follow the flow
a travel journal and photography journey
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.
When we missed the ferry we were supposed to catch from Prince Rupert to Juneau, we decided to wait to get the next one 3 days later. And when we somehow couldn’t book that ferry online, and there was no space left when we arrived at the ferry terminal early the morning-of to book it, Terence and I looked at each other, knowingly. If the door doesn’t open, it’s not your door, I thought. We looked at the driving time from Prince Rupert to Juneau. 1 day, 2 hours. Let’s. Fuckin. Do it.
It was June 17th, and the idea of being in Alaska by the Summer Solstice had been planted in our brains early on in our journeys. But it was clear in this moment that something wasn’t right, and we needed to release the grip on our plans a bit. I was sad, but I was hopeful.
We arrived in Whitehorse, YT the next evening. And as we were driving through the little city, though it was a gloomy day, Terence and I said to each other there’s something that feels good about this place… though we didn’t know what, yet.
The next morning we were enjoying the sunshine by this little lake spot we had found, and felt properly nourished by the full days rest. We were gearing up to do another full day drive towards Alaska, when a man pulled his car up next to us. He said he worked for the city—he finds the places that have a lot of abandoned trash, and then plans a playful gathering where there is a BBQ and a community clean up. There wasn’t much trash where we were, but he stayed and chatted anyway.
Within about 5 minutes, he, Terence and I were talking about psychedelics, travel stories, and great biking trails in the area. His name was Pierre, and he swiftly invited us to go on a bike ride with him and his wife, Stella, to park our van in his driveway and sleep there if we wanted, to do laundry, or shower, or anything else we needed. Wow, that is so generous of you! we said. Hey, I was a traveler once too, he said. He seemed discouraged that we were planning to leave so soon—he had made a friend, and we felt the same way.
When he left a little while later, after an exchange of phone numbers, Terence and I both knew what we were going to do. We were going to stay an extra day, and see what fruit this connection bears. We had to. It honestly felt like the universe was reaching out a hand to guide us to where we really needed to be. I felt a relaxation in my body after this exchange, as though I were calmly floating in the current of a cool stream. I’m so grateful that something had shifted in Terence and I a few days earlier, after we missed the ferry—our sensitivities heightened and our barriers softened, to feel such a delicate and delightful gesture from the unknown.
The next day we enjoyed the sunshine, we ate delicious food from this friggen amazing and teeny tiny market that had all of my favorite things (cacao nibs, avocado chips, free-range meat, coconut bliss, organic fruits and vegetables, bulk nuts and seeds, yummmmmm), we met up with Pierre and met his kids and his wife, we biked (and I fell and got a really impressive bruise but hey, I’m alive!), we talked while lazing on comfy couches about couples therapy, yoga, and experiences with medicines, and then had a deep and long nights rest.
When we left the next morning, after saying goodbye to our new friends and promising to let them know when we would be coming back through, we didn’t know exactly where we would be by that night. It was the Summer Solstice, and after all our ideas, excitements, and plans of being in our fantasy land of Big Wild Alaska, celebrating in Anchorage or Juneau or Girdwood, instead we were on the road, on our way to a place called Dawson City. A place which Pierre had told us was a worthwhile place to visit…little did we know what we were in for as the cool current of the universe ushered us forward…
Dawson City, for those that haven’t visited, is a tiny town that was established during the Klondike Gold Rush of 1896. It’s a really fun and quirky town, with frontier-style buildings that have been preserved, and roads kept naturally un-paved, keeping the feeling of being in the early 1900s while living modern lives. We rolled into the town around 11:30pm. The sun was still so high and it was fascinating and discombobulating to our senses. There weren’t any Solstice celebrations happening in Dawson that we could see other than bars that were open and people drinking in the streets, which really isn’t our scene. So we used our iOverlander app to find a wild-camping spot, and decided to call it a night.
As we drove up this mountain range right behind Dawson, we began seeing cars, big rigs, people, dogs. Then instruments, beers, cameras, and 360 views of Dawson and beyond. We drove straight ahead and into a parking spot perfectly suited for the van, with shocked looks on our faces. Within minutes of arriving, somebody says to Terence g-day mate, how-ya-goin? in that quintessential Auzzie way which T and I know so well. T swings his head around to respond with well g-day, how you goin? His name was Donald, his friend was Mark, their friend was Jess, and their friends were now us.
What followed was nothing short of the best and most unexpected adventure of our van trip so far. We had found ourselves on top of a mountain, with live music, new friends, and a full panoramic view of the Solstice Sun only dipping below the horizon for a total of 2 hours, leaving the sky bright all night with pink and yellow hues. We snuggled in with these kind and rambunctious few on the roof-deck of Delilah, with pillows and the comforter from our bed, sipping on hot drinks, eating cherries, and laughing all through the night (or shall I say, day), radiating in the strange beauty of this deep night sun.
We're in Anchorage now. Yes, we made it to Alaska, and are about to go for a four day hike and camp journey. But we got here when we were supposed to. And I'm so glad we didn't get here a moment sooner.
I was told at a recent workshop/deep-dive/ceremony that if you spend just a few minutes alone in nature, you become your true self again.
As Terence and I have been traveling, much of our time has been spent in the wilderness. We have gone hiking, backpacking, biking, and strolling through forests and meadows, by lakes and waterfalls. I keep falling in love with the earth over and over again. Experiencing her in her many faces and moods, always learning more but also knowing there are lifetimes to be discovered.
And lately I have been reminding myself that time alone is a healer. Is a perspective bringer. Is an alchemic space. If I claim it, if I embrace it, if I allow it.
So there have been a few times so far in our explorings of the outdoors, where I have been by myself. These have been the most healing times for me on our journeys so far.
I find myself both in awe in sync with the trees, the dirt, the flowers, the waters trickling through rock beds. I am reminded that there are no mistakes in nature. That everything has its place, its purpose, even if it appears accidental. And that I am made of nature. I am natural, in all of my flaws, and quirks, and my twigs seemingly out of place. And I sigh. And wonder how I could have ever forgotten this.
The last time I was on a date with nature, I was very closed and disconnected from my body. There were anxiety thoughts swirling through my mind, pulling all of my energy up into my head. But nature was kind and patient, and knew that by being completely herself, I would eventually return to my body, the space where I would see her clearly.
I felt a trickle on my face... Then another... And another. It was mist falling from the sky. Making my face soft and damp. I felt my footsteps connecting with the dirt and the mud. Making my shoes and ankles playfully muddy. I heard the whisper of the breeze through the trees overhead, almost like a crowd cheering on low volume. There was a chill on my chest. And I realized that although I was shivering, I was feeling. That my mind was taking a break, and coming back into its natural equalibrium with my body. And that these are those moments that can be as orgasmic as I want them to be. That I can choose to feel more, or feel less. So I opened my jacket to the air, allowing the short moment of discomfort, in exchange for many moments of bliss, in being absorbed by the feeling of nature’s gently cold tingling kisses.
Within a few minutes, I found myself skipping through the forest. Jumping and running and spinning. Then I was singing, my own made up hymns but also a song from Disney’s Pocahontas.. “what I love most about rivers is you can’t step in the same river twice...” And then I sat on the trunk of a large old redwood, closed my eyes, and was overcome with the sounds, smells and presence of life around me and within me. Completely at peace with doing nothing, and completely trusting of the impulse to do anything.
It’s actually quite an intimate experience, connecting with the earth. As I explore deeper into her, the universe is revealed to me. She is a transformational place, when I allow her to be.
WE'RE IN CANADA!
And oh my…this place is so beautiful. It’s slightly strange to me that one side of a ferry ride to the other could feel so different. But it does. And I’m loving the vibes so far.
We are of course traveling through Canada on our way to Alaska. BUT it just so happened that Terence’s sister, Mirinda, was racing in an Iron Man in Victoria as we were passing through, so we got to go watch her race! I’m still a bit stunned at the perfection of the timing, especially since it wasn’t planned months in advance.
Mirinda is a gorgeous athlete to watch. I'm sure many people know this about her already, but I know her first and foremost as the sister of my partner, and this was the first time I'd ever seen her race. Her form is ridiculously stunning, and her mental craftsmanship while she is racing is inspiring. She keeps clear, calm, and focused, and her dedication ripples through her whole being. And I really only know this because Terence and I got to experience the triathlon from the ultimate perspective. Alongside the athletes.
When we got to the racing grounds we met Rinny’s media guy, Talbot—who is such a fun, talented and excited spirit. Because the race was more open and accessible, Talbot was going to ride along the path of the race with his car to get footage. He invited Terence and I to come along. And I am so damn glad.
It wasn’t just seeing the start, then the finish, or watching it on tv. We were driving right by Rinny and her competitors as Talbot got his footage. And he just click click click’s away so casually and quickly, there is hardly any time to realize that a photo has been taken. All while he’s chatting with us, finding the next vantage point on his map, and switching between cameras. He’s directing us through these back alley short cuts, and then we’re running down a dirt road by some horses and a tractor, and then hopping over freeway barricades, all with these massive cameras in hand, to make it to a point to get a shot of these amazing athletes. It was SO MUCH FUN.
You know those nature shows, like with Bear Grylls? The one’s where these people are doing insane things like leaping from trees or swimming across rivers to demonstrate survival techniques? I’ve always been in awe of the cinematographers. And so curious about how the hell do they get that footage? Well, I got to experience a bit of that. And there aren’t really any sneaky tricks, actually. The “trick” is that these camera-men/women are committed, good at what they do, and have so much fun doing it. Talbot literally ran alongside Mirinda for a few minutes to get footage of her. And she is a professional triathlete. So if she was running, he must have been booking it. And when he would return, he had a beaming smile on his face.
And that’s really the thing about all of these people who are exceptional at their craft, isn’t it? Whether they’re a triathlete, cinematographer, dancer, painter, professional bubble blower, etc., they are committed, good at what they do, and have so much fun doing it. Maybe not all the time. Getting exceptional at anything requires days that are hard and grueling and monotonous and not very fun at all. But a light shines through them when they’re in it. You can see it. You can feel it.
And best of all, we got to watch Rinny come in first place! She runs in, so happy and bright, her light shining through, going under the blue arch and giving her daughter a big squeeze after she crosses the finish line. Her light shines as a mother too.
Victoria, BC, Canada
This writing is for the people who have shared their care, kindness and love these last few weeks as Terence and I have been traveling.
This writing is for the people who have offered us places to stay and rest, showers, a place to do laundry, and moments of connection within their busy days.
This writing is for the people who met us for breakfast, lunch, dinner and a show, went on walks with us, and showed us pieces of their life as we were passing through.
When you stayed up late with us talking, sharing your vulnerabilities about your relationships, your work, your dreams and fears...
When you got silly and weird and honest and playful with us, even when we were still learning to know each other...
When you shared your talents, your skills, the crafts of your soul with us, and allowed us to witness you in your radiance...
When you honored yourself in your needs, while still creating space for us in your home with genuine joy...
That made my heart smile.
And so I just want to say to you, you wonderful humans out there, you know who you are: thank you. And we appreciate you! I hope you know that spending some time with you, your family, friends—however brief—while we are along our travels, was a gift. A rejuvenating, fun, inspiring, warmth-bringing, gift.
Here we are. We are two weeks in. Two weeks into our van travels. On our way to Alaska, having passed through Big Sur, Santa Cruz, San Francisco, Portland, and Seattle is next. And right now—as I sit in the van in the middle of a forest with no other humans in sight or earshot—what feels present with me is my partnership with Terence. There is a sweetness in the air, with us. A lovely way of listening and loving and honoring between Terence and I, that has been found over the last week or so. But it hasn’t been an easy ride so far.
When I think about these last 14 days, I feel some aggravation and frustration on the surface of my being. And it feels like it is past oriented. It feels like a part of me is holding onto some resentment and sadness about the tension that was between Terence and I when these van travels began. About how it hasn’t felt easy or smooth or clear to connect with each other in a compassionate way since we've been on the road. About how it still feels difficult, and not very fun at times.
When I drop into these thoughts, there is an angry part of me. A part that feels really satisfied by being in rage and righteousness. And I know this part really well. I know that it's a part of me that just wants to be heard. That just wants to be listened to. That just wants to know that it's okay to feel this way. And that it doesn't have to become a story. I know that if I allow this anger to be felt, if I go express it to the trees, stamp it into the earth, or let tears fall at my feet—which I actually ended up doing in the midst of writing this blog post—that the rage, resentment, righteousness and frustration are cover-ups. Cover-ups for sadness and loneliness. Cover-ups for a desire to connect. Cover-ups for feeling afraid of the unknown. Cover-ups for the mirrors of myself that are being offered by my partner.
As a wise man and woman once said: you’re never upset about what you think you’re upset about.
As I write this I am softening. I am feeling the tenderness of my heart. And I’m also feeling how necessary and important and beautiful it is to fully feel the angry-righteous-aggrivated-frustrated-resentment-rage so that I can fully feel everything that is underneath. And as I reflect on those moments when I crouched amongst the trees, feeling the subtle mist of rain on my face and the sound of a stream nearby, I felt utterly surprised that once I gave myself permission to feel my anger...laughter, and faith, and love, and also childlike innocence were hiding underneath. I certainly have the cunning mind to bypass the harder feelings to get to some of the softer feelings underneath if I want to, but driving over a bridge to get to the other side of a river will never deliver the same fullness of experience as swimming across the river myself.
I just chuckled to myself as I re-read this. Because I realized that this is where Terence and I find ourselves as well. It’s not just a me thing, it seems—it’s an us thing. We are not bypassing our shit. We are wading through our rivers together, getting wet and cold, but also clean and refreshed, through the ways we are meeting each other with honesty.
There have been moments of anger between us. Moments of frustration and miscommunication. Moments of sadness and fear. Moments of not knowing how we will find connection again. And then…there have been moments of smooth ease and playfulness. Moments of dancing with each other with intimacy and sensuality. Moments of being totally and utterly silly with each other. Moments of desire and attraction and flirtation. Moments of feeling like we are great team mates, journeying together with freedom and abandon and love.
And I am reminded that the journeys of life and love are never as linear as we imagine they will be. But that if we don’t make them wrong, they offer strength, and resilience, and beauty, and much better stories too.
So, here we are. Two weeks in. Feeling some challenge in the relationship. And feeling some strength in the relationship. And neither is better than the other. And I am learning from both. And I am grateful for both.
As I move across this river with my partner. Feeling fucking cold and wet at times. But catching his eye, smiling, laughing, and holding his hand, because we are in this together.
Santa Cruz, CA
This is quite a new kind of blog post for me, because I find myself in two very different emotional frequencies at once as I write this. Frequencies that feel difficult to put together in one piece of writing, but they certainly belong together, here.
So I will do my best to give them both their voice. And I imagine by the end you will understand what I mean.
One of the emotions present...
HOLY SHIT I JUST MOVED INTO A VAN-HOME WITH MY PARTNER AND WE ARE ON OUR WAY TO ALASKA!!!!! WOOOOOHOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!
Terence and I left on Monday afternoon from my parents house in Ojai. My mom and dad have been SO stunningly generous, caring, loving, and welcoming over weeks of us staying in their home, using their driveway to get Delilah (our van) ready, and allowing the house to get temporarily filled with our things. We owe most of Delilah's developmental stages to their amazing support.
My heart felt SO full as my parents and my sister were sending us off. We had a gorgeous Mother's Day dinner the night before, of gratitude and manifestations and well-wishes and love. And in the moments before we left, we sat on the porch, the Topa Topa mountains in the distance, sharing hugs and smiles and laughter. Tears of joy filled my eyes to be surrounded by such incredible people, and to be able to call those people my family. Bathing in the familiarity of this home, about to drive away in my new home.
I kicked my legs up one by one in the air as we were officially walking to the van, feeling the epic-ness and excitement of what was about to happen. And as we were driving away (with horn-honking and cheers of course), I noticed a lacking of something... a lack of anxiety about timing, destinations, or activities. We're not heading to a place for a specific thing at a certain time to then come back. We can go wherever, whenever, and we get to call the shots in each moment. We get to be inspired and curious adventurers. And it feels like freedom. And I've gotta say. It feels really damn good.
The other emotion present...
The last two weeks between Terence and I have been some of the toughest of our relationship. It might not have looked like that on the surface to anyone watching. It didn't even really look like that to me while I was in it.
We were getting the van ready, for two straight weeks, van-this, van-that, doing doing doing, busy busy busy. When we weren't working on the van we were mostly talking about the van. I didn't want this, but I participated in it, because it felt like what needed to be done to leave on time. In hindsight, I don't believe this is true. And underneath all our vanning, our relationship was suffering. Because our intimacy had taken a backseat.
I don't feel the need or desire to go into the details of what's going on between us. That feels like our stories our shit our stuff.
But the feelings in me about it are ones of disappointment that there wasn't better communication. Anger that there wasn't more kindness and compassion and patience. Shame that we both thought we were right all the time. And sadness that our connection was sacrificed for a van.
We're in Santa Cruz right now, after spending two nights in the beautiful Big Sur. And the things that have been left unattended to are beginning to surface with each other. And it's uncomfortable. And I feel heavy. And I feel the grief in us both. And we are talking, we are sharing our emotions, we are making new agreements with each other, we are calling each other out on the patterns we see, and there's movement. And honestly, it does feel really sweet to be cradled by Delilah as we go through this.
I sometimes notice a it should have been different, why wasn't it different tape playing in my head. But the truth that I keep coming back to, even when I really don't want to, is that it wasn't different because it wasn't.
So yes, these two emotional frequencies. One of the unbelievably-epic-and-magically-wild-adventure-to-be, and one of oh, my relationship is in pain...
And here we are. And we are on this once in a lifetime journey together. And I’m committed to being present for all of it.
Meet Delilah! The newest addition to the Terence and Teagan family!
Delilah is a 2018 Ram Promaster. We bought her from a dealership in Portland, OR, and there she stayed for a few months as she was given a makeover by the one and only Overland Van Project. Dustin is the best. Skilled and talented and a delightful human. If you’re thinking about van-life, he is the way to go for a literal home-on-wheels. Terence and I are absolutely in love.
After our journeys in Australia and Costa Rica at the beginning of this year, we got off a plane in Los Angeles, and pretty much got right back on another one to go pick up our new home and drive her back to Cali. The last few weeks have been busy busy busy busy busy. Yes, truly, that many busy's. Hence the lack of blog posts. Forgive me friends! Getting ready to drive to Alaska in a van is no joke, and in the midst of other life-things. Two of the last three weeks I wasn't even around to help—I was in Arizona taking part in a beautifully life altering ceremony (which I'll write about another time), so Terence was on his own for a little while. And I must commend my absolutely amazing man for his focus and skill in pimping out Delilah with certain touches that I wouldn't have even thought of—touches that take our van-living to a whole new level. Also, shout out to my mom for making our seat cushions, on her first try ever! And I'll give myself a pat on the back as well, for bringing my feminine essence into our build to truly make our van feel like our home.
In a way, this is the first home Terence and I have bought together. We skipped the house with a yard and opted for a slightly bigger yard. We were renting a space together in Santa Barbara last year—a beautiful, safe, loving little spot, where we grew hugely as individuals and as a couple—and taking this next leap of buying, designing, and traveling in our home feels both Right and Risky. We have both joked many times that if we survive the van, we can survive anything! But I feel truth in this. And I feel trust in this. Mainly because I feel truth and trust in us. Van-living will test us—our communication, teamwork, responsibility, and our ability to allow and create the fun, the silliness and the sweetness in the midst of a completely new way of living. It definitely feels like we are stepping “in” with each other in a new way. And honestly, it feels natural. Natural and ripe with opportunity.
So far, we have taken Delilah to Lucidity Festival, and given her some test runs while we visited friends in Santa Barbara. And she is delightful! Delightful Delilah, I like it. Warm and cozy and functional, and certainly pretty to look at too. Right now she is nestled in the parking lot (as my mom now calls it) of my parents home in Ojai, receiving love and final touches from Terence and I, and anticipating her time on the road, which is coming up shortly.....
And how did Delilah get her name?
Well, we were at the DMV...THE MOST EXCITING START TO A STORY EVER BUT WAIT IT GETS BETTER... and we needed to get the van registered. There were some obscene fees that they said we needed to pay for not registering the van within the first week of our purchase. But we were in Australia and Costa Rica before actually picking up the van and bringing her into California dudes, so we couldn’t register the sweet thing within our first week of purchase and these fees were bumming us out.
Everyone in the DMV either looked miserable or looked like they were expecting that they should feel miserable. I imagine many of you reading know this feeling. So when our number was called by this bright and genuinely warm woman, we were surprised and so pleased.
"You said you just drove it into California?"
"Yes we picked up the van a few days ago from Oregon and drove it straight here...."
"Oh, then you don’t need to worry about these fees..." she said, as she used her magic black marker to cross out numbers on the paper in front of us.
"And the van isn’t a commercial van right? You’re living in it with a bed and kitchen?" She said.
"Yes!" We said.
"Then the fees will be much lower when we register it as a camper." She crosses out more with her magical black marker wand of truth.
"Thank you so much!" Terence and I are smiling at each other, almost in disbelief.
"I've gotta say, you are so different from any other DMV worker I’ve ever met." Said Terence, laughing.
"Yeah I know." She said, smiling.
"What is your name?" I said.
“Delilah.” she said.
And I knew, like a clarion call--whatever I'm dramatic--that our baby was named Delilah.
Travel with a partner is not always easy. In fact, I think travel with a partner has the potential for it to commonly not be very easy. But it also has the potential for transcendental growth and joy and amazingness. And I am lucky enough to be in partnership with someone who I get to experience both extremes and all the in-betweens with. Yum.
Terence and I have been traveling together for over two months now—one month in Australia, one month in Costa Rica, and spending two weeks apart before heading off to Alaska and who knows where after that. Woo yesss! And what I have come to realize from this time so far, is that travel takes us to a place of newness every single day. Collectively and Individually. So it is impossible not to grow with each other during this time. I'm in for quite a ride to say the least...
I had made attempts to write about what had been happening with us and our relationship throughout the first two months of travel, but it felt too difficult to do while being in the midst of it. Because with Terence being my partner and my travel companion through life and love, fluctuations with him seem to connect to everything else that is occurring around me. So it sure was a lot to fathom writing down! I'm sure if I look back at some of my writings from Australia and Costa Rica, everything could connect back to our relationship in one way or another. Because Terence is the closest person to me on this planet so far. He has seen me in some of my darkest moments, my lightest moments, my most vulnerable moments, my most blissful moments, and I have seen many of his. And traveling together is no different. In fact, travel seems to become the carrier of us and all our inner/outer stuff. The mirroring effect is going to be inevitable. And might I add...I have loved traveling with this man of mine for all of the reasons mentioned.
Something I have been wanting to touch upon though, which has felt difficult to express in writing, is that our relationship is far from being flowery, beautiful, and easy all the time. And it feels really important for me to have this in writing, on my blog, and shared with those reading and those that know me. Because I'm really passionate about liberating any stories that a functional relationship looks flowery, beautiful, and easy all the time. I certainly talk and write often about how much I love him, about how moved I am by our connection, about the ways that we meet each other in honesty, about the ways we try to own our shit and see each other clearly, about all the ways that we certainly do have a gorgeous partnership. BUT, AND, ALSO. There is a lot of work and challenge and confusion and disconnection and reconnection that happens behind the scenes. And this layer of the-sometimes-ugly-behind-the-scenes-work is something that I have witnessed in relationships that I admire. I have come to the understanding so far that a functional relationship embodies both of these polarities that I speak of. The Shadow and the Light.
When I first got to Australia, I was so so so sublimely happy in anticipation of seeing Terence again after a month of him being there on his own. We made beautiful love together when I first arrived. There was a sweetness and an ease in our connection. And then I felt a drop of energy between us, and I got really emotionally frantic and somewhat needy. I couldn't quite tell you if it was him, if it was me, or if it was both of us, but that first week was an emotionally hard one for me to be with. And it was confusing to try to understand what was really going on. I would do my self connection practice every day, and feel rage and sadness and frustration come up. I was so sexually desirous, and felt anger build inside when he wouldn't meet me there. So I would take that energy and go on walks where I would express my feelings to the trees and the land, stamping my feet and yelling with guttural cries, to try to move my emotions through to get to clarity underneath. I felt like a child at times. I wanted so badly to come back to equilibrium within myself, but there was a part of me that was looking to him to do it for me. When I did return to my center, I was able to express my inner world with him and be witnessed in these moments, knowing that it was all okay, and knowing that I was working on taking responsibility for myself and doing my best not to blame him for my feelings.
I learned within that week, that if Terence is not feeling available (emotionally, physically, energetically, etc.), he can't be my only outlet for sensual or sexual touch. He can’t be my only outlet for entertainment. He can’t be my only barometer for how the energy is flowing between us. I must return to myself, and say wait, how am I feeling today as a single entity, and what do I really need and want and desire, and how can give that to myself?
