Walking around town last Friday my mind wandered to the winter 2017-2018 and the time I spent in Greece.
My son, sister, nephew, and I experienced the sacred privilege of walking in the streets of Salonika (now Thessaloniki) where our family spent hundreds of years, having arrived as refugees from Spain in the 15th Century.
There they built lives, families, businesses until a new wave of antisemitism had them flee once more, several of them to France - and some of them towards a horrendous fate in concentration camps.
Some of that is beautiful and some of that has a brand of pain that still runs through our veins. All of it is rich and powerful.
After almost two weeks of soaking in the Essences of that place that felt intrinsically familiar yet the language of which we could not speak, on the morning of January 1, 2018, I headed towards the island of Lesvos to work with... refugees.
That chapter again was beautiful and painful and rich and powerful.
As I was thinking about it, on a cobblestoned street in Mexico, I focused on my time spent interpreting from French to English for the refugees center's asylum lawyer. Small windowless room, horrific stories, I felt a deep appreciation for being able to use two languages to bridge the paperwork needed and maybe (maybe) bring a little light to a very messy mess.
Yes, two languages are good, I thought to myself. I'm glad I could do that. I love the gymnastics of it. Then very quickly: but also, it kicked my a** in a big, big way. Interpreting is challenging, exhilarating and for sure, useful. But I don't think I would want to do it again in such intense situations. Maybe something else will come along.
Less than three blocks later, I run into a local woman who offers cooking classes and also created a community kitchen when the pandemic first started. We say hi, we smile and wait for it ... she asks me if I could please interpret for the next cooking class she is holding.
This morning, I stood in her beautiful orange open-aired and interpreted her steps, jokes, and traditional Mexican cooking tips from Spanish to English for a group of Canadian women who learned to make tamales and Sopa de Tortilla (the "put-masa-on-the-forearm-to-see-if-there-is-enough-lard" part was particularly fun. I had to ask her twice to be sure I had heard her correctly)
At no point did we mention anything about torture or worse. It was all poblanos, jitomates and crema. So good.
And the soup was delicious.
So yes, the Universe is listening, I am pretty sure. It listens to our angst, our vagueness, our hesitations. And it waits gently. But then, when it hears Clarity, it goes to work pretty darn quickly.
I think we will have Sopa de Tortilla for Christmas, this year.
It was around 8 pm a couple of nights ago, at the tail end of a scrumptious birthday party for a tiny, adorable two-year-old little girl. I almost did not go, but I had promised and so I did, walking the three blocks from my house into the delicious night air.
The celebration had been going on all day, at a nearby park and I was touched to be so warmly welcomed once more into the arms of this family.
There is music (Stayin' Alive goes very well with an inflatable bouncy house, it turns out), several cakes, dozens of cupcakes, Pineapple juice, candy, chicken salad, tostadas, and lots of love. Smiles on many generations’ faces, kiddos running around, and the sweetness that often comes in the last moments of a gathering.
It's been dark for several hours yet no one seems in a hurry to get the kids to bed. Also, I notice that there is definitely a yellow theme going on. And tons of sprinkles on the cake. Life Wink.
AND there are also maybe 100 balloons, still forming a barely drooping arch over the white canopy.
As garbage bags slowly get filled and plastic chairs get stacked, I find myself wondering what is going to happen to all these yellow and gold balloons.
Are they going to be left to die a sad and withering death of wrinkly latex? After a whole day of bringing joy, is their happiness-making career just going to be forgotten as the air slowly and silently drains away from their little round bellies, alone in the darkness of the night? Tragic.
This cannot be, I am thinking. This just cannot be.
Let's pop them! I burst - possibly a little too excitedly.
As often one of the only white people at these parties, I usually try to blend in and not draw attention to myself, not suggest weird stuff for sure.
So much for that.
My friend turns towards me and a smile grows on her lips. She's already looking for something sharp.
Your earring, she said. Your earring will pop them.
Before she changes her mind, I pull a silver hoop out of my left ear and with the sharp end give a quick poke to the balloon closest to me.
OH YES. It popped right up and loudly, too.
Many eyes and ears have noticed.
Another poke, another pop!
My friend Delvin - around 6 years old - tries to get the same effect with his finger and is very disappointed. So I hand him my earring and he manages several pops in a row. Other pops are coming from the other side of the arch and it's as though we all caught a new dose of fun. I find that no matter what, I cannot not scream every time a balloon explodes near me.
These "globos" are living their biggest life till the very end and I can almost hear them laughing as they fulfill their purpose with glee: to bring joy. So good.
But Delvin is soon bored with using my earring as a tool. He would much rather stomp the balloons, preferably many at a time. Pop, Pop, Pop!
It's time for me to get my earring back. These hoops have traveled all over the place with me and they are my favorite. I open my hand in front of Delvin who is mid-stomp, he opens his and there is my earring, "safe" in the middle of his little brown palm, crumpled like a frowny shiny pretzel.
For some reason, shock most likely, I find the sight very, very funny, as does his mom. We are doubled over, both of us high on yellow cupcake frosting and looking at the little pile of silver. What the heck was I thinking?
