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Self Empowerment

#metoo

I awoke in the middle of the night last night. My groggy body and weary eyes told me it was not yet time to be up. I opened my iPad to confirm that fact. 2 A.M. I was pissed. I had collapsed into bed a mere four hours prior, exhausted from a long day at work and an even longer two months of life. I hadn’t even been able to muster enough energy to wash the day off myself and shower. I barely could collect enough strength to bring my toothbrush to my mouth. So, given the opportunity to take deep rest, why the fuck was I up at 2 A.M.?

My mind immediately began examining what I ate earlier that night. Was there too much salt in the soup? What about that one bite of chocolate chip cookie? Or had I simply snacked too late? It seems I’ve been super sensitive to what I’m ingesting lately and I was determined to blame the culinary culprit.

As intrusive as the light from my iPad felt to my eyes, I attempted to distract my ruminating mind and lull myself back to sleep with a glance at the sludge of social media. About 5 minutes in it hit me. I am super sensitive to what I take in. And not just food. As I scrolled through story after story, post after post of ‘#metoo’ the pain began to well up in my heart until it could no longer contain itself. What awoke me in the middle of the night was not the cookie or the salt or any other crap food. What awoke me in the middle of the night was the poison we’ve been ingesting collectively for years. Decades. Possibly centuries.

I began to weep. Not only from my own pain and shame of the sexual assault I experienced – something I repressed for 22 years – but also for the generations of women and men devastated by a culture that continues to shove aside the Divine feminine in the name of advancement, progress and growth. In the name of money, power and status.

All actions bear fruit. Maybe not immediately, but eventually. It is the law of the Universe. It is called karma. What is being played out in our society is a result of all our behaviors. Not just of a few. Generations of it. Years and years of disregard for Her and the world which She created. The Goddess will be repressed no more. She is awakening. She is rising and she will do whatever is necessary to wake all of us up in order to restore the beautiful balance of Divine order. The masculine and feminine must dance in love once again.

This is painful for so many of us. Too many to ignore. But never forget we suffer at the hand of Her love. The tears must be shed, the blood must be borne. The past must be so painful we have no choice but to choose a different present. Sadly, it’s the only way we monkeys known as humans seem to learn. The sickness of society must become so prevalent that it touches and affects a majority of us. We must turn the tide as a united force. Only then will the collective consciousness gaze towards peace. Towards compassion. Towards respect. Towards reverence. Towards kindness. And towards love. And if it takes a million hashtags of ‘metoo’ and ‘imsorry’ and tears in the middle of the night – if it takes a mass devastation so that each and every individual feels the pain of our ways – so be it. Her will will be done. In some way. In some fashion. But never, ever doubt her love for us all.

I know what I’m about to say will seem more than challenging – it may seem I’m asking the impossible – but thank the Weinsteins and the Trumps and the Stephan Paddocks of the world. Their actions shine a light on the prevalence of suffering we are all enduring. Without which, we could easily continue to bury, shame and push down travesties and transgressions.

I am clear. When I weep, I heal. I change. When you weep, you heal. You change. When more of us weep, more of us heal. More of us change. As awful as it seems, it is an amazing time to be alive right now. Witness the magnitude of world events in awe and gratitude. Feel the ground shaking. We are in the middle of a revolution. Like many before us have fought for our freedoms from slavery and tyranny with guns and cannons, we too are fighting for our freedom. With tears and anger and hashtags.

We fight for our freedom to feel safe.

We fight for our freedom to smile.

We fight for our freedom to play.

We fight for our freedom to laugh and be joyful.

We fight for our freedom to love.

We fight for our freedom to embrace all in a new world order.

One that honors and celebrates the feminine in us all. She is the creator of all. And She will restore all. And so shall it be.

 

 

Dying To Live

Sitting on the cold, hard, sterile floor, back against the wall of the psychiatric emergency room of Brackenridge Hospital in downtown Austin, I had only one question. How did I get here? I mean, I know how I physically arrived despite being half comatose from a few too many sleeping pills. From what I can remember, paramedics bust into my apartment completely uninvited, entered my bedroom, shook me awake and demanded I answer a few questions. Apparently they didn’t like my answers. From what I can recall, I was lifted from my bed, placed in a wheelchair, awkwardly carried down the stairs of my apartment and transported into a medical vehicle. The next thing I remember, I was in a hospital bed. I should’ve known better to be more specific when I asked the Universe for a man to carry me out of bed in my camisole. Note to self – I would like to be fully conscious when a man sweeps me in his arms and leads me out of, or into, my bed.

