My First Time Circling the Globe

During the spring and summer of 2016 I took my first trip all the way around the world. I didn't even realize until mid-journey that I was actually circling the globe for the first time. Here's my itinerary:

Round The World Trip Itinerary

Round The World Trip Itinerary

April 25 - Los Angeles, CA to Melbourne, Australia

June 18 - Melbourne to Perth, Australia

June 19 - Perth to Bali, Indonesia

June 25 - Bali to Gili Air, Lombok

June 28 - Back to Bali

June 29 - Bali to Phuket, Thailand

July 4 - Phuket to Bangkok, Thailand

July 6 - Bangkok to Chiang Mai, Thailand

July 12 - Back to Bangkok

July 13 - Bangkok to Athens, Greece (Layover in Moscow)

July 15 - Bus from Athens to Nafplio, Greece 

July 19 - Bus back to Athens

July 20 - Athens to Venice, Italy.

July 23 - Train from Venice to Florence, Italy

July 25 - Train from Florence to Rome, Italy 

July 28 - Rome to Los Angeles 

It was a crazy 3 months overseas and I'm grateful for every moment. I'm currently planning my next adventure. I'm thinking Portugal, Spain, Morocco and Senegal.. but my initial ideas usually look nothing like what I actually end up doing so.. we'll see.

If you want to know any more about the places I visited, feel free to contact me!

xox

Lis

Closing Remarks - Farewell 2016

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I'm sitting on the floor by the fireplace, alone in a house tucked away in the White Mountains of New Hampshire. While the number of hours left in 2016 continues to decrease, I'm trying to process all of the things that have happened since this time last year. 2016 was unlike any other year so far, but I guess every year is different from the last. Between my own personal growth and setbacks and the massive shifts caused worldwide by political decisions, collective human behavior, the environment and so on, the past 12 months have been more unsettling than those that came before them.

I started off in January by moving out of the house I had lived in for a few years. I really didn't want to leave, but the owners of the house were moving back in, so I had no choice and not much of a warning. January was also the first time I spoke in front of an audience. I sing in front of people all the time and I love doing that, so this will be the same right? NOPE. Ha. I thought it went pretty terribly, other people said it was fine..but now at least I know that if I have to speak in front of a crowd and I totally suck, I'll survive. The embarrassment is now a memory and a story rather than an uncomfortable physical feeling. Most feelings do tend to fade in that sense over time. January did bring me my first real panic attack in years though, so that was fun. Especially because I was on a boat at the time, so there was no way for me to chill the F out. Thankfully this wasn't how I felt for most of 2016.

The rest of my year was full of travel, both international (Italy, Indonesia, Australia, Mexico, Thailand, Greece, England) and domestic (CA, NV, GA, FL, OR, TX, ME, MA, NY, NH) It was thrilling and it was exhausting. It was a mix of anxiety, serenity, hope, fear, confidence... confusion. I wouldn't change a thing. This part of my experience was so meaningful and so wonderful so I feel a little guilty hating on the whole year. Bad things happened, but those don't cancel out the good ones. They are two separate entities. It's not 2016's fault, right?

One thing I did realize was that I needed to have a home base when I returned from my travels. I had some things in storage, some in the trunk of my car, some at my friends houses.I had gotten so excited to travel the world that I just threw everything everywhere and hopped on a plane. I was staying on friends' couches between trips and I really didn't like imposing.  Being unsettled in a foreign country feels appropriate. Being unsettled in the place I call "home" doesn't.

I got back and immediately started to overcommit myself. Between work and moving and catching up with everything that piled up while I was traveling, I just hadn't had more than a minute to myself for as long as I could remember. This sounds kind of negative. It's not. A lot of the things I was busy with were great, but the less time I have alone, the less my brain can calm down, and then things that could be really exciting start to feel stressful. So, I ran away to quiet my mind and recalibrate. That brings me to this moment. Sitting on the floor, drinking coffee mixed with chai spiced eggnog, trying to figure out how people keep a fire going for more than 10 minutes.. because I kind of suck at it, and with 15 inches of snow outside blocking the door, I'm afraid I'll run out of firewood before midnight.

