As I type this I am sitting in bed in a quaint airbnb casita in Albuquerque, New Mexico. I booked this trip as a spontaneous solo adventure. More about that later, but first I want to speak on the journey I just came back from. A few days ago I got back from China!

I went to Macau, China to perform in a 15 minute burlesque show with a group of 11 other incredible dancers for a company banquet. It was a life altering experience. On the way there we had a 9 hour layover in Tai Pei, Taiwan. Several of the girls went on a guided tour but there was only space for a few of us, so I ended up taking a regular city bus into the city to Longshan Buddhist Temple with two others. When we got there it was amazing. I could feel the ancient sacred energy so profoundly. I purchased a flower for offering from a street vendor so I could offer it it to one of the various gods and goddesses around. The air was thick with the scent and ember of incense.image

Monks were chanting and people were bowing in threes. Every time they bowed, I bowed. We ran into a few others from our cast at the temple, one being the only Chinese speaking person out of us all. She took us to do this elaborate  little fortune telling game. We rolled some dice like wood pieces, picked up a ruler type thing, and that took me to a piece of paper with a number on it. I asked a question. The answer to my question was “connection there, timing isn’t right, maybe later this year.”  Whatever that meant, it has yet to be interpreted. We’ll see. After that I lit 3 sticks of incense, walked around and offered them to 3 different Asian gods. We left shortly there after.

We roamed the streets of Tai Pei and hit up some cheap street markets. We found a showgirl store, clothing stores, medicine shops and more. We came across a jewelry vendor who was the absolute sweetest, despite speaking no english. I have a photo of her on my nikon camera that I have yet to upload. So for now the photos I add to this post are from my Instagram feed. image

Things took in interesting turn when it came time for us to head back to the airport to catch our connecting flight to Macau. I let my two cast members know that I was going to stop to use the restroom nearby in the plaza. I was in and out in no more than 3 minutes, lo and behold I couldn’t find them anywhere. I looked up and down the plaza that wasn’t even that big. I called out for them to no avail. I started to panic. I looked at the time, 15 minutes had passed. It hit me that I was lost by my self in a foreign country with no cell service and major language barriers. I grounded myself and retraced my steps. At this point I had to give up looking for the girls because I was screwed if I didnt. I figured they had a better chance than I did to figure out their way back being two of them vs. one of me. I knew I had to get on a bus that took me to the airport. I found the train that took me to the bus stop. I waited a few minutes at the train station hoping I would see my cast mates. No luck. I hopped on the train and got off at the stop I remembered getting on at. After asking numerous people, I couldn’t figure out where the bus stop was so I almost took a cab. In a last ditch effort I just said “bus stop” to the cab driver and he points me in the right direction. I ran so fast to catch the bus I literally ran into it and hit my head on the rear view mirror of said bus. I gave the driver my ticket and got on the bus hoping my friends would be on it, yet they weren’t. I knew I was safe but I started to panic for them. What had happened to them? I checked to see if my phone was picking up wifi and it was. I logged on and sent a whatsapp message letting them know I was safe. I got an influx of “where are you?” messages and realized they must have been steps behind me the whole time.  I was relieved to know they were safe and also on their way. When we reunited at the airport one of them was visibly upset, understandable because it was a panicky situation. Finally, off to our final destination Macau!

when we got to Macau, I was awed at the striking resemblance to it had to the Las Vegas strip. The only thing different was the weather in Macau was much cooler. Macau brought back nostalgia of the four times I worked and stage kittened for the burlesque hall of fame weekend In Las Vegas. I was amped for the show now, I couldn’t wait to perform! That night was the calm before the storm of non stop rehearsals followed by the show. The next two days consisted of whole day dress and tech rehearsals. I forgot to eat a lot of the time, but somehow managed to find time to wind down. I hit the gym, did yoga, the sauna, hot tub, and steam room several times. I definitely took advantage that such luxury was available. During dress rehearsal the day before, everything that could go wrong with the costume changes did. I chalked it up to getting the malfunctions out the way.

Show day came and I became hella nervous because the reality hit that we were going to perform for 3000 people in China! I spent time after the final rehearsal doing my hair, relaxing in the hot tub, and finding a good meal to eat. I must say authentic Chinese food is challenging for me because I do not eat land animals, and most of the food had some kind of meat base. Once I found food I went back to my room to do hair and makeup before call time. Got that out the way! It was now time for the show!

When we were all downstairs in the dressing room waiting for places, we were told that some of the choreography needed to changed due to a rowdy drunk crowd taking up space in the aisles where we were supposed to go out into the audience. I was SOOO done with the last minute changes but was relieved to hear there was a drunk crowd. It’s always more fun and less pressure that way. It was showtime! The show itself went with out a hitch (to my knowledge) the crowd was so inebriated and rowdy I’m not sure they were even watching us! It was cool. We gave it all we had, looked amazing and wowed the crowd! Our faces were on jumbo-trons. That was so cool and made me very aware of my stage presence. When all the numbers were said and done, the crowd was thoroughly entertained. That’s what we were there for, after all!

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After the performance, I showered and changed into something fancy and joined most of the cast for a celebratory dinner. There was a big ass bottle of sake which I took part in. I normally don’t drink ever so I was feeling all warm and fuzzy inside. The dinner was wonderful, and after dinner we headed up to someone’s  hotel room for the after party. What happens when you put a bunch of sexy burlesque dancers in a hotel room with music and alcohol? Lots of debaucherous dancing. I got rather carried away, but I think we all did… I think! The after party fun lasted until the wee hours of the morning. At some point everyone went back to their to room for one last sleep before we had to check out the following morning.  I woke up with so many feelings. Mostly deep gratitude for the opportunity to do what I love in China, for the worldy experience, and just a little bit of WTF for the after party shenanigans. I hit the sauna one last time before my late checkout.

Most of the cast was heading back home to New York, but 5 of us (myself included) extended our stay to explore some more. Our next stop after Macau was Hong Kong.image

Hong Kong was amazing. It reminded me so much of the hustle and bustle of NYC. It was a lot more diverse than Tai Pei and Macau. I saw many many people of various shades of brown, and lots of people spoke English. We had some trouble finding the airbnb I booked but once we found it, all was gravy. It was located in a really hip artsy area of town. There was so much to look at and do within a few blocks of our temporary home. Lots of dope street art every where.image

First thing we did, we ate Mexican food, in China! Granted it wasn’t very good but decent enough on empty stomachs. We were all starving after another long day of traveling and it was the first thing we saw. I took a much needed nap and was awoken to the girls telling me to get ready to go to the night market. The night market had everything you can think of for really cheap prices. image

I think I purchased just a necklace, a tshirt, and a sleeping mask, that’s it. After that we went home to bed. The next morning we had dim sum for breakfast at 10am. After that we hit medicine street, the district where all the herbal chinese remedies are sold. There were so many strange things like dried lizard, hairy edible objects, and explosive dried fruit! (Pics to come!) after that we hit up “ladies market” another street market catering towards women’s fashion. Naturally, I got a bunch of lingerie and sexy things, and I think that’s it! We went back to the house and had a little fashion show to show off what we bought. It was our last night in China so we knew the evening had to be a good one. Shall I say “turnt up!?” We had dinner at the place downstairs and afterward we hit up the gay bar, where men get free drinks. I happily paid for my drinks and found that random friends of friends were offering us their free drinks. The music was amazing and I danced all night! It was down to just me another cast mate at that point.