They had no right to barge in. No right to dictate I live. It was my life. I should be allowed to decide whether or not it continued. I was pissed. I was hurt. I was sad. And I was still slightly drugged. How had it gotten this far?

Before I could answer that question, I realized I had a more pressing concern. How the hell was I going to get out of this antiseptic, dispassionate, sterile room with fluorescent lights and cold air blowing above me? In my version of hell there are no burning flames and hot searing pitchforks. In my version of hell, I am sitting on a block of ice, naked, forced to drink ice water. I hate the cold. And I most definitely am not a fan of bad lighting. I felt like screaming. I felt like I was, indeed, crazy. At the same time I knew I didn’t belong there.

Truth was, all I wanted was a hug, a warm safe space and someone to tell me I was okay. In one of my most vulnerable moments, I wanted to be assured that my brokenness only meant I was human.

Unfortunately, the psych ward of a hospital is not the place you go for warm and fuzzy or compassion. To those nurses and psychiatric evaluators I was a box to be checked – something to be figured out, a monkey in a cage to be ogled and studied.

So I did what I’ve been doing my whole life – I lied. Have you thought about harming yourself before? No. Do you feel like you want to harm yourself now? No. They danced around the word suicide like a stripper around a pole. There is nothing I despise worse than bullshit and they were full of it.

With the help of a friend who assured them I would spend the night at his home, I convinced those doctors I was not an immediate danger to myself or others and they sent me on my way with an inappropriate dosage of Prozac, unguided as a rudderless ship. I wasn’t so convinced myself, but there was no way I was spending another moment in that joint. It took me about a week to regain any enthusiasm for life or desire to understand what had happened. Once I did, there was no doubt in my mind that this was my proverbial wake up call. I could no longer lie to myself. Despite my best efforts I could no longer ignore depression or continue to ride its turbulent wave. It was difficult to acknowledge that I suffered from depression, especially when many times I couldn’t quite pinpoint why it appeared. I never wanted to use ‘depressed’ as an identifying characteristic like female, or blonde or green eyes. These are obvious traits. Depression is often anything but obvious and not something I was keen to add to my CV. Admitting I was ‘depressed’ made me feel like a victim. I seemed to be able to find solutions to every challenge in my life. Why not this? Yet if I couldn’t call it out or name it, how in the hell would I understand it, much less heal it?

Besides, who was I to bitch and moan? By all outward appearances and societal standards, I lived a successful, happy life. And to a large extent, this was true. My adult years have been full of adventure, traveling when I pleased, seeing places that most only dream of. I’ve toured temples and shrines in India, hiked the highest peaks in Colorado and swam in the seas hugging Africa and Bali. I built a name for myself in the fitness and yoga industries and have appeared on DVDs covers  and in some of the most popular health and wellness magazines. I seemed to have my shit together. I smiled in all my pictures. By all accounts, my life resembled a greatest hits album on Facebook. Thus, I dismissed years of underlying malaise, rationalizing that I simply tolerated and fought through more sadness than the average person. Or that I was sensitive – more susceptible to emotion – mine and other’s.  It seemed even in my happiest moments, depression was always there, lurking just beneath the surface, ready to rear its ugly head and make a mockery of my picture perfect life.

In my earlier years, my demons arose from the conflict between my outer and inner worlds. Despite my successes, I longed to know a world beyond what I could see and measure with my eyes; and one in which my happiness was not predicated on the size of my bank account or my waist. I wrestled between the life I thought I should have and the one I so desperately wanted for the longest time, and there was no resolution. I simply vacillated between the two, doing my best to navigate the murky waters of both, praying for a map to guide me in the right direction.

My prayers were answered when I found my teacher in the Fall of 2011. It seemed I would find exactly what I was seeking under his direction studying yoga, Tantra and meditation. I was a diligent student for the next five years. I attended every training and workshop. I learned techniques that helped me fulfill my deepest spiritual longings while simultaneously teaching me how to navigate the everyday challenges of the material world. I committed myself to yoga, meditation, and self-inquiry practices. I wrote in my journals non-stop. I actually became a seeker of darkness, looking for it in the hidden nooks and crannies of my consciousness so that I could understand it and extricate it from my life. Despite the ebbs and flows of life, I began to feel more stable, more confident. I began to recognize how my habitual thoughts of fear and negativity created a life of discontent and I was committed to changing them. I also began to develop and nurture deep meaningful friendships that would support me in my times of sorrow. All of these things helped me take ownership of my life. I no longer felt like a slave to my emotions and sensed I was moving in a positive direction.

