I want to talk about one night in Costa Rica. On this night I felt something change inside of me. The entire trip was incredible, and both instructors were gifted, and each and every woman that was on the trip touched my heart in some way. But one night, my heart healed, and I felt it happening…and I didn’t fight it, I let it heal.
Nosara, Costa Rica is this tiny little yoga/surf town that is so quaint you may miss it if you blink, even if you are on foot. Fruit stands selling watermelons and coconuts are freckled upon a bumpy dirt road and the sandy beach is nearly empty but the waves are dotted with surfers. Dread locks, man-buns, and beautiful tanned bikini clad surfers are too cool as they walk toward the beach with their boards under arm. The constant waves make this one of the best surf breaks in the world, and one of the best places to learn on. (I took two lessons and was able to get up the entire second day! So can I say I am a surfer now?)
On the second to last night of our five-day retreat we walked quietly through the jungle to the Nosara Yoga Institute to practice yoga in “the tree house.” This was an open-air two story wooden cathedralesque building perched on the top of a hill. The jungle stood thick around us, and the treetops were eye level we were so high in the sky. The sounds of monkeys and exotic birds were so loud that it almost seemed like someone was playing a secret record that spun at the cadence of an intermittent speed of a windshield wiper. Peace and quiet, to the instant and intense deep throaty chant of a howler monkey.
When I think about this night, I think about it as if it took place in a vat of honey or tree sap. It seemed that time slowed down and the entire world had a golden glow.
I was overwhelmed with the beauty of the location, and my body was sore from the constant yoga and surf lessons. Fourteen of us sat up on our mats cross-legged and faced our instructor, Emily as she began class telling us a story out of Paulo Coelho’s book, “Adultery.”
Emily is one of those people that make you feel like the sun shines on you when she is in front of you, wether she’s teaching, or having a conversation with her. She has a gift for teaching yoga, and for giving love like no one I have ever met.
It felt like we were in Emily’s church being perched up here on this hilltop. This was where she completed her yoga teacher training, and it was as if the Earth was showing off to honor her. The sunlight beamed through the trees and cast a dusty light that looked like an Instagram filter. The scene was perfection, and then she began to talk. Her words. Her inflection. Her timing. I don’t know what it was, but the story hit me so hard in the heart that I had a physical heart palpation. My chest fluttered as if my heart was trying to knock and get my attention. As if it was saying, “This is it. This is why you came here. Now listen up.”
I will paraphrase the story as best as I remember and it goes something like this, without Emily’s delivery it won’t sound remotely as powerful, so please look up this book yourself if you want to really read this anecdote.
A woman is hang gliding after committing adultery. While in the air she has a telepathic conversation with an eagle.
She said, “I want to stay up here forever.”
The eagle replied calmly, “But, you can’t.”
And the woman said, “How will I ever face what I have to face when I get back down there?”
And the eagle replied, “You’ll find a way.”
I realized in the moment that it was almost time to head back to New York, to face my normal life again, and I felt panic/fear/pain/sadness/loneliness all in one inhale. But the story she just told us. The story spoke to my heart, “You’ll find a way.”
The tears rolled hot and slow down my cheeks and I kept repeating to myself, “You’ll find a way.” I knew I would find a way to get through all of the hard times when I landed in New York again. Every woman here was facing so many of the same struggles that I was. I was not alone. Something else fluttered in my throat and chest and it said, “You are enough.”
As you are. Right now. For everyone. You. Are. Enough.
Between the two mantras that sang in perfect harmony, I listened. I listened! I even believed it.
We flowed through vinyasas and squeezed through eagle pose, and swayed through goddess pose and I cried the whole time. Tears fell onto my mat with a pat pat pat pat. And I let them. I let them fall because I was enough even while being vulnerable. I was enough showing my emotions, and my weakness, and my soreness. This class is seared into my memory forever. This classs is sticky in my heart, it tastes like fresh fruit, and smells like wildflowers. As we ended the class in a circle I could feel the energy and the love and the healing sealing the class, and the week, and the trip.
Afterwards we walked in a single file line on the skinny trail and the tears flowed from me the whole way to dinner. I felt my heart open that night. My heart had been closed and hidden behind a vault for so many years. I felt a peace about my last breakup, and I felt a hope that I would love again-that I deserved to love again.
That night a fellow retreater shared her heart-breaking story of a breakup that was very similar to mine. I felt empathy, I felt her deep sadness, but I didn’t feel like sharing my story. I realized then while I listened that mine is just that; a story. It doesn’t give me pain, or sadness, it is just my story. I know that I am so lucky/blessed/thestarsaligned for me to go to Costa Rica, and it is going to be a treasure in my life forever. I just had to share this light that is beaming from my heart. I feel renewed after this vacation. I am writing again. My heart is open.
We will all find a way. And we are all enough.
I had zero interest in New York City. Like, none…until I did.
