It's the 4th of July. The day of Independence, Freedom, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness. It's the day that recognized the bravery of several people who took the risk to embark on a new identity, a new life. It's also the perfect day to share with you the big news that isn't of the same caliber, but is of a similar wavelength. I'm sitting here at my laptop ruminating over what words I could even use to share this exciting life change. I've been marinating in this for over a month, actually! Some of you guys already know, and it's still not quite sinking in. Most likely, it'll sink in when it actually happens! Isn't that usually the case with things in the future? No, it's not a baby. We're actually not into having kids and will stick to our kitties and eventually doggie.
No, it's not getting married. We already did that at City Hall the other month! (Haha)
It's been something we began discussing a few months ago. The topic became more serious as we did a thorough life assessment (not only living in San Francisco, but also being in the United States in general).
So, here goes a flashback of my life until now:
As an LA native, born and raised for 33 years, I loved the sunny beaches, the surrounding relaxed beach towns, the warm weather that allowed everyone to roam about in shorts and sandals day and night. The Korean BBQ at Road to Seoul in K-Town, the Japanese Ramen at Shin-Sen-Gumi in Gardena and Daikokuya in J-Town, the Oaxacan Quesadillas on a sizzling cart by a random sidewalk in Echo Park, the Vietnamese spring rolls with a crispy egg roll skin rolled up tightly inside at Brodard in Westminster...damn, the LA+OC food was so fucking amazing!!
Life felt so chill, so serene. Living by the beach was a guilty pleasure. Constant drives to the coast, moments of meditation on the sand, lots of connecting with the waves as they rolled on by. During this LA life, I realized I had an anger issue with feelings of depression. Along the way, I learned about yoga, meditation, fitness, small business, personal development, and following dreams. A combination of these experiences helped me in such infinite ways. I don't know what I would have done without any of it.
Pic from SantaMonicaBeachMom
Eventually, I got certified to teach others yoga, discovered my life calling, started teaching an all-levels yoga class on the beach, and an all-levels evening class in a warehouse, set to tropical house music with healthy happy hours afterwards. This is where I fell in love with cultivating community through yoga, music and health. "Hmm, I wish I knew how to DJ," I thought to myself. DJs were appearing in some studio classes. Not many. It wasn't a popular thing at the time, but the vision of creating community this way was very clear.
Life could have kept going in LA. I could have kept teaching yoga down there, kept driving to the beach, kept going about life the way it it was. But, something inside of me wanted to move. And I mean, REALLY move. Out of the city, out of my home for all of my life, and into a city that felt more like a densely-populated city than a sprawled-out region.
There are tons of motivational quotes about growth occurring outside of your comfort zone. That not much can happen until you take that one step away from complacency and feeling safe. I felt safe in LA, but I wanted a change. Desires of uprooting and re-establishing myself grew and grew. Over the course of 5 years, I wanted to move to SF, but kept making excuses why I couldn't. Commitments to my small business, the cold and constantly rainy SF weather, feeling the need to reach my goals in LA first...nothing lined up until the end of those 5 years. That's when I made the move. I up and left and moved myself into the Bay Area.
Even though I had visited SF a few times before, I didn't know how much it had changed. Things like the high cost of living (way higher than what I remembered), the visible poverty juxtaposed with the wealth, the more warmer weather with only few days of rain (and subsequently the California DROUGHT), the beaches being nothing like LA's, and the construction everywhere. The energy that I once felt during my visits years ago didn't feel the same now. There were more tech start-up communities, fewer eclectic and artsy ones (or they seemed to have moved from SF to Oakland).
Almost every billboard up here was about technology. Freeway traffic increased so much. Parking became a nightmare to find. There were so many people certified as Yoga Teachers, with so many studios that were small. Finding studios to teach at were difficult from competing with so many people for so few resources.
But, I can't just complain about all the negative parts of this life change. With all the clouds there's a silver lining! There were also a lot of amazing things I got to experience here. The Deep House music scene is so live here. The vegetable gardening culture is huge. People forage for mushrooms in our parks to study them together. Such a wide variety of organic sources of everything. The local grocery stores with options to refill your olive oil, almond butter, shampoo, dishwasher liquid and buy several-day-old produce for cheap!
Oakland is so eclectic. With monthly outdoor gatherings that take up several blocks. Complete with various food vendors, Zydeco/Big Band music performances, African drum circles, and art gallery openings. The street art is so prominent up here. Murals and graff art is simply a part of the surrounding, part of the building. It's also an expression of the general sentiment here. Lots of protests, anger and speaking out against the police force, racial crimes, and lack of justice. People take action very quickly up here.
