There’s been generous amounts of “flow” this year, things have been coming together, unfolding…. and the synchronicity! Crazy amounts of the standard 11:11, magical, only-I-would-get-it type of bullshit going on around the clock. 2015 is worth talking about… but not too much.

Dude, the level poverty that we were thriving at in 2014 is award winning. No one wiped our asses, no one housed or fed us… well, we did have food stamps for about 2 weeks but overall there was no Uncle Sam’s credit card involved.  But hey, I’m not shaming your game.

When I was a youth of America I read Evasion (3 times), crimethic, anarchist, anti-$, vegan propaganda. My ego desperately believed that I could one day live without all the bullshit; no forced job, no elusive money, none of the man’s system. Sure it’s all gray area but I was young and my heart understood what my head was vaguely thinking. Looking back I think the indirect goal was to live with no strings attached unless they were in my favor 😉

So for many years I clung to this mindset. I didn’t question my own assumptions. But even worse I didn’t consider it valid that these beautiful and pure thoughts of mine would denature after sitting in my mind for more than minute & in morph into toxin death. I think the process was THINK ABOUT SHITTY THINGS IN THE WORLD & ALL OF THE ASSHOLES WHO DON’T CARE—> then randomly feel depressed and suicidal for reasons that I do not know. The days of idealism were pretty awful. Why won’t everyone stop killing animals and using oil and supporting war?! Ha!

The first big shift was when I discovered 25 (and counting) major myths to veganism and had to jump ship to that decade of false assumptions (I love you, Vegan Friends, don’t read into that last sentence!). The second major shift was when we saved $24,000 in 18 months while working bullshit jobs to buy our Tiny House & Land. The plan was to cut the strings and learn to fly on the way down. By the time we saved our first $8,000 I was in living in two worlds. For the first time I had money (which in theory was bad) while working towards “freedom” (which in theory is good). Having money didn’t change me, it made it even more clear that I had no idea of where this “me” even was.  I know I’m not my clothes & car, duh. I would think I’m my thoughts & values but when I meditate or create a space between “me” and my thoughts it doesn’t seem like I’m really there either.

Moving to the land pretty much broke me as a person for reasons that have little to do with the land. When we sold the land I wiped the slate clean, for better or worse. I would rebuild my values and priorities from the ground up. I would move slowly through life in order to feel instead of think. This was the year of anti-logic in a sense. Shit got real, shit got extreme. For months we were eating on $1-$2 a day. Then we mastered the ropes of dumpster diving with the help of the diving community and lived 100% off of trash for 9 months straight. Zero $ for food. 2014 I think we earned $800 a month! We’d be rich if we were homeless but we had an apartment, phone bill, internet bill, electric bill, washing clothes, buying toilet paper. We weren’t living on the streets and we weren’t burdens to our family or the state so our asses very carefully got by. Because we lived so low key and just took what the trash would give us I had never felt so relaxed in my life. I was not stressed at all, I was rolling with the punches and that felt amazing.

But when the 2015 New Year was on the horizon I had a moment of clarity. I recalled that I had a brief run in with magical thinking  right before I met Mark. While magical thinking had delivered on some pretty big requests it had also distorted my ability to not act like a total avant garde douche bag. I also thought about my attraction to “Doing More With Less”. I let all of these things sit in my mind and came to the conclusion that I could use focus (aka magical thinking) to simply intended for more money. That my love for “do more with less” has morphed into “I need to have less to do more”. My ego needed to be put it check. Being proud of doing more with less is a great when it’s your first day on the playground but I’m trusting that the skill is there, no need to keep sharping the sword. Time to grow up! And dream big! I’m wishing for 2015 as the year of $$$.

New Year’s Eve 2015: Mark is with his friends and I’m alone having the world’s biggest pity party. I fall asleep that night and have the most suggestive dream ever. DREAM: I’m in a situation where a stranger is complaining about a valid mistake I’ve made. It never crosses my mind to advocate my intention. Instead I completely sympathy with the offended , I am the world’s biggest piece of shit. I’m a fraud and the person berating me knows it. I feel like I want to give that person the world, I want them to know that I never meant to offend them so badly. I want to make up for my mistake X 100. Then someone else shows up and tells me that a $10 item I sold them was damaged. My feelings are amplified, I give them way more money than the item is worth, I’m throwing the money at them before they even ask for it. I’m overextending myself. My stress builds to the edge of a melt down and a large group of guys are now surrounding me. They have guns and my nerves can’t take the pressure any more so I yell, “Shoot me” and so they do. The gun goes off and I’m hit in the mouth. The moment it hits me I feel knocked back into reality and completely regret what I said. I didn’t really mean to say “shoot me” I just couldn’t handle the feelings anymore… but I got what I asked for. I’m in shock, I bleed out and die. Moments later I’m barreling through a black tunnel at the speed of light til dropped back into my body. To that I wake up. Something inside of me feels dead. The part of me that wants to overextend myself no longer gives a fuck. Things come up in the coming weeks and I don’t have to rationalize what it means to me, I simply couldn’t care less. I feel out of my nature and the lack of identity feels good.

