Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Twofer Tuesday

    Good Morning my lovelies! 'Tis a lovely morning indeed!.... this cool and sunny Tuesday, this last day of May.... *sigh*.... Why in the world, those of you who know my usual morning mood might ask, is she soooo chipper at 7:49 a.m? Funny you should ask, dear friends, it is only because I JUST BOUGHT MY PLANE TICKETS! BOOYAH!!!!!!!!!!! (literally, like 10 minutes ago) I said I wanted to know where I was going and have my tickets at the end of May, ummmm done and done!
INTERIOR -- Office setting --DAY:
COURTNEY: "Done and done!" .....(As Courtney blows on the tips of imaginary guns and reholsters them for yet another day of accomplished awesome-ness)
*End Scene

    Let me back up a couple steps... I went home yesterday and researched the hell out of visas, who needs them and why. Because I'm there less than 90 days, I do not need one....and so I don't throw up any red flags upon my arrival I'm not even gonna mention WWOOFing. It just so happens to be that I'm just a REALLY HELPFUL guest ;) The same goes for Nepal and South Africa. Fan-fricken-tastic!!!!!!

   In addition to my visa education, after reading umpteen reviews and deductible mumbo jumbo I settled on World Nomads travel medical insurance. Don't ask me exactly what is or isn't covered, my eyes were crossed by the time I had my credit card out. I figure though, if you carry an umbrella it usually doesn't rain...and if it does, at least I have something.

   *The 'bonus round' tidbit of this fine, fine morning is the fact that while I'm the only one signed up for the Kathamndu yoga retreat thus far, I have been assured they will NOT cancel even if it's just lil'ol' me. Well golly gee...okay then, I can roll with being extra special, HA! :) 

    Oh, wait - what's that? I can hear Rochelle yelling all the way from Topanaga.... WHEN am I leaving and coming back? Ah yes, thanks 'Chelle for reminding me! I shall be departing Monday August 29th at 6:10pm and I shall return Thursday December 29 at 3:25pm.... just in time to honor the closing of an amazing year and usher in hopefully one that will follow suit!

   Obviously, I like acknowledging all my peeps that are helping me throughout this journey....So in this blog, a HUGE shout-out goes to Aaron!! I'm so glad you were the first person to hear this news! Not only because you're the only other person awake at this gawd-awful hour (hahahaha) given the time difference between here and Ohio ( O-H-I-O!!), but because your reaction was sooo beautiful and sincere!
    Immediately after texting him about my purchase, he replied with ample enthusiasm (many an exclamation point) and went on to ask, "How does it feel?" ..... to which I replied "Amazing and scary... I'm tearing up and having heart palpitations....Like I'm standing at the edge of an abyss about to freefall into darkness..."
And he said, " Be proud baby! This is huge and you're super strong! Take a deep breath..."
NOW THAT'S GOING INTO 'SAVED MESSAGES' ! ... I wanted to save all his replies because they were all equally loving, supportive and prideful.
Thank you Sir Noble! You're a gentleman and a scholar :)

Now to call and wake up my mama!!! :)  .... Once again I leave you with a song ... or two because it's Twofer Tuesday



Monday, May 30, 2011

This week's agenda - VISAS!

    This week I will be getting to know the 3500-6300 blocks of Wilshire as I investigate the visa situation. A special 'thank you' goes out to one Mr. Gilbert Tseng, who alerted me to the fact that I may need to get my Italian visa before my ticket.....because they might deny me?! Say what? Deny ME?! How could this be? ... The fact that I'm so lovely and charming (and that if I look pouty and smouldering enough could totally pass for a native ...wink, wink) should make them want to open the Italian borders to me always and forever! ... But alas, I will be paying a visit to the Italian consulate this Wednesday because with my work schedule that's my only option.... check out these ridiculous hours!:
Monday, Tuesday. Friday from 9;00am-12:30pm
Wednesday: from 09:00 am to 12:30 pm ---- from 14:00 to 15:30 
Thursday: Offices are closed to the public The South African consulate hours are virtually the same, so I may actually have to switch shifts on Friday in order to go..... even though I still haven't heard back from my Capetown farm contact in awhile ---grrrr!