We decided to bar hop and discovered that it was also ladies night and that women get free drinks too! We bar hopped from bar to bar, each one becoming more and more of a haze. I know that bartenders and gogo dancers refuse tips which seems absurd to me! I think I stuffed Hong Kong currency in a gogo dancers hand and insisted she take it. We met this group of Korean girls who thought we were famous and wanted to take our pictures. We met a young man from Africa who moved to china to study oil engineering. By that time the world was spinning and it was time to go home. We took a cab and made our way back with only hours to spare before traveling again. Needless to say that morning was a rough one. It happened, it was fun, and never again, ha!

Our things were packed, and we were off on our 24 hour journey home. I left China feeling revitalized and yet again inspired. The bond I shared with the cast was now strengthened, and I made beautiful new connections. We time traveled back 13 hours right into the New York minute.  It felt so good to be home. When I got home I just dropped off my things, showered and went to Libation dance party. It was just what I needed to cure my jet lag, and stretch my crunchy body out after sitting on a plane for so long. I was only home for 3 days because I booked a solo trip to the south west to Albuquerque, New Mexico and Phoenix, Arizona.

That is how I ended up here in a quaint little airbnb casita in ABQ. Within that three days I was home though, something painfully tragic happened having to do with matters of the heart. So today has been really rough for me being alone in a new place I have never been before. I came here to wind down, to soak in the native energy and honor the land. I was having a hard time doing that. I spent my morning crying so many tears, and walking through Albuquerque with no real place to go. A good friend hit me up just at the right time and she helped gather me up and reset my energy to make a plan. I had zero appetite but I found an Ayurvedic cafe, bought food and ate what I could. I gave the rest to a homeless woman. I bought fresh juice knowing that I need to nourish and honor myself before I have the capacity to honor anything else. I came across really amazing street art which I love. The vivid colors filled me with great joy and awoke my sensations.

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I made my way to the Indian pueblo cultural center, that was first up on the plan. It was so inspiring and just what I needed. Indigenous way of life really resonates with my spirit, and seeing the exhibits lifted me up. One room was filled with pueblo quotes and teachings all over the walls. It’s as if the universe was speaking directly to me. image

I soaked up as much indigenous wisdom as I could before heading to the gift shop. I treated myself to a sterling silver ring with Turquoise, moonstone, coral, and pearl. The theme for today was becoming radical self love. I also bought sweet grass to smudge my space with and gifts for my family before heading out. The next stop was Sandia mountain peak.

Thank gosh for public transportation and uber because as a non driving New Yorker I’d be stuck otherwise. I took an uber car from the pueblo cultural center to the mountain. Sandia peak has a tram way that takes you to the top. My plan was to get to the top and breathe in and feel the earth beneath my bare feet. The view was so breath taking all I could do was cry. When we got to the top it was freezing. I forgot how cold it gets at mountain peaks so taking off my shoes was not an option.  image

The view was enough. Being over 10,000 feet above sea level was so heart opening, so much so that it was kind of hard to breathe. But I inhaled and exhaled deeply with each breath navigating through my sadness and letting go. I can concretely say that since January 1st I have had many triumphs and joys to celebrate. Yet on the other hand I have been dealt some hard blows. I’m rolling with the punches and navigating through it,  finding my balance and digging deep in the midst of it all. I smile on because that is all one can do.image

Duality is real. That much I know. Like the Pueblo story of creation called “Emergence” where people came into the physical realm by reaching for the light of the sun from the underground spirit world. image

So, as I sit here contemplating my travel to Phoenix Arizona in a few hours to visit an old friend, I am remembering to always reach for the light, no matter how dark things can get. image

AHO.

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My cat died on February 1st around 9pm. She was 16 years old.12654611_10153953675372704_7692296192415259695_n

I got Cleopatra when I was 11 years old and she was only 2 months old. She was my first pet ever. I picked her out of a litter of tuxedo kittens. She was the only all black cat, the rest were black and white. She was the runt. The other kittens were picking on her and she was curled up in the corner. I picked her up and knew she was the one I wanted. Picked out her name. She was so tiny. She grew up to be a fat, opinionated serious natured, yet happy cat. For the next 16 years we grew to be really close. She wasn’t a people person at all. She wasn’t into anyone else besides me. She was really protective of me. Whenever I had company over, she would stare them down, and walk away. I moved out of the house quite some years ago and she stayed with my mom. I always went to see her as often as I could. About 3 years ago Cleo developed hyperthyroidism and lost a lot of weight. The vet put her on prescription pills to regulate her thyroid. She was taking them up until she died.

I am devastated. I have never dealt with the loss of a pet until now. Anyone that knows me personally knows that Cleo was my cat. She chose me as her person. I was the only human that she allowed to get close to her. Anyone else and you would be subjected to her growls, hisses, bites, and scratches. She had an assertive attitude. Everyone who came over was intimidated by her. But, she allowed me to see her soft kind side. 943914_10153953693232704_8149454597868534000_n

She would always come to hang out with me, especially if she knew I was sad or upset. If she felt my sadness, she would just come over to me, park herself close and purr quietly. 12642852_10153953693157704_8642779962228059413_n

The day before she died I went to visit and bring cat food. On my way out the house, she followed behind me and stepped out into the hallway as if she wanted to come with me. She never goes past the front door as she is very afraid of the “outside world.” I found it strange that she did that. Maybe she wanted me to be with her, because she knew she was going to die… I’m not sure. I went to see her the next day too because my mom said she was acting strange. I bought her some cat milk and fed it to her. Her energy was so low and she could barely stand. I had a feeling it would be her last day. I got the call around 9:30pm when I got to work. I left and went over there as fast as I could. When I got there she was indeed gone. I cried a lot. I got myself together and called her vet. They were closed so the only thing I knew I should do was wrap her up and put her in the freezer until the morning. I didn’t want to put her in the freezer, but I had to. I cried all night. I didn’t sleep at all. In the morning I called her vet to to let them know and ask what to do. They gave me a number for a pet crematory in Long Island. I called them but their prices were too expensive and they were too far away. I called several other places and found one in queens that was affordable and worked with integrity. I told them I would be there by noon. I got myself together and took her out the freezer, I took her to the room, lit a white candle, smudged her body with sage, prayed for her spirit to be guided by the 4 directions, and I cried. I stayed with her for about 10 minutes before I got ready to leave. She was in a shoe box wrapped in a purple glitter piece of fabric. I put on my shades to mask my swollen teary eyes and went on the journey to the pet crematory. The ride felt like forever.  The place was far out in Ozone Park Queens. When I got there, it was attached to a funeral home. The inside was basically set up like a funeral home, but for pets. I set her on a marble table and handled the paperwork with the guy. He left me alone to say my last goodbye to her. I opened the box, moved the purple fabric away from her face and pet her, kissed her and told her I loved her. My tears fell on her. When the guy came back, I said goodbye and I closed the box. He went over some final things and I went on my way. The second I left, I sobbed uncontrollably. I called my mom and told her that we’d be getting her ashes in a cherrywood box with a brass plate of her name, a cast molding of her paw print, and a certificate of cremation. My mom was so sad so I told her I’d pick her up from work.

Cleopatra was beautiful, shy, independent, and strong. A lot like me. 12644690_10153953693037704_956269771384074206_n12688025_10153953693322704_7388153819063207515_n12670130_10153953693392704_3654743607222024744_n

I am going to miss her so much. Next to pall bearing my great grandmother’s casket along with other women in my family, taking care of Cleo’s final arrangements was the hardest thing I have ever had to do. She was my child, so to speak. I forgot to write about this in my aya experience, but Cleo showed up in my vision. Maybe to tell me her days in this realm were numbered. Yesterday I was supposed to be on my way to New Orleans, but I had to cancel because of my china trip… But perhaps the universe knew that I was supposed to be here for Cleo.

