easy of access and my loved ones, I’ve sort of lost touch with the ideas that drove me to write so steadily about it those last few weeks in Portugal.
So I’ve been spending time reading about what it is I should do to rediscover that creative spark and drive to press on with the writing. Here’s what I’ve got:
1. Fill your brain until it’s bursting with creative fuel, i.e. books, (good) movies, conversation, art, music, nature and other things that are information that are not work related.
2. Write anyways. Even if it’s a poem or a journal entry or a blog post or a recipe, just get the movements and the neuron pathways warmed back up.
3. Meditate. Stilling my mind and abolishing inner resistance just makes everything easier.
4. Steal. I found one of the inspirational books in my stash, Walden, and began copying excerpts from it. It seems silly but it combines numbers 1 & 2 into a simple method of tapping back into the flow state.
So this is me, gettin’ it goin’ again. Doing my best to inspire myself and to work out the kinks. It feels the same as when I moved here and began lifting weights again, something I hadn’t done consistently in mucho tiempo. It’s hard and almost awkward at first and the results are small but the immediate rewards feel good. You press on because you know it’s the right thing to do. You don’t stop when it’s hard and you begin remembering things about it you’d forgotten. Then, before long, you find yourself lacing up your shoes without telling yourself to. You add that extra plate and smile as you push out one more rep than the last time.
I know this’ll become as natural as drinking water, like it was.
One more thing on that list of writing boosters:
1. Make a commitment. I wrote out my sort of mission statement the other day and now it’s on my phone’s home screen. I can’t miss it.
I will write everyday. I’m committed to working as a writer until I’m paid to do so. It’s the one thing that when I’m doing it I forget the rest of the world and feel as though I’ve jumped in a river. I’m flowing, face up, watching the sky roll by without any struggle. That’s why I write. That’s why I’m here.
Where does the excitement end?
My initial plan was to spend a year traveling over here. I haven’t known exactly why but for a few years now I’ve had this desire to “arrive” in this place that I was sure would be the crucial step towards my success. I found travel so enlightening the last time, I assumed after a few years of waiting, it would only be only more so. Well, I suppose I was right, but I didn’t need a year to come across something enlightening.
A lot has happened in the past few years, the time I’ve spent waiting, creating a paradox within myself, just waiting for the present moment to arrive while it’s always already been here. But I’ve realized well before leaving the US that certain things had proven time and time again to be more important than the rest. I’ll list them:
Love: it’s not a romantic thing or unachievable except by the pure of heart. It’s what we all feel at some point or another when we feel like our best selves. When you are certain that you’re doing the right thing, you’re In Love.
Family: it’s not just the people you’re born to share the same blood with (although I believe it includes them), it’s your circle of influence.
Jim Rohn — ‘You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with .’
I think this is deeper than the usual translation or perhaps even the original intention of Mr. Rohn. Yes, if I want to be a writer I could surround myself with writers and probably accelerate my productivity. If I want to be a firefighter, well, I should get some firefighting buddies. Etc, etc.
However, if you look at my list of priorities (the extensive list that’s at 2 so far..) love is number one. So shouldn’t I surround myself with the people I love most? Or shouldn’t I love the people who are always around me? What about learning to love those who have loved me since I came into this world?
I think that when we are born into this world, we immediately have primordial relationships: our parents, and whoever we grow up closest to. Those relationships undoubtedly influence every other relationship in our life, from the point we begin, ad infinitum.
To focus on bettering all of my relationships, and in learning to choose my circle of influence, it may be wise to focus on my primordial relationships, aka, my first ones, so that I might learn to love better.
Baba Ram Das said, “if you think you’re so enlightened, go spend a week with your parents.” I’m sure what he meant was that the world out here can be easy, but returning to the place you were first loved is hard and ultimately the most rewarding, or enlightening.
I’m not just going to spend a week with my parents, I’m going to spend a few weeks with them 😉 More importantly, I’m moving home with the intention of staying home, of creating home. I’m giving all of myself to something again, and that will be this thing, this crazy concept I’m trying to define with these silly human sounds: home. What could be more important than pursuing what’s been discovered as, to paraphrase myself, “more important than the rest”?
It’s said that most people, at the end of their lives, when they are dying, ask the same questions: “did I love well?”, “did I learn to live fully?”, and “did I learn to let go?”
