It may come as a shock to you but what you see here is my hand...Just two months ago, at the intersection of my pinky finger and my palm there used to be a pretty noticeable and to be honest, pretty gross looking callus. Contrary to what most of you who know me would believe since I have a thing for aesthetics, I was rather proud of that callus. You can kind of see the last of it in the picture but it’s mostly gone and while there is nothing really extraordinary going on, while looking at it today, I realized something that I want to share with you in hopes that it will be useful. At its core, this is a story about permission…
I left Bali on the night of Halloween and I’ve been back in the states for over a month and a half now. While the transition has been smoother than I imagined because I’ve spent most of my time in the countryside living in nature at our family farm (and I haven’t dealt with too much of the collective DC neurosis), I have to say there have been many moments where I get a pang of melancholy and I wish I was back in the place that has most felt like home ever.
When I do go into the city, the question I get asked most often is why I was crazy enough to leave paradise and come to the cold. Most of the time I’ve resorted to the easy answer which in this case means that it’s monsoon season and there was a volcano situation you may have heard about in the news. In other instances I talk about wanting to spend time with family and while both are true, the real reason I came back is a bit harder to explain but at the same time has been a wonderful lesson learned.
Truth is, I came back to the US because for the first time in my life I decided to give myself permission to consciously push myself to grow. I didn’t wait for it to hit the fan, there was no crisis to manage or run from, and there was no external circumstance or situation guiding my thinking and subsequent action. I simply took a step back, tried to observe my life as objectively as I could, and realized that it was time to go.
For how long? Who knows. Maybe a season? I’ve learned that with me, sometimes it’s hard to tell but at this point it’s irrelevant to the story. So back to that…
By any measure my life in Bali was idyllic. I was living in an incredible and relatively peaceful town called Ubud in the middle of the jungle surrounded by beautiful yogis, artists, musicians, and highly conscious folk. The food was incredible, I’d never felt better in my body or more creative, and the cost of living was incredibly low compared to American standards. Because Ubud is known as the spiritual center of Bali, I dove deep into my spiritual practice while I was there and experimented with all sorts of modalities ranging from sound healing to plant medicine. Even though I didn’t move there to ‘heal’ myself like many do, (that’s a story for another day) I ended up integrating a lot of things from my past and from an emotional standpoint grew more in the 8 months that I was there than in the last 33 years of my life.
It seemed like every couple of days there was a new discovery as I learned to look deeper and deeper inside of myself and slowed down. While I enjoyed many different types of activities there, the one that consistently fed my soul the most was going for long rides on my motorcycle. As I’d get lost in my thoughts, I’d get lost in the rice fields and country roads of the surrounding area feeling the wind in my face and the sun on my shoulders.
It wasn’t uncommon for me to go on 2 hour rides with no particular itinerary in mind because I relished the feeling of freedom and often cried happy tears inspired by the beauty of my surroundings and the fortune I had to be there. I often found that riding put me in a sort of mediative state because I was forced to concentrate exclusively on a task that required my full attention if it was to be done correctly and more importantly, if I was going to survive the crazy driving of the locals and a few overachieving expats. Because of that and the reasons I previously mentioned, I rode my bike as often as I could… So much so in fact that my right hand developed the small, round, and rather pronounced callus that I previously mentioned.
Rather than be grossed out by it and attempt to get rid of it, I wore it almost like a badge of honor because it felt like a permanent reminder of the goodness that surrounded me at the time. When my parents came to visit, I proudly showed it to my mom on the first day that she arrived. Needless to say, she was less than thrilled that her baby was scooting around town on two wheels…
Interestingly enough, it was during my parent’s visit that my feelings started to shift regarding my living situation. I noticed that while I had been basically blissed out for 8 months, I hadn’t done much with all of the goodness that I’d received to give back. My business was pretty much on autopilot at that point and completely referral based so other than being fully present for my existing clients during our sessions, I really didn’t really invest much time into Namasme or into any activity in gratitude of or to reciprocate my good fortune. I volunteered at a school/orphanage once in a while but that was nowhere near enough and that started to feel wrong.
