Essentials Only. A River of Grace.

Upending your life, moving to a foreign land is a spectacular adventure. And it’s easy, all castles and fairytales, right? Wrong.

Late yesterday afternoon — gorgeous day — I walked through bustling Heidelberg and EVERYBODY had a friend. Most were walking arm in arm, checking out shoes, dinner possibilities, and sharing moments… except me. I can’t read any of the posters. I can’t understand any of the chatter, normally a fine source of entertaining companionship and a field day for good material. I can’t banter with the shopkeepers.

And today — what surprises could such a gloomy morning possibly hold? In the view from our flat, the shimmering sun on the river has disappeared. Grey clouds hang close. I feel the damp, dreary cold. A barge slinks down the Neckar and a lonesome rower zooms past.

This vista offers few signs of life. Even our across- the- way -neighbors who, like us, don’t believe in closing blinds, are not at their usual 24/7 work stations. (I wonder, we will have a Grace Kelly-Jimmy Stewart, New York City “Rear Window” experience from this flat? Coming soon — Rupert de Salis and Jody Tull in the Heidelberg thriller: “Side Window.”)

I am seriously moping. I need deep connection. I wish I could call my mom, but that’s not possible. She died seven years ago. I miss her every day, but especially in moments like this.

It’s still wee hours in Ann Arbor. Maybe Facebook is worth a try.

As I open my laptop, this appears on screen:

“I took your workshop in Southern India last January. I live 10 minutes from you in Heidelberg. What are you doing right now? I want to take you out for a late morning chai.”

Minutes later, a bright and shining familiar face appears at the door. Janine is singing a chant I taught her, “How I love you, how I love you.” This is a complete and glorious surprise, literally out of the blue. I am speechless.

The sun comes out and the drizzle fizzles. We walk arm in arm to the river café and have ourselves a time. Facebook was the matchmaker. The Sivananda Yoga Centre in Neyyar Dam, South India was the connection. Janine took the Teachers Training Course and I was there to teach my “Finding Your Voice” course.

Wonders never cease and I am in AWE!
Such synchronistic events should no longer surprise me. Janine is clearly on the yoga path. Since graduating from TTC, she rises every morning at 4:30 to meditate, chant, and practice hatha yoga. She already offers yoga classes in her husband’s art gallery.

We had so much to talk about and mull and enJOY. It was already getting dark. We took photos and later posted them, generating likes and comments, and more connections. We made ourselves a few more memories and planned our next meeting.

I have a new and first friend in Heidelberg.

Rupert sometimes asks, “How is it that these things happen to you?” The answer is always the same: “I meditate.”

A big blue moment done got upstaged. Some things are just so beyond my orchestrating. It pulls me back to music and some of my favorite lyrics:

“I am walking by a river of grace. Every step beyond my knowing, what all the angels will put into place. Blessed be what they’re unfolding.”

Essentials Only. Heidelberg Here We Come.

We vacillated for months: stay-go, go-stay… But finally, go won.

There are moments even still, where I wonder, “My God, what have we done?” This moment, however, is not one. I sit here, drinking in a spectacular autumn and realize, once again — despite all fears, resistance and over-reasoning — the timing is perfect. This autumn I’ve been dealing with oranges, reds, yellows, and browns… but not the foliage outside. These are the colors of emptied drawers, cleared closets, and piles of clothes in back of the car for an embarrassing number of trips to the Salvation Army. A few things are packed for storage. It’s not easy to let go of everything, all the stuff that filled a life-chapter that will soon be past tense.

But isn’t all that clearing away like falling leaves? Even as I cherish and grieve what has been, late fall offers a shift — whether I like it or not — into what’s next. I am up for an adventure. I’d better be, anyway. Because that’s what life is dosing.

We left. We moved to another continent. We began to create a new home. Sitting in the living room of our recently rented flat, I look out the window, and find myself wondering: is this really me? The sun sparkles on the wide River Neckar that runs through our new hometown. Our first piece of furniture, purchased from the previous tenant, is an over-the-top modern couch/bed, from which I can literally see mountain tops, a castle, children cycling and skate boarding alongside parents, grandparents, and friends against a backdrop of luminous orange trees, with church bells warming me, to no end.

Rupert responded to hundreds of job posts before landing his “beyond wildest” dream offer. And here I am…teetering back and forth between winding down our last chapter and clearing the way for a new life in — Heidelberg, Germany. “Be careful of what you wish for,” comes to mind.

Ten years ago I led my first yoga meditation and hiking retreat in Soglio, Switzerland — the most beautiful of mountain farming villages exquisitely positioned in the Swiss Italian Alps. The list of Soglio splendors reaches up to the sky; at the top are the light, the architecture, and the people. Three years ago, we were joined by yogis who described the setting of their everyday lives in Europe: spectacular lake and mountain views, resonating church bells, and fresh food purchased from local markets. Their days included cycling here and there, alongside singing children and energized pensioners. Later that day, I suggested to Rupert that we too could enjoy all our friends described, 24/7. And now, here we are.

And now that we’re here, my to-do list is sky high, with loads still to be done. Some welcome. Some gut-wrenching. Life is charging ahead and asking for a leap filled with trust and faith. A get-on-with-it-girl attitude.

I can do this. But it will be all the more fun and interesting, if you come along.

You are, for sure, invited. By joining my Jody Tull journey blog, we can set out together, focusing on what comes to mind, centered, mainly, around what’s essential and what’s not.

I come from a long lineage of collectors. You too? The charge will be as much about what NOT to bring as it is about what TO bring…friends, thoughts, habits, furniture. Stuff.

My empty basket is waiting for my empty backpack and me to head out on my high-handle-barred bike to ride along the Neckar to our neighborhood farmers’ market. I’ll begin gathering rather than collecting, taking in only that which serves and — the big challenge — leave behind everything else. Welcoming and savoring this new life not with YIKES, but with gusto.

No, I don’t speak German — yet. No, I don’t know ANYONE here (except Rupert) yet. No, our old home isn’t rented, yet, nor are the change of address forms completed, yet. But, most of our Ann Arbor closets are emptied and the decision has been made to move on. Tears flow. Yet, so does excitement, as I let go of needing to know specifics and regularly ask myself, “How easy can I allow this to be?”

I’m surrounded by crisp, fresh air, more than enough sunshine, the receding vibrancy of year 2014, and the falling away of what is known. This has been the most beautiful autumn in my recollection. I eagerly wait for it to fade into winter as I listen to my uprooted life for the unveiling that each and every moment will bring. All the more interesting, for sure, to share with you.

Ready. Set. Let’s go.