January and now February has been rather raw for me. I have been grieving and dealing with death a lot this entire month. I am grieving the relationship I once had that is no longer. I am grieving the presence of someone beautiful who chose to remove themselves from my life, someone I only crossed paths with twice yet impacted me profoundly. I am grieving my plant that I had for over two years that up until January, was thriving and even flowering. Despite my green thumb and my efforts to save it, most of it has died with the exception of one last standing stalk. David Bowie died. He was one of my favorite singers. My heart feels so vulnerable. I was not prepared for all of this to happen within the past 31 days, but it did so I am navigating through my sadness.

Yesterday was Imbolc. Imbolc is the pagan celebration of the waning of winter, welcoming the coming of spring. This is a time where new seeds are planted in order for new life to grow. The snow is melting and the birds are waking up. It makes sense that death would present itself to me in various different ways. Perhaps I needed to create space in my life for new things to blossom. In the midst of all of this I have had new opportunities present themselves to me. I am going to China. I cancelled my New Orleans trip because of my mandatory rehearsals for China. I received travel credit towards my next flight for my cancelled trip. Yesterday Jet blue had $29 one way flights to the west coast. I booked a $29 flight to New Mexico. I used my travel credit to pay for a my flight back from Phoenix Arizona. I have a friend I can stay with in Phoenix who I haven’t seen in about 8 years. So I basically booked a 2 city trip for $29. I am not sure yet where I will stay in New Mexico, or how I will get to Phoenix from NM, but I trust that those details will work themselves out. I was looking for the right school to learn jewelry casting and while doing that, A friend of a friend referred me to a Native American Silversmith that teaches one on one. This is perfect for me and that is what I am going to do. I’ve been in contact with him and he is creating a personalized program for me based on who I am and my goals. I am so excited. Yesterday I discovered a burlesque festival in New Orleans that I will apply to. So, my New Orleans trip this year will still happen. 12661926_811740315604899_5019381855257935955_n

I’m looking forward to the new that this creation of space has afforded me. Maybe I will get my mom a new black kitten.

AHO

 

Yesterday I dedicated my day to move with intention… Literally. I planned to go to hot vinyasa yoga at Yoga To the People, followed by Ecstatic Dance at the Bhakti Center, followed by Libation dance party just a few blocks away.

 

I’ve been to YTTP countless times. I go to recalibrate my mind and body. I sweat and I release any physical and emotional tension I may have. At the end of every class, a quote is read followed by the a ringing of the singing bowl. This time, the quote was:

“Everyone has talent. What’s rare is the courage to follow it to the dark places where it leads.” – Erica Jong

 

That quote spoke to me because I’d like to be believe that I am a multi talented person and up until recently, inspiration has been struggling to flow. It hasn’t been until I have gone through a series of less than fortunate events as well as calls from the universe that have inspired me to create my art again. Despite the darkness that 2016 has brought me thus far, it is important to keep moving. I remind myself that it is imperative to trust the process. As a result of this period, sparks have gone off in my creative mind and I am motivated again… Maybe a little too much, but I am not holding back. That quote was just another reminder from the creator affirming my current path.

After the yoga class, I went home to take a quick shower and change to go to Ecstatic Dance at the Bhakti Center downtown in the LES.

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Ecstatic Dance is an intentional space that gathers people for a transformative electronic music journey for conscious dance and free form movement. It was an early event from 6:30-11pm. The rules are: no substances including alcohol, no shoes, little to no chit chat on the dance floor in order to be completely connected to the music, your body, the energy as well as to keep it purely intentional. I had never been before so I didn’t know what to expect. When I got there a little before 8:30pm, the party (so to speak) was in one of the Bhakti Center’s Yoga studios. There were people of all cultures and of all ages from early 20’s to elders, perhaps in their 70s. Everyone was in a sea of movement. I could feel the vibration in the room, it was so powerful. I would describe the music as electro indigenous/ world beat/ deeeeeep soulful house/ good vibrational music. It took me a at least 10 minutes to get settled into my movement and once I did I found myself just flowing in my dance and tears streaming down my eyes. I cried a lot. I dance everyday as part of my work, my art, and my personal life but never in a setting like this. To allow myself to be completely present was such a profound feeling. I am not really sure why I cried but I know that my tears were healing. There were moments where everyone was super high energy and jumping all together, and moments where the energy was taken down and everyone was just feeling each other. At one point me and two other brown skin curly girls all found each other and rejoiced in our similar hair. It was a beautiful moment. The rest of the night, I allowed my body to flow without restriction. I felt free. At the end of the night the DJ played the final song to wind down the energy and something happened that will stay with me forever. Everyone just sat down on the floor wherever they were and just listened to the song. The song was called “Humano” by Lido Pimienta.

We all became one collective unit of energy. I found myself crying again. When the song was over, The DJ got on the mic and started beat boxing a really beautiful “thank you” mantra. Next thing you know one by one all of the attendees joined in harmony and created song out of it. I joined in the collective “oooooh.” When that was over we just helped clean up the space and I went on about my way. I felt wide open and emotionally raw. I was off to my next venture, Libation.

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Libation is a Global Soul deep house music dance party that I have been going to for years. It was only a few blocks away from the Bhakti center. Even though Libation is at a venue with a full bar and contrary to its name, I never felt the need to drink at Libation. The music just moves you so that you feel lifted… It takes you to a higher place. In the walk over to Libation, I stopped and got vegan pizza at Two Boots as I was really hungry. After I ate, I realized that I felt full. Not only appetite wise, but spiritually emotionally, movement wise. I felt happy and complete. By the time I got to Libation, I felt like I did not need to go in because I had fulfilled my dance/ movement healing for the evening. It was best for me to go home and think about all that I had experienced at the Bhakti Center, so I did.

Now as I am about to go off to work at a bar where I dance, I am going to hold on to everything I felt and learned last night. as I said in previous posts, intention is everything.  not only will I move through dance with intention… But I will move through life with intention. Every step I take will be carefully curated but at the same time I will move freely.

I am free.

AHO.

 

I was told by the elders at the ayahuasca ceremony to be aware in the following days/ weeks ahead of how the medicine will continue speaking to me, revealing herself to me, healing me in my everyday waking life. It has been a week and 3 days now, and grandmother has been showing up for me in bold ways in the time that has passed.

There have been answers to questions I have been seeking, and the answers have unfolded before me. There has been fog in my minds eye regarding certain things in my life that I now have gained a great sense of clarity about. Even what may seem like trivial mundane every tasks have been less frustrating and easier resolved. My fears seem to be melting away. Not to mention the the visions I had during my embarkation I have literally been seeing around me. Things that had little significance to me before my journey are now everywhere I look.

The day after the ceremony, while still at the ceremony site, the shaman was talking to me about going to Brazil in the summer to make the medicine with some other curanderos and he mentioned that he is using southwest airlines for the simple fact that if you need to cancel or change your reservation, they give you credit towards your next flight as opposed to almost every other airline that will charge you a hefty fee. You see, this was the first post ceremony encounter that I knew the grandmother was working with me. I came across an incredible opportunity to travel to China at the end of February to perform in my first international gig, the problem is that under my contractual obligation I need to be at every rehearsal. Several of the rehearsal dates conflict with an upcoming trip I booked to New Orleans Feb 2-12th. I knew I had to cancel my New Orleans trip because how could I pass up an all expense paid opportunity to perform on another continent?! I was avoiding it because I was worried about paying a cancellation fee. Lo and behold I booked my Nola trip with Southwest. I called southwest when I was back home after a day of rest to cancel and I was given travel credit towards a future flight. The answer to a pretty important question I had revealed itself to me. I thank the medicine.

