Spain

Note:  This summer I went to Spain.  So much happened.  This blog post is a bit longer than I had anticipated.   I tried to only write about the highlights…but when you are a writer, this is what resulted.  So, I broke it up into two parts.  Here is part one.  Enjoy!

Spain … my very own eat, pray, love

I fell in love with the book “Eat, Pray, Love” by Elizabeth Gilbert several years ago.  I could picture myself in her shoes.  I dreamt about the day I would have my chance to live such a fulfilling life.  I really enjoyed and was inspired by all aspects of what those three parts entailed.  There was the over-indulgence and simply letting go of all the worries of life and simply enjoying.  The challenge of stripping away all the luxuries and diving into self-study.  And of course, the finding love.  Possibly true love.  I wasn’t looking to copy her life.  We are on different paths, as each of us on this planet are.  But I felt, I too, deserved this kind of fairytale sort of life.  Maybe not deserved.  But certainly desired.  Toward the end of my one-year cross county adventure, I met a woman who invited me to become a yoga teacher…in Spain.  Suddenly, the possibility of living my very own eat, pray, love was within grip. 

Being someone who is devoted to self-study, I understood I was embarking on some deep topics in my life: triggers, compassion, spirituality, attachment and love.  I knew I wasn’t completely prepared (are you ever in life, though?) however, I was going with an open heart and trusting fully in the universe.  I was going to Spain, some place I’ve never been before, not able to speak Spanish. I was traveling with someone who we tend to trigger each other but desperately want a deeper relationship.  I would be giving up, or at least suspending, my favorite things: alcohol, weed, bacon and sex. I was going to school where there would be tests.  Albeit I was learning something I was interested in, but my history of freezing on tests or giving up before the final, was pretty high.  And yet, with all the obstacles, I was still going into this adventure with the attitude that everyday would be the Best Day Ever!

My trip was split up into three parts.  The “eat” portion would be the first week.  Here, I would travel with my mother, get my bearings and of course, enjoy the food.  The second portion would be four weeks long.  Here, I would learn what Kundalini Yoga really is and what it means to “pray”, have devotion and faith. My last three weeks in Spain, I would reflect on everything I had just gone through and find out if there truly was “love” after the eat and pray…

“Eat”

The night before we left on our epic journey, my mother and I had a fight.  We were not off to a great start.  Mother-daughter relationships are complicated.  We are affected more deeply by the words the other is saying than if we had been simply close friends.  We are each other, mirrors that we deny and refuse to look at.  Defense mechanisms are on high alert.  And without boundaries, even consciously aware people are triggered and lose their shit.  Despite the conflict, I slept well and was eager for our journey together.  I prepared for success the morning of departure by buying a journal, a breakfast sandwich and time.  I sat in a park and meditated.  In meditation, I asked for guidance to set boundaries and chanted my mantra “I am worthy of giving AND receiving love.” 

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Our route took us from Seattle, WA (USA) to Vancouver, BC (Canada) to Heathrow, England and finally to Barcelona, Spain.

As we had a long layover at our first stop in Canada, the eating portion began immediately.  We enjoyed muscles in a white wine butter sauce, salmon sushi and each others company.  I kept up my routine of Hatha Yoga and Muay Thai kickboxing practice while watching rampers on the tarmac load and unload planes.  And of course, we met new friends.  After several hours, we finally climbed upon the airbus, a plane neither my mother or I had ever been on before.  There were two entrances.  One for those on the bottom deck and another entrance for those of us on the first deck.  This plane was massive.  And the lovely British Crew was friendly and organized.  Our flight took us over the north pole where it never got dark.  I was assigned a window seat.  I was excited to see new sights.  Unfortunately, we were sitting in an emergency exit row without a proper window so I never really saw anything.  We were however sitting across from the flight attendant that was especially cheery as it was his second flight of his new career.  It was great to be in his presence.  The night before’s argument became a distant memory as we time traveled from airport to airport. 

The next airport was Heathrow in England.  Without a gate assignment, mom and I decided to share some pizza.  Mom was pretty tired as she had taken a sleeping aid and it was just now really kicking in.  It was quite amusing.  As the food arrived, I decided to check where our plane was.  Good thing I did as our flight was boarding and our names being called.  We boxed up the fancy overpriced pizza and dashed to our seats.  This flight wasn’t too long but after 20+ hours of travel, I was ready to land. 

