i play a game with myself (and others if they’re willing) where i begin with three words, the truth is... let’s play. i’ll go first. the truth is, i’ve been working out a ton lately. a few times a week i’ll go twice in a day. today was one of those days. i saw my reflection in the mirror when i got off an hour on the elliptical. i had closed my eyes for the entirety of it other than when i pressed play on two separate #kellyhowell guided meditations. i felt myself in space and time and had no awareness of others as i bounced up and down with a goofy look of contentment on my face, my thumbs and index fingers pressed together while i journeyed beyond the elliptical into the unknown as #drjoedispenza calls it. i enjoyed the feeling of the sweat dripping as i did a few different leg machine reps. i continued to do 45 mins of a #sweat workout before i went upstairs to get my after workout juice i had prepared and drove home. i made the quickest bean chili in my #instantpotofficial on the sautée mode and ate before taking what went from a 30 minute nap to 2 hrs. as hard as i’ve been working my physical body, i’ve been trying to rest more. i woke up and prepared a tincture for a client with lyme and met him in the lobby of the gym as he arrived for his bee well sweat regimen. i had planned to go to evening yoga class and a steam session. i realized quickly in class that i had pushed me a little too much today. at the end while everyone laid in shavasana, i opted to sit up and meditate. i inquired within, “are you okay?” tears streamed down my face and the answer came quickly. the last pose was the most challenging of all, a shape that no one’s body in the absolutely full class could make. it was unrealistic and so was my unsustainable routine today. i let out a weepy sound as i allowed my tears to flow and inform me. i had been so afraid to workout up until quite recently. i sufferer with such horrible back and hip pain seasonally for 8 years before i was diagnosed with lyme last winter. for 8 years i was so careful not to push myself physically, and after last year’s lyme crisis, i was afraid to move. now, i’m healthier than ever, and i have nothing to be afraid of.
the west coast has always had a way of breaking my heart open. i think that’s why i’ve been back just about annually since my first trip 11 years ago and ultimately why i thought to relocate there. arriving at the beach was a no brainer enlightening ah ha moment of release as i got out to smell the fresh beachy air. i wasn’t home, but something about the beach anywhere feels that way. journeying down the road a bit brought me back to a place and space in time that felt like i was revisiting another lifetime. 10 years ago when i was last here, i was quiet. i stayed inside, wound up in emotional fetal position that would take another 2 years, a few more breakups with the same bf, 2 trips to india, and my mother’s sudden passing for me to begin to truly unravel and stretch out. flash forward 8 more years, 7 more trips to india, and a few more heart wrenching break ups, and i’m just rolling back into arcata, ca, to the first herb shop i can remember visiting and feeling my self in. “i think i’m a healer” i very vividly remember saying to him. “you’re not a healer” “no, really, these herbs are speaking to me. i think i want to study herbal medicine” “you’re not a healer” he walked away. i was crushed. hmm, why not me, i thought, but i believed him. it would take 6 years and a random email about an herbalist apprenticeship from a friend for it to show up in a real way again. i bought a t-shirt at @moonriseherbs and told the women in the shop my story of healing lyme and about my ex and i walked out and felt that although it was nye and i had planned to stay in arcata, the visit felt complete and i wanted to keep driving. arcata was my ex’s place. and this was my journey. i got to ukiah at 9 and googled to find @ukiahbrewingco where i met @damienbyers35 bartender and future soul connected friend and many other beautiful people who i welcomed in 2020 with. i played with damien’s dog, cash who has no eyes but sees the world in his own beautiful way, and talked damien’s ear off until the wee hours of january 1. it was the most perfect way to end the decade. and totally by chance. and trusting myself, a 35 year old light beam dancing in the magical darkness of the unknown.
