My goodness what can happen in 2 1/2 years…
My time in San Diego has been the most transformative chapter of my adult life.
I decided to move to San Diego on a whim, kinda. I was flying from Hawaii to Virginia to surprise my mom for her 50th birthday. I stopped in LA to see a friend for a few days. I had this 30 minute layover in San Diego and when I got back on that little tiny death machine plane I thought (or heard) “I should move to San Diego.” I went to Virginia for 2 weeks and told all of my family that I’ve decided to move to San Diego. Coincidentally, that same trip, I was on Facebook and saw my now husband- then just facebook friend and former boss- posted something stupid about the mcrib being back. I think my exact comment was “ew.” He messaged me back catching up with me about where my life was and where his was in Seattle. I also told him that I had decided to move to San Diego. (It didn’t matter to me at all that I had no definite plans, job, place to live…I just knew (or heard) that this was where I needed to be next.) He was excited for me, told me I would love it, and that it was a great transition back to the mainland. We didn’t really talk again for months after this conversation but I still remember how excited I was that he sent me a message at all.
Anyway, on my way back to Hawaii I stopped in LA again to see my friend and break up the very long 12 hour flight. I sent my actual boss a message putting in my notice even though I still had 6 months left on island. I wanted it to be real and to start prepping. I realize then and now that it seems irrational to move to a city that you’ve never been to before because you claim to have “heard” it. That same whisper sent me to Hawaii and back to Brooklyn and back to Hawaii again…and it was the same feeling this time. An indescribable feeling that something really perfect was there.
I lived out the final few months in Hawaii with 2 Japanese women who didn’t speak a lot of English. I did a photoshoot with one of them who owned a boutique downtown-I didn’t understand what anyone was saying for 3 hours of pictures- I only picked up on certain words ‘Kawai!”(cute) and “uh” (yeah). I hiked, sailed, camped, drank, danced, taught yoga, practiced yoga, paddle boarded, went on a solo trip to Maui and hung out in the rain forest during massive rain storms, met a guy that was living with his sister in a tent whose first words to me was “thirsty?” as he took his machetti out and chopped off a coconut to give me. I really made the most of my 4 years on a tiny island.
A really strange part of my love story is that 2 years before I moved to San Diego- still living in Hawaii and loving it- 27 years old and free, I used to tell my roommate Claire that I believed the love of my life lived in San Francisco. Well, around that time, the love of my life was living right outside of San Francisco and getting ready to move to Hawaii on a whim.
In April of 2012, a new guy started working at my job as my boss. I remember where I was when we were introduced, who was beside me, and that I was too shy to even say hi to him. I didn’t know why.I felt this significance when I met him. Without sounding too “new agey” I knew him already. I hardly talked to him but when he was working with me I was in the best mood ever- nothing really got me down. I hardly worked with him though because I was in my teacher training and only worked about 10 days a month and lived on lettuce and frozen foods.My friends and I would try to conjure up ways to run into him outside of work but we never succeeded. Once I did run into him in the mall around Christmas time. I was not prepared, this is not how we had always imagined it, and I was all alone. I just bought my first professional yoga mat for a ridiculous amount of money and was about to see the Christmas lights. I could have said any of that to him! I couldn’t think of a thing to say so I awkwardly said bye and ran off. I regretted it all night.I never got the chance to run into him again. The next April he moved back to Washington and it broke my heart. We had no real connection, we had never once hung out or had outside of work conversations, but there was something….
So around Christmas time, a few months before I took the leap to San Diego we started to have these simple and sweet facebook conversations. We spent all of Christmas Eve Day on facebook sending these animal videos back and forth. It was about 2 hours of this and easy conversations. I don’t love Christmas time- I’m always sad- and it was inevitable that someone at work was going to make me cry in the walk in cooler. I have worked every Christmas Eve for 12 years and the only people that go out on that holiday are pissed about it too. But thinking of this guy made it a little easier to bear- because I did end up crying in the walk in cooler.
He told me Merry Christmas on Christmas Day, wished me a happy new year, we spent a lot of time sharing our favorite bands, he would send me hundreds of pictures of sea otters- his favorite animal and videos of cats. He never flirted with me but I knew.
In February, about a month and a half before I was about to move, he sent me a text message from Canada where he was snowboarding with friends telling me he was probably going to be transferred to San Diego but because of the poor reception, I didn’t hear another word from him for days!
