“Are you okay?”, the Native American Healer asks me. Good question. I can hardly reply, so the answer must be “no”. She continues, “Because you look like sh!t. Your energy is f*cked.”
I totally get it. It’s beyond vanity at this point. I have spent quite a few dollars changing my hairstyle, buying pretty flowers for my hair, etc. But there is something going on within and it is extending without.
I thought I had beaten my battle with sugar.
Unfortunately, this year got the best of me. Gluttony, sugar, smoking…What in the actual? What happened? Sickness, bad teeth and now another back injury have plagued me within the last 6 months.
So, I decided to spend a couple months in South America…alone. Well for the most part.
For the first wing of the trip, I flew my daughter and myself out to Ayampe, Ecuador. Ayampe is a lovely little surf town just 3 hours from Guayaquil. This place is off the beaten path. To buy any of the basics, like toothpaste, you will have to get a taxi or bus ride to Puerto Lopez.
We stayed at the beautiful Finca Punta Ayampe hotel. Wonderful staff, gorgeous setting, and delicious meals! The Staff Manager, Santiago, was extremely helpful in helping us get to our other locations.
There were so many stairs to reach our room, and then more stairs to get to the restaurant. This reminded me of my stay in Oia, Santorini Island, Greece. Only, I’m not is as good of shape as I was then. More to work on…
The plan was to spend a week doing Yoga and learning to surf. Unfortunately, I hurt my back lifting my bag during travel. Then my daughter got smacked in the mouth with her board. So, we are both in paradise, hurting.
Of course, I push it trying to do Yoga. But after 2 sessions at Otra Ola, I know I need to stop. I know this path all too well. No Yoga flows for at least 5 weeks. But I can probably find some Kundalini Kriyas, which will more than suffice. It’s been too long since I have practiced Kundalini.
Then there are the surfing lessons, which Otra Ola also provides. I did much better than I thought I would. Didn’t think that surfing would make my back worse. It did. Alas, I will probably have to get back to that next year, when I return. Too much risk. Well, at least we could take advantage of the soothing tea they brew when they are not teaching Yoga.
I feel I cannot make this trip good enough for my daughter. We take walks along the beach, drink tea, and have some conversations. This was not the “retreat” I had envisioned…
I pull out my chanting books for my daughter and me to practice together. This is something we enjoy doing with one another.
But we meet the Medicine Woman. And we know that everything that has happened on this trip was for this divine appointment. We were meant to meet her this very day.
And the Medicine Woman has a lot to say to both of us. So instead of chanting. We listen.
For if you remain silent at this time, relief and deliverance for the Jews will arise from another place, but you and your father’s family will perish. And who knows but that you have come to your royal position for such a time as this?” – Esther 4:14
I have been pondering The Book of Esther as of recent. Quite a fascinating history of the Purim Festival.
The story begins with a banquet held by King Xerxes. Xerxes ruled over 127 provinces stretching from India to Cush. In his drunken stupor, the king sends for his queen, Vashti. Sounds okay right? Wrong. The king’s full motivation is to display his queen’s beauty to his guests.
Queen Vashti refuses. Good on her. Knowing full well that the consequences for denying her king’s request could quite possibly include beheading. But she would rather face death than be exposed by the very man who is supposed to cover her. Her husband, the king is assumed to be her security.
Furthermore, what other probabilities might incur if she had succumbed to his wishes? Beheading could still be an option as a sobered up king might lose all respect for his now “uncovered” queen. I believe Queen Vashti was in a lose-lose situation and she chose the lesser of the two evils.
The King showed mercy to Queen Vashti and sent her off “never again to enter the presence of King Xerxes”. – Esther 1:19
I am not a traditionalist personally. Though I do understand the security a man provides for a woman. Our men are our covering. Single as I am, I recognize that my tribe is now my covering. I chose them as wisely as they chose me.
I also identify with Vashti having once been married to a man of debauch. How he viciously hid me from many, yet loved to show me off to those of his select. Only to one day, send me off for good, all the while shaming me. This, however, was the greatest gift he would ever give to me.
Anywhoo…The King was now on a quest to find a new queen.
The New Queen
“Let a search be made for beautiful young virgins for the king. Let the king appoint commissioners in every province of his realm to bring all these beautiful young women into the harem at the citadel of Susa. Let them be placed under the care of Hegai, the king’s eunuch, who is in charge of the women; and let beauty treatments be given to them. Then let the young woman who pleases the king be queen instead of Vashti.” – Esther 2:2b-4a
Of the many young women, there existed one whose beauty none could compare – Esther. Esther was a Jewish girl being raised by her uncle Mordecai. She immediately became Hegei’s favorite and after one year of beauty treatments was presented before the king. No surprise that King Xerxes chose Esther as his new queen!
