Monday, October 19, 2015

How to Walk

Early last week, I ‘randomly’ decided to text a delightful women I had met on 4th of July.  We met wakeboarding with a mutual friend that day, and she was just a lovely, enthusiastic, cheerful human. As we got to talking, I learned that she works with a Peruvian shaman who leads medicinal ceremonies. Ohhh??!!?? That had much interest to me after the incredible experience I’d had at the Shaman School last year in Ecuador which opened my heart to pure and limitless love (read here!).

As things go, months passed without communication, but she had left a lasting impression in my mind.  How wonderfully ‘random’ then, that last week when I did initiate contact, her shaman was not only here in Portland (for his once a year trip) but there would be a ceremony that Friday night...and there ‘just happened’ to be only one space left. 


Ah, San Pedro, Wachuma, the “Plant Teacher”. How excited I was to meet with it again, exactly the same weekend as our introduction a year ago. Coincidence? I think not.  Timing couldn’t have been better. 

Why? Because I knew I could use a heart opening after the summer of countless setbacks, financial anxiety, and grueling hard work. 9 Acres of raw land provided me many important hard learned lessons; expected but not to that degree, understandably accompanied with self-doubt. It was the self-sabotage that was unexpected.  Was this the right decision? Or is that just me always excited and jumping in with 2 feet? I was not just stressed, physically and emotionally drained, but becoming more and more cynical (and I didn’t like that one bit). I’ve been more than ready to feel some boundless love again in my heart, like I'd experienced in Ecuador.

My favorite lesson.. but dannnnggg this struggle ;) 

The amazing thing about San Pedro, is that it is a teacher. A great teacher doesn’t just give you what you want, they give you what you need. They show you how, but you have to do the work.  As we entered the ceremony, very beautifully led by the Don and his crew, I thought  I had an open mind.  Of course I couldn’t expect it to be the same, probably not even similar to my first experience, oh, but it’s funny how our expectations can be masked. 

As we drank of the first round, then the second, I was barely feeling la medicina at all. Since this is a ceremony, not a party, the drinks are very intentional and well spaced. It was at least 5-6 hours in, and I was growing very impatient, even jealous of the clear transformations happening in some of the others around me. I was trying to stay within, yet unable to detach from the commotion around me, watching others to avoid the anxiety within me. 

I couldn’t wait for the third cup, and when it finally came with barely a sensation, I became agitated, and along with that shameful. Am I not a kind person? Compassionate, empathetic, positive?... yet here I am silently judging and whining and being a debbie downer.  The shamans were focusing on others who were having intense journeys  and I felt envious of the attention I wasn’t getting  then getting mad at myself for being so selfish!  Vicious cycle!

There came an optional round for a 4th cup, and I basically ran up to take it in.  Before the a few others finished I already wanted another. I wanted it to kick in. I wanted to feel the drug.  I didn't care about the medicine, I just wanted to escape then. To avoid my shame, avoid my problems, avoid my self

As morning starting to peek thru, I approached one of the Shaman’s crew and asked if I could have another cup. She asked why, and I said, “I’m too much in my head.”  she asked why, and I said I didn’t know. She then put her fingers to my chest and said, "Those who are in their head too much are usually ignoring their feelings".... and with that,  the tears fell. 

She took my hand and led me to sit down. With her physical and verbal safety net, I started to ball. Not really understanding why, just knowing it needed to come out. 

“Don’t hold anything in”, she said as she pin-pointed stress spots in my knotty back, “Just let it come.”

And so I wailed. The medicine was there, I was just blocking it. Blocking it, along with all the feelings I wanted to deny, of being lost, unclear, unsure and... scared.  That one is so hard for me to admit. I didn't realize how much I identified with being fearless.

Whatever it was, it felt wonderful and horrible. To just cry and cry and admit that I don’t know what’s going on. I don’t know what I’m doing, or what I really want, or why I let myself fall into such a self-sabotaging summer cycle.

As dawn broke, we went around the circle and shared our experiences. I love this part, the humility and vulnerability and connectedness that comes with sharing intense experiences and talking about it.

The first time around, I passed, unable to put into words what I was feeling. Over an hour later when it came back to me, with tear streaming eyes, I began with an apology: for my childlike reaction, and for bringing unloving energy to the space. Then the realization almost unfolded before my eyes. The pattern of my summer was condensed into one night, and I saw it. I’ve been seeking comfort and guidance outside of me, that night and all summer. I wanted the medicine to do all the work. I’ve been lost and confused, but not sure how to deal with it or what to do about it. I'd been reaching out to all the things I know that let me escape from myself: alcohol, weed, sex, social media, sweets... I’ve been waiting for someone or something to come and tell me what do do, when the reality is I just need to be able to sit with myself in silence and kindness and patience to see it.  

As I was speaking, I ‘randomly’ thought of the item I had brought for the altar. A sweet little book, a gift, that I grabbed in haste while running late.  The book is called, How to Walk, and it hit me then that this was my message.  The truth is, I said, I don’t know anything. I have so much to work on still. It’s easy to think we are farther along, but I feel so much more free when I admit that I don’t know anything. 

I also admitted that I talk to much. I say, “I am this, or I am that, or I am going to do this” and in doing so I limit myself, and then feel shame when I end up doing something different. It was a wonderful admission, to say it outloud. To open up to what I was bottling in. 

