After readjusting my expectations with a smaller budget, (but a bigger window of time for the conversion) I've come up with a practical design that I'm very excited about. The truck is 14 ft long by about 7 ft tall which gives me lots of options for the buildout design. The idea is to keep it stealthy for night parking when traveling through urban areas, but expandable for longer term stays and hosting little parties.

Here are the must haves:

Solar panels

Back-up Camera

Space to practice yoga with a mat fully rolled out and entertain guests

A work desk/area

A very simple toilet (but no black water tank)

A simple kitchen

A shower with hot water

And here are the luxurious bonus features:

A fold down patio

Heated floors 

Built-in storage boxes under the truck for spare tires, propane, water, etc.

New stereo head unit

Vinyl flooring

Skylight with access to the roof

Removing the back sliding door and putting in two folding doors

The project is already under way, and I'm doing what I can each day. I'm hoping to have the bulk of the project completed by the end of March, but I have several additional weeks to stay in Canada and finish the buildout if needed. Below is the digital rough draft made by my friend Zeuss. If you have any suggestions or insights on the buildout let me know! Also, we've been joking about a fake company name to put on the side and I would love to hear your silly ideas! Check back soon for updated pictures of the conversion process.



Lady BouleyComment
Lessons in Hosting My 1st Retreat
 Silent Forest Meditation Hike

Silent Forest Meditation Hike

My first yoga retreat just came to a close after 3 magical days of activities inspired by self-love including candlelit yin yoga, forest hike meditations, vegan organic meals, and lots of cacao medicine. For several weeks prior, I created, planned, funded, organized, and marketed the entire event.

Putting this retreat together was an incredible learning opportunity. I found it so fulfilling to weave together my different skills and passions in everything from creating playlists to menu planning. Some things went exactly as planned, but most things didn't.

Honestly, I couldn't be happier with how the retreat, and its special guests, manifested themselves. The house was full of love and good vibes all weekend, but a few things could have helped it run more smoothly. I hope that my experience can be helpful to other newly certified yogis, or people looking to design their own retreats and workshops.


1. Choose a topic that resonates with you

Choosing to shift into an existence of self-love, self-acceptance, body positivity, and self-confidence can be a lifelong journey. Just as happiness is a daily practice, I find that loving yourself is too. I chose self-love as the theme for my first retreat because it is an area in which I can personally relate. I also see the importance of encouraging this movement, as a sort of rebellion against our societal standards of beauty, success, wealth, and unnecessary competition. In preparation for the retreat, I found myself more avidly reading scientific articles, listening to guided meditations, and learning different practices for self-acceptance. I do have love and compassion for the person I have become- but I'll still catch myself in old patterns of negative thinking and harsh internal judgement. Thus in preparation for the retreat, I was reinforcing my own path towards self-acceptance. During the retreat, I never pretended to have all the answers. Instead, I designed the yoga classes and workshops around what previously worked for me. Most importantly, I offered my own journey, struggles, and vulnerabilities as an opportunity for us learn from each other. 

2. You shouldn't do it alone

As a solo traveler, I often like doing things without having to rely on other people- but my independence doesn't keep me from knowing when I need the love or support of friends and community. Having run this retreat pretty much on my own, I can positively say that it not something to be done by one person.

Cooking 3 meals a day and keeping a clean kitchen is a full-time job in itself. At the very least, you should hire a chef that shares a similar vibration with the intention of the retreat. A relaxed and happy chef means happy food, which is important because the food is medicine too. I didn't have time to bathe the whole weekend because there was always something that needed to be done. If I had another co-host, yoga teacher, or chef, I would have had more time to relax and connect with my guests. 

Allowing yourself to hold space for another person, is a powerful gift. To show respect, is to be present. In a retreat setting, it's important that someone is always in the position of being able to hold space for the guests- which proved to be less than easy when constantly cooking, cleaning, and catching your breath.

3. The biggest healing happens in the connections

A friend of mine believes that the best way to change the world is one conversation at a time. I couldn't agree more. The yoga is beneficial, the food is nourishing, the plant medicines are healing, but the most important piece of a retreat comes from the connections. The magic really happens in the conversations and interactions between hosts and guests. A host doesn't single handedly heal anyone, but rather allows the time, space, and environment for us to heal each other.

