This is the Magic of Aloha

This is the Magic of Aloha

 

Hawaii called to me the same way they all do. In my quiet moments before falling asleep, during long sunset walks on the beach, and in my deepest moments of despair. Hawaii called to me like a mother telling her daughter to come home.

 

I’ve received this calling many times. A place draws my heart closer and in her embrace I rediscover pieces of myself I left behind. I forget so that I can remember. I get lost to find my way. I let go and I become more whole. So when I hear the calling… eventually I always go.

 

 

This past summer while watching my home in Costa Rica get increasingly developed and wondering if I’d ever be able to move on from my twin flame while living on his land, I remembered Hawaii. I wondered if she was in fact calling me home to the true place where I belonged. I fantasized about a tropical paradise where I could live in absolute peace, beauty, and tranquility, in the highest vibration of love and light.

 

When I returned to Seattle in August, after a very intense few months in the jungle, nursing an enormous infected burn wound, recovering my sense of safety after having my home invaded and all of my belongings taken, cleansing my body like a full time job, and healing through some of my darkest shadows, I planned to head to Hawaii. But Hawaii first guided me elsewhere, through the spirit of Aloha.

 

 

You see, I like to think that like all the greatest medicines from the vine of Ayahuasca in the jungles of the Amazon to the sacred chants of the deities of the Himalayas, Aloha will find you precisely where you are, and gradually lure you deeper and deeper into her heart until your time comes to enter her motherland.

 

So in September, Aloha found me in my motherland of Seattle, Washington. I was walking out of my favorite yoga class, a Bhati Inspired community flow aptly named Yoga Church by my teacher Terilyn Wire, and saw the flier: Lomi Lomi Massage and Hawaiian Spirituality Training Retreat on Orcas Island just outside of Seattle. Something in my gut said yes, and I almost always follow that feeling.

 

 

I arrived to Orcas with no expectations. In our opening circle my teacher asked us to share what brought us. I’m usually quite verbose with my words, but this time I said simply, “because I trust myself,” unsure why I was there, but certain I was meant to be. And so my words carried with them ‘Mana,’ the Hawaiian word for ‘Power.’ Not just any power, the power of pure life force energy that pulses through this entire Earth, that we can only tap into when we’re equally determined and surrendered.

 

 

Throughout the week my reason for being became clear. In our morning prayers and afternoon massage lessons, Bethany brought Hawaii to our home in Orcas. In addition to getting rubbed in coconut oil like adorable little babies all day, and dancing with our hands across bodies like the ocean waves, we lived Aloha.

 

I liken Aloha to Pura Vida in the sense that it encompasses an entire way of being. Aloha literally means ‘Behold the Breath of God,” quite a nice way to say ‘Hello,” but like Pura Vida it’s really a form of reverence for the gift of life. The ‘Ha’ is the breath, and the breath is the carrier of spirit. From Heaven to Earth we breathe.

 

 

Lomi Lomi massage is an embodied Hawaiian practice in restoring ‘Pono’ or balance on the physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual plane by delivering the body pure Aloha. Whether you’re giving or receiving a Lomi, Aloha works through you. I could see it on my teacher Bethany’s face, which glowed like a newborn baby. “It’s all the Aloha!” she replied with a smile when I asked for her secret.

 

I recall receiving a Lomi our second day of the training from a man in our group, and giggles erupting out from my entire body. I asked myself if it was appropriate to be turned on while receiving the massage. At the end, completely surrendered, I realized that was the first time I actually felt like I’d been made love to by a man. No fluids necessary, just pure Aloha.

 

 

Over the week I had the opportunity to massage everyone. Doing so cultivated a special kind of intimacy, ever enhanced by our sharing circles and Hawaiian rituals for honoring the divine in one another. Aloha is just another way of saying Namaste after all. Sleeping in a house all together, sharing our meals all together, enjoying magic excursions around Orcas island together, we quickly became ‘Ohana’ or family.

 

 

Perhaps most powerful of all was when we came together in sacred circle for a traditional Ho’opono’pono ritual.

 

If you don’t know it already, Ho’opono’pono is an ancient Hawaiian ritual for forgiveness. It’s best known these days as the mantra “I’m sorry, please forgive me, thank you, I love you.” But Ho’opono’pono was originally a form of meditation used in communities when anyone felt like they had been wronged. Ho’opono’pono kept peace and balance within the Ohana to prevent any form of emotional, spiritual, mental, or physical disease.

 

But see these days few people have the patience or the humility to sit in circle and right their wrongs. So Ho’opono’pono can certainly be used to heal imbalances or heaviness felt with those we’re unable to connect with physically, with global atrocities, and with any form of conflict or turmoil within ourselves.

 

 

Choosing to offer the drama to Ho’opono’pono means you’ve decided you’re ‘Pau’ or finished with it. Not that it won’t continue to release or work through you, but that you’re tired of the victim story. Which is the essence of forgiveness: you’re so tired of the drama that you finally surrender your need to be right or to blame, and in our surrender you open to the unknowable truth that nothing is to blame for anything because all is here for your perfect evolution.

 

As we sat in circle and took turns speaking “I’m sorry, please forgive me, thank you, I love you,” to whatever person, belief, drama, or perspective that confused us from seeing our divine light, tears flowed and hearts came home. While I started practicing Ho’opono’pono years ago, this circle helped me understand it on a far deeper level and I felt ready to fully commit to it as a way of life.

 

 

A core tenant in the Lomi Lomi lifestyle and Bethany’s teachings is the simple mantra, “I am enough,” that resolves essentially any form of wounding. This realization, “I am enough,” arises from an open heart that quiets the seeking mind. Lomi Lomi as a body prayer offers the receiver the understanding that they are enough. There’s no need to fix or heal in Lomi Lomi, just to remember the divine perfection that’s already there. When we understand that we are enough, we understand that all beings are enough. Otherwise known as unconditional love.

 

Our final day of the training we exchanged massages and I paired with the last person I had yet to work with: my roomie and soul sister Faeryn. By the end of the massage I remember feeling softer than ever, as vulnerable and fragile as a newborn baby, glowing in the sheen of coconut oil and aloha. Bethany saw me in fetal pose wrapped up in white sheets and colorful sarongs and came over and started stroking my head. Then the tears came along with the realizations. My heart opened wide to unconditional love.

 

 

I went into the bathroom to shower and took a look at myself in the mirror. “I’m sorry, please forgive me, thank you, I love you.” I started to cry and apologize to myself. In that moment I realized how my own disbelief in the truth of “I am enough,” manifested most dominantly through seeking romantic partnership. I had grown so much, empowered myself so fully, but there was still part of me dissatisfied with life and myself because “he” hadn’t arrived.

 

In that moment though, I knew that I was enough. I told myself “I’m sorry for searching and searching and searching for the one, when you’ve been here all along. I promise to stop cheating on you by looking for someone else to complete you.” Pau. I meant it. Finished.

 

 

That evening I danced as I often do, opening my body with my breath and the flow of music. As I dropped into the rhythm, eyes closed heart open, the visions came. First through rainbows that poured in from all directions, dancing with me playfully and making me laugh and smile. Then as I stomped my feet to the tribal rhythms, I saw my selves with my eyes closed. Every version of me. Me as a child, a teenager, a young adult, so many phases and ages. We danced and celebrated together. We celebrated our journey, every perfect divine moment of it. And one by one each of me returned to me, making me even more whole.

 

Aloha.

 

 

Fast forward three months later, back in the jungle of Costa Rica. I carried Hawaii in my heart offering Lomi Lomi massages to friends, sharing Hawaiian chants on my Jungle Goddess women’s retreat, and making Ho’opono’pono my daily ritual in my journal, aloud, and in the mirror. I started researching possibilities for spaces where I could bring my retreats to Hawaii. I announced my projected Hawaii retreat dates to my email list and got lots of interest. Friends told me I clearly BELONGED in Hawaii.

 

And… I felt dissatisfied with Puerto Viejo. I felt an inner struggle and restlessness amidst the stress of making huge changes in my business while being triggered by the small town drama and the guy I just could not seem to shake. I expressed it as wanting to live somewhere with a higher vibration with people in a state of greater abundance, sharing their gifts and purpose more fully with the world.

 

 

That’s when my mind turned to travel, the thing that has saved me from uncomfortable situations many times in the past. Maybe if I left I’d be free of the discomfort of passing my twin flame every time I went to town and of watching the construction workers widen the road and of wondering if or when I might be robbed again.

 

In my restlessness I felt an urgency that told me time was past due for going to Hawaii and that somehow all of my problems would disappear as soon as I arrived in the islands. Which of course isn’t true, but my innocent nature likes to play that game sometimes to take me on a detour that eventually brings me home to my inner fulfillment.

 

So I booked an inexpensive flight to Hawaii for March 7, 2018, not knowing what or why I’d be going but needing that life raft on the horizon.

