begin. again. and again.

oh boy.

oh boy.  oh boy.

twelve months have almost passed since i last wrote.

twelve months.

these past months i have done many things other than write.  many things.  lots of dishes.  laundry.  vacuuming.  (what a weird word that is.)  i have done lots of crying and lots of healing.  thanks to plant spirit medicine i have shed some of what i do not need.  i have experienced lots of loving.  i have watched my children continue to grow.  boom.  my oldest daughter has bigger feet than me.  boom.  both my children are in school all day.

i have experienced a lot of kissing these last twelve months.   more kissing than vacuuming.  which means there was a lot a lot of kissing going on (cause i really like vacuuming).  lots of exquisite kissing.  i have thought that maybe i should just post two pairs of lips touching so you would know where i was.  but really that wouldn’t have done justice to the complexity of my  year (or my days).  you might think it was all roses.  or dahlias.  or cosmos.  or green juice.  or striped yoga pants.  or you might think that i was only having the most incredible orgasms i have ever had.  (i think i will write a whole post about that soon!)  you might even think my year was spent lying on a beach in a bikini.  but that just wouldn’t be true.

this year has been about beginning again.  which is another way of saying that i have been learning to trust.  i have been letting a man love me.  sometimes this has been so easy and sometimes it has been so damn hard.  i have been letting myself really love him.  this too has been both sweet and simple and excruciating.  beginning again is another way of saying that i’m teaching my heart to become un-broken.  or maybe i’m not the teacher here.  perhaps the plant spirits, my children, and my new partner are my great teachers.

perhaps i am “writing” a new story.  my love story.  and maybe i don’t need to write it alone.  maybe i’m learning that we write together.  or as my partner might say:  “what are we going to dream into being?”  what are we going to co-create?

i’m not sure what has stopped me from writing here.  if i have time to scroll facebook….. i have time to write.

i decided to begin again.  right now.  i am grateful that i can.

can you almost see me press the publish button?  just after you watch me spell check!

and after i find that photo i wanted to show you!

P1020035love and new beginnings chantalle xo

 

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i traveled with sue

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sue and i swam in the sea.  we did this every day.  and every day it was this holy shit feeling.  we are swimming in the ocean.  i could see it in her eyes.  the awe.  the gratitude.  the bliss.  i’m sure i had a similar expression.  i felt so buoyant.  and free.

sometimes we giggled like children.  so much was fresh.  so much was new.  like the flying fish jumping.   i yelped in delight every time i saw one.  when they hit the surface, not far from where we swam, and descended back into the water, a spray of smaller silver fish glittered.  sue had lost her prescription sunglasses in the water the day before, but still i continued to shout: “can you see all the little ones flying up? over there! wild!”   we stayed in the water until the sun was low in the sky and our fingers were puckered.  i licked the salt around my lips.

newness was driving on the other side of the car, on the other side of the road.  this newness was awkward.  worse than a sloppy first kiss at 13.  on these daily car treks i sometimes shrieked, but not usually in delight.  sometimes i was grumpy after a day of bizarre (to me) round-a-bouts, narrow roads, and steep climbs with blind corners.  i argued with paul, my dear friend, about the meaning of straight.  no way seemed straight.  nothing seemed like going forward.  it was all rough and curvy.  and i felt lost.  i slowed at every passing car.  and almost froze when buses came near!   i could not enjoy the view!   but a dip in the sea was all i needed to wash away the stink of fear.  and i tried to tell myself that i was getting smarter.  all this other side business.  all this switching it up.

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i was always excited to see fresh papayas and avocados being sold on the side of the road.  thrilled to pick a lime fresh from the tree.  happy to find kale and mizuna and mustard greens at the holder’s farmers’ market.  i enjoyed the smell of freshly brewed bay leaf tea.  and was deeply saddened by the mangoes, falling on the road near paul’s house, never to be eaten.  and just the other day, back at home in guelph, i saw dozens of neglected apples on the roadside half covered in fallen leaves.  same same.  but different.

my travels don’t often take me far from home.  but for the past few years i have been journeying to barbados.  once a year.  and for the last two years sue has joined me.  this year she was my sole retreatant!  i was her personal person!  and she was mine.

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traveling with sue was a gift.  a gift of giving and receiving.   i offered yoga and food and adventure.  she presented me with grace and surrender.  and trust.  we offered as much of ourselves to each other as we knew how.  we shared stories.  we listened.  we watched the moon grow lush and full.  we laughed.  drank from coconuts.   swam.  and swam.  we napped in the shade of beach umbrellas.   and then we swam some more.  we celebrated sue’s 61st birthday.  ate chocolate for breakfast as often as we wanted.  and then we cried.  we mourned the death of her son.  we honoured the 10 year anniversary of his passing.  we looked at his photos.   his little boyness.  his young manness.  his eye twinkle.  his 25 years of life.  sometimes we held back our tears.  i could see it in her eyes.  the ripeness of  her sorrow.  the holding it in.   our travels brought us back again and again to the joy and the sorrow.  the two holding hands, never far apart.  the warm sun against the deep loss.  the loss highly contrasted by our joy.

one day, tired after a full day of trekking, we swam in rough waters and were taken by the current.    it came upon us so suddenly.  one moment we were laughing in the waves.  the next we being being whisked away!  we were terrified.  i saw sue stuck.  unable to swim against the pull.  i followed her not knowing if we would get smashed against a rocky shore.  but unwilling to leave her.  in my haste i made my way, desperately, for rocks.  thinking i was at home in different waters with different rocks.  the waves smashed me against the jaggedness.  but i made my way to the beach with only a few sea urchins embedded in my shin, and fingers, and feet.  sue let the current pull her around the rocks and managed to find a small patch of beach upon which to land.  we looked at each other in shock.  and relief.  and we never swam at that particular spot again!  later, after a long nap and supper, sue took photos of me trying to dig out the hard urchin bits with a needle.

