Beyond Boundaries: A Seeker's Journey
I’ve spent most my life in Texas, but I'm a Wanderer in Spirit. I’ve shared a meal with a stranger, had coffee and tea prepared for me over an open flame, read books, and written poetry in some of the most beautiful places on earth: Mexico, Netherlands, Germany, Egypt, Vietnam, Uzbekistan, and Puerto Rico. Travel, culture, storytelling, world civilizations, art, language, relational modes of being, myth-making, and creation have engrossed me since I was young. During my college days, along with world literature and medieval studies, they become areas that I studied and integrated into my writing. My consciousness has been shaped by the opportunity and privilege I’ve had to travel along with the years I spent working in intercultural communication with adult learners from around the world. I began my career in the field of academia where I studied and taught writing, poetry, and developmental English. More recently, I've worked as a training and development program manager, instructional designer, and coach and mentor to professionals. I’ve designed learning and development programs on writing, business management, leadership, change management, organizational culture and climate, and emotional intelligence.
In 2018, I experienced a shift. While living in Vietnam, I began, what I now recognize as, a journey back to myself. The time was filled with discovery, challenge, and reflection. Vietnam opened me wide, the people, the lifestyle, the travel, and the time I spent there with my husband. All of this was a catalyst to my own becoming. I still feel the impact of those experiences. Now, I’m fully aware that I lived a very privileged existence in Vietnam, but, regardless, I returned changed. I visited holy places, tourist attractions, villages, and the bamboo forest, even exploring an old cave hideout where weapons were stored during the war, which I heard referred to as the “resistance to America and the “American War”. The stories I heard, the laughter and graciousness of spirit that grew despite or, even, because of history… well, I think even the most stoic would've been moved by the experience.
While there, I started writing again after a six-year dry spell. I sat on my balcony and the symphony of movement below became my story. I wouldn’t say that I had writer’s block prior. I just stopped writing. Now, I know that the “not writing” was only a symptom of not living. What became clear during that time was I felt lost, unanchored, and disconnected. I also felt embarrassed to take up space. There is something terrifying about not being able to recognize yourself, the voice that talks to you in your head. And the more and more you relinquish control of your life to others, the more resentful the voice becomes. Vietnam reconnected me. I think, in part, because I was allowed to be the driver of my life. While there and since, I’ve been compelled and committed to live a more meaningful, intentional, and soulful life. Since, I’ve been defining what that means and figuring out how it manifests itself in the mundane. Committing to this change was one thing, but actually making it happen required exploration, discovery, and deep honesty with myself and those in my life.
Shortly after returning from Vietnam, I entered a period of health crisis – my lungs, skin, gut, teeth, and liver were being attacked by autoimmunity. I set out to find healing, wellness, and a feeling of wholeness. The search became a spiritual one. Since then, I’ve been integrating different healing arts modalities and wellness practices into my life to optimize my health and complement more traditional routes. For me, wholeness is deeply rooted in the acknowledgement of my inner being. I must honor my spirit and live a life filled with purpose and meaning. I believe that this is intricately tied to my wellness and continued remission. The irony is not lost on me that autoimmunity is essentially the body attacking itself. By now it’s common knowledge that pathological anxiety, chronic stress, and childhood trauma can not only damage neurological pathways but can also attack our central nervous systems over time – perfect conditions for autoimmunity to express itself. For me, disconnection from my body, mind, emotions, and a spiritual existence made the path to wellness challenging.
However, it's true what they say about life – that it prepares you for everything that could potentially break you. That was true for me, many spiritual teachers or thought leaders I’d read or met, all paved the path back to me. During this time of crisis, I read, moved, meditated, nourished my body and soul, and opened myself to expansion. When I needed the teacher, they arrived. When I needed the tool, it became available once I opened to the potentiality. Besides learning and integrating mindfulness and wellness principles into my life, I’ve come to the realization that tapping into one’s authentic self takes practice, discipline, and commitment. In my case it literally took a few villages around the world. To bring one’s physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual energies into alignment is an ongoing commitment to intentional living in the present and to honoring the spirit. My inner being whispered this on a rice terrace in Sapa, Vietnam when I was quiet enough to hear it. Since, I’ve set out to honor that voice.
During the height of my illness, connectedness and alignment were my North Star. I explored many wellness modalities to gain equilibrium, to garner some semblance of my life back, not realizing that what I needed was a different life. With autoimmunity, everything is a delicate balance. You can harness it, even negotiate “dipping your toe in from time to time” by staying up too late, skipping a meal, or having a margarita. I liken autoimmunity to holding the harness of a ferocious dog. If I give the line too much slack, I’m a goner. Knowing this, I want to cultivate a life that affords balance and nourishment on all levels. To that end, I’m setting out to simplify, to re-wild, to honor myself and my deep connection to the earth, to do the damn thing, to live the life I’m meant to live.