Harlot then Hermit

IMG_20150201_180835The following visual list is like cliff notes I made for myself, so I could more clearly see myself–to assuage a growing anxiety that I haven’t been Doing anything these past 9 months…

It is a brief chronicle of the time between leaving New Zealand, just before Christmas last year, up until when I return 4 Sept coming up. After many years of not being able to afford such a visit to the US, I am making up for lost time I reckon. I have been very disoriented without the grounding demands & duties of myoga’s Wellington studio Powa Centre. When I put my Wellington life into storage in Feb 2014, I did not realize that I would still be living out of suitcases 18 months later.IMG_20141224_152727

Feeling like a small cork bobbing aimlessly on a wide sea, I made this list so I could take stock of where I’ve been & what I’ve done, or learned, in half that time while I’ve been away from New Zealand.

my grandfather died at 101 within 30 minutes of my plane leaving Auckland, 23 Dec 2014. Gratefully, I had managed to see him alive earlier that year.Bullfrog

visited Jack, my first step-father, in Grass Valley, California & fed the homeless on Christmas


on the anniversary of my father’s death, 4 Jan 2015, flew from Syracuse to Costa Rica with my mother for 12 days of yagé (ayahuasca) ceremony in the jungle with an ethnobotanist & Secoya elders from Ecuador–felt natural & yet was grateful I had steered clear of hallucinogens until now


returned to Lynn’s (mother) house in Ithaca, NY, still under construction, sleeping amongst piles of things, on the floor

found & hired a lawyer to help understand grandfather’s will/trust & to organize those sort of end-of-life documents for my mother

on-going editing of myogaFreedom website & videos

talk of going to Turkey to create documentary films on endemic plants & folk dance–researching online & at Cornell, in the Costume Collection where I used to work when I was an undergrad there


watched all 9 Seasons of Bones–maybe 100 hours of forensic anthropology, as seen on tv?

road trip to Washington, DC & Pennsylvania to see friends, family, former lover & high school. Childhood figure Chief Rising Sun connects me to Seneca Nation in NY.

money from my father’s land in Arkansas came through after his death 5 years ago–enough to buy a new computer & retire my first-&-only 9 year old one! Also invested in a publishing package with Balboa, division of Hay House, to make me commit to writing a book…IMG_6002

trip to Bermuda to explore possibility of future with former lover & see some of the island–stayed on a boat, acro yoga with him on deck


time in New York City doing some yoga (more acro & Kundalini), visiting friends, art openings, Russian sauna with an investigative journalist & reconnection with a photographer on our 16 year long project to photograph me nude every few years–always an interesting way of checking-in



inheritance from my grandfather–his dictionary & stand sent to me, his backgammon table & chairs requested but currently at large, questions on his will still unanswered, however small inheritance & mother’s hospitality make it possible for me to not have to work for money just yet–a gift indeed as myoga website is yet to make money…

continued editing & production on website, increased blog writing & social media engagement

trip to Utah to teach yoga at a sound healing/psylocybin experience–again glad I waited for when I was more mature to try these things. Trekked through canyons & visited first love from childhood after 15 yearsIMG_20150416_103916

first traditional (Lakota) sweat lodge on my birthday, on-going drumming journeys with mom’s group in Ithaca & time spent with Crow, exploring what my direction might be. Is the Red Road for me?IMG_20150416_103555

birthday present from 2nd stepfather & mother–choosing a new suitcase by Osprey that is both carry-on size wheelie bag and back-pack

slowly making my way through B School with Marie Forleo

Pain to Power Childbirth course with Debra Pascali-Bonaro

gorging on books from Amazon dot com, & thrift store/op(portunity)-shopping–now that I’m in the statesIMG_20150422_195927IMG_20150309_124049

clearing up US tax issues–learning I was misinformed & even if I don’t make any money, I still have to file, so organizing with professionals to back-file strategically & swiftly!

research into my uncle’s past to locate proof of his insanity at an early age so he can receive benefits, visit him in Virginia & am reminded what craziness feels likeIMG_20150502_195751

trip to PA for Bloody Run Canoe Race with Chief Rising Sun & Hickory Edwards of the Onandaga, who paddled from upstate New York to DC to show how waterways used to be traveled & how they’ve been changed by modern man. Chaos to organize until finally a canoe is strapped last minute to my mother’s car with salvaged Christmas ribbon, but they win. Strangely, the white folks who won last year try to cheat them out of their trophy until I walk up to them & confront them…

time with my mother, re-creating our relationship


drum-making workshop on soul-sistah Tink’s birthday–make her a horse drum, which travels with me to drumming, sweatlodge & Sundance

everywhere, sleeping in odd places, some more comfortable than others

considering what to do with my things that have been in storage for 16 years in the US–look into buying a house but can’t get a mortgage. A friend offers to buy one as an investment & very quickly I find a cottage I love with a waterfall at the back…

trip to Puerto Rico to write & visit friends/students from 10 years back, see how the organic food has evolved since my novice home-delivery service there, show PocaHAUNTus for the first time & get to see reactions of audience, write about 30k words on book & gain clearer sense of its intention, gain more courage in going into the ocean




lover who is meant to visit me in PR backs out at last minute–scared of going forward

cottage bid is accepted, yet 30 seconds from going through, the decision is made to not go forward. I’m surprised at my devastation–shows me how much I crave a nest of my own.IMG_20150515_220034

