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Laughing through tears and more getting comfortable with being uncomfortable part deuce OR: When spiritual, physical, mental, and emotional healing looks suspiciously like real life.

I go to scratch the remnants of a mosquito bite on my heel and suddenly remember- 
Holy shit.

I was in a different country the week before last. A tropical one where mosquitos loved the bajeesus outta me.

Don’t go, don’t fade already…

I feel the memories fading like a beautiful impressionist chalk painting that I spilled water on and the images are blurring together. Memory is fickle.

Don’t go, don’t fade…

So much happened in so little time. At times it felt like forever, and then, now it’s over and I check my pictures to insure it wasn’t a dream- although, more and more, that what life feels like for me. 

It was a soft landing in Bangkok. I stayed in a very nice guesthouse on a beautiful piece of property where, if I had a need, for anything, it got met by the kind staff. I would enjoy leisurely breakfasts underneath the most beautiful Banyan tree I had ever encountered. My breath and mind slowed as I listened to the birds and luxuriated in the tropical air that my body had been longing for. I was in heaven. I had a huge soft bed, L’Occitaine bath products, and an American style toilet that flushed. I was blessed to stay there through a friend of mine. I was able to explore the hot frenetic metropolis of Bangkok and then return to the peaceful cool cocoon of my guesthouse. Life was good. 

my breakfast banyan tree, Bangkok.

I then was referred to a friend of a friends beach hut that I could rent on an island called Koh Samui. The owner lived in Australia.

The first 48 hours could be a dark comedy staring Zoey Deshanel.  

I decided to take an overnight train to a bus to a ferry. It was an 24 hour adventure just to get there. That didn’t include 3 hours of me being lost. The owner had sent me very vague snippets of video as directions. There was no actual address. I ignored my intuition that told me to ask for written directions and pretended I would know what she was talking about. I didn’t. I couldn’t make sense of any of it. I finally, defeated, sleep deprived and hot from walking around with my heavy backpack gave up and sat at a German restaurant. I had no idea what to do. The owner was MIA. After a while one of the waitresses could tell something was wrong. I said I was lost. I showed her the videos. (I had been showing anyone who would watch with no luck) and she recognized a stone wall in one of the videos. 

She told me to leave my heavy bags and get on the back of her scooter and she would show me where it was. I would then come back and get a taxi with my bags to take me back there. All of this communication was mimed due to the language barrier. I had to stop myself from bear hugging her in relief and gratitude and instead tried to attempt the formal Thai greeting of “wai” which didn’t go over so well. No matter – I was ecstatic! 

The accommodations were a bit more rustic which I completely understood for the price. (Next to nothing). It was a true beach shack with broken floor boards and a toilet that did not flush. I had to google,  “toilets in Thailand” to figure out that the bucket next to the toilet filled with water and a plastic bowl was what you used to get the waste down. I had no clue. There were many roach friends in the bathroom whom I gave names and personalities. I always was polite and let them know when I was coming into their bathroom.  I had philosophical conversations with them and grew to love and actually appreciate they were there. I felt less alone. 

A few days in I really started to drop into the beach life. One day I was blissed out from a beach front Thai massage that cost ten dollars, ocean swim, and smoothies in the sun. I came in and took a shower. My eyes closed in bliss, I reached up to rinse my hair and felt something sting me really hard on the arm. I started scream/cry/laughing and flailing about wildly-
Scorpions?!?!?!

OMG! WHAT THE FUUC, HOLY SHIT, WHAT IS HAPPENING AM I OK? AM I GOING TO BE OK?!! WHERE ARE YOU? I DONT LIKE THIS GODDDDD!! WHAT THE HELL!! OMG! SHIT shit SHIIIIT!! Etc..

I never did see what it was. Just a big angry welt forming on my arm. I knew this was no mosquito bite. I waited for my head to turn around Linda Blair style. I still saw no evidence of a bug. I looked down at the welt with visions of crazy tropical bug induced viruses multiplying in my system. I had to get help. 

Now, I had already been to my neighbors once to ask him about the electricity. I had no power when I arrived and was nervously checking all the outlets. He was a stoic Dutch man who said his electricity was working just fine. He then, by his silence, indicated that the convo was over. It turns out upon further investigation that I just had to turn the main breaker on. I figured this out after an hour of freaking out to myself, trying to get ahold of the owner and freaking out at God. 

