I lost my sister, marriage, dog, and health in rapid succession. So I went out and bought myself a ring.
Not to celebrate and rejoice in what had been lost, but to give me a symbol of what could be. A ring to carry with me on my journey, to remind myself that while so much had disappeared from my life – including my confidence – I never once lost my courage. I joked to my friends as I showed it off at my goodbye party: “I am wearing it on my Fuck You Finger” (the middle finger of my right hand). “I’m flipping off the past in style. And flipping off anything or anyone who gets in the way of my future.” I was ready for a do-over of epic proportions, even if I didn’t know what that would actually entail.
I packed two small suitcases, a yoga mat, a computer, my bike, and a box of medications and drove to Florida with no plan of where I was going or how long I would be gone.
Along with my luggage I carried the workload from my biggest client. It was the last shred of stability in my life. The work gave me purpose and identity. My role as sister and wife was over, but I still had a professional identity. I felt desperate to hold onto something that defined me, made me feel valuable, gave me a place of belonging, and that would pay for the tanks of gas I planned to burn as I traveled across the US.
As I made my way up the California coastline I fired them.
I fired them and fled to Canada where I danced in the wilderness to a song about a stripper. I hula hooped in the sun. I camped in the rain and cried in my tent. I met a miner who believed in miracles. I gorged on blackberries in the woods. I did enough yoga to keep me limber for a year. I shed enough of the past that I was able to start thinking about my future.
I no longer am willing to let toxicity into my life. In the form of illness, relationships that burden and drain, or in the form of a difficult client that leaves you feeling that your professional contributions are worthless at the end of each day.
The description of one of the yoga classes I took in Whistler:
Flip It And Fly: We’ll take the daunting and fear out of standing on our hands and learn how to delight in using our hands as our feet. Through body dynamics and understanding of what it is emotionally to flip it upside down, we’ll explore turning the world on its head.
Hopping on a ferry back to Seattle I asked a woman sitting next to me, “Will you take my photo so I can remember how incredible this ride has been?”
Posing by the banister, hands tucked inside my jacket pockets, I balled up all of my fingers except my Fuck You Finger, adorned with the beautiful ring that I had bought for myself right before I had started on my journey. I flexed it and smiled.
Flip it. And fly.
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