when the conditions are right,
and I just sit and notice,
my heart breaks wide open
at the extraordinary sights.
At how incredibly alive this world is;
when the conditions are right,
and I just sit and notice,
my heart breaks wide open
at the extraordinary sights.
At how incredibly alive this world is;
It is Wednesday, January 24th. This past week has been exhausting. I started my new job at The Chocolatree Restaurant. I worked Friday through Monday. I’m working today as well. I’ve noticed how much my desire to be perfect and to be liked is present in a work environment. On top of learning how to do something completely new to me, my mental expenditures have been overdrawn. I am so grateful to be working at this particular establishment, because I think it’s a great place to explore my own authentic expression, separate from wanting to please others. It’s odd to say that, working in the food industry and specifically in customer service. But I do believe the work environment would support me trying to shed these layers that no longer serve me.
This all sounds very vague so I’ll give some more concrete scenarios. For example, when a guest asks me for something but I was already in the middle of something else, what shall I do? The old paradigm in my mind says, “The customer is always right and the customer comes first”. But I do believe that the owners of this restaurant and the staff would disagree with those statements. They might ask me, “What do you want to do right now?” Of course, each situation varies. To follow along with the example above, though, I would say that I want to finish bussing this table, clean it, and set it, before moving on to the next task. First, so that I don’t forget. Second, so that it’s ready for the next guests. Then, I would like to get the maple syrup or hot sauce for the guest at B3. And you know what they would reply? Then do that, Stephanie. I appreciate you for being you.
It’s a very different place of employment. During my ‘interview’, David kept asking me how important authenticity and presence were to me. They are very important to me, I replied. Yet, I have never applied them to work. Or to busy, restaurant work. It is a true challenge. Today, I work from 12 to 8pm. Even before I go to work, I intend to check in with myself and ask, “What do I want to do?” Not, “What should I be doing?” Or, “Is this the right thing to do?” Or, even more poignant, “Will they like me if I do this or that?”
I’ve discovered yet another arena (work) in which I get to explore my deepest fears of 1) being wrong, and 2) not being liked.
Saturn is really calling upon me to step up and become my own authority. He’s saying, who are you? And do you like this person? I haven’t been liking myself lately. I’ve been very harsh. Very critical. Whenever I start talking to someone about astrology, a little voice in my head says, “Really, Stephanie? Astrology?! They don’t care about astrology. Also, it’s a little out there”. Although that’s what my mind (or ego) tell me, I get quite the opposite reactions from people. Often, they are intrigued and ask for me to share more about my astrological insights. Wow, a light bulb just went off!
Decisions have been difficult as well, because I have all of these ideas about what I should be doing or what’s most practical or realistic.
I guess I’ve been exhausted because I’ve been bullying myself.
Yesterday was my day off. Also, my ‘integration’ day. I like Tuesdays because I have a regular coaching trade, my coaching class: Art of Engaged Mindfulness, and an astrology discussion group. I also went for tea and a walk near Boynton Canyon with Maria around noon. I took a shower and washed my clothes at Maria’s place. I even stayed the night. I’ve been staying in my car and it has been cold as fuck. I am so grateful to wake up well-rested this morning, in a tank top, and in a warm, cozy and quiet place so I could write.
I had an insight yesterday: I have been so focused on the surviving stuff that I’ve been feeling depressed and lacking the thriving-mode that I’m so comfortable with. Home, work, money, cold, bathroom, food, body. All of these things have been my foremost concerns in the last week. Mainly because it has been cold, as I mentioned earlier. I comforted myself yesterday with the simple phrase: This Too Shall Pass. This cold weather shall pass. In only two weeks time (I’m being optimistic) it will be preferable to be outside at night. The money concerns shall pass. I have already started receiving tip money and I get my first paycheck on January 31. Also, my mom gave me money to cover my bills. The frantic desire to be perfect at work shall pass. Soon enough I will understand the duties of my position and I will be exceptional at performing them, because that’s who I am. My aching body shall pass. I will adjust to the demands of standing for 8 hours. I will do more yoga as it warms up.
