***This blog post is a summary of thoughts from December 31st to February 14th. To see more photos, please head to the Images page of this blog and/or visit my Instagram ***
Below is a poem I woke up with this morning (February 8th). It wrote itself in a matter of 20 minutes. I love it when inspiration arrives.
I've always been here,
I'll never leave you.
Carrying you through the dark,
Turning your face into the sun,
With soft hands.
Coercing your eyes to crack open to the light,
It returns for you
every single day:
Touch and feel it
around your thoughts,
Stuck on your downward spiral treadmill,
that glitch in the program.
The only way out is to let it take you deeper.
My lips feel your smile as I kiss your mouth,
Seeing you resurface,
Realizing you can float instead of swim.
This vast ocean IS you.
It's all of us.
How abundant is the forgotten?
Even complicated is simple.
Warm dusk, cold grass on our shoulders,
Cotton candy clouds on the horizon,
symphony of crickets,
water flowing over smooth granite,
smiling crescent moon.
It's all just music waiting to be played.
Parasite, Perception and Perspective. My mother has been sick for over a year and a half with Grave's Disease (Hyperthyroidism) as well as complications due to an eye surgery (related to symptoms of Grave's Disease). This factor plus a failing relationship with someone I considered my "forever person" and working jobs that I was not fulfilled by led me into a deep depression for much of 2015 and into 2016. I felt anxious, depressed, hopeless, pathetic and stuck. How could I have let my life be this way? As I turned 30 years old in Jan 2016, I realized that I was a far ways off from the person I always wanted to be and that I didn't actually want the life I had struggled to create for myself. To be honest, through the end of 2015 and the beginning of 2016, there was not a day that I did not contemplate suicide.
Even though my mother being sick was/still is devastating, it definitely awoke something in me. My mother was the poster child for healthy eating and natural medicine. To the outside world, she was the epitome of physical health, but she had not prioritized her emotional, spiritual and mental health (which I believe are the reasons she fell ill). Her falling ill helped to drive home the fact that life is not a guarantee and if I wanted to be healthy, I had to prioritize the health of my entire being. Upon turning 30 in January 2016, I couldn't take it any longer: I was either going to kill myself OR change my life completely by saying goodbye to things that did not bring me joy. To have an extraordinary life, I had to free myself of things that were not extraordinary. I needed to let go of the things that were causing me misery and make space for new opportunities. I took on the motto, "If it's not a FUCK YES!, it's a FUCK NO!" and strived to apply this to every area of my life. It was crucial that I immediately implemented changes that would lead to bettering my emotional, spiritual, mental and physical health because my life literally depended on it. It was at that point, I stopped just surviving and starting working on a life where I was thriving.
Fast forward to Friday, December 16, 2016. My sisters updated me with scary information on my mother's health. Upon learning that my mother would be in Los Angeles seeing doctors for the holidays, I decided to surprise visit her in California on Thursday, December 22, 2016. Upon delivering the news of me leaving and of my mother's health to my wonderful family in San Cristobal de Las Casas, I completely fell apart. I cried the heaviest of cries as I was held by friends. I felt supported, warm and loved.
On Monday before I left, my San Cris family gave me the sweetest sendoff by hoisting me up over their shoulders and facilitating crowd surfing (which was the first time I've ever experienced this) and giving me a massive group hug all while telling me how I had positively affected their lives and that they anticipated my return in February 2017. I felt on top of the world. As I walked home in the rain, beaming with love and light, I reflected to myself that had never felt so loved or taken care of in my whole life up until that point. I had the realization that I had never been vulnerable enough to let anyone celebrate me or love me as much as they do. I never valued myself enough to actually let people truly love me. I went to bed at 2am that night feeling like every cell in my body was vibrating with love and gratitude. How powerful and life-affirming! In a year's time, I went from feeling like life was pointless to feeling like my life was more precious and beautiful than I could ever express. I was overflowing with gratitude and love. October 20th, the day I arrived in Mexico and left my previous life behind, is truly my rebirth date.