 

 

Interestingly, after I booked the flight, things in my life began to rapidly change. Without taking you on the journey of another story that I’ll share another time, I will simply say that over the course of one day I completely released all of my attachments and desires that I still carried for my Costa Rican twin flame and started the sweetest, most innocent, absolutely wonderful romance with someone completely new.

 

This dramatic shift in energy swept away the dissatisfaction I felt towards my home, amazed that I could meet a new man so full of Aloha right in my tiny jungle and be free of my karmic past after so many years of suffering. In my mind I began to delay my plans for Hawaii and open into the possibility of what had just arrived. Hawaii could wait.

 

 

But my new romance shifted as quickly as it entered, and I rapidly found myself reliving all of the lessons of my past relationships. Essentially, it triggered my core wounds of rejection, separation, and unworthiness. I was facing it, healing with it, and more open than ever, but it was hard to say the least. I could barely get out of bed, cried whenever someone asked me how I was, and decided to put all of my work on pause as I attended to my inner crisis. Hawaii began to sound better and better, like a life raft floating just a month away.

 

There’s much more to this story, but for now I’ll simply say, that while I wasn’t sure I was ready to leave Puerto Viejo, Hawaii seemed like a nice break. I was ready to open my heart to somewhere new. To experience another kind of paradise. To see if I could meet people, and especially men who were walking a similar path to mine. And most of all to receive Aloha straight from the ‘Aina’ (the sacred land).

 

 

I got to Hawaii essentially out of money, behind on work, and unsure why exactly I went there. Somehow I thought I could write my book, manage The Freedom Tribe, promote my next retreat, pick back up with blogging and social media, all while exploring a new place without any sense of plan, structure, or budget.

 

But Hawaii had her own plan for me and all she asked me to do was allow it.

 

 

Synchronistically my Lomi Lomi teacher had already moved to the Big Island and invited me to come help out on the next training. One of the training participants picked me up from the airport and we quickly realized we were soul twins. We shared a car, sang all of the same songs, and literally read each other’s minds. We stayed with friends and had pajama dance parties in the kitchen, shared meals together, and quickly learned all of the local spots under the guidance of our Hawaiian goddess big sis.

 

It immediately became clear that we had entered what the Hawaiians call the ‘Pa’a’ or ‘The Now’ also known as ‘Vertical Time’ and ‘God’s Time.’ Each day felt like a lifetime and we laughed each time we realized what had transpired since… yesterday?! After a few days I accepted this wasn’t the time to focus on the linear progression of my work, this was the time to remember what brought me to Hawaii. So I surrendered to the Pa’a and I went with the flow.

 

 

In God’s time we swam with sea turtles, floated in jungle lava rock pools, chanted in the back of an underground cave, hiked down into Waipio Valley and discovered raw sacred magic, stood in the pouring rain beside the most powerful waterfall I’ve ever seen, taught a bunch of tourists at a roadside farm stand about cacao, met a giant crystal, made friends with tree cutters and took all the young coconuts we wanted, found the best Thai restaurant outside of Chiang Mai, called in the Hawaiian ancestors in the middle of a lava field under the stars, reunited with a Costa Rica soul sister at a clothing optional hippie drum circle, let ourselves become Pele and erupt like volcanoes of powerful rage, got all slathered and Lomi-ed each other like Lakshmi, surrendered so deeply into forgiveness and created vast space, reclaimed our wholeness in Pono, and got a big huge dose of Alooohhhhaaaa.

 

 

It was also cold and rainy almost every day, I froze in my tropical outfits, the beaches were covered in lava rocks or crowds of people, the cost of everything was so high I couldn’t afford to travel there independently, it was way, way, way less Hawaiian and more Americanized than I expected (HELLO it’s the USA Camille), I had to drive to get anywhere, my body felt restless without enough exercise, the vibe felt either really touristic or hippie in a weird way, I had a hard time going with the flow and not exerting my will, I missed my alone time and felt desperate to write and create, and I didn’t really feel like I was in… Hawaii.

 

Isn’t it interesting how you can paint something as perfect or shitty and somewhere in the wholeness of both you find truth?

 

 

Knowing my style, everyone told me… “Go to Kauai!” And actually, the Hawaii I dreamed of sounded much more like Kauai. But it was dumping rain on Kauai and the timing just didn’t seem quite right. So I checked all of the islands for the best weather. Considered Maui where another friend lives and I might find a chill little surf town. Checked in with friends on Oahu. Researched flights to Bali. An inner restlessness kept me searching searching searching.

 

And what was I even looking for? I’m no stranger to this dissatisfaction that keeps me moving, going, traveling, looking for the next best place. Looking back I could see how many times on past trips I rushed through, not feeling content with anywhere, hoping that by being somewhere else I’d feel the way I wanted to feel. I remembered how going somewhere else didn’t actually resolve my discomfort, if anything it amplified it.

 

 

What was the discomfort that pulled me out of the jungle this time and sent me to Hawaii? Oh, right, the discomfort of romantic rejection. Of not wanting to relax into a space where I’d be confronted with those emotions and escaping it by going somewhere new. The discomfort of the inner conflict that could not reconcile me being valid without him being wrong.

 

I chose that as the focus of my Ho’opono’pono while on the land in Hawaii. As I’ve learned in my own Ho’opono’pono practice, it wasn’t about resolving anything with him, but resolving what felt disharmonious within me. We came into circle and I offered my prayer.

 

 

“I’m sorry for thinking that I was supposed to somehow get it right with him. For thinking that I failed or messed it up. I’m sorry that I needed him to be bad or wrong for me to be allowed to be hurt and angry. I’m sorry that I don’t know how to resolve that contradiction. Help me.

 

Forgive me for thinking that how it evolved was a problem instead of perfect. Forgive me for focusing on what felt bad instead of what felt good. Forgive me for feeling it as heavy instead of light. Forgive me for trying to force it into something other than what it was meant to be. Forgive me for being afraid.

 

Thank you for reminding me what it’s like to love again. Thank you for showing me what I really want and deserve. Thank you for choosing me. Thank you for this space and time for healing.

 

I love you as the radiant, alive, magical, beautiful woman that you are. I’m so glad I get to do this with you. I wouldn’t have it any other way. I love you.

 

Pau.”

 

 

My urgency to escape the present moment, to NOT reside in the Pa’a, came from a feeling of lack. A feeling of “not enough” which is simply a feeling of being separate from God. The rejection I had felt from this man or the one before him or the one before him, didn’t make me separate from God. It just triggered the wound sacredly placed for my own healing.

 

Sitting behind me in the circle I began to feel a different kind of Ohana. All of the men of my past, sitting behind me, supporting me. And they did all support me in their own unique perfectly designed ways. All helping me become the whole woman I already am and am destined to be. I felt stronger with them there, the more I allowed them to step in, behind me, the more myself I felt. Then with my eyes closed I saw my sister Dannie like an angel holding my hand. She may have been back in Puerto Viejo, but I felt her beside me, supporting me in the loving way only she knows how.

 

 

I called in Aloha, breathing from the highest source of spirit and delivering it to the body that just wants to feel safe here on Earth, receiving the reminder “I am enough.” “I am enough.” “I am enough.” When I remember that I am enough, all is enough. This is Pono, the realization that all is as it should be.

 

In the Pa’a I could see that dissatisfaction only arose when I thought I was anywhere other than exactly where I was supposed to be. Dissatisfaction may have sent me to Hawaii, but I knew I had the power to feel content right here right now in Hawaii by trusting that I was exactly where I was meant to be. How could I tell my mind I didn’t need to be somewhere else? What could I do to feel safe enough to relax and slow down?

 

 

My answer surprised me… by going home. Not in that very moment, but in general. All these years I spent looking for home all across the world, failing to acknowledge the very obvious fact that I had already found my home. Somehow life blessed me by bringing me home at the very beginning of my travels. Puerto Viejo was my home. Of course. How could it not be? In six years of hopping around the globe it’s the only place on Earth I’ve found where I feel at home.

 

 

So instead of looking for something better, or forcing myself to feel at home when I don’t, why not celebrate the fact that I’m so blessed to have a place where I can walk for hours down deserted beaches, swim in the Caribbean sea with no other people around, hang out with monkeys in my garden, ride a bicycle and never drive a car, feel my absolute healthiest, get young coconuts for fifty cents a piece, have cacao ceremonies and dinner parties with the most beautiful Goddesses who just so happen to love me, and be allowed the space to offer my gifts and retreats to all those who are willing and ready?

 

 

Maybe Puerto Viejo wouldn’t be home forever and maybe this fantasy I’ve had of creating my ultimate sustainable eco-retreat center paradise on a wilderness beach in Kauai with the man of my dreams who adores me fully is in fact my destiny. But right here, right now, in linear time, Man’s time, it’s not yet the time. And how or why is that future vision any better than this present?

 

Rather than rushing to get to the ultimate vision, what if I could just savor the sweetness of being in the Pa’a, the now? There’s no rush on this journey of my life. And right now, I have all that I need in Puerto Viejo.

