I was born in 1973. As a child, going to church on Sundays and Holidays was something we just did. My father was more religious then my mom, so we ended up in a Catholic Church rather than the Lutheran one my mom didn’t really connect with. I was baptized, had my First Communion and was Confirmed. Confirmed as what? Honestly, I couldn’t tell you, but my guess it has something to do with coming of age. Fast forward to high school when going to church was more of a thing we did at Christmas, I remember the moment we looked at each other as a family and decided that this just wasn’t something that served us anymore. During the Christmas Eve service, after we received communion, the people of the congregation wheeled out a birthday cake and we sang Happy Birthday to Jesus. The Gordon Family was out.
I grew up in a pretty religiously diverse town compared to some. It seemed it was equally Jewish as it was Christian, but I don’t know the true stats on that. Mostly I remember in 7th and 8th grade going to a Bar Mitzvah or Bat Mitzvah every other weekend, getting to wear a new dress each time and playing spin the bottle at the after parties. As an adult I’ve gone to a couple of church weddings and recently went to one in a Temple. (Side note: for purposes here on out in this blog post, what I am talking about does not apply at all to that wedding.) Lots of traditional type mass services, big beautiful white dresses and readings with the occasional sermons that resonate with me. When I am visiting my mom these days during the Holidays, I enjoy taking her to church. It sort of reminds me of my childhood and creates a sense of community and celebration which is a special experience that I get to share with her. Reflecting back, when I review all of these religious bench marks and traditions I have witnessed in life, I keep coming up with the same question. Where was God in all of this?
Maybe it was my short attention span or my low reading comprehension SAT testing scores that kept me from getting it, or maybe it was the way that these Priest’s and Rabbi’s spoke about God, but having a true understanding of what God is didn’t come to me or even interest me until I found it on my own in my mid 20’s. I wasn’t in a church, I wasn’t in a Temple and I wasn’t tripping on acid. I actually think at the time I was considering myself agnostic and didn’t think of God much at all. I was however, a year or 2 into a journey that was just about “finding myself”. I had moved from NYC to San Francisco because I was miserable and wanted to make sure I was “me” because of my choices, not because of my friends, my family and my socio-economic environment. I wanted to make sure that the 25 year old I saw in the mirror who was heartbroken, miserable and beyond being done with it all, was everything she could be — that having successfully created the illusion of having it all; an amazing social life, a sweet job at a design studio in SOHO and killer apartment in Chelsea and still being disappointed with life, was how it was supposed to be. I remember writing in my journal, “This life is so pathetic, I can’t believe I actually have to live it”.
The idea of moving to San Francisco came to me one afternoon on the beach, just like that. I had a beach house with a bunch of friends on Fire Island for the summer (I know, I know… horrible life) and announced to my friends late one afternoon, on the train ride back into the city, that I was going to move. I had been praying for help, crying a lot and was also seeing a therapist. It only took 3 months of therapy and the support of an adult other then my parents, to give me the guts to make the decision. At this point, while I had been praying to a slightly less structured God of my childhood, “he” was still no where to be found and had nothing to do with any of this. An escape plan had been hatched and in January of 2000 I left everything I knew to be true behind as I stepped onto a plane to a city where I knew 3 people, had no job and no place to live.
A Priest, a Rabbi and a Life Coach walk into a bar…. Part II
When I moved to San Francisco in the beginning of 2000, it didn’t take me long to settle in and get a glimpse of an alternate reality that existed on the other side of the country. While my first year or 2 in the bay area were a struggle, I eventually found my people, a great freelance design career and a type of chiropractic work that eventually lead me to God. Wait? Did I loose you there? I know… what? Yes, Network Chiropractic (NSA – Network Spinal Analysis), the work of Donny Epstein was the impetus of my spiritual journey.
I was working with a Creative Director in the Marina and one day while I was straightening up before I was headed out to work, I was in the living room and was about to move the coffee table over, didn’t even touch it and my back went out. I fell to the floor, face down and laid there for a while thinking I’d be there until my roommate came home from work which was about 5 hours later. I managed to crawl on my elbows over to the phone to call my client and told her I could barley move. She immediately told me to call “her guy”. I buzzed over to the offices of Dr. Peter Fisk and they told be to get there when I could. Once I arrived, on my own, in tears, I sat with Dr. Peter in a room and he asked me a series of questions. The trigger for me was a basic one – – what’s been going on in your life lately? As I opened my mouth to explain that it had only been a few months since my roommate Mark Jones had died tragically, the energy in the whole room shifted. I could feel the heaviness in my heart and sadness consume me.
“The body weeps the tears the eyes refuse to shed.” – Donny Epstein
It was about 5 minutes into the car ride home from my first visit with Dr. Peter that the pain started to subside. I had a follow-up visit a week later and my back felt fine, so that was my last visit, or so I thought. A little over a year later after returning from my parents house for the Holidays, my back was killing me again. I went in to see Dr. Peter and we decided to try a longer term treatment package that was aimed at working on a few of my other physical ailments as well, one of them being vertigo. I knew I was where I needed to be and felt I had found a community and holistic practice that was nurturing, supportive and more aligned with my principles of wellness, which still hadn’t really been defined at that point. Network Chiropractic is not like other forms of Chiropractic. There is no cracking or popping… it’s a series of gentle touches along the spine. What seems to be a process that brings you deeper into your body, in the long term helps you loose your attachment to your body and all the stories that go along with it.
A year or so into care, the small life changes started to happen. I quit smoking, started a yoga practice and began the exploration of personal mastery. It wasn’t until started connecting to something that was greater than myself.
We no longer need to go to church or temple to fulfill our need for community. It is often filled by the urban tribes that we create and/or the extended families we have. We can also join book clubs, meet-up groups for almost any hobby… there are endless ways to make friends and meet people with similar interests who can support you. NGO’s and non-profits have replaced the role of the church/temple in th need for spiritual guidance is still there, but the roles have aren’t being filled by priests and rabbi’s anymore – – the life coach is the new