How a Frog and I Faced My Fears

Every scab has a story, a beginning (pre scab beautiful skin life), a middle (miserable, magnificent way of the wound), and an end (post scab “flawed” skin life). Well this scab, my frog scab, my Kambo chapter, has a very different one, This scab story starts with some very sad scarless skin and ends with a fearless, fierce and fully forgiving set of scabs. My Kambo stamp, my warrior wound, my surrender to Source through the secretion of an Amazonian frog.

The moment I decided to try Kambo (a ceremony using frog secretion to create purging in the body to help cleanse of toxins, patterns and traumas)  was one I will remember forever. It paralleled that of a peer pressure infused after school program: "Come on man, try the cigarette, it will take the stress away. It'll feel so good to not have to think so much when you inhale that sweet sweet tobacco." So like that but totally opposite. I was in a room full of healers at my first healing retreat and everyone around the table had tried Kambo either the previous weekend or before that in their own healing journey. My friend to the right showed me the beautiful scabs from his Kambo ceremony and even let me touch them. My stomach dropped with excitement and fear as they described the experience of having frog poison put into their bodies in order to purge toxins, old patterns, and traumas.

Using the exact opposite techniques of school aged peer pressure, they informed me how physically exhausting, painful and mentally difficult it sounded. Unlike a cigarette, I would be faced with all my "stuff" rather than numb or relax away from it. Somehow in their healing healer like ways, their sacred storytelling of the ceremony sold me on it. Almost. First I told myself 30 excuses why I shouldn't take the leap: "I can't fast, it's December 28th, there's still so many cranberry bliss bars from Christmas calling my name tonight, I cry anytime I throw up (as if I cared when I did it 3 times a week in college), I have to throw up in front of strangers (as if I didn't also do that 30 times in college), what if I puke on someone (as if I didn't do that another 30 times in college)?" I worked through those fears and went on my merry way to tell my boyfriend how I plan to let this frog get extra close with me the next day. 


Well boyfriend just looked at me as if I told him I was leaving him to actually marry this frog, live in a castle made of Nutella and never return again. He looked at me like I was crazy. And that's okay because until 3 hours ago I had no idea what Kambo even was! How could I blame him. So we talked and I convinced him that I would return home after the ceremony the next day slightly changed, but unharmed. This was a lesson for me, that even my very open, sweet heart of a boyfriend may not understand my wound healing ways and accepting that. Because what they don't tell you in healing school(a.k.a. Hogwarts for those wanting to work in healing--not a real thing but wish it was) is that not everyone you love will love everything you do to become more lovely. And you won't even love everything you do to become a more you version of you but you should let yourself do it anyway. 

When I arrived to ceremony the next day I did not want to get out of the car. I saw my Kambo practitioners arrive and almost drove away that day. But I swear in that moment I could already hear the frog saying: "Go, you deserve to forgive yourself, for your fears and your faults. You deserve freedom." So I went, reluctantly. The two sweet souls that led me through Kambo welcomed me into the room and had me meditate while drinking two liters of water, preparing for ceremony. I felt this water weigh me down with love. It was as if I was drinking 1,000 of my tears that wanted to be turned into teaching moments and togetherness and torches to pave my way through the ceremony. And they did. This beautiful water brought me wisdom in the next 30 minutes of my life. 

As the Kambo was given to me I instantly felt poison rush into my veins. My hands burned, my neck felt tight and it was painful because I didn’t know what would happen next. I literally had to trust the process because there was nothing else I could do. My body begged me to feel my burdens. Every inch of my body bellowed and ached for me to become aware of all it bears. I felt the closest to all my pain than I ever had before. I felt it ball up and bury its way into my heart chakra. As I purged I could feel the sweet surrender of some of my pains but felt so much of it still filled me. Nausea took over me. I forced myself to focus on the drumming of my facilitators but I felt so defeated. I'm drained yet this darkness remains. Even Kambo couldn't push my pain out of my body. I layed down feeling grateful but slightly disappointed for the displacement rather than decrease of my pain. 


As I lay down feeling defeated, an angel appeared telling me "the power of your purging will push you past your pain. You're not done yet. Speak your truth" So I slowly sat up and shakily spoke my truth. I told my facilitator that the pain didn’t release. My pain and suffering got stuck in my heart rather than leaving. I needed more help. I needed her hand on my heart. I needed more heartbreak before I could hurl away more hurts.

She explained we would do Rapé now, a ceremony using sacred tobacco to help further release. She blew the tobacco up my nostrils and I instantly knew that this was my time to truly purge. I purged and cried and purged some more. I felt all the old suffering from when I was ten being told I was too this or too that, never enough, come to the surface. I felt every boundary that was ever crossed within me bubble up again then be released. I felt the weight of every boy who ever broke my body. The heartbreak of every man who didn't believe me. The dread of all my doubts and the dirt of all my demons. I felt the grief that grabbed onto me every time I gathered my thoughts. I said hello to all these hurts then let them leave my lips and burn themselves into the bucket pressed between my knees. 

