“It’s the things you least expect that hit you the hardest.”

~ anonymous



Chapter 4 Recap:

Phoenix confronts haunting memories as he revisits a significant site from his past. The chapter unfolds with recollections of a leisurely Labor Day morning followed by an unexpected breakup five months later. Emotions intensify as Phoenix battles self-doubt, grief, and negative thoughts. The journey takes a poignant turn as Phoenix grapples with the reopening of childhood wounds, leaving him torn between tears, anger, and the need to confront the echoes of the past.




…My childhood wound had re-opened, and it was gushing blood. It was going to get infected if I didn’t tend to it and this wasn’t helping!


My tears turned to anger. Why the fuck did Rafiki take me here? Of all places! Why here?



Unpredictable Conversations With Rafiki


I have run to catch up with Rafiki as he starts the 2.1 miles down to Muir Woods. He’s skipping. Well, if a mandrill can skip that is. He does look quite ridiculous from the back. Especially since he uses his staff to propel himself forward.


Skip. Push. Jump. Skip. Push. Jump.


Muir Woods Trail
© 2024, Inner Child Dimensions, LLC.



I settle in behind him, matching his excited leaps at a brisk pace.


Rafiki chants in a sing song voice, “The more passionate and intense the relationship starts, the deeper the wound it’s trying to heal.”


I swear he reminds me of when he was singing, “Asante sana squash banana, Wewe nugu mimi hapana” and Simba was chasing him trying to figure out how he knew his name. I’m practically running to keep up.


The more passionate and intense the relationship starts, the deeper the wound it’s trying to heal Click To Tweet


This goes on for a couple of minutes before he abruptly stops, turns, and immediately swings his staff at my head. Instinctively, I bring mine up, blocking his, as a loud crack echoes throughout the canyon.


“I see you are no longer running from the past. You are learning from it.” He smiles, and winks, then turns and saunters down the path. I immediately slow my steps or else run him over.


Somehow, that mandril always keeps me on my toes. I never know what he’s going to do or what he’s going to say.


Rafiki knows my back story. He knows what happened this week. We just haven’t had a chance to discuss it. And it’s times like these, I wonder why I open the door to having these conversations with him.


“I did not see this coming,” Rafiki solemnly breaks the silence. “I wish I did. I know how much you wanted this relationship to work out.”


I sigh and breathe deeply. On one hand, I want to process this with him. On the other, I’m not sure I’m in the mental state to handle any critique right now.


Wait. He didn’t see it coming either? He sounds as disappointed as me. Like every one of my friends when they ask how my girlfriend is doing and I have to explain we broke up. Everyone is surprised.


All I can think to say was, “She caught me blindsided. I mean, I sensed something, but I didn’t expect we’d go from committed to single just like that.” I snap my fingers. I want to cry but take deep breaths to stay grounded.


“You were both blind,” Rafiki responds.


“I knew something was off. The energy between her was different. She’ll wait till we see each other in person before we have the harder conversations. That was a long ten days to wonder what was going on. But to end it? Without making any effort to work together?” I shake my head in sadness and frustration. “I’m so confused Rafiki. I thought we had better communication than that.” My head drops and I stare at my feet as I walk.


“Phoenix, she knows she’ll be gone for five months to follow her dreams. She knows she can’t give you what you need. It’s easier to break it off now than to wait until the inevitable,” Rafiki tries to sound empathetic. He’s not. He sounds like he’s lecturing me. I don’t want to listen to this.


“Well, she says it’s not a breakup,” I blurt with venom in my tone. “That she hasn’t left me. We’ve just redefined our relationship.” I hiss the word redefined like toxic gas.


“When did you two separate?”


“You know that?”




“Last week.”


“Were you in a coupleship the week before?”


“I thought we were boyfriend and girlfriend. I mean until she said she wanted a change.”


“If it’s no longer a coupleship, it’s a breakup. We are good at parsing words. What I make up she is saying is that she wants your relationship to be the same, but doesn’t want to be committed. That’s what a breakup is. It’s removing commitment.”


I didn’t expect what Rafiki would say next, “What a gift she gave you.”


I’m at a loss of words. Gift? What? I’m shocked with the change of direction Rafiki just took in our conversation. Just like her, he unexpectedly changed his tune.


In the blink of an eye, without any chance to understand or work on what’s going on he starts talking gifts. I’m not ready for the gifts. I want to scream.


Rafiki isn’t going to stop. Once he’s on a roll, look out. Did anyone teach him about boundaries!?…


Chapter 6


“Human beings can’t bear silence. It would mean that they would bear themselves.”

