follow the flow
a travel journal and photography journey
I'm currently sitting in the van with Terence on the side of the road in Utah. We just played a great round of Rummy 500, where I was totally kicking his ass at the start, but he came back with an epic win. Meh...I'll get you next time Mr. Terence...
It's been quite a full two weeks since I got back into the states from Bali. So here are some photos (above, and in my photo stories) and updates from my weirdly wonderful life:
If you haven't read my last post about the Embodied Dance Temple Keepers training in Ubud with the marvelous Mana Mei, it's a good one.
Some people weren't completely sure what I was up to in Bali, since the name of the training isn't exactly common. So to give some more context, I was training in embodied dance facilitation. I've gained more skills to hold space and guide people in dance and movement to support them in finding greater connection to their bodies and their truth. Yay! There are literally so many benefits for the mind, body, spirit, heart from dance and movement, so I won't go into a whole spiel here. But I will say, that I am SO beyond grateful to have gifted my body the experience of this work, to have trained so closely with the women in Bali, and to officially be able to share the beauty of these practices with others! Keep and eye out... a new website with workshops and experiences coming your way in 2020... *waves arms in giddy delight*
And I'll also say, that Bali is just magical. It was my first time visiting, and I'm certain I'll be going back.
Tez & Teags
Terence and I...we're wonderful. I don't think I've shared a writing devoted to us since we were in Alaska! Which sounds crazy... that feels like it was years ago. But here we are, about four months later, and we have been on a journey and a half.
There were times during those months together in the van where we were both having doubts and concerns about staying in the relationship. But one of the things I’m most grateful for about us, is that we talk about it with each other. Sometimes we’re not the most graceful about it. But we do our best. Neither of us are interested in blindsiding the other with information that we’ve allowed to build up into some epic story about why we need to leave. And most times we realize that the story, is just that, a story.
The van had become a sort of pressure cooker for our connection, and it was really uncomfortable for a while. We were having all these stupid petty arguments about seemingly nothing. We both started realizing that an essential thing neither of us were getting was alone time. And neither of us were very experienced at figuring out how to get that alone time when we were traveling around the country together in a van.
Within the last few months, I took a trip to Massachusetts, to Burning Man, and a trip to Bali by myself, while Terence was in the van and in Hawaii. And I think it was exactly what we needed to reestablish our connection to ourselves as sovereign beings who are choosing to be together. And it's been sooooooooo much sweeeeeeeter since then.
We were camping out in San Rafael Swell, Utah for a few nights last week, and devoted an evening to talking about any and all of the things that had been up in the air for us in our partnership. The things that were scary. The things that we had been dreaming about but hadn't yet expressed. The things we were desiring but didn't quite know how to claim. And it’s just so damn awesome to know and trust that I can be all of myself with this person, and that I’ll be loved and accepted in it. We're seeing each other clearly, and loving each other dearly. Heheh, I had to. These moments, these experiences with him, are bringing such richness to my life. Thanks, amazing man.
Last but no sirreee not least. I fucking LOVE Utah.
I don't know exactly what it is about it. But I am just so awestruck when I'm here.
I've only really driven through Utah at one other point in my life. When I was driving home from college at the end of my senior year; driving from Michigan to California, and I drove through Utah on my route. And I remember a very special moment coming up over this hill, when I saw the canyons for the first time, and the sun came out from behind the clouds just as I drove over, and Feed the Birds from Mary Poppins started playing on my playlist... and I just started weeping with joy. What's that about just having graduated from Drama school...??? It was just one of those moments where all of the magical things align, and sing for you. And I knew I needed to come back one day.
So the fact that Terence and I were able to spend a whole week here along our travels, is just the best. Some photos I'm obsessed with are now up in the Utah photo stories tab. The pinks, oranges and sandy whites of the canyons mesmerize me every day.
Vegas Baby, Fly!
So there you have it! My weirdly wonderful world in two weeks.
Tonight, we're treating ourselves to a show in Vegas, and then flying out to visit my family in Massachusetts for a few days. And I'm sure there will be plenty more to write about when that happens.
Ubud, Bali, Indonesia
I’m in Bali for two weeks taking a training called Embodied Dance Temple Keepers!
