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My Rafiki Moment

“Asante sana squash banana....”

I had my own coming to Rafiki moment in the Dominican Republic when a slew of two pound monkeys swarmed me then continuously used me as their launching pad to someone else.

Story of my love life. But I digress.

The experience was that proverbial Simba moment of being knocked in the head with a coconut. I realized the old me needed to retire once and for all into the past as I heard the booming voice of James Earl Jones narrating “Remember who you are.”

Ok, it was actually a tour guide saying, “you have to hold the bowl or the monkeys will bite you,” but I still got the message.

Monkeys from head to toe. Literally, they liked my feet.

The whole journey to this Monkeyland experience was out of the ordinary for me anyway. When I was perusing the excursion options, I wasn’t finding much that I wanted to do. I was looking for something cultural, not necessarily some snorkeling or a different beach than the breathtaking one that I enjoyed at the resort.

I saw this half day excursion pop up, which also included a demonstration and sampling of natively produced coffee, cocoa, and coconuts, and I thought that would be pretty cool - if only I’d like the idea of monkeys jumping on my head.

I jokingly asked my inner child if she was down for the monkeys, and surprisingly–like seriously surprisingly–I felt this giddy surge of excitement. Holy shit. I actually wanted to play with these monkeys. I did NOT see that coming. (Those who know me, well, IYKYK, and are wondering who the fuck I am in this moment haha)

And so I continued to be excited for this adventure, but of course having stipulations. As both of my children looked at me in utter confusion when I told them what I was planning, I did say that no monkeys were allowed on my head. A shoulder would be okay, but no way in hell will I be okay with them all over me. 

Hahahahaha okay, Jenny. The monkeys will totally respect your wishes.

So the day comes, and I do the normal introvert thing while lying on the beach wondering why I committed to such a plan and trying to figure out how not to go. But I kept feeling those little giggles within, and decide to shut up the monkey brain and get excited with my monkey heart.

In a rare moment of self acceptance, I actually felt like I looked cute, topping off my outfit with a hat just in case I needed it for the sun. (Turns out that was wise, as it was rainy when we got there and it protected my head from pure monkey takeover).

I was going on this adventure alone and didn't quite know what to expect. As I was sittting on the bench waiting for group instructions (had no idea monkey visits would be so complicated), a young girl asked me if I was here by myself like she was. So we partnered up to enjoy the monkeys together, which relieved my anxiety as she had previously done this before. Whew!

I could tell right away she was an amazing young woman, and as I got to know her, I understood the universe’s reason for sending her to me in this exact moment. I had been contemplating a very specific life change, but of course, doubting if that’s the “right path” for me. A similar thing happened to me when I was having lunch with a dear friend in Colorado.

Dear Jenny, how many convos and green light signs do you need?

Apparently, it's as many coconut staffs as I need before I see–well, believe– red flags in men. Why I do keep tangenting to this topic? Clearly, there’s a pattern in my life. 

Smiling through the "is there really a monkey on my head" moment while another perches in my hand looking for food

Anyway… back to the monkeys. I was pretty apprehensive before going into that open area where they can jump on you at any moment. Traditional Jenny thoughts entered my OCD rainforest. I’m allergic to cats and rabbits–fuck I forgot my Benadryl! What if my throat closes? What if they bite me and I get rabies? Will I smell like monkey after this? OMG WILL THEY POOP ON ME (your intuition for the hat served you well, madam).

Thanks to my emotional support monkey sister, I not only got through the experience, but loved every moment of it. They were so soft and cute and light. Never in my wildest imagination did I really think I’d enjoy this. But I did.

Sending pics to my mom, she literally asked, “who are you?” My daughter laughed and quoted “they can go on my shoulder, but they can NOT go on my head”. I myself wondered who I was and why I was okay with a wild animal on me when I freeze up with most dogs just passing by.

Who was I? I was letting myself be free. Be in my heart and not my head.

There was so much laughter and joy in that moment. My head, dear sweet overthinker it is, keeps me from so much freaking joy. I am so glad I let myself experience this once in a lifetime opporrtunity. I even had a taste of their coffee, which I don’t like in general, but actually thought tasted pretty good. I also learned other stuff, but that's for another blog 😉

What I did realize and want to share is how much I love to be curious and how happy I am to open myself up to explore. Like, I always knew I did, but in “safe” spaces, like traveling to popular destinations or trying things someone else vouched for. An experience I can plan and calculate. Anyone need an itinerary planner? 

But as my aunt once said to me, I am a trailblazer. And I can’t exactly be that if I never light my own fire or take that step forward.

So thank you, Rafiki representatives, for the jump on the noggin. 

Not only did I get to embrace my curiosity and make my inner child happy, but I also naturally connected to the side of me that’s crying out to be heard. To finally step onto that path I’ve been dancing 'round taking for over a decade.

Time to squash the bananas of my past and asante sana my way to destiny. Maybe I’ll be swarmed, maybe I’ll be a launching pad, or maybe I’ll be a safe place to land. But no matter what role I take on along the way, as long as I lead with my heart and not my head, I’ll be as wise as a baboon without the harsh stick (but with an always noticeable butt haha).

Cheers to monkeys, coconut clunks on the head, and making bold moves to live life unapologetically. And to sensible hats.


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