Bat Flight, Carlsbad Caverns, Photo credit nps.gov

Bat medicine is rebirth, but first…

What NOT to do when fear and pain creep in

My publisher and editor warned me that the week leading up to my book launch could be fraught with extreme emotional reactions. It’s the new reality setting in… the fact that I am being exposed – seen and vulnerable at a whole new level. I understand this intellectually, and I am grateful for the warning. I think to myself, “Okay, thanks! Now I will totally see this coming. I will recognize it for what it is, and I will not give in to it. I will remain connected and committed to the vision. I will not freak out.”

Bwaaahahahhaaaa!

A year of uncertainty caught up to me in a Red Roof Inn on a Monday night.

When I say “a year of uncertainty”, I am referring to what my friend Kelli calls the Void – the place where one door has closed and another has yet to open. It is a dark and difficult place to find your footing. You are never quite sure which way is up and which way is down and which way will lead you forward or even if forward is a place that exists anymore, and if so is it the right way to go? In this vast wilderness, the only thing I had to hold onto is my resolve in the following: I am a child of faith, I am divinely led, and I will have all the resources I need. I have been navigating this wilderness void for the last year, roaming from place to place, searching for something that meant more than my wandering did. People have asked me when I am going to settle down. “I don’t know,” I say, “But I’ll know when I know.”

Blank white book w/path

I believe I have found that something I have been searching for. The door is opening before me, and I can finally see a little light from the other side streaming in. I am returning to a place of passion and purpose. I am returning to a place that feels like home. My book launches in one week, and with it my new business as a solo women’s adventure coach. But first…

Two miles from my exit, I pass under a sign that reads Bat Cave. It catches my eye, as Bat was also present at my recent Reiki attunement. Bat medicine is rebirth. I am excited at the concept of rebirth. Yes! Thank You! THANK YOU! I am ready to step into my new life. I am ready to dive headlong into whatever is next for me. In my enthusiasm for the beginning my new life, I neglect to figure what rebirth requires – death. One must die before one can be reborn. As I check into the motel and settle myself for the evening, the hypnotic hum of the road is broken, and it takes my breath away.

Bat Flight, Carlsbad Caverns, Photo credit nps.gov

Batman Begins

I am reminded of the story of how the Batman was born. A deep pain drove Wayne into the wilderness. Here he encountered the League of Shadows, finding an outlet for his fury and a discipline that honed it into a new purpose. His final test was to face his deepest fear and to be transformed by it. Only then would he be free. Only then would he be fit for service. Into the pit of his childhood terror he fell, and when he rose again, he was a new man – The Batman.

At a Red Roof Inn on this Monday night, I too fall into the pit of my childhood terror. The menacing face of fear looms large at me, fangs staring at me. He slithers under my skin and consumes me from within. He hisses in my heart… Time has run out. You have nothing left. You are alone. No one can save you…

This is not the first time I have fought fear. I grasp at my gratitude, and it is but a vapor against the stark reality of the claims made by fear. My faith fails me. My spirit fails me. I grasp at my mantras, and they fail me. What is happening to me? I wince against the shadow. I know better than this! Fight, Sonya! FIGHT! But there is no fight left in me. I feel my heart failing, the shallow beating shallow beating shallow, shallow, shallow. I just need to sleep. I am so tired. I am so very tired.

I struggle all night to catch some rest and reprieve from the onslaught. I run my Yoga Nidra meditations over and over. I focus on breathing and calling the light. As day breaks, I find myself utterly broken with it, exhausted and desolate.

Bat Cave-1

Breakdown

The last of my points are spent, and I check out of the motel. I don’t know why this hits me so hard. Things are going exactly as planned. I weep as I load the car. There is no strength left in my legs. I weep as I drive out of the lot. There is no strength left in my arms. I weep as the road stretches out before me, yellow dash, yellow dash, yellow dash. My eyes burn red and blinking and weary. I weep as I enter the forest. Please let there be a place for me. I weep as I pitch my tent and pour myself inside and collapse onto my back. My head swells and aches and throbs, and my body writhes and racks itself in emotional agony. A wellspring of tears from the depths of my soul bursts open bitterly and refuses to be consoled. Tears run forcefully across my cheeks and pool down into my ears and stop up my hearing. My mouth gapes open to cry out in pain, but the cry is silent – a black hole.

