Dear Fiji,

I’ve been here for 5 months now. I’ll be leaving in two weeks. Throughout it all, I am immensely grateful to have finally gotten to know my family here. Fijians are truly some of the most gracious people on the planet and I’m proud of my heritage.

The goal was never to ‘find my people,’ but to uncover parts of myself through understanding my heritage. Through this I have been in the presence of so many celebrations and witnessed the family ties that are woven so tight and intricately together, the connections both amaze and confuse me. I’ve been forgiven for the many ignorant faux pas, and taught so many customs, I’ve been shown the old ways. The past of my ancestors has been revealed to me like my people before me, spoken. Ive been surrounded by more children in the past few months than I probably have my entire life. I’ve bushwhacked up the mountains learning about my waring cannibal ancestors. I’ve climbed the foot worn paths to where the purest Kava grows. I’ve drank plenty of grog, and no, I don’t mind the taste at all. In fact, there’s something I quite enjoy about it’s earthiness, and it’s always gonna be a high tide bilo for me! I’ve sat in prayer many a time, my head bowed in masu. I’ve frequented the local buses, welcoming the fully open windows (or mostly nonexistent) with the drivers blasting reggae dance hits. I’ve walked the city streets well enough to know my way around, clutching my bag all the while. I’ve nearly gotten my phone stolen. I’ve gotten a tattoo (which I get stopped all the time about and I shamelessly love it). I’ve tasted more versions of curry than I thought possible (goat is my favorite…sorry goats!!). I’ve eaten the biggest, freshest tuna. I’ve shed some tears as a result of being too enthusiastic with chili peppers. I’ve gotten dengue fever at least 3 times and learned my lesson from drinking tap water. I’ve experienced koro or village life, how life runs so differently than in the urban areas. I’ve been a participant (sometimes unwillingly) of ‘Fiji time.’ I’ve swam in the clearest blues of waters on the quietest of empty beaches. Some things are still sacred.

Even as much as I’ve been so deeply embraced, there are days I feel I am a stranger. Which has nothing really to do with my family, as I feel similarly with my family in the states which I’ve known since I can remember. As I’ve always thought, I am a lone wolf running temporarily with a pack from time to time.

Still there are days when I’m overcome with loneliness. I sit on the bus, the warm sun on my shoulders, wind blowing, music loud, and I feel that knowing- I am a stranger. But then I go to the market, pick some apples, and the vendor asks where I’m from. How long have I been here? And just this little conversation brings me back to. Usually it’s followed by are you married, which always solicits this internal eye roll. But, I always find it funny, and always walk away smiling.

Continually I learn that I am never alone, and even in the moments when I’m feeling so fragile, there is someone, noticing me. Fiji, I have seen you, and I’ve tried my best to be open to you so that I can let you in. Thank you for all your lessons, all your embraces, your open waters and beaches. I will never forget you.

Where am I?

In Fiji, yes I’ve been here for 3 months and have lots to say about that (for another post), but where am I? You know, in terms of personal evolution. Well, I can tell you thanks to social media, namely Instagram, I’m judging myself thinking, ‘why haven’t you done that yet?’ ‘Why aren’t you there yet?’ ‘You probably shouldn’t have eaten those 5+ cookies because then you’d be closer to getting that body.’ Whoa. I know. But I’m human and I have to remind myself we are all at different states of being.

Right now, my state of being is inhabiting a 31 year old body; visiting my mother’s side of the family in Fiji since 21 years by myself; and the most expensive thing I own is my phone, which is 2+ years old. So for anyone in their early 20s or fresh out of college wondering what the hell they’re going to do with their lives- relax…no, actually calm the fuck down- I’ve been floating in a bubble of unknown for 5 years.

As a psychic once told me of my view on life, “This is fun and all, but what am I doing here?” By no means has the past 5 years been unproductive. I’ve discovered myself and cultivated a loving relationship with myself that is always growing. It’s not just one of those,’Hey self, you’re cool- I love you,’ kind of relationships; it’s been a journey of listening. It’s been figuring out what nutrients my body needs, putting myself in situations that result in growth, recognizing the balance between pushing and coddling, honoring my intuition, encouraging myself to try new things, and letting go of fear. I’ve literally spent all this time raising myself. It’s strange to think of it in this way, but I think I’ve been a pretty good guardian to myself.

I don’t have what most people have or strive for in this stage of life- a family, steady career, house, car, retirement plan, and if I were to compare my accomplishments in this way, yeah, I’d kinda feel like a loser. But I don’t, and I’m abundant in so many other ways. I have a loving partner, whose also my best friend, on top of having an amazing support group of cherished people, I’m in freaking FIJI writing a book, and (besides my student loans 😢), I’m FREE.

