The Power of the Camera

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Is Like No Other.

Out of all the projects and developments we've got happening over in Indo at 4th World Love, one that shakes my soul all the time is the gift of teaching.  Learning a new trade, skill, habit, idea - all these things are so often discarded in my own life - it's like - who has time to learn?!  I'm trying to keep up with the dang day to day...but that is something that I have to really work on or things just get super stale.

My good friend over in Lombok, Hasan, is the mega learner.  He sent me these pictures recently because he wanted to see if his composition was any good (we play with photos a lot).  I have given him and the CDC several cameras and any time I'm there, he is my go to guy for hauling all my gear, taking camera notes, helping with shot lists, making sure all the batteries are charged and taking point on all off site photo shoots.  Over time, he has become a super duper photographer and peeps now ask him to shoot their weddings, to document their lives.  What a wonderful treasure to have done (teach him some photography skills) and to continue to see flourish.  He is so very proud of having taken a passion and really trying to work on it every day.  I'm so proud of him, too. 



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I did the same thing with my super good pal, Lalo, down at Casa de Mita.  He is already a wonderful photographer, but every time I go, I spend a little time with him - just sippin' a marg and discussing all things photography - taking pix, assessing them, exhanging lenses.  I don't know that much about picture taking besides what I taught myself, but what I do know is that whipping out the camera and documenting the tiny things that I come across makes me happy - and clearly it does other folks too.

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That very thing is one of the reasons we started 4WL.   To be a conduit to hope and inspiration for those less fortunate.  We try to accomplish that every day - even in the TV shows we make; and on this wanderlust blog,as well.   Will this TV show or toothie post entertain, make a difference, change someones life/day, be remembered, make someone wanna have a good meal or some fine drink? If not, man...why bother?

That is the thing I wanna keep striving for every day, every photo, every moment, hell - every decision in the day.  Because if I don't do it for me, who will?  Ain't nobody snappin' my pic - I gotta get out there and document it for me.  And, if I stick to what the me in this wacky ass world loves, well - I will always be proud and happy to share a tidbit of goodness.  Picture that:)

N is for Next Year

Yah, there will be one...
Seems tomorrow is supposed to be the end of the world.  I say bring it.  Sick of the stress of this here life.   However, if for some reason we all make it through the end of time, I for one plan on livin' it large.  
Here's what I'm done with.  Actually, I was about to launch into all the bad of the bad.  Cause some days it def seems like it's straight up the end of the world as we know it.  The bills.  The lack of communication.  The work.  The unhealthy habits.  The truck repairs.  The ugly hair.  The jacked body.  Oh, it's bad.  But really - what's that bad?
We got laughs.  We got big ideas.  We got good food.  We got future plans.  We got funny pets.  We got good family.  We got killer friends.  
May next year - and, let's just say tomorrow starts the NEW YEAR, I wanna just keep on keepin' on with the good food like Alila Bali serves up.  Homemade jams.  Super shaken cocktails.  Tiny omelette's.  Poached fish in coconut milk. Baby quiches blanketed in greens.  
Cause good food = good exercise = good love = good life.
Dead ramble, but it's real and it makes sense if you really, really think about it.  Hopefully with a real nice glass of lightly chilled pinot noir.  

I is for Immerse

I is for Immerse.
My good friend Hassan is a photographer.  I can't say I made him one, but I certainly took him under my wing and paved a narrow dirt path for him to traverse.  He started out a student at the CDC in Indo - courtesy of 4th World Love.  He spoke a tiny bit of English when I first met him and he hovered on every word that I spoke, especially when it came to explaining things about taking photos.  
We'd roll around the island on motor bikes, checking in on the local folks, noting improvement in sponsored activities and he was constantly there - available to assist, happy as a clam, and always super on point.  Just ready and avail to hold my camera.  Waiting for me to utter one quick tidbit about any new slice of education he could possibly scrap up - notepad at the ready. He was willing and hungry to immerse himself in learning.  Just like a sponge. Soaking it all in.  
I tend to give him a camera every time I'm back in Indo.  My random cast off technology.  Not cause it doesn't take good pix.  But because he deserves to have what I have.  To learn on what I learned on.  To have the freedom to immerse himself in a trade/craft like anyone in the Western world can do.  
He sends me pix now and again - I love the macro shots and the wedding pix. He's become the village photographer.  He speaks great English now.  He's still a farmer at heart, but he makes me proud as a mama bear with his tenacity, gift and humor.
Hassan.  My friend, the photographer.  
See his pix below.

I Wanna Be a Puppy or a Kid - What a LIFE!

Having a puppy makes me think about being a kid.  Remember back when you were free?  

