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Tantra Banter https://www.tantrabanter.com A NEW CONVERSATION ABOUT SEX (creation), DRUGS (consciousness), AND ROCK & ROLL (energy). Thu, 08 Oct 2020 23:57:46 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=5.6 https://www.tantrabanter.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/04/TB-logo-100x100.png Tantra Banter https://www.tantrabanter.com 32 32 Self Discovery in Cheez-It’s and Ice Cream https://www.tantrabanter.com/self-discovery-in-cheez-its-and-ice-cream/ https://www.tantrabanter.com/self-discovery-in-cheez-its-and-ice-cream/#respond Thu, 08 Oct 2020 23:57:46 +0000 https://www.tantrabanter.com/?p=7764 Housesitting in Vieques It’s been more than a month since we landed in Vieques and I have fallen in love with this island. As a...

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Housesitting in Vieques

It’s been more than a month since we landed in Vieques and I have fallen in love with this island.

As a girl used to cities, suburbs, and rural-ish towns, small island living is an eye opening treat.

Something about the remote geography, no stoplights, beautiful beaches, laissez-faire attitude of governance, delicious fruit falling off trees, and the option to practice yoga outside every morning is the perfect concoction to deem magic.

Jim picking avocados off the tree

First Glimpse

When we arrived, however, I felt like a stranger in a strange land. Quite often I forgot we are still technically in the United States. Everything appeared more run down than I had expected.

Roads were crumbled and paved with potholes and disarray. Abandoned structures lay agape, rebar poking through concrete and vines swallowing the walls. Horses stooped by the side of the road, picking through trash. Shops and homes looked like they could use a renovation or two.

Cheez-It’s and Ice Cream

Food that I am used to is hard to come by. Back home, I shop mostly in the produce section and head to the innards of the store when I need things like tahini or almond flour to make whatever vegan, fusion recipe I found while on a 3-day fasting cleanse, salivating over pictures on a health food blog to satiate my compulsive appetite. Oh, how wonderfully neurotic is 20th-century living!

Here at the mercado, even the essentials are a distant dream. The produce section is little more than soft potatoes, wilted spinach bleak and blear behind the plastic, and tomatoes of a mysterious and unnatural hue.

There is not much variety and what is available doesn’t look fresh nor healthy because it’s been imported from thousands of miles away. So I spend most of my time perusing the canned and dried food aisles, and the Cheez-It shelf.

And I spend more time eating ice cream than I ever have in my life. As a kid, I preferred fruit-flavored popsicles to creamy-textured ice creams and now, as an adult, I vilify sugar water but justify sweetened milk from a cow’s tit, especially on a hot island with a food desert issue.

I had never known what it was like before and it sucks to the say the least.

It was around these first trips to the store that apprehension peaked her nervous busy head around the corner at me, beckoning with her fearful gaze.

First Views

But then there is our home on a hill overlooking the neighborhood all the way out to sea, and over to the main island, that frames my view every morning I wake up.

Morning light streaming into the casita

And the still and dark nights when the sky is alit with stars as I turn every which way searching for constellations, an unobstructed 360° view on our very own hilltop planetarium. On one of the very first nights we were here, we saw a star falling from its perch, a razzle among dazzles.

The beaches are postcard-perfect beautiful. The calm, turquoise water sparkles in the sun during the day and at night, closes her eyes in a sweet and sorrowful way like a nostalgic romance. The silhouette of palm trees painted against a sunset of oranges, reds, and pinks – colors of sweet, summer love.

A Shift in Perspective

And one day I was driving into town, winding through streets and steering smoothly around potholes as second nature, eyes out for the landmarks that tell me where I am (no street signs here).

As I turned the corner past the “car dealership” and headed up the little hill through the deeply shaded grove, something settled into focus and the houses that seemed to be in such utter ramshackle disarray when I arrived, I noticed were so well used and loved.

My eyes took in each pothole, each rusty car on the side of the road overtaken by vines as another member of the neighborhood.

The broken chair in front of the abandoned lot, the flock of wild fowl roaming the yard on Cow Hill Road, all as much a part of the neighborhood as the old man sitting in the shade – every time I drive down that road, he’s there lifting his hand hello, his weathered face creasing into a smile.

Sunset at Sun Bay Beach, Vieques

Sunset at Sun Bay Beach, Vieques

Mama Mia’s

When we arrived here, Jim introduced me to Table Talk pies, little snack pies that are individually sized and made in Worcester, MA. We were surprised to see them here in Puerto Rico.

When he discovered them at Mollino’s, the local tienda, we began eating them religiously. The Cult of Table Talk.

Every time we left the house – “Pineapple pie?” We asked each other with a devilish smile. Where others have beer or weed, we had Table Talk pies.

And every time leaving Mollino’s with my boxes of pies, I looked at the pizza shop whose 2nd story outdoor dining room overlooked the busy and narrow street.

One night last week, we decided to treat ourselves to pizza and went to this shop, Mama Mia’s. Over beer and slices of pepperoni laden in cheese, we watched the traffic go by, cars blasting reggaeton from trunk speakers set to an impossibly loud volume. People walked about here and there in the dusty light of night. Some I recognized from just daily coming and going.

View of the main island from our home

Chillin’

For a tiny community, the only rule there needs to be is “Don’t be an asshole.” I like that. It’s autonomous and self-regulating on a small island.

This night was a bit chilly. Where I’m from, the leaves would already be changing color and I would be taking out my fall suede boots. Here, I just wished I wore a t-shirt instead of a tank top.

As I gazed over the rooftops below us, watching a slim cat slither his way through the dim shadows, all shoulders, I thought about how free I felt. In this space, there was nothing to worry about. And yet out of habit, I sought for something to be wrong. Just for a second though, before I caught myself.

Out here, alot of unlearning is taking place.

I’m discarding that I need to be hard on myself or that I need to be impressive.

I’m discarding that there’s something wrong with me.

I’m discarding that family is limited to biology.

I’m discarding that emotions mean something personal and I must indulge them. Sometimes stormy skies take over my horizon and it doesn’t mean anything, I can just let it be.

And I’m discarding veganism (temporarily).

Smiling at Ensenada Honda

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Attachment Style: People-Phobic https://www.tantrabanter.com/attachment-style-people-phobic/ https://www.tantrabanter.com/attachment-style-people-phobic/#respond Mon, 28 Sep 2020 05:43:20 +0000 https://www.tantrabanter.com/?p=7753 Take the Quiz I just finished reading Attached: The New Science of Adult Attachment and How It Can Help You Find – and Keep –...

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Take the Quiz

I just finished reading Attached: The New Science of Adult Attachment and How It Can Help You Find – and Keep – Love by Amir Levine and Rachel Heller and was struck by what healthy relationships look like, as modeled by secure attachment styles.

The book provides a link to an official quiz so you too can find out your own attachment style. The quiz is part of research conducted by Dr. Chris Fraley of the University of Illinois so it’s legit.

I took the handy quiz and found out I am Anxious-Avoidant. Classic!

The book doesn’t talk much about this specific attachment type. Basically it is a combination of both Anxious and Avoidant, so you can guess what that means.

I say, “Come here, let’s love each other!” and then, “Go away, I’m scared!” Confusing for both me, and you. It affects 3 to 5% of the population so I’m pretty special, prickly cactus and all.

Down the Rabbithole

Half of the population is secure attachment, 20% anxious, and 25% avoidant. And then, there’s us. I Googled us. I wanted to find out more, like finding out more about my INTJ Meyer-Briggs type, or Aquarius-Sag sun/moon sign, or Type 4 Enneagram. Please, Internet, tell me who I am!!!

