#metoo is the catalyst

The hashtag #metoo has gone viral this week, with women posting their experiences with unwanted sexual advances and sexual assault publicly on Facebook in hopes that men will begin to see the magnitude of the problem. We’ve been told our whole lives that 1 in 4 women are sexually assaulted or raped, which is too high of a number regardless, but doesn’t even begin to explain the myriad of things that we experience as women on a day to day basis.

In light of this I feel inspired to tell a story that changed my life. That changed absolutely everything I believed about myself, my autonomy and my body. A story that has been told many times, that resonated with every woman I know and one that ended and started my life again.

I was drugged and raped at my own house when I was 17. My parents were out of town and I had friends over which led to other people being invited that I didn’t know very well. Same old story. I remember having 2 drinks and then completely blacking out. I remember him on top of me and being completely aware of it all and not being able to move. I remember wanting to fight with everything in me but being absolutely helpless. The next day I cried to my friends and they told me I was raped. I was too scared to call a spade a spade. A girlfriend of mine brought me into Planned Parenthood for a rape kit and called my parents because I was too ashamed to do it on my own. I called a guy I was dating at the time and he immediately told me it was my fault because I was drinking. I felt all of the shame immediately and tried to hide the evidence and clean myself up for fear of being judged or labeled.

Although 1 in 4 women are raped in their lifetime only 1 in 10 actually report it. I reported it. It went no where. Another “victim” lost in the system. My word against his, no evidence because I showered, did the dishes, and deleted his text messages that said, “you’re not going to tell people I like, raped you, are you?” In full on survival mode, I did what I needed to do to try to feel normal again. I remember walking into school on the first day of senior year and his locker was next to mine. I requested a change. Entering the cafeteria one day he held the door open for me from across the parking lot, staring me down, making my skin crawl and bringing back all of the same feelings and emotions. I went to counseling because my parents thought I needed it and sat there with my arms crossed, refusing to talk about it, insisting I was fine for 6 months.

It carried into University where I went from straight A’s and dance captain, studious, barely drinking- to partying to forget, denying myself the right to feel any emotions, blaming myself for what happened because maybe I shouldn’t have had that party, had that drink, trusted those people. I was a bad kid, that’s what I thought. It ruined my relationships because I didn’t enjoy sex and felt shame during sexual intimacy. My high school boyfriend held me down the first time while I cried and refused to stop. He kept covering my mouth and telling me to “relax”. These stories are normal! My experience isn’t unique! I can’t tell you how many times I’ve listened to women I know and love share their experiences and heard everyone in the room say, “me too”. Me too. You too. Her too.

By 19 I was struggling with a drug addiction and a partying lifestyle. I was completely out of control. Because in the back of my head, not dealing with the root of the problem became the way I was dealing. I refused to talk about it or even admit the experience to anyone except the police, who were no help. I began to hate myself. I felt disgust with my body. I hated and didn’t trust men. I spiraled and forgetting became my solution. I found myself in rehab after my freshman year of college. It was the first time that I saw the strength, beauty and healing power of talking about things. I got to share my story and listen to others and it changed me. I was told that I needed to try to control my drinking, because it was obvious to my counselors that I didn’t try to control it because I wanted to be out of control. They told me to spend 6 months in counseling afterwards, sober. I thought at the time that after 6 months I’d be excited to get back to partying, but surprisingly 6 months came, then 9, then 1 year and finally after 2 years on my 21st birthday I had my first drink again.

Being sober changed my life and saved me. I changed my major to Women’s Studies because I remember the women that held my hand while I had the rape kit done. They told me that they could stand outside or stand next to me but either way they weren’t leaving. I yelled at one of them and said, “you don’t understand” and I remember the way that she looked at me and said that she did. After that I realized I now had a power to share my story and be there for someone else that experienced what I did, knowing that I understood. I worked for a sexual assault clinic, I volunteered on campus for a non profit called WATCH. We took notes during sexual assault and domestic violence cases, at the court house, documenting and making public whether or not the victim was re-victimized during the trial. Did they ask her what she was wearing, how much she had to drink, how many previous sexual partners she’d had- like any of those things matter in that moment.

