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San Miguel de Allende came to us like a wish come true. For a bit over a year, David and I had felt the swell of population, the pressurization of inflated prices, the unsettling political demise. My four year return to life in the United States confirmed a lot of things for me:

  1. The Bay Area had lost a bit of charm for me.
  2. Life didn’t have to be this hard.
  3. I thrive seeing the world from new places.

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rosary-rear-view-mirrorthe rosary swaying on his review mirror was familiar to me in the way that growing up with religious objects are. i sank in the back seat, my small suitcase beside me, ready to be home.

polite exchanges revealed information i really didn’t ask for: he’s married, two years in the U.S., has a 7 month old, and apparently devout in his faith.

my smile and “how nice” response to his being a father prompted him to ask the double-punch question: do you have kids-are you married? a quick no-no is my usual reply, relieving both interviewer and me from emotional entanglement.

but this time, i offered more.

“no”…and, “actually, I’m going through a divorce.”

why I opened up like that, i don’t truly know. maybe it slipped. maybe it was in hopes for a sympathetic word. maybe it was the presence of the dangling cross turning the Chevvolet Cruze into a confessional.

“oh, i’m so sorry.”

there it was. sympathy.

this sincerity was followed by the question: did you marry out of love?

when affirmed, it was clear the driver had a mission, a message. in his culture, marriage is prearranged and love follows. it’s chosen and maintained. in his faith, marriage is sacred. divorce is not an option. in his view, i needed to be prayed for so that we could reconcile and remain married.

my eyes glazed over the freeway signs, the trees and buildings blurring. my heart became weighted with every word. my mind wondered: what is this?

as i closed the door to a “God bless”, my steps leading closer to the front door unlocked my grief. at the doorway, open, loving arms wrapped my sobbing self, until my spirit quieted.

with a propensity to read into most things as divine nudges, i thought more about my viceral reaction. what was it about this that upset me so much?

it was the rubbing of a healing wound. it was the overt crossing of personal boundaries. it was the religion+judgement combination that i’ve always struggled with. it was the failure story loop.

i truly believe my driver was operating from a definition of goodness and care; that he wished wellness and salvation for me.

but, the unexpected exchange left me raw and without desire to judge, rate, or allot stars to an uber evangelist.

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blackbird in copenhagenThe record player spins on a well worn mid century modern dresser, akin to the cafe’s chairs and orb chandeliers. It’s all intentionally unpretentious with framed Hendrix posters and bathroom graffiti. These are pieces from Danish homes, second hand finds found on every other block. The Beatles serenade this 8AM morning, perfect melodies suitable for the melancholic gray outside, the romantic candlelight inside.

This pure artistry of a place, this mingling of quiet conversations in a foreign language with background latte making, this cozy nook where I write…this will forever, I believe, spoil future cafe moments.

Oakland FallThe trees are hinting a seasonal change. Walking around the Mission in a tank top and flip flops on a late October day, you would think otherwise though. You’d think the microclimates once explaining the need for layers in San Francisco are made up. You’d question the use of an umbrella. You’d feel there’s no such thing as seasons in California.

Still, the trees push to tell another story, to encourage the spirit of upcoming holidays, to finally give us the chance to wear boots and a scarf. It is with their dazzling color shifts, that we’re given a sign for what’s ahead. To prepare for darkening days and the upcoming cold with warming hearths and hearty soups. To open our homes and bask in communal gatherings. To add light with candles and window decor and the gift of giving.

Cyclical patterns offer a comfort we crave. Just knowing that day follows night, spring follows winter, high tide follows low, helps us feel thethered to a consistency that feels familiar, that feels like our breath.

This simple fact is important. Because in a world that shows us again and again that we are not in control, we tend to cling to the few consistencies life offers, whether inspired by humanity or nature. The rituals help us make sense of our time here, the sequence of seasons harness the apprenhension that comes with the unknown.

But what if the signs are not evident? What if we’re not notified of what is to come? What if the what we’ve counted on disappears?

Certainly, we’ve all had this experience. After years at a company, the position we had is no longer there. A healthy loved one gets terminally ill. An unexpected expense puts us in debt. A  long-term relationship takes on another form.

The feeling is unsettling.

This spinning of events out of our reach is possibly what causes the most suffering. If doing the “right” thing and showing commitment do not guarantee us the things we thought, how can we trust the path ahead?