So number 3 is enthusiasm.
What enthusiasm is not is waking up and pressing the snooze button, it’s not starting the day with procrastination. It’s not dragging out of bed and dreading the car ride to work.
It’s also not a step up from that: “this is where I am and this is how it must be so I accept it.” Although, that’s certainly better than the first.
Enthusiasm is living out your joy. It’s rolling out of bed smiling, knowing the day ahead of you is the best day of your life, even if you have to choose to feel that way. It’s knowing what it is that you’re most excited about, the thing you geek out about to your friends or partner, and being able to pursue it in some way that day.
We wake up, in a state of enthusiastic living, and we know that whatever happens that day, we’ll have the opportunity to take a step in the direction of living more enthusiastically, however small the step. I don’t mean living frantically or annoyingly giddy. It’s about confidently striding along the ever present path of what you love most.
So, for me, these things all go hand in hand, link to link, cheek to cheek.
And I didn’t need to travel a year away from the US to realize it. Apparently two months was enough.
Kenny and I are flying out of Madrid on Wednesday. No one can understand how surprisingly sudden this happen. And while at first I was resistant, I’ve realized it’s the perfect opportunity to lead me closer to living my enthusiastic life. It’s the perfect step because it’s the one God has presented to me at this moment. I’ve been focusing on these three things, these three virtues of home, and I’ve realized that heading back is a step in the right direction.
With such a strong desire and excitement for rediscovering my home, it’s an easy decision to accept an opportunity to work with my brother down on the Gulf Coast. Holding all of these intentions, these prayers, so consistently close makes me certain in this next step, regardless of how drastic a change from the plan at hand. I’m trying to love, trying to learn to live well and letting go of that which doesn’t serve me any longer.
More on the job details later, when I’ve got more information. For now, here’s some more photos of our last bit of time in Portugal.
Ramble on, Rose.
follow me on instaham at whearn0624 and mi amigo Kenny at klnapper
I don’t know if I’ve got a lot to post about but I’m feeling writey at the moment.
We’re near Salema, Portugal. The sun is shining and it’s raining. Palms are rustling like a creek and I smell the freshly turned soil as it absorbs the cool rain. Amazing that it’s winter here.
In May 2012, I left my university with no plans to practice Landscape anything, even though I spent five years working at a degree in the archictecture of. I interned at a firm in Thailand during my fourth year which gave me a distinct and influencial impression of what working in the landscape archicture professional field is like. When the four month program finished and I returned home, no part of me wanted to continue my education. But, like many sons of close families, I listened more to my parents’ desires for me that my own desires.
So I did finish and when I reflect I realize that my first and final years of the program were the most influencial and enjoyable.
With my first year I had my mind opened to the field and the fact that there was even such a thing as sustainability and environmental design. It blew my mind open. The two years that followed were a gradual and definite decline in interest.
But my last year I rediscovered that proximity mine that initially blew my mind. I think it’s because I indeed got back to the source. The first year was mostly theory and a little practice. In that theory, and thanks to a few good profesors, I saw a world changing work. And my last year I saw ways it could really happen. Two things happen:
1. I encountered a new professor
2. I was given freedom by other professors
With my new aquaintence I learned how landscape architecture wasn’t just slope, plants, construction materials, urban planning, completeness of projects, long hours debating short details, and grades. I saw that it was home design. That everyone deserved the chance to benefit from the knowledge of how important human interaction with nature is. And that we can create little worlds where we draw most of our home experiences. When a garden is no longer just a garden, but a place you put your time and energy so that it reaps rewards for you and saves you time and money so that you might have more of the two for the things you really care about. There was suddenly this option that I didn’t have to sit at a desk for 9 hours a day 5 days a week and have only my weekends outdoors and being active. I was learning that there were many others in the world who needed a home they could have real home experiences in and that might somehow give them a little more time to enjoy their families and passions.
I can’t give too many details, it would only make this entry longer and less clear, I think.
Back to the present: I’m in Portugal.
This is a place where Rosalind not only lives with her two daughters and their wonderful cat Puskins, but it is also her main source of income. Without detailed description, this is a summer rental. They move into a small yurt with an outdoor kitchen and compost loo during the summer and rent the house to retreat groups. And how this must be such a vacation for the busy body city dwellers who come.