We took a taxi to our apartment on Rambla del Poblenou, a cute and quite street in a neighborhood of Barcelona.  We were greeted by one of the nicest hosts, Mercedes.  She made us feel at home immediately…instantly we became friends.  Mom and I settled into our new home quite comfortably.  And despite being exhausted, we shared tapas at what would become our favorite restaurant, La Biennal. 

 

Each day was filled with exploring the city, great food, laughter, siestas, more great food, and miracles.  Sometimes miracles involved undercover police, some simply the kindness of others, including being handed a free city bus tour ticket and one where an African drum, that I dreamt about, became available for only 15euro.  It was exciting to have my mother begin witnessing my life in a way I experience daily.  And I began witnessing her as my true self in another form.  I saw her for who she is. I began dropping judgement, years of resentment and defensiveness.  It became amusing, enriching and healing.  Our bond to one another, our conversations with each other and our love for one another deepened immensely.

As my mom’s journey in Spain came to an end, we celebrated her 60th birthday with our new friends.  It was so amazing to be apart of.  I am blessed to be my mother’s daughter!

“Pray”

With my backpack, hand bag and new drum, I boarded the metro (Barcelona’s subway system) and headed to Badalona, just north of Barcelona.  I was greeted by Nadi, the woman who blessed me with this opportunity, with a warm hug. I was the first student there. She noted how “American” that was…not only was I on time, I was early.  I was amused by this statement as I had recently been to a consciousness workshop in Boston where we spent 5 days attempting to get the entire group to commit to arriving on time. A difficult feat.  I thought “Americans have a hard time being on time too. Maybe its just a human thing.”  But I quickly learned that Spanish people really don’t regard time the same way as I was raised. In fact, dinner in Spain is typically served around 10pm.  And everyone seems to mosey in when they feel like it.  20 minutes after class began, people were still straggling in.  And we, as a class, quickly learned the importance of being on time or being locked out until the first break (there was no set time for break, mind you…sitting on the steps patiently waiting became a ritual for some). 

There were many challenges, not just being on time:

  • Cultural differences – we had people from all over the world
  • language barriers (including being a bi-lingual class where only half the students could understand both languages fluently), and despite how hard I tried, I could not retain Spanish
  • learning Sanskrit and being able to differentiate it from Spanish or Catalan
  • retaining any of the massive amounts of information being spewed at us
  • heat – it was humid and no air conditioning
  • theft – while our class was in meditation, someone boldly entered the studio and stole Nadi’s backpack which had her only copy and un-backed-up yoga manual on it…so many challenges and lessons here
  • Mosquitos – at one point I had 60 bites on just my right arm
  • Removing a bat from the kitchen at 5 in the morning – this was an interesting challenge of relying on the universe to work through me to calm the bat down (and the girls in the house) long enough to help him escape.  This was pure magic!
  • tiredness from lack of sleep
  • attempting to be vegan when my body literally craved meat but psychologically I was disgusted with the suffering and trying to make sense of it all spiritually
  • muscle soreness from hours of daily practice
  • emotional overwhelm (especially as an empath who could feel everyone else’s energy)
  • communication – or miscommunication or other peoples lack of
  • Internet and wifi issues – the town I lived in lost all internet and wifi for weeks and when it was working it was intermittent and slow.  This would have been fine, letting go of technology, except part of our homework required it.
  • Long commutes – the ranch where I and a few other students were staying was over an hour drive from class
  • Being lost – every day!
  • And being around people 24/7 … this was probably the hardest for me.

Despite the many challenges, or perhaps because of them, my experience was extremely enriching and powerful.  Witnessing the magic of the universe was intensified these 4 weeks of class. I was learning to move energy through my chakras while holding body locks in order to awaken my soul.  I was eager and open.  But quickly found myself overwhelmed within days.   In class, we discussed the eight limbs, a yogic way of ethically and meditatively living.  And we were encouraged to sustain from animal products, drugs and alcohol.  We also discussed sex and whether or not to have it.  I had sex days before leaving the states so I thought I would be fine.  I had been alcohol free for weeks and had popped my last dose of cannabis right before boarding the plane.  These three things I thought I had under control.  But now I was attempting to be vegan.  My mind and body wrestled each other. 

Toward the end of week one I was showing signs of getting sick.  My glands in my throat were swollen.  I was dehydrated, exhausted and running a fever.  The emotions and energy moving through my body caused me to cry every day in class.  Fortunately, swimming in the sea helped to clear some of the overwhelm.  But it wasn’t enough.

