The Unexpected Gifts of Quarantine – a life update & what I think this time is about

Hi loves,

I’m feeling the call to write. I woke up today late – I’ve been waking up around 8 am to do my morning pages, morning meditation, pulling my spirit cards, and yoga. But today, I woke up at 9:40 am, so I dragged myself out of bed, made some fresh celery juice and lemon water, and turned on my computer to work online for the day, clocking in exactly at 10 am.

I spent the first hour or so of my work day, catching up on emails and posting a photo to Instagram with my creative offerings for the week. I kissed my partner when he came home. I worked on Excel sheets while listening to Lakshmi mantras and burning incense.

I left the house to grab coffee & croissants from my favorite bakery that just opened today for take out only, hopped back online to work, had face time meetings with my boss, looked at spreadsheets, and numbers.

I took another break from work to do a short yoga class on Zoom, and then I clocked out at 6 pm to take a Dance Cardio class via Zoom, then made dinner while I watched another Zoom meeting with my faves, Kristin Hanggi and Natalie Roy and felt the need to heart spill write and wasn’t able to focus well, so I turned off the video and here I am…

This is day 14 of quarantine. 14 days ago, I left New York City, walked through the empty Penn Station except for various homeless people covered in their own shit, and got on an Amtrak back to my sleepy coastal town I called home just six months ago.

It’s funny how life works out in the ways you least expect it.

Six months ago, I left this little town to go on my longest solo trip yet. I took my yoga teacher training in India. I spent a month in Bali meeting my shadow side and learning how to be alone, how to let go of the shoulds, and how to only follow my full body YES feelings. I spent a few weeks in Thailand, island hopping, falling in love with fresh mangoes, eating as much pad thai as I could, and learned how to tap into the frequency of pleasure and abundance.

And then…I moved to New York City with dreams of ditching the 9-5 and getting on the “artist grind” of working late nights in a restaurant and auditioning in the mornings.

After one open call, I quickly realized that I did not want to spend my time waiting in line (i.e. living the non equity actor auditioning life) and all the jobs that I wanted to do that were low commitment like waitressing or being a receptionist did not nearly pay enough to live the life I wanted in NYC.

I had so many doubts about the artist lifestyle and realized it was only for people that either already came from money so they could solely focus on their career (aka wait all day at auditions and not earn an income) or the ones who hustle HARD waking up at 5 am to sign up for auditions, going to their day job all day, and sending self tapes at night.

I decided that while I love the theater and love performing, this was not going to be my path.

I value my artistry and my wellbeing too much to wake up at 5 am every day to go stand outside in the freezing cold for 3 hours.

I value my artistry and wellbeing too much to fight through the lines of hundreds of other girls who look just like me to have my shot of being in an audition room for 30 seconds to show who I am.

I value my artistry and wellbeing too much to then on the very small chance that I actually book something to be paid anywhere from $300-$1,000 a week for a few months only to then be out of a job and on the grind once again.

I felt caught between two paths – follow the path of my dreams of being a theater artist (and prove to myself that I am talented enough to be a theater artist) or continue to keep building my creativity business, focusing on the things that made me feel GOOD instead of following the path of what I thought “how to make it in the theater industry” looked like.

I decided to forge my own path. I decided that there wasn’t one way to go about things. I decided to find the backdoors, do what I needed to feel good in the moment, and keep putting one foot in front of the other in the direction of those full body YESes.

I ended up getting a full-time, salaried job with benefits in Finance at a highly respected off-broadway theater. I got a job teaching meditation part-time which I loved so deeply, but didn’t pay much. I started teaching yoga once a week. I hung out with friends and started reaching out to other people for coffee dates, trying to connect with as many people as I could, and build my network.

I filled my days to the brim, so much so, that I had to schedule my days to the very minute. I very much got right into the hustle of NYC and felt alive and inspired. I had fears of “burning out” or doing too much, since I know I have a tendency to push myself too hard and then crash and burn, but I convinced myself that what I was doing felt right. It felt good. I told myself, that when it became too much, I would slow down.

But, of course, I didn’t.

I followed this very intense schedule taking full advantage of NYC and what it had to offer, never stopping to catch my breath. I kept going.

I started to feel like NYC was a moving train and once you hop on, you can’t hop off unless you leave.

I hosted my very first Creativity Circle, and then got on a 3 hour train to Connecticut at 8 pm to visit my boyfriend for less than 24 hours because it was the only time I had.

I worked 7 days a week and although I knew this schedule couldn’t last for long, I was trying to “do it all”.

