It's been almost four months since leaving my long-time job in Cambridge MA. On top of that it's been a month since receiving my last paycheck from them. And you know what? I'm still here! I'm still thriving! My house, car, possessions are all still here. I continue to buy groceries, pay the bills and shop for whatever I need or want. I no longer drive over 60 miles a day and instead of filling my gas tank every 5-6 days, I'm filling it every 14 days. My commute to and from my current per-diem job is less than 15 minutes, door to door. I have ample opportunity to be at home taking care of my family and to continue to grow and create a purpose-filled and passion-filled career to take me through the second half of my life.
So I have to ask myself .... why the hell was I so fearful about making the decision to leave the comfort of my job in Cambridge? Because it was unknown! The idea was so far outside my comfort zone, yet I thought about it daily. Every. Day. I was fearful because I spent more than half of my life within the walls of that institution. I grew up there. It was familiar. It brought me comfort. In fact, I would sometimes say that the only way I was going to leave the place was to be fired, yet I could never see that happening.
It holds us back from living the very best life possible. Fear of failure, ridicule, judgement, poverty, loss, the unknown, ending or beginning a relationship, not being good enough and a host of others. Think for a moment about the things you want to do in your life. What's holding you back? It's most likely some form of fear. My biggest fear was how could I survive financially. Let's face it, money, and the need for it, holds many of us back. Right? Since beginning this new chapter I don't spend money like I used to. I'm a bit on the frugal side now and I'm good with that because the freedom that has evolved is far greater than the money I was earning. Ahhhhh ... freedom. I've talked with countless people in my life who are so unhappy in their current job (and other aspects of their life) but find it nearly impossible to make the jump because of that paycheck. But, what if they could experience the freedom and the happiness? How would that weigh up on the scales? Freedom vs. Fear. Life is far too short to remain captive and unhappy. There's a big old world out there waiting to offer you joy and freedom in every way you desire. In every way you create and manifest it!
Take a moment and ask yourself what you really want. Be honest with yourself. (be the observer) Then ask yourself (without judgement or criticism) what fear is holding you back? Once you acknowledge and recognize the fear, imagine what your life would look like, feel like, be like if you made the jump. What kind of life do you see? One with increased freedom, joy and creativity? Oh yeah. See it, feel it, hear it, smell it!
You got this.
You can do this.
Believe in yourself.
Trust the process because you deserve the very best that life has to offer.
When I walked through the doors of the Cambridge Hospital back on October 2, 1990 I never thought for a moment that I would spend almost 26 years of my life within those walls. I was 23 years old, freshly married of two years and didn't have any children at the time. I was hired into a 3-11 shift and after a couple of years I transitioned to days, working 7-3, the shift I kept for over two decades.
The commute into the city was easy breezy given the fact I lived 15 minutes away. But after my first son was born, we bought a home up in southern New Hampshire which increased my commute to over a half hour, on a good day. I did what I had to do, not thinking much of it at the time. Up until a few years ago I dealt with it just fine. That's when the stress of it all started to set in as every afternoon's commute got longer and longer and I found myself increasingly frustrated. When the decision was made to leave my job at the hospital, my afternoon commute was up to an hour and fifteen minutes. I'd sit in my car, stopped in a parking lot of traffic on route 93 north asking myself how I had done this for so long.
This past February my family and I took a wonderful cruise vacation to the Caribbean. The night before I was to return to work, my husband asked me what my biggest challenge was going to be the next morning. My answer was going back to a job I was no longer passionate about and dealing with an awful commute again. I got to work the next morning and logged into the network. Upon opening my email I saw one from the CEO. The Cambridge Health Alliance was scheduling a reduction in force and offering packages for folks who qualified and wanted to leave. Immediately the gears in my head started turning and I thought, could this be my golden opportunity?
Yes, it was. And I grabbed that opportunity with both hands and set the intention to make it happen.
I grew up at the Cambridge Hospital. This is where I matured and discovered so much about life. At one point I was the same age as the new incoming interns. Around the time I left I would look at the newbies and think my God, they look like they're fresh out of high school! I knew I had been there far too long.
I went through a period of being embarrassed to tell anyone that I had worked at the same place for so long. It was the fear of judgement and I would criticize myself for not making more of my life or for not getting some kind of degree like other people did. Until one fated conversation with a long time co-worker who helped me see my tenure from a different perspective. I made a list. A list of everything the Cambridge Hospital has offered me over the years. This is what I came up with, what I'm grateful for.
Working in Cambridge all these years was what I was supposed to be doing. It was part of my life path and I accept it. As I reflect I see the present moment as part of a transition that began a few years ago, around the time I enrolled in iPEC for my coaching certification. It was back then I started to feel the pull to do something more with my life, a pull to be of service to others using my natural gifts and talents that I was just starting to discover and acknowledge.
This part of the transition is exciting and it's terrifying and it's only been a week since I left! This process of officially "retiring" from the city of Cambridge took four months and was filled with countless conversations with my husband (my biggest supporter), a multitude of decision making (besides the decision to leave), questions, doubt, fear, more questions, but it's all worked out for my highest good and my greatest joy. I offer gratitude not only to my husband for being here with me every step of the way, but to the Cambridge Hospital as well, for all that it has offered me over the years.
I miss the folks I worked with and all the conversations, laughter and tears we shared together. They are forever etched in my memory with fondness and appreciation. However, I don't and never will miss the commute. I send loving, patient energy out to all who continue to travel up and down the stretch of Interstate 93 that runs from the New Hampshire border down to the city of Boston. May some of you receive the opportunity to do something different in life that will free you from that commute!
