The Move I Almost Made

I’m pretty sure my lot in life is to learn the most obvious things in the most difficult ways. And of course by “most difficult” I mean “really not that difficult, but because I have a blog and I LOVE to exaggerate, I’ll make it sound difficult.”

While you might assume this post to be about dating, it’s actually about the move I almost made to Salida, Colorado.

Salida is a rural town located two-and-a-half hours southwest of Denver. It’s a small Mayberryish town filled with incredibly interesting people. The landscape is stunning; the town is situated on the Arkansas River in a bowl that’s surrounded by mountains.

downtown-salida-colorado

Here’s what the Colorful Colorado website has to say about Salida (these photos are from their site as well):

Salida is the county seat of Chaffee County and its largest city, with a population of approximately 5,300. The city is the service, supply, and tourism center for the Upper Arkansas Valley. Salida is a REAL Colorado mountain town. Beautifully nestled between the Sangre de Cristo and Sawatch Mountain ranges, this central Colorado Historic downtown at 7,000 feet elevation boasts a liveliness driven by artistic minds and outdoor enthusiasts.

People here wear smiles, the sun shines almost all the time, and you can bike, raft, hike, fish, climb, chill, whenever you want, any time of year. The townspeople are diverse so you don’t get just mountain bikers, skiers, and kayakers, you also experience Colorado ranchers and old miners, artists, and farmers, so just about everyone fits into this Colorado lifestyle.

salida-colorado-aerial

I’ll point out that the Spanish word salida translates to “exit” in English…and that certainly was an element of what I hoped to achieve by moving there. Certainly I was looking forward to escaping the cockroachy invasion of 100,000 people each year to the Denver metro area (and that might be a low estimate). Annoyingly, I really like all the recent transplants I’ve met, which melts my bitter native stance a bit. (I’ve learned to have audio books and/or podcasts in my car at all times and to work odd hours in order to avoid the worst of the traffic.)

More than running from anything, however, I was running toward something. I was excited about the lifestyle I would have in Salida: the dog walks up S Mountain (not its real name, but what locals call it), the clean air to breathe, all that room for my spirit to expand and roam free.

My soul-family friend and muse/spirit animal, Jenn, was going to sell me her house. I love this house. It might be considered small by most people’s standards but it seemed HUGE to me (being someone who dwells in a less-than-500-square-foot place now). What I could do with another 300 square feet and a back yard! I had plans to make raised beds so I could grow some of my own food; I would create a nook where I would start every day by sipping my homemade latte and writing; I had a vague idea of colors to add to the walls, and I imagined all my books nestled into the built-in bookshelves. I was fairly sure I would add a pedestal sink to the bathroom along with some wainscoting. I would check for hardwoods under the carpet. Having spent many nights in the house, I knew exactly what it would be like to wake up in the morning and lumber to the bathroom and then to the kitchen to let the dogs out.

Here’s the sketch I made of the house to help me figure out how to arrange furniture (clearly, I was not messing around):

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I imagined what it would be like to work from home. I imagined the few friends I have in Salida popping over unannounced just to say hi. I knew it would take time for my nervous system to adjust to the slower pace. I loved that I’d be able to walk everywhere. I loved that I would prepare most of my own meals, rather than being tempted to drive thru any of the 80,000 fast-food places I pass on my way to and from work every day now. I imagined the inspiration I would get from the landscape. For months I had been living parallel lives: my current life here (in my body) and my future life in Salida (in my mind).

There were many months from when I was under contract to buy the house until the time I knew I could occupy it. This large amount of time was a tricky thing for my mind. It gave me lots of time to worry about whether my choice was a smart one. On the macro level: “Will I miss everyone in Denver and find myself living in Salida but wishing I were in Denver?” “Despite the home being an amazing long-term investment, will buying it make me house poor and how will I feel about that?” “Will my 18-year-old car hold out for all the trips I’ll be making to and from Denver (for work and to see people)?” “If for some reason I needed to find a new job, could I find anything in Salida that would pay what I require to make ends meet?” “Am I committing relationship suicide by moving there?” (I had dated the one lesbian I knew in the area and that hadn’t worked…so who else might there be to date? What were the odds of importing someone?)

