As the Taurean New Moon passes, the Muse violently demands my full attention, a deep commitment and dedication to a new direction. Adopting a true Taurean style, she’s stubborn and determined. As I deeply inhale, she makes her way in and travels through every crevice and corner of my being. For days at at time, all I can do is write, and write, and write some more. Though my hands ache, there’s no satiating her. As I sweat, she travels through my body at a faster pace. She whispers, “You must write. You must tell. You must share these lines that have been carved into your bones. Give birth to the words that consume you.” Her whispers increasingly get louder as the time passes.
My Piscean moon has been delving into parts of the ocean I swore to never explore. I’m diving deeper, deeper, deeper without oxygen. As I allow my body to sink deeply, the ecstasy of sensory deprivation takes over. And there, in the depths of the ocean, a story, a cosmic memory, comes pouring into my mind. The Seagoat in me travels to its Neptunian nest and enters a world of dreams crafted from materials illusory in nature. It is there that I am greeted by an Ancestor of mine – the one who was a prolific and respected writer while he lived. I sit in a chair which appears to be made of iridescent scales and he finally looks to my direction. In Spanish, he says, “I have been watching over your journey since that bus driver Sam told you, you had a purpose to carry out. It was the very first time you also wished you were dead. Remember him? You were 10. It’s been me all along. I have watched you burn in the depths of hell and climb mountains made of quicksand. A dedicated goat with the outer shell of an innocent nurturer, the inner world of a cosmic Siren, and the soul of a Phoenix. I have seen you drown and miraculously re-revive yourself a thousand times over. All these experiences were here to help you understand our lineage, our suffering, and what you’re here to change and dissolve. You are here to continue the work in which I started.” He paces around the kaleidoscopically colored room. Seemingly troubled by a plague of thoughts. “The Ancestors have been watching you. For the past 28 years, you’ve been given no choice, but to rely on yourself. We’ve always been here, but in the physical plane, it’s been you. We’ve marveled at how you’ve made due. In the coming months, that’s going to change. Your next lesson will be one learning how to receive, on learning how to be part of a greater whole – something foreign to you, you’ve always been the lone wolf. It won’t be easy, but necessary for your next initiation. You won’t make it without a pack. We’ve left some guidance around you. Your new living space? There’s a key there. Don’t try to look for it, be open to letting it find you.” Suddenly, he vanishes. My sinking body comes to the realization that oxygen is needed and a drowning sensation replaces the ecstasy of deprivation. With full force, I kick my legs, and re-emerge: “The time is now.”
The Dana within me understands that I’m reaching the end of a cycle and I need to gather as much information as possible prior to the Wheel of Fortune turning right side up in my favor again. Here comes the World card…
He comes and goes as he pleases – at his leisure. A master bread-crumber and strategist that can quickly figure out the right amount of investment needed to hold on to a life line. Romantically, he treats people like disposable cameras that will be available for a photograph as he fancies. If the camera is no longer working, he simply tosses it.
While I respect him as a person, I find him to be romantically toxic. I’ve been playing along in this game under a cloak of innocence by biting every crumb of bread given to me. I’m curious. I want to understand. I want to know more. Like a true researcher, wearing a double-agent cape, I take notes, I observe, I listen, and I learn. The ability to observe emotional situations without forming deep attachment are skills I acquired in Anthropology classes.
He’s deeply wounded. You can see it in his eyes, in his body, in his environment. Yet he knows how to employ just enough charm to make newcomers think otherwise. I can sense the depression. I can feel the anxiety. And sometimes when he breathes or moves in particular patterns, you can see remnants of trauma. I say nothing. I stay silent and observe.
While I lie on the couch next to his, he FaceTimes that one, texts two others, Facebook messages another, Bumbles 4 of them, then replies a couples of hearts and fires on insta and snap to a couple more. Knowing exactly what techniques to employ to entertain each one. Though there is visual programming in the background (which he’s honestly running to keep me happy), he can’t seem to put his phone down. He’s constantly checking it. Picking it up. Opening it up. It’s a near compulsive action. After the film, he sits next to me and shows me a video. He caresses my legs. I barely respond as I’m feeling unwell. I walk outside and he follows.
