in the waking body [poems]

It’s true what they say
About holding back
Or letting go

You never really know
Which is best
So you try both

Nature’s way
You begin at birth
And re-find…
     if you’re lucky.

The other, created
Taught to and at you
Scared souls…
     there’s freedom.

—–

Hearts don’t actually explode
From emotion
Overwhelmed inside the all-consuming force
of their feeling.

Just as throats don’t actually close
They constrict
Requiring, equipping both their burn
and their burden.

Eyes though, they do decide on change
They surrender
Knowing no alternate way of freeing and exploring,
their fear and their love.

—–

Get your ground
     let it go
          leap into your adventure

It’s only now,
     trust truth om
          no backup plans required

Adapt and flow
     move when you’re moved
          let life evolve through you

—–

Placing bets
On the head
Or the heart

Life’s gamble
     It’s your call.
Both likely win
     In the end.

But which game
Is more fun
to play?

– robin 12/23/18

calling for space [poem]

space to breathe
space to be
space,
lord

om namah shivaya

I ask not of any earthly lover
but of god

take me to a place
amongst sturdy pines
cedar, spruce
to sacred hills
silver boulders

Howling old wind, become

blowing bells, bansuri
water cold, original ice
discipline

Himalayan stream

om namah shivaya

I ask not of any earthly lover
but of god

take me to a place
amongst ochre earth
sienna sand
to the dunes
turquoise, cacti

Howling old wind, become

whistling rattle whips
ancient earth, eternal light
surrender

Desert being

om namah shivaya

I ask not of any earthly lover
but of god

make me space

space to breathe
space to be
space,
lord

If your eyes are still open [poem]

If your eyes are still open
when the birds begin to sing
stay awake
pour the tea
open the book of love songs
and poetry
wrap your shoulders in a shawl
sit outside
on your balcony
watch the sun change
the sky
from muted gray to lavender and peach
to soft faded blue
and notice the fir trees
and mountain paths
and terraces of wheat and rock
and prayer flags fluttering
in the barely moving wind
and hear the dogs beckoning
each other
to join the bell-wearing donkeys
and the day
and sip, sip, sip
it all
in

Sunrise Selfie in Dharamkot April 27 2017
Sunrise selfie at my hOMe in Dharamkot, Himachal Pradesh, Northern India. April 27, 2017

Kichari on the Go! Ghee it, girrrrl… [recipe]

Most of you know how much I love good food — I geek out in produce aisles, I pause my entire day to make huge lunches for me and my family, and I spend most of my paychecks at co-ops and restaurants and never think twice about whether that farm-fresh butter is worth the price or if I’ll be ordering an appetizer at a new restaurant…

But cooking… Cooking! Dreamworld. If I’m living in a space with a kitchen (which, ha!, truth be told is a rarity in the last several months), I destress and delight myself as turmeric-stained fingers hold a chef’s knife and the fridge overfills with kale and beets, parsley and cilantro… I. Love. To. Cook.

One of the things I miss most about being ‘home’ is just that… The chopping, the experimenting, the feeling of sitting down before a meal that my hands helped to create (with the help of the divine of course, for providing the ingredients/the tools/the ideas… all of everything that ever was or ever will be, seriously).

But now? I’m traveling — in Israel — and I’ll be on the road at least another few weeks but most likely longer. So how can I get a cooking fix, nourish my body, and save on my budget while bouncing around hostels? Kitchari.

KITCHARI!!!! 

This is a staple food for yogis — Ayurvedic food for the soul — which is a perfect protein, is easy to make and to digest, and tastes delicious. It’s a warm porridge-like concoction filled with Ayurvedic spices to pacify the doshas (lord knows Vata gets a bit cray cray when you’re on the move like I am) and to create a nourishing healing space within the body and mind. And, let’s be real, it is something I can chow down on without guilt that doesn’t make my body feel disgusting after (because I’ve grown up. Done with that nonsense. I’m almost 30. I’ve had enough bread and nutella on my travels before to know the gut rot that comes from eating just cheap carbs and chocolate nut spread…).

So, here is my quick and easy kitchari recipe that you can make anywhere! If you need to, you could do this with one pot, one spoon, and a hotplate. (I hear Shiva Rae packs her tools in a suitcase so she can always get a kitchari fix.)

Quick and Easy Quinoa Kitchari Recipe

Two servings:
– Begin with equal parts quinoa and split mung beans (could use red lentils of regular lentils or whichever kind if you don’t have split mung beans — they are the easiest to digest however and don’t aggravate vata dosha as all other lentils/beans do). About 2/3 cup each, maybe more 😉

Combine quinoa and beans, and rinse thoroughly 3 times until water drains clear.

Add mixture to pot, add around 4 cups water, bring to boil stirring gently (I added some salt and some dried ginger to water — optional). Once it boils, cover and bring to low simmer and let cook until quinoa is soft (these mung beans will pretty much dissolve into the mixture, but if using other lentils make sure they’re very soft).

– As that cooks, heat 2-3 tbsp (or more) ghee in skillet/frying pan on medium high heat until it melts.
Add 1/2 tsp+ cumin seeds until they sizzle (don’t burn them).
Add 1/2 tsp fenugreek seeds.
Add 1/2 tsp mustard seeds.
Add 1+ tsp minced raw ginger.

Cook and blend about 1 minute.

Add 1/2 tsp turmeric powder.
Add 1/2 tsp curry powder.
Add 1/2 tsp coriander powder.
Add 1/4 tsp (or less) ground black pepper.

Stir and heat until thoroughly blended and set aside until quinoa/lentils are complete.

– Drain the quinoa/lentils, leaving some of the water.

Add quinoa/lentils to spice mixture and mix thoroughly.

Add pink salt/sea salt to taste, and add more ginger and black pepper as you like.

All done! Makes two pretty hearty portions.

Yummmmm…. 🙏🙏🙏🙏

Adjust the spice amounts as needed 😘

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What the fuck… Is this what it feels like?

I’m at work. And I should be working. It’s a deadline day and I’m full of angst and anxiety as I try and imagine how the hell I’ll ever get everything done.

But, I’m feeling something in me that I haven’t felt in a really really long time.

And I’m terrified.

And I feel like I could vomit. And cry. And scream. And run.

And turn to mush.

Tears are coming as I type, and I’ll sacrifice sleep later to finish my work… Because right now, this is my work.

To feel. This.

At the risk of being too open, too vulnerable, and utterly ridiculous in the eyes of anyone who knows me (or doesn’t), here I go.

I don’t want to fall in love.

I don’t want to risk saying goodbye to the fire in my heart, to the dancing queen in my soul, to the get-up-and-go that makes me who I am. I don’t want to leave behind all the things that make me the me I love the most. Free spirit. Artist. Unconventional bohemian babe who teaches yoga and heals with her hands, and also swears like a badass sailor bitch with a shot of Jameson, another of Patrón, and a sweating Busch light on the bar before me. I want to climb those trees in the furry-filled fuzzy Northwest, and those mountain peaks in the sacred Himalayas.

I don’t want to make decisions using my left brain.

I don’t want to say I’m sorry, and really mean it, when I realize I was less than considerate of the man waiting in the truck.

I don’t want to cry when we’re an hour away from our departure point.

I don’t want to have nausea, those fucking butterflies that come, or the weight gain or weight loss that accompanies an emotional experience us humans aren’t blessed to have enough to make sense of within our minds.

I don’t want to fall. Fuck. I don’t want to fall.

I’ve been running and running and running, with fear of falling, and I don’t want to stop.

Because stopping hurts.