Tonight I'll spend time alone; reflecting, meditating, playing my piano. (well, the piano that I rented from Guitar Center last week because I couldn't actually get mine here from LA.) Maybe I'll go to bed early and I won't even be awake at midnight. Who am I kidding, I'll be awake at midnight. Haha. I hope everyone has a night that inspires them. For me this time it's silence. For you it may be the same, or it may be family, friends, champagne, a concert or volunteering. Whatever it is, enjoy it. Smile at someone. Look in someone's eyes. If you're alone, smile in the mirror. Look into your own eyes and tell yourself it's going to be a great year... and really believe it! Be present. Try to remember the good things that happened this year. Try to think of what lessons you have learned that you can bring with you into the new year, and be proud of those you may have helped to teach others. If there are things you regret, let them go by deciding to act differently from this moment onward. I learned so much this year from old friends and new. I met people and saw things that I never could have imagined. Thank you for your wisdom, your patience, your support. Thank you for your truth, your love, your criticism. Thank you all.. for all of it.

Happy New Year. 

-Lis

Don't be a Bully

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One of my least favorite things in the world is a bully. Bullies come in many forms and have been wreaking havoc on sensitive souls since the beginning of time. (I don't have any actual proof of things from the earliest days of time, but I needed a dramatic intro and I imagine they were around back then.)

With the good sometimes comes the bad. As the internet has grown, it has given us immeasurable amounts of information at our fingertips. It connects us via video to our loved ones far away, allows us to express ourselves and to reach millions of people with our ideas. With this massive reach it has also spawned an entirely new breed of bully. We all know that cyber bullying has become a really serious problem. 

I'm not sure if it's a term used widely on other platforms, but on Periscope the term "trolls" bounces around a lot. An anonymous commenter, usually with an egg as a profile picture, pops up in your broadcast to say something inappropriate. Whether it's a hateful jab, a declaration of some weird sexual desire, or something else totally out of line, it kills the vibe of the room, hurts people's feelings and makes everyone uncomfortable. 

Here's where we must find balance. It's up to each of us individually to decide how much of it we want to tolerate and what we are willing to do to change it, if anything. Do we give up on broadcasting? Let them drag us into their darkness and take away something we are passionate about? Well, I have to be honest.. there have been some nights where I end a broadcast and feel completely defeated. There have been times when I haven't gone live for a few weeks because the last time felt so draining or negative or I'm insecure about it. I hate that I ever let them get to me like that, and more often than not I end my broadcast feeling excited and uplifted, but we all feel vulnerable sometimes. (Cue music "Everybody Hurts.. Sometiiiimes")

As I've written before, I think people who are vindictive or angry have often gone through something painful that made them act like that. I think sometimes it just makes them feel less alone in their pain to make other people feel it. You know.. misery loves company, hurt people hurt people, etc. I am by no means giving them excuses. Everyone knows that it is absolutely NOT okay to attack people, and nobody has the right to dictate what someone else sees in the mirror.I'm simply saying that throwing anger bombs back at them is more likely to create more conflict, internal and external, than it is to resolve the problem.

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How do I handle it? Well, that depends on the comment and on my mood. Sometimes I ignore it if it's silly and not offending the group, and sometimes there are a lot of them and I don't want to take away from the real conversation by addressing them. I can't help but feel a little guilty when I ignore it knowing that I have a pretty thick skin and that person may go into the live feed of someone who is far more sensitive and really actually hurt them with those words. It makes me cringe when I go into a young person's broadcast and they are being objectified or verbally abused. But there really is no perfect way to monitor those things while still allowing the community to feel authentic. There are ways to report and block them, but just like the real world, bullies will always show up.

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Sometimes a simple "No, I won't show you my feet, and I'm going to block you." Works for me. Sometimes I make jokes. Every once in a while when I'm really put off by something, I'll stop the conversation, speak directly to that person and try to explain to them that treating other people with disrespect is something that won't be tolerated in my room. I try to lead a drama free broadcast so that type of thing isn't invited. I'll tell them I pray that they find a way to eliminate whatever it is in their life that is causing them such animosity towards the human race..and then I will block them. And because I am human, there is the occasional time when I will lose my temper.. but only a little.

