This New Year, I’m reminded that sometimes it’s worth remembering the path you’ve come down so that you can steer clearly into the future. Remember the times you’ve been brave, kept going when you weren’t sure you could, or were pleasantly surprised by the world. THOSE are the things that will keep you going when things feel hard. Fill your 2016 with the experiences, people, and feelings you crave.
In 2010, I gave up everything to go on a journey. I said goodbye to my English bulldog, to my friends and my two families. I saw Dizzee World Theme Park in India. I met a fisherman on the Mamallapuram Beach in India who had watched as one of his family members was swept away by the 2004 Tsunami. I stood on a deserted beach under the moonlight and held hands with a young Indian man who dreams of owning his own shop. I met amazing, strong women with courage and dreams. I walked along the Bay of Bengal as my scarf danced to the whipping wind. I fell ill again and again. I hugged a Saint. Twice. I discussed the Port of Yemen. I wrote while overlooking the cliffs of Varkala. I learned how to make chai. I had my last piece of chicken. I lay on the roof with a new Indian friend and looked at the stars. I learned that STD means something different in India. I was truly alone. I fell in love with one of my best friends, and I grew enough to be able to let that love go. I reconnected with a man who taught me a lot about being a good teacher, Scott Russell. I did shoulder stands until my pinky went numb. I met a dear man named Peter from Ireland who brought me a chocolate bar when I most needed it. I felt the peace and easiness of being in a headstand. I had my food stolen. I made new friends. I connected with old ones. I rediscovered the power of human touch. I fell in the shower and had the daddy of all bruises to prove it.
I climbed a mountain. I opened up my hamstrings. I sang. I talked about the differing sizes of countries’ bananas with my bunkmate, Marion from Ireland. I embraced the inner girl in myself. I met a completely skeevy doctor in Kovalam who offered me a job and wanted to teach me Ayurvedic medicine and massage. I learned that Indian men get their power from their mustaches and spicy food. I learned that sometimes things really are free. I let go of the past. I grieved. I gained weight. I dreamed about barongs of Bali. I was told what the number 11 meant. I was a citizen of the planet. I rode buses and trains in the searing heat. I saw an elephant blessing people. I smelled fabulous smells and abhorrent ones. I tasted decadent Indian food and gorged myself on naan bread. I craved apples and peanut butter. I ran through the tea plantations with my best friend from The States. I meditated. I said no. I rode a bus driven by an Indian Mario Andretti and hung on for dear life, and I felt safe because of the presence of the ticket taker. I transformed my very DNA. I rode an elephant, and I loved that elephant because he was a stubborn old rebel. I watched old women spread rock and hot tar on a road with a broom. I despaired. I paddled in the Backwaters of Allephey and ate bitter mango with salt. I went to the hospital and was probed beyond my level of comfort. I ate maggots. I saw the ruins of Hampi and experienced a marriage festival complete with the throwing of bananas. I learned Ashtanga Yoga in Mysore. I rode through the streets of India on the back of a Brazilian’s motorbike. I was massaged. I embraced the past hurts in my body. I was attacked in the wee hours of the morning on a dark street while heading to Yoga class. I loathed my body. I saw unreal swarms of dragonflies. I lost myself and found her again. I watched an Indian man toss bull urine on his son and laugh. I met my Indian family. I learned how to make fresh Paneer from the milk provided by the cow in the basement.
I marveled at the Taj Mahal. I felt the longing that Shah Jahan must have felt while watching the construction of the Taj Mahal from his prison in the Agra Fort.I sat upon the onyx throne once an Indian King’s. I attended a glitzy, full-on Indian wedding. My hands were painted with henna; I was given silver anklets for my feet. I saw King Akbar’s old road to Jaipur and his wishing well. I made three wishes in Salim Chisti’s tomb as I tied my red and yellow string to the marble cut-out windows. I was taken on a date to McDonald’s. I purchased precious stones in Jaipur. I saw the most beautiful pink tourmaline I’ve ever seen. I read Oracle cards for new British friends. I had a nightmare and was comforted by an addict. I learned how to test hash before buying, or rather, watching someone else buy it. I had an Indian hotel manager read my palm and tell me that I would be successful in any business I ever chose to do, because I was a powerful woman. I skyped. I learned that in India, anything is possible except for one thing – not possible, even if that means the hotel manager has to heat up the water for my bath in the kitchen and bring it up to me in a five-gallon bucket. I witnessed the magnificence of the Floating Palace as seen in James Bond: Octopussy. I fell in love with Udaipur. I watched boys flying kites on their rooftops. I roamed the fort of Jodhpur and breathed the history into my veins. I saw the mesmerizing shade of blue painted all about the city of Jodhpur by the high spiritual caste. I rode a camel in the searing heat of the Jaisalmar desert where I saw the lights of the Pakistan in the distance and was left alone on the dunes at night. I begged to go home early from the desert; I was told no. I cuddled a baby lamb marked with henna polka dots.
