Because every Love Story deserves to be written...
Before this one man came along and changed everything, I pinned myself as ‘not the relationship type.’ Friends that are boys, yes, I had lots of those, but intimate relationships never seemed to be present in my life. There was the one surfer when I was 17 and lived in my hometown of Santa Cruz, California, which was beautiful for the naïve young love that it was, but that was it. There were a few connections that played out as a fun moment in time, but there always seemed to be something that made it choppy and a bit painful, preventing me from opening and the relationship from deepening. I moved quickly and passionately, and no one seemed to be standing beside me ready to dance. Then, I met Dennis. A tall Dutch classical musician turned Kundalini yoga, jungle, medicine man and everything changed. For the first time, I felt safe and understood.
And like that, a new story of an old love began.
I had just finished my first yoga teacher training in the Sacred Valley of Peru and I felt drained. Yes, I felt accomplished and inspired but I also felt energetically overwhelmed. I needed my own space and I wanted it fast. This first trip to Peru marked the beginning of a big transformation in my life, but at the time I wasn’t aware of all that was emerging. Prior to making the decision to complete a yoga teacher training in Peru and spend 4 months in South America, I completed a two week ‘raw food lifestyle training’ in Puerto Rico. The experience of cleansing while being in a beautiful environment without my computer or phone connected me to my heart in a way that I had never experienced before. I came back to San Francisco, and within a week, knew deeply that I wasn’t meant to be there. At the time I had recently left the world of business and real estate development and was working in the world of cold-pressed juice and cleansing. Although I so loved the field and believed in the value of the physical cleansing process, I felt the call elsewhere. Through a series of synchronicities, I landed in Peru two weeks later.
The day I finished the yoga training a new friend from England showed me a website she thought I should know about while in Peru; for when I feel like experiencing plant medicines – the sacred plant medicine, Ayahuasca, she told me. I didn’t feel the call to sit in ceremony, but the tab, ‘Detox’ kept me on the page.
Sananda-Wasi 8 Day Juice Detox. I went to the website and loved what I saw. Having spent the two years prior immersed in wellness retreats and the world of juicing I had a good feeling for a good offering. This offered everything I wanted plus Sound Healing, a world that I had been recently intrigued by. Yes, I will go! The Detox said that it started that same day, in the town of Pisac, about 45 minutes from Cusco where I was staying. I sent a message and waited for a response.
The next morning I still hadn’t heard anything, so I just decided to show up. I had never traveled before in Peru and didn’t speak a bit of Spanish, but I was determined. Wow, what an experience that journey to Sananda-Wasi was. For some reason I assumed that a very vague understanding of where the center actually was would be enough information to get me there. After arriving in Pisac, I must have been in 3 different tuk-tuks before finding 1 driver who was able to understand me enough to take me to an internet café, where I was able to show him the location on the map. This still ended up taking us in another area, but luckily we found a local (Diego Palma) who showed us where ‘the yellow house’ was. Oh wow, I finally arrived! I was so grateful to have arrived.
Walking up to the house, everything was quiet. The sun was shining, flowers blooming; it was so peaceful, and very unlike the city of Cusco. I knocked on the door and took the liberty of opening it and walking in. From the left side of the house, a tall slender man dressed in white, walked out, and said, “Hi.” It was my beloved Dennis who founded and ran the center I had just walked into. No, my heart didn’t jump out of my chest, nor did I feel any butterflies in my stomach when I first saw him. I was just grateful to be safe and in the next phase of my journey. To be honest, he intimidated me a bit. He wasn’t a talker. Don’t get me wrong, he talked, and could talk a lot, but there was a strong aura of silence around him, and I wasn’t use to that.
