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Monday, December 23, 2013

Mi Nuevo hogar!

Before I forget, if you want to receive notifications of updates to this blog, please enter your email address in the field above. This will be my last time zapping all 81 of you via Google+, which no one seems to use anyway.

Encontré mi nuevo hogar! (I found my new home!)
My agent and I negotiated a very fair price last week, the money is on its way and - assuming all goes according to plan - we will be signing the paperwork today or tomorrow. I just got myself my greatest Christmas present ever! The gift that keeps on giving.

About my new finca/farm/orchard, in Manglaralto, Ecuador:
1.1 hectare/11,000 square meters (almost 3 acres, which is nearly three American football fields)
Covered in dozens of mature, productive fruit trees: papaya (the size of footballs), banana, plantain, pear, mango, guava, Chinese plum, apple, avocado, pineapple, cheremoya, cherry, grapefruit/pomelo, orange, mandarin, fig, tree raspberry, lemon, sweet lime, coconut, grenadine, grape, (and the more exotic) guanabana, giant matapalo, mamey, toronja, caimito, pitajaya, vinus, chaya, aracha, achote, etc. & even aloe vera, chile, herbs, sugar cane, yucca, cacao & bamboo! Also, trees for wood: Balsa, rubber, tagua, cedar, guayacan, caoba. I will never have to buy fruit again!
4km from the main road, and...the Pacific Ocean - only much cleaner, bluer and warmer (60s) than we have in SoCal. Manglaralto Beach:
There are two structures already on the land: the blue-roofed one you see in the photo (10x10m open kitchen/dining area with loft/bedroom/yoga studio above); and a 2-story concrete building off to the right (bathroom/shower downstairs, bedroom/recording studio up). My near-term plan is to build another floor or two up on the concrete structure, for additional sleeping space.
The grass you see in the forground is soft, spongy turf, installed years ago by the former owner - for volleyball. (Croquet, anyone?)
Large garden, currently occupied by flowers, but will soon be overflowing with mostly vegetables.
There are already horses on the land (belonging to my caretaker/gardener), which he says we can ride, and a chicken coop with several chickens and room for more. Eggies! Eventually, I hope to add a couple of goats & a piggie - you know, for companionship.
Weather is 60s/70s year-round, moderatley humid (= greeeen!), with a rainier season, December - April.

Here is more about the region, and our neighboring town, Montañita:
en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Montañita,_Ecuador

The Universe, ever conspiring to have everything go my way all of the time, has introduced me to the very first (human) occupants of Terra Nova de Corazón! I met a lovely California family - Ty, Christine, and their three children - who were hoping to rent a home and some land to work, near Montañita - just a few minutes away by car (or bike!) Ty has many years experience in farming, as well as music production; Christine is a midwife. They plan to occupy the land come April. I'm sure they will breathe much life, light and love into our new home.

Another great advantage to this place is there is a beautiful new, inexpensive ($35/night for a room that sleeps 5, including breakfast) beautiful B&B opening across the road from me - with a swimming pool! The owner is most kind and friendly, and (like everyone I have met here) has offered to be at my disposal for anything I should need. He also assures me he will keep an eye on my place whenever I am not there.

Any other takes? I know +Jameson Wiltermoodj  is considering coming down for a spell. And
+Champoy Hate+Sophia Bonita y +Joseph Bedford (already on their way to Ecuador via motorcycles). +Omo Abode ; +Jeremiah Campion & +Amy Campion ; +Vlad The Retailer (ready to put your money where your mouth is?) +Rachel Carlson (duh) ; +Neil Botticelli (you ever walkin' (ridin'?) the walk?) ; +Bobby Gadda & his new bride may already be on their way via tall bike ; +Sean Hurdle (c'mon, Turtle) ; +Noah Bremer (fresh new start with me?!) ; +Stephanie Molstad (I had a dream last night, with you here in Ecuador with me!) ; +Karen R ; +Sarah Petersen ; +Heidi Tungseth ; +donnie Pepper ; the inimitable +Guy McPherson ; the list goes on and on...
Several of my ladyfriends with kids ( +Laura Koniver +Erin Lehn Floresca +Anita Campion +Susan Campion +Susanna Barkataki +Maureen Campion +Mary Campion ) plan to come down once I have it a little less, um, rustic.