    I have at least paid and secured my spot in the 10 day yoga retreat in the Shivapuri National Park in Kathmandu! I'm getting 10 days ofYoga, accommodation, meals ,airport pick up and drop off, transfer to Shivapuri Village in 4wd jeep, activities in the  Shivapuri Village and National Park entry fee all for under $1000!!!!!! WOO HOO for me! And so far I'm the only one signed up, but unless they have to cancel it -who cares?! Because clearly, as I'm planning this solo adventure, I have no issue being a "one man wolf pack" (Zach Galifianakis in 'The Hangover')

    Also please keep your ears open for someone who may want to sublet my place for the four months.... furnished 1 bedroom with kitchen, laundry, yard, an adorable and super snuggly kitty, wifi, Direct TV, all utilities paid = $1050! It's a pretty sweet deal, which is why I wanna try and hold on to it :)  I'm also open to price negotiations!!!

    Oh and I want to send out at least 5 more proposals!! I have to say I'm getting a bit overwhelmed between all the trip preparation details and everything else I've got coming up, but am trying not to let it choke me....the hand is right there, I can feel the fingers, but no vice grip yet. .... GULP!


Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Stairway to 'Heaven Hill'

      It's 6:30 a.m, I'm at work (ssshhhhhh) as I write this and teary eyed ( double sssshhhhh) because I just translated Colle Paradiso.....This magical mystery tour will be christened in 'Heaven Hill' with the lovely Caterina and Marco. I sent them another email yesterday just double-checking that they were ok with me coming in Sept, even though that's not a busy time for them and at 12:28a.m I received this reply:
dear Courtney,
it sounds good for us! yes you have to fly into Rome!
Please contact us few days before your coming for the details.
See you,
ciao Caterina e Marco
      Aside from this email, the other deciding factor was the UNcoincidental coincidence of their names. Many of you know who've come to our shows  know the Artistic Director of Daughter of Zion Aerial Dance Co, the much beloved (and its imperative to add, the very Italian!)  RINA Van deKamp, aka my soul sister! We are so alike it's freaky and awesome all at the same time!!! Just ask her husband MARK. These two are family to me! We spend hours in their kitchen talking, eating, drinking, and LAUGHING! In case you two don't already know I love you both with all my heart!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
So I mean, come oooonnnnn!... Rina and Mark .... and Caterina and Marco.... Fuggeddaboudit! It's done!

       Now that I know where I'm going in Italy, I can feasibly register for the yoga retreat in Nepal! The meditation course still isn't open for registration till Aug 1, but I'm not too worried about that. The only missing link is South Africa. My two choices are Mountainview Organics (Western Cape) or Bramleigh Manor (Eastern Cape). The problem with the South African WWOOFing site is that they don't give the farm's direct emails. You send a message through a third party system. My first interaction with Brett at Mountainview got a bit tangled because of it. I've since sent her another email, and haven't yet heard back. The response I received from Nicole at Bramleigh Manor was also lovely and welcoming. I was drawn to it especially because she's an artist and offered teaching WWOOFers how to stretch and prime canvases as an 'add-on'. The only issue is that she is actually thinking of WWOOFing herself when I'm planning to be there. She said to contact her again in October and that even if she wasn't there, someone else obviously would be.  I am still able to go work the gardens, and work with the horses.
       I have accepted, made peace and enjoyed a cup of tea with the fact that my exact location in South Africa is going to remain a mystery for awhile. The real question that remains though is, WHERE DO I FLY INTO?

My gut says Capetown, or at least I think it does, but it's early and I haven't had breakfast yet so I can't be sure. ;)  If I end up going to Bramleigh Manor in the Eastern Cape, I can always catch a 'puddle jumper' or a bus from CT.

      Going into the mail after work today are proposals to JanSport (in addition to the email I sent to Karen's contact) and Isabella Catalog. I'd like to send out eight more in the next 2 weeks :)
A triple thank you goes out to Karen Grossman!
1) Thank you again for the JanSport name!
2) The IndieGoGo vs Kickstarter tip!! -- I signed up for IndieGoGo
3) The most amazing headshots from 5 years ago -- I included them in my proposals 
(Oh Gawd! Has it really been that long? ...We're all gonna nod and say that I can still pass for this sweet, young thing--- RIGHT?! Do I see everyone nodding?)

