This photo was taken 12 years ago in a hotel lobby in Chennai, India immediately after my daughter Chelsea and I experienced mind-blowing spiritual readings by a gifted Palmist (palm reader) named Parmiso.
I love this one; it absolutely captured the hope that filled the two of us: for ourselves, for the world and for each other, on the winter day in 2010.
At the time, Chelsea was studying abroad – living out her dream of learning around the world, by taking her studies shipboard on Semester at Sea in her junior year of college – and I was meeting her on the ship’s visit to India, which I made happen by finding a freelance writing gig that allowed me to fly across the world to meet her for just five days.
Prior to arrival, we had no idea our quick trip would fall on the religious holiday of Maha Shivaratri, a Hindu festival beautifully celebrated each year in reverence of Lord Shiva, the Hindu god of destruction and regeneration. (Hold that thought…)
On arrival, after a dinner that felt more like a performance for tourists (albeit at an incredible restaurant), we asked the (wonderful) hotel concierge, Sricharon, if he could help us see this country in a way that would allow us to connect with or witness life more like a local. To take us off the beaten path and steer us to a Hindu temple, to observe, and to pray, respectfully, with the community.
This kind man heard us – he really did – and connected us with a fabulous tour guide (Chels recalls her being an alternate iteration of me at the time; we had so much in common, and connected with ease and depth right away). She used her gift of gab to get us “westerners” into the Mandir or Temple, to observe this gorgeous festival, already in full swing.
It took all of a minute or two inside for our senses to be intoxicated by the whole experience. The energy and excitement building inside the tent was infectious, between the hum of the harmonious chanting from worshippers of all ages, and the strong, sweet scent of fresh jasmine, hanging from everywhere. We meditated and prayed for a while and were grateful to be granted the opportunity to worship alongside these welcoming souls. By the time we got back to the hotel, our hearts were overflowing.
We jolted towards Sricharon (our trusted concierge), thanking him and asking for more authentically Indian experiences like that, please please please. He told us, in his own inimitable way, we ain’t seen nothing yet.
He then sent us for a very interesting morning of an Ayurvedic healing ritual that included detoxifying treatments for cleansing, strengthening body tissues (dhatus) and balancing bodily doshas, Chelsea and I left this center for health and balance all oiled up, and spiritually primed for our next adventure.
And then we met Parmiso, the Palmist, whose many years of wisdom flooded into our lives. (This dude was no spring chicken, and it seemed like each year of age held a hundred in wisdom!). Parmiso’s reputation certainly preceded him, so when he showed up to our room to read our palms, we had no idea what was coming.
He introduced himself with a story about how he had read the Pope’s palm by freeze-framing a video of the Pontiff’s open hand, and proudly showed us the Pope’s thank-you note. We were impressed, sure, but more endeared by Parmiso’s genuine pride in his work, and we were eager to hear what he had to say about our future.
Parmiso closely examined our palms, tracing the lines, and quickly kicked us off with a warning. This was 2010, and he cautioned us to beware of some pretty rough times ahead, not just for us, but for all of humanity. But, he was also quick to tell us that together, we would somehow find a way to power through it, and help others do the same.
He also told us that while we would lead others to their purpose, we would not be doing it from an ivory tower, because, as he said, we prefer being “on the ground” to being “up there.” Whatever that meant?
We obviously didn’t picture then the hard labor that would go into producing camp-inspired retreats + experiences for grown-ups, ha! In fact, what was 2.5 years before Campowerment was even a germ of an idea.
And today, as our “movement” inches towards ten years old, though it has been a far from an easy time in the world, we’re still standing – and if you’re here to read this, so are you. And not just standing, but standing in our power, even more than we were then, guided by incredible light workers like Parmiso each step of the way.
And this picture? It just reminds me that long before this dream to help others find their purpose and their power was even hatched, it was our curiosity – mine and Chelsea’s, that took us off the main roads of southern India and onto this long and winding spiritual path to right here, in search of something more.
We learned on that trip (for the however many hundredth time) to trust the cues we’re getting to keep chasing curiosities, asking for help to get to the paths that call us in, seeking new perspectives, and opening our minds to the generous wisdom others have to share. Most importantly, we learned again to keep growing, and holding each other up through everything life offers. Oh, and that special experiences with special people is always worth the trip.
Today, as I treasure this photo and memory, I want to acknowledge how deeply privileged and grateful we both feel, to be able to share this profound collective experience – the community that Campowerment has grown into – with thousands of people. It’s not just driven by our curiosity and a desire to find the magic inside of life — it’s driven by yours…specifically each of you who have come to play with us, both online and in person at the nearly 1,000 online and ~100 in-person experiences we’ve held over the last decade.
Because of the unconditional love and support within Campowerment’s gates, together, we are finding alt ways to bounce back from grief and loss, divorce, devastating illnesses, gender re-awakenings, career curveballs, kids flocking out of the nest, family traumas, important new beginnings and s’more.
Resilient MFers we are! If Campowerment had a palm, we’d be willing to bet Parmiso would have told it so 😉