December 9th, 2016 – The day before my 27th birthday, I flew out to Portland, OR. This was my first time flying to the West Coast. This trip held the intentions to visit my brother, Calvin and to stay at an old friends farm for a few months. My trip was an amazing experience, in which I learned many lessons. I have held fear about flying for a long time, as well as fear of letting go of control in my daily life, to travel. Setting foot onto the plane in Burlington, was just the first step in a series of actions in my journey, of learning how to completely let go and flow moment to moment. To be present within oneself, to be still and quiet, amongst all of the noise and chaos going on in the external.
The time that I spent with my brother was really nice and left me feeling a good sense of connection to Portland and all of the sweet people that I met along the way. I also felt that I was finally able to connect fully to Calvin’s life out in Oregon. He has lived there for close to 8 years, after having lived in Burlington for 2 – and this was the first time that I was able to go out to visit him. When he moved to Burlington from our home town a few years after graduating from high-school, he never looked back. I had always wondered how he was able to just go – with no preconceived notion of what it would entail. The way that I looked at traveling and moving in the past, was in a very rooted, grounded way – a way that caused me to feel fear and anxiety when imagining being so far away from Vermont. This spontaneous major life change is something that I hadn’t experienced yet in such a big way, so he has always been an inspiration for me to do the same.
While I was in Portland, I experienced so many awesome things! I wrote down some reflections on my trip, both during & after:
December 9th, 2016
“I am on my first flight en route to Portland, OR. I’m very excited for the growth and transformation that I know I will experience on this journey. I am facing many fears, and am opening myself up to many possibilities. I will be landing in Michigan soon, and will board a plane there at 7:59pm, arriving in PDX at 10pm. It’s a total of 6.5 hours flying time. It’s going to be so refreshing to spend a decent chunk of time with Calvin before going out to my friends farm in Selma. I haven’t seen Brandon in 6 years, and can’t wait to reconnect with him! I am open to all that I am meant to experience on this journey. Tomorrow, I turn 27. In anticipation of my next year, I am grateful for the many challenges and lessons that I have faced so far in my life. I am coming in to this next year with clarity of my truth – as a healer and intuitive, I embrace the healing that I must go through, in knowing that I will be stronger, better able to do my work in the world – as an herbalist, a lover, a sister, a friend, teacher, guide, learner, companion & someday a mother.”
December 10th, 2016-December 20th, 2016
“I had an amazing time staying with Calvin, Mitchell & Marilyn. For my birthday, Calvin took me out for breakfast at a place called Cameo Cafe. It’s run by an older Korean couple. I had a Korean pancake, which was massive – they’re made out of veggies and a special better – SO good! We went to an amazing little herb shop called the ‘Clary Sage Herbarium’, where I found an array of delicious medicinal teas to get myself grounded & moving. We also visited a sweet thrift store called ‘House of Vintage’ – definitely the biggest thrift store I’ve ever seen! We then had dinner with his lady, Audrey, at a Lebanese restaurant named Nicholas’s. So much insanely good and culturally diverse food experiences! We went out to eat at all of the best restaurants in Portland while I was visiting. Calvin and I also cooked many really great meals, and we even made our very first smoothie bowls – which were so delicious! Audrey brought me to Powell’s bookstore, which is one of the biggest bookstores I’ve ever seen in my life. It is 4 floors! Calvin and I explored some more thrift shops, and he brought me to this amazing music store called Mothership Music on MLK Blvd. I found the most beautiful Japanese Aria classical acoustic guitar which I bought myself for my birthday! Very stoked to learn how to play with this. Calvin’s birthday was the 16th – luckily, before my trip a good friend of his planned a celebration show for his band Acidwash, who I love & had been wanting to see for years, for the 15th. It was an amazing performance, and a really sweet way to celebrate both of our birthdays together! I was inspired in so many ways during my time at my brothers place. Through watching Calvin do his leather working job, I was inspired to create a utility belt. I came up with a design that he helped me to piece together. He assisted me with the beginnings of it – the base leather strap, with the buckle and rivets. We then assembled the rest of the pieces and parts, for me to take to the farm with me to hand-stitch. We’re going to put it all together when I return to Portland for the last two weeks of my trip.”