Early Tuesday morning, three hours later (to be precise) I awoke to severe nausea. Then the vomiting and diarrhea hit HARD. I don't remember ever feeling that ill in my previous life. It was crazy to experience going from the highest of highs to the lowest of lows within a few hours. I had been taking anti-parasite medication and I had just been through the end of the dosage the day before. I was feeling pretty good the last few days of the medication so I thought that I was in the clear. However, through a bit of googling, I learned that when parasites die, they release heavy toxins which make their host terribly ill for up to a week. No one warned me of this. Now I know. If I need to rid my body of parasites again, I will definitely be using the warm, sugary milk in a bathtub remedy before I use these crazy meds again. (If you're curious and can handle some really gross stories, google "get rid of parasites with warm milk in bathtub". DO NOT do this while eating. Don't say I didn't warn you.).
When I told one of my closest friends in San Cris that I was super ill, he asked if he could care for me. As I was about to tell him "no", because I was scared to let someone see me so sick, he told me it would be a privilege for him to be by my side. After a little convincing, I decided to let him see me in all of my disgusting glory. He prepared special drinks (which I mostly threw up) and brought fruit to my bed. The best part was that he laid with me, stroked my hair, held my hand and told me he loved me. Up until that point, I had never had anyone take care of me like that when I was ill- not my parents, lovers or friends. No one. And I don't blame them. I would never had let anyone take care of me like this. I also had a friend buy my bus ticket that I was too sick to purchase for the next morning and another friend stopped by hoping to make me food (although I told her that I really couldn't keep anything down). She and another friend had made me a friendship bracelet and gave it to me as a parting gift. She stayed by my side, chatted with me and held my hand. I received so many messages of love that day. Even though I felt so sick, I felt incredibly grateful for the wonderful people I was so lucky to be surrounded with. (As I recount this memory to my blog, I type with tears streaming down my face because I really, really, really miss my friends in San Cristobal de las Casas. I have been away from them for too long. I can't wait to hug and kiss all of them again.)
My Wednesday morning 5am departure for the Tuxtla Airport came after a physically turbulent, yet surprisingly tender 24 hours. My wonderful friend had stayed with me through the night comforting me and helped me move my things from my room to a friend's house. How lucky am I to have had this support? This was a great lesson in the transformative power of vulnerability. With mixed emotions, I set off on my journey to California (via bus to Tuxtla Airport, plane to Cancun, overnight in Cancun then plane to LA Airport). I was leaving a safe and supportive environment to head back to California to face the life I had left behind that I no longer felt served me. I knew I would potentially be triggered by friends and family members. It proved to be a great test of how much I had actually grown while away in Mexico for those two months.
I was in California from December 22nd to January 13th. When thinking of how to describe my experience, the first thing that comes to mind: culture shock. Wow. Materialism, consumerism, individualism, money, physical appearance and status obsession. Lots of depression, isolation, shame, blind white privilege (people complaining about things that were really not that big of a deal), lack of gratitude/taking things foregranted. It's not to say that all people in Mexico are the opposite of these negative things I noticed about USA culture or that all Mexicans are like the ones I was lucky enough to be surrounded by in San Cristobal de las Casas. I am speaking specifically to my own, personal experience.
The people who I have in my life in California do not hug and kiss each other multiple times a day. There isn't much affectionate touch amongst everyone. Even the way we speak to each other is different. My people don't call each other beautiful or use terms of endearment as often when speaking to each other as I experienced in Mexico. Even the language is less affectionate. Grown adults don't cuddle or hold hands unless there is something sexual attached to it. My people don't tell each other they love each other every time they meet. I feel that my family is affectionate compared to a lot of families in the USA, but they are still no where near what I was experiencing in San Cristobal de las Casas between friends. My friends in the USA are wonderful, loving people, but it is not common for us to touch each other affectionately. One hug when meeting and parting is standard. Kisses are not common. Cuddling is out of the question. I found myself holding back from affectionately touching my friends and family because I did not want them to feel uncomfortable. I craved human touch/affection- something that I was willfully (well, most of the time) smothered with in San Cristobal de las Casas.
Another part of my experience was witnessing the difference between how people perceived now vs before my rebirth. In all of my encounters, I attempted to approach everyone with love, humility and gratitude. Notice that I said I "attempted". I was not perfect. I had moments where I lost my cool and got angry or frustrated. It was interesting to see the narrative that people have about being "stuck" in their lives. I heard from so many people, "I could never do what you're doing". Or, "it's good that you are doing this now before you have children and buy a house and are stuck in a job somewhere". Most narratives were that their lives were too complicated to change and that they were too far down a path to think about living a different life- even if they were miserable. It was sad to hear how dissatisfied people are with their lives and how they feel that they have no power to change anything. At the very least, those people were supportive of my decision and many had decided to live vicariously through me.
