The One Hundred Lives of One Daring Nomad

Once Upon A Time…

there were three orphaned elves who lived in the misty, cool mountains. They were brave and daring as they crossed ravenous rivers, journeyed through enchanted forests, and befriended the strange beasts that inhabited their world. And why? Because they were on a quest. A quest to find the witch who killed their parents. Their names? Bon Bon, Dum Dum and Cream Puff. Their names may sound silly, but all elves take sugary names, didn’t you know? For what better legacy is there to leave, than one that is both sweet and delightful?

No, this is not a short fiction story I am writing, though perhaps I will.

The truth of the matter is, I was Bon Bon.

My baby brother, Cream Puff. My little sister, Dum Dum.

I secretly snickered at her name.

She didn’t really want it, but I convinced her it was fun and awesome and not-at-all-demeaning-of-her-wits. Right. Poor tormented younger siblings.

Either way, the above is the very-real-true-life-adventure of three siblings with crazy imaginations.

We hid beneath our trampoline (i.e. cave of salvation) in threadbare play clothes and barefoot when it was barely above freezing temperatures and raining.

My six year old brother cried, “But Whiiitney..I mean Bon Bon……I’m cooooold!” (In another life, I went by Whitney. You can read that HERE.)

“Good! We’re orphaned elves! We should be cold!”

I was so obsessed with experiencing the extremes.

To know what it felt like to survive. To be cold and hungry and overcome.

I may have pushed them too far.

They were quite accommodating of my shenanigans up to a point. Then, it really was best to just head indoors for some tomato soup and grilled cheese.

“Wait, you guuuys! Come back! We could put on jackets I guess. Just a little longer! We can pretend to discover some berries to eat!”

That usually worked.

When I reflect on the way I played “extreme dress up” as a child, it makes sense that I chose a nomadic lifestyle as an adult.

I wanted to know what other people knew. I wanted to feel what other people felt.

I created so many made up scenarios so I could pretend to be in their shoes, and conjure up all the emotions I might possibly have to wrestle with if it was my life.

Now that I consider it, this is probably where my high EQ comes in and why I sought non-profit jobs and other helping positions.

Now, I am focusing on writing. Now, I am learning to create, relate and transmute those things I know or feel about the human heart into the characters I write into being.

But not only that, now I really am living in extremes. I am not just playing dress up anymore.

OK, OK. I really am still playing dress up and that makes me incredibly glad!

Because the truth of slow travel is that I get to try on as many hats as I want to.

In Argentina, I learned to care for horses and to sheer sheep and ride a tractor.

La Nazarena Horse Barn

I played dress up as a farm girl, a country road bring me home girl, and a drinker of starshine, moonbeams and lighting bug light.

In the mountains of El Bolson, I romped barefoot through the wilderness, up glaciers, swam in the crystalline blue river and drank home brewed mountain beers.

Lost in the cloudsThis was as close to Bon Bon as I have ever been. Well, she didn’t drink beer at the time.

I traipsed through prickly bushes and rocky paths on the side of a mountain overlooking a snaking river, and watched the jagged peaks disappear in the clouds.

The forest has a hundred facesThere were mossy woods with grinning faces, and dark, dead forests with bewitching light and eerie moans.

There was a lagoon of a pistachio cream color so magical that I felt for sure I was in the dream land my child brain concocted so many years ago.

The Lagoon at Hielo Azul

I played dress up as if I was one part hobbit, one part gypsy, one part native american.

I felt wild and old souled. I felt ancient and wise as well as playful and impish.

On my 600 mile walk to Finisterre, at the end of the world in Spain, I was a medieval pilgrim.

I felt in my bones the weight of my pack. I felt in my joints the weariness of walking miles, and miles, and miles before I slept.

To the end of the worldI knew the pure peace of solitude and the joy of company and friends during an arduous journey.

I stood at the End of The World….like Reepicheep, like Bilbo, like…me….a true blooded adventurer slash explorer.

Yes, I said slash and if you ever watched The Little Mermaid 2 you are already humming the tune.

In Paris, I was the inspiration, the woman, the muse behind the Mona Lisa, the Victory at Samothrace and Psyche. I was manifest beauty, light, life and wisdom.

Victory at Samothrace

On the beaches of Costa Rica, I was Karana from “Island of the Blue Dolphins.” I imagined I was stranded on those wild, virgin beaches and learned the secrets of the sea, the mystery of the waves under the moon.