~ Pascal Mercie, Night Train to Lisbon


Chapter 1 Recap:

In the face of Phoenix’s initial hesitance and amidst his recent breakup, Rafiki successfully persuades him to undertake the daunting hike he and his girlfriend conquered last Labor Day. Rafiki’s insightful counsel, centered around attuning oneself to nature, marks the commencement of a series of valuable lessons. These lessons unfold during the physical rigors and emotional self-discovery that characterize the journey through Muir Woods National Monument, culminating at the majestic summit of Mt. Tamalpias.



The Drive


…“A wise man does not become wise when he stops listening to the seasons,” Rafiki mumbled, throwing his staff in my car next to mine, the one he gave me on Father’s Day 2017. Leaping in the front seat and slapping his fury hand on the top of the dash, he excitedly exclaimed, “Come. Come. No time to waste. The light of day this time of year is short.”


I climb in my car, and we speed down the highway in silence.


I can feel Rafiki’s excitement looking forward to another adventure. His energy is upbeat, joyful, longing to experience the beauty of life.


I’m still contemplative, withdrawn, and nervous to talk with him. While I get a lot out of our conversations, sometimes he can be more challenging than my therapist, many times it can be exhausting.


Fuck! Is that how I was around my ex-girlfriend? Was my energy that exhausting?


I need to break the tension.


“I couldn’t stop laughing during the Saturday Men’s meeting,” I blurted into the silence, “when the chairman gave his share and mentioned how he loved that the speaker started off his First Step using humor saying he went to pray out loud and said, ‘Hey Siri’ instead. Then, a few seconds later, Siri on the chairman’s phone answers loudly ‘Here’s a playlist for Eminem.”


Rafiki slaps his knee, laughs, and snickers, “Yep,” then continues to stare ecstatically at the scenery passing by. More silence.


Why is it so hard for me to sit in silence with another?


I start again, “I can’t believe I spilled Coke on my MacBook Pro the day before my girlfriend broke up with me. Two whammies at once.”


Not breaking his stare at the rolling countryside, speckled green due to the recent rains Rafiki questions, “Didn’t your ex-wife used to call your computer your first wife?”




“So, you lost the two most important things you value in one day.”


“Wait! No! That’s not true.”


“Is it?” He turns and looks at me, questioning my response.


“My daughters are the two most important people in my life!” I declare. He knows that is true.


“Tu-shay. I’ll give you that.” After a pause he quietly adds under his breath, “But the other two were a very close third and fourth.” That comment hangs in the stillness.


More silence.


My insides are crawling. What is he thinking? Why isn’t he talking? What did I do wrong? This silence is deafening, and my anxiety increases giving me a sense of unease and forbearing.


Somehow reading my thoughts while pressing his face against the passenger side window, as if he could see any better getting closer to it, Rafiki declares, “Maybe this is the lesson the universe wants you to learn.”


We drive the last 35 minutes in silence…


To truly listen, one must listen to the silence. ~ Phoenix Emery Click To Tweet



Chapter 3



In typical Phoenix style, these collections of journal entries and eventually a meeting with Rafiki once again are long winded. I figured I could do this in two parts.




Looks like four parts now.


Hey, I’m trying to be respectful, so my Fledglings don’t get overwhelmed in one reading. Plus, I feel the need to give background to my thoughts when I sit down with Rafiki tomorrow since I haven’t connected with all you in such a long time.


If you’re jumping in at the middle, good luck. LOL!


The short gist: I dated a woman for 8 months, we were in a committed relationship for almost six of those months, and we just broke up 6 days ago.


I’m posting journal entries I had written leading up to the breakup followed by processing my break up with my girlfriend when I sit down with my favorite mandrill, Rafiki.


If you missed the first two parts, click here:

Part I

Part II


Disclaimer: All blogs I have written have gone through extensive proofreading, multiple additions as well as subtractions. Delicate care is taken to help them flow better for reading. These journal entries are ones I wrote in hand as the thoughts flowed. They may sound disjointed or bounce around like trying to dribble a football. Some areas have been cleaned up a little for clarity, however, 90% is in raw form. Basically, unedited free flowing thoughts.



February 4, 2024


I’m bummed. I just finished yoga on the beach and found out there was a 10K race in Waikiki. I would have loved to have run that. Dang it!


I’m sitting against a tree in the park overlooking a pond, watching the birds, while listening to the Royal Hawaiian Band.


I woke this morning at 4am after going to bed just before midnight. I did some good work on my non-profit event, finally getting the ball moving with that.


I tried to go back to sleep, but I decided that if I couldn’t sleep, working on this event would be the best use of my time. Be productive.


At 6am, when my alarm went off to wake me up to run, I decided to try and go back to sleep instead. My cough was starting to sneak in. It’s my physical warning that I need more sleep.


Going back to sleep doesn’t work. I can’t shut my brain off.