 

 

With that realization I suddenly felt so free. Like I released this pressure to make every place I traveled to my home. If I acknowledged that Puerto Viejo already had everything that I wanted, I could travel simply for the fun, for the expansion. I didn’t need to find a more beautiful beach (impossible I’ve discovered) or a more aligned community or a more exciting lifestyle. I could appreciate each and every destination for its true uniqueness knowing that I had a home waiting for me.

 

Experiencing more uniqueness and expanding my perspective was truly what sent me traveling. Not a quest for another Puerto Viejo, a discovery of something totally new. My intention is always to let the special secrets of another magical land make me more whole.

 

 

Simply by remembering what my intentions were for coming to Hawaii in the first place, I was able to relax into the Pa’a, rather than feel restless in searching for home. I reflected on the months prior when I took the Lomi training, booked the flight, and finally decided to get on the airplane. My intention for coming to the Big Island was to see if I could find a very special spot there to lead a retreat, to connect with Ohana, to deepen my Lomi practice, to see if I could find home, and to crack open to Ho’opono’pono.

 

 

In a matter of two weeks I had fulfilled all of these intentions. I decided that the Big Island wasn’t my style and to return to Kauai to look for a retreat space when it would be better weather and I had the money to do it my way. I connected with Ohana every single day of my trip and learned to be less individualistic, not easy for me but a good practice. I got to spend a whole week with my Lomi teacher and receive even more wisdom than before. I came to the obvious realization that I already had a home. And while I left before the Ho’opono’pono workshop I had originally wanted to attend, I remembered Uncle Harry’s wise words that my Lomi teacher shared with us again and again, “There’s always another way to do everything.”

 

For now, my other way is to carry Ho’opono’pono in my heart, and to allow the wise secrets of Aloha to continue to reveal themselves in their own perfect timing.

 

 

I’m sorry for any time I’ve seen myself, my family, my friends, my lovers, my teachers, my sisters, my brothers, my community, the creatures, the elements, the land, as anything other than Enough.

 

Forgive me for ever wishing that life were different than it is right here right now. Forgive me for thinking that I’m supposed to get it right instead of acknowledging that everything is right now.

 

Thank you for always, always, always, giving me exactly what I need, even if I don’t always like it.

Thank you for never giving up on me.

 

I love you.

That is all that ever was and ever will be true.

 

 

Pau.

Aloha.

Mahalo.

Pura Vida.

Namaste.

 

Wisdom inspired by my teacher/sister/friend Bethany Boulger, The Wise Secrets of Aloha by Uncle Harry Uhane, the 4th Gene Key of Forgiveness, the Hawaiian ancestors, the Halau, my selves, and pure Aloha.

 

When Nothing is Ever Good Enough for You

When Nothing is Ever Good Enough for You

 

Do you know that feeling of utter dissatisfaction?
It’s that feeling of… not good enough.
I know that feeling oh so well, and I think it’s an epidemic among travelers.

 

We’ve got this freedom to be anywhere, do anything, and yet… often it’s still not good enough. We so often compare a place or an experience to something from our past, and nothing seems to measure up. We lose our sense of wonder and gratitude. Yes, I have certainly felt this way.

 

 

But my dissatisfaction started way before that.

 

I remember in my pre-travel life, how dissatisfied I was with…. everything. My relationships were never good enough. My friendships were never good enough. My creative projects were never good enough. My home was never good enough. Restaurants were never good enough. Saturday nights were never good enough. Nothing was ever good enough.

 

When I left to go live in the jungle of Costa Rica, that did not change. I did not suddenly feel perfectly satisfied, even though I thought I would. I complained about basically everything the first week I was there. From our bad water pressure to non functioning wifi to how isolated we were to how seedy the bars were to how expensive the restaurants were.

 

But then… something changed. I changed. Suddenly, everything was ok. Everything was beautiful. Everything was enough.

 

 

Because I slowed down enough to witness the perfection of the way the waves turn lavender just after five. Or the way that the little beach crabs scurry across the shoreline and burrow themselves in the shoreline. The way that the monkeys howl when cars go by or it starts to rain. I slowed down, and remembered that everything is ok. All is well. All is perfection.

 

But see… I have forgotten that many times over the years. I have fallen again and again into the shadow of dissatisfaction. Finding every possible person or circumstance to blame for why I don’t feel the way that I want to feel.

 

So many moments I spent in paradise, living in a way that so many others fantasize about, yet feeling… bored. Disconnected. Antsy. Trying to fix it by shifting my location. By spending more money. And most of the time that doesn’t actually work. 

 

 

And while the danger of being someone who travels the world alone is that you can constantly feed this dissatisfaction by changing everything all of the time, the medicine of being someone who travels the world alone, is that when it’s just you and the wide open road, there’s no one to point the finger at except for you.

 

So I have learned again and again to turn inward. To stop expecting the world around me to be better than it is, and ask myself what within me feels lacking in love. ‘Cause that’s all it’s actually ever about.

 

Though, even that became a new path for dissatisfaction. An endless quest in fixing myself. In trying to make myself better so that life would be better.

 

 

Don’t get me wrong… dissatisfaction has granted me so many gifts. It has been a wonderful blessing.

 

Dissatisfaction is what got me out of my box traveling the world. Dissatisfaction is what helped me create my own business and transform and expand it all of the time. Dissatisfaction is what inspired me to serve others, to help them create a more inspired life. Dissatisfaction is what brought me onto the path of yoga, dance, tantra, lomi lomi, and so many other beautiful healing modalities.

 

Dissatisfaction refined me into the person I am now.

 

 

Yet… the seeking isn’t actually what ever brought me where I wanted to be.
You know what did?
Relaxation.
Slowing down.
Re-membering the rhythm of nature.
No matter where I am.
I can find bliss NOW.
By simply. doing. that.

 

Yesterday I came home fully to that understanding.

 

 

I left Puerto Viejo last week… from a place of dissatisfaction. I’m on my way to Hawaii. A place I thought might be more “perfect” than the place I’ve called home. A place I thought might satisfy the ache of longing that resides within me​. It’s been my dissatisfaction in my jungle home that no place seems to compare to, that has gotten me to go and have other experiences. To expand and to grow.

 

Before leaving Costa Rica, I decided to treat myself to a vacation, and a yummy relaxing retreat at a resort in Santa Teresa on the North Pacific Coast. Not to transform. Not to fix myself. Not to be better. Just to relax and enjoy.

 

 

Funny enough… what I immediately experienced was dissatisfaction. Dissatisfaction over why the South Caribbean is more beautiful, more lush, the beaches are nicer, the vibe is wilder, and on and on. Dissatisfaction over why I don’t like resorts and how inauthentic they are. Dissatisfaction over the retreat itself, comparing it to the retreats that I’ve created and finding every seemingly logical explanation to justify why it wasn’t good enough. Dissatisfaction that I wasn’t transforming, fixing myself, and becoming better.

 

While I could justifiably judge and pick apart every aspect of my experience, the same way I did in so many places all over the world, the same way I sometimes pick at my skin, or dissect every mistake I make with men, or analyze all of the ways that I show up in the world as not good enough, having those reasons will never make me feel better. They will never make me feel safe.

 

 

They can show me what I value. What choices I want to make in the future. Where I want to aim. But the only thing that ever brings me the wholeness that I’m always seeking, is relaxing into my true nature, which is love.

 

Taking my own advice, I have been slowing down. Remembering to breathe more deeply. To do less. To share less. To contain more. To be present with my discomfort so I can feel safer with me.

 

 

Yesterday, with the stillness that tells me I am safe, I sat watching the firey red sun melt down into the horizon, something I never get to see living on Caribbean Coast. At the very moment that the tip of the sun became swallowed, a flock of pelicans flew across the sky. Everything in perfect timing. Perfect rhythm. The divine orchestration, the divine perfection, of nature.

 

I stripped off my clothes and walked down to the ocean.
“Nothing is ever good enough for you,” I said to myself.
“Can’t you see how hard I’m trying? I did all of this for you. I brought you here to make you happy. Can’t you see how much I’m doing to try to make you happy? Would you just appreciate it?”

I laughed and shook my head because I knew I was right.
“Look around you. What could possibly be wrong with this? Can this just be good enough? You’re staying in a beautiful room, you’re eating beautiful food, you’re with beautiful women, you’re held by beautiful teachers. Let it be enough.”

 

 

I laughed and I cried. Apologizing again and again to myself for not seeing myself as… enough.

I apologized to myself for being so uncomfortable recently, that I refused to be present with the man who simply came into my life to teach me and had to push him away instead.

I apologized to myself for thinking that the way I reacted was somehow wrong or that I could have or should have done it better.

I apologized for seeing anything about me or my experience as anything other, than the divine orchestration, the divine perfection, of nature.

 

And I decided.
To let it be good enough.
For now.

 

Why Do We Scare All of the Men Away?

Why Do We Scare All of the Men Away?

Are you one of those women?

You know, the one who cares too much?
Wants too much?
Says too much?
Feels too much?
Loves too much?
Is too much?

