If you don’t want to read or want to listen to the audio/video version of this post, you can take a look at the video:
It’s now been three full months since I’ve started the LIFE Project.
I’ve learned so much: lots of walking, meditation, finding myself in ways I never thought possible.
I’ve decluttered, detoxed, and said daily affirmations.
All this is adding up to a life-changing experience. So much is happening – both spiritually, physically, and mentally.
Here’s a quick re-cap of June:
There were 6 days I didn’t get to 10,000 steps, but all of them were because we were out on the lake, in the garden, mountain biking or something else equivalent.
I’m not sure why the app doesn’t count the first day of the month. It did that last month, too. (When I snapped this photo, it was Jun 30 and I was still working on my steps.)
I use my phone as a backup, but I often don’t like to take it with me, and if I forget to sync it with my smartwatch, my phone won’t register the steps…
Gallons of water drank:
Glasses of wine not drunk:
Cups of caffeinated tea not drunk:
“Conversations with God” – one that speaks a lot about consciousness and echoes what other personal/spiritual development books have touched upon: we are what we think, what we think we create, and because we create, we create our reality. The universe is a “copy machine” of what thoughts we put out.
For more about the “detox” part of last month, take a look at I drank a gallon of water a day for 30 days. Here’s what I learned.
July: A Sacred Travel Month
For the month of July, the following is what I aim to do as part of the LIFE Project:
- travel to sacred (and other powerful) places in the northeastern part of the United States
- go on a personal (silent?) retreat for 4 days, 3 nights at a sanctuary in North Carolina
- travel to other sacred places in North Carolina (where I live): Pilot Mountain, Judaculla Rock, Mt. Richland-Balsam
- work on getting Tree of Life Mindfulness Journal finished and published
- Begin new book about sacred travel
- work on reducing personal expenses and simplifying
- Read “You’re a Badass” by Jen Sincero
Traveling to the Northeast
Last year, I went on another trip to the western part of the US to several sacred places: Bighorn Medicine Wheel, The Devil’s Tower, Thermopolis, Deadwood, The Badlands, and Spearfish Canyon.
That trip forever changed how I want/need to travel. I have this need to incorporate sacred travel into my travels, but now with another twist: to write about it.
I have never been to the northeastern part of the US.
We’re planning on camping our way through, just like we did last year. This is for two reasons: camping gets you back to nature and you can do more things for less money that way.
There is just something about waking up and opening the tent to the sights and sounds of a dewy morning, surrounded and hugged by nature’s abundance.
We are planning on going through the following states:
Getting from North Carolina to Rhode Island will take two days because of the need to camp along the way. We’ll stop in Pennsylvania the first night and stay in Michaux State Forest.
Then, we’ll arrive in Rhode Island to finally meet Clark from the Wakefield Doctine and Denise from Girlie on the Edge. I have never met them in person, but I have known these two for years and can’t wait to give them real hugs in lieu of the virtual ones.
The day after we arrive, we’ll stop at the Newport Tower – it’s a mystery on how it got there; early settlers are reported to not have built that structure, but no one knows for sure where it came from.
From Rhode Island, will pass through Massachusetts. Originally, we were going to go see Walden Pond.
However, in wanting to keep this trip nature-focused and away from large populations of people, we decided to skip this one. Not that being around people is bad. But as an introvert, and also as someone who is honest seeking type of journey, I have elected to stay away from large cities in population centers. At least for this trip.
There are two main places we’d like to see: Bar Harbor and Acadia National Park. We will stay two days a campsite near Acadia national Park. This will give us a chance to explore Bar Harbor, as well as Acadia national Park itself. There are many trails, ponds, beaches, and opportunities to find serenity.
We were going to go see Mount Katahdin in Baxter State Park. However, our dog is going to be with us, and no dogs are allowed in the park. Furthermore, getting to Mount Katahdin, upon research, is more than were able to do you on a trip where we are going and seeing different places quickly.
It is an eight hour hike to the summit of Mount Katahdin. One day, we will go back and see this, but for now, this will remain a sacred place that remains to be seen.
Crossing over to New Hampshire from Maine, we would like to explore the White Mountains. At the time we are there, the road to Mount Washington will be closed. That means we will be able to see the highest peak in New Hampshire; however, there are other peaks nearby, and beautiful wilderness. We will have to play this state a little by ear, but it would be cool to climb wildcat Mountain which has an altitude of 4000 feet above sea level.
