THE NIGHTMARE DOESN'T HAVE TO BE OUR REALITY…..
My last night in Melbourne things started to pick up.I went to an Australian rugby game with friend/savior Ashley. He ended up driving me to the airport at 3am to catch my flight to New Zealand.When I arrived in Auckland, the weather was anything but cozy…cold and wet, and I took one look at my gear and realized…I need something. After I bought a few long sleeves, I nervously applied for the holiday work visa to Australia, all the while wondering what the hell I would do if I didn't get it.
The next morning I hopped on the bus and started my tour around the North island of NZ.My bus driver "Metro" was a 35-year-old kiwi, who pretty much hated his life.He had been working with psychotic adolescents and decided to take a break, do some touring, and then figure out his next move.All of this I understood completely, a restart and a break are all justified. However, a little enthusiasm would have been appreciated…it was his country for gods sake…but he stayed silent as the bus passed millions of cows, farms, sheep, beautiful scenery…but couldn't tell ya where I was at all.Our first overnight stop was in Hahei Beach, where we had an excursion to dig in the sand on a hot water beach…. intriguing, fun…but 10 minutes would have been sufficient for me at least. The best part of Hahei was that I got on line and found out I did receive my visa for Australia. I was SO excited. Our next stop in Raglan, the surf capital of NZ was beautiful.I did take out a board, and while I froze my butt off…again the scenery was all too perfect. Later that evening I did a trek up to a place called "inspiration point"…where I must say I did feel inspired, but not in the way I thought I would…. I'm actually ashamed to admit this so freely…but it was a beautiful spot for a wedding…the lookout was magnificent, the air was clear, and it had a small stadium seating area, with a platform…I ended up doing Yoga that evening out there, and in the morning at sunrise. Back on the road we went to Waitamo, where the only thing to do is caving.I have a small aversion to small dark spaces, so I passed and went on a 2-hour trek. That evening we got to Maketu…we stayed at "Uncle Boy's place"…a Maori tribe member…the whole idea of the place, was to have a spiritual evening…this is when my trip started going south.I was getting very tired of being on the road and was looking for a place to settle in for a few days to run, relax, breath…. I was totally on edge, freezing, and feeling a little irritated. Unfortunately this place totally pushed me over the edge. I did enjoy learning about the Maori culture, but this guy who started it, Uncle Boy…was a full on crack head, and all about the money, which was really disheartening. I guess as a "tourist" what should you really expect right? But, I guess when I was traveling up the east coast of Australia, I got use to having these enlightening spiritual experiences…and something deep inside was screaming that I wasn't finished, that I had only scratched the surface of my real journey to finding out who I am, what I want, what I believe in, where I want to be…. It didn't help that most of the activities I came to NZ for, were being canceled because of weather conditions…when I arrived at the National Park to do the Tangariro Crossing Trek…and it was canceled…. I felt empty, and exhausted.Over the time I had been traveling in Italy, then Australia…. I would receive emails from my neighbor in NY, telling me how my apartment was doing. For those that don't know…I am a squatter.For the past 2 years I have not paid rent in NYC. I live in a 7-room apartment alone on Central Park West…even better, rent controlled.Before you classify me as a complete nut bag for leaving, let me explain.The building is owned by a deranged 85 year old from Great Britain. She doesn't have any teeth, wears a filthy sun visor, even in the winter…and pushes a cart down the streets of Manhattan collecting trash, that she inevitably ends up putting into the apartments she keeps vacant. In my building alone, there are 8 huge apartments empty, filled with her trash.She runs the building like her back yard, the places haven't been renovated in over 50 years, the hot water is usually not on, she harasses tenants…and for some ungodly reason, I can't figure out how the health department hasn't shut the place down.She goes to court every other day, pays fines of 10,000, and walks away.I could write a novel about west 75th street…and I have thought about it…and I might do it one day…. I tried to pay her, she wouldn't take my checks, cause she didn't like the color…everyday she saw me, she would tell me to leave…and then she would leave treats by the door for my dog Dolce.
Everyday of my life for 2 years was like living in an insane asylum. I couldn't fix up the place, because it wasn't mine, and she wouldn't give me a lease…but like everything else in my life, I accepted the status quo…I was complacent. I lived in filth, roaches, ants I never had hot water, it was like camping…. but hey…it was free.
