follow the flow
a travel journal and photography journey
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!
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...
Santa Teresa, CR
Solo time is so important.
Terence and I decided to take a week to ourselves during our time in Costa Rica. I went to Montezuma, he went to Santa Teresa. We talked about this solo-time-thing before our travels began, and have even done this a couple times when we were living together in Santa Barbara—intentionally separating for a few days or a week or longer to nurture that part of ourselves that is still autonomous.
And it feels very different taking time for oneself once past the dating stage of relationship. Once we moved in together, have been in partnership for a few years, talk about family, etc., there is this feeling of abandonment that can come up when he asks for his own space, and a feeling of guilt can come up when I ask for mine.
A prevalent story in our culture is that if you love the person you should want to be with them all the time, and if you take space then something must be wrong. I was met with so many variations of this story when I was in Montezuma—when I told the people that I was traveling with my partner, but we wanted to be in different places for a week...
He’s probably off with other women you know.. Are you polyamorous? Oh, is something wrong? Well if he’s not here, that means that we can get together.. *wink wink*
And, I was met with understanding...
That’s amazing, I’d like to try that. Yes, time for myself is what keeps my marriage healthy. Wow! So glad you’re learning this at your age!
The truth of it all for me is that when I know myself, know I can take care of myself, know ways to meet my own needs, and can be happy on my own, I am bringing SO MUCH MORE of myself into my relationship with Terence. I then get to choose him, instead of relying on him to make me feel complete.
And that is what I felt when we came back together yesterday. This sweetness and care with each other, an excitement to be in each other’s company, a deepening of appreciation for each other (flaws and all), and a richness in our love.
When I get to be me, and he gets to be him, we’re reminded of why we came together in the first place.
Last night I sang and improvised at an open mic night with musicians in Montezuma. And I am feeling delighted and mushy and vulnerable and grateful for the whole experience and the people I met through it. And said experience was not very smooth or expected, as the most memorable and remarkable tend to be.
I got into Montezuma yesterday afternoon. Terence and I have been desiring some solo adventure time, so he is in Santa Teresa until I meet him there next week. I walked around the downtown area—which is really the whole area, Montezuma being such a small and intimate town—and I felt so unexpectedly lonely. This solo-time I had been craving was here and I was terrified of it. I knew, though, that these feelings were natural and beautiful. That I was in the midst of the process of discovering what travel is like without Terence by my side. Discovering what travel is like for me, by me, with me. This necessary and fulfilling journey. And that if I just let myself feel lost and alone, the energy stored in those feelings could be free to circulate through my body and be used as fuel for whatever my time here would hold...
So I cried. I curled into a ball and cried in my hostel, praying that nobody else would check into my room so I could be alone in my grief of being alone. I felt my child-self desiring a lap to lay in and a hug and an everything will be alright. I tried my best to give that to myself, without making my feelings wrong, or forcing them to move quicker than they needed.
Eventually movement happened. Movement of emotion which led to movement of body and motivation to get outside. And I met a man on the side of the road selling jewelry. At first, defenses were up. They were saying I don’t want to really engage with this person, he’s just trying to get my money, and I don’t want to use my energy connecting with him. But this man was a divine gift, saying hola in the right place at the right time, I just didn’t know it yet. In his genuine offerings of information about the town and questions of getting to know me, he shared that around the corner there was an open mic night where many local musicians come to play...
Sitting down in Orgánico Montezuma for the first few minutes in what felt like a sea of people—which was really only about 30—I felt raw and fragile, but knew that this was where I needed, and wanted, to be. I could feel my masks of “okayness” wanting to come up, trying to cover the clear remnants of my sadness. But more than that I felt my desire to be myself, raw fragility and all.
Some magic started whirling through the air...people coming and going and music filling the space with sublime melody and passion. Within a few minutes a man asked to sit down with me at my table, to clear up his table for a bigger group of people. His name was Stephen. So friendly, so warm, so genuine and excited about music and life and connection and creation. And I realized within our getting to know each other, that I felt open, I felt honest, and I felt grounded. My recent experience of raw-sad-alone-ness had opened up the gates of authenticity within me, becoming the nourishing fuel telling the parts of me that were scared and lonely that it’s safe to connect and it’s safe to be yourself. And pretty soon, Stephen was introducing me to other locals and friends and creatives—the sea of people I had been afraid of, opening their arms to me, welcoming me into their world, con gusto.
