Friday, January 31, 2014

What You Might Find

Since I came back to Spain, I have encountered blessings and moments that I could have never hoped for or even dreamed of. The growth I've experienced has been exponential, and the progress I see in myself is astounding. I believe I am doing exactly what God wants me to be doing, and that I am walking on the path He designed for me.

There are certain moments and times that this thought is really solidified, and certain experiences that leave me knowing I'm doing something right.

I have our house up on the Couchsurfing website (it is just as it sounds -- people write to you to ask if they can stay, for free, at your place during their trip to your city), and ever since the day I switched my status to tell people I'm able to host, I literally get at least one or two requests a day. One day, I actually had 15 couch requests. If we wanted, we could host people here nearly every single day of the week and weekend, and usually more than one person or group at a time. It's amazing to see how many people come to Sevilla, and after living here for the last year, I completely understand why.

Which is why I get SO excited about having couchsurfers! I love showing people the city that I have come to adore, and I also love, so much, meeting people from all over the world! It's possibly the thing I missed the most when I was living in California after studying abroad -- looking around the room and hearing a variety of languages and accents, and seeing a group of people who all come from very different places, but who have developed a deep, instant bond, just because we're all out in the world, away from our homes.

Since I switched my CS status back in November, we have had quite the variety of couchsurfers! Our first one was a girl from Mexico, who was studying abroad in Barcelona. Then we had a Polish couple, who was travelling around Andalucia, and were here for my debut Thanksgiving dinner, giving it an extra special touch! They were followed up by a Ukrainian guy, and then a Chinese girl, who was studying abroad in France, and then an Erasmus student in Madrid, from Brussels, Belgium. And they all led up to this past weekend, the big kahuna, and probably the highlight of my weekends here in Sevilla, and the CS experience that will forever have my heart.

We had four different surfers, from four different countries, all travelling alone, but all staying here, in the warmth of my heart and our home. I first said yes to this awesome guy from Cyprus (a beautiful island between Turkey and Greece, something I learned through meeting him), back in December or late November. And then, I think I got the weekends mixed up because we were having so many coming, because I accepted another couch request from a guy from Greece. And then I decided to throw a girl into the mix, and accepted a request from an Aussie. And then, just two nights before everyone was supposed to come, and there were still countless requests coming in for that weekend, I told an Italian girl she could stay as well, if she didn't mind there already being three others coming. I thought my roommate was going to kill me. LOL.

I don't know why I wasn't feeling uneasy or unsure about what I had set us up for, perhaps it's because I know that these kinds of situations usually always turn out amazing. And after the weekend we all spent together, I am thanking my lucky stars and God that it' so hard for me to say no to people, ultimately resulting in the formation of a sweeet lil family for the weekend!

The Aussie came first, on Friday, and that afternoon the Greek came as well. Now, I'm just using nationalities here, because while I do remember everyone's names, I don't know if they want their information blasted out on one of the most-read blogs on the WWW. ;-) But anyways, so they came, and then we all had lunch at my place with my roommate, and played a fun card game, and then just kind of hung out. We wanted to go out that night, but since I'm not exactly the best person when it comes to the "where are the clubs and party" question, I reached out to everyone I know here to try and find a good place to take them. In the end, we went to La Alameda, one of the main spots to go at night here in Sevilla. We ended up meeting up with, get ready for it, the Sevillan guy I had met on the airplane from Dallas to Madrid coming home after the holidays at home, and his friends. Hah! Life is so great!

It was cultural-exchange mayhem, and it was a blast!

The next afternoon, the Roman gal came, and we did a bit of sightseeing, then came back to my place for some tapas and wine, and then went back out to meet up with: people the Aussie had met in her hostel, the other couchsurfer who was going to stay at our place, some of my friends, and then, we all combined with another friend and his group, in the Alameda, once more. And again, we passed the night laughing, loving, and acting like we'd known each other forever.

It was amazing, on Sunday, when we were talking about how long they'd been with us, to realize that two had just come two days before, and the others the previous day. We all felt like we had known each other for far longer, like at least we'd been living together here in Sevilla for the semester as Erasmus students. (The European study abroad program.) It was so sad to say bye to them, and watch as one-by-one, they walked out the door, but not my heart, and onto their next destination.

Some people may think I'm crazy, heck, there are plenty of moments where I think I am, but it's the moments and experiences like those ones, that really remind me why I wanted to return to the world and leave the comfort of home. There's something really special about the bonds you make with people when you're travelling alone and staying with a stranger. And there's something really amazing that happens when you get a group of people together, who are all from different countries and cultures, but who, in the end, are pretty much all the same. All full of feelings, fears, curiosities, desires, doubts, dreams, and the same red blood that pumps through our bodies, and hits our hearts, which all emit the same love.

The world isn't the scary place the news and papers make it out to be. It's actually really full of loving, helpful, kind people, who are just as curious, scared, and unsure as you are. We literally are all the same, all one. We're all part of the world, there's no possible way to deny that, so how could we not be connected? Our feet are planted on the same magic space ball, after all! :)

Infinite thanks to Chamaizing, Kon-stan-ti-nos, Camilla Disaster, and Arif for seeing something in me that made you request my couch, and for being so open and okay with me being a lunatic who said yes to four people at once. I adore you all, and you are welcome here, or wherever I am, at any time in our lives. I know we'll meet again, and we'll always have this one special weekend to remember; where we all came together so suddenly, and really, quite perfectly. Safe travels my little darlings! <3


I can't even express how much love I'm pumping out into the universe right now! I may be tired, but I am so full of love, that even in my comatose state, it's still pouring out my pores. I want it to reach you, I want you to feel it! Remain open to love, and it will hit you. It doesn't have to hurt. It doesn't have to suck. It can be pure, platonic, and unconditional. And we all need that!