But there are more balloons to pop, more garbage to pick up (now including many pieces of torn latex in the grass - I hadn't quite thought that through), and eventually hugs goodbye to give. I walk myself home with one earring in my purse.
The next morning, I am sobered up from all that joy and sugar and start to figure out how I am going to get my hoop back to normal. I give it a try and just when I think I did a pretty good job, the mirror tells me otherwise. Something akin to a misshapen wheel is dangling next to my face and I instantly understand why I love wearing hoops so much: they are perfect. Simple, and perfect. Round. Perfectly, soothingly round.
But not this one.
As I go through a mental inventory for who in town who might be able to remedy this situation, I remember that there is a corner jewelry shop two blocks away. I have walked by it many times but never gone in. One thing I noticed about it is that the door of the shop sits at an angle. Not really belonging to either street, it instead belongs to both. Or maybe to none. Something about that...
A gentleman is sitting on the front steps and I walk past him into the shop. It sure is pretty in there, with what looks like many handmade colorful objects, exquisite pottery, pillows and yes, jewelry also.
And... right there on the wall, hanging like some sacred tapestry that can read my heart, a rug. Not just any rug. Not a rug made in Mexico. MY rug.
The rug that lives in my living room in my little house back in the US. The rug that matches exactly the round rug from the Center, around which we sat for a decade, singing, meditating, healing, dancing, laughing and sometimes crying.
I bought this rug several years ago after a friend saw it online. It is the twin to the Center's rug, as though woven from the same hands all the way in India. But it is rectangular, which is really unusual for this type of weaving. I adore it and I have loved having it in my home.
AND THERE IT IS. On that wall, a couple of blocks from my little tropical house, looking down at me and saying, as I have heard so many times before while traveling: You are home, honey. You are always home.
When a smiling woman with warm brown eyes walks towards me from the back of her shop, all I can say to her is: This is my rug, up there. You have my rug.
Instead of being weirded out, she says to me: Tell me this story. So I do. And then she tells me hers. Her story of having left Chile, of sharing meals in the street with thousands of people in the protests of 2019, of having left her 21-year old marriage, and of now living here with the love of her youth, tenderly creating jewelry and this gallery. Of how this rug had jumped at her screen years ago also, and how she had bought it "even though she hardly ever shops online." Then she says: It would make sense to put it on the floor, but I wanted it on the wall. Almost at the same time, we both say: Maybe it's a flying carpet.
Eventually, I hand her my mangled earring which I now know is a Gift and after using a few special tools, she hands it back to me brand new - except not really, because now it holds one more story.
I thank her, we hug, she won't take payment and I know that I'll be back soon with a gift for her.
Hours later, I walk into her shop with one of my Corazones de Colores. I picked a piece called "Whimsy Heart" and I hope she will like it.
Well, she loves it - and I love seeing it in her shop with all the other creations made by so many hands. It feels very right.
As if picking up on that, still holding the little wood frame, my new friend asks me if I would like to sell my Hearts in her gallery.
Really?? I sure would. Indeed I would. Very much.
Within minutes we have picked a special spot where a little family of Hearts can live and be seen anytime someone walks into that angled door - and from where they can beam their good vibes onto the street. Both streets.
My first gallery.
From a birthday party to a crazy idea of ballons-popping, and to the small palm of a little boy who eagerly kept my earring safe.
My own heart is full from this whole circle of love, from Life, and from trusting that it always works out in the end.
As I walk out I can see the park right across the street and send it a silent thank you.
We are guided.
PS : I have two special offers for you, today: One is 50% off my Magic of Essence™ online course (good till December 1) and the other, which expires tonight, is the option to pre-purchase a one-one-coaching session with me at a great discount of only $75. You can use that session until June 1.
As I rarely do, I read “the news” this morning.
Headlines mostly, still getting engaged in a few articles.
And I wonder. I wonder how all this lands in the hearts and nervous systems of those of us who are feeling alone, scared, exhausted by months and months of a steady regimen of time-release horror stories. Stories of fear, of threat.
When does the exhale come, and where does it come from?
How much can one take before their mental health shreds away in chunks of hopelessness?
Winter is arriving in many parts of the world. Grayness, cold and a harder daily personal landscape to navigate.
These headlines are tragically toxic. They are engineered to make their readers feel helpless and paralyzed. Weak. Isolated and easy to tumble. They promote division and mistrust of each other at a time when we need the shelter of each other the most.
“It is in the shelter of each other that the people live.” Padraig O Tuama.
I beg you.
As the weather gets colder and if your heart is fragile and not yet replenished by the summer’s sun: seek nurturing food for your soul. Repaint your living room, buy flowers for your table every week, discover new music, move your body, call a friend.
Find people who make you smile and who feel emotionally safe. Let go of the ones who don’t. For now, at least.
Become honest about the difference between what you can change or affect, and what you cannot.
Wean yourself from the pull to “know everything” and its twin lie that knowing will give you power.
It seems to me that this is an emergency situation. That there is a poison in the well.
Please please remember that we have a choice as to whether we drink from it or not - and how much and when.
Our lives might depend on that choice.