Friday, January 27, 2012

On Being Weak in the Knees

Almost 18 years ago, in 1994, I moved into Spence Hall at Texas A&M University, (D1OTQ for any former Aggies out there).  Across the hall, I met this beautiful southern California transplant, Heather Redderson, who drove a little red car across America (at night, because it didn't have air conditioning and it was August, y'all) to begin her new life in college.  We were fast friends and I remember plenty of late-night conversations, walks around the quad, laughter and stories about 'boys' (and maybe more than a couple of 'walks of shame'.) I only attended A&M for one semester, but over the years Heather and I would find each other off and on, say hello, and then disappear.  Always, always, I loved our interactions and loved the incredible spirit I saw in her.  And then, via Facebook, we found each other again.  And we slowly began to catch up.  And then she moved to Austin and we would talk for hours  over coffee between our crazy schedules...and we found out that we had this common 'itch', to dig deeper into our core, live more meaningfully, and be more authentic in our life's journeys.  And then we both started, about the same time, realizing we would be moving to England within months of each other.  So I asked Heather to write a post for TECP about her expat experience...and write she did.  This post brought tears to my eyes (and I'm not even pmsing.) Thanks Heather. I love it so much. And I love you, and your journey.


Today, weak in the knees,

 

On Being Weak in the Knees

By: Heather Redderson

I remember the exact moment when I got off the plane in Rome.  It was January 1996 and I was just beginning a long-term study abroad program in Italy.  I remember the stunningly surreal realization that I was in another country... another world exploding with possibility and life.  That single experience of stepping off that plane resonated in my bones.  And it changed me.  Forever.

Fast forward 13 years to 2009.  The year I decided to throw all caution to the wind and make some changes.  BIG changes.  I was living the life in New York City - making money hand over fist, experiencing professional success like never before, enjoying a bevy of friends who were always up for drinks and laughs, and savoring my apartment in Greenwich Village that I had lovingly curated into my dream home.  But... it wasn't enough. 

Sure, it was 'enough' from society's perspective and I should have been over the moon with my success, with my surroundings.  But I wasn't sleeping, I was extremely unhealthy, I was emotionally drained and constantly stressed-out and I knew something had to give.  At the most random moments – while sitting in a meeting at work, while ordering another glass of wine, while waiting in line to purchase yet another expensive handbag, a memory would suddenly make me go weak in the knees and I would have to stifle a sob.  It was the memory of how I felt that day I stepped off the plane in Italy.  The memory of how free and how new I felt in that solitary moment in time.

And then something began to happen.  Instead of pushing that memory to the back of my mind, I sat with it.  I felt it.  I tended to it.  That single memory gave me the resolve to quit my job, to end the lease on my apartment, and to begin a journey with no destination

The journey has been, in a word, amazing.  I've had many people ask me if I came into money to fund my travels; if I had a ton of money saved before quitting my job.  They are always shocked when I tell them no.  There was no safety net.  For some reason I just trusted that mine was the right journey and I would figure it out along the way.  And I have.

My experience over the last three years has been frightening, exhilarating, freeing, emotional, and at times, overwhelming.  But there is something priceless about knowing, without a doubt, that I am doing what I am meant to do and am exactly where I am meant to be... even when I don't have all the answers.

So, where am I now? 

After spending the last three years traveling the world and finding a curious contentment with my life I recently moved to the UK and currently live in Devon, England.  I am one month away from getting married to the love of my life whom I would never have met had I not been willing to hack out a new path and a new place for myself in this world.  I am pursuing my passions for hiking, photography, yoga and simple living.  I am in the germination phase of creating a yoga retreat in the UK that encapsulates all I have learned in the last three years into an experience that can be shared with others.

I am exploring.

It is no longer a memory of stepping off a plane that makes me weak in the knees.  What does it for me now is life, my soon-to-be husband, a new and fascinating country to explore, and unique memories just waiting for me to find them.

Hello life.  Hello marriage.  Hello United Kingdom.  Let's do this.


Heather spinning prayer wheels on the Annapurna Circuit in Nepal

8 comments:

  1. Great post Heather. Life is incredible if you let it be. It takes nerve to listen to the feeling and then act on it. I'll bet you go over that 'what if I'd never...' over and over, thankful that you did!
    aidan

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    2. Thanks Aidan! I still get frazzled nerves and do the "What If" game, but all in a good way these days!
      -Heather

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  2. Heather: "For you, now, meditation involves establishing within yourself the reality of these two unavoidable rules, difference and change. Try as hard as possible to convince yourself that these two rules can neither be changed nor avoided". You have proved everyday that being willing to do things differently and to make changes has given you this incredible journey and now, you get to start another one with Ivan. How beautiful this has all been for you. I love you.

    Mom xo

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    1. Thanks Mom. My courage to make my life what it is comes from you and Dad's support and belief in me. Always. I love you. xo

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  3. What an incredible story! I have also had that moment when I dared to dream and know the changes it brought. Your story has encouraged me to start that dreaming again - it has been too long. Oh, and do let us (or Sarah) know when your retreat is open!

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