a long endurance.

(for Mindy, who I’m pretty sure is the only one reading these days, because she won’t join Facebook and still wants to keep up on me anonymously)

at the ripe ole age of 30, i’ve finally decided what i want to do with my life.

or, at least the path i want to be on. where it leads me exactly, i am still clueless.

but i know this: it will include natural health + yoga.

i’ve been practicing yoga for several years now, off and on. my earliest experiences were with a Y12SR group, which stand for Yoga and 12-Step-Recovery. yes, it’s a recovery group for addicts, based on the 12-step model, with yoga. although i’m not an addict, a healthcare practitioner recommended i try it and i fell in love. for the first hour, we shared our struggles with one another and no one was allowed to respond to you with “well, you should pray more” or “maybe you should try ___”, they simply listened. we breathed together. then another shared. it was through these discussions that i began to realize how i struggle with co-dependency.

then, just as everything was loosened up emotionally, we got onto our mats and this openly broken, beautifully raw group of humans practiced together. many tears were shed on that first mat of mine as years of wounds came to surface and were given space to heal.

when i began my naturopath program in the fall, i knew i would somehow incorporate these two worlds. i envisioned having a small practice and inviting a couple teachers to come in and lead classes. in my mind, natural healing and yoga are inseparable. in classes, i’ve always craved hearing how certain moves and poses would enhance the functioning of organs or help me sleep better. i knew i could never consult someone on healthy options without also suggesting a regular yoga practice.

i never thought i’d teach.

it wasn’t because i didn’t have a desire, but because i didn’t find myself worthy of that path. i have yogi friends who are stronger than me, who can do headstands and have more regular practices. my teachers all seemed so confident and proficient at yoga. i didn’t think i could ever measure up.

still, i needed to change the path i was on. so i reached out to my yoga teacher and asked if there were any studios in the city who could use my talents-PR, marketing, etc-and she directed me to the owner of the studio where i practiced. when we met, he explained i could take classes for free (BONUS!) and get a discount on teacher-training. i nodded, not wanting to betray my interest, but that hit home. i knew this was the right decision. and eventually, i gained the confidence and the affirmation i needed to pursuing teaching yoga.

but money…oh money, how that little beast gets in the way. i would only have part-time hours at the studio so i decided to sell Pampered Chef to supplement my income.

so, this is where things stand now:
money is stretched VERY thin as i work to pay off student loans, pay for my naturopath program and save up for Yoga Teacher Training.
i’m learning to budget (did you know, the key to financial well-being is to spend less than you make?!…neither did i! ūüėČ )
i’m finally, for the first time in my adult life, understanding the true meaning of the word “endurance”–i joke that this is my year for working and studying, as i’m doing one of the two nearly all the time

a long endurance.

that’s the phrase that keeps running thru my head when i reflect on this season. it is both exhausting/overwhelming/frustrating and relieving/exciting/hopeful. for the first time in my adult life, i know what i want to do. and i know the path i need to be on. something within me leaps for joy.

but not too many times, of course.
“endurance” takes all the strength i have to give.
but the results…the outcomes…well worth the work.

 

why teenagers should clean toilets

i recently read an article by a mom titled “Please don’t help my kids” (read here). ¬†the frustrated mom lays down some firm ground rules about assisting her kids at the playground. ¬†while her tone seems to be a bit harsh, i really appreciate the heart behind her words. ¬†i appreciate her desire to race independent kids who know how to stand on their own two feet. ¬†who can be creative, original selves in a world that screams conformity. ¬†who understand resilience because they’ve practiced it, endurance because that is the framework for their lives.

i began “working” when i was just 12, scoring my first few babysitting gigs with the children of my parents’ coworkers. ¬†on one particular night, as my dad was dropping me off, he encouraged me to do the dishes and help straighten the house while the parents were away. ¬†his thinking: if you clean for them, they will be wowed and want you back. ¬†i took his advice, cleaning the kitchen while the children played and watched movies. ¬†the parents came home, refreshed from a night away and ecstatic that they didn’t have to deal with a mountain of dishes. ¬†they paid me well and called me again.

that’s when i learned the importance of adding value to my job. ¬†doing that thing that took the position just another step further in quality.

at the age of 16, i decided to spend my summer working as a young counselor-in-training at the church camp i grew up attending.  me and the few other staff members my age were all considered too young (rightly so) to handle a cabin of campers on our own, so we spent our days doing odds and ends jobs around the camp, and our evenings/nights with the campers.  i was put together with 2 other young girls to assist Marilyn, the housekeeper.  our daily job: cleaning toilets.

