Tales from Thailand

Its been 1 month that we have officially moved our lives and our work to the land of smiles; Thailand. Each time we step foot in a new country, we are hit with the wave of the unfamiliar. The uncertain mind chatter is loud; Do we like it here? Does this work for us? Is it everything we imagined it would be? 

For the most part, the first month never really counts; we're basically still tourists. We roam around our new surroundings getting lost in streets we still don't recognize, while we hunt for the best coffee, the best local eatery, and a way to make this foreign land feel a little more like home. 

5 weeks into our move to Thailand, Jorge and I can confidently look at one another and agree, "Yup, we made the right choice."

To say that we are loving Thailand is understatement. We are LIVING Thailand. This country has opened up its arms and wrapped the two of us in a warm hug. 

We've settled in the mountainous northern city of Chiang Mai. Although this is the largest city in northern Thailand, it's low key vibe and charming authenticity can make any traveler, whether seasoned or novice fall in love with the Thai Culture. 

Inside the historical "Old City," we spend our days zipping down the alleys on our motorbike discovering the flavors of traditional Thai cuisine, the towering Buddhas peeking over the Wats (Buddhist Temples), and learning more about uniqueness of this culture and it's people. Thai Life is definitely agreeing with us, if only every country were this easy. 

In over a year of traveling with Jorge from country to country, we've both learned that the first few weeks are always the most emotional. We have to maintain our cool while we patiently navigating our way through unknown terrain. Excitement can quickly turn to anxiety as we begin to question every decision we make. We go back and forth from wondering whether we are being ripped off to celebrating when we think we've gotten the best deal in town. 

The choices we make don't just affect us, but every traveler coming on our trips. 

As the retreat guides, we aren't just leading these experiences, we are living the experiences. We spend the time getting lost, tasting all the street food, bargaining with vendors, so that our trips are the most authentic representation of the country and it's culture. 

We have committed, at least for now, to this nomadic lifestyle. Our goals are rooted in our simple desire to explore and absorb as much of this beautiful world as we can and share it with as many people as we can. 

This is the work of our lives. 

So while we await the arrival of our fellow wanderlusters we will settle into Thailand's warm embrace, enjoying this amazing adventure we call life. 

How Do You Measure A Year?

Today marks the 1-year anniversary of my departure from America to live my new nomadic life. I’ve been searching all morning for clever ways to write about the year gone by and my inspiration is low.

I’ve been playing with words for hours, risking being repetitive and self-serving if I talk about the struggles, the obstacles, the changes, the high and the lows of the last 12 months.

In one way or another, over the last year I have shed it all. I’ve divulged on this blog, and on my social media outlets, typing furiously through tears and agony to my friends, to strangers, to anyone that would listen.

I told people I had just met the story over and over again of how I quit my life, how I chose to start over, how I left it all behind in pursuit of love and happiness. And it overflowed in my everyday actions, witnessed only by Jorge, my constant soundboard/punching bag/ supporter, who talked me off the ledge and convinced me that packing my bags and running away was just an impulsive reflex.

I’m left now with little words to give merit to the time gone by. I had imagined I would have some poetic and inspiring prose to celebrate the mere fact that I had lived 365 days in a manner so foreign to me that it often seemed that it couldn’t possibly be my life.

But instead all that lives in me to share is a settled and subtle contentment; an observation of not what has happened up until now, but what IS right now.

The year-long identity crisis I struggled from is no longer at the forefront of my thoughts and daily actions.  What I’ve seen instead is that everything in my new life that seemed so chaotic and out of control has begun to settle and my internal and external resistance to it all has begun to settle.

That settling has left me being able to experience more fully the current moment, and the reality of what my life is right here, right now, without over examining what it took to get me here.

Simultaneously and very naturally, the new identity I so desperately sought after emerged. I’ve tipped the scales back and forth in both directions to find the perfect balance between ‘Marina of New Jersey’ and ‘Marina of the World.’