I decided to skip today’s morning run. Yesterday I had run a total of 8 miles, and it had been almost two months since I had last run. It would be good to take a break from running since tomorrow I planned to run to the top of Diamond Head so I could watch the morning sunrise from a different location. That would be a round trip of almost 11 miles.


The live band I’m listening to is fun. Upbeat and lively. I wish I could do my work for my non-profit out here, but I need an internet connection to do that.


This morning on my way to yoga I talked to my sponsee. As we chatted, I realized that I’ll have my recurrent training coming up around the same time as my non-profit event. I’m starting to get that feeling of overwhelm.




Deep breath.


Studying for these recurrent events is stressful and takes a lot of my time. How am I going to organize an event, study for training, get taxes done, and do all this self-care?


Deep breath.


Well, this did get a fire under my butt to stop thinking about what if’s and getting distracted in thought. It’s time to get up and work more on this event.


The rain starts to fall. Perfect timing.


I’ll see all parts of me tomorrow. Love all of you.



February 6, 2024


(Missed February 5th journal entry. I did run the 5.5 miles to Diamond Head to watch the sunrise.  The picture above was from that morning. This next entry was done in my home with my girlfriend after we both did that amazing hour-long breath work morning Sadhana.)



Another interesting awareness on today’s practice. This was the same breath work that I’ve done twice and had the epiphany on the beach next to the aerobic yoga class. This time I did it with my girlfriend. I was worried about what she was experiencing. I haven’t done that since the first couple of times we did yoga together.


Halfway through, I found myself shaming myself for not suggesting this one earlier to her. Like right after I did it. “Go do this Sadhana! It’s amazing.”


I enjoyed it so much, I wanted to watch her have the same experience I had. I wanted to be a part of it.


What is that need?


What is the need to want to be with someone experiencing what really, they need to experience on their own?


Look at how much I’m in my mind and not present during this session. Maybe she’s in her head too?


Why do I do that? That need to be seen, loved, and validated by others?


That I’m okay when they are okay?


I know the answers, but I want to know how to let those thoughts go.


My therapist’s comment about me collecting wounded birds pops in my mind. Wounded birds need me. They won’t leave.


But don’t I say I want in my life someone who celebrates my completeness, not someone who completes me. And yet, I find that my subconscious actions show differently.


Anyway, we get to a point in breath work where I inhaled in the nose and out the mouth, then in the mouth and out the nose. My girlfriend and I are in rhythm, in sync with our breaths.


The sound of the two of us was like musical breathing harmony.


Then I took a short breath. That caused our breaths to fall out of sync. As she breathed in, I was breathing out. It was easy to tell because the breaths with our mouths were louder.


My mind pictured a sine curve. You know. The one from math class. Then I saw the double helix of a DNA strand.


I envisioned how when we are in sync, when the waves are overlapping one another, you see one curved line. The two lines become lost.


But when they split…Look at the beauty that comes out! Like snowflakes, each one unique and beautiful.


Even if the lines are slightly off and not looking like infinity symbols attacking one another (or dancing with one another), they have a beauty of their own.


You see each strand for who they are meant to be. Not enmeshed and hiding their individuality.


I realize that it’s okay to not always be in sync. That it’s okay for me to be lying on the mat in the backyard while my girlfriend makes coffee or does what she’s doing.


It’s okay that I’m journaling and may miss our morning readings together. (Although, that is a beautiful way to start my day with her.)


Well, the coffee isn’t quite ready.


Junior, John-John, Johnny, Little John, Ironman, and Phoenix. We need to stop trying so hard and realize that we are bountiful, blissful, and beautiful.


The gift is, that being with our girlfriend only enhances and celebrates all we already are.


By the way, it may be chilly but it sure is beautiful in my backyard. I need to spend more time here.


PS: I took a break to throw the ball for my dog in the backyard for ten minutes before grabbing coffee. This gives him a little connection that he needs. Stop ignoring the pup just because he triggers you! Play with him and learn to enjoy how much he truly loves you.



February 7, 2024


(This journal entry was written about 30 minutes before my girlfriend expressed her need to redefine our relationship. She does not want to lose our friendship, however, with two days of breath work focused on self-love and our readings this morning discussing the same topic, she explained to me that she has worked hard these past couple of years to love herself and needs to continue that journey.)


Another great session with this breath work Sadhana. I do love these!


First, I came up with a new mantra. When my mind wanders, I can say “Right Here, Right Now”. Think about the live version of this Van Halen song where Sammy Hagar says, “Don’t worry about yesterday, it’s gone. And tomorrow? Fuck tomorrow! All that matters is Right Here, Right Now!”


I need to put this on my motivational music playlist.


Right Here, Right Now

~ Van Halen


I need to use this mantra to get out of my Monkey Brain when it starts to get scrambled.


The other thing that happened was I decided to add my different inner children/parts of me to the song Bountiful, Blissful, Beautiful.