That Tuesday (2 days after the ceremony) I went to the movies to see “The Revenant.” It was very difficult for me to watch especially considering that A) I am very sensitive to Native American portrayal of history in cinema, and B) I felt extra open. Pretty early on there was a very graphic scene where Leonardo DiCaprio’s character gets attacked by a bear. The focal point of that scene was the bear’s claws. I was just astounded because bear claws showed themselves at different points in my Aya experience and now here they were on the big screen right before my eyes. At one point in the scene, the claws alone taken off the bear’s body, exactly like what I saw in my mariacones.

The movie had a re-occuring quote:

When there is a storm, and you stand in front of a tree, if you look at its branches, you swear it will fall. But if you watch the trunk, you will see its stability.

I often find myself amidst storms. I found myself in a storm in the middle of the ocean during my aya experience. I have weathered all the storms I have experienced to date but, I needed a reminder. That re-occuring dream was that reminder. I thank the medicine.

After reading up on the symbolism of the bear, I am now convinced that the bear is my totem animal. The bear symbolizes courage, discernment, protection, maternal instinct, introspection, solar and lunar energy duality, feminine power. Those are all things that I feel come natural to me. Beside the movie, I keep seeing bears everywhere now. Most recently, a man was reading a book on the subway about saving bear cubs. I thank the medicine.

I had a meeting two days ago with a man named Frank who I met at Barnes and Noble. At the bookstore, we struck up a conversation about afrocentrism and the actual wealth of Africa. That led to him asking me what my birthstone was. I told him topaz and he pulled out 2 pieces of raw blue topaz and gave them to me. 12401878_10153907224987704_2593367042795798222_oSo anyway I met with Frank two days ago to make a gem deal where he will be supplying my with semi precious stone, crystals, and metals from Africa so I can create jewelry. Jewelry making is something that I have done for a while but it is only now that I am getting serious about it. That deal is now in the works. I thank the medicine.

I met up with a friend the day after and I told him about my trip to china and he told me that he started importing stones, gems & crystals from china… Someone else who is working with the earth… And I had no idea!!! He also said I can use his stone anytime! I have always had a connection with rocks, terrain, stone, crystals, and gems… Ever since I was a child. I even wrote a book about geodes in the 4th grade that I got an A+++ on. I still have it. I read it recently and in the about me section it says “When I grow up I hope to be a writer, singer, geologist, and artist.” I feel like I am those things today in my own right. Perhaps not a singer literally, but I sing my truth.  The stones have been calling me for some time now so I am answering that call. In addition to Frank and my friend granting me access to their earth I have several lots of various stones I won in auction that are coming to me in the mail. I’m so excited to be working with various parts of the earth in a creative, healing, metaphysical, beautiful way. That path is now clear to me. I thank the medicine.

The other night I went to a spoken word event inspired by the book “Women Who Run With The Wolves” with my best friend. For whatever reason the entire event was painfully nostalgic for me. At times my best friend turned to me and said “that piece reminded me of you.” Artist and educator Mia Roman was there and opened the event with a beautiful wild woman affirmation. She also shared some words from Dr. Clarissa Pinkola Estes herself! I started to write them down in a note on my phone but I chose to be in the moment. I am so glad I did. I only wish I can remember what she wanted the audience to know verbatim because it hit me so good. When I get the exact quote from the producer of the event I will post it here… When it was over my friend and I looked for the planetary alignment and we found it! We howled at the moon and skipped away like kids. How energizing that was. I thank the medicine.

People are receptive to my energy too. After that, I went to a drag/ burlesque show in my neighborhood to pick up some shoes from a performer I know. I was watching the show in the front row and the drag queen hostess called me out in between acts, called me up to the stage and introduced me to the audience as “moon spirit.” I thought to myself that it is not a coincidence that I just came from a WWRWW event, howled at the moon right before that and suddenly a drag queen I have never met is calling me moon spirt. She said I was serving “moon goddess realness.” Turns out she is also the contact person who books the shows. Bam, new performance opportunity! I thank the medicine.

Last night I watched the movie the Whale Rider. It is a coming of age film where a young Maori girl is destined to be a chief based on a whale god legend but is prevented from following her destiny due to systemic sexism. I just thought about how the whale is a symbol ultimate fluidity in this vast ocean of life. Like rocks, I have always had a deep connection with whales ever since I was a child. I dreamt 3 nights ago I was on a cruise in stormy water and the whales were there to protect and guide the ship. I am not sure what that dream means yet but I am sure I will find out.

I keep seeing the yellow daisy and sunflowers everywhere now. In memes on Facebook, in ads in the street, in a documentary I watched… All over the place! 11822669_786202654829760_7565840886079189827_n

Before the ceremony, yellow daisies had little significance in my life. Now I understand that everything living on this earth is so significant. I knew that before but now i consciously acknowledge my deep appreciation for all things. It is no longer a part of my subconscious mind, but on the forefront of my thoughts. I am figuring out how I can be of service to others and not just just service to self. I want to do everything I can to serve everything and everyone. Earth life, human life, plant life, cosmic life, animal life, spirit life. I move through the world with intention. Everything has a purpose. Every decision I make I use my minds eye to discern what is best. I answer whatever I am called to. I will live my truth.

I trust the process.

AHO.

Four nights ago I met grandmother Ayahuasca. She is wise, beautiful, blunt, and loving. Up until the moment I drank her medicine, I felt anxious and wary of where she would take me and the things she was going to reveal to me.

The night before I took a spiritual cleansing bath, a limpia. A bath filled with good intention, white flowers, and essential oils. I cleansed my body to rid itself of negative energy and to further attune myself with plant energy… Plant medicine.FB_IMG_1453163905723

When it came time to sleep, I couldn’t, mostly due to my anxiety. I had a strong feeling that I would die after drinking the medicine. My fear kept me awake until about 4am. I finally fell asleep knowing I had to wake up in 4 hours… In time for my friend Peter to pick me up. I met Peter 7 years ago when I answered an ad on craigslist looking for figure models for a new art gallery in Brooklyn. Little did I know is that Peter and that art gallery would change my life. I continued to art model at that gallery (The CeeFlat) up until it unfortunately closed 3 years ago. Eventually I moved in when Peter moved out and lived there until it closed. Over the past 7 years, I became close with Peter and we bonded over art and spirituality. One day about 2 years ago I told him that I have been doing research on a plant medicine called Ayahuasca from South America and I am interested in experiencing it. He told me he recently started going to ceremonies and drinks the medicine there and would invite me to the next one. He invited me time and time again and for various different reasons I never made it to a ceremony until 2 years later, January 16th 2016.

Peter texted me around 9am saying he was 20 minutes away. In those 20 minutes I did the last minute check to make sure I have everything I need. Pillow, blanket, change of clothes, light plant based snacks, personal sacred items to have before me during the ceremony and some random items. Right before Peter arrives I go to use the bathroom so we don’t have to stop on the road. As I did that I discovered my moon cycle was on its way… I wasn’t even expecting it! Shit. I had read that in some ceremonies women on their moon cycle are not allowed to participate. Of course my cycle would come that day. I just chalked it up to my body already beginning to purge itself.

I wore light colors. A white shirt with a sunflower on it, beige floral leggings and an off white sweater. Wearing light colors are encouraged due to further access divine positive energy. I put my clear quarts crystal earrings and my moonstone pendant on and left the house. Tatiana came because she also made the commitment to drink the medicine. She needed it.

