Well, I did it. I took my first journey outside of Canada and somehow managed to navigate Toronto Pearson International Airport, Customs and LAX Airport solo without a massive anxiety meltdown. I did shed lots and lots of tears though, but not tears of sadness. These tears were tears of awe. Awe that I actually found the "balls" to follow my gut and do something like this. Awe that I allowed myself to be vulnerable enough to ask for help in the form of both moral and financial support from my community to get me on this healing pilgrimage (an absolutely gut wrenching experience in vulnerability). Awe over the amount of love and support I received; and awe that I was finally en route to the place the Universe had been calling me to go to for MONTHS.
It didn't take long after arriving for me to realize just why I was being called to Hawaii. The energy here is POWERFUL, the culture is very chill and relaxed, and there is a large focus on 'live in the moment.' Sounds like pure paradise hey? NOT FOR ME (initially). Let me explain..
Admittedly in the past 5ish(?) years I had become addicted to productivity. I am one of those people who's mind is always whirling a mile a minute (maybe even 10,000 miles) and am rarely ever fully present. I found stability in plans. I planned out every minute of every day and the 30 days ahead. I would re-arrange and change these plans constantly in order to 'achieve' the most I possibly could out of every minute and prided myself on it. I was ALWAYS in a rush. I'd been living in this mindset that if I just 'busted my ass' someday I would be able to tackle my 16 mile long to do list and be able to rest. The problem was that the list never ended, it only got added to. As a result, it perpetuated my deep seeded feelings that I was not enough because I was never able to accomplish everything on the impossibly long to do list.
It did dawn on me about a year ago that I was the one creating this to do list and that my expectations of myself were ridiculous but I did not know how to stop. I couldn't figure out how to take any of the things off the list. I spent many nights screaming to the universe "what the fuck do you want from me?????" MEDITATE was always the answer. "Fuuuuuck me" was always my response. Sitting still and being present was excruciating for me. I realized that there must be something I am running from, something within me that I didn't want to deal with but no matter how hard I tried, I just couldn't force myself to sit with it.
Hawaii on the other hand, is forcing me to learn how to be present. The energy here (in my experience) does not allow you to hold onto anything that no longer serves you. In fact, it has been said by locals that many people move to the islands thinking they will find paradise but wind up selling their homes and leaving shortly after because of this energy. You really have to embrace change and a much slower pace of life to be here. The people of Hawaii also LOVE their story telling which gives me ANXIETY as I am always looking at the clock and thinking "just get to the point.. there are things to do and your story is taking up time!" (my folly, I get that). It's hard however to be frustrated because the people (at least all of the ones that I have met) are absolutely lovely, kind, warm, welcoming and caring. The sense of community in this little town of Hawi I am staying in is incredible.
The cancer retreat centre that I decided on here has a heavy focus on Qigong, which I knew would be incredibly difficult for me based on how resistant I felt to the idea of it. I also knew that it would be exactly what I needed. In order to follow through with going within, I knew I would need to be in a place outside of my current life (where it is waaaay to easy to find something that "has" to be done instead) and that I would need heavy support. Kokolulu Farm and Cancer Retreat is just the place for me. I am more or less stuck here (although they do take me on lots of excursions) as I have no transportation other than my legs and I am primarily on Lew and Karin's schedule (the retreat owners) which involves a lot of resting and relaxing in between treatments and very limited ability for me to make plans (totally excruciating). I am learning to live in the moment.
Since I arrived at Kokolulu I have cried sooo many tears, felt decent amounts of frustration and anger, and yes, even had a few temper tantrums/meltdowns. "It's ok to be where you are, you are loved you as you are, and you are doing a great job" they tell me over and over. As much as I want to pack up and run in some moments, I REFUSE to entertain that as an option for more than a few minutes at a time. I came here for this. This is what I wanted... to learn how to be present, relax and fully be ok with me. This, I believe, is an integral part of my healing. And besides, what am I going to do, go home and tell everyone who supported/funded me "Thanks for all your help but I decided to quit"... ha! NOT an option! Sometimes in life you have to set yourself up for success by creating barriers to quitting.
Through all of this my journal has become my best friend. In times of upset I write it all out in whatever childish manner it is being said in my head (you better believe there are lots of swear words). But.. by the time my journal entry is complete, I feel a release of negative emotions and am able to see things in a different, much more positive light. It helps me to come to realizations about what my real problem is which is most often my thought process. From there I can re-evaluate, ask myself what is actually true, change my thoughts and move forward.
This place is also showing me that although I have done A LOT of work in the past to improve how I see and speak to myself as well as interpret external situations, I still have a lot of room for improvement. Healing is really like a big dirty onion... there are always more layers and they always induce tears. The treatment here is essentially breaking me of my old routines and habits that are no longer serving my wellbeing. This is not at all an easy process and FAR from comfortable.
On the upside however, the plant life here in Hawaii is ABSOLUTELY STUNNING, the water warm and salty, the geckos (which I have become fascinated with) are EVERYWHERE, and Karin and Lew are wonderfully supportive. So... there is a lot of beauty to balance out the hard emotions and distract me from the pain of going through the dark night of the soul. This experience is also showing me how mother forking brave I am because let me tell ya it would be WAY easier to just say fuck it, grab a bottle of rum and self medicate to an early end. But that's not what I came to this planet to do.
So, know that although I am experiencing some struggle, I am also experiencing the beauty of change. In fact, yesterday I had some pretty profound shifts but I'll save that for the next blog post. Through every hard emotion I keep reminding myself that it will get better. Change is never easy.
If you feel compelled to send positive vibes and virtual hugs, I will gladly accept them all with gratitude. I also ask that you continue to see me happy and healthy and with a clean and clear CT scan when I return home.
Peace & Love,