So she needs this place to be where most of her work energy goes. She teaches at her daughters’ primary school and loves to spend time with them. This is where us workawayers come in. We do the cooking and cleaning and do any home improvements she dreams up for about 4 hours a day, 5 days a week.
And we are given quiet freedoms.
We are beautifying the spaces around her home where the retreaters spend a lot of their time.
We are also making this a more complete home.
Home: a place one dwells and thrives; a shelther; the place one comes back to after being out in the world.
Her garden was the first place I wanted to address. Yes the planting beds around the front porch are important, as they probably enhance the experience here, the relaxing atmosphere. The path to the yoga platform and it’s immediate surroundings–certainly important since it’s used almost daily in the summer. But, to me, Rosalind and her girls deserve a good garden. They deserve to harvest their own energy from their land and see how the earth provides for them if they give it some attention.
It’s balancing out, our time spent working on Rosalinds home and Rosalind’s guests. But it’s comning along very nicely.
I’m probably one of the many 20 something’s who just isn’t quite sure. I not only worked at a landscape architecture firm and found it unsatisfying, I haven’t quite settled into this working world at all. I worked at an architecture firm in Memphis, TN that specialized in hotel design. I’ve traveled and worked out west; in Utah, Wyoming (twice), Yellowstone National Park, Colorado, I’ve become a certified EMT and interviewed with a fire department. But now I’m in Portugal exchanging work for food and shelter.
The point is I don’t know what I’ll do for the rest of my life.
I’m not just drifting, I have ideas. But nothing has convinced me so much as being away from home.
Home: shelter, both physical and emotional, from the elements of the world; the place you come back to.
I am, afterall, a homebody. Family has just scoffed at reading this but I think I can swear that I am indeed a man who needs his home. I am not a permanent rambler, I’m not Columbus, seeking a distant fortune or secret. I know the secret and it lies back in the good ol’ USA.
I’m living in someone’s home, helping them make it more of one. And it drives my thoughts to a place that hasn’t come about yet. It’s my home. It’s a place I can come back to.
The only way I know how to come to that home is to keep walking straight on the path. It certainly has shown me what is important so I’m trusting it will eventually show me where that importanace lies on the map.
I’m in Portugal for now. I’m not spending much money (in fact I’d be happy to share with anyone how cheap this traveling thing actually is, email me if you’re interested at whearnzerosixtwofouratgmail) and that is good because a place is defined as space and space, in this dimension and especially in America, is land and land cost money. I have been saving money for four years or so to travel and I’ve learned that traveling doesn’t cost 1/4 of what I thought, which is a nice fourth quarter discovery.
I’m not going to rush home to search for a piece of land but I do put in my hours looking over real estate prices and general contracting codes and methodology (in fact, klnapper is doing most of the studing for me, I just pick his brain a few times a week after he’s read his manuals), something I find myself doing, not something I think I should be doing.
What’s next? I don’t really know, probably east through Portugal, back into Spain, maybe across the Mediterranean into Moracco, maybe up into Italy or Croatia. Doesn’t really matter. I’ve got projects and a temporary home and a keyboard and a cup of coffee.
I’ve got a loving, supporting family in Mississippi (and Florida, and Utah, and Tennessee) and the amazing technology of WiFi that allows me to talk to them. I’ve got legs that work, a healing body, and a clear mind, which is more than I’ve ever had. I’m so incredibly grateful for what I’ve been given. Jesus was being The Dude when he said:
“The point is this: whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows bountifully will also reap bountifully.” 2 Corithians 9:6
So don’t just count your blessings, experience them.
If you’ve got something you’re grateful for or know a bit about home, drop me a line in the comments or at my email.
Hope everyones winter is passing beautifully. The days are getting longer, ever since December 21st. If you’re not grateful for that, you must be in the southern hemisphere.
A short post today, probably mostly filled with pictures. I wrote for almost two hours on a very descriptive and extensive post about our experience at the last farm we were at, near Penamacor, Portugal, only to have my wordpress app somehow lose it all after I posted it.
I’m not going to try to rewrite it, but instead hit my key points and include my pictures, something you all might prefer over everlasting words anyhow.