When I finally heard from him again he was moving there. He offered to pick me up from the airport and even a place to stay! He may have regretted that right after he said it but he didn’t take it back! A month after he got here he came to get me from the airport and we were inseparable ever since. This is not to say that everything was perfect and smooth because this is not a fairy tale it’s real life. We had both been single for years and were stuck in our obnoxious ways that we had to communicate to get through. A year later we were engaged. San Diego gave me an incredible love story that I get to live for the rest of our lives.
I was 29 years old- almost 2 months from turning 30 when I moved here. I had only worked in bars and restaurants my whole adult life. Something I think has given me a weird PTSD around drunk people. I cannot stand drunk people. Anyway, I was so unhappy in the service industry but the fast money and flexibility kept me attached. It’s also very easy to get a service industry job- well easy-ish. A few months before I moved here, I built a yoga website for myself, reached out to yoga studios to teach and take more trainings. I had a plan. I was going to teach yoga.
Plans go out the window when you move to a new city.
I stayed with a girlfriend downtown. Thank you Sarah, you are so awesome. I was so stoked to be living in a big city again with so many things to do. It was a challenge for 29 year old me to focus and get stuff done. San Diego is a really really fun city.
I finally (2 months later) found a place to live with a beautiful soul, Emily and Klaus the kitty. We met on craigslist. It’s so funny to think that most of the friends I have are based off of a connection someone had through craigslist. It’s a sweet compound sharing a fire pit with the house in front and the apartment underneath us. They accepted me as a friend right away. It took some getting used to but every place I have ever lived has. Emily would let me teach her yoga down by the ocean and introduced me to some really special people. Mostly, it was so comforting to be living with an extremely smart and beautiful girl that was going through the same difficult ambition/ dream chasing that I was going through. Her ambition was very different- she pretty much has her masters in saving the ocean. We had lived in all the same cities at different times and she was just as obsessed with her cat as I am. She let me move in with her even though I didn’t have a job yet. She said she knew I would figure it out. Having her helped me adjust to my new life much easier.
I made flyers for donation classes right away and took them all over the neighborhood pinning them up. Some people would come and pay with fruits and veggies from their garden, some would give what money they could. I taught at this little grassy spot by the beach right down the street from my house. That spot was so random. Ron used to call it my little corner of the world. Everytime I went there something wild or fascinating would happen. Like the old italian guy in his tiny bikini bottoms sitting in his grass chair. No one showed up to my class the day he was there so we had a long talk about business building and what advice he had being that he owned a cafe himself. His million dollar advice was to over price myself. “People think expensive stuff is fancy.” Another time, a woman rolled up to my donation class and was from out of town. She was so excited to find yoga at the beach that she gave me $100! I could not have needed it more at the time. There were random homeless people that would join in my class sometimes and sometimes it would just be me and my boyfriend. He didn’t like doing it but he wanted me to succeed so he always tried. Suddenly my little corner of the world started turning dark and hateful. Travelers/transients would make fun of me and try to ruin the class. I had to stop practicing there.
I was auditioning regularly for teaching jobs and applying all over the place for any jobs other than service industry. With zero experience in much else and very little teaching experience, it was a door slammed in my face daily. Looking for a job is hard but taking the bus to interviews seemed to make it much much harder. It would take 45 minutes- 2 hours sometimes to get to some craigslist offered job where you just never know who you will be meeting with. Sometimes my bus rides were interesting. I got on the bus one day and saw a homeless man give another non homeless man .50cents to ride. He talked to imaginary people. He was having the happiest conversation with the people he saw and when those angel people would leave or get off the bus he would laugh in a really jolly way and say “okay now, have a nice float!” They were not all like that though. That guy was special. I liked that guy. I won’t forget him.