The whole ride to the ceremony site I was picking Peter’s brain about his experiences, what the ceremony would be like and more. He answered as thorough as he could but reminded me that I would have to just find out for myself because everyones relationship with the medicine is different. We got there around noon. We were the first ones there. I brought my belongings inside and built my nest (so to speak) by the wall. The ceremony was being held 100 miles from NYC at an indigenous community center. The land was beautiful. It was open and welcoming. The ceremony room itself had an energy to it that made me feel really good about what I was about to embark on. Three of the walls were painted like a blue sky with with clouds. The last wall was clear glass sliding doors that looked out into the open field and the fire pit. There were two pillars in the middle of the room that were carpeted to look like trees. There was a sacred geometry tapestry on the front wall and a flying elephant in the far corner hanging from the ceiling.IMG_20160116_131528

I set up camp and took a nap while Peter went out to pick someone up. A couple of hours later I woke up to the sound of Peter and some new people. I met the owner of the land who I’ll call J. He was an elder that would be helping facilitate the ceremony. As time passed and night was falling more and more people came. I was becoming nervous again. I met the other leaders facilitating the ceremony. L, a petite woman who also owned the land, and a beautiful statuesque Taino woman. Peter would also be helping to facilitate the ceremony, providing the music. L called me in a separate room to talk to me and find out about my intention, since it was my first time. I told her that I came with no expectations, just an open mind and heart to receive what the medicine will teach me. I told her my moon cycle just started and her response was “ohhh okay hold on.” She called in another woman, an elder named Mary to teach me how to make Lakota prayer ties. Prayer ties are little pockets of tobacco wrapped in cloth and twine. They were wrapped in red cloth and yarn around my waist to protect my womb energy. She explained to me that since I was on my moon, my energy would be very open and susceptible to the negative energy that other people would be releasing. I was told to stay as far away from the alter as I could for my own good, especially because I was already open to receive.  I agreed. Normally prayer ties for moon cycles have 13 tobacco knots on them to symbolize the 13 moons but we only made 4 for the four directions. we tied 4 knots on each one. I stated my intent for each knot I tied. I still have them on. I plan to take them off when my moon is over, perhaps tonight or tomorrow. 20160117_212824

They set the alter space down and handed out “wellness buckets” for us to get well (purge) in. The ceremony was about to begin. It was close to 9pm. There were about 25 people in the room. L preceded the ceremony to tell us how the ceremony would go. She said that the ceremony will be “an eagle condor ceremony” A meeting of the two cultures to share and exchange medicinal wisdom. The spine of the rocky mountains down to the Andes montanas will be once again reunited via ritual, medicine, and ceremony. I was floored. A couple of weeks ago right after christmas I had a dream that someone said to me “north and south america” to which I replied “The eagle and the condor.” I happened to have my dream book with me and showed Peter the dream where the eagle and condor showed themselves, dated 12/27/15. Peter told me that when you make the commitment to drink the medicine, from that moment on she begins to work with you. She reveals herself in ways and the paradigm shift starts.

L said the medicine we’ll be drinking tonight was special because it was made by the first female shaman in the Santo Daime Church. She is an indigenous amazonian medicine woman, a doctor, and a scientist. She fine tuned the brew to where it is free of bad bacteria and fungus. It is a beautiful heart opener, much like peyote. So in that essence a meeting of the medicines of the eagle and condor.

Since I was told I couldn’t be too close to the alter space, I set my sacred items in front of me and made my own alter. A yellow daisy, my grandfather’s good fortune pyramid, a dream catcher I was gifted at a pow wow, blue agate, quartz crystal geode, a spiral seashell I found, and a big piece of clear quartz crystal all on top of Wayne Dyer inspiration cards. IMG_20160116_194310

We went around and introduced ourselves and our intentions. By the time my turn came around, my heart was pounding. My shy introvert self took over and all I could say was “I’m Bianca. This is my first time drinking the medicine and I am open to whatever she has for me.” After everyone introduced ourselves, we were smudged with sage one by one by the beautiful Taino sister.

Peter started with the music. One by one we all went up to drink the medicine. It was my turn. I went up and sat down on the floor watching as the medicine was poured into what looked like a double shot glass. It was rich brown and somewhat thick. I took the glass, held it and looked at it for a moment, asking the medicine to treat me with grace and ease. I tilted my head back and swallowed the medicine in one big gulp. It tasted bitter, earthy, whole, and a subtle hint of sweet. L offered me a strawberry, so I took a piece and threw it in my mouth as if it was a chaser. I went back to my spot and sat down. I picked up the song book and started singing along with the music to try and stay present and not worry about what will be. I noticed that my fears and worry were becoming less and less. I soon had an overwhelming feeling of reassurance, as if the medicine was letting me know that it will be okay. Peter stopped playing guitar and singing. We were now in a silent meditative state. I opened my eyes to look around the room. Some people were laying down, others were sitting up. I was waiting for someone to start purging. Some time had passed and no one did yet. I didn’t feel the urge yet either. I’m not sure how much time had passed before L offered a second cup of medicine for those who wanted. I remembered that Peter said that the healing starts with the second cup so I went up. I again tilted my head back and swallowed. This time it was harder to swallow. I wanted to spit it out but instead I swallowed, grabbed a strawberry again and ate it.

I sat back down. Very quickly after that I was catapulted into a place I have never experienced in my entire life. I am going to do my best to put it into words but really there are not enough words to describe….

An overwhelming feeling of love and warmth swept over my mind and body. It felt like my heart blasted open and grew arms that were reaching outside of myself to hold me tightly in warm embrace. I closed my eyes and saw flashes of neon colors. I opened my eyes to see colorful sacred geometry everywhere. When I looked at other people, instead of faces they had merkabas. Merkabas that were spinning really fast. I closed my eyes and saw flashes of bright blue light. I opened my eyes again to see the tips of my neighbors feet shooting out beams of blue light. I closed my eyes yet again to see flashes of my father, my little brother Rio and my baby nephew Caesar. They were all older, maybe 5 years older. At this point I was laying down and I put my legs in the air and rolled my ankles. For some reason it felt really good to do that.

That is when grandmother began speaking to me. Literally speaking to me. The blue lights I saw turned into turbulent ocean water amidst a rain storm with no land in sight. She said to me “it is okay to cry because your tears are drops of the ocean.” The rain stopped and the waters calmed. I opened my eyes and sat up. People around me had started to purge. I did not feel nauseous yet. I picked up the yellow daisy I had on my makeshift alter. I became instantly entranced by it. I held it close to my face and examined every part of it. I gently caressed it with a tenderness I can only describe as the kind of tenderness and fragility you would handle a newborn baby with. I understood that I was the same as this flower. It was my child and I also was the child of the flower. I felt and understood that this flower was sacred, as am I because we both come from the earth. I was giggling because I felt so connected with this flower. I kept caressing the petals. And suddenly started crying because that action conjured up a memory of the feeling I had while caressing someone’s hands. I was apologizing to the flower and asking for forgiveness. She told me “its okay you are forgiven.”

I shifted back to laying down holding the daisy above my face looking at it in wonderment. My neighbor asked me how I was doing and said he wasn’t feeling much yet. I couldn’t really speak but all I could do was hand him the flower. I managed to tell him “her petals are like feathers.” He smelled the flower, thanked me and handed it back to me. I looked at the central disc, the eye of the flower and it literally turned into a blinking eye. It blinked a lot and stopped wide open as if it was staring back at me. Suddenly I was being sucked into this eye. It became a vortex, a dark portal that was transporting me somewhere. I didn’t want to leave where I was, but I had no control over what was happening. Next thing you know I am in what I perceive to be outer space. I saw dark things. I saw red snakes and what I thought was a baphomet like figure… That devilish goat. It was really scary but I did not feel fear. When it got closer to me I shouted NO and it all disappeared. I was left traveling through space and time. I felt a beautiful vastness. I was being accepted by the openness of the universe. I saw constellations, stars, galaxies, and milky ways. I was overwhelmed by it all. Grandmother was showing me all I am made of. I was flying. I am not sure how much time I spent inside that flower/ in the universe. It only felt like a few minutes although I’m sure it was at least a couple of hours.