driving down the oregon coast felt like a breeze and my broken heart was already mending as the weather got warmer, so did i. i stumbled upon an organic cafe owned by beekeepers before i saw the ocean and smelled the salty air for the first time in weeks. new years eve was fast approaching and i was feeling equipped to start the new year off with my new blue blocker glasses and sleep mask from @blubloxofficial to help regulate my hormones and sleep patterns. i did a ton of research on hormones while in oregon and ordered myself these gifts for christmas. i spent the night right outside california because it was getting dark and i didn’t want to miss a thing. i enjoyed waking up slowly, knowing i was headed for one of my favorite places i’ve ever visited. it had been exactly ten years since i had traveled down the redwood highway and i knew i was in for such a tasty visual, visceral treat. it felt so appropriate to be on this journey, on the last day of 2019, last day of the decade, where i was exactly ten years prior, at the start of the last decade. i wasn’t doing it all over again. i was doing it myself, my way, and clearing the karma accumulated. ten years ago i barely saw what i saw on this journey. this time, i was in the driver’s seat, rather than a pouty passenger with a surf obsessed ex and a depressed mother at home who couldn’t reach me because i was out of cellular range. this time was totally different. i was free. i am free. i pulled off the road so many times just to smell the air, feel the plants, listen to the waves, stand on top of big rocks, and although i knew in my heart i was missing my community and headed back to mv soon, i also knew i had the entire coast ahead of me, and los angeles was waiting for me to check her out before making my final decision to head back east.
i woke up determined to get to my family, running on pure adrenaline. my bro worked late that night and my sis in law and i dressed my nephew in the cute gifts i bought for him along the way. he insisted anty susie carry him, hold his hand, follow him around. i adored it. i shopped and prepared dinner, happy to be of service to my family when they needed a helping hand. i signed up for a month of yoga and went to an alignment class. my sciatic nerve was bothering me and my right foot was going numb. my body rejected my insistence to keep on keeping on. the right side represents masculine energy, the doing side. that night i couldn’t put weight on my leg or foot but i pushed through it. 2 days passed and i gave in and went to a chiropractor for help. she read my medical history and said “oh you have lyme” as if she figured it all out because everything seemed normal structurally. i left feeling defeated, despite my negative blood test taken the day before i left mv. down the rabbit hole i went. the chiro’s adjustments were unlike the gentle bodywork i was used to, and i was in much deeper pain when i got back to the house. i was now crawling around on hands and knees, the only position i’d find comfort in for the following week. my fam was disappointed in my not being able to help or attend holiday parties, for needing help instead that they didn’t have the capacity to offer, since my presence was requested for just that, to help. deeper into the rabbit hole i went as days passed. my body, mind and spirit were so tired and so sad. i spent christmas on the couch alone and by then j stopped calling, stopped answering. “what if it *is lyme?” i woke up the day after christmas and saw the chiropractor again. i barely made it to her office, screaming aloud in pain, driving with my left leg, pulling over multiple times. nothing helped. i could see i was the only person capable of helping me, a very familiar feeling. after two entirely self-centered days of heavy meditation, soaking and acupuncture, i was back on my feet and my bro kindly suggested it was time for me to move on. i did. and it was *not lyme. it was the universe at play. you can’t pour from an empty cup.
j and i bonded beautifully over a lot of shared interests. rocks, adventuring, hiking, nature loving, a good sour beer, delicious local food, and so much more. one thing really stood out to me with thanksgiving a few days away, and that was that both of our moms passed away 7 years ago. after the first night at his house, i asked him if he’d take me to see the grand canyon. he was psyched to take me on a proper tour. but first, we’d go for a ride into the forest to cut down dead trees and chop firewood together. he didn’t know i had just sold my chainsaw at my yard sale and that type of outing made a woman like me swoon. since we were both two feathers in the wind, the next day i asked him if he had thanksgiving plans and we quickly agreed that i should stay a few more days and that we could and should share the holiday together. i cooked up a feast and a half and we watched the snow fall while watching #cosmos on a lap top snuggled up by his fireplace. there were so many moments and hours and days where i thought i might live in flagstaff, and with a wisdom tooth extraction and a hell of a lot of indecision as to where i was headed next, if there was a next, it eventually turned into three weeks. but alas, my family in oregon was now expecting me, and i had basically moved into this man’s house and taken over his time. it was one of the most magical and unexpected experiences i’ve had, and i’ve only had a handful of those truuuly special ones, but come on. breathe. space. before i left his home in arizona, i had decided i would go back to martha’s vineyard, and we agreed our connection and friendship would be lasting, that we’d see each other again. sometimes things happen and you can’t deny it in the current space and time, but when life falls back into whatever space and place it was in before the magic happened, it’s hard to go back. i had hoped to see j again when i drove back across weeks later but he had weekend guests and i couldn’t wait, i wanted to get home to the island. it was probably for the best because i might have stayed for fun in arizona forever. life is fun and funny that way, but i knew then, i belong on island. i have so much work to do.