I lie there at an utter loss for what feels like an eternity. My body and my mind is wholly paralyzed, numb with fear and pain. I am deaf and dumb and blind, hopelessly frozen. My body sinks deeper and deeper into the earth, engulfed by the black cloak of shadow. I let myself sink. I let myself go. I find rest in this pit of terror, letting go of any effort to free myself. I become perfectly content to just lie there forever, unable to move my fingers or toes, unable to open my eyes or my heart – just perfectly, exquisitely embalmed by the ground.

Called Back from Beyond

Somewhere far, far away, a small sound breaks through. I hear a bird calling, an echo from some distant land. My mind orients toward its song. I hear a creek babbling, a playful, bashful dancing across the dream of a forest floor. The sound of scurrying water fills my ears, and awareness rises within me. I feel a tingling in my body. I feel my eyes behind my eyelids. I feel myself, the witness, rising up into my body.

I flutter my eyelids, and they open. I wiggle my fingers and my toes, and goosebumps spread out across my skin. I swallow and stretch my extremities, groggy and disoriented. I see shades of orange and yellow as my eyes try to focus. I become aware that I wear glasses and would need them to see straight. I curl onto my side and push myself upright into a seated position. I spot my glasses and push them onto my face, my vision sharpening slowly. The orange is my tent. The yellow is the sun.

My phone whistles at me. I reach for it cautiously, still moving like molasses. It’s Mom. Her text says, “New breakthrough. Call me.” I see my water bottle sitting within reach, and I wrap my fingers around it and pull it into my lap. I unscrew the cap and take a sip of water. I swallow and feel the water dance down my throat. I take a bigger sip, and I sigh as the water flows and soothes. Yes, call Mom. Breakthrough. Good.

I rally myself up and out of the tent and into the car. I turn the key over in the ignition and roll the windows down. I drive slowly to the rec area where I will have signal. I take a deep breath and another drink of water, and I call my mom.

Breakthrough

Mom has been listening to Louise Hay, and she is bubbling and gushing about all that has just come alive in her. The word became flesh. The fog in my mind begins to lift as she speaks. Something about how love for our Self is the birthplace of miracles. Something about a love so deep and pure, the kind of love we have always longed for, and how we are supposed to give that love to our Self. “We must become the love we have always dreamed of, Sonya! And we must give that love to our Self,” she says.

I can feel my appetite starting to return, and I pull out some spicy hummus and zucchini as she continues talking. I can feel the color returning to my cheeks as well, as I slice and scoop and chew and swallow and listen to my mother. Her voice is like salve to my soul. I wish I could tell you exactly what she is saying, but all I really hear is LOVE, love for our Self. Something about all those things we wish our mate would do for us, we need to do them for our Self. If we want flowers, then give flowers in love to our Self. If we want to dance, then take our Self dancing in love. Send our Self a card to show our Self how much we love her. We don’t have to look outside ourselves for love. Love, Love, LOVE our Self.

Something clicks in me as I remember what I read in the brand new book by my friend, TheoSophia Rose. “I am the love I have been looking for my whole life,” I said. And I know that it is Truth speaking.

Flowers-1

Breaking Free

How can this be? We are just supposed to love our Self? I know that I know this, that I learned this along my journey, but I feel like I have only scratched the surface. I realize I have a head knowing. What I need is a heart knowing. What would it feel like to love myself so thoroughly and so fiercely that my deepest longings are actually being fulfilled? Why does this feel so preposterous? Can it really be that simple?

When I return to camp, I spot a cluster of tiny purple flowers. I pull a small glass from my car and pour some water in the bottom of it. I wander around camp and down to the creek and collect a few more sprigs – a little more purple and a little pink and a little yellow too. I slip them into the glass and sit them across from my chair. There! I brought you flowers, Sonya. I know how much you love them. I want you to know how much I love you too. I feel myself smile all the way down to my heart.