Finding my voice allowed me to help others. Sharing my story and allowing myself to talk openly about it became the catalyst for the rest of my life. It changed my lifestyle, my mentality and my college major. It made me strong. But first, it made me hard. I tried to fight it, I tried to blame myself, I tried to be quiet. But in the end, all of those things only hurt me. #metoo is the catalyst for awareness surrounding sexual assault. I hope that it softens men when they understand that it’s their mothers, daughters, sisters. I’m not saying this is isolated only to women because I’ve seen many posts from men in my life that have been assaulted by women. This is the catalyst, this is the conversation we need to start having so that we can start raising men right and stop saying things like, “boys will be boys”. Your gender is no longer an excuse for your behavior.

The world needs more men with gentleness on their lips, flowers in their hair. Not balled up fists and denial of their emotions. I don’t blame the men that have hurt me because I know this is a bigger conversation about the way that society teaches men to be men. Although they’re taught to protect us, they aren’t taught softness. Although I’m incredibly happy to hear women so openly sharing their stories I want to know what’s next? The dialogue is our catalyst but what now? How do we make the world a safer place for women AND men? How do we learn to balance our masculine and feminine within ourselves and the wider world?

I want to see solutions and action. Raise your boys to play with dolls and teach your daughter’s to stand up for themselves. If you son is bossy you say he’ll be a leader, if your daughter is bossy you tell her to be quiet. Women are sick of being catcalled EVERY DAY. We’re sick of our bodies being policed without our input, your laws all over our bodies, men determining the future of birth control and abortion without the opinions of women. Where does this end? When can we start telling these stories and be taken seriously by our bosses, our partners, and especially other women?

It’s 2017 and it’s time to wake up! So ladies, keep sharing these stories! And men, start listening to your women with more softness, more love. Maybe you don’t understand, you probably don’t, but all we need is to be listened to, believed. It starts here.

#metoo

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So, what does it take to be a skydiver?

I recently completed my A license for skydiving with the USPA (United States Parachute Organization). I’ve had a lot of people ask me questions about what it takes to be a skydiver and what it means to have an A license. Skydiving isn’t something you encounter often. Unless you happen to have a local dropzone (DZ) or know some skydivers, it can seem pretty mystifying. But having sought it out on my own, I thought I’d give you some information about the course and what it takes. Having my A license now allows me to pack my own main parachute, do basic skydiving formations with others, and means I have a minimum of 25 skydives (I have 44 now). My B license is coming up real quick at 50 jumps but involves canopy control skills and in water skills. With a C license and 200 jumps you can start working towards your Instructor Rating, which upon completion would put you at a D license.

I started my skydiving journey at Skydive Mex in Playa del Carmen in April of 2016. They had recently moved their location from the Pacific side in Puerta Vallarta a few months before so I jumped on my chance once the season slowed down to start my AFF course (Accelerated Free Fall). AFF starts you off with a tandem and then gets more difficult as you go through all 8 levels (8 jumps). Once you complete the tandem jump with your AFF instructor, you progress to your own rig on jump 2 and have 2 instructors holding onto you as you exit the plane. After you pass your first 4 levels you progress down to only 1 instructor who eventually, towards the end, isn’t even holding onto you at all but flying next to you in the air. If you complete all these levels without failing (most people fail at least 1), then you are graduated from AFF and on student status, jumping by yourself and slowly ticking off other skills in the process that involve coach jumps, parachute packing, and exams. Once you get all this signed off and get to 25 skydives, BOOM you have an A license!

If you really must know, I failed level 4 by failing to locate and pull my own canopy… the first rule of skydiving and the most important rule is “always pull” so you can imagine how I felt after my instructor had to fly in when I couldn’t seem to make contact with my hand and the small golf ball I needed to pull out of the back of my rig. He pulled for me, which means I failed. He felt terrible and I remember being like, “um… honestly, I think it’s pretty important I have the confidence to do that myself, so let’s do it again!” Yea, you loose about 200+ dollars on that jump but it’s a small price to pay for your own piece of mind. After that I did have a small panic attack about locating the hackey… but I’ve gotten over that now and can reach it with ease every time.

