Changing directions and locations has its ups and downs. I love to explore and learn and experience as much as I can possibly can when traveling. My curiously and love of planning always gets the best of me and I find myself in 5 different places each day, learning, soaking it all in. While this is amazing and fun and such a great way to spend my precious time here, it’s not always sustainable. Which is why I have found myself totally spent. And I’m not talking about money. This doesn’t happen to me very often, but when it does, it really does. So much that it’s well into the afternoon and I’m still in bed recovering from the whirlwind tour of San Diego over the last week and a half, along with a short (but amazing) anatomy training in Encinitas (where I am now) with some of my awesome classmates. So here I am at my airbnb that I decided to treat myself to with not a single drop of energy left for outer exploration. But to me, it’s a special time, because I can do my inner exploration; check in with myself, savor the time to be still and make sure the headache and stuffy nose I’ve developed over the last few days don’t turn into anything more.
Whenever these rare days do appear I make sure to welcome them and make sure I’m just an open space for emotions and feelings to pass through. Otherwise I’d spend the day wasting the energy that I don’t even have on stressing about what I’m missing out on. It’s not as easy as it sounds, and sometimes I get frustrated, but then I have these moments of clarity where I’ve just fully accepted the fact that I’m feeling rather depressed and worn out. I think depression is an interesting word. It’s pretty heavy with pre-conceived notions and there’s a lot of fear surrounding it. Our current society shuns these types of emotions (or throws prescriptions meds at them) and always pushes for constant happiness, yet we’re more stressed and anxious than ever. Why are emotions so taboo? Just because I said I am feeling slightly depressed for a day doesn’t mean I have to get help or take medications. Just think about the word depressed. When I think of it, words like heavy, and downcast and worn out come to mind. There’s nothing wrong with these feelings, they are beautifully human. I think they serve a purpose; they remind us to take care of ourselves and make sure we’re always listening to that inner voice of reason and self love. But we always try to shun them, push on, stiff upper lip, but the problem will only get pushed downstream to rear its ugly head later on. So address it, just sit, lay down, whatever and feel. Be the open space that welcomes anything in and give it a place to work itself out. You don’t even need to attach yourself to the feelings, just realize they are there and observe them with interest instead of disgust.
I don’t think the goal of the life is to be happy 100% of the time. In fact I don’t think there is any goal. But the closest thing to an answer to that funny question is that we are able to handle what life throws at as (emotions, situations, opportunities, etc) with evenness and open arms. Because things are always going to happen, always have, always will. The only thing we can control in our lives is how we react or even better, respond to this crazy, swirling world around us. Instead of being seekers, always looking for happiness here or there, just be an open space, and welcome everything, accept it, and know you won’t always be happy. But that’s okay, because to know happiness you also have to know sadness. And to me, just the fact that I can feel is amazing in itself, no matter what that feeling is.
Well, those three large paragraphs were only supposed to be about three sentences, but here we are.
Simon and I had such a great time in San Diego exploring and spending way too much money on food. But hey, we love food, so why not enjoy a $13 dollar smoothie? Unfortunately, the weather decided to change for the worst and rained about 3/4 of the time Simon was visiting. All the locals said it only rained a few times a year in San Diego, and they couldn’t believe the weather, but we didn’t really care,the rain doesn’t bother us too much. The first two days were absolutely beautiful though, and we spent those at the beaches near the city; Ocean Beach, Mission Beach and Pacific Beach. Ocean Beach is more laid back and has the longest pier on the west coast. Simon got to see his first California sunset and then we walked into town for the evening farmers market with live music and tons of vendors. We tried every free sample thrown at us and discovered coconut peanut butter. Life changing. Simon decided on some Kenyan BBQ and I got some Indian food. As usual my eyes were way too big for my stomach and I ordered 3 different scoops of curry. The man waiting in line commented on the amount of food on my plate as I left. Hey man, a girls gotta eat, however, I didn’t eat it all (eyes were waaaay too big) and we ended up giving the rest of it to a homeless man sitting on the curb. He looked like Christmas had decided to come around a second time and grabbed the food before we could say what it was.
The next day we started at Pacific beach and walked the long boardwalk to Mission Beach and the Mission Beach retro arcade and amusement park called Belmont Park and decided to take part in all the fun and ride the rickety rollercoaster build in the 1920’s (it’s been renovated since it was built!) called the Giant Dipper. We laughed the entire ride- which was about 30 seconds- due to how bumpy and clunky it was.
The next few days we explored downtown San Diego; a very cool city with some delicious food spots and big farmers markets. One of my AVI classmates, Andrew lives in North Park which is like the Brooklyn of San Diego. It’s where the “hip crowd” that doesn’t want to deal with the zoo of downtown goes. It’s also gentrification at its finest, but I won’t go there now. We went to visit Andrew at Sleep Bedder; the organic mattress store that is also an art gallery and kitchen with some of the best kombucha I’ve ever had. As soon as we walked in the owners treated us like family, offering us drinks and to hang out on the beds and check out the art. We went to Andrew’s yoga class which was so nice after all the walking around and then went to get some seriously authentic Mexican food. The employees had extremely thick accents and the food was absolutely delicious, not like the Americanized version of Mexican that is so prevalent.