I love that phrase. I’m not trying to escape from my current situation. On the contrary, knowing that this will pass, how can I be fully present in this experience and find gratitude for its being. I mean, how can I enjoy the crisp, cold nights. Or how can I enjoy the time where funds are low and creativity and discernment are called upon. It is, what it is. Let me savor every tasty morsel of life. Let me be mindful and write so I can process and integrate.
This is me being authentic.
Thank you to all who read my blog and hold space 💛
“If you can’t fly then run. If you can’t run then walk. If you can’t walk then crawl, but whatever you do you have to keep moving forward.” -Martin Luther King Jr.
Today is Wednesday, January 18th. I slept at a campground last night in Oak Creek Canyon just outside of Sedona. I just got back from a long weekend in Bishop, California and I felt like I needed some alone time outdoors with the water and rocks.
Last Wednesday, I spent the evening with my witchy friends doing tarot readings. I got clear on some things that I wanted to release from my way of being. I also got the sense that I needed to see L (my ex) in order to do that. Thursday morning I got in my car and began the 10 hour drive ‘back’ to Bishop to face some shit. Before I left, I set the intention to get closure. And sometimes, closure comes in the energetic form. Actually, energy is always present. So, what I mean to say is, sometimes closure comes in the physical form. I don’t know what has shifted yet, but I feel exhausted and I know that a lot was processed over the weekend.
A byproduct of this lofty closure adventure was that I got to see some of my girlfriends. On Friday, Lauren, L and I went to scramble on some boulders and soaked in the hot springs. We went to eat Mexican food for dinner and Lauren officially met her match on chip eating champion. (L ate twice as much as both of us combined).
I had the pleasure of sleeping in L’s beautiful Sprinter van all weekend. It’s like being in a swanky-ass hotel with a kitchenette under a blanket of stars and then sunlight. It was hard to not stay, but Sedona was calling. Also, my life.
I forgot to mention that before I left Sedona, I had arranged to meet with the owner of The Chocolatree the next Tuesday for an interview. (I got the job). The Chocolatree is a vegetarian restaurant that strives to offer and foster a space of authenticity. Their philosophy is perfectly aligned with my personal practices of presence, love, and honest self-expression. I am so delighted to make my ‘work’ an extension of my ‘life’ and not two separate entities. Woohoo!
On Saturn-day, I spent the afternoon alone in the desert, studying astrology and being present for my Saturn Course. I got to speak to a friend for an hour plus and enjoyed some rest and rejuvenation. In the evening, I met up with my girlfriends and others for sushi in town.
On Sunday, I went bouldering with the crew. It was amazing to be back in the bouldering world. It’s such a thing. It’s such a big thing for people. It’s such a big thing for many of the people I’ve formed friendships with over the last 5 years. It was such a defining facet of my relationship with L. It was nice to watch it from a detached perspective and view the intensity and the passion from a place of non-judgment and especially, non-attachment. I enjoyed touching rocks and suspending my body above ground on fingers and toes. I enjoyed dancing around in climbing shoes and making jokes with friends. I enjoyed eating snacks and petting other people’s dogs. I enjoyed walking away and looking at the mountains off in the distance. I enjoyed stretching and meditating. I enjoyed trying to get to the top but not trying too hard. I enjoyed being with my friends. I enjoyed being outside for 6 straight hours. I enjoyed hearing people grunt and curse and holler when they succeeded. I enjoyed observing this strange world in which I can blend in so well.
That night we went to the brewery. L goes there every night that friends are in town. I would like to say that every climber goes there every night, but I know I’d be exaggerating. It’s a happening spot, to say the least. Bishop is this weird place where it seems like everyone is a rock climber. At the Brewery, you either know each person, one of their friends, or their instagram name. It’s a small world. It’s the only town in the world with a population of 10,000 that you might know, by one degree of separation, half of the inhabitants or visitors. That is, if you are a climber. Or more specifically, a boulderer. Or even more specifically, a boulderer who lives in California And is present on social media. I’m on a tangent and talking about something that no one would understand except for the people who don’t read this blog.
On Monday, L took me to see two sets of petroglyphs.