This is where the story gets really exciting! Esther’s uncle Mordecai discovers a conspiracy to assassinate the king and reports it. King Xerxes appoints Haman as his highest noble. Everyone bows down to Haman except Mordecai. Out of rage towards Mordecai, Haman convinces the king to issue an edict to destroy all the Jews in the province.
The Jews are about to be wiped out and Mordecai seeks help from his niece – the newest queen, Esther. Esther is feeling a bit timid as it is punishable by death to approximate the king without being summoned.
Mordecai compels her to stand up for her people, “Do not think that because you are in the king’s house you alone of all the Jews will escape. For if you remain silent at this time, relief and deliverance for the Jews will arise from another place, but you and your father’s family will perish. And who knows but that you have come to your royal position for such a time as this?” – Esther 4:13b-14.
After a three-day fast, Queen Esther approaches the King’s throne.
When he saw Queen Esther standing in the court, he was pleased with her and held out to her the gold scepter that was in his hand. So Esther approached and touched the tip of the scepter.
Then the king asked, “What is it, Queen Esther? What is your request? Even up to half the kingdom, it will be given you.” Esther 5:2-3
Am I the only one who sees this “gold scepter”, incident as an utterly sensual moment between a husband and wife who just happen to be King and Queen?
Anyway, back to the story. The queen has a simple wish; to hold a banquet. Not only is Esther beautiful beyond measure, she is also quite strategic. It is at said “banquet” that Esther exposes the motivations of Haman’s evil plan. Haman adds fire to his already out of control flame by throwing himself on the queen begging for mercy. This, of course, infuriates the king and Haman is immediately executed.
Now about that edict. The king cannot reverse an edict (lame) but he can permit the Jews to fight back. This he does. Fight they did. The Jews not only survive, they are victorious against those who would have them exterminated.
Two brave queens; one proud, the other trusting in her God and her husband’s love. Two headstrong men; one seemingly on the right side, the other seemingly on the wrong side. One King who will have to step up.
A handful of pivotal moments that led to the survival of a race. How many times in life do we get to ask ourselves if particular circumstances have been brought to us “for such a time as this”? Life can be boring, and I thank God for boring. However, regardless of the extent of said “pivotal moments” we all experience them at least once in our lives.
This brings me to today. The beginning of 2017 I did not expect to move into an RV, go to Hawaii or meet someone with whom I would find such a strong connection. Yet here I am, in 2018 with more changes in my life than expected. Where will this lead? I don’t know. But I have to believe that I am here for such a time as this…
For most of my life, I believed my soulmate would be a man I would spend my life with – ‘til death-do-us-part. My God had a much better plan for me.
Love at First Sight
Chewy arrived in my world in April 2007. I had let my daughter’s friend live with us for a few months and her mom sent this little fur ball over as payment. Dee put him in my arms and said, “My mom wants me to sell this little guy in front of Walmart and give you the money.”
Watching me falling in love at first sight, Dee came up with a different proposal. “Or maybe you could keep him for yourself”. In the midst of my first divorce, I thought a new friend might help. I took him to meet my new boyfriend (who would become my second husband). From that point on, we were inseparable.
From the start, Chewy showed us what a fighter he was. Before we gave him his shots, he got Parvo. Two obstructions in his first year also led to a couple of surgeries. All the while, tears flowed from our eyes as we felt the insecurity of our “parenting” skills.
We had named him Chewbacca – Chewy for short. I guess the joke was on us. Many a pair of shorts, underwear, Doc Martens, and leather jackets – all chewed up.
Thank goodness for a good dog crate and tennis balls! Oh, how he loved his tennis balls, often falling asleep with one in his mouth. This was usually after a good afternoon of chasing said tennis ball. One of Chewy’s favorite things to do; lose his ball under the couch so either the hubby or myself would have to retrieve it. Once, he even lost it the very moment I had just given it back!
A New Addition
Much to his exasperation, we brought home a sister for Chewy two years later. He was none too pleased. And when we brought little Cherry into our bed to snuggle with the three of us, he froze up like he was dead and would not talk to us. But he got used to her rather quickly and the pair were joined at the hip. Almost literally. They walked side by side, hip to hip. They slept in a Yin-Yang shape together.
