road warrior turned full time yogi
From high school until last month, I have been on the go. With the exception of a year and a half during which I nannied and remained fairly geographically stagnant, I moved around a lot for work and for fun. I worked the Christian conference circuit for years as a sales rep for my father’s former software company, MediaShout. For my first event at a conference in Atlanta, I worked the line “I’m only 12 years old and I can do it! You will be great at this!” The company sent me on my first solo sales gig before I was old enough to drive a car, much less take out a rental. In college, I remember a friend- who might have been more had I been around often enough to let the chemistry happen- tell me he couldn’t keep up with my crazy schedule. In the fall of 2010 I started traveling with Rachel’s Challenge as a seasonal speaker and by 2013 I was on the road full time, year round. I remember exactly where I was when I got the call offering me a full time speaking position. Dream come true. I loved it. LOVED it. I looked forward to hitting the road, as hotels and airports began to feel like living rooms. Road Warrior, worn as a badge of honor, can only be claimed by the few who know what it feels like to arrive at an airport and have no idea where you are. I wear it proudly. This life of travel, speaking, and logging miles was my 5 year plan. Well, you know what they say about plans.
Early in 2013, I sat in the parking lot of a Chipotle somewhere in Ohio in the middle of a blizzard when I received a call from my dad. “How serious are you about this yoga thing?” I laughed and said, “Pretty serious.” I completed my teacher training in 2012, and mom and I daydreamed about how neat it would be if someday we had a place where yoga, community, health, hot tea, and our family could all exist together. It was a fairly undefined dream, but one that came up pretty often. When I completed my teacher training, I had to immediately put in a pin in that part of my life because I was on the road so much. It would be there waiting when I was ready for it. “Well,” dad said, “Make some phone calls. It’s time.” Later that week, we had a location. 2 months later, we were open for business.
Sometimes, really incredible things land in your lap at the most bizarre time. I was finally in a position that paid me to travel and get on stage to tell stories that changed people. The work Rachel’s Challenge does is changing school culture and saving the lives of teenagers all over the country, and I was part of it. On top of doing work that mattered and fulfilled me, I was financially secure. I knew what it felt like to be unsure of how the money for bills would come through, and I wanted to coast. I wanted to enjoy the stability for a while. We brought an incredibly competent team of teachers into Unity Yoga Room, and together mom and I worked with them to get our baby on her feet. I would stay on the road to manage scheduling, staffing, and operations from a distance, mom would take care of the behind the scenes moving parts and all of the details that I couldn’t see, and our team would teach and hold space for this thing we wanted to create. It worked. We created something completely new to our community, and the deeper we moved I realized how much this place meant not only to my family but to the people who were carving a place there for themselves. We had something special. Then, something crazy happened. It got harder and harder for me to leave.
Over the past few years nothing- not buying a home, not looking at engagement rings with the man I thought I’d marry, nothing- tempered my ache to hit the road. She always called me back out… until Unity. For the first time, I didn’t want to leave. For weeks, I couldn’t stand the thought of leaving Rachel’s Challenge. It wasn’t about the security anymore, some of my closest friends are at Rachel’s Challenge. The people who know me best in the world, the friends I have made as an adult, these people are my family now, my fellow road warriors. I couldn’t stomach the idea of leaving and, in fact, wept openly at the thought of it. But, something else was growing and it was getting harder and harder to be away from home. I had a conversation one night in November and asked one of my RC brothers to promise me, through ugly cry tears and irrational fears, that we would still all have each other if our work arrangements ever changed. “I know it’s stupid, but I need to hear you say it,” I cried. With tender compassion and a little tough love, he assured me I was being ridiculous and of course we would. (Thank you, thank you, thank you.) The next day, I got a call saying that Rachel’s Challenge needed to eliminate several full time positions, and mine was one of them. Remember what they say about plans?
That call, had it come just a day earlier, might have sent me into a tailspin of panic. Timing. Not only was I just assured that the relationships I’ve made exist outside of any construct of work, but I knew exactly where I was supposed to be. The decision was made for me. I will still get to do a few events every now and then for Rachel’s Challenge, but most of my time moving forward will be spent creating something special at Unity Yoga Room. In the end, it’s all about the people, anyways.
So, for now, I am spending some much needed time at home. I’m putting a pin in my road warrior badge, because I know it will be waiting for me when it’s time to put it on, again. Now, I know exactly where I am. I get spontaneous coffee with friends. When I get a call that a friend is in the neighborhood and wants to swing by to say hey, I’m around for it. I go to dinner after yoga with hilarious, kind, authentic people. I go to birthday and Christmas parties. Because I’m not on the road, I can do something I haven’t been able to do in a long time- invest in the people around me. Learn from them. Laugh with them. Practice yoga and life with them. I’m not constantly headed the airport anymore, and it’s okay. It’s good, even. The people I met, learned from, and loved at Rachel’s Challenge are still part of my life. What I get to do now is create a space for similar relationships to grow at Unity. It’s sacred work, this business of loving humans. It looks very different for me now, but it is very much the same. When you strip away the architecture, what’s left is the people. The people. And I have some of the very best people.