Monday, February 12, 2018

Stepping into Expansion

In four weeks time, my job here in Chiang Mai will come to an end. In seven weeks time, I will be off on another adventure of re-establishing my life as a writer and a collector of stories and visions. Curiosity has gotten me this far. Let's see where it takes me now.

I have tried on this life as a teacher at an elementary school here in Chiang Mai, and after a year and a half, it's time to go in a new direction. I can't express how much I have learned from this experience--the people I've worked with and the kids I've taught. They have all brought a value into my life that cannot be replaced, that I could not have discovered in any other way.

At the end of each day, I sit with myself and my feelings, and I ask: do I feel good about what I am doing? Are my core values being met? Is my inner world expanding? And as this school year has worn on, the answers to these questions have been a resounding no. I can no longer sink back and disappear into a system I don't align with, that doesn't bring out the best in me. I can no longer deny myself the freedom and serenity I can find by moving in a different direction.

I plan to return to Chiang Mai after burning season where I will spend the summer continuing to grow as a writer, a yoga instructor, and Tarot reader. I will revisit practices that I've abandoned since falling into my ever too busy life here in Chiang Mai.

Above all, this feels right. Not questioning this intuitive knowing that I need to step toward expansion. Of my options at this point, this is the one that lights me up, this is the one that I can wholeheartedly embrace and say, this is me.

At the end of each day, do you check in with yourself and ask how you feel? Do you ask if your core values are being met or in what ways your inner world is expanding? Experiment with me! Start checking in with yourself at the end of each day and let me know what you learn. 

Saturday, January 20, 2018

The Stirring

The stirring begins as a small rumble under the surface. The shifting of a tectonic plate. Non-existent doors slamming a little too hard. 2018 got my attention pretty quickly. A lot of strange input. No time to process. My distant and not so distant past slammed up against my present. Big lessons in soul contracts and soul missions. Attachment and detachment. Alignment and misalignment. How I use and protect my vital energy and how to fully live from a place of intention and light.

Sadie, Bard, and I slowly walked around the grounds of Wat Pong Noi, looping the temples like a labyrinth. Trying to answer the questions: Who are you and what do you do? Because these questions make all the difference, these questions shape the future. The Universe listens.

I can't say for sure how many times we had looped when an old monk standing outside his hut sweeping leaves first invited us onto his porch for water and bananas then moments later invited us into his home for a New Year's blessing. He gave us each old antique Thai coins for good luck and prayed for us.

This was not an insignificant, random moment. It is not insignificant to be blessed by a monk in his home. It is not insignificant to be reminded by a psychic energy healer days later that when we don't align with our soul's purpose we will suffer again and again. And when we do align with our soul's mission, we can deal with karmic lessons and those things out of our control with much more grace and faith.

It has become clear over this past year that Chiang Mai is a place where people end up who need to align with their purpose. People end up here to accomplish those things they never could anywhere else in the world. The gentle energy pulsating through these city streets and jungle paths work on cultivating those parts of you most needed in the world. Points of light are brought here to gain the strength they need to move through the world with intention and grace and faith.

The people I've met and the things I have seen and experienced and learned since I've been here could not have happened anywhere else. Or at least not with such power to force me to re-examine and re-align with the questions: Who am I and what do I do?

If 2016 was all about impermanence and 2017 was all about grounding and ritual, what does 2018 hold? I already know. I've felt it coming for months now. Part of me is sad everything will soon be changing again. Part of me is excited for new opportunities and growth. To align with your soul's mission sometimes means to let go of things that you know deep down aren't in alignment with who you are and who you're meant to be. Sometimes letting go means holding ritual and making it official, letting the shadows fall behind us so we can fully step into our light.

My path has been one of twists and turns and constant change, a stirring and a push. With each step and each turn and each so called set back, it has always been exactly where I needed to be to take the next step toward the light.

Who are you and what do you do? Does your answer align with your Truth? Are you fully embracing it and living it?

Friday, December 29, 2017

On Staying and Movement and Clarity

As 2017 comes to a close, I must did not turn out anything like I thought it would. I did not anticipate to still be living in Chiang Mai. At this time last year, I was planning to leave at the end of the school year--to either move back to the US or continue to travel. But something happened. A few things happened.

I found a community and friends that I absolutely love. And I wanted to challenge myself--I wanted to know what it felt like to choose to stay--to work and live and built a life as an expat in this foreign city where life simply flows.

I started working online. I started teaching yoga. I learned to read Tarot in such a way I understand and resonate with. I had past life regression therapy which not only confirmed those things I knew, but broke down all the walls I still had hiding inside of me--blocks that I thought had melted away those months of travel before I landed in Chinag Mai. And from here, having stayed, I can see a bit clearer than I did before.

And what is most clear is that there will be more movement in 2018--not constant movement like in 2016, but more movement and more posts. I am so excited to share 2018 with you--new countries, new experiences, new ways to exist in this challenging and messy and unpleasant (for many) world.

