(I wrote this blog at the end of October 2018, the rest of the blog articles are dated accordingly)
In January, I moved for the 15th time in 14 years into a place where I'd hoped I could finally establish solid roots. After all, I had the serious boyfriend. The storefront. The local yoga following. I even had gotten the puppy.
During and after that move, it seemed that I was hit with one stressful event after another. A weird stomach concern put me in the hospital, my father struggled with his addiction and was diagnosed with stomach cancer, a few weighty financial setbacks, landlord trouble, neighbor disputes, complications from a wisdom tooth surgery coupled with lock jaw. I was burned out and felt suffocated, as though I was trying to read a book that was held at the tip of my nose, and all I could make out was one letter at a time. Everything was so in my face, I just couldn’t make sense of anything.
I was laying in bed one night, moments from falling asleep, when the clarity arrived: I needed to take a month off from teaching my Tuesday night kundalini class. This class is an offering that I love, however it takes a great deal of my energy and time (I know one class a week might not seem huge, but this is a pretty epic community, and it’s pretty much a spiritual rager every week). Space needed to be created so I could breath, and step back to read the complete story.
As soon as I took that break, what became clear was that the relationship I was in, sadly, needed to end. I won’t get into the details (they are pretty boring actually, nothing juicy to report!) We are still friends who still support each other in important ways. I realized that I really craved some deep solo time for personal exploration.
So I created the space, which created some clarity, which created more space, which resulted in more clarity: It’s time to close the store. I'd had a brick&mortar space in Newport for over 4 years and had poured my heart and soul into opening it. Even though I acknowledge there’s more life to live and many more experiences to be had, this was my biggest accomplishment thus far. I was super proud of it. The shop also wasn’t failing miserably, which made it even harder to let go of. For a multitude of reasons, mostly logistical, (that are also pretty boring) it was just time.
By June, I had changed my mind about buying the condo I was living in because of circumstances I couldn’t control (the neighbor disputes are actually pretty juicy, but in effort to stay classy, I will have to leave them out), I was no longer in a relationship, and I had decided I was going to close the store. I had made space, gained some clarity, and then - creativity started to flow.
I’m not even sure when this idea popped into my head, or how, or why. But, I love Elizabeth Guilbert’s book "Big Magic” and her take on how creative ideas find a person. “So this, I believe, is the central question upon which all creative living hinges: Do you have the COURAGE to bring forth the treasures that are hidden within you?” She writes about ideas inhabiting the planet as disembodied energetic life-forms that look for a human partner to collaborate with and come to life. Ideas swirl around and visit people waiting for one of them to grab on and agree to co-create. The idea comes in... and then depending on where you are in your life, you say something like, “No thanks, the timing isn’t right” (and the idea will float on to the next person) or you fasten your seatbelt, embrace the vulnerability and fear, and say “HELL YES.” For me, it happened just like that. Well, sort of.
I will simplify my life. Pack everything up, and live one month in 12 cities: teaching yoga, mindfulness, and meditation in jails, rehabs, shelters, eating disorder treatment facilities, and other in-need populations.
In this particular case, I actually kept trying to shoo the idea away like an annoying gnat flying around my face. “I can’t, I just bought a new beautiful couch. I will get too lonely. Am I crazy? I have a great thing going in Newport, why would I risk losing it? I will be single forever! I don’t even like traveling that much!” But the idea just continued coming back around.
I processed and explored ideas with all of my close friends and mentors, toggling (and still toggling) between scared shitless and excited beyond words. Mostly scared shitless. It seemed as though part of my mind was obsessing over talking me out of it, while the rest of me started going through the motions of making all the plans for this big adventure. Thankfully, it feels like the more expansive part of me is steering the ship on this one, even with the continual limiting and fearful chatter going on.
With three months to prep for this tour, I was knowingly headed toward an insanely stressful and chaotic time. I was to close and move out of the store, buy a van to create a mobile warehouse for my online business, change locations of my Tuesday night yoga class, take two trauma-informed yoga trainings, and move out of my condo. Then, I got the call that my father had passed away.
I’m having trouble writing about how I felt when I got the call, the days to follow, and how I feel now. I have yet to really process it all, but perhaps writing this is the very beginning, or at least a small step. My dad and I had a super special connection. He had times in his life where he was sober, super successful, and present. And there were other times, especially towards the end, when he was in the grips of his addiction, messy, self centered, and unpredictable.
Throughout our relationship, even when I was a young girl, we flip-flopped back and forth between who was playing the parent role and who was playing the child role. Wherever our relationship was, complicated, simple, cohesive or unhealthy, the one thing I always knew about my dad was that he loved me more than anything. I never doubted that for a second. He would have given me the world if he could. He also wholeheartedly believed that I could do anything I set my mind to.
I had the opportunity to tell him about my plans to close the store and takeoff for a year teaching to the underprivileged. He was very sick and in the hospital when I shared this with him and showed him the promo video I'd just filmed. He didn’t have a lot to say, except for “make sure you get a van you can stand up in.” I’m glad he was able to give me some good parental advice before we both took off on the next phase of our individual journeys.
So here I am. Letting go of a lot. A FUCKING LOT.
Pema Chodron’s take on these kind of transitions resonated with me:
“Things falling apart is a kind of testing and also a kind of healing. We think that the point is to pass the test or to overcome the problem, but the truth is that things don’t really get solved. They come together and they fall apart. Then they come together again and fall apart again. It’s just like that. The healing comes from letting there be room for all of this to happen: room for grief, for relief, for misery, for joy. When we think that something is going to bring us pleasure, we don’t know what’s really going to happen. When we think something is going to give us misery, we don’t know. Letting there be room for not knowing is the most important thing of all. We try to do what we think is going to help. But we don’t know. We never know if we’re going to fall flat or sit up tall. When there’s a big disappointment, we don’t know if that’s the end of the story. It may be just the beginning of a great adventure.”
I take off in two months, so much has changed, and there are so many unknowns. It’s like, you can create space, get that book out of your face so you can read the letters on the page, and get some direction, but you still have no idea how the story is actually going to end up. Letting there be room for not knowing is the most important thing of all. This has been one of the hardest transitions of my life, but the wise part of me knows this is where all the good stuff happens. One foot in front of the other. One day at at time. One breath at a time, my dad and I are going on a pretty epic road trip.