Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Naked Living: Saying Goodbye to Our Old Stuff

Take a moment to imagine this scenario: You have eliminated all emotional bandaids from your existence. You are no longer avoiding real life or distracting yourself from feeling your emotions. Wow. Whoa. Wait a minute here. I don't do that, you might say. Well, let's take a closer peek, shall we?

What might this new life look like?
Probably something like this:

No more relax-me alcohol. (Yes, this includes wine and craft beers.)

No more soothing cigarettes.

No more junk/comfort food. (Even the organic and/or gluten-free kind.)

No more pick-me-up daily coffees. (Even the organic and Fair Trade kind.)

No more recreational drugs. (Even the organic, homegrown kind.

No more prescription drugs. (There are definitely alternatives to nearly all of them.)

No more television. Get rid of that thing!

No more video games. (Including apps.)

No more overly-obsessive activities. (Exercise, sex, work, shopping...and on and on.)

No more self-sabotage. Tough one.

No more drag-you-down hold-you-back relationships. 

(No. More. Facebook? I'm still working on minimizing that one...and keeping myself limited and to the point when I am on there!)

Boring, right?! 
But just wait...
This new life might also look something like this:

Just feeling happy. Even joyful!

Lots of amazing friends!

Socializing as yourself. Just plain old you. No more masks.

A clear and healthy mind.

Just facing your issues. Then forgiving everyone involved. Including yourself.

A clean, strong, and well-functioning body.

Communicating your needs and feelings clearly.

A strong sense of spirituality.

Pleasant (or even awesome) relations with family members. 

Time to prepare amazing, nourishing, healthy food.

A loving and supportive partner. (If you desire to meet one.)

Lots of time in nature.

Time to partake in your passions and follow your heart.

This is a lot like what our lives look like right now. It may sound boring to some but to us, it feels anything but that. It feels like a gigantic blessing. Everysingleday. You can live this way. Just make the choice. It's all in your hands. No more excuses.

How and why did I choose this way of living? 
Mostly out of self love and respect, I believe. Also, I have a strong desire to love others the same way that I love myself. To accept people for who they truly are underneath it all. Beautiful spirits. To truly know people for who they are on a soul level. To know the truth of how it feels to be a human without any adulterations

Has it been challenging? 
You bet! It's been super challenging, at times. I have done everything on the first list (except smoke a cigarette. I haven't done that.) But all the others have been challenges and obstacles that I have overcome. Some more than once. Some still creep in from time to time. Like snacks! Who doesn't love a good ol' cookie or some chips?!

I went to a liquor store today to find some empty boxes. When I walked in, all I saw was colorful flashing signs and clever, artsy labels that were reminiscent of a toy store, or candy shop, but for adults. Promotions and gimmicks like free beer cozies or tee shirts. I am often baffled by the collective consent of our world. "Drink alcohol friends! Everyone does it. Wine is classy!" Numb your pain. Forget your worries. Pretend that your marriage is just fine. What debt? Cool dudes slam back a cold one after work. Let loose. Forget life. Relax a little. Blend with the crowd. Alcohol is just one small example of this insane collective consent that our society calls reality

With those empty cardboard boxes, we are once again paring down our material possessions. I have shed my personal stuff twice before almost completely. Once in 2004, at age 21 when I moved to Alberta from Pennsylvania. All I took on the flight was a small carry-on sized suitcase. My mom shipped me some memorabilia a few years later. You know, some photos and such.

Then again in 2011, at age 29, when my partner of 8 years and I separated, I only took with me a car, a bed and pillow, a yoga mat, a bike and some clothes. That's all. Not a nic-nac or painting or fridge magnet. What are they for really? Memories? That's why we were gifted a memory as human beings. To collect and learn and remember the past but live in the present.

Stuff is one more thing that keeps us all weighed down. Energetically, mentally and physically. It's so easy to accumulate things. It's often much tougher to become unattached from them. We sifted (again) through a pile of totes of stuff that we had just sorted through six months ago before we left to travel. So we have decided this will be the final sifting as long as we are a "mobile wellness team". We do not want the invisible energetic tethers to our heap of belongings pulling at us from around the globe. 

There are often many emotions attached to a lot of stuff. So it forced us to feel these emotions, smile and/or cry, and move onward. After 3+ hours of sorting dishes, clothing and various household items (about 3/4 of our total stuff) we both laid down in bed and felt a mountain of totes lighter while drifting away into dreamtime.

