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Week One: Lessons in non attachment, homeless in hawaii, hurricane evacuation, surf accident + my travels begin
Written by Amelia Whelan on Sep 01, 2018
LESSONS OF NON-ATTACHMENT
I made plans to begin sharing these "short and sweet" weekly travel blogs to keep myself and my audience up to date and actively involved in stories and experiences from my travels while working, studying and experiencing new countries overseas. I have visions of sharing photographs, videos, thoughts, ideas and new connections cultivated while backpacking abroad for the next few months. What I did not know at the time was that the few weeks leading up to my travels would be wildly chaotic and a bit all over the place. Being entirely transparent, these past few weeks have been some of the most emotional weeks of my life. A part of me feels entirely overwhelmed by the fast pace speed of my current life and the on-going change that has been making its surprise appearance again and again in my recent life. A part of me feels though I am simply a bystander, watching my life go on around me. It's difficult to explain. But maybe it's for the better. I am learning time and time again to release a need for control of my life circumstances and surrender to the surprises that life has in store.
DOWNLOADS IN DOWNWARD DOG
A few days ago, I came to an alarming realization during my morning yoga class. The teacher guiding us through our practice spoke of the power of non-attachment while we huffed and puffed in an extended downward facing dog. While I listened to her words, I remember thinking "has this chick been reading my text messages or something?!" Almost every word she spoke resonated with a deep and personal part of my inner being. I am learning and aspiring to gravitate towards non-attachment in many aspects of my life (my work, yoga practice, finances, relationships, connections with others.) It has been a trending theme for me in 2018, if you will. She explained to the class that in life, we must learn to study the contrast of all things around us. To learn one, we must fully experience the other. It can not be told or taught, but only learned through one self and personal experiences. Everything that brings about growth and evolution must be experienced. She explained that as spiritual beings, we cannot fully appreciate happiness, protection or security, unless we have also experienced fear, pain or anxiety. We must feel through one to be able to recognize the other. To embody light, you must first know what darkness is. To learn non attachment, you must first recognize attachment that already exists in your own life. I speak about these contrasts and others in my Masculine and Feminine Energy blog post.
Although my teacher was most likely referring to non-attachment as a way to welcome change and release control in your yoga practice, I couldn't help but think of my beloved apartment here on the island.
Since purchasing my airfare ticket to Europe a few weeks ago, I've been bouncing back and forth with ideas and solutions to my "empty apartment" problem. Ideally, when I embark on a long term adventure, I do my best to make sure my space is filled, by a friend, family member or sub-leaser and ensure that I won't have to "burden" myself with the responsibility of paying $X,XXX each month for an apartment that I am not currently occupying space or energy in. This time around, things are a bit different though. A few months ago, record-breaking rainfall and severe flash flooding devastated my neighborhood on the north shore of the island and took homes, cars and personal possessions from hundreds of families within our community. Houses filled with brown water, cars washed down rivers, and roads were blocked by a multitude of landslides for weeks on end, preventing people from accessing their work, homes, grocery stores, gas stations, family and loved ones on the "other side." With our home located on the "other side" of the natural disaster, the simple task of driving to and from the grocery store, or post office, has become a bit of an ordeal, to say the least. The main highway (which also happens to be the only road to our home) has been closed since April 19th and shows little signs of re-opening any time soon. The construction team has their work cut out for them. The bridges must first be rebuilt. The roads must then be repaired. The island is in need of rest and natural rejuvination, to say the least. This is clear to everyone and anyone who has watched the influx of tourists spill out of the local airport and onto the beaches and trails each day for the last 10 years. The island has been abused and over-used for too long now. Many believe that the severity of the flooding was a sign that it was finally time to cleanse and create new space. For many of us, losing personal possessions, appliances, homes, cars, etc. was a powerful lesson in non-attachment.
It wasn't easy for me to quickly find someone who would be interested in staying in my space (without access to the local town, shops or markets) and it really didn't feel right for me jump online and start posting ads or listings for the open apartment when I knew more visitors was the last thing Kauai needed. I wanted with every ounce of my being to hold onto my beloved apartment, but knew that if holding onto the space while I was away meant bringing more people onto the island to fill it, it wasn't worth it for me, or mama Kauai.
I felt emotionally torn. This apartment and the property that surrounded it has become a piece of my being. I do not write these words lightly. It was here where I dove head first into painting, planted my first garden, ate kale and picked cherry tomatoes, raised two kittens with my best girlfriend, swam naked in the backyard river under the full moon, celebrated my first year sober of alcohol and experienced the joy and successes of my first "big" year for my business. It was here that I created a home for myself for the first time. Where we found it, signed a lease, moved in, decorated, envisioned, manifested, painted, patched, hung, pinned and plastered art and color and vision boards on these walls. Where we shared the space and cultivated new memories with family, lovers, friends and neighbors. It was here, in this apartment, where I become aware of a deeply imbedded attachment I had to the space and the belongings inside of it. "I couldn't give up the apartment." I repeated this to myself again and again and I had accepted it as my truth.
