My friend Peter always says “Whenever I complain, the Universe slaps me with a blessing.”
The same is true for me.
Just a few days ago, I posted a rant called “A day late and a few grands short.” I have since deleted it. It was too out of character. I mean, I do come with a full range of emotions. I’m not always happy, contrarily to what some of you seem to believe. But still, I felt that post didn’t represent the majority of how I feel or how I interact with the world, and most certainly it didn’t reflect my reality. I’ve included the original post below (Click here to skip to it), if nothing else, for the pleasure of having that flippant Bobcat walking away photo somewhere on this blog.
Here is the post where I set the record straight.
“How come I don’t get any financial abundance?” I whined.
Alright. Let’s look at this (in somewhat reverse chronological order). There was the time when …
- I had less than $100 to my name, when I met a Viking who offered to front me the cash to travel with him to Cuba. Work was waiting for me when we finally parted ways after adventuring for two months straight, to two countries and across the USA. Thank you Miles, my knight-viking in shining armor (or hiking skirt, depending on the occasion).
- I returned to Sedona from a west coast book tour at 4 am, and with only $80. At 8 am – 4 hours later – I was woken up by a text from Benny of Earth tours saying that he hoped I was in town because he needed help for a special retreat with 4 Russian billionaires. The pay was good. The work was fun. The Russians tipped me $1000 for a day and a half of work.I didn’t need to work for the rest of that year. Thank you blood moon of 2015!
- I left for a west coast book tour with less than $40. It wasn’t even enough to make it past Flagstaff, but I felt called to go anyway. I sold enough books in Flagstaff to get to South Lake Tahoe, sold enough books in South Lake Tahoe to drive to Ashland, sold enough books in Ashland to … and so forth. 6,000 miles later, I returned to Sedona with $80, having traveled to Canada, Burning Man, worked on a farm, kayaked, hiked, climbed, etc. (See the green loop on the roaming map) I never lacked for food or fuel. I even manifested some amazing free yoga pants along the way. Thank you, dozens of angels along the way.
- After a few months in the Sedona desert, I was trying to finish the editing of my book, and was running really really thin on cash. I went to my storage unit to see if I had anything to sell, when a business card fell out of a box I was moving and landed at my feet. It was for Danita Delimont, an agent with whom I worked back when I was a photographer, almost ten years prior. I called on a whim, and she said “Melissa! Where have you been? We’ve had this royalty check here for you for years, but we didn’t know where to send it.” She Paypaled me the money within half an hour. Thanks Danita. Thanks business card for falling out.
- One morning I woke up with $4, an empty fuel tank and an empty food box. I had $14 the night before, but went to a Ryan Montbleau show in Phoenix. It was worth it. I woke up thinking “Mmmh. I’m out again. Today should be interesting.” A few hours later, I met Benny, of Earth Tours, at a coffee shop. He had never successfully worked with an assistant, but he hired me on the spot and paid me a tour in advance. Boom! Money and a job, and a coworker better than any I could have dreamt. Benny has been part of much financial magic in my life since I met him. Thanks Benny! (and Thanks Ryan Montbleau for an awesome show).
- I was in the negative in New Hampshire, worried about the approaching winter, when one of my yoga students introduced me to a rich lady with a 17.5 year old dog. The lady needed to travel to France but couldn’t leave the dog behind. I dog-sat that dog and lived in a small palace overlooking fields and the White Mountains for 7 weeks. She paid me well, and suddenly I had enough to drive back out west. I still stayed for another month in NH to finish my book, in the spare bedroom of an incredibly bright and loving Mother Goddess. She asked for nothing in return. She even gave me a private office to finish writing my book. Thank you Dawa (the dog) and Leah (the Goddess)!
- I had $2.62 left (I took a picture of my statement) in New Hampshire, because I had just quit a job at a gear shop I didn’t resonate with and didn’t make enough from teaching yoga to cover my expenses, when out of nowhere a man I had met briefly at the gear shop but had never actually spent time with offered me $40/hr to help him clean windows of rich people’s homes on Nantucket island. I worked on Nantucket for two weeks, lived with Rich, and was spoiled with fresh seafood and friendship. When I returned to North Conway, I discovered that my tires were delaminating. I was able to buy a very nice set of offroad tires for exactly the amount I had made. It was like the Universe gave me the gift of new tires in a roundabout way. Thanks Rich!
