Emotions. Sadness. Feelings.
Lately I have been experiencing very intense emotions. I would say it’s been going on for the past…well, I guess since October 1st. What has happened in my life recently that could cause this? Well, the answer is, many things. I came back to Portugal after a three week visit with family in Idaho, a weeklong orientation at the university where I’m getting my Master’s in Ayurveda and Integrated Medicine, and then a four day tourist trip to Washington DC. It’s always a bit tough to settle back into my life, thousands of miles away from family, with images of smiles, happiness, and good times lingering in my head. In my mind my mom, stepdad, sister, brother-in-law, and nephew are always together doing holiday things, celebrating birthdays, holidays, enjoying football games together and everyone’s always smiling and enjoying themselves…in reality, I know this isn’t true. Their lives involve work and obligations, ups and downs, and arguments just like everyone else’s. Remembering this opens up space for me to enjoy what I have here in Portugal. I call it my castle by the sea.
I love my home. It’s my first creation that lives and breathes my essence. I have created it over the span of almost two years and everything in it is a piece of me. It was getting a bit cluttered so just yesterday I decided to kick the TV to the curb, (I literally left if on the curb by that dumpsters.) Now my trash is someone else’s treasure, because it’s gone. I also put the stand it was on out there. Minimizing the furniture in my living room as opened up space for what’s important to me. I rearranged and now my living room is more like a yoga/cozy conversation room with the futon and cushy chair facing each other and towards the balcony with the view of the ocean. I also combed through and thinned-out much of my old paperwork that had built-up throughout my years here. Over the past few months I’ve been eliminating clothes that I don’t wear much or that don’t feel good when I do wear them in order to ensure that I am always intentionally making myself feel good when I get dressed in the morning. Now when I look around, I like much more what I see, or what I don’t see, really. I’m back down to a manageable quantity of “things”. I know what I have and it’s not creeping into my space slowly kicking me out. It’s as if there was a war and the enemy was creeping in, taking over, and finally we (me, myself, and I) made our final push and the enemy slowly but surely retreated and we got our land back. It’s physically and mentally cleansing.
So, back to these emotions. Ok, so I came home (to Portugal) after being home (in Idaho). Then I ran a half marathon in the Cascais Ironman. I had told a friend of mine that I would be her runner months ago, so I had a commitment and I couldn’t back down. I trained, yes, a little. I could have/should have trained better, but it was what it was. I was traveling and I did the best I could, although I could have trained better before I left for the States. Anyways, after not training very well, I kicked ass! I couldn’t believe myself. I completed this half faster that I have ever run a half marathon! Not only that but our entire team did better than what they predicted. Gabby swam faster than she expected, and Wiley rode better than ever. I think it has to do with the energy of race day and everyone around us but also being part of a team. I wanted to run faster so that our team got a better time. It wasn’t over competitive, but it was definitely a thought in my mind, and it kept me going, just a little faster. It was amazing! So, there was the high of that race. It felt so good that within the next few days I had already signed myself up for two more races this year…one being a marathon! OMG! What was I thinking?! I know what I was thinking, ‘yes, I want to run (or do) a marathon again and this course is lovely!’ The course is along the ocean, from Cascais to Lisbon. I’ve done marathons before. Two. The first was on my own and the second was with my sister. So, I know I can do it. My only concern was, I had 3 weeks to train from 13 miles to 26 miles! That’s a huge gap! Ok, so I told myself, “Kels, you can also walk. There are people who sign up for marathons to walk the whole thing. It’s ok.” This concept brings me back to the Vipassana course I did in July just north of Barcelona. My biggest message from this course was breaking out of the rigid “perfectionist” torture device, listening to myself and my needs and making space for those needs to be met with love and intention. Instead of going through life as a robot trying to do everything perfectly and only seeing shortcomings is not a self-loving way of living. So, I am learning how to see myself from outside of me, smile, love, nurture and give what this being inside of me needs. That is my new “perfect”. Perfect already is. It’s identifying our own fragility, our own humanness, our sway between the energizer bunny and melting candle wax and letting ourselves be in that space fully, lovingly, with full recognition of self. So, the marathon in in 5 days. I’ve ran/walked 23+ miles, albeit with a super sore knee towards the end, but I know I can do it. I will finish before the cutoff time and that’s all that matters to me this time around. That and enjoying the 26.2 miles of the Atlantic Ocean meeting the Tagus River and finishing up in the gorgeous towering arches and historic buildings in the sparkling city of Lisbon. I am blessed to live here.
