Full Time Travel with No Job & No Savings – Pt.1


It didn’t happen overnight, and it hasn’t often been glamorous, but it certainly has been beautiful and freeing.

It was a choice I made 4 years ago today that changed my life – I met with my manager at a job that everyone thought I was crazy to leave and gave notice. It “paid well” and I was advancing quickly. It simply wasn’t for me, and I was ready to set out into something new. I had no idea then what an adventure I would embark upon but it certainly has been worth it.

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November 16th, 2015 – Niagara Falls, NY

I like people to know that this lifestyle didn’t happen overnight. When I tell of my travels people immediately get curious as to how it is possible to spend almost all of my time traveling with no job and no savings.  It is more common to hear of people managing international travel this way – with exchange rates working in their favor – but all of my travel has been within the United States. It took about two years after leaving my big fancy job of working temp jobs, and building my online shop. During that second year away from corpo-government income, I removed rent from my monthly expenses, pared down my belongings and began floating between homes of friends and family. A few months later, I bought a minivan and let the real travels commence. There have been many days of complete uncertainty, but when I consider just what I unique life experience I have had, I feel completely satisfied.

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November 16th, 2015 – Niagara Falls, NY

This journey has taken me about 100k miles from East to west coast three times, and pretty much everywhere in between. I didn’t bother with a total van renovation like you often see when perusing the #vanlife hashtag. The conversion was easy, something anyone can do…

I want to elaborate more on this, but I also don’t want this post to go totally long winded. If you are interested in reading the rest of my story and travel hacks, please follow my blog!

Until soon…

xo

LauriLai

Blank Pages


I’m sitting in a fresh moment in time, always. I’ve found the distinction between what is now and what once was. The path is always clear, open to a new possibility.

Tonight I sit at my computer, staring at 80 blank pages in an InDesign document. The possibility of “authoring” a book. The bulk of my work is already complete as this book will be a compilation of my  favorite fisheye photographs from across the US taken over the past two years. 80 blank pages I intend to fill and publish before the month’s end.

Consider this my word. 5-6 pages per day. 5-6 photos to edit and place.

And now, I begin…

Updates soon.

xo

LauriLai

Strong


 

“Strong” oracle card by Jen Berlingo. Jenberlingo.com

Last night, my friend had me pull a card from her oracle set. I had just been pondering my own strength and my ability to pull off an upcoming art show, while running my business, staying on top of school work and keeping plans for the month.

I’ve also been considering it in a much larger context as of late. I can’t help but appreciate everyone I see as I pass through life these days… What I’ve realized is that everyone has a unique inherent strength about them, a quality that deserves the utmost respect. And yes- we are all deserving of said respect.

We’ve all come into physical reality to expand our being, the one that is eternal. From where I am standing in my physical body, I understand this as an agreement to forget who we are, to forget ALL that we are, and to come into life to discover possibility and enjoy the offerings of a physical world.

I can’t imagine agreeing to waking up in a place I don’t know with amnesia, even though it is what we all do. When you consider this deeply, and acknowledge that we’ve all arrived in this manner, you begin to sense the sameness of humans who may all appear different.

A baby is new from source, new into the world. A baby will be considered weak in regard to their physical ability and immune system. However, a baby is strong in what they haven’t learned. Some of our greatest weaknesses are learned- they are our conditioned responses to worry, have inhibitions, fear & doubt.

There is a strength in the homeless people I see asking for money. There’s surrender in that, which we are taught is weak. In turn it ends up taking a lot of inner strength to go out and ask for help.

Strength is overwhelmingly everywhere. This morning I wanted to share this card that will remind me of my strength and of the absolute power as an eternal being. I want to remind you all the same. You are inherently strong as anyone else. You deserve as much respect as anyone else. You are as loved as anyone else. Your eternal self admires you in everything you do as a physical being. Please remember that you are always strong in the core of your being and live life from that knowing. You are stronger than you may know.

Lots of Love…

-LauriLai

So you want to become an Amazon Seller?


Perspective: Becoming an Amazon Seller is serious business.