i woke up in z’s living room at 7 and didn’t want to wake him so i took off for a coffee shop. i went into the first one i found and asked for nut milk and they kindly redirected me to @firecreekcoffee where i decided to sit and reflect rather than jump back in my truck to head to sedona. i looked up from my chia pudding and saw john. i asked him to watch my things so i could run outside to get my laptop. when i returned i began writing about my recent experiences. for some reason i wrote a sentence about the attractive man peering over at me as a sort of here i am now beginning statement, and somehow he was on one knee next to my table asking if he could join me. “sure” i said with a grin. somehow i manifested this within seconds. we got right into it and shared deep truths. after coffee he walked me to @wintersuntradingco where i laid down on their floor after opening a few jars and smelling, sensing, communing with their herbs. yes. j walked me to my truck and i told him our connection felt incomplete and asked if he’d like to have lunch with me. we did that, talking extensively about life and dreams and the like and he walked me back to my truck. “this still feels incomplete. would you like to have another coffee with me?” he lit up. “of course.” there, we spoke about kidney cleansing herbs for kidney season and i mentioned juniper berries. “there’s a big tree behind my house” — hmm, “can we harvest some berries today?” he lit up again. “are you sure? aren’t you going to sedona?” — yes. “let’s make a tincture together.” j called me while i followed him to his home in the #coconinonationalforest and he gave me a verbal tour of #flagstaff. he texted me his address and told me to send it to a friend so they knew where to find me and to make me feel more comfortable. he had an @airbnb loft and offered his space, and opened his heart to me. he introduced me to greta, a 14 year old german shepard intuitive and loving spirit and when we arrived at his home, he showed me his wild foraged mushroom collection and took me on a tour of his yard that was filled with petrified wood and stones and crystals of all kinds. kindred spirits. my heart began to rest there.
driving through the last bit of tx into the southwest was exactly what my mind, body and soul was craving. i was moved to tears when i saw the colors and shapes change from midwest flatlands to mesas, new textures, oranges, reds. my fellow foodie brother sent me a short must-experience restaurant list when i told him i was driving towards albuquerque and i pulled off the highway to have lunch at #durancentralpharmacy where i was pleasantly surprised to find not only the most perfect bean and potato red chili lunch but they also offered dried herbs and in-store made tinctures of all kinds at the pharmacy counter. i.e. the exact place i needed to be next. i bought some osha root that i chewed on for the next several weeks and some other traditional plants and herbal medicines of the southwest that were harvested nearby. my wisdom tooth was bothering me and i was able to find a tooth oil that was also made in-house. i left there feeling so full. in every aspect. the drive through new mexico stirred and moved me. i thought i was driving to colorado to see a friend and plans changed. i thought i was driving steadily to get to oregon for thanksgiving and plans changed. i slowed down in new mexico and i must have cried the entire way through, allowing and absorbing the magic of the enchanted state and releasing what i was ready to leave behind. when i got to the arizona line, i had to get out and feel what my eyes were experiencing with another sense, touch. i placed my hand on the heartbeat of the land around me and closed my eyes in meditation and i experienced a kind of grounding that can only truly be understood by a solo traveling gardener/herbalist. we had a heartfelt special connection, the southwest and me, and i got back into my truck to accept the invite to spend the night at my friend @zacharydreher’s place in flagstaff. i met z at @1440multiversity in passing between separate and different workshops two years ago. we noticed each other’s energies and kind smiles and have kept in touch since. it’s amazing who you meet when you’re traveling and open. it’s amazing who you become when you’re traveling and open.
i texted a friend i met years ago during ytt on mv while making my way towards nashville. he and his sweet gf took me to @highgardentea and between the dreamy herb shop and the southern hospitality, i decided to stay the night. w and i played trivia with some locals and i received my first marriage proposal of the trip. leaving nashville was bittersweet, so exciting and inevitably lonesome. i saw a pattern forming that reminded me of a lesson i learned years back in india. keep going. there will be people to meet and see along the way. i drove through to arkansas and my energy suddenly crashed as i came to a stop in traffic because of an actual car crash. maybe someone was tired like me. i pulled off the road and splurged for a nice hotel room for a proper night’s rest next to a mexican restaurant full of giant 7 ft tall men. i was so tired, i went to sleep wrapped in the towel from my hot shower. i woke up feeling refreshed, grateful for the open road ahead to texas, and warm sunshine that allowed my arms to breathe. when torrential rain fell, i pulled off the road and danced in rest area bathrooms, keeping my spirits up. i arrived at my cousins’ house in dallas where i was overwhelmed by their generosity and love. their bathroom was decorated in a martha’s vineyard theme and i saw the island’s shape and the #mvagfair posters as pure love on the walls. i left the next day with three drinks from @juiceland, a warm heart and a full belly as i drove on through the huge state. feeling exhaustion creeping back in, i pulled over in the middle of somewhere, tx for gas and a restroom break. would you believe i looked up and saw @sagesweetgrass directly across the road! what are the odds? the lovely owner and i shared hugs and shop talk. our meeting was exactly the kind of fortuitous connection i needed to get me to my last unexpected stop in texas, where it turned into a snow globe for the night. landing in a fellow herbalist’s embrace on the road stuck with me while the snow kept me from keeping on. don’t. rush. a thing. there will be more sweet connections, even when you least expect it, or need it most. this was evident. but first, there will be more rest.
