I recently sold my business, a yoga studio in Capitol Hill, Seattle’s busiest neighborhood. I’ve had that business for eighteen years. It went from three employees to twenty. From one location to two locations. And back down to one location with two spaces.
It took me a couple of years to finally decide that selling the business was what I actually wanted to do. With the influence during the last few years of things like social media, yoga for dogs, goats, babies, thousands of new teachers flooding the market every year, I decided that I didn’t want to play the game anymore. I’d lost my competitive mojo.
I loved running that business, but during those eighteen years, I was on all the time! Even when I went on vacation I brought my laptop. I checked my emails, stayed in contact. I was always the one who got called at 5:45am when the 6am teacher forgot their keys or overslept or had a migraine. When the studio had a break in, I was the one called. When a student complained about a teacher or a teacher complained about a student, I was the mediator. I worried every month about the bottom line-- rent, payroll, taxes, inventory, supplies. I had a method to managing the madness and I had support from my staff, but I was stressed and busy all the time. I didn’t realize how utterly hijacked by stress I was until I sold the business and surrendered all of that responsibility.
It’s been two weeks since I officially stepped down from being the owner of my business--- now someone else’s business and here’s what I notice:
I keep waiting for something to happen.I’m still worried I’m forgetting to do something.I feel like I have somewhere I need to be.I still set my alarm for 6am every morning.
Here’s the thing-- I don’t have another job. I’m taking a sabbatical to write and explore and figure out what I want to do next. What I realized this morning when I was writing was that, though I've let go of the responsibilities associated with stress, my body still seems to be seeking it out. My body is searching for it, like my phone searches for wifi service at the airport, roaming around until there is a connection.
The reality is that I don’t have somewhere to be. I’m not forgetting to do something. I’m doing what I want to be doing and no one is waiting for me to do something else. But my body is still programmed for stress. It’s still searching for that connection to the familiar buzz that I get when I’m stressed. It’s weird. I notice it clearly every time it happens. I feel a little surge of adrenaline and I start to worry or check my phone. And then, almost as quickly, I realize that I’m okay. I don’t need to make that stress connection because there is no stress. It’s intense and a little disorienting. I wonder how long it will take to reprogram my body and mind, to feel fully that I have let go of that stress, that those patterned brain surges are just old habits.
Whenever I do get the call to stress and I recognize that it is not real, I feel free, elated, like I’ve won Powerball. I have a moment of celebration that I don’t have to follow that stress. Instead I can walk the dog or bake a cake or clean my desk. I didn’t realize how truly stressed I was until I became not stressed. I don’t know how long this detox will take, but I’m not worried because every time I get that after-feeling it’s like a gift, a moment to truly appreciate how grateful I am to be here now.