This beautiful guest post was written by one of our favorite blisscrafters, Alli Armstrong. Alli explores how celebrating the biggest of jumps in life and love comes with shedding and reforming our patterns and relationships. Alli is a store manager for lululemon in Portland, Maine.
At lululemon, we often talk about a vision we have for our life somewhere down the line. 1 year, 3 years, 10 years, 20 years, doesn’t matter the distance. Every now and then I'll either experience something, or get really quiet and imagine what I want, and I'll say to myself to put it in the vision. Own a house where I can smell the ocean from my front yard by the time I'm 35? Put it in the vision. I do it for short term things too. Back in January I wrote down that three years from now I would be a brand new store manager at lululemon in California and I would drive to work with the windows down blasting Beyoncé.
Though I was in a role at my store in Boston that I enjoyed, I was itching for the next one and a change of scenery. Two weeks later, a stretch assignment for 6 weeks opened up in Boston. It was a dream job. I went for it and got it. That stretch assignment opened the door to an opportunity to become an assistant store manager at a store south of the city. I threw my name in the hat and I got it. I hustled in an uber to the nearest auto mile, took a day to look, went back the next day and put $1000 down on a car, split between two cards and drove it home. Nailed it.
My first week in my new role I found myself on the highway, windows down blasting Beyoncé driving to work. I had a moment where I realized I was truly living into the vision I had written down to myself. I was still in Massachusetts, but I love Massachusetts, and I had the Beyoncé and the car part down. It felt surreal and exactly right at the same time.
That very same day, I found myself both hands on the wheel, crying driving home from work. I fell into an abyss. I knew I had had a good thing going at my store in Boston, and I worried I had prematurely left one of the best things I would ever be a part of. I’m aware of what that may sound like, coming from a 23 year old speaking about a job she loved. But damn, these people in this store were my family. I spent more time in that store than in any apartment I've ever lived in. I coped with almost every major life event in that back room. I turned to the people on that team to remind me who I was every time I forgot. I handed my heart over to my teammates and they held it in their hands over and over again. And I reminded them who they were and held their hearts. I witnessed so much growth and rebirth of so many inspiring people. Man, if walls could talk. I was a fixture in that store for five years. I felt I had ushered in five generations of that store, and I panicked thinking, why did I ever want a change of scenery?
A couple weeks after being in my new store someone asked me if leaving my store was hard, and I told them it was one of the hardest things I've ever done. It was hard because I knew somewhere deep down that I would leave Boston soon. And I did. I recently started a new role opening a lululemon in Portland, Maine. I moved up here one week ago, and I’ve been thinking about the grief that comes with growth. Nobody died, everyone is a phone call away, I am thrilled to be up here. I’m familiar with challenges that are handed to you with no take backs. I understand the grief and growth that comes from illness, death, debt, etc. but I was unfamiliar with this kind of growth that is of our own choosing. It took everything I had in me to do each interview and make plans and find an apartment up here. In my gut, it’s right. If it weren’t, I wouldn’t have moved forward. Luckily, I can’t get away with anything with myself. It just took my heart a little longer to catch up.
I guess that's the other part of living into your vision. It's the thorn in the rose in a change of scenery, a new adventure. It’s the thrill of feeling like you’re living into what you want and the tears of fear five hours later that it will never be as good as it was. I read a quote that I felt in my bones: “No one warns you about the amount of mourning in growth.” It would be too easy if you could bring everyone with you. Hell, I would bring the barista at Pavement, my favorite bartender from Back Bay Social Club, and all of my favorite yoga, spin and boxing teachers if it were up to me. After many tears and hugs and reminiscing, I felt ready to carry the torch. We created something really special in Boston and now it’s up to me to create it here. I’ll create a space where people are held and heard and supported and pushed because that’s how I was taught to do it. And the world needs more of that, especially right now.
I’ve officially been here for a week. I wrote part of this post standing in my kitchen with an Allagash beer, keeping one eye on my mac and cheese on the stove. The knob on the cold water in my shower broke off while I was 100% naked in it, so I have two temperatures: piping hot or piping hot. I got my dresser for $0 on the street in Scituate. I located a phenomenal taco and margarita bar at the end of my street, and I’m sleeping like a baby.
I’m a store manager now and I drive with the windows down. I’m in love with my apartment and the vibes in this small city. I’ll be here for a few years. One day I’ll be in a new city, maybe in California, maybe somewhere that hasn’t occurred to me yet, and I’ll laugh thinking about how scared I was to move to Maine, and cry about what I am leaving behind here. And so it goes. What I know for sure is that it’s the jump and the personal growth and the pride and the fun and the camaraderie that comes with taking these leaps that outweighs any fear and grief. I’ll do it over and over again. It’s been a hell of a year. Cheers to the unknown.
“I understand now that I’m not a mess but a deeply feeling person in a messy world. I explain that now, when someone asks me why I cry so often, I say, “for the same reason I laugh so often - because I’m paying attention.” -Glennon Doyle Melton, Love Warrior