Back in April, I made this video and declared that I was starting a new blog. As much as I love blogging at BigGirlFitGirl.com, I have a lot to say that doesn’t feel appropriate to post there, as it’s not related to fitness or weight loss. I wanted to share my journey of self discovery too, and as much as I still want to help people to reach their physical health and fitness goals, I am seriously compelled to share my personal evolution as well. I bought the domain for AshleyRomano.com the day before I made the video and 5 months have gone by without making an official first post here. My evolution, as i’m calling it, hasn’t stopped over the last few months, but rather, I just didn’t feel the urge or “i must write about that” so I didn’t force myself to start posting. I was a little confused about why I was so passionate to get this blog up and running but had yet to make use of it, but I get it now. My first post was meant to be about Mount Shasta and when I set up this page, I didn’t even know it existed yet.
A few months ago, one of my God daughters and her mother, Jan, a friend of mine for the last 16 years, moved to Northern California. I wasn’t sure when or if I’d get out there to visit because it’s clear across the country and since my stint of living in Los Angeles in 2009, California has been on my shit list and I had no plans to go back. But, when another friend who is living in Port Angeles, Washington invited me to come whale watching with her family, it seemed like it would be the perfect time to visit another city on the west coast.
At first I was planning to visit Denver, but when plans fell through I realized this was the perfect time to visit Jan and her baby, so I booked a flight to Sacramento and then a return flight to Florida from there, a few days later. When I told her about my plans to come visit, she was so excited and the first thing she mentioned was taking a trip to Mount Shasta. I had never heard of Mount Shasta, but she had. It is considered by some to be the 8th wonder of the world and is known for being one of the most spiritual places in the country, and even in the world. Here is a great article about Mount Shasta and what this magical place offers.
When Jan moved to California she hadn’t intentionally picked a location near Mount Shasta, but when she checked to see how close by it was, found it was less than a two hour drive.
I took an uber from the airport to Jan’s home and on the way my driver pointed out Mount Shasta in the distance. When I saw that mountain I was so filled with excitement and enthusiasm. I was sort of confused because I didn’t realize how excited I was to go somewhere I barely knew anything about. At that point I had done almost no research and was just going based off of my friend vaguely mentioning that it was an amazing place.
The next day, we planned to go on a tour of a cave at the base of the mountain and then to check out the mountain itself, specifically the Sacramento Headwaters. But, we got a later start than anticipated and missed the last tour. We decided to keep a positive attitude and go with that “the mountain just wanted to make sure we got there today” and rather than being upset we weren’t going to explore caves, we headed toward the mountain.
Jan had previously visited the mountain with a spiritual guide and he recommended a crystal shop at the base of the mountain that we wanted to check out. The shop was so awesome and we spent at good 30 minutes looking at different stones and books and making our selections. I got a pieces of green calcite and cintrine as well as some sage and juniper to burn and we headed to the mountain.
Rather than heading right into exploring, when we got there we sat down and enjoy the picnic lunch we had packed. There’s a park area nearby, so we sat in the grass and let the baby run around as the sun began to lower in the sky and a couple beat on their drums. When we finished our food we headed over to the Sacramento Headwaters.
The Sacramento Headwaters is where the Sacramento River begins. This is where water that has been filtering through a volcano (Mount Shasta) for years finally reaches the outside. If you place your bottle or jug right at the space where it exits the mountain, you can collect freezing cold, freshly filtered, mountain water that has yet to be exposed to the bacteria and elements outside of the mountain. When Jan told me we were going to drink water from the mountain, I assumed there was a well or something. When we arrived and I saw people collecting water right out of the earth, I nearly lost my shit. For the past week I had been gushing over how amazed I was by all the gardens and home grown food I saw in Washington and the Pacific North West. I was obsessed with picking vegetables right out of trees and eating them directly from the earth whether it was my friend Jenni’s blackberry, fig, or apple trees or Jan’s neighbor’s pear tree. Collecting and drinking this raw water from the earth was like a whole new freaking level of the awesome that is nature.
