June 27, 2011 – Munduk, Bali, Indonesia
It rained pretty hard today. Lots of thick, low clouds obscuring the landscape. Apparently this is an auspicious day in Bali. As we were driving up into the mountains from Ubud, we saw lots of ceremonies – weddings and cremations and such. Our guide told us that the priests determined that June 27 was auspicious, thus all the ceremonies.
Right now I’m enjoying my rustic bungalow, enjoying the sounds of night critters and frogs. I was attacked by a moth at dinner. The moth kept bouncing off my head. I freaked out a little. I was reminded of “my person,” remembered how much he hated moths and mosquitoes, how he used to swat at them to get them to go away. Eventually, the moth settled down and rested on the arm of my chair. I sat very still the entire meal, very slow movements, so as not to disturb the moth. I just had to accept and be one with the moth. The moth was really beautiful – brown and orange, quite big. My yoga instructor, Stacey, told me the moth was auspicious, a sign of transformation. Given my memory and association to moths in my old life, I’m not sure what the moth may have been trying to communicate with me, but it’s interesting for this to have occurred today, an old life anniversary.
June 27, 2010 – hills of Umbria, Italy
I just had a meltdown, sobbed my eyes out. Today is the first day of my very first yoga retreat. My yoga instructor, Susan, picked me to demo wheel pose. I wasn’t even sure if my spine could do that. After being lifted up into a half circle, back arched, I lay still on the floor with my eyes closed for a few seconds and then wiggled my fingers and toes. At lunch, Collin and Karen, the friendly British couple, asked me if I wanted to go with them to Montepulciano in Tuscany. I really wanted to go, but I told them, “I think I need to rest.” I felt myself getting quiet, retreating. I could tell my emotions were about to come to the surface. After lunch, I cried some on my bed but then Susan, my instructor and also my roommate, came in. She told me I had a big heart opener today. I got brave and told her about today, that it is the first anniversary. She told me she is glad I am here. I needed space to cry, to be alone, somewhere I could feel safe and secluded. I found a sheltered spot under a bunch of oak trees on a dirt road not too far from our villa. I lay down in the middle of the road and sobbed uncontrollably for over an hour, hours maybe.
June 28, 2010 – hills of Umbria, Italy
Yesterday was a huge day for me, one of the biggest days of my life, ironic because it was the anniversary of another big day. I did the biggest yoga poses of my life yesterday – handstand, feathered peacock pose, and wheel pose, which were really scary for me, especially wheel pose. I have a giant fear of hurting myself. And then there was the trust factor, having to trust others to help me and support me and keep me safe. I had to put my faith and trust in Susan that she knew what she was doing. It was all just so big and scary.
I had to cry it out. I remembered what Richard from Texas said to Elizabeth Gilbert in Eat, Pray, Love about our hearts being cracked open. That’s what it felt like, like my heart was torn open and out came all this stuff – anger, grief, fears about my body, gigantic disappointment. I purged a lot, but know I’ve got more in there.
I talked out loud to myself. I told myself what a huge push forward this was, coming to Italy on my own. It took a lot just to get here, lots of pep talks, “you can do it, you need to do it, you must do it.” I told myself that this, the yoga retreat, was what I signed up for. I’ve pushed myself way outside my comfort zone. Trusting in others, overcoming fears, trying not to listen to the “I’m scared” or “I can’t” voice…this is huge for me. I talked to the Universe. I asked, no begged, the Universe to share Elizabeth Gilbert’s spirit and energy with me. I prayed to God to please keep me safe.
Lying on the ground looking up at the leaves and branches, I felt like they were embracing me. I thought of my friends. In my mind, I could see my closest friends in a circle around me. I felt their love. I thanked the Universe for each of my friends. Elizabeth Gilbert joined my friends, and later me, in the center of the circle. Around my friends I created another circle, a circle of all the people who have supported me, have been there for me. I acknowledged each of them by name. Others came to mind, others who did not support me because they were too afraid to get close to my pain, I guess. I wished I could have placed them in the outer circle, but I couldn’t. I felt a lot like Elizabeth Gilbert, I knew I was having an Elizabeth Gilbert moment. She hugged a tree by moonlight in India. She lay on a beach on a remote island near Bali and visualized and made peace with everyone she could think of who ever hurt her. I thought to myself if she had moments like these, it is ok for me too.
Before I left my refuge under the canopy of oak trees, I went to each of the trees and thanked them for holding me, for creating this space for me. I stopped at the last tree, was about to thank it, but then I noticed that it was being choked by ivy (ivy! that nasty, invasive plant I spent weeks ripping out of my yard, at times on my knees in tears), its branches broken. I realized this tree was not part of the “circle” of trees that had supported and held me; its branches were separate from the other trees. In this tree, I saw him. This tree, like him, is broken, diseased. Tears came to my eyes. I paused and then pulled myself away from that tree. I walked away. I let go. I headed down the lane back to the villa, but really I knew I was setting out on my own path, my journey into my new life.
June 28, 2011 – Munduk, Bali, Indonesia
This time a year ago I was having my meltdown in Italy, sob fest under a canopy of oak trees on a country lane in the hills of Umbria. No meltdowns in Bali! Today I celebrated myself, “my” anniversary of the beginning of my transformation and journey. I went into the pool below Bali’s tallest waterfall. The cascading water was so strong and powerful. I leaned back and the force of the water held me up. I loved it! Very cathartic and liberating. I felt moved in my spirit, my soul. I felt spiritually cleansed, a baptism of sorts, purified. The word Stacey shared with us today in our early morning yoga practice is “Ananda.” In Sanskrit, this word means bliss, or more loosely, joy. To me this word means “Celebrate!”
November, 2011 – reading Prodigal Summer, Seattle, WA
I understand what the moth was communicating to me now. Moths communicate to each other through their sense of smell. Moths use olfactory navigation to find and identify their mates – they detect pheromones. “[Moths] tell their love . . . by scent.” Prodigal Summer It wasn’t a moth attack, it was moth love. The moth was attracted to me! It sensed my heart’s desire. I think the moth was trying to give me a message about love. . . “you are ready for love, you are worthy of love, you deserve love.”
I now also understand how the moth “attack” was a sign of transformation. Like butterflies, a moth transforms from a caterpillar through a “re-birth” and emerges from its cocoon as a beautiful, fluttering insect. A moth “awakens” from a period of “rest,” or in my case, grief. Through Urdhva Dhanurasana, aka wheel pose, and my sob fest in Italy, I was awakened. I was re-born. I emerged anew, a beautiful butterfly.
In the spirit of thanksgiving and gratitude, I would like give thanks and express my gratitude to Susan, the instructor of my very first yoga retreat for her role in cracking open my heart and for observing me writing in my journal and declaring to our yoga group, “she’s a writer.” I am a writer and most importantly, I have given my story a voice. I am able to share with you, my reader, how something tragic has become something beautiful. Thank YOU for allowing me to share! I am grateful.