Till next time dear readers ... I leave you with a couple fun tunes :)

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Narrowing down

Light some candles, OM a few times, do whatever you need to get into a clear, intuitive, Zen space. Deep breath in, and out. Ready? Ok! ... ( I feel like I'm about to start a cheer)

     I need ya'll to give me your gut reaction when I say (ahem, I mean when you read)
Colle Paradiso .... you can also check at their site http://www.collaparadiso.eu/
I would love everyone's feedback. Like I mentioned, the Italian farm responses thus far have either been, 'We don't need help at that time' or 'We can't commit to saying 'Yes' this far in advance'. I just heard back today from the horse ranch, who not only responded that they didn't need help, but they did so in Italian. At this point,  I'm backing down my expectations a bit. I'd be happy as a clam if I could just figure out where I need to land in Italy. I'm still feeling very drawn to Capetown, but I think I can figure out South Africa as I go. I would still go ahead and get the ticket into CPT, and just trust that over the next couple of months the right farm shows up. (Does anyone get a hit when you read either Upland or Mountainview Oraganics? I'll wait while you OM and recollect your sixth sense)
     My trip's bookends are the main issue because Nepal is more or less already sorted. The meditation course in October doesn't accept the applications till September 1st. That doesn't bother me and as soon as I can buy my plane ticket I can book the yoga retreat. For those of you just joining us, I am not farming in Nepal. It is definitely the 'Pray' part of this international rendezvous.

     Do I realize that I will have an amazing experience wherever I go, whichever farm I choose? Yes I do, thank you very much for asking ;) ... However, I'd like it to be as amazing as possible, and I just plain like the idea of all my peeps being involved in the decision making process! Then it feels like we're on this trip together, that I will carry a little piece of each of you with me. Wait, that sounds creepy.... but you know what I mean :)

   In other news, I decided to pitch a Photo/Poetry book to Kickstarter (see previous posts if you're unfamiliar or just google it) under the Journalism category. I figured those are two things I would be doing anyway, so why not committ to making a coffee table book upon my return? And booyah! they accepted it.
What conglomerations do we like best?
Also, what kind of incentives might you like to see offered? A few I already thought about (donation price points TBD):
-book acknowledgement for everyone that donates
-copies of my poetry books 
-postcard from location of choice
-taking a picture of a picture of them in location of their choice
-poem topic suggestion (actually I'd like everyone that donates to contribute ONE word,     
and I will write a poem or several utilizing everyone's word)
-bigger donations will get a free copy of the finished book ( b/c I will most likely use blurb.com to self-publish which I pay for)

Any and all suggestions are welcome......

Alright, I s'pose that's all she wrote for now....

Progress report...

.....aaaaannnnndd we're back! Yes, it's been a little while, but only because I haven't had much to report. Progress has been slow. But maybe ..... (ok, excuse the totally new age hippie reference and digression that is about to follow) ... Maaaaaybe, what I see as slow progress is like the 'Stick Bug' card in my Animal Tarot deck - 'Activity Beneath the Surface'.
" Stick Bug's appearance always indicates there is activity around us beneath the surface which we may or may not be aware of. If we remain still, making no movement or commitment, the proper course of action will make itself known. We should also remember to be patient and continue what we have been doing...Stick Bug lets us know the results are coming, but we must allow them to come in their own time. When we do, we will be in a better position to grab them and use them for our benefit." - Ted Andrews, The Animal-Wise Tarot
Ah yes, animal wisdom.