We ate a salad and soup in his van and said a heart-felt goodbye. I drove for two hours through winding roads with no cell phone reception and I sang along to Hozier songs and I cried. I spoke to my mom with little-to-no enthusiasm. I spoke to Marisa with a little bit more. I spoke to Katie about confusion. I drove until I could drive no more. I got a hotel room that night in Kingman, Arizona. It was 11pm and I was practically useless. I knew that I didn’t have much money, but getting a hotel room for the night was the best investment I could have made at the moment. I drove into Sedona the next day around 12:30pm, just in time for my coaching call with Chris. She helped me process. Then my witches helped me process. I went camping last night and the creek took my fears away. I let the water wash away my old ways of relating.
Today, I am stepping into my next stage of development. Today, I am releasing the need to play small. Today, I call back all parts of me.
Tomorrow, I start my first day of way-showing (hostessing) at The Chocolatree. Tomorrow, I continue to step more fully into the being of me.
Night gives way to an orange line glowing bright.
Outside my window, under the velvet mesquite, a fire burns in the sky.
A life without bounds gives way to the day.
Where dreams are still real but take longer to stay.
Red and orange turn to purple and blue.
The time between sleep and movement is few.
Now I sit and write before the yappy dogs come out to poo.
Today I am celebrating life by sitting on a couch and appreciating it. I am enjoying being in a space all day without giving it a second thought. I am reveling in really clean hair and freshly laundered clothing.
This weekend I studied a lot of astrology. I frequented Starbucks for free WiFi and I used lots of data in the desert. The nights were much warmer and I switched up my sleeping position in my car. My hips are bruised from sleeping on such a firm surface, so I am in eager anticipation of an upgrade to my bed.
On Sunday, I went from meditation to metaphysical store. I wanted to talk to people about astrology. I chatted with a few women for a while about our birth charts and living in Sedona and other topics. I went to a coffee shop above the store afterwards and updated my resume. At 4:10pm I went to the movies. I saw The Shape of Water and I ate popcorn. I sat in the theater until the last credits rolled. Then I drove back out to the National Forest.
On Monday, I went to a meditation group where the facilitator channeled ascended masters. He transmitted the message of “letting go of everything that you think you know and surrendering to universal love”. Afterwards, I drove to the Cathedral vortex, ate salad, had tea, and hiked to the top. While I was in the parking lot eating my lunch, a reclusive guy was playing piano in his van in the next parking space over. So magical! Later on that evening, as I sat with my feet hanging out of the back of my car, studying Saturn, Maria texted me and invited me to come stay at her house for the night. I hesitated. She said it was too cold for me to camp, but I disagreed. I decided to go; but in my mind I said for companionship, not for cold.
Maria had another friend staying last night as well. She just moved to Sedona. I had sat next to her at Whole Foods earlier in the day. We shared a charging outlet. She was bubbly, bold and sharp. Her name: Kami Orange. The three of us stayed up until 1am talking about spiritual growth, being witches, cycles, astrology, energy. Kami coached me on releasing past karma. I did my first two astrological readings on them. We laughed. We shared. I felt known. I felt home. I felt like I had friends.
This morning I took a shower. Last night I slept on a couch. This afternoon I washed dishes in a sink. Right now I am sitting in a living room. I can charge my phone without turning the car on. The room is illuminated without batteries. I’m not saying it’s better, I’m just saying that I’m aware. Contrast is what creates experience. Contrast is duality. I am appreciative in this moment. I am also looking forward to the passing of the storm and the return of my feet to floury, red dirt.
Life is sweet. Be like a hummingbird and suck the sweet nectar out of each and every flower.
There is a hole in the road.
Beneath the road, through the hole, I see a dried up creek bed.
Shrubs and bushes grow where water once flowed.
I step down from the curb and my foot is cushioned by rotting leaves.
They compress and receive my weight with purpose and grace.
I smell their scent.
Reminiscent of a place in this lifetime I haven’t much spent.
I smell something fried. La Santisima.
The breeze, like ice water, mixed with the radiant sunshine, feels like a heart too big for its chest.
A tear falls from a place of longing joy, like home.
Between me and the man with a handkerchief in his hand are a car door, a handrail, a tree and a fence.
