One night during my stay at Tashirat, I had a dream of making a breakfast smoothie: rice, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, chia seeds, almonds, honey, tahini, banana, guava, mango, cinnamon, and lime juice. When I woke up the next morning, I knew that I had all the ingredients and so made the same smoothie of my dreams. As I sipped my smoothie, a friend joked with me that, “Dreams really DO come true in Mexico!!”
I am so happy to say that this dream, as well as the Guadalajara courtyard déjà vu moment, aren’t the only dreams that came true for me in Mexico. A few weeks after leaving Tashirat, I have gained perspective and have had time to reflect on my time there. I went to Tashirat and Mexico expecting to have a certain experience, hoping that certain experiences would enrich me in certain ways. Everything that I hoped for was realized, and yet I received much more than I had expected from this southern adventure.
I received clarity about my life and answers to a lot of questions I have had about my path. I also received a lot more questions that need answering!
I received the joy and fulfillment that comes from giving to others.
I received the thrill of being immersed in a culture that was new to me, where I barely spoke the language, as well as the confidence that comes from gradually creating successful communications.
I received the amazing learning challenge of being pushed out of my comfort zone.
I received a wholly unexpected new level of confidence in my self.
I received a new level of self-sufficiency in traveling alone in a foreign country.
I received a decreased level of anxiety from gaining perspective and appreciation for the life I have been fortunate enough to be given…my upbringing, my family, my friends, my safety, my relative financial security (relative to Mexicans).
I received a deeper level of inner peace as I learned more to go with the flow of daily unexpected turns of events.
I received more patience with myself and others as we all go through the slow and sometimes painful process of self growth.
I received a deep sense of fulfillment from being a part of a cause I believe in and being able to see others benefit from the fruit of my actions.
I received a sense of wellbeing from being more connected to nature in my daily breathing life.
I received a fuller integration of yoga and meditation into the fabric of my life and my being.
I received joy from meeting and connecting with so many wonderful people: the Tashirat children and staff, the other volunteers, the people of Tepoztlan, and new friends.
I received inspiration from seeing how successfully others live on their own individualized paths.
I received the deep trust that I am on the right path, and that every step forward will bring me clarity about the next step forward.
I received the opportunities I needed to be more fully alive in the mystery.
At some point during my time at Tashirat, I learned to let go of my expectations. My priorities shifted from fulfilling my own agendas to helping in whatever ways were most needed by the community. And in doing so, what I really needed was fulfilled. There was so much work that needed to be done at Tashirat, and so few people to do the work. The staff were stretched thin, tired, yet always smiling and happy to do their work. I knew that none of the work I was given to do was trivial work; it was all essential to the workings of Tashirat and it all was for the benefit of the children, however indirectly.
What I had expected Tashirat to be like in many ways was different in reality. How the website portrayed the place was not exactly how I found it. Instead of being super strict and regimented, it was not. There was no one looking over my shoulder to make sure I was eating a certain way, attending yoga and meditation classes, and spending my free time well. I found that this was all up to me…that it was my responsibility to get the most of my experience at Tashirat. And it wasn’t hard to do… it was surprisingly easy to get up in the morning, excited for the day. There was a new-found purpose to my days, a purpose that I believed in. It was also up to me to make sure that I fulfill the number of work hours expected of me every day. And it was even up to me to seek out the wisdom of the staff. They are all very down to earth and warm people, not dogmatic or preachy at all about their beliefs. In fact, the only time I heard any of them speak about their spiritual beliefs was when I directly asked about them. Even then, they didn’t try to guide me, but tried to show me how to follow my own inner guidance. That, I appreciated.
It actually took me a couple of weeks to really understand my place at Tashirat, to not feel like an outsider anymore, but to feel like a part of the magic of the place. That integration I know came from my own personal transformations, becoming more open, more curious, more confident. And it came from choosing to participate in the spectrum of intentions of the place: showing up for yoga and meditation every day, working the full 6 hours, spending time with the children, eating really healthy, spending time in contemplation every day, and being intentional with my own self.
My time at Tashirat was at the end of the dry season. The paths were pure dust. Every step on the paths kicked up a cloud, coating my feet with a seemingly permanent layer of dirt that is only just now disappearing. The afternoons were so hot! And the rainy season was to begin soon. It felt like it was just around the corner, for at night the winds were starting to blow wild, winds that were flirtations of the rainstorms to come. The wind seemed to bring with it a new energy…one of magic and mystery, arriving to shake things up a little, reminiscent of the winds in the movie Chocolat. And finally, on May 15th, we had the first real rain of the season. Thunder, lightening, downpours. It was wonderful. I would love to see how the rains transform this dry landscape into a lush green paradise after several weeks of rain.
All of the other volunteers at Tashirat were wonderful colorful people. They were inspiring, creative, adventurous, and super nice. The first week and a half I spent at Tashirat, there was only one other volunteer there besides me. The volunteer complex was quiet and mellow. The dynamic constantly changed after that as new volunteers arrived, one by one, and as a few of them left. At the peak during my stay there were 8 volunteers total. Dinner times were when we would come together at the end of our work days, cook together, and share a meal around the small table in the common room. It was really fun to have people from all over the world sitting together, all with different accents, sharing stories from different adventurous lives.
