Monday, December 28, 2009

Building Sustainability

This is the first documentary that I made with a group. It was produced with students from Portland Community Media and it's about the rebuilding movement here in Portland, Oregon. I find this subject to be very inspiring.

Building Sustainability from Liz Grover on Vimeo.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Before You Call Me Crazy...

More and more, I'm sharing my story of how I got to Afghanistan with the world. I've been waiting for this for years. See, I originally went to Afghanistan for many reasons, but one of them was to share my experience of Muslim culture when I returned home to the states. It was my intention because I was sooooo tired of Americans--the ones who had never been to Afghanistan--telling me what Afghans and Muslims were like. In February I will go on my first speaking tour ever, and it's so incredibly exciting. My dream is becoming a reality.

Last week I did a talk at a small intellectual meet-up in Portland, Oregon. I did the usual. I spoke, I connected, and I made new friends. One acquaintance said to me, "Liz, I tell a lot of people about how you got to Afghanistan with only $100 and no job. People first say, 'Wow! She's crazy' but then they see it in a different way when I tell them why you did it".

This was an interesting statement. It's not a surprise that people instantly say that I'm crazy, but I want everyone to stop and think about what crazy really is. I'm crazy. There's no doubt about it. I can function as a typical human in western society, hold an amazing career and do things that most people do, but I know that I look at life and the world in a much different way.

Before you call me crazy, think about what it is. It's crazy for me to go to Afghanistan with nothing but $100, but westerners aren't crazy for working 70+hours a week to pay for luxury cars and palatial suburban homes where it's hard for the average three to four family members to occupy all the rooms? And what about our American obsession with weight? Are you telling me that I'm crazier for following my heart to Afghanistan than western women who strive to look like photoshopped emaciated models in Vogue Magazine? Am I crazier than the Americans who are addicted to movie and reality TV star gossip, and don't understand that innocent people die everyday in other countries because of our country's nastier habits of war mongering and oil consumption (to name a few)?

Think about it. I've got a good kind of crazy going on. I followed my heart and free spirit to places that most will never see. I have a global family, a world wide web of human connections so extensive that I always see someone I know no matter where I travel. If you still want to call me crazy compared to those who I just mentioned, I'm happy to keep my title.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Dream Life

My relationship to dreams is an evolving story. Like everyone, I've been dreaming all my life, but the value I place on it has changed. I definitely had my dreams as a child. I chose only a few because I didn't want to bite off more than I could chew. I wanted to travel the world before getting married, I wanted the world's biggest music collection, and I wanted to adopt if I ever had a child because I thought there were already too many living children who needed love. This is what I thought about when I was seven.

As I grew into my 20s, the mp3 was invented, so that took care of my music dream. I now have about 100 gigabytes of music, and I have to say that I don't feel the need to acquire much more. It's not the world's biggest music collection, but that part of my ego doesn't need to prove itself anymore.

I traveled the world--15 countries to be exact. I'm married now, but the part I didn't include in my childhood dream is that marriage isn't an end. I continue to travel with and without my husband. Our idea of marriage is an ever changing unique design that doesn't adhere to what my society unsuccesfully tried to force on me.

As far as kids are concerned, no, I don't have any. Actually, I want to say this dream changed, but it didn't because I always left it open-ended. As a child, I always made sure to install the big "If I have kids" when I put any energy into this dream. I'm still a child. I have friends who are kids, but no, I don't think I'm the one to have them.

Looking back, I can say most of my major childhood dreams did come true. There may have been small parts that didn't pan out, but I know that's because I modified the dream, like with the "biggest music collection in the world" bit. I realized that wasn't what I really wanted and 100 gigs was enough.

About the only remaining childhood dream is that I would like to have a coffee with any of the remaining members of Monty Python. I'm still alive, and so are they (minus one-Graham Chapman rest in peace). There's still time, and I'll update this entry when it happens.

What is so different about dreaming as a child and dreaming now? As a child, I didn't realize that I could make all my dreams come true. Now that I'm an adult, I made most of my dreams come true. For the past couple of years, I've been focusing on what to dream next. Yeah, I have new ones. They're personal, but they don't seem to matter as much anymore. Dreaming for myself is fine and necessary to some extent, but what I do now is dream for the world. I dream of peace. This is my number one dream now and I believe it can happen, because I have no other choice but to believe it.