I swore to myself when I left, and embarked on this journey…I was going to close it down.Right there in the middle of my exhaustion was the universe sending me a sign…. email from my neighbor…"sorry Ilyssa, your apartment has flooded with sewage water from the toilets, we have recovered most of your things, the landlady has been lurking around inside your apartment, I have boxes to help you pack, what do you want us to do?"….
As if things couldn't get more hectic…I was playing paintball, got shot in the mouth, went to the bathroom to clean up and noticed a white patch on my tongue. Being a smoker, a white patch on the tongue is a bad sign.I sat in the middle of that farm for a good hour, and just thought. Thought about options, how did I get to this point, why was all of this happening? Why is it that I was so happy in Sydney, teaching…and then I leave and everything was falling apart…. or at least that's what I "thought" was happening to me…
I went to a clinic in NZ who advised I needed to get a biopsy immediately…no questions asked, just do it.
That night I went to sleep in the hostel, I dreamt that I looked in the mirror and I found a white patch on my tongue, the dream ended with me having to board a plane to the states, and leave my traveling, hopes, and dreams on pause….
I plan to forget this dream. I will block out the idea of cancer, I will erase it completely, without lingering echoes or annoying déjà vu, despite the possibility that my dream led me inexorably to this moment…. I do realize I am living an inevitable memory. Today I am in the airport, today I fly home and put all my plans on pause to maybe find out that my new path is hospitals, tears, and a life very far from what I ever imagined for myself.
I am 29 years old…I have worked in finance on Wall Street, left to pursue a Masters in Physiology, worked at a grocery store, became a health counselor, attempted nursing school, sold pharmaceuticals…I've run a marathon, jumped out of a plane, herded goat, surfed, traveled, and then became an English teacher. I am a serial monogamist with a short attention span. I claim I want my own partner in crime, someone to drive me home from the airport, cheer me on when I succeed, hold my hair when I vomit, and if I'm honest with all of you…I do want that in one form or another…. I have ended numerous relationships when the thought of getting married arises…Till death do us part? I can't do it. I would be nothing more then a fraud, a pretend grown up, a con artist playing the role of bride. I don't even want to spend the rest of my life with me at the moment…How do explain to someone you love that you can't give yourself to them, because if you did your not sure who you would be giving? That you aren't even sure what your own words are worth? You can't tell someone that, especially someone you love. And so I never do. Instead, I do the right thing. I run.
I can hear the guy behind the desk at customs in the Auckland airport speaking, but everything seems muffled. I feel like I'm in a bubble looking down at myself…. I can't look him in the eye; my voice starts to crack while answering questions of why I'm leaving. He says, "I hope you return one day"…. I reply… "Yes." I can't get anything else out.I have no idea what lies ahead of me. I wanted to restart my life…not say goodbye. My mind quickly shifts to thinking…if this isn't something serious Ilyssa…are you really going to do it this time? Will you really restart? No comfort zone, pack up properly, say goodbye to all damaging relationships that seem comfortable when you're scared…. What will I do?
27 hours later I get into JFK. Its 530pm.My girlfriend Danielle is putting me up at her apartment.She is an amazing girl. No questions asked I booked the first flight out of NZ home, called her in a fury, with the flight already booked.She had a wedding that evening, made food for me in the fridge and left me a cell phone to use in the states. My blackberry is in the Sydney Harbor…during one of my more freeing moments, I decided being accessible was no longer in the cards…so I chucked it.
My entire body felt numb.I dropped my bags at her place and went right to the apartment on 75th street…my neighbor kindly let me in.The stench was awful.The toilets, and bathrooms were a dark black, and the hardwood floor looked like someone had covered it in tar.It took all I had to hold back the vomit that was rising in my throat. I sat on my bed and looked around…One would think, after not being "home" for so long, you would start looking through things, you would feel a sense of attachment to something, anything! Nope, not me.I grabbed a coat so I wouldn't be cold and left.
