Mountains, Marriage and Moving: A Recap of My 2018
If I had to choose one word to describe 2018, it would be chaotic. The word chaos is often misunderstood; we usually give it a purely negative connotation because as humans we have a need for control over the situation. The modern definition of “complete disorder and confusion” reflects that very modern/human view of the world.
But in reality, the origin of the word Chaos from the Greek word for void. In the Greek mythos, chaos was the first thing that came into existence, and from that chaos the first Titans were born. Primal Chaos was thought to be the true foundation of all of reality by some ancient Greek philosophers.
Chaos refers to the void state preceding the creation of the universe or cosmos in the Greek creation myths, or to the initial “gap” created by the original separation of heaven and earth.
I just love that history and mythos behind the word, because many creatives can tell you that some of the best creative work and inspiration comes out of the most seemingly chaotic and erratic circumstances.
And that was exactly my 2018.
Part I: Hello, Colorado
This year started out with our biggest move to date. Over the past 4 years we had lived all over Brazil, but the farthest distance we’d moved until that point was around 550 miles (900 km), or 18 hours driving. This was a whole new deal with new challenges, the biggest being bringing our 10-year-old Swiss Shepherd with us, which turned out to be a nightmarish, traumatizing experience for all three of us (but that’s another story).
After a year of waiting for my fiancé’s visa, we were finally ready to go. We picked a spot on the map and dove head first, which had basically been our strategy for the past 4 years. We sold and gave away everything that wouldn’t fit in 4 suitcases and we were off.
Colorado Springs was bizarre. On one hand, the landscape was beautiful, the sun was always shining, and Pikes Peak was always visible, rising like a totemic guardian over the city in all its snow-capped glory. To this day, the most beautiful mountain I’ve ever seen!
But on the other hand, the city and people didn’t seem to match the landscape. Heavy military influence, religious fanaticism (more than half of the radio stations were religious, if that tells you anything), and huge, lifeless strip malls full of franchises everywhere. The first night we were exploring the city, we came across a pickup truck with a 6-foot tall neon-covered cross standing upright in the truckbed with the words JESUS SAVES written in the same eye-blinding neon. Welcome to the Springs, folks!
Part II: Eloping
I was never the kind of girl who spent hours dreaming of her perfect wedding. When I was 14, I was far too concerned with planning my elaborate, 365-day around the world trip to have time for anything else. I always thought I’d be the last one to tie the knot, but life is strange. Just when you’re not looking for love is when you find it! That’s also a story for another time, one I could fill an entire novel with (and plan to…one day…)
So after 3 years of engagement, in typical fashion for us we decided to elope. With our families spread across 2 continents, cultures and languages plus the added certainty of at least one family member killing another family member if they were forced to be in the same room, we decided to save the money to invest in our businesses and eventually do a more intimate/romantic ceremony on the beach in Greece (little does he know that many of my ideas were pulled straight out of Mamma Mia shhh…)
A few days later we were married in the county courthouse by a judge with a ridiculously impressive mustache, no witnesses necessary. The reception was drinks and dinner at the quirky & mysterious Rabbit Hole in downtown Colorado Springs.
It just so happened that around the same time, kindred bohemian spirit Morgan from Indigo Lace Collective was in the area looking for couples to be her Wild West models in some photo shoots, so we got these amazing photos out of it. She’s so good, she was able to capture some once-in-a-lifetime, actually photogenic shots of two extremely camera-awkward people. That alone is testament to her photography magic!
Part III: It’s Raining Planners
All was rainbows and butterflies until a piano got dropped on our heads. Or more accurately, a sh*tton of planners. No joke.
Since 2017 we’d been selling undated planners on Amazon with a business partner of our in Australia. We handle the product design, research and development and she handles the logistics. Things were going super well, until we had to change suppliers. Turns out, the new supplier that came “highly recommended” actually was horrible, and our quality check person on the ground gave the green light to a product that shouldn’t have even made it out of the factory. The printing was too light, there was visible glue on the seams, and the binding was not consistent, among other problems.
