The quieter growth
Where does transformation begin? Is it through big actions or the small decisions? I often think about things like this; about the big and little steps people take along their awakening journey. Because we as consumers of each other’s worlds mostly through social media, we get to witness the big decisions and events that we’re willing to share, but what about the day to day smaller stuff that we don’t always share.
That’s what this story is about; what little inspired actions I did for myself during the winter of 2011-2012 and how my life began to change in big and small ways as a result. And yes, I will eventually write about the craziness and dysfunction that happened in my dating life in the Fall of 2011, but first let’s appreciate the outcome of it. A desire to change my life and what and who I was attracting; because in the Fall of 2011 some darkness went down. But that darkness inspired me to begin shifting out of my 90% life and begin trusting the 100% life I was destined for.
But what does it mean to be in a 90% life? For me at the time, it meant that everything in my life was great “on paper.” I had a job I loved, coworkers I adored, a house I loved, a dog I loved, friends that helped me feel needed, a yoga community I felt at home in and a budding casual relationship that made me feel safe. But I still felt unsettled, unsatisfied and a lot of the time unhappy. I tried to talk to a therapist about this condition in myself, but she told me I understood myself and my problems on an intellectual level, but not on an emotional one. So the best she could offer me was a prescription for Xanax, so I took it.
The best way I could describe my problem was that I was uninspired, and missing that feeling of magic and wonder that I’d been introduced to when I traveled to Asia in 2010 & 2011. And that missing 10% was the magic; it was the softness, the giddiness, the butterflies in my stomach, the wonder, the curiosity, the go with the flow, the trusting the moment, and the feeling of being so excited about my life and circumstances that it was hard to go to sleep. Sure those sensations were easy to experience when I was on my own backpacking through SE Asia, but I wondered if they could exist in an everyday life & relationship? That’s what I was ultimately out to explore and find out. How to access more of the 10% without having to buy a plane ticket to get it.
And to help inspire this feeling of magic I was seeking, in December of 2011 I stepped out of my comfort zone and took a workshop in Park City entitled “Unlock Your Abundance.” I had no idea what unlocking my abundance meant at the time, or what to expect from a workshop on self-empowerment and abundance, and honestly the name made me roll my eyes a little. But I respected the business friend who recommended it and I also recognized several names of other business owners and people I knew who were also attendees, particularly my landlord at my business, who I’d had a tenuous relationship with over the years. So just in that I saw value in being in a new neutral environment together.
Before I attended the workshop I’d heard of the Law of Attraction and I’d seen the movie “The Secret”, but I’d never gone to a workshop around putting these thoughts, concepts & ideas into practice in everyday life.
The workshop was in a gorgeous multi-use space on the side of a mountain in Park City, so the views out the window were spectacular. That helped to set the stage for where the leaders wanted to take us 15 attendees emotionally and energetically during this seminar. I didn’t have much experience with meditation at that point in my life, or group self help, so when I was told to get in a circle with a pillow on the floor, and touch knees with several people I knew professionally more than personally, it was challenging. It felt like it was a call for vulnerability which felt so new to me, and then I realized vulnerability is the space I was in when I’d travel and experience the sensation of the 10%. So I leaned into vulnerability and followed the teacher’s instructions and went to the floor with my pillow and did my best to hide my awkwardness. Our teacher told us to deeply inhale through our nose and out through our mouth, and when we were all repeating the breathing together, it was relaxing to hear and cool to experience together.
The teacher had us visualize ourselves in a field, on top of a mountain, in a house surrounded by loved ones we chose, and in our favorite place in the world. It was an interesting practice to manipulate my consciousness into these differing visualized scenarios.
And while we were in this meditative theta state, the leaders asked us to imagine ourselves in our ideal life 5 years into the future; and then she asked us to visualize 10 years into the future. She asked us who we were in those futures and what did our life look like? She said not to hold anything back and just let our mind and hearts wander with what we saw. She said to imagine our home life, what we’d wear, what we’d do and who we’d see in our perfect day, what food did we eat? She asked us what our work day looked like? Did we change clothes, did we leave the house, did we have an office? And then she asked what our love and family life looked like.
It was a powerful exercise; I began to write and I couldn’t believe what was coming through onto my paper. It seemed as though I was describing someone else’s life.
