I'm in México. To be precise, the bottom tip of California.

This is Eliu. He picked me up from the airport. Eliu is originally from Mexico City. He liked it there quite a lot, he tells me. He spoke of the diversity of people and cultures there, of the arts, the foods, how alive everything is. He laughed and then added "if you like traffic too." Eliu left a number of years ago (exactly how many slips my memory), and thinks that it's too hot here in Baja, but ultimately believes it's a nice place to live with clean air, nice environment, relaxed vibes, a good job that pays him well and raise his 2 kids with his wife.

I joked with him that 2 is plenty, as they are quite expensive. He laughed and agreed. We then laughed about his uncle who's lived in Los Angeles for 40 years and still speaks not a word of English because he lives in a neighborhood where everyone speaks Spanish. When I asked him if he has an interest in visiting him, Eliu said no. He seems content with his life here.

We talked nearly continuously for most of the drive to the town center. My brain got to exercise a part of its memory that hasn't been activated in a while. Speaking a language you haven't yet mastered requires a heightened level of focus that also puts me into a state of appreciation. In this case, I most definitely appreciated Eliu's slowing down his speech and using simple words to convey his thoughts. I appreciate the ability to connect with another human who's doing what he can to create comfort and happiness for him and his family. I appreciate that he's the first Mexican in Mexico that I got to chat with, because I gotta say - the narrative that much of society in the U.S. paints is not a relatable, working young father like Eliu.

I was really struck by these mountains when we drove out of the airport. Gorgeous ridge lines. I'm glad I caught the moment Eliu pointed at them to tell me about them. I didn't take this with a fancy camera. If you've gotten this far, it's because the story held your attention. And for me, this photo will always jog my memory to that car ride towards the late afternoon sun, realizing again how much us humans have in common rather than different.

Stories like this are made possible thanks to my patrons-supporters on Patreon, a platform that allows content creators like me to get financially supported. You get more perks than simply ensuring that content like this continue to be made and shows up on your newsfeed - head to www.patreon.com/subtledream to find out more. :)

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Some words as 2018 wraps up.

Every now and then I'd get a notification from Google Photos or Facebook showing me a moment from X years ago, and more often than not it's a (hugely) pleasant surprise. They represent so much more than simply the where/who/what. They also bring back memories, emotions, sensations not depicted in the pixels. It's one of the reasons why I love my work so much. I get to observe, (sometimes facilitate), capture, and preserve these memories that could last forever.

2018 has been a tremendous year once more for me. One of incredible growth and expansion. I spent much time being in and exploring a few new places, made some really radical new friends, made peace with people I had disagreements with, made mistakes, failed and rebounded, made and rescued quite a lot of food, discovered and tried new things, had very little diarrhea, and rekindled a number of old connections as well as reconnecting with family.

Sometime in mid 2017 I committed myself to take photography and videography full-on and sustain myself with my craft. I had spent the summer doing a complete makeover of my website, and putting it out there that here I am, a poor artist with bright eyes, able hands, and open mind, ready to attract more than just a financial means of livelihood. Not long after I had finished revamping the site, I landed in New Zealand.

Just over a year ago at a solstice/holidays gathering in Christchurch, I remember being surrounded by a group of friends and stating my intention to continue to attract the good work and financial abundance for the incoming year. I wanted to not only have the passion, but capital too. There's been this mindset of scarcity that I feel has kept me from reaching my full potential. I welcomed the challenges that come with the commitment. I've devoted myself to my craft, and am happy to say that though there are slumps and unmotivated days, each week overall I DO feel closer to my vision of what a life of abundance could look and feel like.

New Zealand was in countless ways multiple lessons that keep teaching, a land that has kept giving, an incubator for new ideas to be born and explored, and a meeting point for all the teachers I came across. While I don't believe I had taken full advantage of my time there, but that in itself is a lesson that will keep paying dividends. Aotearoa-New Zealand, you are truly a wonderful place. I long to return.