I once heard the idea of having “faith in the unfolding” and it struck a chord in me. What if we just let things happen to us without harsh judgement or guilt? What if we embraced our vulnerabilty and lowered expectations? What if we let go of the worry and fear that comes with life’s detours and simply had faith that things were unfolding just the way they were meant to?

What if we stopped looking at the trees to monitor our timelines and just observed them for their simple beauty?

Would we feel more at peace?

FullSizeRenderI received this written meditation some time ago from a beautiful friend. To me, it is a prayer. In a time of change, the change of relationship (with a person, with a work situation, with a life path), it soothes and empowers. I’ve kept it to myself but have been feeling compelled to share it out to others here. It is my hope that healing and new perspective is offered through it. 

Guides & Angels (you can substitute in whatever speaks to you),

The relationship between ________ and me is passing from one phase to the next. It has entered the great mystery of death and rebirth.

O Guides & Angels, give guidance to me. For I am now alone with the joys and sorrows of my past ties. Guide me to see beyond my blindness and to let go of attachments, so that I may move freely through the passage from what was, to what is to be.

May the power of unconditional forgiveness embrace me.

May I be clear and unafraid amid the karmic winds that surround me.

May I know all sounds as my own sound.

May I know all lights as my own light.

May I know all pain and pleasure to be transient.

O Guides & Angels, help my heart to be open. And, may the thought of loving kindness guide me to choose a new path that will benefit myself and others.

May the sound of this prayer emanate in all directions. May these thoughts become my thoughts. My all doubts dissolve. May the power of my love be strong and clear.

boxes

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“I think you just have to go through it. And I think that if rather than sort of squeeze your eyes shut, you decide that there’s something interesting about it, if only in the kind of spiritual life cycle sense of the word. But also, — you find out what you’re made of if you weren’t already sure you knew the answer to that.” -Jane Gross

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36 boxes stacked strategically in the dark, small, storage space. Black marker scribbled on the sides in large letters, Mrs. Christine. The men from the Vientiane packing company assumed our home’s possessions were all mine, that I was in charge, so they deemed the boxes mine as well. At the time, the logistics were simple. We were parting ways. I was taking the things.

To be fair, I had been the one to accumulate. The rugs from Tunisia, the framed mola from Colombia, the wooden Buddha from Cambodia, the antique console from Korea…each piece marked a time and place we had been and shared, and I treasure them all.

Inside taped up cardboard structures, that life was hushed in paper and bubble wrap. Standing in the hot Hayward sun, many, many months later, I wondered how I would reconcile ownership, what my present self would be able to release. I won’t lie. There was a part of me that wanted to drizzle gasoline over the whole thing and ignite it into the atmosphere. But, the sentimental girl who saved yearbooks and love letters, duplicate photographs (in case I wanted to mail the other to a friend) and tattered journals, felt more like sitting in the middle of a pool of them to conjure up a flood of memories.

Things like art I had no wall space for or lamps that operated on a different voltage…some of those things were easier to let go of. But, things like the photographs that adorned our walls for years or the cigar boxes that stored his coins, the bottles of the Saharan desert we kept as if it were powdered gold, the wedding albums we had tucked away on bookshelves, and the CDs we made with each other in mind…these, these things bore deep holes in my heart.

It’s crazy how quickly an object can send you into a spiral of thoughts:

Riding on the back of his motorcycle in the hills of Medellin. That kid who toured us on his father’s tobacco plantation in Cuba. Having summer backyard dinners eating Bill’s grilled salmon. Getting stuck in Miami before embarking on our Tunisia journey because I let my passport expire. India, visiting India. Sunday walks on along the river in Seoul for our seared tuna dinner. Creating a yoga studio in a Buddhist wat in Luang Prabang. Walking in la ciudad antigua on Cartagena evenings.

Overwhelming.
Could I really do this?
I hated and loved going through those boxes. But, they are me. The journeys, the joys, the changes. They are what I’m made of.

There was a moment when making a trip to the large garbage bin where a warm breeze blew much of the Saharan sand that had piled up at the bottom of a box. So fine, it moved like waves across the sweltering concrete until it totally dispersed.
In ways, this image felt like our story, rolling up and down, moving farther in distance until the grains land in other formations someplace else.

In this process of this separation, I’ve felt like crying my insides out, like I’ve been punched in the stomach, like I’ve been the source of a ruthless self-inquisition, like I wanted to squeeze my eyes shut and make it all go away.

But I could never shut my eyes for long. For one thing, it gets too dark. And for another, the curiosity for what life holds is far too great.

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