Soon, the one star reviews started rolling in and we panicked. It was either pull the entire new shipment out of the Amazon warehouses (over 1000 planners) or watch our listing tank with the bad reviews. And that’s how it came to be that over 50 boxes of planners were shipped to our tiny 1BR apartment, which we then proceeded to donate to Goodwill. So if you’ve been to a Goodwill lately, it’s likely that you’ve seen our planner there.
We also lost a lot of money, basically having to throw out an entire batch and start from scratch. We’ve since recovered and gone on to break all our sales records, but we were this close to giving up. It was a dark time, my friends!
Part IV: Shamanic Practice
Last year was also a year of self-discovery. It started with my discovery of Women Who Run with the Wolves. Then, through a seemingly random Meetup listing I decided to take an Intro to Shamanic Journeying class. With little to zero expectations, I showed up skeptical yet curious. The very first journey shook me to my bones, brought tears and healing and inspiration all in one and I knew there was no going back.
Slowly I started my journey on the road towards becoming a shamanic practitioner, and brainstorming ways to bring this ancient wisdom into my creative work and method. I started seeing so many parallels between the ancient Native American beliefs with those of the Buddhists, the Brazilian Umbanda practitioners, and many other spiritual practices from around the world in addition to more modern psychological methods and theories. There were common threads among them all, and that’s what interested me most.
It’s funny how things work out. When I was a child, I used to visit my grandmother who lived in Cortez, CO near Mesa Verda National Park and closeby the Four Corners. I grew up visiting the local Native American dancing ceremonies in the town square, going to the street markets in Santa Fé and reading and listening to Navajo and Ute folklore – the Spider Woman, the Skinwalkers, and so many more. I always wanted to hear more about the lives and ceremonies of the Pueblo Cliff-Dwellers, to understand why the dancing costumes used so many bells, and how the natives could make such beautiful jewelry. I was spellbound.
More than 15 years later, I returned to the same area without even thinking about it. I was drawn to the same things. But this time, I was old enough to immerse myself, to humble myself before everything that I don’t know and may never learn. And now, there’s nowhere to go but further and deeper. I don’t know if I’ll open my own practice anytime soon, but until then I’m willing to see where it leads me!
Part V: Back to Brazil
And now, coming into the final part of the year, the chaos picks up a notch. We’re moving back to Brazil! We actually came about this close to buying a house in Vermont, of all places. Again, another long story!
There were a lot of factors that contributed to the decision, but overall I’d been wanting to move back basically since the day we got to the US. Over the months we were there, our physical and mental health deteriorated, our day to day costs rose (the cost of living in Brazil is 3-4x cheaper than the US), and overall I found I couldn’t re-adapt myself to the “American” way of living.
Moving back to Brazil has been the best thing that happened to me. We could see very clearly how much of a mistake the US was, and how much we learned from the experience. I’m not going to get political here or stir up controversy, but I just freaking love it down here. There’s no match for the quality of life.
I mean, we live in a literal, grown-up treehouse surrounded by Atlantic Rainforest now. I’ve seen giant lizards, capybaras, every color butterfly imaginable and about 20 more types of spiders than I’d care to know in my life. Legend has it there are even sloths in my neighborhood that sometimes get stuck crossing roads, which makes me seriously consider buying an electric scooter and starting my own sloth patrol.
So overall, my heart is happy and feeling at home. We’re taking some serious R&R time to plan our next steps. Living only 25 minutes from Brazil’s largest international airport means the rest of the world is just a hop, skip and a jump away!
And, best of all….
Part VI: Puppy!
To end the year with a bam, we adopted another furbaby! Fierce, loyal and a little bit mischievous, we named her Leona, “lioness” in Portuguese. All baby fur, claws, and teeth, she certainly lives up to her reputation.
And that’s about it! As is tradition, I spent the New Year reflecting on the year behind, all my gratitudes and mistakes, and planning for the year ahead. Here’s to 2019 being full of beautiful designs, travel and my now-family-of-four.
How was your 2018? I’d love to hear about it in the comments!