Near Miss: Waking up in Istanbul

There are times in life when we are sideswiped; taunted but not overtaken by a certain fate. 
Perhaps it's a desirable outcome that slimly passes us by, such as a long-coveted job or relationship that doesn't pan out in the end. Disappointment reveals to us its hidden gifts, forcing us to re-evaluate our priorities and find even greater clarity than before. 

But what about "near misses" of the dramatic and fortuitous variety?... times when life narrowly misses a more disastrous mark? Roughly four weeks ago today was one such moment in my life. 

My partner and I were
traveling abroad, and it was our last morning in Turkey. Over the past week we had ventured 2500 miles by bus with a local guide, visiting ancient landmarks such as Cappadocia, Pamukkale, and Ephesus. Back in Istanbul for roughly 48 hours, we'd been exploring the vast metropolis on our own. Our plan was to squeeze in a tour of the Basilica Cistern along with a couple of more sites before our departure to Venice later that day.

Our hotel was in the Fatih shopping district, an area near historic landmarks that offered a hefty discount for the off-season. We'd slept in a bit, then headed outdoors where the temperature was rapidly dropping. As we scurried through the cobblestone side streets, snow began whipping sideways at our faces. I rallied toward the morning's mission for the sake of all we'd invested in time and money; yet even when I'm at my best extreme winter weather has the tendency to derail my enthusiasm. My will for adventure was wilting under the weight of the wind, and with each step I grew more resentful of our unrelenting itinerary. It certainly didn't help matters that, a bit tired of Turkish fare, all I'd been able to stomach for breakfast was a piece of toast. I was growing more light-headed and irritable by the minute. 

In a plot twist I'd soon come to expect while traveling abroad, we reached the metro stop nearest to our hotel only to discover it was inexplicably closed. Backtracking yet again, we headed to our hotel to regroup. The most direct passage was along a narrow street. Leaving barely enough room for one vehicle to pass, its path ran parallel to the busy highway above. Weather and sound assaulted my weary body, and I couldn't wait to retreat indoors... so I led the way with dogged determination, power-walking with my hood up and my head down to the wind. Chris followed close behind. I had just moved up off of the street onto what I can only presume was meant to be a sidewalk - a claustrophobic brick embankment no more than two feet wide jutting away from the building that loomed four-stories high on my right. Lost in my single-minded mission, my senses would soon betray me. I vaguely recall hearing an approaching truck on my left, yet I mistook the sound for traffic along the highway above. It was in this exact wrong moment that I chose to step off the curb back into the street. When I did I was met with a sudden and terrifying burst of energy. 

I felt the unmistakeable power of speed and metal as a commercial truck quite literally grazed my coat. I heard myself release a guttural scream as it passed. I didn't know what else to do; there was no time or space to move in any direction but toward hope. The truck missed me by less than a measure of an inch. 

I frantically made my way back up onto that two-foot bullshit-of-a-sidewalk and leaned in against Chris. My body shook with overwhelm and the terror a deer must feel when narrowly missed by a bullet. Chris did his best to calm the both of us; yet needless to say, seeing me nearly mauled by a truck had really done a number on him as well. 

Eventually we made our way back to the hotel and sat in the lobby gratitude-stricken and stunned by the silent presence of what could have been. I verbally alternated between breathless relief: "oh God... oh THANK God" and manic awe: "holy fucking shit... holy FUCKING shit!" Once safety settled in, I had no choice but to ask myself: How I could have been so distracted and out of my body as to step in front of a moving vehicle totally unaware? 

Shock dissolved into realization.

Tears pooled, the answer swimming within. 

I had (once again) been exhausted by my mind's ambitions. The truth was this: I was miserable with fatigue and a road-weary part of me desperately needed stillness and tending to. It wasn't the first time that I had ignored my needs for the sake of an external enterprise. It wasn't the first time I had fallen out of step with me, placing the rhythm of someone I love (in this case, my partner) before my own. But it WAS the first time it had almost cost me my life or god-only-knows-how-many weeks in a Turkish hospital. 

I have a hard time standing still while the rest of the world moves at an even clip. And so, I bully myself to conform and carry on. I do as is expected and push through resistance. I rally. I suck it up. I power through. I push to (ap)prove my place in the world, unconsciously defying the direction in which my internal compass points. 