I then went BACK over trying to be really calm and collected and all nonchalant and what not- trying not to show the wild terror in my eyes.

Our conversation went like this:

Me: hello? Hello? Oh, excuse me, hi,  I just got a crazy bite/sting thing and it came out of nowhere and it really really hurt, and I don’t know what it is, do you know what this would be? 

Neighbor: silence….no, I’m not sure….silence… Crickets.. Tumble weeds. 

Me: oh, ok, well, I’m sure it’s ok, I just, (trying not to tear up) 

Neighbor: when did that happen?

Me: about 5 minutes ago

Neighbor: long pause- why don’t you wait and see if anything happens… Silence with a stern penetrating gaze..

Me: you know, that is s GREAT idea! I’m sure it’s nothing to be concerned about! (attempting to be strong and chipper) 

Ok, thanks- I start walking away muttering under my breath..I’ll let you know when my arm falls off and take a swing at you with it, I mean, would it kill you to crack a smile? 

My imagination is still going wild and my arm feels stiff where the welt is. To get some relief for my brain I walk to the nearest pharmacy and ask if they know what this could be. The first pharmacist does not speak English. Thumbs down. The second does, thank the dear lord! He motions me to him and looks at my arm under a magnifying glass, looks at me and says, “bee.” I try not to bear hug him and thank him profusely for letting me know I will get to keep my arm. I go home  and listen to the waves. 

my view of the ocean from the deck
I’m happy to report that the rest of my time in Koh Samui was easy breezy. The view of the ocean from the deck and the huts proximity to the beach cancelled out any wild life disturbances. At first, I didn’t want to stay, and by the end, I had fallen in love with the hut, the people and yes, even the roaches. I started to scheme on how I could move there.
I know there is a metaphor here. 

Xo, j 

Getting comfortable with being uncomfortable

So I’m in my last week in Thailand after 2 and a half months of traveling around by myself

And-

I know I’m not the same person I was when I left.

I’m drinking a boba tea- and I hate boba.

I also almost bought a pair of Crocks. A year ago I asked a friend to end my life if he ever saw me wear them – so, people change. I tried the Crocks on and thought, no, Jessie- wait until your 40 and maybe a mom and then you can actually buy them. We shall see if I can hold out until then living in Berkeley CA and all..

No offense to people who wear Crocks. I like them on other people. 

I am currently craving California in a way I didn’t know was possible until I left. 

My brother (we basically share the same brain) was laughing at me because my idea of myself has always been that I’m someone who loves heat and humidity. Like, in my late 20’s I got off on how many Bikram classes I could take in a week… Well, I just had no idea what I was in for. Apparently it was the hottest April on record in 60 years in Thailand. It’s been well over 100 every day for 6 weeks and I would kill for some cloudy cool SF bay weather. People change. 

My brother got the joke.

It’s been an amazing trip. Full of adventure and time to rest and heal. Its pushed me outside my comfort zone on all fronts. Probably the most extreme example of this is when I was the only westerner at a Buddhist monastery for a week. It felt so challenging that I literally found myself rocking back and forth and telling myself that I was ok like you would to a child. 

There was a rigorous schedule that started at 4am and required hours of sitting, chanting and praying. The etiquette in the monastery if you are a woman is that you cannot sit with your legs crossed or out in front of you. They have to be to the side so that your feet are not pointing at anyone and most certainly never pointing towards the Buddha as that is a sign of disrespect. After about 3 minutes of sitting this way on my first day, my very tight American hips and back were screaming in pain and discomfort. I could not get comfortable. I kept shifting and shifting and shifting as I wondered how I was going to do this for 7 days. 

The monastic experience also required that I sleep on a wooden slab with only a thin blanket to lay on in a small concrete hut in extreme heat. That first night I could not get comfortable. No air con, no soft surfaces, no eating after noon, and at first no one communicating with me because of the language barrier. I had no idea what the hell was going on. No one spoke English and everything was written in Thai. My ego didn’t like being in that amount of mystery and was desperately trying to make sense of an experience I could only surrender too. 

