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Posts Tagged ‘journey’


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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Eight years ago, on July 1, 2007, I rolled into Los Angeles, in my little, green Saturn, with a sense of adventure and an eager heart, ready to fight for love. I fought and I lost. Hard. Shortly after my arrival in California, the housing crisis hit and then the recession. Out of work with no prospects, I was forced to take a minimum wage job. As I bled through my savings, I had no idea what the future would hold. I guess I could say that was the low point of my life. Enter dark night of the soul.

Then I discovered yoga and something deep inside me began to percolate and awaken. The debris started to get swept away, the pain began to transform itself and new possibilities began to appear. During this time I landed a full-time job, only to be laid off eight months later when the recession was in full swing. Lost and unsure of what to do next, I went to yoga. I meditated. I hiked. I walked along the beach. I fell in love with Los Angeles.

Me on top of Huayna Picchu Mountain, with Machu Picchu far below

Me on top of Huayna Picchu Mountain, with Machu Picchu far below

I fulfilled my dream of traveling to Peru and stood in the magical place that is Machu Picchu. And synchronicity began to flow into my life. On a yoga retreat with a group from San Francisco, the seeds were planted. The next thing I knew, a start-up job would take me unexpectedly to San Francisco, forcing me to leave behind the City of Angels before I was ready to go. A heart-wrenching move that was for me, but clearly one that was meant to be.

I “accidentally” landed on the same street as my brother and had the privilege of becoming Aunt Jeannie to my very first nephew, Brendan. The following year I would lose that start-up job, this time going out in a blaze of glory. Like the job loss before it, this would turn out to be one of the greatest gifts of my life, a blessing in disguise.

After I left that job, I was suddenly a writer – the most unexpected twist in my journey thus far. I was blogging, writing pieces for several different websites, appearing in different magazines, making amazing connections. I had the honor of working as a social media consultant for a best-selling author and I was making insanely unexpected connections in the publishing world. And then there was a journey to the other side of the world – my first trip to Asia, on a yoga retreat to Bali. My universe was expanding and my perspective shifting in fantastic ways.

At the same time I had taken my first Anusara Yoga immersion, and in the process discovered the most amazing community of people. I found my teachers, met my dearest of friends. I was doing tons of yoga. I found the most magical little meditation group. I was writing in cafes. I was living in yoga pants and taking long walks around this breathtaking city. I was living through the happiest, most joyful, most inspiring and abundant time of my life.

The next year, I became an auntie yet again, this time to my niece Gwenna. Over the years since, I have become a permanent fixture in the lives of my niece and nephew – Aunt Jeannie that lives in the cool apartment, a mile down the road. How blessed I am and continue to be.

But as reality would have it, the life of a writer does not pay the rent in San Francisco and so I had to return to the corporate world. I suddenly found myself back in the rat race, in a very undesirable position. Every day was a struggle. Every day I had to drag myself out of bed. But on the first week of this job, I walked into my HR orientation and met a Bostonian named Andy with a strong No’th Sho’ accent. A beautiful friendship blossomed and that friendship turned into love.

Final book simulationThen I published a book. The Yoga Diaries was a labor of love, a culmination of years of darkness that became transformed by yoga and delivered me into the happiest, most joyful, most abundant time of my life. This was my moment of giving birth, to all of the dark and light, all of the strength and wisdom that lay within me.

I managed to get myself out of the less than ideal job situation, and what I took with me were a couple great, new friends and my now sweetheart. And then in yet another surprising turn of events, the stars aligned to lead me back to my former company in Boston, a company I worked for over a decade ago, the best company I’ve ever known. And now here I am, eight years later, living in San Francisco, in a city and a state that have changed me into the best possible version of myself, working for a fabulous Bostonian company, and being blessed with the love of a wonderful Bostonian man. It seems that my life has come full circle.

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Photo attributed to Flickr User flydown.

For years I could not visit Boston. The pain was too great, the ghosts too many. Haunted by the memories of failed relationships, of devastating broken hearts, and of shattered dreams, the thought of returning to the scene of the crime simply filled me with too much dread. I had moved forward to new cities, new adventures with new lives and new friends, where I was living new memories and trying to forget the tragedy of fore. I was attempting, determinedly and desperately, to birth a new Jeannie.