My newfound persona doesn’t need to worry about the pressures of my old life, instead I have complete freedom to live my experiences fully, to experience moments fully, and then recreate those moments for others.

I recognize that the last year’s journey served a significant role in shaping who I am now, but if I keep reliving those same lessons, I will never really be living in my growth or able to move forward.

So with the deepest gratitude, I honor and release the year gone by.

And just before my monkey mind starts jumping to the shiny bright future ahead, I pause and I say to myself, “You are right here, right now, and THIS is where you belong.”

 

 

 

 

 

Jungle Life and Journey to Find a Home

5 days, 4 flights, 2 bus trips, and 1 taxi ride. That’s the amount of time it took me to move from my medieval European apartment in Lisbon to my tropical jungle oasis in Montanita, Ecuador. 

In one short week I pulled the last remaining items out of my Hoboken apartment, gave my niece hugs and kisses, took a 6am yoga class with my teacher, and traveled over 35 hours before arriving in the little beach town I plan to call home for the next 3 months. 

Ecuador will be the 4th country that I will have lived in since making a decision to leave the United States 11 months ago. I would’ve thought at this stage in the game that the adjustment period would get easier; but no. 

The first couple of days are as uneasy as the day I stepped off that flight in Morocco unsure of what the future held for me. 

My stomach is in knots and my sleep is off. Between the long transfers on flights and buses, sleeping in different hostels in different cities, I find myself turning to Jorge and asking, “What day is it? What time is it here?” I never know if I should be eating breakfast or sleeping for another 4 hours to catch up to my current time zone. 

This is the first time that Jorge and I have traveled together through a country that is unknown to both of us. Usually by the time I’ve arrived he’s had some time to get settled, make some friends, and figure out our living situation for the next months. 

But a week ago we walked off the plane in Capital City of Quito with little idea of what the next stage of our lives would look like. With only a handful of names of people I had reached out to in the Yoga Community, we boarded a 10 hour bus ride south following the sun and the surf. 

Within hours of arriving in Montanita, a surfers paradise along the Pacific Coast, we were greeted with open arms, coffee, and conversations about life, love, and the journey that had lead us to the healing center tucked away in the jungle. 

I start to slowly take in the landscape, the colors, the people around me. I start to envision myself living here and thinking of how I will spend my days. With those observations also comes a wave of confusion and uncertainty. 

The next morning I wake up and it takes me a few moments before I recognize where I am. The warmth of Jorge’s body next to me is the only familiar feeling in the first few days. 

I watch him move through the day with a natural ease. A professional at settling in, he quickly makes friends, makes himself comfortable, and begins to enjoy the serenity of the life he’s spent the last 2.5 years crafting. 

I struggle. Sometimes quietly, sometimes not so quietly. I try to find words to tell him what is coming up for me, but they seem trapped in the center of my chest, living in the same place as this unsettling feeling. 

Why do I feel like I don’t belong? Why can’t I adapt faster? Why is none of this making sense to me yet?

 I recognize that voice. I recognize those fears. 

Jorge reminds me that this is part of it, and sometimes he feels it too. My only solution is to relax and allow where I am to become a part of me. 

Within a few days my nervous energy has shifted and settled. Ecuador has begun to embrace me and share with me it’s beauty and healing powers. I am experiencing miracle moments, a-ha moments, every day. 

Confusion has turned to clarity and the purpose of me being here in Ecuador becomes very clear. 

This morning I woke up with the soft humming of birds and the trees rustling in the morning breeze. Mother nature whispered me awake, and after a few groggy moments, I realize that I am home. 

 

The Art of Saying Goodbye

I used to think I was good at saying goodbye.

Growing up, my family moved a lot, so goodbye became a common theme in my life. There was a period of time, mainly the late 80s and early 90s, that I went to a new school in a new city and made new friends every September.

I would cry and angrily yell at my parents, “Why can’t we just be normal?” Needless to say, my tantrums never got us to move back to our old home, so instead, I learned to be comfortable being the new girl.

