Six Months Later…
It’s hard to say if I think these first 6 months have flown by or not. I feel like I’ve done a lot, yet still feel like I still have so much more I want to do before returning to the ‘real world’.
I honestly can’t put into words what this time has been for me thus far. Mentally I feel sharper, Physically I feel stronger, Emotionally I feel more peaceful, Spiritually I feel more energized, and In my Heart I feel more inspired. I’ve been able to make peace with things from my past that were holding me back. I’ve been able to see things in the present that perhaps were less apparent to me before (as I myself had a hard time staying fully present). And I’ve identified things in my future that I want to work toward, run toward actually with a renewed sense of purpose. Most importantly I think I’m finally learning to genuinely love myself, and be proud of who I am. If I have to sum things up in one word, it’s simply ‘grateful’
And… I know I still have such much ahead of me! Things to learn, people to meet, feelings to feel. Life is indeed good.
As a check in I thought I’d share my favorite memories thus far- The Top 10 Runners up (in no particular order) and finally my #1 most meaningful experience to date (hard to see how this one will be topped)… These are just little snippets of the overall stories… If you’re keen to read more, check out my earlier posts!
10. Daily Sunrise/Sunset Mediation in Bali
This was such a great practice. One I desperately need to get back into… It just bookended the day so well- got everything off to a great start and then closed things out the right way. I loved being with all my new friends every day as we walked to and from the beach. Once we got settled and all into our own individual mediations, I’d meditate for a bit and then just open my eyes, look at the sun, listen to the water, and be totally present in the moment. Then I’d look around at everyone else, everyone seemed so at peace. Regardless of what they were working on (and everyone was working on something), in this moment all was right in the world- inside and out. When Lynne would play her recorder to signify it was time to head back to the center, it was such a pure moment. I can always close my eyes and be right back there on that beach… and it always brings the most genuine of smiles to my face.
Check out that posture! Amazing GraceMiss this crew, we had a blast!
9. A Night of Music with Fulford in DC
I didn’t blog about this as it took place in between trips in the US, but this will always be hands down one of my most blissful nights! I went down to visit my friend David Fulford for the weekend in DC. I had been meaning to take a trip down and the timing just worked out perfectly. We had gone out to see some ‘famous DJ’ (they all sound alike to me) in town. Although he was spinning until 5am (my friend is a vampire) they had stopped serving beers at 3 so I suggested we just head back to his place to crack a few more and just chat and catch up. When we got home, I opened some beers while David started playing some music. He got super into the song (I wish I could remember what we started with) and proceeded to tell me the story as to why he loved this song and why he chose it. When it ended I selected the next song and gave the same intro… And off we went. Back and forth listening to really personal music and (as most were classic rock favorites) singing happily into the night… The best moment was probably when I, kinda embarrassingly, asked him if he’d ever gotten into the Indigo Girls. He looked at me like I had 2 heads, and I started to mutter something about a college girlfriend as to why I’d brought it up. At that moment my song ended and the next song he’d queued up was Closer to Fine! Ahhh… so perfect. The smile on my face that night still makes my cheeks hurt. Something so magical about music and friendship. Well, we must have time traveled a bit as when I decided to check my watch is was almost 8am! The sun was beginning to come up! We closed the experience by ubering to the Lincoln Memorial/Washington Monument and recreating the scene from Wedding Crashers- though the security guard there wasn’t keen on us drinking the champagne we’d brought. To me the photo is priceless and will always be a memory of this perfect night.
