This musing was written in April 2018
Is it possible the best things really come from New Jersey? As I wrapped up a week of incredible connections, I couldn’t help asking myself if Fair Lawn, New Jersey the hometown I ran from is really where it’s at.
Last week consisted of four really major New Jersey connections: Marie Forleo, Bruce Springsteen, Seane Corn, and well, ME!
To be fair, I’ve been hanging with Marie (on line that is) for the last six weeks. She’s a proud Jersey girl with meaningful stories about her roots, most notably the one about her mother and the Tropicana radio. It’s so good I’m going to let her tell it. The lesson there: “everything is figure-out-able”. Chew on that one for awhile when you are stuck in a jam and imagine it being at the core of your understanding… Brilliant!
My dad is kind of the same. He fixed our dryer everytime it broke for years, until they finally stopped making replacement parts for that model. He had just finished re-building the wall which creates the narrow stairway down to the basement when the dryer broke for the last time. It never fit up that hallway which was one of the motivations for fixing again and again. What did he do? He broke down the wall, replaced the dryer, and built the wall up again. I was tired hearing him tell it, but it never escaped me for a minute, his fortitude.
I took dad with me to the second Jersey connection last week, Bruce Springsteen, or as we fans lovingly call him, The Boss. In Springsteen on Broadway, Bruce weaves childhood memories with solo renditions of some of his greatest songs. His stories bring you right inside the Jersey town he grew up in, so much so you can see the church bell, hear the heels of his mother clicking, and smell the Nestle factory coffee wafting through the air. (We had the same thing on windy days in my Jersey hometown with the smell of baking cookies from the Nabisco Factory covering the town.)
Bruce tells of the friction he had growing up different in a small town. His dad was against his desired profession, there was barely money to rent a guitar, and when his first break finally seemed to come in way of a record label, the producer slept with his girlfriend. What were the lessons? He learned that rubbing up against resistance is fuel for an artist and developed a fire inside of him. He learned he had more to lose from being comfortable than ever from taking a risk. He got good at going to challenging places in life and within himself. Boy did that pay off.
These are the same lessons we aim to learn as aspiring yogis and seekers. All of us in life experience our greatest leaps when we dare ourselves to step into the uncomfortable and stay to see what is beyond it. Yoga practitioners must take the time to see what is underneath, how we react to stress, and what we can learn from turning friction into fire.
Jersey girl Seane Corn talked about this and more in her Yoga Journal LIVE Fundamentals of Vinyasa Yoga workshop last Friday. Laughing about her since then highly diminished Jersey accent, she recalled the embarrassment of the Jersey “Downward Dawg” off her tongue when she moved out west to California and how she shied away from Sanskrit words like Om and Namaste for fear of sounding even more ridiculous. Eventually that hiding didn’t work for her anymore. It was inauthentic. She had to release the real prayer Goddess she was and is. Today Seane’s yoga class prayers go way beyond a simple Namaste. They have become central to the classes her worldwide followers flock to hear her teach and she’s even teaching others how they can add prayer to their teachings. To imagine a Seane Corn without prayer is nearly impossible.
It was by embracing her unique voice that Seane was able to shine to her fullest. She continues to do just that and that is why we are so excited to welcome her to the SOULFest Global line-up.
We all have to run away, escape, joy ride, and experience our freedom. That’s what Bruce Springsteen talks about in so much of his music. We flee, sometimes to absolutely nowhere, leaving everything we know so we can be new. So we can be free.
For a while this is magic. Eventually the novelty wears off and new becomes regular once again. Then we return home often with a new found respect for everything we ran from. Nostalgia, yes, but maybe even deeper than that. Having left we can see the gems we once rejected are the core values that took us so far.
We return to those strengths, and to the warm embrace of our culture and community.
That brings us to me. As I put the last work into My Bliss Book, my daily planner + online coaching system releasing this May, it became obvious I had to launch it at home in Fair Lawn. What has Jersey meant to me? My hometown gave me so much, but most of all it taught me loyalty, commitment, and the protection of a community. Through all the years, no matter where I ran, the devotion of that community was always there, just waiting for me to return home again.
Signs You Might Be Just a Bit Jersey
Truth is if you have the fortitude of Marie Forleo, the ability to make fire out of friction like Bruce Springsteen, the authenticity of Seane Corn, or the coming home loyalty of little old me, you might be just a little bit Jersey too!