Along with it, I am sending you blessings and light. Blessings that can know no bounds, and a light that can fill you and carry you through your days feeling in awe of the amazing world that surrounds us.

I love you world, I love you so much, and I am so happy to know you love me too!

PS. The world is pretty connected, and everything is so, so circular.. on Sunday, we went to meet up with another CSer from Sevilla, who can't host, but can meet for a coffee with people. Last night, I went to the intercambio (language exchange) meeting that my friends go to each week (and I sometimes go to), and who do you think I saw? The gal we met up with for coffee, AND my friend from the plane! I usually bail on going since Thursdays are my earliest days and I'm pretty wiped out by the time work ends, but I went last night, even though I'm limping b/c of turf toe, and they were both there, she alone, he with one friend, for their first times! Oh, life! ... :)

I love you.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

My Big Four For Balance

My beloved, budding page has gone untouched for a solid amount of time now, and it's time to get back to it! Things picked up around here, and the rainstorms started, causing internal laziness and more blanket-and-bed-prone aspirations, while work was telling me, "Hahahah!! Yeahhh...right. Get up, girl! You've got meetings with the parents on Friday, and progress reports due next week. You don't have time to just hang out by the heater and snuggle with yourself." So I didn't. ....for the most part.

The thing about working two jobs, is that you kind of have no choice but to become somewhat of a workaholic. Your weekdays generally consist of little other than your morning routine, (which for me is a HUGE part of my life -- devotional, prayer, meditation, yoga, breakfast. I actually only need about 10 minutes to get my appearance together, it's all the getting ready I do within that takes the time), getting yourself to and from work (shout-out to all my people in LA who have got that morning commute grind to suffer!), working, and eating, usually while simultaneously working, or at least thinking/planning for one of the jobs.

When a new friend was asking me about my hobbies, I was so blocked by work, that it was the only thing I could think of to bring up! I said, "Well, I work a lot... and I usually eat lunch in between my two jobs. . ." And then he said, "So eating is your hobby." It was perfectly acceptable, because he is Roman, and food is just about the best hobby you could ever have, but still, the fact I didn't even think about the weekends just goes to show you how engrossed I have become in the worklifeflow.

And last week, I finally realized (/admitted to myself) I am actually a workaholic. Which is ironic, because I "fled" the US so I could avoid going down the path I saw most everyone else following -- work/status[aholic], engaged, married, children, and big dreams of traveling the world. But I guess that's kind of the way it works out, isn't it? The thing you try to escape, is usually what catches up to you. "What you resist, persists."

And so, here I find myself, in one of the most desirable places in the world (Spain has been selected as the fifth best country to live in, and Andalucia the best part of the country, especially, Sevilla), and I am constantly thinking about, planning for, or doing work.

Luckily, I have developed passion for my job as a teacher, and I really do enjoy it. And, if anyone were to look at my life from the outside, they would say I'm pretty dang lucky. Heck, I look at my life from the inside AND outside, and tell myself I'm pretty stinkin' lucky. But teaching is taxing, and man, let me tell you, it's been an amazing practice in... wait for it... yep, yep, one of the things I've ALWAYS said I have a hard time with applying in my life......


(Big surprise there, huh?)

Who'd have thought that not only would I be trying to ditch out on a life based mostly around work, just to end up in one like that!? Especially in another country as an English-teaching-expat! And also, not only would I end up with a brain full of lesson plans, vocabulary games, grammar techniques, verb tenses, and explanations, but I'd be learning one of the most necessary lessons I needed to learn in my life: how to balance it all. (Can I perhaps suggest this was part of God's plan for me, and why He kept calling me back here?) And I've gotta say, I think I have become pretty good at this!

I figured out pretty early on that with teaching, planning ahead is everything. Really, it is. If you are trying to plan your lessons in the minutes available before you have the class, it's probably not going to work so well. Unless you're a seasoned vet, it's best to plan ahead. When you're a first-time teacher, using the materials and books for the first time, and refreshing your own English language knowledge yourself, planning ahead, namely looking at the material beforehand, is a crucial part of your survival.

Another huge part of finding, and maintaining, balance when work is the largest component of your life, is to really let yourself take a break. When you go on vacation, hit the weekend, or have a little break between jobs, it is so important that you really let yourself take your mind off work. Don't even let yourself stray to it! If it starts to happen, stop yourself, you can always return to it when it's not your personal time.

When I went home for two weeks, I was sitting in church on Sunday morning, having arrived in California less than 12 hours before, circling words in the bulletin that I wanted to teach my First Certificate students, because I thought if they could work it into the speaking part of the exam, it would raise their scores. I was thinking about ways the pastor could simplify his sermon so that everyone could understand it (not remembering that everyone around me had grown up with English), and freaking out that he was speaking in "such a complicated way." (Really, it was just a native way of speaking English. Nothing too advanced or fancy, but in my mind, knowing how an ESL student learns, I was like, "Ohhh noooo, they aren't going to get any of this!! Wait! Stoppp!!")