He seriously picked me up in this… Mini Van->Mega Fun!It’s. About. To Go. Down!One of my favorite photos of all time… ~815am (still awake)
8. Our Last Night in the Mountain House (Cape Town)
Only those that were there can really understand how epic this night was as it’s quite hard to put into words. I think for me this night was just about fun, gratitude and true friendship. It was silly, it was emotional, it was intense, it was pure, it was magical- with such an amazing group of people. We had different music blasting from all 4 corners of the house- was like some crazy club hidden up in the mountains and we’d just wander from room to room, chatting with different people about different things as we watched the sun set over a picturesque landscape. We then had the most amazing meal together spearheaded by Jess and David- we toasted with incredible wine purchased earlier at a nearby winery- toasted to the meal and its chefs, toasted to AJs birthday, toasted to Joe for his organization of this wonderful trip, and toasted to life and each other. For me the night was taken to a whole new level when I received what is one of the most (if not the most) thoughtful gifts I’ve ever gotten- from Jason and Sami. Shortly after I had finished my Ayahuasca experience I had flown to Singapore for a few days on my way to Bali and I had stayed with them. As the Aya was still quite fresh to me they were among the first to hear my full experience (with great detail and energy), and even though some of it is a little out there, they listened, really listened as they could see how important/impactful it had been for me… My story gave them the seed of the idea for my 40th birthday present, and although they ended up flying to Bali to spend that day with me a few weeks later, the present itself was still a work in progress… They pulled me aside that night in the mountains and handed me a denim jacket. At first I was like ‘Sweet! I like Denim jackets!’ (…I had also received one for my 11th birthday with a Poison band patch on it but that’s another story). But as I opened it up and looked at it my heart started to pound and my eyes teared up immediately. On the jacket were patches of the different elements of my Aya story- an Owl, an Eagle, Green Apples, and an enormous Phoenix on the back… In addition there were patches of the flags of the various countries I’ve visited thus far on my journey, with the intention that I continue to fill it as I travel. I was beyond speechless, it truly was a special moment. Jason and Sami, you are the most amazing of friends and I love you dearly. This jacket means more to me than I’ll ever be able to express…
Our house in the mountains…Team DinnerGrateful Phoenix…
7. San Pedro in the Mountains of Cusco
Wow. My first week on this Excellent Adventure. My first ever experience with a psychedelic medicine. My first time truly connecting with the universe, with nature, and with myself. The setting couldn’t have been more perfect as we spent the morning in Alice in Wonderland and the afternoon in Lord of the Rings. Haha, seriously, that’s what it was like The garden we hung out in had all sorts of funny, weird brickabrack, gnomes, dragonflies, peacocks, dogs, people laughing and dancing and twirling, a pink alter bed, and a Mad Hatter named Simon who then took us on a walk up the mountain. Past the ancient Inca Temple of the Moon, past their cleansing river and Star Gate (where pressing your head to the cold rock would transport your spirit across the universe), up to one of the most scenic lookouts I’ve ever experienced. We were led through a sunset meditation as we all connected with with earth, the sky, and each other. There were tears, there was laughter, there was connection- with everyone and every thing. Upon returning to the house we ate together and then sat around a fire sharing stories before laying in a field and looking up at a sky full of beautiful stars for what could’ve been 5 minutes or 5 hours. Finally laying in bed all night, unable to sleep as my mind replayed the events of the day. I thought about my upcoming trip with my new friends, up to Machu Picchu, then into the jungle and finally out into the world. I vowed that once a year I would revisit the Cusco mountain house for a San Pedro ceremony and am fully planning on being back there in September this year.
Spent much time in that tent(?) thinking some very unusual thoughts…On top of the world…A most amazing sunrise above Cusco
6. A Week with Mom in Ireland
What can I say about this… I think it forever changed me and my Mom’s relationship. Breaking the moments out individually would have pretty much taken over the entire list so thought better to just list the trip as a whole as one of the best memories. I mean, Mom headbutted a guy while dancing a jig to ‘Come on Eileen’ in Dublin, We jumped behind the bar at the oldest pub in Ireland, We ate Thanksgiving dinner in Galway, We (she!) crashed a wedding, We fell in love with Dingle, We laughed and talked and sang Irish music as we drove around the country. Her ‘Irish Eyes’ were smiling the whole time- I’ve never seen nor felt more genuine happiness in her. And, I finally got to tell her Thank You for always being there. Even if the Cliffs were cloudy that day, my memory of that moment never will be. Love you, Mom. Slainte!
