Monday Night Nonfiction: Still Practicing

life is just one big balancing act
Lately, I’ve been feeling wondering what my next steps are and where they’re leading. I’m loving teaching yoga, the online classes are going well, and I’ve got a new studio class to work on, too. I’ve even been experimenting with streaming my personal yoga practice as a way of forcing myself to do it, although the truth is I’m a little self conscious about it.

I’m definitely ready to deepen my practice and my teaching, though. Some of the poses I practice I don’t yet feel confident enough to teach, and there are definitely advanced poses that I want to learn. I know doing impressive poses isn’t the most important part of yoga, but if I’m asking anyone to see me as a teacher, I think my end of the deal includes striving to better myself, build on my knowledge, and hone my craft.

On the other hand, everyone’s at a different place on their unique path, and none of us are perfect. That means in terms of our physical practice, our self-discipline, our understanding of the sutras, the depth of our meditations — in all of it, we are imperfect. We always have something to learn. If we were perfect, wouldn’t be where we are right now. Maybe without knowing it that’s what I was getting at last winter when I started setting my goals for 2013: Love more, sing more, be imperfect.

Have I loved more this year? Yeah. I think I’ve been given more opportunities to love and to stretch my understanding of it in everything from my relationship with my husband to my connection with my yoga community.

Have I sung more lately? Not always well, but yes. I mean literally singing along when a good song comes on the radio even if someone might be listening. I also mean Omming in class. But I also think there’s a kind of inner resonance akin to “smiling with your liver,” which feels like singing. I think that’s how you know when you’re on your right path, and I’ve been finding that a lot more lately, even though sometimes I struggle to hold the tune.

Being imperfect, though … I thought it’d be the easy part, but it’s not. I’ve always wanted to be perfect, and I think most of us do. And I’ve always known how very far from perfect I am. I am aware of all my compulsions and obsessions. I’ve seen all my own bad behavior. I’ve seen every seeable flaw in my body. I’ve endured my own cruelest thoughts. And it occurs to me that if I could stop grasping for perfection, I would be perfect. If I stopped wanting to be other than I am, what I am would be just right. I’m very slowly getting better at letting go of the struggle, but it takes practice, practice, practice.

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How to Give Joyfully

Take stock of what’s awesome in your life. Make a list if you need to.

First of all, if you’re reading this, you probably have internet access. You’re pretty intelligent. You’re a forward-thinking person who’s always looking to grow and become better. Chances are good that you’ve got some kind and loving people in your life, and most of your basic needs are met rather reliably.

We remember Maslow’s hierarchy, right? The more of your basic needs are being met, the more freedom you have to go be awesome. When you’re not worried about where your next meal is coming from, you can think about things like art and literature. You can go dancing or enjoy the sunshine. You’re able to look around and appreciate all the goodness in the world.

When you’re feeling good and grateful, ask yourself: “What if everyone was this lucky?” What if everyone could marry their best friend? What if everyone was healthy and felt good about their bodies? What if everyone had enough to eat and a safe place to sleep? When I notice how lucky I am and how good life is, I feel compelled to share it with everyone I can in whatever way I can. For me, that’s teaching yoga and writing. Especially when I’m teaching yoga, I have the opportunity to give people an experience of joy, compassion, and well-being that I think is priceless. And the joy I get from this? It’s immense.

That kind of giving is really receiving. I may be giving you a yoga class, but I’m receiving the immeasurable honor of connecting with you on your path. If you love cooking, giving a meal to your friends or someone in needs is wonderfully fulfilling. If you love fashion, helping someone assemble a perfect date or interview outfit could feel great. Anything you do can be turned into a gift to the world. You can coach coach a little league sports team, lead writing or art workshops, teach a friend to knit, or volunteer to support a cause you’re passionate about. If you share what makes you happiest and the most grateful, giving will feel like a blessing, and you’ll never want to stop.

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My Last Day in the Cubicle

The Workaholic NSA

I woke up at 3 a.m. today and could not go back to sleep. I laid in my bed tossing and turning and feeling a little bit sick. I’ve known for a long time that I wanted to quit my job, but now that I’m finally doing it, I feel nervous and unprepared … kindof like when I got married. Sure, I’d wanted that for a long time, but actually diving into it was a bit overwhelming.

Still, I’m happy, ready, and looking forward to a very exciting future full of possibilities. In celebration, here is my list of 36 reasons today is the last day of my life as a cubicle dweller.

