Lying on the floor of Starbucks in Playa Del Carmen, Mexico, throwing up, I have reached a new low. Less than 36 hours in Mexico, I am off to a good start.
I thought I was immune to cultural differences, familiar with this food, this culture.
I thought I knew Spanish (until I started attending work meetings in Spanish and giving presentations, and realized, mi español es caca, time for a crash course.)
And yet, as a woman who has grown up in the United States, in California, it is so strange to constantly have the doors opened for me before walking into a room, or to have tried real salsa for the first time at the age of 25. What we have in the US, is something completely different, men and their manners and salsa.
I already learned my political ignorance while living in Brevard County, Florida.
Now I am learning my cultural ignorance as well, and I am honored.
Note to self:
Dinner is at 3:30pm
Ordering an Iced Coffee at Starbucks with soy leche is a bad idea, I learned the hard way. It's called SOYA.
Do not turn on the oven in a Mexican household without looking inside, 99% of the time that is where all the pots and pans are hiding. Sorry about the things I may have tried to set on fire, or successfully set on fire (sorry Janet.)
In truth, this is just a small realistic glimpse into my culture shock over the past several months, even while living in the US being immersed in different states with different families.
Less than a week ago I was flying over the Gulf of Mexico. The water below me was expansive. I was reminded how small I was. How small I am, physically compared to the Mexican Gulf, but how small my knowledge base is compared to where I want to be and how much I still have to learn about humans, cultures.
I want to process my last couple of months living in Denver, then Florida, and then my journey to Cancun, but I can’t seem to wrap up all the details and piece them together.
In truth, the past couple of months have been "desordenado," disorderly, inordinate, messy, incredible... Rather than a couple of months it feels as if my days have been weeks, my weeks have been years.
In the past week before leaving to Mexico I personally, with the help of my host family in Florida, fed over 60 homeless people, finding them in parks and under Causeways. I learned their names and their stories.
In the past week I danced tango on stage with my friend Joseph at 11pm, making the most of a long day.
In the past week I have stayed up late playing UNO and jumped in a pool with my Russian host sister, fully clothed after back to back work meetings that needed in that moment to be washed away.
I have been on a talk radio, a tv show, a news channel, and a newspaper or two. I have taught yoga. A lot. I have completed 1,000 hours of community service with my organization. I have raised enough money to feed over 230 children over the weekends in the next year. I have never felt more capable, more full, and more depleted all at once.
In the past several months I have also not felt human at times, reminding myself to come back to my body, my breath, my mat. Remembering that life is not linear, it’s cyclic. A boundless journey of transformation. Of highs and lows. Of contraction and expansiveness.
I have learned that change is a sure thing. No day is better or worse, both have much richness to offer. The days when we rise and the ones when we fall. Rising is not liberal.
My lessons learned is the strength of love between a mother and child; that no family is typical, as I have now lived with two married gay dads, two single and strong mothers and daughters, a Mexican family, Indian family, different cultures, religions and beliefs, and we are all the same ironically. I have learned that acquisition to spicy Indian food is not something that can be forced. I have learned that alignment with my life is something that takes constant practice. There is no pretty packages. No bows.
I have received so many messages of love and support, over-the-top donations to my Fundraiser to National Eating Disorder Awareness (thank you), and an endless number of hugs. I have so much gratitude for the messages of support, encouragement, even congratulations on my unconventionally beautiful lifestyle and yet I am still here to show up, sharing the process of figuring it out.
My life is so much more than a number of people I have fed or impacted, my places I have travelled, the potentially Instagram worthy and somewhat cliche photos I share at times. My life is confusing, constant movement. My life is also food poisoning on the bathroom floor, late nights, discomfort with the ebb and flow of my body weight as it adjusts to new environments, the strange political conversations from state to state, the priest with a gun in Florida, the one homeless man who is not just a number, the beauty of a rediscovered religion, of newfound love, temporary family that becomes permanently ingrained and redefining my love and admiration for my real parents by learning the family structure of others.
I am able to give more and more to others because I give to myself, even on the sixteen hours day (bubble baths, anyone?) I am able to see others because I fully see myself, my immense light, impact, and strength as well as my bullshit. I am able to be more open minded to other cultures and really learn them because I am starting to forgive my own.
I encourage you to see yourself too, and embrace the physical or metaphorical fat rolls. It's everything.