From the Ashes, Episode 4: Revolution in the Microcosm

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From the Ashes, Episode 4: Revolution in the Microcosm

In this episode, Becca reads a letter she wrote and read that encapsulated what it felt like to be on the oppressed side of a class division within the microcosm of a volunteer farm in southern Chile.

 

Hey Everyone!!

Sometimes reality is fucking crazy and surreal.

Late into my time volunteering at a farm in Southern Chile, following a blissful 6 weeks of slinging a shovel on the construction team, there was a microcosmic revolution that I took some part in.

On the grand scale of revolutions, the timeline for this was incredibly swift.

Although the conflict had been slowly building for weeks, the catalyst for the explosion of emotion began on March 5th. The letter you're about to hear was written on March 8th, read to the people on March 9th, read to the founder of the farm on March 10th, and read to the volunteer leaders on March 12th.

I'm sharing this because I believe the approach is one example of how the beginning of conflict resolution can occur in way that puts love at the forefront.

The image for today's post was taken moments before the third reading of this letter.

As always, enjoy!

-BB

 

PODCAST TRANSCRIPT

My name is Becca, and this is From the Ashes, Episode 4: Revolution in the Microcosm

Before I get into the meat of today’s episode, I feel like you guys need some context.

When I left the US, I was leaving behind an entire lifetime of teaching. I’d been teaching for about 12 years, and I realized I was done. In trying to figure out what to do next, I was dead set on environmental sustainability. It was really heavy in my thoughts.

Now. Here’s the thing. I had been in the US education system … my entire life basically … in various forms. Both as a student and as a teacher. I had taught at community college, at high school levels, basically all over the education system.

And I fundamentally feel that the US education system is fucking broken beyond repair. So, I knew that this chapter wasn’t going to start by opting back into a system that I thought was fucking broken.

Which basically means that I wasn’t going to do this through grad school.

FUCK THAT.

I had done grad school once, I wasn’t going to do it again.

So, I got a little creative and I was like, “Without grad school, how am I going to start this new life?”

I was like, “I’m going to volunteer somewhere. I’m going to get practical experience. I’m gonna give away my time. I’m gonna start there, and I’m gonna figure out where to go from volunteering.”

So, over the course of my research, I found a farm that had an ideology that really spoke to me.

It was about Human Reintegration with nature.

The idea was that you find healing, you find human thriving and wellness by returning to some of the conditions under which humans evolved. Things like: Living in nature. Eating from the land. Working in communities based on egalatarianism, stuff like that.

Now of course, there’s always the marketing, and then there’s the reality.

When I arrived, some of what was promised was totally, totally there … but eating off the land wasn’t quite ready to go yet. The gardens weren’t up and running, and we definitely were not eating off the land.

And practically, what that meant for us was that the founder of the farm actually had to drive into town 2 – 3 times per week to actually buy food to keep the 40 – 60 volunteers that were there … eating.

Now of course … in order to buy food, you need money. So, two long term volunteers actually created a center dedicated to inner healing that people paid for. Their was a capitalist element to this farm.

While I will say that I totally understand the intention of why this was introduced and why these volunteers created this center, the capitalist element at this farm created class division on a microcosmic level.

Over the course of my time at this farm, it became more and more apparent that those of us who were not directly involved with this healing center, were on the oppressed side of this class division.

Tensions just mounted and mounted and got worse and worse and worse. And the founder of the farm recognized this and opened up the space and asked us to talk about how we were feeling and what was going on for us.

After to listening to how we were feeling and what was going on, he asked us to come up with solutions.

It had already come up that I have years of facilitation experience, so I stepped up to the plate to be like, “Okay, I will facilitate the process that helps us to come up with these solutions.”

Over the course of this process, it became really apparent that the first thing we needed to do was really just address the emotions, address what was going wrong, address how we were feeling.

And do it in a way that was honest. And raw.

Through facilitation, I basically helped the community to voice the collective emotion ... the collective experience of what it felt like to be on the oppressed side of this class division.

So I’m going to go ahead and read you this letter.

And after reading the letter, I’ll talk a little bit more about what the reaction was after the readings.

Without further ado, here we go.

This is a letter I entitled, “A letter of reconciliation.”

We want to begin this letter by thanking you for the work you put into the retreat center, and the intention behind the retreat center’s creation. Healing is one of the many great powers of this farm, and we respect your desires to put energy and passion behind spreading this healing.

We recognize the immense weight that is on your shoulders, and the frustration you must experience when it appears that volunteers either do not understand – or do not care – about what you’re trying to accomplish.

The purpose of our writing to you is healing this community, and the following is how we arrived at this moment:

After a conversation where we tried to come up with concrete, practical solutions to improve our community, it became clear that we cannot yet move into a state of constructive creation. There is a deep hurt that needs to be healed that is directly related to your leadership of the retreat center. There is an emotional and philosophical roadblock that we cannot move past. Our community is injured, and we need to intentionally heal our wounds.

As one of our community member’s knee can tell you, moving forward and continuing to work without healing simply prolongs the pain of injury indefinitely. As a community, we’d like to learn from this knee pain, take the time to stop, and work on what we can do to rest, recover, and recuperate. To only move forward when we are well and truly ready to do so.

We believe the best place to begin this healing is to share with you our our collective vision for the vast potential this farm has to be a harmonious, productive, and an example of what the world could be.

Based on what we know of you, we think that in this vision, you will find much crossover and commonality with the vision you have for the retreat center. We know that our vision may not exactly mirror yours, but we truly feel that our missions are linked – that what we want and that what you want are not so different.

