How to Quit your Life without becoming Homeless. ~ Kala Viv Williams

Via on Jan 21, 2011
Kala Viv Williams

An Introduction.

I recently joined a program called the A-List Blogging Club and Bootcamps started by Leo Babauta, the uber successful blogger and now published author. One of the key things they stress is “What’s your story?” and how to relate that on the “About” page of your blog. That’s what people really want to know—why should I read your blog, buy your stuff, or whatever. So that, combined with today’s intuitive reading, I did for myself, has prompted this piece. The reading said:  you have knowledge that can help others through teaching, writing or speaking and that that is your mission. Most importantly, it stressed that sharing in this way would help other and myself to heal. At that point, finishing the reading for myself, I got choked up as I felt emotion arising. So here’s my story:

I had been a professor. As the child of immigrant parents, who had less than a high school education, becoming an educator was a big deal. Finally, in my 40s, I was able to buy a car for the first time. I was able to say my profession with pride, knowing that the average person had a respect for a “professor.” Artist and yoga teacher, which I “was” before, did not have the same prestige for most.

I left the job as a professor, after six years of soul grinding, loss of self, autonomy and joy. It was painful staying and leaving. I had no plan but to just dive into the unknown with a deep sense of trust. While still employed, I went to a yoga retreat at Kripalu Center for Yoga and Health. The teacher, Sofia Diaz, a highly intuitive, free-spirited yogini, placed me and a few women into a group she called the “rebirthers”. We were going into a “second blossoming, a renaissance” she said, as we sat in a small huddle, surrounded by the larger circle of women. Our perplexed but pleased smiles to each other in the group said it all—somewhere inside, we already knew that.

I left that retreat clear on the fact that in a few weeks I must announce that I would not seek tenure. I felt clear and empowered in my decision. Friends, well meaning, and family, and even the administration said, “No don’t do it, don’t just quit.” They encouraged me to do the tenure process and then see. Feeling confused again, I did as they urged, got tenure and left. In the terrible economy of 2008, I packed up my little Hyundai to the brim. A dear friend, an army brat who had moved many times as a child, had to come and repack the car as I couldn’t fit anymore in, she did it and managed to close the doors.

Driving slowly into the woods of Massachusetts, on the gorgeous winding Route 2, the Mohawk Trail, I could see nothing but belongings in the rear view mirror. I arrived at my hill-town and hid out.

At that point, I was “homeless”. Now don’t get me wrong, I never was sleeping over the warm subway grate on the sidewalk. I managed to avoid that. Looking back, I realize my own resilience and can see the humor.

I pulled into the long, rocky driveway, arrived at the little cabin on top of a hill, just outside of the small New England hill-town. Through the woods, on one side, there was a large open field with barn like structures. It was the town fairground. Next to that stood the cemetery. Behind me, an apparently uninhabited house, and across the street, muddy woods. I was to live in the Witch’s House for the next few months. I’m not being rude; she called herself a witch and she was. In her 50s or 60s, she had thick wavy, silvery hair and wore long skirts and floaty dresses. She looked like you would expect if you had any awareness of New England witches!  She had a twinkle in her eye.

The skid into homelessness was avoided by moving into her wind driven, handy man built house. It stood on piers, the cheapest and most expeditious method; it was the first house he ever built back in the 60s. A hand held 3 inches off the house’s wooden floor, would be chilled by the draft streaming in. Five or six inches off the ground, the air became pretty toasty thanks to the belly round black wood stove with the “nipples”, as the Witch called them.

I had found this house by what you would call serendipity but I know it was “guidance”; you see, I know we have this “sense” and can develop it. It’s our own inner knowing—intuition. Often, I would feel a physical pull to do something, go somewhere that led to—voia!—just what I needed. Some of the things that happened to me were so convoluted they go beyond the realm of chance.

I had given up my lease in the park-like apartment complex I lived in when I was a professor. It expired at the end of August, perfect for me not to return for a school year. I had been officially declared to be suffering from “depression and anxiety” and given a medical leave. Not knowing where I was headed when I didn’t renew the lease, no new job, I knew I needed to be far away from where I was.

