This is my story of radical letting go.
To be sure, the path I’ve chosen is not for everyone and these musings are not to be mistaken for a platform from which I wish to preach about or prescribe a particular way of life. Here’s what I was thinking, and maybe your were too; the times we’re living in are marked by uncertainty and instability, our world fragile. Fundamental liberties are being undermined, rights restricted, independence impaired and diversity diminished.
All this reflecting upon our of current state of affairs compelled me to share my experience, sensing that many of us are being called to innovate and initiate more self-governing, sustainable ways of life. Ones that provide more ease, less stress, greater meaning and a real sense of fulfillment. Best case scenario, this tale will serve as inspiration, opening minds and hearts in the spirit of exploration and the release of limitations.
“The function of freedom is to free someone else” -Toni Morrison.
Years ago, I jotted down that Toni Morrison quote and pinned it to the bulletin board in my office. It was, and still is, a guiding principle intentionally placed in plain sight to remind me never to forget why I started teaching yoga- so that I might assist others in finding their freedom. After all, attainment of freedom is the ultimate goal of yoga.
Yet, in the last couple years, despite practicing and teaching, I’d never felt more confined and less liberated.
I found myself caught up in a cycle of working 7 days a week on multiple projects so that I could continue pursuing my passion and still pay the bills. Not only was the pace and demands of my life physically exhausting, but on a mental/emotional level, I was deeply conflicted, for if I was not living free, how could I teach others to exist in such a manner? I knew a major shift was necessary for the sake of self preservation and essential to walking my talk if I wished to continue doing my life’s work.
The more I explored options for making this change, the more it became clear that there was only one viable solution. It would require letting go of everything that weighed me down and held me back in order to focus solely on my international retreats and programs that I could offer from anywhere in the world. This fresh way forward would allow me to eliminate most of life’s overhead and time spent maintaining possessions, effectively freeing me from the hamster wheel of a life I had created.
“When we really delve into the reasons why we can’t let something go, there are really only two; an attachment to the past or a fear for the future” – Marie Kondo
It was a joint decision, made in partnership with my husband- a career artist, who, like myself, was caught up in and tired of the vicious cycle of living to work rather than the other way around. For several years, we’d been collaborating during my retreats combining yoga and art. We’d seen, firsthand, the profound therapeutic effect it had on those seeking to transform their lives.
Knowing that we could use our skills to be of greater service in the world gave us a renewed sense of purpose and the impetus to take on such a challenge. And so it was that we decided to liquidate all but the most precious of our possessions to become global citizens.
The goal was to whittle down the essentials into one suitcase and one backpack each.
Straightaway, we began strategizing how we’d pare down our belongings to the bare minimum, knowing it would take many months to reach our goal. Warning: this is not a task for the faint of heart! No amount of preparation could’ve primed us for the rollercoaster ride of emotions giving up everything we owned sent us on.
There is energy (and memories) attached to everything.
As such, we were prone to being overtaken with nostalgia, making it hard to decide what to do with material objects. It required us to get very comfortable with extreme release. The mental output was equal to that of the emotional expenditure. So many practical concerns to consider; how will we retrieve our mail, deal with the auto lease, travel sustainably, approach banking and finances….the list went on. And on.
Then there was the separation anxiety. Perhaps the hardest part of the entire process was the tugging of the heart strings when thinking of leaving our loved ones for extended periods of time. We were dealing with a lot of unknowns. Naturally, little waves of fear would arise, but rather than wallowing in it, we chose to view our experience as a great adventure, ourselves as brave explorers.
Freedom means different things to different people.
It can be expressed and experienced in infinite ways. Some view it as existing without obligation to anyone or anything. On the contrary, true freedom is not the absence of commitment or responsibility, but rather, a dedication to doing what we know is best for us.
On January 15th, 2017, we walked out the front door of our home for the last time. Drove away from the city we loved and lived in for 20 years, bidding farewell for the foreseeable future. Stepping into the great unknown, we officially embarked on the first leg of our journey, our load and hearts light as a feather.
Our odyssey will be documented here on a regular basis. If inspired, I invite you to check back or subscribe to see where the road leads.
Yours in the ebb and flow,
UPDATE: Almost a year to the date that we embarked on the journey, Rick was interviewed by St. Louis Magazine about what it’s like to embark on such a mission. You can read the article here.