Really. Really bad.

Because stopping means staying.

And that’s not my style. Or hasn’t been, on a heart-level, for 6 years since my heart last broke, which broke bigger and bolder than I’d hope any heart could break.

I want to cling to my path, one that has no rules, that believes everything is gray — never black and white, ever — but is a foggy gray filled with regular doses of tye-dye and psychedelic hippies and EDM. A path that sings to Bieber and Johnny Cash. That is full of naked swims at sunrise in the Sawtooth mountains, and naked golden-hour dips amongst canoers and fallen birch trees in the Upper Peninsula. It’s a path that lights my life up bigger and bolder than any path I’ve tried ever could…

But damn it. DAMN IT. Damn it.

“What’s the worse thing that could happen?” he asks.

I roll my eyes, and laugh at how silly it sounds, but I tell the truth…

“For me, honestly… fuck… The worst thing that could happen is he could be my forever person and I could change course and get married and have some babies and live in the woods amongst the fawns and fairies…” I laugh. I cry. So does he.

So while I sit here, typing away, and the texts and messages from the other fellas greet my morning, I cringe… Oh but, them… I like them too, don’t I?

But they don’t make me slow my roll and cool my jets.

I’ve feelings to feel, that I’m feeling, that I haven’t felt in a very very long time.

This hurts, so I know it’s not a crush.

This hurts, which tells me if I want to see what this life thing is all about, in a way that may satisfy the dreamer in me, maybe it’s worth looking at a bit longer…

This hurts, because it’s so not me.

I’m not vulnerable. I’m strong. I’m willful. I’m free.

And, if I’m being honest, I know the reason I’m most terrified is because this is truly uncharted territory. So much so, I’ve no clue how to put one foot in front of the other.

How does one do this, really do this? How do you just be, without a heady head spinning and swirling with option and adventure? How do you just let go of any agenda, any roles, and not keep one foot out the door?…

You just be, I suppose.

And let life happen, I suppose.

And feel the feelings, I suppose.

And cry and vomit and let yourself be sick.

In love.

Damnit.


“To know Godliness one has to be defenseless…, one has to drop all armor; one has to be vulnerable. And it is not only the condition to know Godliness; it is the condition to know all that is beautiful, all that is poetic, all that is musical, all that is  contained in the word “love”. ” -Osho

Reflection of the Mayan fire ceremony

written after spending time in San Marcos, Guatemala, on the incredibly magical Lago Atitlan… ~spring 2013.

I just came across this hurried set of notes I wrote in San Marcos (on Lake Atitlan) in Guatemala. This was just days after participating in the Mayan fire ceremony with Bri (my soul sister from New Jersey I met on a bus from Managua to Guatemala City). I wasn’t going to go to this ceremony, opting to let Bri experience it herself, but I am so grateful I did. I feel my life will never be the same after hearing some insights into the Mayan astrological sign for my life…

I need to take time to edit this into a readable story, but for now, the notes must suffice.

Notes below:

I know now that I’m meant to write and I’m meant to share and I’m meant to travel and I’m meant to create bonds and relationships between people and communities. I’m meant to share knowledge of what I know is truth (what this is I’m still unsure). I’m meant to be bonded with another and my full energy and spirit can only shine when I am making time for dance and play and creativity, and when I’m able to find change and sunrises. I also need to keep in balance the giving and receiving.

My energy nawal is No’j, which is the Mayan symbol for wisdom and turning intelligence into action.

I’m rooted in Toj, which is a symbol of balance.

My destiny is ruled by Kan, which is the creation nawal and full of sexual energy and relationships.

I have Akabal and Batz on my sides, signifying change and creativity.

The fire ceremony I experienced a few days ago was magic. Words will not be able to adequately describe what I felt during the 5 hours Bri and I spent with Jennifer and Sondri. We were told the ancient Mayan creation story about the two sacred snakes creating the human race four times, and it wasn’t until the fourth time that the human race was able to give gratitude to the creators. There were four races of people — red, black, yellow, and white, each having a correlation with an element. Red were the fire people, white were the winds, black was the water, and yellow was the earth (the corn).

Jennifer also told us about the tale of the two brothers who became the sun and moon after defeating the lords of the underworld and being brought from the underworld by faith from their grandmother.

She also told us that true paradise can only be found within, and it comes when we genuinely feel respect for all things. Everything deserves respect, she said.

We sat around the alter of No’j, my nawal, which just coincidentally happened to be on the land at which they were staying. Sondri prepared a fire circle while we’d been speaking, and we all lit it and took care of the fire together. We gave items to the fire (candles, leaves, broken sticks) as needed.

We called in the energies from each of the 20 nawals, some of which Bri and I did (I called in No’J for example) and the others were done by Jennifer and Sondri.

We sometimes used playful ways to call in the energies, like when we called in B’atz (which is symbolized by the monkey) we all made monkey sounds to show we were playful and respecting the energy we wanted.

There were sometimes we called out our names because our names have power and deserve energy.

There were times we held hands and used our elements – mine was/is Earth and the west (my actual nawal direction is east).

Sondri explained that everything is teaching us something. When the fire goes out, that means we were either proceeding too slow or that we needed to pay it more attention.

This event was quite moving for me, and for Bri. Bri ended up staying in the little magical lake town for a couple months after I left actually.

Starting the descent: Reflections on going up and going in.

… He who kisses joy as it flies by will live in eternity’s sunrise. — William Blake …

Image

Tomorrow morning I start the descent. Slowly going inward and challenging my body, testing my power over the mind, questioning my soul… It makes me think. I’ve come to an important realization yet again — one I’ve come to many times and one that never fails to bring me peace.

Life isn’t always easy, but it is always beautiful, and it is always a blessing. Life is always a gift.

If we let ourselves be present in each leg of this journey called life, we’ll recognize everything, always, is perfect. The “plans” that don’t go as planned — the events that are less than glamorous — our internal battles that break us, allowing for rebuilding — the tests and trials of our physical and mental bodies — the fear-inducing awakening of the spirit — all is perfect and just as it should be.

From the first flutter of the eyelids each day and their first glimpse of the morning sun, to the first breath of air, first sip of water… To the shelter above our heads, whatever it may be, to the clothes and jewelry adorning our temples of flesh… To the simple exchange with another soul, reminding us we’re never alone… All are blessings, and all are deserving of our unending gratitude. We’re blessed to be alive, right here, right now… We’ve been given a gift of grace that allows us to have the simple sweet pleasures of the human life.

 

Anjali = gift of grace. "...This human life in this physical world is a gift of grace, meant to be enjoyed, savored, respected..."
Anjali = gift of grace.
“…This human life in this physical world is a gift of grace, meant to be enjoyed, savored, respected…”

In sanskrit, the word for this gift of grace is anjali. We use the term “anjali mudra” for the hand gesture of placing the palms together in front of the heart center (this is also called namaskar mudra). Each time we press our hands together, we recognize that this human life in this physical world is a gift of grace, meant to be enjoyed, savored, respected… Our lives are designed for giving love and thanks to the Universe for the endless blessings we experience.

This word has been resonating with my heart since I first discovered it a few weeks ago in India. It is the perfect word for this journey… The journey of life, but also my current journey of discovery — inside my mind, and inside the heart of the Himalayas — is truly a gift.

But my insecure mind and fearful self questions this grace… Who am I to deserve beauty? What have I done to deserve sweetness and love and connection and adventure? Why is my life a reservoir for truth, one that is full of the nectar of goodness and hope, one that is designed to share and educate and inspire?

The simple answer is this: I am. I have gratitude. It is.