But then, on the entirely opposite end of the spectrum, there was always this one word in my head (heart) that would come to me while sitting in line to be escorted into town, or while paying bills or while sweeping the floor for the third time that day. "Freedom." The word would ring throughout my whole being like a pulsating gong. Creating a life that is truly worth living. Embracing un-conditional love and ever-lasting experience. Setting myself up for opportunities of growth, after opportunities of growth, after opportunities of growth. Traveling the world, living with less, connecting to more. Packing a bag and buying a ticket. Coming home to myself each night, rather than a locked door and key. Could I leave the apartment? Break the lease? Stop paying rent each month? What would I do with my things? Where would I come home to?
And then there I was, just a few days later, walking out of yoga class soaked to my core in sweat and self reflection, coming to the conclusion, "Yes. I would leave the apartment." I would welcome this experience as one of the most difficult, (and eventually rewarding, I trust) learning opportunity of non-attachment that I have been yet to face in my twenty four years. I would move out this week. I would fully commit and step into the role of the person that I have been promoting for years online now. I would stop being the person who said things like "I want to travel, see the world, live on a boat/in a bus and experience my life." I would be the person that actually did it. I would stop making up stories in my head that read "In X years, when I have X amount of dollars saved, and X amount of free time each week, I will pack up everything and just go." I would stop talking, thinking, and procrastinating these dreams and this way of living, and I would just do it. Finally do it. Even just for a few months to see what it's like. I would take the leap. But first, I needed a step in the right direction. And for the first time I could see, all arrows pointed in the direction of leaving my apartment behind.
And so for the last four days, that is exactly what I have been doing. Fortunately for me, my incredible mother just so happened to be here on island with me, ready and eager to help me with any and all difficult, move out tasks at hand. She assured me that if the decision I was making was one that came from my heart, it was the right choice to make. She also re-assured me that if I am meant to return to this property, this space, I will. I must be confident in that.
She (and my two best girlfriends) then proceeded to transform into master-packers/organizers/minimizers and help me get everything packed, cleaned, donated and stored within the course of 72 very chaotic, tiring and emotional hours. In addition the madness that was the first few days or packing up my belongings and breaking down the furniture, we received immediate warning of a category 5 hurricane, named Hurricane Lane, that was expected to hit the islands of Hawaii in a mere 2-3 days. The north shore community gathered once again and strongly urged all residents to evacuate their homes immediately, as to prepare for possible flash flooding, landslides or road closures (again.) At this point, I was so ridiculously overwhelmed and consumed by my own move-out deadline, that dealing with a category 5 hurricane was the last thing on my radar (literally.)
Grudgingly, and probably not without sounding a bit like a whining brat, I decided in the last possible minute to evacuate the north shore and head for dryer ground. I did a final run through the apartment before rushing out the door to drop off my last few boxes and long board at a storage unit and then headed to a friend's home on the east side of the island (where we would be less likely to be affected by severe flooding or landslides.) The girls joined me and we've spent the last two days taking refuge, and basically living out of my girlfriend's family-owned spa while the rain falls and the winds whistle outside. So far, so good. Weather has not been nearly as wild as the news so adamantly predicted (or "manifested as I like to call it.) And I am currently typing this post up from the comfort of a massive white massage chair, in the back storage room of said spa. Things could be a whole lot worse, to say the least.
MY TRAVELS BEGIN
TWO DAYS ON O'AHU
I eventually left home and flew to Honolulu for a quick stop-over/catch up with my best friend Hana. O'ahu was a bit of a (painful) blur to be honest. I learned my lesson when it comes to booking quick "weekend getaways" with girlfriends. Two days just simply isn't enough. Hana exemplified her true super-woman powers by picking me up from the airport at 8am immediately after working a 12 hour night shift at the NICU (ending at 7 am that morning.) Somehow, she was more vibrant and awake than I was. The weather was cloudy on O'ahu so we went out to 'Down to Earth' for late breakfast in Honolulu and then spent a mellow morning napping and relaxing at her adorable studio apartment on the south side of the island. Unfortunately, while at Hana's home, my sister and mother called from the mainland and told me that my sweet golden retriever pup, Bailey (who actually isn't a puppy at all,) was suffering from neurological issues. The vet suggested that our sweet 16 year old Bailey may be in pain (from previous health conditions) and suggested we strongly consider putting him to rest. It was an emotional day on O'ahu to say the least. I was able to FaceTime with Bailey once more before saying farewell for now and hanging up the phone as my sister and mother sat with Bailey and the vet while he was put out of his pain. Euthanizing animals is not something that comes easily to me or my family. Especially as passionate animal lovers and vegans. I spent the rest of the afternoon in and out of crying spells, before meeting up with girlfriends for dinner that night (my best friend, Lacey from New York just so happened to fly into HNL that morning as well.) That evening, after crying hysterically over the phone to my friend Matt, he shared a video published by Infinite Waters that shifted my mood and perception on Bailey's beautiful life immediately. I will share it below for any of you who may be dealing with the loss of a loved one, or are interested in welcoming in a new outlook on life, death and immortality into your realm of consciousness. I highly recommend you take the time to view it.