Later that night, I lay next to him and manage to fall asleep – lightly. We share an intimate moment. I then fall asleep more permanently. Hours later, he’s awake, I’m awake – it’s the middle of the night. He heads over to his phone – and appears to go through a similar drill. He says, “I don’t want to drive to her right now. She’s 30 minutes away.” All of the women in his life are his friends.
The next morning he remembers that he had promised a friend to go to brunch. I use the announcement as a window of opportunity to escape for the day and make my way home.
Time goes by and there’s radio silence.
As pattern dictates, when he feels overwhelmed or in need of emotional solace, he’ll contact me again.
Nietzsche once wrote, “There is more wisdom in your body that in your deepest philosophy.” So it begins: my appetite drops, my vision becomes blurred, and my consciousness undergoes an out of body experience. The process is familiar – it’s my soul’s way of inviting me to shed the old: an old way of thinking, an old belief system, an old way of understanding reality – in exchange for a level up into the next stage of my life.
It’s been quite some time since I’ve graced this space with my words. The past six months that I have spent in California have been drastically changing me in the most subtle of ways. These grounds have helped me heal emotionally and have provided me with much needed clarity in regards to the direction I want my life to head in.
When I first started this blog, it was the intent to share stories that centered around travel (given how much it is a part of my life). I was enthralled by a process that constantly took me away from a reality that I was unhappy with. That’s not to say that I don’t love travel. It has certainly provided me with needed perspective, it has allowed me to meet incredible people, and overall provided me with experience that I will forever treasure as it shaped me into who I’ve become.
Now that I’ve a found a home base that I love, I’m craving to live life differently. I’m craving more time in my home base, more time with people that value me, more time with people that are walking a similar path. I’m craving to build a strong foundation. Moving forward, I’m going to use this space to share thoughts, emotions, opinions, curiosities, and overall happenings – travel related or not!
Getting lost in the lightness of being while communing with rose petals in the sand. Evidence of a life well lived: The beauty that the rose once held, now nearly faded. Change remains the only constant I’ve ever encountered. It’s been quite some time since I’ve poured pieces of my soul into cyberspace. Since I last wrote here, I’ve accepted and started a position in San Diego (county) California, I sublet my previous place, was hospitalized, found a place to live in Oceanside, flew across the country, and bought a car. Thankful for all the divine guidance throughout this process, as I don’t think it would have happened otherwise.
It’s been the hell of a journey to get here. The past nine months, I lost complete track of my beingness. I was working 70-80 hours/weeks, spending 90% of my time completely alone, and living in a constant state of panic and anxiety. Within a few months, I found my self in an extremely dark place I thought I would never get out of. Whenever, I had “down time”, I would furiously apply to jobs because my soul knew the time had arrived. Opportunities began coming through my door – there was the UK (both Wales and England), there was Boston, Farmington (CT), Austin, San Francisco, and San Diego. As I started walking away from my previous situation and began to navigate towards a new one, I only made one promise to myself: “Go where it feels right.” I wasn’t being led by the external (like, “Wouldn’t it be cool to say you’re moving to London?!”), but rather was committed to following the call of my spirit. And my spirit was ferociously pulling me towards Southern California. Finally, on the 29th of August (2018), I accepted an offer from the amazing new company I now work for. I’m still in shock that such a unicorn of a place actually exists!
As I transition into this new space, I’m startled. It feels as if I’ve always lived here. It feels like home. The transition has been smoother than the rest of my life combined. This entire move has made me believe in fate and purpose in ways I could have never imagined. I’ve been met with nothing but kindness, love, and grace. My life is overflowing with beauty, with adventure, with abundance, and most importantly peace. Towards late 2017, I began working with a coach, Katie Pelkey (check her out!). One of the exercises she had me do towards the beginning of our work together was to outline my values – beauty, adventure, abundance, and ease. It’s Sunday, October 14th and though part of me does wish I could see my sister on her birthday, I feel entirely calm and I’m living by my values. I don’t have an itch to leave or go or flee. Life is moving as it’s supposed to. And I’m trusting that amazing things are yet to be discovered and uncovered. This is the beginning of a marvelous life adventure. The beginning of a new chapter in my life. The culmination of years worth of work. The payout as Saturn returns. In gratitude, in awe, with love, Wanda.
