As a mother of boys, I often joke that I had to open a women’s center to get my estrogen therapy.
But that’s only part of the story. The truth is I founded Shakti in the Mountains because I wanted a space where women could feel safe and nurtured. A space where the Shakti or creative, feminine energy is valued and affirmed. A space where women are celebrated and the men who love them are appreciated. A space where people can heal, create and play – a home.
For a long time Shakti in the Mountains was just a dream I safe-guarded in bubble wrap and only brought out on special occasions.
Then I noticed that slowly, the dream was unwrapping itself and inserting itself into my day to day living. The transition from dream to reality began with a single “YES”. When I agreed to teach yoga for the first time, I was able to see the women who came to that practice create a community with me and each other. That was so rewarding. And it was the was the push I needed to leave a full-time job and open a private counseling practice.
Starting a private counseling practice was the first step. Finding a physical space to create community was the next one. It took a year to find the right house in the right location. The story of how I found the house illustrates the path I had to walk to reach my dream: challenging at times, even anxiety producing, but in the end rewarding.
For months, I looked for and at houses in one particular area of town. I had several logical reasons for wanting to find a house in this neighborhood, the most compelling reason was gut instinct. After losing one house on a bid, and another not being up to code, I began to question my gut. Winter was approaching and the likelihood of a home going on the market at this time of the year was decreasing. If it were not for the encouragement of my circle of friends, I would have lost hope. (Important note: Surround yourself with positive people who believe in your dream. They are worth their weight in gold.) And then one day, I saw her with a sign in the yard. “For sale by owner.” I immediately called. I got to see her the next day. The nicest man met me to give me a tour. As it turned out, he was a friend of the owner who inherited the house from his mother when she died. Because the house held so many memories for the owner, his friend was facilitating the sell of the home.
It was love at first sight.
The house was old-circa 1904, and had lots of unique features not found in more modern homes. The house was also easy enough to meet the City’s requirements for commercial properties. And best of all, it just felt right. The next day I called the owner. I told him why I wanted this house, and then made him an offer. Because my offer was less than the price listed, we agreed to wait on an assessment of the property before negotiating a price. Several days later the owner called me back with the news.
The assessed value of the home feel between our numbers. If I was willing to pay the assessed value, then the house was mine. As much as I wanted it, the assessed value was still more than I could afford. I told the owner that my original offer was all I could do and asked him to call me if he changed his mind. He replied that he had two other interested parties, but he’d call me back if something changed. Bummed. I was so bummed. I wanted the house so very badly, yet I didn’t want to violate the financial agreement I made with myself and with my family to secure this property. (Another important note: Stick to your agreements. To keep your vision, you cannot sacrifice your values.)
For two and a half long weeks, I waited. Just as I was coming to the conclusion that I would never hear from the owner again, I got the call. The owner, who was selling his childhood home, said, “I have given this matter a lot of thought. I do not think my mother would want her home to be an attorney’s office or a real estate’s office. I think she would want her home to be a women’s center. If you still want the house, then it’s yours.”
That’s when I knew. Beyond a shadow of doubt, my dream was going to come true.
This moment is still one that I hang onto and bring out when I need a reminder that I am on the right path. I have used this moment to weather financial insecurity, difficult boundary setting and professional risk-taking. This story is also a reminder of the value of honest friends, the love of one’s family and the belief in oneself. In essence, the story of how I found the house is the vision of Shakti in the Mountains: I had to have my community in order to create the space for this community. I am not sure if Shakti in the Mountains could have been birthed through any other means. The love and the support I received then and continue to receive now is what I share with the women and the men who come to Shakti in the Mountains. I picture this cycle as one continuous loop of loving energy or Shakti.