Wild Life won Foreword Reviews' INDIEFAB Book of the Year Award
Gold Winner for Travel
Celebrating in Cuba
I’ve been off-grid (mentally and physically). First a month’s vagabonding in Cuba and then three months at my writing shack on the Big Island of Hawai’i. Been digging into my next book Dance Life: Dancing Lessons From God—a collection of wild stories about dancing around the globe blended with the body-wisdom I've gleaned from 27 years of teaching dance as an ecstatic and healing art form. Movement and word-crafting are a fine partnership in keeping the body and mind healthy, stimulated and active. I also celebrated several birthdays on the island including my own. Had an epiphany on my 62nd birthday—I felt wiser—not older—but definitely wiser. And more appreciative and patient. Excellent qualities that will continue to expand as I trek through the years of my life.
"Travel, like life, is best understood backward but must be experienced forward, to paraphrase Kierkegaard. After decades of wandering, only now does a pattern emerge. I'm drawn to places that beguile and inspire, sedate and stir, places where, for a few blissful moments I loosen my death grip on life, and can breathe again. It turns out these destinations have a name: thin places—locales where the distance between heaven and earth collapses and we're able to catch glimpses of the divine, or the transcendent or, as I like to think of it, the Infinite Whatever." — Eric Weiner in his New York Times story Where Heaven and Earth Come Closer
Cuba: my "Infinite Whatever” and a reading list:
A Story of Survival
A manila envelope perched inside my mailbox. From Travelers' Tales. An embossed award announced I'd won the Bronze Solas for my story Surviving the Salt. Haha! An award I didn't even know I had won.
At a recent literary event I was asked, "What's the biggest lesson you've learned from traveling?"
The answers came as songs in my heart:
* That we are very fortunate to travel freely as women in this day and age. This is my first lifetime as a free woman.
* That the world is an inherently good place filled with kind and generous people who open their hearts, minds, and lives to wandering strangers.
* That the poorest people may be the most generous.
* To cook for people on the road and share food. I always traveled in South America with a wicker basket. In it were a stove, beans, popcorn, tuna, rice, oil. I served up meals to starving explorers and Chilean fisherfolk. Heard great stories and drank a lot of wine sitting on the ground or on porches listening to their stories. For they had experiences I will never have but I can live them through the teller’s tale. I danced in strangers homes and in carnival frenzies in wicked streets. Fabulous way to meet people!
* To keep my eyes open so I do not miss the green flash at sunset.
Georgia on my mind
My next travel ventures will be to Georgia and Armenia for a six-week walkabout with my love interest. If you have any travel tips or connections in that part of the planet, please share them with me.
Enchanted by stories
"In many shamanic societies, if you come to a medicine person complaining of being disheartened, dispirited, or depressed, they would ask you one of three questions: When did you stop dancing? When did you stop singing? When did you stop being enchanted by stories? ..." Gabrielle Roth
I studied with Gabrielle in the 1980s and then taught ecstatic dance for 20 years. I dance daily—it is my church. My connection to the divine. Dance fuels my creativity. Try it!
Did you know having a baby can turn you into a writer?
Read my interview in NFAA: "How did you come to do what you’re doing today?"
Lisa: Thirty-two years ago, I started a community newspaper in Fairfax, CA. I was craving a rag that focused on what I found interesting in our region: artists, characters, hikes, gardening, history, politics.
I had a baby when I was 29 and realized I had to stay home occasionally, so what work could I do when I finally put my backpack/suitcase down? I had just sold my import company, Dreamweaver Imports, in San Francisco. It was time to write about my travel adventures—not just live them—so I’d nurse Galen in front of the keyboard and work on my stories. It was a great challenge to discipline myself to construct well-written sentences that would weave into a story worthy of the printed page. As you know from Wild Life, I didn’t stop traveling when I had a baby; I just didn’t go for one-to-two-year vagabonding journeys. And I would take him with me. Galen’s first big adventure was when he was 8 months old and I hauled him off to a Berber betrothal faire in the Atlas Mountains of Morocco. That story, "Two Mohameds,” is in Wild Life.".
There is a lot more to the interview regarding inspiration and a writer's behavior but I wanted to share a photo of my "baby" now. Galen is 32-years-old, an avid vagabonder, and director/boss of a sustainable farming community on the Big Island. The plate of food is from his cafe at the local farmers' market. All the recipes are made with wild or organically grown produce from his land against Green Mountain. Tumeric/ginger fried coconut anyone?
From licking a Monet in Paris, to pushing an abusive macho honeymooner off his sailboat in the shark-infested Galápagos, to saving her toddler son from a charging bull elephant in Africa, these 14 delightful, award-winning true tales will inspire readers to follow the call of a wild life and leave home with their doors unlocked.
