How New York City Opened My Heart

Oh New York City!

I was born and raised in New York. My family moved out West when I was 13, and I moved back to NY when I was 27. The moment I landed in Manhattan I felt like I belonged there. I am a New Yorker tried and true. In fact, people used to say these three phrased to me often: "you look like a New Yorker", "you act like a New Yorker", "we stopped you to ask you for directions [out of the thousands of other people around us] because you look like you know where you are going". Oh New York City! How I love thee bustling streets, thee direct people, thee mazes, muses and patterns if one is paying enough attention.

New York is like no other place on earth that I have ever been. The city never sleeps, it is unforgiving, and it is full with people, culture, style, rhythm, beat and life. I had to step up my game with every step I took in NYC. 

NYC opened my heart with its loyal people, tough streets, direct attitude and its raw nature, its attention to the arts, and its rich culture and diversity. I also received my formal training in yoga while I was there which opened my heart in a very real way to the body-centered work I now practice as a therapist. All of these things I bring with me into the course I am offering, Be The Change! If you haven't yet registered do so today. I am leaving the early bird pricing up for one more day for you. Click here, scroll down, click on buy now, and invest in yourself and your life. Please note, early bird pricing is $160 because I am now offering the course as a 5-week course. It is rich with information. Anyone who wants to understand social change concepts and how to be of service and work with communities other than our own in an empowered way should take it.

Below is the E mail I wrote to my friends and family when I left NY for CO in 2006:

New Yorkers,

Just a quick (or actually not so quick) update: it was with true bitter sweet emotions that I bade you and your amazing city a farewell!  After an almost five year romance with the Big Apple, I made the move back to CO safely and soundly.

As most of you know, I spent my years in NY working as a crisis counselor in Harlem which ultimately began my true study of yoga.  It's funny how one thing leads its way to the next.  Had you told me in 1992 that this is what I'd be doing, I certainly would have rolled my eyes, sped off in my car music blaring to some keg party where I probably talked about my next trip to Club Med.  Had you told me in 1996, I definitely would have rolled my eyes, sped off in my car with the music blaring to some bar where I probably talked about how fucked up I thought a lot of stuff was. When I decided to receive my formal training in education and psychology in 1998 and 2000 respectively it was because I thought I was going to help save the world. Very quickly I realized that what the bright eyed idealist in me was up against politically, structurally and emotionally was BIG.  

I worked in the inner city in California, and when I moved to NY I wanted to see for myself what was really going on in our back yards. This is how I ended up in Harlem, and let me tell you it isn't pretty. It was hard as hell every day, and I have not a single moment of regret. I managed to connect with many profound lives very different yet totally the same as me, and most importantly I realized that there is no such thing as being able to save the world. It is noble and courageous to do your part, and even more noble and courageous to know and understand our own limitations. Lifetimes of stories exist with in the seams of Harlem, NY. That knowledge I will take with me forever.

For the most part I have always found myself at least a few steps ahead of myself throughout my entire life. Whether it's what degree I want to get, challenge I want to take on, or eye opening travel adventure I am going to take part in.  When I decided to resign from my job last September, I decided not to get ahead of myself. Instead, I started listening. My cousin Rob had just recently left NYC and joined the rest of my cousins in Colorado. Around November my brother Mike moved back to the Rockies as well, and then this Spring my Mom left Kentucky and also decided to move back to Colorado. As well, I couldn't seem to spend enough time in Central Park.  The connection with my family over time has for many reasons been something I missed greatly, the ability to slow down something I've grown to cherish, and the access to the outdoors something I require.  Not to mention, the only true stories are held in the hands of a mountain, or the mouth of a river. 

I want to give a big shout out to NYC because I learned a hell of a lot while there. I learned not to define myself by what I do, how much I have, who my friends and family are, who I'm dating, how much I'm able to give or take depending on a given day, and what size jeans I can fit into. I learned that success should be defined for you and by you, that possession is not real, that it is really hard to walk with my eyes and heart open at the same time but necessary all the same. I learned how to be in the moment while keeping the ability to stay true to myself, and that standing up for what I believe in is not only okay but highly important. I learned that time is NOT money because money comes and goes, and we can NEVER EVER get back time. I learned that power exists in how it is perceived by the individual and the system, that ego always gets in the way of truth, that very few things should be taken personally, that there are more answers in the silence and massive strength in the surrender of letting go. I learned that we can grow from every experience we have, that nothing is permanent, and that ultimate truth exists with in yourself and with in those you choose to share it with. I learned that anger, sadness, elation, agitation, euphoria, disappointment, frustration, mania, and depression to name a few are all ok as long as we allow them to exist with in compassion.

I've also been reminded that the people we connect with in our lives are, with out question, our biggest teachers. Thank you and I love you all.

Each time I have read this E mail over the past years, it strikes me how much I speak about "the truth". As I stated in the first part of this series, How Africa Opened My Heart, if there is one thing I know to be the truth, we are all in this together. 

Be The Change! friends, its so worth it.