A working goat farm run by a man named Fernando. 80 hectares amidst protected land (Serra de Malcatta) that has been in his family for hundreds of years. He maintains three of the structures on site that are dated between the 12th and 17th centuries. He also chooses to live as they did.
The man lives incredibly simply. He burns a fire in his kitchen, on the floor and has no ventilation for the smoke. He cooks over this fire. This is apparently the way his midevil ancestors lived and is the way he wishes his descendents to.
He eats mostly starch: high gluten bread, potatoes, and rice. As I don’t consume these things, I ate mostly onion. Luckily his goats are plentiful producers of milk and I was able to have the freshest cheese I’ve ever, and probably will ever have.
Our days consisted, mostly, of walking goats. They eat only grass and walk freely for at least 8 hours a day.
With 125 females and 5 males, it was a job to keep up with them all. Mostly, however, the goats walk you, not vice versa.
I had an off day while on the farm and walked the 6 miles to town to explore Penamacor and its history.
I found that my time at Fernando’s farm was very special. I learned so much, about what I love and what I would never do.
For instance, his way of living. He indeed has the choice to use some of the advances that the human mind has come up with. But he chooses to stay behind and breathe the smoke, eat the peasant food with such little nutritional quality though he has ample garden space, and not save goats that have infected udders or weak disposition because, “nature is cruel”.
He believes that the old way is the only way, and I believe I should never become so attached to ideas that I neglect opportunities presented to me.
What I am coming away with, every day more and more, is that we all have a purpose. Perhaps Fernando’s is indeed to live the way he does and make his cheese and host travelers.
What I know is that we all should find what we love most and do it, do it frequently.
If you are fortunate enough to be currently spending as much time doing what you love as doing what you’re told you should, plesse, please, shine some light for the rest of us on how you got there 🙂
Headed south and may stay there with the Lagos’s predicted weather.
Please drop a line if you will.
follow me on instaham at whearn0624 and mi amigo Kenny at klnapper
A little behind on posting in proper timing but I wrote this at the time of. Can’t get internet everywhere!
This was a suggestion of Alfonso’s (our first host from Post 2). He and Ana spent time at the mystical place 5 or 6 years before. As opportunists, Kenny and I decided to take it and spend Monday – Friday helping them with what we were told would be gardening and general groundskeeping.
A little raking here, a little raking there and some high-quality raking everywhere were our main chores.
We did get to indulge in some real, organic coffee since Paloma, the manager of the rejuvenation project who hails from Spain, enjoys coffee regularly.
I had been missing coffee, good coffee that is, ever since we left Mississippi. I usually partake almost daily, in freshly roasted and often organic single orgin, ground in my home just before brewing. And when I do drink coffee, I pour my 8 ounce cup of fresh brew into a blender, add 1 tablespoon of grassfed butter (goat butter in my case as I have a sensitivity to cow dairy [the A1 protein]) and 1 tablespoon of 100% MCT oil, something google will teach you plenty about. Voila, a cup of long lasting energy without the spike and crash and which allows for instant fat burning metabolic processes. This, of course, is bulletproof coffee. Nothing of my own design but I do like to add some Great Lakes Collagen protein, an egg yolk, fresh cinnamon, or 100% cacao powder if I’m feeling it.
But that seems like a fantasy at this point, those foamy cups in the mornings.
I am learning to adapt. When Paloma at Lalita offered her good coffee I had my first cup right after a fat filled breakfast: a cup or two of steamed cabbage which I immediately drenched in the highest quality olive oil I’ve ever had. Garnished with incredibly fresh parsley, oregano, and sea salt, I felt satisfied but not heavy gutted. A hot cup of black coffee was enjoyed before I stood up from breakfast and once I stood I felt that familiar buzz, that bit of upstoppable that the bulletproof coffee followers adore so much. That we all adore, really. It’s the fat, people, that good fat slows the caffeine down and allows your brain to use it at a more reasonable pace.
So, I am adapting. And happily surviving off of fresh, non starchy vegetables, lots of amazing organic olive oil (it’s literally pressed out back in most places and you can see the bits of olive in it, none of that clearish-yellow liquid at Walmart), nuts, fish, some good meat here and there, and a little goat cheese when it’s available. I suppose I’m not quite a hardcore bulletproof infograph follower, but I’m adaptive I tell you!