we arose at 6:30a each morning, moving quietly about the cabin, careful not to wake the counselors and campers who didn’t have to rise for at least another hour. ¬†we ate breakfast together, then set off in golf carts with cleaning supplies. ¬†we cleaned every bathroom on the campus, from the hair-spray, body-wash fruitiness of the girls’ cabins with showers full of hair, to the dingy, dirty nastiness of the boys’ wash houses that wreaked of urine. ¬†Marilyn was a stickler about hair left in the drain so we scrubbed until the sinks shone and picked out every loose hair that lingered. ¬†the boys had a nasty habit of clogging the conventional toilets, and then turned to pooping in the urinals. ¬†i’d never touched poop until that summer (and never have since).

we finished mid-to late morning with the housekeeping, went to lunch with all the campers, and then i headed to the concession stand, a little trailer with a fridge full of sodas and counter full of candy, and sold sugar to children.  we stayed up too late laughing and joking about boys, and i woke up too early the next day to repeat the cycle.

14 years later, i find myself in a fun, rewarding position at a yoga studio, where i get to interact with people and help build the business. ¬†i have a marketing and promotional background, i’ve written freelance articles and pieces for many folks over the years, i’ve managed departments and had significant positions in companies. ¬†and still, i clean toilets.

why? ¬†because it’s so necessary, so basic. ¬†toilets need cleaned (and floors swept and the counter wiped off) everyday. ¬†because they get used everyday. ¬†if they told me in high school i would eventually use my degree to work a front desk and clean the bathroom. ¬†I would have laughed. ¬†but my dad’s words still linger in my head. ¬†go above and beyond. ¬†work hard to wow your boss, and you will be asked to stay.

what i appreciate about the article, mentioned above, is that this is a similar type lesson the mom is trying to teach her young babes.  when we teach our children anything less than the importance of cleaning toilets, or the value of climbing the slide ladder by themselves, we make them believe the impossible lie that life can be lived without hard work and basic effort aimed at tedious tasks.  we instill the idea that life is not worth the toil necessary at times to move forward with dreams and goals.  that life is somehow easily gotten and that there is no beauty in the simplicity of serving others.

that’s why babes need to learn to pick themselves up when they fall from the monkey bars, and teenagers need to clean toilets, and adults need to rejoice in their challenging work. ¬†because life, rich and full and beautiful life, will be the prize for those willing to work for it.

asking for help, pacing myself and other life lessons

“it is better to travel well than to arrive.”
-Buddha

about a month ago, i left my full-time, all-consuming job with a winery to pursue and fine-tune some dreams that have been brewing deep inside of me. ¬†namely, yoga and natural health. ¬†my schedule has lightened and is much more determined by me. ¬†my income sources have also lightened, so i’ve added “selling Pampered Chef” to my list of fun endeavors. ¬†all of this has left me on somewhat uneven ground, tilting back and forth as i try to find my sea legs and steady myself again.

a few of my less than shiny character traits have begun to rear their little heads during this time of transition.

recently, my shoulder has begun to hurt. ¬†a deep, burning ache that happens when i’m using the computer or driving and especially after an intense yoga class. ¬†feeling discouraged, i resolved to try harder. ¬†until one day, after class, my arm ached all afternoon. ¬†through two movies and lunch and shopping. ¬†ache, ache, ache. ¬†i hesitated to ask anyone, afraid i would need to lay off of yoga and all the things i’ve been working on. finally, i asked a teacher at the studio if i should just take a break.

“no,” she said, “not necessarily. ¬†you may just be doing something wrong. ¬†you should have a teacher look at your form.” ¬†my relief at being able to keep practicing was short-lived as i considered asking someone to not only watch me practice yoga, but also to offer critique.

i’ve always been incredibly insecure about my “performance” in just about any area of my life. ¬†in an effort to avoid commentary, i strive to do better than any expectations, to wow people before they can decide i’m not good enough or don’t have the skill. ¬†asking for someone to help me see what i couldn’t felt less like help, and more like judgement.

nevertheless, i knew i needed help and it wasn’t going to happen spontaneously. ¬†after class yesterday, i asked my teacher to come over, to watch me. ¬†a couple other students, overhearing my request and having similar questions, stood by. ¬†despite my fears, she listened and offered suggestion, noting my form and how my lack thereof was likely contributing to the pain. ¬†she gave me some exercises to gain strength and i felt humbled. ¬†in one of the best of ways. ¬†humbled that another human would handle my request for help with gentleness and respect.