This is the first training of its kind, since the movement explorations and specific dance journeys were created by a woman named Mana Mei. Today was the third day of the training, and we have already gone DEEP. The explorations are so simple in their direction, but so incredibly vast in what can be felt, and discovered.
At the core of these movements is the feminine essence. Softening, Sensitivity, Creativity, Releasing, Curiosity, Sensuality, Flow, Allowing, Vulnerability... With our senses heightened by the amount of Opening we're doing each day, myself and each of the women in the training are becoming more aware of just how much the body is able to feel in simplicity, and how our bodies can truly be an alchemical space for moving and processing emotions and stories. And above all, that expansion and growth need never be forced.
To give some context: embodied dance, to me, is allowing the body to be moved by the truth of the present moment. There’s no need to worry about what it looks like, if it’s too weird or too big or too anything. All that matters is that the dance is an authentic expression of that moment, and that it feels good for the mover. I started exploring dance like this about five years ago, and it has become an essential part of how I come home to myself and how I approach my art. Spaces that can hold this kind of movement have drastically shifted the ways I relate to my body and the ways that I take ownership of my internal life. Spaces like ecstatic dance or contact improvisation jams. These spaces are safe and accepting and powerful. Temple Keepers, are those that hold and facilitate these kinds of spaces. ⠀⠀
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I’ve been pretty in love with this kind of movement ever since I started. I used to dance when I was younger, but didn't stick with technical dance because there were aspects that felt too rigid for me, and too focused on getting it "right." And when I absolutely embraced free-form embodied movement as a part of my personal practice, I didn’t imagine myself facilitating one day. Until that day came. And it felt so natural and fluid and amazing. I facilitated workshops focused on embodied movement for actors and performers a few times when I was still living in LA—I even did a kids class! My main focus was on how this movement can deeply assist performers in their ability to be fully present with what is happening in each moment, and to connect authentically with the other players without trying to “make something happen.” And then I led a few workshops focused specifically on embodied movement for self love and primal voice work while I was at Burning Man... and that was the final confirmation for me that this path was calling me to step in further.
This work is important, and needed, and transformational, and incredibly therapeutic while still being so gentle and intuitive. It invites the mover to be so loving and kind to their body, and to allow their body and emotions to move them.
It's both awesome and scary to witness myself breathing life into the facilitator part of me. Mainly because—as was discovered in the training today—there can of course be pain and discomfort when we resist our growth, and there can also be pain and discomfort when we embrace it. Because no matter what, we are letting go of something. I think it takes both courage and curiosity to follow our natural transformation, from our caterpillar selves to our butterfly selves, and however many forms we take in-between.
Terence and I just moved into an Airbnb for the next 3 days in Pāhoa, HI. We found the place at the very last minute and just said, yeah looks good, and it’s cheap, lets just do it.
But this place is a fucking paradise.
We are on this property of land that is lush and green and grows limes and avocados and cherries and plenty of other fruits. The host greeted us with her adorable baby on her hip, probably about 7-8 months old, and explained that they harvest rain water and we are free to walk the grounds and pick whatever fruit we want. The houses on this property are simple, as is their lifestyle.
There is this essence here of ease….
Of bare feet and wet grass…
Of ripe fruit and happy bellies…
Of the rhythms of bodies swaying with the branches of trees…
I like it here.
As soon as Terence and I got in, we both audibly went ahhhhhh... and he looked at me at one point and said I could see you and I living somewhere like this.
And I could too.
He and I have been learning a lot through our travels this year. And one thing that is becoming clearer with each place that we visit is the kind of home we would love to make for ourselves.
Land… nature… grass… trees… water… fruit trees and a vegetable garden… no visible neighbors so we can freely be naked outdoors… quiet, except for the birds and the crickets, the wind and the rain… far enough away from a major city that when we collapse onto the bed or the dirt, we are reminded in our bones that we are from this earth. We are not our phones or computers, we are not our jobs, we are not our reputations or what successes or failures we made that day… our home is the place where we are reminded that our natural selves are enough.
And that is what I feel here. On this land. In this surprising, last minute, Airbnb in Pāhoa. That my natural self is enough.
So just a bit ago, I took a walk down the property, picked a lime and some cherries, found a space where the grass was squishy, and I shook my tail feather. I danced with flow and sensuality and passion and silliness and felt so incredibly alive. Felt so incredibly me.