We discussed, as a group, what the farm would look like if, 5 years from now, the current divide was overcome, and the farm began to thrive beyond all imagination. If it was the the farm we all wished it were right now.

Here is our collective vision:

The farm has become the envisioned Utopia.

The farm has become a worldwide example of an integrated, mutually supportive environment where people of all backgrounds can come and share their experience with others without being judged by others. Guests, administrators, the founders, and volunteers work, live, learn, and play side-by-side on the property. People from all walks of life create the kind of unifying connections that can only be cultivated with time, interest, and close contact. Regardless of the “why” for someone’s stay or the amount of money in their pocket, The farm is a place where anyone can come to feel a sense of personal value because they learn the value of giving and taking in equal measure.

Because of a large push to use our volunteer resources to plant gardens, create the necessary infrastructure for productive livestock, and organizing year-long systems for harvesting, we are eating fully from the land. Permaculture has moved to the center of our priorities. As a result each day, every person on the farm wakes with joy and purpose because there is a collective goal that everyone understands their part in. We are dedicated to working constructively in the local community, learning as much from them as they learn from us.

The basic human needs of the volunteers is something that we no longer have to talk about because there is now an ideal living situation (like working plumbing, electricity, enough beds and blankets for all, and adequate nutrition to sustain all forms of work). When it comes to all the necessary tasks that comprise our days, there is a set of priorities and key people in the community that ensure everything flows smoothly, operates seamlessly, and is communicated transparently. When there is conflict, it is resolved in a way that is mature, rational, and without reactive punitivity.

Through these means, volunteers, guests, and long-term community members find healing – sometimes on purpose, sometimes by accident. By working collaboratively with others, by spending time in nature, by cooperating with local communities, by attending workshops and by finding that unique inner light – the inner healing that is the goal of the retreat center becomes accessible to everyone. Through this inner healing, we create the circumstances that enable us to heal the outer world in which we all live.

There is incredible alignment amongst the volunteers on this vision, and yet we feel that with the structures in place as they are, this beautiful future is not possible. And so we are writing this letter to express how we’ve been feeling. Without this transparent expression, no healing can occur and neither your vision, nor ours, will ever come to fruition.

There is anger, frustration, disappointment, and disillusionment in this section of our letter. We own that these emotions are ours, and in this ownership are sharing them so that something can be done. We no longer wish to hold them. We recognize that holding them has been destructive for our community. We apologize that we did not have the courage to express our collective emotions much, much earlier.

Although we understand is not your intention, the impact of the actions and sentiments of the past several weeks has made it so that in our hearts and minds, the retreat center has become the farm’s metaphor for the elitism, separatism, and economic segregation that has created the conditions for today’s crumbling earth and increasing human division. The retreat center has become the ironic antithesis of permaculture – and permaculture is the system we believe will heal the world. And the retreat center is an expensive antithesis that now requires more than 500 human hours per week to cultivate and maintain. While we understand that retreat center is here to feed us, we can’t help but wonder how much food we could grow if 500 hours per week were spent planting, harvesting, and maintaining gardens and livestock.

We also feel that if we do not fit into the narrow ideal that you have created for the proper ‘energy’ at retreat center, then we are not wanted nor welcome. Although you may be disconnected from it, there is a great deal of healing that happens quite naturally at the farm. And the healing that happens at the barn is the capacity to live one’s true self, vibrantly, and out loud for all to see – some of us for the first time in our lives. Once found, we find it disheartening to be told to hold it back because there is someone with a dollar bill in their pocket who finds it distasteful, or a volunteer who sees enlightened self-discovery as only a silent, serious process. We find ourselves feeling alienated and awkward and uncomfortable when we are told this self-discovery does not fit and is not welcome.

We also see that we are expected to cook and clean for the volunteers who live at the retreat center, when many of those people do not engage in these activities themselves. If we are truly a community of equals, then all of us, regardless of volunteer status should contribute to cooking and cleaning the spaces in which we live. This exemption from contribution from the community and the division it creates, in conjunction with the aforestated sentiment that we should not be our true selves when at retreat center makes us feel like chattle. It is not empowering for us, and it is why so few of us look forward to taking on work at the retreat center.

In addition, we feel that there is a great deal of assumption of ‘how farm people are’ without actual knowledge. The few in the community who take advantage of this place and take more then they give are not representative of the majority of us – many of us work far more than the 5 hours expected of us. Most of us help others even when it isn’t required of us. So many of us do projects in our free time that contribute to keeping this community going. It is unfair to judge all of us based on the irresponsible actions of the few, but we do feel that we are judged this way.

As mentioned, we are angry. We are sad. We are disappointed. Disillusioned. Feeling misunderstood, misrepresented. Scared. Jaded. And we are writing to you directly because some of this comes directly from our interactions with you, or the interactions that happen within the culture you are creating at the retreat center. This is the barest, most transparent truth we can offer, and we know that it won’t feel good. We need you to hear us anyway.

We are unsure where to go from here other than to hope you will take our words seriously. That you will hear us, and that you will consider the chasm between your intentions and your impact.

We also believe that you want a great deal of we want, and so we don’t want this to be the end of the conversation. We need to hear you understand us, and then we need to hear how you’re feeling. We need to hear what you think of our dreams and our pain. We have a need for you to work together with us to heal this, because we want the farm to become the Utopia we all imagine, not just the Utopia imagined by a few.

We are sorry we let this build to the point of breaking. We are sorry that we didn’t express this before the community broke. We are sorry that we allowed anger and fear to get red and swollen and debilitating, instead of treating it right when the wound started to open.