I had already scouted out the area I loved in the hills of Western Mass.; my nearest friends were 1 hour or so south. I felt physically called to this region. For years before finally leaving, I had dreamed of moving there. Fantasies of a simpler life called to me. I literally took out all the books in the library system that had to do with cabins and small homes. I would sit and just drink in the images of rustic cabins.

I had been desperate to leave the unhealthy situation at work.  Looking at an image of what could have been the interior of pioneer cabin, I thought, “I don’t mind if I don’t have electricity, or plumbing. That would be fine.” That’s how desperate this city girl got. Be really careful what you wish for.

So finding the Witch’s House was all intuition. Having no savings but the sick leave payments to look forward to, I made a call. There was one yoga studio in a little central town in the area. I called the owner and asked her, sight unseen, did she need a vinyasa yoga teacher. “Yes in fact, it’s funny one of my teachers is leaving, and she teaches vinyasa style. I am looking for a teacher.”  Whoa ok. “Well I really don’t have a place to live,” I said, which was the primary reason I called. My hunch was that the yoga teacher would be able to help. She invited me to come and visit her for a few days, and she also wanted another roommate! It would prove to be not far away enough for me, living in close quarters with two others. I asked her if she know of anyone who needed someone to house sit their place, that they would be away and wanted it cared for. She paused, “No, I really don’t know anyone… Oh wait, there is one woman whose often looking for someone to stay at her place. It’s way out in the woods I think.” “Perfect,” I said.

How the next eventful few months transpired is for another chapter of the story. Your takeaway is “don’t panic” when you may be losing a job and or your housing. If you are trusting, flexible, and have a huge amount of resilience, you can survive and, in fact, learn a lot about yourself. Most likely you will unearth strengths that you were completely unaware of. They will become active tools that you can use—’cause now you own them!  One of my discovered strengths is that I am a survivor. Ask anyone who knows me; I was notoriously anti-physical activity (aside from my vigorous yoga, which I love.)  More of a reading, park strolling, meditating kind of gal, I’d say. Well I ended up taking a real life Pioneer Woman 101 course (ok it was only seven days of hell, call it an intensive).

Kala Viv Williams, left a blistering, tenured career in academia. She eventually returned to her original loves and now blogs here.  A graduate of the “Mindfulness Yoga & Meditation Training” program at Spirit Rock, she is a certified yoga teacher, educator, and intuitive mentor with 17 years of experience. She is currently working on a book about her experiences tentatively titled “Meditations on Unemployment,” or “The Zen of Unemployment”—vote on best title choice please! This article is an excerpt. Find her on Twitter or Facebook.

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68 Responses to “How to Quit your Life without becoming Homeless. ~ Kala Viv Williams”

  1. Great story, Kala. Enjoyed reading this.

    Bob W.
    Yoga Editor

  2. [...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Cyndi and Bob Weisenberg, Les Elephants. Les Elephants said: Just quit your life and teach yoga. Come on. Just do it. http://tinyurl.com/4ptuudd #elej [...]

  3. jaclyn says:

    What an inspiration you are. That takes some guts to do for sure….and amazing faith!

  4. Kala says:

    Thanks Jaclyn, actually I think the Universe is now pushing many of us to transform our lives-and so I felt like I got a huge and persistant kick in the butt! Till it got too painful and I shifted you know?

  5. QuietDad says:

    Hi Kala.

    I found the link to this over on the A-List Blogging forum. Glad I did; you've got a great story and I'd love to hear more!

    Zen of Unemployment sounds like a winner. When it comes out can I get an autographed copy :)

    Peace, JR

    • Kala says:

      Thanks QD, I recently got that "Zen of Un…" is best title the meditations one is bit too low energy or something. Zen implies a quick fluid response so yeah if I can write, it would have mediations in it and contemplations on how to start over-not to jump back into the rat race, employee thing. We'll see..Any publishers out there????

  6. Ari Setsudo Pliskin Ari Pliskin says:

    So glad to see you here at ele, Kala!

    • Kala says:

      Thanks Ari! Like I said you inspired me to submit something,when I read your thoughtful first article for Ele. And the Zen Peacemakers connection and you being local made me think "I can do it!" I've gotta start coming back to the open sits over there.