It was a bit more of a test to hear from the naysayers whom crafted the narrative of them being the "responsible adults" and me being "irresponsible" and "detached from reality". I thought it funny that people felt that I couldn't possibly understand their suffering and that I must be off in fairyland because I am currently jobless, even though I have always had some plan/an income since I was old enough to work. I understand how miserable the daily grind is- especially if you're working jobs you hate. I did it until I was 30+ and then I just simply couldn't do it anymore. Many people spoke to me like I was just in a phase and that eventually, I would grow out of it and come back to reality. The reality in which they currently feel stuck in. What struck me was that I would speak with people who looked like they had similar lives from an outsider's point of view, but instead, each person had created their own story around their circumstances. It affirmed to me that we create our own realities. People who had the narrative that their lives were horrible, created horrible situations for themselves. The people who decided that life was a beautiful opportunity for growth and love, experienced lots of growth and love. Seeing people struggle to understand/process/accept what I am doing, showed me how they are living and struggling in their own lives. And in turn, it reminded me of this: I am responsible for my own life. If I don't like something, I need to find a way to change it or change the way I view it.
Overall, my trip to California just solidified my choice to live a unconventional life thus further. If that means people think I am off in make-believe land, being an "irresponsible" adult, then so be it. The only person I need to answer to is myself. If I am living my truth, then that is all that really matters to me. And I've realized that as long as I am authentic and approach people and situations with love, that is what I will receive in return.
Inconsistency. Taking an inventory of my life right now shows me more than ever how my lack of discipline and inability to be consistent in practices that are beneficial to my health is really hurting me. Shamefully, I admit that I only meditated and did yoga a mere three times in California. Ultimately, I know there is no excuse. I haven't been taking care of myself in the way I have needed. And since January 13th, I have been traveling around Mexico and I have yet to dedicate the time needed to do full sessions of yoga and/or meditation.
I've always admired (envied) people that had a consistent practice of exercising, doing meditation, writing, creating art, creating music, sending thank you cards and keeping in touch with people on a regular basis- or really managing to do anything else that is healthy on a consistent basis. How the hell do you guys do this?! When I used to work full time, be in a committed relationship, have an active social life with lots of friends and be a member of organizations, I used all those things as an excuse of why I couldn't be consistent in healthy practices/ self-care (lack of time, energy etc). Now, I don't have a job, my days are unstructured and I have very little responsibility. I could easily have an entire day to myself to spend as I please but I *still* struggle to make anything a consistent practice. Even when I was settled in San Cristobal de las Casas, I was struggling with consistently practicing anything. I was proud of myself for doing yoga multiple times a week and for meditating frequently, but after a little over a month of that, I started making excuses for myself and stopped doing these things as frequently. Somehow, the only thing I have mastered consistency in is work (strategy and processes etc).
I am diving deeper into why doing anything consistently has always been a struggle for me. Even though this isn't the first time I've noticed this (I'd say I've been frustratingly aware of the fact that I have a really hard time being consistent in anything I do my ENTIRE life), it feels like I've reached a point where I need to be more mindful/serious/dedicated and re-committed to doing things that I know will improve my life. And this is probably at least the 100th time I've reached this point. How frustrating!
I have such strong wiring in my brain to resist things that I feel that I "have to" do. I used to blame my parents for being rebellious hippies who taught me to question everything (even myself!), but I am an adult now. I can't blame anyone but myself for this. And even when I feel like I want to do things that are good for me, I seemed to have developed a very bad habit of abandoning myself. Showing up for myself has been one of the hardest things I am learning to do. And I am seeing how this manifests in me having difficulties establishing firm boundaries with people and letting them know the second something is not ok with me. Nearly three months in Mexico and more than three weeks in California has made me realize that there is still a lot of progress to be made. Ultimately, I think it comes down to being fiercely honest with myself and being authentic in how I am feeling at all times vs how I think I am supposed to be in relationship with myself and others. This is really fucking hard.
Anyone have the cheat code to bypass this level?