I found out we’re also called Fearful Avoidant or Disorganized.  Sounds fun. It also turns out there is some overlap with people with PTSD. Ah, interesting, why does this not surprise me.

IRL

As a child, if you have a parent(s) who is frightening (or frightened?) or dangerous, you learn to be hyper-vigilant for threat cues, developing your Anxious attachment style. You don’t want to set anybody off. You become a professional eggshell-walker.

If there is some sort of trauma or Trauma, you probably also develop one of four survival mechanisms: Fight, Freeze, Flight, or Fawn. Lucky me, I chose to Fight. As a kid, I thought that was the noble and courageous thing to do. Roll over and submit? Over my dead body!

Unfortunately, this has transitioned well into adulthood. At signs of threat, even imagined, my hedgehog spines flex, it’s Go-Time.

It’s also impossible, or very, very, very difficult, to be comforted or feel secure when your protector is scary or even, dangerous. Where do you even go? And when it happens often enough, you start to expect that people can’t be trusted to be caring, dependable, or compassionate towards your needs, hence the avoidance part of the hybrid.

This translates into adulthood as the drawbridge being quickly drawn up over the moat. I am in my invincible castle. Safe. And alone. Alone, and safe. Me, myself, and I.

The three of us twiddle our thumbs and dabble in self-loathing after awhile. It’s looking like time to lower the bridge and open up the gates, oh, but wait, a stranger approaches…. hmmm.. are they friend or foe?

Read the Book

I know more people are learning about attachment styles. I see it on Instagram all the time and because of that, I knew some gist of the subject before reading the book.

I would still highly recommend anyone to read this book. Blog articles and IG posts simply don’t do the topic justice. If you already have a secure attachment and are in a happy, committed relationship. Even still, read the book.

There’s alot there to learn about people. After all, we usually have other relationships in our lives.

The quiz link I shared earlier in the introduction also provides attachment style for four key relationships, in addition to your general attachment style: Mother, Father, Friend, and Romantic.

Mine were:

  • Mother – Anxious-Avoidant
  • Father – Avoidant
  • Friend – Anxious
  • Romantic – Anxious
  • General – Anxious-Avoidant

Once you are in the know, you will begin to look at previous and current relationships and see exactly how your attachment style plays out, choreographed by human nature and biology.

Anxious

Anxious folks tend to have a negative view of themselves and a positive view of others. They are constantly preoccupied with whether they did something wrong and spend a lot of time and energy trying to manage the relationship. They need a lot of reassurance that they are loved, that their love is reciprocated. Anxious types crave intimacy and closeness.

Avoidant

Avoidant people tend to have a positive view of themselves and a negative view of others, that’s why they end up avoiding and distancing from others. They start to notice things wrong in the other, focusing on the negative qualities or experiences they’ve had to make it easier to disentangle themselves or corroborate their exit strategy. Avoidants evade intimacy and closeness.

Oil and Water

Interestingly, while Anxious and Avoidant types have conflicting needs, they frequently find themselves in relationships. Therefore, the anxious becomes the clinger that the avoidant wants to run away from me.

This is because of a couple of reasons:

  1. The first being simple statistics. Avoidants tend to move quickly and more frequently through relationships so this lands them in the dating pool more often. Secure people stay in relationships longer so they are infrequently available.
  2. The second is confusion. The fear of intimacy of avoidants creates a push and pull dynamic of drawing close and then running away, and repeat. This emotional roller coaster produces a chemical response like a high that might simulate passion and be mistaken for love.

Secure

Securely attached people hold a positive view of both themselves and others. They expect respect and support and give it. They know how to resolve conflict and practice effective communication. They voice their needs, wear their heart on their sleeve, and don’t play games. Secure people are comfortable with intimacy and simply know/trust their partner loves them without requiring frequent reassurance.

Shocking

Amazing. Secure attachment sounds so wonderful!

Since I have this knowing of relationships as being fraught with tension, to read about this different way of being was like reading about a fairy tale land.

Wow, people can actually feel this way in a relationship?

Even though I am still learning what a “healthy” relationship means, I still thought I knew what a “healthy” relationship meant. I thought I knew what stable, secure, confident, loving, and respectful looked like.

What’s unique about the book are all the examples the authors provide of real life couples they’ve interviewed. They describe the conflicts these couples faced, what they said to each other, the actions they took, and how they chose to resolve, or not resolve, the conflict.

Reading about the concepts at ground level, I was startled by how secure couples interact during disagreements or points of tension. They are so respectful and caring toward each other.

There’s no devolution into circular arguments that go nowhere. They voice needs without anxiety that it’s asking for too much and also, on the flipside, if the need isn’t met, they are gracious about it. Each party’s needs are validated and considered. Circumstances are taken into account and compassion is present.

Dreamlining

As my eyes scanned the page faster (I devoured this book so fast) all I could think was, “I want this! This is what I want!” And now that I know what it looks like, I will create it!

I have gone 30 years not knowing what a healthy relationship looks like and it’s not all that much of a surprise given the circumstances.

Perspective is one helluva creator. One second, “normal” means one thing, and then the next, it’s a whole other ball game.

Why Change?

Now that I see where I want to go, I can get there.

A relationship based in secure attachment has enormous benefits to both parties. The most obvious are health benefits like less stress and peace of mind. Your partner literally affects your physiology, including heart rate, breathing, and even hormone levels. Studies show that when people become attached, they form one physiological unit.

Outside of mental and physical benefits, there is also a clear connection with ability to thrive in life in general. It is born out of something academics in this field call the dependency paradox. This says “the more effectively dependent people are on one another, the more independent and daring they become”.

When you know you’ve got a supportive base, you can live life in a way that’s not available single. Like they say, if you want to go quickly, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.

Plasticity

Lucky for us, humans are quite plastic, meaning we can change. Including our attachment style. Researchers went back to subjects they studied in childhood, testing them as adults and found that some of them had changed attachment styles.

In particular, those insecurely attached people who were in relationships with securely attached could move into a secure attachment after some time.

That’s progress! That’s hope! That’s the resiliency and grit of the human spirit. That’s creating my life the way I want to live it, unbound by the past and carried on the winds of the present.

References

  1. Levine, Amir and Heller, Rachel. Attached: The New Science of Adult Attachment and How It Can Help You Find – and Keep – Love. Penguin Random House LLC, 2010.
  2. Rachel. “The Fearful Avoidant Attachment Style.” Emotion Enhancement. January 14, 2018, https://www.emotionenhancement.com/single-post/Attachment-Styles-In-Adults/The-Fearful-Avoidant-Attachment-Style.
  3. Shorey, Hal. “Come Here, Go Away: The Dynamics of Fearful Attachment.” Psychology Today, May 26, 2015, https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/the-freedom-change/201505/come-here-go-away-the-dynamics-fearful-attachment

 

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Annette Learns Crypto Trading, Part 2 – A Basic Strategy https://www.tantrabanter.com/basic-strategy-of-cryptotrading/ https://www.tantrabanter.com/basic-strategy-of-cryptotrading/#respond Fri, 25 Sep 2020 16:04:03 +0000 https://www.tantrabanter.com/?p=7742 Where to Start In Part 1 of my series, Annette Learns Crypto Trading, I shared what I learned in getting a lay of the land,...

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Where to Start

In Part 1 of my series, Annette Learns Crypto Trading, I shared what I learned in getting a lay of the land, the why behind my interest, some handy vocabulary, and tools and resources.

Since then, I’ve signed onto the Kraken exchange, ready to make my first trade. And, I stalled. I still didn’t know what the fuck to do.

My goal is to trade altcoins, i.e. any cryptocurrency that’s not Bitcoin, but as I sat there staring at the exchange website, I realized I still didn’t know what to do.