4. Adjust your plans to suit the guests and let go of expectations

My guests arrived from the city exhausted, jet-lagged, and stressed. Recognizing their need for rest,  I shifted a rigorous hike to a gentle walk, and an ecstatic dance to a reclined meditation. It's important to schedule your days beforehand, and equally important to avoid attachment to any of these plans.

5. Make a budget, and set aside extra

Running a retreat costs a good bit of money, and you'll probably need more than you think. Renting a beautiful space with access to nature is imperative, and may be costly. Any money spent on organic food, fresh produce, healthy snacks, and tea, is money well spent. Plan to burn through some gas in driving around in preparation for the event, grocery shopping, posting flyers, and then also in guest transportation. You might want to purchase advertising, extra yoga mats/bolsters, and incense. When it's all said and done, you may very well exceed your original budget.

6. Choose a fair price, and consider marketing the events individually to the public

My full retreat was priced as a package including accommodations, transport, all meals, and 3 days of activities. I also advertised the events individually to locals that might have been interested in attending one or more of the events. This helped include local energy, bring in a little extra money, and add variety to the group. 

As a yogi, it's important that we adjust our prices when someone comes to us in great need. I negotiated with a few people to lower the price so that they could afford the opportunity to come and heal. Two of these guests canceled, but the simple gesture of giving manifests abundance even if we don't see it right away.

7. Start to advertise no later than 8 weeks before your event

Some websites won't advertise your retreats if it's too close to the start date (ie. I learned this the hard way. Depending on the location, guests may need more time to buy tickets and schedule time off work anyhow. I didn't pay for any digital advertising for this retreat, instead relying on personal connections and my own social media promotion.  I designed and printed 20 flyers and posted them on my island, an adjacent island, and the closest major city. I took the flyers to community halls, book stores, vegan restaurants, organic markets, incense shops, and a ceremonial tattoo studio.

8. Plan for early arrivals or late departures

Some of your guests may be flying to your destination, while others might be arriving from a nearby area. It's a good idea to have enough food, accomodations, and activitites for the guests arriving a few days/hours early or staying after the official retreat closing. This is optional, but I felt it would have felt exclusionary to deny a meal to a hungry guest just "because the retreat hadn't officially started". 

9. It's not about you

As excited as you may be about your first retreat, or future travels, or your own waves of emotion, remember that the retreat is not about you. It's about the guests, their needs, listening to their stories, and understanding what they need to heal. It's important to share your insights, speak your truth, and be available to listen and respond- BUT the focus should stay on the guests and their journey.

10. Trust and believe in yourself

You can do this! You don't need to study for 4 more months, read 3 more books, buy a new yoga outfit, or lose 10 lbs. Trust in yourself and your own yoga practice. If you feel doubt or anxiety, meditate, relax, and use your knowledge of breath work to move through these mental blockages. Visualize a successful retreat, a workshop full of people, an accomplished feeling you. The best way to learn how to host a retreat is by taking the plunge and going for it.

11. Schedule a rest day

The retreat ended on Sunday, and Monday proved to be a day of few accomplishments. I canceled my previously scheduled yoga class because I felt that my body and spirit needed rest. I took a nap, a long bath, and started cleaning the rental house. I drafted this blog post before watching a favorite movie and going to bed early. If you're in a position to allow for a day of rest, reflection, and integration then allow that time for yourself. You deserve it!


Lady Bouley
24 Hrs w/ The Truck- Any Regrets?

I wake up early to buy the truck from the owner, Scott Strange, at the Swartz Bay ferry terminal. It's pouring rain and the truck sits alone in a parking lot with smoke flowing out of the chimney. I knock on the door and crawl inside to join Scott and his dog in the back. Big rain drops tap on the aluminum roof and the fire crackles as he teaches me about the wiring and battery set up. I jump in the driver seat and nervously put her into gear. I've driven bigger and boxier things (like a food truck along Highway 1) but that wasn't fun either. We get on the highway and I realize, hey it's not so bad! I'm nervously laughing and driving WAY under the speed limit, but I'm doing it. I awkwardly park the truck, fill up the gas tank ($120, ouch) and drive through a small downtown area. 

