Welcome to the Monkey House

I ended my last post by saying that there’s more for us every time we choose to make room for it. And, after what I’ve seen happen in the last week, I want to emphasize the choose to make room part of that sentence.

When I got to Seattle, I wasn’t really planning on selling all my stuff. I wasn’t planning to cut ties with the things that I’ve carried with me through every move since college. I had no idea what the future looked like and I certainly didn’t anticipate what my next move would be. That left me feeling a lot like this: 

All I knew was that I wanted to feel free - physically, emotionally, financially.

Getting rid of my furniture and most of my stuff kept me from having to rent a place, pay for storage and hire movers. Free.

Breaking my ties to all of those things gave me the physical option to go where I wanted to go, when I wanted to go there. To work wherever the job and the notion moved me. Free.

For a minute this was all a bit overwhelming, but as I took carload after carload to Goodwill, and gave things away, and waited for craigslist people, this thing began to build momentum. The more I chose to break free, the easier it became. The things that I wasn’t ready to give up on Saturday had lost their hold on me by Tuesday, and out the door they went. But, I re-emphasize: it was a choice.

And this was all somewhat terrifying, because I didn’t have a clue where I wanted to go and maybe it would feel better to at least have my stuff while I figured it out? But I kept purging and made it out of Seattle on schedule and with minimal drama.

Friends have asked “what’s next?” and I have no idea. This has never been a comfortable place for me. Not having a plan feels a lot like this:

Science is working for and against me here.

The Primary Law of Cartoon Physics (that's def a proper noun) states that gravity does not work until you look down.  

Also: Aristotelian physics argues that a vacuum begs to be filled. The universe does not like a void. And so, when we get rid of something to create space in our lives, there is tension and pressure. 

If you’ve ever let go of an open balloon or popped your ears on a plane you understand what I'm talking about.

If you’ve ever gone through a breakup and had that no-one-to-text empty feeling when you just stare at your phone, willing it to do something, then you definitely understand what I'm talking about.

And I’ve certainly made plans to fill that void before - just to make myself feel better in the moment - but now it's important to me to find more than  a placeholder. To do that, I have to keep the space open and that can be very uncomfortable because I am literally defying the laws of physics. 

So I left Seattle with no plan, and it was hard to dismantle the life that I’d built for myself, to watch it get carried, piece by piece, to other apartments across the city, to Goodwill, to the dumpster. I created a void in my life, and that was by no means easy, but it was very necessary. 

It was necessary because I couldn’t take the next step until I was willing to let go of the last one. And though I had no idea what that would be, as soon as Seattle was taken care of things began to fall into place. Opportunities began to present themselves. I said ‘yes’ to some things and ‘no’ to others - maintaining space - and I was able to ask myself what I really wanted before committing to anything.

And this feels amazing. I can go where I want, when I want. Everything I own fits into my truck. I took my life apart so that I can put it back together in a way that feels good for who I am now. This is exactly the kind of freedom I’ve been looking for.

And it is weird and challenging and a bit scary.

Life is full of unknowns right now, but at least it isn’t full of things I know I don’t want or need anymore. At least it’s mine to create as I go. At least the things that are in my life now are there by choice.

And it’s all a choice. Jump. Don't jump. Stay. Go. Keep it. Toss it. Up to you, really. 

 

Just don't look down. 

 

Onward. 

 

Born Under A Bad Sign

If you know me at all, then you know that I tend to wander. I’m a seasoned road-tripper. An impulsive maker of cross-country moves. A corporate tourist. I have “wanderlust,” they say. “A free spirit,” I’ve been called (today, even.) It’s not my fault, I’m just a Sagittarius. It was written in the stars long before I was born...or something.

And I’d just accept my fate and chalk all the moving around up to The Universe having bigger plans for me if I weren’t a firm believer in this thing called personal accountability. I like free will. I find it empowering.

I’m all for chasing down whatever incites my curiosity and inspires an adventure. But, at 36, I’d be a fool to not recognize that my situation - whatever it may be - is entirely of my own creation. For better or worse. While I learn through fascination and am always on fire for the excavation of hidden knowledge - wherever that may take me - at a certain point, even I feel the pull of home and a strong desire to feel connected to a place.