I came to and sat up and opened my eyes. When I opened my eyes I saw energy flying all over the room. White light and rainbow beams were bouncing everywhere, coming out of people and going through me. I saw the energetic field that is invisible to the naked eye. I saw colors that I did not know existed. The sacred geometric patterns were everywhere. I felt grandmother thanking me for being so diligent with my dieta in preparation to meet her, and for that she was taking care of me. I put the flower back and picked up my crystal geode, and quartz crystal. I held them close to my heart. I was awed by the idea that over time, pressure creates such natural beauty. I understood that everyone goes through periods of tough times being under pressure and as a result, we arise better, stronger, more beautiful than before. I opened my hands and looked at the quartz. It was beaming with the white light that came from my heart. I put the quartz down and picked up the good fortune pyramid that belonged to my grandfather. When I did that I was transported into a dancing ritual with my indigenous ancestors. I felt myself wanting to dance and do the south american “el condor pasa” dance. I danced with my ancestors. They told me they are always with me to guide me and protect me. I heard my grandfather tell me that the magic I have comes from his lineage. I saw bear claws. Not bear paws, but the actual talons of the bear. Large black sharp intimidating claws. They were there to protect me. Strange peacocks joined in the dance with my ancestors. Elephants were circling the dance. I felt lots of gratitude. I was laughing, smiling, sighing in happiness pure joy.

At this time I felt nauseous but that was followed by the voice of grandmother telling me “not now.”

My menstrual cramps became so intense that I was face down with my hips in the air moaning in pain. That turned into seeing myself in labor with a child. The pain was washed away by gratitude that the moon, this celestial entity gives me my cycle, and I have the capability to bring life into the world. I felt such power. I again was laughing and smiling at the awe of what the medicine was showing me.

I picked up the flower again and was transported back to the face of the person who’s hands I caressed. I saw her warm smile and all I could do was smile back. That beautiful feeling was cut off by what I would describe as a void. Pure blackness that was reminiscent of a tv screen turned off. It kept flashing back and forth in between that void, her smile, and bear claws. I became frantic in that space every time I saw that black void but comforted by her smile. By this time the flower was wilted, but I took a really good look at it. When I did that, the petals rose up like hairs on the back of my neck. It started to dance. I watched the dancing daisy seduce me into its being. The flower dancing was me dancing. It evoked the emotion I wish to project when I dance. Just like that, I was back in the room.

My eyes were focused on the fire pit going on outside. I wanted to go out there but my body was jelly and it was too cold. I couldn’t really move other than to shift between being upright and laying down. So i gazed at it for as long as I could hold myself up. I saw the ashes of my past rising into the night sky. I saw them as offerings to the universe… The ashes were all of the lessons I learned in life that I am breathing new life into. Discernments that allow me to spread my wings and flourish in this 3d earth realm as we know it. I breathed in and out deeply, sighing with each exhale. With every sigh, I felt more relieved. I felt rejuvenated and relaxed.

When I was done with the fire pit, I looked around the room and just watched the energetic light field. It was stunning. I watched the singing bowls turned blue. The sacred geometric patterns were yet again everywhere. Merkabas where everywhere.  L announced that the ceremony would soon come to an end with a Native American water ceremony. I knew this was happening at 4am and couldn’t believe that so much time had passed. It felt like maybe 30 minutes had passed, thats it. I was still seeing the light fields bounce around but they were becoming less and less. My heart felt so wide.

I did not purge at all the entire night. In retrospect I realize that I was purging in other ways. I was purging through my moon cycle, my tears, my laughter, my sighs, and my yawns. I was yawning a lot throughout the entire night. Not because I was tired though. Each yawn felt like my spirit was re-aligning with my body, mind, and heart’s center.  Tatiana came over to me and I shared my experience the best I could over tears and gratitude. Grandmother Ayahuasca was still working with me so this was hard to do.

The water ceremony began. This was the “eagle” aspect of the ceremony. By this time I was back in the human dimension as we know it… For the most part. The beautiful Taino sister lead the ceremony. She came around one by one and blessed us, the four directions and gave us water to drink. The water literally felt like life entering me. It IS life. After the water ceremony, traditional Native American sacred food was passed around. There was buffalo meat, corn, and strawberries. The buffalo meat symbolized endurance, and strength. The corn represented the people… All people. It is a symbol for the fellowship and bond that human beings have. The strawberries signified the sweetness of life. As the food went around, I skipped the buffalo meat as I am a vegetarian but thanked it. The corn and strawberries were sooo good! I’m sure partly because I was fasting the entire day before the ceremony and on a strict diet before that restricting salt, sugar, spices, spicy food of any kind, processed food, dairy, alcohol and sexual activity for over a week before that. I felt a greater sense of gratitude eating the corn and strawberries. Something so simple can be so satisfying! After that they passed a staff around and we all spoke about our journeys. All I could say was that we are all connected and we are ALL. It was really hard to verbalize what I had experienced. Even now, Im still trying to wrap my mind around it.

When the ceremony was finally over I took the best nap ever. I woke up to find people eating and sharing food. I was hungry so I got food. Some kind of chickpea curry. It was so good I had seconds. It was my first time eating for almost 2 days at this point. I had been sustaining myself with coconut water and beet juice so this food tasted like heaven. After that I went to a room where Peter was vending his art. I bought two pieces from him. One of a peacock like bird. One very similar to the strange ones I saw in my vision. 20160117_141540

The other is a haunting image with a quote on the upper right corner that reads:

From this ethereal drifting cloud comes the waters of life.

Life on our beautiful planet earth. It’s through our beloved

Mother that all things are given. fly on the winds celestial

Soul and drink from the fountain that nourishes all.

These waters are given to you as a gift.

The precious gift of life.

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It has been 4 days since the ceremony and this is what they call the “integration period.” Grandmother Ayahuasca is still working with me even now as type this. She has already revealed herself in my waking life in the days since. I’ll save that for the next post. The first night back home, I slept 14 hours with intense dreams I cannot remember. I awoke feeling so revitalized as if my cells regenerated themselves. I went about my day with an energy and joy that is unfounded. I still feel that and I have an inclination that those feelings are here to stay. My vision seems sharper. I am not sure how that is, but I see things better now in a literal and perhaps a figurative sense. I always knew, but have now seen first hand the innate connection human beings have with everything. We are all pieces of a woven basket that holds the essence of life together. We are all part of Christ consciousness. We all have the ability to ascend into our highest being. We have the power to move through life the way we yearn to. The universe lives in everything. We ARE the universe. It is ok to let go. Our past will always be with us, but it is how we grow from it that is the true test. Remaining present is the key. Shedding the layers is how we get to that sweetness of life that those strawberries signified. I know that we human beings are masters of evolution, and are constant works in progress. That is okay. I know for me personally there is a lot of work to be done.

Grandmother Ayahuasca is firm, nurturing, loving, feminine, divine, masculine, straight forward, light, dark, beautiful. She removes the filters and the blinders. She is me, she is you. She is ALL. I am looking forward to seeing what she has to show me next time. I asked for grace and ease this time around, and she granted me that. If next time I get my ass handed to me by her, I am ready.

I shared my experience with Peter in depth and this morning he sent me a gift. He took a sketch he did of me years ago at the CeeFlat and added something to it. He added the Daisy that held me down steady during my journey with the medicine. He said “Two visions coming together.”

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I am so grateful for that daisy. It is going to be transformed into a piece of art and I will keep it forever… Physically and in my heart.