It was then that I decided I wasn't going to let myself think about work for the rest of the time I was home. I would talk about it with people, since I was home, and they would ask, and that's part of it, but I wasn't going to allow myself to think, "Have I got all my lesson plans made for the week we get back?" Or, "What games should we play/activities should we do?" I let myself have those two weeks without thinking about it. And if work started to creep in my mind, and I started to wonder if I had everything ready for when we returned, I'd stop myself mid-thought and say, "You are on vacation. TAKE THE VACATION!! Everything is fine. You have time when you get back to Sevilla to check it out. Right now, you NEED to vacate your mind. Enjoy where you're at, and especially what's going on." And I did!

And since I've been back, I've been implementing this same method. If I am at the weekend, and I start to think too much about work, I just remind myself that I've got it all planned ahead, at least one or two weeks, and that right now, it is essential to take this time off to enjoy life, and enjoy other things than the classroom.

So my bottom-line is this:
  1. Wake up early. No, a little earlier than that. It's likelyway earlier than you want to, but just do it. And do your morning devotional, journaling, prayer, meditation, yoga, and movements. Make a big breakfast, and eat it as fast as you need to to make it out the door on time (apologizing to your body the whole time for shoveling food into it and then immediately proceeding to exercise by biking to the metro), but make sure you eat it. The day requires energy, and you can't give it your all if you're starting empty.
  2. Plan ahead. For me, I work two jobs, Monday-Thursday, and I have some spare time between the jobs. So I dedicate myself to focusing on work, and almost only work, on those four days of the week. I get my lesson plans done, papers graded, games planned, and photo copies made, and then I reward myself with three days to vacate my mind and not think about it.
  3. Eat right. You cannot feel good about yourself if you're treating yourself like a trash dump. And as a teacher, or any other job where you are constantly in contact with other people, and the pace is quick, you have got to love yourself, or you can't love those eager or bored faces in front of you.
  4. Allow yourself not to think about it. Really, don't do it. I can't stress this enough! It's so important to make yourself take a mental break from thinking about work. If you don't, you're consumed by it. And for a lot of people these days, that means being consumed by something you don't necessarily love. 
So those are my Big Four For Balance! All our lives, habits, and needs are different, so find what works for you. But I promise you, the "vacate your mind" one, applies to us all! And in reality, all of this post is written in such irony, as I currently have a "puente" (long weekend, from Thursday to Sunday), and one of the first things I did this morning was start writing about work and being obsessed with it. Whoops.

But now, it's time for me to take my own advice! I know I've got all my lessons planned for at least the next week coming up, and with four different couchsurfers, from four different countries, all coming to our place for varying nights from tomorrow to Monday, I could do myself a great service by spending an hour or so doing some yoga before a tapas-filled and touristy weekend commences!

Work your tail off when you're working, but relax your face off when you're not. Life is all about finding that sweet balance between give and take, and for many of you, you're approaching the weekend, which means it is time to take -- a break, a rest, a jog, a shot, a pint, a nap, a ride, a-whatever, just take it easy and get your mind off your work for at least a couple days!

Sweet, sweet Blessings to you all, and endless amounts of Love & Light!
Love to everyone, from the core of my being <3

Friday, January 17, 2014

Don't Be Scared, There's Always Divorce

So I'm reading through this list of "The 50 Things You Don't Want to Regret When You Die," and I got to #24, then I couldn't keep going.

24. Not putting a ring on it. Commitment is a scary thing. What if he or she turns out not to be the right person? Well, that’s what divorce was created for.

Wait, what? Give me a moment to process this for a second.. Ummmm........


Wow. It's no wonder that people's morals, aspirations, goals, and self-worth have just gone through the roof in the last couple generations, marriages are such a success, and people place such an amazingly high value on sex and marriage. (Please have picked up on the sarcasm..)

I actually couldn't continue reading the otherwise well-composed list (I can only speak of the items on it up until 24), until I'd written out my emotions and gotten the horribly irritated and semi-boiling water out of my heart. I was so blown away that someone could so simply write-off marriage (quite literally, and no, no pun was intended:), and just say, "Well, that's what divorce was created for." Ugh. Just rewriting it I feel like I'm committing a heinous crime against love; the one thought and thing that pulses through me constantly and gives me a reason to pursue in the ways I do. And I don't want to get tooo dramatic about it, but seriously, that's kind of like saying, "What if you have a pet or a kid and you find out it's not exactly the one you wanted? Well, that's what pounds and orphanages were created for."

Have we really entered into an age where divorce is so common and accepted, and marriage so undervalued and appreciated, that we think it's okay to just take the plunge, "put a ring on it," and find out later if we chose the right one?

As someone who isn't sure she wants to get married, but intends to spend her life with the love of her life, and someone who actually used to think similarly (many years ago I'd convinced myself it was okay to be scared to marry, but to do it anyways, because yeah, you could always get a divorce. But I also was still so immature that I thought it would be "fun" to "marry a few times"), I find myself so bothered by this "Thing You Don't Want to Regret When You Die." I'm not sure if it's because, as of my last relationship, I have experienced great, soulful, true, deep love, or if it's just part of being an awake, conscious, and somewhat-traditional person, who is deeply spiritual, as well as religious, but I cannot find it in me to accept this item on the list.

I believe that marriage is a special, sacred thing. It's possibly the biggest ceremony you will ever have in your honor/participate in, and what you do when you marry someone is probably the biggest gesture of trust, love, and devotion you could ever make as a human. And yes, commitment is a scary thing, but that's why you follow your heart, and marry the one whose soul you know belongs with yours, so you know that it's right, that he or she is the one, and that you could, would, and will spend the rest of your life with them, without ever wanting anything else.