Yet toward the end of 2015, I began to feel a large swell of discontent. My job as the Wellness Director of a resort and spa in Austin, TX was unfulfilling and I was living in a city where I never did quite find my groove. In February of 2016, I quit my job and boarded a one-way flight to India for a sadhana immersion with my teachers, unsure where exactly I would go after that or when I would return. I had no idea what was next and, like anyone with a pulse, I felt fear over leaping into the unknown. But I did know without a shadow of a doubt that I was making the right decision. For the first time in my life, I didn’t feel like I was running away from something, but running towards something.

During my travels throughout Asia, I learned more about myself with every stamp of my passport. I began to get clearer on what I wanted, the woman I wanted to be, and the life I envisioned for myself. I knew I had to write the book that had been brewing inside of me for years. After I returned to the States, I retreated to the mountains of Colorado to do just that. My summer was filled with meaningful work, time in nature, fresh food and visits with family. I was finding balance. I was content and at peace. And I almost convinced myself I had seen the last of sadness sans reason. I felt joy – a deep internal joy that was present regardless of what I did for a living, what I looked like, or whether or not I would ever press into handstand in the middle of the room.

Despite all of my strides forward, depression had been patiently waiting in the wings, ready to make its grand entry and take down the house. One evening I was exhausted from one too many hikes and quite possibly, a lack of adequate oxygen. I had gone for a particularly long stretch staring into a computer screen, isolated from much contact with the outside world. My defenses were down and feelings of anxiety and restlessness began to overshadow the peace I had found in the mountains. I was blowing through much of my savings and worries about what I would do for work and how I would support myself became overwhelming. I feared the risk of switching careers and expressing my truth. All the courage and confidence I seemed to have cultivated during my solo travels disappeared in an instant. It felt safer to crawl back into the shadows then make any attempt to forge ahead into the light….

To read the rest of the essay, please visit YogaPoetica.

Thoughts On Love.

What is love? Love is an action not a thing to be had, owned or possessed. It certainly can be given but must also be received. (One of my greatest challenges.) You can’t need love because you are it. As Rumi says “Your task is not to seek for love, but merely to seek and find all the barriers within yourself that you have built against it.”

Love never says Yes, but . . . only And, also. It is all inclusive and yes, blind in that it is indiscriminate. It is available to everyone who would like to participate. Anyone can be a participant in love. Love is timeless, ageless.

More and more I am learning it requires my active engagement and not just idle daydreaming. It requires a choice to act in a way that express it in every moment regardless of circumstance.

Thank you to my teachers who continue to usher me along this path of love. I know I can be stubborn and very often forget the truths which you so graciously share. But I do understand and I am learning to play in a new sandbox. I don’t know all the rules (are there any in love?) or playmates, but I hope and trust, as I continue my practice of deep unconditional love, I’ll find more playmates to build castles with me in the same sandbox. And my sandbox will be open to anyone who wants to join.

Is The Shit Show Necessary?

I’ve been here in Ridgway, CO about two weeks now. I’ve spent most of that time adjusting – to the altitude, a slower pace of life, not having every convenience at my fingertip (except for Amazon Prime – thank you Amazon Prime), and a different way of life in general. I would say I’m acclimating quite nicely.

Now that I can somewhat breath again, I’ve been spending time hiking, writing, resting, exploring, and meeting new people. One random afternoon took me past a Pilates studio in town. I stared in the window salivating at barres, mirrors, wood floors, and Reformers. Somehow, I had to get in there. I could feel my hamstrings and core getting weaker by the day and knew I needed to get myself back into some sort of routine. While I certainly feel better when I look better, it’s also important for me to keep what tend to be my weaker muscles strong so I can do all the other activities I love without low back and knee pain. Such as hiking. In case you didn’t know, there’s a lot of hiking here in Colorado.

I looked up the studio on line and not five days later I was meeting with the studio’s owner. Somehow we completely skirted over any talk of Pilates and dove right in the deep end. We shared stories of body insecurities, negative self-talk, and guilt over feeling the way we did knowing we are blessed to have the bodies we do. I immediately felt connected to this woman. At one point in the conversation she questioned whether or not everything needed to fall apart for us to evolve and create anew. My answer? Yes. Absolutely.

