In the meantime – Finding Peace, Stillness and Gratitude

“Love flowers best in openness and freedom.”

–Edward Abbey

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I hopped outside the truck and inhaled the subtle perfume of sagebrush, my new favorite herb. The hum of crickets and birds filled the air. An overcast sky illuminated the green mountains displaying bursts of purple, white and fuschia flowers. I could feel my nerves softening with every breath, feet sinking into the earth as I embraced the sensation of stillness penetrating my inner being. We listened closely for hummingbirds singing and fluttering around us. If you are quiet and patient, you can hear them. Welcome to Fort Collins, Colorado.

Nature helps me be present. When I pause to take in my surroundings, listening attentively and observing each flower, describing the details of its unique shape and smell, I am living in the now. It’s much more relaxing than living in the future or the past. And when the only thing you can see for miles is green mountains dusted with white petals, it’s a whole lot easier to be present.

On my way up to Colorado, I decided to do some solo camping. I learned that you should always reserve your camping spot in advance on memorial day weekend, and you should always listen to the advice of attractive dudes with dreadlocks. My heart was racing, stressed from not being able to find a camping spot, and having to set up my tent in the dark. I settled for a crappy spot next to the road until Dan drove up and showed me where to set up camp next to the river. He spoke so slowly in such a relaxed tone, I felt silly for panicking. And since the dude abides by his own rules, we got free camping for the first night 🙂

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I woke up to the sound of the river and the heat of the Colorado sun. Man, it is intense! I laid my yoga mat under a tree and I wrote. Writing helps me to see different perspectives and release the past. When you have a place to put your thoughts, you can move through emotional states and memories and then let them go. It’s kind of like dancing, but you usually shed tears instead of sweat and you know you’re getting a good workout when your hand begins to cramp instead of your feet.

I felt so much lighter after emptying out everything on paper. I could sit by the river peacefully, which is basically what I did for the rest of the day. I walked around town, noticing the bright colored workout clothing everyone was wearing. I paid attention every dog and attempted to identify their breed, petting as many as I could. Kayakers in playboats braved the frigid rapids, flipping and flailing with pleasure, even when they wiped out. An old couple played the blues on the street corner outside the bike shop under a blue awning. The man on the guitar with the harmonica sang with soul while the woman jammed out on the tambourine. It was nice to just sit and take it all in.

Cultivating inner peace in a serene setting is quite the privilege. I’m very aware of the unrest in the hearts and lives of my neighbors nearby and my friends overseas. I’m grateful that I’m safe and that I didn’t fly to Nicaragua on the day the protests began. As I hear about the intensity of the civil unrest, from murders to kidnappings, my heart feels the weight. I’m grateful that my friends are okay. I’m grateful that they cared about me enough to tell me not to come to Nica. My friends are so strong and resilient. They know how to remain calm in the face of a corrupt and unstable government.

My eyes are open and I’m asking different questions now. What do I need to learn to make an impact in my community? What can I do with the skills I have? What do I need to know to help others outside of my bubble? As I experience greater depths of inner healing, how much more will I be able to serve others? What gifts can I share with the world now?

I want to do more than manifest peace in my heart for Nicaragua, but perhaps that is the only place to start. That’s what Maria Isabel says, and she’s living in the midst of a hostile environment in Nicaragua with her husband and two children. So it’s a bittersweet time for me, of new beginnings and a longing to serve with my friends in a country that is not my own. Nicaragua is the place where my soul was re-born and I learned the power of community. I look forward to witnesses how they rise up and make a change.

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I am grateful for my freedom, to choose where I want to live and what type of life I’d like to have. I’m grateful to be able to turn down a job and to be able to choose my vocation. I’m grateful that when I look outside of my window, I see a blue sky and hear the leaves wrestling with the breeze.

Let’s manifest some peace, y’all. And may our peace lead us to take action to create a ripple effect in our communities and beyond. May there peace and rest for those who have lost loved ones in Nicaragua. May there be peace in that beautiful country. And may I be an instrument of peace to those around me. ❤

 

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