I wrote about how in 5 years I’d be living on top of a mountain, life was peaceful, I was wearing loose & flowy clothes, I had a garden, people were preparing fresh food for me, there were friends and family around, there was music and I felt love everywhere. In 10 years, I saw that I’d be sitting on a stage in front of large groups of people and they were coming to me for healing sessions. And my entire life was centered around being the change I wanted to see in the world; as cliche as that sounds. My life was love and therefore I felt a presence of love everywhere, in all aspects of my life.
And my relationship? I wrote about a connection that I had only seen in movies such as “The Notebook.” I described my relationship with my partner as sacred, connected, passionate, supportive, and grounding. And I noticed how loving we were with each other and that we were a team. But I didn’t see any clear images of my future man yet, just the feelings in our relationship. And when I daydreamed and wrote about my work, I wrote that I was making over $100k, which was a staggering and almost laughable increase from the barely minimum wage I was paying myself at the time as a business owner.
This was the first time I’d done a visualizing workshop such as this, and I admit I winced a lot as I read the words that were coming out onto my paper, but I kept following the instructions. I made a recording of myself describing my life, I made a vision board that reflected some visions, and I wrote letters to myself that these coaches were going to mail me in 1 year and 5 years. This game of future visualization was entertaining, but most of all, I think it carved out a little space in the Universe about what could be possible if I believed enough in magic.
Did magic appear instantly after this bizarre workshop where I envisioned a life that felt completely “out there?” Not exactly. But some new lights did turn on in certain areas of my life as I added and subtracted certain things from my life, all with the 10% in my heart.
And that’s where the quiet growth really began. Here’s some shifts I made:
1. I aggressively added yoga to my life
I’d been recreationally practicing yoga since 2010, meaning I’d go to class twice a week. But in January 2012 I stepped it up by beginning and finishing a 31 day yoga challenge. And when I finished this challenge I was so proud of myself that I wanted to reward myself, so I booked myself a yoga retreat with don Miguel Ruiz in December 2012, 11 months later. That was the farthest ahead as I’ve ever planned any vacation, but a strong intuition told me I needed to be there, so I listened.
2. I decided to let myself meet a man naturally, not online, and let him slowly get to know me. Now this may not seem like a big deal, but coming from the habit of actively man-hunting and sometimes moving in with men in under a week, this new strategy of getting to know a guy first felt fun and different.
3. I redecorated and re-intentionized my apartment
I lived alone in a 1.5 bedroom apartment in a cute neighborhood of Salt Lake City called 9th and 9th. It was a shotgun layout, which means it was all in a straight line; you walked into the living room, then there was a closable door to another room, then the bathroom, the kitchen, another room and then a door to a back porch. I’d painted the space when I moved in but didn’t add any pictures, but after my extensive travels in Asia, I had hundreds of pictures I loved and that made me smile, so I bought several large pre-framed collages, and showcased a mixture of quotes and of me from my travels, mostly in yoga poses.
I also got rid of my tv and began to offer massages to people in the Salt Lake City area, because I’d set up a massage table in the middle room that was now surrounded by inspirational pictures and quotes.
4. I did some alternative education and therapy
In March of 2012 I went to the Esalen Institute in Big Sur, California for a 10 day workshop. I had a block of time that I was available so I flipped through the Esalen catalog of courses, and when I saw a course taught by an instructor with the name Harriet, I knew I was in the right place. The course was called “Cortical Field Re-Education” and I had no idea what that meant, but it didn’t matter because the teacher’s name was Harriet. It turned out this course was about working with the tissue of the body to release old trauma, which I knowingly and unknowingly had a lot of. So that meant on day 3, in the midst of doing ocular field repatterning exercises, I collapsed on the floor in a sobbing flood of tears. Seems I was opening the doors to old stuff that had been locked away and was processing it for the first time.
5. I added some adventure time with women
In July of 2012 I embarked on not only a yoga retreat lead by my favorite yoga teachers to Italy, but I also agreed to travel an extra 10 days with 3 new girlfriends from my yoga community. We went to Greece, we traveled more of Italy, and we hit Paris, doing asanas all along the way. And it was the most light hearted I’d felt in a long time.
6. I flew a guy to Paris
Ok, so when I first booked my yoga retreat with my friends, I did so without consulting with a guy I’d been dating for 3 months. I didn’t think it was a big deal, but when I told him about it, he said he was bummed I hadn’t asked if he wanted to go, even though he didn’t have the money or interest in yoga to go. My not thinking of him at all should have been a red flag as to how serious I was about the relationship, but instead of parting ways, I told him he could meet me in Paris, we’d have our own vacation and I’d buy the ticket. I wasn’t in love with this guy at the time I bought his ticket, but I hoped in the 4 months in between buying the ticket and him meeting me in Paris, that I would be in love with him. That didn’t happen; and nothing will make you hate being in Paris more than being there with a guy who you want to love, but you don’t. But that’s a future story.
