“Courage is the most important of all the virtues, because without courage you can’t practice any other virtue consistently. You can practice any virtue erratically, but nothing consistently without courage.” Maya Angelou
I left my apartment at 9:45 to make it to Lisa’s 10:45 yoga class in Hell’s Kitchen. Plenty of time. Not today. 2,3 not running so I take a ‘packed like sardines’ 4 train to Grand Central, run to the Time’s Square shuttle, jump off the shuttle and TRY to run to class. I cannot move. There is a people jam. I begin deep breathing exercises and have a ‘what the hell am I doing’ moment. How ironic, I am completely stressed on the way to yoga. At this point I stopped pushing my way through a maze of people and realized that I will never find peace in NYC. Since moving here three years ago I have been determined to master the ‘city of indulging’ by balancing it with yoga, running, swimming, and eating well.
Why do we always try to fit a square peg in a round hole? Why do we force things instead of just accepting something as it is? For me, NYC is the most unbalanced and tempting place to live so the easiest thing is to surrender and accept. I surrendered on the corner of 42nd and 9th Ave, missed the class, and instead went to a diner for bacon, eggs, and home fries.
This is about acceptance. Happiness comes when one accepts the reality of a situation for what it is, accepts a person for who they are, and most important is to accept yourself for who you are. Since leaving corporate, I’ve been lucky to have time to hang out with myself. Being alone with yourself forces you to discover a lot about what you want in life. For some people, this might sound like a horror movie as they prefer to be busy to avoid reality. I did it for so many years until it exploded in my face.
My reality of living in NYC came to life after I returned from Greece. The population density of the Greek island is 62 people per square mile and Manhattan Island is 70,000 people per square mile. More people live on my block than the entire Greek island! It is no wonder that I had anxiety and sleepless nights again upon returning. When I got back, I searched for sunsets, Greek food, sunshine, swimming. Impossible. I started to hate NYC. How can this be, when I was so much in love?
My relationship with NYC is tumultuous. There is both pleasure and pain. She (I like to call NYC a she) is like a bad love affair. Once she’s in your heart you can never forget her and it is hard to leave her. Your memories of time with her are some of the best and worse times in your life. You experience so much in a short amount of time that you feel you’ve lived ten years in only three years. Within 24 hours, you can experience complete bliss and complete pain. My Italian friend always says that some days he loves her in the morning and hates her in the afternoon. I am sure any New Yorker can relate. It is the NYC experience.
Some friends were shocked when I told them that the city might not be the best place for me to live. They responded, but “You are so New York.”, “You used to like it.”, ‘”How can you possibly live someplace with no delivery service?” These things do not matter and do not contribute to my happiness. Deep down, I am not New York, I am Pam. When I got back, companies called for interviews and I got sick just thinking I would sit in an office again. I felt I was watching a movie from the outside looking in. People were running around, frantic, stressed, rushing to get the spot on the train that placed them closer to their exit staircase. I sat back and observed and knew that I did not want to be part of this rat race again. The main activities are working, shopping, eating, and drinking. I used to live that life. Believe me, NYC is the best city in the world, but I have learned to accept that I changed and with courage must move forward. Momentum means acting on what I need at this point in my life.
I know what works for me. As tempting as it was to go back to corporate for the security and paycheck to live my NYC life, I decided to take the alternate road. The bumpy path with a GPS that loses signals now and then and constantly says “recalculating”. I decided that giving up some of life’s luxuries is better than sacrificing my beautiful life for a paycheck. Given limited funds, I had to make a decision. Within a few days of placing my Central Park apartment on craigslist, I found someone to take over my lease. With no place to go, one day later some American friends that I met on the Greek island offered me a temporary furnished sublet. It was so easy as if the universe handed this to me in a shiny box. I moved my things, except two suitcases of winter and summer clothes, from the UWS in Manhattan to a Public Storage unit in the Bronx. I am the official owner of a 10×10 storage unit and I am happy and free. This allows me the time to focus on starting my own health, wellness, and travel business. Why not have a job doing the things that I love most in life? I don’t know what the business will look like, but I will create it. I am enrolled in a year-long program at the Institute for Integrative Nutrition to be a health and wellness coach. I love the classes and love living a life true to me. Will this be the end all be all? Hell no. But, I do know that I am in the right direction and now using my internal GPS, my intuition to guide me.
While growing up in Ohio, my best friend Lisa and I would throw spaghetti on the ceiling to see if it would stick. We laughed for hours. One day, my father came home early. Lisa jumped on a chair to take down the spaghetti that stuck and she fell off the chair and sprained her ankle. We got in double trouble. Regardless, the next week, we still threw spaghetti. We can learn from this. We must have the courage to try out different things in life. We will fail while trying, but that is OK. Just throw spaghetti on the ceiling and see what sticks. See what feels right. I used to beat myself up for trying new things, moving, being restless, changing, not liking, searching. Now I embrace my curiosity and am happy to say that this is who I am and thank god for storage units. It might seem crazy to some people, but to me it is courageous. I refuse to settle in something that is just average. I hope others have the power to look for ways to LEARN, GROW, QUESTION, REALIZE, CHANGE, and MOVE ON.
I never again want to be stuck as this is the same as ‘dead man walking’. I will only be ‘alive woman running’. Life is about momentum and moving forward. This means leaving people, places, and things behind. It is OK. You have to leave things that don’t work for you to leave space for new to enter into your life. It is a new year. What do you want to change? It might take time and it will not always be easy, but all you need to do is put one foot in front of the other and start….trust me…baby steps are better than no steps.