I would so much rather die without ever having been married, than have gotten married simply so I wouldn't be on my death bed wishing it's an experience I could watch replay in My Life Movie as I take my last breath. I would SO much rather wait my entire life to find my one and only, my twin flame, my kindred spirit above all the rest, and the other whole to my whole, and marry that person and make it last a lifetime, than just try out some different husbands over the years to spare myself the possible regret later in life of never having done it. I mean, it's not exactly like we're talking about a pair of jeans here.

With jeans it's easy. You can try them on, buy them, and if you get home and realize you don't really like them, it's really no big deal. You just take them back for a full refund and continue your life pain-free. (Unless they were an all-sales-are-final item. But even then you can so easily do something else with them that won't leave any permanent scars or damage other than on your credit card, wallet, or bank balance.) But with another human being -- a human who you've tied yourself to, dedicated yourself to, vowed yourself to, and loved enough to walk all the way down that aisle or to that Elvis -- it's not that simple. Obviously I can't speak from experience, since I've never been married or divorced, but not only am I intelligent/do I have common sense, but I've read and seen plenty about divorce to have gathered a pretty factual idea that it's a bit more complicated than exchanging a pair of jeans that aren't quite right.

There are souls involved. There are emotions involved. There are HEARTS involved. And matters of the heart are never so simple as "just getting a divorce." (Not to mention all the legal papers, fees, documents, and drama you have to deal with.) So while I do think that marriage can be a beautiful thing, a wonderful thing to participate in, gesture to make, and experience to have, I do not, at all, think it is something you should do because you want to get over a fear of commitment. And I especially do not think it's something you should do because divorce exists and was "created for this reason."

Respect the institution of marriage. And respect yourself, your soul, and theirs enough to only deliver those vows once, make them count, give them everything you've got, and make it last. After all, if you have any doubts about saying that "I do," chances are the person in front of you doesn't have the soul yours has been searching for.

Love one another. Love yourselves. Love the earth.

The Soul

Blessings, Love & Light to all

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

A Story of Forgiveness

Yesterday at work I was given the blessing of an extra free hour, which actually left me with almost three free hours in between my classes. So I gathered up my coin purse, my book, my notebook, and self, and took us all across the street to the tapas bar that is there to have an americano and some breakfast. I took a barstool to the window so that I could feel the sun on my face and look out at the "scenery," and began to relax and enjoy my break.

I was excited to have a chance to read and write, and told myself that while there was work I could do and/or prepare, I was going to take this time to not think about it, and really give my brain a break from the constant activity it is facing. For Christmas, Santa delivered to my grandma-knit stocking a new book, Undaunted, by Christine Cain. And I'll be honest, it took me a while to get into it, because the first section is about something I heard her speak about when I saw her at Women of Faith a few years back (she is a total firecracker, by the way), but a couple days ago, everything shifted, and now I'm pretty into it.

The particular section I am reading now is all about forgiveness, a topic which is very important and relevant in our lives, but one I think many of us don't really think about or consider too much. Growing up as a Christian, forgiveness is not exactly a topic I'm a noob to, but something different happened today while I was reading about it. I have no idea why her words struck me in a way that I don't think I've ever been struck before by this topic. It just must have been my time for all this. My aligning moment in time. My time for all that was about to follow. To happen. To pass.

Something inside me stirred, and I was prompted to close my eyes and meditate and pray. I started to think about all the people who had caused me pain or hurt over the years. All the people who had contributed to my pain body and made me feel like I wasn't this or that enough. And I thought about all the ones who had hurt my pride, infected my mind, and treated me poorly. But above all, I was thinking of all the ones I really, really needed to forgive. I was thinking of all the pain and hurt I needed to forget, and all the internal suffering I needed to be free from.

And then without further thought or intention, I entered into a really deep, direct meditation. Not the kind where it was like I had been transported outside myself to some other realm of the universe, or where you are vibrationaly tweaking out. It was the kind of meditation in which you are transported so far and deep inside yourself, that all you can feel and sense is whatever you're intention is. And the kind of meditation in which you are just there, you have got it going on! You are focused, you are in touch, and you are zoning in on something so powerful, that you almost lose yourself within yourself, and are carried around through the meditation wherever it decides to take you.

I felt like Elizabeth Gilbert (author and liver of Eat. Pray. Love.) when she writes about being on the rooftop of her ashram in India and inviting the spirit of her ex-husband to come to her. I started speaking to the people who had caused me pain over the years. I let them know that I was coming in peace (most likely threw up a peace sign and adapted an alien voice when I did), and I had come to forgive and make amends. I told them that I wanted them to come join me and participate in this healing ceremony with me. And then I called out to one soul at a time.

When I felt like I could really sense them -- like I had their face in my mind and the feeling of being there together -- it all began. I spoke to them through my mind, but more importantly, I felt it deep in my heart. I told them it's all ok, that I'm ok and I was ready, and we went over each thing I could recall they had done against me I wanted to forgive. I thought about it, felt it, let whatever emotion rise with it, felt it some more, let it take its place, and then when I believed it and felt it, I told them I forgave them. After thinking and feeling these words with all my mind and all my heart, they slowly drifted away as the next one came up.

