I've always complained about how growing up sucks, how I wish someone could make all these big scary life decisions for me because I'm never confident in what the right move is. In the 5 years I lived in San Francisco that city GREW ME UP. I moved to San Francisco as a shell of the person I am today, I was always letting everyone else in my life make those big decisions for me. It wasn't even my decision to move to SF but it was my decision to leave, and I took with me the most valuable possession of all, myself. I've tried to put into words everything that SF offered me, as a human, as a spirit, as a girl trying to figure herself out. With that said, this is the story of my breakup with San Francisco, in all it's shame and glory...
I moved to SF with a husband and a dog. Our wedding was a month before I moved across country, a month before that was the day I tried to end my engagement. But the move to SF was "the key to our happiness", it was going to fix all of our problems...or so he said. I won't bore you with the details but needless to say the move did not save my marriage, what it did do was put a magnifying glass on our relationship and made it devastatingly clear that it was not going to work. That was the first gift SF gave me, the distance and freedom I needed to save myself from a miserable relationship. It was ugly and uncomfortable but there was no other way. This was the first time in my life I truly felt pain, in all of it's ugly forms; guilt, shame, sadness, fear, resentment, anger, you name it..I felt it. But I also felt something new, Independence.
When that relationship came to it's inevitable end, I moved into my first apartment that was mine and only mine, and thus began my love affair with San Francisco. I made friends, I planned trips and outings, I even got a tattoo. I said yes to everything and absorbed every ounce of vibrancy the city had to offer. I quickly realized how my prior relationship had sucked the joy out of my early twenties and SF gave it back to me and then some. But partying and city life wasn't all that SF had to offer me. There was so much more depth to be experienced in those 7 square miles, I couldn't even have imagined it at the time.
I was new to yoga when I moved to SF, and quickly picked up my practice when I arrived. I was practicing regularly but it was still just a workout. It felt good in my body but I wasn't quite open to it's more expansive offerings. I found Urban Flow about a year after I moved to the city and was immediately hooked. It became my church. Rusty Wells and Steph Snyder created such a beautiful space for me to feel supported in my shit. That was the first shift towards yoga becoming more than a physical practice. I felt myself processing, I felt emotion rising up to the surface with a new sensation in my chest, a new ability to hold space for it. But I couldn't fully accept it, and I still wanted to party when I wasn't practicing.
Fast forward another two years, because literally nothing changed in that period of time. I found myself stuck on a meaningless hamster wheel of work, yoga, party, repeat. I kept my days busy so I didn't have to sit with myself too often. I made it through the day but the only thing I ever looked forward too was happy hour or maybe some exciting weekend plans. I had no vision for my future and deep down that was terrifying. Was this it? Was this all I was going to be...a mediocre broker at a risk consulting firm, living in a fabulous city with a decent apartment and some booze buddies? That truth was hard to swallow, so I swallowed wine and chocolate instead. Through all of it though, I stuck with the yoga, there was something that always brought me back. I had toyed with the idea of doing a teacher training on and off for awhile, it made me SUPER nervous to think about committing my sacred weekend time to a training for 6 full months. Giving up my social life sounded so isolating and miserable. Another 6 months or so went by and I finally took the leap of faith and signed up. I didn't really know if I wanted to be a yoga teacher or not but I knew I needed a change.
I started teacher training and it was one of the most profound experiences of my life. It completely shifted my perspective on my life, on the people in my life, on the city I lived in. I started to see all of the things San Francisco offered behind the curtains, aside from the beautiful landscapes and stimulating social life, I could suddenly feel the energetic intensity of the city. This collective of people trying to become something, or create something or make change. I felt more empowered and inspired than ever before. I knew in that training that there was a path and a purpose for my existence and that my life's work would be to figure that out...
After training, I was stoked to finally have my weekends back and I quickly fell into my old ways. Happy hours and jam packed weekends resumed, however I made an effort to keep up with my new friendships from teacher training which helped to keep me relatively grounded. I knew I needed to make a change but I wasn't ready.
Fast forward another 18 months, because uprooting your life is an agonizingly slow process. I kept up with yoga workshops and trainings and stayed as involved as I could in the yoga community but I was living in two different worlds. I was starting to feel like an outsider at work. I had no interest in what I was doing and it was becoming increasingly painful to fake it. I woke up each day dreading work, and it started taking a toll on my physical and mental health.
Then one day in February of 2016 my friend texted and asked if I wanted to audition at the studio she was teaching yoga at. My hands started sweating as soon as I read it, I was terrified and had no interest in putting myself out there like that. I said OK anyways because I wanted to listen to the universe for a change instead of my tragically confused mind. I auditioned, and a few days later received the utterly shocking news that the studio wanted to offer me a class. ME!?!
This was the moment that my life changed. Could it really be this easy? I started teaching and a few weeks later, the same studio offered me another class, completely unprovoked. I started to think I must be doing something right! As the weeks progressed, my confidence grew, I started to build up a lot of energy around my teaching and I started to develop a clear vision for my future. It finally clicked, I can do this. I can make this happen. Fast forward a few months later to July 1 2017, the first day of my career as a full time yoga teacher. I had finally done it, this was the career move that was going to solve all of my problems so I could finally feel content in my life!
....If you've read my previous blog entires, you know by now that was NOT the case. Instead of this career change being the shift that fixed everything, it ended up being the shift that exposed everything. Becoming a full time yoga teacher was more like barfing up my life onto a yoga mat and being forced to painfully reabsorb it piece by piece. Eventually I found meditation, reiki, and a great therapist and I got my sanity back but it was a challenging year (see my post on healing for all the gruesome details). In the end, my process of breaking down and learning to heal was even more profound that my teacher training or changing careers. I learned the power of my mind, I learned how to liberate myself from habits and patterns that my past experiences ingrained within me and I learned how to let go of attachment. My teaching became healing, and I wanted to help everyone heal the way I had.
And that brings us to my decision to break up with San Francisco. After a few years of living in SF I never thought I was going to leave, I started to identify with myself as a life long Californian. But every time I went home to visit or had friends and family visit me, there was always a piece of my heart that wanted to be back home. As I found myself in the new career of vulnerability (and insolvency), toying with the idea of branching out into healing and health coaching, San Francisco started to feel like a struggle. The stress of paying rent, unorthodox living situations (don't even get me started on my torturous 6 months in inner richmond), overcrowding, long ass lines EVERYWHERE you go, combined with the financial commitments I would need to make in order to take the next step in my career...I felt stuck. As much as San Francisco supported and inspired me, I came to realize it wasn't a sustainable relationship. SF had helped me grow up but I eventually grew out of SF.
Cities enter and exit our lives, just like people. We leave them callously in search of new opportunities or new people, but I wanted to take the time to properly end my relationship with San Francisco. My 5 years in SF felt like a roller coaster at times but I came out of it strong, vibrant and independent. I will be forever thankful for the confidence, support and inspiration I found in San Francisco.
I won't be leaving my heart but I'm leaving my love!