That’s it! We’ve been given all these blessings in a compassionate offering of love from the Universe. We don’t need to further question or contemplate, because after we start to see our lives for what they really are, we accept that everything is exactly as it should be. Deserving or not-deserving is irrelevant because our lives and experiences are provided to us for our appreciation and growth.

Our only task is to live genuinely, from the heart, guided by intuition and an honest love for all…

Once we make it our pure, heartfelt mission to be the most authentic version of ourselves, always, life will unfold effortlessly to us. All of our lives are destined for greatness and are designed in such a way that we can only follow the unique path so perfectly plotted for each of us. Even when it doesn’t seem to “fit” into the bigger picture, each of our experiences are connecting points on our route.

All of us, each and every one (yes, you!) has a gift to share with the world that will help it become a better place for the other souls sharing this space in this time. Maybe that gift is teaching, or sharing, or entertaining, or caring, or healing… Maybe this is done in a yoga hall as far from home as one could get, or maybe it’s done in a church, an office, a hospital, a home… Scene and setting are constantly changing, but each scene and setting we find ourselves in needs our presence. Each moment of our lives should be an act of selfless giving to the world.

So today, as I pack my trekking bag and prepare for the physical ascent of climbing up to 4,100 meters, I reflect on the descent I’m about to make back into myself, one that will help to further set my foundation, open my awareness, and inspire my physical body and mind to continue on. A solo journey of 9 or so days into the jungles, the farms, the high desert, and the snow-covered mountains of Nepal, and into my heart….

I want to encourage each of you to take a few moments to reflect on your own journey. Where are you in this life? Who are you? …now forget these things you think, and then feel… Now feel where you are, and who you are…

Do you need to peel back a few layers and reveal more warmth? Are you ready to dust off any dirt and grime and polish your spirit? Is it time to let your authentic self lead the way for a change? If you are, let it be… It’s the age of awakening, and maybe, just maybe, it’s your unique time to wake up… ❤

Namaste, beautiful souls. Shanti om. xxoo

Yoga is discipline.

"You will never know who you are if you have not disciplined yourself to know who you are." -- Yogi Bhajan
“You will never know who you are if you have not disciplined yourself to know who you are.” — Yogi Bhajan

Each bone and each muscle in my body aches. I walk with a slight limp because my hamstrings and glutes are tight and painful from a dozen too many parvrtta parvottanasana. My biceps feel as if they’re constantly flexed, and truth be told, maybe they are.

My thinking mind, my ego, does not want to practice this morning. I do not want to do five hours of asana today, or tomorrow, or each day in this remaining week of yoga teacher training.

I want to sleep, to rest, to raise my feet and watch a movie and snuggle with a man…

But, I won’t be doing any of that today. Or tomorrow. I haven’t done this for nearly a month, and I won’t be doing this for the foreseeable future.

I am a yoga teacher, in training, and I know that to walk the yogic path, one that may lead to greater awareness and therefore to a greater good for all, I must dedicate my days to something larger than myself. I must adopt the practices perfected thousands of years ago — I must walk the eight-fold path the best I can.

I must have discipline.

It’s 5:30 a.m. I woke up at 5:00, drank from a copper pot filled with water, prayed and gave thanks for all the blessings in my life, layered a long tank over a sports bra and leggings…

In thirty minutes, I’ll march, barefooted, up white marble stairs to a long, narrow, window-lined yoga hall above my head, and wait patiently, without complaint, for my Ashtanga master to open the door. He’ll command the room from the moment he walks in. With a red tika ablaze on his skin, still fresh and tight from a morning dip in the Ganga, his brahmin dread will bounce slightly as he breezes past myself and a dozen other westerners from half as many countries. He’ll remove his watch and bracelet, adjust the waistband on his shorts, step atop a teaching platform and onto a long blue mat. Then, he’ll turn to face us. His students.

He’s been awake since 4:00. He’s already done his own self-practice, a physically and mentally challenging style of yoga that he’s been practicing since his early teenage years. He perfected each posture, pose by pose, until his own master said he was ready to continue, moving on to the next position in the primary series. Before he even learned samasthiti, he swept and scrubbed the floors of his yogshala for 6 months — only then did his teacher tell him he could begin to learn the practice we know in the west as yoga — physical asana designed to prepare a body for comfortable seated meditation in which one can turn inward, and leave the physical body behind.

Now, a dozen years later, he still is practicing yoga asana and hasn’t progressed to the next rung of the ladder — pranayama — but yet he is more knowledgeable in yogasana technique, physical anatomy, and the arts of instruction and adjustment than any teacher I’ve practiced under in my six years of studio classes.

This man is a yogi with discipline.

I admire his dedication — something I can only hope to develop through years of faith in this practice, and to living a life based on mindful awareness, each and every day. It isn’t easy, for anyone, regardless if you were born in the birthplace of yoga or in the concrete jungles of North America or Japan.

But who ever said yoga was easy?

Yoga is one path to enlightenment, for all who show up. If followed, with dedication and faith, under the guidance of a guru or teacher (at least at first), each of us can progress past the partial ignorance and clouded minds of our lives and move into a place of peace and clarity — we can attain a one-pointed mind and see with near-full awareness the experience of living.

We must act as the self-realized master, living and breathing this life with intention, playing the part until we become the character himself.
We must act as the self-realized master, living and breathing this life with intention, playing the part until we become the character himself.

But first, we must give ourselves to the practice.

We must develop routine. Devotion.

We must have faith in the practice, then commit — bodies, minds, and spirits.

We must act as the self-realized master, living and breathing this life with intention, playing the part until we become the character himself.

Yoga is discipline. Are you sure you’re ready?

If so, join me on this journey. A journey we can start together but that we must commit to, even if that means walking alone.

Recognizing beauty in the squalor of North India

I’m on the road from delhi to rishikesh. I plan to unabashedly immerse myself in yoga and gods and adventure and love, breathing in the bounties of this blessed land.

But here on the road, for miles
and miles starting about 60km from haridwar, what do I see?

Squalor.

I’m reminded of the worst parts of Guatemala, but in this area I see it everywhere. Never ending. All along the roadside lie debris and damaged buildings and dirt. There is dust flying everywhere — I’m chewing on it, despite my window shutting out the world out there… I’ve never seen roads in such poor shape. Cars and trucks are literally pushed off the roads and into ditches and tree-filled fields because the gaping holes between the cement are too treacherous to drive through. We’re making this drive at night which no doubt amplifies the fear factor, however I wonder if it’s hurting or helping to hide the apparent poverty.

There are road blocks occasionally, something I hadn’t expected nor seen in my travels except once or twice in Israel and then again in Honduras and El Salvador (part of me wonders if the latter holdups were government-mandated or purposely and probably maliciously placed by thugs). These Indian roadblocks are manned by handsome, rugged types with guns and badges, although they’re definitely not military stops. …a mystery I’ll surely dig into deeper.

However it must be known that there is industry of sort — definitely some money to be made. And agriculture. With it being dark it’s impossible for me to tell must what’s growing in the flatlands next to the roadway (I think it’s sugar cane) or what is made (it very we’ll may be the same cement needed so badly on these roads). I do see cows pulling wagons stacked six times their height with bundle canes, mostly covered in burlap…

There are also pockets of people gathered, still awake at 1130 at night on a Wednesday. Some sitting around at the countless little roadside tienda-type-restaurants, and others huddled near small televisions or outdoor fires, simply sitting wrapped head to toe in heavy shawls (men and women alike). I also see people solo, smoking cigarettes (of what variety I can’t be sure), faces lit by laptop screens. It makes me wonder if Facebook dominates the real and virtual lives of this North Indian population, just as it does the American population back home.

