Do you have a really, really big goal? Something that you’d love to achieve one day but the voice in your head isn’t quite sure that you have what it takes. The kind of thing you think about year after year but never really take any steps towards accomplishing because it just feels so big and so daunting?
If you know me, you probably already know what mine is. If you don’t, allow me to introduce myself with one of my deepest desires and grandest dreams. I want to write a book. And while I’m laying it all out here for you and the Universe, I may as well go all out and declare that it would also be pretty, pretty nice if said book happened to land on the top of a fancy little list you might’ve heard of before: The New York Times Best Sellers. May as well dream big, am I right?
Ohhh hey 2019! Am I a little late to the party? Definitely. Did I miss you guys? So much!
If you follow along here, you already know that the fall brought news of a few big changes coming into my life in 2019. I spent a lot of time feeling lost and the voice in my head (you have one too) was in overdrive asking: what’s next? I’d get seriously anxious when time after time I couldn’t come up with an answer.
Ready for the happy news? Things have shifted. Change is still coming but I feel more excited about where I’m headed than I have in a long time. Some of it is same old - boathouse yoga and weekend retreats aren’t going anywhere, don’t worry!! Some of it is new, exciting and yes, maybe just a little scary too (the best things always are)!
I’m so lucky to have the “problems” that I have.
I know I’ve been writing a lot lately about feeling lost and struggling with change. My mind’s been spinning in circles asking big questions.
What’s my purpose? Why am I here?
How can I feel fulfilled during the year when @pycmuskoka is closed?
How can I have a bigger impact?
How can I feel more at peace with myself?
What a privilege it is to sit here and say that these are the things I’m worried about right now.
I think the most feared word for anyone with anxiety is CHANGE.
Establishing a strong daily routine was one of the things that really helped me when my anxiety was at its worst. The benefit of the consistency is you realize there are actually things you can control. The problem with it is that life is inevitably going to change and when that happens, so will your anxiety levels.
I’m experiencing this right now. There are several big changes on the horizon for me. Most of them are exciting, the kind you welcome with open arms. One of them, I’d change in a heartbeat if I could but I know it’s the right move.
The funny thing about anxiety is it doesn’t discriminate. Whether it’s a positive or negative change, your mind still spins around trying to predict how it’ll all play out. Knowing that life as you know it is going to shift can trigger worry, doubt, insecurity and whatever else comes up when you’re looking ahead to the unknown.
I spent most of my life - up until more recently than I’d like to admit - trying to be like other people. Maybe it’s human nature, maybe it stems from my years as a competitive dancer or maybe it boils down to growing up so close in age to my two beautiful, fun and smart older sisters (that I constantly wanted to be like). I was so caught up in striving to be more like what I loved and admired about other people that for a really long time I couldn’t see that there might be things I could like and admire about myself.
This (obviously) followed me onto my yoga mat. I did the exact opposite of what teachers encourage you to do. I stared at everyone (kind of creepy when I put it like that). The first - okay fine maybe two…three… - year(s) of my practice were very much a game of looking around the room at someone else, wishing I was more like them or even worse, yanking and pulling myself into poses that I thought made my practice look more like theirs (not a recipe for a healthy body or mind, I don’t recommend it).
I wish I could tell you that by the time I found myself in teacher training I’d mastered my inner critic and constant need to compare but that would be a lie and I’m not very good at that. When I started teaching, I’d go to classes I loved and I’d be taking notes on what I should take from them to make myself better. Oh she’s really funny, I like that.
Anyone else out there grow up with an idea of what Your life would look like by the time you reached this age?
I know I did and as I sit here typing away in my 450-square-foot flat (that we rent), with no dog at my feet (yet), no kids crying (yet) and a (soon to be) hubby (yay) out at the office, I can confirm that life hasn’t unfolded the way 12-year-old Jenn assumed it would by the time she reached the ancient age of 30 (ha!). Surely I’d have it all figured out by then - the house, the family, the job. Adults know everything, don’t they?
A decade later, 22-year-old me started realizing that 30 isn’t really as old as I once thought it was. I dreamt of teaching yoga for a living (check), having a studio on the lake (check), being a freelance writer (every word so far has been free), having a published book (word count is still 0) and maybe even owning a house with my unknown future hubby (second half of that is happening in 2019).