I got through my AFF last year with Skydive Mex here in PDC but after that they lost coaches, didn’t have a plane, and had some other complications which kept me out of the air for some time. Since I was still in student status, it is necessary you jump at least once every 30 days to stay current. I went out of currency multiple times which costs you more money in the end because the DZ will ask you to do a coach jump to check your skills before they’ll let you jump solo again. Understandably so, but a huge bummer none the less. Last spring I was in Florida and found out about a DZ called Skydive Sebastian in Sebastian, so I drove there and did 2 jumps in 1 day. One of which I landed on a golf course near by due to winds that changed while we were in the air. I was safe, and no, I didn’t yell “four”! After that I went out of currency again before I jumped with Skydive San Diego and surprised my AFF Instructor, Tom, who works there. He signed me off for a coach jump and that day I learned how important it is to keep your head on a swivel around other jumpers who sometimes do unpredictable things, like fuck up the whole landing pattern and almost collide with your canopy. Another valuable lesson.

After 11 months out of the air I flew back to Skydive Sebastian last month for almost 3 weeks to complete my license. Their DZ is huge, there are hammocks, tiki bars, the local Zoo Bar next door, camping behind, an amazing family of skydivers and a great view of the Indian River inlet and the ocean while you fly. I wanted the support and encouragement from a skydiving family like that and found it with them. From the women in manifest, to the instructors with 15,000-23,000 jumps, to the packers and everyone in between, the whole community absolutely blew me away. I learned so much from these people and was at the DZ every day I could be. I cried, I laughed, I made mistakes and I had triumphs. I learned to fly smaller canopies and I learned that I could trust myself and trust my knees to run out the canopy upon landing if need be. My landings had always been my most anxious part of the whole skydive because I’ve gone through 2 knee surgeries and still have a lack of confidence in my knees and landings. I was a notorious butt sitter upon landing… I got over this while I was there.

Skydive Sebastian was the ultimate “sky fam”. I’ve been fortunate to jump at 3 DZ’s during my student status and found a community and a quality of instructors that was definitely unique. I cannot wait to continue the search and keep finding more places like this with killer people. The first weekend I was there was a “boogie” which is a festival for skydivers. It was called Splash Bash and came with slip and slides, water slides, inflatable pools, a crawfish broil, a helicopter and an accuracy competition. I stayed out of the sky mostly, that weekend, due to the high volume of jumpers and a need to play it safe, but I still had the opportunity to sit at Zoo Bar, make friends, watch the landings, and participate in general. Thank you Skydive Seb, I miss you all and I’ll be back!

So how did I know I wanted to be a skydiver? I did my first tandem skydive at Skydive Hawaii in 2014 with my father and brother who had both done them before. Upon landing I started crying uncontrollably because I was literally the happiest I’d ever been. I remember having this rush of adrenaline the whole day. At that moment, I knew I’d do it again, and I knew I was going to do it solo. It was the coolest thing, hands down. When I got back to Thailand the only DZ was in the north and I never managed to make it out. I camped across from Burning Sky, the skydiving camp at Burning Man, the last 3 years and got to talk with a lot of the jumpers deciding that at some point in my career, I’d jump out of a plane at BM. When I arrived in PDC the only skydiving company didn’t teach courses, but only tandems. So when Skydive Mex opened, I went in and signed up for my course.

Skydiving has become my favorite thing. There’s something about being up there and solving your problems in the sky. I feel like I really can “leave it all up there” and land with a clearer focus and purpose in life. I know that sounds extreme, but it’s true. People always ask, “why would you want to jump out of a perfectly good airplane?” to which I reply, “there’s no such thing as a perfectly good airplane”. Or, “why would you want to fall towards the Earth that fast?” and I say, “you’re not falling, you’re flying”. We all have different things that make us feel alive, and skydiving and scuba diving and cave diving are my things. When I’m falling, nothing else matters, when I’m under water, it doesn’t matter what’s happening on the surface. It’s a way to escape the pain and the confusion of this world and remember what it feels like to truly live in the moment. These sports have taught me to trust myself. I know that I can think clearly and logically in highly stressful situations and I’m capable of problem solving my way out. Anyone that has chosen these things as passions knows what I’m talking about. For those of you that don’t, go out and find something that makes you feel this way! Please! I’m not saying it has to be extreme, but it should make you forget about life for a while.