Oh, and all the restaurants! Burmese hole-in-the-wall food with genuinely mean old ladies like Yamo, Indonesian food like Borobudur, authentic Shanghainese food with staff hard-selling you on the shrimp dumplings at Shanghai Dumpling King, uniquely creative artisanal ice cream like ShakeDown, Vegan restaurants hidden in between apartments like Shangri-La Vegan and Vietnamese Cafés with authentic varieties of noodle bowl soups like Mong Thu.
The startup culture taught me so much about what it meant to provide service and develop solid relationships with people. It provided me with an easy job of driving with Uber, Lyft, Sprig, and Postmates because the demand for delivery and commuting was so high. There were tons of paid studies from marketing companies who wanted to know about the people of SF. Yoga studios taught me what it took to market themselves, bring students and their mats, and be clear about what kind of yoga to be known for.
People all over the Bay Area were embarking on some idea, some dream, no matter how wacky or how simple it sounded. With those endeavors came the support from everyone else. It wasn't as if everyone literally supported you, but you got the sense that stepping outside your comfort zone to build something beneficial to others was normal.
Failure was also normal. Failure was not expected to be the end. The camaraderie among people, so prominent.
Failure happened a lot with me living in SF. Broken hearts, financial issues catching up, egos bruised like the discount fruit at the organic grocery store. It took me going to a yoga retreat to cry it all out before finding a tarot-like card that said I would be moving near the beach and feeling whole again, a spiritual healer who shared that the root of my issues was with my mom, and a native-american medicine man who shared that when I send a prayer of love for myself and for others I would no longer attract unhealthy people (that they would be repelled away).
I know some of this sounds really airy-fairy, and you don't have to believe any of it. But, if there's one key takeaway from moving here, it's this: this failure was what needed to happen. Everything was necessary for me to shatter the old and bad habits of living, to appreciate the solid friendships and family that I have, to re-establish a connection to myself and my inner truth.
It felt like being run through a gauntlet, honestly. Being thrown into the storm, but coming out of it to see the blue skies.
What happened after this was unbelievable. The blue skies showed up ten-fold:
-Healthy love showed up in the form of my best friend, my love, my husband -I was connected with an amazing woman who produced the very yoga+music+community event I was looking for. It was the first of her series. She was a DJ AND a Yoga Teacher, and she was making it happen! She called it "Deep House Yoga", and we partnered up to grow it into a huge movement that expanded from SF to Berkeley, Oakland, Los Gatos and soon my hometown of LA!. Our project has been written about by SF Gate and SF Weekly. We try not to cry about it, but it is kind of a special thing. -Development of this very platform you are on...Rogue Yogi...an idea that sat around for years but finally is blossoming as an alternative yoga+lifestyle brand that encourages the modern yogis to embrace their inner truth, their bodies, their natural selves and feel better through yoga without having to conform to anything. -Last, but not least...we gained the courage to move out of California.
The "Mongorrian" (the nickname for my husband with his thick beard. He's not really Mongolian), was already in SF for a decade after we had first met. Lots of amazing lessons and gifts, but it was definitely time for us to experience life somewhere else. Being together, we both felt courage to embark on this knowing we'd have each other to make it through the adjustments. We just didn't know where we should move!
Knowing that there'll always be the pros and cons of living anywhere, we decided on what was the most important thing to us. They were 2: Low cost of living. High quality of life.
He did a thorough analysis of several locations all over the world: South East Asia, Europe, Portland (Oregon), Austin (Texas). Of the top 3, he saw a place called Barcelona, Spain.
He had been there twice and loved it both times. I had never been there but heard of the beautiful architecture. European lifestyle was said to be slower-paced with more afternoon breaks and focus on family time. Barcelona was a beach town with LA-like weather. Out of the entire country, Barcelona and the Balearic Islands were the most popular yoga centers (probably from the high tourism and young professionals).
After some thought, talking to his friends currently living as ex-pats in Barcelona, and laying out the groundwork for Rogue Yogi, we decided to make the move. The move to BARCELONA!
We've started the paperwork. Got our fingerprints taken. Filled out the request for a Non-Lucrative Visa (which means we can't work there for an entire year, but I can totally continue work on Rogue Yogi).
Passport photos are fun and expectedly not similar to glamour shots, so we got a few of these.
We also looked into the procedures required to transport our puppycats Franklin and Bowie with us. They just need a certified clean bill of health from their Vet. Certified by the Spanish Consulate and sent with our paperwork.
The story continues, and it feels like a whirlwind, but we're ready! It looks like we'll be moving at the end of October/early November. Lots of emotions. Lots of feeling certain kinds of ways. Plenty of "life flashing before my eyes". But, we're looking forward to it.
Stay tuned to this blog. I'm sure we'll be learning a lot about the process of moving, so I'll share it all with you in case you decide to make the move to Spain, too!
Julie (Your Local Rogue Yogi)
PS. If you've never been to Barcelona, either, check this video that I found while searching for pics! Really cool blend of drone and videocamera footage over the course of 24 hours! You may feel like you've taken a whole tour yourself!