So, there was the high from the Ironman which was September 29th. My 36th birthday, mind you, was the 28th. Races always seem to fall around my birthday. It’s a good way to celebrate another year older. Ok, so now, I’m back in Portugal, ran a half marathon, turned 36 and am just about to start an at-home panchakarma treatment. This is an ancient Indian full body detox/cleansing. It involves internal and external oleation, a monodiet, sweating, purgation, and rejuvenation. It’s very intense, not your typical cleanse. Due to the oleation phase it really brings toxins from the deep tissue layers to your digestive tract and then expels them through urine and feces, also toxins are released through sweat. These toxins are buried deep and with them come past emotions that have been buried with them. I’m telling you; I have been experiencing emotions so strong that I haven’t felt since I was a child. I’m talking maybe 7, 8, 9 years old. My mom remarried when I was 10 and it was around that time that I learned that my emotions were an inconvenience and it’s better to stuff them down. Then, the way I made myself feel better was to eat. Well, this quickly turned into an eating disorder which I suffered from for the next 20+ years. It was a terrible struggle. The hiding, guilt, shame, lies, isolation, wishing to be normal and the vicious cycle repeating over and over. Feeling out of control because my mind was saying one thing and my heart something else, they never agreed or got along. The mind would be on board with my heart for a moment and then the devil would come out when no one was around and convince me that food was the only way to “treat” myself so better eat as much as possible now, while no one’s looking. Oooh, it’s an awful game. But now, it’s beautiful. The universe is offering me these gifts of intense, “childlike” (and I say that because I haven’t felt such strong emotions since my childhood) emotions; watching, knowingly as I conquer each bout of audible sobbing, crying, tears streaming, gasping for air, totally present fully aware of myself and my feelings. It is so strengthening, so encouraging, and so relieving to be with myself through this pain. It seems strange to say it, but it really hurts so good. It feels good to feel this pain because I know I am strong enough to take it now. I can withstand it and I will survive it. And without such intense pain and sadness, the joy and laughter wouldn’t be as grand. Yes, this is my time to grow, grow into myself, put on my own skin again and feel how good it feels. I feel that this at-home panchakarma treatment is at the epitome of this current journey and I am so grateful for Ayurveda in my life. I am the proudest little master’s student that I know because soon I get to share with the world this wonderful system that has helped so many others when allopathic doctors have thrown in the towel. Not only that but it is all encompassing, working with the body, mind, emotions, and consciousness. It is my life’s work and I am thrilled to have a channel through which I can share my experiential knowledge and wisdom and help others at the same time. This is my gift. This is why I’m here. (I’m about to cry.)
Then, to boot, my period comes at the tail end of this Panchakarma. So, not only am I cleansing and detoxing physically and emotionally from the Panchakarma, but I suppose I’m extra sensitive from the Pre/Para Menstrual hormones. Which I’m totally ok with, by the way, because, due to the aforementioned eating disorder, I had lost my period for +/- 12 years. Thanks to Ayurveda, I got it back last December and have gotten it every month since! Almost like clockwork. (I can’t lie, one month got skipped but then I got it twice the next month. Silly little universe playing games with me. 😉 So, so proud of my body and it’s inner intelligence. Ok, so now comes these undulating waves of grief and loss over the passing of my best friend, my soulmate, my time capsule, my baby, Joker. I had put him down in July, after the Vipassana course but it didn’t really hit me till about 3 months later that he is gone now. Forever. I knew it would have a late onset because I have left him for months on end before while I went and traveled. One day, I walked outside with my lunch, pulled out the chair to sit on my balcony, stare out at the ocean and enjoy my lunch like I do so often, and I just burst into tears. Where’s Joker? He always is at my heals, he lays down by the table and keeps me company while I eat my lunch. But he’s not there. He’ll never be there anymore. He’s only in my heart and in my mind. For this I am ever grateful. I so lucky to have had him in my life for the 11+ years we had each other. We really were best friends. Neither of us had to say a word and we knew what the other was thinking. I miss him so much. I have to grab a pillow sometimes and squeeze it just to feel something up against my heart, the way I used to cuddle with him. I was big spoon and he was little spoon. I always love getting down on the floor with him, wrestling/acroyoga-ing. I’m telling you; he was down for whatever! From Tucson, to Idaho, to Alaska, to Portugal; from 23 years old doing drugs and struggling with an eating disorder to 35, a yoga teacher, runner, and Ayurvedic practitioner and everything in between. He knew all of me, all my sides, more than anyone in the entire world. I will always love him. Joker will always be in my heart.