Okay good, I don't mind driving something this size. Phew. I do want to install a back-up cam ASAP though.

Papers signed, money exchanged, hugs given, and the truck is officially mine. I cautiously drive the truck onto the ferry where I'm sandwiched between the other commercial trucks. I can't help but call my mom and brother to share my excitement. Once I arrive on my island, I drive home to park her where she'll sit for a few months getting renovated. 

I'm too tired to set up my bed so I turn off the lights, say goodnight, and leave her until tomorrow. 

Day 1

The sun hasn't even risen but I'm so excited I can't sleep. I make a chai tea and head up to the truck. My first day in the truck is spent feeling out the space, drawing floor plans, playing ukelele, and keeping the wood stove going. I dig around and see what treasures have been left behind like Coltrane cassette tapes, dirty dishes, a selfie-stick, and eagle feathers. I burn some sage and give a blessing of gratitude. I love that I can fully stand up in the truck, and even stretch my arms completely over my head which means I'm feeling that #yogainspo

I'm in love. 

Day 2

I wash the dirty dishes left behind and take some pictures of the space. My friend helps me change the spark plugs after showing me how to take the engine cover off. I'm excited to learn about the engine, which is a very good thing. She's in decent condition but with 100,000 miles I know things will come up. 

I have another fire, do a few more drawings, and set up my sleeping area. Scott was a dirty man with a dirty dog, but I don't mind the mess. I see it as unlimited potential for improvement! 

I set a mason jar on the back of the stove to reheat the tea inside. I immediately wonder if this is a good idea and decide to Google it. Before the answer loads, sizzling tea is boiling off the stove and the bottom of the glass jar has melted off. Wow. Dangerous. 

I realize that I'll have to sell my desktop for a laptop, as the energy demands are beyond what I'll have access to with limited solar and battery power. I will always smell like a camp fire, and so will everything I own. In the event of a fancy outing, I'd like to have a clean smoke-free outfit but this may be futile (I'll let you know). It feels like home, but in a novel "I'm camping!" kind of way. To feel fully comfortable, I really want to have a proper kitchen with water and propane, some sort of compost potty, and a warm shower set up. There is plenty of room for all of these things, and I plan to make it happen before leaving Canada in the coming months. 

I get the truck nice and warm before crawling into bed with my 12-volt electricity manual. I look out the foggy window and see the moon peaking above the tree line.

I'm in heaven. 

I wake up in the middle of the night and decide to pee in a jar to avoid the rain. I don’t position myself quite right and realize all too late that I’ve peed on my rug instead. I scold myself like a puppy and have a laugh. The rug is rubbish anyway.

And it’s all part of the learning process. 

I've been dreaming of this for over a year, yet I'm totally nervous to have poured all of my money into something I know so little about. I'm grateful to all the people in my life that will help me succeed in this venture. But I'm also excited about all the things I get to learn in the coming months. I enjoy challenging myself and conquering fears- it's how we grow. 

So 24 hrs with the truck and absolutely no regrets. Only bigger dreams


 What a gift to wake up to forested views.

What a gift to wake up to forested views.

Lady Bouley
TINDER- It's not just for dating

Online dating isn't only for lonely basement types like we assumed back in the 90's. Apps like Tinder have really changed the game making online meet ups ubiquitous. I personally know of 3 happy millennial couples that met through Tinder. Depending on your intention, it can be a great platform to meet partners or friends all over the world. And it's always good for a laugh.

I've used Tinder off and on for the last 2 years while traveling. My profile makes it clear that I'm NOT looking for a hook-up, and instead hoping to connect with vegans, van lifers, yogis, photographers, etc. I'm open to hitting it off with someone, but that's never my original intention. Honestly, I do feel that the community supports connections of all types, even those with genuinely platonic intentions. 

Yes, yes, I'm aware that using Tinder as a woman is a very different experience than as a man, but plenty of people are just looking to make new friends with like-minded people. There's a YouTube Vlogger @SusiCruz who says she uses Tinder to find showers on the road! To check out her video on living in a van as a woman, click here.