Lastly, if you’re thinking about doing your course I have some tips for you:

1.) Make sure you have the time! Literally, you will spend more time waiting on the ground and waiting for the weather then you will jumping. For sure. So make sure you have a few weeks off to get through your license and fully commit. If you spread it out like I did, you cost yourself significantly more money. This course isn’t cheap.

2.) Find a DZ with people that make you feel comfortable and are supportive and involved throughout your whole course. A lot of DZ’s will get you through AFF and then put you on the back-burner because fun jumpers don’t make DZ’s a lot of money. Find a DZ that will see you through your A license and encourage you the whole way. Find a sky fam that makes you feel comfortable and whom you don’t feel intimidated asking questions to, even stupid ones.

3.) Cheapest doesn’t mean best. If you’re looking for cheap, you’re in the wrong sport. I’ll tell you that now. I say the same things to people asking me about “cheap” and
“good” scuba courses- they don’t exist. Typically the two aren’t mutually exclusive. You get what you pay for! This is a sport that involves high tech, expensive equipment, and airplanes, there is no such thing as cheap. Get that out of your head and pay for your own safety.

4.) Skydiving takes money. The first 8 jumps or your AFF course typically costs around 2,000 USD, then you’ll be paying about 50 USD a jump after that until you get your A license. If you plan on buying gear it’ll run you 2,500-10,000 so it definitely isn’t cheap. That’s why we always joke that skydivers have no money! You’ll want to make sure you dedicate time to the sport to stay current and safe. It is a lifestyle and a gear intensive sport. The upside is that most rigs are easy to sell if in good shape so if you have gear and skydiving won’t be a part of your life for awhile, you can always sell then buy again when you’re ready. Once you have your own gear, you pay 20-30 USD per jump.

Check out my gallery of photos and stay tuned for my first group skydive and our attempt at a train, which more closely resembled a rollercoaster!! Keep up to date on my Instagram (theramblingmermaid) for more adventures! If you’re a skydiver and have any DZ’s that hold your heart, please comment below! Also, any other skydiving stories you’d like to share, I’m always down to discuss skydiving! Thank ya’ll for reading! Blue skies!

 

To my mother-

My mom taught me what

patience looks like.

That fight or flight isn’t

always an option and

that standing your ground

even quietly

is still honoring yourself.

She always made sure I

valued everything I had

and appreciated still moments

and the company of myself.

She showed me that being

pretty and privileged

deserved my own sense of

modesty but with an assertiveness

and presence that demanded I

knew how to flatter and withdraw

from compliments and advances

simultaneously.

She taught me to be direct

and clear about what I want

otherwise people would only

choose for me.

“Don’t put your elbows on the table”

“Chin up”

“A daisy and I thought of you…”

“The world doesn’t owe you anything.”

When I went through my first

serious “life changing moment”

at 17,

she taught me

not to be a victim.

She showed me vulnerability

wasn’t weakness but in fact,

quite the opposite.

When I would call in tears

asking how to move forward

she’d say, “just do it baby!”

As an adult, I think the

most important lessons

she’s taught me

are about love.

My parents love has never

has never been perfect,

as none is, with a series

of almost crumbling moments.

But she showed me that love

is meant to be fought for,

that falling in love

is the easy part

and that sometimes “fighting”

means giving up,

so that you can take care

of yourself first.

I know how lonely we

all feel sometimes, but I learned

that when lonely,

I was only searching for myself.

I learned that home wasn’t always

a house with 4 walls,

but sometimes,

it’s a person.

My mom has always

been “home”

to my father,

my brother,

and I.

She has kept the balance

in the family

when there was chaos.

She has chose positivity

instead of negativity

while the rest of us

wavered.

And she has snapped

with kindness

and a fire in her eyes

like that of an alpha female

when her pack and cubs

were negligent

with their emotions

love

time

or peace.

I only know the strength and

ferocity and love of a mother

by watching my own.

And although I do not have

the motherly instinct

or desire for motherhood

I am a better damn woman

by learning how to harness

all that is feminine about me

with class but

also with a rage that says,

“don’t fuck with me because

I come from a long line of

women that didn’t shut up

or stand down

or be quiet.”

And I am not here to be ignored,

I am here to be understood.

I thank my mother for that.