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

My Trip To The Taj Mahal

It was almost a year ago when I went to the Taj Mahal. The one-day trip went beyond all expectations, and it was one of the most intense days of my life.

It began in Delhi early in the morning. I just had my big fat Indian wedding. I’m American, but my husband was born and raised there in a Punjabi family. The morning was cold and smoggy. My friends from the USA, Europe and Australia were there for the ride. They came to my wedding and we thought the Taj Mahal would be the perfect way to bring all the celebrations to a close.

Since the Taj Mahal was about five hours away, I assumed that the smog would eventually thin out, but it didn’t. It actually grew worse as we drove on. There was a burning chemical smell in the air that closed car windows couldn’t deter. My lungs felt like they were on fire with every inhalation. The fumes made me feel like my head was trapped inside a diesel barrel. Until that day, I never knew air could be so dirty and that people could actually breathe it in. Keep in mind that I’ve been to many polluted cities around Asia, including Bangkok and Kathmandu. This was by far the worst I had ever experienced.

About two hours into our road trip we stopped at a tourist restaurant/truck stop. It looked like hell on earth. The land was cracked, barren and dry. There was very little greenery and nature. Suffering people were everywhere begging on the streets, either looking emaciated, high or deformed in some way. I wondered if they could still smell the chemicals in the air after living there all their lives. I wondered what the drinking water like, but there was no way I would try it. This whole land was toxic, and it made me appreciate my clean green home in Oregon more than ever. I’m not sure if most Americans can even imagine the severity, for I have never seen it so bad in my own country. Not even close.

As we pulled into the parking lot, I saw several Indian men sitting on the side of the road with several chained up monkeys that were dressed in tattered & dusty circus clothes and makeup. They looked like the worst imaginable Hollywood stereotypes of weary and enslaved hookers. But they weren’t even people. They were monkeys! I was disturbed and hoped that I would never encounter such a reality again. I even felt horrible about the cobra that the same men kept in a basket. I just wanted to set it free, even though snakes usually freak me out. I felt really bad for this trapped life form. In moments like these, I question life and the world. I hope that death is really a relief and the heaven that cultures around the world have longed for it to be.

We got to the Taj Mahal and it was a fantasy island, a monument of incredible wealth and artistry. Its glossy beaming pillars of hand carved stones were stunning, picturesque and added to the whole image of what India is to me: a place of extremes with very little in the middle. The postcard image of the Taj Mahal is exactly what I saw, but there is this whole other world just outside it’s gates and ticket line. It’s a world of poverty, starving street children, environmental disaster and ignorance that the pretty framed picture does not capture. It was memorable and I’m glad I did it, but I mostly see other images from that day when anyone asks me what it was like. The greatest castles and holy monuments will never impress me as much as social justice and a clean and peaceful world.

What made this trip even more challenging was that some of my American friends had never been outside the west before and they were having a hard time processing all of these severe examples of life. It brought out their darker characteristics that I usually don’t get to see. It was hard for me, but it was still a little bit easier than what they were going through because I had seen similar situations throughout most of my 20s all around Asia. This was all new to them. I had to be a tour guide and counselor all in one for my friends that day. God bless ‘em for coming so far just to experience my wedding.

During the long drive home, we passed through a town that my new mother-in-law told me to look out for. In Hindu mythology, it was the place where Krishna was born. My husband Sam pointed it out as we drove by and I had to laugh or else I would have cried. In Hindu culture, it is important to treat the land, air, soil and water with respect because it is alive and holy. Yet that day I saw the paradox of Mother India. Without any exaggeration, Krishna’s hometown was another dump that was taken over by an oil refinery. There was a high tower at the refinery that had a large and very evil looking flame shooting out from the top. Don’t get me wrong. I love fire and practically worship it, but the flames had a weird green tint to them that made me feel like I was looking straight into Tolkien’s Eye of Sauron. Tolkien had it nailed. The dark side doesn’t mind killing the earth to have the power, and this oil refinery was a fully embodied example of what The Lord of the Rings was talking about.

