It’s simple really, the moment I feel that I am different from you, I disconnect. And I do this, all the time. I go in and out of connection all day long, sometimes I am aware of it, and other times, it takes me a long time, it takes me a moment of pure connection to contrast and realize, humbly, how often times I go missing from myself and from others.
Disconnection has looked different for me over the years. It has looked like 60-70 hour work-weeks. It has looked like straddling fine lines between having fun, and being completely reckless. It has looked like me not answering calls, getting back to it ‘someday’ not saying the words that hurt and/or being available to hear the words that hurt. It has looked like way too much sleep, or not enough sleep, it has looked lonely, it has felt dark, and it almost always: feels comfortable. Because the things that we are used to, they feel comfortable.
Connection for me has looked vastly different over the years, especially since I began a steady yoga practice back in ’08. And my favorite and most genuine ways to connect come via a yoga mat both as student and as teacher, travel, 1:1 conversations with loved ones and total strangers, music, writing, the ocean, saying the things that matter, forgiveness, walking with Moose, anything outdoors…as in sunsets, sunrises, starry nights, and cool evenings with a bon-fire to light and warm the way.
I am certain that I am more connected than I have ever been before. In all ways. Though moving, as in the places you rest your head at night isn’t easy, it’s a way to see, really look people in the eyes who you would have never met if you had stayed in one place. I was constantly startled and in awe, of the beauty I’d find gazing back at me in Kenya, and I drew a deep commitment here to come out of my own hiding so that I never missed moments like this.
I’ve been in California now for just over 6 months. There is something about this coastline that truly is magic. There are places where the ocean meets rock walls that are a thousand feet high, and in those places the stars light up the whole sky, and sunrises and sunsets are peeking just as you come around a turn. When Paul and I went camping to Big Sur a few weeks ago, I could not stop looking up at the stars. It changes everything…looking up. It changes everything.
This picture my beautiful beauty of a beeeeautiful friend (my friend and soul sister Jen is so beautiful) posted this after a trip to the forest in Cali and it couldn’t be more perfect…
Where I live here in Sacramento those views aren’t exactly here, but they are close by. Last week I took a solo 2-day trip to Harbin, just outside of Napa, famous for it’s hot springs, and also known for the fact that it’s clothing optional…and though it was beautiful. I’ll just say. That was too many wieners for this girl. Too many. But I’m glad I went, it’s an experience that I had, and likely wont have again there, but it’s why I love living in California. On the way I passed acres of vineyards and sunflower fields. One day I know I will live right on the coast. I am completely sure of it. I have always known this.
Of course the risk of deep connection is the fear of losing it all. And this is the fear that will ultimately take me out, and keep me in my comfort zone: being alone. As I move deeper into connection with my life here in California, with my love, with my work, in this community, the stakes grow higher, and I grow afraid. I’m in tune enough to know this pattern within myself, but I am not yet strong enough to stop it.
We were having dinner on the porch the other night, I was feeling resigned, and he, he was feeling confused as I saw in the way his eyebrows came together and he kept looking down. We both felt disconnected, and there were moments where the only time my breath felt easy were the moments I realized I could just walk away. This was immediately followed by shame, shame that walking away for me is more comfortable than staying and letting myself be loved and in-love. I know I’m not the only one here…so I’ll continue.
Nothing major happened. There was no big moment. No fight to have me running. If anything, all I could think about was this freaking coffee maker. This giant-sized beast of a coffee maker from I’m guessing 1995…and when I asked ‘maybe we should get a new one’ he says ‘why, this one is perfect, it makes coffee.’ And just a few feet away from where we sit this night having dinner on the porch, there’s this door that leads into this apartment, that Paul recently moved into…and it’s pretty empty right now. And I don’t understand where I fit. (and this comes up for me literally everywhere…I don’t understand where I fit)
We don’t even live together yet, but as slowly he places things down in his apartment, a couch from craigslist, things I just wouldn’t pick out…I slowly begin to decide, there’s no room for me here. ‘Clearly’, I reasoned to myself, ‘we want different things’. The couch doesn’t feel like a couch, but a 200-pound reminder on my shoulders ‘I don’t fit.’
We talk about moving in together, and I feel equal parts excited and terrified. I have never lived with a partner and I just turned 32. I make this mean that I suck at relationships and something must be very very wrong with me. Shit, I haven’t even had a roommate in like 8 years, cause I just don’t like it. I LOVE coming home to a place to myself, where I can light candles, take off all my clothes, eat ice-cream standing up, play music, and go to bed at 900pm without anyone asking me, ‘why are you going to bed, it’s 9?’ I like doing what I want to do, when I want to do it. Control? Yes, please and thank you, give me as much as possible.