What else do we want, Sonya? I remember the painting from my cousin Teresa, which has accompanied me throughout my journey. I pull it from the car and prop it up next to the flowers. I sit and admire my new pretty sitting space. It speaks to me, and I love it all. The sun dapples through the trees, beginning its even decent. A soft breeze whispers by. Pale yellow leaves drift through the sky, being loosed and falling from the branches above like giant auburn snowflakes. I close my eyes and take a deep breath. When I open my eyes, they fell anew on the painting of the moon and the Phoenix.

You know you have laid ahold of the right dream when you are willing to let it be the death of you — only to rise again. Book launch in T-minus seven days.

Phoenix-1

On being #WiselyWild

Okay, so here it is: What NOT to do when fear and pain creep in

  • Turn off the reminder that you have a call with your book coach in 15 MINUTES, just as the breakdown begins. This is THE TIME you need her most.
  • Decide that you will NOT reach out to ANYONE, including your pilgrimage coach, because you don’t want to burden anyone or let them see you like this.
  • Turn on a movie for release and inspiration instead, because you can do that alone and it reminds you that the hero always crumbles before the big victory.
  • Text your ex when said movie also reminds you that you might very well have all of your dreams come true, except the one you dreamed with him in it.
  • Expect your ex to be charmed by your exquisite vulnerability and realize he needs to save you after all.
  • Continue to ignore all indications that NOW would be a good time to reach out to the people who love you.

Have a plan for when the darkness falls. If it never does, SWEET! If it does, STICK TO THE PLAN. You have allies for a reason. For peace sakes, let them help you.

If you don’t have a plan and you don’t have allies, just HANG IN THERE. This too shall pass. And when it does, cultivate some new, meaningful relationships. You may be flying solo, but you do not have to do it alone.

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Turning my project back into a #journey

I caught myself in the mirror, and the sight surprised me. I stood there, squared into the reflection, my eyes wandering over and taking in what I saw before me. This is not the old, familiar image anymore. I can hardly believe this is me. I move a curious step closer, take a deliberate breath, and then I slowly let it out again. I see the face of a 44 year-old woman attached to this body, the lines of consternation and time are evident but graceful. I am drawn further in toward the mirror, toward the reflection of this face, tilting my head and regarding her more closely still. Deepening laugh lines play at the corners of my eyes. I smile and make them come alive again.

“You are doing this, Sonya,” I say out loud to the person behind my eyes. You are really doing this. I gaze deeply into her and catch the glimmer of the person I always wanted to be. I knew she was in there. I didn’t think it would take this many years. I didn’t think it would be this hard. I regard her carefully, looking even more intently into her eyes.

Bloodshot? I take a step closer, until my nose is almost touching the mirror. I tip my forehead forward, now looking from under my lids, rotate my head to the right, rotate my head left, and back to center again. I lift my chin and draw my eyelids wide and back. Tiny red rivulets run from the bright white outer edges toward the morning blue center. Why are my eyes so bloodshot?

I had turned this trip into WORK.

I have a dream

I have dreamed of being a writer all my life, and now I am chasing that dream with all that is in me. This trip is not a year-long joyride. It is serious business, and it has a deadline – Thanksgiving. I am reinventing my life, and there is no time to waste. I’ve leveraged everything I’ve got, so I’ve got one shot to get this right. My future is on the line, and I went all-in on the flop.

With so much at stake, I defaulted into tackling this trip like I had tackled every other lofty goal in my life. I was using all of my familiar masculine energy: being driven, gritty, strategic, relentless; wrestling my dreams into submission. I demanded the most of myself every day, marching my way across the country, monitoring my pace, cracking the whip at my to-do list. Morning pages – crrrack! Affirmations – sssnap! Hike the canyon – pop!pop! Fuel your body – crrrack! Choose the next destination – sssnap! Drive on – pop!pop! Make camp, Bunk down, Day complete, Now sleep! I said SLEEP. EXECUTE, SoldIER!

