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Posts Tagged ‘connection’


winding-pathLife is funny. We sometimes make the mistake of thinking that we know where life is leading us. Sometimes we end up where we predict or in a place that we intended, but so often we end up surprised by the path, astonished by how it all unfolded.

Two years ago I flew to Seattle for a job interview. I had been living in San Francisco for several years and after having spent a few of those years semi-employed while I worked on publishing my first book, I reached the end of that road and had to go back to work. But life in San Francisco was beginning to feel somewhat stagnant, so I took the opportunity for an interview in Seattle. You see, my eldest brother had lived there for decades, so there were plenty of good reasons for me to move to Seattle. And years prior, when I had visited him during college, I had declared that one day I wanted to live in Seattle.

As I flew into Seattle, I descended into the fog and as I rode in my taxi into the city, I looked at the gray, rainy skies around me. After falling in love with the California sunshine, I knew immediately that I just couldn’t see this for myself. I went through the interview (which was for a really interesting job opportunity), but I knew from the moment I walked in the door that I was just going thru the motions. I knew this was not meant to be.

I had rented a place in Capitol Hill for the weekend so that I might get a feel for what it would be like to live there. I went to the yoga studio to which I had many connections. As I roamed around the neighborhood, I thought to myself, “Maybe one day I’ll own property here to rent out, but I can’t see myself living here.” I knew that Seattle was not in the cards for me… or so I thought.

I returned home to San Francisco and I took a job offer that I already knew I did not want. It was a job that would take me back to the corporate rat race, a position that was not aligned with the work of higher consciousness in which I had been engaged through my yoga and writing over the previous years. But San Francisco now being the most expensive city in the country, I knew that I had no choice. I put on my corporate suit, and walked into the uptight, stuffy office, day after day, knowing that this job would crush my soul. I knew I had to get out from the moment I arrived.

A week into that job, I met the man who would become my boyfriend, ironically a Bostonian like me, who had much more recently than I, moved to California. We connected immediately, our Bostonian sarcastic wit creating sparks between us. “Could this be the reason I came to this job?, ” I asked myself. I did not know …

Fast forward a year and a half. That boyfriend and I reached the turning point where we were to take it to the next level of our relationship. But the reality was that with the drastically rising cost of living in San Francisco, we simply could not afford to rent a larger apartment, or ever dream of owning in San Francisco. So we began talking about the next chapter.

This was very difficult for me as San Francisco had been the city where I had truly stepped into my inner power and strength, the place where I had healed my mind, body and soul, the place where I had tasted the sweetest, most joyful bliss I had ever known. I was in alignment. I had stepped into my soul’s purpose and I knew I was on the path I was meant to be living on this Earth.

Triangle

Alamo Square, San Francisco

But that reality kept crashing up against the reality that one could simply not manage to stay in San Francisco unless they were rich. And even if we stayed, how would we ever save and retire? We wouldn’t. We couldn’t. I knew a time of hard decisions was upon me.

We began talking about different places we might live. We both had wanted to escape the cold winters of the Northeast and we both loved beach and summer, so we talked about San Diego. But that didn’t have the tech market that he needed for his work and it didn’t have the vibrant energy that I need in a city. Then we talked about LA. But I had already lived there years before and going back didn’t feel right to either of us. Then we explored Portland. Too small, too rainy. So Seattle entered the picture again.

I had tried for years to convince myself that it was the next place I should consider moving, but after that last interview in Seattle, my brother had said to me, “You always consider Seattle, but it’s never right. It’s just not your city.” It really didn’t feel like it was.

But the more my boyfriend and I talked, the more Seattle started to make sense. It had a great tech scene for him, my brother and his family were here, it had a great yoga scene and the same progressive, environmental, forward-thinking lifestyle and attitudes with which we had resonated in San Francisco. There was really only one negative: the weather. Those cold, wet, dreary winters. After eight years in the California sunshine, and realizing how happy the sun had actually made me, I just didn’t know if it was possible for me to be happy in Seattle.

