15. Karma Karma Karma Karma Carmen Canadian – La Artista

If ‘what goes around, comes around’ then my dear friend Carmen should have a whole lot of good coming her way and the world is better for it. She is a perfect example of the reason that I started this project. I truly wanted to thank people who I connected with and who inspired me and more than that, I wanted to share their stories to spread the inspiration and community. And what an inspiration she is, wow. You must hear her story.

I met Carmen in Mendoza, Argentina through a mutual friend who said we should meet because the three of us were each living our own experience of ‘following our passions in Argentina’ and how lovely it is to have connections around that.

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Essentially, Carmen had the gift and curse of time as she waited for the application process of an exclusive art program and like any good creative, she could not sit idle in her familiar surroundings in Canada. She had little money and a whim of a plan, but all of the hope, talent and positivity in the world that she could head to Argentina to pursue art and make it work. And the lesson here, world, is that it did. It more than worked.

Carmen is an extremely creative and talented artist and photographer. Her energy, spirit, vulnerability and ingenuity quickly won over the hearts of those at Punto Urbano hostel who were renovating the place. She was able to find a way to stay in Argentina painting murals, learning Spanish and spreading positivity and inspiration to everyone around her for 5 months on a budget that would make most of us gasp in fear.

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But these are the things that make Carmen such a rich and wonderful human being. She wasn’t seeing things through the handcuffs of money that are so easy to get stuck in. She was following her passion and sharing it and what manifested was beautiful…her art, friendships, intercultural experiences, life lessons…

On top of this, she was always so generous. Right now I am wearing a bracelet that she bought for me…a wonderful gift and a tremendous reminder to be generous and follow my passions. Carmen would often pull out a quote printed on a little strip of paper to give to someone she met and connected with or she would do a quick drawing for them and hand it over as a little gift. She is one of the sweetest people I have met and an old soul in a young, beautiful woman who is doing great things in this world. And she laughs at my jokes. I mean, come on, she’s amazing.

She came up with this idea for a collaborative photography project that we did with our Argentinian and Colombian friends. Not only was it fun, but it made me realize that there is so much power in having a community that you can create with, inspiring and supporting each other along the way. I am seeking more of this in my life.

I have learned so much from Carmen…about creativity, generosity, passions, serendipity, friendship and what happens when you follow your heart.

I want to live in a world that supports those who are creating beautiful things and sharing themselves and enriching our lives in the process. Carmen is the perfect example of someone pursuing their passions and infinite potential and I hope her story inspires you as much as it does me. Please check out her work and support her as an artist: http://www.carmenbelanger.com

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4., 5., 6. – The Ever Present and Playful Argentinos

Out of all the amazing people in the world, I always wonder why I don’t seem to end up next to them on flights, on chairlifts, or on the bus…places where I have spent a lot of time. Or perhaps I just haven’t asked the right questions or I’ve put my headphones in too fast. When you’re on a bus ride from Buenos Aires to Bariloche in Argentina, you have plenty of time to take an 8 hour nap and still talk to your compañero for several hours, over dinner, and share side by side bus seats that double as your beds for the night.

This is how I met Lucho. I saw that he was reading a book that I love (The Four Agreements o Cuatro Acuerdos) and several mates later, I had a new Spanish teacher and a new friend.By the time we got to Bariloche we were making plans to meet up throughout the week. Each day he and his friends would pick me up from my hostel to take me along for their adventures.

Sebastian and Luciana, quite possible the cutest couple alive were just as welcoming and friendly to me like I had been part of the plan the entire time. On one particularly special day, we went to a rocky beach of a spectacularly blue lake and spent the day playing and creating and following the rays of the sun. We made games out of rocks and sunken logs, we snorkeled, played card games, picnicked. When the shade took over, we picked up and found a new sun soaked beach and they kept me entertained with headstands and juggling. Read about our day and check out pictures here!

I was bursting with gratitude for meeting such friendly, generous, genuine people. What I have experienced and learned from them is this intense sense of living in the present moment perfectly balanced with playfulness and creativity. When I am with them, I think I know what is going on, only to find out that none of us do because it is all about being spontaneous and going with the natural flow. I feel so relaxed and not worried with them. It is the antithesis of living in a manner where busyness is glorified. They also seem to see art everywhere and their imaginations manifest into real life to be shared and enjoyed. This has taught me to let my imagination out to exercise too, and to share the joys that show up when I do.