I wasn’t looking to hodl, i.e. cryptonerdspeak for holding rather than selling, what I was looking for was a strategy. I need a plan, and so, I’ve delved further. I’ve been reading a lot of good information this past week and I’m going to lay it out for you here. Strategies, tips, and more concepts to know for the burgeoning crypto trader.

Developing a Strategy

Almost immediately in my search, I came across a post written for beginners on CryptoBible.io. It was published in 2017 by Will Hatton under the clickbait title: “How I made $350,000 in one year riding the Crypto-wave: Cryptocurrency Trading like a Pro“.

Unfortunately, the internet is saying that the days when people were becoming overnight millionaires on Bitcoin are gone but, I believe you and I can still make good money trading crypto.

Although an older article, it provided what I was looking for: a plan. Hatton breaks his down in a really easy to follow way.

  1. Swing trade rather than day trade. The former looks at bigger swings in the market, like months-long trends, rather than shorter increments of time, like day to day. The latter, day trading, can be too stressful for the ROI and other sources have said it’s a worthy pursuit only if you have a larger amount of capital to play with.
  2. Diversify portfolio into tiered investments. Keep 50-60% of your portfolio in safe, strong coins, like Bitcoin, Ethereum, Litecoin, etc., but also trade in “shit coins”, which are valued at sometimes minuscule percentages of a penny but can skyrocket in value quickly. Also, trade coins in the middle tier.
  3. Select a group of coins and swing trade amongst those coins, rather than trading in different coins constantly.
  4. Have an exit strategy. Figure out the profit you want to make off each coin that you’re interested in trading and sell when it reaches that price.

Okay, it’s starting to make sense how to do this … So what are the other types of coins available?

Making Sense of Altcoins

After Bitcoin, which is the gold standard of cryptocurrencies, everything else is considered an altcoin.

When considering which altcoin to trade in, there are so many options so how do I know which ones to choose? How do I know what sets each apart? How do I even begin to parse through the millions of options to make my selections?

Because there are a SHIT TON of coins out there. Just go to coinmarketcap.com to get an idea of what’s available. This website is the go-to resource for crypto prices and charts by market capitalization and as of today, 9/25/20, it has listings for 3,485 coins.

Blue-Chip and Shit Coins

Take a look at the top 10 to 15 coins at Coin Market Cap. These cryptos are the “blue chip coins [which have] a large chunk of the crypto market, a dedicated following and a real application” and Hatton considers them safe long-term investments. In addition to Bitcoin, other blue chip coins would be ones like Ethereum, Monero, Litecoin, and Ripple.

Photo by Nick Chong on Unsplash

Then, there are what Hatton calls the “shit coins”.

Another crypto writer refers to them as microcaps because they have a market cap between 0 to 25 BTC and offers a method for picking out these “shit coins” (Patel). These have been the most profitable for him. A revised 2019 version of his method can be found here but be aware the process appears to be very time-intensive. I will give it a go, see how it does, and report back.

CoinGecko is another crypto chart like Coin Market Cap but I can filter results by variables like developer activity and social presence, which would be important things to look for when selecting altcoins.

So what exactly is market cap? It keeps coming up and seems to be a determining factor.

Market Capitalization

Market capitalization indicates a coin’s dominance and popularity in the market and is the most important indicator to evaluate a cryptocurrency and rank it against others (Bitpanda). It’s also a really easy formula.

market cap = (current market price) x (circulating supply)

*circulating supply = total # of coins available in the market. This is a variable, not a constant, meaning it can increase or decrease.

Example, total supply (=max supply) of Bitcoin = 21M coins. As of 9/24/20, the circulating supply of BTC = 18.499M. That means there are these many bitcoins that have been mined and are currently in circulation (Blockchain.com)

Market cap is a useful and necessary metric because let’s say you have two coins,

current market price of coin A = $1

current market price of coin B = $10

Based on market price alone, it appears coin B has a greater value. However, factor in circulating supply and let’s see how that changes:

circulating supply (A) = 1,000 coins

circulating supply (B) = 10 coins

Therefore,

market cap (A) = $1,000

market cap (B) = $100

We can infer that coin A ranks higher than coin B and is more dominant in the market.

Entry/Exit Strategy

Soon I found my way to bitcointalk.org, a forum about all things crypto and more. I wanted to learn what other people say about trading strategy.

What I’ve gathered is that developing my own entry/exit strategy is important to keep emotion out of the process, i.e. have a marker for when to buy a coin and a marker for when to sell. This could look like, “Okay, when I gain X% profit on coin A, I’ll sell” and then, and here’s the hard part, stick to it.

Traders get greedy or fearful and don’t always stick to their pre-determined processes. After seeing a nice return, they’ll hold on, hoping they’ll get an even more lucrative return since the coin is on an uptrend. It’s human nature.

And while I knew psychology plays an important role in individual trading, I was surprised to learn just how much it also affects the market.

Human Nature

In developing a strategy, it would be worthwhile to also learn trends and how the market moves, and this includes why investors behave the way they do in response to market movement and how that in turn affects the market.

You can do this by talking to people and keeping up to date on the latest news, including social media. Twitter is a popular resource utilized by many in the crypto world. This method is filed under what’s called sentiment analysis, which according to this article, is “considered a lesser science” by some in comparison to more technical methodologies.

However, as another source points out, price charts are basically graphical representations of human emotions and behavior that “illustrate how market participants react to future expectations”.

More Advanced Strategies

By studying trends and performing more technical analysis I can fine tune my strategy. I’ll get more into the basics of these concepts in my next post where I’ll cover resistance/support zones, order types, and more.

Order types are great because they give me more tools to make more specific trades with. By educating myself on what’s available in the toolbox I can be more nimble in the market.

At the end of the day, what I keep seeing is that time and experience are the greatest of teachers in this game. For all the research and conceptual learning, being on the court and in action is when things start to gel.

References

  1. Chia, Alson. “The “Blue Chips” of Crypto.” Tokenize Exchange, Medium, August 26, 2020, https://medium.com/tokenize-xchange/the-blue-chips-of-crypto-d9a74487d4cf#:~:text=Blue%20chips%20are%20coins%20with,means%20lesser%20ROIs%20as%20well.
  2. Folger, Jean. “The Psychology of Support and Resistance Zones.” Investopedia, Updated Jun 25, 2019, https://www.investopedia.com/articles/technical/02/061802.asp.
  3. Hatton, Will. “How I made $350,000 in one year riding the Crypto-wave: Cryptocurrency Trading like a Pro.” Crypto Bible, 2017, updated 2019, https://www.cryptobible.io/investing-in-cryptocurrency-trading/.
  4. Liquid. “How to identify entry and exit points when trading crypto.” Liquid, June 4, 2019, https://blog.liquid.com/how-to-identify-entry-and-exit-points-when-trading-crypto.
  5. O’Connor, Michelle. “What Is “Market Cap” in Crypto, and Why Is It Important?” The Daily Hodl, March 6, 2019, https://dailyhodl.com/2019/03/06/what-is-market-cap-in-crypto-and-why-is-it-important/.
  6. Patel, Nik. “Picking Out Microcaps 101 (Revised 2018).” An Altcoin Trader’s Blog, June 12, 2018, https://www.altcointradershandbook.com/picking-out-microcaps-101-revised-2018/.
  7. “Total Circulating Bitcoin.” Blockchain, https://www.blockchain.com/charts/total-bitcoins.
  8. “What is market capitalisation (market cap) and why does it matter?” Bitpanda Academy, Bitpanda, https://www.bitpanda.com/academy/en/lessons/what-is-market-capitalisation-market-cap-and-why-does-it-matter.