I won't reveal any plans yet--that will happen as we move through 2018, but I will leave you with something that a most amazing soul shared with me not too long ago. He ended his message to me with this: "shine hard light warrior, the world needs you."

What is your sankulpa, your intention as you move into 2018? Whatever it may be, just remember to turn your heart toward the light and shine, shine, shine.

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Be the Light

I open my eyes.

I'm somewhere in the jungle of Koh Phangan next to a bonfire staring up at the stars popping out of the black sky, soft conversations around me. I'm not here so much on a vacation as I'm scoping out my next Thai home (whenever that may be). I had fully intended to visit another island, but this one lured me back into its jungle greens and ocean blues. It lured me back, gripped me tight, and enveloped me. I use to fight these sorts of things. Not anymore. All there is left to do is surrender and sink into it until I become indistinguishable from it.

Blissed out in the sun for hours on this Southeast Asian beach reading Dispatches, trying not to look ironic. Coconut palms, banana trees, thick, twisted vines--motorbike adventures into the jungle to find secluded beach hideaways. Monsoon downpour, glistening green, jungle mist. I pull over and listen. The island, like most places, has a way of speaking if you listen carefully enough.

I find quaint coastal fishing villages with beauty so chilling I can't shake for days, I don't want to shake, ever. Pockets of high vibe beach communities only accessible by boat. Labyrinth fields and crystal workshops. Yogi villages and hidden jungle cafes. Stretches of trashed beaches that break my heart. I explore as much as I can in my short visit. It's been a year since I was last here, a year since I sat on Haad Tien watching my missed boat disappear around the rocky shoreline, wondering then if maybe I wasn't meant to leave.

When I open my eyes again, I'm home, back in Chiang Mai. The rains have stopped and a chill hangs in the air. I trade in my bikini and sundresses for knee length skirts and shirts with sleeves. I seamlessly slip back into my life here--from hammocks and sunset meditations to classrooms and busy schedules. My ability to slip from one life into another, unnoticeable like I've always belonged, still amazes me.

The way I moved around the US never looking or sounding like I came from anywhere but where I was. The way everyone assumed I grew up in Missoula...Santa Cruz...Santa Fe. The way I got discounts at all the yoga classes I attended on Maui because they thought I was a local. The way the bartender let me and my friends into the employee pub in Denali National Park because he was sure we were living and working there. The way I've moved through the world, a clear liquid shaped and filled by place.

I'm not out to teach or preach or make waves in the world, but to move freely through it and observe, to tell my stories as I see them. And then if others find the light in what I have to say and it inspires them and changes them for the better, I will have made my mark in the world.

"Travel light, live light, spread the light, be the light." ~Yogi Bhajan. How are you leaving more light in the world? 

Thursday, September 21, 2017

One Year Grounded

One year ago, on September 21st 2016, I landed here in Chiang Mai, Thailand after nine months of traveling. I arrived without an onward ticket or much of a plan B if things didn't work out. I arrived with an inkling of a lead on a teaching position, and in one year's time, my life has exploded into more than I ever thought possible here.

One year now awaking to the sounds of the jungle in the city. One year now grounded in this life of unfolding magic. I weave my motorbike through the city streets and out beyond the city to the village of Pong Noi hugged up against the mountains. Pong Noi--where I teach yoga, study tarot, help facilitate a creative writing group, and where I'm organizing my first writing workshop, where I am developing meaningful relationships, where I am fully and wholeheartedly accepted.

Nearly two year ago, I left California broken apart in every possible way. I didn't even know how broken until I wasn't anymore. No, I didn't piece back together my life. I stepped forward into the unknown where all that matters is the present and the intention, the sankulpa, to move toward with each decision, each thought. And in this space, nothing is broken.

Life works much like the double split experiment in quantum physics. Without an observer there is nothing but unlimited potential. Simply being aware of this has the power to begin to change everything--the story of your past and how you choose to step into each moment and observe the people and world around you.

The moment I arrived here I made the conscious decision to continue basing every decision I made on the idea that magic would unfold if I followed what intuitively felt right--not necessarily the most logical or safe. And all I've witnessed is magic.

On the night of the new moon, we gathered for our monthly ritual. We set intentions, pulled oracle cards, and told stories. My amazing friend Sadie gave us the most incredible metaphor. As the door to her current life slammed shut, it slammed shut so hard that it broke the door frame and swung out the other direction, breaking down the walls and freeing itself from its hinges. She did not simply walk into another room; she was unleashed into the Universe.

Without any walls or doors to define who we were or where we are going, there is only the unlimited potential on all sides of us in the present, ready and waiting to be observed, harnessed, and lived--past, present, and future.

I challenge you to break down the walls of the room you are in and tell me what you observe on the other side. 