Our buddy from high school, Parker lives about an hour away and drove down to visit us and go out for new years…which was spent at the mattress store in North Park. Yes, we spent new years at a furniture store. But, like I said, this is not just any old furniture store. They threw one hell of a new years party with live art, local musicians and rappers, amazing food and drinks and plenty of beds to crash on and stare at art and enjoy the strobe lights. After midnight we headed to a Kava bar, another odd place I’d never expect myself to spend new years at. Kava is a root found in the south Pacific Islands and when dried, ground into a powder and mixed with water it creates a slightly intoxicating but relaxing drink. Andrew told us about it a few days earlier and we were too curious for our own good. We told the bartender that we’d never had kava before and ordered a round. He smirked and said “what a night to be trying kava, this is our strongest brew ever!”
I took one sip, my entire mouth and throat went numb and I felt like I was slightly drunk but super relaxed and calm. I was designated driver so I was sure the boys were probably feeling quite odd too with a mixture of Kava and alcohol. The taste was rather unpleasant, sort of bitter and chalky but my curiosity is still sparked, maybe I’ll make a home brew when I return in May 🙂
So that was our New Years; quirky and fun. The rest of my time with Simon was spent exploring other neighborhoods and areas in San Diego and spending a day with Gabriel (workaway from Oceanside) who came down on the train to explore Balboa Park with us. It’s quite a huge park with all sorts of stuff going on. Museums, beautiful architecture, gardens, an amphitheater, restaurants, overpriced water…
We went to the San Diego Museum of Man and got to explore some cool exhibits including one on cannibalism which ended with a giant game of Operation to lighten the rather glum mood that resulted from a walk through the exhibit.
The trip seems like a blur because of how much we did and talked about and people we visited and foods we enjoyed. We somehow caught up on three months of being apart all while exploring an entirely new city. I give us a high five!
I didn’t have my schedule planned out for after Simon left, so it was great news to hear while I we were out to dinner with Andrew that one of our teachers from AVI was holding a weekend anatomy course in Encinitas, the city just 45 minutes north of downtown San Diego. It started the day after Simon left so I hoped on the train and headed to Encinitas and to the airbnb that I’m currently staying at. There were no hostels or friends to crash with, but it gave me an opportunity to treat myself. And I’m glad I did. Julie, the owner of the house, is one of the sweetest, most caring ladies I have ever met. She treats you like family, what’s hers is also yours. She’s always offering me cookies and snacks on my way out the door and she is learning to play the harp, so when I walked in the door for the first time I was greeted by the most calming sound. There are a few other people living here; Tiffany, finishing her last year in school to become an eye doctor, and doing her residency at a local doctors office. Then there is Abhit and Annalee, yoga teachers who are on the hunt for jobs here. Abhit is from Nepal and Annalee from Sweden, I’ve enjoyed discussing yoga with them and drooling over the amazing Nepalese dishes they prepare.
The anatomy training was great. I’ve taken a few already but the information never seems to stick. This time, it was an anatomy class geared towards the practice of yoga; functional anatomy. So it was less memorizing bones and muscles and more learning about their actions in certain postures. Our schedule was pretty laid back, sometimes Juris (our teacher) would start at 9, sometimes 10, sometimes we’d end at 4, sometimes 5 🙂
It was great to be back with a few people from the AVI group again, we have such a great Sangha (group) and there’s a lot of support and love throughout. On our breaks or after the training we’d get lunch or dinner together and see each other in normal clothing, anything besides yoga pants! Encinitas is home to the Self Realization Fellowship created by Paramahansa Yogananda when he settled in Encinitas from India in 1936 to spread his yogic wisdom. There are meditation gardens near the center and one of the days a few of us strolled through them during lunch. Koi ponds and tropical flowers and cacti surrounded us, overlooking the ocean and Swami’s Beach. A beach that was blessed by the Yogananda, and holds the best surfing on the west coast.
I’m almost in disbelief still about how perfect the dates lined up for Simon’s departure and the start of the training, I’ve run into such convenient coincidences so far 🙂
On Friday night I went to my first Ecstatic Dance San Diego. Which is just what it sounds like, you basically go and dance your bum off from 8-11pm (it ended at 11:30) then end by laying on the ground while someone plays a gong to let you calm the heck down before you’re out into the world again, or in my case, a mile walk home and right into my bed. The dance was fun, I danced and jumped around and flailed my arms in all directions and even got elbowed in the face!
So that’s what I’ve been up to. Like I said in the beginning, today I had to take a day and let everything sink in, everything to settle. New year, new direction as I head north to LA once again in a few days.