Before I fully realized what was happening, Stephen was up on the little stage playing drums for a friend of his who was on the guitar, and Livio, the owner of the restaurant, was asking me to get up and sing with them. I don’t have anything prepared... I said, the musical theatre girl in me coming through. Livio shrugged with a smile, and said neither does anybody.
So I sang. Timidly at first, waiting for specific moments to add a little harmony, or a background hummm. But the more I allowed the music to move my hips and shoulders, the more I allowed my body to trust that what was wanting to come through was enough, the more sound came forth. And then riffs. And improvisations. And then no more background vocals for me I was full force IN IT. And positively vibrating with delight in every second of it.
And music was made. And it had peaks and valleys and unknowns and freedom. The gods of expression moving through us in those moments we allowed ourselves to be open. And my emotions, those sneaky messengers of divine flow, guiding me to that place.
The performer and perfectionist and critic in me wants to come up with ways that I could have done more; been more creative, sounded better, been more connected, etc. But while I hear those voices and appreciate them for what they are, I know that they are ultimately coming from the space of vulnerability that occurs when I am letting my soul speak through me, when I don’t control myself as much, when I am a vessel for creative energy. And pure creative energy is not always the smoothest, but it is certainly the most alive.
Hola from Costa Rica!
Terence and I arrived a little over a week ago—I can't believe how quickly time goes by when exploring new places! Were we really just recently in Australia?.... Time is so weird.
Wifi out here is rare and spotty, so I haven't been able to update the blog as frequently as my creative side would like. Which, a part of me actually LOVES, because it means that I'm allowing my body to drop into the the land and the totality of my very physical experiences of travel and heat and discovering and carrying our bags from place to place to place. Ah, Pura Vida! And the other part of me is going fuckkkkkkkk I have so much I want to write about! So, in rare moments such as this, sitting in a quaint and surprisingly happened upon little vegan café in Cahuita, the blogger in me is happy and grateful. And the foodie in me is equally grateful!
Terence and I spent last week in Uvita, attending the 4 day Envision Festival with a lively crew of friends, sweetly captured above. Surprisingly, Envision was a super mellow festival experience for me. Not really what I had anticipated when imagining going to a transformational festie in Costa Rica. And, this was all absolutely perfect. Perfect in the way that the Latin root of “perfect” is “complete”. Not good or bad, just complete--how lovely is that? And how perfect is that. Credit goes to my awesome mama for pointing out this delightful new awareness of this word. There were of course plenty of opportunities for staying up for sunrise sets, playing with medicines, taking a plethora of workshops, and buying the gorgeous clothing and jewelry being sold by vendors and locals—but it wasn't that kind of festival for me. Where the completeness existed for me at Envision was in the people I spent it with...
This is one of those beautiful realizations of life—that our fellow humans truly are, and become, the spaces we are cradled by, the homes we are loved in, and in this case, the jungle of creativity where I was brought to laughter, tears, discoveries, universes, surprises, and, often, delightfully comfortable stretches of time of sitting in each others company, just simply being. The Envision crew (myself, Terence, our friends from SB Aaron and Sarah, and new friends Abigail, Shmoo, Lorin, Dan, Rowyn, Kris and Julia) decided to rent an Airbnb together for the week of the festival. It was absolutely lovely to get to know these humans, and to allow for the ebbs and flows of sinking into rich conversation and connection, and doing our own thing.
There is a kind of joy I feel in my soul when I meet people for the first time and within 24 hours I am witnessing naked yoga and invited to play games of authenticity and revealing....this kind of joy is giddy and bright and connects to the roots of my humanity. The roots of me that have embraced literal nakedness as a space of comfort and liberation and acceptance over the last few years, and goes ahhhh soooooo beautiful when I witness others doing the same. And the roots of me that have embraced emotional and metaphorical nakedness, all the weird and exuberant and sometimes shadowy parts of myself as perfect/complete and welcome when I am meeting people for the first time.
And, there is another kind of joy that I feel when I am specifically adventuring with friends from home, Aaron, Sarah, and of course, Terence—these friends who get me, friends who see me, friends who accept me and support me as I am. And this kind of joy is felt in my soul, too, but also emanates from my heart, and fills up my entire body with this sigh of ease, rippling out in colors and patterns and smiles that start to hurt my cheeks. I suppose another name for this joy, simply put, is love.