Who doesn’t do casual?
Wears her heart on her sleeve?
Falls too hard and too deep?

Are you one of those women
Who blames herself for the times she softened and got hurt?
Who thinks she’s never chosen because of her worth?
Wonders if she will ever get what she deserves?

Who does it all to try to fix herself whole?
Can’t understand why she keeps falling into the same hole?
No matter how she grows rejected seems to be her role?

And there’s every explanation that we could ever find.
They’re scared of our greatness and they think we’re too good.
We are too enlightened to be fully understood.

We’ve got too many daddy issues and so we can never trust a man.
We’ve got too many mommy issues and became her in the end.

We never learned with the last guy so we’re in a karmic wheel.
We should learn to get better at pretending not to feel.

We are just too intense for anyone to handle.
Maybe deep down we don’t think that we are lovable.

I will tell you sister I’ve been this woman many times.
The one who lures them then scares them and can’t understand why.
Whose mind is so sharp I over over analyze.
Who has tried to deny love under an indifferent disguise.

But when I soften my heart I remember something wise…

Life gives you exactly what is meant for you.
So maybe there isn’t anything you need to do.
But simply fall more in love with you.

Maybe he didn’t choose you
because that’s the very thing you need to do.

Maybe the men never come not because you need to change.
Maybe they all leave because it’s you who needs space.
Maybe life is offering you love in his place.

So if you hear me dear one who feels tender and scarred
you are so worthy just as you are
I know it’s not easy I know it’s fucking hard
but you are learning the true path of the heart.

Life has not forgotten you.
All is coming.
Just keep breathing.
Just keep loving.

You are everything.
You are enough.
You are a miracle
You are love.

A Love Letter From a Woman to Her Jungle

A Love Letter From a Woman to Her Jungle

 

When I touched you today
it felt like the first time
like the first time I touched you.

And when I saw you
I saw you more beautiful
than I forgot to remember you.

 

 

No mildew of old stories
no residues of past pains
no expectations or plans.

Just you and I in the absence of everything.

 

 

Your shores kissed my feet
sea swept across my skin.

I giggled and smiled and
gave in to your gift.

You and I were enough
as perfectly this.

 

 

I didn’t blame you
for anything or anyone.

I didn’t sob on your shores
over who you’ve unbecome.

I relaxed into your presence
and there we became one.

 

 

Then the waves came crashing
like they always do.

You like to try and drown me
don’t you?

You teach me to be humble
FUCK YOU, love you, God you.

 

 

And in your brightest light
I see my darkest shadow
triggering that old victimhood.

But you sprinkle me
with sweetness
stars that kiss me like no one else ever could.

Why do you do me so hard and so good?

 

 

It’s not easy being your lover
but hey I guess that’s our play.

Forgive me for the times I leave you
forgive me for wanting to stray.

Thank you for being here
thank you for letting me stay.

Forgive me because one day
you will actually push me away.

 

 

Even though your wildness
shows me where I ache.

When I cherish your beauty
there are endless angles to thank.

So thank you simply
for always being you.

I love you forever and always
even when I forget to.

 

Playa Chiquita

 

Thank you for how much you’ve taught me
about how to unconditionally love.

I love you for breaking me so badly
I surrendered to becoming my one.

 

Puerto Viejo

 

Home you are this heart of mine
that forever will be true.

Home is where I feel together
the divinity of me and you.

 

 

When the moment arrives
for us to say farewell
please know that I will always
remember your intoxicating spell.

Please know that even if I
run away and create something new
I will always and forever
remember the gift of you.

 

This American Girl

 

And if for whatever reason
it hurts too much to come back again
please know that in my heart
I am with you to the end.

For perhaps I am a woman
who was born to forever roam
but you will always and forever
be my sacred rebirth home.

What I’ve Learned From Four Years Without Sex

What I’ve Learned From Four Years Without Sex


When people discover that I’ve been celibate for the past four years

they always ask me if it’s by choice.

 

They must be trying to figure out if I’m
a) totally repressed (by choice) or
b) totally undesirable (not by choice)

 

And I don’t exactly know how to answer, because I’m neither… and I’m also both.

 


Four years ago did I intend to lock on a chastity belt? No. Did I take on a challenge for bragging rights? No. Did I do this as a sort of tantric power practice? I wish. Have I wanted to have sex many times over the last four years? Hell yes.

 

So I guess the answer is… no I did not choose this.

 


But, at the same time, I have had plenty of opportunities to have sex in the last four years. Come on, I’m a young woman traveling the world alone, living in a Latin Caribbean surf town. I have said no to many invitations, covert and sometimes very overt, for sex. I’ve even turned down opportunities to have sex with amazing men who I really really liked.

 

So I guess the answer is… yes I did choose this.

 


While I may not have exactly chosen to be celibate for the last four years, I have decided to honor my innocence over my desires. To treasure my heart and my worthiness over my quest for external love. To treat myself the way I deserve to be treated. And to only be so vulnerable with someone when I actually feel safe enough to experience the full spectrum of both pleasure and pain with him inside and outside of me.

 

And that has not yet happened. So here I am, continuing to love and honor myself whether it happens for me or not.

 


To be completely honest, last year when I wrote my post What I’ve Learned From Three Years Without Sex, I kinda thought I was about to break my celibacy. I figured, ya know, I’ll just write this post now so I can get the lessons out, move on, and get laid already.

 

But every time the opportunity presented itself, I felt a deep sense of compromise. I didn’t feel loved, cherished, or sacred the way that I wanted to. Because I have learned how to love myself that way, emotionally and sexually, and I really can’t settle for less.

 

I mean, the thing is, I haven’t actually gone four years without sex. See, I’ve spent the last four years making love to myself in every possible way. Becoming a supportive stable father and an unconditionally loving mother for my inner child. Being the cheerleader and best friend that I already have so many of around me, all of the time. Touching and treasuring myself, my sweetness, my body, my beauty, like the mythical man my heart has ached for all my life.

 


Frankly, I have no idea when I’ll have sex with another human again. But I do know that I can make love in any moment, because I am love. This has been my greatest learning from four years without sex, becoming the love on the inside that I was always seeking on the outside. (Read more in my post: How to Love Yourself Like You’ve Never Been Loved.)

 

Not to say that I don’t sometimes forget, or it’s not at times hard, or I don’t fall into my shadows, and I don’t get insecure. Ohhhh, I do. I go through all of it ‘cause I’m all human. But I can say with one hundred percent certainty that after four years without sex, I am finally in a totally committed relationship with me. And that seems like a pretty huge accomplishment worth celebrating.

 

Here are some of the realizations that helped me get here…

 

Sex is Sacred


About two years ago I discovered the path of tantra, and it completely shifted my relationship with my sexuality. By understanding sex, with myself and also with others, as a practice that could help me become more embodied as my highest self, I began to see it as something deeply sacred. In the past my sexual experiences were typically in committed relationships, but they were always dissatisfying on some level.

 

Tantra showed me that when sacredness, or God, is excluded from anything, it will always feel lacking. Reading Enlightened Sex and Dear Lover by David Deida I began to experience sex (with myself) as more than arousal and orgasm, but as a practice for softening my armor and opening up my heart. Like my yoga, dance, or meditations, having sex with myself became a journey in exploring myself, releasing emotions, and opening to spontaneous insights.

 

Meeting couples who were on this path, and men who also desired it, showed me a far more beautiful possibility for my sexual experiences. I knew that when I did have sex again, I wouldn’t settle for less than making love to myself, my man, and the entire cosmos. I knew that I wanted sex that would melt and blossom me open to become the love I’ve always been.

 

My Needs are Mine


Like food, water, and sleep, sex is something most people think that they need. Fair enough, we have the innate desire for sex that can arise in intense urges. However what can often happen, is the same way we may justify emotional eating as a need for food, we may become addicted to certain kinds of sex or certain kinds of sexual partners. The same way we might think we need sugar or caffeine, we think we need sex with that one person who got us high on oxytocin that one (or one hundred) time(s).

 

When you’re addicted to something, you’re dependent on it. You become a victim of that thing outside of yourself by projecting your needs onto it. Completely abstaining from sex was like detoxing off of that sugar and caffeine. It gave me back the power to realize I didn’t need those men, I just needed love.

 

Without the quick love drug from outside sources, I became responsible for filling this need myself. This is truly my most helpful discovery in perhaps my entire lifetime: when I take responsibility for my own needs I’m no longer a victim of anyone or anything. When I take responsibility for my own needs, I am fully empowered to do something about them. So, when I take responsibility for my own needs, I am free. And freedom is an essential ingredient for true love.

 

You’re Not After a Person, But a Feeling


As a woman who tends towards romantic idealizing and intense infatuation, when I develop feelings for a man I can get tunnel vision. I don’t fall often, but when I do, I only have eyes for him. This can be a beautiful thing. It’s an aspect of true devotion, something I treasure. But, it can also be a trap, expecting that person to fill my needs. (See above.)