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Vieques Peeps https://www.tantrabanter.com/vieques-peeps/ https://www.tantrabanter.com/vieques-peeps/#respond Sun, 20 Sep 2020 18:13:56 +0000 https://www.tantrabanter.com/?p=7732 Bread When we left Texas, we also had to get rid of our sourdough starter. It was a bit of a lament because Jim started...

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Bread

When we left Texas, we also had to get rid of our sourdough starter. It was a bit of a lament because Jim started it in New Hampshire and it traveled with us across the country and I made my first beautiful crusty sourdough loaves with it in Elgin. Since arriving in Vieques, we haven’t had a taste of bread as there isn’t much in the way of options here. The bread available in the mercados is that enriched white baloney that disintegrates in your mouth.

When Jim got a tip last week that there’s a man on the island who bakes his own bread, we added it to our Saturday To Do. This was in addition to checking out the cafe by the airport. Isla Nena Cafe is owned by a husband and wife duo. He, Lyman, is from the states and she is from China and makes legit, homemade dumplings. Um, hell yes.

So that’s how last Saturday we found ourselves sitting on a plastic bench watching a beefy guy named Mike offer his hat-covered head to the sharpass beak of a yellow crested cockatoo named Zeek.

Birds

Zeek has his own perch at Isla Nena. Bracelets with large, colorful plastic beads, and other shiny, pretty objects drape along the rods of his roost, gifts from customers, friends, and admirers. He hops on one foot and then the other, flashing the top of his yellow crested crown intermittently.

Photo by Dieter Pelz on Unsplash

Loud and boisterous, beer in one hand, Mike seemed to relish his audience, albeit a barely interested duo, me and Jim, for his playful interaction, encouraging the bird to peck at his hat. I still don’t know why. Maybe he didn’t like the hat. When Zeek finally nipped off the little plastic button at the crown of the hat, we all smiled and murmured some acknowledgement.

The drawn out show passed along the minutes on this lazy island weekend afternoon as we waited in the shade of the pavilion for our order of crab rangoons and steamed vegetable dumplings.

The cafe isn’t much to see. It’s set off to the side of the airport. You drive into the parking lot where lots of old vehicles seem to be waiting out their last days. But that’s just the nature of cars on this island. Dilapidated aesthetics with a running engine is “Good for Vieques!” Those were the reassuring words of the man at the tire store the other day in response to our concerns over the barely-hanging-on bumper of our beat up Rav4. We all laughed loudly at that.

Brave

Lyman had us seated at a table with an older lady named Jennifer. She was dressed in a beautiful white linen shirt that I had spotted earlier that morning in downtown Isabel Segunda. On the streets, amongst the other locals lined up outside the Post Office, she stuck out like a sore thumb – tall, long-limbed, and white, with an elegant way of moving that I admired, easy and cool, spry.

I was eager to talk to her, she looked like she had a story or two. Turns out she’s been here for over 20 years and calls the island, home. Her eyes flashed with pleasure as she said, “This island is gritty!” That last word enunciated by her enlivened spirit echoed the sentiment I noted upon landing here. This place is gritty and it’s wonderful. And Jennifer knows a thing or two about gritty. In her younger days, she was a Peace Corps volunteer teaching in Jamaica. After that, she joined the Army as a private where she worked as a photographer out in Panama.

Come to find out, Jennifer was from our part of town, Villaborinquen, and hitchhiked into town to receive her weekly baked goods from John the Baker. What luck! This must be the baker we’re looking for!

The food took forever to come out, but the smells wafting from the kitchen were promising. I had yet to see the lady behind the homemade dumplings, just Lyman sweating behind the bar, which looked makeshift, as if it had been put together from scraps of construction material in some semi-dystopic era. Simple and cobbled together, cluttered with various knick-knacks, a whiteboard menu that displayed a scrawled out list of food items, and a very attentive Lyman, what else do you really need in a bar? Oh yea, in addition to well drinks, there are four kinds of beer sold here: the local Medalla light, Corona, and two other varieties that I didn’t care to note. That day, we ordered just the food.

Bakers

Some time later, a pickup truck rolled by and parked near to the pavilion. The bumper had a sticker of a brick oven on it. A short man with a cap and glasses came out with bags and boxes, setting them down on the table next to ours.

There was an array of baked goods, loaves of multigrain and sourdough and sweeter things like pastries and a loaf with brown sugar. I went with the multigrain loaf with flax and oats. He and Jim had a bakers’ conversation about baking with the heat and humidity of the island that went over my head.

John the Baker is from a town in Connecticut adjacent to where I grew up in Glastonbury. Small world. At some point decades ago, he and his wife had enough of their consulting business and decided to move. They were shopping around the Caribbean for the next place to call home when they visited Vieques. That first day here, they were walking down the road when they looked at each other and said – This is the place. Then they packed up their things and moved. Before running the baking business, they had a boutique on the beach called Salty Dogs. John’s salmon colored cap bore the logo of this old business and I love it, two dogs, one black and the other white, encircling each other in a yin and yang symbol.

By the time Lyman came out with two bamboo steamers, I was so damn excited. Even better is that my excitement was well nourished. The crab rangoons and dumblings were so bomb. The rangoons actually had legit crab in them, not the fake crab stuffed into nori rolls these days, but actual crab meat. Ughhhh. The dumplings were a bit soggy but so what, when you douse them in some of the homemade soy sauce and Chinese mustard, it doesn’t matter that it’s falling apart on your spoon, slurp it down into your bellay.

It was a quirky afternoon down at the airport cafe and as we drove off, Jim and I agreed we would be back next week for some more bread.

YUMM

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Annette Learns How to Snorkel and Free Dive https://www.tantrabanter.com/annette-learns-how-to-snorkel-and-free-dive/ https://www.tantrabanter.com/annette-learns-how-to-snorkel-and-free-dive/#respond Thu, 17 Sep 2020 14:49:35 +0000 https://www.tantrabanter.com/?p=7723 Getting Acquainted About a week ago, we grabbed some snorkeling gear and raced to Playa Negra to catch some of the last afternoon light. I...

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Getting Acquainted

About a week ago, we grabbed some snorkeling gear and raced to Playa Negra to catch some of the last afternoon light.

I had never been snorkeling before and didn’t have much in the way of expectations other than maybe a smidge of nerves because I am not as comfortable in the ocean as I am in the mountains.

The sun was getting pretty low when we got to the trail leading to the beach but we made it in time to get a good 30 minutes of snorkeling in.

“Walk backwards,” Jim instructed as I giggled, lifting one silly fin-covered foot then the other.

At first, it feels a bit cognitively dissonant to sink one’s face into water and expect to breathe, but you get the hang of it pretty quickly and wow, what a whole new world that opened up to me!

I have never seen this world before, and it lay just beneath the waves, at my feet. I puttered about underwater, getting used to the fins, taking shaky videos with my GoPro, and learning to hold my breath for shots of the ocean floor.

What a world.

Practically Pro

The next day, we went back. This time, we passed a small group of people at the beach.

An old beach bum smoking a cigarette with a devil-may-care attitude nodded his acknowledgement. To his left, a Caribbean beauty past her prime sat coolly, giving just the tiniest smile, her bright purple lips contrasting with her dark skin. And to her left, a squishy lady rolled over, responding to Jim’s greeting.

“Good idea bringing your fins,” she said, remarking on our cargo.

This time, I was no longer a fresh newbie and felt supremely cool putting on my gear as if I was somebody who actually knows what they’re doing.

I dropped in. Into the water, into a quiet peace, into a world within a world.

There is nothing quite like it that I’ve ever experienced and when I hold my breath and dive down to the ocean floor, the silence becomes stunning. There is this eerie moment when I start to ascend where it is as if time has stopped and the silence seems to drop another octave lower. In that moment, I am still.