The Detox I was hoping to join had actually been cancelled, and Dennis the person running the retreat was leaving for the jungle in the next days. I wondered if I could just stay at the house anyways and drink the juices and enjoy the quiet. Sarah, the house chef, was there and was happy to provide juices for me, so I stayed, and had a really special time. Sananda-Wasi, the yellow house in the mountains, was starting to feel a lot like home. I made friends with many people in the area, and a nice sisterhood was developing between Sarah, the chef, and I. I really liked being there! Even though I was at the beginning of my journey, I was longing for the feeling of home... but that’s another story. I spent about 10 days in the yellow house, juicing, hula hooping, enjoying the sun, and writing my heart out. And then I left for the jungle in the north of Peru for a Yoga-Ayurveda-Plant Medicine Retreat. Dennis had already long left for the jungle in the South of Peru, so our time together was brief and superficial. I didn’t think I’d ever see him again, and I didn’t think anything of it.
A month later, I received a message from Dennis asking me if I would like to volunteer at his center. He recalled I had a passion for retreat centers, and he just had a space open up. What an opportunity! My heart jumped. I took a couple days to feel into it, and of course, my heart said, “yes please!” While volunteering at the center, Dennis and I didn’t have much personal contact. He was in his world, and I was in mine. My world at the time was still very much connected to San Francisco and business, and Dennis, a Dutch man living in Peru and working with people with cancer felt far from my reality.
As the weeks before my departure back to the States approached, Dennis and I happened to spend more time together. I would be in the kitchen making juices and he would come in to get some food and there we would talk. I recall a story he shared about when he got into the world of espresso which entailed making a beautiful custom espresso machine and going to the world champion espresso contest. Everything he did he would dive into and excel tremendously, and I liked that so much. I would hear stories of his days as a professional classical musician playing in some of the World's best orchestras. I have always loved music and spent many years following music blogs; the two genres of music I never listened to? Rock and classical. Dennis was the exact opposite of everything my California lifestyle afforded me, and I was quickly becoming intrigued. There was the piece of me that was still intimidated, and a bit scared. He was a serious man and didn’t play games. He wanted the real thing with a real woman and I had never gone to that place of my heart before. Deep inside, I felt that he had the key to an untouched piece of myself.
I remember the exact day when I first realized I was becoming attracted to him. What a day that was. It was a beautiful day ceremony in Peru, and we were celebrating the end of the ‘Rejuvenation Program’ for a client. I remember lying on the floor of his tipi drawing and looking up at Dennis and being captivated by how he carried himself. “He’s sexy,” I surprised myself by thinking. At the end of the ceremony, Dennis expressed his gratitude to every person sitting in the circle. When he got to me, one of the things he said was, “The person you end up with will be a very lucky person.” When he said those words, my heart dropped. I didn’t quite understand it at that time, but my body was responding to ‘this person’ not being him. My heart knew; my mind was only learning.
I will never forget the day I left the Sacred Valley for the first time, and my goodbye to Dennis. We gave each other a very long hug goodbye, and he whispered many things in my ear. Words that touched me so deeply, and for the first time, made me feel understood. He told me to learn and enjoy this time in my life and … and then to come back. I told him I would email him. He said, “I’m very good at responding.” Although a relationship had begun to develop between the two of us, I still hadn’t the slightest clue what was in store. A special seed had been planted, and time and space would water it gently and oh so lovingly.
When I arrived back in San Francisco, I was very overwhelmed. Having just spent months in the mountains of Peru, working with people with cancer, and practicing yoga and meditation, the San Francisco way of life didn’t feel good to me. “Where is everyone going, and why are they moving so fast?” I felt everyone was moving so quickly and I didn’t connect with the driving force behind it all. I recall, multiple times, looking at the bus station and seeing around 10 people standing all looking at their phones. It made me so sad. In all of my travels thus far, I had left my computer and iPhone at home, and it was the best decision I could have ever made. But it also created a perspective that didn’t align with the city I once loved. Just days after arriving in SF, I felt to reach out to Dennis. I sent him an email sharing. He sent a nice response. But what touched me was the follow up email he sent the next morning.
"Forgot to tell you something...
You are such a wonderful, beautiful woman! It was really a pleasure to get to know you a bit, to feel your energy and to see how you are living your life. You are really following your guidance, your heart and you do what you want to do. It is always a great pleasure to meet somebody who does that...
Look forward to get to know you better!"