When I was 19 and my family moved back to Brazil, I remember exchanging a rushed airport goodbye and walking away as quickly as I could. I didn’t look back but I could still hear my mother’s sobs as I sped down the New Jersey Turnpike, hoping that my loud music would drown out my own uncontrollable sobbing.

It seems that for as long as I could remember, the situations in my early life were a form of practice in perfecting the art of saying goodbye.

And yet, with so much practice in goodbyes, especially in this last year of my new life, I find myself affected more than ever by the weight of each farewell. 

Yesterday morning I left Portugal after an unbelievable 3-month experience. I spent the last week saying goodbye to new friends I had made and visiting all of places in the city that had become part of my daily life. I watched one final sunrise and swallowed hard to fight back the tears of sadness.

I know that it’s time to move on to the next experience. I know I can and will come back, but I still got hit with a wave of melancholy when it became real that this time and space I’ve created in my life, in Lisbon, this summer, will be gone forever.

I think this is what people call an occupational hazard.

I chose this. I chose to leave my family and friends and roam the world moving from country to country every couple of months. I chose this alternative lifestyle of nomadic living. I chose a life that can only continue to exist when I leave a place behind in order to begin all over again in someplace new.

But that doesn’t make it any easier. Sometimes I’m just not ready to go. Sometimes I want to stay a little longer savoring the sweetness of the place and the people that have started to feel familiar. Sometimes I wish I could slow down the time so I could see more and do more. 

But saying goodbye is part of my story. This is one of the sacrifices I have to make to continue to fulfill my life’s dream. 

So I try to take Jorge’s advice and confront my goodbyes head on. I may even allow myself to shed some tears because deep inside I know that the countless goodbyes also lead me to endless hellos. 

 

 

 

 

A Crisis is a Terrible Thing to Waste

I heard those words spoken in the first yoga workshop I ever attended.

For someone like me that tends to collapse under the weight of a crisis, it seemed crazy to think of a crisis as something of value.

It’s only been in the last 11 months of my new life, my second life, that I’ve re-examined the idea of embracing chaos, crisis, and confusion. Basically, I was given no choice. If I were going to survive this new way of living and being, then I would have to cozy up quickly to each and every crisis.

I’ve written a little about what propelled me to leap off that cliff and quit my old life.

I’ve shared small glimpses of how defeating it can feel to not know what you’re doing, why you’re doing it, and whether or not it will work.

I’ve riffed about how choosing an unconventional life at 33 can make you seem crazy to others, and at times you even believe that you must be as crazy as everyone thinks.

It’s been the writing that I’ve done over the last 11 months that has brought me some clarity in the midst of the chaos. A lot of that writing is never shared. A lot of the experiences and the moments, both the good and the bad ones, are experiences that I’ve selfishly hid away for myself.

I felt that it wasn’t fair to share my day-to-day fluctuations from success to struggle, from pain to love, and from crazy to a different kind of crazy.

Why would anyone want to hear these stories and why would they care? How would anyone be able to understand or sympathize with a struggle so foreign from their own.

But as I come to the end of my time here in Lisbon and prepare to move on to another chapter I feel that there have been so many moments and stories that have gone untold.  

Those unspoken moments are the ones that make up the blog posts and social media rants that I carefully select for the outside world.

And while those posts that I share are true and brutally honest, what happens to all the other juicy moments of crisis that give life and craft my musings?

Those moments live and die in my mind, on the notes page in my phone, and in my journals, and that’s a damn shame.

I don’t think I’m the greatest writer. I don’t think I have the most fascinating stories. I don’t particularly think that my day-to-day life is all that interesting.

Then I remember that there is only one other person in the world that I know that is doing what I’m doing and he happens to live with me.

So I decided it’s time to start really sharing what this journey has been and continues to be about.

And when I think about who’s going to care, and who’s going to read it, I realize it doesn’t matter.  

I’m writing these stories for my future self.

I’m writing for my niece and my one-day children and grandchildren.

I’m writing for my sister, my girlfriends, my students, and my teachers.

I’m writing them for Jorge and for our relationship.