I wanted to volunteer in Nepal but wasn't sure where to look. I'd planned to volunteer for an orphanage until learning of the destructive ramifications and human-trafficking associated with this type of "voluntourism". Nepali orphanages often manipulate poor parents, imprison their children in destitute conditions, and then profit hugely from well-meaning tourists coming to 'help the orphans'. For more information on that issue and why you shouldn't ever volunteer internationally without proper research, click here. 

Once I got to Kathmandu, I opened up Tinder and made a profile mentioning that I was looking to volunteer. Nish and I matched a few days later. We met up for dinner with several other people from his organization, and the next morning we were off to a rural village. I worked with Nish's NGO for 3 months and am personally in touch with many of the people I met through that experience. 


When I arrived back in The States, I traveled around Upstate New York staying with friends and family. Upon arriving in Hudson, I was offered an assistant position for the talented video artist Mika Rottenberg. I jumped on the opportunity even though I didn't have anywhere to live. And that's where Tinder saved the day.

Earlier that week, I had matched on Tinder with a local named Greg. He and his roommate invited me over for a dinner on their sheep farm. I replied to his dinner invite saying, YES I would love to come over but that I was also looking for a place to live for a few days. I pitched a tent on their porch and stayed all summer. This was another beautiful Tinder situation where I made friends and connections that I hope last a lifetime. 


Most recently in B.C., I met up with a fellow artist through Tinder. When telling him about my #vanlife dreams, he mentioned that his friend was selling a converted box truck. The exact thing I was looking for! We ditched our evening plans and drove 1.5 hours to check out the truck. Dylan and I became friends, and I bought the truck. TINDER FOR THE WIN

So when someone swears off social media, or deletes their Facebook, or mocks Tinder- I get it. These platforms can be soul-sucking and driven by egotism BUT they can also link you with amazingly cool people all over the world. I can't imagine ever getting rid of FB because of how much it helps facilitate my travels. It's also a perfect way to stay in touch with friends I make on the road. As for Tinder, I use it with varying frequency but certainly find is fun and useful when showing up in a new city.

Lady BouleyComment
10 Tips for Backpacking Europe on a Budget

The first tip for backpacking Europe on a budget is to go to South East Asia instead. Ha! Well, I’m half kidding. Ideally it’s a good idea to plan trips to locations where the exchange rate is in your favor, but you might wind up on a flight to London and just have to figure it out. This happened to me last year when I flew to the UK for a two week trip with very little money. What did I do? Had a great time and trusted that it would all work out.

1. Bring snacks. 

My trip was 16 days in total, so I packed 16 Lara Bars giving me 2 weeks worth of breakfasts. 

Pair that with an organic apple or banana from a local grocery store and I’ve spent next to nothing for one meal of the day. I also know plane food to be underwhelming and limited in GF/Vegan options, so I usually pack extra goodies for the flight over too (nuts, seeds, dried fruit, fresh fruit, chocolate, bliss balls, etc.).

2. Carry a water bottle

It's worth the weight in your bag because saves on plastic and dollars.

3. Couch Surf

After 15 nights in Europe, I hadn’t spent a single Euro on accommodations. 

Announce your travel plans on Facebook and that you’re looking for a place to crash. Even if you don’t have (or don’t think you have) any friends in that city, you might be surprised what connections come from asking. If nothing pops up, the next best option for free accommodation is Set up your free profile making sure to take your time and be thoughtful. Most importantly, choose your couches wisely and trust your intuition. I’ve surfed couches with all types of folks, but I always search for women first. I’ve had wonderful and memorable experiences allowing me to connect with local cultures in a unique way. *Tip* It’s nice to give a little something to your host when couch-surfing, though never expected. I’ll make an extra large dinner to share with the house or treat my host to coffee the next morning.

4. Cook your own meals

If you have access to a kitchen, use it!

I like walking to the closest grocery store because it helps me get a feel for the neighborhood, which will come in handy when trying to navigate in the coming days. I also check the discount bins for organic produce and other essentials. It’s also nice to have some fruit and nuts on hand for long train rides, unexpected late nights, etc.

5. Use public transit

Even after lots of practice, I still dislike navigating a new city via public transportation. Taking an Uber can often be faster and cheaper if split between a group of 3 or more travelers, but this isn’t true if you’re traveling alone. In that case, public transport saves the most money for sure. 

