La Esperanza

I came across this lovely piece of creative writing that I did in Ecuador. A whimsical beginning to a larger tale, loosely based on my own life…
On the speck of infinity and twirling through space, a vibrant orange sun lifted out of the tropical mountains and high into the sky. Serena mirrored its busy fire as she moved through the property alchemizing its tone the best she could.
She was anticipating the needs of royalty as she prepared for her God Mother’s arrival. The Queen of Hearts was arriving soon and was going to need Serena’s full attention. So she focused on her task and moved like a beam clearing each room with the sweet smoke of palo santo.
She wasn’t quite satisfied with her work but she was feeling a bit run down these days and took a break from the cleaning. She’d be so full of love in her God Mother’s presence anyway that she’d fill in the gap of a not quite perfect scene by holding space with her internal glow. For now, it was time to pick Selma up from the airport!
Serena buzzed around the spacious white terminal, watching waves of people filter out from the glass border of then and now. When Selma appeared, time stopped. Once their eyes locked in on the other’s, they paused into that space between inhale and exhale, between sleeping and waking. The terminal was silent for just that one moment, before it all rushed back in like a fresh breath of mountain air. Damn, they were stoked to see each other!
On the ride back to the La Esperanza, a tiny retreat center on the coast that Serena had opened just five months before, she filled Selma in on details of the land she now inhabited. Selma smiled along, amused by her sweet God Daughter’s boundless adventures.
The girl carried on excitedly about this and that… some magical vortex, newfound superpowers… retreat yogis validating her gifts, a new understanding about the chakras and the Bible… She even boldly said something about being Persephone reincarnate…
Serena could be intense at times. Her brain moved faster than her lips, important details would slip and very few people could keep up with her chatter. Most of it was a bit out there, but she was so endearing they’d listen anyway and even the tiny bits they gleaned from her would leave their own heads spinning until finally settling into a new point of view.
After a long car ride filled with intriguing but overwhelming talk, Selma needed a rest and settled into her room. This girl is really something else, she thought to herself… She’s wildfire changing up the scene wherever she blazes and blazing wherever she wants. Serena changed lives like most people changed clothes, her own life and those who she pulled near.
She had lived in Alaskan log cabins, Midwestern cornfields, big city boxes in both high rises and basements, and now she had landed an 8-room modest hotel and yoga studio on the rich coast of Ecuador. She had nothing, yet everything. This was as close as she’d come to fully realizing what she knew she had in her.
Selma didn’t fully know her power either, but she was beginning to sense it. When Serena was born, she had gone to visit the girl in Virginia where her sister had shacked up with a handsome but scared young man she’d met in Boot Camp. Their one bedroom home was filled with immigrants, 7 Sicillains, 3 Germans, and now a baby girl blend of the two. Everyone came to be with this divine child. Everyone was in love with her.
As Selma thought back, she melted at a particularly tender moment. Her niece had been crying, surely worn out by the attention, when Selma picked her up and took her for a stroll around the complex. The tears subsided as they gazed into each other’s eyes. She remembered saying to the girl, “May you find everything you want in life and may you enjoy the journey. May your life be extraordinary.” Baby girl was cooing and smiling with a sweet twinkle in her eye. A potent spell had been cast.
Since then, she had witnessed Serena morph from humble servant to high roller, from innocent maiden to soldier, running frantically in the rat race then drifting to the tropics toward sea goddess enchantments, each change happening in a flash.
Selma surveyed the room at La Esperanza. It was nice enough, but she thought Serena could do better. La Esperanza was Serena’s latest manifestation and certainly the grandest, but something was still missing. It wasn’t obvious but there was a quality to the air that whispered a soft sadness.
Droves of humans had passed through the property in recent months, most of them leaving their retreats inspired and refreshed, lit up, not by La Esperanza, but by Serena’s warm glow. They were so blissed out with yoga, prana, novelty, and possibility when they left that they couldn’t tell the difference. La Esperanza would be the place they recalled and La Esperanza would whisper back. But there were a few people around who sensed something deeper at play and Selma was one of them. She was the Queen of Hearts and she could see that Serena’s heart was not fully present in this place…

Messages From Beyond The Veil

My mother and I circa 1983.

Last Friday afternoon at 2pm I had an appointment for a cystoscopy, a procedure where they insert a thin camera through the urethra to view the urinary tract. The doctor found a good sized tumor growing from the side of my bladder wall, which he showed me on the video monitor. It looked like a sea anemone growing on a rock wall in the ocean. Of course the first word to flash through my mind was cancer but I was simply told to get dressed and the medical assistant would lead me back to the doctor’s office where we would talk.

