Why I Moved from Brooklyn to Tulsa, and What I Learned

I decided to move to Tulsa after I got connected to an initiative that is recruiting young entrepreneurs to re-locate there. I’d already carved out 2018 as a time where I wanted to try the experiment of living somewhere in the middle of the country. Though I wasn’t sure I wanted to spend the rest of my life in Oklahoma, I accepted the chance to give it a try.

My desire to live in the so-called “fly-over states” arose when, a little over a year ago, I expressed on my blog that I felt the healing of the United States was connected to being more present with those who differ from ourselves. I spoke about how we needed to have conversations with people we wouldn’t normally meet and go to places we wouldn’t normally go. A friend from high school read the post and commented “So, is this your declaration that you’re moving?” It struck a chord. I’ve spent my whole life living in liberal American bubbles — the San Francisco Bay Area, Los Angeles, and New York City (and in fairness also Edmonton, Alberta, which is not a liberal bubble but is also not in the U.S.). It was more than just a theory that I wanted to get out of my bubble.

It’s a privilege that I was able to step out of the life I’d been living in Brooklyn, and a great gift that I was welcomed to Tulsa with open arms and generous support. Of course that doesn’t mean it wasn’t hard too. On an emotional and spiritual level, I went to Tulsa to do some deep letting-go of patterns and ways of being that I felt ready to move beyond. I went to process, to write, to slow down, to be in the energy of Oklahoma, and to meet and speak to the people.

Here’s what I learned living in Tulsa:

1) It’s called the Heartland for a reason.

The people I’ve met here in the middle of the country have a lot of heart. I’ve spoken with mothers who are working to overcome their addictions and re-connect with their children. With employees of local foundations that are funding programs to address socio-economic disparity and building parks to bring the community together. With rappers who are telling the story of Black Wall Street (which needs to be told — please listen to Steph Simon’s new album and support this very important project). With baristas who moonlight as tarot readers. With a former preacher who is now driving an uber. With an incredible citizen who is running for office in order to transform government starting at the city level (support her campaign here). Sure, the healing and growth that needs to happen in our country isn’t happening perfectly or fast enough, but it’s happening. And I see how people like the ones here in Oklahoma truly are pumping the life-blood that’s coursing through the veins of America.

2) Things take time.

I came to Tulsa with a specific mission: to write a draft of my book about self-love. I failed. I did do a fair amount of writing and a whole lot of “living the book” as I like to call it, but I’m not leaving with a draft. In fact, I’ve had the recent realization that there’s a different book about voice that I want to write first. Though I ‘failed’ at my mission however, I succeeded at a different and unexpected one. Last fall, I let my Fembodiment side-project end because it wasn’t growing naturally. The team and I had been offering our women’s embodiment circles as monthly social events, but when I got to Tulsa I decided to try adapting our format to bring it to women in a prison-alternative program who were recovering from addiction. It was a big success, and now we’re working to continue growing the project in Tulsa. It’s interesting how, just like in nature, when you plant seeds they take time to sprout. It’s impossible to predict which ones will spring up first, so I’ve learned that all I can do is trust nature and the process.

3) There is time.

Big city life often makes me feel profoundly pressed for time. I feel like I’m fighting against the clock, rushing from appointment to appointment and trying to eke out a few spare moments to make a phone call or squeeze in a meal. But having now spent the last number of months on so-called ‘Tulsa time,’ I am officially totally over the glorification of being busy. Time is what we make of it, and furthermore there’s actually nothing but time. I’ve come to trust that if I listen to my intuition and follow my gut, my priorities will be revealed and everything that needs to be done will be done. For instance, I used to think I didn’t have enough time to take care of a dog. But now that magical little Ernie has found me (that’s him below… he’s a foster fail because I liked him way too much), I not only find time for him but I deeply enjoy our 45 minutes worth of walking each day.

4) Geographical simplicity is the best.

By geographical simplicity, I mean having an existence where I generally stay close to home. In my hustle-mode days in LA and New York, I was constantly transiting long distances between classes and clients and social gatherings and home. But in Tulsa I’ve been living downtown without a car. So I’ve stayed close to home. And guess what? I’ve had SO much more energy every day. I’ve read more books, sat in the park in the sunshine with Ernie, and gotten to know my neighbors and the business owners in the neighborhood really well. I’m convinced that reducing the number of hours per day that my body goes hurtling over the earth in a metal box, and instead spending that time investing in my local community has made a huge impact on my overall health and happiness. Moving forward, I’m going to be extremely conscientious of how I construct my life and my days so that I can maintain geographical simplicity back in the big city.

5) Community is everything.

How do I emphasize this one enough, because this is the true BIG lesson. In a place with a smaller population and a slower pace of life, it’s easier to see how much community matters. And by witnessing that here in Tulsa, I’ve come to learn that we are as rich as the community we create and nurture. Our community is here to celebrate with us, it’s here when we need help, it’s here to lend us a hammer or offer us a ride. It’s ironic because I came to Tulsa to be alone, and yet I’ve been more deeply enmeshed in community here than I have in many years. It’s been wonderful and the lesson is clear: I cannot do things alone. No one can do things alone. We are only as abundant as the community we surround ourselves with.

Tulsa is an incredible place and I am so grateful for the time I’ve spent here. However, over the past couple of months it’s become clear that I need to head back to the community I left behind. So this piece of writing is also to announce that I’m moving back to Brooklyn. (I’ll be keeping Tulsa as a home away from home though, and I’ve decided this means that I get to call myself tri-coastal 😝).

I return to Brooklyn with an expanded heart and a curious soul. I desire to explore how much more deeply I can invest in the community of family and friends that I may have taken for granted before. I look forward to continuing to build my life and my career in New York with this new sense of consciousness. And I’m so excited because I’m going to have the chance to deepen my connection to my very first community ever: my family. In the time I’ve been gone, my brother and sister have both moved to New York. Cali kids take over BK!! 😱😎😍

I share all this to tell my story, but also to begin the reveal of what’s coming next for my business Voice Body Connection. The How To Warm Up series has now ended, and I’ve spent months dreaming about the content that comes next. I’m still not 100% sure, but I realize being authentic is a messy process because it inevitably involves evolution. I want to practice the authenticity that I preach, so I plan to be vulnerable and share/co-create the process with you. Here’s my new idea:

I’m launching a video series called “Speak Your Truth.”

Each video will be about a different scenario that’s challenging me to speak my truth. I’ll share my own personal story, and the voice or body practice I’m doing to help me navigate it. Then it will be up to you to try it if you like. I’ll also have guests onto the show to share their journey with challenges and speaking their truth. I suppose this article, albeit written, is my first foray in the direction of this new project. And I’ll also still be creating vocal health and voice tip videos, which I’ll release interspersed with this series.

Does this all sound fun? If you’ve read this far, you’re absolutely invited to let me know. Respond below and tell me if you like this new idea, if there’s something else you want to see more of from your friendly tri-coastal voice coach, or if you have questions.

Thanks for reading, and thanks for your presence on this planet and your voice in the world 🌎🗣💖, and I highly suggest a visit to Tulsa, Oklahoma.

xo, Elissa