My Year as a Nomad (2/4)

Webster’s definition of a nomad is a person having no permanent abode, who travels from place to place to find fresh pasture for their livestock. A person who does not stay long in the same place. A wanderer.

Hmm.. that certainly sounds like me, for a lot longer than I realized. Fresh pasture for livestock gives me a chuckle. And yet, when I think about it, even that makes sense. Livestock feed off the land and then move on. It’s a symbiotic relationship. The herd gets nourished and the land has a chance to regrow. Neither takes too much. At least in theory. I am not actually a shepherd.

The wanderer evokes a different question. What am I looking for? Greener pasture? Hmmm… Well, hell. That has been true. I have felt this sense of searching for a lifetime. Looking for the next better thing? Sometimes, yes. That is why finding contentment has been an important work for me. Finding stillness, living and appreciating each moment fully.

The truth for me can also be said that I have been looking for “home”. Where do I fit in? Where do I want to land? I was grateful actually to have the opportunity to nomad around Los Angeles County. I had been house shopping but there was not anywhere in the LA area that was calling to me. Nowhere that I wanted to call home. There were nice places to live, but to settle, by a house, raise children, nothing felt right. I could have made a home, “made it work” anywhere. But to thrive and be rooted and whole, I knew something was missing.

It is quite expensive to live alone in LA, but not impossible. And I wanted to stay. I love California, I loved the weather since I first visited more than a decade before. So how can I make this happen? A full time job would be necessary, but I was having trouble finding work. At the same time, I truly wanted to devote myself fully to the teacher training. School required a lot of time and energy. Not that it couldn’t be done; I admired those who were working or raising children at the same time. But I knew how much I wanted to put into the practice, the study. So I would take it a step at a time, see what manifested.

I was between two worlds, two decisions, both before and after training. Find full time work, pay rent, be “responsible”; or, travel, take the freedom of “homeless” and use it to my advantage. Getting a j.o.b. felt like selling my soul, following the fear. Travel, go, do it, is what called to me from deep under the surface. It wasn’t even like I pulled some random thing out of a hat. It was inspired, planted, a seed that I could choose to water. But I didn’t know what to do with it, and it wasn’t quite time yet. Finish school. Do what you unknowingly came to LA to do. So I went about my life in the present, living however I could in the meantime. I would spend each new moon calling in a stable home and work to support me. I kept imagining what I wanted my home to look and feel like. I didn’t worry over it, I just envisioned it. See, my desire to have a home and be settled and happy was just as strong as my desire to go and explore. Which would come first? Both had value and were a necessity. But my focus was not on the big goal, it was on the immediate need.

My nomad travels began late summer 2014. I was grateful I had an opportunity to live in the Hollywood Hills for a time while I figured out what to do. I would make that voyage three times in three months.The first trip was all about gratitude. Thank you for seclusion, solitude and quiet. No one else. Just me. I had a lot of studying to do and a project to focus on. I welcomed the respite.

I needed yoga clothing for school/work, and regular clothing to feel normal. I needed school books and reading material and all of my props. Duh, I needed my juicer and some groceries. Needless to say I had a car full. Fortunately I found a pretty close parking space, as close as possible. However, there were still quite a few stairs, and then a long walkway, and then some more stairs. Did I mention I had a big and a little suitcase? Yep. I made lots of trips. By myself. But I did it, without cursing. Gratitude. By the third move, a different emotion was beginning to set in.

The energy had shifted. I did not know what I was going to do next. All I did know was that I had to make a move. I had to give the Universe a chance to work. I boxed up all of my belongings from “home” and moved them into storage, and then moved my carload back to Hollywood. This shit is heavy. Oh yeah, I also had two big bags of toiletries. What? Damn. Who needs all of this shit? Talk about holding on to unnecessary baggage. I had my own pillows of course, and a bolster. Yes I needed my gear. How many trips up those stairs? Too many. I was becoming angry. Why was this happening? What was I doing with my life? Why do I need all of this stuff? I had so much weight on my shoulders.

Parking had begun to be an issue. How come my first trip here I found pretty good parking most of the time, and now, I would spend a good 20-30 minutes driving around looking for Anything?? What was happening? Did I mention I’m in the Hollywood Hills? Like, lots of them, steep, mother-effing hills. Toting tons of bags of books, laptop, lunch, etc. Uphill. Awesome. Gratitude was waning. Questions and sorrow were trying to overcome. How do I stay positive? I kept imagining what I wanted my life to look like. Where do I want to live, work? What was I going to do? Get a job, work to live, pay rent, support myself.

Nearing the end of this last stay, I still was unsure where I was headed. I wondered if I would have to sleep in my car. I was willing, though in my heart of hearts, I knew it wouldn’t come to that. As the Universe would have it, I received a call a week before Thanksgiving. It was my peer and friend and roommate from the Mexico retreat, Shilo. She asked me if I needed a place to stay, she had an extra room. Wow. How did she know? Had I posted anything? I was being pretty quiet about it all. But yes, I did. Thank you. She gave me until the end of the year, and then extended it twice. She was, and is, a gift. So off I go, carting the same carload.