 

When I notice myself tiptoeing towards that edge, I take a pause and ask myself, “What is it that I’m hoping this man will make me feel? What does his presence ignite within me? What does he represent for me?” Usually there is some kind of particular feeling that I’m desiring in that moment. Once I realize the feeling, I have the power to choose experiences that will bring about that feeling. I’m no longer dependent on him to feel the thing that I want to feel.

 

For example, I was in a very tumultuous love affair for many years, feeling like a total victim, and had very little desire to let go. I was suffering a lot and knew that I needed to, but I wanted this man so badly that I was willing to stay in the drama. But a higher, healthier part of me knew I deserved better, so I did a lot of things to be my own therapist. One of which became asking myself every time I pined for him, “How do you hope he’s going to make you feel?”

 

I was able to identify that whenever I was with him I felt very alive and present in my body. I felt a wildfire that excited me. This told me that what I was really after, was the feeling of ALIVENESS. It didn’t resolve things overnight, but every time I got into the victim mentality, I would ask myself, “what can I do right now to feel more alive?”

 

Just like your needs, your desires are yours. Which means that once you understand what they are, you have the power to bring them about within yourself. No person has control over you being able to feel the way that you want to feel.

 

Walls Are a Good Thing


I can’t tell you how many times I heard people tell me I was too guarded. Not surprisingly that criticism often came from men who wanted to sleep with me. But it didn’t always. It also came from friends, from healers, and from intuitives. Many people told me that I had walls up, that I wasn’t emotionally available, and that’s why I hadn’t been with a man in so long.

 

This really confused me because I thought I was TOO vulnerable. TOO open. TOO available. So I doubted and questioned myself and tried to be even more vulnerable, open, and available. Which led to me attracting men who were not desiring what I desired.

 

Until a few months ago it dawned on me. From reflecting on my relationship patterns and childhood conditioning over the years, I suddenly had an epiphany. I was not afraid of intimacy. No, intimacy was in fact one of my deepest desires. I was actually afraid of codependency. I was afraid of relationships trapping me and keeping me from my own unique blissfulness.

 

I realized that the walls I had created were not keeping me from being intimate with others, but were actually there to help me stay as happy and free as I knew I could be alone. If I wanted to let my walls down and invite people in, I needed to become clearer with my boundaries so that I felt safe enough to do so. My loyalty belonged first and foremost to myself, so I promised my inner child that I would keep her safe, even if that meant having walls.

 

Honesty is Everything


When it comes to romance and sex there can be so many mind games. Let’s face it, on some level we’re all afraid of rejection and that’s what unconsciously drives us to withhold love from one another. The fear is completely understandable, but I now see that it’s the very thing that keeps us from true intimacy.


I learned this lesson through platonic friendship with a dear sister of mine. I was going through a very intense time (you can read about it in my post When the Jungle Burned Me) and so many of my insecurities and fears demanded my attention. As my friend tried to support me I noticed how guilty I felt in letting her. Facing this discomfort required I first be completely honest with myself. Which is certainly where intimacy begins: within you.


I got honest with myself and named my shadows. Amazingly, once I did they weren’t so scary anymore. Telling her my insecurities was harder, but I did it. And she shared hers with me. The healing was profound and I felt closer to her than ever before. It was me withholding from myself and from our relationship that caused the illusion of separation that I had been suffering over. Honesty bridged that gap.

 

A couple of months later, I chose honesty in a very uncomfortable situation with a man I had a confusing relationship with. We had been playing this game for a couple of years, not naming what was going on, and I felt insecure. Honesty is such medicine for insecurity as it brings absolute clarity to confusion. I told him honestly how I felt, he told me honestly how he felt, and it instantly became clear: we were not wanting the same thing. Boom. Done. Easy!

 

While that realization was disappointing, it was also liberating. I didn’t have to figure it out anymore. It was clear. I could let it go. I could move on. I’ve come to understand that choosing honesty means honoring my worthiness over my desire for someone else to accept me and valuing intimacy over avoiding discomfort.

 

In short: all intimate relationships require honesty. Get honest with yourself and be brave enough to be honest with others. Graciously do this while taking full responsibility for your own needs instead of blaming others. This is the key to deepening your relationships and filtering out the ones that are not for your highest good.

 

Intimacy Goes Beyond Sex


This was a big realization for me: you can be intimate with someone without having sex with them! While I’ve had very few sexual partners and have always been extremely particular, I’ve also been totally addicted to sex. And I now understand why. In some of my relationships sex was the only time I felt a deeper connection. My constant need for sex was actually a need for intimacy with my partner that I didn’t know how to ask for, give, or receive otherwise.

 

By abstaining from sex all of these years, I’ve learned and practiced so many ways to experience intimacy with my family, my friends, my community, strangers, and yes even men I’m sexually attracted to. Compassionate listening, eye gazing, tantric breathing, cuddling, massages, sharing stories, having adventures, giving without holding back, and learning how to be a kind, loving human, have all shown me how to feel close and connected without taking any of my clothes off.

 

Intimacy is simple: fill yourself with the love you are, and offer that love without holding back. Paradoxically, the clearer your boundaries, the more freely you can do this.

 

I Am Enough


I really can’t tell you who it was that pointed out how much I tied up my self-worth with sex. But whomever it was, thank you.


Like with any addiction, it takes complete abstinence to break the unhealthy pattern. I had a lot of unhealthy patterns surrounding sex. Mostly, I used sex to get the love that I didn’t feel like I deserved. I used it to manipulate my boyfriends into giving me more attention. I used it to get men who were clearly unavailable to offer me whatever leftovers they could scrap together. I used it to continually hurt and abuse myself by accepting a lot less than what I deserved. I traded my honor for an hour of the closest thing I understood as love. Because see, I completely confused sex with love.


Now I understand that sex can be love or sex can be neediness pretending to be love.


When you’re feeling needy, nothing can ever be good enough, and so you feel separate from love. That is, until you begin to look at each of these needs and nourish them as the lover no one else was ever willing to be for you. Which has been my practice all of these years. Seeing my needs that arise, not having a man to fuck them away, and learning to fulfill them myself instead.


Naturally, the more I give love to these places inside of me that feel separate from love, the more I feel worthy of love. The more I feel like I am love. Which is to say, the more I remember that I am enough.

 

Some Things Are Worth Waiting For


Have you ever had that experience, where you’re really craving an avocado but all you can find is still slightly green and hard? I mean, you could probably use one now. They’re… close. You could cut one open. Slice it up into plasticky pieces. Chew on the semi hardness. And while it might be slightly tasty, you probably won’t satisfy the craving. You won’t get that sweet buttery creamy melt in your mouth deliciousness that only a perfectly ripe avocado can offer. You’ll likely be highly disappointed. 


So even if you really want an avocado right now, it is better to wait. Cause a ripe avocado is worth waiting for. Meanwhile, you can appreciate the mangos, papayas, and coconuts. There’s so much more to eat in this world than just avocados.


(Photos by my brother Devin Gabhart)

 

Tell me, what have been your greatest lessons through having, or not having, sex?

 

Letting Go of Puerto Viejo

Letting Go of Puerto Viejo

Puerto Viejo

 

(This post is part four in a series. Read part onepart two, and part three.)

 

I spread a thick layer of sunscreen across my right hip and thigh, covering the pale splotches that watercolored my skin. Warm soft sand hugged me from behind and the wind slurped me forward. I rolled in the white spray on the shoreline and kissed her skin with my lips. Sand covered my face mouth belly and limbs.

 

I gazed out to the neverending coastline carrying both confusion and understanding in equal measures. I felt the ghosts from my past all around me and yet it was like they evaporated all at the same time. The grief of letting go enveloped me as I tasted the sweet freedom in the wake of possibility. Knowing… I am so different, and yet all is so familiar. Saying hello and goodbye.

 

“So… what are we then?” I asked her like an ex lover whose bed I still shared from time to time.

 

Puerto Viejo-2

 

It felt… like… loss that I couldn’t seem to let go. Nursing myself back to health, focusing on my business, struggling to recover my belongings, and finding a new place to live had all been blessed distractions from what was really ruminating beneath the surface. Once I let it all go, I had to look deeper into the heart of my fear.

 

I didn’t know if I belonged in Puerto Viejo anymore.

Maybe because… I didn’t feel like I knew Puerto Viejo anymore.

 

It had changed so much from the place I had fallen in love with and I had changed so much over the years as well. Was this still my home? Did I still want to be here?

 

Puerto Viejo-3

 

My relationship with this place is so confusingly enmeshed with my unrequited lover it’s impossible to say what I was really grieving: the loss of her or him. In the Fall I had received his words of closure I waited five years to hear: “it was never you and it never will be you.”

 

So was it the widening of the road and the cutting down of the trees and the new properties for sale and the gringo population drowning out the Caribbean culture… or was it the nail in the coffin that said “he never was yours and he never will be yours, so you have no purpose left in being here”?

