Jamie here, with some heavy and sad news. News I've been trying to wish away, and the kind that I've struggled to find the right words, the right time, the right way to deliver.
Each time I've had to utter these words, say them out loud, write them down, it makes it all too real. And my heart breaks all over again. My whole body has been aching with sadness and grief.
And I'll admit, I’ve been dragging my feet. I've been waiting until I had the right words, the right time, the right way to deliver this news. I kept stalling, hopeful that this news would somehow change, that a miracle would occur, or perhaps I’d wake up and realize it was all just a bad dream.
But alas, it’s reality. And I must finally face it. And I want to be as transparent with all of you - my friends, my community, my chosen family - because you all mean so very much to me.
So here goes:
Flex & Flow will be closing our doors at the end of this month - our last class will be on Monday, Apr 24, 2023 at 5:30 pm (with yours truly).
The abruptness of this news is due to the fact that I tried to hold on to Flex & Flow (to make it work by hell or high water) for as long as economically feasible. I desperately wanted (and tried!) to make it work. I exhausted my resources to the point that I had to dip into my family’s resources - asking more from them than is truly fair.
The hardships and difficulty from the global pandemic were longer lasting and had more effect on our business than I ever could have anticipated. During the shutdown, we still diligently paid employees, our bills, and even our rent. We took out loans, the forgivable ones (like PPP), but that only sustained us so far. So we took out other loans (not forgivable), falsely assuming (hoping), we could bounce back, pay off our balance, and keep everything swimming along. That we would rebuild. Maybe even come back stronger.
But the impact has just been too great. No matter how fast we ran, we'd continue to find ourselves too far behind. The financial stress meant we weren't able to grow our team, and have the kind of support needed to provide the best possible experience for all of you. It meant we weren't able to give employees the kinds of raises, promotions and opportunities they so deserved. And it meant that I wasn't (ever!) able to even pay myself - not one single dime since we opened our doors 7 years ago (!!!!) which left me feeling (unfairly) frustrated and resentful at times, not to mention guilty about the time and hours I was putting in, spending away from my family, without anything (tangible, anyway) to show for it.
Mostly I tried to ignore those feelings, push them away, and convince myself I was totally fine as is, when in reality, it was wreaking havoc on me - slowly chipping away at my self worth, filling me with stress, and taking away from my happiness.
All that to say, I hope you know that this decision did not come lightly. In fact, I spent the last several months fighting it, giving everything I had (and then some) to NOT have to make this decision at all.
After stubbornly digging my heels in the sand for the final time, trying to linger and hang on just a little bit longer, trying desperately to find a way through, to find a way out, I realized that it was time (long overdue) to acknowledge that I can’t just repeatedly bang my head against the wall, hoping that my grit - my unwavering persistence that I wear like a badge - will eventually just get me the outcome I desire.
Holding on (with both hands) and charging forward with maximum grit - became nothing more than a false sense of optimism - a way for me to blissfully ignore reality. Like if I just kept going….maybe something miraculous would happen. But at what cost?
I spent far too many nights burying myself deep into my couch, attempting to disappear under blankets (and sinking deeper into depression), trying not to face reality or have tough conversations with my family and close friends. And far too many days furiously working on solution after solution. Only to find myself in the same place. Over and over again.
And then, the day before I was to depart for our last teacher training, I received a big, giant wake up slap in the face (thanks universe). All before 11 am on a Tuesday morning, I learned that my last remaining full-time employee was quitting and I found out that my mom’s cancer had returned. After four years with clear margins, it was back. And also more serious. I spent some of my time out of the country, away from my usual distractions, thinking about what it all might mean. Reflecting on what I was going to do. And how I was going to do it.
I returned home feeling sun-kissed and blissed out from an incredible two weeks doing what I love most (teaching yoga) to find myself in the middle of yet another shitstorm: another costly break in. It was an aggressive jolt back to reality, and I realized I had never felt so alone or overwhelmed. I had to jump right back into action, without so much a breath, and try and find the resources (not to mention, mental energy) to get us back up and running again.
And then my mom called. She had big decisions to make and she needed my ear. As she spoke, she provided all of the different options - a double mastectomy now or later, implants versus tissue reconstruction, etc. She agonized over what to do, weighing all of the pros and cons, juggling the whys and why nots, and I listened. She asked me what I thought. I told her it was indeed a huge decision to make, a hard decision to make, but that only she knows what’s best for her. I reminded her that I’d be there for her, standing beside her, no matter what path she chose. She lamented about how heavy the decisions felt (and they are…very heavy), and said she wished someone would just tell her what to do (a sentiment I can relate to). While I understand and empathize with how she was feeling, I also knew that she didn’t really need anyone to do that. She knew what she wanted and needed to do (and frankly, had made the decision already). Her decision was loud and clear to me as she spoke. She was just fearful (understandably) of the unknown, the discomfort, and the uncertainty of it all.
And I realized, so was I. I was (and still am) so fearful of making this huge decision. Fearful to actually make it real, to say it out loud, to take action. Fearful of what’s to come.
For the past 7+ years, Flex & Flow has been my whole life. The walls are stained with my blood, sweat, and tears. The people - both students and teachers - have become my best friends, my chosen family. And I can’t imagine my life without it. I don’t want to imagine my life without it.
But I guess that’s also the yoga. Knowing when it’s time to let go and make room for what’s to become. To sit in this discomfort, this uncertainty, and … just live (without it).
And oh man, that’s going to be SO hard. And it’s going to (and already does) hurt so much. The grief is all too real. My love for all of you and this amazing space WE have created together is all too real. And I hope you know that. I hope you can all see that.
So THANK YOU. To all of you. For being a part of one of the most magical experiences of my life. I’ve learned so much from this journey, from each and every one of you, and I will always hold you all near and dear to my heart.
I can only hope that as this epic novel comes to a close, we begin a new one, a fresh new beginning from which to explore our relationships in new ways, learn new things, and grow.
I love you all. Truly. And feel so incredibly lucky that you joined me on this wild, magical ride that was Flex & Flow.
Thank you for everything (and for reading this far).
P.s - I hope you'll all continue to move with me this month, to celebrate what we've built and soak in the energy of this incredible community. I'll be in classes - both on my mat and teaching until the very last day - and I hope to see ALL of you there on your mats. Let's fill the space with magic and energy, and leave it stained in our sweat. Let's do extra push-ups, kick our core work up a few notches, fly, make our legs and bootys burn with some extra chair pose, and stretch, and bliss out our bodies and minds as we prepare to say goodbye to this space that has held us for so long.
P.s.s - It's probably obvious but just in case it isn't, a quick PSA: I am going through all the feels right now so if I seem a little off, please know that I’m just really struggling with all of this - ie, it’s not you, it’s me.