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Wherever you Roam…There You Will Be.

Thoughts Put into Words by Ashley Turevon

“Who am I, Where am I going, What do I really love, What is my way?” -Jon Kabat-Zinn

Just to summarize some Frequently Asked Questions for the average anxiety ridden flesh suit wandering aimlessly in this life with no printed out plan. If only the suit even maybe came with a secret pocket that houses the secret printed out plan, but where would that leave room for the magic of stumbling and figuring it out in your unique by design curated autonomous life? 

I am sure I am not alone when it comes to having issues with being rooted and sitting still. Whether it’s the developed trauma that makes us feel like we need to run from the current moment as to not let the past catch up to us or society’s constant encouragement that busyness equates to success, something about sitting still and being just seems too real. Because it is real. There’s a deep truth and openness that is required to really meet with yourself. And if you don’t have the tools necessary to be prepared for these self encounters, you’ll find yourself on a harrowing path of reactivity.

With an understanding of who I am, my first instinct with any uncomfortable situation is just to run, and this running takes on many forms. This running can look like a spontaneous moment of over independence to hop into the car and drive to the next state over or 5. A sudden move to a new city or country. Closing my emotions off and pushing someone away when it feels like they begin to get too close to seeing me. The inability to stop moving and calling it self care because it’s applauded to engage in over exercising as a way to keep up with overshadowing beauty standards. Sometimes it is an actual literal run, and I call this my biyearly-life-has-built-me-to-this-point run. It feels like a lot of the time it was labeled and masked as adventurous by others, but underneath was the intention of disconnection and self abandonment. If you’re smiling and projecting happiness, you can hide a lot. 

When we aren’t mindful of how to find a home in the self and the present moment, we will begin to seek wholeness in others, which only leads to a certain type of disappointment that I’ve expertly dealt with in clouds of numbness. It’s not even always a conscious attempt to keep running from the self, sometimes it’s a form of protection in the only way we know how. For example, when I left SC to move to North Georgia, it’s because I no longer felt safe there. I had an abusive relationship gone wrong and I needed somewhere I could breathe without wondering if my ex was watching or following me. That seemed like the best solution at the time, and it was. I had completed my yoga training in North Georgia so I finally felt like I was moving towards something, but the move didn’t fix everything. I hadn’t done the work on the inside, so naturally I brought with me all the habits and decisions that allowed me to be drawn to those that weren’t encouraging me to shine. I perpetuated allowing others to dim me because I internalized that storyline with how I saw myself. So as the story goes, I was immediately stumbling, only making it a week on the high of new beginnings, and then a couple months later I was back to being in the same type of relationship with the same sense of outward clinging that comes from this inability to be alone, and find comfort in the self.

The universe will really play out the lessons for us if we aren’t learning, and yet again I was in another tumultuous 3 year relationship cycle that intensified as a downward spiral. Its message will only get louder and louder until we are ready to listen. I struggled so much on this idea of being with myself that by living this type of pattern for about 8 years, I was exhausted by the time I reached age 25. I was ridden with panic attacks, severely depressed, and was rarely sober. Part of me just wanted everything to end because that seemed easier than showing up for myself to make a change. I clung onto the running again and I traveled to my first international country and lived in Colombia for a month. It was amazing and life never felt more full. I danced, laughed, hiked, and fell in love for a snapshot in time. When I came back to the states however, I was refaced with reality and dropped even lower by going on a couple week bender and slowly started not showing up for work, was drinking myself broke, and even got into trouble with the law, again.

I’ll never forget the moment I finally decided to cling to something outward that could serve me, to seek help with a sprinkle of hope for a happier life. To paraphrase a quote I find inspiration in, hope isn’t waiting around on the couch for the winning lottery ticket, it’s the ax that breaks down the door and takes action for a better future. And it’s never easy to admit when we aren’t okay. There’s this stigma of feeling like you failed. Why can’t it be easy for me? What’s wrong with me? In the midst of my darkness, I had this bright idea that maybe trying the opposite of what I have been doing would finally have results, so I checked myself into a center, and did the work because I knew my way was meant for something more. I forced myself to sit because I was sick and tired of running in circles. 

During this process, I found comfort in embodying life’s dual balance, contradictory to the message of everything being black and white I had received while growing up. I could be both. I could find myself and thrive in the grayness. In that place, I could be. Once I finished the program I made another move, this time to Atlanta, to start over yet again. I now had the tools necessary to reinvent and I have so much gratitude for those that believed in my shine and were there for my rebuilding process when all I had were a couple boxes, an air mattress, and everything to gain. I would now start to root. I would now start to really grow from my stagnant spell of self inflicted suffering and running.
So when the pandemic came and there was quarantine, I’m thankful it wasn’t as much of a mental struggle as it could’ve been. While it was difficult, I found humor in like “wait I gotta do this deep self diving already again?!” Poetically I was left staring at the 4 walls of my room and the 4 walls of my own mind again. And I was in a much better headspace to do it this time. During that summer, I came to really embody the mantra of wherever you go, there you will be. I was comforted at last in enjoying who I had become and who I was becoming. The secret to a healthy understanding of self is that the work never stops. I forgave myself and released shame on what I felt like was entirely too messy of baggage for anyone, including myself, to really accept. I turned it into my super strength of compassion and patience because I practiced those same tools daily to un-dig myself out of my self sabotaging hole. 
Only we for ourselves can determine if it’s a running from or a running to experience. This year I finally got to experience the sensation of running towards a destination. With my sense of style though, it’s more of a prancing frolic in the direction of my dreams. Propelled by heartbreak (perhaps another post on unpacking my history with losing my center and sense of worth to men and letting it define different chapters in my life….oof), I reread my journal and realized I had become distracted from my plans. So I did the most rational thing I could think of and bought a one way ticket to a Caribbean island. And it was the best decision I have ever made. I couldn’t even imagine for myself then that it would lead me here, in Nicaragua, sitting in a hammock, staring at the palm trees, and sharing my love of writing. This whole year I have kept coming back to the parts of myself I had forgotten to nurture. And for that, I am sorry. I deserve better than that. 

I now make it a point to sit with myself everyday and most days I look forward to it. Some days are hard. But the most important aspect is showing up and having the self awareness to be here. I am by no means suddenly perfect and that doesn’t mean I never have my bouts of insecurity, anxiety, or sadness. Because of the inner work, the bouts hit less intensely and less frequently and there’s an understanding and okayness with those feelings. I honor what is inside of me. I let all parts of myself be heard, because even in my most confident moments, there is still a tender little girl inside that never left those messy moments, and she’s scared, and rightly so. So I pause, we hug it out, and we come back to here, together. 

So to answer who am I? I think that is a question we can approach everyday. There is a generous type of fluidity in everyday being able to wake up and say, now, it is like this. I don’t want to do myself the dis-service of being stuck in some sort of narration of how I believe I should be, or how others remember me, because then that leaves me trapped against the process of my constant mission of self expansion. Where am I going? For this answer I believe it has to tie in with the third question of what do I love, because in every decision if I include my core values of what I love, I will go exactly where I need to. And maybe before I get to answering what is my way, I can ask myself what is in my way? 
Our life only unfolds in moments, so to every moment, I encourage you to allow yourself to become the observer and also actively engage so as to not let life pass you by. Time is precious and so is where you put your energy. In each moment, may you bring your joy, your compassion, your empathy, your wisdom, your uniqueness, your active listening, your passion, your ambition, your guilt, your shame, your frustration, your sadness, your anger, your everything. When you expand to bring your whole self, the universe expands with you and meets you there. May you allow the gifts that come with meeting yourself, here.