  7. Subhash says:

    Kala, that's truly an amazing and inspiring story. It shows the spirit of a true yogi – keeping an evenness of the mind in all situations. In Bhagavad Gita – "evenness of the mind is yoga". Looking forward to the second part of the story!
    -Subhash

  8. Megan says:

    A wonderfully inspiring article Kala :) I believe we were meant to touch each other's souls. You are a brave, beautiful woman and I too, share a story of re-birth. In a nutshell, three months ago I made the decision to separate from my husband. Having been married for a year and a half -together for eleven- I knew in my heart we were no longer meant to be partners. I believe turning thirty last May -I was nineteen when we met- was a pivotal moment for me. This was when I just started being introduced to myself :) I also started my yoga teacher training in September -finishing this coming May- and I believe the combination of all of these factors -and a few others- gave me a clear understanding of what life is meant to be about. Knowing our Divine selves and being true to who we really are, growing and welcoming love with open arms and seeing the world with an open heart and mind is what we are meant to do with these years we have on earth.
    Fortunately for me, my ex-husband and I are very close, wonderful friends. I believe we were just two friends that should have not been married and it took a lot of courage to face that. After all, how many people are there in the world that are just 'comfortable' and are not living the life they were meant to be living!?
    So, almost thirty one with a separation/ divorce under my belt and a yogini in training, I walk down a path of awareness, wakefulness, and new life and savor every moment, every sight, every touch and every feeling as it is my first and my last.
    Thank you for sharing such a wonderful experience with all of us.

    • Viv says:

      Big changes for you! It sounds like you are adept as deep listening to your own truths and I truly believe it helps all we encounter even if painful at first. Your husband path will lead him to a wonderful growthful place for him. Namaste.

  9. Rit says:

    Welcome to the life I've been living since 1984!!! Abundance is the norm and yet people live as though scarcity were real.

  10. Ben says:

    I really enjoyed reading this. I think the key factor you had going for you was an understanding of the change you wanted. It's easy to know you're unhappy, harder to find what it is you really want and go for it. I'm still working on the latter.

  11. lindelhart says:

    Great, Viv! As someone who watched this unfold from your arrival in western MA, I'm proud to see how your perspective is so positive and rich. Kudos to you! Can't wait to read the next installment. And by the way, I like "The Zen of Unemployment".

    • Kala says:

      Thanks Lindel! yeah I'm gonna run with the "Zen of…." As a serious yogi and yoga teacher, I"m sure you have seen that serendipity or simply being in the flow that our yoga practice gives us. It's pretty deep, we regain our relationship to all things, not just develop a yoga butt. That's what I"m encouraging folks to see-take their yoga to the next level and include the higher practices, like meditation and more time on pranayama and such….the yoga off the mat stuff.

  12. Great story Kala and fabulous photo!

    I want to know more of your story and I vote for “Zen of Unemployment”.

    I’m glad A-List Blogger Club prompted you to write this. It’s a great club, which I’m proud to say I’m a member of :)

    • Kala says:

      Thanks Alison. Yeah actually a dear friend (unemployed!) in NYC first told me "write this stuff down" you are gonna want to look back and see how far your've come, and you wont' remember otherwise." Then when I started blogging and studying over at AList, and they said tell your full story! THE GOOD BAD AND THE UGLY- (where is Clint when i need him?)

  13. Kala,
    You're story is so inspiring. Thank you so much for sharing it with us!

  14. Karen says:

    It's thrilling to read a story about this from a woman who had already reached her 40's. So many are written by much younger people. Being a woman of a certain age myself I find your courage and grace truly an inspiration and begin this day with renewed hope. Thank you for sharing with us. And, just a thought, on the title for your soon to be published book (<–positive thinking!), I vote for the title of this blog – How to Quit Life – and not become homeless. Says it all! Om Shantih ~

    • Joe says:

      Karen, Barbara Sher has written some great books, including one called "It's Only Too Late if You Don't Start Now." Check her out (re: "woman of a certain age" comment).

  15. rev karl says:

    What a great tale of finding the way to your next level!

    Not many people have the courage to take The Road Less Travelled.

