Writing, Yoga, Friendship and Empowerment
I was looking for a place to hide when I first sat down with Christina. I’d taken her yoga classes before and had nodded hello at a local coffee shop when we were both there, writing, but she always seemed so…powerful…to me. I didn't feel equal to her energy. I loved the completeness of her classes: there was challenge; there was ease; sometimes there was drawing, chanting, singing. Part of being her student was never knowing what to expect and always feeling bigger for having taken the leap of I have no idea what is going to happen next. It was clear she’d put thought into the organization and purpose of each one. She is, after all, an engineer.
She was one of those people I admired from a distance. I thought she was too intense, too fiery to ever be someone I’d get close to or have enough in common with to have any real conversations.
I lived in the basement bedroom in her house for a year. Her kids called me The Hobbit. I was coming out of a difficult marriage, and I needed to feel safe and at peace more than I needed community breakfasts, and so, basically, I hid out. Christina and her family did their thing over my head, and stayed down below, gathering enough strength until I was finally ready to pack up everything and go on the adventure of my life, leaving for New York City to write, finally, about how adoption had affected my life.
By the time I left, Christina and I had bonded. I became her writing coach, and she would come down to my room and we would sit knee to knee and get her to clarity on the page. It was wonderful to work with someone who was both shockingly intelligent and so grounded in her heart and courage. I wanted to be more like her: a fiercely bright and loving student of myself, my family, my community, and my world.
Something happens when we get together. For one thing, we both get really, really happy. And the insights and ideas flow. It’s hard to tell which of us is the water and which is the plant. I think we are both. We help each other grow through mutual respect, love, curiousity, and the desire for the other to see just how spectacular she is.
We are going to do a retreat together in Tahoe this May. If you take Christina’s ability to lead her students both home and to a place of insight on the mat, and Anne’s ability to do the same with her students on paper, you have a mighty combination. We laugh a lot when we are together. We also cry. But mostly we grow. And we feel more ourselves when we part then when we first hug hello.
Come join us in the journey of relaxing into yourself. Sink into the peace of you.
Laugh. Cry. Do yoga. Write. Hike the trails of Tahoe. You’ll be so glad you had the courage to claim some time for you. This life is yours, after all. Make the most of what you have.
CHRISTINA'S SIDE OF THE STORY
When we remodeled our home years ago, the catalyst was that our foundation was cracked. In the Loma Pieta earthquake, our house was shaken badly, and being the carriage house for another home (not to mention being over 100 years old), and being built on a hillside and with a concrete and brick foundation, we weren’t sure this house could withstand another earthquake. Now that we had kids, it mattered to John and me how stable our foundation was. Underneath our home, before the remodel, was a dirt pit where a washer and dryer had been stuck and we used it this area for storage. Our intention was never to rent out a room--it was to finish something that was raw earth, unstable, and could be turned into more practical space to be used for a greater purpose. We lifted the house (as we had to for the foundation work), and in the end, we created an extra bedroom, bathroom, kids hang out room, and storage area.
A few years ago, my husband was informed his company was closing offices in the U.S. and he would be let go. I had recently left my high-paying job in the corporate sector and was working as a yoga teacher and just started as a part-time L&D coordinator for a coaching/consulting firm. Financially, times were tough, extremely tough from what we are accustomed to, and with a relatively high mortgage in Los Gatos, our foundation started to shake. It’s amazing what happens when financial stability gets shaken in a marriage or a person…when what you depend on for living where you wish to live, here in Silicon Valley, gets compromised, and fear creeps in. It created challenges for how we looked at the world. This deeply affected both my husband and me, yet I always also knew we had more than enough and our luck would change.
In the midst of our financial struggle, we decided to rent out the downstairs room and bathroom. It had a separate entry and we felt it could be a nice space for someone who just wanted a little safe space, in a desirable location close to downtown Los Gatos, to rest. We provided full house and kitchen access. We were very deliberate about who we would let into the space, as it was our family home and we had the protection of our family, particularly our kids, to keep in mind.
Anne was someone I had met on a couple of occasions and she contacted me after one of my yoga friends had mentioned to her we might have a space available (we only let people know of the opening of space by word of mouth). She was wise beyond belief, had just finished writing a screenplay, and the most desirable housemate anyone could ever ask for…responsible, kind, humorous, genuine, safe for our family, and wanted to keep to herself. Anne and I clicked. She was like that friend you feel you’ve known forever, someone who knows you when you unveil your true self, and can be raw, broken, unfinished, and real around…and in that space…deep love, compassion, and unaltered connection were the lifeline between us.
While Anne lived with us, I would wonder why she didn’t want to come up to use the kitchen or the greater family areas of the house--having full reign of the entire home as part of her rent. I never pushed it. At times I would feel badly and think that maybe she didn’t feel comfortable and I would have discussions with my husband about feeling guilty that her rent, for one little room and bathroom, seemed higher than what she used. He would remind me it was market rate for where we lived. We would settle for not making waves, but I felt bad and always lucky we had Anne living in our space. She was safe. She was funny. She had a relationship with her daughter that inspired me for what I wanted with my own daughter as she got older. The more I got to know Anne, the more my compassion grew for her. I felt we were kindred sisters who were meant to be soul sisters for one another during some of our darkest and growth-oriented moments.
There was a time when I was struggling with many aspects of life--not feeling good enough, wondering if my marriage was built on a shaky foundation and going nowhere, feeling the impact pf burden and responsibility as it tied to my own inner story of feeling like “I had to do it all!!!!” Anne mentioned she was a writing coach and available to work together on writing, if desired. I wanted to explore this avenue, feeling like I needed help with my blog posts and bio pages and web design…and in time, wanted to write a book and wanted some help with how to write. I felt like my writing was stale and matter-of-fact, with no feeling behind it.
Anne’s coaching helped me to see beyond the surface and she continued to encourage me to “go deeper”. I shared my writing pieces and share the vulnerability of what was TRULY in my heart. She continued to guide me, with humor, friendship, compassion, and more writing exercises. She believed in me before I believed in me. She helped me move past the rut of despair and depression into a place of more knowing. Anne is a teacher of teachers. She is beautiful, kind, supporting, original, and suggestive of going into the deeper areas where the soul wants to be seen.
It feels so appropriate to come together with Anne to offer a writers and yoga retreat with our dear friends, up in the beauty of North Lake Tahoe. The location for the retreat is one of my most favorite places on Earth…nestled at the foot of the mountains that make up Alpine and Squaw Valley, with the award-winning hotel and top-notch gourmet restaurant Stella, all in one location. This place is owned and operated by two of the most incredible people I have ever met, Jeff and Patty Baird. They opened the place after being inspired by European chalets when their son was a big skier…and they were drawn to the creation of a space that felt like a place to “Come Home”…surrounded by who you would choose to be with, in a comfy, magical setting where the draw is on togetherness.
The time is now for this gathering. I couldn’t be more thrilled and grounded…let’s get real, together.
For information about the May 18 - 21st retreat: