follow the flow
a travel journal and photography journey
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!
San José, CR
Terence and I are at the airport about to fly out of Costa Rica!
We are on our way back to Cali today after over 4 weeks through Uvita, San José, Cahuita, Puerto Viejo, La Fortuna, Montezuma and Santa Teresa. As we were reflecting last night on our experiences over the last month, there were a few potent lessons that came to the forefront for me:
1. I need to be creative/be around creativity...
When I spent a week in Montezuma, I was overwhelmed by the amount of musicians, dancers, jewelry makers, visual artists, and playful spirits I found there. I noticed myself come alive and engage with life in ways I hadn’t been throughout other moments of the trip. I discovered this aggravation that builds in my body after not being actively creative for a while, and how when I am a little creative every day, I am a happier, more balanced and more blissful Teagan. And whether that creativity is singing, writing, dancing, or simply witnessing the art making and celebration of others, it is just as necessary as food to me.
2. Taking time to connect with myself, whether it’s a week or a few minutes, greatly supports my connection with Terence...
My last writing was about solo time in partnership, and how important it is. As Terence and I head into the next part of our journey in our van (which I am so damn excited about and will write more about soon!!!) this will be especially important to remember. I’m lucky to have a partner who I’m on the same page with.
3. When I listen to my body, I feel like a hottie...
This has nothing to do with how my body actually looks. I’m not really sure how much my body has changed while I have been traveling—if I have gained or lost weight or tone or any of those things I am continuing to realize don’t matter as much as I once thought they did. But I noticed that when I would give my body love, attention and affection, I felt radiant, sparkly, and beautiful. This body-love was in the form of stretching and exercise and yoga, sometimes it was in the form of a walk on the beach and resting, and sometimes it was in the form of laying with myself and crying. The importance of my daily-self-connection-practice is being reinforced in ways I hadn’t imagined. Because whatever the form, celebrating myself as I am is the best dose of “I’m a hottie” I’ve discovered yet.
4. It’s the people, not the places, that make traveling great...
When Terence and I look back on the most remarkable moments of this last month, each moment had a very special person or group of people associated with it. The waterfalls and rainforests and towns and little shops and beaches were all beautiful, but what made them memorable was the Surprise Music Making, the Laughter About Her Marriage, the Passionate Talk About Education, the Learning Spanish Over Breakfast, the Bumping Into You Three Times In Three Places, the Contact Improv In The Grass, the Jump Into The Rock Pool With A Stranger, and of course, the Terence y Teagan Time. The people give the places Life and History and Silliness and Craziness. And while I’m sure this is known and understood by most, I think it bears repeating and remembering, for the rest of my travels and my life.
I’m sure there are more lessons from this short yet long experience, but these are the ones resting at the forefront of my heart. I’m returning home more inspired, wise, and tan than I ever imagined possible.
Gracias, Costa Rica, till next time...