But over time, the pull of family obligations and unexpected job opportunities would find me back in Boston, walking reluctantly through my old closets, trying to dodge the skeletons. Try as I might to avoid my old haunts, the pull of unresolved emotion would sometimes be too great to resist. I would find myself walking in a fog of mental haze through old neighborhoods, past old apartments, and stepping right through time portals that would carry me straight back to the scene of so many memories, so many palpable emotions. I tasted them, more bitter than sweet. I smelled them, more sour than succulent. Though they were done and dead, I relived them, painfully and tragically, over and over.

I couldn’t go to that restaurant, for that was where I met “him.” That patch of grass was where we lay looking for shooting stars. That video store was where I mustered up the guts to talk to “him.” That park was where we broke up. That subway was what we would ride, holding hands. That store was where we walked by the sweet kitty in the window. That bar was where we shared our first kiss. And that stoop was where I said good-bye, wiping the tears from “his” eyes. It seemed everywhere I looked there were reminders of love lost, of best friends tragically ripped from my life.

Photo attributed to Flickr User Helmut Kaczmarek.

But the years went by and as it always does, time began to heal all wounds, little by little. One city, then another city, and then a third city, and I had created three new versions of Jeannie, each a little different than the first. I was slowly becoming a different person. I was meeting new people, having new experiences, creating new memories, making new friends, living entirely different lives. Eventually, I was no longer that same Jeannie who had lain on that patch of grass or stood on that stoop. Though that person would always be a part of me, she had transformed and blossomed into a new creature, a stronger and more resilient being, shaped by the landscape of life.

This year, family would find me returning to Boston, now a hard-to-imagine 9 years since I’d left. And I unexpectedly found myself excited to return. I was excited to visit with family, to smell the salty sea air, to walk around the quaint cobblestone streets with their charming colonial houses. I looked forward to creating new memories.

Boston Public Garden

Once there, my family and I set right out to experience all that the beautiful city of Boston has to offer: walks through the Boston Public Garden, under my favorite weeping willow trees; strolling past the old row-houses of Back Bay; romping through the historic streets of Beacon Hill with their adorable gas lanterns; walking along the waterfront taking in the sweet smell of salty air as we watched the boats come and go. I felt no need to re-visit my old haunts, I somehow knew that those graves did not need to be walked on.

But as we strolled about, all over the city, we inevitably happened upon several of the spots of my past trials. Not sure how I would feel, I was somewhat surprised and delighted to find myself smiling. Those memories that had once been painful, were no longer. What had once filled my heart with deep, debilitating pain, now instead filled my heart with peace and love. I thought about the memories, and the people behind them, and to my shock I found myself filled with nothing but fondness for them. I realized in that instant that the old Jeannie had integrated with the new Jeannie.

I remember the feeling that I had that first day that I landed in Boston. As the old Jeannie collided with the new Jeannie, I felt a sense of strangeness; how surreal it was to have to consider and attempt to reconcile these two completely different people. They were so different: one was young, innocent, and vulnerable; while the other was mature, graceful and wise. They knew such different experiences, such distinct lives.

But now as I sit on the airplane heading back to San Francisco, the city of my current life, I realize that I am happily and peacefully integrated. The new Jeannie met the old Jeannie, thanked her for all of the powerful lessons learned, recognizing that she could not exist without her former self. And the old Jeannie smiled proudly at the new Jeannie, patted her on the back for a job well done and sent her off on her way, into the new adventures and lessons that would await…and transform her once again.

Photo attributed to Flickr User h.koppdelaney.

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Over recent weeks, I’ve had the pleasure of visiting with several different friends from out of town, all friends who came from different cities and from previous lives of mine. Not only was it wonderful to catch up with these old friends and reminisce about times gone by, but it was a compelling opportunity to look back on my journey, to see all of the dots that have connected, and to reflect on all of the wonderful souls who have touched and shaped my path along this winding road of life.