With that dream 2015 is off to an interest start. I figured I would simply focus, I’d hold the thought of us having money & freedom and let the magic run it’s course. A series of small light bulbs went off in my head, complete elementary stuff on how to improve our ebay business. At the end of 2014 I walked away from dumpster diving, it was too much of my focus and identity. I could tell I needed to shift gears. That’s where food stamps made it’s brief entrance. At the time we had over 800 listings up on ebay, all stuff from the trash. Up until that point I was simply rolling with the punch, taking what the trash would give us to sell. It had gotten us by for 18 months but the light bulbs going off reveled that we could be more strategic with our business. Quitting dumpster diving was essential. Following each small light bulb step quickly lead me to taking down about 500 listings. Right when we were approved for food stamps I got word of CD Source needing temporary employees to help the permanent closing of their store. Mark started working there and our food stamps were instantly cut off, Uncle Sam’s food credit card lasted 2 weeks. The closing of the cd store took longer than expected so for months we had real income (think minimum wage-ish). Since we had mastered poverty Mark gave me full reign to take his earning and invest them into our new ebay business model. I had boxed up 500 items in at the end of January and had about 2 weeks of trying out our new business plan when the results started to come in. It was shocking. For that last 18 months we gross about $800 month with 800 listings. When we reworked our business we sold $800 our first week with a little over 300 listings. Magical thinking, game on.

When Mark’s temporary job was coming to it’s end I parted ways with my year long part time ice cream shop job. (thanks Carnival Barker!) It really seemed that Mark and I could make better money and have a more flexible lifestyle if we kept our focus on ebay. Money & freedom, that’s the plan. More money, more taxes.

We finally started making enough money to no longer need our roommate. The boxes of ebay stuff sat in messy piles for months. The first weekend that the weather was nice we dragged everything out to the lawn and set up shop. The whole morning I was obsessing on my high school best friend, Heather. Heather’s mom was the most ghetto person I’ve ever personally known. She would steal from other people’s garage sales to sell shit at her garage sale. I thought about Heather and her mom all morning while setting up our garage sale. Actually, Heather had been on my mind a lot for the last 18 months. Right before we left our land I got in touch with Heather and told her that I really wanted to write about her crazy life. When I was 14 years old I felt really attached to Heather. I’ve always had best friends but this feeling of friendship felt different. And as the saying goes, “The flame that burns twice as bright burns half as long”. Within 2 years of us being friends I really felt we were going in two different directions in life while my previous best friends I could still connect with. Even though we saw each other sparingly after that I didn’t even consider removing my loyalty for Heather out of my head. I loved Heather. That morning of our garage sale Heather was front and center on my mind. Sitting at our table of junk I got a call, Heather had been murdered. She left 5 kids behind. Then it seemed really clear why I had such an urgent need to see her those last 18 months even thought it had been 15 years since we were really close. My worry for her kids had me in a tailspin for months. Thank god for the kid’s father, he’s truly the world’s number 1 dad. If I had a million dollar I would give it to Julio.

Heather dies and I’m at a loss. Before her funeral arrangements are made Mark’s Grandmother dies. Now there will be a Two Funeral Friday. Marks grandmother in the morning and Heather’s that same evening. Seeing someone’s young kids stand next to their young dead mother at the funeral was completely awful. In the back of my head I remember that a few months before hand I had gotten together with Heather and we recorded a couple hours of her telling me her life story. We get home from the day of funerals and I bury myself in the pile of blankets that is my bed. I start crying really fucking hard because I miss Heather and because I just realized why, in part, I’ve loved her so much. Heather was one of the few people who would chat with me, really let me ask her a million questions about her life while giving me very particular body language and posture that my subconscious took as a sign of her really listening to me. At 14 I felt heard by Heather in a way that pretty much felt like love to my little teen soul. Does that sound crazy that I took something so subjective as posture and put some much into it? When it clicked I was almost taken aback. So chit chat & feeling heard are the corner stones to my loyalty!? Okay, duly noted.