On Sunday, our first day off, I woke with a bloody nose and a high fever.  I did not have an appetite.  I tried to stay positive.  Practicing karma yoga, I cleaned the bathrooms and swept the floors of the ranch where I was staying.  I needed to do my homework and practice my kriya as we had a test the next day.  But my body was done.  I felt like death.  I crawled into bed to cry but didn’t have the energy to do so.  Thankfully there was another witch in the house.  My moon sister from Honduras took me under her wing.  She placed crystals around me, chanted and smudged.  She dabbed oils on me, made me a magic brew and changed the cloth on my head regularly.  I laid in bed trusting this woman’s connection to source and allowed the universe to take hold of my body to heal.  I did crawl out of bed long enough to sing happy birthday to our flat mate from France and taste the amazing vegan beet cake my new bff made.  But that was all I could handle.  I laid in bed and listened to the girls outside sing to the full moon.  “Sara saa saa, Sara saa saa, sar rung.  Har ray har har, Har ray har har, har rung”.  I wanted to join them but really it was best I stayed horizontal.  Being a moon worshiper, I relished in the chanting and began letting go of my sickness. 

Before going to bed, my moon sister laid over me and held me tight.  She whispered in my ear “Adventure, you will feel better in the morning.”  She dabbed some “breathe” essential oil on my feet, hands and head and kissed my forehead before escaping to pray or chant or howl at the moon or whatever it is that Witch needed to do.  And I fell into a deep sleep. 

In the morning, I woke completely fresh.  “Best Day Ever!” I cheered.  The sickness was gone and I was ready for the new week!

That first day of week two, I passed my test.  I also moved energy through my chakras.  I chanted, practiced breathing techniques, moved through asanas, meditated and studied philosophy.  And by the end of class I was being held by my new bff as I sobbed.  Everything was intense.  I welcomed the intensity and was thankful I was no longer sick.   

Week two of Kundalini, my sex drive was on fire.  Every sensation was heightened.  Who knew that awakening your soul would mean learning to harness your sexual power?  It wasn’t about pushing it down or denying it.  No, this was about feeling the sensations in my body without giving them away. Toward the end of the week, I felt like I was going to explode.  And my mind taunted me every step.  I wasn’t smoking weed.  I wasn’t drinking.  I wasn’t eating animals.  I wasn’t having sex.  I was going crazy.  I gave in one day.  I ate a chicken wrap.  It was orgasmic.  It completely grounded me.  I decided at that moment vegan wasn’t working.  I didn’t want to completely go back to meat, just this one time.  I would change to vegetarian for the remainder of the course.  I was happy with my decision and immediately added eggs and ice cream to my diet. 

Now, half way through the course, I went to a festival in Barcelona.  It was wild, the people in the parade were dressed as devils and everyone had big sparklers whizzing around.  There was even a bull that shot off fireworks.  It was loud and crazy and so much fun.  My bff and I danced all night in celebration of life and wonder.  We both kept remarking “Wow, this is happening right now!”  It was a great night.

Week three began with me being the first student teaching.  I lead our class through a full Kundalini structure.  I taught the Nahbi Kriya.  The Nahbi is your navel area.  It’s also where your third chakra, the solar plexus, is.  That pent up sexual energy of the class began moving out of our Sacral chakra (pleasure and creation energy) into our core (willpower and confidence).  It was amazing to watch and feel the transition.  It also was humbling to sit and listen to feedback from each classmate.  There were only a few things for me to work on but most of the feedback was “It feels like you’ve been teaching your whole life”.  This reminded me the path I am on is the right one.  And although I am anxious about teaching on a regular basis, it’s okay to slow down and rely on the wisdom of those before me.  They will help guide me…as they always do.

For the remainder of the third week, everything began feeling normal.  Even all the challenges.  I still was not understanding everything in class, but that felt normal.  We were still barely making it to class on time, this also felt normal.  And I still wasn’t getting any sleep or eating enough…normal.  But our little family at the ranch was bonding over music and found ourselves every night singing, dancing and drumming.  This too was normal.  Life was sweet!

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The girls and I, at the ranch began week four with a New Moon Ceremony.  It was quite special and our bond to each other was enhanced.  I could finally see the mirror of each of them in me.  I could see how I manifested them into my life.   And vise versa.  It was quite special.  We shared food and stories.  We chanted and sang songs.  We spoke of our dreams and intensions.  All under candlelight.   