I’m writing for anyone I’ve ever known who’s wanted to share his or her story but didn’t know how to do it.

But mostly, I’m writing this for myself; because a tragedy, a triumph, a crusade, a moment, an act of courage, faith, or love is a terrible thing to waste. 

"Vivir Mi Vida: Life Lessons from Living in Nicaragua"

It was only a few weeks ago that I was in the middle of a remote village in Nicaragua, standing and watching the man of my dreams play soccer with local children. The sun was scorching, the mosquitoes buzzing, and the smell of cow dung was potent. As I looked around the open field, I thought to myself, “This is NOT the fairytale dream life I had manifested.”

I had arrived in Nicaragua three months earlier full of energy, ready to love, and to be loved. I had finally reunited with the man who had changed my life, and I was ready for us to come together to positively impact the world.

That being said, I had never experienced living in such remote conditions, and the only volunteer experience I had, involved writing a check. I was anxious, nervous, and also excited to find the new ways I would stretch my comforts, and to really see why the man of my dreams loved this life so much.

My ‘MAN’ifestation, who was no stranger to getting his hands dirty, took the lead in finding us a place to live, a means of transportation, and connected us with a community where we would volunteer twice a week for the next four months. Week after week the El Remate and Ajal children eagerly awaited for our arrival to teach English, practice yoga, and play games. I quickly learned that effective volunteering is about consistency. Even on days I felt miserable, I had no choice. I needed to show up not only for the kids, but because there were also 14 people coming to Nicaragua on an upcoming retreat, and I was the bridge to their experience. 

The beach was terribly quiet. The loudest sounds I heard came from the demons of fear, anger, and negativity that lived in my mind. I was bored, so naturally I questioned every decision I had made in the last 6 months.

The light and excitement I felt about going to Nicaragua was far-gone. I single handedly allowed my purpose, and the thrill of the adventure to slip away. 

I couldn’t find happiness in my day-to- day life. My yoga practice suffered. My relationship suffered. My mental health suffered.

Then after 3 months of going through an emotional whirlwind it was time to lead 14 eager volunteers through an epic Nicaraguan adventure.

All the tears and hard work had come down to the next 10 days. I was angry, frustrated, broken, and confused. How could I possibly guide people through an experience that I had not enjoyed? How could I show them the beauty of a country when I didn't see that beauty? How could I ask them to open their hearts and embrace the children of the villages when my own heart had never fully opened? I had very little light inside me to give.

I did the only thing I thought I could do; I put my pride aside and confessed my struggle to the group. I asked them to help me see Nicaragua through their eyes. I asked them to share with me their light and their love.

Living remotely and doing work I had never done, broke me down in such a way that even now, several weeks after leaving Nicaragua, I am still mending my shattered spirit.  

If you asked me now, I still don't know if I would ever revisit Nicaragua. I don't know if I could ever live in such remote conditions. I don't know if I am equipped to handle volunteer experiences like the one in the Nicaraguan Villages. 

I do know now that living in Nicaragua forced me to confront the darkest parts of my soul.

Here are some other life truths I've learned from living in Nicaragua. 

1. It's ok to speak your truth. 

When I came clean to the group about my struggles in Nicaragua it alleviated the pressure I was feeling. I no longer needed to pretend that I loved every moment of the experience. Sometimes when you speak your truth, you realize that others may also be feeling the same way.

2. Having expectations is like creating a roadblock for your life's miracle moments. 

I expected Nicaragua to look, feel, and be a certain kind of experience. I expected myself to be and become a certain woman in Nicaragua. I never allowed the miracle moments, the unexpected surprises to reveal themselves because of my unrealistic and limiting expectations. 

3. Losing control will make you lose your mind. 

No matter how much you’ve seen or done or how many life experiences you've had, you can be brought to your knees when you feel scared, out of your element, and out of control. I had to allow life to bring me to places, people, and experiences I may have otherwise never come across. I had to allow myself to lose control. 