When I moved to Seattle last spring, what felt like a calculated and well-thought out change, a chance to put down roots, was anything but.

I had a plan. I had direction. I had a W-2!

What I didn’t have was any friends, any idea of where to live, any community. And, for the first time in my life, I was as far from my family as it is possible to get within the confines of the contiguous United States. I had a new commute. A new paycheck. A new gym. A new climate. I was traveling so much for work that I hardly noticed, but when I returned to the Pacific Northwest in October, after almost two months on the road, and no more than three weeks in a row in the city since May, I was struck by how lonely I was in the midst of so much motion.

I was finally at rest within my surroundings, and I was actually scared of how unfamiliar it all felt. This beautiful city, my fantastic apartment, the places I’d been moving through for the last six months - they all felt foreign. And I was at loose ends.

I desperately dug in - worked hard, worked out, went about my business, hoping that something would click, that it would all fall into place and I’d find the ease inherent in routine.

But it didn’t happen, and I had to take a hard look at how I was doing things. Yes, I had a schedule and a sweet pad and a good job, but it all felt forced. And just weird.

Fortunately, a friend in the city invited me to a random yoga class one friday night - and I only say ‘random’ because, inexplicably, I hadn’t even thought to go to yoga in the six months I’d been living in Seattle. After two years in Montana, I’d forgotten about yoga. The one thing that has always protected me from the weirdness of life - I hadn’t even thought to look for. And then, there it was again, waiting for me.

That friday night, as I unrolled my mat, and stretched my lanky self out into the first dog that I’d downed in years - in that moment, I placed my hands on the mat and closed my eyes, I was comfortable. I went through the class, knowing the movements in the very cells of my heart, inhaling and exhaling as I expanded into the space, and, finally, into something that felt familiar.

I didn’t realize how much I had been powering through holding myself up in the face of everything that was new. There is always a necessary amount of posturing when you’re in a new place - exude confidence, hold your head up, say yes to things even though you just want to hide out in bed all day and try to get your bearings - and I was exhausted. I was in fake-it-til-you-make-it mode, and in dire need of a place where I could just be myself.

While that yoga class felt good, it didn’t pull me right back into my practice. I was still shaky in my new surroundings. Just as I was beginning to recognize this need for the familiar, for something that felt safe and recognizable, I decided to learn how to ride a motorcycle. And as much as I love that sh*t, at that point it was just more new that I had to manage. And then I dropped the damn thing and picked it up with one hand in a moment of baby-under-the-bus adrenaline and stupidity.

As a result, I pulled a muscle in my back so hard that I couldn’t get out of bed for two days. I could barely stand. I physically could not hold myself up anymore.

I got the point. And I booked it to the first yoga class I could find. And that class was all about finding ease, looking for places to soften, and letting the universe hold you, trusting it to catch you. I’d been trying to muscle my way through everything, and it took pulling one to snap me out of it. And I remembered the work that I’d done establishing my yoga practice - why I’d been so dedicated to creating something that would shelter me from the shitstorms that inevitably hit - and I was back on the mat with a vengeance. This is exactly what practice is for - whatever yours may be - it’s what fishing was for me in Montana, what yoga will be for me always, what riding my motorcycle is when the weather’s nice. It’s the thing that grounds you no matter where you are, and it’s the one thing that we all need to feel centered, safe, and like ourselves.

I never thought that I’d say this, but there is such a thing as “too much new.” And I’d pushed right up into and over the edge of what I was comfortable with. A boundary I didn’t even know was crossable. But as I got reacquainted with my yoga mat, I started to reposition the rest of my life so that The New wasn’t so overwhelming. I cut out some things that I was interested in but were crushing my energy, and reinvested in what I knew would support me. I wrote on the ferry. I focused on my relationships, near and far. I prioritized self-care so that when things went a bit awry, I didn’t lose my footing.

And now, on the road again, I travel with a mat and a pen and sense of place that supersedes my geographic location. I know where I stand with me, and while it’s easy to get lost in the otherness that is the world around us, I’m making a point to keep house wherever I go - because what we create internally will always give us a sense of direction. A true north. A sense of the familiar when the newness gets to be too much and a place to come back to no matter how far we roam.

Here’s to the adventure. Here’s to the familiar. May they always bring you home.


Onward.