This is part two of my interview with Rachel, about her journey to leaving her career to become a small business owner.
How did you get into this career?
I was teaching Latin to first-through-eighth graders. I have a Master’s in Classics, and I wanted to be a Latin teacher, and I taught Latin for a year. I finished one year of teaching, and I came back to the same school, and I basically had a nervous breakdown, and I just couldn’t take the stress and the overwhelm anymore. They were just piling and piling more and more tasks and duties on me as a second-year teacher. I was the main Middle School Academy leader and I was overwhelmed. I kind of had a nervous breakdown and went in and talked to my Principal and said, “I can’t do this job anymore.” I went and saw my doctor because I was suicidal and she wrote me a note saying, “I think Rachel should just work part-time,” and I took it to my principal and said, “look, you can fire me, but I can’t keep doing what I’ve been doing.” He agreed, and so I worked part-time, and right at that same moment – actually, the day that I was having my nervous breakdown I didn’t go to work. I called in sick, and I was hanging out with a good friend of mine and she said she was going to a yoga class that afternoon. I never, ever had any time to do anything for myself because I was working full-time and I was a single-parent, [but[ I could actually go to this yoga class, so I went, and it literally changed my life.
That next summer I went to a week-long women’s Kundalini yoga retreat, and sold my house, and because of that had enough money to put towards teacher training. I started teacher-training. I didn’t really have an idea of whether I was going to be a teacher or not, but I knew that I wanted to get deeper into the practice. It was just the obvious next-right thing. I didn’t even have to think about it too much. It was a five-month program, and during that five-months I realized that I couldn’t do my old job anymore. I just hated it – I hated my job, I was miserable. I decided not to come back the next school year, and 10 days after school ended I got a phone call from a woman who runs a non-profit in west Africa that works with civil war refugees and does therapy with them and yoga and meditation. She asked me to come teach yoga in west Africa. So, I spent the summer doing that. I was planning on going back and finishing out the year in LIberia, but a number of things conspired to make it seem obvious that I should stay here, now, one of which is my main teacher saying, “I want you to help me start this studio.” So, that’s what I am doing.
I’m kind of just trusting the process, not really knowing where it’s going to lead me.
If someone wanted to follow in your footsteps, either as a yoga teacher or a small-business owner, what would you tell them?
The obvious is to listen to your heart, or your intuition, about what you are supposed to be doing with your life. If you are in a lot of pain about where you are, then listen to that and open up to something else.
It’s not really about how to be a yoga teacher. It’s about how to find what it is you are meant to do. Not everybody is meant to be a yoga teacher. If that’s what you are meant to do, well, follow the breadcrumbs. Follow your path and be of service, and trust what comes knocking on your door.
I left out this kind of cool little detail. I quit my job, and I had no idea what I was going to do, and I issued this prayer to the universe: “whatever you want me to do, I’ll do it, just please take care of me while I am doing it.” And that very afternoon this woman called from the non-profit in west Africa. That was something that I had always wanted to do. I was in the Peace Corps in west Africa for two years so I had a connection there, and pretty much from the first day of my teacher-training program I had this vision of teaching yoga in west Africa.
I think getting clear about your intentions and having a selfless intention about it would be my advice.