December 22nd, 2016
“Brandon picked me up two days ago, and I’ll be here at the farm until the 16th of January, 2017. It has been very nice to reconnect with him, but I have already encountered an array of moments in which I’ve felt resistance, and have been triggered – this shows me that I have a lot to face while I’m here, and a lot to learn from him & vice versa. While visiting Calvin, I found that I had to let go of all control of what my daily experience would be like. I had to be comfortable with moving through the unknown, and in doing so learned how to be comfortable in all of the situations that I ended up experiencing, however foreign they may feel. I will continue to embrace this, with open arms, to grow, heal & learn.
Tyler called me the day that I was on my way to the farm, to let me know that a bookkeeper position & living space have opened up for me, for when I return to Vermont. I set intentions with the new moon in Sagittarius about this (while visiting Lotus Lodge, a week prior to leaving for my trip):
“For this new moon in Sagittarius, my sign – I am planting seeds of desire for truth. I wish to follow my path, to do my work in the world in the best ways that I can. To connect with all of the women, men, spaces and opportunities that are meant to direct, guide and nurture my growth/evolution. I wish to plant seeds of transformation, and of clarity to allow me room to experience my next journey while also growing roots, to open a space for me to move into when I return from my trip. I intend to focus on my physical movement routine, as well as my daily spiritual connection.”
I am so excited for this next chapter of my life! In the meantime, I plan to remain fully present in my current reality – to learn more about tending to plants while I am here on this beautiful land, to build something, and to spend every day doing the work that is needed to heal my body from Lyme’s. I discovered that I have Lyme’s a week into my trip, after having questioned the possibility of it for years (having symptoms that worsened slowly over a period of 7 years, which all came after the first time I was bitten by a tick – and two consecutive times of finding ticks on myself, the most recent being April of 2016. This last experience with a tick, sent me into a very fast downward spiral of intense pains all over my body, fatigue, muscle/joint issues, memory/concentration issues, heart pain/palpitations, etc.). I have just received the treatment protocol from the Native Medicine man that I spoke of in my previous post, who I consulted with. I ordered all of the herbs that I need from Hawaii, and they will be here in a week. This is my Winter Solstice gift this year – I truly don’t celebrate christmas in the traditional sense anymore, as my perspective of the holiday has shifted quite a bit – however, I am allowing my playful childlike self to come forth to see this as a blessing, in which I will learn many deep lessons that will serve me for long term growth. What a gift! I can’t wait to start doing the deep physical healing work, that I must continue for the next year, diligently. I wish to develop good routine and discipline as far as this goes; this will require clarity, focus and daily gratitude to shift my mindset. I plan to do this with grace and ease, despite the pain.
Some of the highlights of my time so far, have been the meeting of a few really awesome people along my path. I made some beautiful connections with people that will be long-lasting friends. Mitchell, one of Calvin’s room-mates, is from Colombia. He helped me to understand and face the concept of social anxiety in a new way through our conversations about it. He gave me a solid chunk of raw Turquoise that he got from South Dakota, while he was traveling. His roommate Marilyn is also super sweet. She made my stay at their place much more lovely and comfortable with her presence, helpful small gestures of kindness, and her bad-ass feminine presence certainly helped to balance things out. She gave me an amazing pair of black heel boots, as well as a little bag of goodies from the 80’s from her vintage shop! So sweet!
