Travel. Dance. Heal.

By: Loolwa Khazzoom, Founder, Dancing with Pain

July 9th, 2016 • Travel Dance HealPrint Print

After skinny dipping in the vast ocean under the sky full of stars, one beautiful night.

After skinny dipping in the vast ocean under the sky full of stars, one beautiful night.

The past eight years have been super intense. I was the caregiver for my mom, through multiple life-threatening emergencies; I myself had two back-to-back medical emergencies that unraveled my life and left me on the verge of homelessness; I self-healed from cancer through rigorous self-care strategies, not the least of which were a couple of month-long juice fasts (brutal – don’t let anyone tell you otherwise); and, this past year, I survived living next to the neighbor from hell, whose aggressive and passive-aggressive behavior sabotaged my progress over the previous five years, leaving me feeling devastated and facing far more to overcome than when I had started the journey of self-healing from cancer in 2010.

After his most recent act of aggression, I decided that I had to get the fuck away from him immediately. My lease was up, and I was in a position where it seemed I could buy my own house. So I planned on asking my landlady if I could rent month-to-month until I could find a home of my own – one which I really wanted to invest in, not one I rushed into so as to get away from the jerk next door.

Of course, I needed to prepare for what I would do if my landlady said no – ie, giving me the options of leaving immediately or renewing my lease. That’s when I got the idea of putting all my belongings into storage and traveling the world. I didn’t feel the Universe was “calling me” to go on the journey, and in fact, the prospect felt downright terrifying. In addition, it brought up the inner admonishment that I “don’t get to do something like that.” I had to keep my nose to the grind, the voice in my head told me.

I was stunned by my reaction to the idea of being footloose and fancy free. What had happened to me? I used to be fun, spontaneous, free-spirited. The past eight years of my life, I realized, had required such an extreme level of discipline, with no room for fuck-up, because every action or non-action had someone’s life at stake. While I was feeling burnt to a crisp, and while traveling the world seemed like the best possible way to overcome that feeling, I had gotten into a habit of working-working-working, to make enough money to cover my mother’s and my expenses for healing-healing-healing.

I talked to people in my circle about the idea of traveling the world, regardless of what my landlady said. Everyone thought it was a fantastic idea (kudos on whom I surround myself with!) and expressed that if they had the freedom I have, by running a company virtually, they would leave in a heartbeat. For weeks, while the idea seemed great in theory, I couldn’t shake the feeling that 1) I was not allowed to have that kind of freedom and fun and 2) I was “too small” for doing something that big and bold. While self-healing from chronic pain and cancer made me a powerhouse in one sense, you see, it also required the kind of focus and rigorousness that made my world very small and left me, in turn, feeling very small.

In addition, I had anxiety about how I could manage to travel the world, given my various health needs. Among other requirements, I need a firm yet soft bed; hypoallergenic bedding; an environment without furry pets; and access to organic, vegan foods (preferably raw) and juices. Organic vegan establishments love and over-use raw kale and spinach, neither of which I can have, as their cause goitrogens (which I’m getting rid of). In addition, I am hypersensitive to noise and movement; and as a result of said hypersensitivity, walking through crowded airports and sitting on crowded planes are hell. What’s more, given my various health needs, I would not be able to pack light – which, ironically, would make it extra challenging to get around, given that I would have to lug a heavy suitcase full of supplements and various health-related products and contraptions.

Ultimately, I decided fuck it, I would just go for it, despite my resistance and fear. Not taking the opportunity to travel, and otherwise continuing to do the same old shit, instead of doing something extraordinary when I had the opening in my life, just seemed sad to me, especially considering I was completely burnt out from the intensity of the past eight years. In addition, I had the instinct that, in the words of Eleanor Roosevelt, I had to do the thing I thought I couldn’t do. Besides, I reasoned, I could approach my travels as an adventure – exploring and blogging about how someone with multiple health issues can get around the world. What kinds of obstacles would I encounter? How would I creatively overcome them? What healing resources would I find? How could I help other people identify and access them?

Ultimately, I decided, this adventure is exactly what I need to heal; to shed my old skin like a shake; to release what no longer serves me; to reboot, regenerate, and revitalize; and to step into a new, glorious, healthy, and vibrant ME.

A few things pushed me over the line: First, a friend of mine said that when I momentarily decided to take the plunge, my face lit up and was full of life, in a way she had not seen before. Second, another friend of mine advised me to “dance [my] way across the globe,” which was super appealing. It also reminded me that back in 2012, I had a vision of traveling across the world, exploring and engaging in all manner of natural healing, and writing a book about the experience and resources. Third, when I once again decided for the afternoon that I would take the plunge, I felt a surge of freedom and power that I had not felt for I can’t remember how long – leading me to twirl around, lift my face and arms to the sky, and ululate on a crowded block in downtown Seattle, once again not giving a fuck what passers-by might think.

This is me, I recognized. So while I don’t feel the courage yet, I know this is the step I need to take, and I am going to take it, terrified and all.

My landlady ultimately offered me a six month lease, with the option of leaving with 30 day notice and no penalty – which was, essentially, a month-to-month lease. I nonetheless decided that on July 4, which would be marked as my personal Independence Day, I would walk out on the life I had been living and step into the unknown, allowing the journey to shape itself and unfurl me. Before, I left a friend said that she hopes my trip meets all my expectations. “I don’t have any,” I thought.

In fact, I only planned 10 days ahead. I have a close friend who is an organizational genius and spatial mastermind, so I hired her to fly from Honolulu to Seattle, to manage a team who packed up all my shit and put it into storage. I then flew back with her to Honolulu, where I’m staying with her for 10 days. I’m halfway through this first leg of my trip, and I still have no idea where the fuck I’m going next. Which is kind of awesome and kind of unnerving.

In addition, the past week has been pretty rocky, with my friend and me clashing at least half the time, and with me unable to find a decent café where I could plug in and work – which, I discovered, leaves me feeling disoriented, frustrated, and cranky as fuck. The week also, however, has taught me about my weak spots in relationships and has given me a crash course in what I need so as to function properly while I travel – namely, a car and a good café, as well as a firm bed, hot shower, and healthy food.

The first night I spent at a hotel in Seattle, before flying to Honolulu, as I was falling asleep, I thought, with a spike of anxiety, “What the fuck did I just do?!” The next morning, however, I woke up thinking, “I’m free!” Since that time, I have wondered if I made the right decision, and honestly, I have felt a bit clueless and lost – which is uncharacteristic of me. Then again, I have kind of loved that sensation. Stepping into the unknown not only brings with it confusion, but also extraordinary possibility, as well as the opportunity to find out some things about myself, which I otherwise might not know.



Comments

Joss July 9th, 2016

I am so proud of you. This is huge and not many have the courage to even try. Each leg of the journey will reveal more of what you want and need, not only from this adventure, but from life.

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