Today I am starting a travel blog. Days seem long. A lot is happening and then not much is happening. Today I am sitting in the Whole Foods in Sedona at Bar 1902 writing on my computer and listening to noise cancelling sound so I can think. I’ll start at this moment and work backwards until I tire of it. I just switched over to my laptop because my Bluetooth keyboard wasn’t working for my Ipad. I walked out to my car and fished out my laptop from under the passenger seat. I walked back to the café and pulled it out of it’s case. I found it to be wet, the case. I am so glad that the bluetooth keyboard wasn’t working. At first I was frustrated. Why the heck isn’t this thing working?? But after discovering my wet laptop case, I saw the bigger picture. Because my laptop might no longer be functional if it had sat in a wet case for even minutes longer.
The water came from my dromedary that was leaking on the car floor. I filled up the water bladder yesterday at the Red Rocks Ranger Station of Highway 179 at 8:50am. I found the black bladder served as a perfect solar shower the day before. On the previous day, I filled it up with water from Beaver Creek. I was slightly concerned that there might be parasites in the non-filtered water, so I planned to fill it with filtered water the next day.
I arrived in Sedona on Wednesday, January 3. I’ve been living out of my car since Monday, January 1. On Monday, I slept in a parking lot in North Phoenix next to my mom and Dave (in their camper van). On Tuesday, I slept at the Sunset Point Rest Area off of I-17 near Black Canyon City. I missed the sunset by just a few minutes… On Wednesday, after arriving in Sedona and familiarizing myself with the town, I drove out to Lawrence Crossing off Forest Road 121 just east of I-17 from Highway 179. Lawrence Crossing is a free, dispersed, walk-in campground 3.5 miles down mellow dirt road directly on Beaver Creek. I stayed there Wednesday and Thursday night. I was almost the only person there for 36 hours. A couple showed up on Thursday at 10am and left at 11am. Also, another couple drove through the round-about around 6pm as I was cooking Kunyi out of the back of my car. They didn’t stop. Friday, I came back into Sedona. I met a German woman named Aysha while at breakfast at The Chocolatree and we went on a hike together to Mount Wilson around 11:30am. After the 11 mile hike, we went to dinner at The Golden Goose. I got Chicken Marsala with mashed potatoes. She got seared Ahi with au gratin potatoes. The food was decent. The service was superb. After dinner we said a sweet and heart-felt good-bye. She drove back to Surprise, Arizona and I drove 5 miles south of Sedona on Highway 89A to Forest Road 525. I found a dirt pullout to park in and sleep. There was a lot more competition off FR 525. It seems I’m not the only one living in their vehicle around here.
When people ask me what I do, I say I’m a writer and a world traveler.
The sun shines through the window in the corner of my eye.
I blink and awake from a stupor of past and future meaninglessness.
I am in and out, in and out.
Present, future, present, past, future, present, past.
A wind blows by and stirs up the warm smell of pine: present.
A thought sails in, whisking my focus off to another place in time.
I center and ground, breath deep in joy and gratitude.
I want to be here.
I can be a mere observer of the mind.
And then the wild horses begin to gallop again.
Get a grip.
Today I pray you show me the way.
You’re asking me to go so far, far away.
I just arrived; I thought I was here to stay.
But the voice continues to insist, it’s further this way.
So I get quiet and sink down deep.
I promise to not make a peep.
And when you speak I begin to weep,
Because I know the road’s narrow and steep.
In the darkness I search for assistance.
I find nothing but my own resistance.
I remember it’s no coincidence,
For this journey requires courage and persistence.
Don’t get me wrong, I know you’re all there,
Guiding and providing and prodding, Be Aware.
There is so much you can receive and experience and share.
You just have to realize that comfort and risk do not compare.
So I go forward, I take that small step.
It starts with a thought but feels like a threat.
I teeter on the edge of commitment and regret.
But, for me, a life without adventure is not one worth living;
This I must never forget.
She sits on the stairs and looks at the door. This home is no longer her own. She feels the cool wood beneath her, firm and weathered by time and life. She has placed herself two steps from the landing. The height just right to accommodate his torso. She’s laid a sweater down on the floor below her; a welcome mat. As he appears from the room, she seeks for his gaze to meet her eager eyes. There is a spark. She gestures to the spot at her feet. He hesitates, then relents. He positions his body perpendicular to hers and wedges himself between her knees. They melt into one. She invites his head towards her chest. She lays the softest kiss on his hairline, his temple, his cheekbone, his jaw. In this moment, nothing more exists but his magnificent face and her adoring lips.