The Newest Adventure

Adventure can describe a lot of different scenarios.

For a long time, the Adventures of Sunni involved me honing my intellect and leapfrogging my way up the corporate ladder.

For the past three years, Adventure has involved me living a nomadic lifestyle, living out of my suitcase traveling around the world.

For the past 6 months, Adventure has involved me wandering around the US on an endless road trip.

Now, it’s time to embark on a new type of Adventure – creating a family.

I have returned to my childhood home, while I will always be a traveler my nomading days are behind me. My new Adventure is focused on becoming a foster parent to teenagers. This is no small task. The system looks for stability in foster parents and a nomadic lifestyle is not that. So I will spend the next 18 months returning to a more traditional lifestyle, mentoring foster kids, completing classes and generally proving my ability to be stable and become responsible for kids.

I have wanted to foster for as long as I can remember. Specifically teens as they are an often neglected demographic and I really enjoy them. I’ve been mentoring teens as they age out of foster care for about 5 years and I’m ready to go deeper, get closer and work with them younger.

Lately, much of my time has been invested in creating online group programs and working with folks 1:1 as an Intuitive Strategist. I guide my clients in designing a life they love through the practical application of spiritual principles. It has been so fulfilling and rewarding to see adults discover their own power and really define their own path through life. I am  eager to take this to the next level in working with teens.

An element of this new Adventure that is really exciting for me is that I’m not alone. Kirk is very much onboard and we are in this together, we are ready to start a family together, in our own way. I’m grateful for his partnership as patience is going to be needed and that is something he excels at far more than I. Not only in working with the kids but in the steps required to get us to that point, groundwork must be laid and of course, I want it now! 🙂

I’ll share more about the experience of shifting modes and entering the system to foster as things unfold.

FAQ with Sunni

For my birthday in July I asked my tag-along adventurers, friends, and connections on social media to complete an online survey for me. (Thanks to everyone who participated!) My goal was to understand the impact this blog, my email updates etc were having.

There were 3 questions asked many times. So, here you go, answers!

Common Question #1: How do you afford your life?

Answer: Video response!

Common Question #2: What can I do to help you? (or) What support do you need?

Answer: Connection and connections.

Connection

I know it seems like I’m always busy, but I’m really not. I keep busy with work and clients, but because I’m on the move so much it can get pretty lonely. Getting feedback from people on how/if my sharing impacts you, having friends reach out to stay in touch and send virtual hugs – these things are super valued by me.

Connections

I choose to be nomadic because it allows me to meet so many new people and experience so many new cultures. To fully immerse myself, and keep my life affordable, I barter for lodging wherever possible. I trade my strategic services for lodging which allows me to serve people who may not otherwise be able to afford my services. I’d love to trade with someone in Arizona, New Mexico or California for the Jan/Feb/March time frame. If you’re interested in bartering with me, or know someone who might be, you can click here to learn more. I’ve done this many times, so I’ll guide you through the process, ensure we have clear boundaries and agreements in place, here is what some of my past barter clients have to say about the experience.

Common Question #3:  What exactly do you do for money?

Answer: I work. Duh. 😜

Okay, for reals, I do several things.

I freelance as a Project Manager and Operations Manager for larger companies.

I apply these same skills when working with Entrepreneurs and Small Business owners to define a growth strategy, gain more clients and run as smoothly and efficiently as possible.

As an Intuitive Strategist, I mentor people on a journey for self-discovery. So many people operate in survival mode, reacting to the things around them, acting out of obligation. I support people in intentionally and proactively designing a world that they love. One of my clients recently told me that I’d helped her to meet her true self for the first time. (#squee!)

Meltdown (or I miss my Mom)

Earlier this week I had a meltdown.

It’s been about 6 weeks since I left Orlando. Last year when I flew everywhere I didn’t go for more than about 6 weeks without a pit stop in Orlando to swap clothes and get cuddles. So it kinda makes sense that it’s at this point that I start to really miss things.