"Lisa’s love of travel and her fierce determination to push all boundaries, takes the reader with her on a thoughtful, fun and fearless journey." — Maureen Wheeler, founder Lonely Planet
"When you’re hitchhiking about in foreign lands, whether in France, Morocco, or perhaps New Zealand, it helps—as California-girl Lisa Alpine discovered—to be "young, blond, persistent, and female.” And to get along, once you’ve reached an approximate destination in hardscrabble exotica, you should be friendly, fearless, and sometimes counter intuitively trusting.
There is daring, humor, and even a bit of Eros in the fourteen stories that span her life from the innocence of eighteen, when she was struck with wanderlust, into middle age. "I am a woman who wanders and wonders and writes,” she explains." — Foreword Reviews
"Lisa Alpine is a wild woman, whose stories really are not only funny and heartfelt, but encouraging: go farther, travel deeper, and know yourself better." — Amy Gigi Alexander, writer
"Lisa Alpine’s winning title tells much about her personal timeline, and the bestiary of good, bad, ugly or rare characters encountered in these sometimes breathless pages." —David Downie, author of Paris to the Pyrenees and A Passion for Paris
"Lisa’s stories are not only packed with the humor and adventure that comes from being a solo woman traveler, but also filled with compassion that cuts to the core of what travel is all about—a deep connection to a people and place found when we shed our protective armor and remember we are all human." — Kimberley Lovato, author of Walnut Wine and Truffle Groves
Signed print books are available at Book Passage in Corte Madera, CA. If you live in Albania, France, India or anywhere not near Northern California, you can order Wild Life from Book Passage, Amazon $14.95, Kindle $7.99, Audible & iTunes.
Hers are the type of spontaneous and quirky tales that vagabonders dream of when they muse on the possibilities of the open road. In true vagabonding spirit, her tales portray a woman with a no-frills approach to travel and a heavy investment in experience. You’ll find impassioned stories about far-flung destinations that can only come from an extended time on the road.
Alpine’s stories might not be to everyone’s tastes. She recounts her experiences with passion, shameless candor, and a huge amount of heart. There is no subject off-limits in her book. If you prefer the safety of clean careful narrative, with strict mindfulness to all Ps and Qs, this collection might be a bit much for you.
In addition to being a collection of travel stories, Exotic Life also explores the many trials and joys of Alpine’s personal life. Readers will not just come away with a host of tales from around the world, but with a vivid sense of the type of woman Alpine is. Her personality leaps from the pages."
I adored "Little Chicken Bone" for it's pure bearing of the heart and "spiritual grace under a blue-black sky'" because you deftly returned me to a very same experience I had in Chandi Dasa. ~But you know, the entire collection of short stories held me for 3 hours non stop. I wanted to be you!— and because you are an amazing storyteller, I WAS you. and I thank you for that Lisa. — Davis Dalbock 10/2015
20th Annual Writer’s Digest Annual Self-Published Book Awards review:
"Lisa's adventures have one flaw: they quit. I would love to see a thousand more episodes in exotic countries or places within those exotic countries. I think my favorite chapter was "Amazon Mom" because of its children and its Green Mansions atmosphere. When Lisa says, "So much water, so much growth . . . I wonder where they live of they can live there no longer" I feel myself transported to a time and place where children need someone for a time, and the Amazon is king.
Lisa's travels are more than exotic. They are wonderful reading. Her dance for her grandmother, naked except for a couple of scarves and a diamond necklace, was enchanting. She can come dance for me anytime.
I have to say this book stayed with me for a long time, and I loved the last three lines about Guadeloupe."
Purchase signed print books for $12.95 from Book Passage in Corte Madera, CA.
Find out why Lisa wanted to push that boyfriend out of the plane...
Her stories may make some yearn for a similar life of exotic people and places, but to me, she invites each one of us to explore, in great honesty, the desires and pleasures buried in our own hearts. Lisa models a view of life that is more open to our soul’s promptings than to the constraints of a timid society.
Hats off to Lisa for sharing her life and inspiring me to say, "Yes!” to whatever is presented to me. I heartily recommend these delightful stories to anyone who wants to touch the adventurer in their own soul. Stewart Blackburn (author The Skills of Pleasure)
I've read it while here in Spain! It was great! I loved it! Jocelyn Crockett
SUCH a fun read! There is so much in there I am going to read it again before I consider which was my favorite story etc., but it sure gave me the travel itch! Megan McKearney-Inciardi
Great book! Highly recommended - especially if you enjoy stories about travel around the world. Lion Goodman
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