When I finally bit the bullet and realized that getting involved in a yoga community in San Diego was way way way harder than I thought- I had to get a serving job. I got this really crappy job in a Hawaiian cafe. Like really really crappy cafe. I wouldn’t even eat there. It was only me and the cook there everyday. The owner would be there sometimes but everyone liked it better when she wasn’t. She wasn’t mean, she was just particular and it didn’t make any sense why she pretended to care so much about such a crappy place. The place reeked of this flying insect spray. To this day, if I smell that crap I’m out. There were gooey fly traps hanging in every corner. I touched as little as possible. Most days we would have 5 tables the entire day, other days we would close 4 hours early. I kept going to this job because there was so little to do and zero supervision that I could spend all day sending out resumes and setting up auditions and planning my next life move. What I found so interesting about this cafe was the regulars. We definitely had some homeless regulars. They almost always paid- there was only one I really disliked. His name was Colt and he had one real leg and one metal one. He was mean. I realize his life has been tough but he was so awful to me and always ran out on his bill. The cook would chase him down and make him pay for some reason. I usually didn’t see the point of taking his last few dollars for some eggs. There was a regular that came in who was a recovering meth addict. He always gave me the best monkey bread and told the funniest stories and watched his carb intake. The cook himself was a homeless man and recovering addict, father of 6 all of whom were grown ups except his newest little one who was 3 and his whole world. The kid lived with the mother’s mom and was a very happy and taken care of child. I wonder about the cook sometimes and hope that he’s okay. Working there sucked for sure, but it opened my eyes to a different kind of compassion. I’ve lived in lots of places with lots of homeless communities but none like OB. If I’m walking around on the sidewalk here and pass a guy with a sign, I ask him his story. If they have a dog, I buy him dog food. If you leave with anything from this story, know that not all homeless people did it to themselves.All humans deserve respect and acknowledgement. We are all in this together, find a way to help the human race. And animals.
I made no money at this job. Well I made enough money for rent and some food. I had to decide which bills to pay each month. Luckily I don’t have many bills. I never got a car, I just biked or rode the bus. Around this time, I actually stumbled upon a corporate yoga substitute teaching gig. I would go to businesses after their work day and teach. I tried to find my own clients and start my own businesses-awkwardly cold calling businesses and asking them who was in charge of their on site fitness program. Just another version of doors slamming in my face really. But i would spend hours a day calling them, listing more to call, and creating brochures to take to them. Nothing ever came out of that but it kept me focused and my mind filled with yoga.
I found another waitressing job down the street at a little family place, super clean and organized. My first day of training was fine- everyone was so nice. At 12:30 pm when I still wasn’t allowed to go home because I had to polish silverware I knew I was never coming back there. It was my third job of the day and I was just so done polishing silverware and wasting time doing what I hated! I quit. I knew I would rather be poor working towards what I loved than to be poor slaving away at something I despised.
The summer was ending and I didn’t have much to show for it except my crappy job and a substitute teaching job in which the woman that ran the business would always conveniently forget how much she said she would pay me.
I made a vision board with Emily just putting up pictures that I loved. Found a really cool image of a fairy and 2 separate words that said Lucky and Pixie. When I showed my boyfriend my board he casually commented that the Lucky Pixie would be a cool shirt brand. He also casually mentioned that he knew how to screen print. I casually brought it up to Emily in our living room where we would sit drinking our tea and discussing what we thought Klaus’ day was like. She thought it was a great idea and told me to look into crowd sourcing. I had never heard of that before. She suggested Kickstarter.
I was so damn excited! I was gonna start this screen printing business and use it to spread a positive message and fund my healing yoga studio. The shirt said things like “Super Loveable, Yoga Kitten, Om, I bet you can fly you’re that special, Limitless, angels exist.” The kickstarter went way better than I thought and then I was on my own. I quit the cafe job and focused on building this business and continued to teach and would occasionally pick up shifts at that crappy cafe. I had 2 months to get this thing going. I kept saying “anything can happen in 2 months…” I made some sales, learned a new trade, and went broke again trying.
So I am back at square one. I started working at a customer service job answering phones for an online flower company. It’s the only job I’ve ever had where I sat at a desk. I would rather wait tables. People are awful to you on the phone. I am a calm person but I’m not very patient with mean people. I would just hang up on them. I didn’t get paid enough for the abuse. Also it took me 2 1/2 hours to take the bus there. Sometimes my boyfriend would be able to come get me but he had to work sometimes too. It was Christmas time- not my favorite time. I just couldn’t do it. So I quit going. I started working at the crappy cafe again. She just kept taking me back. I also got a catering job….the kind where your interview consists of you carrying a large tray full of plates in front of a lot of people and gracefully setting it on a tray holder thing. Damn it. My one and only job I took with these people was on New Years Eve in a huge hotel where I was a glorified busser. I just wandered from banquet room to another picking up cups in my stupid black pants and tie.Watching women slip in vomit in the bathroom and cry hysterically. My boyfriend picked me up that morning after I was finished at 3:30am. I don’t think I have ever felt that sad before. We gave a girl a ride home that had been catering the event with me. She lived in a hotel and studdered. She loved catering and living at the beach in a hotel. Perspective is everything. I never saw her again.
