Year To Live Project Guidelines

Prior to landing in Nicaragua last year for a two month “figure shit out after shit fell apart” trip I wrote up 12 guidelines for while I was there. Knowing the time there was going to push me well out of my comfort zone but could also provide needed space for healing and introspection I wrote out some invaluable boundaries and concepts similar to the ones above. They did indeed provide support and guidance as I revisited them weekly.

Knowing the Year To Live Project will also benefit from similar guidelines, the following were created:

1. Be Vulnerable – I hate this one, and love it. After spending nearly 38 years working towards complete invulnerability (not the smartest choice) through athletic pursuits; martial arts, meditation, and education my world came crashing down last year and vulnerability was inevitable. Let’s just call 2015 the “Year Of Forced Vulnerability.” However it also taught me that vulnerability was the foundation of building real relationships, as well as maintaining honesty and integrity.

To quote Mindy Sonas “Vulnerability is the gateway drug. To happiness. To fulfillment. To real intimacy with your own life and alchemizing your deepest desires.” #vulnerableasfuck

2. Stay Present – Dwelling on the past isn’t going to change it. Staying lost in fear or fantasy about the future will only rob me of what’s happening then and there and the lesson it’s trying to impart. Present I will stay.

3. Give Yourself Permission To Heal – Much of this adventure was designed with healing in mind, my own and others. Holding on to pain and hurts from the past as a misguided way of “punishing” myself or anyone involved is not going to facilitate that healing. Permission to heal is granted. Please give yourselves the same.

4. Be Honest – Radical honesty all the way throughout this trip is vital. There are going to be beautiful aspects of it and equally intense challenges. My goal is to share this trip fully and publicly so that other people can benefit with me. Honesty is the path for all of us to get where we’re trying to go. Yay honesty.

5. Ask For Help – Another one I dislike, but a practice to develop. One of the beauties of traveling the world alone is that you absolutely need to rely on other people to find food, water, and shelter. I would have starved to death without a lot of helping hands in Nicaragua and the lesson was more than apparent – we’re all in this together. Go humans.

6. Stay Sober – The last time I had a drink or smoked a joint was January 17th, 2015. It’s been a very sobering year. I’ve made few incredible decisions in my life but the decision to eliminate any form of dissociation or numbing was surely one of them. I’m not going to drink next year at all. Or smoke, eat, or vaporize anything. Son Of a Bitch Everything’s Real. Staying sober is how I know to stay present, allowing myself to authentically experience the myriad of emotions and feelings this project has in store – as well to learn from them. Anyone who wants to join in, feel free to contact me if you have questions or need resources. Truly one of the most empowering decisions I have ever made.

7. Share Your Story But Don’t Dwell In It – I want to tell my story, I plan on it. It’s part of who I am now, it’s woven into the fabric of my being. But it’s not all of me. There’s more to me than what happened last year or before it. My life may have changed rapidly in 2015, but it’s changing for the better and last year was just one piece in a much grander tale. Sharing is caring. Dwelling isn’t.

8. Don’t Judge Anyone, Yourself Included – Nicaragua taught me to never judge a book by its cover. The confident woman who surfs like she’s on steroids, she just got her heart broken and is crushed emotionally. The old guy who never leaves the coffee shop, he literally used to be a rock star and now can’t get the love of his life back into the country for visa reasons. The alcoholic with the tattoos, his friend was killed in front of him last year. Everyone has a story that you don’t know about, just as you do. Listen to it before drawing any conclusions. No judging.

9. Deep Breaths – There’s not an awful lot that can’t be breathed through, so take lots of them. Deep ones. Even deeper. Fall in love with your breath and all of the nuances of it. When you aren’t able to breathe any more, things are shitty. Let’s all breathe together now.

10. Meditation & Writing Equal Freedom – Other than surfing, meditating and writing are my go to processes. Without them I am lost in the world with no way to understand, contemplate, or interpret what is happening to me, what I’m going through, or how to experience my life. I feel on the meditation mat and think on paper. Writing and sitting abound.

11. Stay Till The End, But It’s Ok To Leave – This was one of the greatest gifts I gave myself before Nicaragua, permission to leave if things got to a point where I couldn’t handle them any further. The desire was to stay and learn everything I could while down there and it was supported by knowing I had a judgement free “out” if need be. Since this trip has no real destination and I have no real home after this month, just knowing that I can pull the plug on it may be the difference between diving all the way in or not.

12. Love The Shit Out Of Yourself – Not much needs to be added to this one, it’s a good policy to have at all times.

What would you add if these were the guidelines for your own Year to Live Project? Let me know in the comments section below!

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