The first couple of days in Hawaii were actually pretty internally chaotic for me.
The joy I was feeling in my skin and feet from being on this lush tropical land was somewhat overwhelmed by feelings of being in a completely new place, being very tired from full days of travel, and just being a bit emotionally ungrounded. Sometimes arriving in a new place can be liberating, and sometimes it can be very confusing for my system.
After spending a few days in Honolulu, Terence and I arrived in Kona two days ago. It’s IronMan week in Kona—the race is on Saturday—so there is a lot of bustling excitement in the air. Terence’s sister and her husband are racing, so it’s a big week for them as well as they prepare. There are big signs and a lot of people and so many runners and bikers and swimmers and an expo with ALL the fancy stuff that pro-athletes love. There were interviews and mini-kids races and signings and time spent connecting with T’s family again—the last time I saw them was in February. And it was all amazing and fun and fascinating...and it totally wiped me out, too.
I’m reminded of the truth that I know of myself, and suspect of many: that I can’t fully connect with others unless I’m fully connected to myself first. So while a percentage of me can be present and listen and explore my relationships with these lovely humans, a percentage of me is simultaneously quivering with the yearning for some me-time. It's kind of like being on the edge of tears—you know, you can ignore it and push it down relatively easily, but ultimately there is an energetic distraction from every interaction saying pay attention to me dammit!—except in this case the "tears" are a big sigh once I'm alone on the floor of a room where nobody can hear me and I have no obligations to anyone else anytime soon. And once I get that, even if it's only for a few minutes, so many things become so much more easeful.
So today, I woke up, and I devoted some extended time to my self connection practice—I stretched and did a few warrior 2’s and massaged my body and did some squats, because my legs were calling for some attention. (I plan to share an updated writing soon about my practice and how it's become one of the most important additions to my life...stay tuned.) And oh my god did it feel so good. To just remind myself of the delight and joy I feel when I’m in active communication with my body and spirit. Sometimes, my practice is quite short, with just a little meditation or rub of my head and face and belly and breasts. But when it’s extended, when I give myself the time and space to get weird, expressive, creative, sensual, honest...that’s where the trust between me, myself and I is built and nurtured. That’s where I find the element of Earth within me.
After that, the day just opened up to a whole world of magic I hadn’t expected. Terence and I got our own rental car—we got a convertible (cuz Terence loves the wind in his cheeky smile) for an amazing price too! And we decided to just start driving around the island.
Our first thought was, let's go see a volcano! But what ended up happening instead of making a plan, we got into this groove of exploring, this flow of simply following Curiosity and Desire. It tends to lead to amazing places...
Our curiosity about following this random road led us to a seemingly never ending row of ripe guavas! We took a whole bag of them home with us. As we followed this road it led us to the lava fields, which we had been wanting to see, and spontaneously found without using a map! The extraordinary swirls and ripples of the dried lava going for miles and miles, creating waves of grey, with patches of bright green where plants were pushing through...had me in awe. Our desire for food led us to a nearby town where, again, without a map, we found an organic food store with a little buffet AND a delightful selection of chocolate...because chocolate is life. And then as we decided to head back towards our Airbnb, we found one last magical spot...a public garden with statues and bridges over glistening still waters and soft grasses to squish my feet into before our ride back.
It was an absolutely magical day. Magic, I say, because I have no explanation for how we found all these special places other than the trust in a subtle pull inside ourselves. And that's what magic is isn't it, the unexplainable. The stars that twinkle in our eyes when we are reminded of what it feels like to be stricken with wonder... I’ve trained myself to trust this pull over many years. This pull that comes from my belly, or more specifically, my womb. This pull that has always, yes, always, led me to exactly where I need to be. If I trust it.
It can be scary sometimes to just say yes to life without knowing what the outcome is going to be. But this essence of Curiosity, of Desire for life, hasn’t led me astray in my 26+ years of living. So I think not knowing is gonna be alright.
It’s the Fall Equinox, and I’ve just walked into an ice cold shower after three rounds of sweating till I’m red and walking wobbly through natural underground vapor caves in Glenwood Springs, Colorado.
I feel Renewed. Refreshed. Cleansed. And also a bit heavy, a bit sad. As patterns that I thought I had overcome, moved beyond, resurface and make themselves known in the thick steam.