Luckily a dear friend named AJ was there for the journey. We went to high school together, and one of the reasons I appreciate him is because he uses the same darker shades of humor to process the more intense moments of life. Not everyone can appreciate this about me, but sometimes it’s the only way I can get by and it was the same for him that day. We were an hour outside of Delhi when he started to play “In The Ghetto” by Elvis on the radio. It made it all the better, and all of the sudden things weren’t so serious. The best was that I couldn’t even sing the falsetto “In the Ghetto” chorus because my voice had almost completely shut down because of the pollution. I just squeaked along to the lyrics, but I did it with all my heart and that’s what really mattered. It was my release from the horror that I had witnessed that day.

So yeah, I’ve been to the Taj Mahal, and it literally left me breathless in more ways than one. My best advice? Bring a dust mask and some tissues to wipe the tears away, as it is not for the weakest of lungs or heart.

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Looking To Speak Out.

I thank you for reading these words on this page. I appreciate all your interest and support. Right now I'm making my transition into being a public speaker and I need any help that I can get. It's my goal to speak out publicly about my wonderful experiences with the Afghan people. I want to illuminate the stereotypes that have been so wrongly created here in the USA. Most Afghans are not Taliban. Most are not terrorists. Most just want to go about their business, take care of their families, and live in a peaceful world.

It's also my goal to speak of this world that holds unlimited possibilities. Yes, I talk of how I got to Afghanistan with nothing and created a job situation and a life for myself there, but that's not the only time that has happened. Most of my adult life has unfolded this way, and I want others to know that they are totally unlimited. All dreams are possible, and it's time for more humans to recognize their full power.

So, this is where you come in. If you have any place where you go, whether it be a weekly art club gathering, a church, or school, please ponder if it's a place where I can come and share my story. Also, if you or anyone you know has a blog, a podcast, TV or radio show that would have an interest in my story of Afghanistan, or any of my world travels, please let me know. Your help is deeply valued, and please know that I'm not geographically limited. I can also come to your town.

Liz Grover
Twitter @lilbutterfly

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

My Interview of A Cambodian Genocide Survivor

I spent three fairly intense months in Cambodia running around the country with my camera, pen and paper, interviewing survivors of the genocidal maniacs known as the Khmer Rouge. I walked among many emaciated skeletons poorly disguised as women and children, homeless, crying and begging for food while tugging at my clothing and my heart. I sat with tribes in the northern part of the country and listened to what they were doing to protect their rainforests from destruction, because their own greedy government officials were selling off the country’s natural resources and pocketing the proceeds, and the darker factions of the Vietnamese were employing deceitful schemes to rape the Cambodian rainforests in order to turn a dime with the Chinese and other countries.

I also spent time with homeless children who had been forced to grow up way too fast. Five to ten-year-old street kids had the wear and tear of 40 year olds because they had to fend for themselves, scrounging for any food they could find on the dusty Cambodian streets. In my darkest and most soul wrenching moments, I went around with an undercover detective who was busting mostly Western men, sexual predators, who came to Cambodia to extract the life force from these vulnerable children. These demented beasts spilled over the border to Cambodia after Thailand started to clamp down on child sex tourism in their own backyard. Yes, it’s true. There are sick people who travel to underdeveloped countries to have sex with children. These disgusting characters exuded a dank and rotten vibration from the inside out.

Thankfully, some light came with the darkness. My numerous interactions with inspiring Cambodian activists kept my sanity and positivity afloat. The activist who I remember the most is Hant Pipaal Anna and I had the blessed chance to interview her before leaving Cambodia. She is the head administrator of the office where I worked from in Pnom Penh. When I first met her, she seemed a little tough and almost frightening. She liked things her way in the office and sometimes got a little furious if she didn’t get it, but as time went on and I had more interactions with her, I saw her softer underbelly and we actually developed a friendship. It was a rare gift that she took the time to share the story of her own endurance and strength during the ghastly acts Khmer Rouge.

Anna was born in Cambodia’s Siem Reap province in 1947 and, at the age of four, her family moved to Phnom Penh where she studied French until the age of eighteen. In 1960, Anna began working as a secretary for a French engineer who helped to bring electrical engineering to Cambodia. From 1970 to 1975, as Cambodia’s political environment began to deteriorate, she began volunteering for the International Women’s Association. There, she coordinated food and medicine distribution and job placement for Cambodia’s internal refugees that were fleeing from the Khmer Rouge, and supported her family by working a morning job with Cambodia’s Society for Imports and Exports.

