and so...i bid...adieu...

my last memory before it all shifted was crouching down in the water in search of this beautiful shell. it looked so perfectly shaped...it was the shell i had been seeking for the past 2.5 years. when i tried to grab it with my toes it wound up burying itself in the sand...i suppose that could've been a metaphor...now that i think of it...maybe rooting itself in to stay planted where it belonged. but i persisted. i wanted this shell. with it's orange and shiny perfectly formed body. so i searched...and dove...and searched some more until i found it. i held that shell in my hands for a good while... mesmerized by finding such a gem this late in the game. but then the strangest thing happened...i went searching for more. the one thing i had looked for i had found...and within minutes i was already looking for something more beautiful...something more shiny...something more perfectly shaped. i caught myself of course...and laughed as i walked down the beach. and it set me up for weeks of thinking and watching and debating...

so here i sit today. on the corner of amsterdam and 86th street in new york city...watching the people pass by...waiting to see what the cards may hold....still wondering if there might be another shell out there. so much has passed...and i know there is no way to capture the last two months into this small entry...but i know this...my life has forever changed. and that shell...it may be the most perfect find ever...but when i looked at it closer i realized it's contour was misshapen...it's growth edges had been made smooth by all the tumbling it had taken from across the ways. and so i sit. realizing that the last two years of my life served to smooth out my edges. soften me into the perfect vessel that i can be. here. now. constantly growing...evolving...shifting..but always perfectly designed.

i am about to interview for the 'step up from' job that was designed for me through all the tumbling i have done in this lifetime. every upside down inside out twist has softened me and shifted me a bit more into the next piece that fits...perfectly. when i talk to people...virtual strangers...about what i do...what my passion is...they tell me i am selfless and altruistic...and it's odd. i am me. i couldn't do anything else. i couldn't be involved with any other type of work. my life was designed in this manner and this direction. it's not for any other reason than the seas led me here. and i find...as i sit watching the movement of the city and waiting for the next piece to fit into the puzzle...i am no longer looking for another shell down the beach. the one i currently hold is the one that was destined to be.

so my service has ended through the peace corps and is now extending into the next piece of the world. and so...i must bid adieu to this part of the puzzle...not because it is done but because it has moved...and so am i. so as i open myself up to the fluidity of the universe and allow it all to rush in...i will pause. and breathe...and guarantee...another chapter will begin soon.

so much love and gratitude to all of you who have followed my travels as i have learned, expanded and grown. stay tuned for the next book....until then...go find your shell. xoxox


from the heart...

some days are so profound...they snap you back into a reality you had long since trailed away from. people reminding you of your heart, your worth, your wealth. the girls center has been on a strike for the past week and with it no classes, no girls, no interaction and a certainty that my time in saint lucia would come to a screeching halt without a single good-bye or hug from the group of women and girls that have become my family. i understood of course, they are fighting for their right to increased wages and appreciation. but what was around the corner for me was so incredible even now my heart is bursting open with a love and tenderness i haven't felt in a long time. all of the women came into the center during strike to say good-bye and with them the girls. we had a nice lunch and a ceremony at the end of the day where we got to share with one another. there was not a dry eye in the room...mine producing the most moisture. it's rare that you sit in a room and hear of the impact you have made, the goodness you have instilled, the lives you have affected. it's rare to hear of the ways in which just being yourself proved powerful enough to impact a world view. and today was one of those days. where i heard. one by one staff and girls stood up and told me how i have impacted their lives. i was told how my tattoos were a put off in the beginning but taught to look beyond the exterior and look into the hearts of people to find truth. i was told how my ability to be me without fear of what others thought allowed for openness and gratitude. i was thanked for my words and my willingness to always have the girls backs...and how that simple gesture allowed them to open and listen and make life changes that will affect them for years to come. i was told how simply listening and connecting with a japanese volunteer helped her to settle and find her way a little more easily. i was given love. so much love. and it made me realize that in the year that i was unsure and uncertain but kept pushing on i was making a difference. i was having a powerful impact in ways i could have never imagined...and it made me realize how important we are as humans to one another. without ever sharing with the girls my own history or background...how i have been in their shoes...i was able to connect. i was able to listen. i was heard. it made me realize how powerful it is to put your differences aside...leave the struggles and pain at the door and push through no matter the situation...because it is that day in that moment that you might change someone's life. it made me realize that human connection and authenticity is really the greatest gift we can offer one another and when we live from our hearts, speak from our hearts, breathe from our hearts, and allow with our hearts...we truly can change the world.
so funny. i came into the peace corps with that lofty goal. i was told numerous times that goal is impossible...think smaller or you will burn out. i came to my own realization that maybe just affecting one life would be enough...would create a ripple..but here i am on my way out certain yet again that it is within my capacity to truly change the world. every person in that room was impacted by me in some way today. and that is an incredible feeling. but what is even more incredible is that my entire life and being has been forever changed by each and every one of them. and only for the better.
i was chosen. and i am so grateful i was.


some days...