They were indeed, Yin and Yang. Or as I called it Addict (Chewy) and Codependent (Cherry). While Cherry was timid and a bit clingy, Chewy was bold, strong and protecting of all.
Throughout the years, Chewy ran the household. If I was in bed on a Saturday morning and the hubby was up and about, Chewy would paw at me until I got up and joined the rest of the family in the Livingroom. On the flipside, once the hubby went to bed, my little guy would paw at me until I joined the family in the bedroom…
Chewy was more of a person than a pup. Scoffing and scolding me when he didn’t get his way. And oh, so prideful when he achieved something like the time he “saved” the hubby from drowning in the river. He just jumped right in and landed in a patch of floating grass. After we pulled him out, he walked about like a prancing pony with his chest all puffed out. Leaping at Cherry as if to say “I can swim! I can swim!”, “Who’s the alpha now b!tch?!!”
Why do I call him my soulmate?
Because no one ever got me the way my Chewy did. If I was depressed and sleeping too long, there was Chewy, pawing at me. Informing me that I have spent too much time in my slumber and that I needed to let him take me out for a walk.
I have been sober for close to 15 years and 11 years of that time has been spent with my Chewy. Indeed, I have at least on one occasion told my sponsor “Chewy ate my 4th step!”
When I suffered from Gastroparesis, he lay by my side when I was sick. Doing Yoga and meditation was a joint activity as he had to practically sit on my lap when I was in meditation and on my stomach while I lay in Savasana.
A few years back, Chewy had a low-grade Sarcoma and was not expected to grow any more tumors. We celebrated his beating cancer, now referring to him as “Heisenchewy”. My little fighter.
A New Chapter
In 2017, the hubby and I decided we had done our best to no avail. We filed for divorce. He moved into a Condo (more him), I bought an RV and moved into a park down by the river (more me). He got the cat and I got the dogs.
Freedom! My daily routine started out with a long walk with the pups, coffee and then Yoga. We took so many walks throughout the day, enjoying and basking in the temple of nature. God’s country. At night, we snuggled and watched Netflix together. We learned to live in a whole new world. A world in which time slowed down. The neighbors got to know us well as we were always out doing something fun and exciting.
Shortly afterward, we had to separate the dogs while Chewy recovered from a degenerative disc condition. Cherry had to stay with my son and for the first time in Cherry’s life, they were not together. This was painful. But I knew it was only temporary.
In late November, I headed to The Big Island for an advanced Yoga teacher training and some additional vacation time. This would be the best vacation of my life. For during this time, I fell in love with a friend I had met in August. In addition, another stay at the Shambhava Konalani Ashram was just what the doctor ordered. Re-centering my spirituality, my Yoga practice & teaching skills, aaaaand falling in love in just 2 weeks! Not too shabby for a woman pushing 50!
“Mom, what is Lymphoma?” was the text I received on the 4th day of my stay at the Ashram. “Why?!!!”, I texted back. “Because Chewy might have it.” I headed to the living room at the Ashram so I could get a good phone service. Upon answering his phone, I could tell by my ex-husband’s voice that this was real. Really f!cked up!!! He was sobbing and informed me that the doctor was pretty confident in her diagnosis.
No, there is no cure for Lymphoma in dogs.
Yes, we could treat him with chemo but it would affect the quality of his life.
No, I did not need to head back early. The tumors were in a very early stage.
So, as I am bonding with 6 other amazing women at the ashram and falling in love with an incredible man, I am now also preparing to say goodbye to my Chewy. My soulmate.
The last two months of his life were spent with lots of hugs, sleeping on the couch at my son’s together. Walking the neighborhood and giving Chewy whatever he wanted. If Chewy wanted a burger, he got a burger. Pizza? It’s yours, buddy!
But sooner than I had hoped, his tail no longer wagged. He only occasionally chased after a tennis ball thrown his way.
One can be as prepared as they might think but never truly ready to say goodbye. It didn’t happen the way I had envisioned it, in the living room of the home Chewy always knew. But rather on a blanket, in the middle of the night at an emergency Pet clinic.
Chewy was struggling to breathe. I called my ex-husband and told him that he might want to meet me at the Pet ER.
After the doctor said Chewy would probably have an extremely rough night, we decided that it was time. This superb facility provided our boy with a full buffet, including chocolate chip cookies. Chewy ate like a king that night.
We cuddled, took pictures, shed some tears, and expressed our undying love to the little guy. I told him how he taught me how to love, how to see things beyond my tiny bubble of a world. I asked him if I had shown enough love, spent enough time…Did he know how better a person I had become because I had my soulmate for the past 11 years?
