If you haven’t visited Venice Beach, California- it’s a special place. Along the Venice Boardwalk there are many street vendors and most of them are “Home Free.” Home free being what most would call “homeless.” While the residents here might not have a brick and mortar home, they do have a home and neighbors AND a beautiful back yard with a million dollar view. Just like you and me they they like to keep a nice yard and safe neighborhood, but more importantly they want to love and be loved. I’ve gotten to know, and learned a lot from, some Venice residents this week and this is the story of, Dom, my favorite.

Connection Coddiwomple

 

Early Friday morning I went for a quick swim in the Pacific. On the way out I saw a lady pacing while wearing just pajamas and socks on the beach: head down and seriously searching for something in the sand. On the way back from the surf I saw her again- in full search mode. I said “Good Morning.” She looked up at me softly, but straight in the eye and matter-of-factly said “Thank you. I needed that.” Then instantly she went back to searching, pacing and scouring the sand. About 20 seconds later she yelled something to me, which I couldn’t understand because of a helicopter overhead. She yelled again—I could see the passion in her face, her mouth move, and her entire body lean forward with each word. I still did not hear what she was saying. I pointed up to the helicopter and gave her a “Sorry, I don’t know what you are saying” shrug. We both stood there about 50 feet apart staring at each other waiting for the helicopter to go.  Then it did, and she yelled to me at the top of her lungs again: “WE ARE QUEENS BECAUSE WE KNOW LOVE!!”

Wow. I gave her a smile and a thumbs up. Then she immediately went back to searching and pacing again.

After lunch I saw her standing by her home on the Boardwalk. I walked up beside her and asked “Did you find what you were looking for?” As if she expected me to ask, and without looking up, she answered “no, but I found something else,” all the while continuing doing what she was doing.

She was a passionate young woman living in her own world… just like the rest of us. She seemed upset, even angry. I tried to connect and have a conversation, but she spewed back her story and her view of an unfair world. No matter how gentle and inquisitive I was, she continued on. It’s as if I could see her thoughts spinning a million miles an hour, her tongue not able to keep up, but doing its best. She was a human mannequin with a moving mouth, trapped by her thoughts in an apparent world full of hate towards her, towards those that came before her, and towards everyone that looked like her. There also seemed to be a lot of her own anger aimed toward people that, given the chance, might (probably) hate her. She definitely saw me standing there, but it seems she mostly saw my skin.

I could hear the love softly and fully embracing all of the fear and anger that spewed from her lips. I wanted to hug her and tell her we could be friends… There was no space for that at all. So I stood and listened, to the almost incomprehensible deluge of words falling from her lips like the water over ten Niagara Falls. Then I said it. Firmly, yet gently I said exactly what popped up to say… it passed over my lips almost before I realized it was there: “There is so much love in your anger…”

Poof! She instantly stopped mid-sentence, looked me straight in the eye and fiercely threw down the book she was holding. She then stomped off- yelling violently, her anger now full blow rage. She stomped and yelled at an invisible partner- circling around me several times. I reached for her once, she kept going as if I wasn’t there: round and round in rage. I stood quietly listening: waiting and wondering what might happen next.

Just as instantly as she started, she stopped while looking me in the eye- proclaiming “Look at this! It takes a white woman to understand me! You DON’T know ME!!!  But you do!” (This is paraphrased because from that moment on, the words coming from her mouth were that of someone that might be described as a Buddha Protégé… much of it entirely too deep for me to fully understand)

Her words were beautiful and descriptive- she got it. She got life. She understood deeply so many ideas and principles that many can’t comprehend in a lifetime of searching and studying. She was passionate, strong, philosophical, and spoke the Truth. I was amazed and the only thing I came up with to ask was “How old are you?” She was 19. Unbelievable: 19 years old and living under a tarp on the beach in Venice, CA. Her short platinum hair sprinkled with sand, her complexion perfectly clear, but dusted with a life lived home free. Her clothes looked the part of living under a tarp, but now her face and expressions didn’t.