I am highly enamored by some if India’s exotic sweetnesses as wel. For example, there are numerous stop-offs along the roads set up like small temples to Hindu gods — my ability to name these by visual cues alone is limited, but i have recognized Krishna, Vishnu, shiva, and shakti (the latter pair I’m nearly positive, based on their perpetual pairing). Also, there are many semi-trucks here (large lorries/box trucks). Maybe it’s the time of night or maybe it’s the route, but at least 3/5 vehicles traveling here are of thos fashion. What makes them so spectacular and charming are the colors emblazoned in bold or delicate patterns on the cab portions (bright mint green, fire engine red, peach, pale yellow…), and the fact that in each of the two split front windows there is a name written. There are two names! The way I understand this is that no man rides alone in these trucks — always partnered, always supported and supporting…

That’s what India is about I think. Really that’s what this world is all about. Making the best out of what you have, every day, and living your life with grace and love. I do not pity these people at all! I’d bet most of these people are genuinely happier than the majority of people I know in the western world. I do have compassion toward them and their struggles, just as I have toward anyone I meet. But I also display what I think to be the most crucial of all character traits, and hopefully I will not be proven wrong about this — kindness. We’re all one — each man, woman, child, animal, plant… Each gust of wind or wave on a shore… We all live with different worldly circumstances but we’re all fighting or flowing toward the same thing — peace and a better life. So all I can do is quietly observe when I can’t speak, ask questions and seek to understand when I can, and lend an ear, a shoulder, or a hand whenever possible, without expectation or requirement for return.

Life is beautiful. Always. Everywhere. In the serene peace of northern michigan, the majestic power of the Orwfon coast, the abundance of life in a Costa Rican jungle, and the chaotic, crusty and dusty squalor of a North Indian roadside town or ten.

Let’s never forget to recognize and appreciate the beauty around us, each and every day.

The photo below was taken today, the morning after this post was written. The squalor soon turned into breathtaking natural beauty — tree covered hills and baby Himalayas, and a mint green, majestic river. The Ganges.

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Gratefulness, letting go, and… the Ganges! [video + text]

I shot the video (on my iPhone, of course...) overlooking Lake Michigan's Grand Traverse Bay.
I shot the *iPhone* video overlooking Lake Michigan’s Grand Traverse Bay.

“Wear gratitude like a cloak and it will feed your entire life.” — Rumi

After being blown away by the traffic to Honest Green Jeans (nearly 7,000 unique visitors in Loving the Free Spirit‘s first 5 days!), I decided to put together a simple, non-edited video to openly share my thankfulness for you, and my excitement for what’s next!

In this 10-minute clip I talk about gratefulness (for all who are discovering this blog, for the beauty of life, for the power and grace of the Universe!), letting go (releasing control and giving in to the natural flow of life), and I give a quick update on where my life is headed next!

I’ve yet to create a video blog post, but… I hope you like it!

Thank you again for all the love and support you’ve shown me lately. We are a community of like-minded souls, so let’s share our thoughts on living truly in today’s crazed world, and let’s take comfort in knowing we’re in this together.

I appreciate all your comments and emails, so make sure to keep reaching out! If you have any questions for me or would like any advice, feel free to ask and I’ll do my best to help out 🙂

I'm feeling pretty blessed. Thanks in part to you xxoo.

Thanks so much everyone! More to come — soon!

Below is a time reference for those of us who are too rushed for a 10-minute video (I know — I’m this person sometimes!).

First part: Gratefulness pt 1 from about 0:30 – 3:20, Gratefulness pt 2 from about 3:22 – 4:40. Second part: Letting Go — from about 4:42 – 6:22. Third part: The Ganges — from about 6:22 – 10:00.

addition from 2/14

To provide a quick reference, this is where I plan to explore on this journey to the yoga motherland ❤

Starting in Delhi, traveling to Rishikesh for yoga school, then Dharamsala, Jaisalmer, Jodhpur, Agra, Varanasi then into Nepal, trekking the Tsum Valley, heading to Pokhara, then Katmandu. But as always, time may change my mind, which is beautiful <3
Starting in Delhi, traveling to Rishikesh for yoga school, then Dharamsala, Jaisalmer, Jodhpur, Agra, Varanasi then into Nepal, trekking the Tsum Valley, heading to Pokhara, then Katmandu. But as always, time may change my mind, which is beautiful ❤

And here is a direct link to the blog that’s getting a lot of attention: https://honestgreenjeans.com/2014/01/28/loving-the-free-spirit/

Here is a link to a blog that gives some backstory on MY story and an update of where I’m at today: https://honestgreenjeans.com/2013/11/22/i-survived-11-life-lessons-learned-during-a-quarter-life-crisis/

Here is a video on Rishikesh: Rishikesh-My City

And this is the video I reference toward the end, about the Tsum Valley in Nepal: Tsum Valley – A Hidden Valley Vignette

Loving the free spirit.

A free spirit is fiercely independent and loves her sacred solo space filled with daydreams and art and impromptu dance floors. A free spirit doesn’t want to be tied down, but she does want to be admired, adored, respected. A free spirit will give her love passionately and powerfully for a while, but just as quickly as she fell for you, she may change her mind and take back her freedom, her most prized-possession, leaving you bewildered and confused, but always loved…

A free spirit has drive and dreams unlike any other. She sets her sights on a goal, a location, an unknown experience swirling deep in her manifesting mind… She feels what it is she wants, then she sets aside day-to-day pleasures and saves her money, working tirelessly for every penny, and feels an unmatched sense of accomplishment when she purchases a plane ticket. She’s made peace with selling her possessions and starting over each time she returns home, a place she’ll always love more than any beach or jungle or desert dune…

A free spirit is never too lonely, anywhere in the world, because she’s enlivened by life and conversation, by connecting with others who share her love of new experiences. She is loyal, 100% true, once she’s given you her trust, which she does so hastily, almost to a fault. She understands how quickly one must learn to let go — of people, of places, of feelings and emotions. The free spirit has seen more ups and downs, more bliss and broken hearts than most, but she’d never trade any peak or valley for a month of safe, secure monotony. Some are scared by travel and unknown tomorrows, but the free spirit is frightened by foreseen futures, carefully mapped out in 2-, 5-, and 10-year plans.

"So love the free spirit, but understand that if you don't "get her" you probably never will, because she is different than you but she's still fine, still ok just as she is."
“So love the free spirit, but understand that if you don’t “get her” you probably never will, because she is different than you but she’s fine, ok just as she is.”

But a free spirit hasn’t always had it easy, you know. She’s faced criticism for her choices, made to feel irresponsible and immature when she quit her job or ended a relationship without good reason. She’s been plagued by guilt for buying last-minute plane tickets instead of attending a family get-together or friend’s birthday. She’s been confused more often than not, never understanding why she was so different than the average girl — why she can’t wrap her head around marriage and kids, picket fences and pinterest decorating tips, or the comfort of a 30-year career with money and authority and a bit of fame.

So love the free spirit, but understand that if you don’t “get her” you probably never will, because she is different than you but she’s fine, ok just as she is.