These will be a few of the first new animal additions to the land. Noelia has five kitties, but really needs to downsize. We will get them clipped (all boys) soon, and move them to the finca when the family arrives.

I plan to be back in Hollywood by my birthday (January 6, but we'll celebrate the following weekend), as I have clients waiting on me to record some more commercials. Someone has to earn the green to feed to chickens!

Questions? Comments? Want to book a workshop here? Opinions? Think I'm insane?
Please comment...

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Pure Imagination.



If you want to view paradise,
Simply look around and view it.
Anything you want to, do it.
Wanna change the world?
There's nothing to it.


Why can't we retain the wide-eyed wonderment of childhood?
Oh, wait - we can! And I do.

Iiiiii'm leeeeeaving!
I knew back in August that, once I decided to head down there in December, it would feel like a lifetime for the time to come. Sedona seems like a month ago, and I just returned last week. Finally the day is nearly here. I won't miss the blustery 40-degree nights (yeah, I hear you, Minnesotans) we've been experiencing here in Hollywood. I thought I was getting cold feet about this adventure. Turns out it's just the lack of heating and insulation in my Spanish-style home.

I am flying into Guayaquil, where I will receive the First Class Treatment (okay, more like second class, but I usually travel Working Class) - being collected at the airport by a driver, and taken to my suite, where I will awake to a fresh chef-prepared breakfast of local culinary delights. I will likely spend the day wandering the streets of the capital city, before catching a 2-hour bus to La Libertad, where my friend/real estate agent resides.

From there, we will be exploring real estate possibilities within two hours of La Libertad & Guayaquil - mostly ocean-front towns. Still mostly excited about the 3-acre property, with the blue roof (posted last week). And I may have already found a nice family to occupy/improve it while I wrap up things Stateside.

I will attempt to take at least one photo/day (I usually take one per trip), and post to the blog once/week - both of which should automatically upload to my Google+ account, if you're connected to me on there. Damned (anti)social networking.  If anyone needs to reach me, my mobile should work just fine. I can definitely check emails every evening. It's not the stone age down there, people!

Before I go, tomorrow night, I am seeing The Place Beyond the Pines & Lee Camp.

Can we Be Lovers & Not Have Sex?
Yes, please.

Friday, December 6, 2013

Sedona is the Disneyland of the Spiritual World.

That's the feeling I got. Not at all what I expected. I guess I pictured something more like Santa Cruz - a larger, younger, groovier scene than the very old, very wealthy, very white populace we encountered. One of the first things I noticed is that people drive well below the posted speed limit (which is 35 - even on what I would call the highway there), which didn't bother me at all because I drive like an old Asian lady myself - especially since I went car-free last year. The cars and houses are all upper-middle to upper class. Where do the young and working class live there? Oh, they don't.

Don't get me wrong - the trip was fantastic. Some of the highlights:
That photo was taken at the top of Bell Rock. So you can get an idea of just how far Rach & I climbed (do not let anyone tell you you can hike up there), without ropes:

Elevation: 4816 ft.

Neither of us are big picture takers - too busy being in the present - but, I did stage this photo of me being sacrificed to the Grand freakin' Canyon:
Um, have any of you been there? Did you know how BIG it is? I didn't. I mean, I had heard, but you clearly cannot fully comprehend its vastness until you have visited it in person. Another reason not to bother with photography there - it simply cannot do it justice. If water entered the roshambo arena, forget paper - water would clearly trump rock.
And, "some of the cleanest air in the country." So that's why I felt so high the entire time I was there! That, and the fact that I became truly aware of my infinite nature - both huge & minuscule - for the first time in my life.

Speaking of infinity and The Source of All Things/The Great I Am, our host, Edwin Kim (director of Change: The Life Particle Effect, narrated by yours truly), took us up to Sedona Mago Retreat. Where we saw this
Totally.
I have envied the Korean culture for a long time - ever since my swami, Swami Veda, told me his Korean initiates are his favorites, because they're so disciplined. Aww, c'mon - I can't help that I grew up in the brattiest country on the planet, in one of the laziest, most self-absorbed generations ever.

