This month I’ve decided to post publicly my monthly newsletter written previously only for my supporters on patreon. Patreon is a platform that gets content creators like yours truly paid with a subscription model. Since launching it last year, it has been transformative in my ability to be more bold, more consistent (something I’m still actively working on), and connect deeper with a number of my closest supporters while having a small but vital financial safety net in months I don’t take on much (if any) paid work.
I have been feeling that what I write could be of value to more people who are connected to me on social media and browse my site. If you’re curious what this patreon thing is, I invite you to spend a few minutes watching the video and reading https://patreon.com/subtledream. In becoming a supporter (patron), you get exclusive content AND discounts off prints that you can purchase on my site!
Here's what I've got for you all on this (late) newsletter:
What the coming months hold
Hi everyone. I'm back. Back in society for 20 days already actually.
As many of you know, I went into a 10-day vipassana silent meditation from the end of May to early June. It was my first time. It entailed dozens upon dozens of hours sitting perfectly still, calm and perfectly quiet, feeling the bodily sensations, realizing oneself, shedding old cravings and aversions, and reprogramming the mind to think and operate more harmoniously internally and externally. Feeling. All the feels. Full spectrum.
Some really pleasant, wonderful experiences and realizations came up, and plenty of unresolved issues and trauma from the past did, too. I sat with them, day in and day out, objectively, and trying not to judge myself nor the sensations. I came to a better understanding of myself in a way I had never felt before. The micro and macro experiences are profound, to say the very least.
I'm hugely grateful for the time, the place, the rigid structure to form discipline (something I desperately lack in some departments), and for all the love and support I've gotten from friends coming into this session to re-emerge with a solid mental foundation in which to build my new life chapter onto. After the 10 days, I found myself quieter, slower, more appreciative of the gifts already present in my life, and being able to focus on one task (or person) better. Countless micro adjustments that have made a rather large and positive shift. One of my friends remarked in response to a voice message I had left her that I am now talking at a slower pace, less rushed, and more mindful with the words that I use. I chuckled, and wholeheartedly agree.
Renewed, and ready to face life to make it meaningful, and beautiful.
At the end of my 10-day meditation at the vipassana center, all of the participants are given the opportunity to give a dāna (Pali and Sanskrit word for the virtue of generosity/charity or any form of giving). I thought that a good way to contribute for this transformative experience would be to subtract my fixed costs (mentioned in previous newsletters) from the net amount received for June. The math came out to $110.05 USD, rounding up to $111. I specifically made it out to the "pagoda fund" at the Northwest Vipassana Center. They are currently building a new structure with 41 meditation cells with a second hall underneath a beautifully-designed pagoda. I feel great about redirecting your financial support to me towards the center, as the vipassana sitting provided shelter, nourishment, care, and most importantly - tools and techniques that have since provided me mental clarity, the ability to reconcile the past, live presently, as well as to sustain my happiness to keep creating a life of meaning and purpose. Truly it has been an invaluable gift.
In the future, my intention to continue the dāna is to be a server for a 5 or 10-day session - that is, I would be cooking, cleaning, and doing background work and preparations in holding that space for new as well as returning students as I now am. I feel that it would be a great way to give back further while be able to refresh the meditation practice and be reminded of a number of the philosophies. As with any other month, thank you, thank you, especially for those of you who contribute on my patreon. It means a whole lot to me, and know that each dollar goes to positively affect others who bring value to my life.
Back when I was living and working in New Zealand, one of my favorite collaborations and projects was with Food Resilience Network/Edible Canterbury, who's mission is to create a regenerative food future for all, and together with their Community Manager Michael Reynolds, who is also a dear friend sharing many similar values and motivations of permaculture, community, and collaboration, we made this organizational video happen - in part thanks to your support in the very first couple months of my patreon launching. Their newly-done site features photos that I took between 2017 and 2018, and check it out here: https://ediblecanterbury.org.nz/
What the coming months hold
In a nutshell:
Conscious Impact annual retreat
Conscious Impact video work
Road trip back to the PNW
New Patreon video, and other new content
Search of a new home and community (or at least plant the seeds)
At the time of my finishing this post in the passenger seat of my little car overlooking the ocean in the Presidio in San Francisco, the odometer reads 3182 miles (5120 km) since I departed Los Angeles 6 weeks back on May 8th. Last weekend was my high school friend's wedding at a beautiful setting in the coastal hills. I thoroughly enjoyed capturing the special day on film (vs. stills) while seeing several high school connections, some I haven't seen since we graduated. I've got 2 more weddings booked for later this year - Sep 1 and Oct 5 - and they will both be in the Seattle region. The focus now is shifted to organizing and begin editing for the wedding that just and also for the school I filmed for in Seattle a couple weeks ago. It's a busy time on the road, but I am incredibly happy to be able to take this creative work with me while on the road and be able to explore old and new spots and see some dear friends. I've packed in my car a work desk, a large monitor for editing, and as a number of you already know too a solar panel and electric generator to charge and power all of my devices with renewable energy. Woohoo!
So, tomorrow afternoon is the start of our Conscious Impact annual retreat. 6 of us will converge just north of the Bay Area, while a few will call in from various locations to tune in and provide their input throughout our multi-day discussions. I am hugely excited by this. The amount of work and progress made since I left Nepal in November last year has been monumental, and I cannot wait to hear more directly from the core team, discuss what went well and what could be improved going forward, and also lay some ground work for season (year) 5 and beyond. After the retreat and discussions, I will stay with Orion, one of the co-founders, to continue working on video projects together. We've both been anticipating this since earlier this year, and now that I am in a significantly better headspace and feeling healthy inside and out, I have confidence we'll make this time really productive. More to come.