P.S. If you live in Southern California and are reading this, let me know what your favorite neighborhood to live in is. Once June comes around, I’ll have to find a place to permanently settle. I’m currently living in Oceanside, head over heels in love with Encinitas, but I’m open to suggestions!
In light of recent events, particularly the passing of Anthony Bourdain, I’ve become deeply reflective of my own experience. On the day of his death, I wrote this little blurb:
In November 2009, I attempted death by suicide. I failed. After the fact, I was angry that I had to live. Eventually (with the help of a village), I came to realize that even if I physically died, I would remain alive metaphorically – in the memories and words of others. In due time, I found a “why” for living. My first why was travel. Naturally, I gravitated towards Anthony Bourdain and all that he stood for – he was charming, passionate, attractive, curious, an explorer, a pusher of boundaries, a novelty junkie. From No Reservations to Parts Unknown, I was present. He represented inspiration and possibility. In him I saw that by sticking around I’d at least get to see the world. While I’m not exactly sure what led Mr. Bourdain to that edge, I can speak of my own experience. I know what it’s like to feel trapped. I know what it’s like to stare at reality eye to eye and feel consumed by the weight of its meaninglessness, by the magnitude of its emptiness. I’m not writing this to deliver platitudes of positivity that bypass pain, but rather to acknowledge that pain is very real. There are qualified people out there willing to hold space for you and your discomfort without trying to change anything about you. Mr. Bourdain, I hope your soul finds rest and peace. In your honor, I’ll be trying an adventurous meal at a restaurant I’ve never been to.
Ever since my own suicide attempt, I’ve held a space of reverence and curiosity for death. If you look through my writing, you will often come across it in some form – literal or metaphoric. I’ve read about death, taken classes in the realms of thanatology, and have first hand experienced its presence in my life. Over the years, I’ve also learned that rarely is anything in life black or white. I believe that death is life’s greatest transformation agent. It is for that reason that in this piece of writing, I’m going to write about suicide.
Suicide. Often people hear about it and will do everything in their power to avoid the discomfort that it brings about. The Western developed world isn’t the most death positive of societies. In my opinion, it’s a society that actively avoids death in all its many forms. In the past few months, I’ve been philosophically exploring death beyond our individual human experience of the the “self”. In my mental wanderings there were two mechanisms that surfaced that particularly caught my attention: apoptosis (“cell-suicide” or cell-programmed death) and “shooting starts”. Apoptosis comes from the Greek phrase “falling off”. This mechanism naturally occurs in our organism to quite literally keep us healthy. This programmed cell death is what allows us, as humans, to continue to grow and age. For example, the uncontrolled growth of abnormal cells in the body is called cancer. The body is so brilliant that it has developed a natural mechanism to keep homeostasis, balance. On the macro scale, there are shooting stars: meteoroids that fall into the Earth’s atmosphere and burn. I’m sure that if I searched for more of these mechanisms, outside of the human individual experience of self, I would find more. A professor I had once said, “The universe destroys itself to recreate itself.” It’s a phrase that has captivated my curiosity throughout the years.
So, if these mechanisms are present in both the micro and macro scales, why do humans have a built-in aversion towards suicide? Of course, you can argue that from an evolutionary stand-point, we’re hard-wired to want our species to thrive, to continue. Yet from a more real human experience perspective, I’d like to present the theory that perhaps our discomfort with suicide is yet another manifestation of our obsession to avoid the d word: death. Death is necessary for life. One without the other would be catastrophic. As I mentioned above, I think death is a change agent that although often unwanted it ensures the continuation we fervently desire. In recent years, the conversation around death has been slowly shifting including that of suicide. The concept of death with dignity or physician assisted suicide has come forth as a potential option for the terminally ill. If we get to choose how we live, why can’t we choose how we die? I’m not at all implying that suicide is “the answer” nor encouraging it, but I think under certain circumstances it’s another option. Now that being said, I’d like to explore the concept of context.