I am grateful for many things, but most importantly are the humans. I have gratitude for Peter in getting me down under in the first place, Erica and Preston in their friendship and immense drive that made me run harder faster stronger while remembering to slow down and have fun, Kit for your openness and hospitality in your home, the whole Ministry of Awesome team in putting up with me at your coworking space, Michael Reynolds in being an all-star human, friend, and collaborator, Franca for your beauty, patience, and honesty, AJ & Allison in being absolute gems of humans and deep discussions that really move me cosmically, the Guido-Henry-Milena trio for our short but truly memorable time together AND in rescuing me in the final hours in NZ. Rieki in his visionary projections on what our future could be, and acting upon it.

I am forever grateful to Sue & Tony Angles for their love and hospitality in Sydney, for the Enspiral and Digital Storytellers team to have showed me what immense power we hold when we run for-purpose instead of for-profit. For Zana and her family in hosting me in Byron Bay, Ibaia on the Gold Coast, all whilst I was working on the launch of my Patreon.

Gratitude also to Utsav in being a teacher, friend, and host in Kolkata, Kristine who put me up (and put up with me) throughout Vietnam, Carina in traveling with me in Sikkim, and my friends-"clients" Elizabeth & Anup, Christina & Kevin for your truly wonderful weddings that brought me (back) to places I really enjoy to do what I really like - capturing moments while making a living out of it. It's pretty rad.

Beyond grateful for Conscious Impact, and every human that's taken part in its creation and ongoing devotions to the land and one another. Returning to the Himalayas this year was invigorating for deeper parts of my soul. A piece of my heart is always there, awaiting its missing pieces for a reunion.

Deeply thankful for friends and communities back on the west coast of the US & Canada. California, Oregon, Washington, British Columbia, thank you for (re)inviting me back and welcoming me always. I feel at home here.

And especially for the Seattle/Beacon Food Forest crew - wow. Nothing but love. Michael Guenther, Caroline, Allen, Steph, y'all are just wonderful.

And to my father, my sisters, their spouses, nephews, and of course, my mother - oh my brave, strong mother - here I am, because of them, typing this unexpectedly in California while looking out the window of the last morning of yet another momentous year.

Onwards!

Lately...

Lately I've been time traveling, a lot. As I go through years of old photos, each one has lit up a different part of my memory, bringing back flashes of sensations stored in my brain and throughout my body. Truly quite the wonderful experience.

Unearthing gems like this always puts a big fat smile on my face. This was from the Avenue of the Giants where some of the tallest trees in the world reside. In my previous time there, I rode through those stunning redwoods on my bicycle. This third time was just as sensational.

But where do I even begin with this moment? Rewind a week and I'd have found myself making a last-minute purchase in Seattle of my friend's vehicle as she and her partner were swiftly preparing to go overseas for a new job. I then made a post of Craigslist to find rideshare companions, and within days departed with a packed car headed south - with Danny from Puerto Rico (left) and a black labrador who needed to be transported to his other 'parent' down the Willamette Valley. We drove into a wall of smoke as we got deeper into Oregon. Just like this year, the (wild)fires started early and raged across thousands of acres. In Northern California the visibility and air quality were so poor we weren't sure if it was even safe to be outside for more than a few minutes.

I had heard from the grapevine (Insta) that a couple old friends were camping at Mt Shasta, so we (just Danny & I now) joined them. Unexpectedly, we escaped the smoke purely by being high enough in elevation at the base of Shasta. The air was pure delight to breath again. We spent 2 mindblowingly beautiful nights just below this magical mountain (if you haven't been I strongly recommend a visit in this lifetime) with a crew of ubër chill, artistic, and musical talents - friends and their friends from all over - including Alex (right) + Kate (center).

Most of the time, we dangled out of the windows with our mouths wide open, cruising slowly down the Avenue of the Giants - so appropriately named - and it was especially delightful for me as I had the realization that it was these three's very first time being amongst the grandmother trees. 🌲 #subtledream

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Words-thoughts through a rough patch

