Today I arrived in Seattle, after driving 3,000+ miles over 8 days from New York City.
I've lived in NYC for 11 years - enough to earn my bonafides - and loved almost every minute. What a glorious city! NYC embodies this wondrous combination of creative and business energy that, when coupled with an astonishing diversity of people, makes absolutely anything possible.
I came to NYC 11 years ago as an opera singer, and left it as the founder and principle coach at Rowan Coaching, a business that is about to celebrate its two-year anniversary. (Squee!) In between, I taught myself graphic design, met (or developed) my two best friendships, landed a job in design/communications, fell in love, got recruited to a marketing position for a nationwide women's retail chain, got married in NYC, joined Pinnacle - a luxury boutique branding agency in Chelsea - as a partner, got married in Venezuela, discovered I had clinical depression, took a sabbatical to Europe with my (now ex-) husband and our (then one) dog, Ludwig, got another French Bulldog (Violet), started Rowan Coaching, got divorced, worked my a** off to make my business flourish, and then sold everything I own to take it on the road.
Now we're up to date. Still following?
So why did I leave New York City, if it's so fabulous?
It's simple: my growth curve was starting to wander towards flat. I mostly mastered most of the things I cared to. I am very good at simplifying processes to make lives easier - it's a skill I lend my clients on a daily basis. But my life had become too easy. I ordered my groceries for delivery. I sent my laundry out. I had a dog walker. Maintaining my business didn't take much more than participating in my life, which I do regardless. I WAS BORED.
On top of that, I was overwhelmed. I lived with four people and five animals - as well as all our stuff and lives and boyfriends and smells (the last two aren't related, I promise). The city, magnificent b*tch that she is, is also the most complicated, expensive, bothersome diva you'll ever have the pleasure of knowing. I was tired. I missed nature.
Plus, I could feel in my bones that it was time to kick my own a** in a few areas.
Area No.1: Adulting
You read that right. My best friend Emily always makes fun of me for being "awesome at things no one else can figure out, but terrible at basic human being alive stuff." In other words, I have no idea how to operate a dishwasher. Or get stains out of things. In NYC, I got very used to relying on my cleaning lady and my laundry service and all the rest. In truth, I'm not a very domestic person. But as my boyfriend says, "If people liked to do them, they wouldn't be called chores." It's time to level up. I want to be as proud of my home as I am of my business. I want to be regularly contributing to my 401K. I want to remember to change my car's oil on time.
Area No. 2: Physical Discomfort
In the same way that I'm skilled at making lives easier, I'm excellent at curating environments that perfectly suit people. In personal practice, this means that I've managed to cultivate environments that are comfortable and pleasing to me: the correct size, the correct temperature, the correct number of people, the correct ambience. Which is well and good, except I know how to live that life. And if I'm not challenged - not learning something new - I wither. I self-destruct.
It's time to get out of my comfort zone. To sweat. To embrace spontaneity and flexibility when it comes to the environments I say yes to. To not be limited by a need for comfort, but instead by guided by my instincts towards wonder, awe, and adventure!
Area No. 3: Remote Work
One thing I've noticed over the past year is that I do significantly better work when I travel. My theory is that the experience of traveling wakes me up. It connects me to the here and now in a way that routine never could or will. In that present space, I have more to offer as a friend, lover, and coach. I have more access to inspiration. I get to meet and learn from more people.
My challenge now is to figure out how a traveling business works. It's not quite the same thing as vacation, nor is it the same as working from home. How do I say yes to delicious adventures while still staying accountable to my clients and my work obligations? How do I onboard my two new business partners (more to come on that soon!) with clarity and consistency? How do I still make mental and literal time to explore, network, and grow my business - even through all this energetically consuming change? These are questions I'm delighted to delve into - and ones that I know will make me more able to support my non-conforming, creative, entrepreneurial clientele.
Area No. 4: Minimalism
The older I get, the fewer things I want to own. I want to be nimble, adaptable, and ready to pivot quickly when opportunity or instinct takes me in a new direction. The first step in this process was selling or throwing away (slash-giving to charity) about 90% of what I've collected over the past 15 years. I sold all my furniture, donated most of my clothes, and put my art in storage. The rest fits in the trunk of my car. I grew up in a cozily cluttered home, so this is taking some conscious un-learning - but I'm determined to grock and practice minimalism.
New rule: don't spend money on anything but experiences, friends, food, and booze.
So that's why I moved! It was a capital-P PROCESS, but it's done, and I'm here! Seattle, and soon Southern Oregon, where I'll be staying with my two french bulldogs in my parents' cabin on a lake. If you've never experienced summer in the Pacific Northwest, then get to gettin'. It's freaking gorgeous out here!