I don’t want to be misunderstood that I look down on the job opportunity in any way. Some people really like it, it is easy money, and flexible. I put in my 13 years of service industry in Virginia, NYC, Honolulu, and now all over San Diego and was really good at it. I did not love it. Quite the opposite. I really really really wanted to share my love of life through yoga. I wanted to help people feel at peace with their lives. I truly want to make a difference in the lives of others. Because I was so miserable at my jobs, this was never going to come across to anyone I met.
I could write a book about the amazing experiences I had bartending and serving in some of the coolest cities in America. I could write a longer book about the amount of abuse I was exposed to in this industry.
New Years came and went. My boyfriend moved in with me and my rommate moved up north for a job. I had an audition scheduled for about a month. I had the flu, my boyfriend’s friend was in town, and I would come home to nap between crap cafe and corporate yoga teaching to find drunk happy boys. Drunk people give me anxiety. Happy people made me sad because it was all I wanted to be but no matter how hard I was trying nothing was happening for me. I had this audition and I had to go regardless of mood or health. It was honestly the longest audition I have ever been on. All of us had to teach for 20 minutes…there were 12 of us. I stayed because I was the last to go… of course. I had no energy so I sat at the front and guided them through meditation and restorative yoga. I just had to trust myself. I usually would audition to show I knew the names of sanskrit poses or terms- or fancy peak poses- or a strong voice. Not this time. I could not. Afterwards the owner hired me and one other girl. It paid next to nothing but it was a teaching job! She was a very….eccentric person. 60 years old and zero knowledge of business building or team appreciation. At first she would call me and tell me I was a star teacher and give me 5 classes a week. She would have me sub her classes and not tell her students that she wouldn’t be there. They always got mad at ME! They were just as eccentric and unwilling to accept change as her. But I remained calm and grateful. Then she would send me long mean messages about my teaching style (even though shoe never took my classes) and that I needed to be more like this other teacher whom I’ve never met and also she fired. I remained calm still. Then she would tell me how much her students loved me. Then she would take away some of my classes. I remained calm still. Then a year later, at Christmas, she fired me. She said she hired someone who gets 300 likes on Instagram and thought they would be better at building her business for her than me. The woman she replaced me with only taught there for a month or two. I admit I was a little relieved to release this woman’s toxic exhausting energy from my life.
She wasn’t all bad though. She referred me to a private student named Aisha. We met in March that year. We worked together 3-4 times a week for almost 2 years now. We’ve met each other’s families, she gifted me a room full of beautiful flowers for my wedding! She has meant a lot to me since we met.
Around the time I started teaching at that studio, a man called me out of the blue. One of the places I subbed for the county employees had an employee recommend me as a teacher. He got my number and offered me a job without even meeting me because I came so highly recommended. I taught them for almost 2 years too. I only said bye to them last month because I am moving. I also started teaching at a psych hospital to the nurses and employees. Loved them too.
I have nothing but confidence now when I teach as I feel I have taught in so many different forums. I put myself on google and yelp and would get calls for bachelorette yoga and wedding day yoga, baby moon yoga at sunset cliffs, private sessions for tourists… I was a full time yoga teacher. I finally did it. I rented my own yoga space and held classes there every week. They went well and it was amazing to practice what goes into owning your own space.
The thing I wanted most to come out of this pursuit of teaching was-and still is- to make a profound difference in someone’s life. Since I began this journey, I have received many phone calls, emails, and hugs telling me how I have affected them. I am in no way saying this to boast. I am saying this to explain how much those people have affected my life. I’m saying this to explain that helping is the point- to make a difference with whatever gift God gave you. We all have something unique to offer the world. Don’t shy away from it. I do this to see you glow and transform. I’ve seen it so many times now and it lights me up. That is worth every single bit of effort. That keeps me going even when giving up seems like the obvious option. So thank you so so so much. We are all in this together.
