As I slip out the door, into total darkness my heart is beating hard in my chest. Oh no is the door too loud I wonder? I pause a moment and don't hear him stirring. "Onward," I hear! And I go. At the park moments later I smell the dew on the grass and hear birds stirring. Neither of us can see one another but as the robins get right under foot each one startles to move out of the way like the Red Sea parting. Breathing freely and feeling the darkness all around me I walk and run a few laps, mindful of the time to get back. Returning to yellow house, all is still quiet exactly as I left it. I go on with my morning routine...
Slowly, days go by and I add a five minute meditation period to the end of these morning workouts. The whole process is something new in my world. A world where I am actually making choices about how I'm spending my time. I add in some push-ups and abs a few times a week. And then I am going nearly every morning to the park. It's my refuge, my solace, the sliver of the day that is only mine. Followed by a wave of catering, listening, asking, serving, becoming lost in a world of the corporate ocean.
Slower still to come were the moments of silence during the day when in a meeting the conversation would slowly slip away from me and I would feel my awareness float up. In that floating up space were questions like "does anyone else realize what we are doing is pointless?" "Why are people so steadfast with their ideas and being right?" "Why am in I here inside this building where I can't breath?" "Is anyone else suffocating with me too?" "How long will I be here?" "What other options exist?" "How did I get here?" "Why did I choose this?" "Is this really what life has to be/is/is going to be like?"
As those questions became louder and the voices in my every day world were drowned out. My work was certainly still accomplished and I engaged as much as I could, but started to hesitate and feel myself holding back when I was around my co workers. When I would talk about the discontent or the questions eyes rapidly would glaze over and topics were rapidly changed. Occasionally someone would respond with recognition, yes I know what you mean....but.....followed by any plethora of equally unsatisfactory replies--I am just doing this for now, you can stick it out too. Or, yes but for the money it's worth it! Or, imagine what people would say if I left? How could I get another job? Or, well if you're not happy here where will you be?
Until one very dark morning after a few weeks of regular tear shredding out of desperation and feelings of hopelessness, I stood up from my desk and barely made it to the nursing mothers room before bursting into audible sobs. Journal in hand I began really asking why I was so sad and discontent and what it was that I really wanted. I realized life had been a succession of containers or boxes I constructed and inserted myself into. Preschool, second grade, life as a teenager with my mom, a girls school in Kansas, a college degree, a doctoral program, a corporate suit and heels job (only two toes showing at any time, MAX!), even the one I didn't want to see yet--a marriage where I was totally provided for but completely holding myself back. And I saw that every time I would put myself inside these boxes I made myself wrong for slowly bending, stretching and breaking out of them. I seemed to keep asking myself every time, "Why couldn't I just sit still inside these containers?"
Then I realized the real question was "Why do I keep getting inside the containers at all?" What if I could accept that I have the unique human body/spirit/brain combo that I do and that the only container it will ever fit into is that of this exact real-girl shaped hole that exists out there somewhere in the world? That I can only ever really fit in the container of the air, or that of the water, the land or the sky. No longer would I need any more boxes and man-made shapes to try to fit into if I simply accepted myself as I am, then I could go forward into the world simply as myself.
Bringing that realization back to the boxes I was in at the time of course led to a place of no-agreement. A box-free girl in a material world looks like many long discussions with husband at the time about the same things,"If you aren't happy there where will you ever be happy?" And "Life just sucks, so it's not going to be better in a different job, because we will always have to work." And "How did you not know you would hate this job?" And finally at last, "Your mental health is more important than money." Whew!
Then a box free girl looked like a resignation email that came as a shock to management. And truth is, I sent that email before having a real semblance of a job offer.