I am Bountiful, Blissful, Beautiful….Bountiful, Blissful, Beautiful I am.


I said “Junior” and the vision that came to my mind was my oldest daughter as a baby. I have so much unconditional love for my baby girl.


As I continued through my different names, I saw how much I loved that little girl through all stages of her life. Even when she struggled. Even as I see her struggle to love herself.


Why is it we can love our children with so much abandon, that when they make mistakes, we can let them go, and it becomes water under the bridge, but when it comes to us, we battle so many personal demons?


Why can’t we love ourselves as much as we love our kids?


When will I have that unconditional love for me that I have for my girls?


Is it possible?


To be Right Here, Right Now.


To stop holding onto all the past hurts and fuck the worries about tomorrow?


We are bountiful, blissful, and beautiful we are.


All parts of us!



February 8, 2024

I’m sorry. Please Forgive Me. Thank You. I Love You.


I realized today that I had abandoned my inner children. All of them.


Not only did we continue to pursue, I mean, I, John, the adult, continued to pursue a woman who we knew (I mean I knew) that eventually her career path would take her to places where she would be gone for weeks, if not months at a time.


In addition, I decided to become committed with someone who needs not a few hours to recharge her batteries or fill her bucket, but days, if not a week or more, of limited contact.


Is it wrong to want to say good morning and good night to the person you made the decision to commit to?


That is what she can’t commit too and why she wants the relationship redefined. I’m fighting in my head. Ugh! I haven’t been here in years.


I knew this would bring up old wounds and hurts. On every level my girlfriend and I are compatible except one.


On the scale of Maslow’s Hierachy of Needs we didn’t have the foundation of safety and security in place. That’s because what we needed for each other to feel safe and secure was 180 degrees out of sync. If it wasn’t trauma wounds that got triggered, maybe our relationship would have looked like the beautiful DNA strand I envisioned yesterday.


Junior, John-John, Johnny, Little John, Ironman, Phoenix. This was my fault I put you in this position and I’m so sorry.


There is nothing wrong with you! Nothing at all.


You are not a burden! You never have been.


You are enough!


You are loved by so many and have so much love to give others.


It was me who was not taking care of you.


And we can’t blame our ex. She tried. She gave us a valiant effort to step outside her comfort zone and everything she felt safe in. She has past hurts from her past relationships, and she put those aside to try with us.


On a bright note, her and I provided a safe place for our inner children to experience love again. What a blessing she gave us, and we gave her. And we’ve learned so much on this journey.


Just remember, the pain you feel is natural. It’s the normal part of grieving loss.


Like so many before, you won’t lose her friendship. It will just be different. And a deeper friendship than many of our other friends can attest to giving us.


I start singing in my head as the tears start to fall.


Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound.

That saved a wretch like me.

I once was lost but now I’m found.

Was blind but now I see.


Boys, she opened our eyes. To see that we still have work to do.


What is the February morning sadhana called?


Breath Work to Remove the Veil of Illusion. The veil has been lifted.


It’s like rain coming but we didn’t turn on the windshield wipers. And when we turned them on, we can see clearly until the fog from the heat of the relationship started distorting our vision.


How do we learn to turn those wipers on when the first drops start to fall? How do we keep the window defrosted?


I won’t say I won’t fail you again. I’m human.


But I want to add another perspective. Why do I continue to tell you that I failed you?


This was a magical success!


We did not start this relationship in our addiction. We did not end the way we have in the past. And, we had one hell of an adventure!


So many places, so many different experiences. Someone who would dance with us, play with us, snuggle with us, do yoga and meditate with us, let us read to her, travel with us, have deep conversations with us, be present with us, love us, incredible sex, cook with us, cook for us, clean up with us, clean up for us, watch movies with us, travel across the country to be with us, open our eyes to see that sex does not have to be vanilla nor addictive… The list goes on and on.


The someone who meets all we’ve been looking for is a very rare gift.


Remember that for her to pursue her deepest dreams she had to make a difficult choice. She recognized that to continue with a long-distance relationship would only hurt her and all of you.


She came to help us transition from parent to empty nester. We came to help her transition from her safe Island Haven to follow her dream to travel the world.


Let us continue to find us.


Junior, John-John, Johnny, Little John, Ironman, and Phoenix…


I’m sorry.


Please forgive me.


Thank you.


I love you.




PS: The conclusion to this three part blog will be a multi-chapter series of blogs released every three days. The link to the teaser (you know, the summary you’d find on the inside book cover) and the link to Chapter 1 are listed below. Thank you my Fledglings for being my inspiration to help me process what I’m going through. May you continue to Rise from the Ashes daily.


Lessons from an Island Girl – Teaser

Lessons from an Island Girl – Chapter 1