On Endings, Baldness and Our Final Weekend

My laptop whirring, Jason Crandell’s voice spoke to me through the speakers nearing the end of a 45 minute practice. “Find a mellow bridge,” he said.

I inhaled into bridge. And I exhaled, sobbing.

What is it about practicing on the floor in unfamiliar places? Though it’s not the places or the sequence that gets to me, I now know. It’s the transition within, and what breath brings out of those spaces. The sobbing only lasted for a few breaths, and so did the bridge. I came down and felt what I felt.

There, on the floor at my friend’s house, in the middle of a sunny Thursday, I embraced my transition. I spent the last two and a half weeks in Chattanooga finishing up yoga teacher training, making some business connections and sharing time with friends.

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Jim and LJ
Photo by David Andrews

My experiences both affirmed my place in a town I’ve lived for years and grew up in and encouraged me to keep going, and to keep growing. I’ve reminisced about past lives, past relationships, the shift that brought me back to Chattanooga on a train. Whereas leaving a few weeks ago felt like a vacation sendoff, ready to get away, this feels like soaking up every last drop, every last minute of time with loved ones and family.

I’ve shed tears, like this morning, and shared belly laughs. I grieved the loss of my hair from alopecia, then exuberantly given my stylist, Angie, the A-OK to shave my locks off. I’ve embraced my bald head as my truest self right now, full of crop circles, as I call them, and weird marks. That’s what life looks like sometimes. That’s what your body, perfectly imperfect, looks like sometimes.

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After nearly six months of training, of digesting and going through a shitstorm of emotions and old wounds, of healing and rebirth, I’m ready for my final weekend of teacher training. I’m ready to open the door, to cut the ribbon on this beautiful new growth process I’m entering. I’m ready to shed the skin that I’ve built up.

I’m ready to embrace my healed self, knowing full and well that many more challenges are ahead…but that armed with breath, and the biggest heart and smile, I’m ready for whatever comes my way.

“You, I believe, have the gift of finding the opportunity in the challenge,” my partner wrote to me. (An aside: Check out his shaved head, done in solidarity for my own baldheadedness. I’ve never known such love and support.)

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Jeff’s beautiful bald head

Thank you, teacher training. Thank you to my sherpa, Jessica, and to the 29 other souls who started on this journey with me. We’re not the same people as we were six months ago, and I can look each one of you in the eye and say, with confidence, we are each richer and more appreciative of the gifts we’ve been given. It’s time for us to go forth and share and give and grow.

So I finish this day with a few tears in my eyes, celebratory Arcade Fire blasting through the speakers. I’ve studied, I’ve planned, I’ve prepared. I’ve scheduled, I’ve schemed, I’ve plotted. I’m ready, I’m here.

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