Reading those words touched me so deeply, and they put the biggest smile on my face. I had never heard such words in my life. Throughout the day, those words stayed with me. I wasn’t thinking of Dennis romantically. Why? I would think, “Oh wow, he is such an amazing man… for someone else.” What was preventing me from being able to receive those words? I could feel the role my mind was playing. The ‘idea’ of what my life and my Love looked like. This was the first time I consciously saw my self-sabotaging tendencies play out, particularly in the space of love.
And so began my personal journey from my head to my heart.
Three months after arriving in San Francisco, I was enroute to Thailand for the beginning of a 6-month adventure in Asia. During these months traveling, Dennis and I’s relationship deepened immensely via the virtual world. At the beginning of our relationship via skype, I found that I was very shy with sharing. Something about Dennis made me feel very vulnerable. I was being challenged to peel back the layers of my heart and felt very grateful for the miles and miles that were between us; a sense of safety was felt in the distance. While in Asia, I still had no computer or iPhone, so communicating was an adventure within itself. I explored every city by way of its internet cafes, and I am so so grateful for every new friend that allowed me to use their iPhone ‘to talk to a special man in Peru.’
I particularly remember my time in Bali, and the evolution of our relationship during that period. I was in a very special yoga teacher training – ‘Sacred Journey into Yoga for Women.’ This training had such depth and the women that came together for that training – wow, some of the most beautiful women and healers I have met in my life thus far. The safety of the container that was provided during that time, and the sisterhood that was so present, allowed me to really open my heart to this crazy deep love that was revealing itself to me. This time marked a particular turning point in our relationship. I recall one phone conversation where Dennis asked, “What is happening here, between us?” Those words marked the beginning of bringing our love from the Virtual world down to Earth, and eventually together again, in person.
I vividly remember sitting at a café on the southern coast of India, in a town called Varkala, and saying goodbye to Dennis. He was going into the jungle for a 3 month dieta, and had no idea what would happen during his time in there. One thing was for certain – he wanted to go into this time with no attachments. While one part of me was sad to let him go, the other part of me knew that this was a time to experience my travel and Varkala without him, and to really explore. Although we weren’t together in person, he was definitely there with me in every other way. We said our goodbyes, I cried, and we both went on our way
One month later, I see his name pop up on my whatsapp text messaging app. Wow, what a feeling! It felt crazy to connect again. It was as if Dennis's upcoming time in the jungle had been looming between us, acting as a barrier to entry into relationship. Now that it was done, nothing stood between us. At the time, my travel in Asia was coming to a close, and I was spending time with my sister in India, soon to meet our mom in Bali.
Dennis told me he was heading to a beautiful community on an island in Nicaragua to finish his Dieta. Time was unfolding divinely as he finished up his Dieta and I my travels. I asked him, "Shall I come to Nicaragua to see you?” And I did just that.
I flew back to California, went to my introduction week retreat for my graduate school program that I was beginning, and flew to Nicaragua. He surprised me by picking me up at the airport and I leaned in for our first kiss while waiting for the ferry by the water. What I loved and so appreciated about our time together in Nicaragua is that we were together for 10 days in a little hut with the most amazing view. We were staying in an eco community with no electricity. We showered outside, we went to the bathroom outside. It was so raw and so perfect. I didn’t look in a mirror once during those first 10 days together and I felt amazing. It felt so natural to be together, and also so exciting.
The Journey of opening my heart to Love continued to unfold, but now I was ready for the full power presence of it. I don’t think this journey of surrendering to the fullness of Love will ever end… or moreso, I will make the conscious choice it doesn’t. Continuing to show up and do the work to be present to feel and receive Love. As Rumi so beautifully writes, “Your task is not to seek for love, but merely to seek and find all the barriers within yourself that you have built against it.” We celebrated our first Valentines Day together in Nicaragua, and flew to Peru, where we have been living and journeying together ever since....ever since landing in California, that is :)
This special, exceptional man came into my life and shook everything up, and I can’t imagine it any other way. I am so grateful for the opportunity to be navigating life, growing, evolving, and exploring with a man who makes me feel so much. I truly feel we had to wait lifetimes (and cross many borders!) for this love. An extra special I love and thank you right now and always, to my lover, my man, my dearest friend, and my greatest teacher.
To Rising in Love!