another character trait that has been known to both help and hurt is my “all or nothing” modus operandi. ¬†“all or nothing” people are great and have a lot to offer. ¬†they go after goals with tenacity and perseverance. ¬†they are passionate and driven and, for lack of a better phrase, get shit done. ¬†but “all or nothing” people are surprisingly fragile, susceptible to burn out and running themselves into ground.

that’s where i found myself in my last work position. ¬†i accepted a job that had long been neglected and was in need of serious, deliberate attention. ¬†i called it my wild stallion. ¬†and initially, i enjoyed it despite the exhausting hours and sleepless nights. ¬†but over time, it took its toll as i worn down more and more. ¬†until i finally had to call it quits.

now, in my new season, i find the drive revving back up and my desire to hit the road running have kicked in.  especially in the area of Pampered Chef, especially after our spring conference last weekend.  i came back convinced i would be a director by July, setting my sites on that goal and going hard after it.

the yoga fell into the shadow of this dream, as did my studying for naturopathy. ¬†suddenly Pampered Chef became the destination, not the vehicle. ¬†i’ve joked that it feeds my need for instant gratification, as my dreams for yoga and natural health are things that will take years to attain.

this is not to say i’m quitting Pampered Chef or anything, as my “all or nothing” personality tends to dictate. ¬†but i do need to put it back into its place, to realign my perspective. ¬†i want to do PC well, to succeed and make money, but it’s not my life’s calling. ¬†it’s not that thing that’s recently awoken within me. ¬†it’s the vehicle for getting there and, who knows, may just pay for all my future dreams.

needless to say, life is busy here.  like the winter, i find my life is in a bit of still hardness. soon the soil will be tilled, the seeds planted, the baby plants growing and thriving and putting off fruits to nourish little bodies.  but for now, it is slow and hibernating and the perfect place to learn big life lessons with gentleness and humility.

the thing about family….

today has been a weird day.

i am alone in a quiet house, no other living soul but the cat as he bounds from room to room, chasing imaginary foes. ¬†or friends. ¬†it’s always impossible to know.

i started the day with yoga and coffee and lots of items on my to-do list.  spent the afternoon learning to make wine.  dinner with the honey.  said good-bye to him until Saturday.  read a bit, watched a bit of tv.  got an email from a family member that bothered me.  chatted with my sis about said email.  text dad about said email.

and something happened.
in a strange, round about, unexpected way, i got the response i wanted, that i’ve been hoping to receive for a very long time.

i got acknowledgment and understanding and apology.  just when i was least expecting it.

my cousin recently shared on facebook about a quirk she has that is reminiscent of her dad. ¬†this led to us going back and forth about little things we do that not only remind us of our parents, but also our parents’ parents, etc. ¬†i shared with her how i will say, “i just want a little taste” anytime i ask for a bite of someone else’s food, and make a smacking motion with my mouth. ¬†this is a move my mom and grandma have made many times in life. ¬†and i shared how i sound more and more like my mom when i sing, of the sweet memories this always brings up of singing hymns in our country church. ¬†i always beamed with pride at how beautiful my mom’s voice is.

i carry these quirks and feel connected in such a deep way anytime i realize i’m doing them.

that’s the thing about family.

no matter the road you’ve been on, the pain, the frustration, the misunderstanding. ¬†no matter the time in between conversations…a simple text can make things better. ¬†a quirk can connect you back to those you love, those you want to never forget. ¬†you can forgive in an instant because your love and desire for approval can overshadow even the greatest offenses.

you can speak your truth and hope that someday healing will come.  you can hold the candle high that someday your children will be sharing the quirks they have in common with you.  they will smile knowing you are never far away.

3 days to 30

well, technically, 2 days, 9 hours and some change.

that’s right. ¬†on June 1st, 1983 at 8:16am, i entered this world. ¬†presumably kicking and screaming and flailing and half scared to be out, and half exhilarated to finally be free. ¬†that’s how my life has played out anyway, so i have no reason to doubt it started right at the beginning.