We are on day four of a liquid fast of mostly herbal teas (some cacao drinks) and coconut water. Cleansing our insides and our outsides simultaneously feels amazing. Realigning our bodies, minds and spirits after a long journey. And now we begin to prepare ourselves for the next phase of the One World Wellness road tour.

Saturday, June 13, 2015

The Cosmic Highway

While on the Yucatan peninsula, we had read a spectacular book titled A Shaman's Tale. It found us in the UFO museum shop in Roswell, New Mexico. This was back in December on our way to the Mexican border. We enjoyed all of the unique stories and the realness of the writing. We laughed and we cried. When we finished the book we both agreed that it would be amazing to meet the author and/or to possibly listen to him speak at an event or workshop in 2015. 

So, three weeks ago, on the night we crossed back into the USA, we emailed the author, Richard L. Alaniz. We knew that he was in the southwest somewhere, but we weren't sure exactly where.  We had lent the book to three other people and the last time, we passed it on just before we departed from Guatemala. We knew we likely wouldn't get it back, but wanted to spread the wonderful messages that the book contained. Richard emailed us back promptly the next morning inviting us to come and visit him at his ranch in New Mexico. It sounded nice, but it was 5 hours in the opposite direction from which we thought we needed to drive. We had already planned a loose itinerary that would take us west to California and then north up the west coast, eventually back to Vancouver Island.

Well, funnily enough, not one person that we contacted through Couchsurfing or any of the venues that we attempted to organize cacao ceremonies at had responded to us. This was not common for us. So we decided instead to go through the western part of Cali through the mountains for a scenic change. We drove from Tucson north toward Phoenix, then took a wrong turn and ended up heading straight for San Diego afterall. What happened here? We pulled over and reevaluated what we were doing. After realizing that we were being crazy for not heading to New Mexico, we contacted Richard and asked him if the invitation was still open, and he said we were welcome to come on down. So now we were 6 hours in the opposite direction. Jeepers! We drove until sunset and enjoyed the mountains and expansive desert terrain in the pink and orange evening glow. We arrived at the ranch and received a warm southern welcome. 

Richard has had such a diverse and interesting life so far, and so telling his story in the form of a book was a natural fit. From martial arts mastery to Hollywood stunts to a degree in psychology. He's also a hair stylist...and a shaman. His Native American roots shine through his silvery braids and his cowboy lifestyle is mirrored in his shiny belt buckles. His musical and artistic skills reflect his connection with nature and all of it's creations. 

We shared a late supper and lots of wonderful conversation late into the first night. Richard seemed as happy to have us there as we were to be there. We felt so at home.

The next morning, after a coffee and some breakfast, we trekked out to the nearby mountains and Richard showed us some beautiful caves where indigenous remains were dated to around roughly 900AD. Stunning. We enjoyed some of his drumming and singing to the spirits. He blessed us and the cave with sage and prayers and we enjoyed a fruit snack, out of the heat of the midday sun. 

Holes just outside the caves which were once used for collecting water and grinding food. 

He told us about his newest project breeding mustangs. He had four of them on the ranch and they were small and sturdy with wavy flowing manes and tails. Truly, living spirits of the wild west. 

We enjoyed an evening meditation lesson of his BalĂ­k yoga style which he developed through his knowledge of various martial sciences and yoga techniques combined. It uses the channeling of chi combined with breath work to create a state of focus and mindful being. 

Richard also took us on a plant tour of the desert. He showed us which plants we could eat for survival there. They were actually very tasty. Many varieties of cacti are nutritious (after the spines are removed). There are edible flowers and roots and even wild bananas on a certain variety of yucca. There are also many medicinal herbs growing in the arid desert climate. He cut up a nopal cactus pad and made us some agua de nopal. It was so refreshing in the dry, hot climate.

We shared several more meals with the group, which included his wonderful wife, his comical cousin and her fun friend who were both visiting from out of state. The conversations we had were profound and expansive. Each one seemed to top the previous ones. We said we wished that we could speak freely about these topics everywhere that we go, but that not everyone we spend our time with is as open to such spiritual, esoteric and shamanic topics. 