 

As a friend had asked me nearly a year prior, when I was deciding whether to stay or whether to go, “is it that you can’t be here because of him, or it that you are here because of him?” I was pretty sure my answer was yes to both. Which is why I left and went to Thailand in December without plans of coming back. I wanted to move on because I wanted more than unreciprocated love.

 

Puerto Viejo-4

 

But these traveling feet learn again and again and again that life decides when the karma is complete. And until I learn the lesson with every fiber in my being, it will keep on keep on keep on meeting me. So there I was. Back in Puerto Viejo. Mourning the man who made me question my own sanity because my feelings for him are nothing short of absurdity. In Sri Lanka I thought I had completely let him go, but coming back tore open the wound and I had to meet it again from a new perspective.

 

Oddly and also perfectly, upon my return, it was as if he had disappeared. In fact, I assumed that he was no longer here. Last time we spoke he was on his way to Europe to try out a new relationship, without plans of coming back. But friends confirmed he was most certainly in town.

 

Apparently he was visible to everyone but me. I rode along the one single road going about my day, never passing him once. I unavoidably passed by his business every time I did errands in town and never saw his face. I had been back in town for six weeks and never once crossed his path. In a tiny town like Puerto Viejo, that’s no coincidence. Life was protecting me from seeing him.

 

I was grateful for this sweet space, but disheartened by it too. His lack of existence was like a death that I had to grieve.

 

Puerto Viejo-5

 

And let’s not forget, the grief I experienced in that moment went far beyond just this “relationship.” I was grieving the loss of everything. My home, my stuff, my life, my purpose, the way my skin used to look on my right thigh. Yet I also felt completely surrendered to whatever life decided. Because I knew deeply that it didn’t matter if I fought or not, life would get its way.

 

As I surrendered to these broken pieces, life started to put them back together again. Gifts came pouring in from all different sources. I found a house to look after while the owner was away, a gorgeous villa with a massive gate surrounded by giant trees, an electric golf cart I drove around everywhere, and friends returned from the states with my old laptop I had fortunately left behind with all of my files, new ATM cards, and thank Goddess underwear.

 

I moved into my new house, settled myself in, and planned to finally get back into my work flow. It had been nearly three weeks since I had looked at a computer screen and I had hardly shared anything on social media and certainly hadn’t posted on the blog. I missed writing and felt the pressure of picking up where I left off.

 

Puerto Viejo-7

 

But…life decided I actually needed more of a break. I unconsciously locked my laptop and all of my other valuables into the safe, having learned my lesson from getting robbed, and the batteries ran out which meant I had no way to open it. A few days later when I finally got into the safe with spare keys, I discovered that my entire website was down. Nothing was there.

 

Hours of tech support later and I still had no website. My old hosting company insisted that there was no way to recover anything. There was a very real possibility that I might have lost everything. I didn’t know if I had any sort of backup. Five years and hundreds of blog posts, an entire online course, and my heart and soul, potentially gone.

 

As I lay in bed that night I relaxed into the possibility that This American Girl had disappeared off of the face of the Earth. Maybe it was all gone. Done. Did I have a clean slate? Was I starting over? Was anything left?

 

After the initial fight, I actually felt… ok about it. Because after everything that I had just survived, I knew that even if I lost it all, I could never lose myself. I was still here. I would always still be here. I would survive. So I was ok.

 

Puerto Viejo

 

I had survived whatever burned six square inches of my right thigh (still a mystery). I survived my home being broken into. I survived losing thousands of dollars in possessions. I survived putting work off indefinitely. I survived feeling unsafe, victimized, and small. I survived saying goodbye to the one house that ever felt like mine.

 

And over the years in Puerto Viejo I had survived a lot more than just that. I survived watching the trees be chopped down, the road double in size, the jungle get cleared, the ocean levels rise. I survived a tree falling in my path and nearly drowning in the ocean within the same day. I survived about a bazillion mosquito bites, a sweatlodge, and some pretty sketchy jungle hikes. I survived losing many friends. Being beaten up by the large and intimidating sister of my twin flame. And even if it was still killing me, again and again and again, I was still surviving my Puerto Viejo love story.

 

I had survived and knew I would continue to survive the many initiations this jungle threw my way. Each time standing taller. Stronger. And softer. Less and more at the same time, with each thing she stripped away. Closer to my nature by being awoken by her nature. With every death she brought into my life, she showed me not only that I could survive but that I could thrive. To remind me that I’m not just here to lay on the shoreline, I’m here to ride the waves.

 

What a glorious experience it is to lose everything you thought you had, and remember the only thing that’s ever been yours.

 

Free of everything, I came home to the one thing I had: myself.

So I used the opportunity to become devoted to that one thing.

 

Puerto Viejo-6

 

Laying on my bed that night, without my home, with a new scar on my leg, my heart aching over the man who never loved me, and my life’s work completely gone, I made this promise to myself:

“You, Camille, my love, are more important to me than any of it. You are more important than your commitments, projects, creations, relationships, responsibilities. You are more important, way more important, than what anyone else ever thinks, expects, or wants. I will do whatever it takes to keep you healthy and happy. I promise to keep you safe and well loved for life.”

 

May we all be so blessed to be so broken that we remember.

 

The next day, my website was fully recovered.

 

Rather than get back to work, I listened to life’s message and I took myself down to the beach. I had barely caressed her body since my return, tenderly caring for my wounds and also feeling emotionally vulnerable since the break in. Home felt like the safest space for my body in all ways. But being so disconnected from this land hurt me in another way. Like being separate from… mother.

 

Puerto Viejo-14

 

I didn’t know how to feel her the same way that I used to. The pain was so intense as I watched them pave her paradise the year before, that I had developed a kind of detached numbness. Perhaps it was a healthy disconnect, but I missed our sweet union. It was like yearning for someone despite being with them every moment of every day.

 

But that day at the beach, I did feel her.

 

It happened down at Arrecife, the beach that held me through so much, the beach that in many ways made me who I am today. I sat out on the point early that morning, basking in the sunshine, blissfully alone with the turquoise sea. As I often do I rolled around in the warm sand letting it coat my thick locks like a blissful beach dog.

 

Tears welled up as the feeling of home, the sweet remembrance filled me. A long forgotten feeling that was love in every possible way. Home. Home. Home. Punta Uva. Forever my home.  Lifetime after lifetime, this has always been my home. I cried and laughed and laughed and cried, overwhelming grateful for the feeling of home that for a traveler feels like such a rare gift.

 

Puerto Viejo-19

 

I started going to Punta Uva every single day after that. I’d make the stunning walk along the beach from my house in Playa Chiquita down to the river and plunge into the cool stillness. Hike up the muddy cliff grasping onto the vines and emerge onto the golden shores of Arrecife. Chat with the Rastas who make Rondon and fantasize about living down there one day.

 

With all work on pause and daily pilgrimages to my heart’s home, I remembered what first awakened within me on my first trip to Puerto Viejo: the art of doing nothing.

 

Rather than work or organize or socialize, I did epic cleanses, swam in the river at sunset, meditated all morning and recited my personal love mantras. I did daily coffee enemas, fasted on nothing but coconut water, and felt myself shed all of the weight and toxins of my past. I made loving my body and myself my greatest priority, devoted finally first and foremost to me. And so loving others felt easy.

 

My imagination ran wild, dreaming up my fantasy retreat center, taking over an enormous beachfront property in Punta Uva that already had traditional wooden Caribbean houses and expansive gardens. Every day at sunset I’d wander onto the property and just sit on the lawn and imagine myself there.

 

Puerto Viejo-16

 

But I still had doubts.

Because funny enough, as much as I’ve loved Puerto Viejo more than I’ve loved anywhere, as much as my heart has been devoted to her over the years, as much as I’ve created home and community here, I’ve never actually committed to her.

I’ve never actually taken that step and decided, “this is my home.”

I’ve never actually “settled down.”

This lack of commitment meant something to me, but I didn’t yet grasp exactly what.

 

How much of it was her and how much of it was him? The eternal question. And the deeper I dropped into my heart the more my ache for him heightened, which I could not seem to understand. If this thing was unhealthy, not right for me, why was it always there despite my continuous healing? Why was it that no matter which angle or approach I took to let it go, it always came back?

 

Now here’s the part where I’m going to show you all my crazy side. Yes… if you haven’t caught onto this yet I am most definitely one of those crazy girls. Something I’ve carried with shame since my first boyfriend when I was 13 and still need to forgive. I am one of those crazy girls who gets obsessed with boys and acts well… crazy. Maybe you relate, maybe you don’t, maybe you feel triggered, maybe you feel understood. Whatever you feel, I hope you receive the innocence of what I’m about to share.

 

Puerto Viejo-9

 

I’ve learned to reform and/or repress my crazy girl, but she still sometimes comes out in hiding. She is after all my shadow. And thanks to the internet with people being sooooo stalkable, she came out that night as a stalker. Through my internet stalking I discovered that this man who I embarrassingly still obsessed over, was in a fully committed relationship with the woman he had started dating the last time we spoke. I figured that was the reason why I hadn’t seen him. Life was protecting me from seeing them together because she was now living here too.