- Looking further back, there was the time when I found $184 in the trash can of a hotel in Big Bear City. Sorry thru-hiker who lost $184 while cleaning your gear. I made good use of it. Passed it on as magic to other hikers for the rest of the day, and only kept a $17 fee for myself. It seemed fair.
- There was the time a hot air balloon landed on my truck in the middle of the desert and offered me a job. Say what? Yep. Thank you!
- There was the time I walked the PCT on a credit card, and upon my return discovered the National Science Foundation had never reclaimed the $10,000 tuition funds deposited directly in my account. I also paid for my trip to India with that money. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.
And that’s not even the beginning of it. This happens to me ALL THE TIME. I mean read the book … sometimes, it’s just ridiculous.
My friend Carrot Quinn said that she feels the Universe is on a matching program. Whatever effort you put in, you will be met with magic of the same amount. I definitely get more than I put in.
So, now the record is straight. I have nothing to whine about. At all! I am, actually, exactly where I need to be. If I had been more successful financially earlier, I’d have missed out on all these juicy last-minute rescues, the dozens of odd jobs, the gifts, miracles and serendipities. I wouldn’t have been flooded with gratitude as I have been. Gifts are always more potent when contrasted to a stark background.
I just got a job offer last night. I’ll be taking off for Colorado in a few weeks. So, my “spot” in the desert is vacant and up for grabs. And my Appalachian Trail walk is funded (with potential surprises and detours along the way). All is well. As always.
Here’s something out of character. I’m going to vent. I want to vent.
Let me back up, before I start … so, a few nights ago, I went back to the desert a little later than I usually do. It was already dark. When I got to “my spot” there was a van parked there. A man was tending to the fire, a woman was playing with a dog. It happens. Sometimes, I get home and I find someone in my living room. Usually, I don’t mind. Usually, I understand that the views from my living room are exceptional, that it is the only place on the whole hill with 3G, full bar cell-phone reception, and that the fire ring has some wood already stacked. The place just screams “perfect camp. Welcome!” Usually, the campers are weekenders. I turn around right at the spot – sometimes gracefully, sometimes less – and camp somewhere else. The next day, they go home, and I get my home back.
But this time was different. I knew that van. I had seen it in town on and off since last year. It had a big logo on the side: “Where’s my office now”. These were desert dwellers like myself, living out on the land, and they had just found my perfect camp. I turned around in front of their van with a sinking feeling. I parked just down the road a bit, because I wanted to stay close to see what their patterns were. You know, us, big cats, that’s what we do. We don’t pounce right away … we study patterns, and when we have established a fail-proof plan of attack we go for it. I wanted to see when they arrive, when they leave, and such, to be sure I can get there before they do.
Well, that backfired. For the first time in all the years I’ve slept in the truck, a mouse crawled in … I don’t even know through where … and landed between the truck bed liner and the truck bed. I could hear it. Poor thing was panicking. I was not much calmer. The only way I knew out of there was through the hole where the clamp to hold the shell is. I shone my light on the hole and waited. I even set up a small tub of strawberry jam to entice it out. FINALLY, after hours of waiting, I saw its whiskers. It saw me, got scared and turned around, pointing its tail out of the hole. All I had to do was grab its tail and set it free. But, well, it was a mouse. I stared at it. Didn’t move. It went back in. By then it was past midnight. I plugged the clamp hole and tried to sleep. I don’t know how the mouse got back out – presumably through the hole it used to crawl in. Bottom line was, I had an epic night and was exhausted the next day. I left the desert before the van did. No patterns learned.
The next day, I went to the desert by mid-afternoon. I was first in the spot. The van showed up at sunset, and with it another van. Great! Now they were inviting friends.
The next day, I went to the desert even earlier. I wrote the van-dwellers a note I planned on leaving, in case I couldn’t “beat them to it” the next day. The note said “You are welcome to stay here, but please don’t spit toothpaste on the ground, don’t walk on the flowers, don’t …” Once the note was written, I had to be honest with myself. I wasn’t welcoming them at all. It was a passive-aggressive note thinly disguised as a leave-no-trace reminder. They never drove by that night. I thought, “Good, maybe they’ve driven their office elsewhere.”