Technicalities

The very first day, I started off at a high of 00:15 seconds breath hold but by the second day it had increased to 00:30 seconds, which has consistently been my max since then. I’m currently learning how to deepen and lengthen these holds.

This guide from Deeper Blue has some great tips on breathing that I will take on our next snorkeling adventure, like:

  • How to breathe in preparation for a dive, otherwise known as “breathe up”. It’s important to do because it lowers the heart rate and “prepares the body to stay relaxed” during the dive which is key to breath-holds (Hoesterey). Interestingly, due to something called the mammalian dive reflex, immersing your face in water “automatically decreases heart rate by about 15-25%”. Check out this post for clear and easy directions on how to breathe up before a dive.
  • How to take the last breaths right before diving. It’s all about diaphragmatic breathing. And another key component is to expel as much air as possible on the last exhalation so that you can fill your lungs to max+ capacity on the inhale before you dive. Start the inhale with your belly, expanding to full capacity, then fill the chest, and then fill even up to your collarbones and throat (Farrell).
  • How to take breaths right after diving. This process is called “recovery breathing” and is basically just taking short quick breaths in and out until you’ve recovered. It is important to do as a practice against hyperventilation, which is “over-breathing”, and can cause serious symptom like blackouts and other health risks (Farrell). The article recommends doing it after every dive, even short ones, to make it an automatic habit.

 

References

  1. Farrell, Emma. “Breathing For Freediving.” Deeper Blue, 10 May 2016, https://www.deeperblue.com/breathing-for-freediving/.
  2. Hoesterey, Morgan. “This Freediving Exercise Called ‘Breathe-Up’ Will Benefit Your Everyday Life.” The Inertia, 28 Aug. 2017, https://www.theinertia.com/health/this-freediving-exercise-called-breathe-up-will-benefit-your-everyday-life/.

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Upending the I’m Fine Paradigm https://www.tantrabanter.com/what-is-complex-ptsd/ https://www.tantrabanter.com/what-is-complex-ptsd/#respond Fri, 11 Sep 2020 01:42:23 +0000 https://www.tantrabanter.com/?p=7703 An Awakening Back on August 5th, I packed my books, some clothes, my yoga mat and hopped a flight to Los Angeles. There, I fasted,...

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An Awakening

Back on August 5th, I packed my books, some clothes, my yoga mat and hopped a flight to Los Angeles. There, I fasted, studied self-compassion and inner child work, and practiced yoga, meditation, and breathwork daily. There were behavioral patterns of mine that had been recurring for months and increasing in the weeks leading up to that needed space to heal; a deep, internal wound(s).

Five days into the trip, my therapist diagnosed me with PTSD and amidst all the unearthing I was already doing, my soul felt wrenched.

Then, four days later, my beautiful, sweet, and hilarious cousin, Hannah, passed away at 30. My stomach twisted into itself.

I was a picked-off scab, raw, pink, and slightly bleeding.

Hannah, when she was young. ilu ❤❤❤

A Flashback

The label named and validated something about my childhood. When I went to college, I chose to declare myself a clean slate. Nobody would know about my past, least of all myself. Buried deep by distractions like college and then a 9-to-5, all the while hiding a substance addiction in plain sight, I nearly forgot it was there.

But forgetting doesn’t mean there weren’t signs. The symptoms developed throughout my life, bubbling up as emotional dysregulation, depression, anxiety, substance abuse, and eating disorders. My short-lived and surface level relationships with friends and romantic partners and my dissociation with life and frightening levels of apathy.

I acknowledged these elements piecemeal, not realizing they were interconnected, comorbidities of (complex) PTSD stemming from sustained and chronic trauma and abuse from childhood.

It was only when I quit my 9 to 5 and sobered up that space was created for these things to emerge. I upended the “I’m-fine-😊” Paradigm and found a lot of gum stuck under the table.

So I wanted to share some of the challenges related to c-PTSD so I can get some fresh air and light into this dark and musty corner of the attic.

1. Vagus Response/Hallucinations

The greatest pain point for me is the social component. People don’t occur to me as safe. I don’t feel at ease and exist in generalized fear and anxiety until I’m alone again.

I don’t feel at ease with my best friend whom I’ve known for about 26 years. Not even with my current partner, who I’ve known for 4 years, together for 2 years, and with whom I share the greatest level of intimacy in my lifetime thus far. I still feel nervous and on edge.

People can sense my anxious energy and may think there is something wrong. No, there is nothing wrong, per se, I am just on high alert, there is a predator of the past in the jungle of the present. My nervous system is pulsing.

The parasympathetic nervous system is the rest and digest function of the body and is responsible for down regulation of the emergency, fight or flight response of the sympathetic. This regulation process is controlled by the vagus nerve and polyvagal theory links this with emotional regulation, social connection, and fear (Wikipedia).

Vagal tone is reduced in those with trauma, meaning the ability for the body to relax is reduced and the body is highly responsive to stimuli. The vagus nerve also ennervates muscles in your head and face that are used for talking, listening, and facial expressions in what is called the Social Engagement System (SES).

When I am in survival mode, aka fear based, I signal to others through the SES that I should not be approached. This hinders my ability to communicate and forge new relationships, which would help me to thrive, rather than survive. The more I withdraw, the less friendly the world continues to become, confirming in an increasingly pervasive way that these walls are necessary protection for survival.

Ongoing research in this field is looking at healing by changing the autonomic state at a behavioral level rather than with pharmaceuticals. This what I am experimenting with in my own healing journey through somatic practices like yoga, meditation, breathwork, and tapping, as well as talk therapy, introspection, and community support.

2. Relational Component/Arrested Development

This which I crave the most, connection, would also bring a ton of healing. They say social intimacy and connection is the key to happiness and a joyful life.

A famous Harvard study, aptly called The Harvard Study, followed a cohort of men for 80 years and counting and found that “close relationships, more than money or fame, are what keep people happy throughout their lives” (Mineo).

So for all the yoga, meditation, clean eating, achievement, and meaningful work I might accomplish … Without cultivating lasting and intimate connections there’s a huge missing.

More findings from the study:

  • “These [close relationships] protect people from life’s discontents, help to delay mental and physical decline, and are better predictors of long and happy lives than social class, IQ, or even genes.”
  • “The people who were the most satisfied in their relationships at age 50 were the healthiest at age 80.”
  • “Those who kept warm relationships got to live longer and happier … and the loners often died earlier.”
  • “Loneliness kills. It’s as powerful as smoking or alcoholism.” — Robert Waldinger, Harvard Study director

At the end of the book, Into the Wild, by Krakauer, Christopher McCandless has the epiphany in the Alaskan wilderness that “happiness is only real when shared” (Spark Notes).

So even though sometimes I wish I could just leave people and their social rules behind and live alone in a remote outpost with some animals, I also know running away and isolating is not the path to a fulfilling life.

It is a challenge to navigate social graces when I didn’t learn the rules. Healthy connecting and relating was not modeled in my home and I have been teaching myself what is/isn’t appropriate. Sometimes it feels like my own inner compass is faulty. I spent the better part of my 20’s lubricating social interactions with substances, rather than really learning to replace undesirable behavior with ones that will bring me true results from a place of wellness.

My therapist has become kind of a mother figure to me, teaching me what is appropriate behavior and what is not. What is true and what is not true. Which of my cognitive distortions from the way I was raised are coming out to play. I am picking up where my arrested development stalled, and re-learning how to live life so that it works for me.

3. Dissociation/Presence

One of my coping mechanisms is dissociation and apathy. In my past, this was the primary way to minimize the pain. The less I felt, the less I cared, and the less it hurt.

I didn’t know this was what I was doing. I was listless and surviving, waiting for college, the Promised Land. In doing so, I trained myself to be detached from life so that as little as possible affected me. I didn’t allow myself to be present. It was too painful and I didn’t know how to be with it.