That morning after not sleeping, I called my old dentist…mind you I have no health insurance in the states. In the event that it was something serious, I knew I'd be screwed.The phone conversation was short and sweet… "I just got back from abroad, I have a white patch on my tongue, I was a smoker, I'm scared, help me."20 minutes later I was in the dentist chair. I love this about NY. I absolutely love that they don't diddle around, it's quick, very business oriented with little emotion, exactly what I needed, get the job done. The dentist took one look, and said "I'm going to send you to an oral surgeon, he looks at these things all day every day, for the past 20 years." I asked about insurance, and he said…its private health care, but he's the best…this was all I needed to hear.15 minutes after that I was in the oral surgeons chair, with a needle in my arm to put me under and he was going to cut my tongue. Without blinking, I was out. I woke up…dizzy, totally disoriented, not sure what the hell was going on, and my mouth hurt real bad. He came into the room, said something about cutting the whole thing out, something about no roots, 5 stitches, take vicodin for pain, come back, results 7 days….OK…
I wanted to get my own cell phone, had a list of things I wanted to get done…and my first thought as I left the building was damn… I should have eaten something…I went and spent some money somewhere, got the script filled, and eventually made it back to Danielle's…When she got home from work, she took one look at me, jetlagged off a 27 hour flight, starving, mouth swollen, and fully loaded on pain pills…She called the doctor and got instructions for the healing process…all of which I missed, things I could eat, not eat…I remember having scrambled eggs that evening, she also took a look at my receipts…and made sure I didn't do too much damage during my haze. The next day I didn't leave her bed. It was light, and then it was dark. I slowly moved from the sofa, to the bed, to the computer… The following day I started to come back to earth a bit…I made a list of all the things I wanted to take care of, all the things I wanted closure on, bills, apartment, relationships, everything…all in the hopes my biopsy would come back clear…looking back, I'd be lying if I didn't tell you they were the longest 7 days of my life thus far. I felt utterly alone, scared, exhausted, angry, sad…. Every morning I woke up looked at my visa for Australia, prayed to something I didn't know might exist to give me the strength to endure and persevere…come out healed, positive, packed, and ready to go….
The morning of the biopsy results, I felt like my legs were dead weight.I couldn't move…I was right outside the surgeons building, when I felt an arm wrap around my shoulder…The surgeon whispered in my ear "relax, I have great news, your clear, come upstairs."My heart dropped to the floor, I couldn't speak, and he led me into his office where I sat down in a complete haze. He explained to me what it was, had nothing to do with cancer for the moment, smoking even occasionally is not an option any longer. No real follow up, except his words "book your flight back to Australia, and go live your life."….
His words over that week resonated in my mind…along with the infamous question "What's the purpose?"
I thought about that hour I spent on that farm, contemplating life, having a full on rage attack against a God, I didn't even believe in…then suddenly I knew the answer. The answer for me that is, why all of this happened. I do believe this is my closure period, for my brand new restart. I learned a lot of things about myself on the road…a lot of things I preached about.I know my work on myself is far from finished, but closing out that apartment on 75th street, saying "goodbye" to old lovers I haven't seem to be able to get rid of cause I hang on too long, pay off the rest of my debt…have the proper conversations with the people closest to me about why I no longer can be here…all of this seems right. I left for Australia in a whirlwind, said goodbye to no one, left all of my possessions…I ran away. At 29, its time to stop running, do things properly, this way…I really don't have to look back.I have thus far noticed I've moved light years ahead…of the things I left behind before my travels.The journey continues on…
Besides the gut wrenching 7 days of waiting for a clear biopsy, I kept myself busy. This included contacting old friends, reconnecting with those I missed. Having real conversations, taking care of bills, school debt, driving license.To my surprise, I woke up everyday and didn't finish till late.Once the biopsy came back clear, it was time to head to Baltimore, where my parents live.The past few weeks had been a bit of an emotional roller coaster, Baltimore has never been my favorite place.I left when I was 18 for University, and swore I would never return…on a permanent basis that is. The closest I ever got to being pulled into Baltimore was dating a "Baltimore" guy…perhaps the other blogs touched on him a bit.He was around when my grandfather died…or should I say…creepily disappeared after my grandfather died. We dated for 6 months, and went to high school together.When I met him…he was becoming a