Google your route beforehand so you know what’s coming in regards to distance and time. It’s good to read a bit on how to use the bus/metro/taxis before arriving at the airport, but showing up and asking around will work too. Apps like Google Maps and allow you to download city areas into “offline mode”. Do be sure to download the maps while you still have Wifi, but these apps can certainly help when you don’t have data. Another trick for getting around without data is searching your route via Google Maps while at a cafe and then simply take screenshots or being careful not to refresh the page. 

6. Shop second hand

If you realize you’ve left an important item out of your backpack, try to live without it. If that’s not an option, always check thrift stores before buying new. Except underwear...though I recommend living without them in general.

7. Multi-city tickets & layover deals

Multi-city plane tickets allow you to choose two locations to visit with varying amounts of time between flights. It’s not always a better deal, but it can be. Worth checking. Another trick is to book a ticket to a large (more affordable) city that has a layover in your actual destination of choice. As long as you haven’t checked any bags, just get off the flight at the layover location and skip the second part of the flight. This can be a good way to save money on a ticket, but again, only if you’re not checking your luggage. Even with a cheap flight, there is probably a cheaper bus or train if time is less of an issue. 

And f*** EasyJet.

8. Student ID

If you’re a student (or were a student) and still have your College ID laying around, be sure to bring it along even if it’s expired. I’ve gotten discounted movie tickets and lowered admission fees at lots of places just because I asked. By the way, all national museums in the UK are free, as is the daily newspaper. 

9. Search for free events

If I find myself in a new city with no plans, I’ll see whats going on around town. You can visit coffee shops and look at the community boards, pick up a local magazine, or start a conversation with someone and ask! Online is great too- check FB events or Google “Amsterdam Free Events Today Thursday January 4th”. 

10. Maximize your cafe or museum visit

Is it cold and rainy? Want a coffee? Also need to use Wifi to schedule your next Couch-Surf or buy a bus ticket? Before I go to a cafe for an (often) overpriced coffee, I plan out how long I can stay there and how much work I can get done. I bring chargers and sometimes a sneaky snack to minimize money spent. If you order a tea, most places will refill your mug with hot water again which doubles your warm beverage for no extra cost. I will splurge on a snack if they have GF vegan food because it’ll be yummy and I like to support those menu choices. Libraries and big book stores can also be nice places to charge your phone and relax for a bit, sometimes for free!

Lady BouleyComment
A New Year, A New Blog

Funny that I choose to start blogging about my life again having recently moved to a tiny island with limited WiFi. I’ll be able to write from wherever my computer is (currently a lovely little cabin overlooking the ocean) and then drive into town for an upload if needed. I quite like it this as it gives me an excuse to get a cup of coffee from the cafe, or peruse the art books at the library. But more about life on the island to come.

I keep meeting people who want to write a book about their lives. Actually, it's often the friends of these humble heroes who've repeatedly encouraged them to write a book about their lives. So when a fascinating older woman with the heart of a lion finishes sharing an incredible story, and I say, “Wow. You should write a book”, she’ll reply with a sigh, 

“I know, I know. I probably should.”

My life is far less interesting than most of those around me (and much shorter at this point) but I suppose I have some interesting stories of my own to share. Or at least, that’s what some friends tell me. 

After backpacking through several developing countries during 2016, I found that I had a lot to say. So I tried to sum it all up by putting together a short book. 

See another post to hear a bit about that same winter. Or not. Essentially, the magical universe provided me with an amazing dog sitting job in Upstate New York. I took the job specifically to work on creative projects, planning to take full advantage of being isolated and stationary. 

The two-story home comprised equally of wood and windows, always felt cozy and warm inside. The forested view beyond the windows was breathtaking- both in summer and winter. I had two blonde roommates, Penny and Viña, both sweet Spaniel mixes. Each morning started with us on a gentle hike back through the property, investigating the frozen pond and playing in the fresh snow. Each night ended with us jumping into my cold bed snuggling up for warmth. Nothing else much happened that winter. 

I stayed at this home from New Years to early Spring, enjoying the small town of Chatham, New York and making friends through art, activism, and the gym.

As planned, I sifted through the previous 365 days of sound recordings, photographs, videos, sketchbooks, and journal entries. The book laid itself out to be half photographs, half insights- all inspired by experiences while backpacking around the world. I had the perfect setting to focus inwardly and put together a book.

