I always identified with Dorothy or the Shepherd Boy in The Alchemist, or any of the “fish-out-of-water characters in a book or in a movie who have to leave home and travel to unknown lands to search for answers: a home, a treasure or a gift only to find out that everything they needed was inside of themselves all along.
In true character form, I’m finding myself in that place right now. After living in Boston for most of my life and for the past 15 years, I decided to move to northern California. And not just northern California but to me—a city and ocean girl—the tiniest, hippiest and rural town in all the lands!
The transition hasn’t been smooth despite what it might appear on Facebook. I went from one very drastic extreme to another. For over a month, I was teaching like any city yoga teacher: 5 yoga classes and privates a day, no days off, having to deal with the elements of driving, parking and time management. I was going out for good-bye dinners with friends, good luck tea dates with students and meetings/last classes in studios. I was rearranging, purging, consolidating and packing my life to either bring to my parents’ house, storage or getting ready to be shipped by UPS to my new home.
At one point, I remember feeling so outside myself that I couldn’t feel my heart. I couldn’t breathe. I teach people how to breathe everyday and I couldn’t breathe. And I kept hearing myself say, “Why do I do this to myself?” “There isn’t enough time!” . At 7 am on Friday morning the movers came and I was out of time.
Anyway I made it through the transition and barely arrived on the other side of the country. The day I arrived we went to an outdoor concert, woke up the next day sick, and the days following consisted of getting better, writing a manual and preparing for my first teacher training and first yoga immersion retreat on a farm.
In my days before I was a yoga teacher, I used to work in a restaurant in the North End of Boston. If any of you know the North End, or any city, it gets infested with mice and rats. My manager had a really good idea—rescue a cat and bring it out at night to keep the mice away. Every day we would walk in at 3 pm for our shift, and Skittles would be passed out across the bar from chasing mice all night. He looked like a disheveled, possessed zombie with spirals for eyes.
That was me when I arrived in Hippieville. I was Skittles. I have never had PTSD but I’m pretty sure that it would feel like that. And it’s not like I could be anonymous and slip into town, they were practically planning a parade, the whole town knew I was coming. And talk about being on the other side of the world.
I was having breakfast with Steve, the shaman healer, (not kidding) and he was asking me about my upbringing and being raised an Irish Catholic family with two older brothers and an elderly man, with a wool hat and a long gray straggly beard, who had to breathe through an oxygen tank that was next to him at the table, was eavesdropping on our conversation and said, “You need this more than me” and offered me a Pot Lollipop!
I was shocked, right there in the café, just handing me pot in a lollipop. Am I in Amsterdam or California? But apparently people don’t bat an eyelash because my friend’s Mom, sat down and said, “What’s that, a Pot Lollipop?” Really? You people ever heard of Tootsie Roll? Nope just pot lollipops…Oh my Toto, we are not in Kansas anymore!
And speaking of Toto, my dog, Gracie, was adjusting better than me. She became a farm dog overnight! The city dog, who was so used to pooping on cement, is now running through fields of kale and strawberry patches with a pack of dogs but not without a price—a price tag at the vet of $1000 and counting. She’s eaten rat poison, got bit by a scorpion and slipped a disk in her long hotdog body, all in the first month.
I found myself walking through the town, which took three minutes and I found myself in a daze asking myself, “How the F*** did I get here?” I’ve never known this way of life where people live, feed, nourish and get high off their land. I used to be of those ignorant grocery shoppers who didn’t even know when a tomato is in season and spent most of my shopping time at the pre-made section at Whole Foods and now my dinner plate consists of what I cooked and hand-picked from the farm!
Everything is new. This is a new love, new house, new town, new studios, new students, new friends…new me? Nope old, me, more improved, me, open and ready, me, trusting in the divine order of things, me. Trusting in myself and trusting that I—me—attracted all that I have been subconsciously asking and am ready for.
There is so much I’m learning and so much to say because I’m still in it to be able to serve any insight on a well-balanced plate like I did when I was a waitress but at least I’m not Skittles anymore. I can say that what I’m learning and practicing at the same time is patience. I’m working it out.
And with patience comes trust; trusting in the divine order of things and that the results that I want will manifest themselves in accordance with the harmony of the universe like all things in nature. If you look up patience in the dictionary it gives idea of patience as something that one has to endure and not be irritated by.
“Quality of being patient, as the bearing of provocation, annoyance, misfortune, or pain, without complaint, loss of temper, irritation, or the like. “
In Sanskrit, the word dhairya, means many different things, like, "constancy, calmness, intelligence, courage, wisdom and bravery."
If we rely on a dictionary and think of patience as something that we need to bear without complaint, or listen to old sayings that tell us that only "good things will come to those who wait" will leave us always unfulfilled because what if we waited for isn't good, like finding out The Wizard was just an ordinary man behind the curtain?
There’s a feeling of attachment that what we want should be happening at a certain time, in how we imagined it and it leads to being entitled about it. We might even feel, “I’m a good person, I’ve worked hard, I deserve it,” and when it doesn’t happen, there’s a feeling that comes of, “Well why didn’t it? What am I doing wrong?” Which is rejection, the opposite of attachment and then what may follow when looking outside of ourselves for answers is jealousy, “Why do they get it and I don’t?”—and all the other negative patterns that may follow or develop.
In the Yoga Sutras, the five primary causes of suffering are called kleshas. In general, any defilement or emotion which obscures the mind. For me, it was the balancing act between attachment (raga) and aversion (dvesha). I was pushing away newness and things that aren’t familiar. I wasn’t being open and I was also attached to what was comfortable, attached that it was all going to go smooth and that it wouldn’t be stressful and that nothing would really change.
That line of thinking interfered with me just giving myself time to adjust. When do we give ourselves time? We often feel like there’s never enough time. We feel sometimes that things we feel obligated to take away our time. Some of us may even feel like Marisa Tomei stomping our foot to the rhythm of our biological clock…even now, it’s time for me to wrap it up.
Some “times” we can control our relationship with time and sometimes we may spend our time chasing mice, chasing rainbows, chasing dreams or following our hearts. No matter where we are on our paths, let’s allow ourselves the time and space to develop and nurture that feeling of hOMe inside of us, no matter where we are or how far away we may feel from where we are from.
My hope for all, is that we slow down, find our own steady rhythm and trust and know that all the answers are within us, that it has been all along and will reveal itself in its own sweet time.