It's incredible how easily our emotions can get turned upside down simply by a few words from the right individual. 
I've been, for the most part, riding on a high since landing in New Zealand 46 days ago. From reuniting with old friends, speaking for the first time in front of an audience of 500, attending an immensely inspirational conference of change makers, meeting heaps of new friends and making professional contacts, living and working in a new environment, exploring the wide open spaces and all the nooks and crannies in between, to reaffirming my own purpose and value in life -- this past month and a half has been enjoyable as well as enlightening.
I don't believe many people, including my friends and family members, understand why I do what I do and the unique rewards plus challenges that this lifestyle brings. For starters, it's easy to romanticize my travels as a never-ending fairytale of wanderlust and adventure. It's easy to look at my Instagram & Facebook feed and be "so jealous." It's easy to be mesmerized by the kaleidescope of colors, textures, foods, landscape, humans, sunsets, and moments of joy that I have meticulously captured and curated to organize, edit, caption, and share with you and the world wide web. That, my friends, is not the full picture. No one's social media accounts is ever the full picture. Anyone who thinks it's anywhere close completely undermines the platter of human emotions and spirit that makes life both challenging and endearing.
Like you, I sometimes-often struggle to get out of bed. I have had mornings, afternoons, and evenings where I sit there, with both palms of my hands in my face, thinking and feeling the weight of the world on my shoulders and in my heart (e.g. just now). Everyone's been there. I don't think I've been honest enough to myself to articulate and post those moments, too.

"... follow your dreams... But I do pray that you will settle down somewhere with a job/family one day."

The 'But' negates everything prior.

"... just something to make a decent living..."

Because I don't?
Because not having 5, 6, 7 digits in my bank account says I am not successful? Because my conscious decision not to hold down a regular job while putting down a mortgage to pursuit some rotten fantasy capitalistic societal propaganda "American Dream" makes me any less valuable? Because I choose to put my own happiness and the greater good of humanity and the earth before my financial earnings prove that I am not worthy?
Don't slap your right hand with your left. Don't say "I am proud of you" when the next thing out of your mouth is "will you settle down." I can't take this contradicting bullshit. 
I've been working hard and living a decent life. I don't need $50,000+ USD/year to live "happily." Hell I don't even need $10,000 in most parts of the world. Don't and stop using the standards that have worked well for others on me. "Getting a job", "make more money", "settle down", and "have a family" are NOT things I have needed nor need at the moment. 
I was brought up to be a decent human being, and I've been living within the moral ethics that you and many teachers have instilled in me. I in turn have done what I could to spread that to more people I come across who are younger, around the same age, and even older. Isn't that enough? Why does my happiness, my lasting joy, need to conform to some guidelines of the past? Can you really believe that there is one road map in this quest of life? I am not drug dealing. I am not harming anybody. I choose work that fulfill and cultivate meaning and purpose. I choose to invest in knowledge and in learning from the world instead of financing a $60,000 vehicle. I choose to serve those in need while nurturing my evolving needs and interests. I have supportive friends who nurture my creativity and sense of curiosity. Most of them bring zero monetary value to my life, yet their presence, their lessons, and their companionship are invaluable. That is all I could really ask for. 
Do you know how hard it is to uphold this nomadic, creative life? Do you know how many moments I have to stand strong in the face of defeat, failure, and disappointments one after another while thousands of kilometers away from familiar faces and loved ones? Do you realize the difficulty and the sustained strength necessary to continue staying inspired and to inspire when the media splits out tragedy day in day out, when I am aware that the ice caps are rapidly melting, the carbon and sea levels are rising, the soil are eroding, the ecosystems are being destroyed, with species rapidly going extinct, that there is widespread injustice, fear, hunger, pain, suffering all across the world, and folks undervalue your work, never pay you, and some even ask you to work for free? Do you really know?

Don't say "proud" so casually anymore. It's like cry wolf. You say that, and say something else enough times, and I won't even believe it anymore.

Tomorrow is a new day. Onwards.

The new subtledream.

One of the profound self-realizations in the past year and a half traveling, serving, and learning around the world is that I am meant to be a photographer and storyteller, for life. 