As I eased into the new and final week, my ego took hold.  In class, our guru’s teacher taught us about the 10 bodies (we are all made up of the physical body, three mental bodies and six energy bodies) and tantric numerology (effective means to align with your higher self).  We were lead through a series of moves called a Kriya that really opened up and exhausted my body.  My kundalini energy was flowing and I just wanted to meditate.  But it was time to discuss our numerology paths.  This interest me a great deal so I fought with the notion of meditation and impatiently sat through each person’s conversation with the teacher.  I even found myself unsettled with the teacher’s explanation of my path.  “Your path is to breathe and be aware of your energy as it affects other people’s.”  Really?  I already know this…I was expecting something more profound.  Ugh.  

20170714_142145099_iOSAll the way home, my ego festered on those words.  My blood was boiling.  My life is not just about breathing… are you fucking kidding me?  As I walked in the house on the ranch, I found myself suddenly unable to remain calm.  My body shook as I began screaming.  I looked at my flat mates with flames shooting out of my eyes, “I’m going for a walk”.  I stormed out of the house and headed up to the cemetery.  

I grumbled and swore the whole way.  I was pissed.  There was only one (person) who could fix this, help me to understand what this “teacher” was talking about, prove to him and the rest of the world that I was better than just my effing breath.  At the front gates of the cemetery, I reached out to the sky and yelled, “Okay god, universe, goddess, infinity of love, what ever you need to be called right now…WE NEED TO TALK!”   

And just at that moment, the heavens opened up and it began hailing.  It had been sunny skies for weeks and at that moment, god spoke.  As I found cover under a tree, I laughed, “or I’ll just sit here and listen.”  The hail pelted the ground around me.  I had no where to go.  I just sat there and…breathed. 

…stay tuned for part two…

Love and Hugs, Adventure (aka Adventure Mel)

 

 

 

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We are all one…act like it…

I am not in anyway dismissing the awful display of humanness that occurred in Charlottesville, VA. It was deliberate, tragic and an attempt to divide us even more. I don’t believe in fighting against anything. I do believe in uniting and standing up for each other. We are all one. Including those we hate. They are still a part of us.  

My heart is broken and tears come very easy right now. I wish I knew exactly what to do to stop this war of divide. We all deserve to be here. Every single one of us.  

This tragic story of man kind turning on himself is not a new story. It’s been happening ever since our ego discovered our uniqueness….since the beginning of man. It stems from fear. It’s a shame, especially when you realize how small we are compared to the entire cosmos. We are specks of dust with a god-complex. Me included. I am not innocent. I roll my eyes and turn away from the beggars in the street here in Spain on the daily. I judge the loud partiers who won’t let me sleep in the hostel. Why? Why do I do this? 

It’s time to look even deeper inside. After all, we are all mirrors. We are each other. I could walk away and not be a part of it…but what would that solve? I could give in and join them or give all my money away…but what would that solve? No, all of this suffering is much deeper. It’s everywhere wearing a million different masks.  

“Our discomfort arises from all our efforts to put ground under our feet, to realize our dream of constant okay-ness. When we resist change, it’s called suffering. But when we can completely let go and not struggle against it, when we can embrace the groundlessness of our situation and relax into its dynamic quality, that’s called enlightenment, or awakening to our true nature, to our fundamental goodness. Another word for this is freedom – freedom from struggling against the fundamental ambiguity of being human” Living Beautifully with uncertainty and change by Pema Chodron

The other day I decided to sit under a bridge and listen to the footsteps of the thousands of people crossing it. There, under the bridge were a handful of beggars. The ones I had turned away from a million times. All men. All dirty. None of them spoke my language. I had been taught to keep my distance, to be prepared to protect myself and run away. But this day I chose to relax and see them as myself. An amazing thing occurred. They took me under their wing. They fed me, sheltered me, showed me magic tricks, and even some self defense. They spent what little they had on me. They gave to me as if I was their sister, their friend. We communicated through hand gestures, smiles and love.  

Tragic events, homelessness, hate crimes, war and politics cause me great suffering and its hard to see light in it all. Being treated as a human by those I turned my back on reminded me we are actually all in this together and there IS HOPE and GOODNESS in this world.  
So I don’t have the answers as to how to fix all of this madness. I do, however, know my responsibility is to dig deep within myself, relax into the flow of life and to love bigger and bolder each day.  