Having my parents there I became acutely aware of just how badly the West and particularly the US needs consciously minded, happy, satisfied, and grounded people. Hearing about everything that was happening in politics and society, it became abundantly clear to me that to be truly useful (which is very important to me), I needed to spend some time here. I had to focus on growing/shifting Namasme so that I could help more people re-discover themselves and contribute my little grain of sand to the massive shift happening in this country and the world. The time for the shift from inward to outward had arrived.
As I have a tendency to do, I tried to ignore this new awareness for a couple of days because I was too comfortable and too happy where I was. Why on earth would I want to give that up?! I mean, I literally had physical manifestations of my happiness as my friend the callus could prove!
But no, as with all new awarenesses of the soul, you can’t unlearn something you’ve discovered. You can do your best to sedate yourself to not feel or to try to ignore it but your can’t unlearn it. This meant that after repeated attempts to do the latter, I eventually caved in and decided (against what at that time felt like my better judgment) to leave the place that taught me how to be 100% unapologetically myself to go back to a place that I had never related to positively and that was also all too familiar. The District. The same streets, the same restaurants, the same issues, the same conversations, the same power games, the same drinking culture, but a very different president. Ugh.
Much to my own chagrin (even though I secretly love it) my time here has shown me that I made the right choice. I now understand that my time in Bali taught me exactly what I needed and that the last lesson was when to know when to let go. I could have easily stayed there forever but my growth would’ve been stunted because there is a big world out there waiting to be discovered and many people to help with this remarkable skill set that is coaching.
You see, ‘me’ time is important because it offers an opportunity for introspection and if used correctly, some valuable perspective. More important than that however, is what you decide to DO with what you’ve learned. Focusing on ourselves is a wonderful and very necessary thing but I’ve come to realize that we shouldn’t do it at the expense of our understanding that we're a part of a community and as such have a responsibility to contribute what we can to make things better. The beauty of life is the dance between the two.
I’ve spent the greater part of the last three weeks planning 2018 for Namasme and I feel like I have a fire lit inside of me. I’m so ready and so excited for what’s coming I can’t wait for it to be January because I’m shifting gears a bit and will be putting myself back on stage for the first time in 5 years although this time it won’t be to sing or be on TV but to speak and hopefully inspire others with my journey and the things I’ve learned along the way. I hope you’ll join me!
I've also decided that in addition to my group programs and upcoming online courses, for every one-on-one client that comes in starting in January, I will offer a half cycle (3 months) of coaching to a person in need for free* as part of a Karma coaching initiative. I keep my practice small and coaching isn't cheap but that doesn't mean it should be inaccessible...Especially to those who could probably benefit from it the most. It's time to multiply the good juju!
So friend, now you probably understand why you were looking at a picture of my hand and why, when I do the same I feel a bit of melancholy but mostly pride again even though my noble callus is gone...Melancholy because I miss the sweetness of good times passed but pride for very different reasons than before. I feel pride in the fact that I willingly decided to leave my all too comfortable nest to venture back here and see what the future has in store not waiting for 'certainties' or answers before making a move, just following my instinct…Pride that I gave myself permission to grow and to change without waiting for life to push me…Pride that I’ve transformed from reactor to creator and that I’ve learned to trust myself, my abilities, and most importantly, the process… And ultimately pride because I can feel in my bones that I’m finally becoming the woman that I’m meant to be.
With that, I ask you friend. What are you not giving yourself permission to do in order to evolve and to embrace a new phase of growth? To look for a different job? To leave the unfulfilling relationship? To stop repeating the same tired narratives in your head about how life is so hard? To have that awkward conversation with that friend you have feelings for?
Have you considered what could be on the other side if you simply said yes to opening that door? Good, bad, or ugly I can guarantee you it will be worth it. Why? Simple…And I never give guarantees but in this case I can confidently state that it will, in one way or another help you, well… grow. ;)
p.s. I know I said I’m happy without the answers but if any of you do palm readings…
(I chose ‘Let Go’ By Justin Jay feat. Benny Bridges and Josh Taylor because it was a song I used to love listening too while riding my bike and the lyrics are quite a propos don’t you think?)
* If you're interested in being a Karma Coaching participant, please send us a note at firstname.lastname@example.org