In the last month I have been managing a series of traumatic events that have challenged me to my core. Still, this should not level me. No one in my immediate family has cancer. We are not starving. We are not living in a war zone, and we are not homeless. I have not been in a horrific car accident, I am not fighting for my life in the ICU with my family at my bedside. I have not lost the use of my body or mind. Have I lost my composure? uhuh… a few times. I am dealing with the temporary and privileged inconvenience of having my Massage School’s headquarters become uninhabitable after a sudden freeze and boiler malfunction. Yep. It sucks.
When this grim misfortune destroyed the plumbing and heating in the building we called home for the Berkana Institute we were 6 days away from launching our new class. A class full of eager and trusting students, many who had traveled and relocated from their home to attend, and who had struggled to find housing as close to the Institute as possible. All who were expecting to be learning in the grounded and exquisite environment of the Victorian Mansion on Race Street.
At first I had to kid myself, and I did a very good job of that, that we would return in a day. Then the kidding lengthened into a week, of course we only needed a place to have our classes for one week! I found that remedy and savior in our loving neighbors at the Unity Temple next door. Phew! We carried on having our Orientation there, and I assured my new beautiful class that all was well, and we would be returning back to the mansion as soon as they turned the water and the heat back on. No. Big. Deal.
Sitting in the kitchen surrounded by the Service Pro emergency team, my landlord, and the plumbers on that ill-fated Tuesday afternoon when they were speaking the dirty language of months to repair, my landlord turned to me and in a way that can only be described as a slow motion punch in the face and said “well, I don’t know what YOU’RE going to do”. That phrase repeated in my head as if it was bouncing off the inside of my skull “well, I don’t know what you’re going to do” “well, I don’t know what you’re going to do” “well, I don’t know what you’re going to do”…
After a period of the incessant head game of terrifying word pong I finally gained control of the monkey mind and became crystal clear. “OK! I KNOW what I’m going to do! I am going to find a new building! I’m going to survive this catastrophe and serve my students an amazing massage therapy education regardless of the loss of the building! The school is NOT the building! WE are the school!” became my mantra.
Classes began and everyone was solid! Everyone was excited! Everyone was open! Everyone was eager! Anatomy and Physiology was being taught, Massage Tables were being opened, dressed, stripped, cleaned and folded up. We continued, and we all worked hard.
Every moment of every day that I am not in class teaching, bathing or sleeping I have been seeking the new home for the Berkana Institute of Massage Therapy. I have communicated with and engaged in one way or another with several dozen commercial realtors. I have read Craigslist 8-10 times per day to see what has been posted in the last few minutes. I’m having Craigslist nightmares. All of the schools equipment has been packed by professional movers who are waiting at the ready for the new address. I have fallen in love with places, shared my excitement with others and then been completely disregarded if not totally ignored by several “professionals” who verbally made commitments. I’m sorry to report that ethics and integrity are not ever present in the Commercial Real Estate field in the mile high city. I feel as if I’m kissing toads.
Next week we will have our classes at a new temporary facility that is beautiful and home to a rich culture of holistic health care practitioners. How long we will be there, we do not know, and there are bumps to negotiate with equipment management and scheduling issues there too. I imagine the students will continue to beam their bright understanding natures into the experience and I will continue to eat this elephant one bite at a time, chewing well every bite.
While I am chewing and deciding what to gnaw on next my beloved apprentice Heather is fighting the good fight after being in a tragic car accident. She has escaped the ICU and gets stronger every day! A professional leader that I admire greatly is focusing all of her energy and time to hold her man’s hand while he goes through 30 or so chemotherapy treatments, and too many people have lost the use of their arms and hands yet still smile and love and do whatever they can to help others. People are dying in war zones and from starvation every minute of every day. Let’s not forget how rich we are.
We are fragile. No one is safe. Anything can happen. Life is not a sitcom and unexpected trauma can be expected. When you are in the middle of the storm you will be forced to be present, and as you balance your act on the edge of the unknown and possible devastation you get to know what you are truly made of and what really matters. That is the gift. When the rug is suddenly pulled out from under you, you get the rare opportunity to feel that fragility of life, and recognize how important we people are to each other. We remember that what matters most is how we show up for ourselves and each other as each moment of our precious life passes.
Every challenging experience can break you down to your raw and essential self. In that state of unknown chaos we have this rare chance to reflect upon, and rearrange how we are living. We have a rare chance to rise to a new and improved version of ourselves to bring forward into tomorrow.
Tomorrow I will talk to the realtor at 9:30, see the storage facility at 10:30, meet with the new property manager at 11:00, start to sort through the stuff in preparation for the movers between 12:00 and 1:00, look at Craigslist half a dozen times by then, try to remember to eat and drink plenty of water and at 1:15pm until 3:00pm I will show up and honor my students with the very best that I’ve got. May we all walk a righteous path especially when the path is washed out.
And yeah… of course the Berkana Institute of Massage Therapy will rise from the ashes of what we call fate. Our work is not hardly close to done. ❤
Jill K. Berkana LMT Founder/Director Berkana Institute of Massage Therapy and Bodywork Passionista