Colorful leaves decorating the trail. Crunchy acorns under my feet. Squirrels scurrying across my path. This is a great time of the year to walk in the woods. Not just for the sights, sounds and scents, but also for the quiet contemplation. Fall reminds us that life includes changes….regardless of our personal agenda. It is simply the law of the universe, yet we still we resist the very truth that could save us!
There is a children’s book about fall that I so enjoy from when I was a teacher that I would pull from my shelf every fall. The book is “Fall is Not Easy” by Marty Kelley. It’s a picture book and has no text except for the title sentence written on page one under a summertime green tree.
Each page that follows shows the tree as it struggles with the changes and expectations of fall. On one page, his leaves colored as a rainbow, on the next a smiley face. Then the leaves become a cheeseburger and then an ice cream cone and then a neon sign, “Eat at Joe’s!” Silly, but true. At last when the tree has his colorful fall foliage, his leaves blow away and the snow blankets his branches. Even the very youngest among us can recognize that change has its challenges (even for the trees).
My life has included several significant changes that seemed to coincide with the fall season. Probably the greatest change was my transition from teaching in the public schools to teaching yoga full time.
My story about leaving my day job is neither a rebellious nor celebratory story. It wasn’t an effortless leap from a "toxic job" and to a "rainbows and butterflies" life teaching yoga. That’s just not the way I roll. I went down kicking and screaming in terror and avoiding and trying and trying and trying to make it work but knowing it had to be done. And really, I knew. And did I say I cried? I cried a lot.
I knew in my heart that my time in the school system was over. I had been bored and ready for change. I applied and interviewed for a variety of other jobs with other districts and institutions. I knocked on those doors and the answer was "no." I thought to myself, “One more year.”
Simultaneously, my working relationships began to go sour. Administration changed and I no longer felt the respect and appreciation to which I was accustomed. I applied and interviewed for different positions within the district. I blamed others when those doors too remained closed. And one more year became two more years and then three.
Then, I was offered an undesired change. Despite declining the offer, I was assigned to a classroom that was significantly more stressful to me. Body, mind and spirit it was not a good fit. At first, I was angry and worried. Then I took it as a good sign. I got motivated. In the spirit of “Fill your tool box, young lady,” I took advanced yoga teacher training and developed other skills in anticipation of leaving the schools. But still, I could not walk away. Another year… and then another.
Finally, I made arrangements to work part-time. A job share. I taught more yoga classes around that schedule. You see, I wanted change to be comfortable and easy. I wanted a guaranteed that the change would not cost me anything. Like time… can I still have summers off? Like money… you can just keep sending along that paycheck! Like security… let’s frame that ten year no-fail warrantee and hang it on the wall in the living room!
Well, the Universe continued to push me… hard and then harder. It was like being hit with a brick. Or, watching a train wreck. (Insert wicked laugher here.) I made it to Thanksgiving. Submitted a request for a leave of absence. And began recovering by sleeping for six weeks.
Don’t worry, the story ends well. Here I am. Doing what I love. Loving what I do. Celebrating the opportunity to live from my heart. Hugging my family and friends huge for all of the love and support that makes my life possible. The change I feared spit me out in a much better place.
My point today is this: the change didn’t have to be that hard. There are valuable lessons in this story for me. Lessons about faith, the quiet knowing that everything works out for the best. Lessons about honoring the guidance that the Universe sends. Lessons about allow the natural flow of life’s events. Lessons about taking responsibility and responding gracefully to situations and relationships. I didn’t have to make myself a cheeseburger, an ice cream cone or a neon sign. Going with the flow allows my leaves to change into the colors they are intended to be….effortlessly and beautifully.
So, take a walk. Listen and feel and look carefully at the signs of change from Mother Nature. Look around you and look within you. Contemplate, reflect and inquire. Then let it happen! Change is the law of the Universe and you will indeed land exactly where you need to be!
Here’s to a beautiful fall… whatever it brings!