As Ron, my Brazilian Uber driver, pulled into the Miami airport departures, dropping me at my Spirit Airlines flight, Elton John came on the radio with a song I hadn’t heard in a while, “Spirit in the Sky.” I turned the volume up and he and I both laughed together, it was happenstance we both understood. Days earlier, at Shabbat dinner on the Summit at Sea boat, I found myself sitting next to Devon, one of my Venice friend’s friends who lives in Shanghai. I told Devon about the one person I know in Shanghai, Asi. Devon took a picture and sent it to Asi. Of course they are somehow friends. A man I met for ten minutes last Christmas asks me out the week before I leave on an open-ended trip and when we meet again it feels kismet. It’s these serendipitous moments that to me are a nudge and a smile from the universe as if to say, “Yes! This is right!” And I laugh again and hum along with Elton...
Five years ago I woke up with an intense headache and nausea, I wasn’t sure I’d make it through the cab ride to the JFK airport. In the cab with Dylan I put my head between my knees as he rubbed my back and I cursed our driver for his overuse of the breaks. As soon as the cab arrived to JFK, I ran inside to the tiny airport bathroom, leaving Dylan, my soon-to-be-ex-boyfriend-in-five-minutes, to bring my bags into the baggage area. It wasn’t only that I’d been out drinking and celebrating in little India the night before, understandably so, my nerves were acting up.
In my hand I held my one-way ticket to Los Angeles where I’d restart my life. My NY apartment had already been packed and was making its way across the country, now it was my turn to fly. I’d never lived this far from my roots and until earlier that year, I never thought I’d leave New York City. In that moment, looking into Dylan’s eyes, I questioned my own strength. I felt naive. Did I not think this would be painful?
I remember saying goodbye to him, making out one last time before I went through the security line. A glutton for pain, I turned down the terminal hallway and I looked back one last time. I saw Dylan there, standing statuesque amongst the airport hustle, tears in his eyes, we looked at each other again. He held up one hand in a gesture of goodbye.
I cried for the next two hours. An airport security guard tried to hush me and I wished I could have privacy. Why are people so uncomfortable with tears? I’m not asking for anyone to stop my tears from flowing, I’m letting emotion move through me because that feels better than suppressing them. There is this need to curtail bad emotions, to paint a picture that everything is fine. I’m pretty sure that’s how disease festers in our bodies.
The 180 wasn’t easy, but I was resilient. A few days after my move, I started my new job as an Executive Producer, something I could do well relatively effortlessly. That ease of my new job supported me as I learned other things necessary for living in LA, like how to navigate highways and pump gas while managing the month 1 necessities like finding a home, buying a mattress and oh yeah, my first car.
Within a few months, the skeptical NY’er in me was sure that I’d made the best decision of my life to date. I loved California.
In the last five years, I fell in love two times, almost got engaged once, traveled to Mexico, Canada, India, Israel, Bali, Laos, Thailand and South Korea. I bought a townhouse in Santa Monica, I excelled as an Executive Producer, I quit my job as an Executive Producer, I stopped defining myself by a linear career, I jumped out of an airplane laughing all the way and according to Facebook I made 1,183 new friends.
When I think about who I was five years ago compared to who I am today, I can’t help but smile because I know I’ve made that version of me proud. It’s almost like I can go back and comfort her and let her know that she would continue to make decisions that serve her because here I am, and of course there is fear in where I’m at today, but I’ve never been happier.
This past year I’ve been on a path of letting go, and for me, that starts with the physical “what can I let go of?” because it’s not until I tangibly let go of something that I realize what’s on the other side of it and how it has held me back. My measure for when to let go is if I feel any resentment or a severe stress, the kind that gives me anxiety and restlessness, not the good kind that makes me get up early in the morning.
I let go of my job, the backbone of my 180 from New York to LA. Without securing that awesome job, it wouldn’t have happened. In fact, without that job, I wouldn’t have been able to afford the townhouse or the freedom I now have to redesign. Most recently, I let go of my townhouse, leasing it for 6 months to a young family. I wanted the ability to be mobile, to live spontaneously, but with that home, it wasn’t working so well. I’ve traveled a ton in the past six months since leaving my job, but the stress of the townhouse being empty and having to pay the mortgage anyway was weighing on me.
So here I am, 10 days into life as a nomad and exactly 5 years since getting on that plane to Los Angeles. This week I have the luxury of spending time with my parents in New Jersey. In a previous design of my life, the liberty to be with them whenever I wanted wasn’t available to me. Today I can, so I am.
This rides the coattails of one of the most inspiring getaways I’ve had to date: Summit at Sea, sailing out of Miami into international waters with 3,000 artists, entrepreneurs and change makers including the likes of Quentin Tarantino, will.i.am, Jermaine Dupri, Carl Bernstein, The Source Family, Erin Brokovitch, Kendrick Lamar, Foster the People, Herbie Hancock, Gallant, Shiva Rea, Tony Hawke, Allen Stone, Gary Vaynerchuk and so many more.
I had intense workouts like The Jacy Method which included group crab walks on the ship’s basketball court alongside squats for days and I talked and practiced yoga with the likes of Shiva Rea and Jason Nemer, the founder of Acro Yoga. I danced on a platform in the pool to Foster the People and center stage for Gallant. I listened to Ester Perels speak on relationships, was inspired with Quentin Tarantino discussing his love of the craft and I wrote a poem about my life in 20 minutes during Adam IN-Q’s storytelling workshop. I downed Elixart’s kava beverages and raw hot chocolate at night instead of tequila and I stayed up each morning until 4am connecting with incredible individuals from Tel Aviv to London, Shanghai to San Francisco.
I am in love again. Today it is with me and it is with the life I am designing. I ride my bike down the street blowing kisses in the air: I am free, connected, joyous and grateful. I listened to Abraham Hicks this morning and she beautifully describes the feeling I’m living, "If you’re following the impulse then you are following the path of least resistance. And the path of least resistance will take you to what you want and it will be a joyous path every step of the way. If you can put aside the need to know everything now, you’ll be much happier. You will receive on a moment to moment basis, more rich experiences. Sometimes you miss the writing on the walls even though its right there. You miss the clues because you’re so busy trying to see the big picture, that you miss the details of the little picture, the now picture.” Letting go of needing to know has been my 180. Creating a life of abundance in the now without the components that held me in anxiety has opened the floodgates of goodness in my right now. And I’ll keep listening for and noticing the affirmations all around me: that everything is working out, right now, in front of my eyes.