Mama Banyan I climbed into the heart of a banyan tree and listened to her stories.

In all of these adventures, I connect and become more in tune with my own Essence.

And in my one, small life, I get to experience a hundred lives.

Tell me if that is not a priceless gift.

Perhaps we had it right as children.

Perhaps the only way to live is with our imaginations at full throttle and our curiosity blasting at the highest possible decibel.

I guess what I’m realizing is this:

I have not stopped playing dress up and creating adventures for myself.

Just because I am taller doesn’t mean the clothes don’t fit.

Because here’s the other awesome truth I have only begun to learn:

If I imagine it….

it becomes.

If I dream it…

it unfolds.

If I love it, hold it, cherish it, want it…

it arrives.

Sometimes it arrives 20 years later when you’re scrambling over rocks, in and out of caves in the wilderness of Patagonia with your lover, only to realize that the river, the rocks, the waterfall, the forest….is a replica of that dream you used to dream of your own special “paradise.”

The one you used to imagine for yourself as you drifted off to sleep.

The one with the beautiful wood where you would run barefoot and free, unafraid of wildebeests or witches .

One day you’d find it. One day perhaps…long after the final sleep found you and a savior returned.

But I’m telling you, I woke up.

The Savior arrived in the form of my own heart rising.

And now the dreams I dreamed, the literal dreams…I am talking, the total-wonderful-wanderings of my child’s mind, are very real and alive and with me now.

So this is why I travel.

I can’t help it anymore. I want to feel everything.

I was a weird kid who played out in the rain, eyes turned toward the storm clouds daring them to come at me.

I wasn’t budging.

It took me awhile to fight with that kind of tenacity as an adult.

To face my true heart’s desire and go for it. To realize I created my reality.

To stand bravely against the chaos of the world and say “Bring it on! Is that all you got?!”

And now?

Chaos has become my friend, my partner, my peace.

The unknown is a fascinating and beautiful place to be.

Because from here…

anything is possible.


Bon Bon

Dancing with Thin Air: Considering the energy behind our thoughts

Today, I pushed things.

I pushed a wall. I pushed the ground. I pushed a sneaker.

I pushed Dave.

I was pushed and I was pulled and I was dead weight pushing into the ground.

Contact Movement is a kind of improvisational dance that I do not understand all the ins and outs of, but which has intrigued me none the less.

We laid on the bare, wood floors and let go.

We let go of our weight and in doing so, we were heavy, pushing into the floor, but without holding on to anything.

Not holding my strength in, not holding my tongue up, not holding yet still giving.

Somehow, still pushing.

I cannot tell you how profound lying like a dead person on the floor was for me.

It wasn’t just the lying down though. It was in the give and take with my partner.

Of leaning in and giving all, then taking weight, receiving and listening with my body not my head.

I think everyone should dance with their lover. In any way or form.

It’s hard. It’s vulnerable. You realize you don’t listen as well as you like.

You realize you have an agenda. You realize you have your way, your own thoughts, your own goals.

It shows you instantly how those mindsets don’t work in a relationship unless you share and communicate and define together.

You can both have the same goal, but the journey there has to be more organic and fluid.

Getting there is not even really the point, it is in how you get there.

With contact movement, you don’t break the contact. You don’t take big jumps or leaps or change something suddenly.

You always tap and tune in, listen and feel your way.

It’s really beautiful! I learn more from movement art – dancing, tumbling, yoga, aerial silks, than I think I could from sitting in a chair in a therapy session.

I am not discounting that.

I am just saying that moving through space physically helps me move through space emotionally, but with more grace, direction and success.

At the end of the class, we danced with invisible partners.

It was pretty cool to try to express everything we learned about movement, but with no one actually there.

How I could take all my strength to push against someone, or to feel all the burden of weight to support someone, yet only have empty space as my partner.

I felt it because I knew what muscles would or should tense in my body.

I knew how slow and sticky my steps would be.

I knew how heavy I would feel.

So, I recreated those responses in my body despite the empty space around me.

For good or for ill, we create dance partners, so to speak, as we dance through life. And we believe that these invisible partners expect things of us.

But really, the expectations are our own. We have conditioned our bodies, minds, and hearts to respond to a reality that does not exist.

Maybe it existed once. One time, with one person. That does not mean it must exist always or again.

The weight is imagined, but we feel it because we believe it into existence.

We believe we are being judged, or forced to carry someone else’s burden.

We believe we are less or more, accepted or rejected.