It’s ok, Jessie. You are doing a really good job. I’m so proud of you, you are ok, you are safe.. I would softly tell myself fighting down wild surges of emotion. 
I struggled to stay present. Unfortunately I had access to the Internet. Way more often than I wanted, when I had down time I would grab my phone and get online to anything familiar and to distract myself- anything to numb the feelings..

At one point on the second night during the 3 hour walking meditation in the evening, the power went out. In the pitch black, loud fireworks started detonating ( kids playing a prank?) and bats started flying overhead. The Thais didn’t bat (pun intended) an eye and continued to slowly walk and chant and I tried to not lose my shit. I was scared. 

At the end I was gently taken by the elbow by an older woman who continued to watch over me after that and led by flashlight back to my hut so I didn’t get lost. She looked at me and said, “mother” indicating she was my Thai mother. 

A few days passed and I cried a lot and stuck with it. Slowly but surely I’m happy to report it got easier. I adapted the schedule to one I could handle. A few beautiful Thai woman took me under their wing and showed me how to sit and pray and eat properly the way the Thais do. They would make sure I was near them and nudge me to pay attention and follow them until I could do it with my eyes closed. I felt their care for me and enthusiasm in sharing their beautiful culture. 

I also learned about the power of spiritual discipline which has showed up as being the major theme of my trip. The Thais woke up at 4am whether they were tired or not. With a sense of pride they adhered to the eight Buddhist precepts:

1. Refraining from destroying any living creature 

2. Refraining from taking that which is not given 

3. Refraining from sexual activity

4. Refraining from incorrect speech 

5. Refraining from intoxicating drink and drugs which lead to carelessness 

6. Refraining from eating after noon 

7. Refraining from dancing, singing, music and the adornment of body with perfume, jewelry, or makeup 

8. Refraining from laying on a high or luxurious sleeping place

They also discourage reading or writing. I did not succeed at that endeavor but gave it my best shot. 

In the end, although challenging, I grew to appreciate the structure and discipline that created the way of life at the monastery. Everyone contributed by cleaning and working together. I felt a part of something greater than myself and got my walking meditation skills down! 

Stay tuned for part 2 of this blog..

Xo, J

Burning Season

 

Hazy morning in Chiang Mai

It’s been exactly one month since I arrived in Thailand. I’ve gone from Bangkok, to Koh Samui, to Chiang Mai. After I booked my flight to Chiang Mai I was told it was the height of burning season where all the farmers burn their crops to make way for next years yield. It was suggested I postpone my visit there if I could as the air would be polluted by smoke and hazardous to breathe. 

I had a moment of panic as I had made all my arrangements and then decided to go ahead with my plans anyways. The metaphor was not lost on me that I too am going through my own burning season to make way for new beautiful crops. I am glad I am here despite the pollution- I have met amazing people who are assisting in my burning process.. Stay tuned for the new harvest! 

My friend Sam and I

Burning Love,

J

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Finding my way back to health when sickness is a spiritual tool for awakening              

The above picture is a snapshot of part of my alter. You will notice the, “I am abundant health,” tailismin front and center. My dear Dad bought me that last week when he and my mom were out visiting me. I appreciate his support in the main quest of 2016 for me which is to cultivate by taking by action towards and allowing myself to receive radiant health.

I got a really bad virus that left me bed ridden in November of 2013, and since then have suffered from debilitating profound exhaustion, brain fog, random low grade fevers, body aches and a weakened immune system that catches every bug that comes through. It is hard for me to remember what it is like to feel good. Some weeks are better than others. It has been extremely isolating and I haven’t wanted to share about it. I’m realizing now, that sharing about my illness is part of the healing for me. I am finally, I think, fingers crossed getting  to the other side of this. I’ve become a master at posting highly filtered images of myself to make it seem like i feel and look better than I do. Here’s one without the pretty filtering:

 

I felt like I was walking through glue that day. I felt over taken. I felt like intellectually, I knew it was a bright, warm, sunny gorgeous day, and yet I felt once removed, exhausted and feverish, like someone had poured a wet blanket of sand over the frontal lobe of my brain.

