Walking on Fire, Falling in Water: 2017 in Review

This year will be over in about a week. Two thousand seventeen was eventful, painful, joyful, mindful, mindless, full and fast. Along with growth comes roughness and challenge. Along with practice comes patience and understanding.

In January, a long-awaited dream of mine came true: I led a week-long yoga retreat. The group was small, just three women plus myself, but it didn’t matter. I led a retreat and came away transformed. In February, we went to the beach. Even just a few days there was healing, refreshing, illuminating. Decisions were made. Intentions were set. Ultimately, nothing really changed, although everything is changing, all the time.

March was spent in the yellow house, April back in the woods. In May the rains came, as they always do, almost like clockwork, most afternoons and some nights. In June, everything was green and quiet, peaceful and tranquil. July was action-packed and I was busy working with retreat groups week after week. August slowed down yet again, September too.

We spent October in Texas with my family. The deeper depth of reverse culture shock shocked me. I found myself triggered as I never had been before by the images and noises coming from the television (most of the day, every day), the landscape of big box stores and the culture of consumption, and the traffic, my god, the traffic!

I went to a wonderful place called High Hope Ranch for a weekend to visit a friend and — serendipity! — was invited to a fire-walking workshop on a Saturday night. As the sun set over the north Texas mountain landscape, I gathered with a group of a dozen strangers and my amiga Gigi and listened to a young woman with streaks of purple in her hair talk about the history of walking over burning coals. She encouraged repeatedly us not to set up expectations in our minds, which of course we were all doing. I thought, “There is no way I’m going to do this. I will just watch the other people who choose to do it.” We did a bunch of activities, calling out our fears, sharing our dreams with a partner and encouraging other to “what if-up”, thinking bigger than we’d dared before.

We went to the spot where the fire had been lit an hour and a half prior. There was a carpet of burning coals, glowing and sparkling in the moonlight. They looked orange and red and magical and mean. I thought, and may have even said aloud to my friend, “There is no F***ing way I am walking on those.” 

Then we started chanting, a Native American prayer I had sung before in Spanish, in sauna ceremonies in Guatemala with my Mexicana friend. “Earth my body, water my blood, air my breath and fire my spirit!” Everyone chanted, people were dancing and moving as they wished, and soon enough, a woman walked across the burning coals, and another and another. I felt the urge to do it.  And so I did! Three times. Exhilarating.

The first two times, I speed-walked.  The last time, I sauntered, intentionally going a bit more slowly. My word, spoken aloud, was power. I got two “fire kisses”, a.k.a. blisters on the soles of my feet but they were gone by morning. All in all, it was a perfectly random, interesting and empowering night of fire walking.

Also in October, we visiting my grandmothers, Jade’s bisabuelas, who are both over ninety and both soak up the bliss that is my five-year-old daughter. We did a lot of yoga in Texas, too.

November was a month for being home, having space and creating my daily routines and morning rituals all over again. A month for writing, reflecting, remembering. Reunion.

In December, a week ago, I went to Panajachel and bought a bunch of food at the market and regalitos (little gifts) at the secondhand stores. Then, I took a boat home. I got off the boat, paid the fare, thanked the driver. In that moment, I suddenly lost my balance, and instantly fell backward off of the narrow pier into the lake, and was submerged in the water with my backpack, purse and market bag in tow. I came up, unharmed, but deeply embarrassed and shocked. “Oh my God, Oh my God, Oh my God,” I kept repeating. I couldn’t believe what had just happened. I was laughing and crying at the same time. What could I do but accept the fact. The reality was: I fell in the lake. That actually happened. Ultimately, the only victim was my phone, which will eventually be replaced. (In the meantime, I am rather enjoying life sans smartphone…. and being more mindful when I enter and exit boats.)

This year has been many things… all the things. My words for the upcoming calendar year, 2018 are: heartfulness, patience, structure, family and above all LOVE. Wishing everyone a feliz navidad and a cheerful new year!

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