Not easy, not beautiful, and not really a flowery experience, eh? But definitely necessary for where we were at that time. And then our flowers had space to emerge afterwards, once the soil had been tended to.
There is so much that I am learning from this experience of travel with Terence. Many things that are being learned through my body, through my emotions, and just through the physical state of being together each day on this journey. But there are some specifics that I feel bear the importance of being written down to remember!:
I'm sure I will learn more in this year of travel... There's only 8 more months to go!!! *head desk* but this foundation—the foundation I have within myself and the foundation we have built within our relationship—is a great one to start with. That travel with a partner may not always be pretty, but if I trust in the gifts from the Shadows and the gifts from the Light, I will always find something rewarding.
And lastly... Hey, Terence...you're pretty cool and I love you. Wanna live in a van with me? Awesome great see ya later.
Don’t be rough. No violence. Play nice. These are a few things I know many of us heard as kids. Or as adults, have told kids when we were concerned that they would hurt each other. But being rough, experiencing discomfort or pain, and playing to win are a few of the ways that humans can learn resilience, learn strategy, learn limitations, and, can have a lot of fun.
I learned the reality of this when I attended a workshop called Roughhousing: Connecting to a Lost Art, while at Envision Festival last month. It was one of the only workshops that I made a point to make it to. When I saw the title, the first thing that happened in me was EXCITEMENT. Clearly there was and is something about what that term evokes that is connected to a childlike and visceral sense of play. So I trusted this instinct, and I went.
I’m not exaggerating when I say that every single person in the workshop was smiling from beginning to end. Because humans love physical contact. We NEED physical contact for our survival. And what became apparent from the get-go, and even more so by the minute, was that nourishing physical contact is not just of the soft and gentle kind, it can also be of the rough and competitive kind.
When the workshop began with an active and physically experimental version of contact improvisation, it was clear that the point was to connect with each other, and to get out of our comfort zone. Usually in physical workshops, I notice an emphasis on the “correct way” to do something so that people don’t get hurt. And while the facilitator in this workshop was always aware of whether or not someone was demonstrating serious risk, there was much more emphasis on “try it and figure it out yourself.” Essentially, we were re-learning the benefits of experimenting with no promise of getting it right. And ultimately re-discovering what felt good, safe and fun for us individually.
The exercises in the workshop were games that stimulated the same kind of active creativity once experienced on the playground. The games had both enough challenge and enough possibility that everyone had a chance of winning and losing. Everyone had a chance to discover their strengths and weaknesses. Everyone had a chance to claim what felt good and what felt like it was too much. I felt like we were all a version of those dogs you see playing in the park—they are tumbling and barking and nipping at each others necks and tails, and it looks like they are fighting…but they are having the time of their lives! They are learning useful strategies and forming relationships all at once.
I was reminded through this workshop that external stimuli that creates internal struggle—whether through the body, mind or emotions—is extremely beneficial for growth. This is how we build muscle, how we strengthen our immune system, how we build relationships based in truth, how we learn integrity and sense of self. The experiences that I recall from my life that were the most painful, the most uncomfortable, the most cringeworthy, the most challenging, were the ones that I consistently refer back to as the moments where I learned my most important lessons. And the moments where I learned how to stand up for my values and my needs.
The end of the workshop was this delightful wind-down in pairs where we massaged each other—because playing rough is great, and finding balance between the rough and the soft is essential. During the wind-down, instead of executing a typical massage, we told each other specifically what we like. The guy I was with liked a quick and hard beating of my fists to loosen his muscles. I liked soft squishy hands moving my body around like jello-o. So I did just that, and he did just that: this beautiful balance of the rough and the soft.
There is an aspect to this work that challenges boundaries, and challenges the belief that acts of physical aggression, and especially male physical aggression, is toxic. I’m no expert, but I am intrigued by what I experienced that day: no Hatred, or Anger, or Intent to Harm... I experienced only Joy, Respect, Communication, Creativity, Empathy, Connection. I think it’s incredibly worthwhile for human health and wellness to rekindle a relationship with the ways we used to instinctively play when we were kids. To allow ourselves the opportunity to get messy, find our boundaries, find our voice, find our edges, and find our play. There can be risk involved...but without the risk, so much opportunity is lost.
*The facilitator of the workshop is Rafe Kelley, and you can find more information on him and the work he does here!