I admit, after growing up in the Rocky Mountains, where I lived at the foot of Pike’s Peak for the first 21 years of my life, whose summit is over 14,000 feet above sea level, 4000 feet does seem much smaller.
Living in the Appalachian Mountains however, it’s all relative. I have come to love these old mountains just as much as the ones back in Colorado where I’m from.
We plan on staying at a ski area where they have campsites near some good mountain biking, and other hiking trails.
We had also planned on going to see America’s Stonehenge, Mystery Hill, but it is so far south, it’s almost in Massachusetts, and there is no good camping nearby.
Well, there may be good camping, but I’m gonna let you in on a little secret. There is a highly useful website called freecampsites.net that tells you where all kinds of wonderfully free camping is all over the United States.
We have mapped out a number of free campsites. A couple of them required a permit or reservation, but as of right now in our planning process, it looks like were going to spend somewhere between 20 and $40 for our lodging on this trip.
This is intentional. Hubby and I love to camp, and part of my own requirement for sacred travel is getting close to nature. I have been a lifelong camper. It is something that I’ve always loved to do ever since I was very young.
Honestly, once you have a roof over your head, whether it’s a tent or another accommodation, some fire for heat, some warm food, and adequate clothing for the weather, you’re good to go. A human really doesn’t need much more than that.
It really teaches you about what you really need to survive, and what’s really important. That’s part of why I love camping so much.
after spending some time in New Hampshire, we will head west into Vermont.
I have always wanted to visit Stowe, Vermont, as it is a place where folks go to ski, and mountain bike. They also have a legendary haunted bridge that seems like it would be really neat to visit.
The backdrop to Stowe is Mount Mansfield. This is another peak that is over 4000 feet above sea level.
Next, we plan on going a little farther south to a town called Lincoln, Vermont. From our research on it, it looks like this is a place that draws folks who are interested in contemplation and balance.
Near to Lincoln, there is Mount Abraham. In centuries past, it was a Native American Indian meeting place and considered very sacred.
The next stop is nearby Bartlett falls before we had a little farther south to our next camping destination called Bingo Brook.
Before heading back home, we want to take in the scenery of upstate New York. We plan on camping for a two days near Lake Placid.
These sites are in the Adirondacks.
To be sure there is a lot to see in the Northeast. We have about 10 days to do all this traveling, and so won’t be able to see more of the landmarks that were interested in; however, we will achieve our goal of creating a sacred journey by staying in nature and visiting places that have special significance.
In fact, a sacred place doesn’t have to be world-renowned. A sacred place can be anywhere that makes you slow down and start thinking about all the things that are really important.
After seeing New York, we will begin our journey back to North Carolina.
Traveling within North Carolina
Mountain Light Sanctuary
Once we get back, a few days later, I’m headed to Mountain Light Sanctuary for a personal retreat.
It’s a very Zen place. I went there a few years ago for a work retreat and loved it. I hardly got to explore as we did work-related activities and only stayed one night.
But, after going on a Buddhist retreat last year, I thought it would be really good to go on a personal retreat to do some self exploration, centering, and getting to know myself better.
I will be there for four days and three nights engaged with the following:
- hiking in the nearby mountains
- exploring the gardens – traditional, Japanese
- sit in contemplation in the sacred circle
- walking the trails
- nap in a hammock
- photograph flowers and beautiful landmarks
- explore the “Divine Feminine Grotto” on the premises
Since talking about this, hubby says he’s going to do a solo retreat, too. Probably sometime in August.
After doing this last year, I’m a fan of the yearly solo trip to recharge the heart. Jesus did it. Buddha did it. World leaders the world over, especially spiritual ones, have done this for centuries.
You learn things about yourself. You can explore ideas on your own time. It gives you perspective. It opens you up to new experiences. I’m doing it to expand my soul – to explore the sacred in the confines of my mind but in a natural environment.
I haven’t yet decided if I will make it a silent retreat. On the one hand, it was so good last year to engage in silence for five days like I did. Once I get going, I can become the little garrulous socialite (until my introvert meter burns red and I go kaput and have to recharge).
