Rupie Ventures Rock!! Essentials Only!

Detroit to Frankfurt never took so long. Eight hours of tossing and turning. I am clearly too tired to sleep. And REALLY excited, too. I will soon to be on German ground, officially, as a resident. Thank God for Woody Allen’s Magic in the Moonlight. If you haven’t seen it, do. It’s brilliant.

A week after my encounter with the dentist in Ann Arbor, I am still swollen, black, blue and purple with a growing slimy yellow melting down into the left side of my neck. Amazingly, there was no pain or worry during the procedure. But, ever since, everyone’s reaction to me indicates I am scary looking. People stare, quickly look away — and then extend kindness.
Glassy-eyed in baggage claim, I notice my oversized suitcases shooting out from the hatch, in order: first red, then orange, then silver. That never happens. A good sign. I am extra careful, not wanting to pop any of the remaining stitches inside my mouth or damage the oil painting squeezed between the nine-by-twelve hand-hooked Indian rug stuffed in the silver bag. I accept a sweet teenager’s offer to help. Another good sign.

And then, wrapped in Rupert’s arms, life is cozy and good. I’m home.

“Up for a venture?” he asks.

Appreciation. Apprehension. What to say? Time stands still for a moment … All I need now is … I’m desperate, Rup, I need a shower. PJs. Sleep.

But, I say nothing except, “Oh … ummm … surrrrre.”

Off we go. Driving for not very long, exchanging news along the way. My eyelids are heavy, and I’m seriously nodding off.

At our destination – Monte Mare in Obertshausen – we check in, undress, and put on recently purchased ultra-soft robes, perfect for this fabulous occasion.

Everything is spic and span. Everything that follows is in perfect sequence.

First a dip in the enormous pool, where powerful massaging jets shoot out hot soothing salt water as we work our way around the edges. Ahhhhh.

Perched high over the ocean of blue, a whirlpool welcomes a dozen of us, each swayed by the motion of the water.

Next is the steam room. Inhaling steamed eucalyptus that tickles the very bottom of my lungs, this little and very wet room is my favorite. We stay until staying is no longer an option. It’s too hot.

Still coughing, a bit, we settle in the resting room.
I am asleep before my head hits the pillow. Rupert reads. Several hours go by.
An occasional snorkel slips out of me. I roll over.

Grazing on crunchy salad punctuated by greasy potato chips, I begin to finally catch-up with being here now. And I am wowed. I look over at this partner of mine and fill up with the best warmth of all, a warmth that no spa, nor any other person, could begin to generate. I lean over and plant a kiss on his welcoming lips, knowing how incredibly blessed I am to be in love with my best friend. He gives me that look.

Walking… through… ice… cold… water… gets an after lunch… WHEW!! The “lie on the back” sauna is HOTTER than hot and I fall asleep again. Even more relaxed from the dry heat, I am acutely aware all of a sudden, of ALL the naked bodies gathered round. Rupert and I are sporting swimsuits. Drifting along in zzzzzland, a few more snorkels slip out.

ALL are abruptly awakened by a uniformed man (I think) about to express concern (I think) for the predominance of red splotch blobs all over my otherwise very white skin.
It turns out that he is the get-naked cop. With unnecessary commotion, he signals for us to strip down.

Apprehension. Time stands still.

Oh what the heck: when in Rome. Off go our suits.

Our comfy sleek huge tent towels don’t sufficiently conceal this out of our element REALLY humbling character stretch.

We scamper outside into the HOT pool and then into the even hotter still sauna. Feeling, for sure, less intimidated, and more daring.

As the bright afternoon light dims into a twilight blue, I feel the cold breeze along the front of my body, and doze into a cold refreshing zzzzz.

Rupert jiggles me, and suggests we head back into the heated indoors. I am shivering; his lips are blue. Invigorated. Now warm. Nice!

We agree on a grand finale in the eucalyptus steam bath.

A cup of tea.

More sleeping during our gentle ride home.

Hot water bottle inserted with fresh mint tea at the couch side (our temporary bed), I fall into the best ever night’s sleep.

No next day jet-lag is miraculous.

Never having seen so many dangle bits gathered in one place, a sea of all shapes and sizes, Thanksgiving 2014 has been all about not noticing. Well, sort of.

Relaxing. Enjoying. Savoring, something other than turkey and dressing. Being In Awe of life’s most precious blessings.

I like the German way.

I REALLY like Rupie-ventures.

With this fabulous airport pick-up tradition under my belt, I seriously look forward to arriving in Frankfurt for another visit to this amazing German spa.
We hope you come visit and opt for a “venture,” that unfolds into the ultimate antidote to jet-lag, winter blues and a taste of bliss.

Purging and Purchasing…Essentials Only

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Our starting goal was to have three sets of clothes that would be reliable, mindless to coordinate, and damn good looking.  There would be one set for hanging out, another casual-informal one for every day, and a third business-to-dressy set for stepping out. Libbie came over at eight in the evening to oversee the final stage of weeding through the accumulated garments and accessories

Libbie was to help free me from all non-essentials. It wasn’t easy, but nobody came to blows. The fact is, it was fun. And we did it. We met our goal.

We pulled everything out of the closets and, within minutes of her arrival, the floors were carpeted with my wardrobe. Assembled outfit by outfit, my clothes stretched from wall to wall. We documented the whole spread, and the photos were immediately included in her already organized spreadsheet structure.

Just three times during the evening, Libbie nodded–ever so slightly, yet unmistakably.  The nod that indicated that garment was soon to be someone else’s.  Despite our tug-of-war, back and forth, keep/get rid of/keep/get rid of (and it did get emotional), Libbie won.  Each time.