This protected me and also served as a thick veil; I struggled with feeling alive. It felt like I was a ghost and not really here. Life was muffled and could only penetrate surface deep. I looked out at my life like a fish swimming in a bowl, staring at the world, out there, beyond my bowl, and not quite able to join with it.

There is a profound level of apathy that accompanies this level of disconnect. I could kill myself but I don’t really care enough to even do that. I didn’t have an active part in the drama of life, I was just a fish in a bowl.

An L.A. Sunset

When I began abusing substances, it only deepened the dissociation, but sometimes I thought it helped bring me to the present moment. It dulled my sympathetic response so I wasn’t on high alert. It was good enough of an accepted coping mechanism so I continued on that path until sobriety.

These days, my sobriety challenges me as I re-learn presence and how to live fully alive, I am finding myself continually astounded at what new things I discover. Not turning to a drink or a cigarette or food to dull my senses after a difficult experience is such a simple, yet paradigm upturning shift in being. Emotions I never noticed, feelings I never felt, questions I never asked, and spaces of living I’ve never been in have ushered in a new era.

Resources

The first resource I came across was Pete Walker, author and therapist who also had (has?) c-PTSD, and writes many blog articles on the topic. I am reading his book, Complex PTSD: From Surviving to Thriving, and I recommend, 10/10.

The second resource is Out of the Storm. This amazing website has articles, resources, and an active forum with a supportive community.

I am also taking a mindful self compassion course with the Cambridge Health Alliance. My mindfulness practice shows me what is going on and now my compassion practice lets me hold the moment and myself with warmth and spaciousness.

Lastly, support from my partner, friends, and my therapist have helped me tremendously as well. Turning to my relationships and cultivating them, appreciation and acknowledgement of the abundance of love I have, and an attitude of gratitude. I’m glad to be here.

Joy in Vieques, Puerto Rico

References

  1. Mineo, Liz. “Good genes are nice, but joy is better.” The Harvard Gazette,
    April 11, 2017, https://news.harvard.edu/gazette/story/2017/04/over-nearly-80-years-harvard-study-has-been-showing-how-to-live-a-healthy-and-happy-life/.
  2. “Chapter 18 and Epilogue.” Spark Notes, https://www.sparknotes.com/lit/into-the-wild/section11/
  3. “Polyvagal theory.” Wikipedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Polyvagal_theory

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Travel Diaries: Playa Negra – Vieques, Puerto Rico https://www.tantrabanter.com/playa-negra/ https://www.tantrabanter.com/playa-negra/#respond Wed, 09 Sep 2020 12:34:11 +0000 https://www.tantrabanter.com/?p=7694 Two days ago, we left our landlocked hilltop casita to find water. We drive down the main road while I pull out my Google Maps app....

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Two days ago, we left our landlocked hilltop casita to find water. We drive down the main road while I pull out my Google Maps app. Jim tells me to put it away. Of course he already knows where he is going and navigates with confidence and ease.

Soon, we find ourselves at Esperanza, the other town on the island. This is where the ex-pats and tourists mostly stay. I spy a white face here and there. There is hardly any people out and about.

It definitely appears like a tourist destination in the off season. Thanks, COVID. Signs for scuba and boat tours flap in the wind. We pass a souvenir shop with bars on the windows.

The large and foreboding concrete face of El Blok hotel catches my eye. The only restaurant open on the island is quiet, no diners to be seen on the outdoor patio.

We continue down route 997, one of the main roads connecting the North side of the island that touches the Atlantic with the South side, where waves of the Caribbean meet the shore.

Passing a sign for Oro, an art gallery, we make a stop. The husband of the couple we are housesitting for is a featured artist at this gallery and I’d like to see his work. Nobody is at the gallery when I knock so we head to nearby Playa Negra, Black Sand Beach.

It takes us about 7 minutes to walk in from the road. It is a nice and easy path through the woods, shady and cool, passing many crabs that scuttle and curl into their shells as we tread by. Some are teeny and others are quite large.

We hear the ocean first and when I see it, I let out a big, deep breath. I’ve never felt such unexpected joy from seeing the sea. The sound of the ocean, too, was like watching the chest of the earth rise and fall with each breath.

The sand here is black from volcanic formations on the island. So of course we ended up slathering ourselves in the sand, exfoliating our feet, legs, arms, faces, and laughing hysterically before jumping into the ocean. Who needs the spa when you have nature?

Panorama of Playa Negra

Nobody else was there. For all I knew, we could have been the only people on the entire island. I think of the movie, Red Turtle, by Studio Ghibli as I drift lazily in the water. Two dogs run up to investigate, a beautiful Great Dane, and his friend before darting back down the beach from where they came.

I lie on my back in the water, feeling its soothing elements. It is warm and saline, embryonic fluid of the earth. I feel myself deionizing in the sun.

I’ve never had a more pleasant beach experience.

Growing up, we never relaxed at the beach. There was always an agenda. We had to be “doing” something always, visiting a tourist attraction, learning about the history of the place, and on to the next activity. Relaxing at the beach was too much of doing nothing.

This day, I find myself melting into the water in a way I hadn’t before. Letting go into the waves.

Before we left, I took a video of Jim buoyed by the ocean on his back. I wanted to capture the tranquility of the moment. It was everything to me.

The setting sun. The faraway palm trees framing the shot. The glittering water. The silence of the waves. The silt cascading like silken scarves at the bottom of the ocean. The silhouette of a loved one bobbing in the water.

It was visual and auditory ASMR. I wanted to capture that moment. An absolutely perfect moment. You can watch the video here, 2:24 minutes of a slice of heaven.

Jim relaxing – link

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A Stranger in a Strange Land https://www.tantrabanter.com/a-stranger-in-a-strange-land/ https://www.tantrabanter.com/a-stranger-in-a-strange-land/#respond Mon, 07 Sep 2020 15:45:43 +0000 https://www.tantrabanter.com/?p=7680 Goodbyes Five days ago, Jim and I woke up at 2:00 AM to catch our flight at 5:40 AM from Austin to Miami. The last...

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Goodbyes

Five days ago, Jim and I woke up at 2:00 AM to catch our flight at 5:40 AM from Austin to Miami. The last day at the farm was bittersweet.

Last day with the sweet donkeys

We sat by the creek at dusk. That slice of life is reminiscent of some Jurassic era where ferns grow as tall as trees and the murky water lies peaceful, barely moving but for ripples created by silent turtles. Sometimes when we approach, we catch the heron taking flight from the bend in the creek just ahead of us.

Dusk on the farm

The Flight

The flight from Austin to Miami was uneventful, I slept a lot as I am wont to do while Jim reverberated with energy next to me. From Miami to San Juan, again, I slept. When we landed in San Juan, we ate terrible/yummy airport food: pizza turnovers and a wilted salad while we waited for our flight from San Juan to Vieques in a puddle jumper.

There were five of us on the plane: a stylish older couple, engineer + accountant, from Houston visiting family, Brenda who was escaping the mainland U.S. to wait out the pandemic hunkered down at her brother’s place on the island, and us two. I sat directly behind the pilot and watched as she pulled out a laminated piece of paper that was a cheat sheet of the controls for the plane. Um…

As we flew over the Caribbean, the views were beautiful despite the few rain clouds. And as we flew, we spied a rainbow, and then, another one! A double rainbow en route to our next adventure – good omens ahead.

The rainbow captured from our plane

La Isla Nena

The flight was short, about 20 minutes, and when we landed, it was drizzling. We waited for our host’s son to pick us up and bring us to our new home for the next 2.5 months. During that time, we chatted with Brenda who was also waiting for her ride.