With each person, group, or situation I thought about and forgave, I got lighter, and lighter, and lighter. I could feel the space in my chest opening further and further, and the energy inside of it swirling, pulsing, and vibrating, activating the energy being that we all are. What I felt in my chest, coming from my heart chakra, was so powerful and magical, I guarantee there were rainbows blasting out of me, unicorns prancing all over, pots of gold shooting around, and all forms of magical and mythical creatures having a big om'd-out, Namaste-ing party all over the place! It was remarkable. It was incredible. I am so blessed. To be able to conduct such a thing within, feel it, see it, witness it, all I can say is, "Wow!"

There wasn't an excessive number of people I could think of that I wanted to call forward, but I spent all the time I needed to in order to be able to really say I forgave them, believe it, and feel it in my core.

I forgave all the guys who just stopped talking to me instead of telling me that our time was through; leaving me to feel defected, undesirable, and not worth it. All the ones who made excuses for not wanting a girlfriend, staggered in their contact with me, and then ended up with one just a couple weeks later. The one who I gave nine months of my life to, just to be cheated on and verbally abused; left to feel completely worthless, lame, ashamed and embarrassed. The ones who had taken advantage of my weakness and allowed me to go further than I might have wanted to; leaving me to feel such heavy shame that it affected all relationships that would follow, as well as the value I placed on myself during my college years. I forgave the friends who were nothing of the sort. The ones who ditched me, took advantage of me, used me, excluded me, and made me feel like there was something wrong with me and that I couldn't and shouldn't be myself. The ones who I participated in sick mind games with as a second grader, intentionally trying to hurt The Girl of The Week, by making her feel excluded, stupid and alone. The ones who didn't care if you liked a guy, because if they did and had the chance, they'd take it without second thought; an action that would screw with anyone's head and damage their self-assurance. I forgave the woman who runs the preschool I went to, who through a conversation I had with my parents, I learned used to read off a list all the things I'd done wrong and ways I'd been bad, in front of my face, to my parents every single day when they picked me up. My mom told me that she watched the way I started to believe I was a bad kid, and watched everything about how I carried myself begin to shift and change; something that ultimately and unknowingly affecting my self-confidence for the rest of my life. And then I forgave one of the most difficult ones of all.

With this soul, I struggled. I didn't want to forgive everything. And as I was thinking about what to forgive for, new memories would come up, and I would get angry, sad, or heartbroken. At one point there were tears falling from my closed eyes, as I opened myself to what was more painful than the names and demonstrations I had endured, but the ones I had witnessed against two of the most important and influential people in my life. But no matter how much my heart wanted to resist, skip, and stop, I did not let it. I told myself, "Look! Look at yourself! YOU ARE FINE! You are okay, you are amazing, and you are doing great [in life]!! All of those things that happened in the past, they obviously didn't impair your ability to live, to love and to be, because just look at you and all you're doing! It is time!! The time has come, let's forgive! If for nothing else, but to see what might happen when you do. (I'm notorious for turning anything and everything I can into a game of sorts.) Okay? Good. Now, keep going. You're strong. You've got this!"

Because I believe and know these things to be true of myself, and because I have fully accepted and love myself, this method worked. This self-talk and self-assurance, it helped. If you want to make this process happen within yourself as well, but you don't quite believe these things to be true of yourself, make yourself believe them. Repeat positive words of encouragement and build yourself up for as long as it takes, before you can tell yourself, "Ok, you're right. I'm fine, I'm amazing, I'm magical, and it's time." Through doing this, I was able to let go, be ready to forgive, and then make it happen.

One by one I worked through the memories, and when I was finished forgiving, I sent off the soul I'd forgiven dripping with my newly empowered love and light. And when I was finished clearing out all that old junk, and had created an expanse of space within me I didn't know I could have, I knew it was time to take on the hardest person any of us can and will ever have to forgive. I took on myself.

I called out to anyone I could recall hurting, any ugly thought, word, or sentence I could remember uttering, and every bit of pain that I might have inflicted on another person. I told them I was so sorry. I told them how immature and unaware I'd been. I told them that there was no excuse, and I couldn't even believe I'd done it. But that it had happened, and for that reason, we're here. I'm here to ask for forgiveness, and I'm here to hope you will give it to me.

This is one of the hardest parts of the process of forgiving -- seeking forgiveness from others. Some of these people we need forgiveness from are no longer in our lives. Some are no longer in anyone's lives. And because of this, it is hard to believe we are forgiven. But as someone who believe in the afterlife, I have to know that whoever has already passed and needs to forgive me, is granting it to me from where they are, because they have entered the realms in which there is so much more. And I have to trust that by my begging forgiveness from them and from God (the most important forgiver of all), it is mine. Some of you might actually reach out to people you've lost touch with. Some of you might not know where to even begin looking for them. Whatever the case, it's okay. You have asked, and in many cases, that's more than could ever be hoped for. And trust me, the pressure we put on ourselves is always worse than the pressure put on us by others. So if you can forgive yourself, then your part is done. It's up to that person to have a cleansing ceremony for themselves and forgive those who have hurt them. Remember, not forgiving does more damage to yourself than it does to the other person.

So there it was, my time to forgive. In the course of maybe 10 minutes, I did something that some will never even consider doing. In just 10 minutes time, I hit every range of emotions, and took a trip though my past. In 10 short minutes, I released myself from bonds that I didn't even know were holding me, and created a chest cavity I had never known. All it took was 10 minutes, and I was left new, and more ready than ever to continue living my life, applying this new practice of total forgiveness for the duration of my days.