    As others have written above, "Thanks for sharing."

    KK

    • Kala says:

      Rev. Karl, you know where I"m comin' from, I won't say anymore than that. I have to tell you I think your Peak Oil explanation planted a seed in my head of "we are going down to primitive living" which on some level influenced this whole saga. I don't know if it's law of attraction or if it's precognitive but I definatley felt like "whoa I'm gonna need some basic skills in the next few months." And low and behold it happened! I know you are a non believer but now-I"m seeing simple abundance- not clawing out roots with ones bare hands-Simple abundance in harmony with Nature, as the future that awaits us-if we are lucky and envision and act! I really believe we create what we believe/expect/envision.

  16. Edward Cothey says:

    Thank you for sharing your inspirational story, you are a wonderful caring teacher.
    Edward

  17. Ray says:

    Great story, I loved it.

  18. Sage says:

    This was very *you*–Love it! Love and miss you! Big warm hugs your way! (and I also vote for Zen of Unemployment)

    • Kala says:

      Sage wow gurl, I love how you continue to invent and morph your life, it blossoms. REad this book called Renaissance Souls by Margaret Loebenstine. Just for the encouragement factor, she really get's folks who are smart, curious and seeking new challenges, rather than just building in one profession-old school style! I'm gonna check out your art more deeply via your link. Congrats on keeping all stuff going with such a full family life. Namaste

  19. Joe Yeoman says:

    Great job. This is truly inspirational.

  20. Ken Harp says:

    Hey Kala,this is a great article, very inspiring. It's great to hear a success story that redefines success in a different way. Not yet getting exactly what you want,but having strength and positive out look to go on lovingly and enthusiastically. Which is far more important in the long run. When it comes to living a happy prosperous life.

    Love Ya Ken

  21. This is a beautiful post, Kala. It's inspiring to see how you re-created yourself. I've tweeted this post and mentioned it on Facebook.

  22. froxy says:

    So glad you posted your story and would love to read the next chapter! I've had several such "rebirths" in my life and am currently undergoing another one as i turn fifty this year (WHAT??? when did THAT happen??). There can be such an intense sense of inner crazy during these times before (and even after) we come to that place that shouts: MAJOR CHANGE MUST HAPPEN NOW!!, that it's inspiring and supportive to write about it–for our own healing, as you said, and also for the possible support it may lend to one who is at that edge him or herself. Kudos to you for making the leap, hanging on, hanging in, and dancing forward into the void where all things are possible. BTW–i vote for the zen of unemployment.

  23. stella says:

    Enjoyed your article. My vote: The Zen of Unemployment. :)

  24. margaret says:

    great story, but you really need to get an editor if you want to be a writer!

    • Kala says:

      I do, are you one! I'm not by profession a writer and mentally am not focused on grammar and where I put my commas and such. I am a storyteller though and quite good at that naturally. In my family, I guess as part of oral tradition in Af-American community there are natural storytellers-I think Random House or other supportive publishing house will have fab editors for me to work with though. LOL.

  25. Ben Ralston Ben Ralston says:

    Hey Kala,

    I’m delighted to read your story – there are many similarities to my own: I gave up everything I knew to do something I didn’t know much at all (took a lot of guts) and found everything I wanted in something I’d never imagined!

    I really hope you finish your book and get it published: many people need to read this story.

    Love, Ben

  26. Diane says:

    Wow, Viv, this is great!!. Leave it to you to come up with such a deep, yet humerous piece about life. I love that your going to write a another article the Zen of unemployment. You are an amazing person and I love you dearly and cherish you and your friendship. You never cease to amaze me and at the same time insprire me. I will be in touch. Love ya, Diane

  27. marianney says:

    i really enjoyed your style of writing Kala and what a great story! with your strength you can be a role model to people of all ages that don't really know what's next for them.

  28. Elaine says:

    Hi Kala — I did the same exact thing. I left a very stressful urban life 7 months ago. I have been unemployed the entire time, and I have found Zen as well. My old life is so very far away, and I am so very happy. Thank you for sharing your story. If you'd like to hear mine I'd be happy to share my blog with you. You can reach me at: nyclagirl@hotmail.com I wish you all the best!

