I returned from Costa Rica a few days ago. The trip I had a great freak out over. This city girl is reacclimating to being indoors with the background noise of cars driving by and the occasional dog barking or cat meowing instead of the crickets, frogs, howler monkeys, and birds constantly making their presences known. I have been trying to put into words my experience being in the Costa Rican jungle for a week, but I am not there yet. For now, I leave you with some pictures.
This afternoon all the logistics of leading my first yoga retreat came crashing down, dressed in all of my irrational (and some potentially rational if not blown totally out of proportion) fears. What if we don’t all find the shuttle from the airport to the resort? What if the resort isn’t as magical as it seemed online? What if the mosquitos are rampant (can we say, Zika)? What if it rains the whole time (it is the rainforest)? What if I didn’t pack the right stuff? And on that topic, none of my beach clothing fits properly because I have gained a lot of weight since last summer. So now I am the “fat” yoga teacher about to parade her jiggling cellulite all over the beaches of Costa Rica in front of her yoga students. And the scent of all my beach attire, which hasn’t been worn since last year, reminds me of people I went to the beach with weekly in the past, but who are no longer in my life…a wound that is still healing. I digress, though. What if I suck? What if the students, paying good money for this, are unhappy with their experiences? I am the one shouldering the blame. I am the one who lured them out to Costa Rica for a week.
Needless to say, it was a long afternoon leading up to getting dropped off at the airport. (My parents were the brunt of much of my swirling anxiety.) My students tend to believe I am always calm, cool, and collected. I teach in NYC, stuff happens. My students often pride me on my abilities to stay calm and eloquently handle just about any situation. In my personal life, however, freak outs happen. More often than I would like to admit, my anxiety gets the best of me.
As I sit in an airport restaurant reflecting, and putting the finishing touches on my lesson plans for the upcoming week, I can almost laugh at the absurdity of it all. My freak outs are pointless, they never change the outcome of things. In the end I just get all riled up. You’d think by this point in my life I would have it together enough to squelch the freak outs. I was a therapist and now I teach yoga and meditation. Shouldn’t I have a better handle on my emotions and be able to remain calm by now? The answer…not yet.
Exactly five weeks ago, yesterday, I landed in California for my three month sabbatical. How has it already been five weeks? Where has the time gone? What have I done? What do I have to show for the past five weeks? These were just some of the questions charging through my mind. And then, because I am really good at generating panic and anxiety about things to come, I started to freak out about repacking and shipping everything I carted out to California back to NYC at the end of September. I started getting worked up over planning the retreat I’m leading in Costa Rica later this month, even though I have been jotting down notes and planning for several months now. And then the real kicker, what if I don’t accomplish enough during my three months away?!?
When I arrived in California I was in desperate need of down time, I also had a long to-do-list of self-imposed projects I thought I had to get through. Transitioning from NYC to a small town that runs at a slow pace on the central coast of California was challenging. I got horribly homesick. I missed my friends and the city. I felt like a fish out of water. I didn’t know what to do with myself. The cold, fog that wraps itself around the town where I am staying left me depressed and craving sunlight and warmth. I missed my regular yoga students and struggled to adapt to teaching new students at new studios. I missed my yoga teachers back home. I felt like I wasn’t doing enough, and yet, the motivation to do anything was nowhere to be found. I needed to spend time doing nothing. I needed to drop the to-do-list and projects and plans (something I am not very good at doing). I needed to let go and simply let things unfold on their own. I also needed to acknowledge that I was working, just not as much as I was in NYC. I needed to remember that the whole point of this sabbatical was to slow down, re-ground, and re-evaluate things, not to get a ton of stuff done.
I struggle with change and transitions. I need more time than I often admit or allow myself to adapt to changes. While five weeks may seem like a huge chunk out of a three month long sabbatical, it really isn’t all that much time in the grand scheme of things. I feel as though I have just started to settle into my new surroundings and life as it is here. I am working on letting go of the need to accomplish anything in particular, focus on what I am doing, as opposed to all the things I think I should be doing but am not, and give myself the space and time to simply be and relax. I’ll let you know how it goes.