Then, he let us know. He was ready. We were not. However, his comfort was more important now. He walked over to the doctor and laid down. Two shots were empathetically and kindly given. After which, the doctor checked his heart and let us know that he was gone.
No longer having to hold back the guttural sobs that were waiting to come out, I let loose. This, this was much harder than my two divorces put together. My boy, my Heisenchewy, my soulmate had left for good.
Goodbye, my dearest Chewy. You brought many a Cherry-blossomed day into my life. I am now ready to accept the seasons. Mama misses you with every part of her soul.
Chewy visited me in a dream the other night. He was walking around the way he often would, like that prancing pony. “Mommy, where’s my ball?”, he asked. I woke up hoping he had found it and would never lose it again.
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I am not an astrologist and rarely view my horoscope for anything else besides entertainment. Yet, a few women, whose words I cherish have made a similar statement. One of the Super Blue Blood Moon’s effects will be shining the spotlight on ALL that we are. Be prepared to be exposed, the good and the bad. This will definitely serve its purpose by allowing us to let go of what no longer serves us. Mentally, Emotionally, Physically and Spiritually.
I recently shared my cowardice in being vulnerable with letting a remarkable man know me…really know me. Today, I’m over it. Good timing, since we will be spending next week together.
Today, I welcome the thought of his embrace, the feeling of his breath on my shoulder as we lean in close to one another. He will also know my touch, breathing, noises, weird faces, and (yikes!) ….my scent!
“Yeah baby, yeah baby, I come to dance with you
Yeah baby, yeah baby, are you ready?” – Kano
Elysia, how did you arrive here so quickly? I’m glad you asked! In addition to my daily prayers, here three key observations I have made through this process:
A Strong Support System
Being that this is a long-distance relationship, taking some time off was simple. Not easy. Having good friends to lean on, talk to and play completely inappropriate games with is imperative.
While taking some alone time for self-reflection is good, one should avoid loneliness. In addition, being alone for too long makes one take themselves too seriously. What a drag.
Thankfully, I have the best group of friends one could imagine. For better or worse, (and we have seen it all in each other), we stand together and are present for one another.
Another part of this newfound bravery has been my return to practicing mindfulness. Taking the time to experience my senses; While I’m walking the dogs – feeling the cold breeze on my skin, listening to my footsteps, and smelling the smoke from the neighbor’s chimneys.
Though nature walks can be inspiring, I’ve also applied mindfulness to my work; Listening to the scroll and click of my mouse, the tapping of my keyboard, giving attention to my sitting posture, & the pleasing scent of brewing coffee.
Additionally, housework is a useful activity to practice mindfulness. I learned a lot while residing at the Ashram in Hawaii. Seva (selfless service) is done with minimal talking. We would either listen to Kirtan or chant while working. The goal was not to get as much done in 30 minutes as it was being mindful of our actual work. After the 30-minute bell was rung, we stopped cleaning whether we were finished or not.
Acknowledging Our Shadows
We all have them. Ignoring our shadows or dark personalities doesn’t make them go away. We can only improve that which we can see.
Fall of 1986: I had just got my paycheck at a job I hated. In addition, my mother and I had a nasty argument right before my shift. So, I quit my job, cashed my check and bought a handle.
I decided to surprise my then boyfriend but he wasn’t home. This did not bother me in the least. One of his friends was hanging outside and we drank together. Platonic juvenile drinking of course. At some point, we decided to go get high. I don’t remember much about how we managed to get to a motel on Sunset Blvd. in Hollywood.
There I was, with a bunch of men I didn’t know, in a motel room smoking crack. But the God-shot in all of this – Every single man in that room had only one thing on their mind; getting high. Really, these were the most polite and kind crackheads I would ever meet outside of the rooms of recovery. I found myself in the bathroom puking my guts out and they were bringing in water and wet cloths trying to comfort me in between hits.
This could have ended up very badly. I might not be here typing this story. But instead, I made it home alive and safe.
I’ve been to some dark places. These days, my shadows are not as grim. However, they do exist as life evolves. More is always revealed. If I am willing to take an honest look with an open mind.
So today, I am ready to enter the spotlight, with courage. Mindfully, no longer hiding my shadows, and knowing I have a good support system in place. The sweetest thing; knowing there is a strong soul of a man who wants to know me inside and out. Just as I am ready to know him.
Welcome the Super Blue Blood Moon to shine on our wholeness and assist our letting go of what no longer serves us.