Have the stable, full-time job that provided me an income. Do the meditation job because it was something I would much rather be doing and filled my soul. Teaching yoga because it also fueled my soul. Focusing on my business because again, it’s what I’d rather be doing. Going to all the spiritual high-vibe events that I could. Going out to the theater at least twice a week. Keeping up a long distance relationship for the first time, navigating what it looks like now that I live in NYC while my partner still lives in CT. Hanging out with friends. Setting up coffee dates. Going. Going. Going.

It was a lot. It was overwhelming, although I tried to convince myself that it was not.

I started to feel like I was slipping from the path of alignment when I noticed old “escapist” habits starting to creep up. I craved alcohol. I craved porn. I craved meat. I craved trash TV. I craved being high. I craved something that would “numb” myself so the rare hours that I did spend at home, alone, I could unwind from the energy of the city.

While none of these things are “necessarily bad”, I know that they’re out of alignment for me, especially when using them to numb myself.

During my solo trip, I truly changed from the inside out. I stopped drinking, eating meat, smoking, watching porn. I rewired unhealthy thought patterns. I healed in ways I didn’t even know that I needed.

And as soon as I started to feel myself come out of alignment, worried I was un-doing all the healing and learning from my solo trip, worried that I was going to go down the wrong path…the world stopped.

As COVID-19 crept into the USA, slowly and then suddenly all at once, my very full schedule for the next 3 months was suddenly wiped clean. I literally went from having something every single day until the end of April to a blank slate. Nothing.

And now, I find myself, back in CT, quarantining with my partner, working from home, and using all my free time to put into my passions.

I’ve been teaching yoga on Instagram live and to my co-workers at the theater I work at, hosting virtual creativity circles, recording guided meditations, and am teaching a class called “Developing Your Creative Toolkit for Self-Care” in a Facebook group of over 4,000 people.

I’m suddenly living the life I’ve dreamed of – being able to work remotely, have time to nourish my body with fresh juice and homecooked meals, spend quality time with my partner, continue on the path of my dharma by sharing my experience as a multi-passionate creative and guiding others to their inner voices and their creativity through deep listening and nourishing rest.

This can be a time of uncertainty and fear for all, not only because of the virus and fear of the wellbeing of themselves and loved ones, but also the fear and anxiety caused by being at home, holed up in your own space, without knowing when this will all be over and when we can return to a sense of normalcy, or how the world will change after all of this.

Not knowing if you’ll lose your job. If you’ve lost your job, not knowing when you can earn an income again. Not knowing how you’ll survive or pay for food or rent if you can’t work. Not knowing when we can gather again and do the things that we love to do – like going to the theater or concerts, sporting games, the movies, graduations, churches, etc.

Does the world look different after all of this? Are we moving to a world where we stay in our houses and live completely fully virtually?

Right now people are working virtually, going to school virtually, taking exercise classes virtually. Everything we thought we couldn’t do online, we realized we can.

Will there be a bigger need for people to gather after all of this is over? To be in a shared space, living and breathing the same air, feeling the energies of others, and having a shared experience?

I’m thinking about the earth and how without all the travel and human activity, she is breathing deeper again. Her skies are clearer. Her oceans are cleaner. She thrives when we all stay inside.

Right now, there are so many questions. We humans do everything we can to not face uncertainty. We avoid the unknown like the plague.

And suddenly, we find our global community facing the unknown, all together.

We’ve been given this gift. The gift of learning how to face the unknown and get comfortable with it, which forces us to live in the present moment. The gift of staying at home and looking inside. The gift of having everything else cancelled so we finally have the time to pursue our passions. To figure out what is really important to us and what matters and what we want to spend our time doing. The gift of learning how to navigate the ups and downs of our emotions.

Suddenly, it feels like all the bullshit and fluff is cut away. I find myself wondering why I ever cared so much about what others thought of me, or why I waited so long to do the things I want to do because I didn’t feel like I was “ready” or why I doubted that I don’t have something beautiful and worthy to offer the world.

While we continue to navigate these uncertain, unprecedented times, continue to give yourself grace.

Continue to listen to the inner voice, quieting the external noise.

Continue to do what feels right for YOU and not what someone else on Instagram is doing.

Continue to follow the full body YESes.

Continue to take care of yourself.

Continue to hold space for all the emotions – the fear, anxiety, gratitude, and joy.

Continue to find gratitude and joy in the little things – sunshine on your face, a homecooked meal, a hug from your partner, the ability to move your body.

Continue to draw inward and hear what your soul is saying.

You are a soul having a human experience. And that is beautiful.

With all my love,

Leya

 

 

 

 

 

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