“The genius thing I did was I never gave up.”
Somehow through the grace of God I was able to hold onto this wonderful man I have. He let me cry and scream and get mad and watched me become happy and successful. I think a lot of this is because of him. He never let me believe for a second that this wasn’t going to happen eventually. He did everything he could to support me. Came to every single class that he could, helped me print flyers, helped me fill classes, take me to the beach when I was sad….I’ve never felt so happy and blessed because a man like this loves me and lets me love him right back. It is because of him that I am so happy today. Thank you for always just letting me be me.
From that Christmas I was let go from the odd studio owner woman, I have only become happier and more successful.However, I am forever grateful to her for taking a chance on me and giving me space to spread my message. Everything is perfectly placed in life. Looking back on all of my opportunities- it seems as though “this” is what you get if you work this hard; “this and that” is what you get if you keep going just a little more; “this, that and all of that fluffiness” is what you get when you really go all in and trust the process. If things are not panning out for you yet in the way you imagined, ask yourself if there is an extra mile you can put in.
I have learned that it is not so bad to try something and end up looking like a fool. It is not so bad to try and have it not work out. It is not so bad to have a door slammed in your face. It is not so bad to work at a crap cafe and befriend homeless people. It is not so bad to do the jobs you reeeeaaaallllllyyyyy don’t want to do while you work your ass off for the one you want. It is really bad to be afraid of any of these things. You will only live the life you really want if you are willing to work- sometimes 5 jobs at a time- and believe in it. Believe in it more than you are afraid of it. BE ALL IN.
In the middle of all this chaos, I got engaged and married and my husband got a job he really wanted and it is moving us up to the Bay Area in a week! My wedding was a dream day that went by too fast. I set my intentions for the day like I do everyday and they were to be grounded, present, sober, and to be sure to eat! I did it! It was an intimate wedding with all of our favorite people on Earth. My husband stayed sober with me and had my back! He just keeps proving to me that we are a team and will be for life. Somewhere in life I went right to end up with him.
My engagement was long and we had so much fun all over this city. We make sure to do something fun together at least once a week. We have seen everything in San Diego at least once. Holding hands and giggling together the whole time. We get stopped at Target by strangers asking if we are newlyweds because we are so cute together.
My honeymoon was so relaxed and romantic. Everytime we would share an inside joke I would look at him and just be so amazed that he is my husband now. I get to laugh with him and at him for the rest of our long long lives together.We get to watch each other continue to grow and support each other through everything. I have a partner in crime through all of life’s challenges. This is the most magical thing that’s come out of San Diego for me. I have a husband that I get so excited to see every morning and every evening. I have someone that just gets me and loves me completely. I got to marry the guy I had a secret crush on for 2 years.
San Diego has been the most transformational time in my life. People that see me now are amazed at the difference between the wild Danica they knew and the calm, collected, and focused Danica I’ve become. There is a huge shift still happening within me and I plan to keep embracing it and growing with it. This San Diego chapter has also been the most introverted and reflective I’ve ever felt. I’ve always had a ton of friends and parties and huge social network- but that seemed like it would get in the way of what I feel I need to accomplish. I wasn’t shutting people out of my life by any means but I was only spending time with meaningful people. Almost as if they felt effortless, we would just click, I trusted their vibe. I collected a small tribe of extremely inspirational women that I will always know, love, and root for in life. To my Guinevere, Emily, and Jennifer thanks for having my back these past 2 1/2 years- your friendship means so much to me.
So now this brand new wife and husband and fur human baby kitty Murphy are heading north outside of San Francisco for my man to start his happy new career- could not be more proud of him. And for me to build mine again. I am not afraid of this challenge this time. I have way more knowledge and confidence. I am also aware that I have purpose here and as long as I keep listening to those seemingly irrational whispers from God I will fulfill that purpose. Lord knows I’m not naive- I would never have made it everywhere I’ve been if I was- but I’m going all in-In the most positive, manifesting, dream catching way I can think of.
For all of you that have supported me all along, I think of you often and love you all the time.
I don’t know where life will take us next but I know I am in love, rooted in love, focused, and ready for the change.
Do not be afraid of failing. Do not be afraid of succeeding. Do not be afraid of growing into a new version of yourself. Trust. Good things are going to happen.
I love you all so much!