In her element…Two sets of smiling Irish eyes…Cheers to an amazing trip!
5. Three Little Birds
This was just one brief moment at my Yoga/Meditation Retreat in Bali, but it brought me so much joy. After spending 36 hours in silence (Tuesday night through Thursday morning), our host Bindu said he’d have a ‘fun way for us to come out of silence’. And so after our morning sunrise mediation, breakfast and neti potting, and finally our morning yoga session, we all circled up as Bindu handed out little song pamphlets. He said there was a traditional song he’d like us to sing as part of the week’s ceremony/transformation and asked us to turn to page 11. We all chuckled when we saw the song was Bob Marley’s Three Little Birds. Bindu started to sing it and said whenever we felt so inclined, to jump on in. Everyone was a little quiet at first, myself included, but as we got through the first couple verses we started to pick up steam. By the end of the song we were all laughing and smiling and singing loudly and blissfully. Nobody was worried about ‘looking cool’ or ‘not having a good voice’…. Everybody was just there in that moment, singing together with our new friends. As we looked around at each other, you could see pure joy in everyone’s twinkling eyes. Such a simple moment, yet such a powerful one at the same time. And every time I hear that song for the rest of my life, I’ll be reminded of that morning in Bali… and smile.
How we did breakfasts…My man Bindu!The H2O crew after singing Three Little Birds- pure joy!
4. Sunrise Volcanoes in Guatemala
This one was also a rather simple moment- but another incredibly powerful one. Waking up early next to Lake Atitlan was easy to do when you knew you were going to be treated to a show by Mother Earth. The setting was magical as every morning the sun began to rise over the mountain range surrounding the lake, which included several volcanoes. And these volcanoes were smoking! Back near Antigua one was actually shooting out bits of lava! Thankfully these ones weren’t looking to bury us under a river of fire, I decided they were reminding us of the power of nature. To show respect to the Earth, and be grateful for the time we are sharing with it as well as all its air, water, and food. Also to find strength and energy in nature, assets to carry with you as you live your life and inspire others to live theirs. This was one of the more powerful experiences, one that connected me back to nature reminding me of my time deep in the jungle with Aya.
Every. Single. Morning.What’s next? Diving in…
3. My 40th Birthday
Not just the day itself, but the overall experience. The days leading up to it, my actual birthday, and the few days after…
It started back in Canggu after my 2nd Ninja camp. I had booked a room at the W for a few days, why not, it was my birthday… I guess the staff there had noticed on my account and had decorated my room and left wine and cake! Nice work #Starwood… Over the next few days I got to see good friends old and new: An amazing dinner with Rose from Yoga camp who was also in Canggu (she also got me a very special book for my present!), Lunch and drinks with Kayla from Yoga camp who also showed back up in Canggu, Jason and Sami flying in from Singapore and meeting me at the Single Fin Bar in Uluwatu, Lucette from Ninja Camp also being in Uluwatu and bringing me a piece of Chocolate Cake, the most epic, absolutely epic lighting storm I’ve ever seen as the clock turned midnight, Jason, Sami, and I doing birthday yoga (then eating burritos), and finally meeting up with Jenesy and Henry (plus Clare from Ninja camp!) back in Singapore at the top of the Marina Sands hotel… I was glad I got to see them one last time- plus they brought me a sweet Samurai Warrior print back from Japan! I had a ton of messages on voicemail, text, Facebook, WhatsApp, etc. I really felt special, I truly felt loved…
I think that 4 is supposed to be a 3?H2O reunionAin’t no rain gonna stop us from having fun…Thor decided to say happy birthday as well!What a couple of piles… (Sami goes to yoga while we watch the most boring football game of all time… 6-6 OT tie Seahawks vs Cardinals- we did yoga and pushups on commercials though!)This guy… love ya J!This is 40…
Oh, then I went home and had Steaks with the fellas, and a Funky Brunch with all the gang in NY (including Phil and Liz who had flown up!) 😉
Damn building back there photobombed us…Never a dull moment at a Funky Brunch…
2. Impromptu Karaoke in Finland
One of the more recent memories and one I just blogged about. But man, what fun. Aleksi breaking out the guitar and putting on his show was just so cool… and so random! I’d say the most random things generally turn out to be the best. The simple moments of joy that you weren’t expecting that just show up and tap you on the shoulder. This was one of those. Sitting in O’Poro Pub and singing songs with Aleksi, capping things off with our rendition of Rappers Delight was just that, a simple moment of joy… (plus my mind is still blown from him knowing Straight Outta Compton- wanna see the video?)