Love the free spirit, but love her passion and excitement. Never try to tone her down or rein her in. Love her independence and her bravery. Love her high-pitched animated voice and silly ballerina dance moves and sun-scarred body covered with foreign script tattoos and cloth bracelets and obsure-stone rings. Love her tales of adventure and her incessant pleas for you to travel with her, to open your eyes to a world greater than the one you’ve always known… Love her when she sleeps, when her head finally decides to rest for a moment… Love her when she cries, when her broken heart becomes too much to bear, when she retreats into herself when the reverse culture-shock shakes her core, when she says she’s sorry, and she means it, for hurting you when she had to leave…

Love the free spirit, but understand she lives the only way she’s ever known… Love the free spirit, but love her for what she is and the only thing she’ll ever be…

Free.

Not all ...
And please remember…
...who wander...
… not all free spirits are aimless wanderers …
... are lost.
… many of us are searchers, seeking truth and beauty and love, just like you.

Be thankful, no matter what.

“There is always, always, always something to be thankful for.” – Unknown

Homeless Portland man holds sign this morning that  reads, "SMILE! If I can smile, so can you!"
Homeless Portland man holds sign this morning that reads, “SMILE! If I can smile, so can you!”

While traveling in Guatemala this spring I met with a female mystic who told my friend and I the ancient Mayan creation story. She said there were multiple cycles of creation and destruction, and it wasn’t until humans were able to give thanks that the destruction stopped. Until people felt gratitude in their hearts and began acknowledging their blessings, life couldn’t prosper and humanity wouldn’t survive.

We live in a world full of entitlement. Yes, we sometimes have to work hard, but there is always an expectation that we’ll be given what we want and need. Life is pretty easy, let’s be real. The vast majority of us in this country don’t have to worry about where our next meal will come from, where we’ll sleep tonight, of if somebody will love us. We’re spoiled. We’re LUCKY.

However, a big problem in this country is gratitude. We’re a take-take-take society, and we rarely give back, let alone give thanks for the blessings in our lives.

No matter if things are going great or if things are pretty rough, there is always something to be thankful for. For one, the fact that we’re breathing and that we’re alive and able to face another day (and therefore, that there is always a chance that today may be the day things get better). For two, the fact that we’ve had both good and bad experiences in life which gave us tools to improve our situations and those of others. For three, that the sun rises and sets each day, always reminding us that there are new beginnings and that we can wipe away the failures from our past and start fresh.

The past few months I’ve made it a point to give thanks before bed each night. I take a few moments to quiet my mind and thank god for the blessings I have and for all the opportunities I’ve been given. Nothing ever seems that bad if I remind myself to be thankful.

If each of us filled our hearts with gratitude and love, this world might not be so tough…

And remember, gratitude grows from gratitude. Give it a shot ❤

“Happiness cannot be traveled to, owned, earned, worn, or consumed. Happiness is the spiritual experience of living every minute with love, grace, and gratitude.”

– Denis Waitley

What is it about the Pacific Northwest?

Me overlooking the Pacific from Cape Perpetua, just south of Yachatz.
Me overlooking the Pacific from Cape Perpetua, just south of Yachatz.

As my friends and I drove south along Hwy 101 from Cannon Beach, I gazed out the car window at the coastline, rocky and majestic with seagreen water and foamy white waves. “I don’t know what it is, but I feel such a strong pull to this area. It’s like I’m meant to be here. I’ve always felt this way, for as long as I can remember at least,” I said.

Cory then asked what I thought to be quite the bizarre question. He said, “Where in your body do you feel it? Physically, what’s pulling you?”

I’d never been asked to describe a physical location for a mental thought, but after a bit of reflection and feeling, it was easy. I knew. “Well, it may sound weird but I think it’s in my chest. It’s my heart.”

—-

I’ve been in Oregon for almost a week now and although I still have yet to process all of the amazing, exciting, awe-inspiring moments, I can 100% say that I love it here. I. Love. Oregon.

As long as I can remember, I’ve had a fascination with and desire to live in the Pacific Northwest. I was born in Eugene but moved to Michigan when I was still quite young. My family and I have travelled back a few times since but this time, I left Michigan to explore this place on my own. The trip has softened a few more layers of my heart and tapped into an even deeper space, filling me with an even greater love for the area.

I don’t know if it’s the depth of the forest green, or the roar of the waves, or the mountains and jagged rocks… The nature is magic. But, this earth is beautiful everywhere really. If we removed our strip malls and parking lots, Mother Nature in her original form is breathtaking. From jungles to deserts to plains to mountains, she’s a beauty.

So then, what is it about the Pacific Northwest that I love so much?

I’m not sure, but I do feel like a child here. My eyes are open and curious, my legs have a little more pep and provide a little more energy, and my heart is simply happy. The forests are really a natural playground!

I just did a bit of research into the heart chakra after thinking about what my friend had asked me (find out more here – fourth chakra – halfway down the page), and it looks like our heart chakra is the joining of our physical and spiritual bodies. It is the place of intuition and love and our connection to nature. It brings a balance to the rest of our chakras, helping us to feel centered and poised for growth.

I think my heart feels pulled here because in the Northwest, not only is the natural world powerful and stunning, the people and the places seem more geared toward peace and positive progress than in many other locations I’ve experienced. Here, I would be, and am, able to use my physical body in a natural space, while emphasizing personal growth and love for others.

Maybe that’s why my heart loves it here and why my heart always feels connected to this space…

Regardless of reason, the love I feel is real and my heart is content. Oregon, I love you. (But hey, Michigan, YOU have my heart, too!)

Here are a few pictures from some hikes I’ve taken the past few days. And, if you ever get a chance to travel westward, come to Oregon. Let yourself be here… And open your heart and see what happens ❤

Zen moment in Punchbowl Falls off the Eagle Creek Trail near the Columbia River Gorge.
Zen moment in Punchbowl Falls off the Eagle Creek Trail near the Columbia River Gorge.
Taking a breather on the Eagle Creek Trail.
Taking a breather on the Eagle Creek Trail.
The Pacific Northwest is FULL of fuzzy trees like this.
The Pacific Northwest is FULL of fuzzy trees like this.
Two friends of mine racing to a lookout at Cape Perpetua. I'm not the only one who plays here :)
Two friends of mine racing to a lookout at Cape Perpetua. I’m not the only one who plays here 🙂
Catching a great silhouette opportunity at Heceta Head.
Catching a great silhouette opportunity at Heceta Head.
The beach at Heceta Head is amazing. Always a favorite spot of mine.
The beach at Heceta Head is amazing. Always a favorite spot of mine.
Moss moss moss everywhere!
Moss moss moss everywhere!
Magical mystical Mother Nature at her finest, showing off in cave form at Heceta Head.
Magical mystical Mother Nature at her finest, showing off in cave form at Heceta Head.
Catching the sunset hiking Angel's Rest just east of Portland in the Columbia River Gorge.
Catching the sunset hiking Angel’s Rest just east of Portland in the Columbia River Gorge.
Playing at Heceta Head beach.
Playing at Heceta Head beach.
Overlooking the gorge from the Angel's Rest hike.
Overlooking the gorge from the Angel’s Rest hike.
Loving life and the Pacific from Devil's Churn next to Cape Perpetua.
Loving life and the Pacific from Devil’s Churn next to Cape Perpetua.
Me and my hiking buddies at Cape Perpetua.
Me and my hiking buddies at Cape Perpetua.
Cannon Beach! Cannon Beach! Cannon Beach! Go here. Just do it.
Cannon Beach! Cannon Beach! Cannon Beach! Go here. Just do it.
Nature wins. Who needs art when we have moss.
Nature wins. Who needs art when we have moss.
A warm late-fall hike near Cannon Beach.
A warm late-fall hike near Cannon Beach.
The Pacific Northwest is magical. This picture is proof.
The Pacific Northwest is magical. This picture is proof.