Stay Blissful My Friends – E
PS. I have created a Moonsong Playlist on Spotify which I would love to share with you for your listening pleasure.
A few years ago, Brené Brown’s Rising Strong became an all-consuming topic on social media. The memes continue to be shared by many today. These words were incredibly powerful. I wanted in!
Of course, it was easy to live these words in my decision to leave my long-term position at an amazing company to start my own business. Business is an easy place for Elysia to be “Brave”.
Of course, it was easy to live these words in a loveless marriage, where the walls I had spent many years tearing down began their reconstruction.
Of course, it was easy to live these words as I walked away from said loveless marriage and chose to live by myself in an RV down by the river.
“Vulnerability is the core, the heart, the center, of meaningful human experiences.” – Brené Brown
Sounds good yeah? Well no. Not for me. Vulnerability is not a safe place for me. Not today. Don’t get me wrong. I have complete admiration for Brené Brown. I follow her on Twitter and Facebook. I especially admired a picture she posted of herself with no makeup, no filter. This lead to a personal decision to stop wearing makeup and embracing the gray. Accepting what one looks like is true courage. This too was easy.
But when it comes to Love, true Love…Nothing is ever easy.
So, I met a guy…Not just any guy. A remarkable man with a strong spirit. Chivalrous, funny, intelligent, brilliant…the list goes on. This was NOT planned. I fell hard and fast. Well, maybe not too fast but exceptionally fast for me.
We are two extremely different people. He is conservative, preppy even. I am this wild woman spirit. He does not partake in my colorful language, does not do Yoga. Yet we connect on so many fundamental levels. And what an incredible writer he is – totally kicks my a$$, I might add. After many months of experiencing zero inspiration, I found myself passionate again about putting words together.
This gift came with distance, he lives on the East Coast and I am here in Colorful Colorado. Safe enough, yeah? No. I frequently found my heart being pulled in the direction of the east. Daydreaming, listening to love songs…and we had only hugged once.
He surprised me by flying out to Hawaii to celebrate my recent Advanced Yoga Teacher Training graduation. It was on now! We embarked on a most passionate love affair, the likes of which I had never known. Soaking in the Big Island experience, we spent 5 days of bliss, laughter, and total comfort with one another.
He was a trooper, staying the first 2 nights with me at a hippy shack I rented in Pahoa (not knowing I would have a guest), before deciding we needed to move on to a bed and breakfast in Captain Cook.
I can’t remember having laughed so much. Corny jokes, silly pet names…what a blast! And so much love. People could see it, often commenting to us how “cute” and “in love” we were.
Has it been the most ideal of romances? No. But just right. Just Elysian. Irregardless 😊 of the distance, he has been present with me at each given moment.
We made plans to see each other when we could. A 5-day visit last week here in Colorado. Hawaii again next month, then the Spring, many different possibilities. Our visit last week was euphoric for the most part, and then…
Wait, what happened? How did I let myself go this way? This man knows me. He has seen my messy hair, my imperfections. My snoring, drooling, clumsy, cellulite, needing a haircut Elysia. Then there is my inept ability to let my “street” come out every now and then, using “ain’t” and combining words that make absolutely no sense to anyone else but me.
And what do I really know about him? What if he’s a womanizer? If he were, would I still love him? The answer is an unapologetic “Yes”.
I know enough to keep my side of the street clean and to trust someone until that trust has been abused. I also know that expectations are future resentments. I have a past. We all do. So, I choose not to judge what I don’t have 100% knowledge of in any circumstance.
We agreed to take a short break. Then this watery substance starts to flow out of my eyes. Oh hell no.
I just watched Trainwreck (again) with my daughter last night and found myself admiring the main character in the beginning of the show. “Maybe I should move to New York and be a slut“, I said to my daughter. “There’s no shame in being who you are and accepting it”. To which, my daughter replied, “If that were what you are mom, I would support it. But that’s not you”.
Additionally, I forgot that Trainwreck is not just a comedy but a rom-com. The leading lady meets a man who is so different from her – he is quite conservative. This is sounding all too familiar and when the male lead talks of Norman Rockwell and his love of Billy Joel, my head starts to hurt. “I need to turn this off.”, I say to my daughter. She steals the remote from me.
I’m totally feeling it when the female lead expresses her concerns about vulnerability with her sister. Though she uses a far more colorful analogy than even I would use (can you imagine?). The movie rolls on and the couple breaks up. Now, this makes sense to me. Alas, with every rom-com there is the makeup scene and everyone lives…
This is so not real! Monogamy is not realistic. People do not live happily ever after. Am I bitter? No. More jaded, more careful than anything.