7 Things That Happened When I Ditched My Phone for a Week

If you know me at all you’ll know that my track record with cell phones would probably be comparable to a 2 year old constantly losing one shoe. To put it NOT lightly, I suck at holding on to them. But in the last year I’ve “got my shit together” as you’d say and managed to keep the same cell for almost exactly a year. That morning as I’m heading to see the whale sharks with my boyfriend, I’m chatting away about how I was almost at the 1 year mark and so proud of myself. Flash forward to that afternoon when I put it on the back of a toilet seat and then proceeded to walk out the door. Oops! Something I did in Vietnam 4 years before, a mistake I’d already made, and we’re sitting in the van heading back to Playa del Carmen and I realized I didn’t have it on me. I instantly dropped my head and knew exactly where I’d left it- on the back of the damn toilet seat! Women, if you’re reading this, we aren’t dudes, we face the toilet seat once, turn around and pee and then walk out, so stop making this a habit! I know from experience.

Thank buddha I do have insurance on my phone and happened to be heading to the states a week later, so instead of stressing about it I ordered it to be sent to Florida so I could pick it up from the Air BNB I’ve been staying at while skydiving here. It’s pretty obvious that I’m a huge social media buff, although I resisted smart phones for years I finally got one 3 years ago after everyone told me “it’ll change your life”… which it definitely has and although some changes as a traveler are extremely positive and make my life way easier, others are mostly negative and it’s so easy to become addicted to our phones. I’ve tried to find a balance with my smart phone use but I still find myself pulling it out while talking to people or scrolling pointlessly when there’s nothing to be looking at. Habits I’m aware of now and am working on breaking. I read a quote that said, “hang out with people that make you not want to look at your phone” and I’ve realized that my friends and my partner deserve my undivided attention when I’m with them.

I could have gotten a cheap throwaway for the week but I decided to go without and it was honestly such a refreshing reset. There were way more ups than downs and I noticed a few things in particular.

  1. I smiled at people more. Way more. When I wasn’t constantly checking my phone or pulling it out to avoid contact with people I found myself smiling at strangers and actually provoked interesting conversation with people. On the bus, at work, on my flight, everywhere. And you know what happened, people smiled back and it made me happier and more in touch the rest of my day.
  2. I had to become a planner. Gone were the days where I could change or adjust my plans last minute. Without a phone, I didn’t have that option. My mom used to always say how nice it was that people made plans and showed up instead of cancelling, and there’s something to be said about that. It forced me into make commitments and sticking to it, and now I realize how important that is. Not that I didn’t before but because everyone else always got away with it, I became a slacker myself. It made me realize I didn’t want to do that anymore.
  3. I read all the time. I’ve always been a reader, I go nowhere without my kindle and in most situations would rate it over my phone in terms of necessity. But instead of mindlessly scrolling on Facebook, I’d whip the kindle out instead and get 5 minutes of reading done while I waited. Hell, sometimes I’d just sit there and watch the world around me instead.
  4. I felt happier. No shit, seriously! I’m sure it was a combination effect of the above but I honestly felt more grounded and connected to myself, others and the world around me and I can only assume it came from being more present. Because I was less connected to social media I wasn’t absorbing everyone else’s energies all day. This allowed me to fully sit in my body and be aware of how I was feeling.
  5. I was less anxious. Maybe that’s because I didn’t feel the need to check my phone or think I’d missed something. And if someone tried to get ahold of me and I did miss it I had an excuse because I literally couldn’t have answered if I’d wanted. Something about that felt really freeing. I was only obligated to the people I was around and if I needed to sit down in front of the computer for a few hours to get some work done, I actually got work done instead of brainlessly using social media.
  6. I used my computer time wisely. Because I wasn’t constantly connected I had to schedule time in to respond to emails and maintain my own social media accounts. But because I was only checking in and logging off, I was able to keep the rest of my day separate. I made phone calls on Skype (which felt like going back in time) and paid my bills over Skype phone calls as well. It was actually good to schedule that time in instead of being reminded all day of emails and other various things I needed to respond to. I checked it all at once, and was done with it just as quickly.
  7. I didn’t miss it. I really thought it was going to have the opposite effect on me but I was relieved to find myself settling into it with ease and finding that it didn’t stress me out at all. Quite the opposite! Even when I did get my phone back I was hanging at the dropzone and spending all my time jumping and meeting new friends and it took me almost 2 days to get it configured anyways. I was bummed I slacked on photos but I actually don’t regret being fully present at all.