I really missed my family. Which makes sense and I can wrap my head around that because they’re real, I can touch them, they exist.

I also had a fiercely miss my home. This one is more confusing to process because that doesn’t exist, I don’t have my own space in the traditional sense. I haven’t for over a year. I am missing a place that does not exist. As I sit with this it starts to become clear that I miss an idea, rather than a place.

This isn’t the first time I’ve had these urges.

There have been several occasions where I considered a return to ‘normalcy’ a return to a standard stable lifestyle. Shoot, I sort of had that the first half of the year when I stuck around Orlando to support family.

Here’s the thing, I know that if I were to honor these feelings, hop in the car and drive back to Orlando to settle into a ‘normal’ life…it wouldn’t take but a couple of months before I was antsy, craving the travel life again.

These thoughts, these feelings- they are just that. They are coming from my Monkey Mind, from fear and as a result of living in and being with the very edge of my comfort zone. They were created by my Mind.

I don’t allow my Mind alone to dictate how I live my life. Nope. My Soul is driving that bus.

This is just one more scary moment to get through.

And it’s okay for me to be in the moment, to be scared, to miss my Mom, my Girl, my Guy, my brother, my bed (which is on end in a storage unit) and my coffee table (which is amazing). It’s even okay for me to decide to turn around and drive back to all of those things. If that is what my Soul truly wants.

As I spent the day in my meltdown and eventually processed what was happening and moved through it, I realized that I haven’t been sticking to all of my daily rituals. In the last 3 weeks I slept in 5 different beds and I didn’t sage or ground in any of them. I also haven’t been honoring my commitment to exercise daily and, if I’m honest, I have been resisting the level of meditation my Soul is calling me to. These are all rituals and commitments I’ve put in place because they support me in declaring each new place as my home, in that moment.

No wonder I haven’t felt at home! No wonder I’m feeling home sick for the idea of home, I haven’t been creating it!

Before writing this I spent some time saging the home I’m staying in. I spent time with my grounding point. I invested the afternoon in a long stretch, a good work out and a long bath meditation. I do feel better, more grounded. But I’m still uneasy, there’s still a huge part of my Mind (and Ego?) that are annoyed about how things have been going. I still miss my Mom. And that’s okay.

My Body is much more content now that I gave it some attention.

My Soul is happy, aligned and in the middle of massive expansion.

My Mind is very, very happy My Guy will be here soon for a visit and that I’ll be flying home to the VonMutii in about two weeks.

All is well in Sunni’s World.

Road Trip Logistics

I have been on the road for 30 days and I’ve driven just over 1,300 miles through 9 states. I’ve stayed in 6 different cities with 6 different families. One of which was a client I’d never met in person until I showed up to stay the night.

So far and have spent $270 on gas and $350 on food, everything else I’ve bartered for or been gifted by friends and family.

Today I head out and will spend 12 days slowly making my way through the 1,500+ miles to Chicago. I’ll stop and spend time in 4 cities, staying with 4 different families, 3 of which I’ve never met before in real life.

Conklin, NY is to stay with a Reiki client of mine for 2 nights.

Then on to East Meredith, NY to meet a colleague and guest from #TabooTalk where I’ll stay for 3 nights.

Next is Pittsburgh where I’ll stay 2 nights with the high school buddy of an online friend so that I can spend a full day exploring Falling Waters (a bucket list item).

From there I head to Wapakoneta, OH which is where I have family I haven’t seen in ages and together we’re going to explore Cedar Point and ride some record breaking roller coasters.

Once I’ve had a chance to catch up with family I’ll traverse the final stretch to Chicago where I’ll be staying with the same clients I bartered with last year.

Managing this sort of trip is not simple. I have a spreadsheet where I’m tracking the hours, miles and people. Staying in communication with that many people, verifying dates, times, boundaries – it takes something. Add in the fact that my car has been throwing me curve balls which means everyone has to be flexible within a day or two and well – it’s complex.

But, there’s so much juice in it too!