As it turns out, that didn’t make it easy.

I discovered whole new ways to procrastinate, every day! By the time I finished the layout, I just wanted the project to be finished and out of my life. I should have given myself another extension to wait for a test print copy, but I was over it. 

So after 2 months of battling against myself, sharpening my procrastination skills, and gaining major respect for actual authors, I published my first book/magazine, Travel Now Pay Later. It’s definitely a 1st go at it, but I'm endlessly proud of the final product.



So that was last winter. Back to the present. Right. Write. Writing a book….about my life. Our lives. Everyone has such interesting and unique life stories, we should all be writing books! But to start from the beginning all over again? …I can already feel myself dragging my feet. The struggle is real. 

So instead, I’ll keep things tranquilo and just share the odd story when I feel inspired to do so. It might come along with some field recordings, a podcast interview, some photographs, or a little video here and there. It might have to do with yoga, consciousness, tattoos, or traveling. It might not have to do with any of those things. 

Feel free to periodically check out the blog, or follow me on any of the social medias. I’m not sure how often I’ll post things, but I’ll always keep it interesting. And if you disagree, do let me know.



If you’re curious about my first published book, Travel Now Pay Later, you can order a printed copy or download the free e-book by clicking here.

Lady BouleyComment
Decembers to Remember

December Reflections.

Two years ago I boarded a plane to Bangkok on a one-way ticket with no expectations. 

One year ago I drove to New York to be present for the passing of my Grandfather, spending the remainder of the winter house sitting in solitude. 

And this year,  I’ve found myself on a 17 km Canadian island in the Pacific NorthWest.

December 2015. 

With my college scholarship nearing expiration, I decided to maximize the discounted tuition by enrolling in a study-abroad program. I wanted to study photography, as I had a lot of interest without much experience. There were a lot of photography courses in Europe, but I wanted to go to a place where I could really challenge myself. I chose Thailand.

After several long flights and plastic tray meals, I arrived in Bangkok wide awake and fully exhausted. I grabbed my bags and handed the taxi driver an address on a wrinkled piece of paper. Amidst a city of concrete and chaos, we arrived at a treehouse hidden behind a curtain of vines at the end of a quiet alley. I had never met Sue, and I arrived at her house while she was still at work. The two women that greeted me didn’t speak English and the phrase I memorized in Thai didn’t translate. We all laughed awkwardly and I was silently shown around the house. 

I later learned that Sue’s father built the home before passing away, his whimsical loving energy still very much alive. The living room was a small rectangle with low ceilings and a dark wooden staircase that stretched out of view. The walls were hidden behind old photographs, traditional Thai artworks, and Buddhist sculptures. A fluorescent light flickered above us. Three smaller rooms connected themselves: a kitchen, a bathroom, and a glass-encased studio-turned-bedroom. We walked up two flights of stairs, passing 2 other bedrooms, with the last stair ending at a traditional wooden door. The maid slid open the door to reveal an outdoor living room with wooden floors, several canvas chairs, and carefully placed antiques. Tropical birds sang from the trees surrounding the house, and the pond bubbled below. This level contained three additional bedrooms- each its own self-contained glass box with sliding doors. 

My room consisted of a twin bed, a desk, a sink, a closet, and a much appreciated A/C unit. Outside my room was a typical Thai toilet with a small bucket of water in place of toilet paper. A tightly spiraled staircase led to a rooftop garden surrounded by old trees, potted seedlings, and a clear view of the Bangkok skyline. Amazing to be tucked away in a jungle treehouse separate from the chaos of the busy and loud city.

Sue left a sticky note on my bedroom door welcoming me to her country. She also wrote the WiFi password and suggested I shower, eat, and rest until she arrived. I unpacked my towel and walked downstairs to the bathroom for a quick rinse. The bathroom had no recognizable shower, so I peeked around to see if I had missed another room for showing. Kitchen, closet, studio. No other such imagined showering rooms existed. Perplexed, I found the maid and pointed at my towel while gesturing my confusion. She led me back to the same bathroom (where I could see no shower) and nodded. 