I manifested this…

Do you ever just have one of those days? You know, where your car cylinder spits out the spark plug so you are stuck on the side of the road? Both times it happened to me, I couldn’t have been happier for the chance to practice just being in the now. I wasn’t stressed. Tired, maybe. Not sure where the money was coming from. But grateful, for sure.

The first time was a couple of weeks ago. I was driving back to Seattle from Vegas, after a short visit in Utah. I made it all the way to North Bend, WA. I was almost there when my car suddenly sounded like a lawn mower. I pulled over and immediately knew I needed a tow truck. Wires were ripped, brackets broken and a sparkplug on top of the engine. Did not look good.

I made several phone calls, each helpful and leading to the next call. With confirmation that a tow truck was on its way, the waiting game began. I took that time to stand in the sun and thank the universe for all my blessings given and coming. It made for a happy wait.

Randy, the tow truck driver, was amazing! He was friendly and extremely helpful. He took one look at my engine and knew immediately he could fix it. Which he did! He also shared war stories and how he lost a finger. I hugged him twice! As I was leaving he waived and called out “Now, you are that much closer to Spain!”

Yes! I’m heading to Spain on Monday for two months. And I certainly needed my car to make some money. Especially since I’ve been delivering food. It was my “delivering food to eat food” plan. And with Randy’s help, I was off to a good start.

I also want to point out that I did not suffer from anxiety. Nor did I suffer from worry or negative thoughts. I was in the flow of life. And I couldn’t be happier. With that being said, I was very aware of how little was in my bank account.

My practice is viewing everything as an opportunity to gather information and grow. This has been a game changer. And it has changed my relationship with myself and how I suffer.

“The goodness of suffering is something real. Without suffering there cannot be happiness. Without mud there cannot be any lotus flowers. So if you know how to suffer, suffering is OK. And the moment you have that attitude, you don’t suffer much anymore. And out of suffering, a lotus flower of happiness can open.”

– Thich Nhat Hanh 

When I think of suffering, I think about my grandpa who passed away one year ago, today. It was sudden and unexpected. His body was attacked by gangrene after an open-heart surgery. He had to have limbs amputated. Although he worked hard in recovery, and despite his positive attitude and great effort, he surrendered to the suffering and quickly began his soul adventure. It only took a few days. It was difficult and beautiful to witness.

It wasn’t that long ago I, too, was suffering. Thankfully not from gangrene or open-heart surgery. But it did involve my heart. I was heart-broken and I was in a downward spiral of attachment, abandonment and sorrow. I saw no way out. I wanted my suffering to end. And as hard as I tried, I could not seem to control the suffering. I felt as though I had to surrender.

In surrendering to my suffering, I dug deep into myself. This released blocked energy and I began healing generational wounds. Everything has more meaning to me and every moment counts. So how did I surrender? How did I work with the pain? And most intriguing, how did this healing drive me to Spain? Well, it’s been a long and on-going process that I am currently writing a book about. So, stay tuned. However, what I will share is in December, before I left Arizona to head to Seattle to get my tabs renewed and begin healing, I fatefully met someone who would help transform my life and give me hope. She gave me 6 months to get my life together and open up my chakras. Then I would meet her in Barcelona, where she would train me to become a Kundalini Yoga Instructor.

“Kundalini is the term for a “spiritual energy or life force located at the base of the spine, conceptualized as a coiled-up serpent.” The practice of Kundalini yoga is supposed to arouse the sleeping Kundalini Shakti from its coiled base through the 6 chakras, and penetrate the 7th chakra, or crown”
 

 -Wikipedia 

My healing these last 6 months included:

• 10 weeks of Muay Thai Kickboxing

• Hundreds of sun salutations

• New Moon and Full Moon Rituals

• Crying, weeping really, on my yoga mat

• Deep, meaningful and vulnerable conversations

• Lots and lots of pushups

• Meditation, mantras, pradas, chanting and drumming

• Writing chapters upon chapters

• Creating art

• Walking barefoot in the desert

• Connecting with my breath

• So much more…again, stay tuned for a book…or three!

One of the most therapeutic and beautiful ways I worked through my suffering was creating art. What I thought would be dark and painful turned out to be my “light and love” series.


I am no longer suffering and am heading out to Spain on Monday.

A few days ago, I found myself, once again, on the side of the road with a spark plug ejected from the engine with a little more damage than before. It wiped out half of my savings, which wasn’t much to begin with. As I stood on the side of the road gathering information and looking for opportunities to grow, I saw how I manifested this. All of it really.

