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I’m Answering the Knock at the Door

Puerto Viejo

 

I first heard the echo the night I lost my job. My boyfriend had just broken up with me, my two best friends had stopped speaking to me, and to this day I’ve never felt so low. The people I loved so intensely didn’t want me. The job I invested so much energy into didn’t want me. No one wanted me. To say I felt unworthy would not do my despair justice. If I’ve ever come close to not wanting to live, it was on that night.

 

But louder than my tears and my sorrow, was the knocking.

 

Puerto Viejo

 

It kept me awake, gently inviting me to open the door and see who was there. While I didn’t go to the door that night, just hearing the knock gave me the hope I so desperately needed. It awakened something in me that I couldn’t yet understand.

 

Over the months that followed I tried to reassemble my life back into what it had been. I tried over and over and over and over to reconcile with my boyfriend, knowing, yet denying, that he would never change. I applied for job after job after job after job, convincing myself to feel motivated, knowing, yet denying that none of them were where I was meant to be.

 

Puerto Viejo

 

Eventually my boyfriend admitted that he would never change and saw no future with me. When I did get my next job, just a few months later, without explanation or warning, they fired me. Finally, the knock rang so loud I couldn’t ignore it any longer.

 

So I opened the door.

I found Costa Rica on the other side.

 

Ultimate Guide to Puerto Viejo - 075

 

Opening that door opened my eyes and my heart in unimaginable ways. I woke up to the possibility that I could truly live in paradise every day of my life. I woke up to the possibility that I could live any way that I wanted. Most importantly, I woke up to the possibility that I could live wanting so much less.

 

But the knocking didn’t stop.

 

Puerto-Viejo

 

It came again a month after I got to Puerto Viejo, when I first understood that a relationship with a beautiful local Caribbean surfer rarely remains uncomplicated. It came the afternoon when an old growth tree fell across my path in Punta Uva, missing me by inches. That same afternoon I nearly drowned in the ocean at Playa Cocles; the lifeguard who saved me knew that the knock was my invitation not my ending.

 

And I accepted the invitation. I started the blog I had always promised myself I would write. I started breathing and living yoga, the practice I had always promised myself I would become. Through pouring my heart into yoga, Reiki, and my blog for the year that followed, I mended my relationship with my ex boyfriend, my best friends, and deepest of all my family. Yet I had also grown distant and guarded and disillusioned.

 

Ultimate Guide to Puerto Viejo - 037

 

Then came the knocking again.

 

Banging on my door the night I spent in a Native American sweatlodge ceremony. The knock spoke to me this time, telling me that I was the bridge, but first I had to take the journey. When I sat with the ocean the next evening at sunset, I cried knowing that I needed to say goodbye.

 

This time, Southeast Asia smiled when I answered the door.

 

Ha Long Bay

 

I hesitated to step through, secretly knowing the anguish and ecstasy that awaited me. The knock woke me when I lost my passport in the airport minutes before my flight to Vietnam. “Are you coming or not?” it asked simply. Without thinking, I ran through the airport, took a hold of my balls, and I got on the plane.

 

sairee beach koh tao

 

If Costa Rica opened my eyes to possibility, Southeast Asia opened my eyes to insanity. The boundaries I built crumbled as my heart was ripped into pieces by poverty, corruption, the destruction of the planet, and by the man who I never gave myself permission to love. I blew my mind and drained my bank account regularly, waking up to the understanding of a new level of my potential. The knocking shattered me with the force of a sledgehammer.

 

But what I didn’t realize was that the breaking had only just begun.

 

otres beach sihanoukville

 

I got the preview in Cambodia, a few weeks before flying home, when life told me I could no longer escape the karma I still had in Puerto Viejo, with the man who inspired me to build my walls in the first place. I woke up to the reality that the lesson wasn’t over.

 

Puerto Viejo

 

When I returned to Puerto Viejo, I felt him wherever I went. A constant reminder of the love that I didn’t feel. Insecurity and judgment knocked and knocked and knocked. The knock eventually hit me in the face when his sister slapped me one night at a bar. I could have blamed or escaped, but instead, I decided to simply answer the door.

 

What awaited me was more beautiful than any paradise island.

It was compassion.

 

Puerto Viejo

 

Compassion for this man, compassion for this culture, compassion for myself. Compassion for everyone who ever hurt me, compassion for everyone I ever hurt. Compassion for everyone who ever hurt at all. Compassion, the sweetest visitor I had ever received.

 

Lapland Finland

 

So I began another journey. A journey into my own darkness, across the world in the Arctic Circle in the dead of winter. To discover if I could love myself and love the world with overflowing compassion, no matter where I went and what role I played there.

 

Lapland

 

I learned to be myself beyond the ego of the yogi beach bum and to accept people and life choices no matter who or what they were. I learned to embody my heart, no matter how my body looked or where my body stood.

 

Sometimes it was easy and sometimes it was hard, but I learned the lesson I sought to learn. I learned the power of radical acceptance and unconditional love.