Now I set out, onward, upward and forward into this new adventure called the rest of my life!
I remember it well. I was sitting on a bike before spin class, hands clasped, stretching my arms out behind me when the instructor, who was new to me, walked by and lifted my arms up higher than I ever had. As she did she made a comment … “You should come check out a yoga class.” Well, little to my knowledge, not only was she a spin instructor, she was the gym’s resident yoga teacher. So after a brief discussion, I set the intention to attend my first-ever yoga class on Sunday morning …Vinyasa Power Flow.
In retrospect, that probably wasn’t the best decision for a first date. That class was hard! And man was I sweating. In fact, I think I was the only one in the class who was sweating! I came back, week after week because yoga is supposed to be good for you, right? Hell, I got a good workout, that’s for sure. But it wasn’t what I thought yoga was supposed to be. The music was loud and there was talking. I remember thinking … aren’t we supposed to be quiet during a yoga class? Aren’t we supposed to be focusing on our breath and stuff? I was focused on my breath alright! I was huffing and puffing! I’m not saying there wasn’t any breath awareness, I’m just saying I knew little of yoga at the time but there I was in a fast moving flow class and seriously, how many sun salutations can one be expected to do!?
Months later, having yoga conversations with a friend of mine from work, I found myself invited to attend a Bikram Yoga classes. So I did! That’s when a whole new world opened up for me. I loved the heat, the flow of the postures, the instructors and I loved the dialogue. Oh, and did I say I loved the heat? There I found an increased focus on my breath and the ability to control it when my heart was pounding out of my chest. It was exhausting and energizing at the same time! I practiced Bikram for about 8 months and really liked it when once again I found myself on a spin bike at the gym.
In walks the instructor … one I had been taking classes with for over a year. She came right up to me and asked … “Would you be interested in getting certified in yoga?”
Wait! Me? Seriously, me? I can’t do that! I’m too fat! I’m not in good shape! Who would take me seriously? No. No way.
Immediately the I’m Not Good Enough monster jumped in and made the decision for me.
Postures Shauna! It’s all about the postures and you can’t get into many of them with full expression of the pose like other skinnier, healthier instructors can do! You can barely hold a low plank! And let’s remember how you’re challenged with stepping a foot forward between your hands from down dog! You’ll fail, so why even try.
Yoga meant strength, balance and postures. It meant getting into tree pose with my foot up on the opposite thigh, and holding it there. It meant a thin body that looked damn good in leggings! It meant impressing others when I could finally hold crow for longer than a split second. Yoga meant keeping up with others. It meant being as good as them. Most of all, it meant postures and I wasn’t good enough in them.
These were the thoughts that raced through my head in a matter of seconds. Then my rational side kicked in and I thought … why not me? The more I thought about it, the more I liked the idea. I could do this. I think. What if I could bring a slower yoga pace, breath awareness, my coaching skills and meditation together to create a more holistic wellness class? The women who attend gym classes come to work their physical bodies, but how many of them take the time to quiet themselves, to concentrate on their breath or go inside to listen to their intuition or to reconnect to their spirit, their higher self? I was betting on not many when I submitted an application for a yoga teacher training program.
One of the most challenging things I learned during my training was to slow it down, learn modifications and to teach a gentle / beginners approach to yoga. There are so many different types of yoga for people to choose from and I knew I didn’t want to teach a high-intensity power flow, nor did I want to have to take out a small loan to pay for Bikram Yoga training. I can kind of relate it to the story of Goldilocks. My training wasn’t too physical, nor was it too expensive. It was just right. It was just what I needed to give me the knowledge, skills and understanding to teach gentle, beginners and intermediate yoga classes. Classes which include breath awareness, meditation, asanas deep relaxation, mantras and affirmations. Classes that would welcome any body shape or size, any level of strength, balance or flexibility.
You see, the media paints a picture of what yoga is. Take a look at the cover of any yoga magazine, or the posts of most yoga social media pages, or even Youtube videos for that matter. You’ll most likely see a lean, fit and strong yogi or yogini holding some amazing pose that defies gravity! I think it’s wonderful and I’m always impressed by the strength and agility. But what about the women who aren’t so fit? The ones who would love to try a yoga class but are too intimidated by what is being shown to them? If you do a search, you’ll find women like Dana Falsetti and Dianne Bondy. Two plus-size women who are breaking the mold of what yoga looks like. I began to think that perhaps that’s what I could do. Maybe if I could get out of my own way and release the belief that I’m not good enough, then perhaps I could step deeper into my own truth and the truth about yoga, giving me the power (red cape super-hero power) to join the ranks of Dana and Dianne in breaking the yoga mold!
Back seven years ago when I committed to a path of personal development and self-improvement through the practice of healing my life, I never imagined for a moment where this path would lead. I certainly didn’t think it would lead to yoga. During my teacher training I had many “Ah-ha” moments as I discovered more about myself. Which was pretty frigin’ cool! As messy and scary and uncomfortable as it can be, I do love peeling back the layers of onion that are Shauna. Because what I received from the work was an increase in acceptance of myself, what I look like, what I can do and what I can offer. And you know what? I am good enough.
I am good enough.
And I am making a difference.
And I greatly appreciate a spin bike!
So here I am, giving myself a new makeover. Transferring my domain, creating a new website. This is all so exciting!!
It's interesting looking at my current site and how I presented myself and my message. Though that part of me is still inside of me, things have shifted and I'm ready ... I think .. well maybe somewhat ready to brand and market myself in a new way. I guess I could say I'm at the start of yet another life journey to recognize who I am exactly and to show that to the world!
Now ... if I can just figure out how to give readers the option to subscribe to this blog.