 

My mind created stories seeing photos of them together, him as this devoted boyfriend I had never seen him be with anyone. It was like watching someone play a completely different character than the one who you had assigned them to be in your movie. It was totally disorienting for my ego. Watching him be something other than a playboy was actually… upsetting. And most disturbingly of all, it felt like a loss to realize that we’d no longer be playing the unfulfilling game that I had been wrapped up in for so many years. I had gotten so used to accepting his scraps of attention that seeing there’d be no more scraps felt like a loss.

 

Then I saw that his girlfriend had left town, and out came my shadow even darker. I wanted him to cheat on her with me. Woah. I actually wanted that. I didn’t respect their relationship or her feelings or his commitment, I just wanted whatever I could get from him. But of course, since I’m a “nice girl” my mind rationalized that maybe they weren’t really together anymore if she had just left. I was simply looking for an opening and grasping for what I could reach.

 

(Thank you for holding the space for me to out this very dark side, and I appreciate you for honoring whatever it brings up or triggers within you. I know we all have tasted this feeling in one way or another, and I honor myself for being brave enough to voice it.)

 

I asked myself how I could be so wounded and how I could value myself so little, to want to settle for such a thing. My mind brought me back to the mother of his child, the one who I didn’t know about when I was with him, but carried shame with all of these years. I felt myself as so inferior to her. I felt myself as the other woman. And I felt distanced, jealous, and vindictive towards any woman he had ever been with. I knew how deeply this must be hurting me and I knew I needed to heal it.

 

Puerto Viejo-11

 

While in the past I had adamantly stood my ground that I didn’t know about his other relationship, after I did find out I still let myself engage with him sexually not knowing where they stood. More importantly, I continually disrespected myself in the way I engaged with him. Some women have written angry comments on the stories I’ve shared about him, judging my behavior, and I used all of the pain of that in this moment to forgive myself.

 

I forgave myself for not valuing myself. I understood that any time I hurt or disrespected another woman it was simply because I was hurting and disrespecting myself. If I truly wanted to heal with my sisters, I needed to respect and honor myself enough to never act this way again. I needed to act with deeper integrity. First and foremost for myself.

 

So I wrote to her. The mother of his child.

 

We had so many friends in common yet had never actually met, and I always placed her on this pedestal. She was the one he had actually chosen, I was just the insignificant extra since she was out of town. Not to mention she was incredibly gorgeous and I felt plain and immature in comparison to this woman I had painted a Queen. But I was changing. I was loving myself and by valuing myself I was feeling more and more like a Queen myself. I knew that forgiveness was the next step.

 

Despite what I knew or didn’t know, if I acted right or not right, none of it mattered anymore. All that mattered was forgiveness. And so I humbly wrote her an apology, because that’s what I needed to do in order to forgive myself. She too humbly accepted which I am deeply grateful for.

 

Puerto Viejo-12

 

That night under the stars I went into my dance meditation. In the absolute darkness I began to feel all of the spirits and demons of Puerto Viejo close in on me. I was this light. This light attracting the darkness, but I continued to dance. I asked myself if I could be that here, if I could be in a place of such darkness and still hold my light.

 

Then I realized I wasn’t alone in my light. I began to see my sisters.

 

We were laying together on the earth in a giant mandala, and beside me lay his ex. We looked each other in the eyes, side by side, and we cried and began to hold one another. Forgiveness flooded me with pure understanding. Then came the others. All the ones I had seen him with in bars, walking down the street, all the ones I passed wondering if they’d be next. All of the ones I judged as less than me or more than me.

 

With a giant exhale I humbled myself and invited them into the cuddle puddle. We snuggled all together, right there on the floor, no competition, just oneness. Then we rose up and danced. In circles under the moonlight we danced and celebrated womanhood. Free of any man that might turn us against one another we played in the joy in love with ourselves and one another. We could see pure beauty in one another. Like one tribe together.

 

I cried realizing what I still had inside of me to heal

and I cried because I knew that I was healing.

 

Puerto Viejo-13

 

The next morning I rode into town to get a Maya Abdominal massage with my friend Pamela for the first time. In my session I spoke about the healing I experienced the night before, about my longing and also resistance towards romance, my celibacy, and of course the man who seemingly disappeared yet was forever with me. I had been back nearly two months and still not seen his face once. She offered me deep wisdom and my heart softened open into a greater capacity for love.

 

Then of course, once I left the treatment, after nearly a year of nothing, I immediately saw him.

 

Which felt oddly relieving. It felt good just to be reminded that he did exist. We didn’t speak, and I don’t think he saw me, but just looking at him reignited my inner flame and brought me simple happiness. Almost like… him being alive was enough for me. Because that is love. Gratitude to someone for the grace of their presence on this Earth, without expecting anything in return. My love for this man was nothing short of unreasonable.

 

The next morning, riding into town in my ridiculous eye catching golf cart I saw him again. ‘Cause that’s the thing about Puerto Viejo. It will put you in exactly the path of exactly the person you need to see. For two months I hadn’t seen him at all, and suddenly I saw him everywhere I went. He stood talking to a friend, and we had eye contact for a moment, but something in my belly told me not to say hello. The energy felt so dense.

 

Puerto Viejo-18

 

That was the day I found out that our friend had been killed

and I’m pretty sure that the moment I passed by him was the moment he found out.

 

I found out that night from a sister who came to my house for dinner.

She asked me if I knew him, and I said, “of course.”

 

I mean, I’m pretty sure everybody knew him. I can’t think of anyone in this town who didn’t know him. He was just one of those likeable guys. Plus he had that sideways smile that would never let you forget him. This smile that said, “I’ve got a secret and I’m not telling you what it is.”

 

That night my girlfriend and I stared up at the stars feeling the unbearable lightness of being.

“You realize he’s probably laughing at us right now,” I said to her. He had one of those personalities. He was such a trickster. And what instantly came to me was, “No wonder he always had that look on his face. He knew.”

 

I felt a strange… peace.

That he had somehow schemed all of this to help heal this town.

Because… that’s totally something he would do.

 

Puerto Viejo-25

 

The next morning I went down to the beach in Playa Negra carrying a bouquet of purple orchids. Probably a hundred people gathered along the shoreline, also holding flowers and offering their grief to the sea. A local friend of mine, basically a brother to the one who had departed, walked over to me and said “you brought the perfect thing,” gesturing to my orchids. I gave him a big hug and we all joined hands in a long row parallel to the sea. Prayers were spoken and we offered the flowers as gifts back to the ocean. Gifts in honor of the gift of his life. Tears streamed down my face feeling the beauty and sadness in the wholeness of community.

 

I spent the rest of the day holding people I loved. We stood outside of the Casa de Cultura, intermittently crying, offering support to one another freely. Some people seemed unaffected, others shell shocked, a few in full release. My best friend and sister who I had grown with so much over the years in Puerto Viejo was particularly affected and I was blessed enough to be there to hold her hand.

 

Funerals can often double as family reunions and that’s exactly what this was.

 

Friends who I had barely spoken to save for a wave in passing on the road surrounded me, shaken to the core, and we reminisced on stories and hugged about a million times. The words “I love you,” came easily. It was the family I had collected in my early Puerto Viejo years, back when I was a party girl, who had slowly drifted out of my life as I changed. But the love, the love was still there.

 

Puerto Viejo-10

 

And my love, him, he was of course also there. Standing a few feet away from me in fact. Because he and I were part of this same family. This family of my past.

 

We didn’t speak to each other though. Didn’t look at each other. I wanted to offer him the same condolences I offered everyone else but it seemed… inappropriate. The last time I saw him we parted on very positive terms, honoring each other with full respect in our goodbye, but I don’t think either of us felt safe to have contact at all. And I didn’t want to trigger him further, his friend who he had known his whole life had just tragically died. So I held the space of silence.

 

Hours later the procession continued down the road and into the cemetery. We cried while grieving women sang church songs and hundreds of people scattered among the gravestones. Eventually we made our way to his plot. One by one we made our final goodbyes and when it was my turn, I bowed to him in reverence, “thank you.” Then the words came out of my mouth without thought, “you motherfucker.” I shook my head and laughed and cried at the same time.

 

Puerto Viejo-20

 

I was utterly exhausted by the time I got home. I hadn’t eaten and had been in ceremony for at least eight hours. Thankfully I know beach therapy, so I went down to the sea and walked my familiar steps to Punta Uva. I arrived at the river and perched atop a fallen log. Above me sat a majestic hawk and I looked up to her asking for her wisdom. This was why I was here. This. This. I remembered.

 

Walking home I couldn’t get my friend who had passed out of my head. It was like his face was etched in my mind. Like he was walking beside me. He was so… there. Which was strange considering… we weren’t even close friends. And since ending my party days, I had barely seen him save for some hellos for the last few years. But he was so… there.