In 1975, her boss from the Society of Imports and Exports asked her to work in Thailand, but, never dreaming that Cambodia would fall to the Khmer Rouge, she chose to stay and help her country deal with the large amounts of refugees that were arriving in the capital each month.

When asked about her initial feelings toward the Khmer Rouge, Anna said that she was afraid because “they all wore black.” When Phnom Penh fell to the Khmer Rouge, she remembers that thousands of people flocked to the streets to watch them enter the city. At first, the mood was happy, but this soon changed when the Khmer Rouge told everyone that the Americans were about to bomb the city and that everyone would need to go into the countryside for three days. When Anna asked if she could take her boat up the Ton Le Sap River to escape, the soldier told her that “all things belonged to the Khmer Rouge now.” “They took my boat, and I realized it was over”, she says. Only those who were lucky enough to survive would see the city again, but not for over three years.

Anna and her family—including her husband, son, and brother—were forced to walk for one week to Kampot Chann province. When she arrived, the Khmer Rouge said that her brother had to leave in order to study the new communist regime. It turned out that this was one of the lies that the Khmer Rouge told to those who would be killed, and Anna’s brother was executed a short time afterward.

Anna was then forced to walk to Kratie province where the Khmer Rouge interviewed people to see whether or not they would be killed. Of course, no one knew this at the time and the soldiers encouraged everyone to be honest when giving their biographies because they were going to be “starting fresh.” Anna remembers that, while not many people were killed in the beginning of this period, after two months had past, people would mysteriously disappear every night.

The Khmer Rouge interviewed Anna and asked her if she could cook. She was afraid to say yes since she knew that cooking was a skill that was mostly learned in upper-class society, and that she might be killed as a result, but she was honest with the interviewer. It turned out that Anna would cook for about 400-500 people each day, for the entire time the Khmer Rouge remained in power. This time was exhausting, and she could only sleep for five to six hours per night. During this time no one heard any news of Phnom Penh or their families because, as Anna says, “In the communist regime, if you are deaf and mute, you have long life. No one talked about anything”.

Anna was allowed to keep her son with her during this three-year period, but her husband was sent to work at a distant farm. He would visit her once a month but they couldn’t talk much because there were spies everywhere – especially the Khmer Rouge children who eavesdropped from underneath the Cambodian stilted houses. Anna and her husband chose to stop seeing each other quite early in this period because they feared that talking to each other would mean they would both be killed.

Anna remembers how difficult it was to sleep every night. “If someone knocked at my door at night, then I knew that was it. So I started smoking every night – I used tobacco and paper for smoking – because it would help me stay awake.” Anna knew that, under the Khmer Rouge, death could come at any minute for no particular reason. Clearly, looking into her eyes as she tells this story shows how utterly dark this time was for her – where life and death hung in the balance every night. She remembers how she would wake up at sunrise each day and be thankful to be alive. “We saw the sun and felt that we had this new life in the morning,” she says.

As Anna’s reputation as a great cook grew, so did her order requests from Khmer Rouge leaders. In fact, some of the generals would get home from their meetings at 11 at night and send for Anna to prepare meals for them. Anna remembers that she started to lose her fear of hearing a knock at the door, because it no longer meant that she would be killed.
In 1979, the Vietnamese brought the Khmer Rouge regime to an end. Pol Pot himself requested that Anna be taken with the soldiers as they retreated to the jungles. Instead, she quickly fled to Phnom Penh in the hopes of finding her freedom and husband again.

She returned to Phnom Penh and was reunited with her husband just as the Vietnamese Army came to kill any Khmer Rouge remaining in the city. Most Khmer Rouge pretended to be ordinary citizens, and this enraged Anna. But she didn’t point these people out to the Vietnamese soldiers. “I kept it all in here,” she says, pointing at her heart. Anna was afraid that she would eventually be killed by the Vietnamese since she worked for the Khmer Rouge, so she hid in one of the many abandoned houses in the city. The Vietnamese found her after four days and three nights but, because she spoke fluent Vietnamese, she convinced them that she had nothing to do with the Khmer Rouge. Shortly after, she worked for the interim Vietnamese puppet government for six months, and began an import business from Saigon until 1990.
In 1991, she started to work with the Red Cross where her major responsibility was for the security of expatriate staff members and finished her work there in 2004.