Vulnerability Part II
The last two years of my marriage were so easy. My ex-husband didn’t love me and I knew where I stood. No questions to ask. Safety.
I have indeed, fought with my monsters. But am I ready to take this journey of vulnerability? Why complicate things by getting lost in emotion? Tomorrow is another day. So for today, I am a coward, comfortable in the safe place of my fear.
Fortunately, I do not have to sit in my fear alone. Having a good group of friends, who love me unconditionally, is my saving grace.
For today, I would rather take a drink than be vulnerable. In fact, the thought of being vulnerable makes me crave a drink. Good thing it is time for a meeting, where I can surround myself in the safety of my GOD.
Traveling abroad can be stressful and energy draining. It can also be adventurous! Finding a more than adequate cup of coffee proved to be part of the adventure. Walking through some nice places, not so nice places, getting lost, and trying to ask for directions from people who do not speak English – created much anticipation for that golden cup…of Joe!
This was a lovely place to sit outside and enjoy the beautiful day while drinking our coffee. Located near the shopping area, it gave us just the right energy to walk through many streets and buy gifts for our loved ones.
We returned for another cup after shopping to get our second wind!
Tailor Made was the first café we visited. After a loooong trek from our Airbnb spot, we arrived – 10 minutes before they opened. We found this out when the Barista rudely exclaimed this. So we took a couple seats on the patio table. After which, the Barista again reminded us that they were not open for another 10 minutes.
Although, I had a nice chat with a waitress, who informed me that our Airbnb was located across the street from Lindsay Lohan’s nightclub. She then told me some stories about said club.
I cannot remember if the coffee was good because I could not get past the boorish barista! I would not recommend this place to anyone who enjoys good service.
By far, this was the best place in Athens. We visited this place twice! The Barista was a friendly gentleman, who wore a butcher’s apron. He shared stories and news articles about Coffee competitions. Additionally, he selected the best treats for us and we just went with whatever he handed over. We were not disappointed at all!
The general vibe of this café was awesome! From the décor to the pleasant staff. The cappuccinos were splendid, as was the food. Hands down, it was the service that made our day. This is a must go to café in Athens!
We were welcomed by a lovely waitress named Sophia. She was on a smoke break and apologized. We laughed because Sophia was cute and funny in her apology. Sophia was a lot of fun, recommending that we eat as well as drink coffee.
My brother was especially amused by Sophia. This was a nice counterbalance to a stressful morning travel schedule. Just what the doctor ordered.
The view, friendly talks and of course, the coffee was perfect. If you are ever in Oia, GO to Passagio!
We had to laugh at the name of this place, which was about to close when we arrived. The Barista generously served us our much-needed cup of joe! The coffee was not the best, but we felt welcomed into this man’s world of Java!
My brother and I found that the people of Croatia were much friendlier than those of Athens.
This little packet of gold is huge in Croatia. Not that it is healthy to drink every day, I really enjoyed it! So much, that I came home and created my own blend, sans the cream with partially hydrogenated oil.
Whenever you visit Greece or Croatia, take some time to check out these places…And Stay Blissful My Friends!
St. Helen was born at Drepanum (Helenopolis) in Asia Minor. Married to Constantius Chlorus, their son St. Constantine the Great, was born in 274. Helen & Constantius were divorced in 294.
Constantine out of great honor and respect, granted his mother the imperial title “Augusta,” after he became emperor,
St. Constantine issued the Edict of Milan in 313 when he became the sole ruler of the Western Roman Empire. This guaranteed religious tolerance for Christians. It is believed that St. Helen, who was a Christian, may have influenced him in this decision. He also extended the provisions of the Edict of Milan to the Eastern half of the Empire. Christians could finally practice their faith without fear after three hundred years of persecution.
It is said that there are more churches than people in the village of Vothonas, where we were staying. This is easy to believe as one walks through the town. We passed more churches than we could count. Consequently, the cave house we were renting was across the street from what is known as “The Big Church”.
On the morning of May 21, 2017, while lounging, we heard what sounded like gunshots! I hit the floor (my natural reaction from living in the ghetto!)
My brother and I ran to the front of the house to see what was happening. It was a Church Celebration in honor of St. Constantine and Helen! We watched as several hundred participants walked in honor of these saints. It was a touching moment. I was honored to be able to see it up close and personal.
Love and Tolerance
For many years, Love and Tolerance has been my code. This sometimes means being tolerant of the intolerant. It may sound passive, but serenity is disrupted when one succumbs to anger and resentment.