I have said that "I am a (professional) photographer," for a number of years now, however I haven't yet fully embody that statement to the extend of my abilities, potential, and passion - until these past two years. Over half of the 14+ months aboard was spent living and working with the Conscious Impact team in Nepal. There, I documented everything from animal sacrifices, weddings, rebuilding sites, baby trees, smiles, to snow-capped Himalayan peaks through the seasons, at the mercy of the elements + gatekeepers of electricity (available 0-16 hours a day), while essentially being outside 24/7. I lived in a tent like every other short and long-term volunteer. My work table was created out of fallen roofing stones and bricks we made which didn't pass the strength test. It was on this make-shift desk (with an awesome view) where I created/processed nearly all of the media content that folks have been seeing on Conscious Impact's website and social media accounts. It was in that village and surrounding communities where I captured and edited tens to hundreds of stills each day, storyboarded and rendered a slew of videos for project updates and fundraisers, co-managed our social media outlets, worked with each team - agriculture, education, rebuilding - to ensure proper representation of peoples and happenings. There was never a moment of dullness, and I absolutely loved it. 

I wore a lot of hats - and so did nearly everyone involved with the rebuilding project that sprouted in response to the devastating April and May 2015 earthquakes. I wore these hats happily a large majority of the time, and couldn't imagine myself being anywhere else doing anything else. That sense of deeper satisfaction that comes from doing something GOOD - something not only you are good at, good for yourself, but even more importantly for others you love and care about - was rewarding beyond the compensation of a paycheck. Day after day this happened, and through this came the realization that I truly could do this work everyday, go to bed exhausted, but with a smile on my face. As "season 2" (Year 2) of Conscious Impact came to a close, I am deeply joyed and proud of our achievements. The numbers: over 350 volunteers from over 27 countries have contributed time, energy, and financial support to (re)build a school, an orphanage, a community center, an office building for the local women's microfinance cooperative, and 3 family homes. We've also expanded the knowledge of local farmers on organic agriculture, specifically in the growing of coffee trees. As of this very week, over 8,200 coffee saplings have already been planted, and there is so, SO much more than just these numbers. 

One of my greatest goals and intentions in returning to the states this summer is to redo my entire portfolio. subtledream.com would finally take on a form that more fully represents who I am as a photographer, a videographer, a story-teller, and simply another human being. I wish for this online presence to show the world what I am capable of, and more importantly, how my skills and desire to immortalize happenings and preserve memories are able to inspire, add value, joy, and serve the greater good of humanity as well as Pachamama. I no longer want to say that "I am a photographer" and not fully OWN it. I found my passion years ago, but fear held me back from my potential. I have been afraid of not being able to "make it" in day to day life and making ends meet. I have been learning to overcome this fear. 

And so today, I present you the all-new subtledream - a completely fresh, mobile-friendly site with hugely expanded galleries, new content, a blog (which I'll actually update), and SOON -- the ability to order prints and digital downloads directly from the site through a secure checkout system. I've been dreaming, scheming of this for years, and it's finally coming to fruition. I've got to work out a number of kinks and continue to refresh and add content still, but I also feel that in putting this out there earlier for you all and the world to see, it'll really push and motivate me to keep making it better and better. 

My ask for you, my friends, family, supporters, near and far, are as follows: 

  1. Check out the new site! You may be on there. And even if not, you're in for a treat.  
  2. Give feedback via social media or direct message.
  3. Share with me your favorite photo(s)/memories that I've captured by sharing & tagging me and/or my social media accounts (I love it when people do that) - what's YOUR favorite #subtledream ?
  4. Download wallpapers! This is the most affordable way (just $2!) to digitally collect my photos to beautify the background of your desktop/laptop/tablet/mobile/etc. I plan to upload a new "photo of the week" on the site each week - all of which comes with a little story or context. For any particular photo you've seen or like, just contact me and we can arrange direct file transfer. 
  5. Order prints! This is one of the best ways to support me AND to bring tangible beauty right into your living spaces. I've created a special gallery of 200+ photographs which are ready to be printed and delivered to you! Most of these are also in various galleries on the site. We can bring them to life with different photo papers finishes (lustre, glossy, matte, metallic) and also canvas prints with the option of wrapping it around a frame. They would make - if I may say so myself - EXCELLENT gifts. In the future this process should be streamlined through the site, but in the meantime, talk directly with me! 
  6. Refer friends, family, and anyone else to my photo and videographic prints & services. 2018 is wide open for me, folks. Book me! You know I would travel domestically and globally for a good wedding/event/project/cause. Get in touch directly: contact@subtledream.com
  7. If you have been on the receiving end of my services, free or paid, I'd love to hear about your experience with a review on the subtledream Facebook page. A 10% off coupon will be gifted for a future order. Yes! subtledream coupon! 