Thank you for listening with an open heart. Thank you for hearing us.

We look forward to healing this, with you, together.

-The People

I read this letter three times. Once to the people, once to the founder of the farm, and once to the volunteers who were the main engine behind the retreat center.

It was amazing to watch how this letter moved through our community.

It wasn’t necessarily easy for the people to hear this, but the reaction was with openness and love.

It was extraordinary.

I mean … the people … it was easy. Because this was their words and they agreed.

The founder was really touched. It was really difficult for him, but you could tell that he was really impacted, and that it really meant something to him.

And the volunteer leaders, when they heard it, they took the message with an extraordinarily unexpected grace. I was blown away by them and how they were able to really hear this with an immense amount of love.

At the third reading, those addressed were given a chance to speak, and overarchingly they did what leaders were supposed to do.

There were no promises to fix it, and there was no pandering, but at the same time, I did feel that the letter had been heard. That the impact we needed to have by writing this was made.

The air was cleared. Everything ended with a group hug. It was beautiful!

There were also may individual hugs after this and something that is really personal to me is that the founder of the farm called me a panther. And he made sure that I knew that the healing wouldn’t have been possible without me. And I’m not sure how to take this, I’m not sure why I’m sharing it, but I just feel it’s really important and I want him to know – if he ends up ever listening to this – that I’m grateful for his words. And maybe someday, the full impact of those words will make sense to me.

As is the case with the community built I was volunteering with … there is no end to this story.

I left the farm 1 week following the reading of this letter. At the time of this recording have no idea what has transpired at the farm since I read it.

That being said, the experience of being a part of this gives me a deep sense of hope. A very deep sense of hope.

I just feel like through mutual respect, a drive to understand one another, and with commitment to working together, and working towards unity ... we can heal some of the real life chasms that are out there.

I just feel like if we put love at the forefront; maybe, just maybe, we will heal this fucking earth.

 

And you made it! Thanks so much for listening all the way to the end of Episode 4 of From the Ashes.

As always, I’d fucking love it if you could subscribe to this podcast or send this podcast to a friend you think would fucking love it!

I also want to let you know that at the time of this recording, I’ve done quite a bit of traveling, and there will be stories from outside the farm coming at you at some unpredictable time in the future.

With that being said, wifi is not always easy to come by on the road. So! I promise I will NEVER have a regular update schedule. You’ll just have to subscribe to the rss feed so that you get updates when they come about.

Thanks again for listening! I fucking love all of you!

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From the Ashes, Episode 3: I am NOT a Poet.

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From the Ashes, Episode 3: I am NOT a Poet.

Episode Description: Becca reads the first poem she ever wrote as an adult. It encapsulates all the most important lessons she learned over the course of her 12 year teaching career.

Hola!

Today's episode is very short, and very sweet.

I wrote this poem on March 9th, 2017, and read it to an audience on March 10th. I read it in the common room of the barn you see in the photo for this post. 

It touched some folks and I thought it may also touch you. (In that good consensual way!)

Enjoy!

I fucking love you!

-BB

Podcast Transcript

My name is Becca, and this is From the Ashes, Episode 3: I am NOT a poet.

In today’s episode, I’m going to share my very first poem I wrote as adult. Probably my very last poem (with the exception of Haikus. I fucking love haikus.)

At the farm I volunteered at for two months in Southern Chile, there was a tradition where one person would read a poem to the entire group every morning during a ritual called “Morning Circle”

When I arrived, the expectation was clearly explained to me that each and every individual would, at some point, read a poem. The poem could be one that you wrote yourself, or it could just be a poem that you really liked.

I am not a poetry person. I don’t read poetry. I don’t write poetry. (Again, with the exception of Haikus)

But I am definitely a person that respects and lives up to traditions. So, I signed up to read poetry in the morning circle that I thought would be my last one.

I have done like 10,000 presentations, performed in front of stadiums of 70,000 people, and I taught people about fucking for like 12 years.

I think this was the most nervous I’ve ever been speaking in front a group.

I was definitely way outside of my comfort zone, and I remember my voice was shaking as I began to read it, and my eyes were just fixed on my computer screen because I was afraid to look up and see people’s reactions.

As I went through and I read I got a little bit looser, and when I looked up, I got a pretty good response from it. The feedback I got was pretty positive, and a few people even thanked me for how much it had touched them.

So, I thought I’d share this “poem” with you all as well.

So, here it is, the first and last poem I will probably ever write as an adult.

 

I am not a poet.

I am not a poet, but I do know this.

The ratio of happy interactions to unhappy interactions in any relationship is 3:1. If for every 1 shitty interaction, you have 3 or more that bring you joy, that’s a sign of something healthy and positive.

I am definitely not a poet, but I do know this.

The more the groups of which we are a part thrive, the more likely it is that each individual within the group can thrive. Therefore, making the thriving of the group your goal is actually making your own thriving a central goal.

I am not even close to being a poet, but I do know this.

Serving others creates a sense of happiness that lasts longer than any other material possession. The value of something material depreciates immediately upon purchase. Service to others, on the other hand, is an experience that you can draw upon for happiness for an entire lifetime.

I can’t imagine being a poet, but I do know this.

You become the 5 people closest to you. Choose those who wish to bask in your innate, unique, inner light. If anyone close to you wishes to control your light for selfish purposes - cut them out of your life immediately. They’re not worthy of you.

I straight up am not a poet, but I do know this.

Leaders go first. If you are unwilling to be the example in regard to what you expect in the actions of others, you are not a leader. People will not follow you.

I don’t have the skills to be a poet, but I do know this.

