12. Explore. Learn. Share. with Elizabeth Gilbert

This is the first paper crane that I’ve given out to someone who I haven’t been able to personally meet and yet I hope to someday. I’m a writer. I’m in the process of writing my first book right now and I am hoping to find a mentor to court.

This summer, I ended up in my hometown of Chicago unexpectedly for some months. While sitting by the campfire with my sweet brother, he casually mentioned that he wrote into the ‘My Brother, My Brother and Me’ podcast with a question about me for Elizabeth Gilbert, the guest that week.

In his question, he had shared with her the quick version of my story…that I had left the corporate world and sold my things to go on a journey of pursuing my passions and writing a book in South America. He was writing to her as someone who rather infamously went on her own journey that she told the story of in Eat, Pray, Love…to ask her how to support me even when he couldn’t necessarily relate to what I was doing.

Her answer was perfect and tender. She said something along the lines of…when someone does something like that…gives up everything familiar to them to go out and wander and face fears and discover…you have to understand that to not do so would be akin to agony and death. They absolutely have to go on that journey and the best thing you can do is to acknowledge and support that, even if you do not understand it at all.

I was so star struck. I have read her books and it is obvious she is a very talented writer. I really relate to her book “Pilgrims” which she describes as something like an applied/experiential masters program in life as she wandered around and wrote down stories of those she encountered. So there’s that. The girl can write.

And then she takes it to a different level. She has become an icon of self-discovery and personal transformation for those who read her journey and were inspired and she interacts with these people every day. She posts lessons and guidance and practices and stories on facebook and makes people believe in themselves. She could’ve just reveled in all of her best-selling glory, but I really see her taking responsibility with this role that she didn’t necessarily ask for and using it to do good.

That is admirable. That is the type of mentor I would like to court.

She was on Oprah’s ‘Super Soul Sunday’ recently and she started talking about the hero’s journey just as I was writing down the words “hero’s journey” in a scholarship proposal I was working on. Among other synchronicities that showed up with her recently, I decided I needed to “break my rules” and send a paper crane to thank her for impacting my life in these little ways that she doesn’t even know about because we’ve never met.

I think good people are kind even when no one is watching. Thanks Liz!

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11. Serendipity & Synchronicity with Rudulfo

Sometimes you have an experience that is so striking you cannot help but believe that it truly was meant to be. This is how I met Rudulfo at his finca in la Valle de Uco outside of Mendoza, Argentina.

I lived at a hostel while apartment searching and became friends with Carmen and Jorge who you’ll hear about too. Jorge introduced us to Mariela. Mariela introduced us to her friend Negra. Negra’s dad and Uncle Rudulfo owned this finca (farm). I love tracing things back to the start…it reminds me how much each moment matters.

We were invited out to la finca for the 60th birthday of Negra’s dad and this is where I met Rudulfo. I quickly learned that he is a published author (my current aspiration) and we spoke for hours about our craft. He was so genuinely excited that I was writing a book. He shared a bounty of wisdom with me and also was curious and inquisitive about my process and experience of writing.

All of this took place in Spanish as well and it was the first time that I felt I participated in a conversation about deep stuff, soul stuff in another language and not just “where is the bus stop?”. And yet, I understood more than ever.

He gave me all sorts to think about in terms of finding my voice and getting in touch with your inner crazy, your creativity. He talked about books as if they are fine wines and how the process of writing mirrors the process of winemaking. You create it and tweak it and bring out its essence and then you let it rest and age. When it is ready, you let it breathe and you share it. Perfect.

He talked to me about why he and his brother had created this place. There were about 50 or so people at this party and about 10 or so countries were represented. They take in volunteers to help run the place, but he made it so clear that the most important thing about the finca was that it was a community, a place to really enjoy yourself and a place to celebrate creativity. You could feel it in each person there.

Fiesta a la Finca

Rudulfo gave me two of his books to read and is eager to read my book when I am finished. We are learning each other’s respective languages and helping each other in this way too. I have visited him again and hope to again and again.

He is a seriously good soul and somewhat of a mentor for me now too. I gave him a paper crane and he gave me a huge hug.