I wanted to fall in love. I did. I wanted to understand my triggers. I was triggered. A lot. I gathered information each time. I used to say, “I have to learn the hard way” and “I have to hit rock bottom to really grow”. Manifested the fuck out of those two statements. I now say “I am worthy of giving and receiving love” and “the whole universe is on my side”. Manifesting that now! I wanted to continue my spiritual journey and become a yoga instructor. That is happening. The universe brought the people I needed in my life to make that happen. And I wanted to experience life with bare minimum so that I could fully trust the universe. I manifested my car problems and ultimately minimal money. I do trust the universe. I trust myself. I also know life doesn’t have to be hard anymore. So, when I return from Spain I will be putting my art up for sale. Maybe some of you would like to support me on my quest to becoming the best version of myself while I still have time on this earth.

I want to open up my crown chakra. I want to arouse the sleeping Kundalini Shakti. I want to understand how I move energy. I want to understand deeper who I am and claim my healing powers. I want to love deeply and vulnerably. I want to learn to grow dirt. I want to talk to trees. I am a student of this earth and my connection to my soul and source are strong.

My grandpa would be proud of how I am living my life and the continual steps I take.

I will catch up with all of you when I return. Enjoy your summer and connection with your breath.

Love and Hugs, Adventure Mel

Perspective on finding my bravery

Recently I went to Boston, MA where I attended a personal mastery workshop. You know, a three to five day self improvement workshop where you work on vulnerability and learn about your personal strengths. We talked about the way the mind works, mindfulness, archetypes, Heart space, essence , choices and respect. We meditated, shared in groups, made connections, played and worked on trust. For some, this was a real turning point. An awakening in their lives. For some, it was a real struggle. A mirror they were not prepared for. For me, it was continued personal growth and a real defining point of bravery and freedom.  

One particular exercise I participated in was called “life boat”. It began with a meditation.  
I quite enjoy meditation. I have been meditating for some years now. I practice nearly every moment I can. Washing the dishes mindfully has become a joyful practice. But not all meditation is joyful. Sometimes it’s heart wrenching and healing.

When I closed my eyes and placed my hand on my heart, I was aware I was entering into a familiar yet uncomfortable place. As I was guided, suddenly I found myself on an airplane, over the ocean, about to crash. My palms began to sweat, heat rushed through my body and tears poured from eyes. My heart pounded faster and faster. PTSD was flooding my being.  

I have never been in a plane crash. I have lost a lover in one though.  

I was uncomfortable and wanted to run away. My practice for months had been “sitting in my uncomfortableness” and this night was a true test to what I was learning.  

Tears poured as I sat there feeling. Memories of my lovers crash flooded my mind. I acknowledged each thought as “a thought” and brought my attention to the safety of my heart space. I let myself be on the plane. I felt the shaking. I could hear the screaming of fear and metal twisting. I noticed my breathing. Everything was spinning. Just sitting in my chair became a struggle. I wanted to scream. I wanted to crawl out of my own skin.  

“Open your eyes”

I was shaking and crying. I needed to leave.

As calmly and swiftly as I could, I walked to the back of the room through an ocean of emotional souls. The empath in me was overwhelmed. The ptsd was persistent. The protector in me was looking for safety . The buddhist, grounding.  

As I pushed through the doors, words exploded “Fuck. Fuckity Fuck! I was not expecting that”. I found a hallway and collapsed. I began sobbing.  

The cold floor helped ground me. In fact if I lifted my hands, I would immediately lose control. And the second I touched the cold floor with my hands, I felt grounded. It was surreal to experience.  

A group of women lovingly surrounded me. They asked me what I needed. To my surprise, I clearly and concisely expressed my needs. “Touch is fine. Please don’t move me. I am grounding myself”. And with that, I did. Suddenly I could lift my hands to my heart and sit up. I deeply breathed.  

I excused myself.

After getting up and washing my hands and face, I looked in the mirror and smiled. I understood my freedom. I knew it was time to be brave.

As I returned to the group of women, I told them I needed to return to the exercise. They turned to each other and discussed it, as if they had a choice in the matter. How cute. Then one woman stopped the discussion, turned to me and explained what I was about to walk in on. I was going to be asked to defend why I deserve one of the few seats on the lifeboat. Was I prepared to do that?

I looked this woman in the eye “Ready? No. But I still am going to do it” with a big grin, she opened the door for me. I bravely walked back into that room.

