I never thought I would say those words much less write them.
I am not a quitter. When the going gets tough, the tough get going. What crap. In order to truly thrive in life, we need to have a certain level of softness.
What exactly did I quit?
I quit not a job, but a career of 20 years, a destructive marriage and a codependency on a partner’s addictions.
I remember so clearly the moment I quit my career in fashion design; the marriage is another blog.
The moment came after a clothing fitting; a disturbing day shared with arguing team members, a model who was continuously poked and prodded, a wide-eyed, anxious assistant, merchandisers and managers hurling balls of blame, and a righteous designer who expected everything to go her way. Politics were in full play all around me, but instead of digging in, I somehow climbed out and beyond. Instead of playing a role I saw everything as it was. I remember leaving the room, walking towards the elevator so fully aware of everything I had just witnessed.
I remember every step towards the elevator.
I breathed to my assistant, “I quit”.
And then, “No I mean I really quit”.
I remember her saying calmly “let’s go get coffee” – a kind attempt to get me to step away from the moment. We went for coffee and came back to the office. I wrote my resignation, spoke with my superior and left.
Now here’s the interesting part – I did not know what I was going to do, I did not have another job waiting, I had no secure paycheck.
But I felt okay.
Now here’s an even more interesting thing – I was asked to stay. At first, for a month, then two, then three. I could see it would have been really easy just to “keep on keepin’ on” as they say. I ended up kindly declining to stay longer.
My resignation wasn’t about one bad day. It wasn’t about office politics, “making nice”, “getting along” or finding a position that would be better for climbing some kind of imaginary ladder. I wasn’t inspired anymore. I was also getting older in an industry that cherishes youth, reliving the same dynamics over and over to women and team members who were just versions of my younger self. If you have done anything for any length of time you know what I mean. I wanted the challenge and creativity that I felt at 20 years ago when I entered the relatively young fashion industry.
I believe with all my heart that when change is needed in life there is a moment of absolute clarity in which we can make the right decisions from a grounded place. No matter the change and how it may uproot our lives there never has a moment of regret.
Not only am I a quitter I am a survivor, but let’s look at the quitting thing.
Here’s the truth about a life change, career or otherwise. Once you are committed to it, truly committed, you can expect your old life to hang onto you. You can expect there to be a falling away. That’s life, in its beauty. And yes, hardships will continue.
Within two years, I underwent rapid changes in my life. I purchased a yoga business, my mother passed unexpectedly and my father went into a nursing home, I had a miscarriage and blood transfusions, I remarried and my daughter was born. The career with which I so identified with throughout my 20’s and 30’s wasn’t fulfilling me in my 40’s. The excitement of working fashion week, the parties, the unbelievably creative friends I felt sustained by in my 20’s and 30’s was of no interest to me.
India and a teacher I met there changed everything – not in the overnight get out now and rip the bandaid off my life – but it gave me enough clarity to realize that the change I needed I had been stepping toward for years.
Teaching yoga, a thing that I onced coined a hobby, became my full-time passion in 2016. It’s the best job in the world – I truly believe that – though I feel forever grateful for the fashion work that came before, which financially supported the endless training I wanted to do on a part-time teaching salary. I wanted to be an educated teacher. I saw my classes as “seva”, or service.
But how to take the service of teaching classes and change my life?
Own a studio, of course! I still laugh when I think about that decision. I chose to buy because I had the ability to do so. I chose to serve a community that was already established; I knew I wouldn’t be directly competing with another studio, just reinvigorating one that already existed. That was more than 4 years ago and since then, I’ve seen many studios open. It’s clear they don’t feel the same way I do about the offering, practice, career – but that’s another entry into my journal (and perhaps it could see the light of day?).
Now here is what I didn’t expect. Owning a studio is service. It has offered me tremendous opportunities to serve. I have met amazing people and thankfully have been able to bring in some of those teachers who have inspired my practice to this studio and area. I am excited every day, EVERY DAY to be able to do what I do. Is it hard? Hells yeah. Do I hustle every moment? You bet. Are there 2 AM meditations for anxiety? Is it a business like any other? Oh my, is it. Yoga and business are strange bedfellows to be sure.
But I believe if you are clear in your practice, see the opportunities and partnerships that are available you can add such goodness to your community and such love to your life there really is no going back, no doubts, no questions, just living undeniably and fully.
Want to change your life? Want to know, truly know, a path that leads to goodness, happiness, fullness. Want to do this inside a great community of light seekers? Want to understand the practice in a welcoming environment- Inlet Yoga waits for you! Our 200 hr and 300 hr trainings start January 2020. Join us!
Jennifer Vafakos began practicing yoga regularly in 2008 in NYC.
Though Jennifer started years earlier it wasn’t until she met a a group of yoga instructors that changed her life and where she become a serious yoga practitioner and student. Registered with Yoga Alliance at the ERYT500 level and YACEP, Jennifer currently runs a yoga studio, leads weekly classes, yoga teacher trainings, workshops and international retreats. In 2016 Jennifer left a 20 year career in Fashion Design and purchased Inlet Yoga from Emma Clagett in Manasquan, NJ. In 2019 Jennifer founded a podcast with New Jersey Yoga Collective’s Bridget Riepl called “Here for Savasana.”
In her weekly classes you will notice a strong influence of Jennifer’s Laughing Lotus training (Dana Trixie Flynn), with layers and influence of Katonah Yoga (as taught by Nevine Michaan) and Seasonal Yoga. Jennifer will reference and inform on alignment, healthy transitioning between shapes, themes of seasons, cycles discovering and uncovering human existence and of layering in music, poetry and laughter in her classes, trainings, and workshops.
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