If you take the time and build a community, care for people, interact with with kind, like-minded individuals, when these trolls pop in, you have a shield of positivity there to protect you. I can't express enough how grateful I am for platforms like Periscope and for the people who support me there. Without them there would be so many incredible things I wouldn't have been able to do. So if we give the power and attention to the dark-hearted people, we are selling ourselves short and not showing up fully for our communities. When 10 people give you compliments but the only thing you focus on is the one person who said "you look like a man" (I get that one a lot) you're not giving the supporters the gratitude they deserve for being a part of your online fam and having your back. I've actually seen people come into the room and try to say mean things while I'm singing, and then when they realize everyone else in the room is saying positive things and chatting like old friends, they'll say something nice in the end, not knowing I had seen their first comment. Whether they are just trying to fit in with the crowd or actually changed their mind about me, the main takeaway here is that kindness creates more of the same. Maybe that person realized that being mean actually isn't more fun than being nice.

To anyone on the other side of this argument: please please consider NOT being a bully anymore. (Hey, you never know, maybe asking them nicely will work..) People are so fragile. You never know how heavy someone's burdens are. Online communities are a way for people to find friends, feel less alone and express their truth. If you make it an unsafe space for them, the damage that causes could be minimal, but it also could be catastrophic for someone who put themselves out there desperately needing love. Your words are far bigger than the small amount of space they take up on a screen. Choose them wisely. 

And on that note. I love all of you. The world needs more love. Let's provide it.

Xx

Lisa Marie

On Heartache: Perseverance > Manipulation

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I overheard a conversation today between two young women in a cafe. One was talking about ways to get a guy back who from what I could tell, really wanted nothing to do with her. It made me sad. I wanted to be like "Girl, you're too good for that! Find someone who thinks everything about you is amazing! You're a rockstar!" But I kind of figured that would have been a little out of place since I hadn't been invited into the conversation and it was one of a fairly personal nature. What I wanted to tell her was that she had two choices. Manipulate the situation, or push past it and thrive. More often than not, when someone tries to manipulate someone else into feeling something different from what they are actually feeling, it doesn't end well.

I used to have a very fragile heart. I would fall in love (well, not in love, but something emotional that often disguised itself as such) very quickly, and it would take me ages to climb out of it when it didn't work out. Mostly because I hadn’t learned to love myself. I've had my heart shattered once or twice before. (Okay, that’s a bit dramatic. Obviously my heart still has to be in one piece and fully functional in order for me to be sitting here writing a blog.) At those times I thought I wouldn’t recover. "I’ll be alone forever wahh wahh, poor me." People sometimes get this idea in their head that there is one person they're "meant to be with" and even if that person treats them like absolute garbage, when it doesn’t work out they’d rather struggle to stay in that dysfunctional relationship and dwell in misery than find someone who actually cares enough to treat them like the perfect incredible badass that they are. A lot of it has to do with the amount of time one puts into something like that. Ok, so you spent 4 years in something that you might consider to have been a waste of your time. but A. It wasn’t actually a waste of time because you probably learned a lot from it. If all you learned was how you don't want to be treated, that's massive. B. All you have now is the future. Let's look in that direction and be over it, ok?

There’s a reason I don’t say GET over it. I say BE over it. If you keep telling yourself you’re "just getting over it.." you give yourself permission to continue to talk about it, think about it, blog about it. Just decide to be over it. “That’s easier said than done.” Okay. True. But here’s what I mean. I don’t mean that you can turn off your feelings. Of course you can’t.  What you can do is change your actions and force your pain into leaving sooner than it had planned. I read somewhere it takes 12 minutes for the sadness or anger chemicals to leave your system once you stop dwelling on them. While that might be total BS, it helps me to remember that those feelings don’t go away until you stop fueling the fire.

