During Tiffany and my recent vacation to Belize, we journeyed to a remote location on a small island cay north of the mainland. San Pedro’s town center was a 25-minute golf cart ride away and I reveled in the opportunity to more deeply connect with nature. As it turns out, however, I got a little bit closer to that nature than I’d hoped for.

On our third day on the cay, I took my sandals off and jumped into the clear ocean water, feeling safe as it was only about three feet deep. Unfortunately, I failed to shuffle my feet as I waded, which would’ve made any lurking fauna scurry away. Instead, I was taking big steps and landed on or near a stingray.

Its barb went directly into the inside of my left foot. 

It felt like a screwdriver digging into my flesh. I couldn’t see anything; the beautiful fish was hidden underneath the sand. 

Feeling shock and immense pain, I swam back to the dock. When I raised my foot out of the water, I saw a half-inch long cut, which seemed miniscule. But there was more blood pouring out of the wound than I could believe—it was the most I’d bled in years. Holding the cut closed with my hand; Tiffany found the resort staff and they brought rubbing alcohol to disinfect the wound. We let my foot bleed freely for a couple minutes to release any venom. I then sat in our bungalow for three hours with my leg up, letting my body heal.

Twenty-four hours later, I was still in pain but felt so much better. The wound closed and I was able to walk. However, near the end of our trip, the pain came back. Now, two weeks later, I feel as good as new.

Despite this, I couldn’t be more grateful for our time near the planet’s second largest barrier reef. It was an amazing trip, and I cannot wait to explore more parts of our beautiful planet; yes, even the painful parts.

In the wake of my experience, I couldn’t help but ask, “What’s the metaphysical meaning of an encounter with a stingray?” I love to be informed by our world’s hidden meanings and symbols, so I uncovered that the presence of this animal in one’s life can mean that everything is now in place. The stingray’s message is all we have to do is have faith in our abilities and trust that the cosmic wisdom is, as always, working in our favor.

Thus, my experience that day gave me a deep feeling of peace and support.

As we all work to navigate a time of great personal and societal changes, I see my role as providing hope and support to those who may be feeling a bit off balance or unsettled by these changes. I pay attention to nature’s whispers and repeat its message: “Everything’s going to be okay.”

Has the beauty—or the pain—of the natural world ever spoken to you in this way?

May You Live in Interesting Times

You may be sick of hearing the old curse, “May you live in interesting times,” but the fact is, we do. A lot is going on. Even the things we are paying attention to are changing: Super Bowl viewership was down; Emmys viewership was also down, to the tune of 14%. En masse, we’re focusing less on image and more on character, tuning into the people in our communities who share the highs and lows of their own stories truthfully, unvarnished by materialism or an affected persona.

Some states are now lifting mask and physical distancing mandates, but sadly, the APA is reporting new survey results showing people have coped with the pandemic in ways that are leading to a different health crisis. Respondents reported to researchers that they have gained or lost an undesired amount of weight, are drinking more alcohol, or have not been getting the sleep they desire. This has been particularly true for parents, essential workers, young people and people of color. 

It’s been a difficult time for so many, and it seems the world is ripe for new coping mechanisms. Or better yet: a whole new way of thinking. As we consider the changes and challenges of our era, the main through-line I see is that we are moving to a world of greater decentralization guided by self-knowledge. It’s a chance to let go of old hierarchies and outdated fears. It’s a chance to design our lives more intentionally, with a focus on relationships and nourishing daily habits instead of on image, celebrity, divisiveness, materialism, and competition. In real time, you’re watching the wheat being separated from the chaff.

It’s time to ask how we can collaborate and grow in new directions with a gentle spirit and a mindset of curiosity.

It’s time to ask how we can help one another win.

Seeing Yourself in New Light

Author John Anthony West once said, “Few things in this world are more predictable than the reaction of conventional minds to unconventional ideas.” 

I like this quote, because I enjoy unconventional ideas yet feel so much compassion for those who are frightened by them. Yes, change can be difficult, but the shifts around us are an invitation to consider new modes of working and creating, the differing values of other cultures, and fresh approaches to our lives and daily habits. 

Instead of rejecting unconventional ideas in a kneejerk manner, I invite you to turn off your TV, step outside, and yes, even risk getting stung by a stingray’s barb. The mainstream media’s manufactured fear is designed to mask the fact there is actually little to be afraid of.

So, what should you pay attention to and look for in your daily life as you navigate this new normal we’re all creating together? Look for the connection between yours and others’ body language, word choice, and social media posts. Consider what others are saying and notice patterns in numbers or messages in works of art. As you devote more time to experiencing the natural world, tune in to the animals and insects you encounter. As we are all deeply emotional and social beings, consider what questions you can ask to help both yourself and others express feelings. How can you listen and support others without offering judgment?

The Answer is Love

It’s been a time of more togetherness and deeper relationships, and I celebrate it. In this time, can you find a path that is truer to you? Can you love yourself more, and also offer more love and understanding to your family and your colleagues? Everyone we meet serves as a mirror for us: where we’ve done well; where we can grow. Your capacity to allow people to live a truth completely opposite to your own, without shutting off your compassion for them, is a reflection of how powerful your love is.

Peace occurs through expanding your consciousness; not through taking action. In this spring season of renewal, I invite you to simply be your authentic self a greater percentage of the day. It is okay to sit in silence and not talk; it is okay to not repeat your parents’ coping mechanisms.

Every human has some sort of genius inside of them…what is yours?

David Icke said, “The greatest prison that people live in is fear of what other people think.” When you’re 100% in control of your life, a great advantage is found in accepting hard truths faster than others. 

Everything is in place. Release your fears. Have faith in your abilities. Love yourself. Offer support and peace to others.

Legacy is not leaving something for people. It’s leaving something in people.