Nowadays, in the U.S. there seems to be a lot of intolerance. Surprisingly, most come from the Christian community. Maybe this is fear based. No community wants their right to be taken away. God forbid that Christians might be persecuted in this great nation.
However, we must not let fear motivate us. Lest we succumb to the atrocious behaviors of historical intolerance.
I believe love and tolerance start within our homes, our neighborhoods, and our communities. Last month, the U.S. pulled out of the Paris Climate Control Agreement. Many were wailing gloom and doom projections. On the other hand, state and local governments were committing to hold to the agreement regardless.
Commitment from the grass roots! Sometimes political battles are lost. But the commitments don’t have to be. Thus, we can apply the practice of love and tolerance even if we don’t believe our government is.
Love, tolerance, unity, and empathy are not political policies. They are emotion and behavior first. How can you see yourself applying these values within your home and community? Talk to me…and stay blissful my friends – E
As I stated in my last blog, I traveled to Greece and Croatia last month. This was at the peak of the classes I was teaching at an art gallery in Greeley, Co. The students were excited for me, however, I didn’t want them to miss any classes.
Therefore, I took some time on my trip to capture some classes on video. Honoring an earlier blog: Perfectionism, an Imperfect Practice, I chose to post as is, with no edits.
This was also a challenge, as I had a fear of doing videos. Said fear has been overcome. I have become a Facebook Live Whore! So if you have a fear of spending money to go overseas, just traveling overseas, or shooting videos, I highly recommend you get off your @$$ and just do it!
And here they are, for your viewing pleasure:
On the balcony of our first Airbnb. My very first video, complete with errors. Ha!
Dubrovnik, Croatia (Part 1 of Flow)
It started to rain in the middle of this one! I had fun anyway because that’s how Yogis roll…
Oia, Santorini – Greece (Part 2 Flow)
This was about the best view ever. Unfortunately, I forgot how to use my tripod and so could only actually use the cooling down floor poses. Still, check out that background!
Hope you enjoyed this! If you could travel anywhere in the world, where would you go? If you could teach a video class from said location, what would you teach?
In the last couple weeks, I have been blessed with the opportunity to travel to Greece and Croatia with my darling brother. Our first stop was Athens. Then we headed over to the Island of Santorini for 4 days. Santorini provided adventure, serenity, long walks, and personal enlightenment. Some moments of elation and others of painful self-awareness. All good.
The Island of Santorini is named after Saint Irene. Saint Irene is said to have been brought to faith in Christ through a divine revelation. As a result, she broke all her father’s idols. Out of anger, her father commanded her to be trampled underfoot by horses. St. Irene was unharmed and her father was subsequently killed by one of the horses. But Irene compassionately prayed for her father and he was raised back to life. Her father then was baptized as a believer.
Santorini was the result of one of the largest volcanic eruptions in the last several thousand years. Believed to have erupted about 3,500 years ago, a large caldera surrounded by ash deposits hundreds of feet deep were left.
Late Neolithic (4th millennium BC or earlier) are the oldest signs of human settlement on the Island. Running water pipes indicating the use of hot and cold water on this island appear to be the oldest of such utilities discovered.
Santorini was annexed to Greece in 1912. Its inhabitants are Greek citizens and speak the Greek language.
Jacques-Yves Cousteau Lost City of Atlantis Expedition
One of the greatest legends of Santorini is the one of the Lost City of Atlantis. It is believed that the Lost City of Atlantis lays on the ocean floor of this lovely island. This lead to an expedition led by Jacques-Yves Cousteau. The famous diver had a strong passion in his search for Atlantis, spending months researching the bottom of the Santorini Caldera.
This resulted in Mr. Cousteau’s strong love for the island. Though, he never found strong evidence of his theory. However, his love of Santorini left an impact still evident today.
I have never scuba dived before, but just had to get this experience off my bucket list at this very location! Of course, I chose the Discovery Dive at Atlantis Dive Centre in Oia (Pronounced ee-ya). My teacher/guide was a lovely man named Raid Raidako! Raid has a strong passion for diving and ocean life. At one point, he had me hold on to a rock underwater so that he could free a precious fish from an old net. What an experience! A whole new world exists underwater and I got to visit!
Blue & White
The majority of the buildings in Oia are white with blue roofs. This was basically for all of Santorini for a while. The buildings were constructed from volcanic stone, which was dark. While the stone was a strong insulator, the dark color absorbed the heat. This resulted in painting the buildings white for reflection of the sunlight.