A meaningful life is not always happy. Purpose can be painful, but purpose also enables you to be strong and resilient in the face of that pain.

I tried to be poet and totally failed, but I do know this.

Gossip isn’t inherently bad. In fact, true gossip is the sophisticated mechanism by which humans have evolved to limit someone’s influence. If you are being gossiped about, it means you have done something that the community considers to be antithetical to the greater good.

I lack the imagination to be a poet, but I do know this.

Power is not taken by the powerful, but rather given freely as a gift to those who work toward the greater good. Power, however, is fickle. Once bestowed, humans feel the rush of power and can fall into the trap of using it selfishly and impulsively. If you use the power you’ve been given for selfish means, the gift will be revoked.

I can’t even poetry right now, but I do know this.

There is an emotion that is the opposite of jealousy. It’s called Compersion. Instead of experiencing envy at someone else’s joy or accomplishment, you experience joy for their joy. Compersion. Joy for another’s joy. Try it sometime.

Poetry is obviously not my thing, but I do know this.

Love is not enduring, it is something that needs to be constantly maintained. In fact, love is a fleeting chemical response that only lasts for moments to minutes. In these moments, your nuerochemistry connects with another human, you begin to mimic their body language, and you feel as if you are one with them. In order to sustain long term love you must repeat these moments over and over and over again, in person, until you form a bond that lives in your emotional memory.

I don’t understand how to write poetry, but I do know this.

One of the great ironies of learning is that our best learning happens in moments of discomfort AND in order to learn there must be some measure of safety and security. This simply means that if you ever hope to succeed in teaching another, you must work to get them to love you and those they are around first. It is only through love that they will allow you to push them into the discomfort necessary for learning.

I don’t know if you noticed, but I’m not a poet. However, I do know this:

Falling in love is equivalent to being on opiates. The drug rush of love only lasts anywhere from 6 months to 2 years. After that, the experience of love moves to a different part of your brain. It’s why nothing feels quite as good as the beginning of a romantic relationship.

I am not a fucking poet y’all, but I do know this:

Attention is the most valuable capital of the individual. You are what you pay attention to. What do you spend your attention on?

The truth is, I didn’t try to be a poet, but I do know this:

If a teacher tells you your dream is impossible, find a new teacher. If a friend tells you that you are not perfect just the way you are, find a new friend. If a lover tells you that no one else but them will love you, find a new lover. If a job tells you that you are not good enough to work there, find a new job. If the path that you’re on feels like you are following in the footsteps of millions of people who you don’t want to become, find a new path.

 

If you’ve made it to the end, you get some bonus information!

All of what I just read, minus the exception of the very last stanza, is based on research. I didn’t make any of this up, it’s all just things I’ve learned over the course of my career before my time at the farm.

I think when I wrote this, I was looking for a way to encapsulate everything that I had known from before. I wanted to capture all the most important stuff in a way that was short, concise, and would help me to remember.

Even though I was really nervous when I initially read this, I’m so glad I was able to touch a few people with my words. I hope there a few more of you out there that find some hope or some healing in what I wrote.

So that’s it for Episode 3 of From the Ashes.

If you enjoyed the poem, subscribe, send it along to someone else, or just listen to it again!

Also! If you’re listening on iTunes, you should know that full transcripts of the podcasts and some added commentary are often available on my blog at SmartHotFun.Com. That’s s-m-a-r-t-h-o-t-f-u-n.com.

Thanks again for listening. I fucking love all of you.

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From the Ashes, Episode 2: To Hell And Back

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From the Ashes, Episode 2: To Hell And Back

Hello Hello!

Have you ever wanted to know what ayahuasca is like? True story, you'll never know until you try it. And you shouldn't try it until you're ready to confront some serious emotions.

This is my story of my second ayahuasca ceremony. This experience happened on March 15th at 8pm, and the story was written the next morning.

If you missed my first ayahuasca story, check it out!

I fucking love all of you!

-BB

Podcast Transcript

Hey Everyone!

This is From the Ashes, Episode 2: To Hell and Back

My name is Becca and today I will be reading an experience that I had taking Ayahuasca with a group of 10 people at a farm in southern Chile. I wrote this the day after my second Ayahuasca ceremony, and the story you’re about to hear is completely true.

Before I begin, I have two really important disclaimers. And. Just so that you know, these disclaimers are exactly the same as those in episode 1.

Here we go anyway.

Disclaimer #1: Ayahuasca is not a recreational drug.

In this episode, I discuss the very real effects of ayahuasca – an ancient plant-based medicine from Peru. I cannot stress to you enough that ayahuasca is not a recreational drug. It’s not something that you do if you’re looking for a fun high. I can tell you from experience that this particular medicine should definitely be done with an experienced shaman, and only when you’re really ready to confront serious emotions in your life.

Disclaimer #2:

I did Ayahuasca in a group of 10, and the actions of other people are described in this episode. What you’re hearing is not an objective judgment of these people, but rather how my brain interpreted the actions of these people while I was on ayahuasca. My sober judgment and my ayahuasca judgment of these folks are not the same, and nor should yours be.

With those disclaimers out of the way, let’s go ahead and get started.

 

From the Ashes, Episode 2: To Hell and Back

The first night I took Ayahuasca, the Shaman warned us that even if you’ve taken ayahuasca once, you can never predict the outcome. Ayahuasca is always a surprise.