4. Getting what you wish for is different than getting what you need.

The dream life I manifested didn't look like the Nicaraguan reality I was living. But what I was needing in my life, more than what I was wanting, was a moment to look in the mirror and really examine who I was becoming and how I was going to get there. In Nicaragua I could no longer run and hide from the woman in the mirror.

5. Misery does NOT love company 

Just because you are drowning in your own despair, you cannot pull others down with you or expect them to suffer on your behalf. Those that love you will hold your hand when you're crying and confused. But NO ONE, not your boyfriend, your best friend, or even your mother, can save you from you. 

*Bonus lesson from my beautiful friend Kelly-Ann

 6. Success is relative

When my entire life changed and I was struggling to find my new identity, I had to redefine what success meant to me. I wanted to fit in to my new role, do purposeful life-changing work, and make money. When things didn't exactly happen that way, I felt like a failure. I’ve learned that I need to measure my success not in how much money I'm making or how much praise I'm getting for my work, but in how many miracle moments of love and happiness I can experience daily and share with as many people as possible. 

 

 

Love Lava: The Magic in Morocco

Falling in love is scary.

Looking in my mirror, and admitting that I may be falling in love is breaking down patterns of my past. If you’re lucky, you meet someone who has something about them that makes you feel at peace with those overwhelming emotions. A tranquil aroma that you’ve never smelled before. If you’re really lucky, or better yet destined, that person respects you, cares for you, and honors every ounce of your soul.  The illusion of fear starts to subside, and you start to give this person access to your most prized possession, your heart. That same fragile heart that you’ve kept locked up and protected for the last 2 years, that has been broken and bruised, and also left others defeated. It has been bandaged up more times than you’d like to admit.

There is no way to prepare for what happens when you’ve been hypnotized by the magic spell of love.  Love doesn’t play by anyone’s rules, conform to any agenda, or even geographic location. You can’t contain or control it. When it grips your being, it’s better to surrender all your invented fears, patterns, and limitations. Going along for the ride has the power to be one of life’s ultimate journeys.  4 months ago I went to Morocco willing to be swept up by that spell we all know as love.  When I think back on it now it seems almost like a dream. And in a way it was.  What happened in Morocco happened suddenly, without warning, and very naturally, almost easily. This causal encounter post the 4 Day Date, was now flesh and bone and we were living together, working together, and more importantly becoming FREINDS together.

With each day I spent in Morocco, I dove deeper into the rabbit hole. Love’s grip tightened, and began holding both of us, together. We found ourselves craving one another. I shared with him my love for yoga and he allowed me to guide his body and his breath through MY passions.  He graciously pulled me into the water, sharing with me HIS love for the ocean and for the surf. In the safety of his presence I came face to face with my fears of the ocean, surfing, swimming. Even overcoming my fear of falling in love was giving me a taste of the jounrey we all face when breaking out of our comforts, and chasing our manifested dreams.  He saw me as fearless, he saw me as unstoppable. In his gaze I found myself, and I WAS fearless, I WAS unstoppable. In the dark of night I would feel his hand caress my cheek in my sleep, he would reach for me and pull me closer, holding my hand and sleeping coiled so deeply into me that every part of our body and soul was intertwined, and NOT because we were in a twin size bed.

Although we hadn’t voiced it, we both knew what could happen later down this road. Jumping off a figurative cliff, we would fall, but we would learn to adapt and pull the parachute together in harmonious synchrony.  This is nothing like the scary love I once thought I knew. This love had a sweet smile and kind eyes that changed colors when he looked at me.  This love encouraged and pushed me to grow into the best surfer, yogi, teacher, and WOMAN I could be all over the world.  This was easy. This unconventional spontaneous affair in Africa made sense, so we dove in.  Those 3 months were a love struck high. I studied him, memorizing every inch and curve of his face. Every fiber of his man beard. I analyzed every movement of his fingers while he strummed the guitar singing songs for me and about me that pentrated my soul. I would close my eyes as he sang so that the sounds could fill me up, the vibrations becoming a part of me, healing, and removing the old unnecessary bandages. 