yoga teacher, was a vegetarian, musician, seemed to only talk about traveling and going all over the world to explore. He talked about doing yoga retreats twice a year in Costa Rica; he talked about writing a book…as far as I was concerned in the beginning he was my soul mate, this was before I understood the true meaning of that word. It was only towards the end that he turned from a yogi into a weight lifter, who only ate meat, and all he talked about was cage fighting. He traveled…but only with his parents on cruise ships once a year, with no desire to explore on his own. As for writing a book…he seemed to have trouble reading street signs…the book probably will never happen…While I was away in Australia, I thought of him often.How amazing it would be to do this together, to have that partner in crime. I even diluted myself at times to a fantasy world that all his uneven, bad traits didn't really exist, I made excuses for him…thinking, yes death is difficult, and that's why he disappeared when my grandpa died. He was better then all the rest of the exes…so…maybe I shouldn't be so judgmental?I realized landing in NY and coming to Baltimore, with no return ticket to Australia, because of health reasons, that possibly I was looking for a reason to stay here. Maybe I wanted to feel wanted? Maybe this was all part of some grand scheme I didn't know about yet…. I wanted to feel a connection here, to something… anything. We had remained "friends" while I was gone, and he had started dating another woman. Why I felt the need to keep in touch?If I had to peel back layer by layer, and psychoanalyze myself…I could say it was my parents divorce, possibly some painful childhood experiences…but it has always felt very difficult to let go, walk away. I have a tendency to hang on much longer then I should in a relationship, and put myself through a lot of pain…pain that is unwarranted.After my biopsy results came back negative, he and I had an hour conversation about love, and our relationship, and future plans…We planned on meeting when I got to Baltimore, and then take it from there.He text me asking if I wanted to meet at a dive bar 30 minutes from my house at 10pm, the evening I got home. I said no.I thought it was inappropriate, he was dating someone…or so he said.I offered a run, or tea…something more healthy where our judgment after not seeing each other for 6 months, wouldn't be impaired by booze… I walked into starbucks and there he was. 6 months from the last place I left him, white t-shirt, filthy raggedy pants, flip flops, and a brand new tattoo on his arm.An "OM" symbol…we sat down, and while he was talking, I was surveying how utterly destroyed he looked…the Death Cab for Cutie song… "This is the Sound of Settling, bah, bah, bah…"was playing over and over in my head, drowning him out.A girl from our high school walked past, pregnant, ready to pop, she didn't recognize me…and I didn't make myself known. While they were speaking I could feel my face getting hot, and the walls starting to close in…why was I here? What's the purpose? I took one look at how disheveled he was…he made some comments about traveling…his next cruise with his parents to Greece and Italy, claiming he was a citizen of the world…However, when I told him I was going to do the Great Wall of China Marathon in May, and then go to Hong Kong…He said "Hong Kong seems like a cool country to visit." A bit stunned…I just remained quiet.One day he would learn Hong Kong is a city… He went on to say…his current girlfriend, exact words "worked with African retards." I could feel my fists clenching, not at him…but at myself.He was not the one who was making me miserable. I was making myself miserable. He was just being himself, which is why I broke up with him in the first place. I silently told myself to get up and walk away.As I was leaving, I looked at him…how sad and disappointing?Sad that I made him into something he isn't and will never be for me. Sad, that he thinks he is someone he is not, and sad that he felt the need after 6 months of not seeing me to get really stoned and then try to catch up. I got in my car, drove away, and never looked back.
The next trip to New York was to see the NYC marathon, celebrate my best friends 30th birthday, and pack up that apartment in a u-haul and drive back to Maryland.The 30th birthday was wonderful and memorable.Marathon day brought up a lot of memories of last year, how injured I was, how much medical debt I incurred…. but the final thought being that I finished something I started successfully and happy.Before I had attempted a marathon, watching the runners always got me very pumped up. The next day I'd start formulating training programs, determined the next one was my turn.This time…I didn't feel that motivation to get out there right away. One of my good friends trained very hard to do it, and had to drop out at mile 8 due to her asthma…She was upset, however life isn't so black and white. It takes a lot of discipline and courage to get through the training and to the start line. What happens race day is a totally different story. Sometimes…you have to just be okay with the fact that you tried, and remember there will always be another race. Life truly is the race.
