Last fall I felt guilty moving to Westfield, Indiana.
My health was deteriorating quickly, and a friend looked me in the eyes, about to give really good advice to someone like me who struggles with environmental illness.
“You need to move north.”
North meant the suburbs. Moving north because the buildings are newer and have less mold meant that I have the privilege to do so. And so I moved.
For several months, I asked the question, “Why Westfield?”
The answers did not come quickly. In fact, the glimpses are still coming, more and more every day.
It took moving to the suburbs after 10 years of living in various cities (Chicago, Memphis & Indy), to realize how much of my identity was wrapped up in a negation. I was a white person who didn’t live in the suburbs.
How our identities form is so extremely nuanced and complex. It’s crazy how many beliefs take hold without even realizing it.
Well, now I live in the suburbs. And after living here for 8 months, I’ve experienced culture shock, and also a love of the quiet, of parks that surround me. It’s been a place of rest in the midst of starting my life over in terms of work, home, and faith community.
It’s been a place where re-imagining has taken place.
It’s been a place to take deep breaths.
It’s been a place to become a pedestrian again.
It’s been a place to dig into intentionality.
It’s been a place that has brought back beautiful place memories of my childhood.
It’s been a place to lean into the history of the land. I live on the land taken from the Miami people, and “founded” by Quaker abolitionists. I’m learning to feel that deep complexity in my body, and not run from the pain that surfaces.
I’ve been asking deep questions about my work. About sustainability in a healing profession. And I’m discovering that working with majority white students gives me a unique opportunity. Together, we are developing a language and a conversation around limitations, which to me, seems more and more central to our liberation.
I’m learning how to provide a safe space for my students to come into contact with their own resistance with reading, with writing, with their learning difference. Being a dyslexia and autism tutor is just a container for students to fail in a safe way, and together we build this stamina that failure does not define them, that it’s okay to take risks, that they don’t have to lean into their perfectionism. That what makes my students so amazing is that they are learning to hold their weaknesses lightly. They can mess up & laugh about it.
And as a recovering perfectionist, I learn from them every day!
In order for me to hold that space, I’ve needed to dig into my own healing, even deeper. My work is lovely, and it can wear me out.
I’ve leaned into my qigong practice, my breathwork practice, my writing, finishing out EMDR with my therapist. I’ve leaned into new friendships and old ones. I fall away from my practices, and then need to come back to them.
As summer arrived suddenly in Indiana, I found myself reacting viscerally to all kinds of allergies. I quickly felt very overcommitted and ungrounded.
Spring was a season of deep growth & transformation–and I entered into early summer enthusiastically, yet in doing a lot of outward work, and neglecting my spiritual practices. I needed to return to my breath & to the earth, where Spirit is so present, if I would just pay attention and bring intention.
Spring brought about some deep “yeses.” As I spent time at my computer working almost the whole day Saturday, I also was able to reflect on the year, as I sent next year’s calendar to my families.
My business survived the first year! And I made money!
I joined the Episcopal church, 8 minutes from my apartment. It’s environmentally friendly to my allergies. The sanctuary is all tile! There’s other reasons for joining, that I’ve already written about. And I’ve joined the anti-racism team. I will soon be trained to be a Lay Eucharistic Minister, serving communion to those who cannot leave their home. As someone who has been confined to my bed, there’s no greater gift, than to find a reciprocal way to give back to those who have visited me.
I committed to finishing up my second year of spiritual direction training. Who knows where this will lead, but I’m excited and the timing is right!
As I’ve said yes to my spiritual practice of qigong, my energy reserve just continues to build in my body, to the point where my food allergies are starting to disappear. I’m no longer needing most of my medication. I’m healing in deep ways every single day. I had no idea this was possible, even though several people told me it was–I was just too skeptical to believe it at the time.
I helped to create a resource list for chronic fatigue advocacy in Indiana, and am learning to dive into conversations about the need for awareness and funding around chronic illness AND also ground inward and know that true healing is always inward, that no one doctor is the “savior.” Validation is important, and healing from the trauma around not being believed even more important.
Spring has brought a deep yes, to be in contact with the Westfield police department about the over-policing I have witnessed working at the library, as students of color would walk over from the middle school and high school.
Spring has brought a school shooting 13 minutes from my home. It’s meant texting my families who live in Noblesville, and checking in to make sure they are okay. It’s been watching middle school students in a very conservative county protest the gun shop that opened that day after a school shooting in their hometown, and say, “Yes, this!”
Spring means walking to the tiny farmer’s market, and smiling. It means talking to local business owners and sensing a spirit of camaraderie, not competition. It means talking to the local bee farmer about honey & allergies, and how bees raise the vibration of the planet. It means to committing to visit the bee farm, to draw closer to the Earth in my own vicinity.
As we draw near to the Summer Solstice, may there be abundance. May their be joy and rootedness and hope. May nature teach us about patience. For everything there is a time.