It’s one of the first pieces of wisdom I learned from my teacher. We only change when it becomes too painful not to. Let’s face it. Change sucks. The human condition prefers to be comfortable. To live in the stable and the known as opposed to the nebulous and unfamiliar. With a handful of exceptions, humans are, by nature, risk averse. We don’t like to take chances unless we are confident our gamble will produce a successful outcome whether it’s in business, relationship, or life choices.

There are no shortage of quotes on the challenge of living outside your comfort zone and the great reward that can result. Life begins outside your comfort zone. Your life does not get better by chance – it gets better by change. If there is no struggle there is no progress. We know this. Our intellect understands that the only way to evolve is to change. Yet, most often, we prefer to stay the same even if it produces an undesirable outcome.

Most times, if we remain stagnant despite all signs pointing to a need to shake things up, something will come along to deliver a swift ass kicking. It can be anything from an emotionally painful break-up to a life threatening accident. Or it may simply be the persistent pain of living day in and day out under the same conditions of disappointment, abuse, or general malaise. One day we wake up and just can’t tolerate it anymore. We are done.

It’s a phrase I hear more and more. I’m done. What follows it varies – I’m done feeling badly about myself. I’m done with this relationship. I’m done playing small. And in its emphatic form such as I’m SOOOOO done with this job. The pain of staying the same MUST BE greater than the pain of change. Saying we’re DONE is our proclamation to the Universe that “what is” is no longer acceptable. Things must change.

It would be great if our lives didn’t need to fall to shit in order for us to shift. Usually, however, we need to be forced to alter our way of doing things or adjusting the lens through which we view the world. The good news is, like any other skill, navigating change can be developed. And the more adept we become at managing the discomfort of change, the more likely we are to take risks and, as one of my favorite authors, Brene Brown writes, dare greatly. Make no doubt about it – risk is a learned aptitude. The more you rehearse, the better you get.

Try to cultivate an attitude of gratitude for all the events in your life that seem devastating. I am a firm believer that God, Spirit, Allah, Universe – whatever you want to call it or believe in – does not hand out anything beyond our capacity to endure. You know, the whole what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger philosophy. Someone, somewhere, is trying to wake you up. Pay attention and use adversity as a path to growth, wisdom, and change. The more you accept change as inevitable and the more you work your capacity to handle adversity, turmoil, and discomfort, the easier and more fruitful your life will become. Shit show and all.

Am I Fun?

As I made my way out of the coffee shop this morning, the brief encounter with the slightly mad looking man with crazy disheveled black hair went something like this:

Crazy Man: Hello.
Me: Good morning.
Crazy: You look like you’re a fun person.
Me: I don’t know how fun I am right now.
Crazy: I think you’re fun.
Me: Thank you? Have a good day.

For the record, I don’t really think this man is crazy. I believe him to be one of those rare birds who is unafraid to call it like he sees it and enjoys offering kind, audible comments that make people smile. I love these people and actually believe they, not us hiding behind furtive glances and beneath silent comments, too afraid to tell someone they’re pretty or handsome or we like their style, are the sane ones. I also do not believe our meeting to be an accident.

There was power behind this slightly unusual interaction. I could feel it by the sadness that sprung in me immediately, like an almost dead plant that comes alive after receiving a fresh pour of water. The trickle of tears I knew would fall if I repeated our conversation aloud. This small exchange struck at the heart of something I’ve been wrestling with since my return to Austin and there are two people in this world that I wanted to talk to about it. These gems were the type of friends that would do exactly what I needed them to in that moment to help me get to the crux of my emotions – listen. They also happened to be the numbers that responded with voicemail. More often than not, an unavailable friend is always someone up there nudging and encouraging me to figure it out on my own. Get your ass in your chair and write about it.

For the past ten days or so, I’ve battled with a feeling that isn’t foreign to me. I felt it before I left Austin and was hoping, with eyes fresh from travel abroad and a new perspective, something would shift. But it seems it hasn’t. There’s a sense of sadness that I can’t shake when I’m back in Austin. I’m hesitating, but if I’m honest, I would classify it as a mild depression. Before I left I was convinced an unfulfilling job and inauthentic life was the source. It’s one of the main reasons I flew the coop.