So how did my cross-country trip go, and what did I learn?
Well first of all, it was fan-f*cking-tastic. Stupidly, I wasn't really expecting the full impact this trip had on me. I was so focused on where I was going, I didn't think much about the journey itself.
Here are a few things I learned or experienced along the way:
- Follow your YES! I found some of the most interesting neighborhoods, people, and environments simply by seeing something that piqued my interest, and following my adventure instincts. My pups followed their yes too and met some equally curious horses along the way!
- Solitude is good for the soul. This is something I've known for a long time, but lost track of amongst the million-mile-an-hour pace of New York City. I can't tell you how restored and calm I feel after a week with my own my mind. You brain and your emotions have a lot of juicy data to share with you - but you'll only benefit from all that good, meaty info if you're available to receive it!
- You can get along with anyone by practicing nonjudgemental curiosity. I met some seriously intriguing people on this journey - many of whom lived in the smallest, barely-on-the-map towns I wandered through. A decade ago, I think I may have met these folks with the superior condescension only an arrogant 20-odd-year-old kid still insecure about her own small-town origins can manage. This time, I shelved all that bullshit and just got to know people. I met truckers, and writers, and climbers, and bartenders. I met women whose life-long dream was to travel to NYC. I met a woman whose sister is about to transition from female to male. I asked her how she felt about it. She said, "Well, I guess it makes me a little uncomfortable, because I've always known her as my sister. But I think that's my own ignorance I'm going to have to work through and not project onto her." I played pool with an oil salesman who voted for Trump and disclaimed his most (to my ear) egregious statements with, "You're a liberal, so I bet you're not gonna like what I say next." I believe pretty firmly that you can't change minds without first learning where they come from, so that's what I focused on. I had a great f*cking time. People are fascinating!
- Podcasts are perfect for long-distance drives. My faves from this road trip include:
- Invisibilia: Emotions - a fantastic episode that throws most of what we've learned about how emotions are made on its head. What if emotions didn't happen to you, but were instead a result of the concepts you've developed about how life works and looks? What if you had more control than you think about how you feel?
- The Unbeatable Mind: Mo Gawdat tells us about his scientific and engineering approach to happiness - Mo Gawdat is the Chief Business Officer of Google X, and the author of Solve for Happy, a book you better believe I already downloaded to my Kindle. Mo challenges the idea of "I think, therefore I am," by positing that most of what our brain produces (in terms of thoughts) is simply a biological process. After all, we don't say, "My colon produces crap, therefore I am." What if we didn't take our thoughts so seriously, and at the same time took a more intentional route towards directing our thinking along useful paths? Using video game analogies and more, Mo diverts and charms you into a totally new perspective.
- The Psychology Podcast: The Art and Science of Relating and Communicating, featuring Alan Alda - Beyond the fact that Alan Alda is a total delight to listen to, this conversation unearths some helpful insights and tips around relationships and communications. Did you know that simply touching someone's forearm for 1-2 seconds can greatly increase your chance of making that sale? Me neither!
- The Psychology Podcast: Increase Your Emotional Agility - Susan David is one of there world's leading experts on emotional agility, an important psychological skill that helps us build resilience and live a life aligned with our personal values. This is another book I downloaded immediately! Who wants to read it with me?
- I needed some green. And no - I don't mean weed. Although I do find myself in the land of legal plenty these days. No, what I needed was nature. I didn't realize how deeply my soul and sentience craved wide-open expanses of green. Each mile away from New York and into that peaceful green opened up another window inside me. I could feel the breeze flow at the cellular level, and like a blanket in the sun I could feel those rays soak in. The pain and pressure of my past few months soaked into bubbles of sunshine every time I walked my dogs, without leashes, across an unfettered law. They effervesced up and popped, far away from any relevant present. I know I'm getting a little poetic over here, but seriously - go get you some GREEN. There is nothing like nature to soothe your spirit and help you start from scratch.
- Happy is a choice that lives just beyond the limits of your comfort. Like love, happiness is an activity. If you aren't happy, maybe it's time to take a look at what you have been choosing. Are you choosing security, comfort, and ease? Are you also feeling stuck? Woman up and choose COURAGE. Change is a muscle like any other, and the more you exercise it, the easier it will seem. Isn't it time to access YOUR inspiration?
This journey started on my 34th birthday (August 1st), and I honestly hope it never ends. I don't know what that means yet, and that not-knowing space is pretty precious to me right now. That beginner's mindset is at the heart of all meaningful discovery, and I find myself poised on the precipice of growth. I'm ready to spread my wings and jump.