I’m sitting on my balcony, enjoying what seems to be a typical late sunset here in Seattle and considering how great it would be to own a house. I was asked a few weeks ago if I wanted a house. My answer was, “I don’t know. Maybe???” I got a weird deadpan look and for a second felt like maybe I had said the wrong thing.
While living in New York exposed me to so much, it also restricted my thinking, my creativity, my sense of possibility. I thought in terms of hoarding square footage in a rent controlled apartment. I thought about the max I could spend on the minimum I could get to still feel happy. Yeah, 800 square feet for $1,675 is a GREAT apartment (in Brooklyn, PS), I’ll never leave. And, I didn’t for 12 years. Then there was the studio before it – 350 square feet for $1,400. I was cozy, I was content, I was fine. But I was restricted.
New York has millions of people all trying to take pieces of the exact same pie. Some get more than others, but it’s still the same pie. We get used to it and make up stories about how it’s “great for what I pay” or “amazing for this neighborhood”. That’s fine, if it works for you. Stepping back I can see the glaring problem with that, for me at least – it caused me to think so damn small.
Something I’ve learned through all of my blood tests is that there are normal ranges of thyroid hormones, but those normal numbers are not necessarily ideal or optimal.
My life in New York was in the normal range, the no cause for alarm range. But it was by no means optimal. I was a high functioning, completely exhausted woman with no extra energy to even think outside the normal range. I wasn’t thriving; I was living and it was fine. It had moments of excitement, achievement, and glorious euphoria. I have some incredible people in my life that came from my time in NYC. The whole of my 20s (and early 30s 🙂 were as fun as anything could be. But I leveled off. I settled into being okay with things – what will “do” versus how I wanted to feel and what I actually wanted to have happen. To most, it looked like things were progressing; it even looked that way to me. I’m good at lighting a fire when things level off. I’m exceptional at getting my hands into new projects, travels or experiences and most of it produces interesting stuff.
Examples: I was a personal shopper and stylist for seven years, I became a yoga teacher at 38, I freelanced for three years and took on a yoga studio as a client and worked with high end luxury brands, I’d buy a ticket to Spain and leave two weeks later…things like that.
With all of that, I was still not operating at optimal level. Intuitively I knew that things were only fine, normal but not ideal. I was still thinking small, limiting myself, restricting my own possibility.
This past Friday night, around midnight, I was just sitting on my balcony and thinking. I felt an overwhelming sense of gratitude for everything I have at this moment. It’s a lot. I moved to a new city, I still get to keep my job, I’m making friends, I am conquering killer hills on my bike, and other such interesting things. Suddenly, it hit me – I want a house with a backyard and grass and space. I have NEVER wanted this. I only thought in terms of doormen buildings versus non-doormen buildings. For me, and perhaps only me, New York, the city of possibility, was limiting. I felt limited. I was limiting myself. I drew a nice little box around my rent controlled apartment in chalk, claimed my space and was waiting for the optimization to ensue. It didn’t. So I finally gathered the courage, fueled by great annoyance and frustration, to leave. Only now, having stepped away, can I see it.
What I see is that I deeply want to be optimized – push aside “normal” level and get to my ideal level. That may mean taking some things down a notch and it could mean amping others up. It means doing more of the right things and less of the things that are just okay or make me feel like I’m “being productive” (oh, fuck me if I heard that a million times from my people in New York). It means no longer thinking small. And, so that’s what I’m working on right now – training myself to think without boundaries and expect more and expect better.