Groups of people sat on the floor while one person from each group had 40 seconds to stand and plead their case. Some gave up their seat. Some begged to be saved. Some froze and stood there balling. Some didn’t stand at all. Others still, calmly and bravely stood up for themselves. They had a purpose. Then it was my turn.  

I, again, as calmly and bravely as I could, stood before my group. I took a deep breath. “I’ve lived a full life and I have zero regrets. I give up my seat. And it feels appropriate to die in a plane crash, as my lover did too.” The room fell silent. I stood in my power for the remaining 30 seconds. It was unbelievably uncomfortable. And incredibly empowering. 

The next part of the exercise we stood before our group again as we were voted in or out of the lifeboat. Receiving criticism, even helpful, is a challenge for the ego. I welcomed it. After all, wasn’t this the whole reason I was there, to learn more about myself? Yes, of course.  

The first person did not vote me in and said they saw my reaction as suicidal. The next person did not vote me in either because I asked them not to. However who they felt I was did not match my words of surrender so it was not their preferred choice . The next several people also believed my words did not match my essence. They felt I should be on the boat because I would make a great leader. Except they DID vote me in, even though I asked them not to.  

So whose right? The person who respected my wishes and let me give up my seat? The people who said I would be a great leader and voted me in anyways? Was my reaction suicidal?  

I did not feel suicidal. I know what that feels like. Yet, I could see how it would appear that way. I was letting go.

I am a great leader. And I am helpful in chaotic situations. Great leaders also make sure everyone is safe first. Giving up my seat could be viewed as brave.

And the person who respectfully voted me off the boat, their decision was not one they wanted to make. My essence or light shines much too brightly.

So I suppose we were all right. It just depends on who’s shoes you are in. It’s all perspective.  

The next morning, after the best rest I had all weekend, we finished the exercise by sharing what we gained from this experience. Standing tall with confidence, I spoke “Last night was one of the hardest things I ever went through. I struggled with PTSD. However I found that my vulnerability and strength go hand in hand instead of one or the another. Also for the first time ever, I recognized my bravery as it was happening. And most importantly, I learned I did not abandon myself”

I did not abandon myself. I am both brave and vulnerable. I am a warrior.

I am thankful for this entire experience. I learned so much about myself.

A few weeks later I had a dream I was in a plane crash. No one should have survived. Yet I found myself at the doorstep of the person who created, founded and facilitated the workshop I was at. When she opened the door she was both surprised and not surprised to see me. When you are that connected with the universe , you expect the unexpected. My only words to her were, “I got on the fucking life boat.” She embraced me and I woke up…laughing. 

Love and hugs, Adventure 

Creating Happiness 

Chatting with a friend this morning about a ritual I have created.  I call it “Best Day Ever” or BDE for short.  Basically since January 1st of this year the first three words out of my mouth are “Best Day Ever!” 

Another part of the ritual, I read the corresponding day’s message from Thich Nhat Hahn’s book “Your True Home”.  The entire message is about mindfulness. Something I need more of.  

Today is day 83

A Deeper View of Life

The work of acknowledging everything in mindfulness leads us to a deeper view of what life is. It is very important to understand that impermanence is not a negative aspect of life. Impermanence is the very basis of life. If what exists were not impermanent, no life could continue. If a grain of corn were not impermanent , it could not become a corn plant. If a tiny child were not impermanent, she could not grow into an adult.

Life is impermanent, but that does not mean that it is not worth living. It is precisely because of its impermanence that we value life so dearly. Therefore we must know how to live each moment deeply and use it in a responsible way. If we are able to live the present moment completely, we will not feel regret later. We will know how to care for those who are close to us and how to bring them happiness. When we except that all things are impermanent, we will not be incapacitated by suffering when things decay and die. We can remain peaceful and content in the face of continuity and change, prosperity and decline, success and failure.

I forward the message to several friends I have felt called to share it with along with the text: “Best Day Ever”.  

Some of my friends, including the one I was chatting with this morning are finding themselves forwarding the message along too. This brings me great joy.  

I was sharing with my friend why I began this ritual.  I needed a way to change my thought patterns.  It wasn’t that long ago my mind spun out of control and I lost my happiness and will to live.  Basically I had become incapacitated by my own suffering.  Things are different now.  I understand that my mind needs nurturing too.  This is only one of the many things I have been doing to help myself.  But this one really sets the tone for the day.  And sharing it with others has kept me accountable.  

