Today is the last day of school in our area. I love driving my 7th grade son to school, as in those ten brief minutes, we listen to his music of choice (usually Despacito – the original, sans Justin Bieber – or Me Rehuso), bopping around, chatting about stuff on our minds about the day ahead. Today was the same, but as he got out of the car, he sadly remarked, “This is my last day at this school.”
Three weeks ago, my husband started a new job, with a new company, in another state. This opportunity came out of nowhere, and after much discussion, consulting with trusted loved ones and mentors, and praying that God would lead us or leave us wherever we were meant to be – we decided to jump.
He first told me about the possible job offer around 9:30pm, as I was getting into bed. I still don’t know why he picked that moment, because we have been married for 20 years and he knows that when my ass finally lands on my mattress, I am no longer accepting any sort of conversation about life logistics. I have set my brain in Airplane Mode just like my iPhone, which is docked down in the kitchen.
Needless to say, I hardly slept that night (mental Airplane Mode is far more porous than on my phone, dammit). We had so much clutter after 16 years here with a growing family and a huge basement – that thought itself paralyzed me. Our son had just, three days before, completely out of nowhere, earnestly asked if we were ever planning to move from this house, and I had answered, “Of course! Once you’re in college, Papi and I are off to the South of France!” I had been half-joking, but this was horrible to my son’s ears and he broke down in tears. So, of course I assured him that there were no plans anytime soon to move, and I asked him why he was bringing this up now? He replied, “I just really don’t want to move from this house. It’s the only house I’ve known and I love it here.” So I assured him he had nothing to be worried about. Oops. Turns out he must be some kind of clairvoyant (he is extremely intuitive), because now, as I tossed and turned all night, I knew I was going to at some point, if it got to where this move was a distinct possibility, devastate my son with the news that his biggest fear had manifested. And his parents were the ones who were controlling that ship.
My brain jumped and tripped and perseverated on all kinds of thoughts that night, from the logistical (How does one move with a dog? Will our daughter want to stay here and board at her school? How ever will we afford a house in a housing market where everything costs triple?) To the emotional (It took me so darn long to make friends here and now I am leaving them?! When we lived in DC 20 years ago, we were young and unencumbered by parenting and domesticity – how would it be to move back to something familiar, yet so different? Will I want to start drinking again?).
Even though I am a yoga instructor, and have a pretty consistent meditation practice, and know a lot of tools for dealing with a racing mind, anxiety, insomnia – I didn’t sleep much that night. And I gave myself a pass. I mean, when you’re thrown a big life curve ball, I think even someone with Dalai Lama cred (which I certainly don't claim to have!) has the right to flip out a bit. But once daylight came, and I had to do all those things we do to keep the household humming, I focused on what I have been focusing on since I decided, 1.5 years ago, that alcohol is not an option, if I am going to show up as the mom, wife, coach, friend, human I know I really am. When things have gotten messy, or confusing, or overwhelming – I have focused on simply doing the next right thing. I cannot control so many things in my life, but I can control how I choose to think, or act, in this moment. And then, I can make that choice again, in the next moment. And so on. So, at some point, I figured, recovery work is just like yoga!
I had to bring up yoga here because today is International Day of Yoga. Yippee! Celebrate by striking your best asana (pose). I celebrated today by teaching my weekly class at one of the most beautiful spas in the world, and I even snuck in this quick photo before my students arrived. (My daughter and I follow several travel bloggers on Instagram and I decided to pretend I have this life like they appear to have, of traveling round the world and not having to pay for it, or bother with flight delays and other hassles – so I have some photos in my Insta that show how glamorous my life is between driving kids around and the endless meal preparation that is part of parenting. Check it out @mindfulpreneur).