I’ve wanted to travel my whole life. I actually got to travel as a child more than many my age thanks to Mom’s family being in Baltimore and Dad having family outside of Charleston. We made family road trips up I95 several times a year and they were filled with pit stops for homeschool field trips.

I actually got to travel as a child more than many my age thanks to Mom’s family being in Baltimore and Dad having family outside of Charleston. We made family road trips up I95 several times a year and they were filled with pit stops for homeschool field trips.

I always dreamed of far away places though. Rome, Russia, Thailand.

Since 2003 I’ve been to 48 of the 50 US States, 30+ countries on 3 continents. I’ve seen all of the sites, ate the foods, done the things.

With this road trip I’m shifting my focus to people. I’m visiting places and people that aren’t near major airports, that I wouldn’t otherwise see or maybe even meet. Instead of feeling pressure to hit all the big sites I’m meandering, stopping when and where I want to.

It may be challenging to coordinate, but the juice far outweighs the effort.

The Art of Philly

While Philadelphia is very gritty, it’s also filled with art. From graffiti to theater and murals.

I asked around and was told to check out the Grounds for Sculpture, which is just outside of Trenton, NJ about 45 minutes from Philly.

I spent more than 4 hours exploring this amazing space. The grounds were beautifully kept and there was quite literally art tucked into every corner. Often I would spot a foot path leading into a grove of trees or stand of bushes, follow it and find a hidden gem.

While I took lots of photos, it really takes video to do this place justice. Here’s a highlights reel of my favorite pieces.

My mom is often envious of my travels and wishes she could tag-along in person. She would have loved this place. I recorded about two hours of my explorations and then sped it up into a 20-minute walk-about for her, if you’re interested you can watch it here.

I’ve also enjoyed visiting salvage yards and thrift stores around the city – also full of funky, artistic displays and pieces.

 Check out the quick video full of seconds from my 2.5 weeks in Philly, including more street art.

I think my White Privilege is showing

For the past few weeks I’ve stayed with dear friends who I trust implicitly. I’d go just about anywhere to spend time with them and their crew. Their home is lovely, cozy and filled with things I would fill my own home with.

They currently live in Philly. Downtown Philly. The gritty part.

When they first moved here from Boston, and NYC before that, they told me that they chose Philly because of the grit. They love that it hasn’t been totally gentrified. They told me that they often feel like NYC and Boston are just doing a good job of hiding their dirty laundry, relegating it to the dark corners of the city and they wanted to live somewhere that went beyond not hiding the dirty laundry but didn’t even relate to it as dirty. Where the grit and the glory/trendy etc were all intermingled evenly throughout the city.

Now.

I like to think of myself as very open minded, non-judgemental and what not. I’ve lived through some crazy stuff, spent time in not so nice sides of town, participating in questionable and not-so-legal activities. But always in generally safe cities.  I’m disappointed to discover that the grit of Philly is making me really uncomfortable.

First, allow me to define gritty. There is, from time to time, a grocery cart full of a homeless person’s belongings parked next to my car in the morning. The local street I’m parking on is considered safe because the neighborhood drug dealer spends his days on the corner two blocks down and ensures his home turf stays safe. There’s a cop two doors down. The local businesses all have razor wire protecting their property. People walk fast, eyes forward, on a mission. OR. People meander, eyes scouring for trouble or what they should be defending themselves from.

There is trash everywhere. Broken glass everywhere. It’s common to see a syringe, used condom or hair extension on the sidewalk. There’s a scrap yard a few blocks away and the several times I’ve walked by during the day there have been people lined up here, stripping cars and breaking things down. Once a guy addressed me as I passed by as he was pulling a piece off a minivan and proclaimed ‘it’s mine, I bought this‘ in my direction. Until he spoke up it hadn’t occurred to me that maybe it wasn’t his.

The grocery store only blocks away from me, is the only store within a several mile radius that has a full produce selection. Most people go in and shop for the month. When I went in today I was behind a woman buying three carts worth of food, one cart was full of chef boyardee, koolaid and those sugar water drinks you twist the plastic top off of.