And that's not to say, that nothing has been happening. I have had responses from farms, but either they don't need help at that particular time, it's too far in advance for them to say 'Yay' or 'Nay', or I didn't like the tone/energy in their reply. Needless to say, I'm a little frustrated. My goals are to have my farms confirmed by the end of this month and to buy my ticket in June. In the meantime, I not only finished a very short and sweet, and charming proposal but I just got done sending it to Courtney (gotta love that) at JanSport. Wee hoooooooo!! Fingers crossed people, fingers crossed! I also may have a contact on the inside of Gaiam (if you're unfamiliar --http://www.gaiam.com)
My very brilliant mother is a fund-raising savant and came up with tons of snappy ideas, in addition to the corporate sponsorship. One example is she thinks I should figure out my trip's mileage and then create 'Arm-chair WWOOFers' ... asking people to buy just ONE mile of my trip (of course, they'd be welcome to buy more. It could be as little as $1. Also I still have like 500 copies of my first poetry book, 'One Fantastic Journey' (kind of apropos) Here's her idea:
Buy a book GET a foot (or vice versa) "Without really knowing it at the time, my first self-published  poetry book, written 10 years ago, One Fantastic Journey, seeded the one upon which I'm embarking in August. Now, with your arm chair support, it can move me closer to my goal."

And there's always  Kickstarter :(http://www.kickstarter.com/start) I know several people who reached their funding goals. (upwards of $7000) The great thing about Kickstarter is there's no risk. If you don't reach your goal, no one has to pay. I just need to figure out my angle. Should I commit to writing a book about my journey or a coffee table poetry/photography book, or a documentary?

I can't really focus too much on any of those brilliant ideas though until I feel like I have a better handle on where exactly I'm going. Yes, I'm the person who happily wants to be a volunteer farmer for 4 months in 3 totally random locations. But I'm not yet the person who's just going to roll up and figure it out once she gets there. I have way too much of my dad in me for that. I'm all for going with the flow, and having the plan change but I do at least need a plan with which to start.
 I'm doing my best to channel the energy of Stick Bug and be patient and let it all unfold in its own natural time according to its own perfect plan, but it would be really  awesome if that natural timing and perfect plan could coincide at the end of May/beginning of June. I mean I have plane tickets to buy, visas to apply for, money to raise, sub letters to find, dance festivals to attend, and vacations to take.

Is it so wrong that while I'm focusing on cultivating patience and trust, chanting 'stickbug, stickbug, stickbug, stickbug' , I occasionally slip and find myself chanting 'rat snake, rat snake, rat snake' (which means acceleration and movement) ?  I jest... I'm not really chanting..... out loud anyway.

I shall shift my perspective because even the frustration and unseen 'activity beneath the surface' is all part of this adventure, and it's exciting. I mean I'm planning a trip to 3 different continents for Christ's sake for 4 months! Hello?! awesome-sauce!  

I leave you with, and remind myself of, this little bit of wisdom:

" The suspense is terrible.... I hope it'll last "
-Willy Wonka

...and a song:

Nine Lives by Midnight Juggernauts

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

A new month and a new skill!

    Well, Happy (belated) May Day everyone! It's a brand new month and I can officially add proposal/grant writing to my list of missions accepted and accomplished. I at least finished a very rough draft last night and yes, DeLise, I will be asking you to, pretty please with a cherry on top, review it. I kept it short and sweet because I figured if their interest is at all piqued, I can more effectively elaborate in person.
      I have discovered the benefit of connecting with other WWOOFers and bloggers. Please check out Erica Murphy's blog: http://www.ericasitalianadventure.blogspot.com/. She was kind enough to respond honestly with some of her experiences and challenges while in Italy. It helped make a couple decisions very clear. Thanks Erica!
I'm still waiting to hear back from the farms in Italy. I did receive a reply from one of the South African farms. It's amazing how even in an email you can get a real sense of a person's energy from their written 'tone'. Needless to say, said farm is now off the list.

       In other exciting, non-WWOOFing related but travel related news ...... drumroll please.... I'm going to Guatemala to perform in a dance festival with Rina (Daughter of Zion Aerial Dance Co) July 20-25th, the week following my 31st birthday. Not too shabby eh?!
Those who know me, know I start talking and dreaming about my birthday right about now. Okay, okay, actually last month and that I like to drag it out, really "milk the f*$% er" as Rina likes to say. Done and done! Guatemala the weekend after the officially sacred and blessed day, and then Hood River/Bend, Oregon the following weekend with Rochelle! Um yeah, 31 is gonna kinda rule!

   Oh, and in case any of you weren't sure ... It's July 14th.