I learned a lot about myself in my three-month sojourn. I experienced a lot of healing and found forgiveness and peace like I have never known. I returned to the States excited to make a fresh start and my first week back, I felt energetic, alive with enthusiasm despite a pretty much non-existent jet lag. Elated by the comforts of home, I was filled with gratitude for all the gifts of my life. I was up early, practicing deeply and sharing time with loved ones. Inspired and motivated by opportunities in front of me, I anticipated my life guided by love and authenticity. You would’ve had to scrub the smile off my face with steel wool and bleach.

Within 48 hours of being home in Austin a switch flipped. While the gratitude I feel for being back in my space, a seemingly endless array of clothing to chose from, and long mornings to write has not been lost, there it is again – what I can only describe as a quiet malaise. A small veil of heaviness has steadily begun to lay over the light, enthusiastic woman I experienced merely weeks ago. She seems time zones and almost worlds away.

To my logical mind, this doesn’t make any sense. There’s a part of me that loves Austin – biking down to the trail, walking in nature so close to the city. The space I’ve cultivated. My friends. I have a list of reasons to enjoy this town. So why, aside from the occasional moments likely prompted by a cocktail, does the joy filled girl – the one the crazy man seemed to discern beneath a slightly sullen exterior – seem so elusive in Austin?

As I’ve discussed with many friends here, some of who feel the same, I can’t quite put my finger on why I lack the same joie de vivre being back in Austin. Together we’ve mulled over potential culprits. (One being the absence of Uber and Lyft. Seriously. I have no car and am thus relegated to areas I can walk, bike or bum a ride off all too generous friends.) I have no need to rattle off a list, as it is not my objective to defile this city. On the contrary, I spent many an hour trying to convince my overseas friends to come visit because the city is so wonderful! And I still believe that. But something is preventing me from experiencing it.

Was the ‘newness’ of my first week back in the States the culprit of my perma-grin in Los Angeles? Was avocado every morning after a three-month depression enough to make me giddy? Or did time with my teacher contribute to my love of life? Did I still consider Los Angeles as time off – an extension of my travel abroad? A week more of carefree living despite being within the borders of my homeland?

Or is something deeper at play here? Did my unconscious response to the kind sir on the patio of Café Medici signal a certain unwillingness to have fun and be lighthearted? What is the weight my heart bears that seems to effortlessly disappear when I am in Los Angeles? While Austin is a great city, is it like an ex-boyfriend? Someone I love deeply yet ultimately, not right for me? Did Austin, like any good relationship, serve its purpose? Is it simply time for me to move on?

I don’t have the answer and so I will continue to adventure on, asking myself questions along the way. My job is to be brutally honest with what I’m feeling and continue to live authentically. Maybe that will land me back in Austin. Maybe Los Angeles. Maybe somewhere that hasn’t crossed the limited capacity of what I allow my mind to imagine. Wherever it is, I know it will be the right place, at the right time. And in that place, there will be fun. Lots of it.

My New Normal

It’s funny. It seemed like yesterday I was counting down the days until my departure for India. One week out. 5 days out. TOMORROW. Now, it’s reverse. I find myself thinking It’s been 10 days since I’ve been home.

I knew coming back to ambiguity was going to be a bigger challenge than leaving or being away. I was beyond ready to change the status quo, leave my job. There was a certainty about my decision that I didn’t question. Every bone in my body knew embarking on my adventure was the right thing to do. Now, my favorite answer to any given question on any given day is I don’t know.

What are you going to do? I don’t know. Are you going to stay in Austin? I don’t know. Are you moving back to L.A.? I don’t know. I think what some people really want to know is how are you going to support yourself? Good question. You know the answer.

While anxiety over the unknown is not an unfamiliar feeling, the fact of the matter is I’ve grown to be okay with simply being. It seems other people have more difficulty grasping the concept. I sense their discomfort when they realize I’m not rushing to the next job or just hanging out doing yoga. Maybe it challenges their status quo and prompts them to question how they are living their lives. My favorite response to my experience of leaving everything I knew to travel is (with a huge sigh) Ohhhhh, I WISH I could do that. Sometimes I say it aloud, sometimes not, but the response in my head is always You can. You choose not to. We all have limitations, challenges and responsibilities. Granted some are bigger than others. I would put raising children on top. (Hats off to all the parents out there.) However, I have a friend – a Mom – that took off for India and Sri Lanka for 3 weeks. She doesn’t have a nanny and she runs a business. My cousin takes her family all over the world to experience other cultures together. Point is anything is possible if you want it bad enough.