Anna recovered from one of the most deathly and grim events that has ever occurred, and while she sees problems in Cambodia that will take years to solve, her determination, faith, and hope show her greatness. Her amazing resolve is an illustration of what is needed in order to rebuild a country after so many years of destruction and pain

Saturday, November 14, 2009

KBOO Interview 11/11/09

The wonderful KBOO Community Radio of Portland, Oregon interviewed me about my time in Afghanistan. This was my first radio interview ever! Obama still has not officially said how many troops he will send to Afghanistan. I'm praying that he will change his plan and let the Afghans have a say in what happens. It's their country after all. Listen to the interview here. It's 30 minutes long.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Butterfly On The Road

I just publicly released the name of my upcoming book, Butterfly On The Road, which is very thrilling for me. I kept the title quiet for a while because I didn't want to jump the gun, so to speak. I also posted a form where you can sign up to get an email notification once the book is released. Click here to sign up.

The book is about how I got to Afghanistan with just $100 to my name with no promise of a job and how everything miraculously worked out, despite the great challenges that I had to face. When the wording on my synopsis is finalized I will definitely post it here.

Until next time...

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Sunday, August 09, 2009

Saturday, July 25, 2009

I Love My Reality :-)

I have to say, I don't know what's going on these days, but ever since the lunar eclipse earlier this month, everything has been flowing like water. There is synchronicity in every step I take, and it's more than I've ever experienced before.

It all started when I went to Mount Shasta to enjoy nature with my friend Gregory Wendt. Well, actually it started the night before when I was still in Portland. I went out in the evening to the local food carts on Hawthorne Avenue and ran into a woman named KT who I met at the house of my aforementioned friend Greg, which is in Los Angeles of all places. KT is a good friend of his and they hung out in Hawaii years ago. Of course, I didn't expect to see KT because she lives in Hawaii. She was just passing through town, so it was quite a surprise. When I told her who I was going to see the next day, she was giddy and blissed-and so was I. She gave me a message to pass on to Greg the next day. There I go as the global messenger again! This happens to me so much. I always run into people I know or friends of friends wherever I go in the world and deliver messages to others, just like a carrier pigeon. It's way better than email when it works this way!

An hour before I got to Shasta a good friend named Katrina called me-also a friend of Greg's. She asked me if I was in Portland, but I was not. When I told her that I was going to Shasta, she said she would be driving through Shasta the next day and that she could come hang out with Greg and me for a morning hike. I love these unexpected surprises. It always seems to happen when I hit the road. No wonder I love traveling.

Katrina showed up the next day. We frolicked and had fun on the mountain and then she went on her way. The following day, I was sitting at the organic food market in Shasta and I heard my name. I looked up to see a friend from about 7 years back. Her name was Jess and we knew each other in Santa Cruz. The best part was that I was thinking about her and her partner Tosh the day before, with a vague memory that they either used to live in Shasta or that they moved there after I last saw them. To see her in the flesh the next day was such an amazing gift from the universe. Were my thoughts of her from the previous day psychic vision, or did I manifest her because I thought about her? Is the law of attraction working so well? Is there a line between the two? What's up in the universe these days? Everything I think of appears. Another instant occurred the other day, when I was out with my mom and I wanted a lemonade. Minutes later we found a lemonade booth on the street that was giving it away for free.

My life over the past few weeks has been a whole chain reaction of events like this. I could write about it for days, but I don't have the time. However, I will sign off with this lovely miracle. Several days ago, I got a message from my friend Jim Aplington, who I met in Nepal but I just happened to run into him in Bali, California and Oregon. When I saw Jim in LA, I introduced him to the aforementioned Greg.

