Over the past few years I have found much inspiration through traveling. The places and people I have met, as well as the skills and experiences I have gained, have opened my eyes to many new perspectives of life. I have spent the last two years deepening, applying, and sharing the skills which I acquired abroad. The time is nigh to continue traveling and broadening my horizon. My intention is to recommence traveling the world in search of the life skills one requires to live, emphasizing on learning how to live sustainably, build community, and empower one another. In order to manifest this, I humbly request for your assistance. Your support will grant me the freedom to acquire the skills I desire to bring about change on a small scale. In return, I offer the findings of my journey and a glimpse into the reality that I am co-creating.
I am reminded daily that the world is full of abundance. It can be seen in many forms; love shared between family, friends, and lovers, fruits on trees, the roof over our heads, and even the air we breathe. I was unaware of this truth just a few years ago. I was living a life with a mentality of scarcity and tried to amass as much as I could; yet as it was against my true nature. I found myself deficient of true happiness and abundant in stress.
In 2014, I was working as an accountant in Philadelphia. Although amazing individuals surrounded me, the office life was slowly bleeding my soul dry. After taking an exam to further my office career, I was compelled to make a dramatic change. I relocated to Yonkers, New York to reestablish the bond with my parents whilst conducting a reevaluation of my priorities. In short time, the goal of following my passion expressed itself clearly.
I was enamored by food from an early age. I love to eat, cook, and share. With this in mind, I applied for every cook position I could find. Having zero experience cooking professionally, the odds did not seem in my favor, yet I felt I had a compelling story and an intense desire to learn. In an absolutely fantastical manner, the second interview I went on led to an immediate job offer as a line cook at a newly established Japanese restaurant in the heart of New York City. I was blown away by the opportunity. I developed many skills and friendships in addition to honing my proficiency in the Japanese language. I was grateful to be doing what I was passionate about, but I knew something fundamental was not there. The food we were serving, although tasty, lacked for quality in the ingredients themselves. There began the desire to learn how to grow better ingredients and seek inspiration through travel. I stumbled upon a program called WWOOF (World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms) and my trajectory picked up speed. The introduction to cooking Japanese cuisine along with tales of delicacies mentioned by the Japanese mentor chefs and managers, whom I am delighted to call my friends, led me to set my intention on traveling to Japan and WWOOFing.
I had given my word to partake in my friend Hardic Patel’s first visit to India in September and decided to combine this with plans to travel to Japan. Although, Hardic’s visit would be brief, I intended on staying in India for a few months so that I could learn some yoga and visit family. My relationship to India and yoga are intertwined. My parents are practitioners of yoga as well as being from India. For a long time, I chose to be disinterested in both. However, they are a part of my being and I wished to deepen my understanding.
In July 2015, I visited friends in Japan and WWOOFed at Sophia Farm Community in Hokkaido. I was introduced to Biodynamic Organic farming over the course of two months working with and learning from Ben and Konomi Campbell. I was initiated to the works of Rudolf Steiner, harvesting vegetables, delivering to CSA (community supported agriculture) drop offs and community living. This experience changed my perspective about food and planted a seed that would later grow to be an integral part of my being.
In September 2015, I traveled through the central west of India before partaking in a yoga teacher-training course in Kerala; my parents’ home state. The course enlightened me about the many aspects of yoga that I was unaware of and left me yearning to learn more about Ayurveda and its applications. I was fortunate to be introduced to Unnikrishnan Gurukkal, an amazing teacher skilled in Ayurvedic massage and an expert in Kalaripayattu (a traditional martial art that is practiced in Kerala and said to be the origin of all martial arts). Under his guidance, I was given a thorough introduction to both, which sparked a growing interest in healing through touch and energy work.
With the winter holidays approaching came the urge to be at home. I landed in New York that November with an intense desire to deepen my experience of farming. I applied for farm apprenticeships around the country focusing on finding a Biodynamic organic farm somewhere with a warm climate. February 2016, I became an apprentice at Liberty Farms in upstate New York. Although the idea of farming in Hawaii sounded a whole lot better, especially as a cold winter is nonexistent, it worked out better than I could have possibly imagined! The year flew by in no time and, as the growing season came to an end, I found myself wanting to stay on the farm despite the impending frost. With the help of newfound friends, I came to appreciate the winter and the activities one could enjoy (especially snowboarding which is awesome once you get past the falling every two seconds).
This brings us to the current chapter of my life. I am now the Assistant Lead Farmer at Liberty Farms. Thoughts of what happens next are ever present as we approach the last cycle of this growing season. I will begin my travels this coming November. As I continue to develop life skills and further my farming experience, I will also resume my Ayurvedic massage tutelage. I plan to travel to Germany, The Netherlands, Switzerland, New Zealand, India, Thailand, Laos, Vietnam, Cambodia and Malaysia, to name a few. Through these travels, I aspire to visit as many Biodynamic farms and sustainable communities as I can. Partaking in growing, cooking, and sharing food are also essential to my journey, as they enable us to bond with one another.
I intend to persist in practicing to love, live and learn through these travels. I mean by this, that I will continue to love myself and the other beings with whom I coexist on this amazing planet. I will live my life to its fullest and share as much as I can. And as I continue learning with fervor, I will reciprocate generously with all who have expressed interest. In the past, I associated a request for assistance to be a barrier to independence. I am now cognizant of the abundance of this world. I will share the skills I hone and acquire in exchange for the assistance. These include cooking, yoga, massage, and gardening. Before and after my travels, I will host a number of skill exchange workshops. I would like to extend the invitation to all who are interested. I will also be sharing pictures of my travels. Additionally, I will document and share the recipes that I obtain. I will also consider compiling the results of this experience into far more than a cookbook.
Furthermore, if there are any suggestions of places to visit, things to eat or see, or if you know of someone who can help facilitate a part of the journey, please send them to me!
Thank you for taking the time to read this, I hope that it will help serve as a reminder and inspiration to love and share! And please continue to co-create a new and wonderful reality for this and future generations to enjoy!
Peace and Love,
If you are interested here are a few links of the places/things I mentioned.
Also if you are curious to know why I chose my goal amount, it is the diameter of Earth 7917.5 plus the fees that are to be incurred.
- Diana Cioffi
- Catherine McWeeney
- Cody Dussinger