At some point in July, I will return to the Pacific Northwest for most of summer. I intend on staying with friends or helping them (and really, myself) housesit while they are out of town and work out of Seattle and my car if out in the woods (recall: solar panels, desk, and camping gear!) while spending much-welcomed time in the wild places all around the beautiful region. I will continue live frugally off what I have and will earn with recent and upcoming photo and video gigs along with the support I get from all of you. Many hours will be spent for Conscious Impact work, and I foresee myself investing some time once more with the Beacon Food Forest to shoot and create some content too. It's pretty amazing to make this a reality when just a little over a year I wrote down and published the original vision back in Australia at the time of the patreon launch. Live simply, support the value and community-driven organizations dear to my heart with my craft, and amplify our reach and positive impact together.
While in Scandinavia and more recently on this new chapter of life, I've been jazzed up by so many great ideas that I feel almost overwhelmed! There are so many stories and topics I wish to write about, and countless video ideas I want to execute. Where to begin? This will require some consolidation followed by action. This much is clear though - a new patreon video is in order. The launch video has served its purpose in getting my platform off the ground and for all of you to watch and understand who I am and what I stand for. The narrative has evolved - I feel that I am leaving the scarcity mindset behind steadily and embracing a brighter paradigm that has already manifested in countless ways in my life. Conversations with a number of you have also helped me pivot and consider moving forward. I do apologize for the late delivery on the postcards as well as other perks that haven't been (fully) fulfilled. As mentioned in the patreon writeup, this is an experimental platform and the hope is that we are all learning from the progress while not being attached to certain outcomes. I feel responsible for anyone feeling they aren't getting their monetary support, and if that's the case (and as always), I welcome feedback from you, whether positive or negative. On the flip side, I hope a number of you have been seeing patron-only Stories on Instagram, and remember that they can all be viewed via the Highlights bubble on my profile available only to you.
I recall very clearly as I returned to the Pacific Northwest mid-May the feeling of coming home. The lush greens, the precipitation, elements, dense forests, snow-capped peaks that sharply contrasts with the blue or moody skies, glacier-fed rivers, wild foraging, less humans and pollution, closer access to trails and wild places, and the prevalent culture of local + seasonal foods - all of that and so much more. As I walked silently along the forested-trail at the vipassana center on day 2 or 3, I said in my mind and later in a whisper, "it feels so good to be home." Perhaps this is the year I dedicate time and energy into finding a new home for me there. A homebase, one where I invest into and could return year after year to grow and cultivate it along with others who share deep values with. We shall see. The travels, the curiosity, and the exploration, locally and globally, won't stop - oh no, certainly not.
What will life look like this autumn and beyond? A few ideas are circling in my head, and I am alright not being attached to any one of them, or even others I haven't considered. I will welcome what I consciously create in the present moment and whatever comes of it simply is.
Every month I've been picking up dozens of pieces of garbage from beaches, parks, urban streets, rivers, and everywhere else humans have sadly made our mark on the environment. Inorganic, non-biodegradable waste causes not only an eyesore, but has deep, negative effects on the ecology and in particular to birds and sea creatures. We are ALL responsible for the state of our oceans and beaches, as we are the very consumers and we vote with our dollars everyday. Do you want the oceans to have more plastics than fish? I know my answer well.
I have seen bays and ports in several regions where the floating garbage is so dense that the surface of the water cannot be seen, and although it pains me to know this truth, it is from this very appalling phenomenon that I somehow draw inspiration - that because we caused it out of ignorance, we can also reverse it out of awareness. I am but one person, and truly a few dozen every month for the rest of my life isn't gonna make a dent on the macro level. I do this on Patreon and social media blatantly because at least for my humble little audience on the internet it comes into the foreground of peoples' minds, even if it's for 10 seconds. It allows for there to be a space for commentary and discussion. You guys aren't literally hiring me to do garbage pickup, but as a gesture of gratitude and also because it is simply the right thing to do - the $2/month makes it an exchange that I feel at least is more fun.
I've been posting pics of garbage pickup on Instagram stories - it's less time-consuming for me and as mentioned, that way more people can see it.
Favorite inspirational videos
If there is just one or two things you'll watch or listen to, make it the Carl Sagan and/or Matt D'avella videos.
I could easily share 10 more, but for your sake as well as mine I had to keep this list shorter, haha. Like recent months, I've been hard on the podcast game. I have found it is one of the best ways to fill the gaps of time to keep my brain not only stimulated but expanding on philosophies, new ideas, and knowledge by wise people with much to offer and share. With all the recent hours driving, this has been absolutely transformative in upgrading my brain while being able to stay awake and enjoy the journey even more. They are a bit on the long side, but trust me, they are worth the listen.
Eric Zimmer "Feeding Your Good Wolf" on 'Inner Truth' with David Newell (57:52)
Yuval Harari (author of Sapiens, Homo Deus, 21 Lessons for the 21st Century) "Why Boredom is Good For You" on 'On Purpose' with Jay Shetty (01:04:31)
Alyson Noele Sagala, poet, traveller, and youth program coordinator for Conscious Impact, on Inside The Ride with Emil Walker (42:25)
Huge huge once more thanks to my 45 supporters who contribute monthly to make my pro-bono work and support possible for organizations and individuals who place people and planet before profits first. Read more about that here and see if you’d be keen to pitch in, too. You can get (massive) discounts off prints off my site if you do!
PS: the patreon-published version contains exclusive photos and some announcements not found anywhere else. Hey, I’ve gotta hook up my patrons first and foremost, alright?