When my good friend Mahira, a well-known creative and sparklingly alive human mermaid butterfly, asked me to contribute my story on a spiritual journey for this issue, I jumped out of my seat and screamed “YES !”
And then I sat down and said, “Uh … Uh Oh.”
At first I got really excited and then confused, I then became somewhat stressed out, I asked for an extension on the due date. And then, I got help.
I called up a good friend, a treasured and rare peer. Someone who I know I can tell anything to. And so, since my writings tend to be very honest, brutal and sometimes a little perverse ~ let’s respect her privacy and call her “Shannon”.
Shannon, being a writer herself, (and quite honestly a very righteous woman), likes to get straight to the nut of it. So over a buffet line of potent and various dinner conversation topics ranging from stoners to boners, she says to me “Ok, so in one shot – what’s THE spiritual journey to you? What is it?”
I had no answer.
My thoughts stirred, my head ached and the moment sitting there together over sweet potato fries became like the point in an ayahuasca ceremony where the deck of cards of all your life’s memories and emotions come shuffling in at high speed and you just want it all to stop. Stop it. Shut it up. Now. Please. It hurts.
I leaned in. And I noted this new approach, as spiritually for most of my life, I have chosen to back up and at times, well I would’ve just boned out.
“So what do I write about? ” I ask myself. Do I talk about my first trip to Cambodia to visit my parents’ homeland at age 23, when I faced my family history after a life of emotional abuse as the punching bag for my parents’ pain and suffering? And do I talk about how, intuitively, I was ready for big change in my life, ready to live with purpose, yet I didn’t know how or why ?
Isn’t the young budding spiritual warrior exactly what the world needs and wants to read about?
Ok, maybe I should write about that 30 day cleanse I did on nothing but liquids and super foods. After all, that commitment to my health sparked such a wealth of inspiration in the lives of others. I became so much clearer, and lighter, and as the ‘spiritual people’ say, I was “activated”. No no, that’s lame. If I’m going to do that then I will have to end the story with a re-naming of myself, branding myself with some sort of advanced probiotic or raw food restaurant.
Yes, I have it.
I will write about the shamanic journey that I so courageously went on. I mean, I, a young woman, at the age of 30 went into the woods ALONE, for seven whole days, in upstate New York.
There, I relived my entire life through my (Native American) medicine wheel. I was so fearless – I faced it ALL – my past, my present, my future, my life, my death and as a gift, I found my purpose.
I went in with a bag that held only some green juice powder, a few avocados, some supplies for the wheel, a tent and a sleeping bag – and yet that bag felt like it held the weight of the world.
And it did.
It held the weight of my world- my experiences, the ones I recalled often, and even ones that I thought I had let go of. These memories had never actually gone anywhere. They were just tucked away and had turned into dust balls. It was time to clean house.
As I called on the four directions, and sang the songs that called my spirit back home, I cried, I laughed, and I let go.
To release my biggest wound – I let go of all the words that my father had cut me with. I let go of all the years of being criticized. I let go of the friends who had not met me eye to eye, the past loves who had wronged me, strangers in passing who may have looked at me the wrong way!
Most of all, in those days in the woods, in full connection with myself and Mother Nature- I forgave myself for any moment where I had allowed my own self to be treated poorly, for the times I had taken my pain and with it wronged someone else, hurt someone, and mostly for the times I had judged, criticized and hurt my own self.
I even forgave myself for once crashing into an ex-boyfriend’s truck and trying to run him up a tree after a very drunken and lonely 12 pack.
So yes, I have grown and I’m not crazy and pissed off anymore. Well most of the time anyway. And you know what, that’s true spirituality.
So after seven, unforgettable days of kissing the wounds within myself – I walked out of the woods with the lightness of a child and crystal clear eyesight.
My reflection in the mirror, the memory of my father, another person, a tree, a moment –all things could and would never ever be the same. I had found presence, clarity and true love for myself and all things.
Let’s call it Gratitude.
So let’s get back to my dinner with Shannon … And again, who am I anyway? Why am I here? What is spirituality but the deepening, widening, and rising of my truest highest self to crystallite criteria? And can I do that, still have a good time and say bad words every once in a while? Stoner? Boner?
During a meditation in the woods with the question asked “Why am I here”, with my back supported by a tree, I opened my eyes to see a mama deer and her two babies about 20 feet from me. I was so still that they did not see me. I watched in quiet tears of calmness as she nuzzled her young ones. I took away the clear message that I was here to love and be loved, to give, receive and nurture.
I have asked myself on occasion if I can constantly live in the “Wheel” and still be me – the funny, sassy, sarcastic me. Can I ride that edge? I can. Because that’s ME, and that’s where, how and why I want to be. And no one – not anyone – not my father, my brother, a stranger, a friend, a boyfriend, a lover or myself would ever tell me different again.
So is my best spiritual story the one where I traveled the farthest in the world, or the one where I fell to the ground and ate dirt the hardest? And I realize – it’s all of it. It’s in everyday, in every single perfect little moment. It’s in the taking it all in and then throwing it all up. It’s in being told you’re not enough and in being hurt by that, and in by knowing that you are, very enough, more than enough.
It’s in spinning around in circles with yourself, over and over again. It’s in the detox and in the retox. It’s in the crashing, the smashing, the blaming, the gaming, the loving, the flirting, the kissing, the teasing, the learning and the burning. It’s in feeling like you’ll never love again and that moment when you realize you can, and you will.
And the fun part? All of the moments that get you there. Enjoy the ride.
It’s in the not knowing, and in the knowing that it’s ok not to know. It’s in just showing up, stepping out, rising up and blowing it all out. And then doing it all over again. It’s in finding the sweet spot while riding the Edge of the Magic and Mystery!
It’s the greatest, most luscious, romantic, fun, comedic love story every written. And as my very good friend Shannon would say “It’s about being in your brilliance.”
So, yes this is it – This IS the journey. And this is your story – I hope you ride it well.
About the author: Penny Dinn is a dreamer, a believer and multi-platinum achiever manifesto. She swings on vines by a river on a small paradise island and screams in glee when she green turtles by the sea. When she’s not crying to old James Taylor love songs, surfing giggly waves at the Bay, or hanging with her friend “Shannon”, she is busy being a professional lifestyle and travel photographer www.pennydinn.com www.pennydinn.tumblr.com She shoots beauty, weddings, families and kids, which means in a nutshell that she shoots LOVE.
Penny is also a world traveler, humanitarian, philosopher, a soul seeking activist and passionately stewards the sacred feminine with her soul sisters at Shakti Rising www.shaktirisingnp.com
She believes that we all have a responsibility to educate, empower and engage, first ourselves- then others.
Penny believes in generosity, abundance and in walking through the world with beauty and grace, all while having a whole lot of fun.