“And above all, watch with glittering eyes the whole world around you because the greatest secrets are always hidden in the most unlikely places. Those who don’t believe in magic will never find it.” Roald Dahl
I just turned 49 years old. Many would question why I would announce this to the world. Well, the reality is I don’t feel old. The image I see after nearly a half a century looking back at me is that of a beautiful badass warrior who has tools to empower that young scared little girl inside. And knowing that, I embrace every one of those years as it has led me here to this place.
As I am accustomed to do, I take the time to do a year in review so that I can get really conscious about the celebration of my accomplishments over this past year as I wind up my Year of Empowerment.
My year began empowered by big dreams and goals. Matched only by a strong belief and desire, I set out to see them come true. Still uncertain as to where this new journey would lead me after taking a leap of faith, I made a promise to myself to tie up loose ends as my 7 year cycle came to a close. This turned out to be one of the most challenging years that I have had since losing my mother! Thus the transformation from cocoon to butterfly is never easy.
Even as early as January, with my optimistic attitude close at hand, paralyzing fear overwhelmed me this year, a constant barrage of judgment and criticism, and real physical pain. Not surprisingly, this year I have learned these were all common symptoms that could occur when you step out of your comfort zone into the unknown. My soul was screaming out for attention that manifested in real body ailments. It was time to awaken from the numbness where I checked out to get through the day. No one ever said life would always be easy, but worthwhile for sure!
Having planned to walk over 111 km, (turned out to be 77 miles in 6 days) of the French Way of El Camino to Santiago de Compostela in April, fear of failure and the feeling that I was in over my head shadowed my excitement and curiosity to find out what it was all about. And with that, my back went into such spasms that for a good 2 months I could not sit, walk or move well. I was one of the organizers of the trip so going was the only option. With a team of acupuncturist, chiropractor, body talk, physical therapy and massage, despite the fact that fear accompanied me constantly, they got me ready to get on the plane. I am not saying that I was ready to hike, but I overcame a huge obstacle to get myself there to find what I was looking for.
Interestingly enough, I discovered that it is walking that does help ease back pain. After the second day, my back never felt so good and ‘that’ fear began to dissipate. Not too fast though, it was replaced by a BIG issue with my feet. And if you are walking El Camino, ‘newsflash’ you need your feet.
Day one, a rash broke out were the wetness creeped in under my socks. I saw my feet turn into swollen and blistered sausages- I thought I had acquired gangrene. This scared the hell out of me. How would I ever finish what I set out to do with gangrene ( btw I did not have gangrene)?
Day two, after two days of walking a total of almost 35 miles, I started to question whether permanent damage to my feet was worth this. My angels did come to the rescue as he guided me by text to get coconut oil and drink mint tea from across the pond.
Day three, I was getting better, I carefully wrapped my blisters and kept on. Day four, as I celebrated completing another 20 miles, I haphazardly stepped into a pothole and felt the pull as I twisted my left ankle and did who knows what to my ligaments. Internally, I silently screamed, NOOOOOOOOOOO! Only two days left, that was it.
Day five, it hurt. Luckily, I came prepared with KT tape, my new best friend. Day six, the last day, I had no idea if I would make it. The night before our guide let me borrow her ankle brace to give it more support. My feet were so swollen at this point, the pain was excruciating.
One day left, mind over matter, I decided to finish this off the only way I knew how. Put on my earphones, blast the music and dance my way until the end. I was going to finish this bad boy and deal with the consequences when I got there. As I walked towards 0 km then into the church, I fell to my knees and cried- grateful it was over. Paying the price through the pain. I permitted myself to really feel all the pain of the last 7 years for the first time. I broke down into uncontrollable sobbing. All of it came back to me: losing my mother, losing my way, the disappointment of not reaching the top at a career I gave my life to, and all the unmet expectations that had haunted me for so long. Here, began my path back to peace.
After El Camino, I literally was unable to walk without pain for quite some time. In order to make my plane on the way back home, I had to elicit the help of the airport’s go cart service. While I completed what I came there to do, I did not feel empowered at all. I thought I was going to be able to rejoice, skip, run in celebration. My reality was quite different. It was agonizing to walk. Putting pressure on my left ankle, especially upon waking in the morning was excruciating. They say that after you complete El Camino you take reminders with you. My ankle was most definitely a constant reminder of what I had just gone through. I actually got a bit depressed.
My expectations were unmet. I thought I would come back more fit and ready to go! But not being able to move, left me feeling out of control and engaging in negative self talk. It was not until about August that my ankle improved to the point where I could start spinning again. Now, I am able to do weight bearing exercises as well. But, my goal of best shape of my life needed to be restated. Now, I can confidently say that I am in the best MENTAL state of my life. And beginning there, with my acceptance high and enthusiasm even greater, I am sure that my body will follow.
Now with the great ending to my story, I set out to finish the first draft of my second book, Beautiful Butterfly. I started this memoir as a part of my healing process over 7 years earlier, after my mom passed away. To open it up again and tie everything together, I had to go back to the beginning and read where I was all over again.
This scared the living daylights out of me. When I first met grief in 2011, it nearly did me in. I wanted to crawl up in a corner and actually wither away and die- YES die! The pain from loss of my mother and the inability to talk to her or make more memories was just too much for my sensitive self to bear. Going back and reading all about it again, I would have to see how strong I actually was to face my demons all over again.
And I did cry. I went through what happened in disbelief, but I came out the other side stronger. Actually, I was able to see for the first time how she had been present on the spirit level each of the 7 years that she has been “gone”. God, I would give anything to see her and hug her and tell her how much I love her. But in reality, she lives on. We all do. And, in the meantime I got a chance to rise and do what I came here to do, opening up to my purpose as well.
Stay tuned for the unfolding of the excitement attached to this project in 2019- along with my third book The Sunrise of my Soul’s Bliss- a Book of magical mantras!
While the path that I chose is not completely smooth, with each empowered choice, I gain wisdom and it is so worth it. I am sure, I am a little grayer at the roots (nothing my exceptional colorists cannot handle). Ok, I cannot multi-task like I used to (overrated if you ask me as I really want to pay attention and enjoy my relationships more). Of course, I am less naive as to loss and the darkness of this world (this actually helps to appreciate my blessings and recognize more of the light). And, my body hurts in places I never knew I had muscles (as long as I take care of myself, I will never stop moving forward).
Plant many seeds, accomplish more than ever thought possible, I, empowered, walk through the challenges, rather than unpack there. And, I suppose the lessons learn will have me begin to enjoy what my mentor calls “the rhythm of life”.
My definition for magic is something amazing or wonderful. Magical thinking allows you to deliberately create the life you want by setting out to think on a high flying vibrational plane. I see the world as filled with love and silver linings, rather than the opposite. This is how I intend to go forward: enjoying the view (Denise), basking in the rhythm of life from a place of love (Habib), being as silly as possible because there are people out there who get you (my bellas- Lisa, Michele), gift of pure curiosity and openness (Jess), shining with the best of them (team SHINE and those who SHINE), knowing that each person that crosses your path is synchronistically there to teach you and support you (El Camino tribe), and I come home to my tribe by birth and who I birthed (Nocero tribe).
With glittering eyes, I am paying attention and would love to take you all along with me. My mantra this year is Dream Big, Believe Big, Love Big. For those believe in the magic, with this Year of Magic, we will be sure to find it!
Happy Birth Day to Me and New Year to all of Us!