The Gypsy off Road

gypsy wagon home

 

My Gypsy Blog was started nearly four years ago when I took a leap out of my life as a therapist (and a closet writer), and decided to discover the story of my life…on the road.

 

But one thing I was not prepared for was that if you pack up your life in one tiny car, put your cat on the front seat and open your map and go east, there is no guarantee of getting there. Not when you are open to what happens when you are on the road. There is no promise that you will end up where you think you are going. That seems to be not only true about life in about every way, but true about writing a story. You may decide to go in one direction and end up with a totally different story…writing your life.

 

I have been in almost every state in the U.S. and have wandered my way back to one of my favorite places of all: Colorado. I was on my way north one time and ended up in Oklahoma, I was on my way to NYC and stayed in Asheville NC for a year, I went to visit someone up on the border of Canada and didn’t leave for a year. I decided to settle in Seattle and promptly was called to leave and go back east. I flew to Africa swearing I would never ever leave and landed back in Oklahoma a far cry from Africa. I have set out on so many journeys that my mind had constructed, but in the end, my heart took me places that were unexpected, serendipitous and magical.

 

And then there are the times that are not so magical. Or at least in that sparkly happy-to-be-there kind of way. Travel strips you. It makes it near impossible to be your limited self, to be afraid or get lost. But, in the end, you still get do get afraid and lost and more often than you would like. You run out of money and have to take a job you don’t love. You meet people who are not kind or generous, you make decisions that turn out to be bogus or you stand still at a hundred different crossroads and don’t have one clue which way to go.

That is the story for a writer as well.

 

A good story has all those elements in it: You get lost in the weeds of your own story, you stare at the blank page and have no clue which way to go, you run out of money to pay the electric bill since you never leave your computer long enough to know what time of the month it is, you let someone read your writing and they trash it and you give up at least once a week and you then read the chapter you just wrote and are bored to tears. These are NOT the magical moments for a writer.

 

And I decided to take a new road in my life where that is all I am now doing…I write. I have one magical, fluid, simple ten page day. Then I reread what I wrote and cringe. Rewrite it and smile. I set out to finish some research on a project and it leads me down a new path of thinking. I read a bestseller at noon for a break and realize I am not as good as the author. Then I stumble upon a poem just itching to get out onto the paper and I am hooked on it, I swallow it whole and by 2am I have the making of a great screenplay. This is a writer’s life.

You put all these inevitable experiences for a writer together like a well woven tapestry and you have the landscape that a writer lives in day in and day out. It is just as exciting as going off-road in a four-wheel and getting high into the back-country.

 

I have a new map. It is not the well-worn Road Atlas I have come to depend on when I am on some one lane road in a January snowstorm in North Dakota while I look for Devil’s Tower, it is a map that is born in my heart. I love storytelling and have so many to tell. I love to help others write the story that has been simmering in their psyche for a long time. Writing is just as spectacular an adventure as travel.

 

So I am currently off-road. For the time being the gypsy in me is hunkered down in the snowy mountains of Colorado and I am navigating a new territory. I am mapping my own life in words….I am excited to see where this new road will lead.  Please check often since I will post stories, and gypsy adventures. And hear more about my writing adventures at www.mythotherapy.org.

 

The Story of My Life

cat and frog

 

This was a frequent phrase around my home growing up. “Holy Moly, story of my life”. If I got a collections letter in the mail, or I hear that a great guy has a secret wife, that my brand new shiny car needs a transmission or that in fact I really didn’t win the lottery…” story of my life”.   A handy phrase. But what’s in a phrase?

We each have one story that repeats itself over and over again throughout our lifetime. I promise you, one central ever present and every changing “story of our lives”. The casts of characters change but they fundamentally play the same roll in our lives year after year. Every new love, new boss or new dog is just like a mother, brother, father, betrayer, helper, teacher and the best of ourselves the worst of ourselves. The place, the reasons, the motives, the fears, and the outcomes seem to remain similar as well.

So, if you were to just pluck out of the sky a scenario that you recognize as so familiar that it is a “repeat story” in your life, what would it be? Would the themes be endless hope, deep despair, betrayal, running away, lost love and fighting for what is right, or would it be, men leave, women love you but die, or would it be, am I good enough, can I prove myself, or that there is never enough money or time or money or love or money or food, nourishment or support. Could you be in Groundhog Day like Bill Murray where over or over again you love the wrong person, you loose everything you have and need to start again, you never feel smart enough or have enough of, or ultimately are loved enough. Does the white knight turn into the villain or are you the one who rescues and heals the world? We all have one story.