In between the crying in the nursing room day and the resignation email were a good two months of podcasts about entreprfenireauip, a word that always drew my attention. The life of freedom, of income from your own stream, of working hours that work for you, of owning and loving something. That was a box free world that called to this free range girl. In those months the 15 minute walk in the morning had turned into regular long swims, bikes and runs in the shape of Triathlon training. At times out on the bike and on runs I would find myself in tears, totally broken and defeated by the feeling of loss of power to make a life I loved. But one pedal stroke at a time, one foot del after another I always made my way back home and the tears dried. It was a real exercise in breaking and keeping going. In that tiredness and fatigue and sadness are totally separate things from our ability to perform. To move. To go onward.
Once a few things that looked like jobs came to the surface, the resignation email was finally sent and at last, on a Tuesday in October I was escorted to my desk by my boss at the time and after gathering my things walked out of that biggest box of life to date for the last time. The smile on my face couldn't have been measured, it was so big. Where did I go? To the running trail, with immense gratitude to the nature spirits around me who came out to play with my joy, in gratitude to husband at the time for finally trusting my heart was telling the truth, to my inner real girl spirit who stood strong with me as I finally let myself hear her.
Into the fall we went, me and my inner real girl, as swirling leaves led me downtown to the third story of a historic building to a space filled with self identified misfits to the mainstream life, all coming together to support other "live minds" to launch their apps, products, ideas. In that space of white walls and LED lights I saw myself learn what it meant to speak straight with people at work, without a filter or a second thought around judgement. Hello self expression in the workplace! Unique individuals galore, we all came together around a goal of equality and openness.
Going back out to yellow house at the end of the days was like a moth forcing itself to fly away from the lightbulb. It doesn't want to turn away because that's where it's drawn. Unnatural, quiet, dark, felt too calm, too contained. Uh oh....a box.....this one I had built big enough that I really had to grow until i started brushing up against the edges. Like jack and the beanstalk, I had eaten the beans that started to make me like a giant in the world around me, and the walls started to be much closer than they were before.
The months of meditation and pod casts now called up for me ab ever present feeling that I am more than my body. More than THIS I'll say sometimes and grab by right forearm with my left hand and smack it to emphasize it's just a body. They called up experiences as a child of remembering the feeling before I was inside of THIS. Feelings of being in communication with my great grandmother, my grandfather, other beings who no longer were a part of THIS world and who the majority of the people around me would say were in the spirit world. Of knowing things about people before they said them. Of sensing pain in the bodies and minds around me before it was expressed with words.
And at times when I brought those ideas up in yellow house, they didn't land on hearing ears but on ears that questioned and doubted. For these ideas in yellow house there was not space for them to exist as real. But this real girl in a box free world kept experiencing them all the same. And to her they were real
A desire to be out of all boxes began at this time and then once yellow house and the structures there built with husband at the time began to occur as a box, it was quick that the conversation came about how to separate our two lives.
As soon as it came up, we both knew it was the true move to make. Me, for realizing I had constructed a box I could outgrow, I could feel limited in, where I wasn't fully real. That responsibility was all on me, for giving up things that had been real for all of life till I started building that box. Like catching fireflies, and going barefoot, and meditating, and exploring nature freely. And this real girl knew that this time if she went outside of this particular box, she would re-discover more than just fireflies and going barefoot. She would find a hole in the world that was just the shape of her. Of THIS the body and also of the part of her that is more than THIS. The part she remembers was alive even before she got inside THIS.
And that real boy in the yellow house said "I know" and "It's ok, it's what you need to do" and also things like "I can't believe this is happening." And many more tears and conversations followed, there and then in cariño Zacatecas. About how this happened so quickly and about how life would look like going forward. About love and what it means to make a life together and what it means to decide to separate those lives.
These conversations came to look like a choice to walk knowingly into a world that would have pain and sadness, followed by growth and expansion that this real girl never could have dreamed of until she accepted her desire to be and live outside of the world of box making. And It was with love and tenderness, in the same manner she left the house on that first morning to go running, that she left yellow house into a world of exploration. And that real boy so totally understood and that real girl will be ever greatful.
So now she's going. To follow that part inside that she began to hear that now calls, "Onward! What can you bring to this world? Do you see that real-girl shaped hole right there in front of you? Fill it up girl, keep going."