Follow your bliss, your passions, your intuition, and your dreams. Step outside your comfort zones, your own backyard and be fearless. Imagine if you simply started trusting in your own path. Letting go of any barriers that came your way, and continued forward. Remaining open to it all...
It has become a tradition of mine in February to set aside some time to follow my bliss. Set aside time, not only for my creativity but for me. Time to go out and explore, observe and be still, be adventurous, be wild, and whatever else arises.. Allow time to unravel the layers I might have built up over the year, and begin a process of healing. The bliss location of choice lately has been Cuba for the past several years. I was smitten from the beginning and it continues to beckon me. There are plenty of places on this island to bliss out but one of the gems of them all has been the valley of Vinales. Apart from being a beautiful lush environment, there is something there. A place where I feel safe to let down my guard and come face to face with me. All sides of me.
Each year I have reserved a set amount of days to this valley. Now that I know it, it has become a place of refuge for me. However the first visit, I can honestly say, I had set a few expectations for this place and for the time I had to enjoy it. I remember being weary when I arrived by bus, winding up and down the valley, to a overcast day, with no view of a lush grandeur in sight , the way I had seen and heard about it. You know how that happens. We are all guilty of it. You have a image, a idea or expectation in your head of how things "should" be instead of the way they are. On the people in our lives, the places we visit, and even experiences we have yet to have.
I think it should be a cardinal rule to not only traveling but to life, that in order to truly experience things fully and for what it is, we must let these things go. It is when we can fall away from those preconceived ideas, thoughts, and stories, that we can truly start to live in the moment and be at peace on what is actually there. When we no longer are grasping, holding, judging or controlling each moment, it is then that we let things naturally flow in and out. That this is when the doors open for us, and our path becomes clearer and the people that are meant to be in your lives are there and can arrive. When you put your intention on following your bliss, with a open mind, well then this is when the magic happens.
That day I got off of the bus, found my Casa, unpacked, and went to bed. A lovely and wonderful thing happened the next morning. I woke up to clear skies and the sun was out. I was eager to get out there and see what it was all about so I quickly asked the Casa owners for a map. They unfortunately didn't have such as thing and simply just pointed me to a road and said walk to the edge of it, till it meets a farm, and keep walking. Truly my style of people. They seem to not worry about me, as perhaps I had this determined expression on my face. So I packed my bag with a few essentials, my camera, sketchbook and some water and set out. I followed their instructions and got to the edge of town. Just before I took my first step into the unknown, I looked up and took a visual snapshot of my surroundings. My basic trick I have done along the way that has seemed to work so far on my travels in not getting lost. The rest I leave it up to intuition, and trust that I will be lead on the right path..
So I walked, and walked, and walked some more over the years. Up and down some valleys, through some caves and farms, around a few bends and mountains. Coming in contact with some animals, enjoying the tastiest quench thirsting glass of lemonade, came a bit too close to a bull and had a few rides and moments with some Cuban cowboys. Cowboys who always seem to think i'm a damsel in distress and need to be saved. A moment like this below.
Deep in the Valley, in the middle of my bliss walk, I decided to take a break to take it all in. The sights, the smells, and sounds, soaking in the sun. Sitting cross legged, I closed my eyes. I was utterly connected with nothing else but that moment....until the light became a mysteriously darker. I opened my eyes surprisingly to this view. A cowboy, perched proudly on his stallion gazing down at me. First a stare down, and then brief exchange of words, that started with Hola, Como estan? and proceeded with the same standard 4 questions , Donde Eres?, Tu es solo?, Tu tienes un novio?, Tu quieres un BF Cuban?. I got to know the basic responses to this. Ending with the final stare down to try to change my mind.
This moment and many others Is why I chose to incorporate this yearly into my life. It has become the best form of therapy one could have. A chance to re-connect with yourself, and nature. A chance to step outside your comforts zones and expectations and come head to head with the present moment. A place to refuel creative energy and be inspired. A place to be with you , you and you. To think and talk aloud and let all those thoughts, dreams, questions, emotions, rise and fall. Some get answered, others don't, others drift or are completely forgotten about. It's great just to have this time to observe them all. Yes, at times you talk to yourself and can feel a bit crazy for doing so but the battle of the mind is not a easy one but necessary one. It's important to eliminate all the distractions and just get back to the bare basics of pure awareness. The valley of Vinales has given me that space and the refuge in doing just that. It consistently brings me full circle and puts me back on track to exactly where Im meant to be.