But, I digress.
ECUADOR.
I bought a one-way ticket for next Saturday. I am looking at properties with my Real Estate agent, who has sent me sneak peeks of some beauties, including this one:
Nearly 3 acres (plenty of room for goats, chickens, a piggie & my Chimney Sweep), with fruit trees, and an outdoor kitchen! Alright, stop fighting, and make an orderly, single-file line. There will be room for everybody!
I plan to be back in time for my birthday, on January 6, or at least the weekend after that.
Felices fiestas, y te veré el año que viene!

Monday, November 18, 2013

La misma onda. My favorite phrase in Spanish, "The same wavelength."
I have had a magical two weeks since my last post.

Two weekends ago, I attended Dare to Be Square, an annual Square Dancing workshop/festival on the West Coast. This was the first time LA has hosted, and I have offered to host DtbS 2015 in Ecuador! I really want to continue square dancing down there, so I better keep in practice and putting out the vibration to find other interested folks.

I've also been attending weekly Irish music gatherings, including every Monday night at the Celtic Arts Center, North Hollywood; and a slow/beginners session in Playa del Rey (although it's a struggle for me to get out there with a cello & no car). Both are free, if anyone cares to join me. I'm also hoping to start playing Irish music with my next-door neighbor & some friends, here in Hollywood, when I return from Ecuador in January. Let me know if you want to join the craic!

Yesterday, I rented a car to drive all the way to Santa Clarita for a monthly Irish music session, which turned out to be much smaller than I expected. However, all was not lost when a Peruvian man stood up to share his rendition of El Cóndor Pasa on pan flute, as heard at the beginning of the Simon & Garfunkel cover of it. When he finished, he mentioned he is interested in fusing Irish & South American music. I stood up and excitedly announced that I too was interested in doing the same, in Ecuador. James Torres tells me he has many Ecuadorean friends in LA, so now we are planning a potluck at my house, to introduce me to them! Turns out I went to an Irish meet-up to connect with Ecuadoreans. The Grand Conjunction is stronger than ever with me, now that I have submitted my will to her.

I'd rather be a forest than a street.
Yes I would.
If I could,
I surely woud.

I'd rather feel the earth beneath my feet,
Yes I would.
If I only could,
I surely would.


And so, Ecuador calls...

On the work front, I have voiced over a dozen spots so far this month for United Health (the largest "health" carrier on the planet - creepy), so keep an ear out for me on your TVs, radios & intrawebs. And if you hear a mean girl on the radio, talking about free coffee at McDonald's, that'd be me too. Time to ramp up my charitable giving! (See previous post about working for evil corporations)

On the real estate front, I got two bits of good news. Firstly, I learned that I can cash in my Roth IRA, with no penalty, at any time. This increases my housing budget by $40k!
Secondly, the property I mentioned earlier, which really caught my eye, is still available! Seems the owners only go online a few times a month (can you imagine? what a dream), so I just heard back from them. It is much farther away from my friend and agent, Noelia, than I hoped for (8 hours, not 2 or 3), so I would be more isolated (click to see the satellite of the Amazon), and would have to rent it out to someone to look after it until I move down there full-time in 2014 or 15.

People often ask me what I plan to "do down there." I have many different answers to this question, two of which are, "Retire," and, "Same things I do here in LA - ride my bike, meditate, do yoga, play cello, read books, hang out in my hammock, prepare & eat meals, entertain Chimney Sweep, etc." Another answer I have is that I am feeling called to work in hospice.

As some of you know, I recently dated my first/last alcoholic (and a Marine to boot - ugh) - and it was one of the most traumatic experiences of my life. I grew up around the disease, so I never considered it something I needed to write someone off for. Some of my favorite people are alcoholics! However, they are in recovery - this man was decidedly not, getting black-out drunk on a regular basis. I have also since realized he has some serious sociopathic tendencies, which turns out is not so very rare in America (4%) - especially in the Marines.

