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Start a new fire

The guest post series continues…  (This is JP reporting from Argentina.)

Whether it’s laughs, tears or silence, sauna is a place for whatever needs a little more space in your life. When I started working on The Firehouse three years ago, there was no way I could have known just how badly I would need the space I was creating.

As I was opening the door to The Firehouse, I was also closing the door on a fourteen-year relationship with my first love.

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I finished the sauna just a few weeks before moving out. The sauna was my sanctuary, a place to honor and express my grief in private. It also gave me a way to reach out and connect with others, even if I only had enough energy to simply sit in silence. Sauna gave me a new community and a new relationship with quiet. I don’t know how I would have survived that period without either.

But this sauna meister is learning that sauna isn’t the answer to every major life transition.

After three years building a successful web development company, my business partner and dear friend decided to close the business and build a new career as a consultant.  After a difficult period of restructuring, it felt like we were finally on track and building the business—and lives—of our dreams. Actually, we weren’t just on track: When I got the news, I was living ten minutes from Ipanema Beach in Rio De Janeiro with three of my best friends! Life was GOOOOOD!

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The news took me by surprise. When the shock wore off, I told my friends I was thinking of going to Argentina to clear my head and ponder my next move. I remember my friend looking at me from the bottom of his caipirinha glass and saying, “Dude, it’s WINTER there right now!” He meant it as a helpful reminder and invitation to reconsider my destination. But his newsflash only sealed the deal. (After all, a sauna meister can only tolerate the beach for so long!)

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After hundreds of glorious sauna rounds with The 612 Sauna Society, I closed The Firehouse in March and started traveling south, first to Nicaragua, then Colombia and Brazil. A second serving of winter in Argentina seemed like an appropriate way to bookend my trip! By the time I bought my ticket to Buenos Aires, this poetic notion had morphed into a three-month plan (Code name: Patagonia Express. Summary: building another mobile sauna and driving it to the National Snow Festival in Bariloche, Patagonia!) Within a few days of landing in Buenos Aires, I had found a truck and was already talking anyone and everyone who would listen onto my nordic bandwagon.

That was almost 4 weeks ago now, but I’m happy to report that the only progress I’ve made since is on the tango floor!

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So, what happened?

The pace here in Argentina helped (i.e. forced) me sloowwwwww-the-fuck-dooowwwwwn and step off the Patagonian Express of my monkey mind to see what’s actually here in front of me. And guess what? It ain’t a city waiting for a nordic sauna! It’s a city bustling with its own beautiful traditions for wasting time with dignity.

When I FINALLY stopped and smelled the Malbec, I noticed classy cafes, parks and bookstores on almost every street corner full of people kicking back and taking a few moments to themselves.

I would be much more comfortable having a project to focus on right now, but it would simply be a shame to ignore everything that’s already right here in front of me by forcing this transition into the same cedar box that worked for me last time. A good sauna meister knows when to start a new fire.

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