Boston, MA

The first of these friends, Simone, was visiting from my home city of Boston. We began working together when I was a mere 23 years old, fairly fresh out of college and wet behind the ears. Looking back on that young age, now 14 years later, it is hard to even recognize the person that I once was. I was just barely beginning my journey into adulthood and I had so much to learn, and so many tough lessons that were still ahead of me. In my wildest imagination (or nightmares!), I could not have conceived of what was yet to come. I was, however, fortunate enough to land the job of a lifetime. For several years we organized student tours abroad and got to reap the benefit of traveling to exciting, foreign lands. This was a professional life filled with wonderful friends, laughter, hilarious travel stories and adventures and simply joyful and rewarding times. These were the days of our lives.

Fast forward five years and I would find myself a new resident of the nation’s capital, Washington, DC, and a newly enrolled graduate student. Having left behind a broken heart and dark clouds in Boston, I was starting over in a new life, preparing to embark on a career of international diplomacy and peace-keeping. However, a semester of confusion, dissatisfaction and feeling like a fish out of water, would eventually lead to my leaving graduate school and landing serendipitously in a job working for an International Human Rights organization. This is where I would meet Lauren, the second visitor to San Francisco in recent weeks.

Washington, DC

Lauren and I would become part of what I coined the “The Sex and the City” foursome of ladies who would get together regularly for dinner and girl talk. These friends were the rocks that kept me grounded during my four years in Washington. Lauren would witness me evolve into my first management role in the .com world, she would see me grapple with the stresses of a high-pressure, long-hour career, and she would see me struggle through a confusing yet painfully beautiful long-distance “relationship,” a relationship which would eventually leave me completely shattered, turned inside out and gasping for air. About to embark on what would turn out to be my “dark night of the soul,” Lauren would be part of the good group of friends that would send me off on my forever-destined journey to the west coast, leaving behind my east coast life and friends, leaving behind a part of myself.

The journey west would take me to Los Angeles, a city that would unwittingly become home to the deepest depression, the most gripping pain and the most intense struggle of my life. But simultaneously, and somewhat ironically, it would become the most bewitching and magical place I have ever lived, deeply connecting with the fibers of my spirit. Filling me up with her bittersweet nectar, Los Angeles would eventually become the gateway to a profound spiritual awakening, a complete transformation and a brand new Jeannie, alchemized by the fire of life.

Magical Los Angeles

Enter Garrett. A childhood friend of the family, Garrett had known me since I was a young girl and he had seen me grow into a woman. He had known me through various lives and several different versions of myself. Upon my arrival in Los Angeles, he was one of the only people I knew and was often the only shoulder to cry on during a very dark time. Garrett was witness to the darkest years of my life, the most profound turmoil through which I have walked, and for this I am grateful.

I am grateful because today when I met Garrett and his girlfriend for coffee in downtown San Francisco, while they were visiting from Los Angeles, I was able to shine brightly and tell Garrett how happy I am, how much joy, wonder and magic I experience on a daily basis. Had Garrett not been there to witness my lowest point, I’m not sure anyone would truly know how extraordinary and powerful my transformation has been, and how grateful I am for all of the trials and tribulations that have led me to this place.

As I look back on these friends, and the many others who have laughed with me, cried with me, fought with me and walked alongside me, I am deeply touched by the indelible marks that each one has left on my soul. It is often said that we should not look back to the past, but I profoundly disagree. There is so much grace and beauty in putting the pieces together and making sense of how the journey unfolded. Some of the most important lessons, and even revelations, of our lives come from time reflecting back on our previous journeys. It is all a beautiful, and necessary, part of our evolution.

It is true that however we might plan and plot, in large part we have no idea where are journeys will take us next, or where each path will lead; but what I am sure of is that there will be beautiful souls along the way, souls who will come into our lives to help us along our journey. There will be souls who help us, souls who hurt us, and there will be souls who crack us wide open, but each one of these souls has a purpose and a powerful lesson to teach us. And as we walk along our path, however much it twists and turns, and however dark, scary and painful it may become at times… we should embrace the journey.

