Listen (the octopus and the mermaid)
It’s time to say goodbye,
To things that might have been,
But though the night is dark and still,
The Sun will rise again – Kaypacha
After my two week Coronacation I decided that I needed to get out of my house for a few days, so I loaded up my car with a few belongings, my yoga mat, my trusted 4-legged sidekick Jasper and we hit the road. Destination: Gig Harbor, Washington. I was in need of a change of scenery, the companionship of a dear friend, and a quiet place from which I could write. Little did I know that the Universe had different a plan for me which came down to one word: LISTEN
It was an eight and a half hour drive from Boise to my friend’s house on the Key Peninsula, which was the perfect amount of time to listen to Jewel’s audio book Never Broken. When learning about my road trip, another friend of mine knew that I would connect with her story as I too have been trying to put the pieces of my life back together after my divorce. Plus, she knew that Jewel was one of my favorite singers in the mid nineties with songs like Who Will Save Your Soul (turns out, that was the first song Jewel ever wrote) and Hands (which she wrote while homeless, living in her car). I had no idea how incredibly intense Jewel’s story of hard work, resilience, and betrayal were. She grew up on the Alaskan frontier, as a child of divorced parents. At age 15 she moved out on her own, unsupported by either parent. It was through her adversity that she learned to train her mind to seek gratitude, even in the darkest of times. It was through her struggle that she found expression through poetry and music that connected with millions. Her powerful story encourages me to continue along my path to rise out of the sorrow, with gratitude as my companion.
About four hours into the drive, I decided to pull over for a night’s rest and found a pet-friendly spot along the Columbian River. Jasper woke me early the next morning, curious by all the sounds he was hearing from our hotel neighbors. We stepped outside into the crisp morning air and I looked up and saw a bald eagle perched in a tree along the river. The sun had yet to rise and in the soft light of the pink and purple horizon the majestic bird rested, stoic, just taking it all in. The stillness, the beauty of the morning. The quiet ripples of the ever flowing Colombian River. She didn’t fly away despite Jasper’s morning energy. I smiled. I imprinted the moment in my mind’s memory since my phone had died overnight because (as usual) I forgot a charger. This was the second bald eagle I’ve seen since I started looking to the universe for signs. The first was in Lincoln City just after the death of my former student, Calvin (that story, Wind Beneath my wings, can be found here). I gave thanks for the affirmation that I was on the right path. I took a few deep inhales in and out, then went on to take Jasper for a sunrise walk before hitting the road for the remaining four and a half hour drive.
Gig Harbor is a beautiful little town, nestled on the Key Peninsula, overlooking the Puget Sound. I was giddy when I first saw the water, amazed that a few hours in my car could take me to a place so different from the foothills of Boise. My friend’s home invites you to pull up a blanket and sit on the rocking chair and to just take in the beauty. And really, that’s what we did. One afternoon there was a hail storm like no other I have ever witnessed. We sat in those chairs and just watched, and listened, and sat in awe of nature and her forces. The remainder of the long weekend provided a perfect mix of rest and play: card games at the dining room table overlooking the water, quiet time on the couch to read and watch the Netflix documentary My Octopus Teacher (ok, and we may have also binged Love is Blind), nature walks to forest bathe and fill our souls, yoga in the meadow while Jasper freely frolics, a shopping excursion downtown, a tasting at a local cidery, card readings, a visit to a brewery overlooking the Narrows bridge, brunch and sourdough ricotta pancakes, home cooked meals, fresh cookies and muffins. Through it all, I did my best to remain open, to be fully present, to listen and give thanks.
When it was time to head home, my little co-pilot and I loaded the car back up and hit the road, not knowing if we’d drive all the way home or stop along the way. I finished Never Broken on the drive and unexpected tears flowed from my eyes. For the next hour and a half I listened to her music and tried to process all that happened in the previous few days (and really the previous few years) while Jasper sweetly napped alongside me. Why was I called to listen and not create, like I thought I would do while I was away? What was the significance of the octopus (a creature that made its presence wildly known throughout my visit)? What’s the next step for me, for Let Love Rise, for the retreats I want to create, for my teaching work, for my finances, for friendships, for connections, for love? So many questions swirled in my mind as Jewel’s voice sang us home.
The answer didn’t come until the evening of my second day home. As I’ve grown accustomed to do, I turned on Michael Franti radio on Pandora and asked for the music to speak to me while I cooked dinner and danced around the kitchen with Jasper (yes, this is how I often spend my Thursday nights). After feeling blocked for about a week, there was a massive download from Spirit about my next steps. I was called to listen because I needed to get back in tune with the rhythm and messages of the Universe. I have discovered that when I allow myself to simply be still and to listen, I open myself up to living from a place of intention and connection with an energetic force that is so much greater than me. And from that space, I feel a tremendous inner joy. I haven’t felt joy like this in a long, long time. Nothing has changed–I’m still divorced and single and struggling financially. But when I think about my dance with COVID and the loss of a few precious weeks of teaching, it was like shedding a layer of my former self, much in the same way a snake sheds its skin. I needed that quiet. And as I danced in the kitchen with Jasper, I realized that my inner joy comes from years of self care and getting back in tune with my inner voice. It is such a welcomed return.
The octopus, it turns out, represents creativity. My friend realized her connection to this mystical creature while we were enjoying a beer at the Narrows. When I went to the bathroom I laughed when I saw the mural of the octopus and the mermaid (Kelly and me); another well timed sign from the Universe. Much more to come on that and on the book, the Artist’s Way in future posts. For now, I know what the octopus wants me to tune into, and that’s my creative side as seen through Spirit.
As for my next step, I still don’t have all answers, and that’s OK. I have a direction and a clear next step that can be summed up in a few words: women, whimsy, wonder, wine, weekend, Walla Walla Washington. Details coming soon.
In the meantime, on this chilly grey day in February, I invite you to carve out some time to light a candle, pull up a blanket, and simply listen. What is your soul craving today? Can you gift yourself an unapologetic hour for an indulgence of your choice? Perhaps to read a book, or take a nap, or write in your journal, or do yoga, or take a bath or a walk, or watch My Octopus Teacher or another show that speaks to your soul (no judgement if you choose Love is Blind!). Essentially, how can you listen to your inner light today? And how can you honor that request? Jewel asks who will save your soul if you won’t save your own? And she reminds us that in the end only kindness matters…and we are never broken.
Thank you for courageously sharing your story Jewel.
Such a beautiful capturing of the process of the trip from start to finish. I ABSOLUTELY LOVE the photo of the Mermaid and the Octopus. This will forever be symbolic of me and you. I cannot wait to see what comes of retreats, growth, change, and reflection. You are resilient my friend and with that heart of yours, you can do ANYTHING!. Love you so much.