Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Opening My Heart to Grief and Joy

The countdown has begun. In 26 days I leave for India. Before I take off, my room will be packed up, and my years in Milwaukee will consist of a neat stack of boxes. I have given 6 boxes of writing, publications, notebooks, and correspondence to Milwaukee Public Library. Many of my personal belongings are now on “long-term indefinite loan” to friends, including my piano, my books, which will remain in the Eight Limbs Housing Co-op lending library, my hand-hewn kitchen table, artwork, dishes, and the little bit of furniture I own.

My room at 8LHC will be occupied by Iyengar Yoga student and budding teacher, Helena Fahnrich, who moves in January 31. Helena, Sara Arends Haggith, Tracey Radloff, and others, will be providing classes at Riverwest Yogashala come January. The tasks of running Yogashala will be assumed by the Board and the newly empowered committees. Our site manager will be Iyengar Yoga student and enthusiast, Hart Ford, and our newsletter editor, the multi-talented Iyengar Yoga teacher, mom, and writer, Jackie Lalley.

Detroit beckons. I will spend Christmas day there with my daughter Meiko, son Malachi who will be stateside after a semester in India, Grace Lee Boggs, and perhaps a few friends from both Milwaukee and Detroit. When I arrive around 5 February, I will move into an intentional community house owned by the Catholic Capuchins, with 3 of their volunteers, on the same block as the Boggs Center. I will serve as house manager in exchange for a room. I am scheduled to cook dinner for Grace every night.

My official farewell is Sunday, 3 February at Yogashala. I will offer a workshop, “Teachings From Pune,” sharing highlights from my month of study at the Iyengar Institute, from 2-4:30pm, followed by Riverwest Yogashala’s Annual Membership Party from 5-7pm, followed by an open house to drop by and share a hug. Before that, I am trying to schedule a house concert for you all to hear the songs that have been pouring forth this Fall, with my collaborators, especially Jess Vega.

How do I feel about all of this? A few days ago, I was practicing Urdhva Dhanurasana, listening to Meklit Hadero, and in between repetitions of the pose, just letting the tears flow. I am flabbergasted at the depth of change I am choosing. I am frustrated at the work left undone in Milwaukee. I am scared of letting go so profoundly. I am heartbroken about leaving friends who have shaped me, taught me so much, given immeasurably to me, and have graciously welcomed what I can offer.

At the same time, I am thrilled to be leaving for study in India, where I can focus and give myself much-needed self-care to develop my yoga practice, live simply, and transition to my new life. I eagerly anticipate my life in Detroit, studying weekly with Laurie Blakeney, seeing Grace daily, and spending time with Meiko, my soul sister Marcia Lee, and others. I look forward to radically streamlining my life, taking a break from full-time teaching, and taking time to read, write, cook, and create. My goal in Detroit is to Not Be Busy. We shall see how long that lasts, but even a few weeks or months of this will do my spirit much good.

I plan to be back in Milwaukee for Riverwest Yogashala’s Spring Equinox 108 Surya Namaskar, when I will also teach workshops. You will not be totally rid of me. Through the tears, working on my tight upper back and shoulders, I open my heart to the coming weeks and months with both grief and joy.

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