For years I’ve struggled with the idea that “productivity” was a measure of my intrinsic worth and value as a human being. In college, I had full paid scholarships for which I strove to maintain the highest GPA possible. performed on weekends and weeknights, ran 5 miles each morning at 6am (in college?!!??). I studied a year abroad and traveled constantly absorbing as much as I could of language, culture, the details of how brick sidewalks differed from country to country, village to village. When opportunity knocked, I had a “come on in and make yourself at home” sign on the door. I couldn’t bear to miss it. This “discipline” carried forward into my life as an adult. “Working hard” and not missing opportunity has been both an affirmation and an addiction iover the years.
The once fabulous inner coach who conditioned me for great things had become more of a foreman with a stinging whip. For some reason, I never felt that I “earned” or “deserved” rest, relaxation, periods of silence and reflection time. Even my yoga teacher-training and teaching practice was rigid, disciplined and sometimes just plain silly. My best friend, Mark would tease me as I frantically rushed out the door, late for a class saying “don’t get stressed trying to get to your relaxation.” Another friend, Jody nicknamed me “Boh’ova” short for ‘Bohemian- Overachiever.”
The inner-foreman was relentless over the years. I made albums, toured constantly, ran the business and after several years, I worked and toured myself into an eight-month respiratory infection. My immune system was done with my lack of nurture and insane work ethic. Since the sickness, I’ve spent six months slowing down, unwinding this myth of worth measured by achievement and decided that the real test of my recent deceleration would be a REAL vacation.
I don’t think I’ve ever experienced a week of doing next to nothing every day. No phones, no Internet. The wine was vinegary and the house liquor was pretty lame, so drinking on the beach was rarely a temptation aside from a lime decorated cerveca or mojito every now and then. Without distraction, we lay in the sun, walked the beach, snorkeled, dipped into swimming pools, showered outdoors, spent a half-day at the spa in their amazing water-circuit of pools and water massage of all kinds. We talked some, but not too much. We listened to the waves, watched the iguanas (if you haven’t witnessed this on your own, they are as common and regular to see as squirrels here in the southern US) and said “hola” to and joking around with the smiling staff of the resort. We stared out at the little island off the shore that had a Mayan ruin on it. It was sortof like a lighthouse or a beacon or a little beach getaway for the Mayan folks in the area. We laughed. My favorite food thing was the occasional opportunity to devour mango sorbet and fresh mangoes on the fruit buffet.
I brought my favorite book, The Temple of My Familiar, by Alice Walker. I tend to think of Alice as a sort of “soul mother” and have for the last decade. Her work always brings me back to the place where I feel most at home in my own skin. She inspires me to no end. This book was the perfect companion. Each time I read it I am reminded of how to love more deeply, accept more readily and forgive more completely both myself and others. It is a sweet refuge of constant discovery. This book in particular always brings me “home.” (this is probably another blog in and of itself)
Kiwi and I marveled and laughed at how wonderfully we slept, how slowly we moved, how relaxed we felt and how powerful it was to give ourselves permission to completely retreat into this space of nurture and silence.
On our last day, we took the Collectivo (bus) to snorkel on Akumal beach and saw turtles and a sting ray and a fish as big as my torso with a pastel body, luscious, sparkly green mid-section and lips that looked painted on. She was like the earth mama fish in her sweet coral cave. We imagined all the little fish came to her for advice and solace. . . We then refreshed back at Sirines and spent the afternoon wandering around Tulum’s Mayan ruins. This village is amazing, complete with city walls and a temple that stands erect at the edge of the cliff overlooking the beach and ocean some 75 feet below. Stunning.
Home now, I feel fortunate. I feel possible. I feel lighter, brighter and softer. I feel as though a thousand stories and songs may flow through me. I feel a though it’s time to retire the inner-foreman and discover the life waiting for me in his absence. . . It’s going to be a beautiful summer . . .
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