18 June 2014

Travel: Following Through with 2014 Intentions

As many of you know, I will be taking my first big, personal, international trip at the end of this week. Per my commitment to myself to honor omens, step outside of my safe space, and to leave the country at least once a year for an adventure, I am traveling to Nicaragua on a week-long yoga & surf retreat. Whew! I get a thrilling rush of warmth just thinking about being by the water, challenging my body, writing, reading, and connecting with new, lovely spirits.

A couple of things worth noting about my trip...
  • I just met everyone I will be traveling with - cheers to new friends!
  • I have never surfed and have a slight fear of the ocean - rip currents and I don't get along (just ask the lifeguard at El Porto)
  • My packing list includes malaria medication (awesome. mosquitos love me.) 

My excitement overwhelms any of these potentially uncomfortable details. Going on this trip, despite these things, is significant for me. And, yes, my commitments and my integrity around living more unleashed this year and every year that follows are big reasons why I am going. But I think the most noteworthy driver is how I discovered this trip. Let me start from the beginning...

Two years ago, I wrote about my intention to travel to Costa Rica. A friend told me about a yoga farm at the southernmost tip of the country, and I was dead set on traveling there at some point in 2013. But finances (and, really, fear) got in the way, and I didn't end up planning my trip. However, the Universe still honored my intention. A few months after I set it free into the realm of possibilities, my mom hit her bonus at work, won an all-expenses paid trip to Costa Rica, and invited me to be her guest. (Every time I think about this, I go through this tug-of-war of thinking, “HOLY CRAP, THAT IS CRAZY” vs. just giving the Universe a big wink and a thank you). Ask and you shall receive. I was meant to go. And the trip was beautiful and perfect in so many ways that I couldn't have ever imagined. My mom and I had such a wonderful time relaxing and rejuvenating together, but also connecting on a deeper level than we had in my entire life. The trip fulfilled both my desire to travel and my deep yearning to get closer to my mom. I wouldn't have thought to connect the two.

At the close of 2013, I wrote another post that included my travel intentions for 2014. I slated Thailand, Chicago, Nashville, and Europe. I can check off Chicago from the list – what an amazing trip that was visiting a best friend. Nashville is still in the cards, as my cousins move there later this month. Thailand is happening at the end of the year. And, it looks like I’m swapping out Europe for Nicaragua – which is totally OK by me, since the root intention there was to explore a new place. [Europe, I’ll see you in 2015.]

Here’s where the magic (cue tug-of-war again) was apparent again. Keenly aware of needing some creative expression in my life, after an extended time away from it, I got back into dance at the end of 2013. By chance, I decided to try Yoga Booty Ballet, despite the totally silly (but, really, up my alley) name. I was transformed. I was completely reconnected with my profound need to move my body in an expressive, unleashed way. And, on top of that, YBB is centered on creating intentions and getting honest about what you want to dance for in your life. Perfect. [Another immensely important part of my YBB experience is the angel known as my teacher, Kristen, who merits a whole other blog post. Which I know I will soon write. Stay tuned.]

Meanwhile, as I immersed back into my dancer self, I was feeling anxious about my commitment to going to Europe in 2014. I didn't want to go by myself, and I didn't have anyone in my life that was willing and able to spend the time and money on a trip in the near future. It was starting to look more and more unlikely that I would fulfill that wanderlust. But, week after week, in a seated position at the beginning of my YBB class, I would ask the Universe for travel. It listened.