I found the doubts creeping in. My enthusiasm for the idea slowly and very subtly started to wane. I could hear it in the way I was or wasn’t telling people that I was planning to move soon. By then I was committed, though. I was under contract, I’d had the house inspected, my boss had given me permission to work remotely, I’d mentioned to my landlord that I might be leaving, I had my mom on board to put me and the dogs up whenever I was in Denver…

And then about 60 days from close, as I was in the process of locking my loan rate, the process hit a glitch. Not a totally insurmountable glitch, but one that could pose danger to my friend’s ability to buy her next place if I couldn’t overcome it. And the most telling thing for me—the information I most required from my own soul—was the full-body sense of relief I got when I heard I might not get the loan. It was the weight of the world lifting off my shoulders. It’s exactly the feeling I got when my ex and I finally decided to call it quits on our relationship. It’s a feeling that unmistakably means this is the right thing.

And this is where the hard part came in: letting that feeling of relief be all I needed to know. My mind felt left out! It chimed in very loudly about many things—mostly with worry about how to tell Jenn that I’d changed my mind. On the positive side, I knew that she’d make way more on the house by putting it on the market than by selling it to me, and I knew that telling her right away would give her plenty of time to find a new buyer. I also knew that telling her would be the end of the dream—one that she and I had co-created together.

As it turns out, I needn’t have worried. She took the news like a champ, because a) she never ceases to amaze me, and b) she’s an Aquarius and can roll with literally anything life throws at her. I mean, she runs a circus for a living!

It took a couple weeks to stop waking up every morning in Salida and to stop walking my dogs up S Mountain on my lunch break. I had to let my future life in Salida slowly recede from my mind.

Here’s what my heart had to say about the choice NOT to move there:

You can draw on the energy of Salida any time; it is a supportive energy for you… Change is good and moving is not necessarily required. You could do a major purge of your apartment, a deep clean, maybe get a new desk to write at… Your apartment is a blessing until the next EASY thing comes along. That which you imagined creating for yourself in Salida you can do from where you are. Cooking your meals, maybe doing yoga, long walks with the dogs, writing…

Ahhh, so here was the obvious-not-obvious wisdom in all this: I can be NOW everything I projected into the future Salida Erin. I can be Salida Erin in Denver. I can create a space and a ritual in my daily life for writing. I can draw on the inspiration of the energy of Salida at any moment I choose. I can merge the parallel lives (current Denver Erin and future Salida Erin) back into Erin-Being-Present-in-Her-Life Erin.

And the other huge lesson: I came to be even more grateful for what I currently have in my life. I have an apartment where I’m allowed to have my animals. I have an apartment I can afford. It’s near one of the most beautiful parks in Denver. I have a job working with great people I’ll still get to see every work day. I’ll still get to have weekly date nights with my bestie Michelle to watch crap television. I’ll still be near my other bestie, Katie, whose existence in my life has shaped my life more than I’ll ever truly know (and who I dislike the idea of being far from).

And most importantly, I still have Salida. I can go there whenever I desire. And when I’m there, I’ll get to spend time with my muse/spirit animal, Jenn, soaking in everything about her that inspires me and helps me live a more authentically creative life.

So thank you, Project Move Erin to Salida, for being everything I needed you to be.

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The Magical Mystery Tour of Breathwork

One of my favorite things, which I’ve been oddly silent about in my blog thus far, is my passion for exploring healing modalities. You name it, I’ve likely done it or plan to do it. Everything has its time, though, so I proceed as I’m guided. And in this case I was guided to breathwork by beauty, the oldest trick in the book. “Look, Erin, a beautiful woman! Why don’t you go find out what makes her so sparkly?”