Until next time, grandmother.
AHO.
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The reason why I have been drawn back to my triathlon blog after two years away is because I have been preparing to embark on a journey. I am realizing there is a parallel between this journey, and the journey that triathlon has taken me on.

I have been mentally preparing myself to go on a journey inward. I am taking part in an ayahuasca ceremony. Ayahuasca is a visionary plant medicine that allows you to meet spirit. The past two weeks I have been on a very restrictive “diet” of sorts. Literally and figuratively a diet. I have been taking this time out to ground myself, attune myself with plant energy, and tap into the spirit of all. The spirit of the universe is a profound energy that we can learn so much from. Ayahuasca will show you things that allow you to heal and help guide you. They call her mother ayahuasca, the vine of the soul. She removes your filters of perception so you can access your higher self. I have been called to Ayahuasca for the past 4 years but it is only now that I am answering that call. The literal part of the diet restricts you from salt, sugar, anything spicy, abrasive spices like garlic, ginger, onion etc… dairy, alcohol, western medication, and sex. Basically you are on an indigenous shamanic dieta of mostly raw plant based food. You eat what people of the jungle ate in preparation for medicinal plant work. The reason for this is to have your body ready to reach its higher self. Since starting this diet I realize that all of my senses are heightened tremendously. I find that I am very sensitive to sound, odors, light, intuition, etc. It is as if my body has become more keen on what is good for me. I also realize that I have feel a greater sense of clarity on certain things in my life that might not have been so clear to me. I am hungry and I want flavor but I know now I don’t need it. I am acting on a primal level right now. In doing so I am able to see that there is more important work to be done.

Much like the triathlon, there is a lot of training and discipline that is happening only this time it is not as physical but on a more spiritual and energetic level. I thought that the triathlon was one of the most challenging things I have ever endured, but I have a feeling Mama Aya will really put me to the test. With just one more sleep until I meet the sacred vine, I am growing more nervous. I know though that the right thing I have to do is surrender to whatever comes. There is a saying that I like: “be that as it may.” I am trusting the process.

I will update in the days after the ceremony to recount my experience. Goodnight.

 

 

Wow, I just realized that I never followed up with a race report after my last triathlon in 2013! It is now the beginning of 2016, I am 27 years old and so many changes have happened in my life. I suppose the throws of reality took over as soon as the race had passed and I neglected this page. I surely do miss writing as much as I used to. I am going to give a recap of the race to the best of my memory. Like I said it has been 2 years so I know I will miss small details but I’ll do my best!

So to start I will say that my second shot at the NYC Triathlon (2103) did not go as planned. In my last blog post, the last thing I said was I was going to the triathlon expo the next day. I got over enthusiastic at the expo and indulged in all the free samples of race snacks… If you know anything about what you’re NOT supposed to do before a race, eating everything at the tri expo tops the list. When I got home from the expo, I prepared my pre race dinner. If I remember correctly it was a yam, egg white and steamed greens. I felt fine and ready, perhaps over confident in retrospect. I went to bed early because I had to be out the house something like 3:30am… Crazy early, I know! At about 1am I woke up in a cold sweat and extreme nausea. I suddenly was in pain, feverish, and wanting to purge. I found myself violently hurling into the toilet for the next couple of hours. When I got myself together enough I just cried and wondered what went wrong. I literally lost my pre-race meal to the toilet. Not only did I lose my energy for the race, but I lost vital electrolytes from all the purging. My fever was up to 101 and time was ticking close to the time that I had to leave. I had to make a choice. Was I going to do the race? So many thoughts were going through my mind. Why me? The same feelings I had when I broke my toe the year before were had aroused in me yet again. I figured it had to be something I sampled at the expo. So many hands touch the samples, maybe I caught a virus… Maybe something I had just didn’t sit well with my body. I drank water and coconut water to try and replenish what I had lost, nothing really stayed down though. I asked my roommates at the time if I should do the race and they said no. I told myself I was not going to accept no for an answer and figured that if I went ahead with it, I was going to have a really rough day ahead of me. I had to surrender to that thought. I did. I had to remember that I was doing it for a wonderful cause. To support Abundant Waters, the after school program that I once was a part of. I decided to conjure up whatever warrior strength I had at that moment of physical, mental, and emotional weakness and push through. Somehow, I managed to finish the race. I was so slow and the entire time my body was angry at me. But I finished what I spent months training for.

 

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My roommate drove me to the race start. On my way there I was internally fighting major doubt, and tears. I was wondering if I would even make it past the start horn.

My swim was so slow. Slower than the last year. I had the same intense fear of that dark river. I had the same panic attack in the water. I had the same lifeguard Mike help me out with kind motivating words. He remembered me and we shared a laugh in the water when we realized I was that same girl in the same predicament as last year. That kept me going. I swallowed water and promptly threw it back up. I felt so weak, I thought I was going to give out and sink. When that happened I knew it was time to turn belly up and back stroke/ float the rest of the way. My eyes were facing the sky and i just repeated my mantra for that day: “the clouds are not the sky.” I saw planes, I looked to my right and I could see and hear my family shouting words of encouragement to keep going. 38 minutes minutes later I made it out that water. I’m pretty sure the last 5 minutes I was cursing the damn water and my decision to go subject myself to this torture.

I ran to T1 to change out my wetsuit and get my bike. The ride is my strength. At least it was supposed to be. I remember it being ROUGH. I cried through most of it. My stomach was churning and it felt so painful to pedal through it. I remember that my water bottle was filled with an electrolyte enhanced powder that I mixed with water. When I went to replenish, to my dismay I realized the ratio of water to powder mix was way off. There was way to much powder in the water and drinking it made me vomit while in motion. That really really sucked. I literally cried the entire ride to the bronx and back. At some point I remember picking up a random water bottle on the road. Many athletes lose their water bottle that are on their bikes due to head wind. I needed water or else I would have for sure quit or passed out, whichever came first so, I didn’t care about a random person’s water bottle germs. I figured that I was already as germ as I could get so I’ll take my chances. That water got me through to the end of the bike portion of the race.

The run was not so much a run but a walk for me. I remember every stride I took my stomach was a washing machine. I went as easy as I could go. alternating between run-walking and hurling on the curb. One hour and 17 minutes later I finished the run. I finished the race. I was beat up. All I wanted to do was go home and nurture myself. I knew that now that the race was over, I had nothing left. I was not proud of my race time. It was worse than the previous year, when I raced with a broken toe. But I was proud of the fact that I pushed myself far beyond whatever limit I thought I had. I felt like I grew a new self within. That alone is a beautiful feeling and well worth that torture.

 

Since than I have quit real estate, and pursued my dream of becoming a full time artist. I work in nightlife now and I truly love it because I love to dance. I love creating. Choosing to take that risk has afforded me opportunities across the country and soon across the globe. I got my first international gig in Macau, China this February! I am so excited! Abundant Waters hired me as a teacher to a wonderful bunch of first graders but due to my travel schedule I had to resign. That experience was one I will always cherish. It happened because I reconnected with Abundant Waters for that triathlon! How cool is that!

Since than I have only participated in one race. This past year I did a mud race called muderella with a bunch of my friends! We ran through 6 miles of mud and obstacle courses all to support survivors of domestic violence. It was really fun and part of the course was so beautiful! I just signed up to do the TD Bank 5 bro bike tour with my cycling team. I am really looking forward to it! Im getting my feet wet again for races!

 

 

Alright.

So the two day count down until The New York City Triathlon begun. Today I have done lots of reflecting on the past year since I have done my first Triathlon, & I am  overwhelmed with SO many feelings. Thus far my day has been spent posting my charity page (http://www.crowdrise.com/NYCTriathlon2013/fundraiser/biancahenriquez) on friend’s facebook walls in a last minute effort to raise funds for Abundant Waters. I have been teary eyed and thankful for the wonder that is Triathlon. I keep thinking about all the wonderful people who I have met and have inspired me to feel/ be alive and #AMPLIFIED. Here a three of those people, just to name a few.