Life is hard enough…its my job to nurture myself, heal myself and love myself…this is how I create my happiness!  And being mindful keeps me in the present moment. 

Happy Adventure Friday, my friends!  And have the Best Day Ever!! 

Love and hugs, Adventure Mel

A Year of Adventure 

One year ago today I left for quite the adventure. Being lead by the universe, listening to my inner self and seizing once in a life time moments, I drove through 39 states and stayed in 25 of them.  I visited over 25 National Parks, Monuments and Forests.  I hiked trails all over the country.  Wow is earth beautiful! I witnessed hundreds of sunrises and sunsets. Some so spectacular, tears poured down my cheeks.  

For those of you who don’t know, I turned my car into a camper.  It had three rows of seats and I took out the back two.  With my uncle’s help, I built a storage box that held my pantry, art supplies, tools and misc items.  On top of that I put a twin mattress…a real bed!! Surrounding the bed I built shelves and misc cubbies to hold all my things.  (I even have a little library filled with books on astrology, meditation, living in the moment, yoga, mindful eating and tantric sex.). The ceiling was put to good storage use as well.  I attached netting to hold clothes, maps and miscellaneous items.  I even hung tapestries up completing the “blanket fort” feel.  

Although my camper was super comfy, I only slept in my car 1/3 of the time.  The rest of the time family and friends, both old and new showered their love and generosity on me.  

I am blessed for sure!

Without a clear plan, my journey led me around the country in figure eights.  Living my whole year “feeling” it out, I stopped when I needed to and picked up and got going when I felt called to. This is not to say I didn’t plan at all.  Quite the contrary.  Planning included reviewing maps, checking weather, deciding which National Parks to visit and looking over my budget.  Because of planning I was able to check off three bucket list items (Crater Lake, New England in Autumn and the Florida Keys). What I didn’t plan but rather allowed to unfold were the routes I would take, friends I would meet, daily adventures I would have and all the emotions I would face.  

I sit here now in the same place I left a year ago.  It’s raining just as it was then.  Today feels surreal.  As it did then too.  I find many similarities between then and now.  Including exciting adventures that await me and the mysteries in between.  I am eager as I was before.  This time though, I have a year of experience in uncharted territory and “feeling” my way through this magical thing we call life!

Left: day one (2/19/2016), Right: day 365

Happy Adventuring my friends!  Love and hugs, Adventure Mel

Nurturing My Soul

“Now, more than ever, it is important to nurture my soul” 

-Adventure 

17 years ago today I lost friends, co-workers and a lover in a plane crash.  I miss and love them all dearly.  

So much has happened since that day.  

In fact, so much has happened in just one year.  A year ago, today, I worked my last shift, promptly had to recover from bronchitis and pneumonia, and two weeks later began a journey that would have me doing figure eights around this country.  

Today, I find myself back where I started a year ago.  I sit here contemplating my life story, attempting to write a book about my adventures while simultaneously moving forward in my life.  It feels very surreal.  And at times, overwhelming.  

My emotions lately have been on overdrive.  It can be exhausting.  It’s also very therapeutic and healing.  And I give myself the time and space to “feel”.   I don’t hide from my feelings…. they are actually my super power!  

Which is why now, more than ever, it is important to nurture my soul. 

Nurturing my soul takes many forms.  It is important for me to eat well, get enough rest, move my body, spend time meditating, and be creative.  The important thing is to listen to my soul.  To really listen.  And to do what needs to be done.  And sometimes that something is spending time on my yoga mat.  Sometimes it’s making a delicious healthy meal.  Sometimes it’s simply weeping and feeling.  Sometimes it’s getting up and dancing.  Sometimes it’s volunteering.  Sometimes it’s running.  Sometimes….it’s always changing.  Just like life.  

Life is amazing and a blessing.  But sometimes life is hard, confusing and quite shitty.  It’s important to nurture your soul. It brings you back to center.  It helps you to cope.  It helps you to keep moving forward by simply being present in the now.  This is especially helpful when your mind is stuck in the past or anxious about the future. Or both at the same time…ugh.

When nurturing your soul, remember to be kind to yourself.  You deserve to be cared for, loved and happy.  We all do.  

It’s up to us to be the change in this world we want to see.  Well, I want a world where nurturing our souls is the normal.  So that’s what I’m doing. It’s not always pretty, especially when snot is running down my face on to my yoga mat.  But I’m here, nurturing my soul.  And I am grateful for this time and space.

Love and hugs, Adventure Mel