I had the opportunity to reconnect with Nickles again which was amazing. He took me to a Christmas party at a renowned recording studio in Portland. We made dinner at his house, and listened to awesome records. He is a professional massage therapist, and hooked me up with a 3 hour session that caused some major shifts to happen for me on an emotional/physical level – I experienced incredibly deep healing from this, and am forever grateful. The next day we had a trim party with Lynx and Cheya, from his band ‘Lynx & The Servants of Song’, which was a lot of fun. We had another amazing meal that Nickles made, and a great evening following. We are going to a hot spring when I return to Portland for my last few weeks! I can’t wait to experience a hot spring for the first time in my life!”
January 12th, 2017
“The past three weeks have been intense and challenging for me. I’ve experienced many triggers with Brandon – I am opening to receiving the energy of today’s full moon in Cancer, to grow by loving into each moment of resistance that shows up on my path, however uncomfortable they may be. My physical healing has been unfolding incredibly well – I have been practicing self-discipline most diligently as I had desired, totally dismissing any old patterns/habits surrounding food, totally immersing myself into yoga in a deeper way, properly medicating, daily creative expression, work and maintaining my connection to family. I am beginning to truly love all parts of my self. My goal for this new year, is to master self-discipline, in each area of my life: Leather & Jewelry work, Herbalism, Photography, Love, Family & Communal living. I am learning to become the lover that I would want and deserve, through loving myself fully. I believe that this is how we reach our truest form of self-actualization, and through doing so we can come together in all of the relations that serve our highest self.”
There were many other experiences that I had, which I did not get down onto paper. I’ll share a few of the most exciting and influential ones. During my last week at the farm, I was taken to the Redwood Forest. I have always dreamed of going there, but upon planning this trip didn’t even consider it because I didn’t think that I would make it to California. Little did I know, the Redwoods were only 45 minutes from the farm. We visited the coast on our way; the Pacific Ocean is incredibly vast and beautiful.
The experience of walking solo through the forest, truly silent, and connecting with the soil, the trees and the other plant life there, was not something that words could do justice. I can however, share the essence via the imagery I captured on this beautiful adventure:
Being able to just sit with these trees, and feel the massive currents of energy running through them – the energy of the entire forest – was mind blowing. This is something that cannot be fully imagined, until experienced. My favorite part of my trip, was absolutely these moments of silence with the Redwood Forest.
When I returned to Portland, I was feeling ready to get back to Vermont. This feeling quickly went away, as I got back into the swing of the daily experience at Calvin’s home. I had an exciting two weeks, full of more delicious meals and good company. We had authentic ramen, insanely delicious gluten free & vegan pizza, and many other tasty treats! I went to photograph & see one of my favorites – the Kitchen Dwellers – open for the Keller Williams Kwahtro, at The Wonder Ballroom (which was huge for the K.D., as Keller has been a long-time inspiration). This show was incredible, and it was very sweet to go to a concert solo, so far away from home. Calvin helped me to finish up my utility belt, which turned out to be incredibly beautiful. We documented some of the process & progress of it:
Through the process of creating this belt for myself – teaching myself how to work with leather, to stitch and sow it – my creative energy surged and flowed freely. It felt incredible to see a vision of something, and to then create it. To not doubt the process, and to just go for it. Despite some minor cuts and pricks from the needles/tools, this was an amazing project. Calvin’s success and proficiency with his craft & small business ‘Leather Weapon’, and then making this utility belt, were enough to inspire me beyond what I would have expected. I am in the works of creating my own business, called ‘Leather Warrior’ and already have 7 custom orders to get to work! I will be crafting utility belts, medicine bags, wallets & jewelry. Stay tuned to the ‘Leatherwork’ section of my website, to see my progress! I will have business cards soon:
Besides all of the other amazing experiences that Calvin opened me up to, he also brought me to this place called ‘The Grotto’, which was a public garden/forest/sanctuary that was built on top of a cliff. There is a massive outdoor elevator to get up to the entry of the of garden, and installations of art & religious statues spread throughout the entire place. There’s also a meditation center and outlook of the city at the very edge of the cliff:
Considering my connection to spirituality/religion, coming from a childhood of having Christianity forced upon me, and how my perception of God has transformed so drastically, as well as for Calvin – it was definitely an interesting experience to check this out with him. I felt deep reverence and beauty within all of it, from each piece of art to the presence held during the exploration of the space, despite the difference in faith.