I had regimented myself to maximize my odds for success. I hated it when my circumstances would not comply with my regimen. I was frustrated if Justice was moving too slowly, or if she was stopping and sniffing too often. I was irritated if the McCafe did not supply the public outlets I needed to charge my laptop. I lamented when the Internet did not reach my campsite. I seethed when a technical hiccup erased the newsletter I had spent two hours working on.

Week 13 #1000Miles1Year #50States

Week 13 of my project (to log 1,000 foot-miles across all 50 states in 2017) took me into Texas. I contemplated the state mindfully, deciding where I wanted to concentrate my time and attention. I had never been to the Gulf area, so that was quite appealing to me. However, Texas is a BIG state, and I knew that the deeper I drove in, the longer it would take to drive back out. Did it really make sense to go all the way south to the border? I calculated my drive times and fuel expenses for several route options. It was entirely illogical to splurge on my resources and spend my time in the Gulf. But my heart argued with my head.

North Padre Island

I arrived in Corpus Christi, crossed over the Intercoastal, and continued several more miles out to where I would camp. It was a beach site, located on a thin stretch of sand, nestled between Mustang Island and Padre Island National Seashore. Under adverse weather conditions, this tiny strip of land would be fully submerged under the mighty Gulf waters. But today is far from adverse. It has been sunny, the temperature in the upper 60s, a persistent coastal current streaming over the shoreline. The orb of the sun is hypnotic, embarking on its descent behind the dunes, kicking up pinks and purples behind her. I study the high tide line and pitch my tent beyond it, spreading out my footprint amid the grassy dunes but maintaining a direct sight line to the sea.

The shifting sand is a baby-fine granule and feels silky under my feet as I load my sleeping bags and pillow into the tent body. Rain is not expected tonight, so there is no need to cover my quarters with the nylon fly. The mesh top alone offers a 360° view of what will soon be a starlit sky.

I bemoan the fact that my camera battery is dead, as my last three McCafe stops did not yield a single public outlet. Shame to miss photos of this amazing place, so I snap a few with my smartphone instead. Internet and cell service are totally sketchy here, so I sigh, and settle into the tent rather unplugged. I face south toward the crashing waves, sit up tall and cross-legged, and finally breathe in deeply, purposefully, trying to let it all go. Here I am, Gulf Waters. What do you have to teach me?

rumi heart

#Sunriser

I rose with the sunrise the following morning, raised my head and my phone to catch a photo or twenty. I have spent leisure time on other beaches, Atlantic and Pacific, and I was anticipating the pacifying, rythmic echo of the waves crashing one after another: ka-churrrrr, ka-churrrrr, ka-churrrrr… But the waves sound entirely different today. Here the wind is blowing so relentlessly that there is no lull between the crashing of the waves. The current just pummels the shoreline continuously, so the waves ROAOAR more like a constant whirring jet engine. My tent concaves politely under its pressure.

I decide to spend the whole day right here and log our miles strolling up and down the beach. As the sun continues to rise, and with it the temperature, I throw the rain fly up and over the tent body, snap it firmly into place, velcro it tightly to the tent poles, and tie back the sides, creating a little cabana for myself and Justice. I envision reading and writing to my heart’s content in this retreat from the heat. This will be a productive day.

The wind increases early and steadily. Seawater hangs thickly in the air, such that I taste its saltiness when I lick my lips. The fine-grained sand is picked up easily and carried swiftly by the current, so a layer of grit clings to everything it graces. My sleeping bags are covered in it. My glasses, cell phone, lantern and car windows are filmy from it. I cannot bring any books or writing materials out into this. Work is thwarted once again. I spin the hair around my face and pin it into tiny buns to keep the ragged strands from blowing into my eyes. The dazzling sun, the warm, moist gale, the roaoaring waves lull me into near listlessness. I finally find the time to meditate, something I have been meaning to do for weeks.

A turning point

This time was a critical turning point for me. Obliged to slow down and truly drink in paradise, I frankly realized I had turned this epic journey into a project. I had even started *calling* it a project! And I had assumed the project manager mode instead of allowing myself to be a journeyman. I was not really nourishing myself. I was not giving myself time and space to be present, to be impacted, to be changed.