This idea of control has now found it’s way into my work life. As some of you know, I found my way back to lululemon, and by found my way back, I mean set a goal to come back to a company where I want to build a meaningful career among others who inspire me on such a deep deep level, a company that excites me and I see as one giant opportunity to grow and contribute. And I had to do some work to get back here. My exit last march before leaving for Kenya, it was messy. I had some cleaning up to do, and I had some tough conversations to initiate and not run from. I had to take ownership, and truly, the whole process felt really damn good. Because generally speaking when you clean up a mess, think apartment, think car, think relationships, it may hurt, but it’s always worth it. Always.
So here I am back on a brand new team, and this team? Woah, this team. With every bit of truth in my heart I can say it doesn’t get better than this. And I am a part of it. And I am part of what makes it wonderful…if I let it. Such an important important part, and a part I need help with.
I got my schedule yesterday for the first time, of what August will look like as I come back onboard. And what it looks like is a little bit of this, and that, and here and there, and I have no control over it. Because I am not in a position to be making schedules. I am in a position to be following schedules. And oh shit, this did not feel good. I like making schedules. I like giving them to other people. Receiving them? I felt a total loss of control, and I could feel myself breaking down. I looked at the things that occupied slots on days like Saturdays, and I immediately began to feel that I was failing at 3 other very important things to me, teaching yoga, completing a large project for an organization I feel a strong commitment to, and of course, Paul (who I still love deeply, I just am questioning the coffee maker). I time traveled into all the ways I would let these things slip, and lose who I am, and fuck up. I went to the end-result-worse-case-scenario, felt it so vividly that I began to sweat, and I felt tears well-up…and next, saw myself running.
This team, that I had been so accountable to doing the work to get back to, and so here it was, in color coded blocks, what it looked like in August anyway to be a part of this team, and my comfort zone was challenged. And with the patience and kindness of Mother Theresa, my manager on the other end, who I could feel was truly truly trying to understand how I was reading all this, was speaking to me in ways that showed of compassion and empathy, and I just wanted to hang-up, because I was ashamed that I couldn’t ‘do better’ than I was doing in that moment. But generally speaking, you should not hang up on your manager : ) Anyway, it all worked out, I was able to identify what came up for me when I popped open that word document. And this came up for me…’maybe this is too good to be true. Maybe I don’t fit.’
Just when I think I have something down, something new comes up, and I see, so clearly that there is work to be done. That there are things left to understand. That I need a little more light to shine in those dark places. And instead of running away, I just need to ask for a little bit of light…in other words, I need to ask for help.
My favorite author Anne Lamott says this, ‘the two best prayers I know are help me help me help me and thank you thank you thank you’ If I am not careful I will think asking for help means I am weak. Or, if others ask me for help, they are weak. Worse case scenario, I bottle it all up, until I’m asking for help more out desperation than of guidance. And it’s really hard to help someone who’s rocking the ugly-face-cry and who cant really get their words out.
I still need help believing that I fit and belong in places that are loving and kind. In environments that both challenge and nurture me. Among others who are strong and vulnerable.
I need a lot of help believing that someone wants to love me over any of the other 8 billion people on the planet. I need help knowing that a disagreement over a couch or a coffee maker doesn’t doom two people to a life of not wanting to the same things. Even if one wants to vacation in a tent 100% of the time, while the other would prefer (at-times) a luxury spa and high thread count sheets.
I need help asking for help way waaaaaay before ugly-face-cry takes effect. And I need help remembering why being alone, while it may be comfortable, it’s lonely, and unnecessarily dark, and that hide and seek is for 7-year old with Kool-Aid moustaches, not 32 year olds with Kool-Aid moustaches (I still love Kool-Aid). I need understanding that giving up control does not mean giving up advocating for what you want or who you are. I need a lot of freaking help.
Good news, I have never had such an amazing group of people in my life, as I have come to develop over these past few years. Family? Yep, I got a million. I have been fortunate enough to travel extensively, to look people in the eye and love them, I have enough adventure and soul in me to know that I will never stop seeking this or receiving these gifts. Of connection. Of openness. Of knowing when I am afraid and asking for help.
May I never forget to say thank you. I am so grateful for this life that I live. Thank you for being a part of it.