I was nervously waiting so I picked up my phone to look at emails as a distraction. An email had just come in from “Francesca’s”, a boutique chain that carries clothing, jewelry, and gifts. The subject line read “Women’s Power Zodiac Puzzle”. This email was significant for a few reasons.

  1. My mother’s name was Francesca, not a very common name around here. She passed away in 2015.
  2. I never signed up for emails from Francesca’s. I also searched my past emails to see that I had never received an email from them before. Furthermore, it was in my “primary” folder where I would see it when Gmail would ordinarily put that into “promotions”.
  3. It was timestamped August 6th at 2:29pm, received in the very narrow window in which I was waiting to see the doctor for some very heavy news ~ bladder cancer.

It felt like my mother was letting me know that she was with me in the room. Even the title “Women’s Power Zodiac Puzzle” felt like an indication that it was coming from the ethers, a message just for me from beyond the veil. I purchased the puzzle and look forward to putting it together soon. 

Receiving this message inspires me to share a second story of a similar nature ~ messages from beyond the veil.

In the summer of 2015 my mother lay in a hospital bed, in a coma with multiple system failure. She had a DNR order (do not resuscitate) and so she was being released to the other side, as she had wanted. 

Though she had been unresponsive, I am grateful I had the opportunity to share what was on my heart. I did not know what it was at the time, but I essentially spent our time together praying the Ho‘oponopono, a prayer by the ancient indigenous people of Hawaii. It goes, “I’m sorry. Please forgive me. I love you. Thank you.” I simply wanted her to know that I loved her, that I was sorry for our earthly dramas, that I forgave her and requested her forgiveness, and that I was grateful for the life that she has given me.

After five very long days at the hospital, her doctor requested I leave. He told me that she would not live, nothing could be done for her, and that she should have passed days ago. He believed she was holding on because I was there. I was exhausted, traumatized, lost, confused, and needed to take care of myself, and so I agreed to leave.

I caught the next flight out from Indianapolis, where she was, to my then-home city of Miami. I was home within a few hours. I had just walked into my apartment when I received a text from a friend I’d made in Colombia while studying Spanish just a few months earlier. Her name was Gloria, which in essence means the manifestation of God’s presence. While we were getting to know each other, I had confided in her that my mother and I had been through a lot of difficulty. 

Though she knew nothing of the present situation at the hospital, she was randomly checking on me and specifically asked about my mother so I told her what was going on. Her text reply said, “Light a candle and pray that the angels guide her to heaven.” It was a good idea, and so I went to my altar and did exactly that. 

Just a few minutes later I received a call from a nurse that my mother had *just* passed away. Yes, I realize she was on her way out already but she passed in the moments that I was praying and I can’t help but think this was orchestrated by God and the angels so that I may have some closure around my mother’s passing.

Women’s Work & The Rise of the Divine Feminine

15 years ago, a friend asked what my life purpose was. 

At the time I was in college full time while running a small eco-friendly cleaning company in Seattle. I served in the Air National Guard at least one weekend each month and spent my free time working out and volunteering as a coach with Girls On The Run, a non-profit organization whose mission it is to “inspire girls to be joyful, healthy and confident using a fun, experience-based curriculum which creatively integrates running.” I had also just returned from northeast Thailand where I had volunteered at a girls’ orphanage playing and speaking English with girls ranging in age from six or seven to late teens. My life was full of impassioned pursuits and adrenal-busting activity levels. I was doing all I could to sort out leftover pain and tortured emotions stemming from an abusive childhood, while seeking security and validation from the outside world.

I told my friend that I was here to “help young girls find their way”. I had made a lot of progress in my own life and naturally inspired friends and acquaintances along the way when I shared myself authentically. I was in my mid-twenties at the time and only felt qualified to help those on the path behind me find their way to a greater sense of wholeness and well-being. At the time these were “young girls” to me, like high school and younger. 

When my friend and client asked what I thought my purpose was, I was caught in the mire of a patriarchal paradigm that required full activation of my masculine side while suppressing my feminine. I lived in a competitive world where my business sense was valued while my intuitive sense was dismissed as “woowoo” or imaginative, while “facts and figures” equated with truth. I lived in a world that required a constant, high-energy output on a regular work-schedule regardless of the season, my health, or where I was in my cycle. I lived in a world where I was pitted against my peers and my drive was valued. I made spreadsheets instead of art. I thought training for marathons was an act of selfcare, instead of the start of an adrenal crash, as I see it now. I counted money instead of blessings. I was hustling hard to establish a sense of physical security without an opportunity to rest and restore. Because of this, my psyche was disintegrated and I was out-of-touch with my own gifts and passions. I have spent the last 15 years dismantling that world and moving into alignment with who I am at my core. And, who is that?