Shortly after Heather dies I end a friendship with a chick who viewed me as her BFF. After a gut wrenching conversation of her white self telling me about awful white privilege I was deeply annoyed for days. While that talk was one of the last straws it had zero in common with the other straws that had slowly been breaking my back during our friendship. Why would some lame conversation, shit that I used to believe, get under my skin so much? It’s really tricky. She’s the wittiest, funniest, most entertaining & talented person on the face of the planet. I think I’ve learned more about everything, including myself, from being friends with her…. but shit just wasn’t right. I think it was 2014 when I interview my friend Jess (Jess is not the BFF I’m referring to) after she got back from being a train tramp. The audio “13: LIVING AUTHENTICALLY & GENUINELY: how to disappoint and empower loved one”  is about Energy vs Form. If I had ever come across that concept before then it must have gone in one ear and out the other. The things Jess said felt like she was talking directly to me. For so long I had assigned people, places, things and foods very black and white meaning and written off the more subtle feelings. Jess talked about the obvious positive or negative attributes to people or situation so you’d feel foolish to not act logically but logic can mask the energy and energy matters. She talked a lot about those dynamics in respect to Her Husband vs Her Boyfriend, husband sounds right but boyfriend feels right. It’s tricky. I really encourage everyone to go to CakeorDeathRadio and find that interview (my sister Bonnie’s Autism interview is on there too). So some petty shit was under my skin, I feel like I seldom even notice petty shit but something was going on. I mentally suspended the loyalty and admiration that I had for my friend. I needed to objectively figure out what was going on and not take her explanation of shit into account. What does it all mean to me? I was putting up some serious mental wall, it was pure dogma. I really didn’t want to think about what my problems with her might be but the irritated feelings didn’t go away. After many long bike rides I remembered shit she’s said & how she treats people, mostly men, and I simply asked myself how I felt about her behavior. The truth was I felt like she was endless disrespectful. Owning up to that was liberating. I hadn’t considered those feeling before because she justifies her life much differently than I do. But I’ve been way overextending myself for years trying to make sense of her and her ways. So it turned out to have actually have nothing to do with that stupid conversation, it was the canary in the coal mine giving me a heads up, it’s time for shit to go down. I keep friends for life… so 2015 was a risky year.

Half way through the year it becomes clear to me that I was baiting certain people into being my friend and talking with me on facebook. If they post some lame shit and I know it’s the only subject they want to talk about I’d engage them. You only want to talk about fruit then I’ll talk about fruit with you…now you’re suppose to like me! No, it’s not that I actually think anyone should be talking about fruit but you’re putting it out there; your approval depends on fruit. So I chose to play along. She’s a person I wanted acceptance and approval from for a while, I’ll admit it. It’s pathetic but until I became aware the game I was playing it wasn’t resolving itself. How did I resolve that? I acknowledge that I was needing acceptance and approval and it was going to have to come from myself. Corny but true. I ended that fake friendship, I’m sure that chick feels as much relief about that as I do. It was long over due and I feel bad about pestering her for so long. But I’m feeling fine a million times better now.

Shortly after that another friend I’ve been good with for 15 years started posting shit on facebook that I got really butt hurt about. The shit he was saying wasn’t anything I hadn’t thought about a million times before but if you know I eat meat, you know I’m married and you know I’m on your friends list then when you post anti-marriage and anti-meat shit I want to know how much you’re thinking of me when you’re clicking “post”. I’ve posted passive aggressive shit in the past when I didn’t respect some  folks that I had grown apart from and I secretly wanted them to see certain posts. I know what’s up. It’s so embarrassing that I would post shit targeting to my friends. If I don’t like them then I need to move on or grow the hell up. I wouldn’t say that bridge is burned because I like this guy a whole lot and internet personalities are the WORSE way to draw conclusions on people. So what I took from my fake-friendship-trolling and getting butt hurt about bad science memes on facebook was that I was OVEREXTENDING my energy. It was total epiphanic (real word). The thought started like this: If I took all of the energy I put into trying to be friends with people I want to understand me, trying to understand the rationale of people who do fucked up shit with a straight face, getting butt hurt over opinions & ignorance AND INSTEAD put it into starting a business, writing a play, working on ebay, building a ship in a bottle, sewing myself a new wardrobe, learning underwater basket weaving, etc THEN I’d be rich and have something to show for myself…maybe self mastery or inner peace. Who fucking knows because I’m too busy playing on facebook all day while feeling lonely. <— No more of that, no thank you.

