Put It In The Box
Sweating and uncomfortable, six women from all different walks of life gathered together in a close-knit circle of chairs quietly passing a light pink rose between them. With each intentional passing of the rose, we were asked by our speaker and favorite author, Rebecca Campbell, to take in the smell of the rose. “Allow the senses to connect with this rose, inhale and then to breathe back into it a whisper of a prayer.” This prayer would be a promise to ourselves on the surface yet as each woman repeated this ceremony, the personal promise grew and ignited us all. To let our own promise fall through would take strength from the group and their promises. Each neglected exchange with the rose would alter much more than our immediate, tangible group interactions. Ultimately, we were feeling the weight of how this type of event and personal leap would alter the collective race of women rising on the planet. A beautiful and teary-eyed woman sitting opposite me resembled a young girl that I grew up with, giving me the sensation that I’ve known her for a very long time. She lingered on the rose, looking unsure of what to ask for or what to promise until finally, she broke down crying. Her friends silently interlaced their fingers into her shaking palms and made the air vibrate with love and compassion. In short words she told us her father passed away hours earlier which made her reason to be at this soul awakening seminar even greater. We hung our heads and held space for her grief so that by the time the rose was passed to me I was frozen with shame. How could I share any minimal life challenges in comparison to the loss she is experiencing? My tiny “problem” of dredging through a season of discontent felt unnecessary to share in her presence. Yet that was the purpose of this circle, no singular concern was greater than another’s, and no success over shadowed another’s. I prayed into the rose and accepted the offer that the universe was challenging me with. I’ve been avoiding destiny and ignoring her calls for a few years now but I knew my intuitive voice was boiling up to surface and would refuse to be silenced ever again. Life was calling to me and only because of the sincerity of the women around me in this magical circle, I found the strength to surrender to the call.
Both this long day and transformative weekend were coming to an end but using any residual emotional endurance that I had left, I listened as Rebecca Campbell asked us all to deeply sit with our soul sensations and write down an answer to this prompt question:
Being the over thinker that I am, I couldn’t come up with anything and allowed the pressure of a socially acceptable time frame in which to respond, cloud my mind. I left the prompt card blank because I couldn’t summarize the internal chaos I’ve been battling into one statement. I was unsure of where I should live, who I should love, and if my life’s work was with the current job I’m holding. I came here because I was overwhelmed, how could such a short question answer that turmoil for me? Around me I heard whispers of women finalizing their goals of, “writing a book, quit my job, leave my abusive husband.” I sat there fidgeting until the group moved on to the follow up question, leaving me alone to pretend I was prepared for:
I knew my soul wanted to move, it was stagnant and trapped and screaming at me the past few months in the form of digestive symptoms, migraines like never before in my life, sleep deprivation, a halted menstrual cycle, and large-scale anxiety. My ego assumed that this move was a physical move of location and that I’d be satisfied by ending my lease or moving to a new rental house. The purpose of this prompt though, was to simplify all the fears and questions in life into one small action step. I listened to the others answer before I could come up with mine. I felt like I already failed the first “quiz” and was dangerously on the brink of failing this side of the heart shaped answer card as well. The general theme in the room was picking an action step that was too great, too big. The woman who was wanting to write a book shared that her action step was to find an editor until Rebecca kindly responded that it needed to be a starting tomorrow, day-one style of action step. “Try writing for ten minutes every day first,” she offered. The group realized this tiny action step had to be accessible and realistic to add into our daily routine. With how confidently she was leading this seminar, I was convinced that such a small activity could grow into something powerful. I didn’t know where I’d want to live besides Tulsa, I had mentally agreed that I’d put too much time and effort into my current relationship to let it end, and I had so much more to learn at my current job. Despite my clouded mind, I was fully aware that I had become a robot in recent months and was starting to accept this new Marina as if she was my true nature. I was almost accustomed to low energy levels, apathetic interactions with others, and lifeless daily movements of survival. I shook off that self-perception just by coming this far to Portland for the seminar and I remembered that I am capable of thriving! As if in a trance, I filled out the prompt card with little knowledge of what I was writing and sat back to read my action step. “Pack one moving box per day.” I recognized my own handwriting had created this declaration, scrolled over the easy answer, and couldn’t help but laugh at how evasive this action step was because it certainly didn’t resolve any of my questions.
If only I had known at that moment what this simple action step would put into motion for me.
The application of this declaration would become my payment plan to the universe proving that I was dedicated and ready for what she had in mind.
Back home after that invigorating weekend of travel, I was sitting in my thick and stagnant living space that used to offer so much comfort to anyone who entered the room for two years. I felt as if only a bad person could want more than this and could seek “more” without even knowing what that entailed. I swallowed my pride, trusted that all the changes I sought were coming from a place of love, and believed that that loving motivation could only create space for new, live-giving momentum. True to my word, I went to Home Depot that day to buy two packs of small cardboard boxes. I didn’t know how to explain what was happening inside my mind to my boyfriend at the time so I kept it simple saying, “I definitely want to move when our lease it up.” Neither of us wanted to ask if that meant moving forward together or not because we both knew the answer. Under his accepting eyes, I started packing my personal belongings each day following only a few basic rules to stay committed; don’t pack if rushed for time, don’t get hasty and pack more than one box per day, donate as much as possible, and don’t skip a day without packing one box.