I was in Boulder, Colorado, at a training that I felt guided to attend (tangential to explain here). I left the training wondering, “Huh, did I get what I came for?” and right then I realized that I needed to turn around, take my shoes off again, go back into the room, and talk to Gurpreet. Without going totally off the rails I’ll just say that she’s physically gorgeous (those eyes!), energetically gorgeous, smart, multilingual, playful, nurturing, deeply feminine in the way that’s both soft and totally badass, and she has the strongest-looking legs I’ve seen since my soccer days. She’s pretty much my dream woman, which assures me she’s unavailable to me in probably ten different ways, but that’s not the point—that’s never the point. The point is: MEET HER AND FIND OUT WHAT SHE DOES.

I almost laughed when she said she facilitates breathwork because it’s something that has long been on my list of modalities to try. There are various schools of thought under the umbrella term of “breathwork,” but as Wikipedia explains:

Breathwork is a method of breath control that is meant to give rise to altered states of consciousness and to have an effect on physical and mental well-being.

Well, shit fire, sign me up! I love altering my state of consciousness in ways that won’t get me arrested or make me ineligible for jobs!

The first thing that MUST be in place when doing work like this is trust. If I had any doubts about Gurpreet’s ability to hold the space and care for me while I’m “out there,” I wouldn’t be able to do it. Plain and simple, this work requires vulnerability—as any self-growth work does—and being able to trust the facilitator is of supreme importance. I implicitly trust Gurpreet.

The second thing that MUST be in place when doing work like this is trust. Yep, saying it again, only this time I mean trust in the process. Breathwork, like any other practice (e.g., yoga, meditation, etc.) is a practice. It’s not something to be done once and boom, you’re healed! It’s a conversation. And so far, it’s a conversation that I’m enjoying more than almost any other I’ve experienced. It’s a conversation with Source, God, Great Spirit, or whatever capital-letter term you prefer to use. Or maybe it’s a conversation with your own soul? Only you can define it for yourself. It’s the kind of thing that has to be experienced first-hand, and even then, trying to describe it is difficult. So I think it’s best to ease up on trying to understand it and instead just trust in the process and be an observer of ones’ own experience of it.

I’ve attended two group sessions and each one was completely unique. My first attempt was surely influenced by a bit of self-doubt and wondering whether I was doing it correctly. Last night I was able to let most of that go as I put my focus instead on playing with my breath. I moved it in different directions and I played with different rhythms to see what would happen. I became curious and childlike.

At one point I felt like I was being held in a lover’s embrace (as much as I can remember what that feels like)—it was deeply nurturing. At another point I felt intense heat above my feet and then it moved up to just above my knees and I realized it was the feeling of having a cat on my lap (Lexi? Miranda? Princess? Jingle? Chester?). It was as obvious as if someone had been holding a heat lamp right over that spot on my legs. I perceived many other things as well but it’s so moment by moment that it would become tedious to describe it all. I ended the session with so much energy I didn’t know what to do with myself. I felt like the kid who wakes up first thing in the morning at a slumber party and just CAN’T WAIT for someone else to wake up so she can play!

I think one of the most profound things about this work is that it doesn’t require words. I love words and I know that I receive guidance through writing and I figure things out by writing and I give love in writing…but sometimes, words need to be set aside. This work allows great releases of whatever you’re willing to let go of, without having to talk it to death or experience the trauma all over again. It can be peaceful and easy or tight and uncomfortable; it can be a blissful ride on a magic carpet or it can feel like trudging through mud. The magic is in the allowing. It’s always perfect.

Information about Gurpreet’s classes in Boulder can be found on her Facebook page. And regardless of where you live, you can probably find a class via the interwebs. I, for one, am sticking with Gurpreet and look forward to more of what this healing system has to offer.

