In October of 2015, two days after my five-year anniversary, I was laid off. The job had been toxic for some time and change was desperately needed but it was still a shock and I felt betrayed. Part of this was in the manner in which it happened –> I was completely devalued and that, quite frankly, was some bullshit. Regardless of all the arguments I could make about my contributions of blood, sweat, and tears, it’s just not acceptable for a service-focused non-profit to discard someone like the scummy scrapings from the bottom of a shoe.
I spent the next few months figuring out what the fuck this meant for me and my life. In some ways, I’m still figuring that out. I don’t know that I’ll ever have it completely sorted but that’s not really the end goal 🙂 It has felt a lot like taking those first cautious steps outside of that warm cozy cave to see if spring really has sprung. Sometimes I get frost bitten toes and decide to stay curled up in front of the fire a bit longer. But sometimes I find those first few green shoots, those resilient and persistent flowers insisting that the ground nourish them and that the sun find and feed them.
I tried to open myself to the universe and proactively seek out new experiences – including things I had always wanted to try.
The first of these new things was Kajukenbo and it was amazing. I had always wanted to learn a martial art and I especially like the philosophy behind this particular form and there’s a phenomenal place in Oakland where I found a community that felt like home. A few months in, I got injured and by the time I was recovered enough to go back my schedule had changed and I was not able to attend the classes. My fall schedule should allow me to go back twice a week and I’m soooooooo excited to get back into that practice and focus and community.
From there I was exposed to Tui Na which led me to Traditional Chinese Medicine as a way to use my public health background and my policy analysis / development skills to shift things about the paradigm for the provision of health care in this country that I’ve been soapboxing about for ages. So now I’m happily pursuing my Doctorate in Acupuncture and Chinese Medicine with a focus on Integrative Health Care. I didn’t think I’d ever go back to school but it’s been an incredible experience so far and I’m looking forward to discovering where this path leads.
In TCM school, I learned more about not only Tui Na but Shiatsu and doing massage has given me a way to connect with people and their bodies in a way that resonates so strongly with how I want to approach my practice in general. The shiatsu teacher at my school is an amazing woman and an inspiration. Shiatsu, and healing massage in general, will always be a major part of my life and I’m so grateful for that.
My lay-off also ensured that many of my subsequent explorations would happen through reading. Books are something that have always made my soul happy and that was something I needed during my recovery process. About a year before the lay-off I unleashed a long-dormant love of romance novels and I’ve been an avid reader and outspoken advocate ever since. Many thanks to author Sarah Maclean for the book that started it all – A Rogue by Any Other Name (an excellent gateway drug, erm book … I meant book ;)) – and for her own tireless activism.
From there it was a short hop, skip, and jump to reading erotica and acknowledging my inclinations toward kinky stuff. I fell in love with another book – For Real by Alexis Hall – and suddenly became aware of the SCENE and the fact that BDSM is more than all heavy S&M all the time. I jumped into the community in the Bay Area and I haven’t looked back.
I don’t know where this thing called life will take me in the future but my feet are set firmly on a few paths that are allowing me to realise my potential and allowing me to be my best self. There are definitely still days when I hide in my cave cuz it’s too people-y out there. There are still depressive episodes and anxiety attacks. That’s part of who I am and how I’m wired and I’m learning to accept that. The wonderful thing is that there are also better, more effective avenues to self-care. There are deeply supportive relationships I can access. There are beautiful people who love me and support me – even if they barely know me. I have found my tribe(s) and THAT is worth coming out of hibernation for.