The days pass gently. Simple work fosters concentration and sitting down to have meals together fosters ties between people and conversations that make lasting impressions. I’m glad to be here.
Lalita is in a valley that a family owns and it’s only one of their projects that shares this amazing country side.
The structures are old worldly, with living being the priority of the handmade homes.
There’s certainly a lot to be learned here.
On to Fernando’s goat farm near Penamacor.
A hurrah for Portugal, here we come!
follow me on instaham at whearn0624 and mi amigo Kenny at klnapper
Haven’t you heard?
Traveling without much money is not so scarey.
I’ll start by saying that travel is enjoyed differently by everyone. But there are a few groups of us. I’ll keep this short and describe the two extremes.
On one side you have the ruffians. They carry sardines and hard cheese, with ultralight backpacking methods and over-stuffed ultralight-backpacks, they are true adventure seekers, unafraid of the weather and prepared for the worst.
Then you have the cruise-liners. They prefer a buffet to a bonfire, a handbag to a hatchet, enjoy a fine night in luxury to an evening en el campo, and drinking champagne until sunrise is better to them than waking up con el sol.
Most of us fall somewhere in the middle, perhaps willing to stretch a little in either direction, depending on the circumstances.
I’ll admit, I’m a bit of a ruffian. So when I heard about workaway.info from a travel blog I discovered through stumbleupon (does anyone still use SU?), I was enthralled.
The jist is that you volunteer with someone, the host, and exchange for your help, which is usually 20 or so hours a week of work, you, the workawayer, are provided a free place to stay and often your meals too. Plus, what could be more culturally rich than the people who are living the way life had been traditionally lived for centuries?
We left Madrid on a train and were greeted in Plasencia, Spain by Ana, a wonderful Spanish woman from Madrid who has made her new life as a yoga instructor, cook, and therapeutic masausse in Plasencia.
Her and Alfonso, a jack of many trades, had agreed to keep us.
While Ana’s English is not refined, neither is my Spanish. Kenny has a better grasp of the language and we were able to make it to la finca (the land) without too much “que” and “sorry?” that might have potential to dampen the confidence in two travelers and a Spanish woman.
We began immediately, wasting no time. By nightfall, Kenny, Alfonso and I had put in a wood stove and cut enough fire wood to warm our little room and kitchen. Ana prepared a wonderful dinner that first night, and did a fantastic job of keeping us well fed. Her and Alfonso exceeded expectations when it came to food, always accommodating my picky diet far more than I would ever ask.
Through our week there, we worked on the straw-bale-insulated house they are adding to the existing structure, a 100+ year old stone structure.
It’s exciting to work with these materials, soil, straw, and water, as the building medium. We mixed our magic trio, filled the frame, crafted contoured walls while grunting, laughing and focusing from our heads to our hands. It’s a fine feeling, something I think we all need more of, the fading craft of tangible work.
Alfonso called the day early as we lunched at 6 and enjoyed each others company until dinner at 10. The times are different here. The Siesta is real.
We also spent a day raising wall panels and putting up doors. It’s now a room that will be Alfonso and Ana’s while they continue to build this little ecological community they have planned.
They want to live, work, and breathe the land. They have an approval through a local ecological organization to develop a community on yhr hectares where people of different trades can live and work together. Ana’s will be her therapy work, Alfonso’s, his land and produce, along with his business in town, and whoever else is fortunate enough to join them. While they have a lot of work left before they open their invitation to others, it’s enjoyable work and work they’ve chosen for themselves, something not all of us can say we have.
Our stay with Alfonso and Ana has been nothing short of splendid. I certainly haven’t covered everything. The gates and stone walls we worked on to keep the cows in their place, the walks down to the local lake to cast at carp, the mushrooms we gathered and feasted on, the dos perros, and all the conversation and laughter.
It’s an experience I’d trade nothing for. They set a bar for our workaway experiences to come, and I think I can speak for Kenny when I say we are excited to see how high the rest of the world raises it.
We are headed to Lalita, a place near Hoyos, Spain. The website tells far more than I can. I haven’t been there just yet.
follow me on instaham at whearn0624 and mi amigo Kenny at klnapper