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When the World Stopped: Jackie's Yoga Journey, Part 7

"Silence is the root of everything.

If you spiral into its void a hundred voices will thunder messages you long to hear."

- Rumi

Check out Jackie’s Yoga Journey for the origins of this dramatic path to becoming a yogini, and how I'm in the best shape of my life at the age of 40.

Living my very best, wildest, freest life, I was ready to take on the world! Or so I thought I was…

8/18/19 Los Angeles > Taipei

My trip to Taipei started with a bang! My presentation at work went well, Tinder was treating me great as I traveled, and I was having a blast catching up with old friends. Next stop: Tokyo!

8/30/19 Taipei > Shanghai

Shortly before my trip to Tokyo to visit my best friend, the school in China asked for help to start the school year. There was a teacher shortage and I was needed for several weeks.

In August 2019 the air in China felt different. Hong Kong tensions mounted, and there were tons of safety precautions I had never seen before while traveling to the beautiful country. I celebrated the moon and embraced the local life. After three weeks in the country, I had come down with more than the usual head cold that I picked up while traveling.

The same day a serious respiratory illness settled into my chest, I received news that my best friend had died suddenly in a motorcycle accident.

My best friend, business partner, muse - the man who hummed "all you need is love" while shaking hands with plants he passed - the man who called himself a "serial philanthropist" and had the biggest dreams for a better, more loving world - was gone.

Life changing event #7: death of my best friend

9/17/19 Shanghai > Taipei

I already had plans to travel to Tokyo to visit my friend two weeks later. While scrambling in the Shanghai airport for my next flight, with the heaviest of hearts, I changed my flight from Taipei to Tokyo so I could attend my friend’s funeral instead of visit him. From my station in Kunshan, I traveled to Shanghai and flew to Taipei.

Grief. There’s nothing like it in the world.

9/24/19 Taipei > Tokyo

My body went into shutdown, confused about the purpose of eating and sleeping and existing physically. The fog around my mind in the weeks after his death is so thick, I’m grateful for photos to remember the events.

9/27/19 Tokyo > Taipei

Rushing back to Taipei for work events after the funeral turned out to be a terrible idea - so numb, like I was hearing muffled voices from under water. Failing miserably at functioning at work, I took a week to travel the southern Taiwan coast, finding immense solace in the quiet of the extra lush land. But my grief consumed me….and yoga was there.

I’ll never forget speaking with my yoga mentor Pagan in the days after my friend’s death. Over the years, he had been slowly adding on to a visual meditation technique for chakra cleansing. He added to this a way to bring forward spirits I want to communicate with, including my friend. This meant a whole lot to me as I found so many quiet spaces where my friends texts, calls, voice and presence had been.

10/8/19 Taipei > Kenting

Wandering alone in the countryside of Taiwan, I was as silenced by the language barrier as grief. After days of sitting with the ocean on the rocky beaches, the full moon peeked through heavy rolling clouds, and I found a taste of peace.

10/15/19 Kenting > Taipei

My time of solace was far too short, and jumping back into work far too much. I was drinking heavily, but felt so numb all day, it was hard to tell. I started smoking clove cigarettes often to calm my nerves, connect with spirit, and give myself a moment of peace.

10/26/19 Taipei > Portland

After two months in Asia, it was time to head back to The States. Portland was my landing spot, choosing the comfort of a dear friend who was with me in China and Taiwan. My recently departed friend's best friend was in town - we traveled the gorgeous roads of Oregon as we fulfilled a dream of our friend: CBD extracts.

11/11/19 Portland > Los Angeles

A blur.

11/24/19 Los Angeles > Pennyslvania

I hibernated in my hometown of York, Pennsylvania for the winter, snuggling my baby niece close. As grateful as I was for my family, I knew the same gratitude couldn’t possibly be felt, as sour as my moods turned during these early stages of grief, and embodied my truest inner Grinch. I continued to carry serious respiratory congestion, never fully recovering from the illness I picked up in China.

During this time, the world became aware of the crisis in China with covid. Sleepless nights, deep grief, and countless worries for the friends I had in China, just a few hours from the site of the outbreak. I watched the numbers rise…infection rates, death tolls, alarming videos of people being barred inside of their apartment homes that looked just like where I had stayed. But my grief consumed me…and yoga was there.

1/21/20 Pennsylvania > Virginia

A week of blurry isolation. My sister & her family visited. <3

2/10/20 Virginia > Los Angeles

Back to my west coast hometown of Los Angeles before my next visit to Shanghai. My ticket was already booked. But... things weren't looking good with the outbreak of covid in China.

2/26/20 Los Angeles > Santa Barbara

Staying in the same home as my ex ended up being a terrible mistake. I left bruised and homeless with a broken phone, so I headed to my adopted grandmother's home in Santa Barbara to regroup.

3/1/20 Los Angeles > Portland

Life changing event #8: covid hits America

3/5/20 Portland > Seattle

The decision to not travel to China was HUGE for me. It was routine, part of my landscape. But…things weren’t looking great. So I instead headed to Seattle for a conference with my boss. Where the pandemic started in America the day before.

We attended the ghost town of a conference and headed back to my former colleague's hometown of Portland where I planned to crash with one of my teach-abroad pals for a few days.

3/7/20 Seattle > Portland

“Stay at home,” they said. “Shelter in place,” they said.

What home? What place?

Nomadic life slipped through my hands. The lifestyle that had me in 11 different cities within three months came to a sudden halt. I barely noticed, still so numb from grief.



I was genuinely at a loss for where I should rest my grief-addled soul. So I stayed in Portland for far longer than intended. A few days turned into a few weeks turned into months…. As it did for many of us during the pandemic.

I stuck out the spring in Portland, discovering the tremendous natural beauty of the place. I even ventured on a pandemic Tinder date, where I learned that a yoga mat is about exactly the distance someone needs to stay away from me. As much as I loved Portland, my grief consumed me… And as much as yoga was there, I couldn’t seem to settle that big ol’ chasm in my heart.

...check in next week to find out what happens in the next chapter!

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