By Loraine Van Tuyl, PhD
Life is like a kaleisdoscope. We have to let go of the old to make room for the new.
"I have bad news. My computer was stolen at the airport," Nicole Van Straatum said to me over the phone upon her return from Suriname. In a flash, all the beautiful footage that she captured on her trips to Galibi and Awarradam for my book trailer went poof in front of my eyes.
I could feel my heart sinking, but instead of it hitting rock bottom, it landed on aitkanti's - my sea turtle spirit guide - back. She side-swept me back in time to the most enlightening lessons on loss and letting go that I experienced about a decade ago during my own intense soul searching and universe-guided "shamanic death," resembling the rigorous rite of passage that help budding shamans from indigenous societies discover that their true essence never dies.
Anything I grabbed onto to define and anchor myself at that time - my sense of identity, cultural background, social circles, education, beliefs and world views, career, and even my sense of sanity and my spiritual practice - got tugged and pulled at to loosen my attachment to mental states and objects that were all impermanent.
I got the message. To keep up, I needed to become more kaleisdoscope-like. The more peace, acceptance, and permanence that I was able to access within this "game" of constant change, the quicker the universe seemed to say, "Psych! Just checking, here's back what you thought you'd lost. Now, go on with your business, and stay on your path."
In the last few weeks, I detected a similar pattern of "testing" by the universe while working closely with Nicole on the book cover and trailer, starting with her picture of the Maroon grass village gate (believed to keep out evil spirits) which wasn't anything like the picture I had taken years ago and hoped that she would capture.
The modern elements - the electrical pole, the hanging wires, and the broken
blocks of concrete - stuck out like eye-sores to me until I began to see and deeply appreciate them through an entirely different set of eyes.
I realized that it was not a coincidence that many of my clients stumble upon "concrete blocks" in their meditations - hardened parts of themselves that had crystallized in response to trauma. I myself have used an imaginary jack-hammer to break through one of these blocks at the first chakra level of my energetic body, a layer of invisible armor that had been passed down the generations. I traced its origins to times of slavery when exploiting and raping the earth and my African ancestors were everyday occurrences. These concrete blocks deeply validated the work that I was doing, and the great amount of healing that there is still to do on so many levels, healing that is most amenable when we open ourselves to our creative process and refrain from judgment.
Similarly, the electrical pole and wires portray powerful modern-day systems and energetic structures that we learn to plug into from birth onward. As humans, we need to trust and rely on the authority of our caregivers, teachers, bosses, and institutions if we want to survive. This often occurs at the expense of our intuitive connection to a mysterious life force that is aligned with nature. Especially when immersed in social groups and communities with little interest and understanding in the power of such a connection, wanting to unplug from these artificial and/or misaligned sources of power and energy and tap into our inner wisdom could have detrimental consequences, as I discovered when accused of having authority issues by my clinical supervisor for trusting my intuition.
When truly willing to give up my career and all that I had worked for in favor of my intuitive integrity, the universe came around with serendipitous affirmation and gifts for standing my ground. Rather than needing to give up my career, I was admired for my courage and was reminded of my childhood fantasies of writing a book while collecting detailed documentation for a grievance letter.
I also didn't need to give up my long-held vision of the gate for my book cover - to my delight, I learned that the image was salvageable through skilled photo-shopping. When Nicole asked if she could spend her last weekend in Suriname with relatives, enjoying Berg and Dal (Mountain and Valley), a pristine area of Surinamese rainforest instead of hammering through the edits of the book trailer to finish it by the launch date, I said, "Of course!" and meant it. I've become a stickler to doing what feels right, and trust that all will turn out for the best, often beyond what we are even able to conceive or hope for due to years of trial and error, especially error in the early years doing all that I could to refute and redirect where the universe was guiding me toward.
Lo and behold, Nicole was able to shoot very gorgeous scenery for the trailer in Berg and Dal, including an elaborate Maroon dance and drumming performance that she hadn't been able to track down before and that closely resembles what I experienced in elementary school and describe in the first chapter of my book (available on my website www.thesacredhealingwell.com and on my pubslush page www.amazonwisdomkeeper.pubslush.com).
I'd surrendered to the idea of not having a book trailer or an entirely different one than I had imagined after learning about her stolen computer, curious what the universe had in store for me this time around and why this great loss now, ready to see it through until it made spiritual sense.
Which is when Nicole elaborated, "Fortunately, I had all the clips saved to my external hard-drive, so I didn't lose anything of value, just what I had compiled and edited so far. The re-editing will go faster but may still take another week, which would push the trailer to come out mid-campaign. I hope that is ok," she said apologetically.
"Mid-campaign may be even better to inspire forgetful and last-minute fans to support our project and mission. No worries. It will work just fine!" I said.
When she revealed that she would be visiting her folks in the Bay Area, my mind went click click click and the reason for the delay in finishing the trailer became crystal clear.
Rather than using a fill-in for me walking down a trail in the jungle, we now can actually have me walk down a path overlooking San Francisco and the promising Golden Gate bridge as I did during another peak moment along my journey when I was guided to my office down the hill and was informed by my spirit guide, Rainbow Crystal Woman, what all to give birth to in the near future.
This is also the very same park (Tilden) that I now drive through every day when going to work and where I regained great clarity around my purpose while "embarking upon a trail that tested both my intuition and what my field ostensibly claims to do - to help people heal by rediscovering their wholeness". My stroll here matches the very last line of my book trailer, bringing two parts of myself, the modern and the ancient, and two beautiful parts of the world together into, yes, a very sweet spot of wholeness and integration.
I love that the universe is not letting me cut any corners in this book trailer process, and I'm so excited that I can share a bit what writing it was like every step of the way.
One special last tid-bit - my deer and turkey animal spirit guides symbolizing compassion and the path of total surrender and service - often greet me on my way to work or home and often emphasize a thought or insight at the right time. Turkeys are more often around during the spring, but Nicole ran into some turkeys today, and I met two deer standing just a few yards away from me, closer that I've ever experienced them before in more than a decade. A very magical day indeed.
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