So, I skipped a year. It happens. I always feel a little ashamed when it happens, but alas I don’t let it bother me too much. What’s more potently true is that I get so excited when I start to feel the pull to this familiar practice again. I have loved looking over my last 2 years and harvesting the lessons that helped me evolve. The process of owning, articulating and sharing these lessons, helps me release shame, face fears, and embody my wisdom and values more fully.
Excitement and anticipation pulsate through my body every time I realize I am going to write one of these pieces because it’s the deepest and longest running integration practice I do. It causes me to strip naked in front of myself in all ways and evaluate what and how I have learned and who I am becoming. Sharing it with you supercharges it like a prayer for a faster and more graceful evolution.
There’s another part of this practice that is fascinating and sometimes cringe-worthy. Before I begin writing, I re-read all the years I’ve reviewed before, which is now quite a few, since I started in 2011. As I re-read them, I’m reminded of precious moments that have escaped my daily memory and emotions that have long since changed and relationships that have shifted.
Sometimes I feel embarrassed by a naive or overly confident tone in earlier blogs or laugh out loud at my grand proclamations to solve issues that persisted long after. But the beauty of this practice is that it is ultimately about reflection and growth, so most of all, I’m left with a sense of accomplishment about my dedication to both of those things, even if I do skip a year every so often.
Without further ado, I humbly offer my glorious life review of 2018 and 2019. Thank you for reading and supporting my growth.
I last wrote to you from a beach house in Mexico celebrating New Year’s Eve 2017, it literally feels like a decade has passed since then. Extreme highs, followed by extreme lows, massive transitions on several levels, and thankfully, [spoiler alert], a happy “ending” have ensued since then.
In the winter of 2017/2018, I committed to staying out of freezing ass Nashville. So, it was New Year’s in Mexico, a long trip to California, and an epic stay in the Bahamas, and my regular jaunt to Canyon de Guadalupe that kept me warm. I was more than warm actually, I was flaming red hot in love and traveling the world with my then boyfriend.
We had adventure upon adventure, ones where luck, abundance and tiny miracles seemed to constantly ripen before us. For example, 15 minutes after he had arrived in the Bahamas to meet me, we found ourselves making love in 80 degree, turquoise water at sunset while Lenny Kravitz and his band practiced on the cliffside above us.
But things that burn as hot as we did tend to crash land, and that is definitely what happened. Not only that, but laws were passed (SESTA/FOSTA) that severely impacted the lives of Tantra educators and sex workers in the US. It seemed as though my thriving business imploded almost overnight, and nearly right along side it, my relationship.
I delayed the much needed mourning of all this, so I could move into a new apartment–my dream apartment– (see below), and fought hard to stay sane and pivot my business and remain hopeful despite my devastation. I succeeded at this for a few months, but began to feel the heaviness of regret enter my awareness like it never had before. I quickly learned, this is what “they” call a midlife crisis.
Never before had I felt so much regret and shame. I regretted relationship choices, business decisions, financial decisions. It seemed like I had wrecked it all. My future looked incredibly bleak and broke, and I was suddenly living a very solitary life headed toward another dark winter in Nashville with no hope of escaping to a tropical island this time.
You see, I had been holding some ideas that I needed to achieve a certain level of financial and career success in Nashville before returning to California. And, I had had some intuitions or perhaps delusions that I was still needed there for deeper reasons, so it was incredibly hard to make a conscious plan to move back, even if it was clearly the best thing to do. So instead, I came home to visit my parents for Christmas, and ended up staying there for 4 months. Luckily I was able to sublease my furnished apartment immediately, but this transition was anything put planned.
Living with my parents and grandmother at that time was a grand experiment. It was a huge hit to my ego that was still in midlife crisis mode, but ultimately provided a lot of healing and deeper understanding of my family’s dynamics and my role in them. My chosen family gets celebrated a lot more in my blogs than my blood family, but you should know they are extremely kind and generous people who try very hard to support me the best they can.
Around spring, I was able to mobilize and start to give back a bit. I started by cleaning out and organizing my parent’s house and garage, then my aunt’s, and a dear friend’s. I’ve come to realize there seems to be two routes out of severe depression that work for me, either intense workouts, or intense physical labor (in addition to therapy and sometimes medication.) So, in other words, if you see me slipping or looking lost, please ask me to organize a room in your house!
In May of 2019, I started another interesting adventure in humility called “living with one of my best friends and her three year old daughter in a studio apartment.” Grace and I were looking for a mutually beneficial situation to help each other out during a rough season for both of us. I was coined “Lali Poppins” and did my best to sprinkle magic wherever I could. I got to deeply know my niece, Mia, whom I had helped deliver, and did my best to make life easier for them both.
I discovered another great cure for depression called “playing with a three year old.” My adventures with Mia have been pure magic, as she models perfectly how to stay in the present moment. And while Grace and I ultimately wanted to kill each other toward the last few weeks, we had so much fun playing house at times. She also often gifted me with her healing acupuncture. I can’t recommend her enough. Here’s the website I made for her: Grace & Medicine. I’ll never forget her generosity and laughter during this time when smiling didn’t come so easily. And it turns out, even when the sky is falling, we can put together an epic birthday party for our favorite little bruja.
Things started to look up around my birthday. All the midlife crisis fear around turning 40 had fallen away and I planned a birthday party that brought some of my blood and chosen family together with the goal of integration. It was a joyful celebration full of little girls, a piñata and a bouncy house–what more could one ask for?!
It was around this time that I started to feel grateful for one undeniable fact about aging: it becomes easier and easier to accept people and things as they are. With that, comes a gift of increased relaxation in most circumstances. You still see your own and others’ flaws, but they don’t bother you nearly as much. You still need things from people, but it’s easier to not take it personally when they aren’t able to provide them.
You become less attached to wanting things to be a certain way. Judgements lessen, appreciation increases. It’s definitely worth the wrinkles. I can’t actually articulate how one learns this, to me it just seems to blossom with the accumulated experience of reaching one’s 40s mostly intact.
San Diego Family
Not too long after my birthday party, another miracle happened. I was invited to stay with another friend in a beautiful home where I’d have my own room. I can’t emphasize enough the miracles that four walls can create for an introvert. I had my own space, my own altar, not to mention, a hot tub. But the best part was my housemates.
James, Sharmila, Jenna and Matt (and a few furry creatures) were exactly what I needed to truly find daily joy and ease again. This household has equal parts support, inspiration, fun and freedom. For the last few months, I’ve dedicated myself to making sure we have healthy plant-based food to eat under the guidance of The Kitchen Priestess, Jenna Carpenter. If you are seeking a health coach, a diet cleanse, or a personal trainer with endless enthusiasm for exercise–it is her, please check out her website.
I’ve also resumed my favorite activity of purging and organizing spaces, and have earned myself a new nickname: Swiss Army Bitch. Similar to Lali Poppins, but with a bit more BDSM flair, this Swiss Army Bitch so enjoys serving her housemates in any way she can because she feels met deeply by the love they exude.
Practice Makes Habits
This love and spaciousness has allowed a few things to blossom. Most importantly, I was finally able to step back into my work and resume coaching and giving tantric sessions. It has also allowed me to vision with more clarity, my next career steps, and most importantly, it has brought me back home to my classical tantric practices.
I’m on my second go around listening to Christopher Wallis’ brilliant narration of his book The Recognition Sutras. It is a 1,000 year old tantric text that absolutely lights me up when I digest it. There’s something in the way the ancient tantric practitioners describe the universe that makes my nervous system simultaneously relax and wake up. They remind me to seek truth, explore oneness, and appreciate the vast beauty of the world, and get my ass to the altar in the morning to meditate so I stop forgetting these things.
The other thing that has been getting my ass to the altar, is the miracle of a 90-day planner. For my Birthday, my beloved Pony, Chrissie, got me my first 90-Day goal setting, habit tracking planner. We met every Monday for those 3 months, and now on month 4, we are trying out a new journal and have added our other bruja sister, Mallory, to the mix. There’s nothing like starting each day intentionally with my journal and assortment of colored pens and stickers, and each week with a guided meditation and reflection with my best friends.
Our goal for next quarter, is to get our last bruja, Grace, on board and then to create our own Bruja Life journal/planner to help everyone find a magical flow in their lives. Another amazing habit I have adopted is saving money. I’ve always been pretty good at making it, but saving it has been damn near impossible. But don’t worry there’s an app for that, actually there are two! If you suck at saving money like me, download one of them now! (Digit and Joy are both apps that automatically save money for you.)
Also, if you haven’t heard already, there is so much useful research on the power of habit. I have found these books (Atomic Habits and The Power of Habit) to be extremely helpful in beginning to embody daily habits in support of my bigger goals.
Healthy Body Image
One of these goals, happens to be weight loss. You see, after I got my gallbladder removed I went a little overboard with the french fries. So overboard, that I found myself binge eating fast food at times, even though I had long since removed it from my diet. What can I say? Nashville is the infamous home of fried hot chicken and I had gotten pretty lonely.
Unfortunately, all that amounted to me being heavier than I have ever been and it’s been quite the journey back to loving my body again, especially given my return to the land of the skinny yogi (aka Encinitas). At least in Nashville, I was averaged sized! It’s one of the deepest practices I do to simultaneously curate love for my current body while consciously trying to create a healthier one.
It’s tough being an emotional eater, a foodie, and a Tantra teacher who is “supposed” to represent radiant health and aliveness. But what I have found lately, is that I can be radiantly alive at any size and there are still plenty of people attracted to my body. And for those who prefer me 50 lbs lighter, I hope it is for health reasons, and not aesthetic ones because that is what actually matters.
Dating in California vs. Nashville
In the last few months, feeling more comfortable in my body as allowed me to date again. Though I still find myself at times mourning my ex and wondering if he is okay, it’s been exciting to meet new people. And let me tell you, dating in San Diego is a whole lot different than Nashville. For starters, I don’t feel like a kinky alien anymore.
