Sundown at the Kyaninga Lodge quickly became my favorite time. I took my evening walk in the garden and around the lake, but always made in back in time for sunset and cocktail hour. The drinks were made from fresh ingredients in the garden. I sat and sipped on the pool deck while I watched the sun ease its way down behind the souring distant mountains. It was quiet, serene, and truly breathtaking. After sunset I made my way into the main lodge, only to be greeted by the warm welcoming staff who led me to my set table for one. It was pretty odd at first. It was the first time I had eaten alone and I had no phone or service. Nothing to distract me. I was forced to just be present. Present with myself and my feelings. Present with the incredible meal placed in front of me. Present with the bomb cocktails they kept bringing me over. That wizard of a cocktail maker — I’ll never forget you. The courses kept coming, and while I try to practice moderation, I really went for it there. Every night. My plates were sparkling clean after each course they brought. Another dessert? Sure, why not! More rolls? OKAY. I felt like Julia Roberts in Eat, Pray, Love, having a love affair with my food and drinks. I just had myself after to relax, stretch out and sleep in a big dreamy bed after anyway. I was in food heaven and most definitely in a food coma, but it was worth every damn bite.
I happily trotted back to my private cabin after. The cabin — wrap around deck, lounge chaise outside for morning coffee, a spacious comfortable bed and a deep soaking tub with views of the lake. I could get into all of it. But as I got settled in on my first night, I felt my nerves catching up to me. I was alone in the cabin. In the middle of nowhere. No wifi, no phone, no TV. Me, myself, my thoughts, my books, my journal. Oh and my guard outside with an AK47. I felt slightly overwhelmed. Now what? If you know me you know I love to chat and be around people. This was new, this was different and I could feel anxiousness wash over me. I sat at the end of the bed and took a long, deep breath, then released those feelings. I knew this time here was important and I reminded myself how healthy it was to have this time alone. I took a hot bath, got my book and laid diagonally across that king size bed, because why the hell not. I slept happily and peacefully. I felt simply, content. Something I had not felt in a long time.
The days to follow were a perfect mix of relaxation and activities. Sleeping in, breakfasts fit for a queen on the veranda, swims in the pool and lake, walks anywhere I was able too, explorations, plus a whole lot of reading, sitting, thinking and doing absolutely nothing. It’s kind of crazy how we as humans, love to fill our days with busyness. We forget to stop and check in with ourselves and our emotions. This past year I was just trying to get through certain dates, moves and situations. I don't think I ever honestly gave myself an opportunity to allow myself to reflect, process, let myself break down, but get back up and really move forward. This place, on my own, allowed me to do just that.
On my final morning there, I went for a run around the crater lake. I started to talk to my cousin Pat and my Nana — two of my favorite angels. I felt in someways I hadn't even grieved losing Patrick. So much life, change and pains happened after that. I was in fight or flight mode. I let myself feel the hurt of losing him, of missing him. I talked to them both and asked them if I was going to be okay? If my family going to be okay? I stopped and looked up to the sky. The clouds began to part, allowing the sun to peak through. It lit up the water below and beat down on me. I felt the warmth on my face and smiled. Then just like that, a song that Patrick loved came on, and butterflies encircled me — my Nana always said she would come back as a butterfly. I felt this wave of emotion I cannot accurately put into words, my eyes filled with tears. I knew they were with me. I knew it was all going to be okay.
I love the quote, “As you travel solo being totally responsible for yourself, it’s inevitable that you will discover just how capable you are.” As my Boda arrived to pick me up on my last day. I got on and took one final look at that lodge -- the lush green landscapes, the pristine waters and the magical mountains of the moons afar. The staff waved and I could feel my face glowing from the sunshine soaked, solo days. I felt more like me then I had in a long, long time. I felt braver and I felt capable. I was still fearful of the unknowns, of the healing process from past wounds and what my story would look like. Cheryl Stayed said it perfectly, "Fear, to a great extent is born of a story we tell ourselves, and so I chose to tell myself a different story." Then and there I chose to see the beauty in my story. It wasn't the story I thought I would have, but by embracing it, appreciating it, living into it, and letting it be, the fears didn't hold much weight any longer. I knew there was still a journey ahead, but I felt in my bones it was all going to be okay. It was going to be broken at times, but sure damn beautiful. It already was.