As I sit here in JFK, I can’t help but reminisce about the adventure that I got to call my summer. Exactly six months ago, I remember talking to my parents on the phone, while waiting to go onstage for a dance performance, about how I wanted nothing more than to escape Irvine and to see the world. I never thought it would happen, and if it did, I didn’t quite expect it to be anything more than a trip to London and back. I didn’t quite realize that I would actually be seeing the world.
Six months ago, I was struggling with some of the worst anxiety and stress I have ever felt in my life. School was overwhelming, my relationships felt forced, and ultimately I felt that I had lost my sense of self–I couldn’t discern between my truth from other people’s truth, and I really felt that I was aimlessly spiraling. I couldn’t trust in the resilience I know that I have, I couldn’t find the joy in my movement, and I had lost all sense of freedom [of choice].
What I didn’t realize that I understand now is that things always have a way of working themselves out. I am realizing that somehow planning a huge excursion that I just figured would be seeing the world turned into three of the most imperative months of my life.
In a span of 80 days, I have visited 12 different places and 10 different countries, and while I have been horrible about blogging, I have experienced some of the most historic establishments, improv-ed in some of the most beautiful landscapes, danced with some of the most brilliant artists, and have TRULY lived in the present.. and in that time, I truly mended my being, each place giving me back a piece of my old joyful self, or a piece of my newfound truth and freedom. After careful consideration, I figure that sharing my newfound truth with others might inspire people who feel the same way I had felt to do something.. to know that they aren’t stuck.
To start, here are some things that each country has taught me:
THE PEOPLE here are a community, the truest example of being a support in another person’s life. I had many deep conversations with the people on both islands, especially with the St. Lucians, who offered me support by listening. If anything, this is where I have learned that I must dedicate my life to listening to others, it is one of the most selfless and most imperative ways of showing support, of establishing community, and of sharing life. Life, as you may know, is is meant to be shared. We cannot do it without others.
USA (East Coast Love):
Family. Boppa, if you are reading this, I just want to let you know how much I love you and how much I love visiting you. I like our car rides between Athol and Providence, and I like our visits to sunshine creamery, our long walks and our talks with spaniards. We always have fun and I cannot wait to see you at Christmas. But really, family comes first people. Always.
Roots. Part of knowing who you are is knowing/seeing/witnessing where you come from. Italy is incredible. It answered my unknown questions about what makes my family tick, and also just made me love the traditions of my family all the more. It is oddly, home. I am very grateful to have seen Southern Italy. It will always be my favorite place and the most important place that I have visited.
MAKE THINGS HAPPEN. I spent the majority of my time conducting research and dancing here, and I have gained a stronger perspective of the beauty of dance, and the beauty of it being open to ANYONE and everyone. While I have a couple of people I still need to interview, and a few more readings to do, it is quite amazing how the artists of the UK find ways to bring their art to the public, fight for funding, and obtain a warmth for bringing the joy of movement to those who need it. I am inspired to make things happen the way these artists do in my own career and in my life.
Simplicity is life. Life does not have to be overcomplicated with possessions/materialistic consumption. One’s life does not need to be consumed in the truths of others. Life is not about money, about status. Life is about experiencing the here and now, investing in nature, in health/well-being, and in really really deep and profound relationships. I am very grateful for my time here. Everything was so expensive I had no choice but to literally experience simplicity (and often we are consumed in so much in America that I forget this). I need to spend more time in nature and less time in the grocery store :-).
Find the good in every situation. If you read the Salex blog, we discussed how Germany was closed all day while we were there on our layover thing to get to Amsterdam. We were hoping to see the sights and to try on Birkenstocks and Lederhosen but everything was closed. We had to really dig down to find that positivity and acceptance of our timing and situation, and we did. We still experienced the culture, we found a way to interact and we saw things that we might not have seen, had things been open.
DO NOT dehumanize the human experience. I loved Holland. It is a place for experimentation, a place to be open about every part of our humanity.. nothing gets swept under the rug. I never want to sweep things under the rug ever again. I shouldn’t have to feel bad about being imperfect, about my being, rather, as a community, we should be open about sexuality and education and art and all of the crazy things that are so much a part of us that we often degrade. No more of that. I have learned to accept my being for the curious me that I am. I love that about myself.
Love yourself. I spent a lot of money and time here because we spent our entire first day seeing literally all of the sights. and things are very expensive in Paris, but I realized that I am literally the most important person in my life. If I am not taking care of myself, showing love to myself, how can I love others (Ru Paul totally says this and he words it better and I love that show)? I am going to disappoint a lot of people in my life, and a lot of people are not going to love me, but as long as I constantly take the time DAILY to love myself through meditation, prayer, and chocolate, I am going to be okay with living a really really fulfilled life that makes me happy, even if people don’t agree with it (whatever, the people who support me will stick by me through anything).I also visited Iceland, and I was only there for a layover, but I like that it was so clean and organic. I want my well-being to be organic and clean. Yes.
Throughout this journey, I have made a small list of rules for how I want to live my life. I also wanted to share these wi
th you because I think they have truth for anyone and everyone. I feel like it is really easy for me to want to share this information in hopes of trying to get it in people’s heads that PEOPLE are different, that people need to live their lives differently, etc… I just want you guys to know how I choose to live from here on out. Here is a list:
- Love defies all odds.
- Fight for things. You will win.
- You can never be too cautious, too compassionate, too curious, too excited in life.
- You need to give. But you need to know yourself before you give yourself.
- There is not a right way.
- Everything is perspective. Mindset. =the power of the mind.
- Making decisions is an adventure, not a life- threatening event..lol.
- All will be well, All is well.
- Happiness is a decision.
- The body is not an object, it is a situation.
- Resilience is knowing stress and choosing to appreciate that mode of survival. Appreciate the stress.
- Your happiness, my happiness, is imperative.
- You are stronger and more resilient than you know.
- Sense of self is important.. no.. imperative.
- Meditation is important.
- Nothing ever needs to be forced in life, follow your intuition.
- DONT BE AFRAID TO JUST GET REALLY DIRTY.
- Live in the spaces between your inhalation and exhalation.
So that’s it! The last one is probably the most important. So important that I got a tattoo in reminder of breath, and knowing that it is the first and last thing we do. When all else fails, we cannot forget to breathe.
I am so excited to be returning home to see my family and my friends. I am full of life!!!!!!! But really, I really am, and I am really excited about what I’ve learned, and have already done things to change my life so that I am not wallowing in my pity, but am grabbing the edge of the cliff, pulling myself up by the fingernails. Life is really really good. I am very very excited. I am very very grateful. I love you all.
So what’s my next step? I am going to follow my newfound convictions– Find some new ones, live in love and BE JOYFUL 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 and… maybe a trip to Cuba and back to Panama next summer 😉 We will see.
For now, I might be very poor financially because of this adventure, I may have spent a day or two eating very little… but as Gene Kelly once said, “I will never starve.”
For now, I am full.
Love to you all,
“How wonderful it is that no one has to wait, but can start right now to gradually change the world.” -Anne Frank