After that I vowed to avoid facebook feed. I log in, post my latest recipe video & picture on my Rich Bitch Cooking facebook page, engage strictly with message and the funny shit my younger sister tags me in to check out *then* get the hell out. I will engage with people, so feel free to message me, but not the feed that’s just posted out there so anonymously. Oh, you saw that? And that hurt your feelings? No my problem. <— I’m not going to thicken my skin, I’m going to refocus my priorities. 99% of posts are not so dramatic but one bad post is too much. The new priorities became lots of reading. Man, I guess I hadn’t  really gotten lost in a good book. For too many years I’d only read health & diet books so when I got over “clean eating” I pretty much stopped reading all together. But when I get over facebook I found reading to be a really fulfilling thing. I’m picky but a really good novel or biography, man, I’ll read 6 hours every night. 2015 has been my absolute least social year and by far the least lonely. Yay! Plus I started journaling and doing yoga and shit! I was feeling on point.

So 2015 has been on the up and up. Regardless of the form the energy has been perfect…. so I hate to end this yearly reflection with this story.

December 9th I awoke to my phone ringing at 7am. I never get calls that early, I seldom hear the phone ringing at that hour because I’m asleep. It says my older sister Bonnie’s name so  I pick up. Thank god I pick up. It’s my oldest nephew Jerzy. He’s never called me before so I’m thrown completely off guard. He says something but I have no idea what he said. I said, “wait, what?” then in the exact calm tone he repeats precisely what I just told me, “I found my mom stiff on the floor, she’s ice cold, her lips are blue. I tried to feel for a pulse but couldn’t feel anything.” It felt like my heart completely exploded. “Are you serious?” My body knew it was true and started shaking uncontrollably before I even finished the sentence. He said, “yes., I found her….” then repeated to me again everything he told me 2 times before. “Did you call 911?” “I don’t know how, can you help me?” “Hang on, let me get a piece of paper” Mark jumps out of bed beside me, runs to the other room and grabs a pen. He tells me his apartment address and I tell him that I’m heading over from the city to the suburbs in rush hour traffic but I’ll get there as soon as I can. I call 911 and they transfer me to the 911 in city. I tell them that I think my sister is dead and that it’s likely her 3 special needs kids are there alone.

We jump in the car. My mind is calm but my body can’t stop shaking. 10 minutes into the drive it dawns on me that I have to call my mom. I can’t just shown up on her door step with Bonnie’s kids and tell her. I need to give her time. I call my mom. She normally picks up with a worried tone but today she sounds more causal. “Yes?” “Mom, I think Bonnie’s died”. She sounds like all of the air had been kicked out of her. “What? Why?” Her voice was so tiny and she sounded so panicked. “I don’t know. Jerzy called and told me that she was ice cold so I called 911…..Ice cold, there’s no way around that, is there?” She quietly said, “I’m going to get off the phone to tell your father.” We wait in traffic and the closer we get to Bonnie’s exit I feel like I’m going to shit myself. I run into a gas station, shaking  but probably looking calm to everyone else. I’m scared to go to her apartment. We pull up and there’s a couple cop cars out front and the front door is open. The second I see the cops I feel so much relief, like I’m not all alone to figure this out. I’m so thankful they were there first. Jerzy walks out to and looks calm. The cops talk to me while Reyna walks in and out of the apartment playing quietly by herself and Xzavion sits outside on a chair near the open front door. He has dried tears down the side of his face but he won’t give me much eye contact. Jerzy keeps repeating to me the details of what he’s saw, his mother  found dead on the floor beside her breathing treatment machine. I want more than anything to not have to picture it but I don’t want to tell him to stop. He was being so calm, I didn’t want to break the spell. Within the first hour of me being there I walked passed the 3 cops standing front of the closed door where my sister lays died on the other side so that I shit my brains out… I do this about ten times. My mind is calm, my body is not okay. I try calling my younger sister, Heather, but she’s a sleep. She calls me back, I tell her what happened but have to get off the phone to talk with another officer. He’s asking me questions that I don’t know the answer to. I offer to call my mom for him so and do so & hand him the phone. The first thing he says to my mom is, “I’m sorry for your loss” then asks her the questions he asked me. Maybe an hour goes by and Bonnie’s husband, Travis, pulls up. Travis went to work that morning at 5 am. He got a call from the police telling him what happened and to come home if able to leave work. Travis later told me that he collapsed on the floor when he got the call. The whole drive home he was sure it was a dream. When he pulls up to Jerzy, Mark and Me outside with cop cars all around he starts crying again. He asks Jerzy where Reyna is and Jerzy explains that he put cartoons on in the back bedroom to keep the 2 younger ones distracted. More time goes by and I’m crawling out of my skin. I just want to take the kids and go to my parents house. I feel so lost. Travis’s brother and sister show up and are hugging Travis and the kids. Travis’s dad and step mother were catching a flight out of Mexico and should be with Travis asap. Then the van pulls up to take Bonnie’s body away. The kids are all outside at this point and Jerzy says, “take the kids so they don’t see this”. I was blown away! “Who are you?!”, I thought. It was like he had matured that day in front of my eyes. It was amazing, I had completely underestimated him.