I survived! 11 Life lessons learned during a quarter-life crisis

I’m turning 27 in a few days and, I’ll be honest, I think I went through this crisis nearly all 20-somethings are going through, have survived, or are just about to start.

I didn’t realize it, but a few months after I turned 25 I started to experience symptoms now labeled as the “Quarter-Life Crisis” which are secretly or not-so-secretly devouring the souls of 20-somethings across the country. This enigma is now plastered all over the internet (on Huffington Post, there are 26,900 posts tagged “quarter-life crisis” alone!), but when I was starting to experience it, I hadn’t a clue others were going through the same thing.

I don’t know why exactly it is happening, but it is, and hey, so be it.

Regardless, at 25, all I knew was that I was unhappy and I was searching for something more, something greater than what I was experiencing… My job was good, my friends were good, my income was good… Life. was. good. But, I just couldn’t shake the desire to rip my hair out and run free, starting with quitting my job and moving to the jungle 🙂

Just days after I turned 26, I did just that.

However, I didn’t do it recklessly — I’d spent months saving and selling my things, weaning my body off prescription drugs, going to therapy, and tying up loose ends and breaking up with my boyfriend (a couple times). I was doing what any responsible, young professional would do while secretly FREAKING THE FUCK OUT.  I was scared — I didn’t know really why I was doing what I was doing, but I knew I had to do something. I seemed calm and collected enough, and could very eloquently tell you why this was a good decision for my future (“learning natural ways of caring for cows and taking care of jungle plants will look great on my design resume!” yeah…).

Despite having a semblance of a “plan” (Costa Rican permaculture farm where I would blog about learning to be a “good person”, about figuring out my purpose and how to take care of myself and the environment better, followed by a move to the Pacific Northwest where I would surround myself with “good people” and get to work on living my purpose), I really had no clue what was waiting for me.

Regardless, in the middle of my crisis, I took off.

Over the past year, this 27th year of my life, I lived in the Costa Rican jungle and worked on the farm (where I did surround myself with “good people”, and I did kind-of-sorta figure out my purpose and how to take care of myself and the environment better), but then I changed course and traveled to Nicaragua and Guatemala and dove into yoga and spirituality, and then (long story short), I came back to Michigan, moved to the ever-hip Royal Oak for a month and nannied for a rich suburban-Detroit family with twin boys (weird life choice on my part), then moved myself to a big farmhouse outside of Traverse City and worked at a winery for a month (good intentions, bad execution), and then, I took a safe, career-style job with Traverse City’s newspaper (where I’m still working) and I recently moved downtown next to a local food co-op.

Life. Is. Good.

I can honestly say that I think (and hope!) my quarter-life crisis is over and that I’ve survived. More than that, I’ve grown and I’ve learned many things that I hope to keep with me as personal truths for as long as I live.

This year wasn’t easy, though. The 27th year of my life was probably the most difficult year I’ve ever had. But, I’m grateful for it. Through this year, filled with sky-high mountains and extremely low valleys (literally and figuratively), I’ve learned many valuable lessons. I want to share each of them with you so that regardless of your stage in life, regardless if you’ve ever experienced a life crisis or not, maybe these lessons will resonate and you’ll decide to incorporate an idea or two into your lives. And maybe, just maybe, we will all have better, richer lives because of them.

Life is AMAZING. And full of lessons. Here are eleven from my very own quarter-life crisis.

11 Life Lessons from my 27th Year

1) Stop asking for your purpose in life.

Let go of figuring out what you should do and just do the things that make you truly happy — THAT is your purpose. Things that bring you bliss will help spark your inner fire and will guide you closer to your dharma, your unique path in life that will enrich this world.

For as long as I can remember I’ve been asking God, and anyone who I trust enough to really listen, what I should be doing with my life. “What is my purpose?” “What is my gift?” “What am I being called to do?” These phrases have been written countless times in every journal I’ve owned, and if God has a catalog of my prayers somewhere I’m sure this is a theme that repeats itself more than any other.  This was one of the first lessons I learned after turning 26 and, although I’ve asked for my purpose again since coming to this realization, I am BEYOND GRATEFUL that I now know this to be a truth for my life.

When I decided to move to the farm pre-Portland, I told myself I’d use this disconnect from the first world to really, really focus on what my purpose is in life. Four months away? Easy peasy. I’ll figure it out then I’ll move to the west coast with a clear vision for my life and I’ll relentlessly go for it, whatever that purpose is. And I’ll never have to ask “what should I do?” again!

Well… I moved to the farm and spent a couple weeks asking myself, god, the trees, the waterfalls, the animals, and probably hinted at it to every person I met. It was obvious this was my goal.

But then, during an amazing massage session one night, it came to me. Clear as my best friend’s voice.

“Stop asking! Just do! Do what makes you happy. THAT is your purpose. Now go.”

And wow, what peace came with that revelation. I realized that the things I genuinely love to do and that make me happy ARE helping the planet and her people, and for now at least, that is purpose enough. So, I’ve stopped asking and I’m making an intentional effort each day to do things that bring me joy and fill my cup. I’m done with should. For now 🙂

2) Don’t be them. Be you.

You can never be anyone else but yourself, who YOU really are. You’ll always be disappointed and unhappy if you keep comparing yourself to others, envying the attributes of others, and trying to be anyone but yourself. Each of us are blessed with our own unique strengths, with gifts that only WE can share, and loves and likes tailored to our own special being.

And, let’s be real, we’re each pretty awesome. So, enough wishing you were anything other than YOU. And… JUST BE YOU!

I think I did a number on my self-confidence through years of trying to be like others. For whatever reason, until late this year, who I was just wasn’t enough. I wasn’t preppy enough, or pretty enough, or graceful enough, or yogi-enough, or hippie-enough, or tough enough, or brave enough, or travelled enough or… the list goes on. Every time I entered a new social situation, I immediately compared myself to everyone in the room. And then, I’d judge myself. “Oh no, I don’t have the right clothes, or I don’t know enough about x and y to be here,” etc. Silly things. We each have a right to be wherever we are, and we are PERFECT just the way we are, and, always, we HAVE ENOUGH and we ARE ENOUGH. And that’s all the matters.

So, let it go and just be yourself. All of yourself. Live you as BOLD as you can!

3) Let your voice speak the loudest!

Everyone has an opinion of who you are and what you should do and why, but really, the ONLY opinion that has any weight on these issues is YOURS. Only you know just who you really are (and if you don’t, take some time for you and make it a goal to figure it out — I’m still learning each day), and ultimately only you have to live with your decisions.

So, starting today, MAKE YOURSELF PROUD.

Most people are only trying to help by offering advice and, like I said above and many times before, it’s normal to want direction and sometimes getting it from others is easier than getting it from ourselves. But really, our hearts know just what to do, so listen. And then do. And it’s ok to tell the other voices, “Thanks but no thanks. I got this.”

I have so many people in my life, most of whom I love, who like to tell me what I should do — this past year was filled with this. I’ve gotten everything from “you should take yoga teacher training right now” and “just don’t pay off your student loans — live here in the jungle instead!,” to “you’re meant to be a writer, so just start writing your book” and “I know in my heart you need to be a missionary — you need to go to seminary school.”

All of these may be great options for somebody, but for ME, for my life right now, none of these are what I should be doing. Only I can decide that. So thanks, but no thanks.

4) Choose to be choosey.