The healing and sacred nature of spaces like steam baths or hot springs is not lost on me. I've allowed my body to be penetrated by magical hot waters all across the country by this point. This particular space however, I just learned, used to be used as a sweat lodge by Black Elk for the Lakota Sioux tribe of these lands. That doesn’t surprise me. For as I was laying in the dark caves, dripping with vaporized minerals, I felt urges to chant, to sing, and to purge. I felt that these caves had stories to tell, that I wanted to hear. I had visceral memories come back to me from my first ever sweat lodge earlier this year, during an experience called Shamanic De-Armoring in Arizona.
As Terence and I sat in the steam, we spontaneously (or perhaps fatedly) decided to do a little experiment. We both noticed that there was a point of panic that arose after a certain amount of time in the steam, when the body says get me the fuck out of here! I’d experienced that point of panic in the De-Armoring sweat lodge as well, and learned that it’s not actually my body telling me that I’m in danger, it’s telling me that my deepest fears are starting to come to the surface, to be released, if I can sit with my discomfort long enough...
So today in the caves, Terence and I agreed to speak out loud what was coming up for us as we got hotter, and to intend to leave the cave only after we had experienced our panic point.
“My belly feels tight, and uncomfortable.” I say.
“Can you breathe into it?” Terence says.
“I’m feeling anxiety, and a thumping in my head.” He says.
“Me too.” I say.
“I’m feeling all the places in my body where I usually have muted pain, amplified, and it scares me.” I say.
“Can you breathe into that?” He says.
“I want to say fuck you.” I say.
He leaves a few minutes later, as tears start rolling down my cheeks, mixing with my sweat. The tears are telling me that I've moved past a layer of resistance to allowing myself to feel the discomfort, the pain, the fear. And three rounds of this process later, I notice, I've come Home to myself, again.
I think our little experiment worked.
What my body told me today, as it dripped with heated emotion, was of the pain I feel when I’m not living in my truth, when I’m compromising my beliefs or dreams for comfort or the idea of safety, when I’m playing small for fear of being judged or embarrassed or misunderstood. In general, I think I do a pretty good job of living in alignment with my values and sense of self. I've done a lot of work to move past my patterns of self-sabotage. But if there's one thing I know about human's, it's that we are very skilled at deceiving ourselves into thinking the work ends. Not necessarily on purpose, but because pain has been programmed into our nervous system as something to avoid. So avoiding, at all costs, we forge on. But the vapor cave reminded me yet again that feeling the pain is the most direct way to the gifts awaiting on the other side of it. In this case, the gifts were the reminder that it is a practice to live in alignment with my soul’s yearning, a practice to stay in connection and clarity, a practice to trust in the process of all things. Just as the de-armoring reminded me of the very same almost six months ago.
There is no top of the mountain to get to. But what a beautiful journey to nowhere it may be...
Our takeaways after this surprisingly impactful and sweaty experience:
Teagan: To trust my spirit, to live in greater integrity with my soul, and to have the courage to follow through.
Terence: To love boldly, live boldly, speak boldly, with discernment.
Blessings to you all for your Fall Equinox...
Okay, real talk. It’s really difficult to write this blog while on the road.
I'm not on the road at this exact moment—which might be one of the reasons why this writing is even making it's way here right now. I flew back home because my mom and I are going to Burning Man together! It'll be her first Burn and my second, and we are spending this week prepping, which has given me this divine time and space to be able to reflect on these last 3 and a half months in the van so far. And one of the things that has been niggling at me is that the blog has often felt more stressful than inspiring...
When I observe, read, or scroll by other travel blogs, they all make it appear so easy and effortless to be able to write at least once per week, and post photos just about every day. And I’m looking at these blogs and tracking all the places these people are going, thinking, how in the hell do you get service there?!?!? AND How much damn time do you spend on your device?! You're in NATURE what are you DOING silly?