I mean… so much fun. This guy is a badass
1. Surprising Joe for His Birthday
Another just epic few days celebrating life and friendship down in Cape Town. Joe didn’t know it but on my way to New Zealand I had booked a side flight back down to South Africa and had been coordinating with his (my) friends on pulling off a variety of surprises for him- one of which would involve the ‘double trash can’ of my presence as well. Of course a hike would be involved! It’s Cape Town AND Joe after all… Some of the crew was taking him on a hike up Constantia Nek to catch the sunset before dinner (the ploy), what he didn’t know was that a whole bunch of the rest of us were up waiting for their arrival at a cabin at the top. One we had decorated and stocked with food and drink and had planned on spending the night in! Joe was actually surprised for once! He had no idea that the cabin allowed overnight guests, let alone that a huge surprise awaited him up there- oh and then I jumped out of a side room as well! Man I love surprising people… Though I think his 2 Brasilian cousins (who I also know well) were more excited/surprised to see me, Joe had just said good bye to me like 4 weeks ago 😉 The weekend continued with another surprise party at his house arranged by Dino and Sonal (Black tie theme), the Ultra Music festival (time traveled again), and finally an engagement party on the beach for Sol and David. I can’t say enough how much I love my Capetonian friends, they really do life right, and I’m happy that they are there keeping a smile on Joe’s face. I of course decided to stick around CPT a bit longer (I was there after all…) and once again live like a South African- man I love that town. Added a few extra pics as there was no blog post about this…
Getting the cabin readySunset Yin Yoga taught by Vanessa!Joe, Anne, and Any!Joe birthday dinner. One thing you love about Joe is _______. Really indicative of amazing character when the group never runs out of adjectives.Homies…They clean up nicely!For his 40th we got him something he’s always wanted… A Harem!Keeping it classy since 1998 (minus backward hats, shell necklaces, frosted tips, etc…)Happy Birthday bud!Sonal and Dino- shoutout to them for throwing a great party (and for getting this hippie a tux for the night!)Ultra lived up to its name… #wolfpackSafadinho! So much love in this family, happy hearts indeed!Wouldn’t be a Cape Town trip without mandatory pic of my lil’ homie Ethan. Always a reminder how little you need to be happy watching kids run around on a beach.A lovely evening celebrating Sol and David’s engagement (and I of course was still drinking wine to celebrate Joe as well…)
And the winner for best moment is (drum roll):
There isn’t much more to say about this. It’s by far the most transformative thing I’ve ever done. I came home from Peru a changed man, a grateful man, a humble man. The man who sold me my Incan cross necklace (still wear it every day) said that opening my heart and mind would allow me to see the universe in new and beautiful ways. This couldn’t me more true. Every time I think about my ceremonies I feel all the emotions I felt then- strength, power, courage, love, fear, gratitude, humility, wisdom… It truly was an initiation into my new self. I love telling people about my experience and I especially love meeting new people that have done Aya themselves. It’s an instant and powerful bond, something only those that have been in ceremony can understand. Even now I still have new realizations, ideas/thoughts that connect in my head, even visions I had that have manifested in real life. It was the most powerful experience I’ve ever had and it continues to inspire me on a daily basis. Full blog post here.
The Maloka (jungle hut) that would change my life forever…So many thoughts staring up at this roof…Seeing the universe in a whole new way…Fellow explorers…
As always, thanks for reading. Hope you enjoyed.
Much love and bliss, and with a ton of gratitude…
Just a guy on a hero's journey...