To say that Genevieve Rudolph was shocked is an understatement.
A year and a half ago, when her son, Auggie, was 6 months old, Genevieve and her wife went to Blue Fin in Times Square for a long-overdue date night.
By the time the dinner ended, so had her marriage.
“She told me she wanted a divorce,” Genevieve says, watching as Auggie rolls out a yoga mat on the living room floor. “She moved out the next morning.”
What do you do when your world falls apart?
Genevieve didn’t have a clue.
“I was so scared and depressed because I didn’t have a job,” she says. “So I put my head down and found a way to reinvent myself.”
Genevieve, an energetic, enthusiastic woman with siren-red hair and neon-green eyes, was used to change.
Although she had spent the summers of her 16th and 17th years in Manhattan in the Joffrey Ballet School’s pre-professional program, she quit at 18 before her toes really got off the ground.
“I had been taking lessons since I was 2,” she says. “But it wasn’t healthy for my body -- I had back and knee issues and anorexia and bulimia -- or my soul. I’m a firecracker, and it subdued me too much.”
She figured college would help her figure things out, so she left her hometown of Baltimore and enrolled at Marymount Manhattan College, where she majored in psychology (“I always loved people and am very social”) and minored in French (“I love speaking that language).”
After graduation, she became an NYC Teaching Fellow, working with special-education students in a public school in the Bronx then in Brooklyn while earning a master’s degree in special education from Pace University.
She was young – 23 – when she married the woman of her dreams and 26 when Auggie, thanks to an anonymous sperm donor, came into her world.
Auggie, which is short for August, has dark hair, dark eyes and a shy smile.
“My wife was 14 years older than I,” Genevieve says. “The plan always was for me to stay home and take care of our child.”
The plan, however, did not include her leaving her job during the pregnancy.
“I had to quit because I became ill,” she says.
Auggie, by the way, is sitting in his child-size chair looking through a book.
He’s just eaten a banana, and when Genevieve asks him whether he wants popcorn, his eyes light up.
He carries a paper cup of it around the living room, happily munching as he goes.
Seeing him happy makes Genevieve happy. She smiles.
Motherhood made Genevieve joyful, and as she sought to remake herself, she searched for something that would allow her to reconnect with her passion.
Before the divorce, she had begun using and selling essential oils.
“It was a hobby,” she says. “They made me feel better, and as soon as I started concentrating on them, people started coming into my life. I felt the joy, pleasure and vibration of my days was so exciting that I wanted to share this with others.”
She added chakra healing and sex coaching to her skills and established Essential Reclamation, whose business it is to make people as happy as she has become.
Genevieve, who works with private and corporate clients, sets her schedule around Auggie, who goes to day care from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. (and spends four days a month with his other mommy).
Typically, she’s up at 5. She meditates and prays for 20 minutes before he wakes – “he’s like an alarm clock,” she says -- precisely at 5:30.
She fills her days with meetings, breaking at 1 for another 20-minute session of meditation.
She cooks dinner for Auggie – he’s partial to burgers – and reads to him before bed. While he’s in Z-land, she works from 7 until 11.
“I don’t sleep much,” she says, adding that it doesn’t bother her.
Auggie and Genevieve’s lives blend in a beautiful mommy-and-me style that is unabashedly reflected in the décor of their apartment.
The yoga mat, which technically is Genevieve’s but is also used by Auggie, is rolled up right next to his plastic 3-foot-high Fisher-Price Little People City Skyway Playset. It towers over her tabletop Buddha statue.
Auggie, who is turning 2, has a wall full of drawings and shelves of stuffed animals; Genevieve has a zip-up case full of bottles of essential oils and a vision board of inspirational images. In the kitchen, a string of photos and artwork pulls their lives together.
But the fact that Genevieve has found a new life doesn’t mean that things are always easy for her.
“I have one day about every four months with outrageous crying and eating pizza,” she says.
Helping people connect with their passion gives Genevieve great satisfaction.
“It’s so cool to see others blossom,” she says. “The spark in others feeds me.”
Genevieve, who is 28, sees helping people reclaim their passion and pleasure as a personal mission.
“I lived such a stifled life,” she says. “I thought I had to be the perfect wife and mother. Twenty years from now, I want to have created a community of people who are soldiers of joy and pleasure. This is my life’s purpose.”
She grabs Auggie by the hand and takes him outside.
Halfway down the street, she picks him up and gives him a big kiss on the cheek.
Nancy A. Ruhling may be reached at Nruhling@gmail.com; @nancyruhling on Twitter; nruhling on Instagram, nancyruhling.com, astoriacharacters.com. Copyright 2017 by Nancy A. Ruhling