When our ride came, he gave us a quick rundown of landmarks we passed: the W Hotel that was damaged by Hurricane Maria in 2017 and was left abandoned since and Gringo Beach- aptly named because back in the day, the gringos, including his parents, cleaned up the beach, and the town center of Isabel Segunda where events were held pre-COVID.

The roads were narrow and windy, only one car at a time, which was charming and a breath of fresh air. It presupposed a level of awareness of the drivers to move with the changing environment.

My first impression driving through the streets was how unexpectedly run-down everything looked. I wasn’t expecting the Florida Keys, but the spaces looked tired and battered, perhaps due to being hurricane territory.

Despite this, the buildings were colorful pastels of a Caribbean-style. I could see the Spanish influence in the architecture and there was a quiet simplicity available. The opposite of “busy” is what I felt in the air. I didn’t see many people out and about. Quietness hangs in the air like the heat of the day.

Beat up SUV’s and trucks are the norm. When I saw a new Benz, it stuck out like sore thumb.

Hilltop Awaits

When we approached our home, there was a steep ass hill that to my left. Our driver turned towards it and started driving up in the Tacoma. It was probably the steepest grade I’ve ever driven in a car, I’d wager it was just about a 70° angle incline.

Great for hill running,” I noted to myself silently. I saw myself at the end of the 2.5 months a sexy, sleek running machine

There was more hill to drive up before we arrived at our casita. Thus the view is incredible from our new hilltop home. On clear days, we can see the main island quite well.

The view

Our apartment is very simple: one pair of French doors open up into the living room, which opens up into a small section as the “bedroom” which leads into an alcove that has dressers and space for hanging clothes. From there, the bathroom has the only doors in the entire apartment. And on the other side of the bathroom is the kitchen that opens back into the living room. The kitchen has a pair of French doors as well, but they’re kept closed for an unknown reason.

Arriving at our home, I suddenly felt like a stranger in a strange land. I didn’t feel comfortable. The apartment didn’t feel homey and the thought that I would have to spend the next 2 weeks in self-quarantine here was bumming me out.

The next day, I cleaned the apartment, washed all the linens, and created an altar with all my special mementos, pictures, and incense. We saged the space. It felt anew.

Home

Every day, I sweep our little patio. It is a task that brings me great joy. It reminds me how much of life requires these small, “mundane”, maintenance tasks that never end. From relationships to health, the effectiveness comes from doing something daily, rather than one big gesture every now and then. So every day, I grab the broom and swish-swish the dead leaves and debris, clearing the patio and keeping it beautiful and clean.

On the property, horses roam free nibbling sweetgrass and neighing at me as I pass by. This is one of the wonders of Vieques, horses wander everywhere, it’s just a way of life. They like to graze on the hill where I run. They look at me curiously. And with each run, a few get closer and closer to my path.

The sunset here is beautiful and with the horses and the palm fronds silhouetting the sky, it is absolute perfection.

Horses at sunset

The Noms

Around the property are banana and plantain trees, coconut trees, a generous mango tree, a papaya tree, a guanaba tree, and an avocado tree laden with bulbous fruit. Already, we’ve picked and eaten the ripe fruit available. On our kitchen table, we have an array of tropical fruit ripening and getting ready to be gratefully eaten.

I’ve never enjoyed smoothies quite like I am enjoying them now. Breakfast today was a mango and papaya smoothie. For a treat, I like to quickly blend up a banana with water and some ice to make cold banana milk, like chocolate milk but cuter because it’s banana.

Banana and guanabana smoothie was probably my favorite. Guanabana is a breadfruit. It has a spiky exterior and a cream-colored flesh with large seeds like shiny black buttons. It has a wonderfully demure sweet flavor but its texture is similar to a coconut because it’s a dry meat rather than a juicy pulp.

The mangoes here are effing delicious!!!!!!!!! They have a dark orange flesh that’s quite stringy and fibrous, which could be bothersome, but the taste is so worth it. It’s a deeper, rounder flavor than any other mango I’ve had before.

Yesterday, Jim hacked open a coconut and we drank the nutritious water and ate the yummy flesh.

I am very happy with this arrangement. I am a little monkey, climbing trees for fruit and eating them right then and there. It makes me smile.

Stargazing

Yesterday, we went for a walk at night, after dusk. Below us, the lights of the towns still sparkled and above us, the lights in the sky twinkled. I could see the stars so clearly, they shone so bright. The Milky Way was right there.

From the hilltop, there is no obstruction from trees or the like so it becomes my very own planetarium, a 360° view of the sky. Incredible.

We watched as a star fell across the sky. Stargazing may become a new hobby of mine.

The Sounds

The best thing about life here are the sounds. When I awake in the morning, sunlight filters in through the French doors. The first thing we do is open up the doors and the breeze begins playing her song. She rifles the palm fronds that bristle their tune.

There is no A/C so we turn on the one fan. Its white noise adds to the slow symphony. Just air mingling with air and trees. One can hear lizards and geckos dart between crispy leaves. And occasionally, an airplane passes by overhead. This is the sound of island life.

At night, the insects come out and play; it’s a cacophony of ribbing and bellowing, a chorus and a medley that sounds the same as in Elgin, Texas when I slept in the woods behind the house.

Attitude of Gratitude

The days drift by lazily. I can’t believe it’s already been 5 days since we’ve arrived. I spend my time cleaning and cooking. Reading and writing. Yoga and meditation. This is the perfect ambiance for these practices.

It certainly is a bubble up here. It feels more remote than the farm in Texas. I don’t worry that I should be doing more, which is typically running in the back of my mind always, and am quite content with the pace I’ve set up and the daily goals to complete.

Pondering this now, I acknowledge that I actually accomplish more and with way more ease than before. Perhaps there is something to this island life. It calms my soul. I am gratefully here.

A beautiful morning from the farm in Texas

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Annette Learns Crypto Trading, Part 1 https://www.tantrabanter.com/annette-learns-crypto/ https://www.tantrabanter.com/annette-learns-crypto/#respond Sun, 06 Sep 2020 18:07:23 +0000 https://www.tantrabanter.com/?p=7671 Beginning Today, I am learning to trade Cryptocurrency for one major reason: The Pandemic has fueled my interest in a different structure than the current...

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Beginning

Today, I am learning to trade Cryptocurrency for one major reason:

  1. The Pandemic has fueled my interest in a different structure than the current favored fiscal system. I’m investing in a decentralized monetary system as the standard.

With that said, I am a complete n00b and starting from Nothing. I will document my journey as I learn the ropes. Maybe it will help others out there who don’t know what the hell fiat currency is or the difference between an exchange and a wallet. 

My experience with crypto starts back in 2018 when I bought tickets for Jordan Peterson’s book tour and my friend paid me back in Bitcoin. The value of the ticket was $60 and for that I got some one thousandth percent of 1 Bitcoin. I downloaded the wallet app, BRD, and forgot about it for the next two years.

Value

For that matter, a wallet is a secure location where you can keep your funds, like you would a traditional leather wallet. There are two types of wallets. One is software, e.g. the BRD app, and the other is hardware, e.g. Ledger. The latter is actually the most secure and comes as a USB thumb drive for you to stash somewhere.

When you create a wallet via an app, you are given a randomized, super secret, 12-word passcode that you DO NOT lose as there is no way to retrieve it. There is no ‘Forgot your password?’ option.

I wrote mine down in the back of my planner as my friend watched with unease at my cavalier attitude for the security of this all important passcode. So perhaps you may want to find a better place to keep yours than hastily jotted in a defunct planner.

An exchange is the platform where one buys, sells, or trades currencies. For example, once you’ve sold some Bitcoin (Ticker: BTC or XBT, most exchanges use BTC but some use XBT) on the exchange, you may want to transfer the subsequent funds into a secure wallet for safekeeping.