Of course this doesn't mean I will never struggle to forgive again, or that I'm now somehow immune to anything that could need to be forgiven. And it doesn't mean that if I brew on hurtful scenes from the past I am unaffected. It doesn't mean a certain memory won't start to bubble up and bring sadness, or that the affects of those times are somehow gone and completely cured. But it does mean that I know I have released myself from it, and it from me. I have decided to stop carrying it around with me, and therefore it has lost its unknown grip on me. It means I am free! These old hurts from people in my past, present and future have such less bearing on me now. And the most amazing part of it all, is when I think about the things that used to cause me so much pain or anger, I know it's been dealt with and that I have moved on!

Very little good comes from holding onto things from the past, especially those things that are like poison to our souls. But in order to be freed from all of it, we have to deal with it, and decide that we're okay anyways. Forgiveness is a practice that can release us from these poisonous emotions, and carry us closer to our best version of ourselves.

I'd like to thank Christine Caine, for being the woman of God that she is. For shining out her light so bright and undeniably, and for her words, which caused all of this to pass, enabling me to move forward in life with a new lightness inside. And I'd like to thank all of you who read this and take it to heart. Just by considering it you're doing something good for yourselves, which in turn does something good for others.

Good luck in all that you do, and try giving this forgiving thing a shot. I promise you won't feel the same after you do, and it'll be totally worth it!

Share below any practices you have that help you be healthy on the inside (or out), and feel free to leave any questions or comments you see fit.

Infinite, heavy blessings to you all, and as always, Love & Light!

Monday, January 13, 2014

I Am The Ocean

I mentioned before (hereeee) that I wanted to write about the ups and downs that come with living, and I think the time has come. This morning while browsing the photos I have stored on my phone for inspirational IG uploads (don't act like I'm the only one), I came across a picture I took of a poem from Leaves of Gold, a really old book my dad has that's full of quotes, inspiration, poems, and writings, and decided to share it. The poem I had taken a photo of was this...

Along with this photo, I added some text, and that text reads the following:

The battle surges on within! Week-by-week the outcome varies. I've been riding the high for four and a half weeks now! The longest stretch I can recall to date! And I'm going to keep riding it as long as it wants to be with me ^_^ Improvement takes time, but sure enough it's happening, and I believe someday there will be nothing but riding the high!

I'm like the ocean, the waves, and the rider all in one. Sometimes I ride the waves; rolling with the punches, going with the flow, at one with all that surrounds, and gliding around like a beautiful thing of wonder. Then there are the other times. The times when I am the waves, and I'm crashing and breaking, not caring about what's there, because I'm too busy swirling around in self destruction. It's an interesting cycle, the upswing and the downfall, but I'm learning not to be so hard on myself in those unhealthy mental and physical times. 

Luckily I know my true essence -- bright, shining, and pure, wonderful love and energy -- and will always return to the beaming and love-projecting self I am. <3

Ahhhhh :)

It really is a strange flow that our emotions and minds tend to follow, and I've been working on lessening the intensity of my ups and downs for a long time now. And in all honesty, I resist the times when I am the crashing waves. I resist them with all I've got. I loathe them, I repel them, I get taken so low, that I am doing nothing but being annoyed of everyone, everything, and mostly, myself. I think I have extremely high expectations for myself, so when I enter into this unhealthy place, I can't take it. I don't want it. I don't need it. But there it is.

I realized a while back that I tend to go from being on this superhero, almost unreal level of positive, happy, bright, and love-filled thinking, feeling, and being, to a withdrawn, critical, and irritated place. It's gotten to the point where the high lasts a few weeks and seems like it's never going to pass, but then sure enough, that irritated me comes back in. Thankfully, this phase doesn't last as long as the happy one, and it's gotten to be less intense than it used to be, but sure enough, it still comes around to throw off my frequency.

I'm feeling incredibly lucky right now, because I have been riding a superhuman wave of love and light for over four weeks. This is, as I said, the longest I can remember being on the upswing, and I am so stoked to see the progression in this pattern. Through tracking and observing these phases, I can tell that the highs last longer, and the periods of darkness (as I think we all tend to call them) are becoming less frequent, and when they do come around, are shorter than the time before. I have learned many things that seem to trigger the downfall, which I talked about here. That doesn't always stop me from doing them, but at least I know what they are.

I learned a lot about the pain body through reading Eckhart Tolle's, A New Earth, and am sure it has a lot to do with its need to refuel and reclaim its place. But I'm not entirely convinced that these cycles are something we should so simply accept just because we're human. And I'd love to say that I think this time the high is here to stay, but I will be weary with that statement, and instead just embrace the present as it is, and love it for what it has to offer, and the me I have to be right now. (Which is of course incredibly easy to say right now since I'm riding one of the highs of a lifetime. hehe;)

I hope that whatever your mood is in the current time, you are not struggling with it. I hope that you can find it in yourself to accept whatever it is that is happening, while still trying to improve, overcome, and be positive. Remember darlings, "this too shall pass."

Sweetest blessings, love & light to you all! 
I adore your souls <3

Saturday, January 11, 2014

I Actually Like Long Flights (Now)!

If you are a traveler, roamer, wanderer, or mover long enough, you are bound to endure a long, long, long flight. These long flights carry us across oceans and continents, taking us to new places, or returning us to old ones. And while they are a necessary evil in our traveling lives, they are probably one of the parts of the lifestyle we like the least.