This buzz kill once told me, “Well, the fun has to end sometime.” You have no idea how much that annoyed the shit out of me. Firstly, people forget we all struggle. Secondly, deciding not to choose the societal mold of a 9-5 and everything that goes with it does not necessarily mean it’s an irresponsible choice. I think just the opposite actually. My choice to free myself from the manacles society has created, allowed for self exploration- to get at the core of what truly matters, and know that life is meant to be lived, and not be a slave to it.

I consider myself a late bloomer. I didn’t have my path figured out early, and that’s ok. Heck, all this time being free, maybe I’ll avert that midlife crisis! But really, this post isn’t about explaining why I’m here and not there, but an attempt to express that success needs redefinition. It frustrates me that for many, success is a struggle where the end of the rainbow is a new car, six pack abs and a thigh gap, and a 6 figure salary. Success is about fulfillment as it speaks to your true self. It’s personal. When we are stripped of our physical world what is left?

For myself, it is the experiences, the love, the compassion, the hope. So to answer my question of where am I? I’m exactly where I need to be. How about you?

Podcast to Listen to : A New Definition of Success + The Spirituality of Success From Author of ‘Earth is Hiring’ by Peta Kelly

Sacred Journey

The air is humid. I have a nice shimmery glow from a film of sweat that never seems to go away. I’ve sworn off all things starch. I don’t want to look at another piece of jackfruit, kasava, Dalo, or bread again. Every meal, really? Fijians love their starch. Today I feel I’m risen from the dead. In the past week I have experienced dengue fever, a cold, and yesterday the woes of accidentally drinking tap water. Whatcha got for me next, Fiji? But seriously, be easy on me!

Pilgrimage. My holy yearning. Fiji is my journey of the soul and now I am understanding what sacrifice means in the sense of pilgrimage. Sacrifice, from the Latin term sacrificium, to make sacred. Sacred journeys are meant to be wrought with hardship. How can you know what something is really worth if you haven’t had to fight for it? On my sickest of days, I cried daily, being brought into the darkest parts of myself, my internal sufferings inflamed from my burning fever.

Today I woke, the nausea gone, my lips chapped from dehydration. I’m alive. My Na Lika (Auntie) had asked me to go to the hospital last night, but I refused (we live at the doctors headquarters because my cousin is the only surgeon for the hospital). I can make this on my own. I know my body’s limits. And today, I know I’ve crossed the hump.

It sounds silly in a way to feel you have accomplished something out of pure suffering, but I have. I’ve gotten to know myself better. I know that I am terribly sensitive and fragile, but my will power is stronger. I have an inner fight inside myself that I know I can rely on. And I know that I need love. Yes, physically, I’ve come to Fiji on my own, but in times when I need guidance, someone to talk to, a friend, I reach out. How powerful is that, to hear that you are loved?

I’ve made it through my first month here, with some tests to be sure, but I’m ready to continue on. I know there is more to experience, both beautiful and difficult. But I’m embracing it all, I don’t want anything to slip through my fingers. I’m alive, so let’s get on living!

California Love


Spending the summer in California. I think it’s safe to say this state is my home.  Every time I come back from a long trip away, I’m reminded how beautiful this place is.  Although this isn’t the best ‘mountain view’ photo, it does have something to say about the bonds I’ve made in California.  There’s something special about a place that draws people from all over the country and world.    It’s California love.

Ultima Dia (Last Day)

I have one more night in Cusco, Perú.  Broke my vegan streak for a home cooked Peruvian chicken dish.  Living life according to my rules.  No guilt.  Instead of one last wandering through the cobblestone streets of the historic center, I’ve spent most of the day in bed.

It’s raining hard.  While drinking tea and talking to a new friend from Argentina (in Spanish 👊🏽), hail began to fall around us through the roof as we sat at a table.  We had just been complaining of the cold showers as well.  I picked up a speck of hail to feel it melt in my hand.  It’s always been an odd phenomenon for me, hail. We laughed and climbed to the top story to view Mother Nature’s power and all of Cusco.  The city, the mountains, the deep grey skies.  This is it.

I can’t help but feel the tinge of sadness for all the friends I’ve made and most may never see again.  It’s a strange feeling knowing each person you meet will not be a constant you are accustomed to.  To share a week is lucky.

As I begin to sink my teeth into these mountains, and all the doors begin to open, it is time for me to go.  Friends say I could stay, find work, keep going.  But I think I’m missing that constant I can count on.  I’m missing some other mountains, and some other hills as well.  And with the more places I visit and call home for a short time, I know I will have more places to miss, and of course more people.

With each town I have been a part of, I feel like a cat living a different life.  Speaking of cats…At my apartment I lived in for a week during a short workaway, I was blessed with beautiful views of the city.  I’d take it all in, but noticed something on a lower rooftop.  Something mangled looking, garbage?  No, it was definitely a decaying cat.  Moments like those I believe my life is a dark comedy.  Everyday I would take a moment to enjoy the view, but couldn’t bring myself to not look at that poor dead cat and wonder about it.