The anxiety and pressure to change every direction in my current life started to melt away with each day that I boxed up life’s baggage. I was no closer to having answers for the heavy questions that have kept me up for months but I felt a burning faith that because I was taking care of my end of the bargain, God and the universe would deliver something in return. This daily process became therapy for me as I intentionally packed the possessions and trinkets in my home that I loved. I realized that you build up a tolerance of being influenced by the things you own and walk by every day, almost blind to its position and purpose in your life. This slow packing gave me new eyes to see the detailed treasure trove that I lived in. Every worn in book, framed picture, dusty artwork, and signed card came across the country with me when I moved between houses to protect me from forgetting my origins, my goals. I didn’t need their protection anymore and was finally able to see the difference between a priceless belonging and what was a space filler of “stuff.” Only emotional valuables were coming with me this time leaving any extra space to be filled with things that mattered such as love, laughter, and music. Although most of the boxes I packed were items I’d be keeping, many boxes were filled with clothes, artwork, and decorations that I knew would better serve a friend or local foundation in town. Surprisingly, both categories of boxes were taped and sealed with the same level of gratitude; there was an appreciation for the role something played in my life up until this point and that could continue to play in the future.
So I packed and sorted....continuing this small action step for three months. From March through May, I filled one room in my house with the small boxes that would soon lead to big changes. I vinyasa-ed and om-ed next to Home Depot cardboard each day which reminded me that I didn’t have to feel 100% capable of the necessary changes, I only needed to be 100% committed to my need for them. As I had hoped....... life fell into my lap. Hard conversations that I’d been avoiding came effortlessly and were resolved with mutual benefit. That gave space for new and loving people to enter my life, providing me with outlets to rediscover the things I love and had forgotten about myself. Weight lifted, deeper breaths...... Freedom and worthiness came barreling into my awareness, words, and actions.
Even synchronicities in other areas of my life started to arrive. Business partners and opportunities that I had been pushing to make for two years now found me and I demonstrated zero hesitation before saying, “yes and thank you!” The effects were exponential as long as I kept packing. One day I packed a box late in the evening and then immediately afterwards, got the courage for the first time in my life to inquire about a mortgage? I had never considered purchasing a home until that moment and felt like I was not old enough or financially prepared to qualify for one while talking to the loan officer. As it turns out, I was very fortunate to have a career which qualifies me as a solo home owner. Then when I researched altering my student loan payments the next day, it turns out I had been aggressively overpaying them for two years, thinning myself down to a break-even each month and adding financial burden to daily life. How had I not asked these questions before? I was so comfortable with the way life was that I never opened my mouth to question how life could be. I’m ashamed to say that even as a graciously employed and compensated doctor in 2019, I still felt that I was not worthy or able to afford life on my own without a man, even if he was a kind and amazing friend. What type of role model did I want to be for my younger sister and other girls who look up to me? Not this kind. With each box, I grew into the role model and authentic version of myself that I could be proud of. Part of why I wanted to share this story was to hold myself accountable for upholding that promise I made to myself, younger women, and the circle of women that started it all in “the city of roses.”
In summary, I want to ask you to be brave. Start tomorrow. Commit to one small action step that will develop as time passes into a more developed plan, a clearer direction, an obvious answer. Whatever you feel your soul is calling you towards, whether it be to write a book, change careers, or have a baby… write down one activity that you can add to your daily routine in an effort to bring that calling to life. Put it in a safe place and dedicate that commitment to someone you cherish that will encourage you forward, even without their knowledge of the promise. You may be surprised by the results of this unraveling but that’s the beauty of faith. Have faith in your intuition pushing you towards growth and let faith become an application step instead of chronic pain, emotional distress, or stagnation. Your body will not make it easy for you to stay in the improper environment or situation. It is designed to relentlessly seek out a safe and prosperous life for you. Although it takes time and the guidance of others, we will learn to interpret the messages of our intuitive urges and mindbody connection...one day, one small step at a time.
As I’m writing this story, I’m sitting at the breakfast bar in my new kitchen listening to music softly and looking around at the unbelievably sacred space that I have manifested. Three months ago, this weightless sensation was only a vision, a prayer, a fantasy. The universe delivered a perfect first home for me, complete with my initials MM on the front door! This sense of pride, gratitude, and resolution was not on my radar as an achievable option or could have been designed on my wildest vision board. Now the external environment I surround myself with everyday has diffused into my reality and is equally reflected on the inside of my body. Peace doesn’t begin to describe the emotional silence that is rhythmically feeding my soul, it is more like the feeling of peace you experience next to the light lapping of water against a dock on a calm day at sea. This space belongs to me and I to it! I am so grateful to grow in its clean air, bright windows, and healthy vibrations provided by the belongings that I intentionally packed in one box, one day at a time. This move was a purging of all the tangible and intangible things that filled my life over the past decade. My lovely and magical realtor described this house as a launching pad for my real life and I couldn’t agree with her more.
Without regrets, yet with respect for the people and things that served you up until this moment, prepare yourself for growth. Your home is a foundation for healthy growth and a reflection of your inner state of mind. Fill your home with the necessities; small and simple reminders of beautiful vacations, a growth period of your life, impactful teachers, loving friends, and a supportive family. Just like the stark yellow sunflowers smiling back at me in this seat, I know I am facing the sun and that I have a bright future ahead instead of a comfortable, content one. Life will never come to us as we expect it to but by igniting change and taking one small action step, we can start setting the scene to receive the beautiful unfolding.
Thank you to every person, moment, and lesson that led me to this new journey.