Tranquilosophy: Our Evolution

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Not in his goals but in his transitions man is great.—Ralph Waldo Emerson

I recently snapped this photo in my new therapy room. Being among the blues, grays, and neutrals of this sweet space encourages an exhale. This journey to private practice has been an interesting, winding one and here’s how it all began . . .

In 2009 Tranquil Space was turning 10, so I planned to take a month off in the fall to celebrate and contemplate. What did I want the next 10 years to represent, I wondered? I planned 10 days in Paris—a city I hadn’t visited since backpacking post-college—and the rest of the month deliberating.

While on a break from leading a Costa Rica retreat that same year, I was lying in a hammock between two shady trees sipping a coconut and reading Paris in Mind. I kept stumbling upon references to Sarte, DeBeauvior, and Camus’ concept of existentialism. Although I understood it to be what we make of ourselves is our responsibility, I wasn’t clear on the full picture.

Kristin, a retreat participant still in yoga clothes, came to the cabana where I was hammocking and sat onto the pink, blue, and yellow striped one next to me. I looked up from the book, ready to rest my mind from the deep reading. We exchanged banter about the weather and the morning’s class. As the conversation lulled, I laid my book onto my chest and asked, “Do you understand existentialism?”

She shared her interpretation. An hour later I was unaware of anything else around us—birds, tropical foliage, other retreaters—they all blended into a muted background as I found myself more and more intrigued. Not just with existentialism, but the workings of the mind and the numerous theories to help better understand it and ourselves. This exchange reminded me why I studied psychology in undergrad and started a business focused on helping others.

As Kristin and I continued to talk, we learned that we’d both been considering a return to school to become therapists—a career I’d planned since junior high. In between yoga classes, massages, and meals, we spent time researching social work and counseling programs in the D.C. area. I felt my future unfolding from a simple question, asked of the right person, at a ripe time.

Over breaks we’d share our research results: programs, tuition, application deadlines. The rest of the retreat was a mixture of excitement about my new 10-year plan and anxiety about returning to years of academia, internships, clinical hours, and licensing exams. Kristin and I chose different schools, yet packed our bags to become students again that fall.

I’m often asked, “Why social work?,” so I penned a blog post about it in 2012. Another question I get is, “How long did it take?” Ah, I answered that one in a recent podcast. Three months ago I took a grueling four-hour licensing exam and shook as I pushed the “finish” button. When it read “pass,” I felt my body relax for the first time in weeks.

Nearly eight years later, we’re both yogis in private practice and I’m so grateful for this journey. It began with a coconut in one hand and a book about Paris in the other. Our lives are an ongoing evolution. One foot in front of the other. Bisous. x