    I am experimenting with the idea of an online "tip jar." Over the years I have taken thousands upon thousands of photographs and videos, and spent perhaps even higher magnitude of time organizing, archiving, flagging, editing, processing, uploading for friends and strangers alike -- for free. I believe it's a gift of what I am able to observe and capture in the world - a snippet of beauty in time, if you will. In the end, isn't that all we can take with us? Inspired by the donation-based model of business(exchange) within my communities and travels aboard, I have offered my services and advice in recent years in a variety of circumstances, always being adaptive to the needs and context that are presented. I believe it has opened up opportunities that wouldn't have otherwise been possible if I was rigid on a fixed rate per hour or per gig, and I have learned an immense amount personally and professionally. If my photographs, videos, advice, words, etc. have brought you joy, inspiration, and/or a preservation of memories through the years, consider dropping a little something into my "tip jar." I am very grateful!

    In 2013, I embarked on a 3000+ mile bicycle and farm journey from coastal British Columbia to the US/Mexico border with the question, "Can travel, work, service, art, adventure, and environmental stewardship have an ideal overlap?" Many of you supported me on that journey, and upon looking through the list of supporters earlier today as well as that from the fundraiser for my first trip to Nepal in 2015, I cannot help but smile and feel deep gratitude for everyone who has uplifted me to get to this point. Is this what true community-supported-grassroots-no-middleman-global-collaboration could look like? Certainly something to ponder, and something we've discussed within Conscious Impact at great lengths... 

    I remember coming out the 2013 bike journey with noticably thicker legs (haha!) AND deeply inspired by the hard work of small-scale organic farmers and food growers, inspired by the raw natural beauty of the North American west coast, appreciated clean water and food in all forms, yet disillusioned by the injustice and corrupted industrial food system that exist in the United States as well as around the world. I wanted to continue expanding my horizons and improve my craft as a photographer to make better, more ethical decisions in day to day life and serve the greater good of humanity and the earth. 

    Still sounds familiar doesn't it? 

    Now, 4 years later, I feel that I have not only discovered that path but have walked down the right one. I thank you - each and every one of you - to have added a little to a whole lot of support, knowledge, value, and guidance to my life. Onwards! 

    With tremendous love and gratitude from Seattle,
    Jonathan

    PS: Later in September, I will travel to Christchurch in New Zealand to collaborate with the Otakaro Orchard to help promote New Zealand's first urban food hub. It will be a place that locals and visitors alike can gain knowledge and inspiration about sustainable food systems in practice. Otakaro Orchard broke ground in early August 2017 and has taken inspirations from the Beacon Food Forest. 

    Last week in Seattle

    As I once again wrap up my time in Seattle, I am reminded how grateful I am to also be able to call this place, this region, home. The Beacon Food Forest and the community of humans it attracts is a tremendous part of this good feeling. The previous work party last weekend will be my last for now. This is one of my favorite captures from it. It encapsulates the joy in the ability to reconnect with nature, one another, in a space that provides nourishment and knowledge for all, no matter your background, religion, color of your skin, and personal motivations.
    I'm really joyed to once again have been able to spend time exploring the Cascade mountains, to eat berries right off bush along along the trail, enjoy the summer harvest abundance everyday, dive into lakes and rivers, meet new friends, rekindle old connections, and very importantly work on my all-new, beautiful website. Look out for it real soon.

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    How strange it feels...