Based on my own experiences and hearing the stories of others, I’ve often noticed that my reactions towards death by suicide vary depending on context. For example, in the case of Brittany Maynard, a woman with terminal brain cancer who chose death with dignity (physician-assisted suicide), I felt an outpouring of respect and compassion. It was a decision that seemed logical, thought-out, and well-planned. She reached out beyond her experience, consulted her loved ones as well as professionals, and made the decision that would best suit her. Her experience seemed to have a different tone than someone unexpectedly taking their life. From my own experience, I feel deep love, empathy, and sorrow for the second scenario – for an unplanned suicide. Why the difference? I recognize that I don’t know it all. I can’t see all perspectives, all truths. From my own failed attempt to the sudden and unexpected deaths by suicide of others, what makes me ache for the scenario, is the intensity of silent pain and suffering the individual may have been undergoing. Depression is real. Accumulated psychic, emotional, and mental pain is very real. Unprocessed trauma is real. Mental health awareness is vital. Yet in addition to a sensibility to mental illness, I think it’s important that we recognize that the culture that we’ve created isn’t conducive to well-being. In the past two-decades the incidence of mental illness has increased. Is it possible that the majority of a society is pathological? Or is it the case that the increased rate in incidence of mental illness is a symptom of a sick culture, of a deeper issue?
In the case of Brittany Maynard, her pain, though not first-hand experienced by the people in her life, was made vocal. It was out in the open. This is not to say that her death wasn’t difficult for her loved ones. I can imagine that it was heart-wrenching as loss can be, but there was an understanding, a knowingness of the pain that was to come. Yet, there are a lot of people that suffer in silence.
So, if you suspect that someone is in deep pain or going through a difficult situation, or even openly declare that they are feeling suicidal, what can you do? Before I begin, I’d like to state that I’m not a licensed mental health professional. What I’m going to write in the sentences to come is based on my experience while being on the edge as well as my listening to the experience of others. First, I’d like to bring up the gift of presence. To be present without trying to change another is in my opinion the ultimate gift of love. I know it can be tempting to try to steer a suffering person to look at the “positive” side of life, but from my experience and that of sitting with others, the power of seeing someone and acknowledging their current reality, regardless of what that may be, is powerful. There is potency in being seen, in being heard, in being held. Secondly, remember why you love them. Remember the beautiful qualities you see in that person and tell them why you care for them and their existence. If possible, try to make it organic and authentic. Try to not make it sound like a “this is why I don’t want to lose you” pre-rehearsed speech. Remind them that they have worth and value by just being. Thirdly, extend invitations. Even if your invitations are not accepted, invite them to hang out, to grab a meal, to grab coffee, to do something they enjoy. Lastly, if you feel at a loss, don’t hesitate to reach out for help from someone that might be able to support you. Having difficult conversations can be one of the most intimidating parts of the human experience.
I haven’t covered the complexity of suicide nor explored all the little nuances that have exploration potential in this think-piece. From living, I’ve gathered that the human experience is grey and in technicolor rather than black and white. Over the years, I’ve learned that even if you have the best of intentions and put forth an incredible amount of effort towards everything you do, sometimes you will lose. Failure is part of the human experience. I’ve also learned, that while you can hold space, love, and be there for another, you don’t get to control other people. We all have our own agency. We all have the right to make choices. And when the choices of another or others in general don’t seem to make sense to you, I invite you to try to make space for the possibility that there might be something to the situation that you can’t see. That there might be a bigger picture and hidden details that may never make their way to the surface. The human experience invites us to make space for mystery. Death, the unknown, is an invitation to reflect in the mysteries of being. Perhaps, there is more to this life than what the eyes can see. It wouldn’t be a stretch to say: in life, there are parts unknown.
I’ve managed to ride through the swells of life with beautiful carving. I’ve fallen into the ocean, the depths of the unconscious, and nearly drowned, more times than I can count. I’ve done it all in silence. I’ve turned ruins into cities. I’ve transmuted pain into fuel and alchemized sorrow into power. I’ve sat with trauma, have sailed through chaos, and have surfed through life toppled by currents of despair. I’ve done it all in silence. With a near unbearable flexibility: The way of the snake.
On Sundays, regardless of where in the world I may find myself, I’m often overcome by a wave of gratitude and deep reflection. Through vagabonding and wandering, I’ve met many likely souls. I can see it in their eyes – the mountains they’ve conquered, the depths they’ve dived, the storms they’ve stopped with their own bare hands. They always carry a beautiful sheen in the eyes with a dash of unspeakable sadness. Their souls carry a reverent silence, though often they’re vibrant, lively, and penetrating. Travel has been the greatest tool to my awakening – awakening to my surroundings, to the magic that resides on our very soil, to our interconnectedness, our need for interdependence, our collective agony, the truth that’s found between the lines of the veil, a vehicle to the realization of my own humanity. Travel has and continues to provide me with a view of the bigger picture. It has shown me a deeper truth of the human experience – from our capacity to birth seemingly impossible beauty to our desire to destroy the beauty we worked so diligently to birth. And everything in-between.