In preparation for my second ayahuasca ceremony, I have to be honest in saying that I didn’t take those words to heart. In preparation for day 2, I basically did the same thing as before, just bigger. I wrote in the morning to completely clear myself of the previous ayahuasca experience, I fasted, and I harvested blackberries and sang at the top of my lungs. Although this time, I harvested for the whole community, not just myself. I thought of it as an offering to Abuelita, and as penance for harvesting only for me the experience before.

As per setting an intention, I came dressed for battle. I was wearing what the brother of my heart called my nature warrior outfit. A pair of camouflage pants gifted to me by my predecessor of scheduling, my gray base layer with hood and thumb holes, a green wool jumper I bought at a local farmer’s market, and two socks that say, “Be Fearless.” Because there was no more I could conjure in terms of need for healing, I opened myself to the possibility that I would unlock what needed to be done to heal the earth.

Fuck was I wrong. Tonight would not be about beauty or joy. Tonight, I would go to hell.

I could tell something was different about the energy this night. My spot from the previous night had been taken before I got there, and so I moved one spot to the left – right next to the fire. For the previous session, the fire had been inside a rocket stove, but I remember wanting it to be outside. So the day before, I hauled wood for 90 minutes and then set up stones so that the fire would be visible. I was so happy that I was going to be next to my hard work during the ceremony. I thought it was a good omen.

It wasn’t. This spot would become the inferno that lit the backdrop of hell.

I also knew the energy was strange because of the Shaman. The Shaman was tired, he was yawning, and he told us he had to wake up early for a presentation. His preamble was short and to the point and it didn’t feel as sacred as the experience before. After taking the Ayahuasca, he vomited what felt like right after taking the dose. He was silent for the entire beginning of the ceremony, minus the sound of emptying his guts into a pail.

As I lay on my back, waiting for the large dose he had given me to kick in, I remember the visual changes starting to occur. At first, it was just visual and body, and I thought to myself, “You know, I did a fucking lot of healing last time, maybe today I just get to feel high and get to enjoy the ride.”

Never underestimate Abuelita. She will punish you for your hubris.

I watched the reflection of the firelight on the roof, felt the heat of the fire, and all of a sudden everything went dark. The roof looked haunting and dead. I remember vividly understanding that there were dark spirits with us this night.

And that’s when it began. As the light from the fire was replenishing itself, atonal keening filled the air. Not beautiful. Not melodic. But screeching, high pitched, painful.

I breathed.

And then the false prophet began to speak. Babbles of psuedo-spiritual garbage washing over my ears, accompanied by the screeching melody of the wailer. It was the worst song I had ever heard.

I breathed.

And I prayed for them to stop. Hoped that it would end quickly and that they would retreat back into themselves so that I could enjoy the high in peace.

I breathed.

It didn’t stop. High pitch wailing. Psuedo-spirtual trash. High pitched wailing. Pseudo-spiritual trash.

I turned on my side toward the fire, my vision hazy, seemingly looking through a cloud shaped like a sleeping fox and I whispered softly to myself, “I am in hell.”

I cowered in my sleeping bag, eyes wide open, and it felt like the world was closing in on me. I distinctly remember thinking of the movie “What dreams may come.” I was caught in that hellscape, trapped in my own personal hell. Wondering if I could endure the wailing and the spiritual ephemera long enough to keep from descending forever into the pits of this madness.

The Wailer kept wailing. The False Prophet kept regurgitating. People were literally vomiting. I was in hell.

And then, as I felt the madness almost take hold forever, my sweet boy appeared. In his green jumper and his shorts. He said no words. He just flashed his radiant smile that always extends all the way to his eyes. He held his hand out to me, and I followed. He saved me from hell, and I was able to let go.

I died.

While the wailing continued, the word vomit of pseudo-spiritualism continued, it all became far away. I lay there on my side, and felt my body slowly become one with the earth.

I could feel myself decomposing into the ground, the earth covering me, the cycles of life continuing, and I was just still. While the world continued around me. I no longer mattered. I was gone.

And then. I came back, and I was no longer on my own journey, but connected to the healing of others.

I wasn’t with me. I was with them.

My favorite was the Force.

The force is what woke me from my death and brought me back to the land of the living. She was powerful, she was radiant, she was unapologetic, and she was wearing my shirt. She knew how to fucking heal the earth, she knew how to fucking heal herself, she knew her name. She would not be silenced, she would not be cowed, and I was with her in all her radiant fucking power.

Behind me, was the Commentator. He vacillated between disbelief of the grandmother, and being with the Force. She would shout her battle cry of righteous indignation, and the Commentator would back her up for a moment before asking himself what the fuck we were on. I fucking loved the Commentator. He made me laugh all night. I must have shouted my love for him 20 times throughout the night because it was true.

Then there was the soul singer. Deep, resonant cries. Something primal. I listened to her song, and sent love to her. I didn’t get her name right when I whispered my Te Amos, but I loved her deeply for her song. For a time, I joined her, but the pitch of her voice was too high for me match. As the force shouted over the din, the soul singer inspired me to add a low, calm hum to the bottom. At least for a time.

The Force continued, the same cycles of resistance. The same words of healing over and over again, she knew her voice! This refrain had been happening for a time and from the forest came the voice of the silent one. “And your voice is fucking monotonous!” I loved the force and I didn’t want to her stop, but I loved the silent one in that moment, and I shouted to him, “I fucking love you, man!” I did. I loved them both.

The force continued to cry out her power, and there were those in the crowd who tried to get her to come to peace. To eschew her violence. She stood strong and it was at this point that I sat up and looked around. Because of my death, my eyes were both lucid and high as fuck all at the same time.

The Force was being held, being tended to, and she looked to me and said, “Don’t Hide Becca!”