If we take the time to identify this story, which repeats itself over and over again for our learning and growth, then we have abundant power to change the story, but not before we look it square in the eye and say “Yes” this is MY story. For most authors who are seized with a story line and write until the days are a blur and who forget to eat or take a shower, most likely the book or story being written is a mirror of the writer’s psyche.

Most writers have to cop to the fact that writing is therapy. Writing is sanity. Expiation. Transformation and atonement. Most writers on a good and honest day will say that the story they think is pure fantasy is really from their own life, own fear, own desire to be a hero or heroine and to rewrite what went so wrong, so long ago. It is a powerful moment when you can write a fictitious character that is not you in reality so that they can do all the things that you only wish to have done or said or experienced in your life. Why else do we write?

And when we can fess up that our own story is driving the bus, we can not only heal our lives but we can write a story that touches the collective nerve. That is what makes a bestseller. In the end….the story will write you.

write image

AO Means Light

AOMusic went to Nepal with five young people in August.  We recorded children who are singing on our new album to be released in 2013.  This is our fundraising trailer for a documentary that we hope you will all support.

 

Suaraha; Where Instead of Having a Bicycle or a Car, You Have an Elephant! Day Three, AO in Nepal

No sleep for me last night.  Too much to do. So much to consider.  Yep, the bank froze my debit card seeing 5 people eating out in Suaraha, took care of that …again.  Yep, made sure that there was a new hotel reservation for Kathmandu, that the interview with the “Bee Acupuncturist” was in fact happening (an acupuncturist that uses bee stings as his needles) and answered the inevitable emails that come in about 4am every morning.  That’s before my feet swing out of bed,

I don’t care about sleeping. I think most people who find themselves at the apex of their creative center feel this way.  We forget to shower, eat…take out the trash.   It is like waiting for a child to be born.  While the Team is in Nepal, I am simply lit up like a firecracker.  It is one thing to achieve a goal:  Send 5 wonderful young people to Nepal as ambassadors for AOMUSIC and come back with recordings of children singing as well as unparalleled footage of this amazing process.  But it is what happens in between the goal and the outcome that defines the creative process.

Creating is the art of allowing.  Allowing the picture to come into focus without pushing, allowing for interruptions to the plan to reveal the REAL plan.  Allowing for magic to break in unexpectedly and change every person involved, which then immediately changes the outcome. Rain, food issues, cultural differences, language, altitude all are the ingredients for surprises, one after the other.   This is why I don’t mind loosing sleep.  This is why I have put my life in alignment with AO Foundation International:  Because I am guaranteed to be allowed to unfold, just like the process of making this film and meeting these families, children and the country of Nepal.

So, while I was still awake at 5:30 this morning, this email came in from my daughter Jessie.  Internet is difficult in Nepal and as the team writes each sentence they have to constantly re-boot, re-fresh, wait and shut down.  Does not make following thoughts very easy.  But it is the spirit that blazes bright in every email.

From Jessie:

“And it is a late late night for me….Today was like breathing.  It was our second and last day with the children at Shree Little Star School. As wonderful and amazing as they were, I am even more excited about the days to come and the future footage I will take, as we just got invited to come back to Kathmandu to work with a group of children in an Orphanage there, as well as with a renowned musician from Nepal.  Raj took only myself over to Mushard Village to quickly meet the new children here in Suaraha and speak to them about coming in the morning to record them.

Although the streets were muddy and the village small and poverty stricken. I have never experienced such radiating light, love and laughter like that from children.  I was only there maybe less then five minutes and I left with them knowing my name and chasing after me when we left on the Mo-ped. I have never felt happier and more up-lifted in  my life.  This was after a morning of slowly drifting down the Rapti River in a canoe with Josh and Rob doing yoga. We watched an elephant and her baby cross  the river.  A magical day of footage and pure excitement. Things are unfolding so fast and so beautifully, I can only assume I am walking a path that I have been searching for my whole life.”

Sigh.

So, the Team is working today with a new group of younger children and then packing to go to Kathmandu in the morning.  This was an unexpected new offering that happens all of the time with AOMUSIC.  Once people hear the music, doors open to wonderful new introductions to communities and children.  It is our firm belief to follow the gifts we are given and make those contacts, take the treks and be open hearted, open handed and supportive of the families and children contributing to our albums.  So a new adventure begins.

Our third Team member was also a gift.  I had never met Karan Sharma, but through an introduction to Marc Pingry Production a light bulb went off in Marc’s head as we were having dinner in Seattle.  “Karan…you must bring Karan Sharma with you”, said Marc.

Marc proceeded to share about this young man whose father is Romesh Sharma, an Indian actor, producer and director in Bollywood.  Karan has acted, and worked on a documentary series called  “Fantastic Festivals of the World”. He brings a creative eye, enthusiasm, great ideas and heart to the AO Project in Nepal and is working with a larger camera to film the team teaching children and the story of the team itself.  Here is a little on Karan.