This time our goodbyes were said deep in the Sahara Desert with sand dunes and stars as far as the eye could see. The brightest and most luminous full moon was shining just for us.  In that moment under that moon there was no fear, hesitation, or worry, only a divine connection so strong it was undeniably love at its purest and most natural form.  It’s been a month since that night in the desert with my ocean man. Our lives and our work have pulled us apart, and it’s been more heart breaking than I ever imagined it to be.  The days and the nights apart have begun to blend into one, and missing him has become a part of my existence. I carry a vacant space inside me, day after day, country after country.  I do find moments of peace in knowing that this time apart is temporary, and soon his ocean scent, his gentle touch, and the heat of his heart will once again be my reality and no longer this temporary haunting illusion.  In just 2 weeks time I will once again pack up my bags, kiss my loved ones goodbye, and continue the next chapter of this epic life journey.  I will bring my  heart to its new home in the secluded paradise of Nicaragua.  Fearlessly falling deeper in that rabbit hole of love.   

The Morning After… 2 Months Later

It's a been a little over a month now that I've been home adjusting to real life after an experience that often times still seems unreal. 

Coming back to my home from any trip has always been difficult for me. For days I suffer from vacation hangover; I'm in a daze, I spend hours reminiscing the details of the trip, and immediately start daydreaming about the next adventure. 

I've become comfortable with this pattern of post travel melancholy. Although it's a slow fade, eventually I begin to adjust to the patterns of my life and find pleasure in routine. 

But not this time. Something has changed. Everything has changed. 

As the days turned into weeks, and the weeks turned into a month, my real life in Hoboken had lost its color. I felt numb. 

In my last blog, "The 4 Day Date," I wrote about how I experienced a fairytale-like romance that left me dazed, confused, and shaken to my core. 

In that post I bared my heart and soul to everyone I knew sharing deeply personal moments unaware of what lingering affects that story and that "date"  would have on me. 

I was completely ruined. My soul ached each time I realized that the moments and connection I had experienced throughout this year and especially on that 4-day date were lost and that this colorless life was now my reality. 

A part of me always knew this would happen. This whole year has been an unraveling of what I have been trying for so long to suppress.  It was only a matter of time before that one trip, that one moment, that one connection, would finally propel me to vocalize my deepest truth; my time here in New Jersey, in the US, had expired. 

I had traveled too deeply down the rabbit hole, and although I was desperately attempting to claw my way back up to a life that "made sense", it was clear that this life no longer suited me. 

A lot of people think I'm losing my mind, and maybe I am. But I can no longer dance around the perimeter of the life I want to have. I can no longer pretend that I'm not yearning for more or fantasizing about a feeling I know was real.  

When you're a person that feels everything so intensely, the way I do, you often times feel like no one understands the why that moves you to do what you do. 

It was only recently, when I started to really come to terms with my intensity and accept this wildness that lives inside me  that I began to attract people that were accepting and understanding of the crazy that lives in my head. 

I was attracting people that are vibrating at a higher level, the type of people who's  passion and intensity mimicked mine. 

The meeting of my beautiful stranger and our 4-day date was the perfect reminder of my vibrational force at work, of the magic that exists when you're ready and open. We had been brought together by a force bigger than ourselves, for multiple reasons, some of which we are unsure of; that is alchemy. 

This man and this new and unknown "relationship" has broken me, but I have also been liberated. He grabbed my soul by the shoulders and shook it up, asking me if I was really living the life that brought me the purest happiness and love, and if not, what was I waiting for? 

And only a few weeks later, that same beautiful stranger, has offered me an opportunity to join him to pursue those endless possibilities, adventure, and to quench my insatiable thirst to live life out in the big expansive world. 

So what do I do now? The only thing I can do; surrender to the unknown and let my heart and soul be pulled toward the inspiration, intensity, and fire it desperately craves. I need to follow the sun, the fire, and that sun that's calling my name is in Morocco. 