 

Oh, ok, yes. Mmmm. Right. I realized. Because he was there.

 

When I relaxed my mind enough to accept what I felt, I knew what was going on. It first happened to me the year before when my grandmother passed and she walked with me at sunset along the shoreline. Then it happened again with a woman I had never met before who tragically died in Puerto Viejo kept me awake all night after her passing. And more recently in the cave in Manzanillo when I called in the spirit of a departed little girl to heal the heart of her mother. Now, it was my friend coming to visit me.

 

Yes… sometimes I see dead people.

 

Puerto Viejo-24

 

But it’s really not so spooky kooky like that. It’s actually like… I can connect with the subtle realms where energy beyond form exists. Anyone who has ever used their imagination, which is every single one of us, has the same super power. It’s just a matter of how much you doubt what you see or how much you allow what you see. We’ve all felt it, we just frequently doubt it and so it disappears.

 

I doubted it too. I doubted it a lot. Still, I trusted it enough to know that he was there.

And being with him felt so nice.

 

It was him, but like, an even better version of him. It was the purest essence of him. The enlightened state of him. Him absolutely free of any pain or wound patterns yet still delightfully animated with his unique personality. Full of charm and free of pain. Which offered me a tremendous insight about the essence of every human being at our core.

 

Having him around, while amazing, was also distracting, pretending he wasn’t there while around other people who couldn’t see him. He was giving me all kinds of insights all of the time and he was always helping me with whatever I needed. Again, it was weird because I wasn’t a particularly close friend of his. I was an acquaintance. So, why did he choose me? I guess he wanted me to help the people who were suffering. He told me what to do, how to do it, and I listened.

 

Cocles-13

 

One of the things he guided me to do was bring his friend down to the cave in Manzanillo. The place I consider the portal between life and death where I had done my own ceremonies in the past. We had our little adventure in the golf cart and hiked in through the jungle. As we walked I taught him one of my favorite songs and we scatted the jazzy tune together:

“I’m gonna let life move me! I’m gonna let life stir me deep! I’m gonna let life waaaaakkkeee me, from an anncccciiieeeennnttt sleep! I’m gonna laugh all my laughter! I’m gonna crrrrryyyyy all my tears! I’m gonna love the rain just as deeply as the sun when it clears!”

 

He asked if I remembered bringing orchids to the funeral that morning, and how he told me I brought the perfect thing, and if I knew that our friend’s favorite flowers were orchids. I of course had no idea.

 

Inside the cave we built an altar and offered shells and flowers we had collected out to the ocean. He was still there with me, as he had been the whole time, and he gave me lots of wisdom and insights I was so grateful to receive.

 

Puerto Viejo-22

 

The next day I offered to give Reiki to another friend who had actually witnessed the shooting and was visibly traumatized. “I have no idea what that is,” he replied “but I’m open to anything.”

 

Our friend’s spirit was very clearly in the room and as I channeled the healing, he continually urged me, “tell him I’m here.” “Ummmm no!” I replied. “He is going to think I’m crazy!! Besides, I don’t even know if you’re here! Are you here? Or am I crazy?”

 

Afraid of my own insanity, I continued offering in silence. Eventually I spoke, easing into some basic questions, and every question I asked came with affirmation. This happens without fail when I channel Reiki. Though I often doubt myself, I can see things and they’re always confirmed as truth. Slowly I felt comfortable held in a space of trust less afraid of my ridiculous witchiness. That’s when I finally said… “you know, our brother is here in this room.” He laughed and said he felt it the moment I touched him. I transmitted the messages our friend had to give him and he received them like the treasures they were.

 

I was on my own again after that. Maybe he went to be with someone else, or maybe he went to a place that I can’t see yet. But I did know that he’s a spirit guide who will be here for me whenever I ask. For that, I am eternally grateful. He is a true angel on my path.

 

Puerto Viejo-23

 

I think I had these strong psychic capabilities at least in part due to the physical cleansing I was doing. I was purging my body of so much karmic residue, and fasting on coconut water meditating effortlessly for the first time in my life.

 

Just after the funeral it was New Moon and I decided to do the liver flush where you literally shit out hundreds of green stones that apparently clog the ducts in your liver. This involves multiple days of fasting, drinking acid water, taking epsom salts, and then chugging an entire glass of olive oil and orange juice. (I literally got chills writing that. Gaaaaahhhhh!!!!)

 

Well I did it. Got up in the middle of the night. So sick I wanted to die, laying on the bathroom floor, cursing myself and life, vowing to never ever do this to myself again, until eventually I passed out.

 

In the morning I felt ok. And yes, I passed hundreds if not thousands of stones of all different sizes. With each release of these stones I felt myself so much lighter. Free of attachments, emotions, dramas. So so so easy to feel loving. At one point I felt this intense anger, so much anger towards my Puerto Viejo twin flame. Like… hate. Then I asked myself, is this anger his or mine? I guess… it didn’t matter.

 

I imagined him standing before me, projecting all of his anger onto me. Angry at me for existing. Angry at me for being alive. And I just stood there and let myself take it. I beamed back love. I let myself dissolve and be swallowed up and destroyed by love even in the face of hate. Then it was no longer about him, it was just about love.

 

I came to this realization that him not speaking to me wasn’t anger or hatred or rejection it was… respect. Space was actually the most honorable and respectful thing for both of us to give one another in this situation. So I let there be space.

 

Puerto Viejo-27

 

Miraculously by the evening I had completely recovered and was able to go to a friend’s birthday gathering. It was also the inauguration of a new space for yoga and other community events. We danced to uplifting music, ate vegan rondon (traditional Caribbean stew), and celebrated my friend who came on one of my first retreats and then moved her whole family down to the jungle.

 

As we blew out the candles and dug into a raw vegan chocolate cake I had this realization… a few days before I was with my friends of my past at a funeral… and here I was today with my friends of my present at a birthday.

 

It was nearly four years ago to the day that I made that choice too. For a long time I walked the line in Puerto Viejo. Partying on tequila til 2 then getting up for yoga at 8, begging for male attention at night and learning about self love in the day. I walked the line. But there was that moment when I chose. And actually, it’s when I started cleansing my body.

 

I got a lot of grief from friends during that time. “How come I never see you out anymore?” “You’re so fake!” “You think you’re too good or something?” I heard that a lot. I lost people from my life. But the only answer I ever had was, “I just want to love myself, and I’m figuring that out just like you are, just like we all are.”

 

Perhaps this aching I felt for the man of my past was really just an ache for that piece of me I left behind so many years ago. Perhaps it was really just an ache for that piece of me who never could have possibly known when she showed up in the jungle six years ago that she would be who she is right here right now. Perhaps it was really just an ache to reclaim that innocent ignorance that in retrospect appears so… easy. Perhaps it was me aching to let in forgotten pieces of me. And clearly, no matter how much I grasped, it was all far beyond my understanding.

 

Puerto Viejo-17

 

My final days in Puerto Viejo I mostly spent sitting on the sandbank between Arrecife and Playa Grande, looking out to the coastline. Asking myself, wondering, if this was my true home.

 

Couldn’t there be more of a paradise somewhere? Couldn’t there be the place that in my deepest heart of hearts I knew I belonged? Couldn’t there be somewhere I loved more than Puerto Viejo? And how could I possibly commit to creating a space here, to buying a property, to living here, to investing here, with so much uncertainty in my own heart mind life? With so much uncertainty in the future development of Puerto Viejo? With what I loved most being torn down and destroyed more and more every single day?

 

Then the words of wisdom spoke to me…

 

“Camille…

you keep searching and searching

the world across land and sea

from the islands of Thailand

to the temples of Bali

to the wilds of Lapland

to the jungles of Colombia

to the mountains of Mexico

looking and looking

for paradise

all this time forgetting

that you will never find it

because you’re the one who came here

to create it.”

 

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I flew back to my birth home of Seattle, wondering exactly what that meant.

But knowing very clearly, that one day I would most certainly find out.

 

My time in Seattle opened new doorways of light and revealed shadows and wounds, and I left and came back to the jungle as a new woman once again. Dying and living all at once. Perhaps I’ll share those stories one day in the future.

 

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As I stand here now, back in Puerto Viejo, on this precious soil that I once called my paradise, a voice in my heart is knocking. I watch this place change around me while I change from the inside out. I see development coming rapidly, I feel the vibration changing, and I hear my soul telling me that I have to go if I want to grow. My intuition speaks that discomfort is cracking me open. And even though it hurts, I know that eventually I need to listen. Sooner than later, I need to finally let go of my lover I know as Puerto Viejo.

 

And yet, I am here now.

So I will treasure this paradise as it as

The ghosts of all that it was

The ghosts of all that we have ever been

And know that whether or not this is forever my home

It will forever be my re-birth home.

It will forever be the place where I was born again.

That whether or not he is forever my unrequited lover

He will forever be love.

I will forever be able to love.

 

And for that I am truly, endlessly, deeply, humbly

Grateful.

 

Knowing there’s no such thing ever

As the end.