We stayed for several days and would have loved to stay even longer, but we knew that we needed to move on. We are currently nomadic people on a long journey across many places to connect with many spirits on their own journeys. The chapter in A Shaman's Tale called Spiritual Webbing describes the way that we all come into each other's consciousness for different reasons. I know that we each have something to learn and something to teach in every interaction every day. We just have to open up our heart's intuitions and our mind's eye to realize when these gift exchanges are taking place. 

We have been invited to return to Comanche Creek Ranch in the future. We can hardly wait. What a magical place. Muchas gracias amigos.

Sunday, June 07, 2015

Welcome to Loveland

Lucy the Coon Hound.

The sun finally just broke through the clouds after a chilly morning in the wild, green foothills near Salt Lake City, Utah. We were invited by some new friends to join them and all of their dogs at their rustic getaway cabin for the weekend. It's finally allowed me to take some time to catch up on my writing. Another beautiful place on our earth! More beautiful people to connect with!

Our final days in Mexico were really special. The great people we encountered made it difficult to cross the border and trek back into the "real world" of the USA. The kindness and generosity of the Mexican culture is something we can all take a lesson from. They give and give almost to a fault. We felt like we were treated as family everywhere we went.  On our last night south of the border, in Los Mochis, we Couchsurfed with a wonderful man with whom we shared our final Mexican sunset and a bounty of beautiful conversation. We were sad to part ways, as this has been a common theme for us for many years in many places. It's hard to sever the ties that we create with each special spirit that we cross paths with...though those invisible ties seem to remain forever intertwined within our soul memories.

We crossed into the USA in Nogales, Arizona. We hoped that our huge cacao stash wouldn't cause any issues as we passed on through. We were thoroughly searched and had to surrender our mangos and a half-rotten cacao pod. The guards questioned our boxes of cacao. They informed us that it's necessary to have all food items labeled with contents and point of origin. They then proceeded to shout "CA-CAO! CACAO!" As they made finger guns and pretended to shoot each other. Hilarious. And so very American. We always keep a decorated glass Mason jar with us, for the last couple of years at least. Of course, we brought it on this trip. It contains our positive intentions, affirmations and loving requests to the universe. It really works. As a border officer dug through the trunk of the car, he asked what the jar was. We simply said "it's our good vibes jar." He laughed and said "Cool. That makes sense." I said "I put some good vibes into that jar that would help us get through this border crossing smoothly. Let's see if it works...." Just then, his partner came back from consulting with her supervisor and gave us a packet of papers. She smiled and said we were just getting a warning. Next time, we should follow the rules.

We headed for Tucson, Arizona arriving at nightfall and found a quaint and very affordable motel room. The man behind the desk was not so friendly. Somehow it came up that we just crossed back into the USA after 5 months in Mexico and Central America. I was feeling like I just stepped out of a spaceship onto another planet being back in America. I said "I am glad we found this sweet motel. I feel..." And he interjected with "a lot safer?"  I paused and looked at him with a bewildered stare. I shook my head no. I felt like a fish out of water. On a unicycle.
So this is culture shock.

For the record: Mexico and Guatemala are both beautiful, welcoming countries full of regular people just like you and I. For many decades, North American media has portrayed these places, and much of our planet, as dangerous, violent and "out to get you".  It's simply not true! There was never, ever a single moment in the last 5 months that we felt we were in a hint of danger. The scariest thing is the USA border crossings! The worst thing that happened during our trip was that some of our favorite bumper stickers got peeled off of our car in Guatemala. (So we are replacing them slowly.) 

A bumper sticker from our 2013 USA trip 

We got used to all of the Mexican police and military check stops after passing dozens of them. We often got waved through with a smile. When we did get stopped, we felt like they just wanted to chat for fun. It was fun. We realized quickly that these people are just like us. Only it's their job to look intimidating and ask a lot of questions. It is definitely true that there is some corruption, crime and poverty in every place on the globe. The USA and Canada are no different. The biggest difference that I noticed in the Mexican and Guatemalan people is that they have an inner determination and self-sufficient attitude that many (certainly not all) Americans and Canadians just don't have. They aren't waiting around to be taken care of. Especially in the state of Chiapas, Mexico. I whole-heartedly support the stance that the indigenous (and other) people of that place continue to take. Independence. Freedom. Equality. Respect. Peace. Love. That's all any of us desire. Let's make it happen. Our future can be in our own hands. Grab it by the reins!