When I read my rejection letter for a creative writing program at Boise State University in a Starbucks parking lot, the tears came fast and hard. I tried to blink them away to read and re-read the email. The moment embodied hopelessness. This hopelesness was not about getting rejected by Boise State, and I know that now. But grad school was my way out, my hope, it was my chance to move on. I had just suffered a breakup that still can wreck me if I let it. A breakup that still makes my voice crack, and a breakup that has made me push every guy away for the last three years. Not getting into grad school felt like I lost an opportunity to move forward. Because I didn’t feel like I had any other options. I felt physical pain in my chest and I didn’t know what to do.
I sat there in my car crying tears for so many reasons. And then I had a feeling or a whisper that floated through my thoughts for the first time in my life. Move to New York. Writers move to New York.
The very thought, scared me. My heart raced. And I pushed it to the back of my mind. I had never even visited New York. Had never wanted to. And now, this overwhelming feeling washed over me that I had to move there.
So I did. I listened to the whisper. And I’m here.
And I’m so lonely.
And it’s so hard.
It’s big, sweaty, smelly, vicious, loud, uncomfortable, exhausting, and it makes me afraid.
I have been here going on two years now, and I still don’t feel like I fit here. My clothes aren’t expensive, my school wasn’t fancy, my heart is too sensitive. I feel that most days are me against everyone else. I have never cried more in my whole life combined before I moved here. I cried openly and hard on the street corner recently because the line was so long at Trader Joe’s and I just needed a few things. That day, the City won. Lately, the City wins a lot.
But there is never a time that I don’t pause in complete awe when I’m on the Brooklyn or Manhattan bridge. I look Downtown at the sky scrapers and the Statue of Liberty, and in those moments I can’t believe I live here. And I feel alive. And I remember the romance that is New York. The grocery store lines fade, and the sweat dripping down my back stills, and the smell of bagels baking, and cobble stone streets give me the nutrients to get through another day.
It’s hard to remember the dream in the tough moments, It’s hard to remember my excitement when I boarded the plane with a one way ticket. It’s so hard to go home alone every night. This place has shown me hard work, thick skin, and has broken me down pretty hard. I’m thankful for all of the things it continues to teach me. One day I won’t live here anymore, and I’m sure my heart will ache for it. I can imagine an emptiness after leaving a place like this. Because I will remember the romance and the tumultuous relationship that I had with this City.
Until the day comes, I’m hoping for a few days that the City lets me win.
I had a rough week. Nothing “bad” happened. It has just been emotionally draining and confusing.
Two weeks ago,my best friend (Haley) and sister-in-law (Jeri) visited me in New York and I couldn’t believe how home sick it made me. It was such a great visit, and we were New York’s finest tourists anyone has ever seen. These were my people. These are the pee-with-the-door-open friends. These are the friends that have seen me at my worst, and hopefully my best. I missed that sort of connection, and I didn’t know how much. When they left my apartment at 5:30am I sat on my couch and cried. Not a few tears, it was the kind of cry where you can’t catch your breath. My emotion took me by surprise because things have been going decent for me here.
But I realized that when they walked out of the door, I was alone. The silence hurt my ears. Their absence hurt my heart. I felt lonely in my aloneness. Alone chasing whatever it is I am chasing. Proving to myself whatever it is that I am trying to prove. I dialed my brother’s phone number this week and had to hang up immediately because I couldn’t get myself together enough to say hello. I just burst into tears. I miss my brother. And I am missing my niece grow up. I miss my nephews, and I miss my sister. I miss being able to drop by my parents house to chat.
I had a great conversation with a co-worker, Claudia, last night, coming home from the Yankees game. She has only been in New York for one year and she came from Texas. It felt good to vent, and to empathize, and to hear from someone that I look up to that she is still having a hard time. She seemed so put together, and tough. But she is feeling the exact same thing. She gets scared on the late night train rides just like I do. She gets sad when she sees someone talking to themselves on the sidewalk. She feels overwhelmed with the tight space issues. Hearing these things make me feel more…normal. I feel unsettled and alone this week. She encouraged me to fight for what I came for. Everything is a fight here. She kept telling me that this place makes you better, because nothing is handed to you. I think I am used to not having to work so hard to make things happen. I am lazy, and this is not fun for me. I have learned so much about myself, and humanity since I have been here.
Now I need to remind myself what I am fighting for. What do I want? What do I really, really, really want? I need to shift my focus on the fight. Fight for what I came here for…even though that is even blurry today. Despite feeling inadequate, I have to pursue my dreams. I have so much I want to do. I want clarity on what I want to pursue wholeheartedly. I wish I could break open a fortune cookie to see what I was meant to do.
Part of me has a feeling that I want to run…perhaps to the West coast? Perhaps to a little town somewhere that I can afford. Somewhere with a washer and dryer. Somewhere where strangers smile at you. Somewhere with pollen.
To sum up my stream of consciousness here. This week is hard. I don’t know what I want to do with my life. Most importantly; I have great friends, and a wonderful family. Despite feeling worn down I am forever thankful for the people in my life, and for the opportunity to stretch myself. Even though stretching hurts right now.