There are days when I walk down memory lane and return to the once eager 15-year-old girl whom held a piece of paper on her hands with words that would change the course of her life. That piece of paper was a portal into a world of magic – little did she know. That piece of paper was a ticket into a world of infinite possibility, the world of science. She started working in a research lab thanks to the National Science Foundation (NSF), which led her to get into medical school at the age of 17, which then led her to her people, and eventually to travel – lots of travel.Regardless of the shiny surface, in the 12 years that have transpired since, she has been to the depths of the underworld and back. All in silence.
Silence: her faithful companion, her constant guide.
Contrast. Dissonance, change, and entropy find their way to inject their presence into my reality. I suddenly find myself peeking at the world through the looking-glass: Unspeakable joy cohabits with gut-wrenching despair. Ancient city ruins become adorned by modern metropolis backdrops. Conquered peaks are accompanied by all consuming loss. The double helix always unravels to replicate life. Meteoroids fall into the Earth’s atmosphere and burn; We call them shooting stars. A beautiful bird, spontaneously combusts – burning itself to ashes to rise again anew. In summation, the paradox of the human experience.
I move the glass aside and come across a sign. Adorned by neon pink lighting, the bold lettering reads – “Welcome to Reality: Where Truth becomes truths.”
“In the fields, she stopped and took a deep breath of the flower-scented air. It was dearer to her than her kin, better than a lover, wiser than a book. And for a moment she rediscovered the purpose of her life. She was here on this earth to absorb its wild enchantment.” Boris Pasternak
It’s been quite some time since I’ve been inspired to write on this cyber space. Most of my writing has occurred in small journals, in airport napkins, in heaps of receipts, in the notes section of my calendar. The past few months have been intensely packed with training for my new position, adapting to a non-office based lifestyle, and travel. Most recently, I’ve been galavanting the streets of Panama – a lovely Latin American gem.
The past few months have also been packed with a lot of growth and knowledge. For example, I prefer to travel on my own; and don’t you dare give me an ultimatum! My personal freedom seems to be my top priority these days. I’ve reached a peak of detachment, where everything is just passing by and I am simply passing through. I’m finally learning and understanding what these woo-woo mystical words mean: on topics such as manifestation, creation of your reality, and creating major change by simply creating small changes to the way you react to pretty much anything. I’m using psychology to ground these beliefs and give them substance. Now a days, I’m really starting to believe that I’m here on this Earth to simply have a human experience – there is no right or wrong way to do it.
Then, there are thoughts of you. Faint memories of you occasionally seep themselves into my conscious state. After we parted ways, I adopted an unconscious belief that romance was an illusion that didn’t belong in my reality. I’ve experienced lots of attraction, but I can’t remember the last time that I had a crush. I can’t remember the last time someone made me giggle and feel giddy and full of butterflies. There’s no space in my life for anything other than casual encounters. I think that when you left, you took all the romanticism that resided within me and now I’m empty. Yet, it’s a beautiful emptiness – one that I welcome. A voidness that I’ve honored and that life has filled with adventure and travel – with new friends and countless stories. After Panama City, there’s Boston, then there’s Austin. Texas always still reminds me of you. How’s the post-Navy life? Did you follow those other dreams you spoke of? The only memories that remain of you are feeble ones and they’re no longer accompanied with emotion.
I’m currently trying to figure out what city I’d like to get open dive certified in: Should I choose Barcelona (though the water is bound to be quite cold later in the year) or should I go with Conzumel (and ring in the new year with watery depth style)? I will decide within the month, but only time will tell. In the mean time, I’ll dedicate myself to lots of swim practice – reconnecting with my Pisces moon.
Just wanted to write in this space with some minor updates. So much has changed since December that it’s sort of unreal. How does life do that? How does it change so quickly? So swiftly? Until next time xoxo.