On moving to Hawaii
I began typing this post on the last of three one-way flights taking me from Pennsylvania to my new home, the Big Island of Hawaii. The blog kept writing itself until it became almost a memoir fifteen pages long. I have since trimmed it down quite a lot and hope the essence of my gratitude has been preserved. One of the many lessons I have learned over the last decade is that I am way more important than I often think I am (as in disappearing to Hawaii without an explanation is hurtful and destabilizing to those in my orbit). And I am simultaneously way less important than I think I am (as in writing a 15-page blog is not necessary. People get the point in a couple pages.) I hope to strike a balance between the two:
My thirteen year and twenty-four-day journey in SE Pennsylvania feels like several book chapters in one. It has been a deeply rewarding and transformative time where my mind has been profoundly lost and profoundly found and my heart deeply opened, broken and healed and all the while life—dirty laundry, traffic, groceries, sleeping, eating, birthday parties, and holidays-- has just continued on.
I came to Berks County in the summer of 2007 to go to the Caron Foundation, a drug and alcohol rehabilitation center in Wernersville PA. I thought I would be all better and fixed in time to return to NYC to resume my doctoral studies in Clinical Psychology. Little did I know on that hot summer July 4th day that my thirty day stay at Caron would turn into a six month stay as more and more trauma asked to be known and healed and that my six month stay would then roll into 12.5 more years in Berks County, PA.
I never intended to stay this long. To be honest, I have never, in spite of all efforts, felt at home in Pennsylvania. Having grown up in Miami Florida and lived in Atlanta and NYC, Berks County PA always has felt stifling conservative in manner, speech, action, behavior and ideology. But my heart kept my feet planted. How could I leave my clients, students, friends, the women’s retreats and the women who came to them, my own therapists and healers, my yoga teachers, two marriages and two husbands (yep, that’s right), and then my mom and step-dad who moved to PA four years ago (and their profound relationship to my daughter)? With all this love, how could I leave? Could I really stick true to my constant complaint in my head that PA was “stifling conservative” when I was being filled up with so much love, support and opportunity to love and support others? No. I could not. And so, I suppressed my desire to go day after day, year after year.
The lack of attachment and excitement I have felt to Pennsylvania as an environment and a place—feeling generally very underwhelmed by my surroundings—served me well. It was a blessing as much as it often felt like an energetic burden. I was not distracted from my goals and pursuits and was not derailed in my efforts to love and serve others. My time was overall healing and generative in a way that I don’t believe it could have been had I stayed in NYC or moved home to Miami, where I am often very distracted by the myriad of ways in which one can distract themselves in a city. In addition to doing seven yoga trainings, completing the two yearlong intensive training in Heart Rhythm Meditation, going back to graduate school at Bryn Mawr, and doing other certification programs in psychotherapy like the Psychoanalytic Psychotherapy training at Psychoanalytic Center of Philadelphia, I co-founded with Christopher Neithamer my holistic healing business—hOMe Psychotherapy, Yoga and Meditation—and helped design and create the buildings in which most of our services have taken place. I had a full psychotherapy private practice, taught yoga, meditation and mysticism, led over 80 retreats (including group, private and family) and started different offerings like Spiritual Awakenings Book Club, Berks Karma Yoga Club (BKYC), the Women’s Healing and Transformation Program, and the hOMe Yoga Teacher training along the way. I also did a ton of human trafficking awareness and prevention advocacy through hOMe and BKYC and two years ago co-founded Me Too Berks with Tara Elliot and several wonderful members of the Berks community.
And most importantly, I became a mother to a child who is an empath, intuitive, and one of the most intelligent, fiery, determined humans of any age I have ever met and my favorite human on planet earth.
Needless to say, I have been busy.
I have gone from girl to woman, from student to professional, from person who couldn’t sit still for five minutes on end to a person who meditates for hours at a time, from yoga student to yoga teacher to yoga teacher trainer, and in some areas of my career novice to expert, from someone creating my own retreats to someone training others to create their own. And all the while I have remained a student, a novice, a fresh-faced baby in the wake of the unfolding mystery of life and the fact, truly, that I actually don’t know much at all.
I have fallen flat on my face several times. Picked myself up. And went at it again. I don’t believe in failure. I believe life is one giant unfolding lesson of how to love bigger.
The Big Island of Hawaii has called to my heart constantly since I first arrived on the island exactly seven years ago with Christopher, who used to be stationed here when he was in the Marines, and has maintained his love affair with the island ever since. As my Seasonal Affective Disorder only increased in symptoms each year that I’ve been in the Northeast/Mid-Atlantic, the inward call towards a sunny climate has also increased. I suppose some people who grow up in South Florida have the constitution to switch for their lifetime to long, dark winters. But I am not one of them. I was born in the sun. I was raised in the sun. And I must return to the sun. The same could be said of my longing for the ocean.