I saw western doctors in December of 2014 who tested me for everything under the sun and couldn’t find anything “wrong” with me and prescribed me anti depressants.  Although I didn’t think it was possible, I became even more tired as a result and stopped taking them 4 months later.
I did my own research and came to the conclusion and inner knowing that I had all the varied symptoms of Chronic Fatigue Immune Dysfunction Syndrome (CFIDS). You can find information about symptoms and what causes CFIDS here.

I also got diagnosed with Melanoma on the last day of July in 2015. I had surgery and am in the clear thankfully now. I have full body scans every 3 months for 2 years to make sure it stays gone.  2015 was a big fu*king wake up call health wise and life wise. I’ve been taking a good long sometimes painful look at how I have been living and showing up in the world and taking action around letting go of facets of my life that don’t feel good anymore and adding in experiences that I desire and light me up. Plus surrounding myself with way finders and allies to help me through.  I worked with a mentor all through the trials and tribulations of 2015 who also confided that he had CFIDS.  I felt so grateful that I was drawn to him. Just having his acceptance and an understanding beyond words helped me to heal. I saw how he was able to have a family and a thriving career and take care of himself.  I now know that is possible for me too.

These past few years have been extremely humbling as I’ve faced many limitations on what I could do.  I started to wake up and ask myself, “What do I have to do to take care of Myself today?”  Many days no answer would come and that felt scary. Some days it was just to rest, and I DIDN’T want that to be the answer. And it was. Rest, a whole foods diet,  a Yin yoga practice at home, and walking when I felt up to it have helped tremendously.  I had to stop doing Bikram yoga because it was too much.

I feel hesitant and vulnerable in sharing this next piece of information.  I didn’t start out writing this blog with this included.  There is a part of me that feels I will be judged and labeled as crazy, and yet, I feel called to share it because this is what happened and is true for me. I am hoping it will resonate and help someone else reading this.  About a year and a half into my sickness, I got told by a wise voice that guides me, to look up the term,”shaman sickness”. This voice, which I now affectionately call, “The Voice,” has told me to look up certain things at specific times in my life.  I reference, “The Voice” here in another blog.

I had never heard of shaman sickness.  I will mention, after I moved up to The Bay after living in LA for 9 years, I took an introductory class on shamanism in February of 2013.  I felt the calling, and then promptly decided it wasn’t for me. I then fell sick 9 months later. (Cue the universe winking at me;)  So,  I looked it up as “The Voice” instructed and learned that shaman sickness is an initiation. The recipient has no choice as the spirits choose this, and even they are powerless to stop the process once it is initiated. Shaman sickness looks and feels like physical and or mental illness. It is real. It presents as a variety of immune disorders, cancers and mental illnesses. It is spiritual in origin and manifested physically.  It’s intended purpose is to slow down, strip away, and unhinge a persona that is false and no longer in alignment with your Soul.  It is spiritual death and rebirth felt physically. It requires huge amounts of surrendering to the process.  It is not an easy path. It requires alchemy of your deepest wounding into service.  It requires honoring a higher calling of devotion, service, and healing to others.  You are left with nothing.  Nothing except your self. Your TRUE self.  AND a mission and calling to help other people heal as you yourself have. I know many souls who are in the throes of this process right now.  Modern shamans can work in a variety of ways, from more traditional routes, to simply serving as a catalyst for change in someones life. There is further reading on the interwebs regarding shaman sickness for those curious to know more.  I was also told to look up “dark night of the soul,” and read about that as well.  An entire other blog post could and may be written about that. All of this information has offered relief in that i am not alone and it has not made this time period easier.

This is not what I thought I wanted at all.  I thought I wanted to be an actor and singer. (I have been at points, although never as much as I wanted).  I thought I wanted to be the founder of a healthy beverage company.  I thought I wanted to be married with kids by now.  It turns out, my life is clearly not about what I think I want. This path chooses YOU.  My job is to surrender and find meaning in it.  Then comes the question, how can I serve learning what I’ve learned? The path is not about what I am doing.  It is about who am I being and using my beingness in service to something larger than my small desires for a specific life.

