By Mary Boutieller
Being “thrown out of the nest”—whether by choice or necessity—can be scary and can also be exciting.
As I sit here and write, it is beautiful outside. Trees are budding, several songbirds are singing their little hearts out, and the wind is gently blowing. Winter is finally coming to an end and, in its place, spring is bringing new life and new hope.
I’ve been thinking lately about endings and beginnings, losses and gains. Most of us experience lots of subtle shifts of endings and beginnings throughout our lives. We stop working out (or doing yoga) and then start again; one season ends and another begins, it’s night, then day…you get the picture. I think these little nuances in perspective prepare us for the bigger shifts and let-goes in our lives.
I’ve had many endings and beginnings in my life with jobs, friends, activities. Most recently, I resigned from a teaching position at a local gym that I had held for almost 15 years. It felt like a loss and still does in some ways. Over those 15 years, I had grown so much as a teacher. I had met so many wonderful, engaging, special people who willingly came to my classes. I was attached to these students—these friends, who had shared the journey with me. Yet I had a conflict with “management.” Their decisions were at odds with things that were important to me; their business model moving further and further away from what I held dear, even as I taught there. And so, with a heavy heart I finally turned in my resignation. It was the end of an era for me; an end to something I had known and been a part of; a letting go of an identity. And it was hard. Yet it was harder to stay and feel resentment; to stay and be quiet. So, I quit. At first it felt sad and a little bit scary. I wondered how to say goodbye, how to let go, how to practice non-attachment and be the witness to this experience.
Author Jill McCorkle said, “For me, a happy ending is not everything works out just right and there is a big bow, it’s more coming to a place where a person has a clear vision of his or her own life in a way that enables them to kind of throw down their crutches and walk.”
So, over the next few days, I decided to reframe this decision of mine. Instead of losing something, I was gaining space and time and peace of mind. Instead of living with unnecessary frustration, I was opening myself up to other opportunities. I was listening to my inner voice instead of holding on to outward expectations. And as I changed the lens through which I viewed my decision, I started to feel a little lighter, a little less anxious, a little more excited about what might lie ahead.
Through this experience, I thought about other endings and beginnings, and wondered what a change in perspective might do for all of us. As we learn from the smaller stuff, we can apply those lessons to the bigger challenges that come our way.
One that comes to mind is…getting older! Did any of you groan when you read that? The dreaded and unfortunate idea that we are all getting older—with some aches and pains and wrinkles…AND…with new growth, more wisdom, a better appreciation for these precious lives, and for the relationships and the peculiarities of life. Think of the dramas of your teenage years compared to today, and try to convince me that you would rather be there than here!!
Another one is our health—wishing we felt like we did when we were in our 20s when we are solidly in our 60s, or losing a job, a friend, an identity, or a truth that you always stood by firmly.
Buddhist nun Pema Chodron said, “The truth you believe and cling to makes you unavailable to hear anything new.” So I had to practice what I so often preach and listen to my heart and to the still soft voice of wisdom. I had to be willing to step off the edge of certainty and let go of what no longer belonged to me.
Alexander Graham Bell said that “When one door closes another door opens, but we so often look so long and so regretfully upon the closed door, that we do not see the ones which open for us.”
Whether we make mistakes or find ourselves at the end of an “era” in our lives, maybe we can find ourselves looking forward instead of back. Maybe we can release the energy and hold of those things that no longer serve our highest and best good and move, instead, in the direction of that which feeds our truth and our souls.
Pema Chondron also said this: “Fear is a natural reaction to moving closer to the truth.”
And this: “To be fully alive, fully human and completely awake is to be continually thrown out of the nest. To live fully is to be always in no-man’s land, to experience each moment as completely new and fresh. To live is to be willing to die over and over again.”
Being “thrown out of the nest”—whether by choice or necessity—can be scary and can also be exciting. Standing still when the strongest impulse in your body is to move becomes painful. Some lessons are easy, some a little harder, but all provide us with an opportunity for growth if we are willing to look, to listen, and to shift our perspective toward the door that is opening.
May you continue to find your own unique and beautiful path, with grace and ease.
Mary Boutieller is a Registered Yoga Teacher through Yoga Alliance. She has been teaching yoga since 2005. Her work experience includes 22 years as a fire fighter/paramedic and 10 years as a Licensed Massage Therapist. Mary’s knowledge and experience give her a well-rounded understanding of anatomy, alignment, health and movement in the body. She is passionate about the benefits of yoga and the ability to heal at all levels through awareness, compassion, and a willingness to explore. She can be reached at: SimplyogaOm@gmail.com.