Nickles and I got together for a few days before I headed out of Portland, which was an excellent way to end my trip. We attempted to go to the hot springs – we drove 2 hours to get there, and unfortunately because of the crazy amount of snow that Oregon got the few weeks prior, the road was blocked on the final stretch of the way. Despite this, we had a really fun time. We ended up going to a movie, at the most luxurious movie theater I’ve ever been to…they had recliner seats, that were incredibly comfortable. The movie was awesome, and we ended up getting some super delicious food from the Market Food Trucks. Whenever I hear food truck, I have a negative impression stuck in my mind – this experience totally changed that for me. I ate authentic Mexican Mole Poblano, and also tried Oxen tail – it was the most delicious and exotic meal that I had on my trip, for sure. I had never tried truly authentic Mexican, so this was special. We went and had breakfast at an amazing restaurant called Bar Carlo, which had a record store attached to it. I found a few really old Herbie Hancock albums; I have been on a mission to collect all of his records, so this was very exciting. I learned some beautiful lessons from him and am very grateful to have connected with him in the ways in which I did.
In a final reflection of my time in Oregon, I learned so much more than I could have ever anticipated when planning & leaving for this trip. The time that I spent with each individual who I crossed paths with, was meant to be a part of my learning experience. My time at the farm was comparable to a retreat, in the sense that I was able to live at my own pace and schedule, while focusing most of my time on my physical healing. I spent a lot of time alone which was great, and the time that I did spend with others helped me to see what communal living could look like.
When it was time to leave the farm, I realized that the slow pace of life that is able to exist there, would certainly not be what I would experience in Portland – I didn’t anticipate this feeling to arise, as a part of transitioning back into the city, but it certainly did. Within a few days it was fine, but I definitely noticed a major shift in my ability to be present with myself and those around me. Although my ability to do so expanded through my healing on the farm, it also was still contracted to a degree when I shifted spaces. This is a major lesson in my life currently, that I believe will help me to become fully comfortable with fluidity – to be able to maintain a solid thread of being rooted/grounded within, and with the Earth, rather than with physical living spaces, as I go through changes/transitions throughout the rest of my life. I also learned throughout my journey, in reflection of seeing literally all of the weather – watching the weather go from an incredibly beautiful state of calm; a warm breeze, sunshine and high temperatures to the complete opposite – that too, like the weather, your entire life can change in the blink of an eye. Holding gratitude, and presence in every moment, is the key to experiencing true happiness in this world.
Upon returning from my trip, it became very clear to me that this was a time of major transitions to unfold. I knew that I needed to move out of where I had been living for the past two years, and that it was time for my sister Olivia to move back in with our mother – ending a 6 year long chapter of us living together & me being her full-time guardian. I am still going to remain her guardian, but it became clear that it was time for my to live alone – something I had wanted to experience, before living in community. With perfect alignment and divine timing, the perfect space fell into my lap, and after moving through 3 weeks of a transition period, we are both finally settled into our new homes. My space is the most beautiful home that I have ever lived in. I am going to be moving in to Lotus Mountain Retreat in June/July, which is the perfect next step upon my path.
I am feeling incredibly grateful for the journey that I went on, and to all of the people who helped me to experience such joy and beauty along the way. In a final reflection of my time in Oregon, I learned so much more than I could have ever anticipated when planning & leaving for this trip. The time that I spent with each individual who I crossed paths with, was meant to be a part of my learning experience. I’m looking forward to sharing my journey with the leather business, as well as the many other beautiful moments to unfold before me.
ᎣᏏᏲ || Osiyo
Chelsea Erin Wright