I was offered a joint by a 60+ year old man from the dessert. I met a soul mate on a dusty train ride, and since we couldn’t talk because of language barriers, we were forced to speak with our hearts as we sat side by side and shared energy. And I missed him when he left twelve hours later. I studied Yoga with a Himalayan Yogi on the banks of the Ganges. I embraced White Tantric Meditation and Philosophy. I was given a spiritual name by my Yogi teacher. I met a friend named Michele with whom I spent a week, and it was so easy to be in his presence that I still miss him at times. I bathed away my Karma in the freezing cold Ganges and sat to dry on the rocks with Michele. I felt the pelting of a waterfall on my head. I shared music. I brought food and drink to a sick friend. I illegally walked through the old Beatles ashram. I patted and fed cows at random. I picked up an amazingly dear friend from the airport in Shimla. I recognized unconditional love. I ate fresh cherries. I spoke of matters of the heart. I listened to mine. I rocked my inner child on the back of a bus. I listened to Tibetan monks chant and pray. I looked on in amazement as monks created a sand mandala, an intricate design in striking colors. I missed seeing the Dalai Lama. I saw a sign that said T-Sharts Embroidered instead of T-Shirts Embroidered, and I took a picture of it because it made me laugh.
I ate sweets. I watched movies in a make-shift theater in Dharamsala, complete with popcorn, Coke, and my best friend, Garland. I rode a horse in the Himalayas. I had my chocolate cake stolen by a cheeky monkey who climbed a pole and ate it while staring at me; he then came back for the crumbs. I sat in silence in temples. I learned Reiki. I experienced past life regression and rebirthing through breathing. I learned Shamanic secrets of reprogramming crystals. I connected to Mother Earth. I grieved for my losses. I was taught the art of color therapy. I was told that I was loved. I learned the secrets of the jade egg. I was lead in a hypnotherapy session by a renowned doctor from The Netherlands. I cried when I left India and told her that I would one day return. I fasted for 7 days in Thailand and purified my body. I learned the art of Muay Thai Boxing. I laughed. I got waxed for the first time ever. Ouch. I met an Australian boy, a fighter, with an exquisite soul and an artist for a mother. I learned the art of diving underneath the waves and the joy of swimming in the ocean. I met a Pakistani girl whom I now call a sister. I danced on the sand, in the ocean, around the fire, under the stars. I had my bag and camera stolen. I was hugged by friends. I was complimented by a Welsh man whom later went home with a Lady Boy. I wore a mustache of seaweed in crystal clear ocean water.
I went on a boat ride that should have killed me, but I survived. I learned that cat people and dog people don’t view the world in the same way. I embraced my friend’s pain and turmoil over oceans of distance. I jogged over a snake. I played with a friend in Kuala Lumpar, like children meeting again. I was visited by a friend from Indonesia whom I hadn’t seen in 9 years. I saw shooting stars in Byron Bay, Australia. I took a picture that clearly demonstrates why The Gold Coast is called The Gold Coast. I dined alone. I spent a week working in Sydney and learning the car kits trade. I saw some of the most beautiful coastline I’ve ever seen. I lost a student in a tragic accident. I washed and put up a sail on a sailboat. I encountered disappointment. I sailed a yacht. I heard the symphony play in the Sydney Opera House. I played with a puppy in The Esplanade in Cairns all the while wishing I was playing with his owner. I hugged a koala. I was lead around the Great Barrier Reef by a green sea turtle – best tour guide ever.
I ate the bum of an ant, and it tasted citrusy. I did cartwheels in the botanical gardens of Darwin, Australia. I came home to Bali. I cried as I looked at what Bali has now become. I learned the art of massage, reflexology, and the Chinese meridians. I was lied to. I had a crush on someone. I learned the significance of the number 5. I worked on believing that I was worthy of love. I found my voice. I cried on the beach when I received the news of a death of an old boss. I learned to drive a motorbike. I tried arak. I healed relationships with my family. I saw a pit viper and two cobras in one week. I held a fruit bat. I stood on a surfboard and rode a wave. I listened to the piano. I got lost. I learned about the world of Spirit and mediumship. I healed. I swam in a pool underneath the stars. I looked at the moon. I watched beautiful sunsets while perched on volcanic rock. I saw abject poverty that broke my heart. I let the past go. I saw a father holding his dead 9 month old baby in his arms after a village was rocked by a measles outbreak. I met my dear friend, Tom, who drove me around on the motorbike when I told him I had Pati Hati – Indonesian for broken heart – and we just had the silence and the wind and that was enough. I cried at the joy of a 60 year old leper who sincerely thought she was 25 years old. I stood at the base of a volcano as it erupted, and I smelled the sulphur, heard the crack, saw the lava and felt the panic. I astro traveled. I found a refuge in the rice fields of Canggu. I grieved for the future, events yet to happen. I dreamed vividly. I gave healing to an autistic toddler. I learned to trust myself. I was held. I had a Mexican Christmas in Bali. I finished the first half of my Medical Degree. I got locked out of my bathroom and peed in the garden. I was told how to act like a bear and how to masturbate a 60 pound salmon. I meditated on rocks of lava. I met my destiny. I loved myself.
And now, revisiting 2010, I am ready for 2017. I can do powerful things. I can do hard things. I can love myself. I can make memories. I can make friends. I can live open-hearted. Today I choose to once again embrace this world with an open heart. Come on 2017 – show me what you’ve got!