30 is an interesting milestone to be approaching. ¬†about 6 months ago, i mentioned it to a co-worker and he suggested celebrating with “30 days of 30.” ¬†it was a simple concept with a beautiful theme: find a way, every for the 30 days leading up to my 30th, to celebrate/reflect/enjoy life. ¬†essentially make every day a party. ¬†and my birthday would be the 30th day, the biggest celebration of all.

well, the first of May rolled around, which was to be the eve of this great celebration.  suddenly i was panicking.  i had not planned out my 30 days and somehow they snuck up on me.  i scrambled, decided to play it cool, scrambled again, battled with myself on the whole matter, decided to quit the idea and then committed again.  this went on for awhile.

then the 2nd came. ¬†and the 3rd. ¬†and life continued to roll along. ¬†and as i shared dinner parties and bonfires, spring cleaning and weekends away for work, i came to realize something very valuable: i lead a rich and beautiful, albeit challenging and stressful at times, kind of life. ¬†i didn’t need a gimmicky birthday tactic to be reminded of that.

30 is still a monumental type of birthday, tho. ¬†and i don’t approach it lightly. ¬†in fact, i’ve been thinking about it for the last couple of years, what it means to be approaching the end of my 2o’s.

truth be told, my 20’s have been rough.

i graduated college with an english degree and still no greater idea of who i was than when i started. ¬†i worked various odd (i mean really strange) jobs, including but not limited to: debt collections officer, dental assistant, admissions counselor, pizza-making specialist, barista extraordinaire, executive assistant, public relations officer, and so on. ¬†more recently, i’m specializing in the world of wine.

i’ve dated and dumped, dated and been dumped. ¬†i followed one such love affair to Arizona. ¬†i gave away all my possessions to move (except for a trunk full of beloved books) and had nothing when i moved back. ¬†i gave my heart away and had it returned in pieces. ¬†and then i fell for the love of my life.

i found friends that became family, and began to understand what it meant to love someone for who they are; not who i wanted them to be.

i made mistake upon costly mistake. ¬†quit jobs possibly before i should and took jobs i definitely shouldn’t have. ¬†i settled. ¬†and i rose above.

and most of all, i discovered something invaluable: myself.

i came face to face with my faults, admitting i struggle with rejection from others and, more importantly, myself. ¬†i can easily hurt people with my opinions and ideas if i’m not careful. ¬†i am opinionated and willful and stubborn.

i realized just what i have to offer: an articulate voice, a creative prospective, a helping hand, a passion for natural health.  a loving touch, an understanding ear.  a passion and drive that fuels success.

i found yoga and a desire, not just to lose weight, but to love myself well. ¬†to care for and accept my body as it is (ok, i’m still struggling with this one…but the journey continues).

as i washed the dishes this afternoon, i realized that one of my greatest fears when practicing yoga was that i was never really improving. ¬†yogis call it a “practice” for a reason: you accept where you are with grace, but continually push forward to improve. ¬†change is so slow, almost imperceptible, but still present.

i see how this fear has played out into the bigger picture of my life. ¬†change has been so slow at times it was almost imperceptive. ¬†as i turn 30, though, it is evident how this journey of my life has seen great growth and healing and a movement toward wholeness. ¬†reflecting over my 20’s, and comparing where i was this time last year or the year before or 6 years before that, i see a different person staring back at me in the mirror.

for this, i am grateful.

live is a beautiful (and hopefully long!) journey. ¬†as i wave a farewell to my 20’s, and toast in my 30’s, i will remember that truth.

and let it guide me forward.

enter the new year.

i’ve never been much for “new year’s resolutions” finding that they generally circle around the same topics–weight loss, working out more, spending less money, etc.–and land flat on their faces after a few months.

i am, however, a big of reflection on and reconsideration of one’s life and choices. ¬†and this time of the year, being the end of one and the beginning of another seems like a good time to conduct some deeper thinking.

for me, one the hardest things i’ve been contemplating has not been how much weight to lose or how to eat healthier or how many times this week i need to hit the gym (though goodness knows i need to do all three), but rather, how to prioritize.

prioritizing seems like such a basic concept. ¬†we learn it as children when we’re forced to choose to buy one toy over another because that’s all our meager allowances or birthday will cover. ¬†we have to weigh out the possibilities, to realize one has more value to us over the other. ¬†or when we have to consider that one choice will lead to peace, while the other will lead to punishment. ¬†we learn that prioritizing inevitably influences our behavior.

if it’s so elementary, then why do i, as a nearly-30-year-old, have so much trouble?

i remember in high school, having two jobs at the young age of 16. ¬†i initially started working at the local day care after school and that was great. ¬†the only flaw was that the kids went home by six, so i worked just 2 hours each day. ¬†eventually, i realized that the gas station across the street (i lived in the country so these were really the only two business in my “neighborhood”) was open until 10p, and they were looking for someone to close. ¬†i signed myself up, and went from the daycare at 6 to work another 4+ hours, closing up a gas station by myself.

