I sat in my first plant ceremony when I was 19 in the Amazon jungle because I thought ‘Why not?’

I carried a lot of things back then: pain, depression, anxiety, frustration, fear, hope, longing, desire.

Abuse, shame, destruction. And the unnamable weight of life experience, held in my hands like foreign objects who's use I could never figure out.

Carrying it all in my fragile frame that was malnourished, easily bruised in all ways.

I had heard stories of immeasurable transformation, the shift from total stagnation into internal and external ecstasy through working with plants & I thought… why not try?

I had nothing to lose, except time away from the complicated messy relationship I was in, the toxic work environment where I felt trapped, the daily endless cigarettes & alcohol to help me through it all.

So, I ended up in a small cabin with mesh walls, feeling uncomfortably imposed upon by the jungle.

In those days I always felt raw, like I missing the protective layer the everyone else seemed to have. I had always felt what other people were feeling in my body, like inescapable waves crashing over me, again and again.

Unless I was drunk, on pills or hiding.

Deep in the jungle I sat with the shaman, Guillermo, and his translator for a consultation on my intention. The shaman asked why I had come, what was I looking for?

At the arrival of these words, I burst into tears. I explained that I never felt like I could get over my past, that I carried all of the harm that I had experienced in my bones; every wrongful touch, word, thought that passed through me.

Guillermo watched me and with his head bowed he responded very simply, ‘No problem.’

That night our ceremony began at nightfall. We gathered in the maloka on thin mats & took turns being served Ayahuasca, the mother of all plants. Each one of us pausing for a moment of prayer, a moment of intention before sinking into the journey, before awakening to the 10 hour ancient ceremony.

I laid on my mat, in the dark, in the jungle, as the whole world invited me to come home.

Over the next month I sat in ceremony, night after night, cracking open. Witnessing the pain that had calcified in my body and allowing it to dissolve. Through plant, song, energy medicine, and intention my life came back to me.

My tender heart finally held the understanding that this sensitivity was my greatest gift.

This was the beginning of self acceptance. Over the years I veered this way and that, I spent a lot of time crying on the floor, hiding in my bed, ignoring all of the whispers from the plants asking me to come back. I still worked in bars, gave my heart away to careless people, these were decisions I made out of fear. There were days where I asked for death, for a quick escape from this reality.

So I kept going back to the Amazon, again and again and again over the past decade. “Crack me open, help me remember.”

I looked deeply into myself, acknowledged my hand in it all, allowed experiences to pass through me, instead of holding on after it was all long gone. I recognized that everything in my life was speaking to me.

Every day for the past nine years nature has been my teacher.

I have devoted myself to deep listening of myself and others. Each day is spent sitting by the creek, walking through the woods & running in the fields with my Isla. I am only possible through the support and communion with this land. I sit by the creek and talk with the plants, animals, water, stone & sky with all of the joy, pain, love and mystery. I lay myself down and I am held.