Some days...I love you Sent Lisi...with your sea breezes promising to blow away any discomfort or uncertainties. On these days it seems everything will always be right. I love you when my day is full of kids doing it...living and loving and letting go. Days like today...when I woke before sunrise and practiced on your silent predawn bliss. When I run into incredible friends and stay for leisurely chats as if the world has nowhere for me to be. When the sun kisses my skin and reminds me how important it is to give gratitude for the warmth of life and feeling. Days like today fill my soul and make me feel as though all the pieces of the world are in place...and I wonder...should I stay here forever...as if forever exists...but then inevitably...some of your undercurrent shows Sent Lisi and I find myself trembling inside...longing for space to tear my heart out and scream...how can you be so ugly while maintaining such a beautiful face.

It's true I've been struggling and my emotional state has been so unbalanced. These life changes that are on my horizon are nothing less than magnificent and pulling me in a million directions. It's true that my mainfestation skills are seemingly on point which draws from all directions...it may even be true that I have a little negative karma that needs working out...but this place...this angst...you can keep it. And you should tuck it far away in a place that no one has to see. Being verbally assaulted, ridiculed, disrespected, shamed, cursed at, and belittled for an entire bus ride home simply because I was there and you were drunk. It's not okay. It's not okay. Sitting around while it's occurring and laughing...it's not okay. Not saying anything...it's not okay. If you came to my country or my town or were in my space and someone treated you the way you did me...I would speak out for you. I would stop your hatred because it's wrong. But I am here...living and loving in your country and you do not for me Sent Lisi.

My heart aches today for the disenfranchised. For the voiceless. My heart aches for you Sent Lisi and the message you are sending to your visitors...because while this has been my home...it is forever yours. And if you do not stand for it...it will fall. I wish for no one to ever feel the way I did on that bus this afternoon. I wish for no one to have to hold back tears and wonder what they could or should do. I wish for you to never feel that way and for no one to ever put you in that position and if I am ever given the opportunity to stand for you...I will...a hundred times. Because that is love. Universal Love.

Tomorrow I will wake up Sent Lisi and I will rise with your predawn soul. And I will whisper on your winds for a quieter storm to pass through. And peace to lift you up.


i rise...

the beauty of this day...above was the morning. this afternoon i watched a group of young men drumming with a group of seasoned drummers for the 'i rise' campaign. i also ran into a host of incredible women that i know here in saint lucia and remembered once again to fall in love. 

day of babies...

this morning on my way to work i was struggling. because in case you haven't quite deduced yet, i am not a fan of castries...especially castries morning commuting. that being said...i was on the lookout for beauty. it was hard pressed to find but as i was walking there was a man strolling ever so gently with his son on the way to work. the little one couldn't have been more than 2 and was having a difficult time keeping up with his dad's long legs...ever so mindful dad stepped to the side with son so that i could pass. with a huge smile he said go ahead. immediately my mood lifted and i walked the rest of the way with a huge smile on my face. that was where it ended...or so i thought. on my way home i was looking....looking...i guess my head wasn't in the game...but then when i turned the corner and approached my yard i saw this:


moment of clarity...

as i was leaving work today and walking through castries to reach the bus...i got held up in front of a woman walking in the opposite direction. we stopped and did the little side step to the same direction that you do when you get caught up with another human and in that moment i remembered connectedness. and beauty. out the window of the bus on my way home traffic was stopped in both directions to allow a bull and his girlfriend to pass to the other side of the road. in that instant i fell in love again.
so....i have decided to post the little pieces of beauty i see each day. some days may be more trying than others but with the focus i am sure to remember. and reconnect.


finding home again.

this post is inspired by something i read on elephantjournal today. a yoga blog dedicated to truth and honesty in all it's forms:  http://www.elephantjournal.com/2013/02/the-unbearable-heaviness-of-being-human/

the past few weeks i have been having deep internal struggles. my heart has gripped, wrapped, and closed itself tightly into the cave it once lived in. i spent years breaking through those barriers to open myself up to love and honesty and beauty in all its forms...but then...it went back into hiding. it crept up slowly...this heart wrenching...the anger. it started out subtly but continued to sneak up on me through the night until it was out in the open...blazing loudly...in every which direction i turned. i don't know what started it honestly...but if i take it back...the two years that i have been here in saint lucia have been intense. i have seen the deepest of human struggles, the hardest of human fights, the ugliest pieces of the human spirit. and i breathe, and i swim, and i sing, and i practice humility and patience and kindness...but it doesn't stop the pain...it doesn't deny the truth that humanity can be so incredibly destructive to it's own lifeblood...spirit.

so if i really check it...it may be all the pain and struggle i have endured while here. all the heartache i have shouldered and housed for the struggling. it may be the gap that brought me home to support only to be violently rung back into the reality of the yin and the yang. the balance that seems so incredible unbalanced most of the time. it may be the hurtful words, glances, unacknowledgment that builds and builds. it may be the uncertainty with which these two years that have bled into days, hours, and minutes which have become routine and commonplace are about to end...into complete unknown. it could be that all that pain and heartache is leading me to a path of the greatest awakening of my life. but it's undeniable...wherever it is coming from.