So far, I am learning to devote my life to love and radical self care. Coming back to it time and time again.  I’m listening now to some deeper desires that I have been putting off for when the circumstances were “right”.  (cue the universe winking at me knowingly and compassionately waiting til I understand that it will never feel exactly right and I need to take action anyways).  I am taking action in different areas of my life.  I am finally working with a chiropractor and clinical nutritionist who utilizes applied kinesiology diagnostics that help to hold me accountable and shed some light and reality on my body’s sensitivities to various foods and other imbalances. I am working with a gifted healer and coach who holds a very pure, loving, and non judgmental state for me as I keep unraveling and finding different parts of myself that I have disowned and bringing them back to me.   I am headed Tuesday, March 1st, on a solo journey to Thailand where I will focus 100% on my healing and hopefully study healing for a couple months.  There is a part of me that is scared I will get really sick while I am traveling, and another larger part of me that knows I am strong enough to handle whatever life brings my way.  Will you keep me in your thoughts and prayers as I continue on my journey?

It has taken a village.  It takes a village. I thank you, dear village.

I will be keeping you posted as I move forward.

All My Love,

Jessica

 

Give Yourself Permission

I had the opportunity to be able to attend one of my spiritual teacher, Matt Khan’s weekend immersions about a month ago in beautiful Grass Valley, CA. The messages he transmitted were powerful. The above message was one I feel called to share about in my own life.

For most of my life I have had a love/hate relationship with my desires. I have been consumed with desire… And then embarrassed and ashamed by my yearning. I bought into a culture that programs us to feel that more is better. More sex, more money, more beauty, more shoes, more house, you know, just more.  I confused my wants with needs. I felt like my needs were not getting met because my external circumstances did not reflect my wants. And guess what, they still don’t- I always want more, and that’s OK!

However, I am in complete gratitude for all that I have in my life. That is a really important piece of the abundance mindset and one that was non existent in my life for 30 years. When I was in denial about all of this, I lived in a perpetual state of dissatisfaction.  I felt ashamed of the big, big abundant life I desired. I also felt Like I didn’t deserve it. So I looked to other people to see me and affirm that I was worth something.  Then when they told me, I didn’t believe them.  Nothing felt like it was enough. It wasn’t enough because I was running on empty. I was running on fear in a scary universe that couldn’t be counted on.

Through major self inquiry and help from wise people, I got to uncover these beliefs of scarcity, fear, low self worth, and lack that I had been carrying around. Then I got guided to practice something I knew little about- faith and gratitude. Gratitude being faith in action. I wrote out a gratitude list every day for several years and consider it one of my most important spiritual practices.

As a side note and another blog post down the pike: I will caution against confusing martyrdom and denial with gratitude.  As Life coach Tim Brownson says so well, “You cannot fake gratitude. If you despise your job, then being grateful isn’t the antidote, getting a new job is. If you don’t love your husband, should you really feel the need to be grateful just because you have one and a friend doesn’t? Of course not.  In fact trying to be grateful in the face of life sucking can exacerbate the situation because it creates cognitive dissonance.”

The cognitive dissonance will repress your desires and this is the opposite of what we are going for.   I am going for owning my desires as sacred visions from the Universe, God, Source, Higher self, Inner knowing – however you want to name it. Mine and your desires are sacred. For me it was important to realize that it’s a practice, a discipline to look for what’s good in my life rather than what’s lacking. To practice taking actions based on faith, service, and love.

So my journey is one of cultivating self worth that is not based on anything external, self recognition, transparency and recognizing and accepting mine and your basic goodness as a human. I think that’s called a spiritual journey:)

Another teacher I admire, Martha Beck, says it this way:

The obstacles to our destiny are all the judgements we suffocate our desires in. Release the judgement and take a step forward. It can be a baby step, or a burn the mutha fuggin house down step. This action gives the universe some room to work on your behalf.

So: own your desires. Allow them to consume you at the deepest feeling level. Affirm that your desires are what the universe wants to express through you. Stay in gratitude for all that you have. Lovingly detach from the outcomes of your wants/desires and stay open and excited about all the good, which can be disguised as change you didn’t plan and loss. This change and loss creates the room needed for the good coming to you.. Cuz it’s good, baby. Really really good!