Soul Light Repair Complete, Commencing Recharge

One of the most unique things about Ariel is that she absolutely trusts and follows her guidance. She is a pure conduit for the light and love of The Holy Wow (as Rob Brezsny might say). Her method of work, from what I understand, is to repair the energy grids in and around her clients’ bodies and then to fill them with light and love. In her own words (from her website):

Sometimes there are obstacles, often there are puzzles. But the goal isn’t to have everything go “right”. It’s to keep your energy bright all day, no matter what happens to you or around you. That’s where an energy healer can help.

People come when they feel stuck in life, off balance, unhappy, afraid or lost. They also visit for help in easing physical conditions or assisting with more serious health issues. These are the things that affect their energy field – an electromagnetic field that’s quite elaborate, but basically looks like a big bubble around the body. Energy healers like myself have the gift of sensing this energy field and are able to clear and repair it…even from thousands of miles away.

In order to be successful in her own work, Ariel MUST stay bright and shiny herself. It’s the old, “Put on your own oxygen mask before assisting others.” This makes her very qualified to give advice to others about how they can keep themselves bright and shiny.

As you’ll recall from my last post, Ariel had just repaired a couple of tears in my soul light and removed all the energetic detritus that had been covering it. She then commenced filling me with light, which tickled and felt awesome. At one point I could feel tingles running from my head down my body, down my arms, down my legs. It felt like someone was softly caressing my skin with a feather-light touch. I had goosebumps but I wasn’t cold. (And no, not everyone feels energy work palpably, and it makes no difference in the end result.)

As Ariel continued clearing, repairing, flushing, and filling, we were having a conversation. She made it very clear that after the repair of my soul light, I would begin to feel very different. She explained the importance of being VERY gentle with myself in the coming days, as the changes would still be settling in and taking effect. She also gave me some incredibly useful tips for how to be gentle with myself.

Ariel asked, “Okay, so tell me an unkind thing you think about yourself frequently.” I said, “I’m a failure. At life, in career, in love, whatever. The flavor changes but the gist is the same.” She said, “Okay, great. So you know what? You’re a failure. Pretend that’s absolutely the truth. You are a failure. I could try to talk you out of feeling like a failure, I could list obvious reasons why you’re not a failure, but will that change how you feel?” “Nope,” I said. “Right! It absolutely won’t. I’ve raised two girls through their teenage years and I can tell you that there’s no talking a teenager out of how they feel. I played a game with them that I want you to play with yourself. Basically, instead of trying to talk yourself out of how you’re feeling, I want you to ask yourself what three things you can do right now to change it. And then do those three things.”

So let’s say I’ve just had a bout of emotional binge eating and now I feel like shit (physically and emotionally). Ariel advised that a) if I’m doing it, I should enjoy the hell out of it and savor every bit of the experience, and b) if the end result brings up harsh thoughts about myself, I should play the “what three things can I do right now?” game. She explained that it’s like when a kid spills milk. Mom could try to figure out why it happened and fret about it and yell at the kid and carry on…or she can simply clean up the milk and move on. So…I can spend my time analyzing all the ways in which I’m a loser for having binged on unhealthy foods or I can do three things that will make me feel better. Perhaps I might choose to drink a glass of water, take the dogs for a walk in the park, and write in my journal. None of these things can go back in time to erase the behavior, but the milk has been spilled, so to speak. Now it’s time to clean it up and move on.

Or to back up one step: When I feel a binge coming on, I could focus on what’s up for me, what’s troubling me, and play the “what three things can I do right now?” game right then. Maybe calling a friend to say hi, drinking a glass of water, and having a solo dance party in the kitchen would shift my energy enough to negate the desire to binge.

During the week following my visit to Ariel I noticed that it became very quiet in my head. The shit talking had almost completely stopped, which made it easier to notice it when it was happening (and to hear what specifically I was telling myself). I haven’t consistently played the “three things” game, but somehow just learning about it created a shift for me. It’s a great reminder of, “Oh, if this sucks…I can change it.”. I’ve succeeded in being more gentle with myself and I’ve been experiencing frequent bouts of unadulterated silliness and joy throughout each day (usually only witnessed by my animals). And the influx of new fun people entering my life, which is something Ariel asked for on my behalf, has been staggering.