Despite that, from the moment Seattle entered our conversation, pieces of the puzzle began falling into place. My boyfriend got a great job interview in Seattle. Also, over the previous year, I had managed to leave the soul-sucking job and had returned to a former job that I had loved, a job that allowed me to work from home. And at this exact time, a colleague of mine left, and the Pacific Northwest territory fell into my lap. And then my boyfriend got the job he had interviewed for, a great job in his dream industry. With that seed planted, I asked my company about the possibility of me moving to Seattle. Having just given me this territory, they were on board with the idea, and the wheels were set in motion.

The next thing we knew we were packing up both of our apartments, loading the pets into the car and moving truck and we were on our way to the Emerald City.

(Ironically we ended up living in the very neighborhood that I had explored two years ago during that job interview – the neighborhood where I had imagined that maybe one day I’d own rental property. And we ended up living, somewhat “accidentally,” directly across the street from the yoga studio that I had attended in the past.)

Days turned into weeks, turned into months, and we began to create our new life in Seattle.The transition was hard. I had left my beloved city and yoga community. I had left the apartment which had been my favorite home, the place that had held my life so sweetly for six years, the place where I had awakened and blossomed into my truest self. And not only was I starting over in a new city, but I was also moving in with a partner for the first time in my 40 years. Anyone who has ever lived with a partner knows that that alone is no small transition, never mind adding a new city to the mix!

To add to the challenge, I had also left behind in San Francisco another brother and a very special niece and nephew who only knew life with Aunt Jeannie in it. My heart broke. I missed San Francisco. I missed her breathtaking views. And as the seasons changed, I sorely began to miss her sun. The sky grew dark and gray and depression began to set in. I was lost. I was confused. I was suffocated by confusion. I wasn’t sure which way to go.

I struggled through the fall, unsure if I’d made the biggest mistake of my life having given up the security of my rent-controlled apartment (otherwise known in San Francisco as the “golden handcuffs”). I dug deep into my spiritual practice; I began meditating like crazy, really desperately. I kept on with my yoga practice, trying to go as often as possible, seeking out teachers that could even begin to fill the shoes of my amazing and masterful teachers in San Francisco. The search was not an easy one.

But little by little, the right teachers began to reveal themselves. I came to the mat more and more, and new friends started to appear next to me on the mat. I found myself making friends more quickly and easily than had ever been the case in any other city; and I had a lot of experience on this front, having lived in five cities in the past two decades. I was finding friends who were aligned with my path, friends who spoke my language, friends who understood me and related to my experiences. And it started to become clear that the people who were crossing my path were exactly the people I was meant to meet on this next phase of my journey.

This morning I went to a new favorite Bhakti yoga class, a class that I feel extremely grateful to have found as it resonates deeply with my soul on a cellular level. Here I practice with a room full of yogis, as we move gracefully through our poses, chanting in unison and blending our energies with one another. Such beauty. Such connection.

When I sat on the mat today I introduced myself to the woman beside me. She and I shared the common thread of having lived in Los Angeles. At the end of practice, I was commending her on one of the most beautiful and solid handstands I’d ever seen. When I asked her how long it took her to get to that point in her practice, she began telling me about a teacher in LA that had taught her handstand. It was a name I immediately knew, a teacher whose wife I had worked with closely on one of my own writing projects. Not only had this woman and I lived in the same city, but we had both moved to Seattle at the same time and we knew these same people. I knew that our meeting was fortuitous.

This is the synchronicity that I love about yoga. The more one practices yoga, the more these little magical moments occur – I believe sign posts from the Universe confirming that we are on the right path. I thought of the tea that I shared yesterday with a new yoga friend to whom I feel a deep connection, and of the new friends that I seem to be making day after day. And in that moment, I knew that I had found my tribe, and with it, my next home.

Seattle skyline

Seattle Skyline

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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The year was 1995. I was 20 years old and I found myself alone at a friend’s apartment in London. It was a cold winter day and because London was dark by 3pm, I was stuck in the apartment very early in the day. Dinner consisted of a pathetic bowl of ice-cream as I watched a dreadfully boring tv show (on a screen full of static snow) about cheese-making in Britain. This was my first Christmas spent alone. It is a day I will never forget. I had never felt so alone in my life.

