As fate would have it, one of my best friend's father happens to know the coach of my favorite soccer team in London, the Arsenal Football Club. A couple of months ago, he offered me tickets to a game, a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity that I could not pass up. So I bought a one-way ticket to London to watch the game and then tour Europe on an adventure of joy, perspective, and expansion. I spent two weeks in London, and below is a small bit about the amazing experience that I had in that time.
Sleep-deprived from a cross-world journey, while on the plane from New York to London I booked a last-minute hotel to get a night of good sleep, opting to skip the hostel experience for my first night here. I found a random hotel that had good reviews and accepted my credit card points, and headed straight there from the airport upon arrival.
As I approached the hotel, I saw a woman walking past with a yoga mat. I asked her if there was a yoga studio nearby and she pointed to a sign right across the street from my hotel, Triyoga. I dropped my things off in the hotel, enjoyed a soothing shower, and decided to stop by the studio to take a look.
I walked into the studio and was overcome with an oddly familiar feeling. I knew I had never been there before, but something about the logo, the name, and the vibe, felt comforting to me. Karina came to London in 2019 to do train with her favorite teacher, David Swenson. Could this possibly be the place where she trained? With tingles in my spine, I asked the lady at the front desk if David Swenson had ever led a training there, but she didn’t recall so asked the manager to come talk to me.
I explained the situation to the manager, that I had lost my beloved last year and I had a feeling she had been to this space. He confirmed that David had indeed hosted a training there and agreed to look up Karina’s name in their system. By this point, I was confident this was the place, and sure enough, K in their system. Such a kind man, he could see how meaningful this was to me, to have stumbled into the exact place Karina came to London to study with her favorite teacher. Tenderly, he offered to give me a tour of the space, showing me the room where Karina trained and booked me for a class to practice in that room the next morning.
Not in London for more than an hour, I was led to the last place Karina trained in Ashtanga Yoga, the practice to which she dedicated her heart, body, and soul. I felt her presence with me. And I asked her, “Please, darling, protect and guide me on my journey through Europe. Bring me the people I need to meet, show me the things I need to see, help me to make this trip smooth, peaceful, and uplifting. Show me joy, bring me expansion, and help me to spread light wherever I go.”
That next morning, I set out to find a cup of coffee and a place to do some writing prior to the yoga class. I found a cafe up the street and had a 10-minute wait until they opened. As I waited, a middle-aged Pakistani man named Muhammad Ali approached me. He looked to be very poor, yet he saw my empty water bottle and offered to fill it with the rest of what he had in his bottle. I politely declined, but touched by the generosity of a man who didn’t have much, I offered to buy him whatever he wanted from the cafe.
He graciously accepted and we sat and chatted for nearly 2 hours. A man of many words and a slightly erratic train of thought, he dropped some profound ideas into our conversation, wise beyond his demeanor. A student of philosophy, he saw the world from an elevated perspective. After sharing the story of Karina and the yoga studio up the street, I said, “I feel very guided by her.” He responded promptly, “No! She does not guide. She only loves. She is Love.”
This hit me pretty hard. The common reaction when I share my story about Karina is one of sympathy. This man heard my story as a matter of fact. Death was not sad to him, which was surprisingly refreshing. And he was right. Karina doesn’t guide. She Loves. Love is the frequency at which she exists, and she is there when I align with that vibration. When aligned with Love, I provide my own guidance. Karina only Loves, and her Love offers me the clarity to move through life with my own power, my own free will, and have my own experiences.
This was a big shift for me, having spent a good part of this last year attributing the goodness in my life as gifts from her. She doesn’t gift, she only Loves. She doesn’t guide, she only Loves. She doesn’t provide, she only Loves. I do all of those things. I am capable of having my own guidance system, following my highest path, seeing and experiencing my highest good. Karina only Loves, which is fuel to my vehicle of expansion, but not the driver of it.
This realization led to two weeks in London of pure joy and ease. I enjoyed one of the best days of my life, seeing my Arsenal win 5-0, seated next to one of my closest friends, as a guest of the Arsenal coach, and meeting one of my favorite players. A day I’ll never forget.
There were times when I wasn’t sure where to sleep, and I was guided to a bed. Times when my hostel wasn’t very livable, and I was offered a more comfortable place to sleep. I met wonderful, caring, interesting, loving people. I felt cared for, accepted, and appreciated wherever I went.
In San Diego, I have a cute dog, a thriving business, a community, a reputation, all of which help me to connect with people. Here, I just have me. I show up with another human and have nothing but my energy, presence, and my words and actions. Karina is in my heart and I will always be inspired by her Love, but this has been my opportunity to step out of the story and be fully myself with others from around the world.
It has been helpful to see each person I connect with as an extension of myself. After all, we are all one of the same, having come from the same place, the same extension of Spirit, the same opportunity to live, and the same layers of self. In doing so, not only has my experience been elevated, but so has that of those I encounter. I have felt the validation of the self-work that has been so profound for me in the realm of masculinity, presence, and connection, nicely encapsulated by a message received from a lovely French woman I had the opportunity of spending a few days with.
“Hey, I hope you’re doing well. I just wanted to say I’m very happy I got to meet you and to spend a bit of time with you. You really are one of a kind and you deserve all the happiness in the world. I found your open-mindedness, kindness, and full presence, really inspiring. You have such a gentle but strong spirit. I believe there is something so deep, pure, and almost angel-like about you, your essence. Those had never been qualities I had been searching for in men before, but now I met you, it has been so eye-opening the kind of new direction I want to take with my romantic life. I admire your resiliency, and how smart and perceptive you are while remaining this humble. And your love making is a work of art. I think you helped me re-integrate and appreciate a sensitive part of me that I had been denigrating for a while. It’s been hard having to let you go even though I had just met you. Anyways, I am looking forward for you to find joy, perspective, and expansion in Europe. It was a pleasure to be a part of your adventure, even for a short period of time, Stephen”
Reading this message filled my body with gratitude and brought tears of joy to my eyes. I could have written this exact message to Karina. Everything that was said to me, I could have said to her. To be seen by another the way in which I saw Karina is the highest honor. Another testament to how her Love is within me and continues to be expressed through me, fuel to my engine of expansion.
While I take ownership of the tremendous amount of work I have done over the last year and a half, I am blessed with having had the opportunity to live with an angel for 7 years who embodied these qualities and never settled. As this trip is helping me to step into my own story, my own power, she continues to inspire me to do so. I feel her presence wherever I go; in moments of quiet, I hear her voice, “I love you Memes, keep going.”
Thank you for taking the time to read my blog. I am starting a fund to launch my book and contribute to others in need of support. Your donation goes a long way to help me do just that. I appreciate you!
Please be sure to subscribe to this blog to get all of my articles, special updates on the book, and more offerings as I continue my work.