I responded by saying, ‘I’m not hiding, I’m basking in your power!!” She went back to her endless cycles of telling the world how powerful she was, and they kept trying to get her to come to peace and I couldn’t stand them. “Let her be angry!!” I shouted. And I meant it. There is healing in Anger just as there is in non-violence. They are equals, and I was angry at those who would wish to silence her. To calm her. She had a right to her anger, and the voice of men trying to silence her was something I could not stand by silently. “Let her be angry!” I said.

At this point I was in a strange dual state. In the hands of Abuelita, inside myself, but also connected deeply to the Force, and to the Commentator. I rode the waves of their journey, laughing with them, loving them, hoping for their healing, and hoping for their liberation.

At some point, the False Prophet told me that he loved me. I told him to shut the fuck up because I didn’t know him. Inside, deep down, it was because I knew the False Prophet didn’t yet really know himself. How could I love someone who didn’t know themselves? Despite him being the soundtrack to my personal hell earlier, and despite telling him to shut the fuck up, I even loved the False Prophet that night. I knew that he hadn’t really found himself, and covered that with a large mask. We are all healing. We all deserve love.

As I started to come down, the Shaman gifted me with a blessing. The False Prophet sang along, challenging me to block him out so I could bask in the Shaman’s gift. The Shaman sang to me, blew tobacco smoke on my head, hands, and chest, and sent me on my way. He would later put the last of the wood I had collected onto the fire, and I knew that my journey with Ayahuasca would end when this fire burned out.

I had died and been reborn, it was time to start living again.

 

All right, you made it!

Thanks so much for making it all the way to the end of Episode 2 of From the Ashes.

If you really enjoyed the story, it would be such a gift if you could subscribe to From the Ashes on iTunes. If you’re already a subscriber, it would be amazing if you could pass this story forward to somebody who you think would enjoy it.

The whole point of me doing this isn’t just to tell my story, but to connect to others who have stories of what it’s like to leave their lives behind and transition into something new.

Thanks again for listening, I fucking LOVE all of you.

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From the Ashes, Episode 1: Ayahuasca's 4 Stages of Deep Healing

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From the Ashes, Episode 1: Ayahuasca's 4 Stages of Deep Healing

Hello!

After a long hiatus, SmartHotFun is back, and this time, with a podcast!!

The following story is about my first experience with Ayahuasca - an ancient Peruvian plant-based medicine.

My podcast is going to be non-chronological, but I will do my best to post the dates of when shit happened here at SmartHotFun.

This particular experience happened starting at 8pm on March 13th, and the story you're hearing was written the next morning.

I've never had an experience that equals this in any measure. Thanks for listening.

I fucking love you all.

-BB

Props Where Props Are Due:

Pat Flynn of SmartPassiveIncome.Com 

His tutorial on starting a podcast made my podcast possible. All his tutorials are on-point, and he's a shining example of what good business looks like. Check him out.

Music Credits: http://www.bensound.com

 

On Location Shot: Today's podcast is brought to you by this sick view in Valparaiso, Chile.

Podcast Transcript:

Ayoascah, Part 1

My name is Becca, and you’ve found, “From the Ashes”

From the Ashes is a non-chronological, mostly autobiographical podcast series chronicling what it’s like to leave friends, family, and a 12-year career behind. There will be tales of travel, tales of common humanity. Tales of joy. Tales of struggle. And I absolutely guarantee that there will be some sex stories along the way.

I can’t wait to share all my experiences with you, and I want to thank you for your interest and attention.

Hello everyone! This is From the Ashes, Episode 1: Ayahuasca’s Four Stages of Deep Healing

My name is Becca and today I’m coming at your from a rooftop in Valparaiso, Chile.

My name is Becca and today I will be reading the experience I had taking Ayoascah with a group of 10 people at a farm in southern Chile. I wrote this the day after I took Ayoascah, and the story you’re about to hear is completely true.

With that being said, I have two really important disclaimers.

Disclaimer #1: Ayahuasca is not a recreational drug, and should not be treated that way.

Ayahuasca is an Ancient plant-based medicine from Peru. I cannot stress enough that Ayoascah is not a recreational drug. It’s something that you do if you’re looking for a fun high. I can tell you from experience that this particular medicine should definitely be done with an experienced shaman, and only when you’re ready to confront very serious emotions in your life.

Disclaimer #2: My perceptions are not true to life.

I did ayahuasca in a group of 10 people, and the actions of some other people are described in this episode. What you’re hearing is not an objective judgment of these people, but rather how my brain interpreted the actions of these people while on ayahuasca. My sober judgment and my ayahuasca judgment of these folks are not the same, and yours shouldn’t be either.

With those disclaimers out of the way, let’s go ahead and get started.

From the Ashes Episode 1: Ayahuasca’s 4 stages of deep healing.

“If one hour into this, you aren’t experiencing anything, you can come for a second dose. If you are already dizzy or lightheaded, don’t take a second dose.”

I had been fasting all day in preparation for the experience of going toe to toe with the “death vine.” Supposedly, I should’ve cut out all sugar, salt, sex, alcohol, drugs, meat, caffeine, onions, garlic, spices, and a whole list of other shit out of my diet in preparation for this. They said the vomiting and diarrhea could be pretty intense if you didn’t. Despite the warning, my willpower to cut everything but caffeine and alcohol out of my life waned after about 2 days.

