Lessons on the Path to 44

This week I turn 44.  The older I get, the more intrigued I am of what will arise in my life.  When I was younger, I couldn’t wait to be a teenager, get my driver’s license, legally go to bars.  Then after 21, the zest momentarily dissipated.  I come from a culture in America, where there seems to be a fear of getting older.  Greeting cards exist that are decorated with gravestones on the front. These cards remind the birthday recipient they are “over the hill.”  We are told, it’s all downhill from here.  But I am curious, could the path continue to be uphill or simply another part of the journey?  And so I created a list of lessons on the path to 44.  

This year’s life lessons

  1. The beauty of grief lies in compassion and common humanity
  2. Allow endings to make space for beginnings
  3. Cherish those you love and make time for them
  4. You can always pivot
  5. Recognize and live in gratitude when your dreams become real
  6. Listen to the internal guidance
  7. I’m a forever pilgrim
  8. Struggle is part of the story
  9. Those who have died are still with you
  10. The answer is an open heart
  11. Learn to trust you will be supported.  

Dreams Become Reality 

One year ago to the day, I was living in Paris and filming an episode for HGTV’s House Hunters International.  It was one of my favorite television shows, and I dreamed of being on it.  The director was a documentarian, and I felt when filming the episode it was as if it was a commercial for my life.  It was a snapshot of me, after I left my job in the UK, moved with my two dogs to Paris, and embarked on the life of being a writer and sound healer.  All rental properties I looked at were on the Left Bank, and I wanted to live the life of Hemingway, Fitzgerald, Picasso, and Anais Nin.  For a moment in time, I did.

Months after filming, my beloved 15 year old English Bulldog Puzo died.  If you watched the show, much of my life and where I chose to live was dependent on Puzo and his limited mobility.  I experienced the greatest grief of my life during that time, but people reminded me there was beauty in this.  My heart proved it had so much capacity to love another and his loss was a mirror to this.  Friends and acquaintances from all over the world offered condolences, even high school classmates who I hadn’t seen in over twenty years.  It served as a reminder that all of us suffer and we are here to walk each other home through the suffering.

Dreams Pivot

Shortly prior to Puzo dying, I had intuitive guidance from my deceased great-grandmother that Puzo would die, it would be okay, and I would move to Spain in regards to my ancestry.  I didn’t expect this.  But after he died, I felt the urge and push to move to Malaga.  Signs began popping up everywhere, and I trusted this.  Dreams can pivot.  

There was much drama and strife to attain this visa, which included needing to go to America for six weeks to the Spanish Consulate in NYC.  Friends and family were supportive, as I stressed out, cried with grief, confusion, and frustration. It was unclear where I was going in life, but all of them reminded me it would be okay regardless of the results.  There were internal doubts that this would work out.  I was going to give up, and simply return to Paris and enjoy my final weeks there before returning to America.  As I left for the airport, my visa was being processed. 

The Wanderlust Continues

Now that I am here in Malaga Spain, I look at my rental apartment.  The New York style I thought I would have years ago when I dreamed of purchasing a place in this city.  When I first visited this town nearly ten years ago, I thought it would be an ideal place to live.  But I viewed it as more of a retirement dream, not somewhere to live in my 40s.  But for some reason Malaga is pulling me now. 

 As I walk by this Spanish guitar player daily on my stroll with Bella (my 14 year old chug), he plays this romantic Spanish song which is familiar.  It was one of the few songs I used to know on the guitar 20 years ago.  Each time I walk by him, I wonder am I pulled to that song now because I know it?  Did part of me know then I would end up here?  Or was there a multiverse where I would have always ended up here?  Who is to say?  

I am grateful for where I am at 44, and look forward to what lessons are in store for me in this next year. 


For a peak into my episode on HGTV it was titled Oh La La Woof check this out https://m.facebook.com/HGTVHouseHunters/videos/paris-is-callinghouse-hunters-internationalpremiereparis-france1030930c-hgtvauth/453602243537526/?refsrc=deprecated&_rdr

To read about previous reflections and lessons learned about viewing my life as a tourist check out this blog post https://amodernpilgrimage.com/how-to-live-life-like-a-tourist/

A Trip to the local Buddhist Stupa

Last week, my mom and I had visited a Buddhist Stupa in the town of Benalmadena.  I had heard so much about it over the past several months of living in Spain, but finally we had a car rental and so it was easily accessible.  This Stupa is high in the hills of Benalmadena, surrounded by expensive newly built modern white homes.  

As I left the parked car, I passed a tiny gift shop.  The shop attendee stood outside holding her mala beads, repeating silently prayers. I knew her presence here was an act of service.   My gaze was then are pulled to the Tibetan flags that surround the exterior of the temple.  The flags blow in the wind as you are mesmerized by the view of the sea, town, and temple.  

My mom was with me, as was my 14 year old dog Bella.  We had planned to take turns holding Bella outside as we visited quickly the Stupa.  Another volunteer monitoring the visitors noted our struggle and signified we could both come in with the dog.  I thought of what an act of kindness this was and appreciated the gesture of brining my pet to this sacred space unannounced.  After a doing meditation, giving an offering, and walking around the Stupa, we left.  I headed back to the gift shop, and wanted to buy a beautiful shawl I saw inside the Stupa.  The volunteer noted this could only be purchased inside the Stupa.  I ventured back in, this time leaving the dog with my mom.  I thought it would be a quick money exchange.  

As I entered, the volunteer was talking to another woman about the Stupa and the history of it.  There were several other visitors present, this included one woman there with a young child around age 4-5.  This child began to cry, and automatically the mother headed out of the door.  I knew she felt shame, embarrassment, and didn’t want to disrupt the other visitors.  Yet, the volunteer walked towards them and welcomed them back in.  She gave the crying child two oranges, she said one could be for her and one was to be offered to the Buddha in front of the temple.  The child stopped crying, and made her offering.  She then began asking for a piece of chocolate, she saw by the offering area.  The mother and volunteer laughed, as she offered the child a piece of chocolate.  

I witnessed the essence of Buddha with this volunteer who was so welcoming towards this child, mother, me, and my dog.  She was exemplifying Buddhism versus trying to follow “rules” of being the keeper of the Stupa.  I knew with me entering the temple again and purchasing that prayer shawl, I was meant to observe this act of kindness that was so beautiful.  It will stay etched in my mind.  

If we are slow enough to observe our atmosphere, we may start to notice acts of kindness popping up everyday.  What have you seen recently? 

“An encounter with a Stupa is an encounter with myth – or as Carl Jung and Joseph Campell might have phrased it, an archetypal truth. What may at first seem only to be an artistic and perhaps nostalgic arrangement of brick, stone or wood may eventually come to be seen as an elaborate vessel, transporting the teachings of the Buddha – Buddhadharma – across three millennia.”

– Buddhist Stupas in Asia: The Shape of Perfection. 2001