Perhaps that’s how I look at most of my trips, on the whole there is so much beauty and greatness,  but there’s always something along the way that made me cringe.  Maybe it was drunkenly kissing the wrong guy (yes that happened) or not taking advantage of the clear, sunny days to take a certain hike; but as a good friend always says, c’est la vie.  I’m going to smile on all the moments the way they were, laugh at myself for the way I can be, and enjoy this day with cooking and movies in bed.  Because my rules, no guilt.


 

 

Tears to Heal: Ayahuasca

It’s 4am and I’m wondering.  I woke up from an alarming dream and tell myself, I will always be a work in progress.  To always have sweet dreams is like only having happy thoughts.  That is not the world, that is not me, and I accept.

To accept myself, I realized under a jungle canopy of twinkling stars, is part of finding myself.  The Ayahuasca was strong in my blood.  I held myself, looking up at the night like a child, I thanked the gods for the beautiful woman they created.  I thanked the universe for this love inside me which I wrapped myself in.  I cried for all the beautiful thoughts that ran like a river, flowing, meandering, weaving through my mind.  My eyes a great canyon for which these thoughts escaped as tears.  So many that the salt seemed to dwindle, to my lips I could barley taste the sea, they were now fresh water.  Water for growing.

And yet, how could love feel so sweetly sorrowful?  The sacrifices of my parents, even before my existence. The torments of those I loved.  The struggles of those and of which I know not.  Heroes. The love I’ve been afraid of.  All of it, I felt.  All of it I released back into the darkness and sent sweetly to the ones I love.  If you wondered was it you?  It was.

That night, I was blessed with the remembrance of my first memory.  In the womb.  I was apart of my mother- The Goddess and my own mother. Protected in a brilliant light of red and orange.  I cried for us, the mothers.  And as the healing song reverberated in my ear in a way that spoke to my spirit, it was then I knew, with more certainty than I’ve ever imagined, one day I will be a mother.

Gracias, Gracias, Gracias.

Wanderings: San Juan del Sur

Yesterday my friend, H and I tried to find the lighthouse of San Juan del Sur.  We both have days left and decided we needed a mini excursion, and a break from our daily café stops and pool lounges.  I must write of one little adventure before I leave Nicaragua and this not so sleepy beach town. Although we didn’t find the lighthouse, we found our own wonders.

We knew roughly where the lighthouse is, although from the central part of town and the beach, it is not viewable.  So we headed in its general direction.  Walking through the residential part of town, it was refreshing to see what lay beyond the barefoot surfers and Nica taxi drivers asking for their service.  Children were playing in the streets, chickens and dogs wandered about.  No tourists here, just Nica life.

The road curved up, so we continued forward, taking note of the property that ran alongside us which was gated and obstructed from view.  I joked it was the home of SJDS’s drug lord due to the hidden opulence of the place.  We persisted up, up, up.  Yeah, it was really steep though…

Alas, a barbed wire fence and grassy lands notified us that the road had ended.  Naturally, we went past the barbed wire.  Stretches of land lay before us, H and I scanned the rolling hills trying to navigate this lighthouse.  With the encouragement of my friend, we squeezed through more barbed wire, our eyes on what looked like a cabana at the top of one of the hills.

We came across this spiraling grassy roadway that went around the entire hill and was lined with flower bushes. What we thought was a cabana was a sheltered hut with a long wooden table and some chairs inside. The thought was romantic, but how the hell would you get food all the way up here?

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Around the corner, a stunning view lay before us.  But still, no lighthouse.  We trudged on. The hills were carved out in dirt paths everywhere, we only needed to get on the right one. Down into the thickets we went, turning into a downhill slide, staying close to the ground I crabbed walked down, down, down.  I wondered if the way back up would be more difficult…

Now we were back on the coast, filled with smooth rocks, enclosed from anything and everyone.  We explored the rocky beach, picking up little sea treasures.  This was our destination.

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Wanting to avoid trekking through the dark, H and I took in our secret spot for a brief moment and headed back up before sunset.  The way up was much less treacherous, but my legs were feeling it.

This time we followed the spiraling path downwards and realized we were now inside the property we originally had been so curious about.  I hesitated going forward.  Maybe we should turn back and go around? That sounded tedious.  Again, my partner in crime encouraged me forward.  Hopefully we wouldn’t get murdered I joked.

Walking through the property, it was extremely well kept.  When there had been people about earlier, there was now no one.  Where did they all go?  Taking each other’s hands we approached the security guard at the locked gate.  He walked up casually as my friend tried to explain our misdirection getting to the lighthouse.  I’m sure he understood none of it and only nodded and unlocked the gate.  As freely as we entered, we exited

After our long trek we grabbed a cerveza from the market and popped them at the beach we know so well to see sunset.

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Thank you San Juan del Sur for revealing your secret places, and your everyday life I’ve been so far away from. It’s been a pleasure getting to know you.

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