This is what I mean by gritty.

Living amidst this grit has put me on edge. While I’ve never felt unsafe, never felt I was at risk, I’ve been perpetually uncomfortable walking around.

I’m uncomfortable with the source of my discomfort.

My discomfort surprises me because I have a habit of not noticing when I’m in what My Guy calls a “windows up neighborhood”. I typically seem unaware as to when I’m in an area where my guard should be up. I have stories of being in areas of Chicago and Harlem, places I shouldn’t have been alone, and a kind stranger took it upon themself to inform, protect and lead me out of their neighborhood. I was that oblivious.

In theory, I am totally onboard with my host’s perspective. In theory, I don’t agree with gentrification. I don’t think it’s right for rich (white) people to move into a neighborhood and impose their views and preferences on the whole neighborhood. For that matter, I don’t think it’s right for the US to move into a third world country and impose their ideals on the locals either, but that’s another subject entirely.

I’m reminded of the TV show Shameless (great show, but very crass) in which ‘the gays’ moved into their rugged Chicago neighborhood and suddenly tried forcing people to clean up their yards, plan community gardens and park their cars differently. When watching the show I identified with the locals and was ashamed by the actions of my (theoretically fellow) white, gay (albeit fictional) comrades.

Yet.

Spending a few weeks in the midst of grit, well, I’m just not loving it. Part of me wishes I fit better into this world, so I could blend and be confident. I’d like to be that badass chica who’s confident walking by the local drug dealer, people stripping abandoned cars for scrap metal, to be un-phased when there’s a gun shot in the distance.

Perhaps I need to conquer the grit of Philly like I conquered the pace of NYC.

But it’s all so dirty. Everyone always seems to be on edge. Out to defend themselves, even if it means hurting me. Does it take that much more energy to be nice instead of rude? To place your trash and waste in an appropriate receptacle? To find a bathroom to do your business in? It’s like everyone’s Give-A-Fuck broke.

But then, I also get that many people (not all) who live in this neighborhood are so squarely in survival mode that they can’t even imagine a life beyond putting food on the table. That being nice could make them vulnerable, that giving a fuck would mean they could be disappointed, rejected, hurt. And who am I to say that my way of looking at life, that anitSurvival mode is any better than how they live?

Maybe?

I think this is the first self-identified example I’ve found of my white privilege showing.

I guess it seems like it all comes down to priorities. The folks who make these neighborhoods gritty, they prioritize something else (not sure what) over things like clean streets, safe neighborhoods, respectful relationships. Do they have a choice though? Can one choose when faced with homelessness, life or death situations and no awareness of a way out?

Who am I to judge people for living this way. Yet, I do.

Gah!

At the end of the day, the people who live here are just that. People. And I wish I had more access to connecting with them. Because I love connecting with humans.

I definitely think everyone should spend time in the ‘gritty’ parts of their town. Be aware of how all of the humans in your home town live, what options they have, what their daily stressors are and most importantly who lives there. Humans. Just like you. Broaden your awareness of your community. I know I’ve not done much of this in my hometown.

PS. It feels vulnerable to share this publically in the age of social media. My heart is pure. I love humans. I want to see all humans be as happy as possible, whatever that looks like for them. I don’t mean to be judgey, ignorant or part of the problem. My hope is that by sharing I’ll get others thinking and maybe even shift some perspectives and open some new dialogs….

Crickets in Philly

My bartering, nomadic lifestyle is 100% possible due to social media. I rely on it to keep in touch with people, find people to live with, even to find new clients. It is AWESOME.

And it has the well-known side effect of allowing us to choose what people know of us. It’s become quite easy to feel like you know someone well, through social media, that you don’t really know at all, perhaps have never even met. I often find myself wishing people would spend less time relying on social media and more time connecting in real life.