You could just run, play, hide, eat, cry, yelp any time you wanted.  There was always a summer on the horizon.  Every day was about what kind of pure fun you could have.  Dirt sandwich, playing in the creek, picking wild berries, helping out in the kitchen (or just simply gazing on as mom and grandmas did the work), baby snacks throughout the day.  Hair in dreads.  Feet a mess. Everything eye-level was a new toy.  There was no stress.  That word doesn't even exist in the priceless world of puppies and kids.  Catching fireflies.  Rocks were the only thing you had to put in your hand-me-down purse.  Running through the woods til the sun set and it was time for dinner.  Naps on the swaying front porch swing.  Summers at the lake.  Gulps of water and sunshine and joy - EVERY SINGLE DAY.  That's kids and puppies done up the right way.

If (and when) I have a kid, I want them to live the same free life I did growing up.  See above.  

The kiddies in Indo where we have 4th World Love, well, let me put it this way.  They are the ultimate village treasures.  Everywhere is home.  Every hip is familiar.  A mud puddle = a romp in the swimming pool.  A basket of food scraps = a knife in hand and a life never afraid in the kitchen and all the wonders it can turn out.

Oh the joy...I'm gonna try to get that vibe back into my own life.


Oh, the places I find myself...


I'd be crazy not to get involved...

They are Muslim and covered head to toe.  But, they're just like us in the end.  Just wanting to gossip all the live long day amongst their pals and shove down sweets for hours and hours.  Laugh, cackle, eat, sip sweet tea, poke fun at each other.  Those are girls.  You put a room full of them together and you will always get the same posse of could-be fatties on the make.

I don't know much Indonesian, so Sasak is even further out of reach.  But, we share giggles and bites of sweets for a few minutes.  They scream the English name of something to me over and over - as if it will make the Sasak version stick into my skull.  But, unless its Spanish, it's in one ear and out the other.

Who needs words though - when food and smiles are God's currency?  They adore me cause I've helped their kids and neighbors kids all learn English.  I've helped their little community as much as I can - water towers, homemade garbage cans, community development centers, cleft palate surgeries.  FREE English classes.  Tools.  Volunteers and a thriving volunteer program.  Comupters.  Cameras.  Clothes. A beloved guitar played by all (expertly, I might add). 

Who am I to care?  Why even start 4th World Love?  Hell, WHY NOT?  It ain't no biggie and it makes me proud.  It brings me joy when sometimes there ain't none.  I watch people learn and LOVE IT.  I make a difference.  Again, WHY NOT? 

And, I guess all these funny little folk in Lombok make me laugh and laugh.  Of course I'm gonna help.  It's just my nature...and it's sooooo easy to do.  'Nuff said.

My Latest Burst of Intel: 7 Common Challenges You Encounter After You Launch Your NGO…


Here's the latest article I penned for Matador, pretty useful stuff if you're into knowing a little more behind the scenes stuff from NGO'dom. The real-deal link is here.

7 Common Challenges You Encounter After You Launch Your NGO

Starting the NGO is the easy part. But the aftermath? Now, that’s the thing that keeps you up at night.

I recently started an NGO, 4th World Love, that focuses on community development in distant lands and I’ve learned a few lessons on the front lines of grassroots NGO’dom.

Here are a few bullet points to consider after you’ve already got your cause, your website, and your plan.

Start by remembering this one – don’t forget to laugh - because in the end, if there is no laughing-til-you-cry, it’s just not worth it.

1. Communication Is Primo.

Once you’ve got your organization’s base set up, there will come a time when you must get back home to raise money, make money, and ponder new ideas. Once you’re gone, things can quickly go downhill unless you set up a chain of command, with loads of communication.

We appointed a local Field Director and Field Coordinator before we left with very specific instructions (we need a cash flow report once a month, make sure the volunteers sign this waiver before they start the program, always text back confirmation when you get information).

Things like this keep the program from bursting at the seams. It’s hard when the village has no internet, but with texting at the fingertips of most third world’ers, we’ve had no problem staying in touch… even though there are multiple black outs per day.

REMEMBER: You have to set the parameters in order for them to be followed. Period.

2. And, Then There’s The Exact Opposite – Miscommunication.

Everyone from the village becomes a friend; therefore, they want to text and e-mail all the time. This is fantastic because updates and passing information along is crucial to NGO success. What isn’t great is when everyone starts ignoring the chain of command and breaks free of the system to share their trivial issues.

Better to set up a precise method of relaying information before you leave. Better yet, create a job description document so everyone knows who is responsible for sharing what. You wanna tell me that a baby who had cleft palate surgery is doing well– that rocks. But, if you wanna tell me all about the late petty cash report… well, that gets the smack-down.

REMEMBER: Set up proper channels and make sure your appointed directors are clear with everyone involved about the rules and their specifics. If you don’t, expect chaos.