The first person who comes to mind is my friend John Young. John is an extraordinary person all around. He is the first little person (LP) elite triathlete, completing in over 18 triathlons including two half Ironman distance races, a few half marathons and marathons! I met John last year at the transition tours the day before the race. However we had been talking for a few months beforehand. If I remember correctly I asked for tri advice via hashtagging on twitter and he was one of the first to reply. He really stuck out to me because of his candid kind nature and willingness to share his experiences and expert advice. I’m really thankful to know him and call him my friend. He is the creator of the #amplified hashtag and truly is amplified in all that he does! His spirit and strong will is so empowering I’m looking forward to linking up with him this time around! This blog post he wrote sums up his spirit: http://parapromotions.wordpress.com/2012/08/22/swim-bike-run-paratriathlete-by-john-young/

Another is Caroline Gaynor. Like John, I met her virtually via twitter while asking for advice. I needed help with my cycling cleats because I kept clipping out incorrectly, falling  at every stop and busting my knees open. She reached out to me as an avid cyclist and triathlete. We ended up speaking on the phone for a short while. She gave me all the advice she knew from experience and shared her simple solutions for my cleat woes. Caroline is a stand out triathlete because not only because this NYC Triathlon will be her 10th consecutive one and she is a multiple time Ironman triathlete, but she is also a guide for visually impaired endurance athletes. She is awe inspiring and I look up to her! I hope to finally meet her in person! Check out this Youtube clip of her so you can get a glimpse of her magnitude: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cCU2SVcTWfQ

Next is Donald Kemper. I know I have mentioned him before in previous posts, but he warrants mentioning again. Donald is an avid marathon runner. When I say avid I mean he has over 15 marathons under his belt just this past year alone. I met him during a sales transaction in my day job as a real estate agent. We found out that we are both athletes and have since kept in touch. When I broke my toe last year, Donald really came through for me during my healing process and was there for me in my high and low moments. He ran with me on my first run after I broke my toe, only a week before the race. Now, Donald is a fast runner. Faster than I will ever be. During that run he let me lead, running behind me the whole time while motivating me with his words, quoting the movie Rocky and talking me through my pain. That alone was profound enough to create a footprint in my world for him. I haven’t run with him this year, but we cheer each other on from afar!

As the sand in the hourglass is now coming down to its last grains, I am putting my pre-race rituals into practice. I didn’t really think I had any strange triathlete pre race rituals, but now that this is my second consecutive race I realize I do. I will list them and elaborate on them.  Be prepared to laugh and scratch your head.

  • Blow my nose – I find it crucial that I blow my nose the night before, the morning of, and right before the race. who wants phlegm in the way when you have to breathe?
  • Clean my room – I clean my room inside out. The space where I rest my mind must be clear of mess so I can have a peaceful night sleep. I clean meticulously, and also light incense and bless my room so to speak, in my strange spiritual but not religious Bianca sort of way.
  • Get a Mani Pedi – Because my nails have to match my running shoes and race suit. Gotta look cute for the pictures!
  • Have my grandmother make her secret energy concoction – Its a family recipe that she made and gave me while training last year. It sustains my energy, gives me carbs and glycogyn and reminds me of home. Wondering whats in it? Its a secret!! Well, not really… It contains oats and other grains that she soaks. The water she drains is the drink! There are other ingredients, but those are a secret!
  • Blog – Well I don’t think that is exclusive to just me. But I have to do it!

Tomorrow I am going to the expo for my briefing and all the fun expo shenanigans & free samples!! Look out for my expo recap tomorrow. It is late, and I am sleepy so that is all I have for tonight!

First things first: HOLY CRAP!!! There is now less than two weeks until the New York City Triathlon. Officially, there are 12 days left. When I realized the 2 week mark crept upon me, I started to panic. But than I remembered that I have done it once before and based on how training has been, I am stronger and faster than ever before. In the midst of training, I am also a night owl, and a performance artist who happens to have a day job so, my hours are odd and often long. While my training sessions have been less than last year,  I make them REALLY count. I ran the Pride Run this past Saturday on one hour of sleep and I set a new PR for myself. How? I have no clue… Perhaps I perform well under pressure (and lack of sleep!) It definitely helped that I had my phone playing “Weightless” By Reina Williams on repeat via speaker in my pocket. Reina Williams, and this song especially is very motivational, speaking truth and radiating badassery. At some point during a tough hill, a fellow runner near me said “thank you for the music I needed those words” as we continued to run side by side. Just listen below and you will see what I am talking about. Inspiration is contagious!

www.Reinawilliams.com

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My Pride Run bib and singletImage

My official Pride Run race results!

However, in regards to swimming I am terrified. I have an abysmal fear that the same thing will happen to me as last year, only I will die. I will panic, drown in the water and die. I have been doing everything I can mentally to try and get over it but it seems impossible. I was in the pool swimming laps the other day and panicked when I simply got splashed by a fellow swimmer. I have come to terms with the fact that I may have a repeat of last years anxiety episode in the Hudson and the only solution I have come up with is to turn over on my back and swim that way to save as much energy as I can.

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Looking pretty in my swim suit ain’t gonna cut it in the ruthless Hudson River.

I recently watched the film “After Earth” with Will Smith and Jaden Smith. The premise of the film reminded me so much of the mental journey that Triathlon takes you on. The film’s tag line is “Danger is real, fear is choice.” The main character (Will Smith) talks about how fear is a product of our imagination, and the ideology of fear itself is that which borders insanity.  One of the things that struck me in the film is when Jaden’s character feels flustered and scared of the environment and the elements surrounding him, his dad (Will Smith’s character) told him to “take a knee” in which Jaden’s character physically got on one knee to ground himself, to regroup so to speak. If at all I feel like I am losing my focus or beginning to panic in the water or elsewhere for that matter I will tell myself to “take a knee,” a proverbial knee.

Image“Danger is real, fear is a choice”

The water is what I fear most. I feel it will consume me, and I will not make it out alive. But I know that this thought process is only a figment of my imagination, and the little red devil sitting on my shoulder whispering those “what if” scenarios into my skull is silly and is the thing that will drive me to insanity. I am far from insanity.

With that I leave you with 4 time Ironman Triathlon World Champion Chrissy Wellington’s favorite poem by Rudyard Kipling. A poem that transforms “what if” scenarios into a source of empowerment:


IF…..

IF you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you,
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
But make allowance for their doubting too;
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or being lied about, don’t deal in lies,
Or being hated, don’t give way to hating,
And yet don’t look too good, nor talk too wise:
If you can dream – and not make dreams your master;
If you can think – and not make thoughts your aim;
If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
And treat those two impostors just the same;
If you can bear to hear the truth you’ve spoken
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,
And stoop and build ’em up with worn-out tools:If you can make one heap of all your winnings
And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings
And never breathe a word about your loss;
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
Except the Will which says to them: ‘Hold on!’

If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
‘ Or walk with Kings – nor lose the common touch,
if neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you,
If all men count with you, but none too much;
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds’ worth of distance run,
Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it,
And – which is more – you’ll be a Man, my son!

“Never give up, and smile!” – Chrissy Wellington

So I got the great news today that I am the friday featured athlete of the day on the New York City Triathlon facebook Page!!! Here is the Link with my little blurb:

https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=10151509781391824&set=a.413032561823.189929.24641191823&type=3&theater

 

I’m so proud and happy I could probably run a marathon!… Maybe lol…