I recently quit my teaching job that I’ve more than loved for the last 6 years. I gave up my beloved classes—and the wonderful students that showed up week after week—to devote my time to my new-ish academic endeavors. I started my Doctor of Physical Therapy degree way back when I was pregnant with Hannah (now 4) and I took a leave of absence during my second pregnancy with Rhys (who is 2).
During the first few weeks of the semester, I attempted to juggle it all: school, mommying, being a loving wife and teaching my classes. “Choose Wisely,” the brilliant Nikki Villella of Kula Yoga Project suggested during a class I attended, “or choose wrong and be willing to change.” Oh shit, yes, my poor decision making was evident in my relationships, my reactions and my sleeping patterns.
I chose wrong and I had to get real with the need for change.
About 6 weeks ago, Hannah and Rhys were home from their respective child-care facilities. Desperate for some QT with my mat, I set them up with a show in Hannah’s room to squeeze in a 45-minute, quick and dirty practice. I needed that practice…like, whoa. I closed my practice with tears streaming down my face and immediately called my boss and delivered my notice.
For those of you that know me, I have (essentially) a board of trustees with whom I consult before making any decision. For sartorial wisdom, I call Bri. When I need a spiritual adviser, I text Alex. When I am doing absolutely anything—including the aforementioned—I turn to Kate. My decision to quit teaching, however, required zero external consultation or struggle or fight or validation. The universe delivered a request and I submitted.
Yesterday marked the first Sunday in five years where the Sunday 10:00 am Vinyasa class officially belonged to another teacher. I should have been elated to have my Sunday mornings back after all these years. But at about 10:04 I noticed that I was experiencing a familiar twinge of grief—heartbreak. You know this feeling, right? After the first bout of heartache, you and your body memorize the feeling but persevere—all in vain—to swear it off for eternity. Leaving my students felt (rather, feels) like a break-up; a separation after a long and ever-so-formative relationship.
So, ala Kath, I responded to my melancholy by consulting my board. “Why do I feel like this?” I asked of one friend. “Why I am being so melodramatic about a choice that I made? Is this weird?” I inquired to another. The best response came from my go-to spiritual adviser who validated my feelings, yes, and further unpacked their significance by saying:
“Painful is the space between one love and the other, but that is just the sensation of room being made. New space for you to be fulfilled.”
“That’s it!” I exclaimed. “Space!”
Change, aka the making of new space, is painful and difficult and heady as we get mired down deep in the anticipated logistics. The transformation don’t come easy (or we would all evolve with ease). In yoga we simulate these moments: within challenging transitions, movement, and difficult postures we practice non-attachment and the discipline to soften and surrender to the present moment. Ultimately, we practice connecting to our deeper essence or that-which-we-need-ness or—the technical yogic term—our dharma (=divine purpose). In the simulated space of our mats, the dabbling into our bigger picture is safer, we always have an out once we roll up our mats.
It’s when we move off of our mats and the shit gets hella-real that we really need to invoke our yogic tools. Right before we surrender to the transformation, with one foot out the door and stepping into the realm of possibility, distractions appear and with them come the flood of excuses. Stuck in our story, we become defensive, staving off the change through our fight or flight mechanism like we’re shadowboxing. With rigid tissues and a hardened heart all the movement ceases; we choose the comfort of the familiar—not because it’s fulfilling, because we know it ain’t—simply because it’s familiar.
I’ve inhabited that space and know I will visit it again.
I KNOW I loved almost everything about teaching. I loved the comfort of my classes and the joy my students brought into my life. Even though I’m 100% sure that I’ve made an impact at least on a few different people in varying degrees, I know that it’s time to move into a space beyond my comfort zone. Every piece of me yearns for new challenges and growth and movement. Moreover, I long for my children to see how hard I work not only for them but for myself and others as well.
I’ve invited change and with hands-to-heart and enormous faith in myself and the universe I courageously surrender to the challenge. For the people who have asked me about my plans or what’s next or why I’ve stopped teaching yoga at the studio, here’s where I’m at: I haven’t articulated the questions yet, so I can’t possibly fathom the answers.
So here I am, in the space between comfort and whatever-the-hell-lies-ahead. School is my focus for the next few years but otherwise, I’m roaming into unknown territory, immersed into a new community and I have hardly any plans. I become anxious, fearful and full of doubts and I can easily—especially at 4:00 am—convince myself that imminent disaster lies around the corner. I sure can. But I can also breathe, sit, move, shake or invoke any other healing modality to remind myself that I am exactly where I need to be.
Onward and upward!