In addition, paint was not easy to come by back in the day. So, a limestone plaster was used to cover the stone walls. A blue tint was used to tone down the strong brightness of the plaster. Additionally, more blue was used to cover the roofs, achieving the classic blue roof color.
In 1967, the active military government set a mandate that all buildings in Santorini be painted blue and white.
During our stay in Oia, we had the pleasure of staying at the Yposkafo Jacuzzi House. Our host was an extremely helpful man by the name of Thanos! His wife met up with us at one end of Oia and walked us to their Airbnb home. Along the way, she shared the history and some tips about Oia. My brother and I would agree that this lovely couple was among the best hosts during our vacation!
Would any trip be useful without a good lesson on self-improvement? Vacationing with someone who doesn’t see you often, can bring validation to the one in which you do. I was finally able to see where I have been selfish and inconsiderate of others. How I might better communicate.
Being in a 12-step program, I have learned to detach-with love. But, might I be a little too detached? TBH, my marriage has not been good for about 2 years now. This doesn’t mean we don’t love each other, it just is what it is. The resulting pattern has been my detachment from just about anyone in my life. Time to work on balance.
The hubby and I subsequently had a good conversation about how we both detach too much. Our agreement at this time is to focus on becoming better friends. Then we will get to the husband/wife thing again. After all, we have til-death-do-us-part to figure it all out. What we also have, is commitment. When love is lacking, commitment can hold it together until it returns. Marriage is like that.
I ain’t gonna lie. It was painful. I got a cry out of it. But this is also good. I don’t cry very often and it was needed.
Perhaps, part of me was trampled by horses like St. Irene’s father. It kinda did feel that way after all. But once again, a new Elysia was raised back to life. Hopefully a new and improved version.
Santorini gifted me with so much. Though I cannot give it back to Santorini, I might pay it forward.
Is there a place you might want to visit? What does your adventure look like? How do you see yourself growing by this experience?
The Throat Chakra is representative of creativity and communication. I have recently experienced a rebirthing of my originality and voice on the mat. Also, Living Elysian has just moved thru a rebranding process.
When I decided to get certified as a Yoga instructor, I had many expectations of myself. I wanted to be one of those deep, spiritual teachers, full of wisdom. Practically imagining floating above the mat, ha! Always, believing in “To thine own self, be true.”, I have accepted my sailor’s language.
Anywhere else but the mat. My expectations brought me to the point that I would become frustrated seeking the right words. Consequently, I managed to hinder my throat chakra. I believed my true words do not belong on the yoga mat. Well, F*ck that! In addition, this followed me off the damn mat.
Accepting oneself goes everywhere with us. This includes our presence in our Yoga practice. Fortunately, my beautiful students appreciate the “Real” Elysia!
A blocked throat chakra can drastically impact our ability to communicate efficiently. Mainly due to the fear of scorn or judgment. This may demonstrate as an inability to voice and realize our truth. When this chakra is unlocked and balanced, we have the ability to express ourselves with clarity and honesty. Clear and honest in any situation with full confidence.
When I was practice teaching at the Ashram in Hawaii, I started off with a quote by Martin Luther King Jr. My instructor expressed that this was nice, however, he expects me to share my story. As I was writing a sequence the other day, I found myself going to quotes again. Remembering my teacher’s words, I scribbled out the quote and wrote: “Share your story”!
Did you know that a throat chakra blockage may also manifest itself in the physical realm? Here a just a few physical symptoms:
Chronic sore throat
Non-physical signs of blockage common signs:
Fear of speaking
Inability to convey thoughts
Speech and action inconsistencies
Repression of creativity
I can so relate to most of these symptoms. But the good news is, we can unblock our throat chakra. How do we do this, Elysia? I am so glad you asked!
Meditate on and incorporate the throat chakra’s color, blue. Implement this color into your home and wear the color more often while feeling said blockage.
We can work through and release all negative emotions. This includes guilt, pain, and resentments. Enjoy a good cry. This may help considerably. I have a girlfriend who can cry at the drop of a hat. Does this represent weakness? I don’t think so. Admiring her strength and courage to show emotion, she has become one of my ideals!
Practice mindful speech, action, and deeds. Speak openly and honestly with others often.
There is nothing wrong with who we are! Authenticity may be an overused word, but it is a necessity in keeping our throat chakra open.
Be you. Be real. Love and appreciate you and your realness! Rise above it all like the mutha-f*kkin phoenix you are! And stay blissful my friends – E