We spoke some more, I asked a few questions, most of which she answered. We connected. When I asked what she’d most like to do if she could do anything, her answer: “I want to change the world.” Given the chance I’m sure she will. She is trapped in her own beliefs (just like you and me). She told me all the reasons she couldn’t. I hoped and wanted her to know she could. She read me several of her poems, some of which I did not understand… mostly because she is wise lifetimes beyond her years and I could not wrap my mind around what she was attempting to describe.

She gave me her first name: Dom. I wanted to give her something more- all I did was wonder with her: “I wonder what it would be like; what you and the world would be like if the anger was left to lie and you came from love….” and that was it.

She asked for my Instagram name- I wrote it on the last page of her book of poetry because I knew she would keep that book with her. My hope is to stay connected and I shared this with her.  I reminded her that she had the reigns and can find me anytime, but that it is up to her to take that step. I hope she does… I hope she takes many many more steps.

My bet is I learned much more from her than she will ever learn from me (these are just a few):

First, I learned to never skip a chance to say “Good Morning” 🙂

I learned connection comes in many forms.

I learned we can absolutely connect with anyone.

I learned that sometimes calling out the truth, even if it brings momentary rage, can connect people in ways that seem unimaginable.

Most of all- I learned we can all be:

“Queens because we know love.”

-Dom  Venice Beach, California on January 19, 2018

 

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This time of year brings about an abundance of gift giving, although giving gifts is something we do year round. The thoughts and ideas in this article are applicable in all gifting circumstances, no matter how unique of common the occasion.

Codiwomple Now

Photo Credit: Elezabeth Jose https://fineartamerica.com/featured/christmas-in-the-snow-elizabeth-jose.html

This holiday season has been unique in that I find myself in a bit of a gift giving conundrum. It is now less than a week before Christmas and I haven’t purchased a single gift. Part of it is because my focus has been on shifting into my new mobile way of life rather than holiday gifts and part of it is because I’d rather give my loved ones experiences than material gifts. Interestingly my intuition about gifting meshes together perfectly with the science around value, gifts, and happiness. Hopefully you’ll find this as interesting as I do.

On Material “Stuff”

In the last week I have built friendships with many “everyday people” that happen to live and travel full time in their trailers. If you met them at Starbucks, you’d never guess their lifestyle was so different than most people. They have jobs, they have families, they have pets, they wear normal clothes… they seem average. Although, how they live is not typical at all.

What impressed me most was the simplicity and quality of their “stuff.” One couple, Chad and Rebekah, are in their 30s and have been living in their 25 foot Airstream with their dog “Dijon” for two and a half years. Their trailer was spotless and minimalist- it looked like a showroom model: beautiful, no clutter, and only the essentials. They invited me to ride to dinner with them and I sat comfortably in the back seat of their Toyota Tundra, which was clean and free of clutter. In fact, most people who have houses and garages have more in their backseat than Chad and Rebekah. They are extremely happy, travel freely, and love life… All the while owning very few material things. After meeting so many people that live for experiences while owning very little, I am realizing more and more that gifts of experience are far better than material things.

Gift Giving

Back to gifts—Gifts can be material things, experiences, a kind word or even a gentle hug at just the right time. Your complete presence and a listening ear are also gifts. BUT…. Most people would think that you were quite strange (and cheap) if you wrapped yourself in a bow and presented your “presence” to a loved one as their gift! So, let’s give gifts!! Gift giving research shows the benefits of giving experiences is monumental compared to giving material items.

Why experiences? When considering why we give gifts, there are many reasons. One of the fundamental reasons is to connect and foster relationships. Science Daily suggests: “People often struggle with the challenge of choosing what to give someone. If you want to give them something that will make them feel closer to you, give an experience.”  Another idea: Make it an experience that involves you and your loved one! Depending on your relationship and logistics, sharing the experience could up the gift giving ante even more for both the giver and the receiver.

Deciding What to Give

If you’d like to give an experience, but now wonder what to give, here are some ideas: What does your loved one enjoy doing, but rarely treats themselves to? What are his/her hobbies? What is something they have always wanted to do? What is a new or exciting experience you can share with them?

