Pause, Look, Trust

Sunrise in Seaside Heights, New Jersey on July 31st, 2021

August 2021 Update: I’m back & I’m building a new version of me. A version that looks everywhere for the light that will carry me.

The photo above was intended for some exciting, “can-do all” type of blog post that was going to be some version of perfect to reflect the perfect sunrise that occurred that morning. The card we see here is an affirmation card from a dear friend who read my tarot a few months prior. I had forgotten all about this gift until I went through my mail over the summer. I decided to take some photos in nature, because who isn’t grateful for the Earth? One morning on the last day of July, I drove over to the beach because I hadn’t managed to get myself up that early for the two months that I had been home and I knew I’d miss seeing the sunrise. Plus, the ocean is healing. I had my journal, wrote a few words about life’s worries and snapped this epic shot.

The ocean told me, “the challenge is worth it.” And I agreed to trust her blindly!

I trusted her just as I trusted the universe yet I didn’t even know the challenge I thought lie ahead was about to shift and become even more complex.

The Unraveling

My “official” return to Indonesia for year 2 of teaching internationally was supposed to happen on August 1st. The comical part about this flight is the number of times it moved; from July 8th to July 27th, and finally August 1st which I absolutely had to make because of visa purposes. This was a perfectly timed night-flight with only one layover (in Doha, Qatar) and the best part, BUSINESS CLASS. Yes I splurged and I was extremely excited for what could have been.

The week prior to my departure I slowly began to feel a bit under the weather. Part of me felt it was lack of sleep or nerves and another part of me felt something building but just didn’t know what. The night before my flight, I made the difficult decision to go to the emergency room and push my flight yet again one week. My hope was that I would be cleared and be able to catch my flight on August 8th and squeeze into the country right before my visa expiry.

Little did I know that plan would also crumble as I spent the next five days in the hospital learning once again how to accept the unexpected.

The Climb

Believe it or not, I’ve climbed this mountain before. In 2017, I was hospitalized for symptoms that were completely foreign to me such as heavy breathing, a gnarly cough and fluid retention that indicated something serious. What was originally bronchitis turned into a major weakened heart also known as congestive heart failure. The cause unknown, my doctors treated my heart with medicines and my heart’s functioning improved.

After being on medicines for over a year, my cardiologist approved me stopping medicines as my functioning had improved and I had no correlating heart or medical issues that needed ongoing treatment. I thought I climbed that mountain and walked away unscathed ready to seek life abroad.

If I’m being honest, I only survived that experience. I don’t believe I fully processed, absorbed or was prepared to heal from the struggle.

This time feels different. It’s much more than physical health. This challenge is tricky yet intriguing. At times, I feel so much sorrow of all I could lose. I feel self-judgement for what could’ve, would’ve and should’ve been. Sometimes, I even feel hopeless. Major health setbacks take a lot of strength and time to process and heal. Climbing this mountain the second time is much more than aggressively fighting without tears. It’s about leaning into my emotions and finding ways to heal and fully let go of worry.

As a person who doesn’t love physical activity, I relate to the analogy of climbing a mountain because I know the struggle well. When we’re climbing, it feels impossible, almost like we may not even make it. It can feel pointless, tiring, and as if our strength is being tested with each step. But I realized something very important last week when I was “climbing.” When climbing, pausing is essential. It gives us the moment to breathe deep, allow our body to rest, and reflect on our experience. See the view. Looking around, you can just absorb the journey for what it is. Painful, yet rewarding. (See below for an example of such a pause👇🏾)

View from Mt. Batur on Jan. 1st, 2021, one of our many pauses
(I really thought I wouldn’t make it to the top)
📷: Colleen and her Google camera

Being in the hospital and getting sick was a metaphorical climb that I didn’t sign up for and at the times where I paused, I was able to learn the following:

  • I’m meant to be on this journey for spiritual reasons.
  • My people pull through in great ways to make me feel loved.
  • When people care, they ask questions & it’s OK if I don’t have the answers.
  • I’m meant to be on this journey for spiritual reasons.
  • Nothing is permanent, especially suffering.
  • What’s meant for me will be mine, always.
Lessons from Nature

Ocean waves crashing at sunrise, 7/31/2021

The lesson is to put my priorities in order and allow myself time to heal internally, externally, mentally, & physically. I’ll share that though I must wait to fly, I plan on working on Jakarta time since my school is currently in remote learning.

The lesson is to find gratitude in the small things, like a sunrise or a friend. Find healing in the all of nature’s elements, like the ocean. Although life feels like betrayal when you’re struggling, I promised the ocean I’d learn how to trust. And I’ll do just that.

Follow my IG public account if you haven’t ☺️👆🏾

4 responses to “Pause, Look, Trust”

  1. Hope you’re well and enjoying nature as you heal.


  2. Just beautiful. Life is a journey and things happen for a reason. For most of us it takes a lifetime to learn these lessons. You are wise beyond your years. Stay positive!


    1. Thank you so much! I’m just trying to accept life’s lessons and learn to live the fullest life possible.


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