There were things I wanted from this journey, other than a career change. Beauty. Creative. Spirit. To become more connected, feminine, and free. To find my voice, my message. Where was I making time for these?

It was all too easy to stumble. I am all too good at being a project manager. I have no idea how to just let go and be a journeyman. What if I get it wrong? What if I miss some critical detail? What if Thanksgiving comes and I just end up broke, with no leads and no dream because I neglected to create and execute a viable strategy?

Then again, what if I gain the whole world and lose my soul? Isn’t that what I have been searching for? And wasn’t the land calling out to me?

I am venturing into new territory, on so many levels. I don’t know how to do this. The person I have always wanted to be is right here, making her debut. But I can’t make this happen. Intuition tells me this only comes about when I allow myself to be unmade. I need to stop following my regimen and start following my bliss, and permit that joy to do its own special work in me. It does not need my planning to accomplish this. It does not need my execution. It needs me to be more open, receptive, and paying my attention to Beauty. Creative. Spirit.

Coddiwomple

verb
To travel purposefully toward an as-yet-unknown destination. (English Slang)

I completed my #walkabout #roadtrip just before the first of the year. I had traveled ten weeks and 10,641 miles. The urge to find myself had been fulfilled, I had found a suitable locale for my next adventure, and I was ready to unleash my creativity. My intent was to settle in the Asheville area, find a job and start writing my memoir. I was still dedicated to camping and boondocking, and there were plenty of outdoor options to satisfy me here.

My fiance, Edward and I planned to be reunited for the New Year’s holiday. Curious about my experiences and wanting to share in the spirit of my new lifestyle, Edward booked a treehouse for us on Black Mountain. The private, covered deck with a port-o-let, cell connection and intermittent 3G service was his way of easing himself in. I was proud of him. After all, it was December in the mountains and we would be sleeping outdoors. I was anxious to introduce him to Asheville. I toured him around the city and the country. We sampled the local public houses, took in a little of the art and music scene, and explored the land of waterfalls. I was in love with this region, and I hoped he would fall in love too. After six long years of long distance dating, we would soon be planning a new life together. I was certain this was the right place for us.

Then my heart took a left turn on me. Not a turning away from anything, but a turning toward something. This happens more often than I’d like to admit.

A new challenge came knocking, issued through ilovetorun.org, found random on my Facebook feed. It was the shiny gold medal that caught my attention, with the words “2017 – 1000 Miles” emblazoned on it. Ooooooh, what’s *that* all about? One click took me to the challenge, which was to run/walk/crawl one thousand miles in one year. I did the math. That’s about twenty miles per week. I am already putting in close to that. Joined!

Sometimes my fitness gets relegated to the back burner, when a time crunch forces me to re-prioritize my priorities. I felt this challenge would help me stay focused on my physical goals as well as my creative ones. A healthy body makes for a healthy mind.

The following day, Justice and I explored around Dismal Falls and put in a run along the forestry road. The new challenge was still fresh in my mind, and I was invigorated by it. Justice looked so cute, with her muddy little paws trotting alongside me. Justice! Justice is putting in her miles too! I had created a Runkeeper account for her months before, as she nearly always accompanies me. She deserves a shiny gold medal just as much as I do! I giggled at the thought of that bright, beautiful medal around her neck and decided then and there that we would complete this challenge together. I smiled so satisfied as our feet turned over and over, side by side.

I thought about how rich my life had become since I had taken up running. I thought about all of the beautiful places I had churned my feet through. In fact, since the first of this year, I had run in Alabama, North Carolina, and now Virginia.

Cue the epic music score. My next hair brained idea is rising…

What if we ran those one thousand miles through all fifty states? I did the math. That’s about one state per week. It’s only the second week of January. I am already doing this. OMG I am already doing this! I only needed to decide to keep doing it. A flood of elation surged through me. It was as though every step I had taken had led me to this one. I knew in an instant that this was the perfect project for me. Images of my #walkabout flashed through my head. My heart soared. It wasn’t over after all. It was just beginning.

Coddiwomple
verb
To travel purposefully toward an as-yet-unknown destination. (English Slang)

Suddenly my future is unknown again.