One night in class, Kristen mentioned that a friend of hers was hosting a retreat in Nicaragua. My ears perked. I was intrigued. I went home that night to research it. I immediately recognized that the trip (again) would fulfill multiple commitments I had set for myself, other than travel, including:
  • Letting go of the need to feel safe
  • Establishing deep self-trust - listening with a sensitive ear to my instincts and developing a higher level of consciousness
  • Creating more balance: between personal/professional, time alone/time with others, health/indulgence, reflection/expression...
  • Living a powerful, marvelous life

This trip is exactly what I needed, and what I ultimately asked for, just in different packaging than I imagined. I really loved being taken by surprise! The Nicaragua trip will empower me to do things that I am afraid of, like travel without a friend, establish an intimate relationship with the ocean through surfing, and surrender control (since someone else is ultimately in charge of booking the details). [Little self-acknowledgement that letting go of the need to control was a big one for me.] The trip will also force me to carve out time for me to do some deep inner work, give me a break from the stress of my job, and just have a flat out AMAZING life experience. 

Thank you to all the friends and family who have been sending me encouraging, loving energy since I booked this trip. I will bottle that and sip from it while I'm away. Something that I have been mulling over, but have been afraid to commit to, is going "offline" on this trip. I'm such a social creature, who values being in touch with her loved ones and gets her energy from communicating and collaborating with others.  However, I have noticed that I sometimes use constant connection as a crutch and an avoidance mechanism for developing a deep relationship with myself. That being said, I think that this trip presents the perfect opportunity for me to lean into another fear of mine: fear of being forgotten/feeling unimportant/being abandoned. Before my flight takes off, I'm going to have a friend change my passwords so that I don't feel tempted. I will be blogging (journaling) while I'm away, but my communication will be one-way. I will be offline as of Saturday morning. I'm excited to connect and share when I return on the 28th. If you need to send me a message while I'm away, send it directly to my heart. :)

One final thing I'll share, from an astrological perspective (hi, fellow Aquarians!) A segment of my June forecast that beautifully aligns with the intentions I have set for my present and for my trip:
One of your best months for love has arrived, for the new moon that lit the velvety blue sky at the end of last month, May 28, will help you step into a lyrical, fragrant and romantic month. Your efforts to find fun and love will be supported in every way. If you are single and hoping to find love, in the first ten days of June, Cupid and his little fleet of angels will be around every corner, poised with their bows and arrows to help love along. Travel at this time of the month seems to fan the fires of love, as evidenced by Mars' position...Leaving everyday life behind will refresh you in ways that will amaze you.

I will be channeling self-love and inner connectivity in a REAL way on this trip, and I'm so thrilled that the heavenly bodies will be on my side in this commitment. Also happy to spend a good chunk of the Mercury Retrograde beachside. It ends two days after I return!

Here are some sweet tunes for this lovely day.  I have had this song "Gooey" by Glass Animals on repeat for a couple of weeks now... still in love.

And another awesome one by Glass Animals, "Cocoa Hooves:"

Why don’t you dance like you’re sick in your mind?

15 June 2014

Just Ask.

Whether you are asking a friend for help in the midst of a meltdown, asking a lover to share their feelings, or even asking The Universe (really, yourself) to bring you new opportunities, taking what is weighing on your heart & mind and lobbing it out there into the realm of possibilities can be terrifying. All of the sudden, as the asker, you experience immense vulnerability and accountability. You are exposed. You are in need. You now play a part in the followthrough, because you have set your request free into existence, outside of your own confines. And, in this raw state of requesting something, now you must be prepared to receive, and what you receive could very well be rejection and judgement. 

But, guess what? If you don't ask, the answer is always 'no.' The door is always closed. Your mind will continue to hamster-wheel and your heart will remain clenched with hope (ugh, pitiful hope). You're trapped in the waiting room of your own mind, tapping your foot and eagerly hoping that someone else shows up -- to read your mind, magically answer your questions, and fulfill your desires. 

That sounds terrible and exhausting. That looks like living in the backseat. That requires an immense amount of complacent, expectant 'patience' that ultimately puts pressure on everyone and everything else to follow through on your unexpressed needs and desires.  That feels like powerlessness, like everything you want lies outside of yourself in a fabricated, "gimme" desperation. Well, screw that. I'm not interested in the blame game.