Examples Ideas:

  • A gift certificate to a movie, play, or concert and a gift certificate to their favorite restaurant: Your loved one can treat themselves and their special someone to a night on the town.
  • Gift them a skydiving experience, kayak or canoe rental, a gym membership, a museum pass, or tour of an art gallery.
  • Maybe they love to read: Consider eBook certificates, a year’s subscription to their favorite magazine, or internet membership site.
  • For families: tickets to a theme park, adventure course, or an annual state or national park pass.
  • For kids: A pizza party at an entertainment facility. A day at the beach or the park for them and 3-5 of their friends (you can provide their favorite picnic lunch too).

The possibilities are limitless! What ideas do you have? Please post them in the comments below.

Wrapping it All Up

We’ve all heard the old adage “it’s better to give than to receive.” Now we may have to add: “It’s better to give and receive experiences than anything else at all.” In the big scheme of things we all want to experience joy and happiness: We want to be happy and we want our loved ones to be happy. What constitutes happiness is different for everyone.

One thing is for sure: happiness doesn’t come from things. I love the saying “The most important things in life aren’t things.” Fostering and deepening relationships is one of the most important things in life. We each express love in our own unique way. Gifts are just one of the many expressions of love. This holiday season (and for the rest of your days): Give love. When choosing your gifts, be creative. Love what you give and give what they love… no matter what that might be.

Whether you’re celebrating Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, Solstice, Festivus, or anything else — I hope you have a very happy holiday filled with connections, love, and joy.

 

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Tomorrow, Thursday November 30th, I shift into a new way of living: Life untethered, living on the road full-time in my Airstream trailer.

Coddiwomple Now
95% of the time I am very excited and 5% of the time I wonder what the heck I am doing. The truth is: I don’t know what I am doing and that is a significant part of the adventure.

In January, six months before purchasing my Airstream, I named her “Coddiwomple.” I had no idea where I’d find her, but my dream was to live a mobile lifestyle and it was just a matter of time before me and my future home would find each other.

Ten months after naming her, Coddi (I’ll only call her “Coddiwomple” when she is in trouble!) and I are heading off on the grandest of adventures- the adventure of life untethered: purposefully traveling towards unknown destinations every day and every moment. Our adventures will be chronicled at CoddiwompleNow.com (my travel/adventure website will be live soon). The purpose of our journeys: to explore, connect with people, live life fully, and encourage everyone to do the same.

Coddiwomple: To travel purposefully towards an as-yet-unknown destination
Now: Why wait? “Someday” never comes

How often do you point yourself in a direction and take a step, not knowing how things will pan out, when surprises may pop up, or with whom you will meet and join up with along the way? Most of us do not Coddiwomple nearly enough. We each have the ability to point ourselves in a direction and begin taking steps towards an amazing future each and every day. So often we stop ourselves before starting because we can’t fully “see” exactly how we will get from where we are to where we want to go.

Here is a HUGE secret: You don’t have to know how it will happen because the unimaginable happens. Be open. Know that opportunities will appear- take them. Know that you will have creative ideas in the moment- you will shock yourself, let it happen. Know that if you don’t know how now, you will know how. Be open and go with it. Trust.

Consider this: how many of the most marvelous inventions and ideas were first doodled on a napkin? Why do you think this is? Is it because often the greatest ideas pop up when we aren’t trying to figure things out? Often it’s in the shower, on a walk, or while day-dreaming that brilliant thoughts arrive. It happens naturally and it will happen to you.

What is your dream? What do you aspire to be and do? Coddiwomple Now…. Why wait? Many people “someday” forever. Someday never comes. Make your someday today. Point yourself in a direction, take a small step, see what comes up, and take another step, then repeat. Coddiwomple Now.

Every moment has the potential to be a new beginning. A new beginning can be anything you wish: as simple as taking a different route to work tomorrow, massively changing your entire life, or anything in between. It’s up to you. What is your next new beginning? When will you begin? Consider purposefully pointing yourself towards that unknown destination… and starting now.

 

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