To be honest I have no idea what is going to happen. I have no expectations, no demands, no rules. I am terrified. I'm terrified of a potential failure. I'm terrified of potential heartbreak. But my biggest fear would be staying where I am and never knowing how much magic really exists.  

So next week I will pack my bags, I will exchange tearful goodbyes, and I will allow my soul to be pulled toward the blinding light of possibility, adventure, alchemy, and love. 

The 4-Day Date: A social experiment in dating like a modern day gypsy.

For some time now I've been suffering from some serious writer's block, 1 month ago, after going on one of the craziest adventures of my life, I found my voice again.

Last month, after a year long, self-imposed hiatus from dating, I finally went on a date. This was no normal "date." This was a 4-day date with someone I had never met in real life and who lived in another country.

When you decide to take time off of dating and being physically and romantically involved with anyone, there is no easy way to transition back into it. So I sucked it up, put on my lip gloss and cute lace bra, and went on a date. Well, I grabbed my passport and suitcase and hopped on a flight and lived out a 4-day affair.

I know, that’s not really "dating." Meeting someone in another country that you've only ever talked to via FaceTime seems like something out of a movie or an episode of "Sex and the City." But it’s not every day that you're given the chance to live out a romantic fantasy. I decided to jump at the chance to have a story that perhaps every girl has dreamed of at one point. Just like that, I ripped off the super single band-aide and was back in the dating game.

The reasons why I decided to breakup with dating in the first place don't matter as much, but right around the one-year mark I noticed I had become strangely comfortable in my solitude. I knew living this way was not healthy. I needed to connect with someone and not in the way I connect with my girlfriends or yoga students, but really connect and share myself with a man in an intimate way. I needed a reminder of what it felt like to desire and be desired by someone. Truthfully speaking, I needed an ego boost.

I was ready to start getting messy again.

The last 2 years of my life I had spent most of my time in foreign cities or airport lounges. I would joke with my girlfriends that the man I was going to date was living in a different time zone. And the handful of men I had met during the last 2 years couldn't wrap their heads around me, much less my gypsy lifestyle. I was convinced that the man for me was living a life even bigger than the one I was creating for myself. I was so certain of this outcome that I could afford to wait for him to show up, and I waited without anxiety.

It may sound crazy, but in the middle of the summer I had a gut feeling that I was going to meet someone soon. I didn't know him, but the idea of him was so exciting I had butterflies in my stomach. How on earth it was possible to be excited about a non-existent person is beyond me, but somehow I knew.

It was only a couple of weeks later that I was virtually introduced to the man that would break me out of my dating rut. My first conversation with this beautiful stranger lasted over 2 hours. This stranger was a professional traveler who spent the last few years traveling the world and creating adventures and experiences for others. He was the male version of me. The universe was conspiring in my favor.

I had manifested the exact man I always said I needed to date. He spoke my language. He was the prototype.

He was soulful, adventurous, generous, kind, intelligent, spiritual, silly, inspiring, authentic, raw, honest, and sexy as hell. His easy way of being pulled me in, and that was just the first phone call. I hung up the call feeling completely intrigued.

It was only a few weeks after our first conversation that I was on a flight to meet this stranger. Having my second glass of wine, I thought, "what the hell am I doing? This isn't an episode of ‘Sex and the City!’” This is my life, and in my life I have always been a magnet for madness, which meant that this "date" was headed toward a downward spiral of crazy.

An inner dialogue was playing out in my head on high volume. Why couldn't I just go on a date with someone from my zip code or even my time zone like a normal girl? What if he was a sociopath? What if he wasn't as attractive or charming in person? What if he has some weird sexual fetish? What if he was boring and didn't laugh at any of my jokes?

I have always been a slave to my impulses and then my mind would get in the way and try to talk me out of my gut feelings. This time I was on the flight and there was no turning back. It was show time.

As I walked off the flight and through the airport, I'm pretty sure I was holding my breath the entire time. I scanned the lobby of the international arrivals not really knowing what I was looking for, and then I saw him. I walked right up to him, he gave me a hug, and I exhaled.