It made me get to know people in a very different, more intuitive way. There was no awkward social talk. It was just silence and I welcomed it – once I got used to it. I remember the first day or two, I felt like all the words in my head were going to pop out and bounce all over the floor like little replicating ants that couldn’t contain themselves. Eventually they went back into their little hill and settled down.
But then my mind slowed down…it’s wonderful when that happens. It’s like you transcend the now and enter a silent dimension reserved just for getting to know yourself.
On the other hand, it can be an opportunity to meet other people and chat with folks from other walks of life on similar experiences. I guess I’ll just “intuit” that one and decide when I get there.
There’s a few other places that I want to visit in North Carolina that I have never visited before.
Mount Richland at Balsam
Pilot Mountain and Mount Richland at Balsam are two places that are mentioned in the 108 sacred places book that I have. Judaculla Rock has ancient petroglyphs all over that have been there for thousands of years.
As I visit each place in North Carolina, I will do a little write up about it, especially in my journal.
In fact, I plan on journaling heavily, creating videos that I will put on YouTube as I have Internet access and time, and I will share photos on Instagram.
Tree of Life Mindfulness Journal
I’m still building the journal itself with mindful quotes, putting in the drawings from the coloring book (but in a modified way and am adding extra drawings, too), writing prompts, haikus and more.
Once I’m finished, I’ll create a similar cover to the coloring book, and get it ready for publication.
When I did the coloring book, it took nearly two months to format, scan in the images, digitally remaster them, and more. I anticipate a more streamlined process this time, but I’m thinking it will take at least a month.
I’m aiming for a publication date of late July or early August. With all the travel, however, I’m formally giving myself permission to publish in August as an amendment to the project.
The Books I’m Writing:
Using last year’s trip as a point of departure, I will journal and intensively document my travels in the upcoming month and turn that into a book.
I will hopefully publish within a couple months, complete with photos, tips and tricks for doing your own sacred travel.
In addition, I am going to commit myself to writing at least three short stories that inspire. I really want to write visionary fiction, but in combination with the project, journaling, and working on the mindfulness journal, I haven’t been able to commit to a book just yet. But three short stories? Absolutely!
I will also finish more drawings for the journal. It’s based off of the Tree of Life coloring book, but I also want there to be some special, original goodies in there.
All right, here’s the big announcement: the grant that was funding my job as a director was not renewed. This means that my last day of official employment was 23 June. All along, I had a weird feeling that this would happen.
This means I’m really evaluating expenses and figuring out what steps to take next.
But, I see this as an opportunity to really go for it: to publish, to get certifications in mindfulness, to keep drawing and photographing beautiful things and hopefully inspire others.
During the course of this month, I want to be smart about living within my current means and cutting expenses where necessary. This also means a process of simplification.
In the future, if I need to do work other than writing for this website, it will be work that still leaves me with energy to work here and keep on publishing.
I had set out to read “108 Sacred Places,” and I’ll be consulting that book this month a lot. However, I’ve read everything I need/want to already.
When I made the video above, I still wasn’t sure what I was going to read. In light of my intentional path and working on mind, body, spirit, I’m going to read, “You Are a Badass” by Jen Sincero.
I heard her on a podcast and she’s phenomenal! So, I had to get her book, too.
- 10K steps per day, unless travel greatly interferes with that (will use a LIFE day)*
- 1 hour of meditation per day, unless travel greatly interferes with that (will use a LIFE day)*; may need to use guided meditation with headphones or split up the times I meditate to accommodate a traveling schedule
- daily journaling – written in my notes app, and then transfer to Penzu as I have access and time
*Throughout the last three months, if there’s ever a time where I don’t meet my daily requirements of steps, meditation, journaling, mantras, affirmations, or the themed activity, I note that: each one activity does not equal an entire LIFE day, but when they add up to five missed activities, that counts as one day.
So far, I haven’t missed any of the LIFE project intentions: I’ve been consistent with meditation, and the days where I don’t get 10K steps, I’ve made up for it by getting exercise in other ways. I have missed a couple days of journaling, but then made up for it the next day. I haven’t missed reciting mantras or affirmations, yet, either.
So, I still have a bank of ten LIFE days. When I planned this project, I knew that the days of travel were where I was doing to need to use these, or if I ever became ill.
I imagine it’s going to be hard to meditate while traveling with husby – if I miss those meditations, but manage to complete all the other activities, five missed meditations, for example, will count as one LIFE day.