7. I stood up for myself
In the spring of 2012 a new tenant began doing a remodel on the space next to my day spa. It was Crossfit. As I saw the renovations and the equipment coming in, I hoped for collaboration and assumed they’d done the due diligence regarding sound control. It was the second day they were open that I was giving a massage in my treatment room, when it felt like there was an earthquake happening, so I stopped my massage and went out expecting to find chaos from the quake. There was no earthquake; it was just the late morning CrossFit class dropping their dumbbells on the ground, the act of which shook the entire building. And nothing interrupts a relaxing spa treatment faster than feeling like the ground beneath your feet is shaking. I immediately approached he owner about his multiple earthquakes per day, letting him know that how he was conducting business wasn’t going to work, and he laughed at me, rolled his eyes and sent me on my way. That woke something up in me that’s for sure.
I contacted my attorney and he said that if I could find in my 23 page lease, some clause that protects me from neighbors, I was welcome to look, but he thought it was a losing battle. So rather than give in, I took my lease home and scoured it word for word and found what I was looking for. Deep in the depths of my lease, I found a guarantee from my landlord to “a peaceful enjoyment of the space”, as much as he could control, and you bet he had control over how a CrossFit got into the building.
We spent the next few weeks bringing in sound engineers and trying extra padding, but thank god, my landlord came to the same conclusion as me, that we just couldn’t be neighbors if I was wanting to have “a peaceful enjoyment of my space.” So Crossfit moved out and I got the reputation of being a high maintenance force to be reckoned with, but I didn’t care. I’d stood up for my spa, and for myself, and I’d won; it was an amazing feeling.
8. I hosted conscious conversation parties
I knew several people from several walks of life, but none of them knew each other. So every other month or so I’d host a party, where everyone who arrived wore a necklace answering some random questions, such as “what’s the most daring thing you’ve ever done?” Or “what are you most proud of in your life?” Or “what’s your dream right now?” These parties always brought a smile and helped people connect in a new way.
9. I said goodbye to my 90% awesome relationship
His name was K**** and I actually broke up with him just a few days after we celebrated thanksgiving at his parents house in Ohio. I didn’t have a clear reason for my decision, but I did have a few clear signs that we weren’t supposed to be together that I finally paid attention to. But that’s my next story because it’s fascinating what happened and it involved a pink dress.
10. I met marijuana cookies
And I have some funny stories from the experiences. They’ll come.
11. I nearly sold my business
It was Fall of 2012 and I was having lunch with a client who owns most of old town in Park City, and he’s the landlord for the Canyons Ski Resort. I did massage for him and developed more of a personal rapport with him when I began to talk with him about my life and I told him I’d created an ad online on Craigslist to find a date for the Sarah McLachlan concert Valentine’s Day 2010, because the boyfriend I’d bought the ticket for broke up with me before the show. He read my letter and read anything else I showed him after that as well.
At lunch that Fall I told him about the Crossfit ordeal and then I described the ideal business I’d love to be in its place. A community center with childcare, and he loved the idea. A few days later he asked if he could take me to one of his hotels, and he showed me around his spa there, and then asked if he could buy my spa, relocate me into his place, I’d run it, and then he could fire me a year later. It sounded so insane to me that I considered it. I even arranged a meeting with my attorney present to hear his terms and price. And I’m not even going to go into how low he went. It was sickening. And after that I didn’t want to be friends with him anymore and I didn’t want to sell my business.
But it did get me curious about what I’d do everyday if I didn’t go to my spa? I’d been going to Align so long, I didn’t know how I’d spend my day. I wonder if I would write the book I’d just said I would create? The notion was intriguing, so I scheduled myself to take the next 5 months off beginning December 1st 2012. And I was kicking my sabbatical off with a trip to Costa Rica for a retreat with Don Miguel Ruiz, author of the Four Agreements.
So as you can see, I was up to new and interesting stuff so it awoke a comparable feeling of lightness and magic in me, as traveling did. But what these small efforts and decisions also did, was awaken my sleepy intuition, and help guide me the rest of the way out of my 90% life and into that 10% I was seeking.
So now I hope you see that transformation can be an event and a slow trickle of decisions and actions that slowly sculpt you into a new version of yourself. And when you’re ready to step into a new life, you’ve already trained for it.
More on that next time. Namaste.