When I believe my thoughts I am anxious. When I connect with reality, I am at peace. I have known this for a long time, and now more than ever it holds true. It is so humbling to admit that all of my training couldn’t prepare me for this reality. Yoga is fun and neat when you’re sitting in a room with 30 people, learning how to teach people yoga in a thriving studio on a normal day. No one prepared me for a Pandemic. No one told me how it would feel when I couldn’t see my students anymore. No one explained what it would be like to go into a store and find empty shelves. No one described the despair I’d feel contemplating bringing my children up during a widespread economic collapse. After so many years of encouraging my students to breathe, I find myself holding my breath. After teaching my students how to stay present, I find myself feeling anxious about the future. After guiding my students into deep relaxation, I feel anxiety alive in my body. I remember that this will one day be a memory. When this is all over, I’d like to be able to tell the story about how I realized I could just fully relax, how I spent my time creating wonderful things and then the Pandemic was over, and I could look back on the quarantine feeling proud that I stayed strong… I guess I better start breathing and staying present, just like I’ve been teaching all these years.
Dear Person who used to be my friend and is now in the process of attempting to jeopardize my employment status at the yoga studio by bringing the quality of my teaching into question and telling the management that you are feeling uncomfortable with the subject matter I’m addressing in my classes: I’m so sorry things didn’t work out between us. You told me you were a colleague having been through yoga teacher training yourself and so I trusted that it was okay to go beyond the student/teacher boundary and explore the realm of friendship. Oops! I was wrong! I was wrong about you. I thought that you were a kind person, but when I started feeling anxious, drained and uncomfortable around you, I decided to back away. I backed out as gracefully as possible. But I guess you didn’t like that. I guess that, like other people I’ve known, you believe that if I’m not for you I’m against you. And now, for some reason, you are trying to take me down, and (like other people I’ve known) you are attempting to recruit other people to agree with you and join you and take me down with you. But here’s something you should know: I have been to the very center of hell many, many times and I have always come back. You can say what you want, you can attempt to take me down. You can even try to bring me to hell with you. You can attempt to create an entire posse of supporters to drag me down, to rake my name across the coals, to convince the world that I’m worthless as a teacher. If you try hard enough, you might even be successful in getting me ousted from my job. I may have to struggle a little more because of your childish vendetta. But you will not win. I will rise up from hell. I will find new work. I will thrive even more. I will always come back.
You’ve come a long way baby! You were scared to live without him and then he left. You thought you were going to die, but you didn’t. You were terrified you wouldn’t find a new home, and then you did. You weren’t sure you could make ends meet, but you have, month after month after month. Just look at you go, sweetheart! See how it all works out? From my perspective, you’re a superhero. And…I LOVE YOU.
I ended up in a twelve step meeting a couple of months after my husband decided he no longer wanted to be married anymore. I was devastated; having trouble eating and sleeping, feeling isolated because I had lost a lot of friends in the separation. The coach I was working with suggested a meeting, and found one for me in town. The first meeting I inwardly criticized the room, thought it needed to be redecorated. The second meeting I realized everyone in my life is codependent. The third meeting I started to believe that the program might help me if I worked it. Two and a half years later, I know my program has saved my life. I have found a sponsor and am working the steps slowly but surely… getting ready to do a fourth step soon. When I was ready to give up on life, this program showed up to demonstrate that grace is active in my life, and I am truly grateful.
This house. This magical house. In January of this year my house was sold at foreclosure auction; my name wasn’t on the title or the deed, and there was nothing I could do to stop the sale. I was terrified. Not long after the sale I was told I had to move, and I didn’t know where to go. I just knew I wanted to keep my kids in their school. I tripled the number of yoga classes I was teaching, sent feelers out, and prayed more than I ever have. In July, a miracle. Friends of friends had a rental home in my kids’ school district and their renters wanted to break the lease early! We met, I brought my financial documents, and proved I was able to pay rent. And just like that, my kids and I had a place to move into! I left behind the betrayal and grief of my past and turned toward new possibilities, a new phase of my life. I am grateful for the miracles of community, strength and faith. Every night when I tuck my kids into bed, I thank God for this house. This magical house.
What calls you out of your cave and into the light of day? What wakes you up from darkest night and opens your eyes to the morning light? What keeps you going when you want to give up and give in? What gives you the reason you need to take one more step, more more breath? Whatever IT is, spend some time giving thanks, so that IT knows you’re grateful.
I really don’t care about the brand of clothes you wear… I want to know what makes your heart ache and which actions you take to honor your own healing. The specific work you do doesn’t interest me as much as the mindset you bring to what you’re doing. Can you work with joy and gratitude? Can you do what needs to be done to show up as the best version of yourself, can you still get up, even if you feel like giving up? I don’t care how much you can bench press— what do you do when life puts the pressure on you? Can you breathe and expand into the challenge, knowing that adversity makes you strong? I want to see your true strength, how you respond to the inevitable challenges that life offers you to wake you up to your ultimate truth: You were born for more, much, much more.
Up late getting ready. Big day. Big weekend. Today I taught three yoga classes. Tomorrow I’ll teach three classes, then I’ll lead a five hour training. I made eye pillows to give the participants, as well as training manuals so that they can take the information with them. I made a kale and quinoa salad for our working dinner tomorrow. All in all, it will be a twelve hour day… Sunday I’ll teach three more classes. And somehow, somehow, I am to find the time and stamina to PACK MY HOUSE BECAUSE IT’S TIME TO MOVE. I decided it’s not time to freak out. Freaking out is an old, outworn habit, and it really serves no purpose. Instead, I’m choosing presence. I’m showing up inside each moment, clear on what the moment is calling for, and doing that. When it’s time to teach, I’ll teach. When it’s time to eat, I’ll eat. When it’s time to pack, I’ll pack. When it’s time to move, I’ll move. And when it’s time to rest, I’ll rest. I am so grateful to have been brought to this simple place, where I no longer need to chastize myself for what I didn’t do sooner (that’s hopeless). In this simple place, I see what needs to be done, and I do that. There is so much peace in the present moment.
I did it! I taught FOUR yoga classes today, sweet lawd! What amazes me about all of this is that when I’m there with the students I am so much in the zone and so energized by the flow that I feel awake even if I’m tired; I feel strong even if moments before I felt weak. Something magical happens when I do this work I love. If you don’t yet have work that you love, I highly recommend you find some. It will make all the difference in the world, my friend, it will make all the difference in the world.
Overcoming the old programming by taking action in direct opposition to the fear. I was told I was terrible with money so I retaliate with a budget. I was told I was lazy, so my answer is hustling with all I got. I was told I was a squatter, so I found my own place to live. I was told to get a real job so I tripled my work at the job I already had. Go ahead. Keep talking. Every criticism makes me stronger.