Urban Zen: A Mermaid Survives Manhattan

From the oceans of the Pacific to the concrete jungle of New York, happiness is where the heart is.

Kristin Hettermann home in the “traffic” of the waters off Maui.

A few years ago, during an astrology reading, my mentor of the moment mentioned that there were some spots on the globe that I looked particularly inclined to be successful in. Maui, where I was living, was one of them. New York City was another. Absolutely no way, I thought. Maui to New York? That will never happen. My life in Maui was the stuff that dreams were made of: a thriving business built on reputation, a sea turtle love affair, rainbow flirtations, jungle hikes galore, waterfall frolicking, daily adventure sport meditations, regular saltwater baths, and the spirit of aloha which brings peace, grace, ease, and kindness into every day.

Well, never say never.

Three years later, I’m happily ensconced in an explorer’s hideaway in New York City’s West Village. I spent two years going through the city’s initiation, and let me tell you, there were a few times I didn’t think I was going to make it. Thank goodness for the little things that kept me going: sweating my fears away at Modo Yoga as the traffic of New York screamed by below our shavasanas; the love and support of an incredible man who held my hand when my tears reminded me of my saltwater home of the ocean; the creative genius of culture hidden in nooks and crannies that inspire the artist and thinker in me; my new found interest in jaywalking as an adventure sport; and of course, getting out. You must get out. Quick-draw plane trips back to Maui transported me out of the deepest ruts, and the stronger voice of the world that pulled me to New York started speaking through me. In celebration of the power of love, the power of saying yes, and the power of accepting the challenges of the universe to achieve higher callings, I said bring it on. Love brought me to New York, but destiny welcomed me home.

Whenever I mentioned to New Yorkers that I had moved from Maui, interesting reactions followed. Of course, people could tell I looked a little “different.” But blank stares would light up, and as sleet fell down in sheets and sirens blared by, I would get stories upon stories of a New Yorker’s view of paradise: palm trees, hula girls, Mai Tais. I would smile and affirm that yes, Maui is amazing. My heart would feel a bit of yearning for my mermaid home, but I kept reminding myself, “Paradise comes from within.”

There were dark days, when there was no sun and no turquoise water to distract me from the malaise of human existence, and I slowly felt like I was losing myself. Lost in the madness of the city, a speck on the skyline, a no one in a city of someones. I thought of the ocean — despite the peace and tranquility that you feel in its presence, you are very much always surrounded by danger, not in control due to the elements, an outsider to the ocean’s everyday existence. You surrender to the ocean, and it carries you. With this in mind, I surrendered to the city, and eventually, I felt held.

I think happiness in life is about acceptance, letting go, finding balance, and setting intentions. It’s about finding your zen in a chaotic world and staying committed to that process — wherever it takes you. And sometimes the darker the process is, the deeper you go, the more you learn. There are always new things to explore, new ways of being to become- everything is and will always be change. In my writing here, I will be sharing more about my adventures in the world, commitment to consciousness, struggles and joys, and journeys of the spirit. The quest to be alive- and truly thrive- is an admirable one, and I look forward to the expedition with you.

Grace Delivers.