But as the next day progressed, I noticed an oppressing feeling on my chest. I was actually having anxiety about this. What if I couldn’t camp in my spot? So much for non-attachment! Luckily, that night – last night – I was first there again. The van drove by in the dark. I didn’t move, but I felt that anxiety again. So, I did what I do. I explored the anxiety. Since that’s what was up, I figured I might as well learn from it. What did anxiety feel like in my body? I didn’t try to intellectualize the whys or hows, I just observed it. I fell asleep holding sweet little Anxiety in my arms.
And here my post actually starts.
This morning, a lovely brunette – the woman from the van – came running by my truck. I jumped on the occasion to solve my quandary. If I couldn’t make them go home, I might as well befriend them. Of course, she was genuine, fun, friendly, and had all the qualities you’d expect in a van-dweller. She and her partner have been living in the van since 2013, she told me, embracing a nomadic life. How do they survive? They have thousands of followers on Instagram, and therefore are attracting sponsors. Wait. What? So, you post pictures of you living in your van, and people pay to see the photos of you living in your van? Yep. That’s correct.
WT .. I’ve been living in my truck since 2011 (with time off to walk long trails and travel, a few months indoors when I met Chris, and another few months indoors in winter in New Hampshire). It would have never dawned on me that people would care. I mean, aside from my friends. Would you take pictures of your bedroom and post them? No, well, me neither.
This got me thinking. About 5 months ago, I met another lovely, incredibly badass lady. That lady published a book exactly a month before I published mine. Her book is great, but so is mine. She is making a living from Kindle dividends now, and getting sponsors to hike long trails. Am I? Hell no! Not by a long shot. What’s the difference? She has 5000 followers on her blog. How did she do that? She just posts about her life on the trail, every day. Again, that would have never dawned on me. I just wouldn’t feel like I have anything that interesting to say every day.
“Dude! Just this year, you flew one-way to Cuba, hitchhiked back on a boat to Florida, hitched cross-country on I10, you live in the desert, and you’re about to go hike the AT on no money at all. And you don’t think your life is interesting?” my friend said.
My life is my life. It’s normal to me. I guess.
Instead of FOMO – Fear Of Missing Out – I’m having FOHMO – Fear of having missed out. What if I had kept a blog back when I walked the PCT? Oh, wait, I did. I lost my audience when I started posting spiritual posts. What if I had actually written about Cuba when I was there? Nah, I was too busy living that adventure. It required all my attention. What if I had Instagrammed my way across the country? What if I had learned about hashtags sooner? What if my book came out 5 months earlier, right when the wave of Cheryl Strayed Wild was still hot? What if …
There are people out there doing exactly what I’m doing, and making a living from it. WTF.
Yes, I could copy them … and I am. I’m Kindling like the badass lady with the blog, and I’m hashtagging like the lovely lady in the van. And I feel like a side character, the #2, not the Captain – almost as good. This is the movie of my own life. Why aren’t I the friggin’ leading lady? With the wild imagination I have been accused of having, couldn’t I be my own creative genius. Couldn’t I hit that secret jackpot that lets me be exactly who I am, and poof! abundance flows in because of it.
Or do I think too highly of myself? Humility – is that what I’m missing? Should I feel gratified to know that the Universe is placing people in my path to show me what is possible. And isn’t it my own blindness that instead sees in them lack by contract?
I know others in that boat. I know incredibly talented individuals who have dedicated months to years to building a social media dream, only to be ignored at best and poopooed at worse. What’s the difference? Intent? Am I going to have to fall back on spirituality for this one? Is this one of those … to every monk there is a path, and for some reason, you have chosen to explore living in misery, but it’s all for the Greater Good. Or worse … did you just see the sentence I wrote? These bad thoughts I’m having are creating the blockages that impede the oncoming flow of abundance that’s waiting right around the corner, and man, when that dam breaks, I will be flooded. Yes, I am rolling my eyes … more body language blockages.
Sigh … Hello Frustration. Hello Confusion. Hi Tinge of Anger. Welcome aboard. I shall be your bodily vehicle for the moment. Please be sure to express yourself fully, keep all hands and feet inside at all times, so as to not spill over onto my social media life. I have a reputation to uphold. I am the Roaming Bobcat. #ilovemylife #asitshouldbe #abundance #iamenough #yadeyaah #whatever.