I am angered and heartbroken by the recent news. We no longer lynch and hang black people, we just shoot them. We no longer enslave black people, we just toss them in prison. It’s all the same thing. As a white female I was born with a privilege I did not earn…the privilege of being white. And while this does not make me better than any of my black friends, it does, in this country, afford me a level of safety and security those with darker skin do not have. So, I am left with the question, what do we, privileged white people who care, do?
I have listened to all of my black friends and black students share stories of being discriminated against, unfairly treated, or, perhaps worse, ignored because of the color of their skin. Stories of racism and discrimination ranging from minor offences that are brushed off with a shrug to experiences that have left deep, permanent scars told over coffees and salads and cocktails, and in yoga sessions. I can’t put into words the anger, sadness, and helplessness that wells up in me simply thinking about some of the experiences that have been shared with me. It seems inconceivable that people I value so much could be so devalued by others simply because of skin color. And, I realize, that is part of the problem. So many of us chose not to acknowledge these things happen – yes, even in 2016. While I, and so many others, may not consciously treat non-whites as less than it does not mean that it does not happen on a daily basis. Perhaps simply listening to the stories people have to tell and acknowledging that there is indeed a problem is the first step (it doesn’t seem like enough at this point in time, though).
Innocent human beings have been killed. Whether they were sinners or saints is of no matter here. Whether they were innocent or guilty is of no matter here. Their lives were taken inhumanely and unjustly. Their lives mattered. How, as a society, can we expect black people to be anything but the stereotypical “angry black woman” or “angry black man”? How can we cease to be scared by the anger, squashing the power and silencing the voices of those with darker skin? To those who wave banners proclaiming, “all lives matter,” you are part of the problem. We cannot proclaim that all lives matter until we treat all lives with equal respect and dignity.
And so, I ask in all earnestness, what can be done? How do we stop pretending we have progressed and moved forward as a society and truly do so?
Today marks the start of my 3 month sabbatical in California. The decision to leave my home in New York City was made rapidly, but the lead up was months in the making. No one has directly asked me, “Why?” Instead, there has been a lot of tiptoeing around the question everyone has wanted to ask but didn’t dare. Lots of probing, “What will you do?” And lots of people have projected their fantasies onto my three months away. My favorite being, “A three month vacation? How nice!”
First, the why. Well, because I can. I am able to work remotely. I am not in a relationship that would require taking into account how this might affect someone else and potential compromises. My only dependent is a cat, who came with me. This very well might be the last time in my life I can freely do something of this nature. So…I did. I do not for one second take for granted how truly fortunate I am to be able to do this.
The last year has been one of seismic shifts, both good and bad. I was left heartbroken, ungrounded, surrounded by vast amounts of love and support that I had either taken for granted or not seen clearly, and I finally rediscovered my voice. I discovered the blessing and curse of having too much work doing what I love. I wasn’t engaging in my own creative interests, which left me feeling bitter and angry. My schedule felt unmanageable, and yet, I had no idea what to do about it. Leaving things exactly as they were felt harder and more uncomfortable than taking a leap and stepping away from everything for a little while.
Second, what am I going to do? I am going to write (stay tuned for regular blog posts). I am going to take yoga classes with new teachers. I am going to Skype and FaceTime several of my private students in NYC. I am going to teach a few classes at studios here. I am going to record weekly audio classes to post on: Audible Yoga (teacher code: 14124) and On Our Mats I am going to prepare for and lead my first retreat in Costa Rica at the end of August. I am going to plan and set up future retreats, including long weekend getaways to vineyards for yoga, wine tasting, and cooking classes. I am going to go for long walks on the beach. I am going to spend time with family and friends in California. I am going to relax and simply be.
