“Ask her what she craved and she’d get a little frantic about things like books, the woods, music. Plants and the seasons.
I was recently with Diane, a woman I’d just met through friends, watching the sunset on the Bay of Banderas at my favorite spot on the beach. We were near the lava-like rocks and the Boy on a Seahorse statue and we chatted about life over our icy to-go margaritas.
Diane asked me if I’d ever been to Greece. Yes, twice to Athens and the Cyclades and the whitewashed islands are on my radar once again. She’s been married for 25ish years and said she’s always had a deep longing to see Greece, but her husband has no interest in it.
I got to thinking about what feeds the soul and I felt a bit sad that Diane (whom, as we discovered, was my schoolmate for six years) has not yet experienced the unparalleled beauty and culture of Greece, since the craving has been with her for three decades. Greece is likely something that would feed a part of her soul’s need for that particular pleasure.
We’re not taught to feed and water our soul as we would our gardens or houseplants. It is something we see as ephemeral and intangible, oftentimes ignoring it. Yet it is as important to our sustenance as any garden’s harvest.
As children, we knew what fed our souls intrinsically. We’d do it relentlessly, be it playing with Barbies, chasing frogs, reading Trixie Belden, or hitting a baseball. But then we were herded off into reality and the land of responsibility.
Feeding our soul = pleasure. Possibly carried over from the Puritans and the centuries of religious influence, a lot of us believe pleasure = guilt. But what if we are here to experience a whole lot more pleasure than we allow ourselves? Why is earth so incredibly beautiful if not to relish it with ridiculous amounts of joy?
Our soul whispers its desires to us, its requirements. If we do not listen, it may begin to niggle. If we continue to disregard it, our contentment wilts. When we starve it, our happiness withers.
If you seldom delve into what might nurture your soul, here are a few clues …
When you read something in a magazine or book that rouses you, pay attention to what has caught your eye. I am always drawn to serene, minimalistic spaces of beauty and images of foreign locales in magazines. Books with a philosophical bent awaken me when I learn more about the mysteries of life and the human mind.
Music is like a colossal sundae for the soul. When I hear Latin music, I have a hard time sitting still. Walking into the corner bars on the streets of Old Havana, I couldn’t have stayed seated if I tried. There’s something about Son cubano and salsa that brings me alive and fills me with a sense of color.
Are there creatures or vistas that make your insides do flip-flops? I am always surprised when I ask someone if they’d like to go out whale watching and they reply, “Nah, I’ve already seen them.” There are never too many whale sightings for me. I have seen them countless times, but I always get excited when I go out and find them. I’m ever gleeful when I see a dolphin or turtle or manta ray. Being on the ocean clears the cobwebs of nonsense from my mind in a way that nothing else does. What in nature makes you feel like a child seeing something for the first time? That’s your soul’s food.
When you overhear a conversation and you crane to eavesdrop (not in a gossipy way) what is it that makes your ears perk? When I hear conversations in Spanish or Italian, my heart leaps. I love the romance and the rolling singsong sounds of those languages. Something happens to me and it triggers an internal spark. One day I went on a highly uncommon day of shopping with my friend Karen. Everywhere I turned people were speaking Spanish. She didn’t notice it, but I was acutely aware of it. I began to yearn and it felt like a siren song.
What subject is one that causes your eyes to light up and gets you so inspired you just can’t shut up? If you ask me about my trips to Italy (or almost anywhere), sit down and grab a drink. You’ll be there a while. I love telling stories about the people I’ve met, the unforgettable meals I’ve eaten, and the amazing things I’ve seen.
What type of exercise comes naturally to you and makes you feel fantastic? I’m not a Sporty Spice so this one’s not easy for me. But I discovered kayaking a few years ago and was surprised how I took to it like a duck on a pond. The freedom of being on the water in a quiet, tranquil mode of transport that is so in touch with nature moves me. When I began taking salsa aerobics (vastly different than zumba), I was hooked.
When you see a movie, what stirs and touches you? I remember watching Under the Tuscan Sun for the first time. It wasn’t a poignant movie, yet tears trickled down my face for half of it. I knew it was because I saw myself in the main character. I adored Italy and had many moments of déjà vu there. I love la dolce vita and I could see myself living in that antiquated Tuscan casa (minus the scorpion). When Diane Lane had the fling with the dark, charming Italiano, she was me.
In the past few years I’ve had a thirst for learning. Recently it feels almost unquenchable and I think the reason is that my soul wants to sink its teeth into some serious study that will further my/its growth.
A client of mine told me last week that his wife says he suffers from PMS in the winter: Parked Motorcycle Syndrome. He’s a big bear of a man and when I asked him what he felt when he rode his bike, his eyes glazed. He waxed poetic about the release, the smells along the highway, the fresh air and the fabulous sense of freedom. Without a doubt, biking feeds this man’s soul.
When we’re watering and feeding our soul, time becomes irrelevant. We are not concerned about the next task we have to do or where we need to go. We savor the moment like a heavenly bite of hot, homemade bread slathered in butter.
A friend was a bit baffled about my recent trip–my 39th–to Mexico. How could I go when my current reality should not allow for a holiday? Should I not be a little more practical and hunker down? It was illogical. The thing is, my soul was quietly thirsting. It was salivating for the ocean and the whales. It wanted to be amongst mi gente—my people. It needed Mexico, if only for a brief taste.
Interestingly, I was to experience a glaring paradox on this sojourn. I made the trip happen by staying in the humblest place I’ve been. I was invited for the first time to my friends’ sprawling penthouse on the ocean with its 360-degree view and gorgeous contemporary comforts. At the end of the trip I went to see another friends’ surreal castle stay at a lavish place I’ve walked by a hundred times, always wondering what lay behind the stone walls. (And this is what lay behind it …Casa del la Torre)
The juxtaposition was a bit jarring. I love luxury as much as anyone. But I learned something. Waking up in my small Mexi-room on the hard bed with its threadbare sheets, I was still very grateful. I walked along the seaside silently sharing my list of gratitude with the Universe each morning like the little girl in this video.
I was in the sweet frequency of my soul and it was singing because I’d satiated and honored it.
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