 

Costa Blanca Spain

 

By the time I got to Spain, the knock came again. It woke me with recurring nightmares anticipating my death. I avoided its call, though as far as I ran I couldn’t avoid it. As I snaked down through Morocco, the dread followed me, coming again and again in my dreams. One night, sitting under the full moon on Morocco’s surf coast, I answered the knock, and I flew home.

 

When I opened the door, I knew it was time to get to work.

 

Costa Blanca Spain

 

The creations that had brewed within me poured out through my fingers and into my blog. Post after post went viral, culminating in over a million new readers in just one month. I lived and breathed This American Girl, shining brighter in my online existence than I ever had before. I sold ebooks, made affiliate sales, got new clients, and finally became financially stable after years of living on the edge.

 

But I was running myself ragged. I knew I couldn’t sustain it. I looked at my mom one afternoon and said, “it feels so hard to be happy here.” I knew that there had to be a way to show up as This American Girl while still getting to be silly, adventurous, wild, mermaid, free, unencumbered me.

 

Costa Blanca Spain

 

But I heard no knock. So this time I asked. I asked for guidance, I asked for support, I asked to be led to the door. And the night I asked, it answered.

 

“Wake up, wake up, wake up,” it whispered sweetly. “You are the bridge and you are ready.”

 

Puerto-Viejo

 

Without plans nor preparation, with a force beyond myself, I created a yoga and travel retreat within two days. Overnight a hundred women signed up to show their interest. Within one week I had completely sold out two retreats. I didn’t know if I was ready for this, but a higher, wiser part of me kept going.

 

And then I came back to Puerto Viejo.

 

Puerto-Viejo

 

Instead of working I surrendered to the beauty and the pleasure of this place. I floated for hours in the ocean. I smothered my body in chocolate. I looked in the mirror and told myself I was beautiful. I hosted potlucks and dance parties and played with new and old friends. I dedicated my days to simply loving my own heart.

 

Then my caterer cancelled at the last minute, I scrambled to find a place for us to sleep our last two nights, one woman in the retreat dropped out, people questioned and pressured me and I planted seeds of self doubt, and three days before the retreat I came down with the flu.

 

Ultimate Guide to Puerto Viejo - 014

 

But I had committed from the very beginning to absolutely surrender. I had committed to embrace pura vida. I had committed to recognize that everything is here to help me. I had comitted to love whatever arises.

 

The knocking still came, but it stopped being hard, and it became a dynamic rhythm I could dance to. Eventually, amidst the clouds or the sunshine, I saw rainbows everywhere I looked.

 

Puerto Viejo

 

This evening seven beautiful women will arrive here to Puerto Viejo, across the rainbow bridge of this blog, to be part of my first yoga and travel retreat. I’m nervous and excited and elated and a little bit scared. But I accept that this is my destiny. I accept that they are here to awaken me in ways I can’t even imagine. I accept that this is truly the next step in my beautiful journey. I accept that a long time ago, I signed up for this.

 

Tonight, when they come knocking, I’m answering the door.

 

Get more info on my retreats and upcoming events here.


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Comments

  1. You are wonderful, you are beautiful, you are enough.
    Best of luck for your retreat xx

  2. So thrilled for you to begin this new chapter, Camille! I’m sure the people on your retreat will experience so much joy and growth in the presence of your wisdom and light. I hope to attend one myself one day! Best of luck. Enjoy it all xo

  3. Beautiful! .. And congratulations! I’m heading down to Costa Rica tonight. I’m planning to stay on the West coast but let me know if you’re around the tamarindo / guanacaste area! Would love to meet up and hear about your retreat!

  4. Girl your writing and wisdom is right on time these days. You’ve nailed the travel spirit: the brokeness and effortlesss trust in the universe. I love the knock concept and I’m so excited to see your retreats are bringing you happiness. Pura vida sister. can’t wait to meet one day and collaborate :)

  5. This post made me cry. It is so achingly beautiful. Your whole blog is so profoundly exquisite and echoes a deep longing of my heart. I would love to attend one of your retreats. Where do I sign up please? Would you have any planned for 2016 or 2017. I have a handicapped daughter and thus have to plan a bit ahead. I feel tremendous gratitude to you and appreciation and wonder. Thank you so much.

  6. Thank you for this insightful post. It’s incredibly difficult to answer that knock, even when you know it’s in your best interest. It’s not just answering the knock, but following through with what’s behind the door. I felt it just before I moved to France and I feel it again, telling me this isn’t my home and that I should leave.

  7. This story is beautiful and heartful, Camille. I also feel in that place of the knocking…I’m finding myself letting go of wants and judgments and feeling the silence and the sense of need ever more deeply, and sinking myself into it – hesitantly but constantly. I wonder where it will lead!

  8. Your posts, truly, are beautiful. same as you are. I wish you all the best.

  9. Chills! I am SO EXCITED to be in the second wave of this retreat… and today is the first seriously cold day in NYC. Can’t wait to be on that beautiful beach with everyone.

