Keeping The Moments Present

Keeping The Moments Present

I danced with a new strip of the ocean that day. One that varies from any other I’ve met. It’s nestled in the side of hills cloaked in lush, variegated green blankets and sprinkled every so often with civilization, life – it’s a retreat.

Strolling its shores, whether alone or with a soul sister by my side, I am filled with an uber sense of wonder; a feeling of disbelief or temporary disconnect from reality – yet simultaneously feeling inside closest to ‘real’ than in most other places. Even the birds here soar in slow motion, relaxed and with ease, moving to the rhythm of nature’s flow, making it appear effortless all the while moving continually in a manner of purpose and survival.

There is a magical dwelling with an aura of soft penetrating light and filled with people who honor your being wherever you may be, wherever you have been, wherever you are going. They need know nothing. Validation is not necessary to receive their acceptance. Somehow they all know what we need. We need much of the same at the very core.

I called an open-air cabana near the beach my home for a week. I woke to the sun creeping over the ornately carved, wooden half-walls snuggled in my bed, draped in a netted canopy – my soul friend in the next bed over. I remained fully open to adventure and growth in as many ways possible, feeling extremely grateful every step of the way.

A sunrise is the symbol of a new day, a fresh start, a blank canvas, with no idea what is waiting for you around the bend. I glance up the shore to a distant section of land, layered and filtered by a misty sea curtain, and spot a place I traveled years before in a very different season of life. I would have no idea then that down the road I’d be called to this sleepy little sanctuary, unknown and unanticipated. Looking back at that land feels a bit like looking back in time. I have mixed feelings and visions and they flood me like an accelerated slide show. I decide that as uncertain as things are, they are right where they need to be.

I’m humbled by the magnitude of this lesson or example – that we really have no idea what life has in store and where it will take us. That we have only to decide what to make of what we find along the way.

I never have to look far to find hearts in rocks and nature. Messages. Winks. This one is far too big to take with me. I hope to meet it again one day.

On this particular day I experienced something ceremonial. We were gifted the opportunity to try cacao, harvested by a Guatemalan Shaman and brewed with cayenne in a beautiful mug, served warm on our yoga mats as part of a guided session. Surrounded by the layered sounds of earthy drums and instruments, I sobbed through the entire session as we individually honored each experience we’ve lived – light or heavy – releasing that which may have been unnecessarily absorbed, or imposed and imprinted upon us through life, and no longer serves us. Guided by one of the most genuine people I’ve encountered in my lifetime, I was free – unable and uninterested in holding back. We are left to make conscious choices about how we respond to situations, yet there are times when we are moved in unexpected ways. Feeling so blessed to have encountered these beautiful people with the gift to help us unlock and embrace possibility.

I left a heap on the mat that day. I was quite surprised by this unexpected release. I like to imagine pieces of it floating up and out of me for the last time, carried away by the Pacific breezes to evaporate, leaving space inside.

I will always remember the words a beautiful woman shared with me… “…remembering and trusting that everything is perfect.” And to be mindful of “the kernel of trust nestled inside – keep it alive, feed it. It will nourish you in return.”  No matter your faith, the messages are so often the same.

In many ways I feel undeserving of such a beautiful experience. In others, I feel like this is a very necessary pause after a long journey – recognition of growth and acknowledgment of personal evolution and forward intention. I wrote earlier this year of my intentions for the New Year…that word has followed me and presented itself in unexpected ways.

My dear friend told me I would feel like a beautiful goddess here, despite insecurities, and she was right. There was such a deep sense of acceptance flowing from this staff and the mindful, warm women who joined me on this trip that I felt at home, amongst family. The eyes and smiles of those who live here greet you in a way that makes you feel they already know your story. While attending mediation or classes, while receiving bodywork treatments, while sharing a brief interaction in passing…I felt cared for.

I am inspired by the freedom in their movement. After a beautiful evening of Pre-Hispanic dance and traditional food, the drums surfaced – maybe 5 of them. Without rehearsal they broke into rhythm, building upon each other and pounding richly against our cores. I watched the faces of the drummers and you could see and feel the passion flowing from them, it appeared effortless and is anything but. People began to gravitate toward the circle, each moving in a completely different way, and each totally uninhibited. Their bodies translated the music just how they heard it. It has to be thrilling to feel such a complete sense of freedom, free of the noise that often holds us back.

As I walk the shore I watch the glistening water from the ocean waves, mixed with the sun, rushing over the smooth black stones on the beach, pushing and pulling at them with each advance and retreat of the waves. The stones remain anchored and the forces that work to dislodge or overcome them don’t destroy them or take full advantage, rather they leave them smooth, refined, polished. I can’t help but extract meaning from that display.