This is YOUR life so live it how YOU want to. If it makes you feel good, do it. If it doesn’t, don’t. Simple. Choose how you spend your time, with whom you spend it with (even if that person is YOURSELF more often than not), what you wear, what you eat, how to exercise, where to live, etc. The list goes on and on, but ultimately, each day we’re faced with choices and if we’re not choosing for ourselves, who is?

I have wasted so much of my life trying to make others happy or going with the flow, sometimes to appease others and sometimes because I couldn’t decide on a better option so why not? Well, this year, I’ve learned to take a step back and ask if something will enrich my life before making a decision. This is a newer one for me, but so far, the quality of my life has increased and I’m more focused on what I want. I also feel more at peace knowing the decisions I’m making are getting me closer to where I want to be.

5) Move! Physical motion is magic.

Our bodies aren’t meant to be sedentary. We have muscles and joints, we’re flexible, we’re strong — we’re ALIVE! The health of our bodies and minds is directly connected and we must make sure to take care of each. For our bodies, the best thing we can do is move. Walking, running, dancing, yoga, swimming… It doesn’t matter the activity, it only matters that we move.

If you’re feeling down, try going for a walk and let yourself be IN that walk. Be present while moving your body and you’ll be amazed how quickly your mood may change. It’s magic.

I am a dancer by nature. I love to move my body, to twirl and twist and leap. Yeah, maybe I’m too old to dance like a toddler in a tutu, but you know what? It makes me happy and I love it, so I’m going to continue doing it until I stop loving it. When I dance or practice yoga or swim, I feel my body releasing tension and I feel light and free! I’m just that little bit closer to the highest version of myself because I’m putting my body to work in a way that brings me bliss.

6) Spend time outside. Every day.

We’re part of the natural world and, to connect more with ourselves, we need to spend time IN the natural world. Be outside, observe the plants and animals, hear the wind in the trees and water lapping on a shoreline, smell the flowers or hayfields, feel tree bark with your fingers or grass between your toes… Just BE outside. This world is pretty amazing, and observing the natural way of things can help put our lives into perspective and calm our overactive, production-focused minds.

I’ve spent a lot of time outside this past year which helped me reconnect with this fact I’ve always known — nature is where we belong. I’m so thankful for Costa Rica and the farm which kept me immersed in nature all day every day for three months, but I’m also grateful for the big lonely house in northern Michigan and its couple hundred acres of woods and fields, and for the beautiful bodies of water in and around this state, and for the trails and hills and trees constantly calling, inviting us to visit. Whenever I find I’m agitated, stressed, heavy, or just off, I’ve learned that if I can drop everything and go outside, I feel better.

7) Listen to your body.

If we listen to our bodies — to our energy levels, to our cravings, to our aches and pains — we’ll gain a lot of insight into what we need. If we honor the body’s intuition we’ll feel better and reclaim balance within. Sometimes we need to take a day off. Sometimes we need some extra protein or water or fruit. Sometimes the way we’ve been exercising isn’t right or we need to adjust our posture. If we listen, we’ll know.

We push ourselves so much, often to unhealthy extremes, and this is only going to wear us down. On the other hand, many of us don’t push ourselves enough. We need to rest, but we also need to recognize that we may have more energy than normal so we should use it!

I’ve put so much pressure on myself to always do as much as I can — I’m a hardworking American girl who can do anything I put my mind to, at any time, right? Well sure. But really, why is this “achievement” important? If my body is tired, then hey, I’m going to take a break and relax. And, if my body is craving sweets (which it does, all the time), this signals to me an imbalance either in my nutrition or in the way my body is processing food. I’m only just starting to tap into my body’s callings, but it’s really fascinating how much I’ve learned already. So… take an evaluation of your body and see what’s speaking to you. Then do what you can to help it out.

8) Prioritize your pleasure points.

What brings you joy? Think about it. Write it down. A few things that REALLY make you happy. Then, make it a priority to incorporate these things into your life and into your daily routine. Each day, don’t go to bed unless you can say you’ve done at least ONE thing that gives you pleasure. Make it happen and trust me, you’ll feel better.

A friend of mine shared this with me a few months ago and ever since, I can honestly say I’ve made sure to include at least one of my pleasure points into my day, EVERY SINGLE DAY. And, I’m a pretty happy gal these days. My happiness has always been important to me, but what really makes me happy? Until recently I knew somethings did and somethings didn’t, but until I thought about it with the goal of identifying actual topics or activities, I couldn’t tell you. Now, I know, and my things are written on little colored notes next to my alarm clock. Each night I see them and each night I can go to bed at peace knowing I’ve done something intentional for my happiness that day.

(Curious what my five pleasure points are? I have five that I can, without a doubt, rely on to bring me joy. 1- Nature. 2- Yoga. 3- Creation (writing, cooking, art, etc.). 4- Sweat (vigorous exercise of some sort). 5- Travel (discovering a new place even if that’s in my home city).)

9) Make peace with your past.

Guilt gets you nowhere, and regret and shame are big roadblocks to self-love and living fully. This is a tough one, but it really is important to accept your decisions, regardless of outcome, and move on.

There are many things in my past I’m not proud of — many times I did the wrong thing, let something go on for far too long, made a decision with costly consequences, and many times I probably sacrificed too much or gave too little. Today, I am thankful I can say, I’ve accepted each event for what it was and I’ve moved on.

And, I’ll be honest, I feel a lot lighter and much more at peace with my present because of this.

10) Happiness happens but so does pain.

Everything is cyclical and our moods are not exempt from this truth. Regardless of circumstance, we will experience bliss, but we will also experience sadness. We can try to contain feelings we enjoy but no matter what, emotions are fleeting and every day will not be a good day. However, there is peace in this truth because, just as happiness fades, so does sadness.

We must be cautious not to get attached to one emotion because although we love feeling pleasure, we must remember there is something so raw, so human and beautiful, about feeling pain. There’s no way around our emotions, and the only thing we can do is just let them be.

I experienced so many highs and lows this past year. I even journaled about what nirvana and enlightenment may feel like because, at one point in the jungle, I could truly say I’d never been happier! It was like a took a bliss pill and was in the middle of a high lasting several weeks straight — happiness without any effort. No sadness or worry or anxiety or pain. Just joy.

But then, sure enough, a mere month or two later I lay face down in a field, sobbing, asking for some relief from the pain and sadness I was feeling. Asking for a way out of the dark place I’d gotten to. I spent days confused, sometimes openly lost and sometimes outwardly collected, while torn and writhing with pain inside.

Regardless of emotion, I can now say I’m grateful for the act of feeling and for the assurance that after every gloomy day or week or month, a good one is sure to come.

11) Manifestation works! 

Think of what you want to happen, what you really want to bring into your life, and ta-da! There it is! Maybe this is mystical stuff and too much for many of us to believe but hey, it seems to work!

I don’t remember exactly when I was enlightened on the power of manifestation but I do remember first putting it into practice this past spring. It sounds silly but so be it, I’m still a 20-something. I was in Nicaragua spending a few days on the beach with my girl friends and I decided that night I wanted to meet a tall, attractive, surfer boy who would sweep me off my feet and treat me sweet all night. I planted the idea in my brain, and then I envisioned and believed it would happen.

Then, I’m not even kidding, a few hours later just as my friends and I were about to leave the the bar and head back to our hostel for the night, up walks a tall, GORGEOUS, Canadian surfer (yeah… God makes these apparently), who says, “Como estas, señorita?,” to which I reply excitedly, “Estoy bien! Y tu?” He tilted his head and said with a half-smile, “Yeah I don’t speak Spanish. Would you like to dance?” And then, we spent the rest of the evening dancing, drinking, laughing, and loving. It was exactly what I wanted.

