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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A Song to Get You Through: This Too Shall Pass

Do you think when these guys made this song and video they knew that it would bring people hope? Do you think they knew that I (or someone like me) would be sitting in a coffee shop listening to it over and over again just spilling over with feelings of bliss and gratitude? Maybe not.

Maybe they were just singing what they needed to hear or wished someone had told them.

Let it go. This too shall pass. You can’t keep letting it get you down.

I mean, duh. So simple, right?

Today, I want you to know that whatever you’re going through will pass. Be good to yourself, ok?

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Sing More, Love More, Be Imperfect: My Goals for 2013

LOVE project

I don’t make New Year’s resolutions anymore. They were always so depressing, especially the one “lose weight,” which is in my opinion the worst goal anyone can ever set. First of all, it’s way too vague so you never really know when it’s accomplished. Second, it’s ever present, making us always feel like big fat failures. Third, it takes a negative attitude toward the body and comes from a place of shame.

Instead, I divide my New Year planning into two categories:

  1. Themes for the year
  2. Things I want to do

My themes for the year describe the kind of year I want to have, and I like to draw them out in colorful markers on a page in my notebook. My themes for 2013 are still developing, but here’s what I’ve got so far:

  1. Sing more.
  2. Love more.
  3. Be imperfect.
  4. Integrate: Be your complete self.
  5. Be nice to others. Be nice to yourself.

Sing

My to-do list is similarly colorful. I aim for around 100 items on it so I can have a good mix of serious and silly, difficult and easy. Here’s a sampling of my 2013 list:

  1. Go on a yoga retreat
  2. Leave the continent twice.
  3. Visit Louisiana 3 times.
  4. Read or listen to 100 books.
  5. Play in the rain.
  6. Eat a new food.
  7. Make an awesome Halloween costume.
  8. Have tea.
  9. Visit the Einstein monument in DC.
  10. Call my brother.
  11. Volunteer
  12. Give a reading.
  13. Wear glitter.
  14. Go one full day without spending money.
  15. Say yes to something I’d normally say no to.
  16. Take a nap.
  17. Plan an awesome birthday for my husband.
  18. Wear red lipstick for a month.
  19. Write a book of poetry about life after the apocalypse.

Some of these are things I’ve done before, and some are not. Some are easy and some will be harder to do because they require a commitment of time, money, or energy. However, all of them are doable, and all of them fit in with the type of year I want to have.

It doesn’t matter too much if I accomplish all of the goals on my list. In 2012, I had nearly 100 items on my to-do list, and I accomplished about a third of them. However, I accomplished the ones that were the most important to me as well as a lot of things that weren’t on the list. Overall, my 2012 was absolutely in tune with the themes I chose for myself, and even though I didn’t get to check off everything on my list, it was thoroughly satisfying throughout the year to revisit my list and see what kind of progress I was making. The list also gave me something to work on whenever I hit a slump. For example, I save some of the easy ones for days when I need a boost. I invariably forget about those, and when I’m feeling down, I check my list for something that will perk me up. When I see “wear glitter,” I think, “That’s easy to do, and it would make this day a little more cheerful,” so I put on some glittery nail polish, check an item off my list, and go about my day feeling just a little brighter.

So, enough about me! What are your themes for 2013? What kind of year do you want to have? What’s on your to-do list?

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Anyone Can Sing

SingAnyone with a voice can sing.

Anyone with a pen can write.

Anyone with access to a bit of dirt and water can make mud pies or clay pots or bricks for houses.

The difference is that Bob Dylan has a unique sound (if not what most people were looking for), and he has something to say.

Same goes for every writer or artist who has ever stood out as interesting and noteworthy.

Sometimes it’s not about constructing sentences nearly as much as it’s about having something worthwhile to say.

If you’re always singing someone else’s songs, you won’t get very far.

If you’re writing a story that doesn’t fit you, why are you telling it?

The trick is finding your own song.

*Photo credit: Letcombe on Flickr

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