I was blessed with the chance to have this experience not once, but twice, in a two-week period of time. One was to carry me home to California for the holidays, and one was to carry me home to Spain to resume my “normal life.” And I've got to say, that after the experiences I had, I am no longer one who falls under the category of “dreading this long flight” or “Man I really hate these things.”

My trip home involved one 11.5 hour flight from Madrid to Dallas, and one four hour flight from Dallas to San Francisco. On the long flight, I was seated next to a young guy from San Diego, who was flying home from his semester abroad in Madrid. He was such a sweet kid, and we alternated between watching the mediocre movies and shows they played for us, reading, coloring (me), and conversing about an array of life topics and California things. Neither of us slept a wink, which could have been a nightmare, but it was a really pleasant experience, and when the time came for us to take separate trams to our next flights, we parted with a hug and well wishes. I send him love and light, and hope he returns to the world again someday.

Surprisingly enough, I wasn't at all tired of travelling by the time I got to Dallas. But something changed by the time I got on the plane, and I couldn't have been more ready to finish the trip. Luckily, the three-seat row I was in had an empty middle seat, giving me some extra space. (Literally every traveler’s dream – that the seat(s) next to you will be empty. Even if the flight is only an hour long.) But even with this magical, extra space, I still couldn't sleep. Which was really, really frustrating, because by the time I landed in San Francisco, it was as though I had been up and flying all day and all night.

The journey coming back to Spain was an entirely different story. I was sleep deprived and sick, so if I wasn't making light small talk with my seat mates or eating, I was asleep in one of a variety of strange airplane sleeping positions. I flew the same route coming back – SF to Dallas, Dallas to Madrid – but the flights were all a little bit shorter on the route back. Instead of four hours, it was three and a half, and instead of 11.5, it was 9.5. Quite doable, especially when you’re passed out.

The flight from SF to Dallas was a touching one. I was seated next to a heavyset Guatemalan man and his 7-year old daughter. When they first sat down, my judgmental human instinct was, “Oh man. Not only will I now share the row with someone who doesn't quite fit in the seat, but he’s got a child with him.” But for some reason (thinking I'll thank my years of practice at being less judgmental, as well as my subconscious) I quickly pushed the concerned thoughts aside, and decided it would be just lovely. I had had a beautiful time at home, and couldn't be bothered with negative or judgmental thoughts. 

I heard them speaking Spanish, so I decided to brush off the old language skills and speak a bit with them. I actually got a bit nervous before I started speaking, since it had been a couple weeks since I'd spoken Spanish, and I felt a little rusty. But I braved it, and was really happy that I had! I found out he is a painter, and that he had taken his daughter on a vacation to the United States for the holidays, as they had just lost the mother a few weeks prior and needed to get away. It was all I could to do keep myself from wrapping my arms around his plump body and bringing his daughter to my heart for an embrace. I can’t imagine being 7-years old and losing my mom. I love my mom so insanely much, it pained me to know hers was now gone from her life. I was immediately glad I had remained open to the situation. 

I grew even happier that I hadn't let the initial, cruel, typical thoughts take control, when he asked me, quite nervously, if I knew which gate they needed to go to for their next flight. He was more than a little concerned, because they had less than forty minutes to get to the gate for their next flight home. The gratitude he projected on me had me sending up prayers of thanks that I made the decision to be loving and positive instead of full of dread and concern. (This may seem like a harsh way to say it, but let's be honest, aside from one of our favorite things ever being empty seats next to us, and long, long flights being our least, sitting next to children and/or larger people also tend to fall on our "not so favorite part of travelling" list.) But we were able to work it all out, get them the information they needed, determine they had more than enough time, and enjoyed a final tram ride together. It was another really blessed flight experience, and now that I think about that man and his child, I realize how blessed I was to be able to sit next to them on that flight. (Thank you, Lord, for placing me there with them.)

Then came the big baby, the long one, the here-we-go. I was still so tired when I got on the flight that would carry me back to Madrid, I didn't really care who I was next to. I hoped it would be no one, but when that wasn't the case, I was glad to realize I was again quite blessed to have a pleasant seatmate. I was seated next to a really nice Sevillan guy, who was flying back from visiting his girlfriend in Mexico. We spent some time talking, and upon asking how he and his girlfriend had met, he told me they had met online over two years prior. They started talking online, and then after some months, he had saved up enough money, and decided to go and meet her finally in person. They've been dating ever since. Oh, the things you learn about on airplanes! 

So overall, I had a really great travel experience. Which is great, because now I'm really not bothered by the thought of a long flight, and that's good, because I'll be enduring a lot of them over the course of my life! I have officially been converted into a real traveler! One who isn't phased by long flights, and actually kind of looks forward to them. 

Everything we do in life depends on our mentalities, and long flights are definitely not excluded from this! If we see something that triggers a "natural response," we can so easily shift it and switch the whole experience we're going to have to be something full of goodness and love! It's always worth trying, right? I'd certainly rather spend my days in love and light!

Hope that you all are having a really fantastic weekend, and that you're given the chance to overcome judgmental thoughts and have a blessed experience where there might have been a not-so-great one!