Conclusions? If you do have the opportunity to put your cell phone away, whether it’s on holiday for a few days or a weekend, you name it… take advantage of the opportunity! If you want to use your phone for photos, fine, just turn your data settings off so you won’t be tempted to use it for anything else. Trust me, no one will die if you aren’t Snapchat-ing the awesome weekend you’re having or sending out Instagram posts INSTANTLY, just hashtag #latergram and call it good! Or don’t hashtag at all, who fucking cares 😉

Because of that experience I still find myself rarely checking my phone and if I’m brainlessly scrolling I realize it pretty quickly. It changed the way I view social media and this “instant response” culture we live in. Now, I realize that I don’t need to stop what I’m doing to respond to a message when I can respond later. We need to stop harping people for not responding in “due time” and instead allow everyone else to live their lives presently and call or return our messages when they want.

I’d encourage everyone to be a bit more mindful when it comes to their phone. Try leaving it at home sometimes while you run errands, try charging it at night outside your room or out of reach and set an alarm the old school way. If you’re hanging with friends don’t reach for it unless it’s to take a photo, but then put it away. There are things we can all do differently and I can promise you it’ll make you feel better. This all coming from a girl that is definitely a social media addict! If I can have the awareness and start making small changes and it’s affecting me in such a huge way, I promise it’ll do you some good as well. Try some of these things and let me know what you’ve noticed! I’d like to hear your comments so please post below and let’s chat about it!

 

What I wish I could’ve told my 15 year old self.

Approaching 30 brings with it a different set of challenges than my early 20’s and has me reflecting on the things that I’ve learned throughout the course of my short life. I find it extremely important to check in with myself and make sure that my values and plans are lining up with my goals and dreams for the future. This is a habit I’ve developed as I’ve gotten older and one that has become even more important and real in the last year. In an attempt to live an authentic life, I’ve now approached the age that I can look back on patterns and behaviors in my past and start to see how they’ve shaped who I am today.

Being a teenager is a very awkward time of identity crisis, where we get to make mistakes and establish our own sense of self. I remember the naive way I looked at the world and how I thought I already had it all figured out. So naturally, it seems like a good idea to start at the age of 15. Looking back, I wish there were a few things I could tell 15 year old Lauryn, or any 15 year old now.

Change is good. It’s really the only constant in life. You’re going to have to get used to it and learn to see it as an opportunity. I remember tying my identity up with my friends in high school, or my friends in college, or the people I associated with, and when those people disappeared from my life, I felt like I wasn’t sure who I was anymore. Your sense of self does not crumble when people choose to walk out of your life. Not everyone is meant to stay forever, and it can be hard to learn to say goodbye with grace. The quicker you learn, the stronger you’ll be.

Learn to stand up for yourself. This takes awhile to do because in order to stand up for ourselves we need to have a moderately secure sense of self to begin with. People are constantly going to try to take advantage of you. I know being naive is easy (trust me) but you need to realize that the world is big and there are lots of different kind of people in it. Unfortunately for you, not all of these people will have your best interests at heart. Learn the power of no and use it whenever you want. You do not owe anyone anything, don’t belittle yourself and allow people to take advantage of you. Learn to confront situations and people with honesty and to do that, you must first learn to be honest with yourself.

Your parents will eventually become your friends. At least I hope this will be true. I know it doesn’t seem like it now but they truly do have your best interests at heart, and they will shape your future. Respect them, learn from them, ask questions, and don’t hesitate. If you want your parents to respect you, you must first respect them.

Who you fall in love with for the first time will determine how you view love and relationships in the future. It can be a blessing or a curse depending on who you allow into your heart. Your body and heart do not deserve to be toyed with. When you first start dating, you will be dating a boy or girl who is more than likely unaware of his/her self and may not treat you the way you should be treated. Do not ever allow yourself to stay in a relationship that makes you feel unsafe, threatened, or that you owe them in any way. There is about a 95% chance this person will not make it into your future. Who you choose to fall in love with will determine your boundaries and how you feel about love and intimacy. Choose wisely.