After that we were free to go. The two little ones rode with us and Jerzy stayed with Travis. 30 minutes from Bonnie’s apartment we were at my mom and dad’s house. My mom played it tough because the kids were there, no tears. Later she told me that she was heartbroken. Shortly after we arrived Travis, his sister and Jerzy are with us at my parents house. I take Jerzy to Mcdonald’s and we buy all the kid’s food. We talk about what the kids are going to do; Jerzy is going to live with his Grandma on his dad’s side. They have a strong relationship and she wants him. Travis calls everyone he has numbers for on Xzavion’s dad’s side and informs them of Bonnie’s passing. Him and Reyna go back to Travis’s uncles house to wait for Travis’s dad. We quickly leave in order to drop Jerzy off with his Grandma on time since they’re having a family birthday party that day. On the hour drive to Jerzy’s grandma’s I want to ask him how he was able to be so calm. Apparently after I called 911 they called him, I gave them the number, and had him push on Bonnie’s chest…I mean, doesn’t that not all sound traumatic? But I was scared to ask so I said, “Hey, how do you think the kids are gonna be?” and he said, “Reyna, I don’t know. Maybe okay. Xzavion, not as good.” He was so matter of fact about it I said, “what about you, how are you handling it so well?” I wanted to cry when I said that. “Well, when 911 called and told me to push on her chest I just thought, now or never.” When we got with his Grandma she talked matter of fact about it and it made me feel less care of “it”. I’m so thankful he has his Grandma Daun.

I got home that evening, posted on facebook about Bonnie’s passing for friends and distant relatives to see then opened my messages to see that Bonnie had written me the day before. She wanted to know when we could get together and work on some projects we’d been talking about. Mark and I had just seen Bonnie that Friday to give her and the kids a ride to the doctor. Then Tueday according to both Travis and Jerzy Bonnie had went to the library, made and ate dinner, horsed around with the family, wrote me on facebook then died before getting the kids up for school. Cause of death was her bronchitis on top of her asthma was too much for her lungs. 2015 I made a first time (and successful) habit of not letting my the wild horse that is my mind steer me down an endless, draining road. I’m not going to think about non-friends, I’d rather build a mental empire. That first night as I laid in bed still shaking in my body I kept picturing Bonnie coughing and sneaking off while her family was asleep to give herself some relief with her breathing machine. I minimum all sickness so this just blows that attitude out of the water. For about 48 hours all thought about taming the wild horse completely slipped my mind.

When Travis’s dad, Terry, got in town he was on top of all of the arrangement. He’d been down this road before. The amount of support we all got from Terry is more than I could ever thank him for. When he was talking about making arrangements for the memorial service I told him that it sounded so sad. And up until that point I felt too scared to go but he pointed to the celebration aspect of it which turned my feeling completely around. Terry has a great way of wording things: cleaver and smart. I really, really appreciate Terry’s point of view. My dad, Travis’s brother, Mark and I got together with Terry the following few days to help empty Bonnie and Travis’s apartment. The drive back to Bonnie’s apartment triggered feelings that my body took as me reliving the morning of her death. Being at Bonnie’s apartment seemed super scary at first. I was having flashbacks to the front bedroom door being closed and her body being right on the other side. When I finally went in that room, stood where she died and next to the breathing treatment machine that was sprawled out on the floor and remembered the moment of clarity I had when we were driving to her that morning. Death is and has the ultimate respect.

Best Family Picture

Bonnie, Xzavion, Reyna, Jerzy – 2011