Here is where the real work would begin. This girl had fire. She knew how to hustle. She kept giving me examples and encouragements about the kind of job I could get. She was a go getter, and I admired that. But something inside kept saying, travel. I had no home, no family here other than friends. I was barely working. I kept hearing, feeling, that I was not settling in because I was not supposed to. Make a move. But how, where? Questions. Fear kept saying, get a job! My heart kept saying, why would I do that when what is calling me is a journey? My vision was different. Why would I dishonor that by giving in to my fear and staying “safe”? Honor the heart whispers and they will bless you. Travel and teach. How do I do that? It seemed impossible.

At Christmas time my roomie and I went to Palm Springs. Girls weekend. I remember very clearly walking through an antique type store there. Shilo asked me, “What do you really want to do?” Travel and teach. There, I said it out loud. Not necessarily for the first time, but for sure with rooted, grounded confidence that sent a shiver of confirmation from deep within my belly up to my heart. How can I deny that? I can’t.

In February of 2015, I graduated the 300-hr teacher training. We had a gathering, a celebration. We mingled and ate and discussed what was in store now for our futures. This was a great freaking group of individuals whom I am so happy to know. I happened to be standing by a fellow wanderluster (unbeknownst to me) who asked me if my plans were national or international. I said, “International.” Again, a deep sense of confirmation that I was speaking my truth welled up inside of me. I knew I had spoken it into existence. He encouraged me highly, just go, just do it. I said, “Ok.”

I kept that desire alive because I knew its truth. But what was staring me in the face was reality. How do I keep listening to that voice inside when my “dream” was not coming true yet? I had bills to pay, a mouth to feed. I needed gas for my car so that I could teach, find work. My faith was shaken. How am I still here? What is my next move. I heard Steve Harvey say once, “First things first.” Yes. That resonated. Only enough light for the first step. Keep taking the steps and eventually the path will be clear. I could see no light at the end of the tunnel, but I knew it was there. What I needed was patience. That has never been my virtue.

Towards the end of my time at Shilo’s, again this parking thing came up. What is happening? Weird. And I started receiving parking tickets. What?? Don’t get comfortable. Keep moving. That’s what it felt like to me. Either way, I wanted to figure it out. What are you telling me, God??

Within the next few months I would begin a romantic relationship. I knew from the start that it would be short lived, but I felt I was drawn there for a reason. The pull was so strong I knew it was fate. The mirror so clear that I recognized it right away. I was looking right in the face of the darkest parts of me that I did not like. I was seeing the person I used to be and the person I was in danger of becoming again. I saw my judgments, my addictions, my own sense of self hate. I wanted no part of that. I was grateful for that recognition. One thing he said, however, stuck with me. “You have to take responsibility for yourself.” Wow. What? I have always been responsible for me, my whole life! Was he right? Was I just being a total brat? Having my own way, being a burden to others? But then, I understood. I had been waiting on God to move. Of course I had. I was doing what I could and leaving the rest to the Universe. That’s what we are supposed to do right? We are not creating all alone. But you know, I was putting my effort into looking for work, hounding studios, still figuring out how the hell I could pay rent. I had left that greatest hope to work itself out. I put my greatest desire on the back burner because I couldn’t see the how. I watered the reality that said I needed a home here, the reality that said support yourself first, take care of these bills. I took his words to heart and started choosing for me.

Though I escaped violence with this person, a volcano erupted. It was time to go, and fast. I called up my girl Cynth to come and rescue me. Its good to have someone ready to battle by your side at any moment. I felt like I was fleeing a hostile country. In a sense, I was. This was May 2015.

It was here that I realized I was at the lowest point in my life. My girl offered me half of her bed for a couple of nights. What was I doing with my life? How did I get here? What was next? Baby steps. Put one foot in front of the other. Wake up. Go to work. Be mindful. Listen. Every penny was going to bills. I was living off credit cards. I was in a bubble, surrounded, encapsulated by something I could not explain. My physical practice had all but stopped. I had nothing left in me it seemed, and no good place for my mat. But the Universe was listening. I had been trying to cultivate a meditation practice. Now, that was all I could do. Sit, find quiet, be with God. I had been knocked down. And I was exactly where I was supposed to be. I asked my dear friend one day how long I had been there. More than a week. What?? No way. It felt like 4 days max. I was in such a place of time without walls. I don’t know how else to say it. It was in that moment that I literally felt the air around me, the energy of the Universe, holding me. I know it sounds strange, but it was as if I was laying down in a spoon, God surrounding me carrying me from one day to the next. Each day blended together so much that there was no separation in them. And I was supported, ushered, and finally, placed gently on my feet.

The next six months and three stops along this journey were so important. It was here that I began to pour myself into doing the work that would catapult my travels…

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