    How strange it feels, to be alive and well, spending time in one of the most popular and picturesque destinations in Europe, yet be aware of the colossal amount of tragic events, ignorance, and sorrow in the world with a Trump America, a war-torn Syria with millions displaced, griefing and anger over the Manchester inicident, post and neo-colonial Africa and Latin America and with that centuries of implications, erosion of indigenous peoples' rights and voices, regions which still haven't recovered from the financial crunch of '07 and' 08, climate change-induced droughts, floods, and subsequently, the beginning of an era of climate refugees and water wars -- and here I am, enjoying the almost-summer breezes, sangria, tapas, sweets, and sunshine of Barcelona while paying a whooping €15 to see a "donation-based" cathedral that was started in the 1880s and will not be complete until 2026 (extremely magnificent structure, don't get me wrong, however I'm thinking what that quantity of money and energy could have been dedicated to instead). I find myself often surrounded by folks who will take 10+ selfies to get that one shot to look cute/cool/radical to their friends/followers whilst not particularly paying attention to where they actually are and the significance that surrounds them. I see shoppers who drop hundreds upon thousands of dollars-euros to temporarily satisfy their superficial material fix, only to return for more. As asthetically beautiful, full of history and vibrant arts, I've been reminded a number of times that I am back in this part of the western world where excess has driven and continues to drive these cities and society. I can't say I am surprised, yet I've found myself in a dilemma that I haven't felt this strongly since being in Japan back in November. I feel disgusted. I feel let down by humanity. I feel that I cannot be on the same team as these fellow humans who seemingly have little to no awareness of their actions and the happenings around our shared world, which as we go deeper and deeper into the technology and information age, ignorance to me becomes a choice rather than not. I feel the impending doom hitting as we keep riding these cruise ships on fossil fuels as the sea levels continue to rise, flooding homes and displacing people we don't know and don't care to know while we tell ourselves YOLO (You Only Live Once) so I deserve to spend and do what I earn so STFU (Shut The F Up) but hey here's $10 on Kickstarter for your non-profit phew my soul is cleansed and karma will bring me the goodies for lyfe! That same time when I got hit by this wall, this blatant culture of excess and ignorance, I started a long personal post about a related climate change dream that I had had the night prior. I never quite finished it as I got deeply concerned about humanity and my own mental well-being as the words came out. Despite being my last evening in Barcelona tonight I made the decision to stay in after picking up some fruit and empanadas from the store around dinner time. I needed this time to reflect and process it all -- how do I continue to keep my head up and fight the good fight? Where do I continue to draw motivation to move forward in these turbulent times? What is my greater contributions and what positive impact have I and am still creating? Where do I go from here as I wrap up my 14 months being away from "home"? Is what is geopolitically considered the US even home? Who can I collaborate, live, thrive, and be with to allow myself to be myself and co-create the best that I and we can be? Thank goodness for the good people that you do meet and hear about. Just earlier this afternoon I went to check out a co-working space in the middle of Barcelona where an Italian couple who has been living here for several years do a weekly donation-based luncheon for anyone and everyone with mostly rescued foods and groceries from nearby stores and markets. Apparently the food waste movement started in this city a little while ago and now there are grassroots groups dedicated to picking up what would otherwise be thrown away due to arbitrary "expiration" dates. Phew. I needed to meet them and know that. But I do wonder and think... how strange it feels to feel lonely amidst so many.

    KTM - DBX

    I am sitting on seat 20D surrounded by Nepalis and Indians who are also flying to Dubai, many of which I am quite certain are going to or back to the UAE for work. As I spend the last minutes in this country, thousands of memories and snippets from the past 5 months and from past visits are flashing by, but in particular I am thinking about Udav and our boys and men who have been working with us Conscious Impact for several months to since the project's beginning. These are folks who would otherwise not be regularly employed staying in their home village with their families, or would otherwise move to Kathmandu for work, or equally likely too find work aboard in the Gulf States/Malaysia/Indonesia/etc. but leave their family behind. It makes me feel good knowing that our project has not only begun the reconstruction of a local school, an orphanage, a couple community buildings, and now houses too, but also have provided these guys the ability to stay in their home village with their families while earning a livelihood. Udav's house is near completion as I type this. These very bricks that he proudly helped make, cure, move, and place into his new, socially and environmentally responsible, earthquake-safe home will be a story to be told for decades to follow. I'm proud and honored to have been a part of it as this team, this community, this family as this chapter comes to an end. To be continued - Conscious Impact Season 3! #ComeToNepal

    Udav catching one of hundreds of bricks from a volunteer as we load the truck for his home.

    Udav catching one of hundreds of bricks from a volunteer as we load the truck for his home.

    This morning...