I knew getting into the apartment that had flooded with sewage was going to be a problem, when my neighbor told me the crazy landlord Powers had changed the locks.
The idea was to be really nice to her…and hope she would just let me in and be happy I was leaving.When I arrived, this was not the case. She was so angry, she was spitting. Legally she wasn't allowed to change the locks, however, with not having a lease and not paying rent…this made things more complicated. I decided not to waste time playing her little games and called the police.I kept an old electric bill from that past August to show them as verification I was actually residing there…I knew she would tell them she didn't know who I was…I was right.After lying to the police, pushing the female officer, and claiming she didn't have the keys…they told her they were going to take her to the hospital if she didn't go upstairs and let me in the apartment. Nothing at that moment would have given me more satisfaction then seeing her carted off to the loony bin. After an hour of her games, she finally let me into the apartment. The police left saying…if I had any more problems to call again. They offered the advice of getting out as fast as possible. The first thing I did when I got into the apartment was I took a hammer and broke the front door lock, god it felt good pounding that thing off. I then unlocked the side door, which I hoped she wouldn't think of.After surveying the scene…I noticed some dishes and food in the room I once used as my yoga studio…. a place that I had prayed for love, a place that I had tried to make a room of healing for others and myself.A god-awful stench was emanating from the bathroom. My special landlord…had been eating, and taking frequent dumps in my toilet…All the while not being able to flush it because of busted pipes and sewage.
I'll be honest. I sat there staring in the toilet for a good 5 minutes or more.I was trying to wrap my head around how violating, disgusting, and vile I had let my life become. All of this to live by central park? Had I seriously become that diluted? Had I not seen any other options? How do these other tenants live here and deal with this woman? No hot water, filth…for gods sake they have children!What would posses someone to do something like this? Then anger took over. I was so exhausted, from life.Bending over, weak in the knees, holding onto the wall and ready to vomit or cry or punch something I said out loud… "She took a dump in my sanctuary."Thoughts then arose about how many other people over the years I had let s*** all over me…How utterly symbolic. The universe most certainly could not have been any clearer with its message.. Packing was a joke. Trash bags and a few boxes, and a u-haul van, I was able to get everything I really wanted out of the apartment.When the door shut behind me while I was holding the last box…I took a huge breath…held it and released a few tears.Truth is… I have no idea where I' am going. I have no idea where I am going to live. I no longer have an address.I do not have a real plan, except to board a plane.What I do know…is that wherever I end up, I have learned not to compromise my values or integrity because I'm afraid. I will never allow anyone to inappropriately "dump" in my sanctuary, ever again. I realize now more then ever…home is truly wherever your heart is at that moment.Creating a real home happens, when you are truly ready for it. I got back to Baltimore that evening, so happy, my mind cleansed. Mom and I took pictures of the van, hugged, laughed, then had a glass of wine toasting the end of an era, and the victories to come.
The flight to Australia was booked for November 28th, the plan was to have one last visit in New York, participate in my grandfathers unveiling and spend Thanksgiving in Baltimore.I packed up, and brought Dolce Vita, my 2-year-old Australian Shepard with me to NY.This was to give my parents a break, and also be able to spend more time with her.When I bought Dolce 2 years ago…I thought life was going in a very different direction. I had plans of settling in, a partner, a home.I would have never gotten her if I had known I'd be traveling all over the world. After the 5th failed partner in 2 years, the horrible job, and psychotic living situation…I had to make a choice for Dolce and myself.That choice, even though ridiculously difficult every time I look at her little face was to leave and go fix my life. Dolce has provided my family and myself something very special, and unexpected.The relationship she has with my mother is very unique.Being a diabetic, with a blind eye makes it difficult for my mom to work a normal job.I have always said she is a "domestic engineer", and a damn good one at that.Dolce provides exercise, a job of feeling needed, and companionship.She couldn't be more loved, or spoiled living with grandma and grandpa.The dog is a bit dysfunctional, the apple doesn't fall far from the tree, and her quirkiness fits it quite nicely to our family unit.I have beaten myself up on numerous occasions, wondering if I should give the dog to someone who would be able to give her more exercise, as she was my training partner for a year, running.What I have come to realize, is that love is so much more important, not just for animals…but everyone.When I was away, Dolce was truly the only thing I missed or felt I had a connection to pulling me back home.A dog has taught me about unconditional love…as silly as it sounds, something I may have never really understood if she wasn't in my life.