When we were traveling in Australia and Costa Rica at the start of the year, we were staying at Airbnb's or hotels, so there was almost always WiFi to be able to post a writing, and enough down time to feel able to write at all. Traveling in the van however, especially the way that Terence and I have been doing it—backroads, traveling almost every day, and camping far away from town centers—we are rarely in WiFi areas, or even service areas for that matter. Which, of course, is friggen fantastic in one sense: bathing in nature instead of bathing in EMF. And, also of course, it's a big womp womp in another sense: a blog kinda requires blog posts…
A part of me hates to admit that I have compared myself and my blog to these travel bloggers—these travel bloggers are, of course, actually paid for what they do, blogging is their business, and they are writing how-to’s and where-to’s and what-to-do’s, while I’m doing this for fun and writing about feelings and relationship dramas and that spiritual moment I had on a toilet in a Safeway in Canada. Classy shit, eh? In a nutshell, this blog is a tad different. And I’ve begun to realize that more and more over these last few months in the van. I don't want to be like those other travel blogs...it looks exhausting. Specifically, I’ve noticed…
- I don’t want to be on my phone or my computer as much
- I feel more compelled to write about things that seemingly have nothing to do with details of travel and more to do with the details of life
- I don’t care about the blog being a popular blog, I just want it to be me
These feel like some good guidelines moving forward. I think I’ll keep em.
I realized while talking with a dear friend yesterday, that it’s been a little over half a year since I started writing this blog. And with that in mind, I’m actually not surprised that it seems to be changing its shape…
I have been changing shape since this year began. We all have. We all do. Whether we are traveling or not. But traveling tends to accelerate the shape-shifting, the lesson-learning, the horizon-expanding. So why would I think that my blog wouldn't change its shape right along with me?...
So far on this journey: I have gained incredible life skills. I have begun to receive inspiration about what I might want to explore next year. The ways I am connecting with my body is changing and blossoming. There have been fights and arguments on the road. There have been days where I don't want to be van-ning, I want to go home. I have cried a lot, and had trouble sleeping some nights. I have seen sights that are indescribable and impossible to fully capture in a photo. I have tried a carnivore diet for two weeks. I have felt my passions and dreams taking clearer form. I am discovering more of who my Woman is. I have been learning a lot about sexuality and sexual energy dynamics. I have started cultivating a relationship with Anger in a healthy way. I have confronted and held space for beautifully vulnerable relationship realities with my partner...
A lot of these things I have written about and shared here. And a lot more of these things I have written about and have not shared here. Because sometimes, when all this kind of real-life stuff is going down, I don't want to share it on the internet. I actually believe it's healthier not to share it on the internet until it has been fully experienced within me first.
So I wait. For a yes within me. For the call from my creative spirit to write about it. This isn't a paper that's due every week that I need to push past writer's block to complete. This is a pleasure project. And I suppose I'm reminding myself of that, by writing about it, because the yes was here today.
I guess I'm reminding myself that this blog, being by me, will change along with me. And that that's okay. And I'm nodding to you lovely humans out there, if you're along for this ride in my weird-wonderful-world, that I'm totally, chaotically, blissfully still figuring it all out as I go along too. And I'm glad that the moments I choose to share here, frequent or hilariously delayed, are honest ones.
Well, that’s it Alaska! We are off to continue our journeys towards other parts of the U.S.
We’ve been here in AK for a month and a half. We explored Anchorage, Girdwood, Hope, Homer, Soldotna, and Juneau. We hiked, biked, swam in freezing cold waters (Wim Hof method yeah!!) walked on a glacier, celebrated my birthday while being visited by my parents, explored local shops and businesses, made a few quirky acquaintances, and watched all three Lord of the Rings movies... precious.
We came to Alaska not knowing what we would find here. We wanted to just arrive with a child’s mind and explore without a sense of expectation.
One thing I know we found was epic beauty. Which part of me was expecting, but not like this. As Terence and I were hiking one day, I looked out into the mountains and said there just isn’t a way to describe to people how beautiful this is. We use words like ‘amazing’ ‘gorgeous’ ‘stunning’ ‘breathtaking’ so readily and casually, that I feel at a loss. Because this is all of those things, and I know it really can’t be understood unless you’re here, experiencing it yourself.
And I still feel this, as we sail away. This sense of wanting to write about this beauty—about these mountains, about this feeling of being in Alaska, this feeling that can’t really be described in words because you just have to be here to feel it. And not just ‘it’--of the mountains and waters and creatures and glaciers—but the it of us, too. Of Terence and me. The feeling of us being here on this epic adventure that is so much harder than we imagined. The feeling when we look at each other when we have just gone through a really rough moment of outer or inner struggle, and the exhale of realization that not only are we still alive, but we are better for it. We are stronger because of it. We understand each other more through it. That feeling whatever that is. I don’t want to put a word on it.