    • Kala says:

      Elaine hi, technically I am still unemployed! That's what I want to write about- that shift from unemployed to self-empowered and self-employed in whatever cottage industry serves us and our communities! Check out Claudia also at Ele, her article same story really: http://www.elephantjournal.com/2011/01/21-things-….
      I am working every day using the principals I know that have worked for me in the past-in terms of manifesting amazing things. Getting this in Ele is one of first bright results of my change of heart and mind.

  29. Kala, I am glad to meet you, I like the "don't panic" advice, very true… :-)

    • Viv says:

      Thanks Claudia I loved your piece on dealing with sudden unemployment, here at Ele too, it came out just a week after this and had so much in common. In it it sounded like you were not happy were you were and like me the universe finds a way to give a huge unmistakable push out! And it's painful usually, but we recover!

  30. toilynn says:

    Kala, inspiring article! Thank you for your heart forward sharing. I have been there, too, as so many have as well. Which is what makes your story our story. My take away…when we fight the river of our life we grow weary, lost, tired …when we go with the flow and let go, trust, it is amazing where the rivers take us. I vote for Zen of Unemployemt (but I like the word Zen!) My latest post The Art of Flow, on my blog This Zen Life. Be well, Toi Lynn http://zenlifecoaching.net/2011/01/the-art-of-flo

  31. Sharon says:

    Thank you for making it ok to go after my dream! Your article came at the right time in my life. It is never easy to go against the grain but you did. I can't wait for part two.

  32. Tesia says:

    I vote for The Zen of Unemployment – Thank you for the inspiration!

  33. [...] 1/21: Check out my How to Quit Your Life: Without Becoming Homeless published at Elephant Journal. It's pretty inspiring/bittersweet reading especially for all of us [...]

  34. Linda says:

    Enjoyed reading this article Kala! Absolutely learned a thing or two and I appreciate that. We never know where our next lessons will come from! Wishing you much joy in your new Life!

  35. Bridget says:

    Great story; I wish I could meet you in person to hear the rest!

    This is a testament to, "jump… and the net will appear!"

    Thank you for sharing your life experience. Look forward to the book…

  36. [...] with our partners, with our emotions, with pretty much everything. The answer is to let go—really let go. Let the ease of the breath set you free, and shed the oppressive yoke of the ego’s need to lead. [...]

  37. [...] to suicide, drug abuse, obesity, consumerism, apathy or paralyzing cynicism. Many of us are spiritually hiding either too jaded or afraid to seek depth and meaning within ourselves with enough passion to [...]

  38. [...] second part to the epic tale. We greatly advise that you read the first part of the story, and then return to this [...]

  39. meda says:

    Kala -great job! Congrats especially for the courage to change your life so drastically, living a stable situation for what some unawakened person would call "hunch" -not too many people would be able to do that!
    So -welcome home :)

  40. Jodi-Samantha says:

    Inspiring. Thank you!

  41. Emily says:

    I think my favorite part of the story is that you have been and likely will always be an educator, maybe just not in the way that others are comfortable with (ala Professor). Keep growing and teaching, Kala. Thank you for sharing your story.

  42. quilless says:

    About to begin a "leap of faith" travel myself, with my partner… your story reassures me that the universe provides exactly what is needed at the right moment!

  43. Kala says:

    Colleen you have so much waiting to just bloom, it's crazy! When are you gonna bust out-how's the training going, that sounded very intense. Very proud of you on that step forward.

  44. Kala says:

    Teaching yoga is wonderful. It's in many places not an easy way to make a living but at your stage of life it sounds like it's working for you. Enjoy it, I"m now trying to use the tools of yoga to reach more people not just the few in a yoga class here in the mostly rural area where I live.

  45. Viv says:

    Thanks Joe, If I may be bold, I found that in many ways my health improved once I got out of harmful toxic situation. I knew that if I stayed my health WOULD get worse-in fact my cholesterol became high during my work struggles and of course anxiety and depression. Perhaps plan ways to slowly transition to something that brings you more joy-think of the wonderful effect that would have. Also your suffering does not affect or help the suffering in other parts of the world. You deserve to be happy as the 98% of the world do too!

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