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Our society largely teaches us that if we hope to find happiness, we must have a myriad of very specific things, among them: romantic love, marriage, children and a stable, high-paying career. I have none of these things, and yet I am living more fully than I have ever lived before. Only one month into 2012 and I can already see that my 37th year is gearing up to be the best of my life. And I am yet again reminded that if we are open, if we pay attention to the signs, if we listen to our instincts and trust, we can create and experience nothing short of magic in our lives.

One year ago today, shortly after being fired for the first time in my life, I reflected on the idea of the “life plan,” the idea that there are certain milestones towards which we are “supposed” to work and specific benchmarks by which we measure our success in achieving said milestones. And I am now able to see that it wasn’t until I rejected those measurements, and let go of any idea of the life I had planned, that I began to see the true magic unfold in my life. It was truly by surrendering that my life began to flow with the current.

Today I turn 37 years old and I stand in awe of the life that has manifested before me. It is not a life I ever could have dreamed of or imagined. It is, in fact, the farthest thing from any picture I ever could have painted for myself. Nor is it a life that any of my friends or family ever would have predicted for me. Yet I look back in wonder and amazement at the incredible journey, the unexpected twists and turns, the surprising detours and the life-altering and mind-blowing experiences that have delivered me to this very place in time and space.

Simultaneously, I am mesmerized by how much has happened, by how quickly the years have passed, a blip on the dashboard of universal time. And I find myself sounding like my father when I say, “I never thought I’d get to be {insert age}!” Just the other day I expressed this same thought to a friend of mine, who very wisely responded, “You’ve earned your 37 and you have to admit it is probably better then 17 or 27 for that matter.” As I pondered this, I couldn’t help but chuckle at the veritable accuracy and poignancy of that statement. I looked back on my life at those ages and this is what I realized: 17 was the year of my first broken heart; 27 was the year of my second broken heart…So what of 37?… 37 is the year of my LIBERATED HEART.

For much of the two decades between my tender 17-year old adolescent self and my now 37-year older and wiser self, I have been through the wringer of broken hearts, time and again left dripping helplessly into the floor. I have touched every range of emotion and their deep and often painful polar opposites. I have lived, breathed and tasted them. And I have drowned in them. I have looked for love and happiness in all of the wrong places, and I have fought tooth and nail for loves that left me broken and wrung out. And in the process I have seen the inner fibers of my heart carved out, leaving me with gaping holes of emptiness.

Whatever remnants of an intact heart were left after the first two broken hearts, were finally completely shattered by the third (and hopefully last!). But though I did not realize it at that time, it was that utter smashing of my heart that would actually be the key to cracking me wide open. I saw a beautiful quote the other day:

“The wound is the place where the Light enters you.”~ Rumi

The day that my heart was shattered into smithereens, was the day that my true healing could really begin. Since that time, I have dived more deeply into my soul than I ever dared dream possible. I have touched the source of the divine within me, the deep well of wisdom and knowing, and I have connected with the celestial forces all around me, above and beneath me. I have drunk, tasted and touched the pure light of love. I have found Bliss.

So yes, it is true: I have no romantic love. I have no marriage or children. And I don’t have a stable, high-paying career. But I lack nothing. I have found true happiness in myself, with myself and by myself.

On that note, age 36, I bid thee a loving farewell. You have been a true and trusted friend on the journey to the heart, you have been the gateway to my liberation. I will always look back on you with reverence as the year that changed everything and I will carry you with me as I walk forward into what I know will be one of the most powerful and transformational years of my life.

Hello age 37. I welcome you with open arms and a fully intact heart.

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Me and my brothers in front of the Golden Gate Bridge

My very first introduction to San Francisco was at the tender age of six when my mother took me and my two brothers across the country on a 2-week train trip. I don’t remember much of San Francisco, except for this photo missing my two front teeth. That and the crookedest street in the world. It, like many experiences of my early years, faded into the recesses of my memory.