Do things that you’re passionate about. Don’t worry about what other’s think about you or the hobby of your choice, do it anyways. Life is short and if you don’t explore life when you’re younger and learn to truly value what you do and how you spend your time, you’ll spend your whole life doing what other people think is best for you. Explore all possibilities unapologetically and don’t take yourself to seriously. You will fail, you will make mistakes, that’s not the important part… the important part is how you recover when you make a mistake. Let life and experience be your greatest teacher. And jump over and over again because trust me, some of the greatest lessons are learned when we fall.

Don’t plan your life too much! Half the fun is the journey, not the destination. If you plan everything meticulously you’ll only disappoint yourself when these things don’t happen. Take everything as an opportunity for growth and know that if something doesn’t work out, there’s another option that may be better suited to you. Stay open to all possibilities and listen with your heart. I always joke about being on a “no plan plan”. Don’t get me wrong, I have long and short term goals that I’m constantly working towards, but that doesn’t mean that if something doesn’t work out, I need to blame myself. Just enjoy the ride.

Trust your intuition. It’s been there since you were born and is the very reason you have a soul. It’s hard in today’s world to be in touch with our own needs and wants when the rest of the world is trying so hard to keep us distracted. Take time to slow down and build a practice of meditation. But truly, whatever you do, learn to listen to your own inner voice. If you stop listening to it, it’ll get quieter and quieter. Although it is always there to be tapped into, you just need to start doing the work. Intuition will be your greatest guide in life and will teach you that not all obstacles can be solved with the mind, some are simply not a good fit because we just know they aren’t. Trust yourself and trust that voice.

The Caribbean’s Hidden Gem

Imagine waking up on a tiny island where there are no cars or scooters at all, only foot paths with the occasional bicycle. Delivery produce only arrives from the larger island once a week and sends the small ferry dock into a frenzy with people from all over the island setting up stands and selling the week’s supply of food. Larger items need to be transported by push cart through the jungle pathways weaving a half an hour to the opposite end, sometimes taking as many as 6 men to complete the job. Electricity shuts off daily from 6 AM to 1 PM to allow the sun to recharge the generators for the day. When the fans stop humming in the morning it pushes everyone outside to begin their day. I don’t think there is any air conditioning on the island so the fan is what allows you to sleep. The first thing you smell every morning is fresh baked coconut bread flavored with ginger or cheddar and the locals speak a mixture of Spanish, English and Creole. Sometimes you’re unsure which one is more prevalent. The people are friendly and the pace of life is slow, untouched from the rush of the rest of the world.

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Don’t go to Holbox Island in Mexico

Holbox is a small island without cars or roads located in the Yucatan peninsula of Mexico. It is still fairly untraveled in comparison to places like Isla Mujeres or Cozumel, but it’s surprisingly easy to get to. From Cancun you can take a bus an hour north to the town of Chiquila then a quick 15 minute ferry ride to Holbox. All of the hotels and bungalows are within walking distance unless you have a heavy backpack or a rolling suitcase, otherwise you can take a taxi ride via golf cart which is the only form of transportation other than bicycles on the island.

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What the F is going on with everyone?

A good friend of mine always used to begin a story by setting a preface. Like, somehow he had to set it up for 5 minutes before he even began to tell you what was on his mind. I asked him once why he had to preface everything he said and he looked at me like it was obvious and said, “because I want to be understood”.

Wanting to be understood is in the most innate parts of us. We are able to identify ourselves and explain our viewpoints. Being understood validates our worldview and challenges our perspective but in between every debate is the essence of wanting to be understood. Wanting to be heard.

But some times we won’t be understood. And no matter how we fight, no matter how we try to explain, sometimes it’s not a matter of being understood but being correct, getting our point across. Sometimes we just want to be right. Don’t we?

But life isn’t about being right, life is about having the right to every opinion and every action we make. It’s about seeing the beauty in differing viewpoints and appreciating the differences instead of arguing over the right and the wrong. The good and the bad. The ethical and the unethical. Our moral high ground. Our book of law.

Who are we to tell someone from another country, with a different language, a different culture that our opinion is right? Who are we to tell our neighbor that they are wrong? So, maybe we need to listen more. Dialogue doesn’t always mean equal voices. Sometimes we learn more in silence then we do in conversation.