As soon as we were in the area of the headwaters, before I had even taken a sip, I started to feel something I couldn’t explain and still can’t exactly seem to put into words. A woman who was also collecting water came over and complimented my hair. She said she had seen us in the little town by the crystal shop and was drawn to us. She had gone home and her son said he wasn’t feeling well and needed water from the earth. Although she had just walked in the door she decided to come and get him some… and there we were, again. She told us she felt like she was supposed to give us her information and let us know what kind of work she does; she’s into light work and alchemy, among other spiritual practices. We thanked her and she left, after letting us know she was available to meet or we could get in touch over the phone if we’d like.
Jan and I agreed something about her vibe was so right, and we wanted to meet with her. We decided to call and see if we could come by her place after we got our water and she agreed.
We went back to our water collection mission and as we made our way toward the spring, I started to cry. I was so confused and not expecting this at all. I wasn’t upset or crying tears of sadness but I had an overwhelming desire to let it out. I was slightly embarrassed but my friend insisted it was okay and didn’t tease me for it, but rather, just gave me a hug. I collected my water and took my first sip on video, some part of me knew this was something i needed to remember forever. Not only did the water taste amazing, but I later read in a book I had purchased at the crystal shop, that it contains liquid ormus, or the beginning elements of gold.
After collecting our water, we unwrapped our new stones and set them in a safe spot to be “baptized” by the mountain. We sat under a tree and took a minute to pray, it felt like the most appropriate thing to do. While I prayed, I felt an overwhelming sense of gratitude and couldn’t stop thanking the universe for sending me there. Although I tried to fight it, the silent tears continued.
When I got up after praying I realized other people who had arrived were also sitting and praying and another woman was also crying. Jan asked me to hold the baby for a minute while she went back to the car for more stones and in those few minutes, I continued to cry. I felt so incredibly overwhelmed because I was beginning to realize what i felt was so incredibly close to God. I don’t know how I know that, but I know it, and it was kind of freaking me out because I didn’t even believe in God until the last couple years and I am still working out exactly what I believe… whether it’s “God” as most people know it, Source, Universe, or what. Without even understanding what I believe, it was so easy to understand what I felt. And it felt so good.
As we packed up to leave the Headwaters, we got a text from Heather, the woman we had just met. We decided to go by and do some energy work with her and see what it was all about. She lives in an adorable little cabin at the base of the mountain with her 6 year old son, Stirling.
She invited us in and it became clear pretty fast that she was pretty drawn to me, as far as what we would be tackling that evening. She asked me if I had any medical issues I was working though and I confirmed I was convinced I had leaky gut. My digestion hasn’t been normal for about 2 years and medical doctors have yet to find anything actually wrong with me. For about 80 days I had been following a leaky gut diet (cutting out sugar, many starches and all the foods i’m sensitive to as well as adding pre and probiotics and other supplements to my diet.) Even with all these changes, my stool had changed minimally, so i figured it was worth mentioning.
With my permission, Heather communicated with my spirit guides and was told that it was an emotional issues stemming from guilt and shame… funny because those are the two emotions I focus on releasing myself from every month at full moon yoga. She asked if this resonated with me at all and I decided that if we were going to do this, I wasn’t going to waste anyone’s time and I would have to be honest. I spilled the beans to Heather and confessed to the parts of my past which I struggle with; something that I am still surprised by as I have confided in less than a handful of people and these aren’t the types of life experiences I have made public or feel safe talking about with most people yet. However, Heather felt safe and Jan already knew, so I opened up. Not only did Heather take my truth and apply no judgement to me, but she said some things that were exactly what I needed to hear. At this time, I’m not comfortable discussing this on a public platform, but when my memoirs are published in 2017, you’ll have an opportunity to better understand and to hear what Heather shared with me.
We spent nearly two hours with Heather. During our time she often communicated with the angles and spirit guides in the room. She’d often ask questions and to understand the response, she’d link her thumb and forefinger of each hand together, like a chain, and give it a little tug. Sometimes her fingers would open and the link would be released, other times it would hold strong. This is how she differentiated between yes’s and no’s and received guidance about which direction to take our visit in to help me heal the most.
I was instructed to choose 13 cards from a spiritual card deck. I wasnt intimidated at all because i’d had my cards read in the past twice, and both women were incredibly in love with Jesus, so I was already aware that card reading isn’t the scary fuckery they make it out to be on tv. She wasn’t predicting my future, but more so, helping me to understand my present. I didn’t take pictures of them and don’t remember exactly what each card was, but several of them stood out out to me.