I had gone halfway across the world to be reminded that no matter where we find ourselves on the map, without sovereignty and self care we are lost. Susceptible to life's bittersweet and sometimes reckless re-calibrations. 

The looming presence of that truck weighed against the left side of my body for the next few days along with the beautiful and haunting realization that I had been spared from injury. I had stepped off that curb at just the wrong time but at just the right angle so as to avoid being hit. How is that? What if I had swung my arm a bit wider? What if I had stepped outward even an inch more, instead of just to the left of the curb? Two possible fates intertwined and by some chance I was granted the thread more fortunate. 

Just the night before, I was watching one of the few English channels we had available in our hotel room. A news reporter told the story of a seven year old girl in Kentucky who was the lone survivor in an airplane crash that took the lives of her four other family members. She had not only survived the crash without major injury, she had walked barefoot in total darkness for over a kilometer in a rural area, somehow venturing in the one direction in which she had any hope of finding help. With unlikely success, she was rescued. 

While my experience pales in comparison, I couldn't help but
wonder why? Why were she and I spared when so many others haven't been? I couldn't help but think of the tragic loss of my brother back in 2010; my heart still breaks that his was not a near miss. Nor was the recent devastation of a friend who lost her six year old daughter three days before Christmas because someone ran a stop sign. I witness this extraordinary mother gracefully navigate an unimaginable loss and am both heartsick and aglow with wonder at her strength and will to carry on. Life and death can seem so arbitrary; loss delivers its blow with such indifference. While a great many will try to, we can't possibly decode the mystery that unfurls each fate.

Disaster. Miracle. 

Misfortune. Lucky break. 
I'm not convinced that any of these exist. 

I am certain only of the mysterious grace that both binds and rips us apart. Life is a wild beast of a thing that cannot be harnessed. Untamed and fiercely loving, she is as ill-behaved and nourishing as a storm... and our arrogant attempts to explain the unexplainable are distractions from drinking in her rains more fully. 

To near misses. And to all things unfinished & undone.
... (( )).


What Is This Life? (WiTL)

Early this week I returned from 25 days of traveling abroad. The first part of our journey was spent exploring the landscapes and western coastline of Turkey, steeping ourselves in ancient history. Italy was next. Naples and the Amalfi Coast, soon followed by Venice, Florence, and Rome. It was an ambitious adventure to say the least. 

There is vacation. And there is travel. 
Travel is voyage driven by curious zeal, a soulular reach for adventure its whimsy lies outside of the tangibilities of reason. As opposed to vacation, travel's medicine lies not in the destination but in the journey itself. Everyday norms are challenged. Ways of being collide with cultural divides. Plans are thwarted, and ever-changing itineraries loom large. Travel is a rite of passage where outcome is uncertain yet wholeheartedly embraced as somehow essential to who we are becoming. Travel is a voyage outside of expected comforts, into the unexpected self. 

And let's be REAL... travel is a
privilege. The majority of people in the world (many of whom I know) simply can't afford to travel. Vacations can be carved in and around weekends and holidays... but travel requires an elasticity of time, money, and physical stamina. The fact that my partner and I are childless, able-bodied, and blessed enough to have been able to voyage in this way... this is a gift that I am doing my best to shamelessly receive. Gratitude has been my constant companion, every step of the way. And yet, it's also worth noting that travel is a largely romanticized notion, reveled in by outside observers... idealized through glossy photos and carefully-crafted captions. Facebook albums represent only picturesque moments captured for digital display, never doing justice to the journey. 

My favorite images show you only rainbows... while travel is a mighty storm to be braved. Full-spectrum beauty is reserved for those willing to pass through the thunderous elements along the way. Said another way: 16 cities visited. 14 hotel check-ins. 8 flights. 6 train rides. Roughly a dozen bus rides + a rental car driven on the treacherous streets of the Amalfi Coast (thankfully Chris is a road-savvy New Yorker). Add to that countless hours walked, missed trains/bus stops, and language barriers to boot. 

