This is a question I often ask myself. I grew up in rural mid-Michigan but I would prefer if people didn’t know that about me. I try to blend in with my urban surroundings in DC. There are moments however, when I say something so country that I have to ask, is my red neck showing?
Again, I don’t really care for the town where I grew up. Part of the reason I chose the college that I did was because no other graduates from my high school were going there. I could leave it all behind me. I never felt I fit in after moving to town in third grade because, in a small town, social statuses are handed out in kindergarten. Let’s just say I had missed the boat. Have you noticed that I haven’t even mentioned the name of the town yet? Yeah, that is how much I don’t like to bring it up. Oh! And it isn’t even a town. It is technically classified as a village.
Chesaning. That is the place where I grew up. If you are from there, you do not pronounce the ‘a’ in it. It sounds more like Chezning.
I have tried to run from this place in many ways. Like I mentioned it started in college by going somewhere that didn’t have a trace of Chesaning there (no CHS grads ahead of me or behind me in all my 4 years). Then I moved with my husband to Madison, Wisconsin. From there we headed to DC where we plan to stay.
But Chesaning finds ways to draw me back. Last fall it was when an old friend found me in the Be Here Now booth at Barracks Row Festival. Last week it was in the form of a hilarious rooster story shared by another high school friend. Yup, you read that right. A story about a rooster attack reminded this person of me. Is my red neck showing?
These subtle reminders of my former life keep coming. And I have to admit that Chesaning is a part of me. I spent almost half my life there. It is in my being.
When I reflect on all of this I try to find some meaning. And what I have come to is the notion that the pain we do not transform only gets transferred. Middle and high school are challenging times for everyone. I was reminded of this reading an Instagram post shared by yet another Chesaning acquaintance. Most teens and tweens are carrying pain that they do not know how to effectively transform so they end up transferring it onto others through bullying or mean girling. Even worse is when we carry this pain into adulthood without transforming it.
Yoga has helped me recognize, connect with, and transform a lot of pain. There are heaps still to go! But with every practice, when I feel my heart beating as I lie in savasana, I know that I am healing. With every cleansing exhale I am releasing fears and anxieties carried from lifetimes ago. I pray that in some small way my teaching can provide this healing space for others. Yes, I like my classes to laugh and have fun. But what was that saying about laughter as the best medicine? I can’t outrun my past but I can learn to transform those experiences into something beautiful.