What better way to escape the winter blues than to trade them for ceruleans, azures, aquas and turquoise? And what could be more festive than to celebrate the last year of my 30s with a trip to Tulum, Mexico, with Herm by my side?
Thank you, Universe. I think I will usher in this new year of my life with some soul-warming, life-affirming sun, sand and sea.
And so to Tulum we traveled, arriving at Coco Tulum with its eco-chic, ocean front, free-standing cabanas. Ours was cabana numero tres, with its back nestled among palm fronds and bushes bursting with waxy green leaves while the front gleamed white in the sun, the thatched roof dried to a deep mocha brown. Two white Adirondack chairs flanked a matching wooden table as if standing ceremonially on guard until our pale, winter-worn bodies could drop our bags inside and re-emerge, ready to greet the abundance of nature before us.
If ever I doubt who I am as a woman, or feel disconnected from humanity at large, I simply need to turn to the water to remind me of my place in this world. It is at once humbling and empowering; it roars like human voices gathered to fight injustice while whispering secrets that the moon and the earth confide in each other nightly, an ancient cadence from which they never take leave.
As 38 drew to a close and 39 loomed large on the horizon (with a matching blood orange moon in Aquarius rising out of the water!), it was rebirth I was seeking. I wanted to cast all the self doubt, the resentment, the fear and tension I had been carrying in my daily life into the water before me and let the undertow drag it out to the icy depths.
Life in New York City has its own rhythm, and most of the time it is a frenetic, deafening caucophony. The trick, of course, is to find your own peace among it. There are days when I fall into bed early, smug with the knowledge that I have had a quiet day among the marching ants of Manhattan. I have managed to walk leisurely around the concrete jungle. I have succeeded in spending time in a quiet garden. I have crawled under the covers with a book in hand, glanced at the clock and thought, "I have hours ahead of me before I need to close my eyes. I win."
Yes. Even relaxing in New York can become a competitive sport.
But here in Tulum, the only rhythm I wanted to lose myself in was that of the ocean. While Herm lay sprawled under crisp white sheets, surrounded mosquito netting that bulged and buckled lazily in the breeze, I rose with the sun. I walked to the water and talked to the Universe quietly, and wrote in my journal about what I hoped to bring to my life in my 39th year.
I looked back through my journal and marveled at what I had accomplished as my life's pages flipped to 37. Then to 38. I had accomplished much of what I had hoped to during those years. Sadly, until I saw them there in the journal before me, I hadn't remembered the goals I reached. I only knew by rote memory what I hadn't yet brought to fruition. Those shortcomings, those so-called failings, were carried with me daily, along with my self doubt and resentment.
No wonder I needed to cast all this emotional baggage into the ocean.
Over the course of our time in Tulum, I awoke early and went to the water to commune with something larger than myself. In the morning it was the ocean and the sun. At night, I turned to the stars (so many stars!), the full moon and the ocean. Always, the ocean.
On my birthday, I awoke with a sizeable lump in my throat. I felt exhausted, sad and frightenly apathetic about the day ahead. I couldn't shake it, no matter how many times I strained to smile at Hermann from across the table. A long bike ride did nothing to lift my mood. No amount of coffee made me feel energized.
Finally, at the hands of a magical masseuse named Carlos, my mood shifted. It was such a dramatic change that I asked him if he had performed Reiki on me. He smiled, nodded and informed me that my Third Chakra, the chakra linked with creavity and self-expression, was severely blocked. When this happens, people often suffer from headaches, stiff necks and shoulders, and an unexplicable feeling that they have a lump in their throat that they can't shake. He had worked on it for quite some time. "When I moved the energy, " he explained, "you finally took a deep breath."
Yes. That was it. I finally took a deep breath.
I came back from Mexico with a greater gift than I could have imagined for my birthday. In fact, my gifts from Tulum are abundant. I have let go of feeling (for the time being, at least) as though I'm coming up short in my life. I am grateful for the struggles (and there have been many) that have brought me to where I am now: starting my own business, acknowledging accomplishments that I have all but forgotten along the way, the opportunity to travel to a new place. I recognize that I need to be doing more to honor my self expression and creativity; creative energy, when not permitted to ebb and flow like the water to which I'm drawn, will make me sick.
Letting go and learning to quiet the noise within me is equally as important as quieting the noise around me. Where we search for answers, we will often find them. In the thunderous surf, at the hands of a stranger who exhudes kindess and healing, or in the quiet stillness that allows for reflection.
This year, I've also given myself the gift of permission. If it no longer serves to help me grow, challenge me or bring me joy, I give myself permission to walk away. Yesterday, I walked away from a job that has been an energy sucking source of anxiety for far too long. I simply took a deep breath, and I let it go.
Happy Birthday to me, indeed.