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Posts Tagged ‘Los Angeles’


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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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Five years ago today I came to San Francisco for a 1-month sublet, my kitties in tow. I was on the tail end of the darkest depression of my life and my life was stagnating in Los Angeles. I knew I needed to make a change, but I had no idea where it would lead or what I would find in San Francisco. But in the face of fear and doubt, I blindly took the first step. Five days later a job offer had fallen in my lap. Overnight I had to find someone to take over my lease in Los Angeles, find a permanent apartment here in San Francisco, pack up my apartment, and drive the Uhaul, by myself, the six lonely hours up the I-5. I’ll never forget the experience of driving out of Los Angeles. It was 2009 and we were experiencing some of the worst fires in LA history, and they were extremely close to the city. As I drove through Hollywood and up the 101, I could see smoke, ash, and flames on both sides of the freeway. I felt like I was literally driving out of the mouths of Hell. Little did I know, I was actually the Phoenix about to rise from the ashes.

TriangleI started my new life in San Francisco, disillusioned by the weather and really missing my Hollywood Hills and my Mediterranean lifestyle. I found myself in a stressful start-up job, with an environment that gradually became more and more toxic. What was I doing? Where was I going? I had no idea. I came to my mat. I sought out solace in my yoga community. I knew nobody. But I kept coming to my mat. And little by little, month after month, I began to make new friends and build a new community. That job eventually fired me and I stood in one of the most important and pivotal moments of my life. Somewhat accidentally, at this same time, I found myself in the unexpected seat of the writer. I wrote my story of healing through yoga. A floodgate opened. The next thing I knew I had a blog with thousands of followers around the globe. Life was surprising me at every turn. I began writing for several different blogs and making new connections, collaborating with other creative beings all over the world. I was taking major risks. Around the same time I enrolled in a 7-month intensive yoga immersion. My yoga practice deepened to levels I never could have imagined and a community of friends formed around me. The most beloved, devoted friends of my life began to step forward, sharing in the journey and supporting me all along the way.

San Francisco has changed me in ways I never dared dream. It has brought magic, synchronicity, and connection – truly unbelievable experiences that continue to inspire and amaze me day in and day out. And then there was a book. For the past three years, I have rejected society’s norms. I have walked to the beat of my own drum, I have followed my heart and I have lived without fear. I have rejected the notion that I have to do anything that is dictated by others. During that time a book formed- a passion project which set out to share the countless inspirational stories of transformation through yoga that I continued to hear left and right. And with it, a mission. My mission: to share the power of the practice; to bring greater peace, love, and healing to the world; to empower people to overcome their darkness and step into the light.

On this five year anniversary of beginning my life in San Francisco, it seems perfectly poignant that I stand at the precipice of publishing The Yoga Diaries. And I look back in absolute astonishment at this incredibly rich, surprising, powerful journey that has unfolded before me – A journey that I created.

There is no amount of gratitude that I could express that would do justice to how thankful I feel; thankful for this magnificent, breathtaking city that has taken me to new heights; thankful for all of the beautiful beings that have crossed my path, become my brothers and sisters, and supported my dreams and my personal growth; a life so rich and full of Grace and love. I am the Phoenix and I have risen.

Phoenix Rising

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DSCN1335Hollywood Forever Cemetery, Los Angeles

It was exactly six years ago today that I drove my trusted little Saturn into the City of Angels, the crimson sun setting behind the mighty palms. It had always been my dream to move to the West Coast, and at this moment in my life, I was spurred on by a fight for love. Sadly I was met with anything but. And so began the darkest years of my life: alone, jobless, and heartbroken in the vast and lonely sea of Los Angeles.

In a moment of desperation, I dragged myself into my neighborhood yoga studio. And that seemingly small decision would forever change the course of my life: it would be my first step into a profound healing journey and the beginnings of a major life transformation, the likes of which I never could have imagined. Yoga led me to Peru. Peru led me to San Francisco and here I discovered a whole new Jeannie and a whole new life: a beloved community, an unexpected and dramatic career turn, a book, so many magical experiences and powerful manifestations. It has been a story that this writer never could have written.

Golden Gate from Buena Vista with AnkitGolden Gate Bridge from Buena Vista Park, San Francisco

For six years, California has been home. In fact, from the moment I arrived here, I felt like I had come home. When my heart was broken, Los Angeles held me in her warm embrace and surrounded me with her Angels. California has taken my breath away with her unrivaled beauty: her brilliant sunshine, her majestic mountains, her pristine ocean. And then there was San Francisco. Oh, San Francisco. With her forward-thinking, progressive, risk-taking mentality, San Francisco has inspired in me a well of limitless possibilities and she has allowed for an energetic expansion beyond all measure. California has cracked my heart wide open and allowed me to connect with the Spirit within and all around me.

On a regular basis, I have stood in awe of her outrageous scenery: spectacular views of the shimmering Bay, the electric view of Los Angeles from the Hollywood Hills, the magnificent Golden Gate Bridge, the snow capping the mighty San Gabriel Mountains, the jaw-dropping vistas from the twists and turns of the Pacific Coast Highway, and the mystical fog cradling the dramatic San Francisco skyline.

California has changed me. She has saved me. She has inspired me. I am forever grateful for this place.

DSCF2697Baker Beach, San Francisco

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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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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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