Sunday, July 30, 2017

Under the New Moon

Soon after the video starts, he walks to the back of the classroom and sits next to me. He grabs my hand, turns it palm up, and begins rhythmically slapping his palm into mine. I don't know how much time passes, but it isn't until my hand begins to go numb that I finally ask him what he's doing. Feels like TV static, he says not taking his eyes from the projector screen. You mean it tingles, I ask. No, feels like TV static, he says again still absorbed in the video, still slapping his palm into mine. A indescribable feeling creeps over me and I get the sense I'm now apart of something very strange yet important.

Not too many days later he grabs my hand in the hallway and squeezes tight. Stuck, he says. Now you'll have to stay with me all day. And if they ever make you cry, he nods toward my classroom, tell me and it won't happen againBaa na rok dok mai, I say stringing together the only Thai words I know. That makes no sense, he tells me. Of course it doesn't--the nuances of poetry lost to a 10-year-old.

My little guru, who always seems to know how I'm feeling and what I'm thinking--how many times our lives have intertwined, I don't know, but I'm learning that it doesn't matter. When souls collide multiple times, these agreements made in the in-between, it's something you simply know. These points of glowing light in all the darkness leading me down paths where magic blooms and miracles thrive.

Under the new moon darkness, candles lit, the seven of us sit in a small circle around the alter. We pull Goddess oracle cards and set our intentions for the month. We sit in meditation and connect with those things of the earth and not of the earth. All of us have the power to manifest, to create worlds, to rise beyond the invisible and dark and pointless constructs the world seems to have blinded us with--pushing us around aimlessly in the dark.

We have the power to see and tell our stories in any way we choose. If you were to look back on your life, what would you highlight? How would you tell your story? What if we told ourselves there's no such thing as luck or right or wrong choices or fortunate or unfortunate circumstances? What if all we could see were the miracles and magic and all those souls guiding us and teaching us? How would your story change?

Cada and I stomp up the side of the mountain in the mud and pouring rain. A monk runs by us barefoot and drenched. Once we reach the monastery the sky clears and we look over the city as the sunsets and a cool darkness lifts from the jungle surrounding us. Quiet, except for the sound of running water and the whispers of that voice I know all too well. And I know. The only story I will ever tell is how all the magic in the Universe conspired to get me here.

How would your story change through the lens of magic? How would your world open up and change if you began to see it this way?

Saturday, June 17, 2017

Entropy and the Importance of Ritual

The vision came to me in midst of chaos--the pieces of my current life tumbling every which way. It could have happened while in a deep Tibetan singing bowl meditation or during a late night Tarot reading practice. Or perhaps while chasing a 10-year-old around the classroom trying to take the mop away from him.

The vision was of this Dali Salvador painting of a melting watch--all the numbers and hands floating away from it in a surreal dreamscape by an unseen force. I had used the image once years ago in an old tumblr post along with a Stephen Hawking quote on entropy and the arrows of time.

"...disorder or entropy always increases with time. In other words, it's Murphy's Law--things get worse. First, there is the thermodynamic arrow of time--the direction of time in which disorder or entropy increases. Second, there is the psychological arrow of time. This is the direction in which we feel time pass--in which we remember the past, but not the future. Third, there is the cosmological arrow of time--the direction of time in which the universe is expanding rather then contracting."

When this image came to mind, I couldn't help but think about how entropy had set into my life here in Chiang Mai. It was as though when I physically stopped all motion everything else kept moving outward--scattering into an ungraspable mess as I stood back exhausted, worn thin, and at a loss on how to get back what I had worked so hard to attain over my 9 months of travel. Old themes were beginning to haunt me, and I was regressing into old habits and thought patterns that I thought I had left in Santa Cruz 16 months earlier.

This is why the Universe sends us teachers, why it puts the most baffling things in our path, rips things from our lives, and why it is so important to always be aware. I've never been a very grounded person to begin with, but when I find myself "caught in the washing machine" as Gurmukh so perfectly put it, I can't just step out of it onto solid ground. I need something to help ground me to the center of my world. And because I also need a good push off the ledge in order to act, I lost my voice and was forced to stop almost everything in my life so to re-prioritize and somehow reign in the entropy.

I knew without a doubt I needed to reintroduce rituals back into my life--rituals that I've let slide since living in Chiang Mai, rituals that will keep what is important to me tethered right in front of me and let all else fall way. So I've put together daily yoga rituals and writing rituals that start my day and end my day. Weekly rituals and monthly rituals. Rituals with friends and solitary rituals. Rituals that involve kundalini practice and kirtan. Rituals that involve journaling and novel writing. Rituals that involve Tarot and crystals. Rituals that involve self care and turmeric drinks. Rituals that keep my curiosity alive. All spiritual, all sacred, all divinely timed.

And over the past couple weeks a few rather shocking facts came barreling at me full force. There are things I'm involved in that I thought were beneficial to me, but turns out are actually stopping my growth. And things that I thought were slowing me down are actually some of the most inspiring. And of course, there are those things that are perfect just as they are.

What do you do when you feel entropy seeping into your life? Do you practice any rituals to help reign in the entropy? Tell me about them!