  1. I put in my notice, and there is no turning back.
  2. I’ve said it enough times already, and it’s time to do it.
  3. It feels amazing.
  4. When I told Ellie why I wasn’t ready to quit, instead of telling me to shut the hell up, she just gave me this incredible look… the look of a wise woman who knows when you’re lying to yourself. It was a wake-up call.
  5. When I told Kim about my “day job” and how much I wanted to quit, he didn’t say it, but I could tell he was thinking, “Then SFTU and go do what you do!” So I decided to work on that.
  6. I can finally do it with a clear conscience and a sense of gratitude to the people I have worked with for the past 5 years.
  7. I am sick of telling my family I can’t visit them because I don’t have enough vacation time.
  8. I will never feel like I have “paid my dues,” so I shouldn’t use that as a reason to stay at a job.
  9. I would rather be paying my dues in a line of work I love than working my ass off on something that holds no meaning for me. (Yes, my coworkers are rad, but this is not the work I was meant to do.)
  10. I am willing and able to work extremely hard and do amazing things. If I owned a company (which I do), I would want an employee like me. I’m hiring myself.
  11. The world is too amazing. Spending 40 hours a week in a grey cubicle is blasphemy and an insult to the universe.
  12. Business casual is fucking lame.
  13. I need more tattoos.
  14. I have a ton of really incredible, loving people who believe in me and are helping me make this transition.
  15. I have a partner who understands my particular brand of crazy and who I trust with my biggest dreams and darkest fears.
  16. I have found what matters most to me, and I’m ready to make that my top priority in life.
  17. The best way for me to do good in the world involves getting out from behind my laptop a lot more often.
  18. I want the freedom to spend a Wednesday lying around in my pajamas or lounging on the beach if I so choose. Yes, this is self-indulgent. So what?
  19. The corporate world tends to see people as resources rather than as humans. That’s just never gonna fly for me.
  20. I need time to travel.
  21. I’m not cut out for conference calls. When people start using corporate jargon, my eyes roll so hard it hurts. This is bad for my health.
  22. Commuting in the Baltimore-Washington region is bullshit.
  23. “Are you good with computers?” should never mean, “Can you email?”
  24. I believe I can make it doing what I love, but I won’t know till I try.
  25. I never wanted to fit in.
  26. My inner ten-year-old is still alive and kicking, and she just wants to go outside and play catch.
  27. Tried it, proved I could do it, found it boring as hell.
  28. Every fiber of my being is saying YES to this right now.
  29. I want more time to write and teach yoga.
  30. I want my brain back.
  31. I don’t believe in blaming others, and I don’t want to spend time with people who do. Unfortunately, this runs rampant in the corporate world, and you don’t get choice about working with these people.
  32. In the name of “getting the job done,” I have treated others in a way I would not want to be treated, and I’m not proud of that.
  33. Deferring happiness until you’re old enough to retire is not a good investment of your time.
  34. Often, during a long commute to work, I would think: “If this is my last day alive, I’m going to be pissed.”
  35. You never know when your last day will be.
  36. I need to do it now.

To anyone out there who may be reading this and wishing they could quit their jobs, I say, you can do it. And it’s ok if it takes you a while to get there. It’s ok if you don’t know what you will do yet. It’s ok if you need to stay at that job a little bit longer. Use the time to learn something. Hone your skills. Feed your passions. Work your ass off. And never loose sight of your big ridiculous dreams, whatever they may be.

I’ve been a little quite lately in the course of managing this transition, but more good things are coming soon. I look forward to sharing them with you.

Till then, I’m on my way home. I’ll be picking up some colorful hair dye on the way.


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to get you through

It’s a cold and rainy weekend. If the forecast holds true, we’ll have five days straight of it. But there’s always something, right? Always something to get you through.

This has always been one of my favorite songs. This is the song my Dad and I danced to at my wedding. It doesn’t take much more than that to lift my spirits. As long as we’re talking about Louis Armstrong, though …

And good God, could you ask for more? Louis and Ella Fitzgerald (swoon!) together. Oh, Ella, I could just listen to your sweet smooth voice for days. Such a syrupy, warm sound. Her voice is like the yellow lamp light when you’re putting on your pearls and perfume, sipping from a rocks glass before a night on the town. You know it’ll be cold out there, but she makes you so warm inside.

And finally, oh Ella, Ella, Ella, how I love you.

Have a good weekend, guys. Mwah!

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