The power of asking is immense. And, correspondingly, the responsibility for you to show up and be open to receiving is equally immense.

Let's start with what 'asking' looks like. Being intentional and direct about what you want is important. Before you make a request of yourself or someone else, seriously consider what it is you want to create, need help with, or desire. Do you want to create a new position for yourself at work? Do you want your partner to be more affectionate? Do you need a friend to give you space? Do you want to go to grad school?  Whatever it is... there is a lot that can get in the way of forming our requests. Perhaps you only feel brave enough to ask for half of what you want. Or maybe it seems easier to ask for what someone else thinks you should want. Maybe you've convinced yourself that you are incapable or unworthy of even making the request. There can be deep programming and 'stories' that smother our truest desires. So it's important to spend the time peeling back those layers to get at the core of what it is that you want. The more clear and direct your request, the more clear and direct the path of the boomerang that will answer it. So, get honest. Get crystal clear. Remove yourself from the expectations of others, and allow your ego to slip into submission. When you are blatantly honest with yourself, regardless of what others or you think is actually possible, what do you desire? When you are completely stripped down and free of fear (of judgement, of being seen, of rejection, of vulnerability), what do you want? 

Whether you are asking for pleasure, clarification, advice, opportunity, or help, the requirements of asking are the same. Be clear and authentic about what you want, and capture it. Write it in a journal, pin it on your vision board, paste it on your bathroom mirror, share it with a confidant... adorn your mental and physical space with it. There may be bumps and turns along the way, and you don't want to lose sight of the raw, pure desire you've captured. So make sure you have multiple ways to be reminded and to refer back to it.

Now, the 'receiving.' Sounds like the best part, right?! The time when you get to sit back and reap all the benefits. The answer/help/fulfillment will show up in a perfectly wrapped package on your doorstep. Wrong. While, receiving is an awesome part of the process, you certainly aren't magically wiped clean of responsibility. Your attention and agency are required at this stage too. 

If you ask for a love, but aren't willing to be vulnerability enough to receive it, what's the good in asking? If you ask for a new job, but feel unworthy of the position, what will receiving that feel like?

Receiving requires just as much vulnerability and honesty as asking. And it requires you to remain present and alert. That means no digging around in your past for examples of when you have failed, and no projecting onto the future you... since you don't have access to it. There will be hints and omens to take note of. You must keep your eyes peeled, your ears perked, and your intuition sharp. Don't let yourself get caught up in feelings of 'by now' ("it should have happened by now"). As the now-super-vulnerable asker, avoid judging or doubting yourself (and certainly don't let the skepticism from others color your intuition). You're the courageous, badass creator of your own life, remember? Refer back to the original request often. Ask yourself if it still rings true, and be reminded of what your soul asked for when you gave it the chance to be unleashed and expressed.

Be brave. Ask for it. And be ready as ever to receive it... whatever your it is.

[Something that I won't get into tonight, for the sake of brevity, is what makes it so hard for us to ask for what we want. Hint: it requires self-worth and vulnerability, and you can't selectively numb. If you want to continue on that mental hopscotch, you can refer back to one of my old posts on Worthiness, or watch one of my favorite TED Talks from BrenĂ© Brown: The Power of Vulnerability. I revisit this talk every couple of months, and it realigns my self-awareness each time I do.

I'll take this opportunity to share with you something that I have asked for (whoa, vulnerability). While I thought that I had requested this long ago, turns out that I needed to 1.) get more clear with myself about what the request truly was, 2.) not merely utter the words, but actually live out / act on that commitment (gotta show up to receive), and 3.) get the hell out of my own way (stay brave). I've planted these seeds over the last couple of weeks by sharing my request with friends. But I have yet to put it in writing. So, here we go. I am asking for honest, pure, passionate love. I want to establish a deep connection that breeds full openness, learning, and growth... as well as a ton of smiling, dizzying intimacy, romance, exploring, and encouragement. BAM! Hold me to it.