Our body responds in kind.

If you cannot accept yourself, it does not matter if others accept you. If you can accept yourself, it does not matter if others reject you.

So you see, it’s the same.

Only that which you imagine about yourself is true.

Or, how often can we get through a difficult situation because we dance with hope?

We don’t know who really supports us, but we choose to believe that we can lean in and go for it. We trust an invisible kindness, presence.

Hope gives us strength, yet that strength was always in our bones.

And this is what it comes down to:

Be aware of yourself. Thoughts take form, real form.

They are an energy you unleash on yourself and others.

Make sure you are dancing the dance you want to and not the one you think you must.

Bichitos de Luz | Little Bugs of Light

11.23.15  La Nazarena, Capilla del Senor, Argentina

At night, the fireflies fill the empty, dark spaces of the fields in a thousand, twinkling lights of gold. Like stars in the heaven, they create their own dancing constellations.

Bichitos de luz. Little bugs of Light.

I stop and stare at the magic of the night with no small amount of awe.

I remember a child in Connecticut, who jumped and ran around her dogwood tree and in the neighborhood cul-de-sac, catching lightning bugs, laughing.

Eyes pierced the darkness and strained for the next bug butt to light up. Aha!

And off she went.

My big sister taught me how to catch and hold the lighting bugs in my small, cupped hands so as not to squish them.

Then, how to slowly open a small slit between my fingers and peer in to catch them winking at me.

Don’t let it escape! ooooo!

Whoever says magic doesn’t exist, forgets what it is like to peer into their child hands and discover they caught a bit of flying light.

If my memory serves correctly, which I doubt it does, I was rather adept at catching fireflies.

I doubt if I am so nimble now. Perhaps, I was just more persistent and enamored with the novelty of catching the bugs then.

I consider running after one, but I don’t think my knees enjoy starting and stopping so quickly in the way necessary to catch the prize.

So, I keep watching. I am dazzled. That remains.

How close we always are to the child that we were.

When I was a child, I did not stop my play to  think I should remember the fun I was having because I might want to look back fondly on it later.

I just had fun, a lot of fun. I played with no care that one day I might not play.

Too many times now, I stop to think I should be nostalgic for the present moment. Something may seem especially beautiful and poetic and I do not want to forget it, yet…well, the thought takes me away from enjoying the moment.

I worry now that I may forget, and in the worrying, of course I do.

My child self never worried, and while some things are forgotten, the important things are not.

These worried thoughts to remember to remember halt my urge to run toward the flying lights.

And instead, encourages sentiment and a consideration for how to write about it later.

I would have preferred to run.

Sometimes freedom is literal and tangible.

Freedom means not being shackled or restrained against one’s will.

Freedom is the dignity to work and live as one chooses.

Sometimes freedom is an unseen reality.

Freedom is cutting ties to our ego and our conscious self.

A child is so wonderfully un-self-conscious.

We dread the teen years when the child becomes gloriously self-conscious for the first time.

Freedom is a child running after a firefly unworried about how silly she looks, or worrying that she might twist an ankle or a knee (those are welcomed rites of passage), or concerned whether she will be successful in her chase or not.

The laughing comes in the chase.

The wonder comes in the surprise of finding your hands filled with light.

Instead of feeling sad that this child is far from me now, I choose to smile.

A secret smile that knows, perhaps, she has never been closer.

And if time doesn’t really exist, she is dreaming about me, her beautiful, bold future self, in the same moment I am dreaming of her, my innocent, pure, past self.

I send her a wish and a prayer.

How differently we might live if we believed we are our own guardian angels.

How much more tender and kind we would treat ourselves and how much more we would believe in ourselves.

I don’t know how the heart works exactly.

How mine can thrill with joy at the site of lightning bugs in a field and that I can clap my hands together in unexpected delight at a starry dance I have not seen in many years.

But I know this. I still love fireflies so much (so much), and maybe only because she did.

I love that she loved them.

I honor the child who could love without reason or expectation.

She may be everything I have ever aspired to be.

Maybe I don’t exactly aspire to be an orphaned pirate child with a jar full of lightning bug fairies in a ship made of Dogwood off seeking her fortune, but…

The imagination, the raw joy, the legs that respond to the heart and run, run, run after the things that delight and surprise…yeah.

Those things I still believe in.

And maybe, as I stand or run, laughing, through this life, with my hands held open toward the sky, I will be delighted to find them always filled with Light.