Yes, of course I believe that I am infinite source consciousness, one with all and nothing, one with the ineffable G-O-D. BUT, on this plane and in this reality, I am pretty identified with Stephanie who loves yoga, art, poetry, healthy meals, reading, writing, sharing, dancing, praying, animals, watching the moon and all of nature, nourishing and working with women at my retreats. And that is the life that I have worked to create for myself, a life built from the inside-out, in alignment with who I am. 

This didn’t happen by accident; I have been cultivating it for as long as I have been “doing the work” to search my soul and release old programming ~ misguided beliefs that kept me locked into a competitive mindset, led me to join the military, get a business degree, pursue a money and ego motivated career, date the wrong men, etc, etc. It took a lot of clearing to make space for more of my authentic spirit to emerge and I’m still clearing that space. Alignment is not a destination but a practice for living.

When I answered my friend about purpose, I didn’t have the words at the time but was searching for something along the lines of “women’s work”. Now that some time has passed and more of my life has unfolded, I’m beginning to see that my path has been typical within the rise of the divine feminine. 

Recently I have come across people, books, retreats, and workshops that keep pointing me to this energy rising within the collective conscious field that has been activating the minds and hearts of women everywhere, calling us to rebalance the masculine and feminine energies as they are manifesting in our own lives and among the larger collective of society. The rise of the divine feminine is also calling conscious men to look within and allow this softer way of moving through the world to rise up, as they honor and hold the space for this rebalancing. This looks like a shift from control, domination, and greed to freedom of expression, cooperation, and nurturance. This looks like wars ending and a less violent culture. This looks like healthy families thriving with plenty of quality time together. This looks like celebration of and respect for nature, the seasons, and all natural cycles. This looks like healthy emotional relating and communities where we are supported and celebrated for our natural gifts and talents, whatever those are.

Asheville is like nowhere else I’ve ever been. Knowledge of the chakras, archetypes, ancient medicines, and other dimensions seems almost commonplace here. My new circles are aware of and tapped into the same subtle energies and ideas that I am. These parts of my awareness and personality have never found comfort or acceptance as they were always considered “out there” by past friends and family members. 

When I answered the mysterious call to relocate to this area, I wasn’t sure what I was doing or why I was here but I’m beginning to see a bigger plan at play. I suspect that I was led here to learn, share, and develop ideas that will evolve my retreats to specifically serve women, bringing a nuance and depth that will spread these ideas and shift perspectives. They will ripple out to affect and help rebalance the energies all around them, serving the collective as well as those who join me on retreat.

I find purpose to be a loaded word and feel that my “purpose” can not be defined. It is simply the result of a life lived in alignment with spirit, a life where whatever work is accomplished comes from a place of inspiration, joy, passion, and synchronicity. But now that I’m really beginning to understand what women’s work is, I’m feeling called to spread the news… it’s time for a new program! It’s time to let the old patriarchal world fall away. It’s time to prioritize our own health, self-care, and expression! 

As we individually heal this imbalance within us and move into alignment with our true spirit, so does the world. I am here to hold space for this. I’m here to inspire and ignite. I’m activated and excited and I know there is more here to come.

2017 Recap & Lessons

This post is a little late since I’ve been busy getting my life set up for a comfortable and productive 2018 (details coming soon!), but I have spent a lot of time thinking about 2017… all the lessons I’ve learned and how to integrate those into my life. And so I’d like to recap my 2017 – perhaps the most growth-oriented year of my life. Here is a little something I wrote in my personal diary on New Year’s Eve along with a little poem to commemorate the year.

Goodbye 2017. You were crazy.

You began on a sprawling beach covered in fire along the coast of Ecuador. There were effigies burning all around. It looked like the end of the world and it was, at least for me.

You were full of the highest highs and the lowest lows. You showed me what my body and mind could do, as well as what they can’t. You stretched me, then cracked me open. I didn’t even know there was such a hard encrusted shell laying atop my spirit. You stripped away so much of what I thought I was and then left me naked and homeless, discovering what I truly am. And for all of this, I am grateful.