So, then, let’s speed this up a bit. I am approached with an opportunity to teach yoga and hold Ayurvedic workshops at a studio in Lisbon! Super stoked about that because while I was in the States, I specifically told myself that I was going to go to yoga studio after yoga studio until I found one where I could give regular classes. Then, it came to me?! Thank you universe. I hear you. So, I bought a scooter (a Vespa to be more precise) to get me to and from yoga and Ayurvedic consults more easily. No, I am not yet teaching or giving consults yet, but I am living into this vision, this path. The universe is guiding me and I’m just taking the appropriate next step. But, after the scooter and rent, I’m pretty much broke. Not to mention, I let go of a job that I was totally unaligned with, thinking I had to keep it or I’d be broke. I let it go with a conversation with my boss/friend (Wiley, Ironman friend’s boyfriend) about following my passion, “trimming the fat” and cutting out tasks that are time consuming and aren’t compatible with my goals, including this job. Not even a week after I let go of that job did the most perfect job open up for me. I am now working in the field of Ayurveda, providing assistance to the students in the bachelor’s program at the university I am attending. Perfect, right! This is my calling. I’m telling you. Providing help to these students is basically training for consultations, and I’m getting a good wage for it!
So, as you can see, there have been a lot of ups and downs, twists and turns. Then, this guy I’ve been seeing lets me know that he will be staying in Sweden for the Winter. We’ve only been seeing each other since June or so but still, it was really special. He always said his life is very unpredictable and he doesn’t know where he might be in the next moment, and so it became. My fantasies of carving pumpkins, sipping chai tea on cold (-ish, come on, we’re in Portugal here) winter nights lit by the sparkle of Christmas lights, and spending Christmas eve and day together, just the two of us, wherever we ended up…vanished, in an instant. That was the morning I had already decided to rearrange my living room and then the purging of paperwork and other things followed. It was actually a perfect marriage of these two circumstances. I got the news, I looked at the TV and all the things I had already moved off the stand and thought, “Do I really want to do this right now?” and quickly I found the answer was, “Yes.” So, I continued to move, clean, cry, break down, spill tears, find new homes for plants, a new use for the stools (plant holders), through the tears and release of emotions came creativity and strength. When it was all said and done, I was feeling a bit fragile again, and I thought, I think I’ll do some yoga. It was a very random thought. I laid out my mat, almost rolled it back up but decided to just go for it. As soon as my outstretched arms and palms came together above my head, I knew this was exactly what I needed. There is so much strength and power in just that action. To come together, go within, let my body express it’s beauty, strength, and intelligence without limits, without instructions, just letting go and letting it flow. This was my coming back to myself. There was a moment on this day that I held onto this Buddha statue I have, I hugged it and cried saying, “I just want to hold on to Something.” It was in this moment that it came to me. I can’t hold on to Joker, I can’t hold on to a person. I can’t hold on to anything forever. It feels so good to have what we have in the moment, so it’s important to experience it fully when it’s there. It’s important to stay present in our lives and in our relationships so that we can submerge ourselves into this puddle of colors running from the cloth that they are cut from. This way our relationships become a part of us. They dye our skin, our clothes and enrich our lives. We can only experience so much as a solo being in this world, but when we take time to stop and tune into the person or people that we are with, we get to live their experiences for a moment, and these then become our own. This is love. This is understanding. And this, is what it’s all about. Afterall, I am the only person I will have for the rest of my life. I can only hold on to, nurture, care for, and respect myself and expect something in return. For we are always rewarded when we treat our self well. No one is responsible for me. I am. I choose to see the light in the dark. I know that to everything there must be a balance. You can’t have dark without light, up without down, the in breath without the outbreath. Opposites are life. Sun and Moon. Day and Night. Drought and Flood. Birth and Death…the list goes on. I am here to live it fully and deeply. I am so grateful for emotions and so privileged to feel them.