There are a quick few things that you MUST know before touching the entry portal into the seller section of your Amazon account. If – as an online entrepreneur – you want to expand through the Amazon platform – DO NOT take this message lightly. It may be a process that takes only a quick few minutes to set up, but if you aren’t fully prepared, you might lose access quickly with little to no explanation or second chance. I’m going off of my experience and those of many people I have read about in forums. I’ve read about a few services and classes you can buy that can guide you through restoring your account, but it seems like it’s best to just be really smart from the get go. If you haven’t yet begun this venture into Amazon Sellership- be sure to do it fully prepared and by the books!

I don’t really care about this because I seem to have lost my privilege of being an Amazon seller, but I figure I can probably save a few people from the unforgivable by sharing my story and a few final thoughts on the matter…

In the online selling world, I have sold: used, vintage, handmade, digital, and manufactured goods online over the past 15 years. A few years ago, I decided to start poking around in the Amazon seller’s area. I may have gone in with a business concept in mind, but really- I was trying to figure out what the platform was like and maybe begin light use of it to get a feel for it. eBay and Etsy had been my storefronts for several years, so I figured this was a possible next step. I recall eventually adding a few resale items that were already being sold by Amazon. One of the items sold and I shipped it out. I guess the others expired and I never renewed them. Later on, I became an affiliate. I added item links to a few places throughout my blog and vlog. They sent an email stating that I needed at least one sale or my account would be shut down. A few days later someone referred a friend to me for a recommendation on easy photo studio lighting. I sent them a link and as soon as the sale went through, my affiliate account got shut down. I’m not sure what I did wrong, but Amazon didn’t like it. I think that is when my seller account also got axed.

I’ve learned that Amazon doesn’t care AT ALL. Today I tried to create a new account as a platform for my a product that has been selling consistently on Etsy for two years now, but before I even finished the application the system told me that I was denied. The selection system seems to be automated, and if anything looks off with your account or information that can be linked to a previously closed account – AXED. But I’m not surprised. I imagine Amazon HQ already scrambling to fill employment needs at their warehouses. At the same time they are constantly being flooded with new seller accounts. They totally have the option of allowing only the most fit, most prepared and best performing sellers to use their marketplace and survive the automation, thus conserving their real manpower needs. Selling on Amazon is like starting a game – if you can get in and stay in by being top notch 24/7/365 – great! But if you aren’t always totally on top of things 100% from the start, you will lose the game and can’t exactly just start a new one.

Suggestions for those of you out there thinking about checking out the seller platform:

1.) Start a real business and make it as legit as you possibly can by doing as many of the following before even touching that Amazon Seller button:

  • Get a Tax ID Number (Try to avoid going in as a Sole proprietor using your SSN)
  • Use a business computer
  • Get a business address
  • Keep it separate from any personal Amazon accounts you may have or use
  • Use a business checking/credit card account

2.) Be ready to be active

  • Be ready with images and descriptions to add items
  • Be ready to be able to fulfill orders
  • Be ready to stay on top of this account- using it actively throughout the week (not just relying on when e-mail communication comes in)
  • Be sure to communicate with Amazon or customers quickly if they reach out to you.

And if you’re considering that affiliate program- focus on getting your site how you like it and have traffic going to the site first. I remember how easy it was to sign up for this- don’t let that tempt you if you still need time to get your website, vlog, etc. running smoothly and consistently. As you do get everything setup – be sure to read the fine print.

I also suggest looking into the various tutorials which have become available in the past year or so for using the Amazon seller/affiliate tools before creating your own account.

Becoming an Amazon Seller is serious business. Let’s face it, you are stepping into the spotlight of the entire world with your product – be prepared!  If you are in the same boat as me, or if you’re a wiz Amazon Seller, and have words of advice to share- please feel free to do so in the comments below!

Good luck to you, my fellow innovators – may you enjoy a long ride on the Amazon wave.

How living in my van for over a year has turned me into a worry warrior


I have lived in my van for over a year and traveled coast to coast to coast… What about it?

