Last year I went through a pretty devastating break up. Nearly 5 months post split, I was given the opportunity to travel to Maui to shoot a wedding. While I was thrilled to be adventuring to such a beautiful destination and pinching myself that my career dreams were finally coming true...there was part of my heart that still felt very empty. I was tired of feeling this way and decided that this trip would be different for me. I made the decision that, even though my heart was still healing, I could continue to remain open. I made the decision to say "yes." I feel the most inspired when I travel so I keep a journal on trips...perhaps it's my tendency towards wanderlust. The following is an entry straight out of my travel journal...along with some shots I took on my trip. I wrote it alone with a heart full of hope on a white, sandy beach in Maui. I hope it might inspire someone who has experienced hurt to make the choice to keep an open heart...
"I'm sitting on the beach, focused on that beautiful feeling of the fine grains of sand between my toes, and I'm realizing, no matter how hard I try, my camera will never be able to accurately capture the magic in the crystal blue waters of Maui. There's something about this place that fills your heart with love. I stand at the shore and close my eyes as the water rushes over my feet. The ocean breeze blows my hair wildly like a tornado around my face and I can hear the wind whisper, "This is all that matters." Things are simple here. A place where beauty blankets your every bit of being and smiling is involuntary. My heart is carefree and my soul feels at rest.
I made it a priority to keep my heart open and say "yes" to all the opportunities that should present themselves to me on this trip. The Universe has beautiful things in store for you if you only have the courage to surrender.
I met a man. His eyes were kind and his smile inviting. His aura was gentle and warm. We walked carefree in the grass along the cliffs; his pants rolled up and my hair wild and tangled from the wind. We sat and drank beers overlooking the vastness of the turquoise ocean. I was happy in the simplicity of the moment.
He opened his arms like a bird in flight and soared gracefully from the rocks into the infinite waters. He did not hesitate as I did when it came time for me to jump. My feet felt like they were glued to those black rocks. I was afraid. What if I get hurt? What if I look like an idiot? What if a shark emerges from the waves like that scene in The Secret Life of Walter Mitty? What if?
What if I have fun?
I closed my eyes tight, held my breath, and pushed myself in one swift leap off the edge of the world. The air rushed past my ears and I was weightless. It seemed like I was falling for an eternity and no time at all. I felt peace, I felt young, I felt free.
I crashed into the sea with a cold and uninviting welcome. I thrashed around violently, fighting against the current and just trying to keep my head above water. Then suddenly he jumped in with me. I watched him swim and copied his ease. It didn't take long for me to realize... all I needed to do was float. I lay my head back and lazily waded underneath the open sky. I let the current take me soft and gentle along the waves and, in that moment, I felt overwhelmed with gratitude.
"I can't believe you LIVE here," I declared in disbelief.
He looked at me with the kind of smirk possessed by a person who knows something you don't know.
"Anyone can live here," he replied. "Most people are just afraid."
I thought to myself how ridiculous it sounded that people could be afraid to be happy.
We spent the rest of the day together at his house, nestled in the depths of the jungle. I loved the way his eyes lit up as he proudly showed me the patch of land where he intended to grow his farm. I could see what he saw...his dreams sparkled in the reflection of his eyes as he stared out into the wild soil.
We made dinner together, both barefoot and content in our bathing suits from earlier. We talked about the Universe, about manifesting what you want and surrendering to things you cannot imagine for yourself. We shared our pain and talked about the importance of growing from it. We laughed. We talked. We connected. And, for the first time in a long time, my heart felt open.
Later that night we sat together while he played his guitar. I closed my eyes and listened intently as the notes floated off the strings like bubbles into the warm glow of the candlelight. I wanted this moment to last forever but I knew that it was not meant to be experienced longer than today. I was grateful for the experience, even in its brevity, yet sad because I could already feel it slipping away. Sometimes people are only meant to enter your life for a season. Sometimes longer if you're lucky. No matter the length of time, everyone has something to teach you.
The music stopped. He pet my hair as he leaned in, lingering for a moment before he kissed me. He tasted like the ocean."