Nobody knew I was a mother. Or an author. Or the proud publisher of “Your Weekend Benny,” a weekly Facebook post featuring pictures of my cat that, on average, get more likes than anything else I share.
About all anyone at the retreat knew about me is that my name is Jennifer, I am from New Jersey, and I prefer the meat-eater’s line at the buffet.
And I liked it that way.
Most of the weekend, I locked my smartphone in the safe in my room, along with my laptop, which I never touched except to unpack and then pack it again. The only work I would do was taking notes, by hand, in bestselling author Caroline Myss’ class, “The Essential Guide for Healers and Healing.”
It was there that Myss compared people who are stuck in the lower chakras (a.k.a. Survival Mode), to people who live on the bottom floor of a tall building. All they can see is the street and the first few floors of the building next door, she explained. It’s loud there, and dirty, and they can’t find the stairs.
The people in the penthouse, on the other hand, have a view of the ocean on one side and the mountains on the other. It’s quiet up there, peaceful. Beautiful.
“But if the people from the penthouse came downstairs to tell the people living on the bottom floor about the ocean and the mountains, those people downstairs wouldn’t believe them,” Myss said. Because they can’t see what’s above them.
She said we are all buildings and each floor in us is a level of truth with a different view of reality. But the rent costs more as you move up, and you have to leave behind what’s on the lower floors to get there. So, most people just stay downstairs.
“And so, they don’t heal,” she said.
It’s a message that I needed to hear when my–my God –adult child was a toddler and his brother was a baby, and I would fantasize that the UPS delivery man would ring the doorbell and offer to watch the kids while I napped.
In those years, I lived in the lower chakras, in Survival Mode. I was grounded by the Law of Gravity, which gave weight to exhaustion, and lived by the Law of Action and Reaction, which stated that when my colicky baby cries, I must pat his back, over and over and over for hours every single night for months.
Back then, there was no room for enlightenment or taking stock of my inner voice or for asking angels for grace. Though if the angels had offered to watch the kids so I could sleep, I would have exhibited profound gratitude.
And so, I couldn’t heal. I set up shop on my bottom floor and then I stayed there for a very long time.
Yesterday, on my firstborn’s 18th birthday, I packed up my smartphone and my laptop, plus the requisite souvenirs of sparkly silver earrings and a teal, heart-shaped stone from the center’s gift shop, and I started the three-hour drive home. On the New York Thruway, cars whipped past me. I looked down at my speedometer: I was going 70 mph. Also, I was surprisingly nearly out of gas.
So I did what I’d learned at the retreat and asked the angels for grace.
And a Shell station.
I got both.
As I pumped gas into my car, I sized up the people in the cars around me: the skiers, the Canadians, the families, the delivery people, and the retirees. I thought about who I was and what reality I could see from the floor inside my inner building, and I found the answer:
I am Jennifer, and I am from New Jersey. And I like it that way.