  10. That’s beautiful and it’s mind of me too, I’m living the same way you did or living but I left job due to the pressure and pain in the work but now I’m happy-go-lucky guy with what I have! Life is amazing with little things than anything big or luxurious in my term! Good luck and I’m loving your blog and you inspired me always! Keep writing and be happy wherever you are….

    “At some point, everything’s going to go South on you. You’re going to say, ‘This is it. This is how I end.’ Now, you can either accept that, or you can get to work.” – Mark Watney, The Martian

  11. Camille! I have not read this blog in so long. I cannot believe how awesome this is. I don’t know why I chose to pop back in and check on you but I am so glad I did. Fabulous! You are an inspiration. I adore you sweets! Great job :-)

  12. I feel so connected to every word you write. Thank you for sharing your journey. I am blessed to have found you. Enjoy this chapter :)

  13. Did you betray your two best friends to make them stop speaking to you? Romantic relationship ending and getting fired from a job can happen to anyone and often times is just due to someone not being the right fit. However, people who are truly best friends don’t just disappear from someone’s life. Since two people stop talking with you, it sounds as though you did something very hurtful to them.

    • Camille Willemain Says: October 22, 2015 at 10:54 am

      I’m not entirely sure what happened. We all got into a fight the same day that my boyfriend and I broke up, it started with them fighting with each other, me trying to mediate, and eventually me blowing up. We all separated ways that day, and then I tried to make amends and they weren’t interested. Honestly, I think they were just tired of seeing me going in and out of an unhealthy relationship and having to hear about it all of the time. I was probably pretty clingy as a friend back then and it’s likely they just couldn’t deal with it anymore. It took a long time and a lot of tears, but eventually I learned to let them go, and once I did, years later, the relationships were healed. In fact one of those friends and I traveled for two months together in Costa Rica a few years ago, there are pictures of her on my blog from that time, and we get together whenever I’m back in Seattle. Sometimes friends just need space from each other, and it doesn’t necessarily mean that anyone betrayed anyone else. Time and perspective heal all wounds.

  14. Hello. I have read many of your posts. In fact I ventured to Nica with my teenage son a few months ago because of your “Don’t Go To Little Corn” post. I didn’t plan well and all of the flights to Big Corn were full, but this incident started me reading your other posts.

    Consequently in August I went on my first mini-backpacking trip to Puerto Viejo by myself. First time to CR. First time backpacking. First time travelling outside of the country by myself. I arrived in San Jose with no hotel arrangements or transportation arrangements of any kind. I just knew I had to get to Puerto Viejo. Your favorite hostel was booked so I ended up at the Lionfish. I had an amazing time. Actually, a life changing time. I missed my first flight by mistake of the airline. Came back to the airport the next day only for my flight to be cancelled. Another flight was arranged which was fine but I missed the connecting flight in Ft. Lauderdale and had to fly to CR the following morning lol. All of this was for me to meet an amazing woman. A nurse (just like me) from Canada with amazing insight who shares similar dreams. This was all because I read your blog. See how the universe works?

    • Camille Willemain Says: October 22, 2015 at 10:44 am

      Awwww so beautiful and thank you for sharing!!!! xoxox and selfish is wonderful!! Show yo self and light up the world.

  15. How selfish of me. I know your retreat will be a success and lead to even greater blessings.

  16. Best of luck with the retreat! Can’t wait to hear how it went.

  17. Hope you are having/had a simply amazing time this past week! I’m sure you will be. Looking forward to reading about it..

    • Camille Willemain Says: October 29, 2015 at 6:30 pm

      Thank you so much!!! It was incredible and so heart opening. I don’t think I’ll be writing about it on the blog, I want to keep it personal and intimate, but I will be sharing photos on Facebook so be sure to check out my page!! xoxo

  18. It’s like you’re in my heart; Like you’re speaking out loud all of the word that I can hear in my head. I want to be free so badly, I can feel my soul being pulled but I don’t know where to start…And this gives me so much hope. Maybe I’m not lost after all.
    Thank you. I don’t know you personally but I feel like you are my best friend already. Continue to inspire.
    You give us courage.

  19. OMG I loved this post! What can I say but love your work!

  20. Hello lovely
    Although not really relevant to this beautiful post, I was wondering if you might be able to offer some advice for me….
    I’ve recently managed to get a job relevant to my degree – which I still can’t quite believe I managed to achieve! This was not long after I spent 6 months travelling SE Asia alone. I’ve got the travel bug really bad, and my plan was to get a year’s experience down as a sort of security blanket before I go travelling again with an indefinate return date. The ache for the backpacker life is getting bigger, especially in the last few weeks and I’m now considering maybe leaving my job after only 6 months. Is this wise? I think all my friends and family would think I was being stupid and reckless just throwing away a good job in an amazing city. I’m happy, I guess. I just feel like I’m missing something, like I’m only half-living. Apart from my job I have nothing really keeping me here, no ties, I’m quite happy to be away from close ones.

    Sorry this was such a ramble but I’d love to hear your opinion, your words are so kind, non-judgmental and comforting!

    Thanks, hope you are well and enjoying your travels! x