With the advent of COVID and the very real possibility that we’ll all be locked down again come winter time, I realized that my future goal of moving to Hawaii permanently (as opposed to just going 8 weeks every winter) can and should be now. For my mental health and capacity to be both a mother and a therapist, I felt I had to move to the sun, and of all the sunny places, the Big Island feels most like home at this point.
When I tell you I have serious Seasonal Affective Disorder, I am not joking. It is very severe. Scary severe. The lights, medicines, meditations, vitamin D, working out, getting outside have a very moderate effect. Truly the only cure for me is actual sun. As soon as I get in the sun, my SAD symptoms almost instantaneously lift (which is how you know it is SAD versus major depressive disorder). I could and maybe should write a book on my experiences with Seasonal Affective Disorder. It is certainly a very misunderstood and often downplayed disorder. Ultimately, I realized I cannot help my clients in an authentic manner if I do not take this step to do what I need to do for my own mental health. While this means we will mostly be working online other than seeing each other in person at retreats and my visits to PA, they at least have a therapist and teacher who practices what she preaches.
While I am thrilled to be here and feel I made the right choice for me and my family, my heart breaks at leaving my clients, students and parents in PA. I’ve done a lot of grieving alongside my rejoicing the last month and trust I will continue to do so for months to come. My heart takes some solace in the fact that at least for the next year, the retreat center is not going anywhere. Assuming the Hawaii quarantine protocols are lifted here in September as they are supposed to be as of now, then I will be back in PA seeing clients and holding private retreats (all socially distanced of course) at the retreat center for two weeks in October and also four to six weeks next summer.
As to hOMe PYM, the business independent of the location, we will carry on strong as ever with online therapy, online supervision, distance energy healing, online workshops and courses, virtual private retreats from your own home or the hOMe PYM campus, and in person private retreats and group retreats on campus next summer depending on the Covid situation and in person group, private and family retreats in Hawaii, Sedona and elsewhere. The women’s program will continue. And we may have another yoga teacher training next summer. The website will still be active with all our current listings as well as links to Chris and my personal websites once those are built.
You can also find both of us on you tube for healings and meditations at the links below:
Caroline: https://bit.ly/3kqcIqo Christopher: https://bit.ly/3krRGrp
As to hOMe the retreat center, beyond the end of next summer 2021, we are not sure at this moment what will come of it. It will be held onto and serve as our hOMe home base or sold (or a combination of the two) depending on several factors. As soon as I know, I will let all of you know. I know the center has become a space of refuge and healing for many of you reading this and trust me when I tell you it has also been my center of refuge and healing. It is sacred land. Let us all intend whether kept or sold that it always is held with the intention of healing and helping others come hOMe to their highest, truest most authentic selves.
As to me personally, after my couple month sabbatical, I will keep running and developing the Women’s Healing and Transformation program. I will keep working with individual clients mostly online. I will keep leading groups and retreats. All of this will continue on, in the more fluid, measured, slow pace at which it has already come to find itself the last two years. What I will do more and more of over the years is the service work I began during my time in PA—the part I don’t get paid for and the part that most people will not be able to see. I am called deeper and deeper into working on helping mitigate sex-trafficking of children, particularly in the United States, and my efforts at doing so can’t always be discussed in order for them to be safe, effective, and confidential to all parties. I would say I will keep you posted, but I’m not sure that is true. I trust you understand.
As far as online courses go, those will continue, evolve and improve. Information will be announced in an upcoming newsletter, on our website, and in our social media soon about the following offerings and their rates and dates: The You Are the Facilitator workshop, the Women’s Sacred Circle, Soma Psyche Spirit, and a new supervision group for therapists who want to work within both somatic and psychodynamic frames. And just as soon as were all able to congregate again safely, I will get a Sedona mysticism retreat and the women’s program retreats on our schedule again! In the meantime, I welcome and encourage you all to consider coming to Hawaii for a private retreat and a little aloha spirit in your bones!
I am profoundly grateful for each and every moment—the good, the bad, the mundane, the profound---I have been given in Pennsylvania, and I thank each and every one of you who held my hand or let me hold yours along the way. Please don’t be a stranger. I am here. There are no miles between our hearts. You who are our hOMe PYM clients, students, employees, and friends—are family at this point. Nothing can change that.
All my love and much aloha, Caroline/Carrie