Well, I’m a woman, and I was alone for most of it. Before I go on, let me tell you about my van… it’s not as fancy as most of those #vanlife pictures you see on Instagram. I’m not a trust fund kid, nor do I have a sweet high paying remote job. As a matter of fact, I started living in my van out of necessity, I needed to dodge rent. With a sky high lump of debt to my name and desire for adventure in my heart, I pulled the seats out of the minivan that had been in my family since 2001. I replaced them with click-clack futon from Ikea with plastic storage bins underneath. The back hatch opens to a dresser and one of those plug-in coolers. That’s basically it. It’s so simple. The rear windows are tinted, so I didn’t bother with window coverings until about eight months in… two months later I had enough with the now bent and uncooperative springy curtain rods, tossed them in the trash, and went back to my uncovered window ways.

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Now, back to the point of this – how I became a worry warrior.
“Weren’t you afraid?” That’s probably the most commonly asked question when it comes to my grand vanventure. The truth is, I get my jollies and utmost satisfaction from crushing my fears in life. There’s a reward in falling asleep alone, in a van that hasn’t been specially decked out with window coverings.  I’d awake every morning to a feeling of success, I rarely laid awake terrified of what might happen. Actually, I’m quite certain that few people ever suspected that I was sleeping in the back of my minivan. What’s it to me if someone did notice me in there, peering in the tinted back windows bewildered by this sleeping girl? Nothing. What if something HAD happened? My plan all along if someone tried to break into my van while I was sleeping was this: climb up front and DRIVE AWAY.

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One time I found a 24 hour beach in Florida, I thought it would be a great place to park for the night. I was wrong! This was the only time I was ever asked to leave. I was awoken around 1am by a flashlight shining about. I was half delirious and am pretty sure that the police officer told me I could stay but there was some other authority on patrol and if they found me sleeping there, they would “lock me up.” I heeded his warning and relocated to the nearest WalMart parking lot I could find.
The most fear I ever felt came when I was camping in the wilderness with friends. We had just driven through Rocky Mountain National Forest in Colorado, crossing the Continental divide. Cruising back down out of the mountains, the brakes began to smoke. I decided that the next day, I would stop at a mechanic to be sure the brakes were not in need of servicing. For the night, we found a relatively flat, open space dispersed campsite. My friends set up their tent about 20 yards in front of the van. One incessantly talked about bears before they went off to their tent to tuck in for the night. I noted that with all of the food in the van with me, I was essentially sleeping in a giant cooler – just waiting for a bear to catch a whiff and come snooping around my windows. When I laid down, I noticed the slight downward slope that the van was parked on. As the van settled in the soft ground, the brakes moaned. I was suddenly washed with paranoia… “Great,” I thought, “not only is a bear going to come snooping and scratching at my windows but these brakes are likely to give out and I’ll be rolling straight toward my friends sleeping in their tent!” I climbed into the driver’s seat, considering turning the van on and moving it. I didn’t want to cause a stir and wake them up to a false alarm that a bear had come along. After sitting in the driver’s seat for several minutes I decided that I was being completely ridiculous. I’d leave the keys in the ignition and be ready to steer clear of my friends or come to their rescue should a bear sniff his way over to our camp. After a little while longer of imagining what might happen, my fear of a bear coming along turned into excitement… it might actually be neat to see a bear up close and I could just drive away if it was threatening. I finally fell asleep and somewhat to my disappointment, a bear never came. As for the brakes, they checked out A-OK with the mechanic.

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Another memorable night was on the Pacific Coast highway in California.  I found a small stretch that was lacking the typical “No Overnight Parking” signage. The pull off was narrow, cliff side, but there was another van parked there- one of those rentable van campers painted in all its faux-hippy glory. I was too tired to keep driving in search of a better spot, so there I parked. The van would rock side to side when a tractor trailer whizzed by. I managed to relax myself into sleep and didn’t get plowed off the cliff by a rogue truck.
Looking back over the past year of this unusual lifestyle, it’s so easy to see how little worry serves us. Thoughts happen and that’s fine. It’s when we think on those thoughts and the present moment spirals away from us. We create a delusion that cascades into damaging physiological responses and inhibits us from dashing forward into our glory. Next time you catch yourself letting a thought brew into worry, do what I did each night in the van. Breathe in deep, let every muscle relax and note the safety of the moment. Note what is real and what is only in your mind.