i came home completely wasted with exhaustion, only to get up at 5:30a to go run a mile before school. ¬†i was a classic study in doing too much, and to this, i can’t even tell you why i did it. ¬†i didn’t save the money for college or need it for any dire reason. ¬†i just couldn’t figure out how to not do everything, and i didn’t have anyone telling me to sit still long enough to hear that faint voice inside that whispers to us what our priorities should be.

the running and the doing too much and the stretching myself to thin has continued into my adulthood as i’ve struggled time and time again to understand what my values, and therefore, my priorities should be. ¬†i think the hardest thing i’ve had to digest is that “prioritizing” doesn’t only mean that you give more time/energy/attention to one thing over another. ¬†sometimes it means you give up that other thing altogether. ¬†even if it’s a really amazing thing. ¬†that truth hit me one morning recently, and sank deep into the pit of my stomach like a dead weight.

i came to a bit of a crossroads yesterday at work, where i had to seriously begin to consider what, exactly, my values and goals are in this season of life, and where, then, my priorities should lie. ¬†i still haven’t come to a clear conclusion but a stark reality has emerged: i’m still doing too much.

and so, in this season of making resolutions to do more, i find that my aim must be to do less.

i look around at the people i consider successful in my life, and one the key common factors in each of them is that they took something they were good at and loved, and made it their one, sole focus.  they developed it, and stuck by it, even in the hard times that told them they would never be successful, or the boring times that told them they could have more fun somewhere else.

they honed in and focused and, above all, committed. ¬†that’s what i need. ¬†to take an honest inventory of my life. ¬†where it is and where i want it to be. ¬†and then make a plan to get there. ¬†hunker down and do, as a wise person once told me, “what is mine to do.”

that is my goal for this new year.

the eve of the eve.

IMG_3897

“to a better year.”

this was me a year ago, at a New Year’s Eve party my friend and i hosted. ¬†in front of the lens of the photobooth, we danced, and wrote posters and celebrated the end. ¬†and the beginning.

my biggest desire: a better year.

so here i sit on the eve of the eve of the end of this year i hoped would be “better,” and have to admit that it was in so many ways. ¬†hard but good. ¬†stinking of death but robust with life. ¬†i entered this year a broken (and broke!) wreck, and am walking out of it at peace with my ever-healing mess.

this year saw a few different guys who laid claim to my heart, a devastating separation from a good friend, a bike accident, the long-anticipated Superbowl come and gone, goodbye to an old dream and hello to a new job, a sickness that made me afraid i might ultimately lose my father, yoga and 12-step groups, dating and falling in love, reconciliation and renewed friendship.

whew. ¬†that’s a mouthful.

still, with all this (and so much more), i sit in a state of slight disbelief that this year is nearly over. as remarkable as this year has been, it’s end is approaching with very little fanfare. ¬†i will rise tomorrow, and go to work, and check emails and eat lunch. ¬†and apart from spending the evening party hopping from one hopping party to another, it will look just like any other day.

i think this is why it’s been hard for me to reflect on the year. ¬†i’ve been trying, though without much effort, to think of what my new year should focus on, what is the burning desire i want to see fulfilled? ¬†what is my “to a better year” for 2013?

i still do not have a clear answer, but the word “contentment” floats lazily and peacefully to the surface. ¬†i cannot yet tell if this is my desire or where i find myself or if its something i should try to center on. ¬†but still, it sits on the edge of my mind and lingers, like the smell of lotion after a bath.

here are some other words that i’d like to focus on during this coming year:

cook.
whole and wholesome meals. ¬†for fun and for serious. ¬†even when i don’t want to. ¬†especially when i don’t want to.

practice.
patience.  hospitality.  yoga.  learning to let go.  grace for myself.  sitting still. observance of the gifts of the seasons (rest and reflection in the winter, preparation and planting in the spring, growth and giant living in the summer, harvest and ending in the fall).

find.
that place where my strengths and passions intersect.  endurance.  healing.

tend.
myself.  my home.  a garden.  the yard.  a peaceful space. those pesky finances.

celebrate.
victories, big and small.  my 30th birthday!

love.
myself. ¬†my sweet B. ¬†those around me. ¬†wildly. ¬†fully. ¬†in risky ways. ¬†all those quiet and subtle places only i am privy to. ¬†even when it’s hard.

so, here’s to 2013, and all the unknown wonders and experiences it has to offer!