Well, I got my wish in Philly. There is very little available via my normally reliable online resources to allow me to connect with communities in this city. I typically check Facebook events, meeetup and the like for interest-based communities that I have something in common with. I use them to find new friends, clients and peers to connect with, to help me make my home in a new city.

Philly has virtually nothing online. Crickets.

Thanks to the friends I have here I’ve discovered that Philly is simply old school. There is plenty of entrepreneurship here, it’s just the old fashioned hustle, hard work and handshake based variety. This makes me happy, because I like to think that there are pockets where social media isn’t the glue holding everyone together. Conversely, it makes me sad because it’s much harder to get to know this city as a nomad passing through for a few weeks.

Oh well. All the more thankful for my friends and the quirky sites I’ve found in my exploring.

My 1st week on the road

So, in case you haven’t been keeping up, I’ve shifted from flying around the US to driving. I’ve embarked on an endless road-trip and, aside from a delayed start, everything has been going as planned.

Driving is different from flying around the country for all of the obvious reasons. But there’s a whole bunch of less obvious things I’m discovering.

First, I’m so extroverted and social I wasn’t sure if I would like spending that much time alone, but it’s been awesome! I’m loving that I can listen to the 1940’s station on Sirius Radio without annoying my Partner.

It’s also awesome that I can stop at every single Co-Op or local crunchy granola market if I feel like it.

I’m also impressed with how productive I’ve been able to be from the car. I’ve been recording audio files, using voice to text to write blogs and emails (like this one!), taking client calls and listening to audio books. I’ve scheduled myself to only drive during the day and so far that’s been working out perfectly.

What’s been surprising is how exhausted I’ve been at the end of each day. Apparently driving takes a lot more energy than I thought, that combined with the fact that when I get to my destination I want to chat and connect with my host – I’ve been sleeping very well each night.

I’ve taken video every day since I left – here’s what the first week of life on the road looked like:

I’ve made it to my first anchor city, Philadelphia. I’m spending a couple of weeks here with very dear friends. We co-work during the day and chat and have fun in the evenings and weekends. It’s great to settle in a bit and sleep in the same bed more than one night! Oh, and there’s an adorable kitten, Scout who’s become my bed mate and loves hanging out in my backpack.

On that note, until next time! 🙂

How bad do you want it?

I spent the past week planning and prepping to shift my life to road-tripping mode. In the midst of my planning the Universe decided to ask me:

just how bad do you want this?

Since I spent the past several months hanging at my Partner’s place I’d accumulated a decent amount of belongings out of my storage unit. Also, last year I lived out of my Condo (aka suitcase) and revisited my Storage unit every 4-6 weeks.

With the endless roadtrip I’ll have lots of extra space (I mean, a whole car!), but I won’t be able to get to my Storage Unit regularly.

It took me about 20 hours to go through everything, put things away in Storage, choose what to go into the Condo and what to go into my car. I bought several tools to help me stay organized but ultimately didn’t need most of them. I was worried my trunk was going to be jam packed – it’s not.

Basically what I added to the car was:

– 1 bin of winter clothes
– 1 bin of occasional clothes (dressy, professional, beachwear)
– 1 small bin of craft and biz supplies
– 2 tiny bins of workshops in a box (1 woo woo and 1 biz)
– 1 carry on sized suitcase of linens
– 1 pillow
– 1 suitcase stand

I also put a decent soft cooler and a bag of kitchen supplies into my car. It really wasn’t that much. I’m pretty impressed with my minimalism. Honestly, if you knew me 10 years ago you’d be seriously impressed.

SO

I got everything packed up Saturday night. Sunday morning the plan was to go to church and then go to my parents for the night and then off to Jacksonville Monday morning.

Sunday morning I went bopping out to my car, and well, here’s what happened next:

What I ultimately discovered was, the mechanical issues weren’t a ‘sign’ that I shouldn’t go. Rather, they were an opportunity for me to show God/Universe/Spirit/Divine just how committed I am to taking the actions that align me to my purpose. So I pushed through, found a solution and I’m on my way!