In the days leading up the ayahuasca ceremony, I ate delicious apple bread and a sugar-coated apple dessert baked by a charming, intelligent, and always slightly offensive polish boy who discovered the joy of cooking by my side. I watched a lamb slaughtered, peeled back part of it’s skin with my own hands, and honored the sacrifice of it’s life by enjoying the rotisserie-roasted, crispy, salty meat cooked by friends dearest to my heart. I made a lamb stock soup from the bones with onions and salt and spices that I devoured with delight. I ate a weed brownie. I partied with friends soon to be departing. I danced wildly by a fire. And, I made love to a tender, wonderful, surprising French boy.

I did all this despite the fact that I was told ayahuasca was not drug to take lightly. So, in penance for my inability to abstain for a week, I did all my abstinence in one day (minus 3 blackberries). In engaged in a 24 hour fast to appease the grandmother. (“The grandmother” by the way, is the colloquial name used by the Shaman to describe ayahuasca).

In the hours leading up to the ceremony, in the field where almost 2 months previously I had begun the journey of letting go of my past, I sang the songs my heart needed to sing at the very top of my lungs. I soaked in the sun, I moved, I tangled with blackberry vines, and I filled an entire coffee can with sweet, ripe fruit. Before moving to the sacred site where I would meet the Grandmother, I knew I had used my last hours wisely. If I were to die to tonight, I would’ve died connected the earth, singing my final refrains for the universe to hear.

“The medicine will heal you. Some will cry. Some will laugh. Some will join me in song. This is their journey, worry not for them, they are healing.”

One hour after taking the first dose of ayahuasca, the dose was still a bitter tang in my mouth, and there was light burning in my esophagus, but there was nothing. No effect. Just physical sleepiness from a day spent moving without eating, and an emotional exhaustion from saying goodbye to all the friends who had become family in my heart.

So I stood up and took the second dose, surrendering to the possibility that the grandmother wasn’t meant to visit me this night. That I would swallow the bitter concoction once again, lay back down, and simply drift off to to sleep.

Just as I was accepting that this drug would not work, I was staring at a reflection of the fire in the plastic sheeting that covered the quincho under which I was laying, flat on my back. The shaman was singing, and his voice became a dark melody to accompany the dance of flames in the reflection. I had a distinct moment where I was like, “Fuck. I’m about to trip balls with this crazy fire caterpillar right now.”

Never take the grandmother lightly. At any point, she will bring you into your deepest self.

As the fire caterpillar danced and I was rationally contemplating what the fuck this drug was doing to my consciousness and how it worked, I began to think of my plans to become a traveler.

The face of my brother, my flesh and blood brother, flashed on the roof of the quincho, just above the caterpillar of fire. As I saw the face of my brother, I felt his two sons in my heart and saw them in my minds eye. That is when I covered my head with my sleeping bag, curled up on my side, and began to weep.

These boys. My best friend. My three fiercest loves. In making my choice, I knew I would have to let them all go. Let them live without my light. Let them go on, knowing I won’t be there for them, to love them.

In that moment, I felt the depths of heartbreak. Of despair. Of loss. Of sorrow. In choosing me, I cannot choose them. I cannot take them with me. I have to let them go. The pain was unbearable and all I could do in the face of it was sob, uncontrollably.

I cried and cried and cried until I could no longer breathe out of my nose. I wanted to be able to breathe, I needed to be able to breathe. So I sat up. I grabbed some tissue. Blew my nose. Rolled onto my stomach, and then I heard a voice from the woods echoing the song of the Shaman. Thinking of the owner of that voice, wrapped in a sleeping bag that to me made him look like a spaceman, made me laugh and it broke me out of my sorrow. It enabled me to sit up, clear my sinuses, and then roll over on my back.

“Medicina. Medicina. Medicina. Medicina.”

Having survived that wave of emotion, I checked in with my body. It was at this point that I told the grandmother that we were equals in strength, she and I. There would be no vomiting, there would be no diarrhea. I had fasted for her, and she would not take any more from me in trade. There was a peacefulness for a time. Just watching the lights dance in my vision, listening to the Shaman chant.

That is when the second part of my journey began. The reflection of the fire on the roof of the quincho began to dance wildly, frantically, and with a frenetic energy. My breath began to quicken, and in me a deep, intense, throbbing desire, overtook all my consciousness. I wanted to fuck, but not in a trivial or flippant way. I felt as though this was a desire that was deeper, more primal, more essential – a desire at the depth of my very soul.

I could think of only one person, and as I held this person in my thoughts, there was a golden brilliance, visual tracks, and sparkles that rose and intensified. As the Shaman’s song crescendoed, the light grew brighter and filled me completely. I knew that what I felt for this person was true, and pure, and right.

Love.

A love that I’ve never experienced before, and may never experience again, but it was such joy to know that that love was possible within me.

As the Shaman’s voice decrescendoed, so too did the desire. So too did the joy.

“Be yourself. Practice what you preach. Let your inner light shine. Practice what you preach. Be yourself. Gracias! Gracias!”

In what had been pure silence or silence broken only by the refrains of the Shaman, the others began to awake. To expel their demons. To heal. And they were fucking loud and annoying in that moment. Whereas the singing had helped me to move beyond my pain, I couldn’t stand to hear these other people.

How selfish of them to be so loud. How self-centered to vocalize so uncontrollably knowing that others are on a journey of healing. I lay for a time, seething. Angry at their lack of self-control. Upset that I couldn’t focus on my inner journey.

Which is when I realized I didn’t have to stay where I was. So, wobbily, I stood up, I grabbed my sleeping bag, I grabbed my bag full of fruit, I strapped on my head lamp and I set an intention to go back to my tent to finish this trip. I was not bound to this circle, and I started to march toward the fringes.

“Becca. You must stay near the Shaman.”