In love,
Jessica

Taking Stock .03

  FEELING: Inspired and happy

WEARING: Grey ripped skinny jeans and fake Uggs:)

GETTING SCENTUAL: With Narcisco Rodriquez Musc oil for her. If I was stranded on a desert Island and could only wear one perfume the rest of my life- this would be it. It’s discontinued, but I have my ways of obtaining it.

KNOWING: That sometimes it’s beneficial to leap before you look. It gives your angel wings an opportunity to show themselves.

READING: I just finished “The Surrender Experiment” by Michael A. Singer. As someone who compulsively starts books and doesn’t finish them– I read this WHOLE book and couldn’t put it down.

TAKING: My time

EATING: Half banana with peanut butter and cinnamon and then crock potted rainbow carrots, fennel, and sun dried tomatoes

GRATEFUL: For my life. I just recently had my first post cancer skin screening (which I now get every 3 months after being diagnosed with Melanoma at the end of the summer) and I got the all clear!

BEING: Gentle

LOVING: My new blog banner design by: Bobcat Minx Designs and my autumn flower bouquet with eucalyptus, pine, and rosemary.

WISHING: That the violence against people would end.

EMBRACING: My wandering wild spirit

INSPIRED BY: Keira who was inspired by Sydney who was inspired by Pip

Happy Friday! Wishing everyone a luminous weekend.

Where i’ve Been…Cancer and beyond


Hello dear reader- it has been a good while since I have posted, and boy has life not been dull.  July went out with a mother Fu*kin bang, when on July 31st, with the full moon in Aquarius, I found out that a mole I had biopsied came back as- Melanoma.  NOT what I was expecting since both my doctor, and the subsequent dermatologist he referred me too at my insistence said that they weren’t worried at all, and, not to worry because it, “definitely wasn’t melanoma.” Well, it was melanoma, and HOLY SHIT cue everything I thought i knew about my life start to unravel as my brain filled in the blanks with the worst case scenarios of what I thought might happen.

But here is what actually happened:

I got to feel even more how life does not happen according to our expectations – it unfolds and reveals itself in all of it’s majestic, loving, sometimes terrifying, uncertain, and heart breaking glory– one moment at at time.

I learned how important it is to trust my body and what my intuition is telling me.  My cancerous mole was on my radar for at least 6 months before I finally saw a doctor. Don’t wait that long if your intuition is screaming at you to get something checked out!

I walked through it, one scary, moment at a time

I got really vulnerable and asked for help. A lot of it. I got really clear that I couldn’t go through this alone – and I wasn’t, and I am not.  I allowed a dear friend to visit and take care of me and take me to my surgery and all of the follow up screenings you go through to insure the cancer hasn’t spread.  I slept on my friends couch when I did not want to be alone and the fear was threatening to overcome me.

I became a fierce advocate for myself.  Calling (hounding) doctors and receptionists to get the information I needed.  I experienced divine grace and caring from all the doctors and receptionist angels at my dermatologists office.  I showed up for myself in ways previously unimagined.

I got stronger.  The more I cried- the stronger I felt.

I shared about it openly and people shared back with me about how they, or someone they knew, had survived and was thriving after having been diagnosed years ago.

My priorities completely shifted around what is important in my life. Love of self. Love of others. P.e.o.r.i.o.d.

I stopped being my own worst enemy.  I finally was able to connect to my basic goodness that is the truth of my soul beyond anything external that is happening or not happening.

What seemed horrific and impossible became a spiritual experience which I define as living in the present. A state that is hard for me to maintain, but i learned, totally possible.

I realized Life is too short to not eat chocolate once in a while.

I also realized I’ll be rocking a sun hat for years to come.

I had the surgery to remove the melanoma and got the best results possible, that, all the margins came back clear and the surgeon got all the cancer out!  I have no idea what the future holds.  I am still processing the last month and all I have learned. I now have follow up full body scans at my dermatologists office every three months for two years to stay on top of things.  I am so very very grateful for my family and friends.  You’ll be hearing more from me as I continue to walk the road of this healing journey I am on.  As a healer once told me, and I am telling you, “The flowers are yours to be picked.”  Don’t wait!


Love,

Jessica