Chilly. Wet. A down pour of water, and I am miles from the ocean. This morning, Fiji is showing me her other side. Just a bit of me is wishing I was back in Oz on one of the many gorgeous beach walks I enjoyed almost daily.
As I walked to the market, I saw children getting off the bus to go to school. All girls in their uniforms, navy plaid dresses with white blouses, not so eagerly heading into school on a rainy day. Two sisters seemed to be arguing over who got the rainbow striped umbrella, the smaller one unable to suppress a giggle as the bigger sister snatched it away with a growl. I followed suit with the smaller, and my heart swelled at the feeling of having the gift of sisters in my life. Then I noticed a Baba getting off the bus behind his sweet charge, silently ushering his little girl with outstretched arms, ready to catch her in case she slipped in the rain. My heart swelled again, and this time a tear fell.
I don’t know where to begin, yet my heart is full, that’s when I know it’s time to write.
Here’s the truth. I went to Australia to find love. It didn’t happen. I’ve had loads of time to think about it and now I realize how desperate I was for it. I got promised the whole package: happiness, babies, support- the good life. I came knowing that the person I wanted to fall in love with, really cared about me-yet, in the end, we just did not truly accept each other. I think we both just hoped the pieces would fall into place once we were face to face, and crushingly, the opposite happened, it fell to pieces.
Yet, as always, I am blessed with wonderful friends. I have been spoiled rotten! Visits to national parks. Strolls along gorgeous beaches. Tastes of carefully screened GF delights. Breakfasts, lunch, and dinners…all punctuated by delicious espresso and new friendships. Over the top Go Go dancing, yogic karma cleaning & kirtaning, mind shocking mentalist performing, bone chilling seal diving, tea toting footie watching and my favorite…making delicious dinners with friends. The love rained down on me.
During my time in Oz, I spent two weeks at an ashram. My time there was short, yet precious. I gained insights into myself, while working daily at my given tasks. I was reminded at how much I like physical work. How it emboldens me to feel strong, capable, and purposeful. I was also reminded how much I sought approval from others for a job well done, or comments on how hard I worked. There were times when I received such accolades for my dedication to a task, yet usually from other guests, and not from the residents of the ashram. At the ashram, they try to impart that living a life without attachment to approval, or for that matter disapproval, can bring contentment for self, and thus peace.
In the guest book found in each room, are listed the tenants by which those who follow this sect of yoga believe in. After the listed tenants were some reminders of why people come to ashrams, and in one case particularly, as it pertains to behavior. It gently reminded couples to think carefully of how they display there affections, concluding with:
We are here to find love from ourselves, not to seek it from others.
It was a soothing reminder to read nightly at the ashram. It became my mantra.
I love you, Korynne. Love myself. I love me.
Often, I would repeat this to myself as I worked. I would repeat it when any sadness emerged at the love I had hoped to gain. I would repeat it, and often laugh at how silly I felt trying to win myself over. Other times, I would just feel like an idiot. I would shake my head and feel myself to be a lunatic, easily wiping away the love I sought to build up in myself. As we say in yoga, I was building a new practice, and practice I must. And as with most new practices, it was tough, filled with highs and lows. Yet, I was blessed to be in a space that encouraged self study, and its routines proved ample time for me to delve into this new love affair.
After leaving the ashram, I missed it greatly. I missed the daily routines of asana, chanting, working, meditation, and silence. I told myself I would not let it all go. I would practice at least one aspect of ashram life daily, back out in the world.
Well, I didn’t. I accepted excuses on behalf of myself: no time, no where private, rarely alone, etc etc. What I did not quiet understand at the time, yet becomes clear to me now, was this: What I missed was the practice of getting to know myself, and therefore learning how to love myself.
As many of you know, I often misplace things. This talent is heightened while traveling, when I am in a new place, and lack a routine or place to put my things. While driving down the coast with an extraordinarily patient friend, I threw a tantrum because I had misplace my phone. This was nothing new, I had misplaced, and then found something daily on this trip, yet I took this event as a personal failure.
We were in the car, and I couldn’t find my phone to take down the number of a possible place of accommodation. I stopped the car and started searching. I also started cussing. My anger at myself grew and grew. I was exploding with self hate. I started muttering and yelling at myself. How stupid can a person be to lose the phone while in the car!?? It must be in here somewhere!!! Did it fall out!? Did I leave it back at the hotel? I am so sick of myself!! What the #@$* is wrong with me!? Arrghhhh!!!!
My dear friend gently tried to assure me and help me find my phone, yet nothing she could say or do could calm my anger at myself. At the height of my berserk, I thought to ask my friend to call my phone, dawning on me that if it were in the car, we would hear it.
She did. It rang. I felt relived and stupid all at the same time. I apologized to my friend for acting like a psycho, she Aussied it away with a kind, “No worries.”
Yet, it never dawned on me to apologize to myself.
I had lost my practice of self love. Without daily practice, I fell unconsciously back into my old habits. Even though I would often feel silly, telling myself I love you, it was working to break the habit I have of jumping all over myself for simple daily occurrences. Many of us do this to ourselves, berate ourselves over something trivial. Yet, how deep does it run? If I am willing to cuss myself out over misplacing my phone, what am I willing to do when I say something that hurts a friend? Deny myself that friendship? Or make a mistake in my job? Tell myself I am not good enough or don’t deserve it?
While at the ashram, I was fortunate to be there at a very auspicious time, during Guru Poornima- a new year celebration. Many beautiful rituals were held during the full moon that included chanting, meditation, singing and fire offerings, all towards honoring the guru. During a fire ritual, we were invited to make an offering, or a promise to ourselves and to then use it as a mantra. The idea sprang quite quickly, and I chose to keep my heart open. For me, at that time, I was a bit worried I would put up walls and close off myself from opening up my heart to another. I was consciously working at not berating myself for coming to Australia for a dude. Yet, it was much harder to honor my efforts towards being part of a partnership. It was still in the stages of an untested roller coaster ride.
Again, after leaving an environment that fostered personal growth, putting into practice what I had begun proved difficult for me. Although Australia has its unique cultural ways, I felt less like I was traveling out of the US, and more like I was visiting friends. I did many of the things I would have done at home, with my friends, yet with the twinkle of the Southern Cross guiding each adventure. Hence, there was not much to challenge my belief structure beyond paying $18.00 for a bacon and egg brekkie. And so, loving myself while keeping my heart open were far from my mind when a mate would ask, “How you going?”
Arriving in Fiji set my heart loose again.
Something about seeing people doing everyday things, things that I see and do at home, yet knowing that making it all happen takes ten times the effort, does something to the heart. For instance, keeping the school uniform- the one, neat and clean without running water in your house or electricity. Or, like Carolina who I met at the market, she holds three jobs, working 80-90 hour weeks without a day off. Today she shared with me that she is going to go to restaurants with her produce to see if she can get regular clients, since there are many that sell the same produce at the markets. She is so busy, yet still offered to take some time today to show me around. So many of the people here, work so much harder, yet still have their hearts open.
Or perhaps it was mother nature in her brilliance,showing me both the sunny side that is easily loved and then the dark and cloudy side that takes more energy to love. Her storming outside was forcing me to look at why I storm inside. The gray and darken skies require no shading of the eyes and with nothing to hide behind, I could look inward. I am forced to stay put, in order to stay dry. As I strip off the summer dress and rug up with my warming Ozzie threads, I am brought back to my time at the ashram, where introspection was invited, welcomed, and cherished.
It hasn’t even been 24 hours here, and I already feel my heart pulsing its mantra: I will keep open. I love myself. I love me. I have an open heart to others. I am worth loving.
I love you Korynne!