Negotiating Newness

Memoirs of a Downward Dog

I have a secret. I might have told you that I moved to Portland over a year and a half ago to be closer to my family. I might have mentioned something about getting back into nature, blackberries, mountains and fresh, rainforest air.

But the truth is, I moved to Portland to open a yoga studio.

For nearly a year, I spent days searching for a space. Hours working with a real estate broker pretending to know something about commercial real estate, when in actuality his lingo was like a Frenchman trying to speak English. Or an Englishman trying to speak Greek. Intangible, foreign and unfamiliar. The first phone call I made about a particular property and the broker for the space laughed at me kindly, and in a nice, condescending way said, “Honey, this sounds like it might be your first rodeo.”

Over time, I learned to speak the language. I figured out the difference between a triple-net lease and a single-net lease. I started asking about tenant improvement dollars and built-to-suit properties. Like most of my lovers, there were many spaces that I loved and then lost.

And then, as if just by accident, I (we) found the one.

Consequently, this threw me into a new vortex of things I did not understand. Lease negotiations, rental agreements, landlords, investors, lawyers, architects, sub-leases, contractors, sub-contractors, trades, sub-trades, and suddenly I was swimming in an unabridged encyclopedia of “Foreign” that got issued out on re-release at my local library.

My head is still dog paddling, but my arms are stroking forward like an Olympic freestyler.

There is a space. There is a lease: signed, sealed and delivered for the next ten years of my life. And there are days when I wish I could crawl into a cave and forget my name.

Humbling does not even begin to describe the trajectory of this process. But amidst the uncertainty and the unknown there is an exhilaration that comes from learning something new. From being tossed off the dock with no life-raft or water-wings and being asked to swim across a shark-infested channel. I’m learning about R-Values, and U-Values and heat recovery ventilators and click-technology cork; sprinkler codes, fire codes, spray-foam insulation, 240 versus 208, furring walls and reading architectural blabber.

On top of it all, I realize that I have not had much opportunity in my life to develop stress-coping skills.  I think this is a good thing, for my heart and blood pressure and things like that, but for my boyfriend and sister/business partner, perhaps they might have appreciated a couple trips ‘round the block before now.   A previous “breaking-in” if you will.

Last week I had to openly admit to both that I’ve been a total asshole and that tomorrow is Monday and I promise to be a better person.

To cap off the drain of my energies and responsibilities, I travel to Seattle, every weekend, driving 3 hours each way to teach 8 classes in 2.5 days. And it is here that I realize what it is all for:

Squeezing the hand of someone who has not yet learned how to calm their breath. The bliss that causes you to forget your mat and your shoes and walk out into the rain barefoot and oblivious. Watching the heartbeat ripple the sweat in that concave space just below the sternum. Stillness. Space. To grow, sink, swim, discover and learn.  I got this.

Modo Yoga Portland, here I come.


3 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Sarah Beth Hunt
    Apr 17, 2015 @ 04:50:11

    I am so excited for you fellow yogi! Sounds like it’s been a long and challenging journey but it’s finally happening. I have several cousins in Portland who love yoga (one is in teacher training) so I will send them your way for classes. Best of luck.


  2. Mary Lynn
    Apr 17, 2015 @ 07:32:47

    💖 Jen, I am so excited, and excited for you, congratulations, wish we were closer to join you in classes! Big luck, and have fun n the next awemazing leg of your journey! Xoxooxox


  3. Peg
    May 01, 2015 @ 15:19:31

    You are so brave to follow through on your dreams. So exciting! And terrifying of course. I hope we can visit your studio when we are next in Portland.


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