8 Kundalini Yoga rebirthing kriyas on my own in PR, all during Mercury Retrograde. Intense processing & letting go

phantosmia & heat rash while in PR, both concerning at first but phantosmia is encouraging once better understood

another possible mate re-emerges in my life, but when I get close to actually making a plan to see him, he retreats yet again–seems to be a theme with me as the common denominator in each story, so what do I need to shift here?…

while in PR, consider taking myogaFreedom even more global by translating into Spanish

trips to Syracuse to fly out of airport & also to see Katrin & compare our parallel lives of costumes, acting, yoga & healing since knowing one another at Cornell 20 years ago

re-working relationship with an estranged aunt, though still from a distance

surrendering, particularly around partnership & progeny20150615_153638

mock sweatlodge & preparations for Sundance in Canada–materials for prayer flags, locating giveaways, borrowing camping equipment

US credit cards & organizing finances–reviewing 7 years of bank statements for tax filings gives me a clear, unemotional view of my financial past, which then triggers emotions & beliefs around value & success

Receive NZ tax refund, since website is taking far more than it’s returning this year, & that money goes back into website development

downsizing storage & moving it closer to mother’s home, stirs up emotions & ideas around stuff, memories & home

exploring woods & water of Ithaca, becoming more regular with water song–a prayer sung to water–honored to be invited to water walk around Lake Seneca with Crow & Sharon Day, elder who’s walked the length of the Mississippi, among other water bodies


supporting mom in regular yoga practice, gets me back into my own practice more vigorously. Also, watching her & others helps me tweak the website so it better serves its purpose

organizing NZ citizenship ceremony & return flight, which feels exciting & a relief

exploration of pleasure, play & desire as practices & places to move from, & have my movements return to–more challenging than it might, at first, sound. Requires re-wiring

IMG_20150618_172252 IMG_20150616_112838

astrological explorations of self, stars & synastry–sky-watching bright Venus & Jupiter in early evening skies

connecting with half sister & half brother–through my father–I have only met once & thrice respectively. New terrain having siblings

Sundance, the penultimate First Nation ceremony, beyond words, will take ages to integrate, met warriors & wise women

commit to making myogaFreedom website sustainable–in supporting others in home/self-practice & in supporting itself & me–re-launch of site with aim for 111 new subscribers by year-end

former lover surprises me–where will this go?

appointments with publishers to clarify book & push me along that path

2nd stepfather, Jay’s, family reunion in Poconos, Pennsylvania

80 mile prayer walk around Lake Seneca, to bless & bring attention to water at full moon in AugustIMG_20140517_185458

several days of flying to return me to the land of the long white cloud, Aotearoa, 1-4 Sept–who will I be when I land again on those shores?


I have realized just how susceptible I am to the influences of geography & to the energies of others. I feel like a chameleon, which would explain why I have all ways felt most fully mySelf when I am alone. To be able to gain clarity, I require some distance from the influences of other people’s energy.

Immersion & then isolation seems to be my pattern.

Harlot then Hermit.

If we take the original meaning of harlot especially!:  from Old French herlotarlot “vagabond, tramp, vagrant. The word may be Germanic, with an original sense of “camp follower.”

So I look forward to camping & tramping again in New Zealand & distilling from that distance this gestation I’ve experienced in my original homeland–the people, the soil, the waters, the woods, the very chemistry that constitutes my core.IMG_20150527_215120



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5 thoughts on “Harlot then Hermit”

  1. Well Melissa, you have been keeping active! Seems like a real rollercoaster ride you’ve been on this last while. It’s a lovely blog post anyway, very engaging – Thanks for the update.

    1. Thanks for reading Erroll & for your perspective! When I did have my own home I used to like to walk around after guests left & look at the things they looked at & remarked on, as though I might could see myself through their eyes. Maybe this is a virtual version of that! And, you know, I was never drawn to rollercoasters & was somewhat repulsed by hearing a woman rave about them recently, but I’ve been wondering more & more if I will grow to like the human-made rollercoasters as I grow more adept at riding these life ones…

  2. Wow! what a journey!! I had to look back at the beginning of the post to check that you were really just talking about what you’ve done since the end of last year!

    I am SO looking forward to seeing you back in New Zealand in September 🙂

    Also, this post made me think of the quote “True journey is return” from Ursula Le Guin’s novel “The Dispossessed”. And then of a somewhat different quote from her novel “The Left Hand of Darkness”: “it is good to have an end to journey towards, but it is the journey that matters in the end”

    Lots of love,

    Anne xxx

    1. Thank you Anne! I have definitely found in my journeying this past year that when I have the next leg organized, it’s much easier to be present. More recently though, like today!, I don’t know where I will be tomorrow–New York, Pennsylvania, or Washington, DC–but I have means & options, & so a bit more ease with the unknown…

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