What you’re about to read is an unsolicited story from Pause guest, Amber W, about how ease can be found, even when life feels hard, and things don’t go to plan.
Amber came on a Pause Retreat in winter of 2020 (just before you know what), and the story she tells is from 2.5 years later, (after all the crazy of you know what) in Summer of 2022.
Wow! How’s that for a magical miracle!?
Amber’s story is such a good reminder that we have choice on how we respond to events, and inspiration for what’s possible once your body can taste the ease; you can find your way back there again.
Thanks for sharing your story with us Amber!
“Why it have to be so HAAARD!?”
On the verge of having the mother of all toddler tantrums despite recently turning 30, the reality of a not-so-smooth move was setting in.
It was a move both physically and metaphorically – I was at the end of my family medicine training and officially a family doctor, I was finally returning home, and I was entering what felt like ‘real adulthood’.
The only thing between me and the rosy adult life of my dreams was a move across the Atlantic and a jump into the abyss of life as I awaited to be hired.
I moved away from the Virgin Islands at 16 with the dreams of going to the best medical school as far away from my parents as possible. 13 years later, I was returning home with two degrees, 5 years of medical experience – including the last two years in the COVID-19 pandemic – and a bag of stories to tell.
As I looked at the space I had made home for the last four years, I took stock of all the things I would no longer have to do. No more winters (scarves, hats, woolly socks gone), no more council tax, no more landlord stress, no more exams. I was running away before the utility crisis really started to kick in. I was opting for an easier life – being at home, being with my family. I took the opportunity of packing to prune my belongings and also give gratitude to how far I’ve come.
The words from my Pause retreat with Kendra came to me ‘why does it have to be hard? Why can’t you choose for it to be easy?’. It doesn’t have to be hard. We can choose softness, and that’s what I chose.
OR SO I BLOODY THOUGHT!
Moving house across the Atlantic Ocean while working full-time as a GP trainee in a challenging area.
Who did I think I was?! God’s favourite!?
First came liaising with the shipping company and picking a date. Then getting boxes – I chose ease and just bought boxes. Uniform shape, sturdy enough to last the month long journey to the Caribbean, correct number arrived on time. Then I needed the boxes on pallets. Pallets sourced, bought. Unable to collect because my car boot was 1cm too narrow. Oops.
I chose ease and accepted this move was going to be costly. Hired a man with a van to collect pallets. Now to get the pallets on to the lorry.
Pulled an all-nighter packing everything into boxes, then labelling boxes, then praying that the lorry would arrive first thing in the morning so I can spend the rest of the day in bed.
The day goes by – no lorry. The company then informs me that the lorry was cancelled because there was no parking. Unfortunately, the detailed messaged I sent (to create ease) about where the lorry should enter did not reach the company. Or the driver.
Mid-exhaustion nap the lorry arrives. I put my clothes on in a panic. Lug the boxes downstairs, on to the pallet, shrink wrap the pallet, wave good-bye to my belongings and pray that they arrive before Christmas.
I return to work the next day. I am proud that I was forward thinking enough to get the apartment empty two weeks before I needed to move out so that I can clean properly. I am also a bit frustrated that I am now eating off paper plates for two weeks.
Two days before moving day I am cleaning with my husband. I took two days off work to clean up. I had been in this apartment for 4 years but I would be damned if I didn’t get my deposit back. I scrub, wipe, vacuum, dust, paint, you name it. I would later get less than half of my deposit back because my land lord said the fridge and oven were so dirty they had to be professionally cleaned. I draft a nasty email in response and decide to choose ease because this landlord obviously did not want to give me my deposit back.
Moving day comes and I am officially homeless and somehow still have way too many bags.
It is at this juncture that I realise my husband and I have polar opposite views on ‘stuff’. For me stuff comes and stuff goes, it has meaning because I give it meaning and it has no meaning if I say it doesn’t.
For him, some stuff is sacred and all stuff can be put to use. We argued a lot about the stuff
I was giving away. It felt like my right to choose ease was being taken away. But I choose ease and told myself that my husband’s relationship with ‘stuff’ is not a problem to be fixed and it certainly wasn’t MY problem.
Now we sell the car. I have enough money to pay the shipping company who seem overjoyed that I was able to pay the full amount immediately. I pat myself on the back about this.
I return to work for two days because at the time I was sentimental and wanted a ‘proper’ ending to this chapter. I immediately regret this decision as overwhelm and exhaustion take hold.
I dread having to carry my way-too-many bags to the train station. Somehow we manage to do it. 7 bags, two guitars, groceries. I am now homeless, carless, and jobless in Manchester.
My husband and I decide to pretend we’re not moving for a week and travel Europe. We had a wonderful time and for the first time I felt free. This was my first vacation where I was not waiting to return to school or work. I was literally living my best life. I visited the Van Gogh museum, ate way too much food, swam in the Icelandic sea, and stayed in some of the best Airbnb’s ever. We chose ease and picked really cozy spaces near to the stuff we wanted to see.
Then back to Manchester. I opted for ease and booked a taxi from Manchester to Chesham. Halfway through the journey traffic comes to a standstill – there’s an accident on the motorway. Two hours later we discover that the accident wasn’t even on our side of the motorway but everyone stopped to look for 2 hours. We finally get to Chesham. Then on to Egham. Then to Heathrow Airport. We’re finally on the way. We manage to whittle down to 4 suitcases and 2 guitars.
Finally in the Caribbean. We are late for our connecting flight. Our bags get left behind. We don’t know when we’ll get them. Two days later we get our bags – after sending a scalding complaint. Three weeks later the pallets arrive from the shipping company. Despite already paying to ship them, I have to pay again to receive them. Then again to get them from the shipping hub to my hometown.
I am still carless and jobless but I am settling into a comfy home with my husband and dogs. I had planned to take a break and return to work in September. September comes and I am confident that my future employer will not get it together before October. I worry about being unemployed for significantly longer than anticipated. In moments when I can feel the dread setting in, I choose ease and sit in a hammock. The wind through the coconut leaves whispers ‘you made the right choice’.
Choosing ease does not mean there will never be hard parts. It does however, guarantee moments of softness.