In 1995, I was working as a Counter Manager for Makeup Forever at Nordstrom. I was 26 years old, and I thought I knew it all (Isn’t that what the 20’s are for?). I was living out my dream and I was very happy.

One day, a woman walked up to the counter and my life would change forever.

Her name was Aleta, and she was unlike any person I had met up until that point in my life. She came in for a new lipstick color, and we chatted for almost forty five minutes. I was trying my best to show her the new colors that had arrived the week prior, but she was mesmerizing me with her philosophical ideas about vibration, energy, life and death (all while using the back of her hand to swatch pink lipsticks). Nobody I ever knew talked so nonchalantly about such serious subjects.

When she left my counter, I was confused. I wasn’t sure if she was crazy or the smartest person I had ever met. One thing I know for sure, I was magnetically attracted to her.

Over the next few months, she would visit me often and we developed a friendship. We shared coffee and Nordy bars in the Cafe, and I learned she was about the same age as my own mom (which would explain why I felt a maternal energy from her). She herself did not have any children, which probably made her all the more happy to share her wisdom.

Aleta had this calm, inner peace about her, and looked far younger than her years. The first time I visited her in her home, I felt something was different, but couldn’t put my finger on it. It smelled different and felt different, almost like a sanctuary.  She explained to me about about aromatherapy, electromagnetic pollution, organic food, the importance of plants in your home, Himalayan salt lamps and about a dozen other “alternative therapies”.

Each time we met, she explained a little more. I honestly had NO idea what she was talking about, since I certainly was never brought up learning anything remotely like what she was describing to me.

Honestly, a lot of what she was doing I wasn’t sure I believed in, but I did see it was obviously working for her.

She never preached or said “you should do this”, she only led by example.

In 2001, I moved away from California, back to my hometown of Miami, and our relationship changed, simply because of time, distance, circumstances and the fact that she didn’t have an email address (she only got one earlier this year).

We kept in touch sporadically, but I always kept her close to my heart.

As I got older, I began to make major changes in my life, and started my own journey of self exploration. Over the course of a decade, through love and loss, mistakes and lessons, the seeds Aleta planted in my twenties, began to bear fruit in my forties.

I would catch myself smiling when I would “discover” a profound nugget of wisdom, remembering back to my old friend who had introduced me to the very same concepts decades earlier. I would always say a little prayer of gratitude that she was put on my path.

Last week, Aleta paid me a week long visit. She looked like the same happy, loving woman I remembered.

We spent the time walking, and talking and laughing. We prepared healthy meals and lingered over tea. At night, we watched back to back episodes of the  PBS series Miss Fishers Murder Mysteries.

There were no selfies (except for the one you see above), Facebook status updates, reality tv or presidential debates.

I have never felt better, more alive, less stressed or more loved (by a friend). We were purely in the moment, enjoying life as it unfolded.

As our week came to an end today, I watched her disappear into the security line at the airport, blissfully walking to the beat of her own drum. She has been one of my greatest teachers, and I’m thankful I welcomed her with an open mind and allowed those seeds to grow. She is a living, breathing example of living an authentic life.

At some point in your life, you will ask the tough questions, and if you are open to receiving, you might just be given an Aleta to guide you. She may be unconventional, and will most definitely challenge your status-quo, but she will enlighten you with her wisdom and will help you along your own journey. At times, you may find yourself scratching your head, but it’s definitely worth the lessons you will learn.

When the student is ready, the teacher will appear.