I met a new group of women, gained new friends. All of different lifestyles, walks, shells, and pasts, we felt safe and comfortable, trusting, real, and honest. There is great beauty in watching people unexpectedly breaking free and facing things bravely. Friendships are formed through bonds of experience, spiritual assistance – helping each other through tough times, through honest release and reveal – and not just by building a series of niceties. I have found that by showing yourself to others more often, real life is revealed to you in return.

We helped freshly hatched turtles out of a nest in the sand and let them find their strength for a bit at a turtle shelter. Once they were lively, we released them on the shore and watched them waddle their way instinctively toward the big huge ocean, waiting to be swept away. I am blown over by the beauty in their fight. It reminds me of how small we are.

My dreams were exceeded. It was a tropical trail ride along the beach at sunset with my cowgirl soul sisters. There are few places more peaceful for me than horseback. We galloped the shore, hooves pounding the sand like drums, as the ocean water splashed at our skin. Heaven, and then some. Big, fat, full, grateful heart. The experience itself was so simple but what it offered me was immense.

A friend shared the local school with me knowing exactly what impact it would have on me. It was evening and the children were gone. It consists of three or four open-air rooms with barred windows, a simple teachers desk up front, a few long wooden benches for seating, and a couple of small bookshelves for materials. The drawings on the exterior of the building are innocent and beautiful. Taking in the artwork and creative writing hanging outside squeezes at my heart, makes me think of my little ones back home. I imagine what the room looks like filled with happy, hopeful faces. I find this school setting beautiful, simple. I feel the same love from their artwork that I do wandering the halls of our home school. We wish we had brought gifts to share…

We hiked the beach alone for nearly three hours one day exploring the rocks and tide pools for treasures and creatures, and mentally dissecting life. We made it to the rock art – a natural gallery of mind boggling creations scattered and stacked upon huge black ocean rock by unknown artists – that we spotted on our horse ride the night before. We stopped for an ocean swim midway. So many things I wonder while taking in these sights…we left our own creation in hopes of adding to the mystery!

Not nearly as impressive but meaningful nonetheless…

It’s become ritual, leaving a treasure behind. I continued a favorite tradition of burying wishes. I brought a treasure token along and shared one with my soul sister. We dug a little hollow in the sand, placed private intentions on our tokens, and covered them with sand for safekeeping. We’d like to think that there is a little piece of us there on that beach radiating the magic we felt. Maybe we’ll spread that magic to others that may stumble upon our treasures with wonder.

I don’t get much time with this girl. Our grown-up lives pull us in different directions. She is a soul sister because she knows me. She gets me. She tells the story of how we met and it makes me blush. She is generous with her admiration. She is strong and amazing and wise. Our struggles and joys are relative and we connect at the roots of both.

As I walk through my years and storyline, it becomes increasingly clear to me how the meaning of my experiences holds the weight of importance…

I seek meaning in actions, engagements.
I seek to learn.
I seek to expand.
I seek to be changed and affected.
I seek a stamp on my heart from those I meet – humans or nature or creatures.
I seek the feeling that stays with me long after the fine details fade.

I will recall experiences by the way they made me fell, what they taught me, how they comforted me, or how they nudged me out of my comfort zone to show me something new, and where they stay with me now. I file experiences away as sensations.

This is the last morning I would wake to this view…my earthy, open-air cabana with netted canopy sleeping, the ocean serenading us to sleep and waking us near sunrise, the Pacific breezes tickling my senses. I embraced many new adventurous experiences and lifestyles this week, each teaching me something very real about myself – expanding and opening me to the offerings of others. I could not put into words how this changed me, stretched me, and filled me. I’m physically overwhelmed with the gifts I’ll take back with me and I hope I’m able to share it with others. 

I am eternally grateful for the beautiful friend that shared this jewel with me, feeling very loved by the way that she knew what it would all mean to me. Our meeting was intentional, I’m certain. Her presence in my life has broadened my horizons I’ll always have a piece of her inside. 

The challenge will remain in keeping those moments present. Finding ways to pull those sensations and feelings into daily life and channel them in a completely different surrounding. Passing along the gifts and perspective shared with us. Keeping Present Moment present…



  1. beautiful, just like YOU! paula

  2. Oh my! I have been looking forward to this post. You share your experience so beautifully J. You were SO meant to be there and it seems to have expanded your spiritual landscape in such a sweet way. I adore your treasure ritual – and the turtles….eeeeek!


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