Beating myself up with "shoulds". I feel more spiritually connected and less stressed than I have ever been in my life, but on the flip side, I still spend much of my time feeling disappointed that I am not doing what I "should" be doing. Or that I am having a different experience than what I "should" be having. That somehow, at 31 years old and having spent the last few months working on myself, I "should" have more of my shit figured out by now. And yes, I know that there is no "should" but only what "is". What seems absolutely nuts is that I know that I "shouldn't" be beating myself up over my process and that I "should" just accept that this is my process and be grateful for it, but I am struggling to really implement this knowledge into action. I am smart, but I am also super stubborn. I'm standing in my own way of progress, but I am happy to delve out advice to others like I got my shit figured out.
The truth is, I am still lost. The arduous death of my ego will most likely last a lifetime. Will I ever actually reach the point where I am living a fully accountable, humble, healthy and awakened life? I can't just practice yoga and meditation for a month straight and then think I can now be a guru to all (I mean, how long would this actually take?). Shamefully, I admit that I am not the positive example that my ego would like all of you to think I am. On the outside, I might be smiles, fun and display a peaceful disposition, but on the inside, there is some serious turmoil. I'm humbly swimming in imperfection and realize (more now than ever) that every single person and their individual process has 100% the same value as my own. I apologize to those that I have rubbed the wrong way or have felt judged by me as I am living out my journey. Again, I am imperfect. I hope you will forgive me and know that I feel nothing but love for you. I am continuously humbled by the challenging interactions I have had with people since my rebirth. And completely grateful for the lessons I am learning.
And then I will just get up, walk around, drink some tea and then I snap out of it. I am not even consistent in my struggles. Which I guess is kind of funny. Why am I built this way? I realize that the only person getting in the way of me having the life that I want is me. I am becoming my biggest cheerleader, but simultaneously, I am also my own worst enemy. And yet, while I struggle, the Now is my life unwinding before me. I can choose to be stressed about what happens or I can accept it. I realize how much of my life has been wasted worrying about my future and feeling horrible about the past. I am in the process of stopping unhealthy habits and being kinder to myself. (On a side note, I highly recommend reading "The Power of Now" by Eckhart Tolle. I've been slowly consuming it and trying my best to utilize these nuggets of wisdom every day. It's been extremely helpful to me during this time of rapid growth.).
Reflections. I am happy that I've been writing my thoughts down so that I may return to them and see how, even in a matter of weeks, things can change almost completely. It's important for me to have reminders of the impermanence of life, my emotions and my physical situations. The fluidity and permanence of energy. It's important for me to remember that I am actively creating my reality every day by choosing love over fear. It's important for me to remind myself to stay humble about my process. That there will be days that I sit in and feel trapped by my suffering and other days that I feel like I would be flying if my body weren't held to the ground by the force of gravity.
I just read back on my last few entries. I was so determined to say "fuck it" to gender norms. No make-up, shaving of body parts and not using deodorant. I now feel like I don't need to defy anyone/society. I wear makeup because sometimes, it is fun and I like that version of "pretty". Sometimes, I shave because I love the feeling of it just as much as I love my hair long. Being a woman is whatever I decide it is.
Vivir en la ahorita. Since I got back to Mexico on January 13th, I've explored Mexico City (museum, art and food), the State of Michoacan (butterfly migration at three out of four of the sanctuaries), Las Grutas Tolantongo in the State of Hidalgo (magical hot spring pools, waterfalls and caves), San Miguel de Allende (art, food, hot springs, dancing, colonial and well-kept buildings with beautiful doors, streets with no stop signs or traffic lights), Guanajuato City (colorful buildings, secret passage ways, museum of mummies, beautiful theater) and now I am in Guadalajara visiting a dear friend whom I spent time with in San Cristobal de las Casas. I'll be headed to the coast to enjoy the beach (surfing, seafood, the sun, dancing) in a few days. I am finally hanging with someone who only speaks Spanish to me and I am realizing that I need some serious practice. Most of the people I've been hanging with in the last month speak English. It was comfortable, but now I'm paying for it by all the vocabulary, grammar and sentence structure that has evaporated from my brain.
Just a heads up: I'll be back in San Cristobal de las Casas for my 200 Hour Vinyasa Yoga Teacher Training from March 5th to April 6th.
If you have any questions about my trip or comments on what else you would like to see from me, feel free to leave your thoughts below in the comments section.