A couple years ago I went through something that when I was 19 would have been the end of the world,  but knowing what I know, and having gone through what I’ve been through, I decided to try taking my own advice. I sat down at my computer and started writing. Started planning. I read 8 books in 2 months, which isn't an easy task for me because I have a terrible time focusing. My heart hurt, so I worked harder. I wanted to cry.. so I did.. while I worked. I came out of this after 2 months and 5 days and I had so much passion and so much to show for it. Now that I was excited about something real, I could see that the thing I had been upset about was nothing more than an outlet for my subconscious dissatisfaction with my own life. 

Throughout that time, seconds of happiness began to turn to minutes that turned to hours and so on.. Suddenly the future seemed bright again. When you push through the pain, allowing yourself to feel the emotions, but continuing to stay productive through them, you can feel the moments of happiness lingering longer, and the moments of pain loosening their grip. 

The first step in recovering is to stop complaining about it. (Obviously death and other forms of tragedy are another story. These things have a very different mourning and recovery process. I don’t expect you to get over something like that in a short period of time, or ever completely.) In the normal heartache situation, don’t accept people’s pity and agree with them. While they may have good intentions, often people say “Aw, what happened? I’m so sorry. That is awful.” and personally that makes me so much more uncomfortable. I’m like.. “NO I’m fine! I’m fine.. stop. Im saying this is a good thing!”  And then of course if you happen to be on the verge of tears, and someone asks if you’re fine, you are undoubtedly going to cry. Why does that happen? It's like someone asking if you are okay opens some sort of emotional floodgate. I guess because they are forcing you to choose between two unpleasant things; lie, or admit that you're not okay. 

In any case, if you’re going through something difficult that is leaving you with a heavy heart, sometimes it seems like there is no light at the end of the tunnel. I promise, every tunnel no matter how dark, ends in light. It’s your job to be strong and get yourself off the ground and moving in that direction. Taking the first steps to break through the initial barrier of pain is not easy. It is simple, however. People often confuse the ideas of simplicity and ease.

Final thoughts: You can do it! Get up. Move forward. I believe in you... and I think you're rad.

Xx

Lis

Gili Air - My Happy Place.

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After almost 2 months in Australia,  which was just enough time to settle in and make it feel like home, I left. I hopped on a plane and made my way up to Bali. I met my friend Veronika in Seminyak with only a plan for where we would be staying the first few nights. We decided to just make plans as we go, because there seemed to be plenty of places on AirBnb in all of the areas where we wanted to stay.

After a few days in Ubud, which is also one of my favorite places ever, we decided to take a boat out to the Gili Islands in Lombok. We asked around a little about which of the Gili Islands to visit. There are three; Gili Trawangan, Gili Meno and Gili Air.  The general consensus was that Gilli Trawangan (Or Gili T) was the party island. Not what we were looking for on this trip. Gili Meno is more romantic and quiet.. and Gili Air had a little bit of a community but was a quiet place to go to relax. That sounded perfect. We found a shuttle from Ubud that took us to Padang Bai on the east side of Bali. The drive took us just over an hour. When we got to the port there were lots of people trying to  sell us things. I bought some coconut and watermelon and then a woman who I had spoken to on the way in yelled at me for not buying it from her. Why do I still feel guilty about this? Let it go, Lis.

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The boat ride took about an hour and a half. We took the fast boat. There was music playing, everyone was dancing and the weather was beautiful. Gili Air is the closest of the three islands to Lombok, so the farthest from Bali. We stopped at the other two to let passengers off before we got off at our stop.

When we arrived, I stayed with our bags and Veronika went ahead to ask them if we could get a taxi to our hotel. We realized two things. 1. There are no taxis. Actually there are no cars or motorbikes allowed on this island at all. 2. Our hotel was only a 5 minute walk down the road so taking a taxi would have been pointless anyway. It took us way  longer than 5 minutes though because the road was only sand and V's suitcase had to be dragged through it. I have a video of it. It was hilarious. I'll have to find that. I think after that incident I may have convinced her to start using a backpack.