Well, okay then. I went into the bathroom, closed the door behind me, took off my clothes, and started scanning the tiled room for clues. 

Toilet, little spray gun next to the toilet, sink, big bucket of water, little bowl floating in the bucket, floor drain, and a showerhead attached to the wall. Was I supposed to get into the bucket? No, it’s too small. Am I supposed to turn on the shower head and just soak the entire bathroom? The room was completely dry so that didn’t seem right. Without coming to any conclusion, I decided to simply turn on the shower head and attempt to contain my splashing. The water came out surprisingly cold with an unimpressive amount of pressure. The water heater only made the temperature slightly less cold. Feeling courageous, but also like I was certainly doing something wrong, I took my cold shower quickly.

I guess this is what they refer to as culture shock.

When Sue came home, I told her the whole story and we fell into a fit of laughter-our first of many. Apparently I HAD done it correctly. What a relief. She also informed me that Thais don’t use toilet paper. Instead they use water in a similar fashion to the little sprayers on American kitchen sinks. They say its much more efficient and hygienic than toilet paper, and I would have to agree. I learned to love the “bum guns” but not the ensuing swamp ass that never went away in the hot Thai weather.

Those unforgettable first few hours in Thailand set the stage for an incredible journey full of new experiences and continued lessons in letting go of control and expectations. I spent a week at Sue’s in Bangkok before traveling on north to the mountainous region of Thailand. Of all the places I’ve ever slept, Sue’s treehouse is one of the most unique and inspiring. I frequently popped in and out of my room at Sue’s throughout the 7 months I traveled in Asia. 

I spent Christmas alone in a little backpacker town called Pai. The weather was hot and sunny, in strange juxtaposition of the poorly-covered Christmas music being sung from touristy restaurant and shop speakers. I treated myself to a foot massage, ate at a delicious vegan restaurant, and went to sleep early in my private bungalow along the river.


Becoming nomadic. 

Challenging myself and learning how to use a camera. 

Letting go of expectations.


 Sue Sue in Bangkok

Sue Sue in Bangkok

 Sue Sue's Tree House

Sue Sue's Tree House

December 2016.

I found myself in Atlanta for a short visit having recently returned from a backpacking trip through Europe. I had a housesitting gig in Upstate New York starting after the New Year and wanted to make the most of my time in Atlanta before driving up north.  Not yet too cold in Atlanta, I scheduled an outdoor body-paint photo shoot with two models and another local photographer, Joe. The shoot fell apart the day of, but Joe and I were still able to make it happen with a friend modeling on short notice. We arrived on location to scout out the best area and found a beautiful old tree stretching itself over the water. 

As we discussed lighting conditions, a small bird repeatedly fluttering around our heads. Assuming we were near a nest with a protective mother, we decided to move further downstream. The little bird followed us, occasionally swooping down and hovering in front of our faces. I held up my camera for a test shot, and the curious bird landed directly on my lens. I slowly lowered the camera from my eye, and to my surprise, the bird stayed perched on the end of my camera while we observed each other. After about 30 seconds, the bird flew off of my camera and landed on Joe’s lens! Unreal. It was an amazing experience that left us all in a state of pure enchantment. 

 Big love @ Joe M for this capture

Big love @ Joe M for this capture

Within the hour, I received a call from my brother, Kirk, telling me that our Grandfather was dying in New York. 

I ended the shoot early and rushed back to Joe’s to gather my things. Having already planned to drive up to New York later in the month, Kirk and I shifted things around and decided to leave that evening and drive straight through the night. We packed up as quickly as possible and raced through traffic to the other side of town. Back at Joe’s apartment, a friend offered me a bong hit to settle my anxiety. I exhaled a cloud of smoke into what became a full-blown panic attack. Bad idea. With blurred vision, I hurriedly packed up my supplies and rushed out of the apartment. Shaking and hyperventilating, I tried telling myself that I was okay. I’d put off changing my car’s burned out headlight, which I deeply regretted as I pulled out of the parking deck into rush hour Atlanta traffic. 

Once back at my house, I started to pack. I needed to pack as quickly as possible for the next 3 months, but I was dizzy with stress and anxiety. Not to mention, very much too high. I threw a bunch of things in a backpack, all my winter clothes in a trash bag, and crammed my car trunk with any art supplies I thought I might want. (It took me several days to realize that I had left my bag of winter clothes behind, and filled my backpack with all of my favorite summer clothes). 

