Today is my birthday. I’m writing this from a plane, in a stand-by seat that I barely snagged, in a dash to get home, which meant leaving my vacation early. (How’s that for vata?)
For my birthday last year I was in a jungle in Peru. The year before, a jungle in Ecuador. Honduras. Before the jungles, I favored Secret-Garden-esque bars and often alone. As a kid, it was Hawaii, Africa, days-away-from-civilization somewhere on a river-raft … There’ve been a couple beautiful parties with friends, food, a piñata and polaroid proof but more often than not, I’ve been on the road, and much prefer it.
Birthdays are an opportunity to retreat from life in order to reflect on it.
Check in on progress and be totally self-centered by which I don’t necessarily mean indulgent. It’s a day with our self - our best friend, body-house, being-thing that we exist in. Traveling facilitates the disconnection.
While it’s never a bad time to introspect, I’m sentimental about my birthday (obv). Not traditionally, but it’s a personal New Year’s. There’s always a resolution and often an extraordinary amount of writing preceding it and day-of (eh hem). I give myself gifts - like “I’ll be the healthiest I’ve ever been” or, in this year’s case - the gift of simply enjoying existing in this body, alive, breathing, practicing yoga, taking in nature, sleeping, eating perfectly, and being protected from the bombardment of other that tests our being every day. Indulging my sensitivity with stillness, peace, and beauty.
And so I was doing just that - sleeping in a tent in an ashram (aka yoga monastery) practicing four hours of daily yoga, with hours more of chanting and silent meditation. Eating Ayurvedic food, falling asleep to frogs by night, and wandering with deer and bunnies after wake-up bells before dawn, and taking naps all over the place (I think my brain actually just quit). Existing in a place where the standard greeting is “Om Namah Shivaya” (a Hindu mantra which the Swami translated to me as ~ “I acknowledge the consciousness in you as the same that exists in me, and all things).
But, something was different this time. Not long into the trip, I realized I needed to come home. It was one of those strong, intuitive calls that we feel first and figure out later.
Before being (too) impulsive, I wrote. Really? Why - really? You sure it’s not XYZ? You being windy? You exerting control over the situation? Fomo? Addicted to work? Just confused? Self-inquiring it out didn’t take long. I realized that the reason I wanted (*wanted, not needed or otherwise) to leave was that I simply love my life too much to want be away from it right now. It was such a long time coming, it’s so good, and that is also fragile. And, I can also do what I want, which is come home - now.
(While there - and over the last few months - I’ve also come to term with some of my monk tendencies, which involved learning about choosing and then owning the decision to either be in this world, or out of it.
I remembered how strongly I hadn’t wanted to return from Peru. Crying in the jeep on the way to the airport - dirtier and more beat-up than I’ve ever been, head aching from plant medicine and expanded self, and a long time away from home. I wanted to get out of the car in the little village - whichever it was, I didn’t care - and just figure it out from there. I felt like a foreigner in New York for a long time afterward.
Previous trips felt similar. Which is also why I love travel so much - we never return the same. But, if we choose to return, we better well be in the game. That’s a complicated lesson.)
The life I don't want to leave now is good because, I’m doing what I love.
“Doing” means work - profession, job, whatever. Which changed this year. (Also a story, I’ve been writing for you.) For the first time since high school, I’m not working full-time for someone else. I’m also not one person “by-day” in black and heels and Advertising, and another by night/weekends when I don’t wear shoes and play matchmaker between people and plants. Now, it’s all one. I’m myself, all of the time. It was scary and it was work - (three months of mind-bending, heart-breaking yoga therapy helped (yes, a story there too)) and now it’s real.
More and more of you are saying “I quit my day job to do what I love.” It’s momentum. It’s good.
And I’m grateful to be among you.
Not coincidentally, not only is it my birthday today, it’s also the birthday of this business.
Three years ago, it was a blog (can’t believe we don’t have a new word for that yet). A bunch of stories about the adventures of learning how to be a healthy, conscious, human. Then, I launched the first product. Then another, and another story, and so on. Now, it’s my life. And many others’ - humming along in service of the same mission: goodness. (Thank you all so much.)
Now, “home” “life” and “work” are one. Dharma, they might call it.
My hope is for you all to find the same groove. If I can help, I will. If I’m in service of the how-to-eat-well part, which is where my journey started, or inspiring extra self-reflection on your birthday, or any day.
So, my present to myself this year was an early ticket home. Though it means planes, trains, and airport trail-mix in place of birthday cake. And by birthday cake I do mean an avocado, of course.
See you soon,
Major special thanks to my family - partner included - for supporting my whims and blessing my freedom.