He was tall, dark, and handsome, and he smelled like a man. Yes! More than that, I realized the connection I had been drumming up in my head was real. I hadn't imagined it! It was intense, like fire to gasoline. This was the date I've been waiting a year to go on. 

The best part about "dating" someone this way is that there’s no time for awkward exchanges and empty pleasantries. There was no time to act shy or hold back – we were all in.

He effortlessly allowed me to live a few days in his life. He showed me a city I had visited before, but this time through a different set of eyes. We ate together, slept together, sang songs, rock climbed, rode bicycles, got wine-drunk, got into heated discussions, talked about our families, friends, dreams and deepest thoughts, and sometimes did nothing at all but just sit with each other.

This connection had so many layers that at times neither one of us could really articulate how and why we had been brought together. We were strangely familiar and it all seemed too easy.

I selfishly soaked up every moment of him and of the experience. I surrendered and allowed myself to drown in his depth.

Even when my old patterns started showing their ugly face and I panicked and pushed him away, he pulled me closer, held me tighter and refused to let me run away. He embraced the part of me that was broken and fragile. He gently pulled me out of my own self-imposed darkness and into the light.

He willingly became the mirror I needed to see where I still had work to do, all the while reminding me I wasn't as messed up as I thought.

This was clearly more than a “date.” This earthquake of a man shook me far beyond anything my heart and soul had ever felt.

But we both knew from the start that we would have to say goodbye.

When the time came, there was no drawn out, tear-filled farewell. Instead, we both looked at each other and said: "I'll see you soon."

On my flight home I felt mentally, emotionally, and energetically drained. For 2 hours I cried uncontrollably, while my brain and heart attempted to make sense of what happened in those 4 days.

I was frightened and concerned. How had I allowed myself to go down the rabbit hole of emotions when all of this was supposed to be was a fling and good travel story?

Why did my head feel cloudy and my heart feel like it was going to burst out of my chest? This was not the plan. I wasn’t supposed to feel anything real, especially not for someone who was physically and emotionally unavailable to me.

Was I so in need of love and attention that I mistook what was supposed to be a fling for something more? Was I romanticizing the idea of this man and not seeing beyond the smoke and mirrors? I desperately wanted to make it all go away and pretend it never happened.

I was so angry with myself for not sticking to the plan and terrified of giving my feelings any merit. So I told myself I would not allow this man to take up inventory in my life.

I shut down the idolization of this so-called connection and did the only logical thing: I panicked, had a meltdown, and avoided my beautiful stranger for as long as I could.

This was my punishment to myself for being impulsive and over the top. All the meditation, all the yoga, all the introspection this past year, and here I was, back to my old patterns of self-sabotage.

It took me a week to build up the courage to have a Face Time call with my stranger. I was afraid he would look at me and be able to see right through me. I was afraid he would see that I had been struggling to make sense of everything we had experienced. I was afraid that magnetizing connection would be gone. I was afraid I had imagined him and every moment of that date.

But it didn't take long for him to pull me in and break down any walls I had built up in my head about our story.

As soon as we spoke again, I felt the connection again. The same one that got me on a flight, the same one that moved me to tears, the same one that cured my writer's block, the same one that set my soul on fire. It was real, and for the first time it hit me that maybe, just maybe, I had shaken him just as much as he had shaken me.

We ended our call that day by once again saying "I'll see you soon," and I know we will. Until the rivers and roads between us don't exist, I will hold on to our tender moments and the memories.

I wish I knew what the future held for this story, but what I love most is not knowing.

For the first time in all my years of "dating," I didn't have to be the one with the big life trying to convince someone else to come on adventures with me. For the first time someone else, whose life was already big and exciting, reached out his hand and said join me and let's have an adventure together.

So I guess I did end up having a "Sex and City"- inspired romantic affair with a beautiful stranger. But what I really learned from the 4-day date was that fearlessly trusting my gut and really opening my heart brought me back to the only thing that matters, the only thing that's true, the only thing that could save me from myself: love.