In Jim's message, he said that he was soaking at Harbin Hotsprings, north of San Francisco, when he saw Greg appear. He said that it was the same day when Greg and I parted in Shasta, so Greg told him all about our time at the mountain and let Jim know that I was doing well. What to say? It's wonderful. My life works like this all the time (as it does for many of my friends). I don't know why it does, but I'm so delighted that I can be a human who lives life in such an unlimited and magical way.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Muppet Movie Revisited: Childhood Lessons In Manifestation

"Life's like a movie, write your own ending
Keep believing, keep pretending.
We've done just what we set out to do.
Thanks to the lovers, the dreamers, and you.
-The Muppets, final scene of The Muppet Movie

I just watched The Muppet Movie for the first time since I was in my early teens, and it was so wonderful to see it from a new perspective. For one, I realized that the story was absolutely Homeric, steeped in the great journey of the hero and packaged with ancient mystic wisdom. I didn't see it that way at all as a child, but I wonder if it had an effect on me as I blossomed into a young adult, traveling the world on a shoestring and creating my reality through manifesting dreams.

Some say you don't even need to know the meaning of sanskrit mantras, all you need to do is repeat them over and over in your mind, and eventually they'll kick into your reality. Is this what I did with the Muppet Movie? I watched it to the point where I can still recite the whole thing. When I watched the scene with my favorite song last weekend, I found my epiphany. See here and listen closely:

Now read the words of the song, with some of my notes in parenthesis. These are all the guidelines of manifestation, as I've learned from some of the greatest miracle workers and shamans on the planet:

I focus on the pleasure, somethin' I can treasure, can you picture that?
Can you picture that?

Floyd Pepper:
Let me take your picture, add it to the mixture, there it is I got you now!
Really nothin' to it, anyone can do it, it's easy and we all know how.
Now begins the changin', mental rearrangin', nothing's really where it's at
(My translation-Reality is not what it seems)

Dr. Teeth:
Now the Eiffel Tower's holdin up a flower. Can you picture that?

Fact is there's nothin out there you can't do
Yeah, even Santa Claus believes in you.
(My translation-We're all unlimited beings)

Dr. Teeth:
Beat down the walls, begin, believe, behold, begat.

Be a better drummer, be an up and comer. Can you picture that?
(My translation: Hold the vision!)

All of us are winnin, pickin and a-grinnin, Lordy but I love to jam

Jelly-belly gigglin, dancin and a-wigglin, honey that's the way I am!

Dr. Teeth:
Lost my heart in Texas, Northern lights affect us, I keep it underneath my
hat,Aurora Borealis, shinin down on Dallas! Can you picture that?
Can you picture that?

Can you picture? You gotta see it in your mind!
(My thought: This is the most important part! If you can't see it, it won't happen!)
Can you picture? You know it's quick and easy to find!
Can you picture? You don't have to buy a frame!
Can you picture? Can you picture that?
Can you picture that?

Dr. Teeth:
Use it if you need it

Don't forget to feed it!
(My thought: you have to keep feeding your imagination and your mind with the images of the dreams you want to create. If you stop doing that, the dreams can't be fed and you can lose them)

All: Can you picture that?

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Southwest Trip-Spring, 2009

This is the first video that I edited with my new computer and the first time I used Creative Commons music from, which has a lot of amazing music that you can use for free, as long as you follow the artist rules for attribution. I'm loving this open source culture more and more and hope to do future professional projects in this fashion.

Saturday, June 20, 2009


These are pictures that I took during my first trek in the Himalayas over 6 years ago:

Friday, April 17, 2009

The Buddhist Car Sale

photo by Liz Grover

I had absolutely no use for my 2002 Hyundai Accent. My husband and I can only park one car at our residence here in downtown Portland. I walk everywhere anyway, because I like the exercise and absorbing all the images, sounds and smells of Portland's funky, offbeat and aesthetically pleasing street culture. Additionally, buying fuel is flat out unsustainable for our planet. It was always time consuming to get to my car too. I left it parked at my friend's house, which took an hour to reach by light rail and bus.

Finally, I thought hard, assessed what was really important and decided to give up the car. There were some "what ifs" that flashed in my head, but I took the leap of faith, that it would all work out--even without a car--as it always does in my life. I posted the Hyundai on Craig's List on a Friday.

I checked my email, browsed on Twitter, and chipped away at the final writing of my book. Thirty minutes went by. I went back to my email where there was a response of interest from Craig's List. Then another, and another until I had fifteen people interested in my car.