3. Fundraising – The Ultimate Challenge.

This little diddy is the hardest part of NGO’dom. Where do funds come from? You can’t expect people to keep giving cash, especially in an economy like this.

Therefore, one must get incredibly creative.

We came up with an idea for a contest – Donate $100 to win a free trip to Indonesia was the one we ran last year; this year we’re doing the same thing, but in Baja. People really respond to this idea because there’s a chance for them to win something crazy-cool…not just donate a bit of cash.

But just because they did it once doesn’t mean they’ll do it twice.

“In the end, if there is no laughing-til-you-cry, it’s just not worth it.”

Again, thinking cap goes on. We started producing Pilates/volunteering retreats in Mexico where all profits go to fund 4WL – and the cost of the trip is a write-off. Pretty brilliant.

We also scour local villages for things we can sell (handmade scarves, cool bamboo bags and boxes, and organic soap). But we’re gonna have to amp it up a level and get more than just individual sales – we’ll have to go gangbusters, and try to sell mass quantities from the samples we currently have. Get the order and then worry about getting them made. All profits fund local projects.

REMEMBER: Most people who say they will donate DO NOT. It’s the random folks who really kick in the dinero. Bless them all.

4. Bring in Volunteers…or Not?

The intrepid souls who traipse the world working for free are the backbone of any NGO. They storm in with good ideas, piles of energy, and the will to get things done.

However, they can be a full time job for those running things back on the home front.

Dozens of e-mails have to be answered from online volunteer shout-outs, money has to be wired, transportation has to be coordinated, home stays have to be arranged, and thousands of questions have to be answered. The key is to develop a system for managing it all.


Let’s say someone e-mails, curious about 4WL. Instead of getting really detailed at the top, I just send them a Volunteer 101 sheet, an article I wrote about the village, a volunteer form for them to fill out, and the permanent volunteer schedule.

If they plow through all that information, as well as the highly detailed website, and then blast back specific questions, then I know they are legit and might actually make the trek to Indonesia. If they just ask evasive generic questions and haven’t taken the time to really get deep with our materials, then they aren’t worth the effort.

They probably just sent out a blanket email to 50 orgs and still have no idea what they want to do. I’m not saying don’t be nice, I’m just saying read between the lines.

REMEMBER: Hold their hand, but only if they hold yours back.

5. Establish Your NGO’s EXACT Cause.

Folks ask all the time, “What is your cause, exactly?” Until my last scouting excursion, I wasn’t able to pinpoint it. But, now I can - we focus on community development. Pure and simple.

Whether it’s through organic farming initiatives, carpentry workshops, cleft palate surgeries, English lessons, a new t-shirt business, opening a small café, or teaching photography and video skills – it doesn’t matter. We do it if the village requests it.

I can’t imagine rolling into a township and hearing all of the various ideas and dreams and then shutting someone down ’cause we just do “healthcare” or “AIDS prevention.” Though both noble causes, we’re about more than one thing. And, getting to that determination took some hard digging on the soul front. Even though we lived it, wrote it, and hatched the very idea, crafting the exact statement that surrounds the sentiment took some time.

REMEMBER: Think hard about your cause before you start promoting, because you will be fronted and you most definitely need an answer. A good, telling, inspiring one.

6. Boil Down New Ideas.

Phase 1 is complete. Now it’s time to take it all to the next level and take stock in your recent progress. What is the next level, especially since everything is running so well? Maybe you want to expand your efforts into another village; perhaps you need more volunteers and on-site facilitators; you might even want to start another fund raising scheme.

“That’s what it’s all about – making a difference in the world and feeling really, really good about it.”

At this point, it’s time to take it all to paper because a wing and a prayer might have worked for the first round of goodness, but now, things bear a little more investigating. We just put together our first 4WL newsletter and it was incredible to have all our happenings laid out in one super-fly PDF. Not only did it help all our supporters get the inside tip to all that were doing, it helped us hone in on where we’re headed in the near future…and what might be missing in the right now.

Bottom line, you must share the intel. Take loads of pictures when you are on site. Follow up with volunteers and get them to send you testimonials that you can post on your website and share. Plot, plan, scheme, dream, share– it’s the only way to ratchet up the vibe you’re trying to create.

REMEMBER: Make people proud to be a part of your organization and they will go to war for you…as you would for them.

7. Don’t Forget About Personal Sanity.

All of this work is draining and can be heavy on the soul. Am I doing enough? Where do I get new ideas? Will I ever be able to pull it all off? All these questions keep me and my partner-in-crime awake at night, but the more balance we try to create in our own personal lives, the better off we are.

If I work out every day, my energy soars and I’m off-the-charts productive. If I go out til the wee hours drinking and do a midnight slam down of pizza with ranch dressing, well the next AM ain’t so great.