I Vlogged for 80 Days Straight


Leave the Vulture Behind

Discursive Reason’s a vulture, my poor friend:
Its wings beat above a decaying corpse.
The Saint’s Reason is  like the wings of Gabriel:
It soars in splendor, from stage to stage,
To rest in the shade of the Tree of Heaven.
It says, “I’m a royal hawk, I’m glorious and abundant, I’ve nothing to do with a corpse, I’m not a vulture—
Leave the vulture behind and let me be your guide.
Just one of my wings will be of more help to you
Than a hundred thousand vultures in full flight.”
-MATHNAWI, Rumi
This is the passage I opened to at random yesterday when my friend handed me her book “Teachings of Rumi.” Early yesterday morning, I decided to log out of Facebook and deactivate my account indefinitely. “Did something happen?” “Are you okay?” are some of the questions I have gotten from friends who noticed I was gone.  The answers are “No” and “Yes”.
With recent assessment of value for how and where I spend my time, it became undeniably clear that I had again fallen victim to the time leach of Facebook.  As I read the Rumi passage, I was attempting to upload what would have been Day 81 in a row of my vlog to YouTube. I am currently staying in the mountains of Massachusetts with slow WiFi and spotty cell phone coverage… the video never successfully uploaded. Despite beginning to lose interest in the vlog and feeling at odds with no real direction for it – I explained in episode 81 my reasoning for leaving Facebook and stated that I would continue my vlog. Though, this passage struck me with unexpected relevance. “Discursive” is the perfect adjective to describe my vlog content and the very reason I was beginning to wonder why I was continuing to do it in the first place. I was hoping that at some point I would find direction for it. After 80 days, I was continuing to hop from one topic to another, developing no continuity. The only thread of consistency was the actual practice of shooting, editing and uploading a video each day. Upon rising this morning, I saw that my video had failed to complete uploading overnight.  The words of this poem nagged along with a bizarre dream I had about escaping enslavement. Giving the upload one more try, I was teetering. “Perhaps this is a sign.” “Maybe I’m over this daily vlog project.” Again, it failed and even failed when my friend and I went into town where the 4G works well. There I had it. The loss of excitement combined with a realization that my time is more valuable than social media and aimless video creation marked the end of an 80 day stretch of non-stop vlogging.
I’ll go ahead and pat myself on the back for doing something 80 days in a row.
I did everything from travel/tourism and adventure to cooking, exercise, dance and comedy. The vlog is certainly a reflection of my crazy nomad life, but I desire to create a more focused stream of published content will add more value for my viewers.
If you are interested in seeing what I was up to from Easter Monday until two days ago, check out my YouTube channel at youtube.com/gogetblissed. Go ahead and subscribe- I haven’t quit vlogging! There will be more, but I’ll be going for quality rather than quantity…
Until soon.
Much love
-L

Chocolate Cake from S2E21


Here is the recipe for the chocolate cake I made in S2E21:

You will need:

1/2 C Coconut Oil

1/4 C Date Sugar

1/4 C Coconut Sugar

1 Egg (Or Chia Egg)

1/2 Milk (Sunflower, coconut, almond, etc)

2 tsp Vanilla Extract

2 C Flour Blend (1/2 C Ground Sunflower Seeds, 1/2 C Coconut Flour, 1/2 C Ground Pumpkin Seeds, 1/4 C Maca Powder, 1/4 C Lucuma Powder)

1/4 C Cacao Powder

1/4 C Carob Powder

3/4 tsp Baking Soda (Aluminum Free)

3/4 tsp Real Salt

3/4 C Hot Brewed Chicory Root Tea

1 TB Raw Apple Cider Vinegar

Preheat oven to 325 Degrees. Grease 12 cupcake moulds with coconut oil or line with papers.

Combine the flour, salt, baking soda, cacao powder and carob in a large bowl.

In a separate bowl, mix egg, sugars, vanilla, ACV, & milk until smooth.

Add wet to dry ingredients and mix – add in hot chicory brew and continue to stir until smooth.

Distribute batter evenly in cupcake tray. Bake for 25-30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into a cake comes out clean.

Top with chilled full fat canned coconut milk.