"Saying Goodbye to the Bay Area"
I want to tell you a story about listening to the call. About listening to that inner voice that nudges you to go a different way or to make a life changing decision. You know, that voice that asks you do something that is scary as hell, and you resist, and fight, but in the end, you know is right? It starts as a tug in your belly, or a longing in your heart. It feels like a desire or an inner knowing that gets louder each time you choose not to listen. It is your inner guide. It is your truth. It is the song of your heart calling you home.
Well, my heart calling got really loud last December. Louder than it has ever been, and in a moment my life changed forever. Everything changed.
Here’s what happened.
I’m scheduled to go on retreat with my spiritual teacher and a circle of close friends. It’s not the put your feet up, sit in the spa, kind of retreat. It’s the kind where we look at our biggest questions, and darkest shadows. The kind of retreat where you face yourself and come clean with what’s true.
The retreat is scheduled in Massachusetts, on my friend’s land, in December. I bought my tickets and planned this special time much earlier, but as it gets closer, everything in me does not want to go. I am resisting. I want a way out.
I call my teacher to see if I can cancel. “It’s too cold in Boston,” I say. “I haven’t felt well. It’s Christmastime, and just not a time to leave my kids. There’s too much going on. I don’t think I should leave my family.”
“Uh huh.” She listens. “You follow your heart Michelle, but I will be there. The circle will be there waiting for you.”
Shit. There’s no getting out of this. She’s not budging.
I resist and fight up until the last minute. Not packed, a plane taking off in two hours, I call the airport to see what it will cost to cancel my flight. The answer… too much.
The inner voice gets louder. Even in all my fighting and resisting, she speaks to me, “Go. Michelle Go.”
I pack my bag, race to get in the car, and literally make it to my plane with 45 seconds to spare. It feels like someone or something really wants me to be at this retreat. There’s no getting out now.
I finally arrive, imperfect, messy, raw, and not even sure what’s packed in my bag. Despite everything, I choose to surrender to what’s in front of me and trust that I am here for a reason.
My friend has twenty-something acres of land with a forest and a lake and a studio space surrounded by trees and a whispering river. The top of the lake is crystalized with ice. The air is fresh and slow.
The first morning, we make our way to the studio, where huge windows let in the morning sun, and the trees dance in the light. We sit in circle. It is stunningly quiet here. I hug my hot mug of tea, and listen to the silence.
My teacher opens the circle with a question. “What do you need to let die in order to fully live?”
Her question stirs something in me, and I immediately begin to cry. That tug in my belly is more like a punch in the gut, yanking my truth to the surface. Tears roll. I can’t stop crying. Something about being so far away, in a circle of women who love me, and finally quiet enough to hear my own voice, breaks me open.
Without even thinking, words spill out of my mouth. “I don’t want to do this anymore.” The words break me open even more. I am shocked to hear my own voice.
“I don’t want to do this life this way anymore. It all has to change.”
My soul is speaking out loud to me now. I listen to my own voice, strong and convicted.
“It has to change because it’s time for you to grow in a different way. You’ve done this life this way long enough, Michelle, and it’s time for something new.
“It’s time to lay all it down, and let your little girl out to play.
“It’s time to adventure, and dream, and splash in the waves of your heart calling.
“It’s time for you to leave the hills where you grew up, where memories of your mother still break your heart. It’s time for you to start anew.
“It’s time to scoop up your kids and leave your sweet little house for the unknown, for the adventure of being alive.
“It’s time to really practice trust, my Love, because when you follow my call, you will find home.
“It’s time to say goodbye, and leave with love. It’s time to show your children what it means to close a door consciously, and welcome the unknown.
“It’s time to play and rest and heal and write and dream and dance and swim, my Love.
“It is time to say goodbye.”
I am floored by the truth that is reckoning with my heart.
My teacher looks at me and smiles. “You came with the big guns, didn’t you?”
Tears keep flowing.
And I am I clear.
It is time to close my yoga studio after almost 8 years, and it is also time to leave the place I have called home for almost 40. It is time to start anew.
I pick myself up, clear as ever, and I know what needs to happen. I leave that retreat in Massachusetts, and the forest and the trees, a different woman, a woman ready to lay it all down.
And now here I am writing to you, six months later, and a Sold sign sits in front of my home. We did it. We quietly did it. I have been in a sacred process with my family since December, unravelling, unhooking, and processing what it means to leave my home for almost 40 years. What it means to sell the house, where my daughter’s six-month-old footprints are imprinted in the pavement on the front porch. What it means to say goodbye to my family and friends and community, all because of the call. That deep inner voice, that I know, always knows the way.
I will tell you that nothing I am sharing in this story is logical. It is spiritual.
It is The Practice.
Of listening to that sacred voice and following the call.
I share this because I want you to know where I am going, and more importantly, I want to remind you to always listen to that nudge, even when everything in you resists and fights and tries to find a way out.
I believe that the moment we stop listening to Her, is the moment we begin to lose ourselves. And I want us all to LIVE to our fullest expression.
I am also sharing this story because I want you to know what’s been happening for me behind the scenes. If you’ve been with me over the years, you know that there have been many changes in The Practice and in my personal life that have had an impact on this community. I know that some of this change may have been hard on you. Change can be difficult and sometimes it hurts. I see us as all part of one big web, and when one person shifts, and stretches her thread in a different direction, we all feel the pull. I know that by leaving the local area, this may have an even deeper impact on some of you. I just want to say that I see you, I love, and I am grateful for you. I also know that our web is strong and no matter what, it can’t be broken.
The Practice Leaders, Elsa, Tara, Jackie, will be holding down the fort and leading The Practice in the Bay Area. More teachers are about to be certified, so The Practice is growing and in good hands.
I personally won’t be offering any classes or retreats until next March, of 2020. I am taking the next several months off of work to sink into to my new home with my family. I will write to you from time to time about my journey, so please stay tuned if you want to know how it’s going. I will email you.
The Maui Retreat is booked once again, for March 19-23, 2020. It will be the only way to work with me in the next year. This last Maui retreat was sincerely one of the most beautiful times of my life. If you want to be there, now is the time to save your spot! Go Here for all the details.
You can also stay connected in our private Facebook Group HERE. I will be popping in to connect and share + we will post about all The Practice gatherings and classes.
In the meantime, I am sending you a big hug. Thank you for being here and listening. Thank you for being a part of The Practice.