Finding my own personal level of balance is crucial in making all these great things happen.

You also have to have a level of self-promotion that would make most cringe. I’m certain people get sick to death of my weekly e-mails about new far-flung contests, retreats, and excursions. But, you never know, I might just hit them at the moment they are fed up with their own existence and are looking to make a change.

Be it within you, your network, your village, or your organization’s plans for the future, that’s what it’s all about – making a difference in the world and feeling really, really good about it.

REMEMBER: To a person who makes $20 bones a month, every single penny counts, and if you put your energy in the right place, in the most positive spot, then you will reap rewards like no other. Might not be a penny, but it will shine like one.

Bali from the Air +


For those of you whom will never make it to Bali, here are a few shots of this magical little island from the air.  Tickets are so cheap right now though!  And, once you are there, things are way, way cheap.  As always, if anyone wants to go over, hit me up...I will help you set up an amazing trip. 

I woke up this morning thinking about Bali, Lombok and Indo as a whole.  The people are what make it.  You've never seen such innocence and sweetness up close like that.  Preach.




Alone if Just for a Minute


Believe it or not, I'm a loner to the T.  I live alone.  I write alone. I travel alone. I just like being alone.  I take great strides to make my way thru this wild world all alone and seem to never get bored.  Ideas are born when I'm alone.  Baby seeds sprout and life takes on all the meaning its meant to have when I roll solo.  But, for the past 12 months, I've not been alone.  Not in the least.  And, it has worn me down...

I've been to Indonesia twice, I've been to Mexico twice, either with someone or working whilst there, so constantly surrounded.  I've worked 10 of those 12 months on TV shows in KY, Vegas and LA.  I've had pals staying with me, living under my same roof while we worked together.  I've just not been alone.  But, today, for the first time in months and months, I am alone.  That is until my dad and cousin get out here to LA in a few days to help me with my sailboat--which, heaven help us all, should be loaded onto a 50' semi right about now and making its way across the country to its new home.

What does alone have to do with a bunch of food photos?  Well, when I'm surrounded, it's hard to think straight.  Hard to post on The Tooth.  But today, easy.  Why?  Cause I'm dead alone.  Just enveloped by quiet.  And, I can slowly gaze at my photos and see what inspires me to share. 

Every Indo meal is a spread.  There is just no small, light meal.  It's plate after plate of homemade goodies, mostly veggies, rice, fried treats and sometimes a little specialty.  Like these itty-bitty fish.  They are caught (sometimes by naked kids) in the water reservoirs that surround the patches of farmland in Sembalun.  They they are hauled home to their respective family homes where they are then tricked out into a tasty local dish, full of flavor and heat and soul.  Just a little nasi (rice) and fiery sambal complete the package.  You don't get to eat them that often cause they are so blazing difficult to catch, but if you ever do get so lucky, relish.  

Just like I relish alone.  If only for a minute. 






Sometimes I Just Need the Guarantee


That's right.  I come back to good old Indonesia time and time again cause I need to know I'm gonna witness this view every morning from my little front porch.  I need to know that funny Gary the Expat is gonna be having a hot dog at his hot dog stand and cracking up about the influx of non-American tourists every day.  I need to know that a SCUBA adventure awaits me.  I need to know I can sleep for 12 hours and not feel a lick of guilt.  I need to know that there's gonna be an afternoon shower pretty much every day.  I need to know that no matter how hectic life is back home, it slows down somewhere.  Here it is.

That said, I leave for Lombok soon and might not be able to post for a few weeks.  Rest assured, I will be back soon though...with updates from the 4th World Love community center, intel on Baby Azi, photos of the locals jammin' on the guitar that Seven from Whiskey Falls generously donated and loads of other deets from the frontlines.  Back soon, I promise...

What I'm Craving At This Exact Moment


There's this fantastic little cafe in Ubud, Bali called KAFE.  It's literally one of the most chill spots on earth, and is always chock full of yoga inspired folk, who also happen to be wayyyyy into health food (think organic mulberry pancakes, tofu madness, etc...).

These guys turn out an addictive drink that is like a soy coffee frappe and I became 100% obsessed with them while I explored the hills of Ubud.  I'd stroll in, a sweaty mess from some kind of killer morning hike and they'd come tumbling out of the kitchen with this perfectly whipped, icy cold drink that sports a side vessel full of sticky liquid sugar..and every time I saw it, my eyes just popped.  It's like straight rocket fuel.  This little concoction is exactly what I am craving right at this second.  Make it two.

No trip to Ubud is complete unless you pop into KAFE and for the full health kick, start the AM off with a packed class at the Yoga Barn.  Same owner, smart cookie.