I don’t think I really understood what a ‘hot springs’ was until I went to Brietenbush Hot Springs for the first time a few months ago in March. It is a naturally occurring hot tub in the earth. There are beautiful pools of hot steaming water with natural minerals in them that we soaked in as we looked out into the meadows and beauty of the foothills of Mt Jefferson. Last time we saw deer there going about their business as we dipped our chilled tired bodies into the warm water. I am going back again this weekend. We will have a small cabin with 2 twin beds, and there is a big cafeteria where they feed us vegan food. I never went to camp as a kid, but I can imagine if I had gone it would be similar to this environment. Some people live up there in communal living, and in return for helping out at the resort they live rent free. The simple beauty of the lifestyle and the joy of the people there captured my heart last time I went.
Their simple life made me take inventory of my life. For so long I have been in accumulation phase. Getting the comfortable house, the nice car, beautiful jewelry and clothes were one of my top priorities. And I do love all of those things. I like being surrounded by beauty, it makes me feel happy and relaxed. But beauty comes in many forms, and these people that live in communal living with little or no possessions in this natural environment also have so much beauty in their lives. Maybe I didn’t need all of my possessions around me to validate me. Maybe just the beauty of nature, the beauty of the land and dare I think it, the beauty in me, were enough.
The concept struck me hard, and in the past, I would have tried to push this new reality away so I didn’t have to change my life or way of thinking. But I took a deep breathe and allowed it in. I slowly felt my way of thinking starting to change. I watched the people that worked there as they swept the floor, washed the dishes, and prepped the meals. They did it with such slow deliberate kindness and an inner calmness. I knew they had something that I didn’t have. They were ok with themselves, they were ok just to BE without proving themselves. Why had this concept scared me so much in the past? Why did people like this used to scare me so much? Did I not feel worthy enough just to BE?
Proving my worth was just how I lived my life, I didn’t know any different. I didn’t stop to question it, or wonder why I was doing it. Every day I woke up and tried to prove that I was worthy of being on this earth, and maybe even getting some love if I was really good. It scared me to approach life any other way. But that weekend I saw another way, and for the first time I allowed it to seep into my consciousness.
I wonder when I go back this weekend if the resort with feel as magical as it did the first time. The first time I went, I was shaking and scared but was working hard on expanding myself. I was putting myself in uncomfortable environments because I wanted to grow and learn. It was only 7 months ago I broke down crying at the thought of me being a worthy individual. The thought that I was allowed to set boundaries and speak my truth for no other reason then I felt like it was a foreign concept to me. I didn’t realize that I didn’t have to apologize, or explain, or seek validation. I could just BE in this world as a human being and live life the way I wanted to live it.
I had been making life so much harder than necessary. I had started to speak my truth, but there was still a part of me wanting other people to validate my truth, and tell me it was ok to speak it. I would still cringe when I posted on my blog in hopes that other women would leave lots of comments and like what I had to say. I am slowly realizing that truth just is. That is the great thing about it. There is no judgement. Truth is that I am alive and writing this. The truth is I am a person in this world just like you, with all my imperfections, scars from the past and hopes for the future. The truth is, I want to be loved not because I convince you to love me, but because you feel it. The truth is, I don’t fully love myself yet, but I am getting there.
As I pack my duffel bag in preparation for this weekend, I have a heart full of gratitude. I feel so grateful for all life has given to me. I am finally allowing the simple love and beauty of every day life to enter my heart. When I was using all my energy to prove myself, I didn’t have room to receive. Receiving is hard. Being open is hard. Being open to life, is also being open to hurt, and being open to the truth of other people that maybe I don’t want to see. But in working on accepting my own truth, I need to accept other truths. Even if they don’t align with mine, and what I think is the best way to be. I have to let go of the way I thought things were going to turn out, I have to let go of fantasy and wishful thinking. I have to accept the way things are.
5 years ago I was in so much pain I could barely make it through the day. Every morning I would get up, have my coffee in bed and dread the day ahead of me. I would go through the motions as my mind would judge and dismiss the reality of the world in front of me. I remember driving home one day crying, and saying to myself, “I want more love in my life” Little did I know that the universe was listening.
I slowly began the journey to opening to the love that was already all around me. More love has come into my life than I ever thought possible, but just not in the way I thought it would. I see now that I was trying to ‘achieve’ love like it was a job, or something to work towards. But all I had to do was let go and receive, and it was already there. Things have turned out nothing like I thought they would when I said those words 5 years ago. I put my wish into the universe and it answered, and gave me love. Opening myself up to love has been the hardest journey of my life.
But I have learned that the most important love, is the love I have for myself. If I have that, I have all the love I need.