The next three months will be about slowing down and reconnecting with myself and my authentic voice. A part of me already misses NYC. A part of me is releasing a great big sigh to be out of the hustle and bustle of the city for a little while. I’m excited to see what is unveiled over the coming months.
This announcement seems very fitting seeing as it is International Yoga Day. I am excited to announce that I will be hosting my first yoga retreat! Join me August 20-26th at the beautiful Samasati Retreat and Rainforest Sanctuary in Limon, Costa Rica. It will be a week of yoga, meditation, intention setting, beach and rainforest adventures, and quiet reflection surrounded by nature.
The retreat is through Trip Tribe, and the package includes:
- Daily morning yoga (all levels welcomed), intention setting journaling and discussion (optional), evening restorative yoga and meditation, all with yours truly
- 2 meals per day – breakfast and dinner (all dietary requests will be honored)
- Lodging in Caribbean style casitas built with precious native woods nestled within lovely tropical gardens and the lush forest or semi-private bungalows with large outdoor verandas and hammocks overlooking the rainforest.
- Daily shuttle buses to the beach
- A variety of adventures and services are also available to you:
- Samasati Biological Reserve Tour with Scott Mckenzie – $25
- Vegetarian Caribbean Cooking Class – $45
- Thai Yoga Massage – $130
- Heaven and Earth – Craniosacral & Reflexology – $120
- Rainforest Massage – $95
- Chocolate – Coffee Body Treatment – $130
- Rainforest Renewal – $120
- Sunburn Therapy – $110
- Tortuguero One Day – $99
- Gandoca- Manzanillo Rainforest Hike – $70
- Bird Watching Tour – $65
- Surf Lesson – $70
- Indian Reserve, Chocolate Process and Waterfall – $50
- White Water Rafting at the Pacuare River – $99
- Punta Uva Sea Kayak and Rainforest Hike – $70
- Horseback Riding at the Beach – $75
- The Jungle Adventure – Zipline, Waterfalls, Swings – $95
- Kekoldi Indian Reserve – $49
- Hiking in Cahuita National Park – $45
Reserve your spot here:
I would love for you to join me on this incredible adventure.
There are two things I am really good at, planning and doing way too much until I finally run myself into the ground. I got walloped by lessons reminding me that neither of these things work in my favor. As a prone to anxiety Virgo, I like to have all my ducks in a row, then freak out if anyone tries to shift one of my ducks even half an inch, then rearrange my ducks, then line them all up again, and so on and so forth. Yes, it exhausts and annoys most people, but those closest to me tolerate it for the most part. Last minute schedule changes or cancellations send me into a tizzy. What can I say? I’m a work in progress. Then there is the go, go, go, go, go until I literally run myself into the ground issue. I have been doing it basically all my life, according to my parents (I have steadfastly refused to admit I do this until just a few years ago).
Last week, I woke up with what I thought was a mild cold. As the day progressed, I realized I had far more than a slightly runny nose. I have been really sick, as in, try to do more than one thing and my body revolts by breaking out in cold sweats and developing a fever again sick for the last eight days. For the past two months I have been juggling a schedule that I knew was too much, but I kept telling myself there was an end in sight so it was okay. I neglected myself too much and my body let me know it. Being sick has been exacerbated by the fact that in a week I leave New York City to spend three months in California. I had stuff I wanted to do. I had people I wanted to see. I missed teaching my final classes at one yoga studio. I missed my final sessions with some of my private students. I missed lunches and dinners and drinks with friends I will not see for three months. I had plans. Those plans did not include laying in bed kvetching and sweating out a fever for my last two weeks in the city.
So, on this first day of summer/full moon night (the first on decades), instead of engaging in any of my full moon or equinox rituals, I am grumpily laying in bed with my laptop propped up on a pillow. My patience with myself, being sick, the healing process, letting go in general has been worn to a single, ready to pull apart, thread. Clearly, I still have some lessons to be learned here.