Counting Down to Launch Van Go

In three weeks I will be hitting the road in Van Go. Each morning I wake, tossing and turning with a list of to dos – make sure you have the right sized containers, call the mechanic, check the windshield wipers, get an ax, go over all of the mechanics of the van, check on how to put oil in, get extra oil, send the birthday card, take the dogs for a walk, don’t forget maps and dry ice.

You know how it is.

The logistics of getting ready are clogging my brain cells and on occasion, in a moment of downtime I consider what one of my students said to me, as she spent three months in a VW Van, solo, after her kids were grown.

She said, “It will change you.”

Of course I don’t know how it will change me. But I know it will.

The whole trip is about inviting in change. Owning those parts of myself that are not so well developed and leaning into becoming the woman who wears a red bandana on her head, who totes an ax, who calculates miles and gas consumption and read maps like its second nature.

She is the adventurer, unafraid of the unknown, the sounds of moose stepping through the woods, the hoot of the night owls, the roar of the bear just yards away.

But right now I have little time to contemplate these things. I’m racing to the finish line of logistical prep, stepping towards the discomfort of these lessons to come.


Post India Re-Entry Lesson #1: I am from Star Fabric

I am from star fabric.
I am a blaze, a spark that can light a wildfire.
I move through night skies illuminating the darkness.
I am hot and fiery and wild as wild goes.

I cannot be contained or I will burn down the house.
I am a streak blazing to light the way.
I am stardust to sprinkle in your/my eyes to ignite magic vision.

I am light.
I am here to ignite!
Here to breathe the breath of God herself into you.
Into me.
Into humanity.

I am movement.
I am always in a new form, so keep your eyes open, because I will change.
I am here to help you/me stay awake.
I am here to burn through the piles of crap we/I call excuses.
I am here to clear that shit out so you/I can soar.

I am here to inspire.
I am light.
I am fire.
I am a blaze.
So watch out, I will burn through and clear you/me out and there will be no stopping,

Until we are free.

India: Lesson # 2 - It all seems to work out!

In my very efficient, check-it-off-the-list, American way, I email Dr. Sastry at the Ayurvedic Ashram in Hariharipura, India telling him I want to find out about doing PanchaKarma with him in March. I want to find out the basic details, you know, like how much, how long, when there might be space  and what kinds of treatments I might be in for.

After some short email exchanges in which he is somewhat vague about everything, he tells me I can come on the 18th of March and to arrange it so I stay for 3 weeks.

He mentions no deposit, makes barely any reference to money or treatments. The tone is welcoming, but short and sweet.  Since I am going to have to make plane reservations, forking out a chunk of money to get to some place in India I can’t even pronounce, I notice that I want to make a deposit.

I email him again. “Are you sure I don’t need to make a deposit to reserve my spot?”

“No, no,” he writes back. “You are a friend of Dr. Scott’s. That is enough.” I imagine him saying this with an Indian accent, bobbing his head left and right.

When I read the email, my belly tightens with the first hint of fear I will have to let go of if I am to venture on this journey. This is simply the prelude.

I take a deep breath and let out a little sigh with a peep. “Well, ok then.” I say to myself. “Here we go. Welcome to your journey.”

I dial my travel agent “Debbie, I’m going to India in 2 months, can you hook me up with tickets?” Not only does she hook me up, it feels like another sign from the Universe – my tickets, with domestic travel within India, come to just over $1,000. 

So, fast forward – I am sitting in the Mumbai Airport, waiting to catch the last leg of my trip to Mangalore where I will be picked up by a driver to head to the Ashram. I still can’t pronounce the name of the place and there are so many things I don’t understand about India. I’ve been here a week, and what I have observed is that in the end,  everything actually does seem to work out.  The more I let go and relax, the happier I am and the more magical it all feels.

As I sit, waiting, I cap down the urge to reconfirm that there WILL be a driver picking me up when I land.

 Why worry? It’s just me and my suitcase. The worst that can happen is he won’t be there. And then I’ll figure out the next step!

As I walked out of the Mangalore Airport into 95 a weather, I scan the signs, hoping one of them has my name on it. And there it is: Duane Sherman. I smile and have an inner chuckle.

Off we go for the 2 1/2 hour drive on a windy road through the jungle to the Ashram.

India Lesson # 1: Surrender, Trust & Visualize

After 24+ hours of travel from San Francisco through China to New Delhi, eyes blurry with sleep, and all brain cells primed to lay my head down on clean sheets, if only for 6 hours, there was a glitch when I arrived at my hotel.

As I stood at the hotel counter, legs still water logged from flying, and Summit asked me for my passport, I reached down into my secret pant pocket to find it empty. 

No passport.

I quickly patted down my other pockets, took a peek in my money belt and felt my heart begin to race. I was going to be here in India for a month, but was flashing on new possibilities for my trip  – endless waits at the American Embassy in New Delhi, being sent home – or perhaps they WOULD accept the digital copy of my passport photo I’d scanned into my phone the day before.

Knowing how much Indians love their paper forms, I had big doubts about the latter possibility. 

Summit, I have a problem. I don’t have my passport.” I told him. He bobbed his head left and right, flashed a big smile and told me I had a problem.

“Yes! I do! And I’m going to need your help to solve it.”

Just to make sure it wasn’t tucked somewhere else, I dumped out all contents of my carry on backpack, to make sure I hadn’t accidentally stuck it in with a book or in between my important papers. 

Nope. Not there.

That’s when I began the positive self-talk to mitigate a melt-down.

“This is going to be ok, Diane. Think.  Think. Where did you have it last?” My mind scurried down all the alleyways of where I’d been and what I’d done since I got off the plane just a short one and a half hours ago. I back tracked  to standing in line at the Pre-Paid cab outside of the airport. Dark thoughts of someone ripping me off in line flashed on screen, but I hadn’t felt anyone bump me, push me or nudge me. 

No, that wasn’t it.

Back in time to the SIM card booth, inside the airport. That’s when I heard the man’s voice in my head, “Passport!” He had commanded me.

“Summit, I left my passport at the SIM card place.” I was thrilled that there was a thread of hope. I handed him the number of the place and he called.

“Yes, it’s there.” 

Hearing those words I felt like I’d won the lottery. But the deal wasn’t done yet. More self-talk and now I started visualizing the passport in my hands. “See it in your hands, Diane,” I told myself.

“OK, how are we going to get it back?” I asked Summit.
“I will have my driver get it, but it’s going to take some time. He’s picking up a large group now. You will have to wait.”

A small price to pay at this point. Though I longed for the sweetness of sleep, I relaxed into the new reality and surrendered.”  

“Perfect,” I said. “I am so grateful. Thank you.”

As I sat on the couch in the reception area, my mind came up with all sorts of ideas about how my passport could be sold and by whom. Until it was in my hands, there were any number of outcomes.

I dropped into more positive self-talk and visualization and kept seeing and feeling it. Then I started a gratitude practice for Summit and his help, to the guy at the SIM counter for being honest and for the driver who would be bringing my passport back to me.

After about an hour and a huge group of Indian men had checked in, it was 1:30 in the morning and the lithe driver came in, passport in hand and gave it to me. Never have I felt so grateful, patient and relaxed.

I heavily tipped both the driver and Summit as an offering of gratitude. He checked me into my room and I lay myself down on those bed sheets and had the best sleep I’ve had in years!