Anyway, this alcoholic sociopath claims to be dying young (although, now I'm not so certain anything he ever told me was true). His impending death and complete lack of unwillingness to discuss it reminded me that, many years ago, I once thought I might like to work in hospice. I felt this calling for the first time after meeting Mary Mohs and Ron Valle, of The Awakening Center for Exploring Living & Dying, though my Vedic yoga tradition. Over a decade later, I am hearing the calling again. I want to help people die! Any takers?

Up next, I am flying to Sedona, to visit the director of a documentary I narrated this year, Change: The Life Particle Effect, and spend Thanksgiving week there. Will report more when I return!

Monday, November 4, 2013

I have been waiting until I had some new news to report to update, but then I saw this video on upworthy: The Upsetting Difference Between Men & Women, According to the World's Biggest Search Engine. Like a lot of things lately, it made me cry.

Until recently, I did not consider myself a feminist, because I didn't ever feel that my being a female impinged upon my freedom to be a successful, fully self-expressed person. (Like the folks "unaffected by racism," who are naive enough to believe we live in a post-racial world) I fancied myself more of a humanist. Not in the literal sense (maybe I should say human beingist), but in the sense that we are not "separate, but equal," we are simply, "equal." But, on a global scale, we are not equal. Not on the un-level playing field into which we were born. And, the older I get - the more experience points I amass - the more I come to terms with the fact that males & females are (physiologically) wired & (culturally) programmed so very differently. Those differences can be tiring and heartbreaking, disgusting and infuriating, and occasionally...beautiful.


I don't want to go off on a feminist rant. I imagine most of my readers are already well versed in the rationale, the statistics, the evidence, the personal experiences to grok that of which I speak.
I thought I should take this opportunity to make it clear to people why I am moving to Ecuador - or, more importantly, why I am moving away from the US; away from Hollywood; away from my successful career.

Just as I am finally fully waking up to the necessity of feminism, I am also coming to the brutal truth of the physical reality we humans have created on this planet. It. Is. Bleak. I don't need to post a bunch of links, articles, youtube videos, etc. to substantiate my assertion. The human population (primarily the western/developed world) has overshot the carrying capacity of the planet with it's rampant consumerism, toxic fuel production/consumption, incessant wars, and generally rapey mindset.

Americans make up 5% of the world's population, yet consume 20% of its energy. I feel I have done my part to get closer to that 5% mark (plant-based diet, car-free, not procreating, etc.), but I make a living hawking automobiles, petroleum and "healthcare." I have long since seen the irony in this, but have rationalized/justified it by saying, "If I don't take these gigs, some other actress will just fill my spot. However, when I do take the money, I am spending it on locally-grown organic produce, handmade one-of-a-kind dresses and custom-built bicycles." While I still stand by this, I think I would just as soon remove myself from the sick system.

"So why don't you just move to small-town America and start growing your own food?" Well, I would love to, except the US corporate/kleptocracy is making it increasingly difficult to do so - with legislation against subsistence farming, GMOs, fracking, etc. This country has become a downright creeper, and is only getting more sinister. Again, if you don't know what I am talking about, then you're probably following the wrong blog.

I had my share of "the good life" (42 years to be exact) - readily available fuel, food, water and (most importantly) entertainment at my fingertips. I have lived an extremely blessed, safe, easy, comfortable life. I just don't want to continue doing so on the backs of the bottom half of the world. So it's partially moving towards a simpler, more earth-centered lifestyle, as well as jumping the sinking ship. If there were a gender-balanced, nurturing-focused country on the planet, I would move there in a heartbeat. Ecuador seems to me one of the healthiest places left, so there I go.

Which brings me to this week's update:
I found yet another beauty of a home - that can accommodate 8!
Since they never responded to my inquiry, I am assuming the home has already sold. It does show me, however, what I am able to afford on my limited budget. I envision eventually being able to host 12 beings, so I have to keep it simple!

Also, my friend with whom I was planning to travel the country (not my real estate agent, but an old friend from college days) in search of our new home, has decided she cannot join me. Well, that throws a bit of a wrench in my plans, since I'm departing in a month and had planned it around her availability. sigh

Not to worry, I have spent a lifetime flying solo and am fully capable of doing so the rest of the way. I am extra grateful for Noelia's help at this point, since I just lost my translator as well. Anyone (Spanish-speaking) want to go to Ecuador with me next month? Better still, want to take a workshop where we learn how to build our earth home? Ahhh, adventure time!