The ceremony came to a close shortly thereafter, with many bear hugs and a feast of a breakfast. What started quite rough, ended in the beautiful understanding that I did get what I needed, it just wasn’t in a pretty package this time.  I am my own healer. I do know what I need, right now time and patience and self-love. 

As I was driving away, I passed a car pulled over and noticed a girl peacefully looking out at the scenery. It made me smile, but when looking in my rearview I saw a dent in her car and that it was angled oddly. I whipped around and scurried to see if she was okay.  We got the giggles over her parking job and how it appeared like an accident. She thanked me for the concern and extended her hand, but it felt appropriate, so I motioned for a hug. She accepted it, a nice long bear hug like all of us in the ceremony had just shared. In our goodbye she put her hand on her heart and said that she had really needed a hug. Ahhh, there’s that love :). It’s always in me.

When I got home I turned my phone off and disconnected my wi-fi. I wrote, I slept, I read, I thought, I ate without multi-tasking, I cranked up the heat, I just soaked it in for almost 2 straight days... and I loved it. 

The love is always in me. The joy is always in me. The peace is always in me. When does it get obscure? When does it feel lost? When I try to do too much. When I push and push and push and go and go and go, and then I end up trying to force it because I know it is in me. People ask me how I traveled abroad for almost a year and didn’t get exhausted. Because I didn’t travel for a year. I would travel for a few days and then when I was tired, I would spend an entire day in my hostel writing. I remember my pal JF in Nepal, begging me to go play. We’d been rafting and biking and water-falling, and it had been awesome!! He couldn’t believe I was going to spend a whole day inside, but luckily I upheld my boundary: No-way-jose, I gotta write about this!!!  I only became exhausted when I didn’t get a chance to write, to process.  Most of that trip I had little connection to wifi, and most evenings I was in my hostel room before dark. What did that leave time for? Reading and writing and reflecting on everything that had happened.  There’s a direct correlation between my happiness and my journaling. 

This summer, I’ve journaled almost nothing. I’ve blogged almost nothing. I’ve filled every moment of time with some task, and then when I did have a moment of rest, I was so exhausted I wasted it by drifting to sleep with instagram.  One of my biggest reasons for leaving Miami? There was too much going on.  I was letting my socially gregarious side swallow my understated (and unknown at that time) strong introversion.  I fooled even myself this summer by thinking that by being out in nature and getting to create made the difference. It doesn’t. 

It’s the quiet time, the self time, the nothing time that keeps me whole. It’s the writing, the reading, the analyzing time that feeds me. I am a self-analyzer to the core, and when something is off, I need the time to sit with it, fix it or accept it, once again loving all parts of myself. I can't hide from myself, because when I don’t love all parts of myself, I start becoming critical of others. 

I knew it all along. I was saying this all summer, have been saying it for years since I first discovered the immense benefits of meditation in 2011. But there was “so much to do”, and I just wanted to push through, do as much as possible while the weather was still nice. I am a doer by all definitions, and that just doesn’t work at all with my being.  Self-care doesn’t care about the weather :). 

I’ve got a trip to Guatemala next week.  I’m taking my journal, not my phone. When I get back, it’s retreat time! Retreat back to simply living in the moment, and living simply by retreating into my self and my cozy little Bloom Wagon. As the season changes, I seek to change. Thank goodness for the RAIN!!!!!!!! 

It’s easy to think we don’t have time for ‘trivial’ things.  How can I stay inside and write when there’s a ditch to be dug?  How can I spend the afternoon reading my book when there’s gravel to be spread. How can I go down to the creek and meditate when the rain is coming and guests are coming and laundry needs to be done, etc, etc 

The truth is, I have to let go of wanting to do everything. It’s ironic how loving so many things and so many people has become my double edged sword. By being curious about everything, I’ve kept myself constantly busy with trifles. By being interested in doing so much, I’ve been unable to focus or narrow down on what passion is most important.  By really caring about so many people, I’ve let my true friendships deteriorate. 

In writing this blog, I went back and read my first blog about the ceremony in Ecuador. I was reminded of the Tarot card that started that evening, “Specify your desires.

A year later exactly and I haven’t gotten much closer. I’ve got the land now, and the dreamsoh the dreams that keep coming and coming and that shift and change daily. Fuuuck. I don’t know. Is it possible to have too many dreams? When you keep having more and not focusing on figuring out where to start, yes! To specify my desires? This seems the most daunting task of my life in a way. But absolutely a necessity. 

I’ve said many times that we can’t wait to be perfect because it doesn’t exist. We can still be sharing and contributing while we are growing and learning. I really believe this to be true, and so I write about my own ebb and flow. 

At the same time, it’s not a good idea to run before you can walk.  Especially with scissors and a blindfold on :).   

Thanks for this lovely present Jerm & El! Bet you didn't know it would end up being so profound for me….
or maybe you did ;) xoxo

And so, it begins. My rebirth. With self-care instead of self-sabotage. With mindfulness instead of mindlessly numbing my issues aways with decadence. With freedom instead of the labels that limit me. It’s so liberating to just say I’m starting over. I start with simply learning How to Walk. One step in front of the other, one day at a time :)


Thank you for allowing me to share my ever-changing mind, life and heart with you. It is my greatest joy :)