One card suggested that I was on an incredible journey and lifestyle transformation, truth (see BigGirlFitGirl.com). Another suggested that this journey had triggered a career change, truth (I have cut back on my career as a hairdresser to pursue a career in lifestyle change). Another card said that I would impact the world through books, truth, as I’m currently editing my memoir in which I feel incredibly strongly will positively impact the lives and self worth of anyone who reads it. Another card read “home” and affirmed I am going to figure out where home is for me, and that it’ll be somewhere that “sets my soul on fire.” I also learned about chords I need to cut in toxic relationships. Not necessarily that I have to cut anyone off, but that I have to release myself from the obligation of keeping close relationships with those who drain me. It was also confirmed that plant medicine is my friend and something I should partake in, something I have known for a while but struggled with feeling bad about due to the labels our government puts on these types of medicine.
Another card suggested I be more kind with my words, truth. I often wish I had held my tongue and ignored certain comments i just cant seem to not respond to. I am always upset with myself when I speak unkind words and it’s something I am working on. Heather also asked if I ever speak unkind words to myself, and I admitted that i frequently do. Although I am very aware of my fabulous qualities and the good things i bring to the world, I often feel as though I am not worthy of any good in life because of my past. I often feel as though no matter how much positivity i offer to the world, I am not worthy of goodness or happiness or love. Specifically, I am not worthy of being loved by a man, whether it be my father or romantically. Heather offered me a suggestion that every time I talk (or think) lowly of myself, to take a moment to apologize for “failing to remember I am divine.” So often I feel like people only think I am awesome because they don’t know my past, and if they did, they wouldn’t feel like that about me. For this woman who knows nothing about any of the good i have ever done in the world, but who does know about the things I am ashamed of, to still insist that I am divine was so incredible. To insist that I am still worthy, to insist that I am still lovable. She wasn’t biased because she is my friend or family. She wasn’t biased because she follows me on social media and sees how my work impacts people. She doesn’t have a clue about any of that. She just knows my soul is worthy and what may have happened with my human body is a nonfactor. I am divine and should not be speaking anything less to or about myself.
After my card reading and some more communication with my spirit guides and angels Heather understood that I was having such a hard time letting go of the shame, guilt, and grief I felt because my soul has lived the same pattern for 33 lifetimes. Whether anyone reading this believes in reincarnation or not doesn’t matter, as i believe it, and this makes perfect sense to me. I have tried and tried and tried to let go of these feelings and it feels impossible at times. However, knowing it’s not just the trauma of this lifetime, but I had put myself through this pain for so many lifetimes, makes it so much easier to understand why I struggle to release it even though I know better.I gave Heather permission to perform an energy clearing and to remove 5 heart walls.
We stepped outside and she asked me to spin counter clockwise until my body told me to stop. When I stopped, I was facing south east, and she began the ritual. Her bare feet were planted in the earth and she spoke out loud and used magnets to help with the clearing. Her prayers were of gratitude and healing, making sure to include Jan, my god child, herself, and her son in all of them. At one point, both of us had our eyes closed and when we opened them we were very aware of how many stars had appeared in the sky. The sky is beautiful in the middle of nowhere and was when we stepped outside of the cabin. But after the clearing it was like a million more stars showed up in that sky. I hugged this woman so tightly and for so long, in comparison to the quick hugs most of us give in our daily life. I felt so safe and so loved and so connected to this woman who was a stranger only a few hours before.
We went back into the house and she showed us her altar and the 3 adults chanted ” Nam Myoho Renge Kyo” as Stirling slept and the baby nursed. Heather explained that this ancient phrase is a vow to oneself to never yield to difficulties and to win over one’s suffering. At the same time, it is a vow to help others reveal this law in their own lives and achieve happiness. Heather and this phrase helped me to solidify my belief that all my suffering had purpose. She also explained it’s easier to communicate with our souls and universe in ancient language because our souls and universe are eternal. This is the reason much chanting and praying is done in ancient tongue.
As Jan and I prepared to leave, Heather sent us off with gifts, noting there was something special for me in a magazine she had handed me. I took a quick glance and thought it looked like an invitation to Buddhism, but didn’t give it a ton of thought. The whole way home we talked about how amazing the night had been, how amazing that mountain is, and how soon we have to make it a point to go back.