I had never heard myself breathe like this. With such depth and discernment and fear and freedom all at once. I felt myself become the frog, just breathing to be and help others know and navigate. I now heard the words "you are worthy" and with a tub of my tummy's toxic traumas tilted toward my face, I found this for the first time to be true. Although I know there is so much navigating and integrating to happen in my healing journey, I felt Kambo and Rapé lift me to a level of light that showed me how I could shine without all this shit in my body. But it was my bravery that brought me to these buckets of my burdens. That forced me to face the frog. To feel the frog. Purging so much of my pain created space within my physical and mental being for creativity and worth. And Wonder, and Wander. And endless appreciation for all the elements of my emotions.

The frog helped me forgive, fight forward, find my fierce feminine. I will never forget how the frog helped me face my fears. 

This story represents my personal perception of my Kambo experience. Everyone’s time with Kambo will very. It is important to note that my Kambo experience was administered by an experienced practitioner. To learn more, please visit: https://iakp.org


How Starbucks Changed My Life

I KNOW WHAT you’re thinking, this millennial is about  to go on about how her peppermint mochas gave her enough energy to get through her midterms. I’ll save you some time and cut through the Venti size bullshit. This is a story about struggle of the soul. Struggle of a 20 something year old stuck in society’s shallow soul sucking expectations.

I’ll start with the random Tuesday in October when In fact, I was drinking a peppermint mocha— but that’s not the point. Anyway, my peppermint Mocha and I were making our way down the mundane path of interstate 405 to complete a not so mundane job, a psychiatric assessment for one of my new clients. At this time I’m a 20 something year old therapist trying to help kids find happiness in one of the rainiest cities in America— little did they teach us in social work school, making kids happy is super difficult (I find out later it’s not so difficult- double chocolate  chip Frappuccino’s usually do the trick)— anyway, I start to feel my chest ball up, freeze, start on fire, freeze again and nearly make me never want to drink a peppermint mocha again. 

Then I realize— it’s not the coffee that is causing me to struggle for air, to feel so close to fainting that I pull to the side of the busy road, it’s.. its.. my mind goes blank. What is it? I see my clients have them daily. I lose track of any words… A panic attack. I’m having a panic attack. Damn it.

I then realize I’m having this attack on one of the busiest highways. My panic attack amps up causing my breathing to go a mile a minute. I’m sucking at any bit of air I can get, all the while crying because I paid 4.95 for a drink that’s getting cold. I reach for the tissues in my glove compartment and get a glimpse of myself. A 20 something year old with 20 something reasons she shouldn’t be looking like she’s 60 something and in pain and regretting so many choices. And so tired. I vow then to never look at myself again and wish that I had A) a really good concealer for these bags under my eyes and B) a purpose in life that didn’t make me feel like my soul was surrendered.

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A MONTH LATER
, I’m handing off a grande peppermint mocha to a 20 something year old with the same look I had in the mirror that day in the car. I smile at her, wishing her a great day, knowing deep down the highlight of her’s is likely this drink. And yes, I didn’t mention but I work at Starbucks now! Free peppermint mochas! And freedom from feeling like a fake! Freedom from feeling I need to fix every damn thing I set my eyes on!

I quit the therapy job a few days after the car conundrum. Maybe a few weeks after— it all blends together now. Therapy is wonderful, social workers are amazing! But I couldn’t shake how shattered I felt every time I did the work. Then the universe did it’s thing and good old Starbucks found me. The universe didn’t have to work too hard since I was already there once a day, but still! Everything felt aligned. 

I thought it would just be a part time, put-on-a-fake-smile-and-do-your-job, job. But it wasn’t. I found myself smiling everyday when I got to see regulars customers. I saw scared pregnant women become amazing moms (not at the store but you know what I mean). I saw med students become doctors. Husbands become widowed. Puppies become really cute slightly bigger puppies. I saw Barack and Biden come have a nice quiet coffee together. Barack winked at me and said, “I’ll take the usual.“ Just kidding that didn’t happen but how freaking cool would it have been? 

What I really saw was real people. I saw real people struggle and grow. And for once, I didn’t have to do anything besides observe, serve and surrender the urge to “fix it.” My life had been grey until I found the green apron. I saw myself, a lost, educated but not enlightened soul become a slightly less lost, Reiki energy healer. Serving coffee to others convinced me that I owe it to myself, to serve myself. Serving myself became soul searching, which led to a long, incredible, and at times, less than beautiful journey— a Starbucks spiritual awakening. Mostly just a spiritual awakening with lots of free coffee. In that way, Starbucks saved my life. 

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I drink a few less peppermint mochas now and practice a little more meditation. Sometimes I do both and it’s great. But hear me when I say, I don’t think we need to quit our jobs and work at a coffee shop to find ourselves. However the truth is, if you’re stuck on the side of the road looking in the mirror asking yourself where in the world you lost yourself, look back in the mirror and commit to getting your light back, even if it means you’ll be making mochas for a few months. You matter more than money. You matter more than your misconception of what you should do.

Make the Mocha, or don’t. Either way, make the most of the moment when you decide you matter more