This was encouraging, especially with all the economic worry on people's minds. I didn't get too excited though. I've sold cars on Craig's List before and it was always a pain. In all my previous experiences, people would always try to talk me down on a car that I also sold for too little, or say they were interested, tell me that they were coming to look at the car at a certain time and date, and then turn out to be a no-show. Without exaggerating, this no-show crap happened to me about five times in the past.

Out of all the interested buyers for the Hyundai, one guy (we'll call him Rick) said please hold on to the car. I'll buy it today. "Yeah, whatever" I thought. I've heard that song and dance before, yet at the same time, I didn't let my mind go too much into that, just in case he was for real. I didn't want my expectations to get in the way, and after all, I am the creator of my reality. I can manifest what I want. Rick did sound more serious than other interested shoppers and the idea of showing my car ten to fifteen times did give me a shiver, so I decided to make a deal. I told him that if he was really serious, I would hold off showing the car to others until after he viewed it. Rick thanked me and we arranged to meet the following day.

On Saturday, I made the trek out to my car with all intentions to sell it then and there. I told myself over and over again that this would be a great sale, I would get the price that I wanted to sell it for, and that the buyer would be a cool and honest guy. I thanked the universe for helping to make this happen.

I got to my friend's house where the car was parked a little early. I knocked on the door where my friend Sherry greeted me and we chatted about the weather, life, and the usual until I realized that Rick was ten minutes late. My mind wanted to say, "Oh no! Not again! That darned Craig's List!", but I didn't. Enough of my mind and heart believed that Rick was just caught in traffic and that he really would show up. Much to my delight, he pulled up five minutes later.

Rick warmly greeted me. He apologized for being late and I told him not to worry. He said he was an artist and that's why he wanted the car. It was a hatchback so he could easily throw his stretched canvass inside. He actually had a Hyundai that he worked on before, so he knew what to look for. He circled the car inside and out and was happy with everything he saw. He was even shocked with how great the tires were and told me he thought he would probably have to buy new tires for the car. He was relieved that it wasn't the case.

He popped the hood and began to survey the engine. He said the inside was perfect from a first glance, but he wanted to check the timing belt. That, as he said would "seal the deal". He had a wrench with him and removed three bolts off the case that held the timing belt, but he couldn't remove the fourth bolt. Realizing what he needed, he went to his car to find a different sized wrench. He delved and burrowed through his tool box for ten minutes until he found the perfect wrench. He thought it was kind of trippy because it didn't match the rest of his tools. He said that he had never seen it before and wondered where it came from.

Finally, he removed the case to see that the timing belt was in mint condition. The only thing remaining was the road test. We got out on the highway and the car was zippy as usual. The alignment was perfect and Rick said he was ready to buy for the price that I had said on Craig's List. He never tried to talk me down. It was the used car sale from a dream, but I pinched myself hard just to make sure that I wasn't really in bed.

We chatted on as he drove. He told me that he was raised off the grid in a hippie family in San Francisco. I told him about my book about my travels that I'm working on. I even told him the title. I can't publicly say what it is at this point, but the word "Butterfly" is definitely in there. I'll give you that much :) He pulled over to an auto parts store to buy some oil for the car, which I sheepishly told him that I forgot to fill. Just as we got out of the car, a butterfly flew right in front of us. We both thought is was weird, but didn't have to say it. The looks on our faces said it all.

We bought the oil. He drove me back to my friend's house and told me that he was so happy how I was honest and didn't try to cheat him like so many car sellers on Craig's List had tried to do to him. I told him how happy I was that he actually showed up, and that he didn't try to talk me down on the price. It was serendipitous. He told me how "It's a miracle that this sale went so smooth, but this perfection seems to happen to me more and more, especially now that I'm going to this Buddhist center in town. It's weird."

I said "That's funny, because I originally came to Portland after a Buddhist monk in the Himalayas told me to come here. I didn't know anyone here, but it was the third time that Portland came up in random conversations I had in France, Thailand and Nepal over the course of six months, so I decided to listen to him." He quirked his head, and said that he was happy it worked out this way and that he would love to read my book.