Some 20 years later I would be sitting in my office in Boston, daydreaming about moving to San Francisco with one of my best friends and colleagues. I’m not sure why we had it in our heads that San Francisco should be our destination; perhaps it was the fact that both of our older brothers had already moved there, perhaps it was the adventure of moving west towards a new frontier, perhaps it was the romanticism of a place we couldn’t fully imagine, some place new, different, exciting. Perhaps it was simply the fantasy of leaving everything behind and starting over, a new person in a new life.

San Francisco skyline

Despite our daydreams, life had other plans for both of us. She, my colleague and friend, ended up on her own adventures between New York City, Paris and Washington, DC. My own path led me to Washington, DC and then finally west, but to a different destination… Los Angeles. Though I had spent all of that time dreaming about San Francisco, circumstances had led me elsewhere, and San Francisco just didn’t appear to be in the cards. That is until 2009, when a series of events “inadvertently” led me right to the place of my previous daydreams… I had finally landed in San Francisco.

At first it was a love-hate relationship. My heart was stuck in Los Angeles, and that coupled with my love of the warm weather of Southern California, meant that I was pretty miserable and found every reason to complain about San Francisco. It was not living up to my dreams of all those years before.

But as it always does, time went by and things began to change. My heart-strings began to release their tight grip on Los Angeles and I began opening up more to the idea of San Francisco being home. Little by little I began to acclimate to the weather, I began to find a new community of friends, I began to plant roots. San Francisco was becoming home. As it did so, the beauty around me began to become more and more apparent. Every time I would walk to yoga, I would stand in awe of the spectacular view of the skyline that was simply the backdrop of my walk through Alamo Square. The succulent scent of California’s year-round flowers wafted into my nostrils everywhere I went. The breathtaking view of the Golden Gate Bridge would render me speechless each time I passed over it or caught a glimpse of it from atop a high vista point in the city. The stunning views of the San Francisco Bay, dotted with beautiful sailboats, would come into my eyesight during a routine walk or drive. On almost a daily basis I would find myself amazed by the staggering beauty around me and exclaiming to myself, “My God. How on earth do I live HERE?”

View of Golden Gate Bridge from Marin Headlands

As a writer dedicated to focusing on the positive and seeking out the joy of life, I strive every day to appreciate the beauty that is all around me and to not take it for granted. But like any human, even I have my moments when I lose sight of it. Tonight was one of those moments. As we just changed the clocks and it is suddenly getting dark much earlier than it was previously, I found myself disappointed by the loss of light in the day. As I was preparing to leave for yoga this evening, I posted this update to my Facebook page:

“Really not thrilled about it being DARK for my walk to yoga.”

Looking out the window I could see that it was dark and I was not looking forward to the walk in the cold, especially when I was so used to taking this lovely walk with the warm sun on my back.

I headed out the door and onto my usual route to yoga, which takes me through Alamo Square, home of The Painted Ladies. The minute I set foot into the park, I once again stood in awe. In the crisp fall air, the city was sparkling with absolute brilliance against the night sky, cradled by the glow of the bright moon above. I was immediately humbled and realized the error of my ways with my previous Facebook post. It was ironic that I was on my way to yoga. One of the themes that we frequently explore in yoga is the embracing of not only the light, but also the dark, the shadow side of life. As the seasons change and we move into a darker time, the yoga invites us to explore the darker side of ourselves, our experiences and our emotions. And it invites us to embrace both, to see the beauty in both, the opportunity for growth which comes from each. As I reflected on my dissatisfaction about the days turning into night, I realized that I was missing out on the opportunity to embrace both the light and the dark. And as I walked through Alamo Square and marveled at the beauty of the night scene around me, I felt nothing but wonder and gratitude.

San Francisco at night, from Alamo Square

I thought about the 6-year old me sitting in front of the Golden Gate Bridge with my brothers, completely unaware of the fact that this would one-day be my home. I thought about the 20-something me daydreaming with my friend about San Francisco, about how we would get there and what it would be like. And I thought about the current me who had evolved from a place of daydreaming, to ambivalence about a city, to embracing it as my home. And as I looked at the stunning skyline glittering beneath the light of the moon, I was overcome with emotion and I once again thought to myself, “My God. How do I live HERE?”

This post is dedicated to Jules, who has forever been my ally and friend
along this journey.

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