The next morning, I pooped for the first time after meeting Heather. I nearly lost my shit, pun intended. For the first time in 2 years, I had solid, sinking poop. At the risk of this being TMI, previously my poop was liquid and floating on top of the water like oil. I couldn’t believe my eyes, so much so, that I ran out of the bathroom announcing itfor everyone to hear and took a picture to show Jan. I needed someone else to confirm this was really happening because I seriously could barely believe my eyes. it’s been 3 days since I drank from the mountain and met Heather and all 3 of my bowel movements have been solid and more “normal” than I have experienced in years.
On my flight home I decided to check out the materials Heather gave me and realized she had indeed given me literature and an invitation to check out Buddhism. With nothing better to do on a 6 hour flight, I read it all and realized she’d provided me with exactly what I was looking for.
In the beginning of my spiritual journey I realized I was very much envious of those who were part of organized religion because of the sense of community they experience as well as the comfort they must feel in 100% believing in something bigger than themselves. I wanted that so badly, but had continually tried to expose myself to organized religion, specifically Christianity, and it never felt right to me. I respect those who follow it, but there are facets I do not agree with that keep me from being a part of it and being able to accept it as “truth” when I know in my heart, some of the teachings to be untrue. (i’ll save that for another post.) While reading through these materials, I realized there was an organization dedicated to exactly how I’ve been trying to live for the last few years. I want to find my truest self, fall in love with my truest self, create good karma, live a cruelty free life, pursue things that make me happy, and to help others to find happiness themselves. When summarized in that way, I have been practicing Buddhist values for a while, I just had no idea. Since I got home, I found a Soka Gakkai International meeting in my city and I am excited to meet with them and see if this is truly what I have been looking for. For years I have felt compelled that I am supposed to contribute to saving peoples lives and changing the world but i’ve struggled to pin point exactly how. I am going into this with an open mind and high hopes that I am heading in the right direction.
When I allow myself to just be and to observe what I am feeling with all this, i feel an overwhelming sense of pride. It feels like in the past few days I have taken complete control of my soul’s eternity. I feel like I am about to embark on the healing I’ve been looking for all along, and because I will do it in this lifetime, my soul will not repeat this same cycle and experience the same pain in my next lifetime. I feel like I am finally, truly, in control.
Additionally, I know this is going to sound crazy, but I really feel like a weight has been lifted. Since leaving the mountain, I haven’t had a single thought that I am unworthy or unlovable; thoughts that typically cross my mind daily. For some unknown reasons, in the weeks leading up to my trip, I felt a little down on life and a lot down on myself. I was beginning to wonder if all the work i had done regarding self love and self care had gone out the window because I couldn’t get the feeling of shame and guilt and lack of worth to leave me. In this moment, i feel like all of the things I have been affirming and trying to convince myself to believe, have finally permeated my subconscious mind. I feel like my belief system has been permanently altered and when i say “I am worthy” or “I am enough” or “I am a fucking rockstar goddess” I actually believe it.
I am so grateful to my friend for telling me about this mountain and taking me here. I am so grateful for Stirling requesting water from the earth from his mom and so grateful that she took the opportunity to speak to us. It is no mistake she saw us earlier that day and we happened to be at the Headwaters at the same exact time. Everything about this experience feels like divine intervention.
I’m excited to learn more about the Buddhist practice and will share my thoughts and growth here, but i am even more excited to get back to that mountain. There are 12 documented sacred sites and I am already making plans to visit each one of them. I truly feel like I’ve been called to this place for enlightenment and visiting these locations is engraved into my soul as something I need to do. For months I have been on a journey of finding my truest self with no influence from society or people about how I should be. I’m very aware that who i believe I am becoming may be mocked as a modern day hippy or a conspiracy theorist, but I truly believe myself to be a free thinker who is just trying to live up to her greatest potential. I am so proud of the growth I have made so far, getting into shape physically and healing sickness naturally. I am so much happier than the days I wished myself dead or self harmed just to get by, but I feel like there’s another level out there waiting for me. Right now I am kind of just “normal happy” and I feel like if i allow myself to evolve spiritually and mentally I can experience the bliss i crave and the life I am dreaming of. And something in my heart tells me that means more time at this mountain and more time making a spiritual connection. I am already planning my next trip back and have plans to attend a Buddhist meeting as a guest, this Wednesday. Looking forward to sharing what is to come.