And I cannot help but mention the 14,000 Hiroshimas hanging by their fingernails over in Japan. They begin moving the 1,500 spent fuel rods on Friday. Fingers (toes, legs, arms, eyes, ears and nostrils) crossed! Again, the Southern Hemisphere is looking quite a bit friendlier.

Intimations of Immortality from Recollections of Early Childhood, by William Wordsworth

...Our birth is but a sleep and a forgetting:
The Soul that rises with us, our life's Star,  60
        Hath had elsewhere its setting,
          And cometh from afar:
        Not in entire forgetfulness,
        And not in utter nakedness,
But trailing clouds of glory do we come  65
        From God, who is our home:
Heaven lies about us in our infancy!
Shades of the prison-house begin to close
        Upon the growing Boy,
But he beholds the light, and whence it flows,  70
        He sees it in his joy;
The Youth, who daily farther from the east
    Must travel, still is Nature's priest,
      And by the vision splendid
      Is on his way attended;  75
At length the Man perceives it die away,
And fade into the light of common day...


Friday, October 25, 2013

Interesting revelations since last week.

First of all, the Vilcabamba house. I was (nearly) ready to send my life savings down to the Canadian sellers, never having set foot in the country, let alone the house. Wisely, my real estate agent in Ecuador, Noelia*, had me request all the documentation on the property. As soon as she saw it, several red flags went up. She is convinced the property does not belong to the Canadians - that the gringos have been swindled by the locals. Es posible. Meanwhile, the Canadians are talking to their legal team to confirm their rightful ownership. For now, I have put my housing search on hold.

My original plan was to spend December down there with Noelia, shopping for my new home. When this stunning Vilcabamba home came up, a slight urgency came over me to snap it up before anyone else did. But, when I reminded myself that when my home presents itself, no one else will be able to snap it up, as it is my home. Just like the Cat Shack, my Hollywood home.



So, I am sticking with my December plan. Which brings me to, Goddess of the Week...*Noelia. Noelia reached out to me a few months ago, when I mentioned I was considering moving to Ecuador, on my friend & environmental truth-sayer/bell-ringer, Guy McPherson's blog, Nature Bats Last. Since then, we have shared countless emails, videos and long, deep phone conversations about Ecuador, the current environmental crisis, impending economic collapse, and - most importantly - spirituality. She is my New Best Friend in Ecuador.

Noelia has generously offered to take a few weeks off with me, over the holidays, to familiarize me with my soon-to-be new home! It's a relatively new home for her as well, as she is from Argentina, but has lived in Brazil, South Africa & The States. (Anywhere I missed, Noelia?) The universe continues to work in beautifully mysterious ways for me.

I have to admit, when I found out the Vilcabamba property may not be available to me, I was mostly relieved. Relieved to not have to make a quick decision, but also relieved to not have to live in Vilcabamba. One thing I know about Vilcabamba is a lot of older gringos have been retiring there - many of whom are there for inexpensive retirement and nice weather, as opposed to for the people, the experience, and the culture of Ecuador. These are the kinds of folks who wouldn't be troubling themselves to learn the language, and are primarily seeking out, "their own kind." Bah-humbug.

Another thing it doesn't have is...Noelia! She is an 8-hour drive from there, so we'd hardly ever see each other. So, I have a new list of ideal traits for my new home:
Within 2-hours drive of Noelia's town, La Libertad (I don't want to live on the ocean, or else I would just move there);
On/near a lake. I come from the land of 10,000 lakes (11,842 actually), and - more than rivers & oceans - I looove the feeling around still bodies of water.
Speaking of flowing water, a waterfall would be a bonus.
I want to be in a town, or near a small city (smaller than 80k, which I based on Duluth, MN - one of my favorite small cities). I decidedly don't want to be in/near a large city. I've done it most of my life and, as wonderful as that has been, I am over it.


My spirit animal is the hummingbird (tell me if you see the resemblance). I am surrounded by them, and constantly encounter them - both in person & online. They even buzz around me while I meditate each morning, on my back porch.