I had a list of about 22 important items that had to be completed in the states before I went anywhere again.I have discovered something better then sex.Making a list, then taking a huge black marker and crossing off those items.Invigorating! That was the plan while in NY, had to get the rest of that list complete.Rainy Saturday came, and that evening was my "farewell" party. The idea behind it for me was…to say goodbye to people I cared about.Knowing I wouldn't be here for my 30th birthday, was a thought that crossed my mind and at the time made me feel sad.The people that did show up were the people that mean the most in my life, and I do know that and appreciate them more then life itself.However, for the people that blew it off, made excuses, and couldn't muster up the energy…it was the confirmation I needed to stop continually putting myself out there for everyone. Yet another occasion to look at the relationships over the past few years that I have allowed to hold me back, and keep me in these patterns that have nearly killed my spirit. The entire day I was feeling off, I had feelings of just wanting to get it over with, it didn't seem or feel special to me at all. Of course no evening would be complete without drama…. about 2 hours before the party, I received a phone call from my mother, telling me she had gone fully blind.Her good eye had started to bleed, and she could see nothing.Surgery was set on Monday.The walls started to close in, and panic took over.I stayed calm on the phone with her, talked her through it, made sure she was positive. When I hung up…I went numb.My girlfriend Danielle tried to hug me, I pushed her away she tried to talk to me, I said nothing she asked me if I wanted to cancel the party, I said no. My parents wanted me to come home that Tuesday.It gave me Monday to try and get everything done on my list, and then get home to help.Around 2004, I was working in finance, I was a real drinker/partier.My parents were on a cruise that year, and mom got medvacced off the ship, because of her diabetes, and serious lack of care for herself. She almost died; this is when I decided to change my life health wise. I lost 55 pounds through diet and exercise and have kept it off now for 5 years. I had completely transformed my body and way life. I tried relentlessly to share the knowledge that I had discovered with others.This is when I started changing my career frequently, searching and looking for the way in which I wanted to help others.That night at the bar, I drank more then I have in 5 years. Shot after shot, until I honestly was slurring my words, making very poor choices, and saying things that were…just not me.The past month had become my personal nightmare. Every time I tried to come up for air to breath, something else bad was happening.Horrible patterns, habits, and neglect for my body and well-being were surfacing.I felt unhealthy, unhappy, and very alone.Waking the next morning, I grabbed Dolce and went to the only sanctuary I knew of in NY, the only place where I had found peace in my 8 years of living there, central park.
I sat under a tree in a secluded area and realized I've been writing the story of what is and has been, but I've failed to write the dream and the story of what will be.While finding closure now at every avenue with intimate relationships, friends, career, health, living, finances…I have to start writing the story of what will be.You see…you can endure your wounds or you can enjoy your glory. You can luxuriate in joy and peace, or you can continually be burdened by that big black bag full of sorrowful incidents and accidents that happened to you in your childhood or last relationship. You can live the life of victim, burdened by the traumas of your past and present-OR you can live the life of a hero, but…you just cannot do both.When I left for Italy and then Australia, I broke my karmic chain, and let go of the countless reasons why I may not be able to have what I want…I discovered something there that was truly wonderful, a piece of me.I believed people do get a second chance a life, even a third and a fourth… The nightmare we live in and create for ourselves is what happens when the fairy tale doesn't end the way it is supposed to. We set expectations on situations and ourselves. Expectations set us up for disappointment.Instead, setting an intention leaves us open to the possibility of just living in the moment and creating our dream as we move along our path.Fear is what paralyzes us the unknown is what paralyzes us.I'm starting to believe that if you get to the core of your dream, you will start to find ways in which to manifest it.
