True story: Three years ago I was in crisis. I felt trapped in a stressful job. I took my work stress home with me to erode my relationships with my wonderful husband and daughters. I no longer had the time or energy for self-care. My joints creaked. Once in my classroom after sitting for twenty minutes during students’ presentations, I found that I could not move. My legs were numb, and it took me several minutes to be able to stand.
Despite how hard I was working, I felt like a general failure in all aspects of my life.
Sad and scared, I drove to the seaside town of my good friends, a couple I’ve known since we were teenagers for a few days of much needed rest. Though I lived in an inland valley, something about the ocean called to me.
A few moments before I got back on the highway towards home, Laura and I visited the beach. Though it was January, we rolled up our cuffs and kicked around in the surf. Feeling intensely grateful, I suggested we make palm frond boat offerings to the goddess of the sea, Yemoja, or Yemanya as she is sometimes called. This powerful African and Brazilian goddess favors women, the moon, and fertility. With fronds from trees growing near the beach, we fashioned boats. We held them in our hands in private quiet meditation, surrendering our desires, hopes and intentions to Yemoja’s strength and love.
The cold foam rushing around our legs, we placed our boats as far into the surf as we could. The waves chased us to the dry sand where we watched them swallow our offerings. Bidding good-bye to my friend and the sea, I headed the three hundred miles inland towards home.
The signs of Yemoja’s grace were revealed the minute I got home. A box of locally grown organic vegetables was delivered to our door, waiting for me to prepare a delicious, healthy meal for my family. One day later, I began a yoga practice for the first time. Six months later, the one place I wanted to work most in the world had a rare opening and hired me for a full-time position. Thirteen months later, I landed my first book deal. Then my second. Soon after that, my third. I lost thirty pounds, new habits of clean eating and exercise easily flowing in, washing away the stress eating and lethargy that were ruining my health. Three years from the day of our palm frond boats, my life is transformed in more ways than I can list.
Turn to Yemoja when you need a change, a cleansing of old ideas of failure and loss, a healing, or a new perspective. Find a natural body of water, such as the ocean, river, lake or stream. Find a leaf , palm frond or reed nearby and make a little boat out of it. In a spirit of hope, gratitude and joy, fill the boat with your hopes for healing and set it into the water for Yemoja to embrace.
Then wait for the blessings of this powerful goddess of the sea to flow into your life. Believe me, if you are ready to receive healing and to do the work she brings you, the wait will not be long.
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