So thank you, Alaska, for sharing with us what we didn’t know we were coming to find.
Till next time...
Terence and I have been in Juneau for a week now! And the explorings have been of both the internal and external kind—unsurprisingly, if you’ve read this blog before.
On the external note, on this intimate little island:
We walked around the downtown area, filled with tourists from the MASSIVE cruise ships that were docked close by. I’d never really seen cruise ships up close like that before…and holy fuck they are hotels on water. Terence used to work on cruise ships when he was younger, and so told me many the inside scoop on cruise-ship life—the people, the food, the locations, but most of all, the debauchery. But those are stories for another time…hehe.
We didn’t spend much time walking about this downtown spot, as most of the stores end up being money grabs for the tourists who are only there for a few hours. Terence’s typical course of action during his cruise-ship life was to walk about 5 blocks away, in any direction, from where all the tourism was. There, he would find the local gems. And so did we.
We found this awesome organic market called Rainbow Foods (but um, of course) and met this kooky-adorable lady named…wait for it…Cricket. Don’t care if that name was chosen or given, it’s awesome. And so was she. Super knowledgable on food and nutrition—we quickly got into it with her about the benefits of eating fats, and then ecstatic dance, and then energy work. Yup, our people.
We also saw a production of Hamlet at a non-profit theatre called Theatre in the Rough, and it was the first time Terence had seen Hamlet, ever! The production was very grass-roots, sparse, and simple, but filled with a lot of heart.
Side Note: As I was watching the curtain call, I was paying particularly close attention to the ways each of the actors were tearing up and looking at each other with exhausted smiles; the we did it, smiles. I know those tears and smiles so well. I have cried at the end of every show I have ever done. Because when putting on a play, the cast and crew become family. And that particular family witnesses and supports you through extremely vulnerable terrain. The actors are there every day pushing their edges and exploring their boundaries with everyone else present to their process. It can be terrifying, especially with dense, heavy, challenging text like Shakespeare—so whatever the outcome of the actual production, good, bad, clean, messy, the bond created in working on the production is sacred, and special, and worth it. I saw this in their faces. It made me miss being onstage.
We hiked to a glacier! The Mendenhall Glacier. Which ended up being a much longer and colder hike than anticipated, but it was still pretty epic to see something of that magnitude in person. And then just yesterday we went blueberry picking, by accident! We decided to drive as far North as we could on the island, and there on the side of the road were two people in the bushes. We stopped and asked them what they were picking, and they showed us how to spot the blueberries, huckleberries, and cranberries. Jackpot.
And as for the internal explorings, on Terence’s and my intimate little island:
We are in a new space. A sweeter space. A more intimate space. A space of more attraction. A space of more laughter and silliness and not taking our shit, or each others, too seriously. It took us a while to find this space. It feels like it has been pretty rough seas since we started traveling in the van about two and half months ago. But we were obviously meant to find our reconnection whenever we were meant to find it. Attempting to rush or force sweetness, intimacy, laughter, and silliness, never really fares well. Could you imagine?…sounds awful. So we didn’t. We were present with it when it was hard, when it was ugly, when it was uncomfortable, when it didn’t feel like we were communicating well at all, when it didn’t feel like our relationship was working well at all. We did our best not to make up stories about what it meant, to just be present with the feelings. And something else, something beautiful, emerged…
I think the fact that much of our time in Juneau has been spent being lazy has been FANTASTIC for us. So much of the van journey had been spent getting from place to place—doing doing doing doing driving driving driving driving—that we weren’t really allowing ourselves the space to read a book, or nap, or binge watch Stranger Things season 3 (oh my god oh my god so good), or allow some magic of imagination or connection to come through.
It’s kind of like when you plan to meet up with a friend who you haven’t seen for a long time for coffee. It’s the difference between having 1 hour, or 3, to spend with them. In that first hour, you talk about all the stuff that needs to be talked about so you can be caught up, and the relationship is nurtured, usually to the degree that it stays in the space of intimacy it currently resides. But its in those extra two hours of time spent, where there is nothing that needs to be talked about, that the spontaneity, acute listening, and heightened curiosity comes in. Odd questions are asked, surprising answers are found, awkward moments maybe occur, and a more intricate layer of connection is uncovered. I think the extra two hours are the space within which relationships discover their depth.