I prayed for my mom for hours, that evening I packed up and headed back home.The operation at that point had been successful, she could see again, but very little.The day went on and her sight got worse and worse leading to yet another surgery…It has been a week and half since her first surgery, tomorrow will be her third surgery to try and save her eye, and save her from being blind.I can't describe what it feels like to have to see your parent that helpless and scared. Knowing in your heart, you have no power to take the pain away.I have had to dress her, feed her, clothe her, read to her…I make jokes, and try to make her laugh, she has never heard me cry.In awe I watch as my dad's entire life has been shifted upside down.He is young, healthy and active, now he is a nurse.I must say…the nightmare she has been living dealing with her disease, did not prevent her from finding a man who by all stretch of the means defines amazing.He is soothing, and patient, asks all the right questions…endures her…all the while having zero time for himself.Somehow, I have been able to take care of my mom and my needs.Since I finally left New York behind me for good this time, I have run everyday, meditated, cooked healthy for my parents and myself…. I believe now is the time I must stay strong for those I love, who need a moment to be weak.During my moments of weakness,I have reached out to my closest inner circle of friends.Friends that regardless of little squabbles are my lifeline, and have called here everyday to see how I am and what's going on. I've noticed the people I have spoken to the most are people who have had their own family tragedy enduring heartache from death or illness of a parent. I had a long conversation with a best friend one evening, we spoke for hours about patterns, expectations, intentions…I promised her that I would find the answers she needed…I do not have the answers, I never will.What I do have is hope and my personal experience.What I can be sure of is that if we live without courage, we create our nightmares. At times we may not even realize what we are doing, or how oppressive, limiting and powerless our situation is.It feels like we can't run fast enough, if we call for help…no one is listening, or people who come to aid us seem to have their own agendas in mind. Dwelling on things like we don't have enough time or money or how we are too fat or skinny to change anything, in the end the prince never seems to show up…we start fantasizing about someone or something rescuing us from our sadness or powerlessness.The moment I became conscious of my waking nightmare, was the moment I realized I might have the possibility of changing it.While caring for my Mom, cleaning, cooking and keeping house I have contemplated that the only "answer" I could provide is this…NO self-help book or course can make you stop engaging in negativity and your nightmare, only the way you perceive your own reality can free you from the shackles you have put on yourself. You might not feel the effects of dreaming courageously immediately, what you will feel are the changes inside you.The moments I have let go of the expectations ofsociety, and family…the moments I have admitted I'm scared, feel unsafe or unsuccessful…are the moments when I have been able to choose to look at my life differently and create a new life for myself and be open. We will never be free of issues…start to write your new story, and feel the courage to follow a different script.
My very good friend from Florence handed me a black and white postcard the day I boarded the plane of Piazza Santa Croce.The picture entails a man, sitting alone on a bench…just waiting.This picture was very symbolic for the time we shared.Santa Croce was our meeting spot, and a place where he said one day we would meet again, in this lifetime or the next.The back of the postcard contained a handwritten personal message in Italian.It has taken me 5 months to translate it correctly with the Italian Flavor it deserves. It has also taken me months to want to understand and read the back of that postcard.I'd often look at the picture, and never turn it over. Until recently, when I realized in order to write my new script, I must be willing to open my heart once again and trust that love for others is quite possible, even after constant heartache and disappointment…
"Questo, se vuoi non e la lime.
Il tuo giro intormo al mondo finira, prima o poi.
C troveai una casa
Spero che quella casa sia il cuore in cui vivi da una setlimana. Il mio."
"If you want, this is not the end, it is the beginning. Sooner or later your traveling around the world will end. You're going to find a house, I hope that house is the heart in which you've been living for a week. Mine."
I often reminisce about my time Italy…I find myself daydreaming about fields of sunflowers, and how the heat in the air felt that night at the opera, possibly one day being back in Santa Croce the spot where we always met…While most of us do create self-fulfilling prophecies after an intense hurtful situation…we are just simply perpetuating these personal nightmares I keep talking about. I am finding for me it has been a lack of recognizing my role in co-creating my own reality, possibly even not understanding the power of my expectations for good or bad.In general I've noticed deep fear within myself, instead of courage…
Through all the hurt, pain, exhaustion…and always-wondering why is this happening this past month and a half. I have found peace in deciding not to become paralyzed in the nightmare. I have decided I can still enjoy a sense of purpose for myself without meeting everyone's approval.
It is and has been my time to wake up from the nightmare I've been participating in, let go of the need to succeed in someone else's mold, and create my own more creative dream.
Next stop Sydney, Australia on December 6th, 2009.