Today let me tell you about something that has been weighing on my mind and heart since the moment I stepped on the plane for India on December 31, 2017.
Before deciding to travel I had two choices:
1. Give 30 days notice to leave my Hermosa Beach, California apartment and try to sell all my furniture etc. or put things in storage before setting off for travel.
2. Sublease my apartment for a few months.
I decided to put up an ad to sublease and see what would transpire. If I didn't find someone in time I would make arrangements to move out, but if I could rent my place furnished and make a bit of money to help fund travel why not?
It seemed like a great plan.
The first couple weeks NO ONE responded except scammers. I was getting distraught about having to let go of my apartment. I didn't want to return from travel and have to find a place to live, but it was getting down to the wire. I was so discouraged I thought about giving up on the whole idea of traveling altogether, but my body gave me signals that was NOT going to happen.
I started having terrible cramps in my abdomen and muscle pain around my right hip. I thought it was just PMS, but then it progressed to insomnia and anxiety. I have had these intense body sensations come up a few times the past few years since I have become more aware and in tune with my energetic body. It feels like my energy has dispersed itself into millions of little bumper cars and they are all running into one another. It's chaos.
At 3AM I decided to post an ad on Craigslist to sublease my apartment one more time. The next afternoon I got a message. A couple wanted to come take a look at the apartment. They currently lived up the street, but said their apartment building was being torn down and rebuilt and they were looking for a place in the neighborhood.
All went really well. They loved the place. They liked the idea of it being furnished and I liked that I wouldn't have to load up a storage unit. They signed the contract for a 6 month sublease and paid part of the deposit the next day. All was going to plan. They paid rent and moved in on December 1, 2017 and I was on a plane to Maryland to take my beloved dog Quincy to stay with my parents for a few months.
December was a relaxing month. Getting ready for travel was easy since I took care of the tough work and logistics in November. I was all set to board my plane when I received a message that they would send January rent (due on the first of the month) in a couple days since they had to go up north to visit her father in the hospital.
"My prayers are with you during this difficult time." I wrote in a text message. Prayer emoji and all. I boarded my plane and expected the money to be coming in after the holiday.
I arrived in India at the ashram on January 2. I didn't hear from Joseph and Saira until the 5th. I got a very disturbing email saying the IRS placed a hold on their bank accounts for unpaid property taxes.
They said they would get it cleared up and make the payment by January 10. Initially, I froze in fear. I had just taken a 24 hour flight and was on the other side of the world and feared that I would be turning right back around. All my planning, all my hopes, all the preparation, down the drain.
I emailed my landlord and asked for an extension to pay rent on the 15th. He is super kind and was willing to work with me. "Sure, just pay the $50 late fee."
Then, I had to try to stay calm, enjoy yogic living at the ashram, continue to create the Habits in Practice Course and not let all the thoughts of "what ifs" enter my mind.
January 10 rolled around....no money.
Joseph said he pulled money from another account since they were in deeper than they thought, but the deposit hadn't arrived yet and I would have to wait. Well that wasn't going to fly. On the 18th I get an email from my landlord. I told him the situation. He has been managing spaces for many years and he knew something was up with these people even though I couldn't see it. He could smell a big fat rat.
With no rent paid he puts an eviction notice on the door. I'm in an email chain between him and his lawyer. He's calling Joseph. Joseph isn't answering. It gets ugly. To keep the peace and avoid losing my apartment and having to turn around and fly home I paid the rent.
Money down the drain. People freeloading living in my apartment and sleeping in my beds and not paying. I contacted a lawyer and discuss going to small claims court. Problem is, I'm in India and going to court right away would mean giving up the trip not to mention be a huge headache at this time.
Joseph said they would pay by February 5 and be out the first week. I started to feel better. Maybe it could work out after all. I did my best to give them the benefit of the doubt. I wanted to believe them...
I posted some ads to find a new subtenant and have a much better response than the first go around, even though now I wish I had never rented to these people in the first place.
February 5 rolls around- once again, no follow through on their word. No payment was made. At this point I realized that their "word" is absolute bullshit. Why do they keep making promises they have no intention of keeping?
I became furious. They made no attempt to pay anything- not even a portion of the rent. During my yoga practice I fumed for 90 minutes over the situation every morning.
Finally, I just couldn't take it anymore. I had to expose the true source of my anger and suffering- my own fear.
You see, it was easier for me to be angry and lash out at them, but I had to put my weapons down and say, "I'm scared. I feel taken advantage of; violated. I'm hurt, and I don't have the funds for this to go on. I need you all out so I can rent the place and make my bill payments."
I wanted to retaliate and blame them. I wanted to call them the scum of the earth for doing this to another human being especially when that human is traveling solo on the other side of the world. I wanted to tell him his willpower, integrity, and follow through sucks. I wanted to say I pity them for the way they live their lives and treat people. (Okay, so I did actually say that...)
But, I couldn't go on with nasty messages. I couldn't make myself into the victim. That would be inflicting violence upon myself and at this point in my life I have learned to love myself too much to hold anger in my body.
Anger is toxic. For me anger swells up in my lower abdomen like a fluid pouch. When I finally release it through meditation, core work, yoga asana, breath, love, and acceptance it's like emptying a camel pack. My abdomen de-bloats, healthy hearty digestion is restored, and I feel like I just stopped walking around with a 200 lb. barbell over my shoulders and a watermelon in my low abdomen.
Anger feels hot and pungent. It feels like a high school locker room smells. Rotten.
I have chosen to rise above anger.
One day while sitting in meditation just fuming I began to soften little by little as the minutes rolled by. It became very clear when I realized this...
For me this issue was about money and a violation of my space. For them it's their character.
Actions speak louder than words.
Money is like a current; it flows...comes and goes. Character is much harder to change. Their workload is far greater than the workload I will undergo to make back the money they promised to pay but failed to do so.
Life sometimes schools us. Hits us with a ruler or shoves us into a sticker bush, but eventually we wake up and see how the circumstances and events in life aren't just happening outside of us; it's happening within us.
Due to this situation I have a newfound respect for money. I've really had to budget on this trip. I sometimes eat oatmeal for breakfast and dinner and only eat lunch out a cafe even though it only costs 200 rs which is about $3 USD. Learning is my favorite and I have had to pick and choose my courses and learning experiences rather than doing all the events I originally wanted to sign up for. I have learned to live very simple on almost nothing.
Whenever I go to spend money I look at the Indian Rupee with Mahatma Gandhi on the bills.
I think of how Gandhi sacrificed- went without food, but most importantly I feel his peace. I tell myself over and over again throughout the day... "do not retaliate. It only hurts yourself. Where is there room for more love in this situation?"
Everyday, multiple times per day in the yoga shala, chanting class, and in my own personal meditation practices I am reminded to keep the peace...Om shanti shanti shanti....peace...peace...peace. Let there be peace within me so there can be peace around me. Let me radiate peace so I inspire peace in another. Let there be peace in the heart of all humankind.
I know that this situation will pass. In a few months I will probably look back on it and may even still think, "those jerks!" but even so I hope it is a flighty thought, one that does not get lodged in my tissues or digestive tract or even worse in the cave of my heart.