the days that followed my departure from nyc were full of childlike wonder and nervous anxiety over my check engine light. i was finally alone with a growing fear of the unknown and at times, a little anxiety over arriving alone at night in seemingly well thought out chosen landmark towns along the way. i quickly figured out trusty @motel6 isn’t what it used to be 10 years ago. or maybe i wasn’t who i used to be. this was a theme that kept surfacing throughout the drive. i was focused on my self, my dreams, my health, and eating living vibrant foods while on the road. one thing lyme taught me this past year was to let go of my insecurities. i liked me when i was preparing to leave mv, but it wasn’t until i was living out of my truck, that i began falling in love with me. i realized, through other people’s reflections of me, just how special i am. if you know me, you know i’m a person who pushes limits. i finally went to an @autozone in virginia and was told the check engine light code was for my mass air flow sensor. nervously, i called all @chevrolet dealerships in my driving direction and none of them had this part to replace it. i was able to a schedule an appt at a dealership in memphis the following day. after a sleepless night in a moldy motel in roanaoke, by the time i arrived, i was in tears. the sweet older gentleman assured me he’d take care of me. “sign here, miss, $120 to have the truck diagnosed.” “$120 plus the part and labor? i told you, autozone checked the code. why do i have to pay you to tell me the same thing? i’m driving across the country alone.” “you can trust me. we’re a good christian company.” hmm, i thought, i wonder what he would think if he saw my tattoo of my grandmother’s name in hebrew on my wrist. this is a weird feeling. i don’t like it but the empath in me worked to appreciate the sentiment. i waited just over an hour for the man to come back with a younger mechanic who explained to me that the sensor just needed resetting because of too much ethanol in gas from somewhere along the way. “you’re all set ma’am” “how much do i owe you?” “you’re all set. good people help good people. stay safe on your epic journey.”
i hadn’t realized i still had too much stuff until 9 and my 10:30 boat was fast approaching. s showed up, pointed out some obvious things i could leave behind, and ushered me off before she spent her day cleaning and tucking my excess things away in her basement. i’ll never forget her words that morning. “being a mom is the thing i’m best at, and right now you need one. these are things moms do.” it’s been over 7 years since i’ve had a mom, and i later recalled the very last thing my mom and i did together was move my things off island before a big trip to india. i’m still shocked and incredibly moved that she showed up for me in that way, being a self-proclaimed island anchor for me. i’ll always remember how her love felt that day. i drove to nyc and met c who offered/insisted to take a bus to meet me since my truck was packed so tightly, passenger seat and all. she said she wanted to make sure i had a sweet send off, and sweet it was. it was like i planned it all so perfectly this way, but i couldn’t have even dreamed it up. exactly a year prior to this day, i was in bed after moving most of my belongings from one rental to another with what i knew would be diagnosed a few days later as lyme disease. when tickets for jagged little pill went on sale in april, my alanis workshop friends and i planned to go on the same night. they’re all from california so when they told me 11/15 was the night they were going, i felt it was written in the stars. i didn’t know at the time that it would be the first day of my journey across the country. we all had an amazing night. the next day c and i shared the most delicious vegan lunch at one of her favorite spots and got high off of shilajit at #ursupernatural in brooklyn. we had the most authentic heart to heart two soul sis biz partners being separated by space and an unknown period of time could possibly have, and that night we met up with h and shared inspiring conversation, hugs and more delicious veg food. i couldn’t remember feeling more loved and cared for and seen. my check engine light in my truck had (already) come on, but i was ready for the drive.