We jive very well together. Our little foursome, of me Terence, Aaron and Sarah. The highlights of the entire Envision experience for me were roaming the festival grounds with them. We lazed about in hammocks and sang to my ukulele. We drank cacao and then people watched, because festivals are prime grounds for this kind of thing. We danced—and when I say we danced, we DANCED, and it was booty-shakin good. We sat in the shade of trees—trees that were dropping flowers on us, which sounds delightful, but these flowers were so strangely heavy that each time they dropped it felt like a personal attack. And we talked. And hung out. And relaxed. And Sarah and I flittered about the festival like two fabulous fairies because that's what we are. And within all of this, not necessarily doing anything hugely different from how we might do it back home in SB. And that was so much of the beauty for me—we were ourselves.
The Envision crew has gone our separate ways now, and Terence and I have been traveling with our sweet Sarah before she heads off to a permaculture course in Puerto Viejo. The journey continues, as it always will, changing, shifting, blossoming, unraveling. And as Sarah always shares gratitude before she eats her meals, I'm inspired to share a gratitude here:
In this moment, I'm grateful for the unpredictability of travel. I'm grateful for the richness of the human experience in culture, in connection, in friendship.
Canoe adventures with Terence and his family were amazing! It was a three day trip down a river, and there were only two capsizes, one case of almost missing the trip because we forgot what day it was, one almost lost phone—which was plunged into some rapids, mourned of its passing, and then miraculously found in the river via a surprise pair of goggles...definitely the only time I have ever heard of that happening, and it was fucking incredible—four cases of really bad sunburns, four cases of crying from exhaustion, and countless delightful dips into the river when it was too bloody hot. Not to mention the gorgeous scenery, the super fun and often super frustrating rapids, and the hours each day spent tossing banter and support and play from canoe to canoe, from person to person.
I’m back at Terence’s mum’s place now—laying next to my bubbuh, passed out, about to have our final sleep in Australia. We head off to Costa Rica tomorrow to meet up with some of our dearest friends and to go to Envision Festival together! I feel a sense of shock and discombobulation that our time here is already done, that our next adventure is upon us—though I know we will meet our next chapter with wide open arms. We are approaching the parts of our travels that are a bit more unscripted—the parts allowing for the wonder of being in a new place and wanting to explore without restriction. After Envision, we have no plans and no plane tickets home until the beginning of April. AND I AM SO EXCITED. To be in a part of the world I’ve never been to before, to continue traveling with my partner, and to soak up all the juices that Costa Rica can offer.
There has been an overwhelming abundance of beautiful and meaningful encounters and moments that have occurred over the last two weeks here in Australia. Particularly, moments spent with Terence’s family. And moments where I witnessed Terence connecting with his family in ways that are completely new. T’s sole intention in coming to his homeland this time around was to connect with his family as authentically as he could. To spend the time re-learning who they are in each moment, and developing more skills and patterns for communicating and accepting each other as they are. In my experience, the Carfrae’s have some of the most tender hearts, the quickest wits, and most intelligent and ruthless ways of poking each other with banter I've known. Not to mention how ridiculously capable each of them is—whether it’s starting a business, winning triathlons, or rangling chickens, this family has got amazing determination. And, this family has been through some shit and a half—the details of which I don’t feel right in sharing, but I will say that their resilience is palpable.
And today, the day before we leave, Terence looked at me with a sense of gratitude that his efforts to open his heart with vulnerability and integrity did, indeed, lead to a deepening of connection with his family—just as the entire family gathered for their first family photo in about sixteen years. The grandma, grandkids, kids, and partners. And with the depth of emotion and chaos of the planning of this photo, I witnessed sweet, genuine play—from everyone, but more specifically from the mumma of the whole fam, who wore a rainbow dress, and a shiny rainbow wig for the shoot (making it clear that Terence and I must get her to Burning Man). And I felt so honored to have been included in this photo, in this gathering, in this blossoming intimacy of family. To have been welcomed. To have been embraced.
As I feel the time of this evening passing, I recognize there have been many more of these special moments of family over the last two weeks. Moments that I have wanted to write about, and didn’t feel that I had the time or space to write about them with the fullness of presence I felt they deserved. And part of me is grateful for this, because it means I got to have the moment for myself. And another part of me realizes that these stories want to be told. They want to have a listener as well as an experiencer. But there’s too much! Too much to say! How could I possibly put that into words! say the anxious parts of my body, wanting to do the moments justice. But I have given myself this commitment of writing this blog for at least one year for this very reason. Because there are aspects of it that are challenging for me.
I am enjoying the memories of this time in Australia resting in my sun kissed skin and my activated heart. I am working on getting better at creating the presence in myself for the stories to fall out as they desire. I am allowing the multilayered epicness of the Carfrae family to inspire my gratitude and my creativity of words.
