The beginning part of my week got gobbled up by jury duty, so I find myself playing a bit of catch up - on all things: sleep, movement, groceries, laundry, meal-prep... I woke up today feeling super sore, tense, and headache-y. While my jury duty experience was relatively tame, I can't help but conclude that my body has absorbed some of that experience, and needed time to shake it all out.
It got me thinking about how much our bodies are impacted by the experiences in our lives - the day-to-day ones, and the more monumental. I'll never forget the time my body literally revolted, as if it was shouting at me, as if everything in me was saying "this is all wrong!" and I had no choice but to make a change. Mind you, it was a change I wanted to make, but my logic brain was judging and telling me it would be irresponsible.
Boo to you, logic brain.
You might already know the framework of my story: I lived a very settled-down 9-5 lifestyle in Colorado for about 7 years, before packing up and moving to NYC. In between places, I took a break to travel Europe for nearly 4 months, and as you might guess, I started rethinking things while out there. I distinctly remember being in Switzerland, one of the last stops of my trip, and knowing in my heart I wanted to do something different with my life once I got home. But as my re-entry got closer, I got more and more afraid of jumping ship.
When I landed back in the U.S. I was broke (busted right through my travel budget) and felt the cold wave of reality wash over me as I settled in to stay in my Dad's basement for the next few months. I had had my fun, and now I had to get my life back on track. So I began job searching, in my previous career field, and my dreams of working in health & wellness quickly faded into the memories of my European adventure.
I landed a job in downtown Manhattan at an energy efficiency firm. I got an apartment in Brooklyn and set it all up. I found a yoga studio right around the corner from my new home - and then I never went. Everything I had learned and wanted for myself began to slip away and my life looked more and more like it used to, except now I liked my job less and worked longer hours and commuted on the subway with a billion other dreary-eyed New Yorkers. I had little time for much else, and I contemplated how to fit wellness back into my life, thinking it all had to fit around the job - the job was unmovable, I needed that to survive.
It was a long couple of months and I quickly fell into a depression. It was like I had seen the light at the end of the tunnel, but decided to turn back into the darkness. The light was calling me, but I didn't see how I could possibly get to it. And as you might already know about me - I really needed to know HOW before diving into anything.
My back had started to knot up, and I sought out cheap chair massages, which are luckily all over the place in NYC. But one night I woke up around 4am in excruciating pain; I couldn't find relief or comfort no matter how I contorted or supported my body. I felt trapped in my own skin, doomed to lay there until the sun rose, crying in pain. I called my sister who was on the other side of the world at the time, and when I meant to leave her a voicemail, I accidentally recorded a message in a way that it then played itself back to me. It was a huge moment of realization; I had never heard myself sound so sad or desperate. It was truly hard to listen to.
The next morning I called out of work, explaining that I literally could not move, and my new boss gave me a slight guilt trip around not coming in, so I pulled it together and went in by afternoon. I pretty quickly started looking elsewhere for work - other energy firms, but restaurants and yoga studios, too. Anything. I obviously had to go. I had nearly solidified a waitressing gig when I rode the elevator up to my office the next Wednesday. On the way up I checked my phone - my first paycheck had come through. And I saw the amount. And it just wasn't worth it. And I quit that day and never went back.
My back had never before, and has never since, acted in this way. I get knots and aches and pains like most people, but that was my body screaming for help. That was something needing to get out. I fear that people feel these things all the time - in different ways and in varying levels of intensity - but write them off, popping a pill or finding some other way to temporarily soothe the discomfort, when in fact your body is crying out, asking you to take a closer look at something - perhaps the thing you think is unmovable, perhaps the thing you think you NEED, perhaps the thing you think is doing you good.
"When one is pretending - the entire body revolts."
It can be hard to delineate the difference between pain and discomfort; put another way, the difference between needing to get out of something, and a potential growth opportunity. So this week I ask you to listen. I invite you to try this mantra - say it to yourself throughout the day. Place a hand over your heart (when it's appropriate) and repeat it in your mind. Say it out loud if you can. Say it into the mirror and see what comes up!
I love you. I am listening.
And I love you, and I am listening.