Knowing the task at hand, bestie Patricia showed up at ten o’clock with the most decadent ever chocolate cake topped with thicker than thick chocolate frosting.  She appeared with an opinion, a discerning eye, and a desire to be helpful.  “Not your job sweetie,” was the wordless message, loud and clear from Libbie.

Patricia went to plate the cake and make tea while Libbie and I continued to evaluate hats, purses, shoes, dresses, belts.  By midnight we were seriously sugar buzzed and swayed by Steven Sondheim, Judy Garland, and Secret Sister tunes. All of a sudden we were done. Finished. Three closets that had been filled to the max at eight o’clock were completely empty by midnight.  The fourth closet, containing what Libbie deemed “remaining essentials,” was only half full.

As she was leaving, Libbie made me promise, “First thing tomorrow morning is the PTO thrift store drop off. Promise?”  She even called in at nine the next day with a reminder.  That girl is something.

I’m proud to say all but two garments (well, sort of) made it to the thrift shop:  a sweater given to me by my sister and a vintage dress that could bring in a lot of fun.  That’s it.  I still haven’t admitted this to Libbie, however.

Later in the day we met at Nordstrom’s Rack for a record-breaking, incredible, strategic shopping spree.  As we waited to check-out, Libbie guessed the bill would be $525 and I guessed $575.  It was smack dab in the middle.  Four pairs of trousers, three sweaters, two dresses, four tops and two pairs of shoes.   A good value, right?  And to suit my new life, I have a new style. We bought tight, where I’ve always worn baggie.  We bought bright, where I’ve always worn drab.  And, we chose wacky, nothing-is-meant-to-match, where I would have come out matching.

Frankfort bound, I promised Libbie I would take two selfies to launch and document my new hip and very comfortable ensemble.  Inside the full plane, I reached my row. Seated to my right were two enormous Germans. Squeezed in the middle seat was Herr Six-Foot-Nine and next to him was Herr Six-Foot-Seven.  My inner Girl Scout offered Herr Six-Nine my aisle seat.  And, out of gratitude, he gushed, commenting on my Audrey Hepburn look. He proceeded to write out a list of his favorite places in Germany for me.

I know that Audrey Hepburn is a stretch.  But, it is a lovely, Libbie-influenced look that suits me and the launch of my European adventure. The selfies will be an excellent reminder of a surprisingly good time spent accomplishing a lot.   Rupert and I have already started on Herr Six-Nine’s list of German musts.

Somewhere along the way of purging and purchasing, Libbie agreed to be my go-to point person to keep me on track and organized while I’m in Germany.  To help do with my life, what she, in one short evening, did with my wardrobe. Take only the essentials.







Essentials Only. The Kind of Gift I Love To Give Away.

I’ve yo-yo’ed back to Ann Arbor for the last round of organizing necessary to rent out our home. It’s finally the way we want it. Rooms sparkling with light. Gorgeous garden. Soothing Jacuzzi. FAB, farm-style kitchen. A place where life-long friends gather. Funny how life works…

Strangers will soon be living in our home.

I observe myself, upside down in life and in this moment, in the headstand during Cinda’s Wednesday night Be In Awe Yoga class. My mind is whirring, as part of me clings to what no longer is and part of me insists on hanging-out inside what was.

And yet I know the timing is perfect. Cinda just qualified for Yoga Alliance 200-level, having completed the Be In Awe Teachers Training Course. She is a fantastic teacher, genuine yogi, wonderful person, and a beloved student.

So why do I feel like I’m spinning in a tornado, when I’ve look forward to taking this Be In Awe class for weeks? Why am I not able to actually be here? Why this crack-me-right-open, gut-wrenching sensation?

A crisp soft breeze trickles through the room filled with MY beloved yoga students, who I am so going to miss. Over the years, we have become family. Most of the people gathered in this room took the first yoga class I taught twenty plus years ago and moved with me to various Be In Awe locations and retreats. We shared amazing yogi milestones and aha moments, shedding light and growing our practice together.

The trickle of tears bursts into a stream. I make a hushed exit to head for the woods out back.

It’s a beautiful, early evening, blue cast every which way. I stand among the trees. They understand. Every one of my dear beloved yoga students would remind me to breathe. Inhaling “peace be still.” Exhaling “peace be still and know that you are loved.”

And I realize, finally, that I am grieving.

So I breathe again, this time taking in the sense of place, of trees, childhood, family, and old friends. I feel enveloped, as I literally was, years ago, by an enormous Polish woman, who held me close and rocked me gently while I sobbed having missed the last flight from Chicago to Detroit to see my dear grandmother before she died. No, we didn’t speak the same spoken language. The language we shared was much deeper. It was the language of caring, kindness, and a sense of all the time in the world. That’s how the trees make me feel in this autumn evening.

That same feeling makes me think of a favorite line from a favorite song, “She gave me the kind of gift, I love to give away.” It reminds me of why I fell in love with yoga and each one of my beloved yoga students.

I know this is a turn in the cycle, a transition that’s right. But it’s not always easy. Being back in class at Be in Awe, but in the very different role of visitor, underscores the magnitude of this change. Maybe achingly beautiful is the best way to describe it. Full circle.

Back in Heidelberg, I’ve learned a new way to say thank you — herzlichen Dank. It means something like “heartfelt thanks.” I love you guys! I continue to learn so much from you. Herzlichen Dank, from my cracked wide open heart to yours.

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.