(L to R: Me, Antares, Shyloh, Melody, Tine, Nimrod)
Saya, from Australia, volunteered at Tashirat for 3 months. She is an awesome cook, an inspiring traveler and WWOOFer, and a sweet friend. She went from Tashirat to work on a farm in southern Oregon, and just volunteered at the Bonaroo festival in Tennesse. Soon, she is planning on heading to Europe to work on more farms. Amy, from Portland, was only there for a few days, checking out Tashirat as a potential site for a yoga teacher training for the organization she works with in Portland: Street Yoga. Street Yoga teaches yoga to homeless youth, and is planning on doing trainings for teachers all over the world to work with orphans. She was a confident world traveler, inspiring and strong. Nicholas, from Tepoztlan, is like a renaissance man: talented and knowledgeable in so many areas, funny, and also a wide traveler. Antares, also from Mexico, is a returning volunteer to Tashirat. She had been there for a month earlier in the year, and had come back for a 2 month stay (though FB rumor has it that she might stay for a full year!). She is inspiring in her search of a deeper experience at Tashirat, in her curiosity, and in her desire to learn. Melody and Shyloh, a pregnant couple (6 months pregnant when they arrived) hail from Canada. They had driven from Canada, passing through Oregon in January while I was still there, passing through my neck of the woods in Texas in February right after I had arrived, and staying in Texas until a few weeks before they arrived in Tashirat, like me. It felt like we were on parallel paths that had eventually brought us to the same place. It was so nice to be able to share some of my birthing knowledge with them, giving them mini childbirth classes and answering their questions. Melody is artistic and strong in how she exists, experimental in how she cooks (and so good at it too…yum!), and fun to be around. Shyloh is a hard worker in the greenhouse and on the land, a sweet man, and can bust out a funky soulful spontaneous song. All of us volunteers used to joke about how Melody and Shyloh were the ones to ask if there was something we needed. They almost always had it. Their car contained so many random things….any spice you could want, a spice grinder, markers, paintbrushes, tape, rope, computer wires, everything. Unfortunately, their awesome car was stolen after they left Tashirat on their way to Guatemala where they are planning to land to have their baby.
Tine, from Germany, is a fun sprite. She is active, funny, and involved in so many things. Acrobatics and poi are two of her talents that she brought to Tashirat to share with the children. And her salads were a hit with the volunteers. She too is now en route to Guatemala.
Nimrod (neem-road), from Israel, brought joyful laughter, big smiles, and awesome music on the guitar. His sweet melodic songs became the soundtrack at the volunteer complex, like the breeze in the trees. He too is a traveler…having travelled for 3 months in Central America before Tashirat, he was planning to return to Guatemala as well. Toki, from Japan, is also a returning volunteer. She liked it so much at Tashirat that she decided to come back for 6 months. These 6 months are actually her trial period before she can become a staff member, as she hopes to. She is sweet, a fabulous cook, and obviously super dedicated to Tashirat.
My last days at Tashirat were a bustle of trying to finish up projects in the greenhouse and with the children, of completing the 2 gourds I had painted, and of recovering from my little stomach bug.
Antares took me on a walk through the neighboring country dirt roads that weaved through beautiful gated estates to The Mother Tree.
And my volunteer friends surprised me with an acrobatic display of appreciation, followed by my fabulous last night filled with delicious food and great conversation.
And I took in the magical sites of Tepoztlan as much as I could in the days before leaving Mexico. The ex-convent, turned archeological museum, with it's handpainted walls and archways and it's amazing views of the surrounding mountains, captured a new level of the beauty of this place:
The cathedral's historic seed murals made by the resident monks:
The nieve shops:
The food vendors; fresh made corn tortillas and quesadilla fillings:
I left Tashirat and Mexico knowing that I was returning again to the mystery, knowing that the inspiration and passion I tapped into during my trip also needs motivation to see it realized in my life. It is up to me to put into action the things that I have learned, it is up to me to not slip back into my old patterns of existing. I have realized that I thrive on change, however much I might avoid it. And so, I will allow change to be a regular part of my life, and I will create change as soon as stagnancy sets in by inviting movement and adventure more into my life. I will live a life that feels well lived, and be grateful for it. I will not sit in the rut beside the road and will not let limiting beliefs hold me back from really living. I will have trust in the path before me, and in my self.
I was sad to leave Tashirat. I know that there is more for me to experience and to give there, and that a longer stay would provide deeper levels of giving and receiving. I miss the simplicity of life there, intentional living with community, a healthy lifestyle that is inherent in every aspect of the community, the children, the feelings of calmness and flexibility and clarity and love radiating from everyone around me. I know I need to return someday soon to give more to the Tashirat community, to dream more dreams, and to live these dreams fully.