So, there are so many things I have come to appreciate and love about yoga. I started yoga because of the physical benefits, how it could enhance my triathlon training and competing. At some point, most markedly when I experienced PTSD after a dog attack, I started to comprehend why so many of my students had shared that my classes helped them profoundly with their depression, anxiety, PTSD, etc. In addition to studying the physical benefits of yoga, I learned about the ways that yoga (uniting movement with breath) works on the central nervous system, helping release the effects of trauma that was never dealt with in a physical way. I also started to understand what they mean when they say that what happens on the mat, you can take out into your life off the mat. When we are in a yoga practice, we are practicing in the way that an athlete trains hard and consistently, so that when she is in a tournament, the mechanics are automatic, due to muscle memory. Yoga is the same way. I don’t mean that if someone offends you, you automatically assume your best Warrior pose (though by all means, try it – if nothing else, the offender’s surprise may diffuse things). I mean, in yoga, we become aware that nothing is permanent. Even though it may seem that plank in my class is infinitely endless, it too, shall pass. We also learn to be curious about our body – what is it telling us? If we have no energy, or we are chronically sore somewhere – rather than staying stuck in judgment and self-loathing and inadequacy, what is this experience, through our body, telling us about the way we are living? All this stuff we learn - seeps out into our life off the mat as we deal with life. Turns out the way we flow through yoga, can teach us about how to flow through life.
Alright, enough about yoga. Now to the other detour – recovery. By the way, I am not a big fan of the world “recovery.” I see where it comes from and how it can be helpful, but I think it only tells part of the story. And it doesn’t apply to everyone who wakes up to the realization that their relationship with a substance or behavior, is unhealthy and has outlived its usefulness. But for lack of a better word (that’s another blogpost), let’s stick with “recovery” for now. So, when we decide to change, and that’s basically what recovery is – letting go of one way and learning and adopting another way – if we really think it through – what it will entail, how it’s done, what might be on the other side – holy crap, that is overwhelming. So, on the day that I decided, enough is enough, I am taking a break from drinking – I did not think of it as a forever thing, because that was way too overwhelming. I chunked it down. No booze for a week or two. This wasn’t a big deal as I wasn’t physically addicted, and I had done this before, preparing for races, etc. Eventually, the chunks got a little bigger as I became more confident and started to realize that because I was diving into recovery work through books, podcasts, growing my sober network, this did not feel like a sacrifice or like deprivation. So, it became a way of life for me. Something that was unfathomable just months beforehand was now my default. Small, consistent steps, chunked down - had let to big transformation, which is still underway.
Back to our move. We decided to make the move. My husband, the quintessential project manager, made a list of all of the stuff that needed to be done to get the house ready to be put on the market. This list alone was terrifyingly long and overwhelming. And it did not include all the other stuff that would have to be investigated and completed, to do with the kids’ schools, finding and purchasing a new home, tying up ends with my own work and classes. Daunting, to say the least. So, the last six or so weeks since we started this transition, I have more than ever, been relying on the Serenity Prayer (God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference). I have been focusing on, Do The Next Right Thing. This Too Shall Pass. It hasn’t been perfect. Some days have been super stressful, with momtrums, marital conflict, exhaustion, chaos. A few days ago, when in the middle of it with my 16-year-old daughter, I stated in a voice she would probably consider “yelling” – “This is what’s called ‘adulting’ – not drinking alcohol or being able to drive a car – but doing all this shit that is annoying, unpleasant, and necessary.”
A few days ago, a friend pointed out that it must be super stressful to always have to have a clean house, ready to show to possible buyers. I thought about it, and realized that while yes, it is stressful to have this added layer on my day, and being ready to change my schedule instantly so that strangers can walk through my home and judge it ("This is a really nice home but it's too unique for us, we need something more cookie-cutter") – in reality, now that the dust has settled (literally) and my husband’s Punch List has been completed, I often find myself feeling relaxed and grateful. Even serene.
"Sometimes our lives have to be completely shaken up, changed, and rearranged to relocate us to the place we're meant to be." (Unknown)
I suspect that the above quote has less to do with a geographical relocation, than a more existential state. I guess I will let you know, once the dust has settled in the next state along our path, but for now, I sit in the uncertainty of what lies ahead, in the midst of a huge life transition for me and my family. And I am going to do the next right thing, and spend too much money on huge containers of treats at Costco, for my son's going away party that just a few months ago, would have been his worst nightmare.
Our beautiful home... now on the market
Pausing in the chaos to meditate
Motivational coach, athlete, mom, entrepreneur. I love helping people mindfully reboot their health & joy.