My radically free and sex-positive lifestyle are not nearly as foreign to Californians as it was in The Bible Belt. I don’t come across any bible quotes and MAGA hats on Tinder anymore. In fact, I may have evolved past Tinder all together. If you are getting bored of the conventional dating app options, I recommend trying Hinge or Feeld.
I will say there is one downside to California dating, however. Nashville guys have a ton more chivalry and their ability to ask a woman on a proper date is still intact. I can’t tell you how many California guys think “wanna hang out?” is a good invitation or that “hey” is a complete text message.
But alas, I find myself really excited about the people I am dating and at the same time relaxed and unattached. Did I just say that? Who am I?! Maybe it’s the miracle of turning 40 again that has lessened my romantic intensity. I remain on a quest for a life partner, but I trust they will appear when they do and until then, it’s my job to enjoy exploring people, while remaining true to myself.
The Power of Plant Medicine
Part of remaining true to myself is finding balance with the use of plant medicines. It’s still amusing to me what a controversial topic this is. As if our ancestors haven’t been eating magical plants for thousands of years?! Also, as someone who has been on and off of psychiatric medications for most of her life, I feel like it’s even more controversial. I often feel uninformed people judging my choices.
Here’s what I know about myself. I don’t take medicines to get high, per say. It’s not about feeling out of control, it’s about feeling more connected to the universe and myself. There are few things that give me more pleasure and meditative insight than smoking a joint or blunt in nature, or experiencing a psychedelic ritual with friends.
With the legalization of cannabis in California, people have unprecedented access to amazing cannabis products of every kind. You can get tinctures with careful proportions of CBD and THC, fancy pre-rolled blunts, you name it. The most exciting part of this is to finally have informed choice when it comes to cannabis strains. I have found that I love a good sativa, one of my favorites is Durban Poison (If you suffer from anxiety I don’t recommend it, but it’s amazing for depression or low energy). If you are curious, please make a stop at my favorite dispensary in San Diego, Mankind.
Moderation is key in all of this. Sometimes I go months and months without consuming anything and sometimes it’s a more common affair. I’ve learned to trust my body in figuring out what is right for me and along the way I’ve learned how to use these medicines to help others.
Psychedelic Assisted Therapy
A thread that has gotten much stronger in the last three years of my life is the power of psychedelic-assisted therapy. I’ve taken a handful of people on these journeys into self. I’ve seen people shift through layers and layers of trauma and resistance in the course of one night because of these medicines and the safe space I create. It’s truly magical.
I’m excited that society is starting to understand this and people are working hard to do more research and change laws so this can be fully explored. It’s hard to comprehend how much damage our governments of the 60s, 70s, and 80s did in demonizing these potently healing plants. I pray that this will continue to evolve in the direction of acceptance and appreciation.
Ritual is always a big part of these psychedelic experiences. I find blood sacrifice is of the utmost importance. Kidding. Ritual is simply about creating intentional sacred space, invoking the senses, invoking the deepest most truest part of our human awareness and focusing it with an intention.
The more rituals in my life, the more I feel like the best version of myself. I’m currently working on the ritual of sitting at the altar, lighting a candle and doing a few minutes of tantric meditations to start my day. So far I’ve only gotten a continuous string of 3 days in a row, but my goal is 5 by March.
Rituals come in all sizes. It can be simply a breath before speaking, a prayer of gratitude before eating, lighting a candle or incense to invoke a shift in presence. Or they can be fantastical, elaborate and beautiful ceremonies like the one my dear friends, Roxy and Daniel, created for the winter solstice with the help of Christina Solaris.
There were 100 people gathered around a fire, led in deep meditation, prayer and offering by an amazing Priestess. Every detail was planned with care. I felt a major up-leveling of our community come into being, as we’ve never prayed en masse like this. This ritual completely solidified and justified my rocky road back to California. I finally felt totally grounded and alive in this new place with this new me, welcomed home.
It was also such a treat to be held in that space, as I am usually the one leading the rituals. This year, I created a coming of age ritual as our dear little bruja, Mia, entered pre-school. I also got to accompany her to both the summer and winter solstice rituals. It’s amazing to see the sense of reverence and excitement that comes over her in these sacred spaces. Mia and ritual both remind me to be more present in every moment. Additionally, by chance, our monthly Superpod potluck and forum meetings resumed as if they had never stopped, the week that I moved back to San Diego. Some rituals are just meant to be.
Truth & Service
Last, but certainly not least: the power of intention. For the last month, I’ve been focused on truth and service. I simply want all the words that come out of my mouth to represent my deepest truth, and I want all my actions to be in service to something more vast than just basic human need. I pray to keep my actions in alignment with my values of growth, love, and liberation and to serve others as they evolve toward wholeness and oneness with everything.
Thank you for reading. I am curious…what did you learn this year?
May your new year be full of love and ripe with pleasure and growth.