Blessings, Love & Light to you all, and goodnight! :-*

Friday, January 10, 2014

16 Things To Do in Five Years

When I sat down this morning for my devotional, I wanted to put down on paper all the grand plans I've been coming up with for my life. It started out as a list of things I'd like to do over the course of all my years, but after looking at the list, I realized they are all things I would like to, and could, accomplish in the next five years. In five years, I will be nearly 30-years old. I will be nearing the age I have decided (and also kind of promised my mom) would be appropriate to have a bit more of a career path in place, and perhaps have decided in which part of the world I will make my home. All of the things you are about to read are things I WILL accomplish in the next five years, apart from two.

16 Things To Do Before I'm 30:

  • Learn Portuguese, Italian, French, German and Japanese
  • Spend more than a month travelling Portugal (Checking this one off this summer!)
  • Live in/travel Italy for three to four months
  • Live in France for one year
  • Return to the Baboon Sanctuary in Belize and volunteer
  • Spend five months travelling Central America
  • Go to the furthest tip of Africa
  • Do yoga on the Great Wall of China
  • Be a travel writer/inspirational person with a great reach (#1)
  • Do a handstand
  • Make my own bread and pasta
  • Collaborate with a visionary artist to make psychedelic story books
  • Write a novel
  • Hear God's voice
  • Ascend the chakras in meditation
  • Grow my own food (Note to self: This requires finding a place to live and turn into a semi-permanent home)
The two things on this list that I have on my "General Life List" are to learn German and Japanese, but the rest, you follow along on this journey of mine long enough, and I will personally bring you along with me as I accomplish them!

I think it's important to set big and small goals for your life. I'm against planning out your life, but I am all for having ideas and a broad timeline in which to accomplish them. That said, what can you think of? What have you thought of? What's on your list? Anything special or simple you'd like to accomplish in the next year? Five years? Share below in the comments anything you might want to do, and we can make sure we encourage each other all the way to successful completion of everything! 

Blessings, Love & Light sweet souls 

Monday, January 6, 2014

Letting Go

I think the hardest part in any relationship in our lives is the part in which we are faced with making the decision to let go. And let's be honest, it really is a decision that we are in charge of making. Because we can easily go throughout our days rethinking, reconsidering, and remembering, and usually, that's easier than deciding the time to stop it all is now.

Before I continue, I'll give a little background. And I'm going to hopefully assume that he never reads this, therefore giving me a little extra space to be a little extra honest.

My dinomate and I met at Snow Globe Music Festival, New Year's Eve, 2011. It was a meeting planned by the stars, to say the least. Our cosmos aligned, and it was our time. Our time to come face-to-face, heart-to-heart, and soul-to-soul. A close friend of mine said once that we were two wholes to the same whole, and it's true. We completed each other in ways only your true puzzle piece and counterpart can. It was magical, it was beautiful, it was soulful.

We spent all of 2012 together, making it not only my most meaningful relationship, but my longest. We lived together for a while, took care of each other in ways that takes the meaning of "care for one another" to all new depths, and loved each other without bounds. We could spend all day together doing nothing, but be having the best time. And we could turn any regular task into a big, imaginative adventure. But our time together was cut short when I found out I was accepted to come to Spain as a teaching assistant, and accepted.

Now some, himself and myself included, might take my acceptance to move to another continent as a sign that I didn't care about us, love him, or want the relationship, and trust me, I've spent a lot of time crying over that. But when I really think about it now, I think it has always been a sign of my trust and belief in our relationship, and the phrase, "if it's meant to happen, it will." My moving away wasn't a demonstration of my feelings, but proof in how much I believed in our destiny to be together. Which is why, a year after our parting (more like four-ish months if you consider how together we still acted for the first seven months of my life abroad), it is still so hard for me to write this, and so impossible for me to have decided it's time to let go and move on.

I went back to Snow Globe this year. He wasn't there. I even ended up going, unbelievably, to the same house the group had rented the year we all went, the house in which we met and our story began. The circle came fuuuull circle this year at Snow Globe. I think it had to, that I needed it to. If I'm being honest, I am pretty sure I went to the festival thinking that things would be the same as they were that first year -- he'd be there, I'd be there, we'd all be there, and we'd see each other, and just know, know that we're the piece to each other's puzzle, and that no distance or amount of time could ever change that. But it didn't happen that way. And I decided that now it's time to let go.

Aside from deciding to move to Spain, this is the hardest thing I think I've ever had to do in my life. It means giving up on the one person I thought I would always fight for, choosing to abandon my heart, and deciding to really walk away.

How do you decide to let go of the person that your soul seems to have selected? How do you tell yourself it's time to move on from your best and favorite friend? How do you not spend time wondering, "what if..."?

I'll tell you how:

You just do it. You make it happen.

You apply that same faith you applied to your relationship to the moving on from it. The same belief in your relationship together, in the universe and God and their ways with the world. And the same trust that you're meant to be, in knowing that if you are, you will be, and nothing can ever stop that.

There is no way of knowing this way or that in this life, and we could certainly kill ourselves thinking that way. Lord knows many have. But that is no way to live when there's a great big world out there just waiting to be touched and explored. And that is no way to live if you trust God and the universe the way you claim to!

So as I pass into 2014, I open myself up to all that is to come; I release myself from all that is already done; and I decide that it is time to let go, knowing that everything is perfect as it is, and nothing can ever turn out any way other than how it's supposed to. It may be hard, and there will most certainly be tears, but it's time. It's time to let go.

Sending strength to all those who need it right now, and wishing you well on the first days of this beautiful new year! 2014 is going to be another good one!

Blessings, Love & Light