There are these moments in life where kindred spirits are met and found. I imagine this will happen quite a bit along this year of travel. These moments of synchronicity, where regardless of the actual events, there is a feeling of I know you, and I'm grateful to have met you, for however brief it was.
I was going for a morning walk around where Terence and I were staying in our little Airbnb in The Pocket, and on my way back past houses and pastures and cows and birds, I found a sweet brown dog, wagging his way into the middle of the road to meet me. His owner came out from behind the fence to tell him to get back inside, and we got to talking. Before I knew it, we were discussing art, bubbles, and photography.
I enjoy getting into conversations with strangers. And I really enjoy getting into conversations with strangers when there is an ease of being who we really are—the bullshit of the weather or where you're from, even names, aside. We didn't end up exchanging our names until we learned each other's energetic names first. These kinds of unexpected encounters are some of the most moving for me as an artist. They remind me that inspiration often comes from the most unexpected of places, that age and gender and beliefs has nothing to do with capacity for connection, and that it's always a good idea to allow a playful state of mind.
His name was Peter, and he couldn't quite pronounce my name right as it sounds a bit weird in an Australian accent, so he tried to do it with an American one instead. It made me chuckle inside.
Peter showed me some of his work as we sat on his porch with his dog Tookie, classical music playing faintly in the background. He brought out abstract cartoons done with black pen, depicting stories he had visioned in his mind. Each scene had a descriptive paragraph below it explaining where the vision had come from—a second work of art accompanying the first. All I want to do with my art, is to make people chuckle, or make them think. He said. He then started blowing bubbles with a little gadget of his, wanting me to see the amazingness of my own reflection in the giant rainbow mirror slowly falling to the grown. I was lit up inside—by the weird profundity of his cartoons, by his gentle excitement in sharing his creations with a stranger, by the artist in me yelling yippeee I found another one!
I didn't see Peter for a few days, but promised to visit one more time before Terence and I finished our stay in The Pocket. I returned the day before we left, and we sat on his porch, classical music playing, his dog Tookie at my feet. He asked how my stay was, and I shared about my relationship, some highlights of our stay, and eventually shared a bit about this year of travel—the excitement, the intentions, the journey's already had. And then, happily, I listened to him tell stories from his life...
He shared about a faulty Fuji camera he once had, and how he sent cartoons making fun of Fuji to Fuji until they gave him a new one that worked. He shared about how dancing saved his life, and the boys and girls who he has taught to dance, and, with tears in his eyes, the dances he has shared with his daughter. He shared that his real name is not the name he signs on all of his art, so many still don't know that his art is by him, and the giddy pleasure he gets out of someone asking him have you seen this cartoon in the paper? He shared about his neighbors' son demanding a mobile phone, and how Peter cleverly took two tin cans, painted them with all the fixings of an iPhone, connected them by a piece of string, and gave it to the boy as a gift. By the next week, everyone at the boys' school had their own tin can phones. He shared about his life of art, what he has created, the photos he has taken, the people met and the places been, shuffling past anything about awards and money only to say Meh, I don't need money anymore, I like to do it for myself now. He draws his cartoons as gifts for his friends, and is continuously coming up with creative ways to entertain, inspire, and fascinate his neighbors and himself.
I rave, I know that I rave, he said, of all his storytelling. Living alone, I don't often have people to talk to, returning back to his gaze out towards the road, where the cows and grass and trees were. We just sit here, every day Tookie and me, listening to classical music and watching the trees grow. And oh how I have seen these trees grow...
When I first asked him if I could take his photo, he said Why don't you get one of me at my drawing table? I don't have a single photo of me like that... That is the photo you see above. I feel so honored that I could take it. That he opened up his studio and himself for a moment to be captured in time of him in his space of inspiration and creativity with his best friend by his feet. But, I still felt like he was feeling the need to pose for the camera. Innocently assuming that I would only want a photo of him in the space of his life's work. But after we had transitioned outside once more, and I was getting ready to leave again soon, possibly not to return again for a long time, I asked if I could take a photo of him where he sits every day. Him and Tookie, listening to classical music and watching the trees grow. That, was the true essence of this artist, to me, from the short experience I had with him.
So that is what you see below. Accompanied by a photo of two pieces of art that describe a part of his soul and his humor—one by him, and one from a friend.
Thank you, Peter, for inviting me into your space, your art, and your stories. My artist heart feels full, and I'll long cherish this moment of befriending.