We got to our hotel and it was pretty nice. We had our own balcony and could see the ocean. It's amazing the places you can find for MUCH cheaper than anything in the US. One week in this hotel was less than one night in far less beautiful accommodations in any major US city.  We stayed at 7SEAS Cottages which was around $17 USD/ night at the time. Walking around the island we spotted other places we probably would have chosen had we been there before, but we liked it enough.

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Exploring the island we saw signs for scuba diving, yoga and stand up paddle boarding. There were little huts scattered around with tour options, most of which took you off of the island, and we wanted to stay put for a few days. Apparently there is a night market at the high season, but it wasn't there when we visited. (June.) There was no real crazy nightlife there as I've heard there is on Gili T, but there were a few bars open if we wanted to go out at night. There were a lot of signs around for magic mushrooms.. and the occasional person asking if we wanted them. I thought it was a joke at first. I still don't know for sure, since we didn't say yes.. but it looked like they were serious. We walked the path that goes around the island every day. It was magnificent and only takes about 2 hours to walk the whole thing. It was quiet. Just the sound of the waves, soft music from the beach cafes and the occasional jingle bells that hung from the Cimodos. (Carts that are pulled by horses. This was the only way to get around the island other than on foot or by bike.) We were warned that there may be sea urchins in the water, but we didn't have any problems with that. Then again, we didn't spend much time in the water here. Basically just walking out to that swing and back.

One day while we were there we decided to try to find some wifi at an outdoor coffee shop we found online that was supposed to be the only place you could really connect to the internet. I guess Gili didn't want us connecting to the outside world, because just as we sat down with our iced coffee, a HUGE storm rolled in. They told us we needed to get off the deck and get back to our hotel as fast as possible. We didn't make it back before the rain, but it did make for a hilarious experience that we will never forget... one of my favorite moments of the whole summer.

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We stayed mostly on the outskirts of the island. It wasn't until our last night that we accidentally turned down a street that had lots of little shops and restaurants. It felt like we had known the island so intimately at this point so it was so bizarre to find this random hidden street full of people. While there weren't any large buildings at the time we were there, there was some type of construction happening on what looked like a future hotel. I really hope this doesn't take away from the beauty of the island.

Tips if you're going to Gili Air:1. Bring Cash: There were two ATMs on the island, but they weren't working when we tried to use them. Apparently having random power outages on the island is pretty typical. 2. Bring a poncho or umbrella. Self explanatory. 3. Prepare to Go Offline. The wifi here sucks. That can be a good thing if you're trying to unplug for a while. I was more present here than most of my other trips. Not a great spot for digital nomads to plant themselves for a long time though I'd imagine. 4. Walk around the island a few times. Every time we went for our walk we noticed something new and beautiful.

This is an incredibly magical place. I know there is more world to see, and so many other places that I need to visit before I start doubling back, but Gili Air holds a really special place in my heart. If you go there, take a picture on the ocean swing and send it to me!

Xx

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Lis

Communication

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Hello friends and lovers. I'm sitting on another runway headed back to Los Angeles. I tend to fall really deep into my thoughts when I'm sitting on a plane. I'm not sure why that is. 

Over the past few months I've been thinking more than usual about the way people communicate. Maybe because the way I communicate in life and also on social media has changed quite a bit over the last year, and I've been exposed to so many new methods of expressing myself. There were years of my life where I didn't know how to express my truth. I'm still learning, but I'm getting there. For whatever reason, I've recently found myself über-aware (ugh, I hate when a company takes a word I use a lot and ruins it for me) of the different types of communication around me. My current thoughts are as follows:

On communication and anxiety: Speaking important truths is critical to a healthy relationship of any kind, but also most effective when you are feeling calm. Humans by design are impulsive under pressure, be it emotional or physical. Our reflexes are there to keep us safe, but sometime we get ourselves into trouble if we can't control our words. I've found that anxiety can disable normal communication skills. Maybe we think we mean the things we say in those moments, but chances are we may not feel that way when the feeling has passed. I know when I'm really anxious the words that come out of my mouth are jumbled and short, sometimes not even real words. Whether I like it or not, my emotions plant themselves on my sleeve for everyone to see. I'm incredibly obvious. To make matters worse, hindsight gets the best of me in those situations and I feel the need to defend myself and take things back and apologize. But those apologies are often made from a state of anxiety as well, resulting in an even less authentic encounter. (Not to mention at a certain time of the month I am convinced that everything is the apocalypse, so I act accordingly... What's that? TMI? Clearly you're new here.) I'm insanely irrational and emotional in my mind sometimes, but I'm usually aware of that when it's happening and I've learned to find other outlets for that energy. Instead of quarantining myself in these times for the sake of not totally destroying my life, I find it's much easier for me to express my feelings in writing. If I write down everything I'm feeling, knowing that I am in an emotional state, then I can go back when I'm feeling rational without having lost any of my creative, emotionally-driven thoughts, but now having the ability to take out things that don't feel true to me anymore, or are absolute lunacy that shouldn't be projected onto anyone else. ;)

On communication in silence and presence:  Recently at World Domination Summit in Portland, OR, I was challenged during a talk by Lewis Howes to pick a stranger in the room with whom I would have to perform an experiment. (They also had to pick me back.. I wasn't subjecting someone to this against their will. Duh.) The rules were pretty simple. While he spoke I had to stare into this person's eyes, and vice-versa. We weren't allowed to speak any words to each other. We couldn't introduce ourselves or giggle awkwardly and make a joke about how we were going to get to know each other real quick. Just keep our eyes locked and remain in silence. That's it. How hard could that be? The whole experiment probably only lasted about 5 minutes, but have you ever tried to stare someone in the eyes for that long? Some people don't even look anywhere near my face when I'm speaking to them, let alone into my actual eyeballs. Myself and the woman next to me smiled at each other and silently agreed to be partners. He started to talk about emotions and struggles. He asked questions and told us to raise our hands if we had experienced that particular tragedy or event. The things that I felt during this experiment were so unexpected. She started to cry... and then I started to cry.. and it was one of the most vulnerable moments I've ever had.. and with a complete stranger! I connected so deeply to her on such an untarnished emotional level. I had no knowledge of who this woman was, or what her life had been like up until this moment, but I felt closer to her than a lot of people who have been in my life for years. Most of us never take the time to connect to people in that way. I've always tried to look at a person when we are engaged in conversation, but since this experience I have a new appreciation for those who look back into my eyes. We spoke afterwards and she ended up being such an awesome woman. I think everyone should try this experiment with someone today. A stranger or someone you love. Maybe someone you have had trouble connecting with. It doesn't matter who it is. Just silently read someones emotions through their eyes. It's so powerful. 

Communication through music:  I've done some studying over the years about the way music affects the human mind. It's seriously miraculous what sound can do to heal and to trigger memories. I used to think when I was really young that if I learned the lyrics to too many songs I wouldn't have any brain space left for anything else. Haha... And now that I think about it, I may still believe that. I still remember songs I made up in 5th grade science class to describe where protons and neutrons were found, and while I can still sing every word of that song, I can't remember things I learned last week. Hm.. Curious.

You know when you hear a song for the first time and you're like "YES! That's exactly how I feel.. but I couldn't explain it because I'm not an eloquent lyricist?" Those moments are awesome.. well, not the part about realizing you can't express yourself, but when you have that feeling that you're not alone because John Mayer has been there too. Even the vibe of a song sans lyrics can communicate so much. One thing to note: If the song you're relating to is a depressing one, I don't recommend playing that on repeat. Play it once or twice, cry it out, (one of those ugly cries where you end up laughing because it's so ridiculous,) be grateful that you're not alone in those emotions, and then put on some positive tunes. You don't see Taylor Swift dwelling in sadness all the time. She gets the emotions out and then continues to kick ass. It probably doesn't hurt that those sad feelings she puts into song form bring her billions of dollars. That would help me get past my heartache faster too I'm sure. During sad times I used to listen to sad music that I felt resonated with what I was feeling but often that led me to feel even more sadness. Now, I try to remember to listen to songs that make me feel empowered (ie, Sara Bareilles- Brave, Kelly Clarkson - Catch My Breath, etc)

How do you best communicate? 

Xx

Lis