Each time since, whenever I’ve been able to verbalize exactly what I want and actually start to see it in my mind, IT HAS HAPPENED. Craziness I know. But wow. From people I’ve wanted to meet, to a job I wanted to get, to a place I wanted to live… It’s all happened.

So, dream! Dream big dreams, little dreams, whatever. Just start thinking of what you really want to bring into your life and get practicing — let me know how it turns out for you 🙂

All of these lessons symbolize my 27th year. Thank you for being part of my journey, and here’s to turning 27! Cheers.

Below are some shots of me at 26, doing my thing and learning some lessons. Most smiles genuine 😉 And my oh my, what a year it’s been.

IMG_1720 IMG_2236IMG_2157IMG_1682 IMG_1431

Learning to wait out the storm and find happiness within. Just like the ducks :)

The sun was shining bright this morning as Jax and I walked along the lake. The sun reflected on the water in front of me and beamed on my face, lighting the earth and warming my skin. I felt joy and bliss — it was a perfect morning. I stopped on the trail for a moment, immersing myself in the beauty of it all. I let the sun sink in and fill my whole being with peace. I didn’t care about going anywhere. I was there, and life was glorious. I started to walk again, this time with a little dance in my step, light as air. Happy.

But then, unexpectedly, the clouds rolled in and it started to rain. The sky grew gray and the rain turned to sleet. It pelted my face and made me wince and tuck my head to avoid the sting on my cheeks. I tugged at the bottom of my sweatshirt to help protect my waist and I slid my hands further up into my sleeves. I did what anyone would do that moment — I retreated. My dance was now determined — finish the walk and go home.

As I peered into the water before me, I noticed a bunch of ducks bobbing in the waves. Curious as to how they would react to this change of weather, I stopped to watch them.

They stayed in the water, but they lowered their heads and seemed to retreat into their bodies, into a place of warmth and comfort, just as I attempted to do. Then, they did something I’ve never noticed ducks do before. They disappeared! They tipped forward and dove under the water, but instead of coming back up right away, they stayed gone for quite a while. I was so intrigued by this — who knew ducks could hold their breath for so long. But sure enough, eventually each of the ducks came back up and remained on the water, bobbing in the waves with heads tucked.

And then, almost as quickly as the weather turned sour the sleet lifted to a soft rain, and then after a few minutes, it stopped. The sky brightened and the sun started to shine.

The sky brightened and the sun started to shine.

As I look back through this past year, the situation this morning is quite metaphorical for my life. I too felt the amazing sun shining bright on my face this past winter. I felt the joy and bliss that comes from things going right, from doing good things for myself, the planet, and other people. I explored new places, made new friends, and reconnected with the true essence of myself. I felt the sun shine on my face and I basked in it. I was carefree and I let go of all worries, all plans, all thoughts of a potential storm blowing in…

But then, just like today, the weather turned bad. I became confused. I was lost and worried. I didn’t stick to the plan I’d prepared before the sun started to shine, one that may have helped me when the weather was less than perfect.

I retreated into myself. I went to a place of comfort, surrounded myself with people and places that might protect me from the feelings I felt. But sure enough, I was still facing the pain, the bad weather was still there.

So then, just like the ducks, I disappeared. I dove into new things, new people, played out countless scenarios in my mind that may help me avoid the bad weather not just for now, but for forever. I didn’t want to feel the pain and I was aching for something to pull me out of it. I busied myself the best I could, trying to avoid the bad weather inside of me.

But then, I came to a point of realization as many of us do — even a bunch of ducks facing a sleet storm — bad weather will go away when it’s ready but until then, I would have to face it. I would have to resurface and wait it out.

So I did. I came back up, back into myself and back into the world. I made myself calm my mind and be patient. I waited for the sunshine to come back, having faith that in time, it would.

I let myself feel the pain but while doing so, I made notes of things that I love, that I need, that I want in my life, and I started to make little moves to make those things a part of my life regardless of whether the weather (and my circumstances) is beautiful or not. I started to find comfort in myself and not my surroundings. I came to a point of truth where I learned it’s the inside where happiness lives. Who knows, maybe those ducks floated on the water in bliss despite the sleet. Having wisdom that soon enough, the sun would also shine again.

And it did. On all of us.

After many months and a trying, difficult summer, the sun is shining. Life is good again — I’m back.

I am so grateful for this period of pain and uncomfort because, as I’ve said countless times and written about before, everything is cyclical. This truth was proven once again and I’m grateful for having been reminded of it. I’ve also learned to be patient, to take what’s in front of me and make the best of it. To recognize that things aren’t always ideal, but that with acceptance, peace will come.

And that, my friends, explains why I also disappeared from writing. When I’m at a good place mentally — when I’m happy — I write. When I’m not, I can’t. This summer, I didn’t write, I didn’t paint, I didn’t express myself. But now, I’m back, and I hope to continue sharing bits of this journey with you all. I’m learning many things about this beautiful crazy life, and hopefully you’ll continue to join me.

Peace.

Trust that with acceptance, peace will come.

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Finding home…

A lot has happened since I last posted… I flew to Texas, stayed with my sister and then an old roommate for a few days, went on a Caribbean cruise to Jamaica, Grand Cayman, and Cozumel, roadtripped north with my family and stayed in Tennessee for a few nights, and then made it back to Michigan and picked up my puppy and checked in on my cats. Then… nothing really happened.

I decided I still really didn’t know where I wanted to go or what exactly I wanted to do. I kept waiting for some grand idea to present itself to me, and although many options were good, nothing felt fully right. I did some odd outside jobs in below-freezing weather at my parents place (sleet and snow days in April… this is Michigan…), slept in my childhood bed, ran my dog, learned how to drive a stick shift, started updating my resume, signed up for some freelance writing sites… I did so many random things just waiting for a sign or a pull from within.

Then, while shoveling chicken shit (literally), I had a mini breakdown and collapsed on the frozen earth outside the henhouse. I laughed and cried and looked at Jax and said aloud, “It’s all cyclical, Jax! Everything! I’m a mess and I’m flighty but THIS is exactly how I am when things are great or when things are shitty — everything is just fine and I’ll be smiling again soon!” I laid there on the ground and laughed, dismissing the nervousness and anxiety that had been building inside of me for weeks. I realized yet again that everything, at any given point, really is just fine.

The next day, in a burst of caffeine-fueled excitement and unwillingness to polish above-mentioned resume, I got in the car and drove to my best friend’s house near Detroit. I had to see her — I had to see a familiar face that wasn’t needing grandiose tales from Central America (although there are plenty) or asking me countless times just what comes next.

After a few long, warm hugs, Annie and Didi (her roommate) and I went to yoga. What happened in this class was remarkable — I felt at home. I surrendered to the moment and felt so much love and light and comfort.

At the end of the class while closing in Savasana, I started to weep. I held my best friend’s hand and cried — tears of joy and peace and love! I looked over and she was crying, too. I was sharing this beautiful moment with a person I love so much, who loves me without demand or expectation, just love.

That night, I decided to focus my efforts on getting a job in her area and hopefully sharing a home with her and Didi. Would it be tight? Yes. Would it be a bit silly having three girls and a dog in a 1.5-bedroom apartment? Yes. Did it matter to me? No. I want to surround myself with love and freedom and have welcoming hearts fill the space I rest my head each night.

So, about 10 days later, here I am… Sitting on Annie’s bed, ready to leave for my first job interview since returning home.

I feel right and good and content.

Everything really is just fine.

And I’m not quite sure what comes next, but that’s just fine, too.