I didn’t want to. I couldn’t listen to them anymore. But I sat right where I was stopped. Headlamp illuminating a grandfather tree, and I was pissed. As I sat, the cries of the others quieted for a time. And I was alone.

So deeply alone. The depths of a lifetime of feeling alone. Feeling that because of how I am in this world that I never quite fit. That I am always on the margins. Did I create this for myself? Or is it my destiny to never be fully integrated? Is this the necessary pain to prepare me for who I am to become?

I wept for myself. For the knowledge that I will always be just a little bit separate. The weeping intensified and I asked the grandmother how she bears it. As a grandmother, she knows my loneliness. Cherished, respected, needed for healing, but nearly peerless.

“It is not hubris grandmother because we have established that you and I are equals this night. I need to know how you bear it alone.”

There was no answer from the grandmother. I wept for the weight I know I will someday bear on my own. Even though I don’t know yet for what I am chosen, I wept knowing that when it comes, there will be cruelty and there will be hardship.

Why have I been chosen for this? How was I supposed to bear this burden alone? I am just a person.

But all of a sudden, I wasn’t alone. A hand on my shoulder. The hand of a near stranger, reminding me that I am never alone. His strength allowed me to be vulnerable. His hand on my back carrying me for a time so I could let go of my strength. I descended into full body, drooling, snot pouring out of my nose, tears streaming from my eyes, sobbing. Tears for a future of pain. Tears for a lifetime of weight on my shoulders. Tears for the impending end of childhood.

I asked the grandfather tree how he withstood it, and I remembered that he was just a fucking tree. It was easy for him. I asked the grandmother again, “How do you bear it?” And again, she was silent. And in her silence, I realized that I will withstand it in the same way I have withstood hardship my whole life. I stopped crying, opened my eyes, and with force I blew all of the snot that was blocking my breathing. I wiped my face on my hands and wiped everything off on my pants.

It is only pain. You beat pain with strength.

I turned to face my stranger, and it was the friend I knew it would be. I hugged him and thanked him in my heart. I threw off my headlamp, I cried on his shoulder, and he reminded me to breathe simply by breathing. I knew he was sent here for me, a bright light in the darkness. A reminder that there are others who will help. As we breathed together, I was almost ready to return to the circle.

And then…

“Practice what you preach. Don’t be afraid to be yourself. Be creative.”

The never-ending record of self-affirmations tore me away from the peace of knowing how to withstand a life alone. My annoyance returned. I broke away from the near stranger and turned my back on the circle of people nearby.

How grandmother? How do you withstand this? The selfish children. How?

No answer, so I breathed the breathe given to me by the bright near stranger.

This time, the grandmother answered simply, “With love. You have to learn to love them as they are.”

As the singing rang out, cutting through the woods, I knew the selfish children were here to challenge me. I turned my heart toward love. I knew this ear-splitting refrain came from pain. From hurt. From a deep wound that needed healing. That it was a cry for attention that hadn’t been delivered early in life.

I calmed.

“I’m ready to go back.”

I returned to the circle, feeling peaceful. I watched the children walk around, sit by the fire, smoke tobacco, and eat apples.

It was then that I remembered the blackberries in my bag. It had been my intention to share them, but as I watched the children, I remembered the words of my lover, “Take care of yourself sometimes.”

So as the singer continued to interrupt, and the quiet one silently ate an apple, and the pensive one’s fingers danced in the front of the fire, and the poser … posed, I ate blackberries.

And I listened as the healer sitting next to me wept. I wanted to hold her. To give her the strength that had been gifted to me by the near stranger. I wanted to offer her blackberries to ease her pain. But somehow, I knew that she needed to cry this one out.

For a time, I knelt over her, placing a hand on her leg. Long enough for her to calm for a moment, long enough so that she knew she wasn’t alone, but not so long that I would co-opt her healing. I took my hand away and she resumed her crying. I contemplated how even healers need time for deep healing.

I ate blackberries until I couldn’t anymore. Until what was left in the bottom of the coffee can was a squishy mess that was difficult to handle. The singer sang one last refrain of “Practice what you preach,” and this time I laughed.

At the absurdity of that being her refrain. At the fact that she was still high. Out of the understanding that she has healing to do, just like we all did.

I lay down in my sleeping bag, closed my eyes and tried to sleep, but couldn’t. I rolled up my blankets, took the journey to my tent, ate one perfect apple, and finally it was time to pay the price to the grandmother.

I squatted in the woods, squirt out a tiny watery shit, wiped my ass, told the grandmother we were even, and went to sleep.

 

Alright you made it! Thanks so much for listening to my very first episode of From the Ashes!!

Before you go, I have two really important things to say.

The first is that I need to give Pat Flynn an enormous Thank You!

Pat, this podcast exists because of your extremely detailed step-by-step guide on how to start a podcast.

For those of you who don’t know who Pat Flynn is, I’ve used his wisdom and advice about everything having to do with online stuff for years, and I highly recommend checking out his work at smartpassiveincome.com. That’s s-m-a-r-t-p-a-s-s-i-v-e-i-n-c-o-m-e.com

I’d also like to say that if you are interested in seeing how impactful kindness, caring, and full transparency can be on a business, I highly recommend you check out his income reports. I fucking love you Pat!

The second thing I’d like to ask is that you subscribe to this podcast! Next week, I’m going to be taking you through the second part of my ayahuasca experience, and I have to tell you it is a whole different story.

So, you can subscribe how you normally subscribe to podcasts, or you can just check out my blog at smarthotfun.com.

Thanks so much everybody!

I fucking love you all.

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