Fiat currency is the “standard” moneys like the U.S. Dollar or the British Pound or the Euro. A more technical term that I enjoy is provided by Kraken (the crypto exchange I am learning on): Fiat currency has “no intrinsic value and is established as legal tender by a government” (Kraken).

The reason I like the definition is where it states “NO INTRINSIC VALUE”. The value is rendered insofar as we all agree there is value. A social agreement. We can all agree on a new system if we desire. The way things are does not equal the way things must be.

Some Vocabulary

When learning anything, the first thing I know to do is familiarize myself with the lingo as this tends to be the learning curve. By knowing a few key terms you go from n00b-status to more knowledgeable than the majority of laymen.

One of the first things I noticed on the available crypto services was something that looked like “XBT/USD” or “XMR/XBT”.

This is what is called a currency pair. “In order to trade one currency for another, there must be a market linking both currencies”, basically so that we know x amount of Bitcoin equals x amount of US dollars (Kraken).

The first currency listed in a pair is known as the base currency and the second currency listed after the backslash is known as the quote currency. So if XBT/USD is a currency pair, then XBT is the base currency and USD is the quote currency.

The next terminology I learned is a limit order type. This is where I set the price at which I want to sell at. If this is not met, then it doesn’t sell and I can cancel if I wish. If it is met, then the sale will be made automatically. (Another order type that uses automation is iceberg orders.)

For example, right now Bitcoin is trading at 10,204.20 USD. If I set the limit to 10,205.00, then when BTC reaches that value, it will make the sale for me.

When I do this, the order is a maker in the market. When I sell BTC at market rate, e.g. $10,204.20, the order is a taker. Makers add liquidity to the market and Takers remove liquidity from the market.

I am still wrapping my mind around what liquidity means and what I do know is that liquidity is good. It means there is high trading volume, which means there are plenty of buyers, so sellers can sell quickly at their asking price.

An illiquid market means there are not enough buyers buying at the market price, so the seller may be forced to sell at a lower price than market. When this occurs, this decreases the market price, creating a fluctuation in the market.

Here is a simple and clear 2.5 minute YouTube video about what liquid means in cryptocurrency.

Helpers

There are a few key people who have brought me to this point.

  1. Jim has been trading crypto since 2016 and encouraging me to do the same. Although I’ve been keen to do so, there was something daunting about learning a whole new world that kept my interest at bay. He set me up with a few hundred dollars worth of BTC on a Kraken account and here I am.
  2. The Dollar Vigilante aka Jeff Berwick. Since March 2020, I’ve been watching his YouTube videos where he walks in various locations throughout Mexico talking to his phone on a rotating selfie stick  about his thoughts on COVID-19 and the global response to the pandemic. He worked in finance at some point, made a lot of money, and now shares his anti-authority, anarcho-capitalist, collapse-of-the-Dollar-$$$, crypto-centric viewpoint, makes a lot of money doing so, and shares how you can too. He may not be for everybody and sometimes I get the feeling he is gleeful about what he sees as the impending dollar collapse, but what I do value is learning a perspective from somebody who navigates the system in a way that works for him.

What’s Next

I am just learning how to work Kraken exchange and for that, I simply hopped on the Goog’s and searched for “Kraken tutorial” and found this 17 minute YouTube video.

The video is very basic and helped me grasp a general understanding of the exchange, so I didn’t feel as overwhelmed and baffled as I did when I first logged on. The channel has loads more beginner crypto videos that I haven’t watched and therefore cannot recommend.

Next up is to research some cryptos that have come up in conversation like Quantstamp and Monero, as well as familiarize myself with the various tools for crypto trading.

Although I have the BRD wallet app, I’ve also downloaded the Exodus app at Jim’s recommendation. It is a wallet as well, so why the redundancy? Well, it’s a wallet that has additional trading capabilities so I can quickly buy or sell crypto from my phone.

I’ll continue to share what I’m learning so stay tuned!

 


References:

  1. Kraken. Trading Glossary. 2020, https://support.kraken.com/hc/en-us/articles/115000364388-Trading-glossary
  2. “Kraken Exchange Tutorial 2020: Beginners Guide.” YouTube, uploaded by Every Bit Helps, 4 June 2020, https://youtu.be/rqCE8jXdTdI
  3. “What Does Liquidity Mean When Trading?” YouTube, uploaded by Binance Academy, 28 October, 2018, https://youtu.be/oyBIh1zDKho

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Shaving My Head https://www.tantrabanter.com/shaving-my-head/ https://www.tantrabanter.com/shaving-my-head/#respond Sun, 06 Sep 2020 00:19:53 +0000 https://www.tantrabanter.com/?p=7663 These days I am called to shave my head. Those who know me may hear this as a drastic change. My hair is “50% of...

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These days I am called to shave my head.

Those who know me may hear this as a drastic change.

My hair is “50% of my personality” as Jim puts it. It’s the first thing someone may notice about me.

Big, long, wavy, and commanding, a LARGE personality!

My hair is wild and untamed and has no master.

She does as she pleases. She has a life entirely her own.

I used to war against her. She was Big, Wavy, and Commanding; Wild and Untamed.

I tried to tame her. I slathered her in chemicals and ironed her straight and sleek.

Every 6 months, I did that for almost ten years.

Then, I had an Aha! moment and grew her out and chopped all the chemicals off and never did I do that again.

Since then, she has grown wild as a willow tree. Her locks swaying here and there.

Sometimes I daub some coconut oil or another sweet oil.

I sing to her and caress her. As I comb out any tangles, I whisper in praise of her beauty.

These days, I want to shave and start anew. I’ve always wanted to try it because why the heck not.

I want to feel the wind blow onto my scalp rather than rifle through my locks.

I want to graze my fingers on the budding strands.

It’s something I see myself doing when I am younger, rather than older. To give myself this experience.

I shared this aloud with Jim, “Hey babe, I want to shave my head.”

I shared this aloud with Kat, “So I’m thinking of shaving my head.”

I think of what I would look like with a head like a Buddhist monk.

I wonder whether I would still be beautiful.

I wonder if Jim will still be attracted to me.

I wonder how long it will take to grow out.

I wonder if it will grow back just as wavy, big, and boisterous.

(A part of me hopes it will grow back smoother and silkier.)

I recall the Biblical story of Samson, the strongest man at the time, who is seduced by Delilah and reveals to her that his strength is from his hair. When he falls asleep, she shaves his head to save her people.

I recall indigenous stories of the sacred nature of hair.

When I think of these stories and myths, I fear it.

I go on Google and research.

Turns out, in native cultures, hair is sacred. It is where soul meets body. Hair is “a physical manifestation of spirit”. It is power. It’s an extension of the soul. If one cuts their long hair, it is to signify grieving or entering a new chapter. And in doing so, one never unceremoniously throws it in the trash. It is to be burned in ceremony.

My cousin Hannah passed away August 14, 2020. She was 30 years old.

August was a month of transformation.

I am in the middle of an 8-week course on Self-Compassion and am living it.

I am learning who I am, discovering what I like and dislike, creating the relationship of my dreams, housesitting in Vieques, and building my life on my own terms.

And I am suddenly longing to shave my head.

I want to burn my cut locks with some sage and the letter I wrote to Hannah the day she passed away. I’ll burn it at sunset, on the hilltop here overlooking Vieques where horses roam free and the road to the crazy moon lies just beyond my reach.

 

 

 

 

 

 

References

  • https://www.vox.com/ad/15453466/chelsey-luger
  • https://sistersky.com/blogs/sister-sky/the-significance-of-hair-in-native-american-culture

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