I can’t recommend Ariel’s services enough. I felt incredibly safe with her, I feel transformed by the experience, and I plan to go back at some point to get a routine maintenance check and to find out how the old soul light is faring.

“My Spiritual Near-Death Experience” or “That Time My Light Was Nearly Snuffed Out”

Her hand drew circle after circle after circle in the air above my sternum. Until this moment, she’d progressed fairly quickly and easily from one part of my body to the next. She seemed to be doing an energetic diagnostic to identify areas needing help. I was lying comfortably, not paying much attention to what she was doing. I enjoy receiving energy work; typically it sends my mind off into the stratosphere, leaving my energetic and physical bodies to soak in whatever they require. This was my first visit to Ariel and I was thrilled to be on her table finally.

I first caught wind of this healer about two or three years ago. In its kind and gentle way, the universe was YELLING at me to go see her. One night my friend Maureen told me about Ariel and gave me her business card, distinctive with its black background and blue curved grid lines. Then the next night I went to visit my friend Joey and she had Ariel’s card on her living room table. When I asked about it, she explained that she was planning to do a little tag-team experiment with Ariel in which she would channel information while Ariel was giving energy healings. Then within that same week yet another person mentioned Ariel to me! I went from having never heard of this woman to hearing about her three times in one week! That is how the universe yells.

At that time, however, I didn’t have two pennies to rub together, which meant I couldn’t go see her. It would be years before I had the money to see her, so Ariel fell off my radar until a couple months ago when I was in the throes of my “I must hate myself” inner dialogue. A visit to Ariel seemed just the thing to do. Got self-hatred? Go see Ariel!

So…I’m halfway through the wormhole and about to enter a parallel universe when Ariel starts tapping my sternum gently and then continues her circular sweeping motion in the air above my chest. By this point, she’s been there a while. She says, “What I’m doing here is clearing away the energetic dust and debris from atop your soul light…but I’m having a hard time finding your soul light.” This jerks me back into my body because I can hear the concern in her voice. “Your soul light is dangerously low.”

“Oh wait! There it is–I can see it now! Oh but…” Oh no. First she’s concerned because she can’t find it and now there’s an “Oh but…” And then I hear what one doesn’t ever want to hear: [with deep fascination in her voice] “In my 18 years of doing this work, I’ve never seen this.” [Pause that was probably two seconds but felt like 5 minutes.]

“You have a tear in your soul light.”

I have a tear in my soul light. My soul light somehow got torn. “Umm, what might cause that to happen?” I ask. She’s not sure but asks whether I’ve had a near-death experience or tried to kill myself. No and no. And then she says, “And you don’t just have one tear…you have two. One is at 12 o’clock and the other is at 2 o’clock.” I’m not sure at this point if I’m looking at Ariel with my physical eyes or if I’m standing outside my body near my head observing her, but all of the sudden she makes a sharp whooshing sound with her breath at the same time she forcefully whooshes something away with her hand. “I know what that was! That was an entity and it was in your soul light. That was the second tear.” And then she stands far back from me and starts working furiously with her guides and mine to commence the healing of my light.

As part of her intake she’d asked me why I had come to see her. I explained that I was fairly certain that I hated myself but I wasn’t sure why and I couldn’t seem to shake it. Upon the discovery of my twice-torn soul light she asked how long I thought I’d hated myself. My mind flashed back 5 years, 10 year, 15 years…all the way back…looking for a time when I didn’t hate myself. Hmmm. “I think it goes way back. I can’t remember a time when I didn’t.” She said, “Yeah, that seemed quite old, that tear.”

I think I’ve done a good job of not over-analyzing this thing to death. I don’t know why it was torn. I hope the entity is gone. I know that Ariel, with a team of highly qualified guides, took care of mending my light. The interesting part, and what I could tell Ariel hoped I would focus on, was, “What now?”

[to be continued…]