I’ve always been a city girl. I was born and raised in Chicago, my family lives in Manhattan, and I’ve called downtown Boston home for the past four years. While I took a minor detour into “the country” for a few years (college in Amish country, a few years in rural Vermont, and a strange stint in Columbus, Ohio), I truly come alive when I’m surrounded by skyscrapers, bustling traffic, and street vendors.
Nobody was surprised when I chose to move to Boston for law school, and I quickly settled into the vibrant life of the city in no time (side note: the ability to get Chinese food delivered at 2:00 in the morning is nothing short of a small miracle and public transportation beats driving any day of the week). I truly love the sights, smells, and sounds of the city and even sleep better when I’m surrounded by the dull hum of city noise…in short, the city is my home and I wouldn’t trade my one-bedroom apartment across the street from the Common for anything in the world.
A few months into my life as a litigator, these feelings started to shift. Once my days of studying in the park were replaced with a busy commute to the office, the city I once loved started to become an extension of my work, and nothing more. I no longer noticed the historic buildings or museums that make Boston such an idillic place to live; instead, everything became a landmark on my way to court or en route between my apartment and the office. I started searching for something, anything, to escape my hectic city life.
So what did I do? I ran away to the Berkshires. Seriously, I typed “where to get away from Boston” into Google one day at work, rented the first cabin I found on Airbnb, and reserved a ZipCar to get me the hell out of the city. Fast-forward 24 hours and my ever-patient boyfriend was driving a Honda Civic up an un-lit, dirt road covered in ice in the middle of the woods.
Looking back on that weekend, it’s easy to see how influential it was in my decision to leave the law. I spent three days doing nothing but yoga, read a stack of good books, wrote a lot, and spent three days of uninterrupted time with the person I loved most. Maybe it was the fresh lakeside air or the complete lack of cell service, but for the first time in a long time, I felt at peace. It was on this weekend getaway that I realized how much I appreciate being outdoors, even if I am “a city gal.”
So what are my tricks to living a balanced, yogi lifestyle in the city? Listen up, young grasshopper…
- Escape the city every now and then. Sure, there are enough museums, restaurants, bars, parks, clubs, and concerts in the city to keep you busy until the end of time, but take my word for it and leave your urban zip code for a few hours. I usually hope on the T and head north to the beach when I need a break from the city, which is exactly what I did for a few hours today. The salty breeze and bright blue ocean always make me feel calm and centered, the perfect antidote to my downtown lifestyle.
- Take a lunch break. One of most valuable things I learned as a first year associate was the importance of taking a break outside of the office for a few minutes every day. No matter what’s going on in my work, I always find time to go for a walk, try out a new restaurant, or pick up a good cup of coffee around lunchtime. I did this every day as a lawyer working 60-hour work weeks, so trust me…you have time!
- Spend time in the urban outdoors. In Boston, we’re lucky enough to call the ocean our neighbor to the east, the Charles River to the west, and the Common in the middle, not to mention a string of parks that are literally referred to as “the Emerald Necklace.” Find your local park, riverwalk, boardwalk, etc. and spend a few hours in your urban oasis, maybe meditating under a large tree or taking your yoga practice outdoors to a patch of real life grass!
- Find quiet sanctuaries in the city. Maybe its a church, a temple, a public library, or a sleepy coffee shop. Whatever it is, finding that one place where you can find a little peace and quiet is essential for us city dwellers. For me, its a tie between the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum and the outdoor garden at the Boston Public Library.
- Use your commute to practice mindfulness. One of the perks of living in 2017 is the “there’s an app for that” culture we’ve built our lives upon, so why not download an app to find a little me time during your commute? My favorites are Audible (for listening to fun e-books), Calm (for using those 15-minute Uber rides to meditate), and Colorfy (to focus my mind on coloring instead of the endless delays on the Green Line).
How do you find serenity in your city? Comment below!
The Yogi Lawyer