The ‘yoga’ side of me that knows life happens exactly as it’s supposed to. That even if we don’t understand it, we’re exactly where we need to be and it’s always, always better to trust than to force.
My nose started to itch while I was meditating this morning. I waited a moment to see if it would pass and when it didn’t guess what I did?
I scratched my nose!
Yup, I moved an entire limb when I was ‘supposed to be’ still and the world didn’t end. No meditation god came down from the heavens to smack me with a stick. The teacher (I was in a class) didn’t tell me to get out. I put my hand back where it was and continued business as usual.
In the past this little movement would’ve sent my brain spiralling. Meditation’s too hard. I’m doing this all wrong. Wow I suck at this. If I can’t do it right, why do it?
I could never live up to the idea I had in my head of what meditation should look and feel like. Sound familiar? It took me a long time to realize that there is no right or wrong in this practice. You can’t fail - as long as you do it.
What was the first thing you heard this morning?
Since most of you probably answered your alarm maybe I should rephrase that. What was the second thing you heard this morning? I’m not talking about the noise from outside your bedroom or your roommate/significant other getting ready for work. I’m talking about you - but there’s a good chance you missed it. The moment your alarm goes off, before you even open your eyes, the voice in your head starts talking. It’s constant chatter is such a normal part of our existence that we often don’t notice what it’s actually saying.
Mine was cranky as hell this morning. I woke up before my alarm and with my eyes still closed sensed that it was morning. Ugh, really? Come on, I’m so tired still. Do I have to get up? Sound familiar? I’m sure many of you are used to hearing something similar in the morning.
One feels good. One doesn’t.
Pretty sure you can figure that one out on your own.
I know, I know. It’s been a while.
I could sit here and tell you that I’ve been busy and yes, that was the case this summer but I have to admit for the past month time is a pretty poor excuse. The truth is, I’ve been feeling a little - okay fine, a lot - lost since I closed the studio doors on Thanksgiving. If you’re feeling bad for me, don’t. This is a normal and expected part of my year. It happens every fall, like clockwork, when the community that I put so much of my time and energy into suddenly disappears.
I’ll admit that there’s an initial sense of relief at having some time to myself and finally a weekend off but that quickly gives way to an eerie silence and a loud, anxious voice in my head asking over and over again: “What Now?”.
I spent the start of my twenties in bed. Hiding behind closed doors. Flipping between moments of pulling myself together to prove that I didn’t need help to dark moments that pretty much screamed that I did.
I spent the start of my thirties feeling really happy and reflecting on how lucky I am to be healthy, to be loved and to have so much to look forward to in this next decade.
Clearly, ten years can make a dramatic difference. I’m sharing this not to drudge up old sad stories or brag about how rosy life seems to me at the moment. I’m sharing because when I look back at how much has changed there are two pieces of advice that keep circling around in my head that helped me in a big way.
"People are just as wonderful as sunsets if you let them be. When I look at a sunset, I don't find myself saying, "Soften the orange a bit in the right hand corner"
I don't try to control a sunset.
I watch with awe as it unfolds."
Carl R Rogers
I've always loved this quote. Probably because I've always had a tendency to pick myself apart. Thinking that if I could just fix this, change that, tone this, then I'd finally feel comfortable and happy in my own skin. But a funny thing would happen when I'd actually make these changes. Whether it was trimming down, toning up or changing something about my appearance - I never felt any better about myself when the changes were made. That critical voice in my head would just focus itself on something different. A new problem I had to fix. It was this never ending cycle of not being happy with who I was.
Quick question: does rushing ever actually help your cause? Let’s set aside those rare moments where hurrying is essential - like when you’re running through the airport to catch a flight. I’m talking about speeding through your to do list and just trying to get everything done as quickly as possible.
I’ll answer for you.
It definitely doesn’t.
As a yoga teacher, it’s a little funny to admit that I spend a lot of my time racing around. From place to place, class to class. One of my students joked that I should buy a company speed boat to get around faster. ‘Namaste’ then pedal to the metal. Some days that’s what life feels like up here.
Last week I had a few minutes to spare between classes. Instead of taking a break I decided to quickly tackle the chalkboard bubble letters for our posters - if you’ve ever had to write these you know it’s not an easy task. I scribbled away, eyeing the clock and then stepped back to admire my masterpiece. It said:
EVENTS AND WORKSOPS.