In the Fall of 2013, Encourage opened its sliding red barn door at 1 Baltic Place in Croton-on-Hudson. Our mission was to develop a community of people who felt encouraged to move, breathe and rest intentionally. My hope was that this would provide a path for people to experience the depth and breadth of life.

Lots happened in between.

Then, June 1st arrived. By June 1st,  I needed to let my landlord know whether or not I would be renewing the lease for another three years. After months of deliberating (tears, meditation, spreadsheets, and conversations with teachers and supporters), I came to a difficult conclusion:

I won’t be renewing the studio lease when it expires at the end of August.

Since the Fall of 2019 – knowing that my son’s graduation from high school would usher in changes, including where my family would be living – I have been actively exploring ways to maintain my commitment to encouraging our community of practice in northern Westchester and my teaching in New York City.

Unanticipated – for all of us – was how the arrival of covid-19 would impact those best-laid plans.

Why I’m Not Renewing

My decision to not renew the studio lease was based on:

•the short-term uncertainty of when the studio might open again,

•the reality of what re-opening would look like (maximum of 5 people in a class, teachers and practitioners masked, temperature checks upon entering, etc.), and

•the long-term uncertainty of how this virus will continue to affect in-person interactions.

So, unexpectedly, March 13th was the last day of classes at the studio.

This Was Not the Outcome I Had Imagined

Many of us – teachers, staff, practitioners, and friends of the studio – had a vision for how things might evolve in the future (after my family’s move to the Berkshires and after we re-opened post COVID). Closing the studio was not what I had imagined; but I also realize that the world is what it is, even when it doesn’t meet up with my expectations or imagination.

So, Now What?

The new vision for Encourage is a digital one.

Certainly, the live-streaming Zoom classes will continue. There may be tweaks to the schedule in the weeks ahead.

I’ve been encouraging each of the amazing Encourage teachers (as I’ve been trying to model, however inadequately) to reflect on how best to use this time: is it to continue teaching? to dive deeper into their own practice and study? to turn inward? to surprise themselves with what they discover?

I would encourage the same kind of introspection for all of us.

How can we use this time well? It might seem like ages before we’ll be able to be in one another’s presence again, but on the other side of longing, time always feels so compressed. It would be a shame to look back on this time and regret not having taken full advantage of the restraints it provided and the observances it’s facilitating.

Say More About The Future?

I’d love to say more about what’s coming down the pike. I’m not being coy.  Would I love to continue teaching in the area, in person, from time to time? Yes. Would I love to continue teaching in New York City? Yes. How will all of that play out? I don’t know. I really don’t know.

So, since I don’t know a whole lot more than “the new vision for Encourage is a digital one,” I’ll have to leave it at that for now.  And besides, the movers are coming June 17th, so I’m thinking – between packing up, maintaining our current Zoom schedule, and being on point with Lilly during the day – I’ll need to let things continue to bubble up in the weeks ahead.

A fully elaborated vision of “next” will need a little more gestation time and space.

Reaching Out In the Meantime

I realize that everyone will hear this news differently – and that I’ve had a head start processing it.

I will be forever grateful to everyone whose practice and teaching and warm welcomes made Encourage the community that it is.

I will be grateful for the privilege to be a part of maintaining these relationships and to encourage this community onward in the days, weeks, and months ahead.

Feel free to drop a line with any thoughts or questions you might have.  Given all of the above (especially the movers coming on June 17th and the whole caretaking for Lilly and Noah graduating bit), I may be a little slower than normal in responding. I’ll apologize in advance for that. But I always look forward to being in touch.

Please know, that no matter what evolves from here, that in no uncertain terms, you have forever changed my life,

And I’m deeply grateful for that,

_/\_,

Al