Travel well and stress & splendor will collide.
Growth is delivered through dichotomy. Irresistible moments: such as the silence of a pastel sunrise over the canals of Venice, the otherworldly beauty of Pammukkale's breathtaking white landscapes, or a Turkish New Year's Eve celebration (it's unrivaled... much like the marinara sauce at L'Antica Pizzeria da Michele in Naples. It makes my mouth water just thinking about it). Travel serves up each gift with a slice of humble pie, challenging and refining our sense of what is rightful and norm. Try getting a taxi driver in Istanbul to drive you less than two kilometers; it's a virtual impossibility (so what if you have luggage, not their problem). Feel helplessness and heartbreak as you watch a stray dog and two whiny eight-week old puppies cry and itch their skin raw while Pergamon locals stroll by with casual indifference. Spend your first couple of hours abroad hurling in the perfume-laden airport water closet (aka: bathroom) due to a bumpy 10 hour flight and some bad cheese (let's just say Paris wasn't my favorite stop... city of love and lights my ass. Again, it makes my mouth water just thinking about it). 

Bitter blends with sweetness to make the flavor real and right.

Was our voyage always an easy one? Hell to the no. 

Was it worth it? Most emphatically, YES.

Early on in the trip, a personal mantra emerged: 

What is this life?!
... this, the unanswerable question that best encapsulated the beautiful ugly totality of my experience. Four words that unexpectedly spilled from my lips as I took in a sunset along Positano's majestic cliffside; she left me gasping and gaping at her beauty. And again I uttered them (this time I added a couple more syllables for good measure... WTF..iTL?!!) as we stood stranded on an unmarked road in Rome. Exhausted, lost, and angry we walked two miles with all our baggage in tow. 

Four words that captured both awe-inspiring gratitude and perpetual befuddlement
... thus offering me a way to maintain good humor and conjure the humility and grace required to accept all the unexpected gifts being thrown my way. WiTL? These four words, like the bells at Campanile di Giotto in Florence still ring in my ears... reminding me to be thankful and to fully inhabit the full spectrum of my experience. There and then. Here and now. 


I am beyond fortunate to have been blessed by such an adventure... rest assured, that is not lost on me. And yet I must admit that the absolute greatest gift has been found in the return home. Mundane comforts are now miraculous gifts waiting to be opened.  

Sharing with you is one of them.
Thanks for reading. xo


Aloha... Soaking Up Mama Kauai


I am writing to you from a beautiful guest house in Kilauea, on the north shore of Kauai. One of my dearest friends is hosting a transformational seven-day retreat, and I feel blessed to be a part of it. I'm on the island for two weeks total, and for the past few days I have been immersed in the company of women. It's so powerfully nurturing to be surrounded by other like-hearted souls who are likewise possibility-oriented... all willingly reach past what-is into what-may-be, actively keeping our hearts open to life at every turn.


It's extraordinary to stand tall and hold eye contact with the beautiful-ugly truth... through practice, developing the confidence to have an unflinching dialogue with the raw spaces inside. Growth doesn't have to hurt OR be a heavy trek through the dark. 
Given the right tools, we can up-level our lives without all the drama... putting our empathic gifts to work within enables us to evolve without terrorizing ourselves or the people around us.

My vision in the creation of 
TribeNectar is to offer women from all over the world access to the richness of what I am experiencing here, everyday. It's essential to practice showing up for one another at our best, while being willing to own our worst... together learning that it's safe and essential to expose what's true. While I prescribe to the merits of privacy, I feel we often take things too far, over-isolating ourselves from life's most natural medicine... vulnerability through conscious self-exposure. 

Transformation happens when we share openly with others who feel as we do. Safe and habitual exposure puts us in touch with the space of our most honest human potential.

Retreat doesn't have to happen only once a year in a distant exotic location. You can begin to experience collective synergy right now. Apply to join 
theNetwork - an intimate online community discussion group, led by yours truly. Smattered across the globe, we are a close-knit group of witnesses all willing to grow and learn through offered experiences. I provide some fodder for our interactions, and I invite you to do the same. Announce and own your expansive intentions. Offer your stories of challenge. Purge your frustrations and upsets. I will do my best to chime in on every thread, offering *totally free group coaching* while keeping the unfiltered juices flowing. Important side note: everything shared in our group must be kept confidential, without exception. A brief application required to ensure alignment.

And if you want to liberate your voice in a way you never thought possible, check out the first ever TribeNectar Immersion. It's a 99-day experience that will transform the way you express yourself in every arena of your life. 
The Spill Your Truth Curriculum offers highly-interactive, heart-centered assertiveness training that works. 

Off I go to take in the island and gather up more goodness to share with you all!

Soaking up the Nectar,