The second Christmas I would spend alone was in 2007. I was now 32 years old and living in Los Angeles. I spent the day curled up in an agonizing ball of tears, grieving over the man I loved, who would be spending his first Christmas with the woman who had replaced me. There was no eating on that day. The pain was too great to allow for food. It was too much to even answer the phone. I talked to no friends or family that day. The only place I could bear to be was alone with my grief. That was the low point of my life.

The third Christmas I would spend alone is this one: 2011. I am now 36, almost 37 years old and I am living in San Francisco. It is so fascinating and thought-provoking for me to reflect on all of the Christmases between this one and that first lonely Christmas spent in London. To be honest with you, I don’t even remember where I spent all of the Christmases in between. There may have been other lonely holidays spent alone, but the ones I remember are the ones I’ve mentioned. Those are the ones that stand out as the painful and defining moments in my life.

I ponder the 16 years that have passed since I served myself that Christmas ice-cream “feast,” and it is hard to even fathom the person I was and the person I have become. A lifetime of changes, heartaches, joys, triumphs, laughter, tears and adventures have taken place over those 16 years. From Spain to Boston, to Washington, DC, Los Angeles to San Francisco, I have lived across a span of 6,000 miles. I have gone from being a student living in Spain, to planning international travel, to being a graduate school drop out, to working at the United Nations in Geneva, through my first acquisition as a manager at a start-up, to working at a minimum wage job struggling to pay my rent, back to management in a start-up, to being fired and now to being an inspirational writer. It has been a path I could never have imagined and a level of growth and transformation that is immeasurable by time or space.

As I write this post, it is Christmas Eve and I am curled up in my pajamas with my two kitties, the only two constant companions in my life over the past decade. They are the wall between me and the full grip of loneliness. I will not be with close friends or family this Christmas, not because I don’t have those, but simply because we are all in different places this year and circumstances prevent us from being together. Is it easy to be alone? I would certainly be lying if I said “yes,” but I am here to tell you that there is an indomitable strength and fortitude that has come from having to face the depths of such solitude. Walking through such loneliness over a span of so many years has forced me to walk through the fire and it has allowed me to emerge a Spiritual Warrior. And with that has come the knowledge and the wisdom that I am my own strongest ally, that with my inner strength and fire I can overcome and endure any plight or challenge that comes my way.

I am here today to reach out to all of the other lonely souls out there who feel that they are all alone and who feel that they are the only ones. I am here to tell you that you are not alone. I am here to tell you that you are one of millions, that as I write these words there are countless other people in the exact same situation, wishing that they had loved ones with whom to share the holidays. And I am here to tell you that there is strength in that. You are not alone. None of us are alone. We are all connected by heart and spirit. We are all Spiritual Warriors and if we can tap into that collective energy we can feel the love and brotherhood among us.

I am also here to tell you that there is opportunity in solitude. I could spend Christmas Day alone and depressed about how everyone else I know is with loved ones. It would be far too easy to go to that place. But I refuse to allow myself that poisonous indulgence. Instead I will begin my day with a deep meditation, allowing myself to access that profound well of inner calm and the connection to my higher self and Universal love; that place where peace washes over you. Then I have organized a Christmas dinner, a dinner of complete strangers, an opportunity for other solitary souls to come together to share a dinner in the comfort of community; an opportunity to get to know new people, to share stories, to laugh and to allow ourselves to feel the joy of simple human connection.

If you are alone this Christmas, be comforted in knowing that in fact you are not alone. Reach out and connect with strangers. Go out to the pub and strike up a conversation with your neighbor. Go volunteer at a soup kitchen and connect with others by giving of your heart. Go to a yoga class and flow with a community of like-minded souls. Remember that we are all brothers and sisters on this journey of souls and none of us are ever alone. We are all connected.

Whatever holiday you celebrate, from my heart to yours…..

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