XYZ NYC is not to be confused with ABC NYC, the children’s book by Joanne Dugan that I gave to my toddler nephew to explain why his Tia was away from him so much when living in New York City, and to introduce him to a world so different from his own. It’s an adorable book and he really liked reading it with his parents when I was gone, and with me on my brief visits home. In case you were wondering, B is for Bagel, T is for taxi, and C is for Chelley is definitely not meant to live in New York City.
I haven’t written on this blog for a bit as I’ve been reflecting on my last two weeks in New York. My trajectory from Queens to Southampton, to Manhattan and Brooklyn, to Rhinebeck and back to Queens again is what I call Chelley’s Healing Tour 2018. It was also the beginning of my newest chapter of life.
Those two weeks truly were a mix of the old and new. I made peace with, blessed, and said goodbye to many of the memories that I cherished, as well as those that held pain alongside them, pain that although hidden deep beneath the surface, still elicited an emotional reaction when back on those familiar streets.
I saw the ghost of myself barreling down the sidewalk in tears, rocked to the core from a betrayal. I pictured myself on the stoop having a late night drink, trying to decide whether I would take the man sitting next to me back. I retraced the steps from my apartment to the studio where I filmed a TV show, a couple of blocks away from my doorstep. I popped into the Upper West Side dance studio where I spent so many hours of my life, literally and figuratively finding my center. I revisited the street where a twelve-passenger van barreling down the road came into contact with me, leaving me sprawled across the asphalt as several cars raced by. That was a long time ago. The Barclays Center arose from an empty lot and became an arena on that same block since that day, and I grew a couple of years older and a few pounds heavier.
I love that girl. I have so much compassion for her and on this trip I took every opportunity to forgive her and everyone around her for not living up to who I thought we should be. The lessons are good ones and my heart is lighter from having taken this journey, going from doorstep to doorstep, all over Manhattan and the boroughs, reacquainting myself with old neighborhoods and being surprised by discoveries like a fancy cycling studio and two organic markets near an old apartment, situated in what was a former food desert. I felt torn as my life would have been so much easier should I have had these resources at the time, but could not shake the compassion for those losing the identity of their neighborhood bit by bit.
My return to the City allowed me to connect with friends from as early as high school, from college and from pre-NYC years in Denver. Two friends named Katie took me in to stay, reminded me of who I was and showed me how far I have come. It was a beautiful thing to see these two incredible women and fierce artists on their journeys. One has her own contemporary dance company that focuses on social justice and the other is a prolific actress, both on stage and screen (not to mention original founding member of our fake pop girl group, XYZ, hence the title of this blog. We will be dropping another fake album this fall).
Their love was huge, wrapping me up in friendship that stood the test of time, helping me bridge the gap of my transformation. I was told by one dear friend that I was becoming the woman she always knew I was, but that I had never allowed myself to see. I tried not to cry over the glasses of wine we were sharing at the bar, knowing that these words were the exact support I needed at the time. S is for Support.
Support was a major theme of this trip, and I couldn’t have felt it more than I did at the Omega Institute in my week with Rebecca Campbell, author of Light is the New Black and Rise Sister Rise. I knew that the time off of my job would include a spiritual retreat of some sort, and it was more than meant to be that Rebecca’s retreat worked out perfectly with my timing.
About a year ago, I had picked up Light is the New Black. It stopped me in my tracks and placed a metaphorical line in the sand directly in front of me. It felt like someone had gone inside my heart and mind to tell my story, even though the exact the details were different. I recognized this work on a soul level and knew I couldn’t stay the same anymore. It took me over a year to recognize that the several years-long journey from discomfort, heartache, apathy to the deepest of depression, were all symptoms of denying my soul’s path. This work was a catalyst that helped bring me to where I am today. I knew without a shadow of a doubt that I had to be there for the workshop to learn more.
This gathering of sisters was the most healing, energizing and soul affirming experience I have ever had. I knew, from that moment on, I would be ready to step into my soul’s calling and never look back.
I’m being called from a very deep place to write, lead, heal and teach. I want to hold space for others in Denver so that they have a place to come and fill their wells. To be witnessed and know that they have a space where they fully belong, supported by a loving community and healed in body, mind and spirit. I’m still working out the details of what this looks like, but I received so many downloads that I just need to figure out how to organize them. Per Rebecca’s thoughts on the seasons of life, I must be in spring! So many ideas and so much energy scattered! I’m enjoying the process but I know something tangible will come from it soon.
New York, I love you, thank you for the gifts. I can’t wait to see you again. I’m back in Denver now and have a couple of lovingly presented opportunities to consider while I continue to forge down my new path. I’m ready and am focused on keeping myself in state of receiving rather than forcing the next step. I can’t wait to see what happens next!