Working Hard or Hardly Working

After months of planning and hard work the vegan road trip is officially on the road and the experience has been a lot of things:

Profound
Fun
Stressful
Fear inducing
Challenging
Cause for surrender of expectation
Eye opening
Fascinating

Let me elaborate. As some of you already know the months leading up to summer proved rather difficult, in a good way, as I faced a lot of change. I was in a brand new relationship, I moved out of the apartment I lived in for 6 years, I risked losing my job by leaving for South America for two months, and my dog was unwell, but we didn't know why. Lots of things out of my control, but one thought lived strong in my gut underneath the weight of all the fear: this is my life, and these are my choices. Though I was scared, I felt a lot of excitement at the same time.

South America was life changing. Armed with nothing but faith in myself and faith in something bigger than me, I realized I was being asked to take care of myself when, in a foreign country; I:

1.) Was forced to accept and deal with the end of that new relationship - which was very sad and disappointing for me.

2.) Had to take care of myself and learn how to ask for help from strangers when I was very sick somewhere in the middle of a remote part of Bolivia.

3.) Found myself in some of the most physically challenging outdoor adventures, most of which my body was wildly underprepared for. (Sidenote: I survived/conquered all of them, so if I can, you can too)

I found myself thinking many times "GODDAMMIT, this is supposed to be a vacation! This trip is so hard, AND what the fuck did I get myself into?!"  'Working hard, but hardly working' became my motto.

When I arrived home to my parent's place in DC, I have to admit I struggled adjusting and fitting back into my own life. I felt like that puzzle piece that fits in with some effort; except the picture doesn't match, so you know it's the wrong one and you need to keep looking. I knew I was changed, I knew there was no going back to the way I felt...behaved... worried... stressed before my trip. I mean, I got myself from the southernmost tip of Chile to the Peruvian Amazon on my own dime, and with my blonde hair and my bad Spanish. I was a badass motherfucker.

Right?

The next few days I spent welcoming my phenomenal crew from L.A. and we spent our time leading up to the actual drive buying groceries, hard drives, testing sound equipment, drinking, partying with family in celebration of my dads 69th birthday, playing Cards Against Humanity, and sneaking in some time for rest before the long drive.

Vegan blueberry pie for dad.

Birthday dinner.

The birthday boy hamming it up.

Vegan Mac and cheese, asparagus, tomato and cucumber salad with my grandma's secret dressing.

Chris (producer of The Vegan Road Trip) and me working hard...

...and then hardly working.

The first couple days we mostly spent driving, therefore not a lot of shooting occurred and I was starting to feel anxious. "We're not doing what we planned!  We need to start knocking on people's doors."  Actually, we were doing exactly what we planned. We never intended to shoot the first two days because we needed to get to Omaha by a certain date as we had a reservation at Modern Love (modernloveomaha.com) - Isa Moskowitz's new vegan restaurant, the opening of which has been highly anticipated by vegans and non-vegans alike, all over the world. Literally.

"What's happening to me?" I thought. "Why are your panties in such a twist? Relax, you're a new person, remember?  A badass motherfucker."  Even still, the feeling was familiar... but it was different. It wasn't debilitating this time, it was just kind of there. Like a bad habit I was about to indulge in, even though I knew better. But I still found myself searching for security wherever I could find it. "I know! Now would be a good time to contact my employers and tell them I want to come back to work." (When I left, though I knew I was risking losing my job, I had an expectation that they would have me back, seeing as I was a loyal worker and I was good at my job. I didn't want to go back to work there - and for no other reason except that I knew deep inside it was time to move on. But I was scared. So I went running to mommy, thumb in my mouth, hoping for reassurance. I wanted my blankie. Instead I got this:

"Alex,
FYI: I checked in with Person X and Person Y to discuss this issue.

At this time the scheduled shifts that you had previously worked are filled. As are the morning shifts across the week and the servers are doing quite well with them. It would not be fair for me to take them away after they have worked so hard this summer to do good work. The times that we need coverage on from time to time is not during the mornings but in the afternoon and evening. Would you like me to let you know if anything changes?

Best,
Person Z"

Ego. Blow. But instantly, and with no hard feelings whatsoever, because if I'm being honest, he's right - It would not be fair to give me my job back given these circumstances - the fear was lifted. Dunno why. Dunno how. I have this hunch it was that "something bigger" I always talk about that swooped in just in time to remind me I have a choice. I could see the end of my relationship, my current state of homelessness, and my lack of a job one of two ways:

1) Terrifyingly life ending.

OR

2) Complete and utter freedom. I could reinvent myself. I could move to another country. I could find a thrilling new job and live in a part of LA I never before would have known to love. And mostly importantly I could start dating myself again. I spent some time before this last relationship doing that and you know what?  I think I was starting to fall in love ;)

Very quickly I realized my life before South America was hardly working for me. And I was working extremely hard chasing happiness, fulfillment, success, approval and status.

Yesterday proved very fruitful for The Vegan Road Trip. We finally got to knocking on people's doors and people were so kind and receptive - even when we were turned down. We even knocked on Warren Buffets door, but he said he wasn't hungry ;) In the morning we cooked pancakes for a young family and in the evening we cooked breakfast for dinner for a beautiful couple!  Both houses chock full of animals. The couple even had their own chickens!  So instead of eating chicken for dinner, we ate our cruelty free meal WITH the chicken (the way it should be).

Now that we're in our groove all the hard work feels fun and easy and exciting and I am reminded that THIS is living. So as I sit in the passenger seat with my sound guy driving and my pooch resting in the back seat I am finally able to surrender. Turning it over, because I am not in charge.  I only have control over one thing and that's whether I choose to trust that I will be taken care of, as I have always been.

Keep the faith mis amigos - sometimes it's all we have.