What I’ve been feeling the last few months has been a whirlwind of energy, rash decisions, spontaneous movements, and a need for a reaction. It’s subtle but manipulative energies and we’re hurting the people closest to us. We’re all turning ourselves into storms and taking out everything in our wake. I’ve talked to a lot of friends and I’m seeing it everywhere. I’m seeing a disconnect between who people are and their actions. I’m seeing it in myself and I’ve felt a very strong pull to disconnect socially and go within.

I’ve never been an anxious person but I’ve been having these crippling moments of anxiety when I have nothing to be anxious about. Intense moments of fear that last a maximum of 10 seconds and then disappear. Moments where my heart feels like it’ll beat out of my chest. I talked to my psychotherapist and he told me that many people are having the same experience, crippling anxiety out of no where in a person that’s never had it before. He said that the energy of the universe is extremely chaotic right now, and that a lot of people don’t even have time to feel their own energies. So, those of us that do are processing these anxieties for the rest.

Being an empath it’s completely natural to absorb the energies of those around us. We are strong enough to feel them because others aren’t but sometimes we get so caught up in other energies we can’t differentiate between our own. When this happens you’ll feel completely disconnected from yourself. But I’ve had to remind myself that it’s not me, and that I’m allowed to feel these emotions but I don’t have to identify with them. I don’t have to take them on as mine.

Whenever someone I love carries out a drama in their lives and looks for a reaction I don’t have to give it to them. Because I’m realizing that the things people say to me and the choices they make have nothing to do with me. It’s their drama, it’s their problem, it’s not mine. I can choose to not react to it, and not let it affect me. It doesn’t mean I don’t care, it just means that I’m not going to join them in the agony. Right now that’ll make your friends feel like you’re pulling away but keep reminding them you aren’t, but that you come first.

Sometimes we aren’t going to agree. And that’s OK. And sometimes there isn’t anything we can do for one another. That’s okay too. Stop taking other people’s actions so god damn personally. Especially right now. People aren’t themselves, you aren’t yourself, I’m not myself. Live in that moment but know that nothing will be fixed tomorrow, and more than ever before we’re more disconnected and out of touch. That’s what happens when the world starts waking up. I know it’s scary for those of us that are already aware, but be gentle with those that aren’t because they are acting out. Love them anyways. Change is uncomfortable. Waking up isn’t easy because it challenges every paradigm we have.

The friend that calls you and wants to put blame on you for something, the partner that is telling you that you’re wrong about something, the parent that hasn’t been listening… now isn’t the time to shut them out, now is the time to love them more.

We all are trying to be understood. But we’re all unable to find the worlds right now. Love harder. Stand taller. Take care of yourself so you don’t catch and embody the negativity of others. We’re all hypersensitive beings right now and instead of ego we need humility. Find that place in yourself where you can be true to you. Currently we feel like we’re all ships passing in the night, but I assure you we’re all just looking for someone to take the time to listen.

So shut up.

I’ll say it again,

SHUT UP.

.

.

.

And listen.

To yourself.

To your partner.

To your friends.

.

.

.

Love eachother anyways because we all deserve to be loved just as much when we’re tranquil lagoons as we do when we’re hurricanes. I refuse to only love the good parts of someone if they don’t trust me enough to show me the bad. Do the same for others.

 

 

An Open Letter about the Million Women’s March

As of January 20th, Donald Trump is officially the 45th president of the United States. I logged on to Facebook for a brief second in the morning, almost forgetting and then logged out instantly. I also watched only the highlights of the Inauguration ball, speeches, and Whitehouse greetings without letting it affect my day too negatively. Sometimes I have to remind myself that I’m safely on the other side of this “wall” that is supposed to be built, but I know that my sisters, friends, mother and other important women are back home now, living in Trump’s new world.

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I didn’t think I’d be this girl

I didn’t always think I’d be this girl.

I had this idea of constant evolution

which we are, aren’t we?

Constantly evolving?

I thought I’d eventually evolve into

the person I was meant to be,

leaving behind all the pain.

Thinking the unfinished business

would turn itself into eventual awareness.

Not realizing that I had to do the work.

Not realizing that happiness has to be maintained.

It isn’t a state of arrival where

you coast once you’re there.

There is no finish line.

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