With my car packed with what seemed to be all necessary things, (but was actually quite the opposite) I crossed town to pick up my brother letting him take the wheel. He drove all through the night arriving in Eden, New York 14 hours later. As we pulled onto my Grandmother’s street, my car died. A few days later, my Grandfather died. 

I spent that Christmas with my Father’s side of the family, frequently carpooling between the hospital and my Grandmother’s house. The cold and somber drives were heavy with emotion, unaffected by the glittering of small-town Christmas lights.


The bird with a message. 

The passing of a great man. 

A cold and solitary winter.


60 years of marriage...

Grammy holds her husband's hand the day before his passing.

 My other Grandparents, Al and Jeanne, holding hands before my Grandfather's passing at age 101.

My other Grandparents, Al and Jeanne, holding hands before my Grandfather's passing at age 101.

December 2017

My friend Zeuss is a charitable pirate, with a collection of boats and two long red braids that frame his friendly face. He invited me over to his place, nicknamed Water World, for a Tea Ceremony. Without question, I decided to wear my lucky pirate boots to this special event. I planned my outfit around the shoes. Dressed and walking to my car, I nearly slipped and fell on the ice and immediately decided to put on my more industrial boots.

This is the struggle of being fashionable on the island.

I drove through wooded property down to his driveway and parked near the entrance to his dock. It was early evening but already very dark outside, and the slippery wood walkways were covered in ice and otter poo. Using my iPhone light, I cautiously inched my way to the end. I was proud of my awareness to choose the more suitable boots. The harbor water was black and the horizon foggy. I was able to piece the setting together in my mind using clues from the twinkling lights of rocking boats and the occasional vocalization of a bird from shore. My exhale created a big cloud illuminated by a skinny moon. 

Within a few minutes, I heard a small boat off in the distance and assumed it to be Zeuss coming to pick me up. As the approaching boat got louder, I couldn’t help but laugh in amazement and excitement of this entire situation.

Zeuss and I rode the little dingy across the harbor for 30 seconds before arriving at Water World. His floating compound is a combination of multiple large wooden docks supporting a floating workshop, an impressive stretch of solar panels, and his self-created Tri-Maran; 1,200 sq. ft of Catamaran/House Boat GLORY. Two additional boats were parked alongside the compound, and remember, it took us a boat to get there. I told you, he’s a Pirate. 

I jumped from the dinghy onto a small square dock and hop-scotched across three others before arriving at the front door of his home. A creepy mask hung in the door’s circular window acting as “his security”, and a rubber chicken squawked as the door swung open. A tiny bell jingled and the warmth from the wood stove pulled us in. 

The boat had a front office complete with a writing desk, reclining chairs, and a full library. Adjoined to the office was a master bedroom, two bathrooms (including a bathtub and laundry facility), and the main living room: a large open kitchen with a dining table, several large wooden chests full of costumes, and a multitude of instruments. 

Seated on blanket-covered couches, were the other two guests, Lauren and Tanya. Together with another local woman, these ladies own a tea shop which also functions as the sole post office on island. The tea ceremony was a lovely candlelit display of ornate teapots accompanied by delicate pourings of aged oolong. Warm conversation about the subtleties of flavor and the history of tea plants kept us up late into the evening. 

The whole experience was truly magical. And I feel that the rest of my time on this island will surely follow suit. I take these little beautiful occurrences as signs that I am exactly where I am supposed to be. I try to feel this way where ever I travel and with whatever decisions I make.

I’m always exactly where I should be.

 Where I'm currently calling home.

Where I'm currently calling home.

 Winter Sunset at Montague Harbor

Winter Sunset at Montague Harbor

I hope you have a Merry Christmas, a Happy Holiday, or whatever it is that you desire most this time of year.




P.S. If you’re interested in knowing more about Zeuss, seeing his water compound, or learning about life on Water World, let me know. If there was interest beyond my own, I would happily make a mini-doc about my fascinating new friend and his unique way of life. I probably will either way. 

P.P.S. I’d rather attend holiday parties than edit this blog post another time so please forgive any typos. 

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