And this is the same as within my relationship, and within traveling, in my experience of it anyway. I can understand, comprehend, and totally appreciate a place traveled to if I am there for only a few minutes. But it’s in those extra bits of time, where all agenda has passed, that the nuances of the earth reveal themselves to me, and I fall in love.
I just spent this last weekend in Girdwood, AK with Terence and my parents! They came to Alaska to visit to celebrate my birthday! Yep. This gal is 26.
My parents had never been to Alaska before, and they said well, now we have the best reason to visit, you’re there! They flew into Anchorage and we showed them around Girdwood, AK. Girdwood is a super quirky and gorgeous little town about 45 min away from Anchorage. It’s got an amazing coffee shop that makes hemp milk lattes, a funky thrift store where my mom bought a tutu for Burning Man (yep we are going to the Burn! Anyone else?), a super-size chess board in the middle of its mini park, and is home to one side of one of the most beautiful hikes I’ve ever done. If you’re checking out Alaska, Girdwood is a place that will cradle you sweetly.
The weekend celebrations were hiking this beautiful hike in the gorgeous Alaskan wilderness, visiting a wildlife conservation center—with moose and caribou and musk ox and porcupine and fox and wolf and bear! No photos sadly, I found that I just wanted to experience the animals without needing to capture them in some way, and they were magnificent—flying over glaciers in a sea plane (one of Terence’s birthday gifts for me), playing chess and cornhole in a park on a sunny afternoon, eating one of the yummiest dinners I’ve ever had (Jack Sprat y’all), and having the funnest time with my parents. Feeling so safe, loved, and joyous being around them, and so deeply appreciative of how the four of us—mom, dad, Terence and I—get along so well. That is such a gift in itself.
After my parents flew back home, most of my actual birthday was spent driving towards Juneau--we just arrived by ferry last night! But I still got to do a few of my favorite things to celebrate ME: I slept in. I ate chocolate. I stretched and massaged my body, thanking it for its amazingness. I spoke to people I love on the phone. I shared intimate moments with the man that I love. I cried (yes, one of my favorite things). And I went through the day, as present as I could be. Breathing in the beauty of Alaska, of living, of growing, of learning, of each and every moment being an effervescent surprise.
About an hour before my birthday, I wrote to myself in my journal about the feeling of transition from 25 to 26. This is something I’ve done for a few years now, a transition writing for my birthday. And the journal I currently have is on its last page. Perfect timing. One more page to fill before I move into my new dark brown leather journal purchased from my favorite Barnes and Noble in Framingham Massachusetts—the Barnes and Noble where I have sat with my best friend for years to talk and drink Starbucks and drool over all the different leather bound journals. She is the one who first inspired me to journal, simply because her journals were always so rich with feeling, and I saw the value in having a sacred space for my feelings to pour when they can’t pour elsewhere. And now I have about 5 filled journals from over the years. And in this last one, now near its last page, it is written “I love the me that I am.” And I just thought, what an absolutely gorgeous birthday gift to have given myself this year.
My period was 15 days late. I had taken two pregnancy tests that came back negative. And I had no idea what the fuck was going on.
And this is one of those realities of life that feels important and absolutely fascinating to talk about. A reality that becomes more beautiful the more I know about it. A reality that may sound strange and hippy-dippy to some of you, but is absolutely tangible to me.
I’m not pregnant, by the way, just in case that wasn’t clear. I’m traveling with Terence at the moment—as most of you know by now—and while I had heard that stress and travel can affect a menstrual cycle, I didn’t fully understand the extent of it until I experienced it myself...
I’m in love with this book called Taking Charge of Your Fertility by Toni Weschler (which honestly everyone could benefit from reading, even if you’re not planning on ditching your birth control for more natural methods, even if you’re going through menopause, even if you’re not a female, beginning to understand that a menstrual cycle is actually connected to so much more than just reproduction has blown my mind...but I digress...and will probs share more about this in another writing. ANYWAY!)