What a reality I live in. A Buddhist car sale! Who would have thought? What will I create next. Can't wait to see :)

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Monday, April 13, 2009

Kali Baba

This is Kali Baba, my spiritual teacher who showed me that the world is full of illusions and that it's also a blessed place full of synchronicity and miracles. Imagine reggae star Burning Spear meets Bilbo Baggins. After meeting him, I felt a psychic energy awaken within for the first time in my life. He lives in a mud hut on a hilltop in the Himalayas, west of Kathmandu, Nepal. You can learn more about him in my book when it's published.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Synchronicity Led Me to My First Television Appearance

So last week I gave a talk at Interesting Portland. I got to explain why I went to Afghanistan.

Before my talk, I was catching up with a friend and explaining to her how I was getting prepared to attract more media for my story (getting my website ready for media, doing more interviews etc.) Just as the words fell from my lips, I felt a tap on my shoulder. I turned around and it was Emily, one of the event coordinators. She told me how KGW, an NBC affiliate, wanted to interview me minutes later. My friend, my husband, and time stood still with me as we all witnessed the synchronicity come storming in. It was funny, because I made my wish to the universe that day, asking for more wonderful and positive media regarding my story to come my way. As with my talk at Ignite Portland last year, I had the feeling that something miraculous was going to happen that night--some piece of the puzzle of getting my book out there in the world would be given to me. Click here to watch how it went.

I'll end this with what happened on Twitter this morning :) I made a tweet about Afghanistan, and then someone else on Twitter responded:

@lilbutterfly I just saw a young lady on the news in Portland this week. She went to Afghanistan w/$100 & found work!

I (@lilbutterfly) responded on Twitter saying, "@cfpdx That was me on the news :)"

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

A Great Carpal Tunnel Exercise

So I was diagnosed with carpal tunnel syndrome several months back and it was this exercise that made a huge difference. Make sure to repeat the hand positions 10 times, 2 sets a day. If you're working all day do a set before you start, in the middle of your work, and at the end of the day:

The other thing that really helped, when I was in the thick of a writing storm on my laptop, was wearing wrist braces that I purchased at a local pharmacy. If you're not typing a lot, I would just stick to the exercise above, two times a day for a while. It's very nourishing and lubricating for the tendons in your wrists.

The other thing that helped was to take a small rubber band, put all my fingertips of one hand inside it, and stretch them out 10 times in a row. Do this on both hands and make sure to do it two times a day. This is a good resistance exercise to build up the right muscles in your wrists to fight carpal tunnel.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Eat Pray Love Encounter With Ketut Liyer

On Saturday, I was at a coffee shop with my husband, working on some web design for my own site, After a while and a few sips of spicy tea, a woman sat down in front of me and proceeded to read a copy of Elizabeth Gilbert's Eat Pray Love. Since I had my computer with me, I thought I would interrupt her to show her the picture I took of Ketut Liyer, the mentioned shaman/palm reader in Eat Pray Love. I posted it on my Flickr account, so it was easy just to turn the screen around to show her. I know that she was "in" her book, but I find it fascinating to meet and/or see the faces behind book characters, like I did with Ketut in Bali. I thought she would appreciate it.

She didn't mind the interruption and thought it was so cool to see a picture of him. She said that it was almost exactly what she thought Ketut would look like, so I think that means that Gilbert did a great job describing him in her book. It's a fun and amazing world.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Interesting Portland-My Next Talk

I will soon speak about my experience in Afghanistan at Interesting Portland on April 9, 2009 at Norse Hall. I will talk about what drove me to go to Afghanistan with $100 US dollars in my pocket, a one-way plane ticket and no promise of a job. I will have a time maximum of three minutes to talk, just like the other speakers. You can check the lineup here, learn more and buy tickets at their website.

Strange Love Live Interview On Video

I was interviewed on Strange Love Live on March 13th, and it was a blast! I suggest you tune into this show to hear some of the most creative and intelligent voices of the Portland tech community and beyond. Here's the video if you missed it:

The more techy talk:

Monday, March 16, 2009

Saturday, March 07, 2009

Strange Love Live on Friday the 13th!

So the lovely beings at Strange Love Live have invited me to come hang out this coming Friday, the 13th. Please show some love and tune in if you can. I'm still not officially blogging, but I have made my blog a little flashier with bells & whistles. I'm now writing the LAST chapter of my book. Yay! Unfathomable to write a whole book, but here it is.