I keep myself to a schedule to maintain a sense of purpose and routine to my day. I try to retire no later than 10pm and wake by 6am. I give myself plenty of time to rouse and ease into my hour, sometimes longer, meditations. I no longer have my car so errands take a bit longer. I rode my bike to the post office yesterday. I walked to the store. I took a Pilates class in the middle of the afternoon. (I can feel the unease already…) I took one work call. I wrote a few work emails. I fixed my bike. I made breakfast, lunch and dinner. I did some laundry. I made plans to see friends. I practiced and meditated again before dinner. I just went along and my day seemed quite full.

Before, I used to have to check 25 things off my list to feel accomplished. Now, I’m okay with a few things and I don’t mind that I no longer wear the I’m soooo busy badge of honor. It’s easy to see that we create our own activity. And we create or own stress.

Right now, I’m praying for guidance. Every day I have a new idea, a thought on what to pursue, a spark of something new on the horizon. I remain committed to being open to possibility – even ones I haven’t imagined for myself. (A family? Moving to Iowa? Nahhhhhh . . . ) It’s probably the main reason I am devoting so much time to my practice. My practice doesn’t have room for fear, anxiety and worry. It’s where I find peace, quiet, and freedom. Space to listen. I find myself doing some of the old things I used to here in Austin. But now, I have time to step back and ask myself does this feel right? This place. This person. This activity. This habit. Does it feel good? Is it authentic and does it honor the person I am today? Because, happily, the woman typing this is not the same woman who wrote that first blog back in February. And that, my friends, feels good.

20/20

Often times we only appreciate things in hindsight. When I was practicing and learning from my teachers, or meditating in the Matrimandir, or cooling off under a waterfall, or taking a walk through an empty magical forest, or lapsing up a delicious green curry, or teaching in a foreign country, I couldn’t imagine the longing I’d have for those moments weeks later. As they were happening, I couldn’t know how much I would miss them. My trip seemed to be a strange mix of longing for the past and worrying of the future. The times when I was fully immersed in what I was doing right then and there were sprinkled in like bits of candy floating through an ice cream sundae. And like a child when I uncovered those rare morsels of present moment awareness, I devoured and savored them but may not have fully appreciated them until they were gone.

Are time and comparison a requisite for appreciation? How can we possibly comprehend the meaning or depth of something without the context of time? Can we truly recognize the preciousness of a moment, a person, a kiss, a meal without comparison to another person, kiss, or meal? Is it possible to understand the beauty of a moment in the very instant it’s happening?

I don’t have the answer to that. If I did I wouldn’t keep reminding myself to enjoy the present moment. Or reminiscing about my past adventures in India, Sri Lanka and Thailand

Just a couple of weeks ago, I was sitting in a garden oasis in the middle of Luang Prubang, enjoying the most random mix of music – first Billy Joel, then Bob Marley, Sublime and oooo – is that Steve Miller Band I hear?

Anyway, as I sang the first few lines of For the Longest Time, out of nowhere a few tears slid down my face. (In those days, it could have been sweat beads. There was all sorts of liquid coming out of my pores in that heat.) I can’t say for sure, but I believe singing the song aloud conjured up the innocence of my childhood and the carefree days of living without much responsibility for my life. As I continually contemplate, what’s next? I recalled times when I didn’t have to answer that question. Even though the drama and turmoil of my teens seemed important at the time, life didn’t have the weight it does now.

That moment in Laos emphasizes the very thing I’m writing about here. I knew my final week was upon me and that soon, my journey would be considered the past. And maybe I didn’t do all I could to honor my present.

Joni sang it best – you really don’t know what you’ve got til it’s gone.

May we not wait for time to march on to savor every person, taste, and experience that life offers us or prove to us that the moment we have now is magical. May we truly seize the day and find appreciation without comparison and gratitude without prerequisite.

It is my hope that you and I know what we have while it’s here.

My Freak Flag

I imagine it’s different for everyone but if you gave me the choice between traversing up a steep mountain or wobbling back down, I’d take the ascent any day simply to avoid unpredictable rock and dirt or a rapid unexpected butt tumble. I may be digging a bit deep, but as I walked around Pai Canyon in Thailand I wondered if my hiking preferences in any way correlated to my approach in life. Does my eagerness to climb and effort and my corresponding hesitation to let go and put it on cruise control manifest off the mountain?