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ever morning, at 6:30, we faced the ocean on our mats.  and almost every evening too.  we sat side by side looking out and breathing in.  our meditation was to receive the sound of the ocean, and the birds, and the music at the bar.  our yoga to be with the dogs that liked our mats as much as we did.  to stretch and strengthen even when people were walking by.  our practice, i think, was to be together.

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our retreat offered us the possibility of being, just being in all our wildness, by the powerful sea.

the joy of going away: my first raw food yoga retreat in barbados.

maybe i could begin in the middle.  with the bats.  because they find me wherever i go.  imagine yourself lying by the ocean at sun set.  it is still very warm.  and you are doing yoga.  i am teaching you.  we are stretching our legs as the sky turns a deep pink and the bats begin to fly overhead.

i turned to sue and asked “are those bats?”  she wasn’t sure.  sue has been my student for almost fifteen years.  and she has been in class with bats before.  she has even, over the years, helped to usher the bats outside.  this time, however, we were outside.  and the bats were dancing above us.   i am wildly scared of bats when they are inside; but i am not so frightened when they are out in the open and free.  besides, the colour of the sky and the sound of the ocean was a great pacifier!i rarely teach or practice yoga outside.  i am almost always in a building:  in the church downtown, at my friend’s studio, or at my house.  teaching outside was so different.  i worried that it would be too distracting, both for myself and my students.  but i hadn’t sought out another option.  so outside it was.  i tried to balance receiving the outside world with moving in to ourselves.  we practiced early in the morning or just before sunset.  we explored the grass by the ocean side, the beach, and paul’s side yard.  all were magnificent.  i often begin my classes with a centering i learned from hart lazer.  receiving what is without pushing away or without holding on.  not an easy practice!  i begin with receiving sound.  outside was the perfect location for this practice.  we allowed our ears to open and receive the sound of ocean waves, of roosters cocking, of dogs barking, and of kids playing.  we opened to the possibility of receiving ourselves fully:  our thoughts, our feelings, our bodies, our breath.  we placed our mats over crab holes, felt the softness of sand beneath our mats, and bowed to the blue of the ocean as we folded deeply into ourselves.

 i saw many things while teaching.  i glimpsed a green monkey, saw the quick movements of a hummingbird, and watched dogs copulating.  i saw a man get naked by his car, watched my students straining in the warrior poses,  and was blessed with sunsets.  the background rich and true to life.

before leaving i was worried about driving on the other side of the road.  i definitely brought that fear with me.  i held the wheel tightly and drove cautiously around the narrow curving roads.  right and left turns became muddled.  rights were to be lefts and lefts were to be rights.  even the indicator was on the other side of the steering wheel.  and (in error) i continuously set the wipers to movement.  it was a testament to how deeply patterned i am.  i am grateful that i could laugh (and received being laughed at)!  i comforted myself with the belief that this switch-a-roo was good for my brain.  the first couple of days i hit the sidewalk a few times.  that was incredibly humbling.  my friend paul, sitting in the front passenger seat, would belt out the word “sidewalk” in his lovely deep bajan voice.  and my friends would laugh heartily from the back of the car.  i could not believe that i was so close to the sidewalk.  but i was!!!!  the wheel rims knocking against the curb was proof!  i was mostly concerned with oncoming traffic.  i wanted to hug the curb.  over the course of the week i learned to find balance (between this side and that) and i gained much confidence in my daily bajan driving adventures.

olivia and sue enjoyed a week of my raw food wares.  we ate incredible local fruits and vegetables. and lots of coconuts!!!!  i think for them (maybe especially for olivia) eating raw food all day was like driving on the other side of the road.  it was unlike their regular at home life.  i think they enjoyed it though for they sat me down and gathered recipes into their journals.  a few times over the course of our week i gave them a “break” from raw and took them to experience some local food:  roti, yam coo coo, cassava, and fish cutters.  there was even one rum punch in there.  all for the sake of balance!

our trip was full of explorations.  of trying new things.  we surfed!  we hiked.  we swam in the salty salty water until our lips puckered and our fingers wizened like children who have stayed in a bath too long.  our skin turned red from so much sun (even before 9:30 in the morning).  we swam with colourful fish and sea turtles.  we took naps.  found shade.  read books.

for me the most beautiful part of this trip was people.  the strangers.  the new friends.  the old friends.  after supper we would tell our stories.  we talked of our children.  and of loss.  we told of our husbands.  we listened to one another.  and opened our hearts.  we laughed and cried at the wildness of this life.  and of our serendipitous coming together.  it was a great gift to spend such time with such incredible people.

and i will do it all over again next year.  and because life is so ever changing.  it will be different.  unique.  and maybe you will come and join me!