i read something today...a horoscope about preparing for the intense opening that will come after all this pain and destruction. after all the testing and hurdles and hoop jumping are over...to be prepared for the greatness that is on the horizon. i know that every hard turn leads to a straightaway until again another turn comes. such is life. i know that i will never forget the pain and heartache i witness on a daily basis here that has formed and nicked itself deeply into my heart and my soul. i will remember every time i come to the safety of my mat how much that space saved me when i felt my world was crashing in. i will remember how blessed i am to be surrounded by love and patience and goodness and how rare that is to find in the world.

i am so grateful for this experience in my life. and amazed at how it is ending and my emotional response as it rolls out. i suppose i can finally let go. and feel a little freer knowing....this too shall pass.


two months and a lifetime later...

i wouldn't even know how to begin to discuss the last two months or all of the realizations and revelations or backwards forwards motion that has been going on in my life. i've been out and about for the last month. i went home for my brother's graduation and christmas and then to jamaica for new years. i came back to saint lucia and just wrapped up my close of service for peace corps and in the midst of all of that have been riding through an existential crisis that i am sure is another rite of passage for those of us that choose peace corps, or really, for anyone who has chosen the wanderlust path less walked. so i don't know how to begin all the things i have realized over these past two months but i have a few poignant things standing out in my mind that i'd love to share with anyone who will listen. so here goes.

my time at home was pretty incredible. my first day back i went to a yoga class and at the end of class while in my final resting pose, i started sobbing. not just crying, sobbing. i couldn't figure out what was going on at first but as i settled into the emotions that were rising i realized that it was the first time in a long time that i felt safe. i felt fully supported on that hardwood floor and able to just let go. and so i did. i let my guard down, i stopped protecting myself around every corner. i breathed a little deeper, cried a little harder, and let go. and it was the first time i really stopped to check how all of the things i have experienced over these two years have affected me. peace corps doesn't come with a play by play of all the chaotic life situations you are about to walk into or a clear lesson on how to deal with the exponential growth that meets you around every corner and that no one else seems to understand. they don't really talk to you about the impact of having to quiet yourself or hold some of your most intricately beautiful pieces to yourself because they won't make sense in the culture you are in. and no one can prepare you for the impact of letting all those things go at one time when you reach a place that will allow you to do so. and so, on my mat that night, and many more nights to come, i let go. i got overwhelmed, i cried, i got lost, i got found...and i know it was just the tip of the iceberg to realizing where i have been and where i am yet to go.

when i reached jamaica i felt like maybe a new piece was opening up. a new understanding. jamaica has this special place in my soul. like when i get there i settle easily because somehow, deep inside, i know it. deeply. one of the most profound experiences i had there was standing on a seaside cliff in the countryside where the majority of the houses are tiny shacks built on land that does not belong to them but that have been standing for twenty or more years overlooking this view any american or westerner would pay ridiculous amounts of money to build their ginormous houses on. but here, the daily grind is waking up, making breakfast, sweeping, and resting. it made such an impression on me after coming from the excess of the states to see this small village where everyone knows each other full of love and laughter and life but holding on by threads. clean air, beauty around every turn and what seemed like a disregard for how amazing that all is. and it made me realize it doesn't really matter where you are in the world, the grass will always be greener on the other side. so as i sat and tried to figure out what my next steps in life might be, on that seaside cliff, i promised myself to never forget that every corner of the world holds this beauty and to never take any of it for granted and always remember the beauty in simplicity. it is so easy to get caught up in any direction...whether it's what you have, don't have, or want...we all are human...

so then saint lucia. i returned here with a fervor. a heightened sense of purpose and gratitude. i came back with this certainty that i wanted to extend my service and do the work i have been called to do. that lasted until the plane wheels hit the runway and then something in my soul started stirring. and then it was our close of service conference...and it kept stirring. and i've been confused and lost and guarded all over again. saint lucia has been my home for the last two years and peace corps my world view. thinking about walking away from that seems to make little to no sense. and so i have been fighting and fighting with myself and my fifteen minute mood swings. but today something profound happened...i stepped on my mat...which is where i always find myself again...it's like coming home over and over again. and through the entire practice it became more and more clear what i was doing and where i needed to be heading. i realized that if i stay in saint lucia i hold myself back from the next phase of growth that comes from this experience. i realized that i have so many dents and grooves to make on this planet that sitting in limbo...stagnant will not feed my soul and certainly will not feed this big beautiful world. from that point...i remembered my ultimate goal of working with youth in the juvenile justice system and incorporating yoga and meditation. i started to remember who i was again and i realized that when i came back this time i got lost quickly. so it's time to go. where, when, how? the doors are opening. but i know that the world is calling and i can't keep pretending like i don't hear. this experience, life, place has changed me forever...but now...it is time to see what i can do with that and how even more so it will affect others.

but....hang out...cause i might change my mind again in fifteen minutes.  ;)