Karan currently is living in India, and has studied International Business and Management Studies at the European Business School London. He is fluent in English and Hindi, and can speak some French.  Karan has also acted and we are excited to work with him in the future on our larger documentary that will trek to the Caves of Maratika and to a monastery near Everest.  He is a gem!

Fantastic Festivals of the World

Season One & Now Season Two   People around the world know how to have fun!The “Fantastic Festivals of the World” Series features the best, most exotic, bizarre and unique of these celebrations!  This exciting and colorful HDTV series can be seen currently on the Discovery HD Theater (www.dhd.discovery.com) in the USA on Wednesdays at 8 pm and 11 pm PST. the documentary was done by Marc Pingry Productions.  www.youtube.com/pingryhdtv

So, when Karan came enthusiastically onboard I thought our team was complete.  Until one night I woke up and saw a picture in my mind of a young man I barely knew and somehow understood that for some reason, Josh Massad, I think that was his name, had to be part of our team also.  I had no Idea why, but in the next few days I found him in Goa, India and found out why I had had a vision of him that night.   Tomorrow I want to introduce you to the teams own “Yoda”.  Josh Massad.  Our fourth team member.

Mr. Happy Man

While in Film School I learned a lot about the power of the documentary and the short film.  That feature films are simply one powerful way to communicate.  And then I stumbled on this little 10 min. film about a man named Johnny Barnes, Mr. Happy.  He lives in Bermuda and every day at 2 am he gets up and prepares for his day, packs a rolling cooler with food and water, grabs clothes for bad weather, dons a hat and walks out the door to stand at a busy intersection of traffic for most of the day.  His reason for being there?  To throw a smile, a kiss to every passerby and tell every person on foot and in a car…. that he loves them.  He is in his 80’s.

I want to share this video with you not only so that you can experience the infectious quality of his smile and his loving heart but to pose the question:  What simple act of love and kindness can we EACH do, simply for the joy of doing it?  How can each of us make love and happiness the reason for getting up in the morning and going to bed at night?

Please simply click on the Karma Tube link below to watch.

This is a tribute to our humanity.  Enjoy!  Maya

Video from KarmaTube

From Rural to Urban

New Stop….Seattle.  I have just spent one month in a place, cut off from the United States but still part of Washington.  Point Roberts.  You have to go over the Canadian Border, drive a bit and then go back over the US border to get there. Then to go shopping at the nearest Safeway equivalent you have to do that all over again.  The rub?  Sometimes the border crossings are an hour wait.

But, Point Roberts turned out to be a haven for my writer’s soul:  Pastoral, wild, rural and  bordered on three sides by the Strait of Georgia. And if the solace was not wonderful enough, the place was crawling with film industry writers, producers, camera men and great interest in the screenplay I am writing.  I found that as I kept aligned with my inspiration to tell a story, to care for self and find joy in the beauty around me, I continued to experience the magic of living in the flow.  Wonderful people and experiences have flooded my life and led me to deeper and more meaningful expressions of myself.  But time was up and I needed to head for Seattle.  My next home for a month.

Seattle is where I will be attending The Film School (www.thefilmschool.com) to immerse myself in a month long intensive bootcamp for screenwriters.  Working with Tom Skerritt  (A River Runs Through It) will be amazing.  My hope?  To polish a form of writing that is not a perfect fit for wordy ole me and to create a final version of the story I am currently writing.  As I will most likely be the age of most of the other participants parents, I am excited to have this opportunity to strip down to the most basic me, pull out all my writing weaknesses and build my skill as a screenwriter.  Somehow, at this moment I am remembering Demi Moore in GI Jane and a shudder runs up and down my spine. Twelve hour days, six days a week with Sunday for sleep and laundry.

And, since I last wrote about my travels, my trials and my over the top excitement about the life I am living, the following things have happened:  I was ultimately denied a driver’s license after five months of effort with my lawyer.  I am quietly considering my options and have not a bone in my body that is having a problem with my new non-driver status.  My not driving has led me to more experiences and people I would never have had or met otherwise. I am determining which radical path I will take to solve the issue.  But ultimately  I  have found out first hand that no one really needs a car.  No one.

I have met producers interested in the film I am working on and I have joined as a full partner with AOMUSIC which I count as the greatest gift from my not driving, for if I had my driver’s license way back in September I would have been off to NYC and I would never had met Richard Gannaway, who is the heart behind the music that I believe can change the world.  It has certainly changed mine. (please read about AO and Richard on my new website http://www.mayalunachristobel.com)

I have a new website which has been the best therapy I have ever done with people I love helping me to create myself in the world…. anew.  I have attended an Oscar Gala hosted by Tom Skerritt and won a raffle that benefits The Film School, to do something I have wanted to do all my life:  Fly Fish!   And fly fish with Tom and his wife for three days on the Yakima River here in Washington at the Canyon River Ranch Resort.  Pinch me now. Gotta get some waders!