Associated or not, my answer is yes. Yes. And yes.

I’ve noticed this before and even joked about quite recently. The path of least resistance? I have no idea what you’re talking about.

Don’t get me wrong. My work ethic and discipline have served me well over the past three decades or so. But the toil and trouble philosophy I’ve become used to is a hard habit to break, even when it’s not welcome. My attraction to effort seems to unconsciously dictate my choices and often prevents me from enjoying the art of doing nothing.

On that mountain, it became very clear that it comes down to one thing plain and simple – fear.

Fear if I just relax things won’t get done. Fear if I don’t go sightseeing I’ll regret missing something. (I believe the kids these days call that “FOMO” or fear of missing out.) Fear if I don’t write today I’ll forget about the profound realizations or blog that so eloquently flashed across the screen of my mind. Fear if I don’t get a quieter room I won’t sleep well and be cranky. Fear if I eat one more piece of bread, my tummy will lose its flat physique uncovered during my Ayurvedic cleanse. Yup. That fear still has its grimy grip on my consciousness. And, last but not least, that indomitable fear that resides deep inside each and every one of us whether we’re conscious of it or not – the fear of dying. Trust me, it’s there.

I do not advocate being fearless altogether. That’s just dumb. Fear has a purpose. It warned me not to take the unchartered descent down the canyon with bad knees. The scar on my right leg served as a fresh reminder of the consequences of being fearless. Fear also cautions you not to go down a dark alley in India alone. It warns you to leave an abusive relationship.

But when fear begins to involuntarily dictate life decisions, quite frankly, it sucks.

There’s a title reserved for those who are so fearful they dominate every situation in an attempt to ensure things go their way. They are stubborn and unable to understand other points of view or respect differing opinions. They’re called control freaks. You may know one.

My freak flag flies high as I approach the end of my travel journey. I am clear on the force pulling on the cords, raising the flag. It’s my fear of the unknown – the road that lies ahead of me when I return. I’m not sure what it looks like. Or how I’ll manage it. Even before I get home I am on the computer scheduling, contacting, and creating work for myself. If I don’t, what will I do? I can’t just return home and laze around, idyllically dreaming my days away. Or can I? Maybe, just maybe, my days will look completely different than they used to.

To combat control, I’ve been calling up surrender and faith in my morning meditations. Yesterday I attended a yoga class here in Chiang Mai whose focus was 2nd chakra – the energetic center that rules fluidity, adaptability as well as joy and pleasure. It is represented by the element of water. A smile crawled across my face knowing this was not a coincidence. As if I needed a reminder, I was reassured I will always find what I need on my mat.

 

 

 

 

 

Courage

Leaving the past is hard. All the pain and the hurt. The ideals we professed as truth that have proven themselves to be oh-so-false. The image of who we convinced ourselves was real. We begin to notice self perception can be a lethal liar as it slowly but surely reveals its true identity as a crumbling facade. 

We know there is a better way. A way to be happier, more free and loving. More successful and prosperous. Yet we cling to the past like an old lover no matter how much we want to move forward because it’s what we know. It’s familiar. What’s to come is unknown. Even if we get the hunch it’s so much better than we could imagine it can seem daunting. How do we begin to get from here to there?

Some people are of the opinion I’m brave to embark upon the adventure that I have. Leaving for India with nothing more than a one way ticket. A journey unplanned. While I acknowledge this can certainly seem daring and bold, I’ve never struggled with those two traits. Just ask my mother.

Yet I contest that my grandest acts of courage lie ahead. I’ve seen what is in front of me. I know what I’m capable of. I feel nothing is beyond my reach. But it’s much easier to walk on the beach, listen to waves crash, do yoga, and dream of a grand future than it is to return home and do something about my premonitions.

My mind runs its incessant, continual course like laps around a race track. What is the next step? How will I support myself? What if my visions prove to be false? Another mirage of lies? To me, overcoming these what at times, feel like insurmountable fears is much more formidable than haggling with a tuk-tuk driver. Enough to make me turn around and go back. 

Right now, 6 weeks into this world adventure, just shy of one month home (I’m not even sure where that is), this is what I’m up against.

Yes I’ve hit some moguls amidst my travels, but I know my biggest challenge is yet to come.  Upon my return I’ll be at the top of that black diamond trail, staring down at a long slope of fear wondering if I have the courage to let go and push off.

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