This week, I decided to google "Ecuador hummingbirds."
"Ecuador, which is approximately the size of the US state of Colorado, has within its boundaries over 130 of the world's hummingbird species. In other words, a country with about 0.2% of the earth's landmass has about 40% of all the hummingbird species. Since these little birds have been known to migrate over 4000 miles over the course of the year, it is in my opinion obvious, that they have chosen to live in Ecuador because they really like it there." As Rachel says, "You're going home!"

Finally, Ecuador is planning a Commons-based Economy.
"The concept of Good Living necessarily resorts to the idea of ‘us.’  The community shelters, protects, demands; it is the basis for the reproduction of that collective subject that each and every one of us is.  That is why humans are conceived as one part of a whole that cannot be understood only as a sum of its parts.  The whole is present in each being and each being in the whole.  ‘The universe is permanent; it has always existed and will always be here; it is born and dies in itself and only time can change it’ (Kichwa saying).  This is why harm to nature is to harm ourselves.  Sumak kawsay, or life to the fullest, transmits this cosmosvision…..”

Friday, October 18, 2013

Día uno en la Terra Nova

Day one on the New Earth.
I know - it's mixed Latin & Spanish. I deliberated over that one, but Nueva Tierra del Corazón just doesn't have the same ring to it. Nor does Nova Terra de Cursu Cordis. Leave it to me to have to justify my poetic license.

To start, this blog post is dedicated to Doctor Laura Koniver, The Intuition Physician - a woman I have never met in person, but with whom I resonate through lifetimes of understanding. Like me, she is a woman of service. She is so focused on how she can help others that she often neglects her own needs, and maybe even denies her own infinite power.

Here is part of the email I sent her that inspired her to inspire me to launch my first ever blog:
The women in my life have been everything to me, and all I want to do is give give give to them! I am setting up a sanctuary in Ecuador. Any woman I know is welcome to come for a week, a month, or a lifetime. For now, it's only a two bedroom, but I plan to expand into areas around there, so I can host more and more people. I want to work in hospice. The planet is dying, we are all dying - let's celebrate! I want to help put people's minds at ease over the fact that there is an end in sight. Because what comes after "the end" ... Well, only time will tell, but what I see in my mind's eye, puts life on earth to shame!

Her response: Oh my goodness Catherine -- if ever a woman could heal the world, it is you.  I LOVE your email -- you could cut and paste that right into a blog post -- it was AMAZING.  Especially the line "the world is dying -- let's celebrate!"  I LOVE IT!  This joy in reality is what the whole world needs.  Reading your words makes me feel more like myself, and I'm sure so many other women would feel the same.  I'm so glad you had the idea to start the blog!  ...  Catherine, I would be your biggest fan, to witness your goals, your dreams, your move, the unfolding community you create -- and years from now let's host a healing retreat out of your home -- can I be a guest presenter?  :)  I LOVE YOUR ENERGY and your beautiful vision... let me know if you get a blog going, would love to be a fan (and already am...)... xoxo, Laura

Whenever I get immediate feedback like this from the Universe that all of my hard work is paying off, all I can do is respond truthfully: I am simply a mirror.
Yes, Laura - we can absolutely host a healing retreat out of my Southern Hemispheric home, with you as Guest Presenter of Honor. My new home welcomes you already.

To clarify, for those who don't know me, I have been called by Source (you know - the source of all things) to South America. It began with a trip deep into the Amazon Jungle. This year, it whispered Ecuador in my ear - over, and over, and over again. So, my current plan is to:
spend three weeks in December exploring the country, to find my new home;
buy property before January 1;
find someone to look after the property while I return to The States (any takers?);
spend 2014 enjoying my last year in 'merica, working (if you can even call what I do work!) to earn more $$, for the purpose of better feathering my beautiful Ecuadorean nest;
move south of the Equator sometime in 2015.

Here is the current apple of my eye: http://quito.es.craigslist.org/reo/4073408904.html
I am chatting with the sellers and my real estate agent (more about her in the next post!) today.
This blog will serve to keep people abreast of my adventure of moving my life, over the next two years, down to Ecuador. I will choose a different inspirational soul as the focus of my dedication each post - which I aspire to do at least once/week.

Come, my lambs - follow me...