I recently had the pleasure of a sabbatical in Quimixto, Mexico, a village of 50 people. My friend Barbara had the trip planned, and her travel partner cancelled at the last minute. So guess who got an invite? Me.
Going off the grid with pods of whales (Mommas and babies) in the ocean before us and the jungle behind us was perfect for my soul. I needed to pay attention to my inner landscape in order to authentically support changes I had been experiencing in my life.
One day, Barbara and I asked Raul, the caretaker of the home where we stayed, to guide us on a walk into the jungle. Raul grew up in Quimixto, so we felt safe and confident as he brought us deeper and deeper into the jungle, leading the way with his machete and a local dog from the village who had adopted us the day after we arrived.
We saw parrots, a termite nest at the top of a tree with its mud route leading up the trunk, a giant white butterfly bigger then my hand, cows roaming to find food to survive, and bones from a cow that had been devoured by a mountain lion. Raul gave us provisions from the jungle such as berries, fruits, and nuts smashed open with rocks. We even sucked the stems of plants that Raul offered us as we trekked.
The terrain was uneven and challenging, but it was deeply satisfying as Raul led us to one stunning waterfall after another. At one point, Raul stopped and looked around. “I want to be honest with you,” he said. “I lost the trail. I haven’t been here for over 25 years.” He turned to me and asked, “Which way should we go?” Raul asking me for directions was hilarious. Anyone who really knows me, knows I am directionally challenged. Even though we were in the tropics, I considered how cold and uncomfortable it would be hanging out in the jungle all night. I trusted it would all turn out okay, I just didn’t know how.
Below us a steep grade led to a rugged crevasse we believed would eventually lead to water, which would hopefully lead us back to the village. But how in the world would we get down there? I took a deep breath and started my descent. I slowly calculated each step, which often turned into a free-for-all sliding adventure. Loose earth slid out from under my feet. I actually started a rock slide, but was saved by the grace of a slim whip of a tree. Finally we were down in the crevasse.
Following it we discovered another gorgeous waterfall. The next challenge was getting to the other side. Raul told us we would have to swim, but it was out of the question because of my cameras and our cell phones. We even considered climbing back up the steep grade we had just come down, but that seemed impossible. We stared at the terrain, considering option after option, but all of it seemed impossible. Suddenly, our dog came up and hopped across the water to a trail that we didn’t even know existed. We were so excited. More than once, our dog showed us the way home that day. She was terrific.
This journey reminded me of life. I can’t help but smile to think of all the ways I thought I knew where life would take me only to be shown a different way. I didn’t expect to experience my infant daughter dying, but it put me on a path to live my life fully. I didn’t expect to experience getting divorced, which was a reflection of my growth in learning to Love myself. I didn’t expect to ever get married again, which was a reflection of loving myself and opening to someone else agreeing that I am lovable. I didn’t expect to have the honor of supporting thousands of people to live more authentically, all for learning to live more authentically within myself.
Please know, you are someone special who deserves all the Love and respect in the world, even though there were times you didn’t know it, or didn’t act like it, or expected that Love and respect to come from outside of yourself. I love you and I deeply appreciate you and your journey.