THE SURF ACCIDENT
The next day on O'ahu, Hana, Lacey and I decided to hit up our favorite south side surf break and catch a few waves in Waikiki for old time's sake (the three of us were best friends/lived together on O'ahu for a few years before I relocated off-island.) We scored sweet parking and reminisced on old memories as we walked through Waiks with our bright pink and yellow longboards in hand. Just as I paddled out to the break off Waikiki Beach, a surf lesson student caught a small wave a few yards in front of me and began to ride it in, straight towards the beach. I made the mistake of looking away momentarily as I paddled out parrellel to him and then quickly turned my head to look back, only to notice that he had managed to turn on his board and surf directly at me. Before I could even react, he quickly bailed his massive longboard and in doing so, shot it forcefully at face. Holy sh*t. Did that f*cking hurt. I resurfaced from under the water and closed my eyes as I prepared to black out from the pain in my face and mouth. I spoke aloud in my head "You are fine. You are safe. You have all of your teeth." I took a deep breath and attempted to regain my vision. The moment I was able to stand up on my two feet in the ocean I turned around and made eye contact with a woman on her board a few feet away from me. The moment I removed my hands away from my face she began to shriek at the sight of me. "F*ck. It's that bad." I thought to myself. My lip was split open and I couldn't tell if the blood was spilling out from my mouth or my teeth. Long story short, I paddled in and was met on the shore by a beautiful, tanned, topless male lifeguard who helped me clean up my mouth and stop the blood flow from oozing out off my nose. Soon enough, he handed me a mirror to look at my lip, and only then did I quickly noticed that my nose was very crooked, and very much so leaning towards the wrong side of my face. Damnit. The lifeguard insisted on taking the ocean rescue jet ski out to grab my girlfriends and let them know I was in need of a ride to the hospital right away. I thoroughly enjoyed witnessing this ordeal go down. I am confident the girls also enjoyed being approached in the ocean by said topless, tanned, man and taken back to shore on the back of his ski. Once the girls arrived to the shore, they took one look at my face and told me we needed to get to the hospital stat. We piled in the car and spent the next few hours in the emergency room while I underwent X rays and blood pressure tests. Fortunately for me, the pain was surprisingly bearable and I was able to walk out of the hospital that evening with no stitches and an abundance of ice and gauze pads! We celebrated with dinner at Whole Foods and then went back to the beach so the girls could get in a sunset surf while I sat on the sand (they wouldn't let me paddle out again.) We ended the evening with "Black Mirror" in bed that night while I iced my face with Hana's neighbor's nipple ice packs for breast-feeding moms. They worked great. In case you were wondering.
TWO DAYS IN DENVER
The next morning I grabbed my Nu Leaf CBD oil and travel ice packs before boarding my flight to Denver, Colorado. My face was very swollen and very sore, but bruising was minimal as I arrived to the airport and boarded my flight. I arrived in Denver late that evening and was picked up at the airport by one of my closest friends (and business partners) Alyse from Raw Alignment. We stayed up late in the night talking and catching up on recent life events before crawling into bed to rest before a busy work day ahead. I flew to CO for a 2 day work trip to finalize upcoming business projects with Alyse and film videos for our new online business endeavors. Lucky for me, my trip just so happened to overlap with the arrival of her new sweet pup, Psilo, who arrived to Denver the morning after my arrival. We picked him up at the airport and spent the remainder of the day balancing work/filming/play time with Psilo on Alyse's living room floor. After a long day of video filming with frequent CBD oil dosages to relieve the pain and swelling in my face, Alyse and I headed to Native Foods for dinner and feasted on an incredible plant based meal. Tonight, we drive to Boulder to enjoy dinner with my family and attend a Nahko and Medicine for the People Concert before I fly to London (and then Portugal) tomorrow morning. I am well-rested and feeling confident in a quick recovery from the surf accident. I have been doubling my normal CBD daily dosage from 10 drops per day to 20 drops a day and am blown away with how minimal the pain and sensitivity on my face is. We have one last video to film before we head out for the evening (and hopefully enjoy my first ever medicinal marijuana dispensary experience!)