    This morning as I woke up I suddenly had a flashback of what a friend said to me after an eye-gazing session a couple weeks back. She said that she saw sadness in one eye and kid-like joy in the other. I was a bit taken back at that moment and never told her until today how true that observation was. I suppose I could have been too surprised to know even how to respond. She was right - I'm and have been emotionally vulnerable, and at times even unstable and haven't had the appropriate channels to let it out and then let it heal. It all feels a bit choked up inside, like a clogged pipe with murky waters stuck in a sink. I thought a long trek amongst some of the highest mountains in the world could bring about clarity and peace. While it did bring me some of that, more moments were filled with emotional rollercoaster rides of what-if's, self-blame, and loneliness. It hasn't really been mentally healthy. As I emerged out of the mountains, I found myself back at the Conscious Impact camp with familiar and new faces, loving people, energies, and meaningful work. I thought that would be healing for me to restart afresh. It has been, yet I've still been struggling with emotional up's and down's as I merge back on the highway of rebuilding work at this village devastated by the earthquakes 2 years ago. That said, it hasn't stopped me from having moments of bliss, joy, and unbound wonder for the world and its people as I used my pair of legs to get this body up to 5400+ meters several times and as I surrounded myself with folks from all over the globe with the same intentions of serving others and lending a helping hand. So what my friend said to me was absolutely correct, and it's crazy - she saw something in my eyes in those 10 minutes that perhaps I didn't even know was (and still is) the most succinct, accurate analysis of my state of mind these past couple months.

    31

    365 days ago, I was in a yurt nestled in the forests at the foothills of the Cascade mountains with a dozen quality humans (and a puppy). Stories were shared, candles were lit, beers were drank, foods were enjoyed, and good vibes were felt all around. In the couple months that followed, I sold my dwelling on wheels, sold my car, quit my job, bid farewell to my friends and community in Seattle, gifted and donated much of my belongings, and packed life necessities into a suitcase, a duffle, and a backpack. I paid my family a visit before setting off for Asia to be, live, work, and serve alongside the Conscious Impact crew once more.
    It was intended to be an indefinitely long journey of self-exploration and discovery, of service, of learning, of adventure, of beauty and the never-ending search for it anywhere and everywhere, and growth of the mind, body, and spirit. In these past 10 months it feels that I've gone to the moon and back.
    A year, 7 countries, dozens of new connections, hundreds of kilometers walked, and thousands of km's cycled later, through rain storms, hail, desert winds, from sea level to 5200+ meters, over land and sea, #hitchhiking, and even the diarrhea, the blood, the sweat, and tears - I'm grateful to be right here, right now, where I am. To be alive, to be in good health, to love, be loved, and feel loved.
    I'm grateful for my privileges and opportunities, past and present, that have led me here. I'm grateful for the people I have crossed paths with and taught me tremendous lessons. I'm grateful for my mother, and to have my family be supportive of my unconventional lifestyle. I'm grateful to have broken from the consumeristic culture and discovered fulfillment within. I'm grateful to be able to utilize my skills, my abilities, my curiosities, my passions, and my energy with others who do the same. I'm grateful to feel challenged consistently. I am so alive.
    Tonight the waxing moon in the clear sky illuminates the entire terraced hillside where our volunteer camp of colorful tents, tarps and bamboo structures are. Tonight I am once again excited for what the new day and another rotation around the sun will bring forth. 🌞

    Hitchhiking with some newly-made fellow backpackers in Ladakh, India.

    Hitchhiking with some newly-made fellow backpackers in Ladakh, India.

    My first Conscious Impact experience in the village of Takure

    The ambient light diffusing into my tent gently woke me up. It was roughly 6 am. The air was damp, but not muggy. I remembered it had rained last night. I remembered being pulled out of a deep sleep as the rain drops spattered onto the nylon rainfly less than a meter above. The rain was light though, soothing. I teleported back into dreamland within seconds. I have slept well almost every night. This rain was particularly welcomed. It hadn't rained for nearly a week. The transition out of the monsoon season has been quite drastic in these past 5 weeks. The frequency of rain has dropped noticeably, and so has the evening temperatures. Autumn is definitely upon us.