2017 was so productive…

  •  I lived on three continents.
  • I opened and closed a hotel.
  •  I gave away everything that I owned.
  • I detoxed the past.
  • I left an oppressive relationship.
  • I fell in love then had my heart broken.
  • I learned to believe someone when they tell you who they are.
  • I befriended so many beautiful new souls.
  • My best friends showed me how much they love and accept me. I cried.
  • I hosted and co-hosted some powerful yoga retreats.
  • I had a kundalini experience, which I’m still trying to understand nearly eight months later!
  • I had out-of-body experiences, clairvoyance, visions, and received messages – while sober.
  • I sat with a few different plant teachers and I learned there is way more to this “reality” than we can ever be aware of.
  • I completed a Vipassana course where my sense of intuition was validated.
  • I discovered the boundless joy at the core of my being.
  • I reconnected with my dharma.
  • I began writing again.
  • I began sharing myself more openly.
  • I got a new tattoo.
  • So many friends came to visit me in Ecuador. <3
  • I learned a LOT more about yoga.
  • I leveled up to a 500 hr RYT.
  • I learned that ^ that doesn’t even matter.
  • I learned a LOT more about meditation and the inner-workings of the mind.
  • I was the thinnest I’ve ever been and discovered that it didn’t matter at all. I was not any happier. 
  • I followed a voice to Asheville and started building a new life.
  • I learned that disconnection is the source of our pain.
  • I understood my own worth for the first time.
  • I upped my Spanish game (un poco).
  • I saw how dependent I’ve been on external validation.
  • I learned that there’s no wrong way to be.
  • I hit my lowest low. I was broken. I was rearranged. I was humbled. I grew.

“I” understood on a cellular level that there isn’t really an “I”.
My relationship to the world shifted and nothing is the same. 2017, Thank you for coming. Thank you for leaving. You were one hell of a ride.

And a little poetry to commemorate the year…

2017

I thought I’d seen much, but this year was intense
It broke open my shell and took out my defense
I’m grateful and joyful, but glad that it’s done
Shifting shapes like the moon while it burned like the sun
I loved and I lost and I broke, but I grew
What more could a girl on three continents do?
The year began strong on the Ecuador Coast
But no time had passed when my studio closed
I gave away all that I had to my name
And found that my life went on just the same
I detoxed the past and befriended new souls
And I marked off the list my India goals
My long-time best friends loved me so much I cried
They held my heart close while a part of me died
I had telling visions and followed a voice
I felt kundalini and saw a new choice
To keep my soul locked or to finally break free
And see there’s no fault with me just being me
I understand now, the source of my pain
The disconnection we feel even though we’re the same
I know now the value each human is worth
Inherent to us as a part of our birth

I love you.

Honor Thyself

What follows is taken from a FB post I made a week and a half ago. I was in the middle of writing the Plant Medicine series and didn’t want to interrupt that flow here, but the response I got was overwhelming – It so clearly resonated with my tribe that it only makes sense to share it here as well.

11/6/2017

Remember this picture? I was soooo skinny! And I was so sad… can you see it?

I woke up this morning feeling on fire and I thought back to July, in India, and how sad and skinny I was. I was defeated. I had lost my curves and my fire. I was so sick of myself, of my choices, of my neediness, of my controlling and addictive behaviors. I was crying alone in my room, night after night, demanding God’s intervention in my life. I gave it up to God and started following my intuition. We already know what to do… We just need to do it! I was exhausted, but I picked myself up and I made some changes.

Nearly four months since I’ve had a drink or any drugs, since I’ve had sex or any negative energy around me. It’s been nearly four months since I’ve compromised my own self worth so someone else could feel better. Four months that I’ve put myself first, that I’ve been eating healthy, that I’ve been meditating consistently instead of just leading others through their meditations. Four months that I’ve held my own time and space to be healthy instead of everyone else’s. Saturday, I canceled my salsa plans to write. Yesterday I canceled my writing plans to shop. I did what I wanted to do.

It’s clear I’ve been feeling good – you guys know that. I’ve gained a few pounds back and yesterday I bought a pair of sexy heels. This morning I woke up, rolled out of bed with my messy hair feeling like a million bucks. I put on a pair of tight black jeans and my new heels, looked in the mirror and delighted in my curves – I’ve missed them. I feel my old fire returning but this time it burns along calm waters. I’m the old me mixed with the new me and it feels so GOOD!

You can stay true to yourself while you change. You can and should put yourself first. Don’t let people treat you like shit and don’t treat yourself that way either.

The only constant IS change. Take advantage of it.

Anyway, just my morning thoughts. I love you!