In the book, Toni mentions that the body can register travel as stress. Even if you are going on a luxurious and relaxing vacation to chill the fuck out, there is potential that the body will register the change in location, climate, people, time zone, as stress. And when stress impacts the hormonal system, it’s basically saying to your body “it’s not safe to make a baby right now!” So the body doesn’t produce enough estrogen to release an egg, and without the release of an egg, there’s no unfertilized egg to get rid of, so no menses a few weeks later. Of course, without properly charting my basil body temperature and other signs of ovulation (which I had been neglectful about since travel began...silly silly SILLY me), I didn’t know that I hadn’t ovulated when I was expecting to...soooo a 15 day late period registered to myself—and likely would to most of the world—as a sign of pregnancy.
This was scary for me to say the least. Partly because I thought I had been ridiculously responsible with where I was in my cycle and when and how I was choosing to have sex with my partner. Terence and I have talked about this a lot, so I feel very supported and supportive in our communication about it. We both agree that now is not a good time, so we have been actively avoiding pregnancy, and doing a pretty good job of it. 100% success rate so far! So if a baby had been made in this time, as Terence put it, “that is one determined kid.”
It was also scary because I just didn’t know what was happening in my body. Not only from a logical standpoint of my period not coming when it was supposed to, but I also felt emotionally and spiritually off. I now know that there was a literal release of energy that wasn’t occurring. This energy usually flows out of me every month in the form of blood, but what is held in that sacred blood?... Have you ever thought about it?
I have a theory of why PMS is a thing; everything that the body is wanting to release comes to the surface so that it can be felt in its fullest form and then let go, through the blood. The sadness the anger the confusion the pain the anxiety the fear. Typical of PMS yes? There is a reason this cycle is reminiscent of the cycle of death and rebirth. But the death must be allowed to happen... And all of this was just sitting inside me for two weeks longer than I expected it to. And when energy that is intended to be released continues to sit…well, what happens to milk that’s past its expiration date when it’s left in the fridge?...
At this point what I suspect is that I either had an anovulatory cycle (no ovulation with anovulatory bleeding) or I ovulated wayyy later than I was supposed to (delayed ovulation changing the start of my period). And I may never know exactly what happened. But I do know this...
Three days before I got my period Terence and I missed a ferry from Prince Rupert to Juneau. When we missed that ferry, I fucking sobbed. I sat in our van and I let these wet heavy tears fall from my eyes and I yelled from my belly and slammed my fists on the bed for about 15 minutes. It was anger and rage and frustration and fear and confusion and pain and it wasn’t about the ferry at all. I then told Terence all of the things that I realized I had not been telling him since we had been on the road. Things that I guess a part of me thought were better not to say, but had turned into that expired milk in the fridge, weeks ago.
He listened. And I felt raw and exposed. But lighter. And free, somehow.
Three days later I got cramps. I literally bolted up and looked at Terence and said “Oh my god. I have cramps! This is amazing!” Right in front of a woman we were talking to. She was like “.....congratulations.” But I was overjoyed. It was like it was Christmas. And when I finally got my period that afternoon, a line of deep red on the white toilet paper, I started crying. Not because I then knew for certain that I wasn’t pregnant—I somehow knew that a few days prior. I was crying because the release had happened. My body had finally let go, and felt that it was safe to do so.
I realized in that moment how much I had been powering through in the last month, with travel, relationship, personal connection, sleep, food, creativity, so much. And something in me, at last, slowed down. I could hear the voices of my higher self reminding me that although my body and spirit are so strong, there are still parts of me that are so delicate. Parts of me that require more care, attention and listening than I had been offering. And that while I am on massive and exciting journeys of discovery and change, it requires the balance of the yang and the yin. Journey outward with strength, journey inward with softness.
I thought this story was just about the menstrual cycle and its epic connection to things we don’t often realize—which it definitely still is and that book is amazing and I’m still discovering rad things every day—but it’s really about letting go, isn’t it? It’s about being reminded that the body tells us, in whatever ways it can, exactly what it needs. Whether that’s feeling hungry, tired, or having a late period. “Let go,” it says sometimes, “just let it all go.”
And just to make you smile, this whole higher-self-conversation-while-crying-and-bleeding-and-having-a-spiritual-moment-thing, happened on a toilet in the middle of a Safeway with a little elderly woman knocking to get in. Sacred shit can happen anywhere people...and yeah, a sacred shit did happen then as well.