Over the course of 7+ years in Chicago, I hosted or co-hosted more than a hundred events. And while I’m pretty confident that I can execute the plan on just about any event idea you throw at me, that doesn’t mean it’s always easy going. I can call to mind many instances where it felt like an uphill battle every step of the way. To a certain extent, I think I got used to the feeling of struggle, and equating that to a sure sign of success or accomplishment.
Like, if it was easy, was it really that worth it?
I didn’t know much else. And often, I still enjoyed every second of whatever production was being put together. Problem solving was interesting and it gave me a certain adrenaline rush. But talk about being in a constant state of sympathetic nervous system activation… I bet if I could take a look at and measure what was going on for my nervous system, it would have looked like I was in an ongoing, 7-year run away from a tiger.
I can’t sit to write this and say that I’ve learned and moved on entirely. I am still very much in the work of learning what it means to let my nervous system settle. To trust the breath. To be more still.
But I can now say I have some perspective. I have examples of what it means to let things flow.
I hosted a pop-up yoga class in Sedona, AZ a couple weeks ago. As soon as I spoke with a friend about hosting something, my mind flashed back to many events, virtual and in-person, that felt like a struggle to pull together. I knew it would be a great class, but I was preparing for a stressful week in preparation.
Perhaps it was the red rocks and vortex energy, or perhaps it was listening to the little voice in my head saying “just breathe” but this event came together unlike any I’d ever hosted.
I found a non-profit organization, Friends of the Verde River, to partner with to make the class entirely donation-based. One of the team members was even able to attend class to speak specifically to where donation money would go.
Even when Mindbody (the studio’s online sign-up platform) went down, we were still able to get the word out to the community and had a full house. Mat to mat. People were smiling. A friend from Chicago who recently moved to Scottsdale even made the drive up for it. We were all just happy to be in community together on a sunny Saturday morning.
Community, connection, seeing familiar faces, and giving back to the community. It all just felt so GOOD to do. It all felt aligned. The entire time I thought, “this is what I want more of.”
Sometimes we don’t know what we want until we’re able to see it in action. I didn’t know that things could come together easily. The old me would have thought if I didn’t see through every last detail from start to finish to make sure every single “t” was crossed or “i” was dotted, it couldn’t possibly come together.
In fact, this specific community event that represented coming together was also emblematic of me finally learning to start to let go.
Since that event, I traveled back to Chicago for a few days to plug back in and be with community. Immediately on arrival, I felt an immense rush of energy – all good energy – but to such a degree that I felt myself getting swept back up in everything that goes along with it. I could feel my nervous system starting to match the heartbeat of the city.
After more than two months away from it all, I was more acutely aware of my tendency to go, go, go when it’s easy to do so. That isn’t to say that life in the city isn’t for me. I think it actually is, but I have to learn to get to know myself and pick up on the signals my body is telling me when I’m starting to overdo it.
And that’s been such an interesting thing to get to witness over the past few months. It has been the opportunity to get to know myself, and really feel what that is like in my core to notice those subtle things my body has always been telling me but I’d been too busy to listen to.
No matter where you live, what your job or day-to-day life looks like, what kind of communities you are involved in, those things are not your identity. Only you get to decide WHO you are. It’s unattached to the hustle and bustle of life. And while I definitely won’t write like I’ve got this all figured out, I do know that underneath the surface layers of WHAT we do, WHERE we need to be, and HOW we’re showing up in the world, there is a calm beneath the surface. And that’s where there is a state of flow, ready to be unearthed whenever we’re ready to listen for it.
It just takes time to listen to the subtle cues our intelligent bodies give us. The outside noise and chatter of life don’t make it easy to do so.
So, we have to be willing to get out a shovel, dig, and keep on digging.
And if we do choose to keep digging, I have a feeling that’s where we truly find ease. I caught a glimpse of it when the stars aligned for a pop-up yoga class among strangers who became fast friends. And once I saw what that looks like, I know THAT’S what I want to keep digging for.
I’m in no rush to find the answers, and for once, I think I’m actually really okay not crossing any “i’s” or dotting any “t’s”. I’m just witnessing the process of it all, and that feels pretty good.