    The volunteer camp in the village of Takure in the district of Sindhupalchok has been my home for nearly the past 6 weeks. I have lived out of a small tent, waking up early to the sun everyday to learn, work, and live alongside dozens of volunteers from across the globe. In some weeks there have been only about 15-25 of us. Others 40-55+. We eat a vegetarian, plant-based diet. We drink, shower, and clean with water from a spring further up the hill. Natural resources such as bamboo, wood, sand, clay, and stone are collected from around the community, and if needed, purchased from nearby stores to support local businesses. The diversity of the characters this camp and project has attracted here is truly immense. Equally immense is the hospitality and warmth of the Nepalis, specifically the community members of Takure. We've been welcomed into a number of families' homes and served tea, milk, and sometimes even fresh harvests such as cucumbers with chili salt. Their stories, openness, and humility humble us each and everyday. Describing the essence thus far with any one or even combination of adjectives doesn't even begin to articulate the full spectrum of humbling and enlightening human experiences I (we) have had.

    Today we bid farewell to the 10-day October rebuild volunteers. Saying goodbye is never easy, especially when you have worked, laughed, sang, cooked, sweated, learned, and shared experiences with around the clock day after day. We share the collective vision for global learning and understanding. We seek connections beyond geographical and political boundaries. We are drawn closer by our similarities rather than being divided by our differences in beliefs, genders, and interests. We celebrate the unique journeys and skill sets which we are all on and have. It makes for quite the special bonds. I have certainly made a number of friends for life.

    In the following several days, we will be completing the main structure of the training center. The training center is going to be where community members of Takure and folks from all around the region can come and learn about an alternative building material which will be produced on-site. Compressed earth blocks, or CEB for short, is the main product. These blocks are to be made from nearly all local materials, are ecologically and financially sustainable, and very importantly, earthquake-proof. The CEB will first be utilized in rebuilding the 2 local schools, a project which both Conscious Impact and YUWA Unity Nepal are fully committed to and foresee starting later in November. The vision is to have this training center to be a knowledge-sharing space and marketplace run by villagers of Takure to offer lessons, discussions, and have the earth blocks for sale at a significantly lower cost (as well as ecological footprint) compared to conventional building materials and methods.

    I am so proud of my friends' work in this beautiful, special place. I am filled with awe at the progress we have made in the past month and a half. When you first walk around this village, you may only see physical devastation. Yet as all of us have discovered and experienced, the people living in the temporary structures rebuilt from scrap materials from their fallen homes are more often filled with resilience, joy, and hope. Amazingly, despite having had all but one structure collapse from the earthquakes in April and May, there is not one human casualty in Takure. Rupak, one of the local young men who has been working with us as well as serve as our interpreter, remarked that this is such a special place that Shiva himself has protected the village. This resonates well with the spirit we have felt through the visits to homes and schools. The community members are thankful for this life and are ready to rebuild better and stronger than before.

    The dwindling internet access here at camp has made uploading content and staying connected limited and difficult at best. I apologize for the lack of updates especially these past couple weeks as our internet access went from limited to barely existent. As I (reluctantly) emerge out of the woods from this special place, I will undoubtedly be adding content to this fundraising campaign and on social media. There is so, so much to be shared.

    Due to the complex and escalated political and social issues in Nepal these past few weeks, many resources including petro has been a rare commodity throughout the country. Many flights out of Kathmandu have been canceled, including my own. After several days of uncertainty (and some frustration), my departure date has been postponed to October 23 --- 6 days later than originally scheduled. This delay allows much-welcomed downtime, further envisioning with Allen and Orion for what the next year holds for us, in addition to the films we will be able to produce with Luke and Sebastian, the good folks behind Redefined Films.

    There is 2 and a half days left in the fundraiser. We are so close to the goal. I am overwhelmed by the incredible support from friends and family across over 5 different time zones. I hope you find or have found value in the work that not only I have been doing here in Takure, but we collectively as a conscious movement doing what we all feel is morally and socially the right thing to do. The impact we have made, will continue to here in Nepal and far beyond throughout our lives and those we touch shall spread like ripples on a tranquil pond. I have no doubt this is only the beginning of the greater good we are able to co-create within ourselves and those we touch.

    Looking forward, and always enjoying the present moment.

    With love and gratitude from Takure,
    Jonathan