I have also teamed up with Todd Huston to start an independent production company, Light Show Productions, to create films with heart, soul, integrity and inspiration.  Todd has been wonderful to write about, wonderful to work with and he is now headed back to Missouri to the little cabin where we had our “Deliverance” experience.   I am oddly happy not to be going back again if I may say so myself and will just stay tucked in here at the Mediterranean Hotel in Queen Anne.  Hotel living is pretty great.  Simple, small, efficient, friendly and has a 24 hour business center and a coffee shop on the ground floor.  My Leo self really likes this.

And this tiny accounting of life in the flow for a Gypsy without a car, is just scratching the surface of the amazing things that have been rushing into my life since I made this commitment to living on the road as a way to discover what makes me happy.   What I have found out it that I never once had to even look for happiness.  It was there all along and the Universe simply was poised, ready for me to  open my heart and my arms to life in it’s fullest.  Happiness has been that easy all along.

 

Winged Justice

How many Lawyers does it take to change a lightbulb?  Well, I can’t remember the punch line to that, but is all but flattering to the law profession.  And I have to also admit that I have never retained a lawyer before. But I have one now.  And this good lawyer is clearly a tool in my toolbox for living life I should have had years ago.

My continued saga with not having a driver’s license and having my wings clipped as a Gypsy had become more and more like a bad sitcom on ABC.   The saga has continued down a road of both the inexplicable and the absurd and ended up with a drove of desk bound clerks scratching their  heads and implying that I just many never drive again and certainly won’t have a social security card anytime soon.  Ugh.

It became apparent that the core problem to solve in the debacle did not originate with some understandable mistake I had made, and I made a few mistakes that is for sure, but originated with a filing glitch that was the responsibility of the court in 2003.  No one seemed to know how to say to me that the legal system dropped the ball, so they just kept dropping me. Enter my angelic lawyer.

All roads lead to the following advice.  “Get yourself a damn lawyer Maya!”.  Three of them in North Carolina said they would not touch the case with a ten foot pole….now I know what a ten foot pole signifies. Then after going through the same process in Colorado, where the problem originated, I gave up.  I just surrendered and acknowledge that I just could not solve this one and went to the computer and looked for a face among a sea of faces called ‘Civil Litigators’ until I found a face that made me happy.  Her name was Martha, I called and left a message and did not hear back.  I was at another dead-end.

Days later, with head in hand and while searching Craigslist for a horse to buy that was fit for long distances, the phone rang and it was my knight-ess in shining armor, Martha, from Denver.  Her first sentence stood out in neon: “You poor dear, you have been caught in the bureaucratic ‘shit’ with the little people who have no power to help you haven’t you?” ” YES!”, I yelled in triumph.  And then she proceeded to say what every woman wants to hear from anyone when she is in an all too tight space;

“I will take care this, you just relax, I know how to fix this!”  I nearly dropped dead with relief.

What is my lesson at this point you might be asking?  Easy answer.  Sometimes I just cannot do it alone.  That is a big realization for a single mother, for a self-employed professional of 30 years, for someone like me who is way too accustomed to doing it alone.  And the other lesson is learning that, for me, it takes way too long to ask for help. I suffer far too many ways that are unnecessary because I believe in “pulling yourself up by your bootstraps and just getting the job done come hell or high water”.  Thank you Dad, I will take it from here.

And, I also think there is a big something about being weak or not smart enough to figure it out on my own.  Something about perfectionism really that is in the groundwater of our culture.  I have worked on this lesson for a long time.  And I get more aware all the time how perfectionism is a crippling issue for men and for women.  It diminishes our worthiness and perfectionism keeps us out of the rich communal life of working with others, being accompanied and partnered by friends and helpers.

And the other lesson?  Surrender.  Letting go of the need to create an outcome when the outcome eludes you. When you simply do not know what to do.  I have learned to sit still and allow myself to simply not know.  Then to act on the only intuition I had, look at the face of this lawyer, feel something good and make a call and wait.  And then the angel flew in my window.

Since that phone call, Martha and I have become good friends, shared books to read and she has initiated some changes that I would have never known to do, that cleans up the edges of my life in a wonderful way and will help my life hum along, eventually putting me back on the open road.  I still think a horse might be nice though..

So, “How many lawyers does it take to change a light bulb?”  Simple.  One good one.