21 May Journeying to Joy and Elephants
I started out 2018 fulfilling my dream of going to Thailand with Jami Seiber, to “be with the elephants”. It was a trip many years in the making. It started back in 2010, while listening to Jami’s recording of Mandlovu Mind. In that experience, the Goddess told me that I needed to go “be with the elephants”. I was excited by the dream, and thought “someday”… At the time, I thought it would be a long time before I’d be ready to undertake such an excursion; I had never traveled further than the Middle East, and knew the trip would ask a lot of me that I didn’t think I was able to give.
Several years later, in 2015, I was telling a friend about Jami’s music. I looked up her website, and saw that she led trips to Thailand to visit and learn about elephants. I was awestruck by the perfection! Not only could I possibly go “be with the elephants”, but I could do it with the very person whose music had inspired this dream to begin with! I put myself on a mailing list for news about the next trip, and pushed it back to the “someday” place. After all, even though I had found a trip I wanted to do, I believed it would be ages before I was ready to actually make such a trip.
6 months later, my father died. And several things happened. In our last one on one conversation, my father told me he was worried about me. He was dying from diabetes related complications, and I was weighing in at 325lbs. He didn’t want me to go through what he had been going through, and, although he had learned to respect me about my body and my choices, he needed to tell me about his worry, now, when he knew he wouldn’t have another chance. I received his word with the love with which they were intended.
On the day my father died, something broke loose in me. I walked around for hours, completely dazed. His death was expected. I had been watching him for the past 5 years, knowing I was watching his decline. And, he had announced his desire to die 2 weeks earlier, so I knew it was coming. My daze wasn’t from being surprised…it was the daze of being loosed from one’s moorings. My whole life, this man had been there. I had loved him as a child. I had hated him as a teenager. And, one day, in my late 20’s, I chose to love him again. Somewhere along the way, I realized he would never be the father I had wished for. And, I could love this man for the father, and man, he was. I saw his shortcomings and flaws, and his gifts. I stopped fighting with him, and began to celebrate who he was, and what he had taught me. So, on the day he died, I was in a daze, because this central figure in my life was gone. No more. And that meant a whole part of my life was no more. And even though I’d been through a similar situation when my husband died, in 2001, this was different. Because so much of who I was had been defined by my father, by the huge presence he’d been, by his role in our family, and by the stories he had carried about who he believed I was. I was dazed because, in a huge way, the loss of him meant that those stories no longer had the energy they had carried for 48 years. I felt it immediately…that I was in a time of letting go of layers upon layers of stories about who I was, and who I wasn’t, that were never really mine. They had been placed around me and within me, and I had often railed against them…I was now in the time of getting to figure out which of those stories were actually true. What was mine? What didn’t fit? What was ready to be dropped?
In the days immediately following the funeral, I got a letter from Jami, announcing the next Thailand trips. I felt excited. There was a synchronicity, coming while I was in a period of deep letting go. Perhaps I could craft a new story, in which I was someone who travels to Thailand, someone who makes a dream a reality, someone who goes to “be with the elephants”. Perhaps “someday” was something I could let go of…
As I read the letter, I noted that there was a weight limit for the trip…about 80 lbs less than I weighed at the time. Watching my father die from diabetes, remembering his worry about my weight, I considered that maybe I was ready to let go of the weight, as well. At the very least, I felt ready to make some changes, and see what happened. I wrote to Jami about my situation, and we set up a call. When we talked, we agreed that it was best for me to plan to go on a 2018 trip, rather than in 2017, to give myself time to be ready. The trip had some strenuous physical demands, and I needed time to not only drop 80 lbs, but get physically fit to be able to keep up. And, it felt especially synchronous as 2018 would be the year I turned 50. What a great way to celebrate!
So, I set to work. I shifted my diet. I found a trainer that worked really well with me, and I started exercising…once a week at first, then increasing it, until now I am at the gym daily unless I am sick or traveling. In many ways, I stretched way past my comfort zone, and I discovered that, even when I was deeply uncomfortable, I still had a foundation of joy that never left me. In essence, I changed my life.
Pretty quickly, the process stopped being about weight loss. Yes, I was shedding weight and fat, but more importantly, I was releasing old stories about myself that didn’t fit who I am. In the process, I was discovering who I really am – A physically, emotionally and spiritually powerful woman, capable of meeting far greater challenges than I had ever imagined. A Magician, a Tantrika, a Goddess, and an Alchemist.
In January 2018, I flew 23 hours to Thailand, and spent two weeks traveling with fabulous people, and connecting with several elephants, the most amazing creatures I have ever met. It was a magical trip! I came to understand the call to “be with the elephants” was about BEING, and BEING WITH, as much as it was about the elephants. In being with the elephants, I deepened my understanding about so many things – deep, steady grounding; moving slowly, and really exploring wherever I am, before moving to the next thing; trusting the solidity of myself; and Embodied Joy! To read more about Embodied Joy, click here.