Monday, January 14, 2013

on yoga. on gratitude. on my body.

I’ve talked about yoga. I’ve talked about wanting to practice gratitude more. I’ve talked about learning to be kinder to myself. And I’ve recently learned a connection between all of these things.

I do yoga about three times a week, but the Tuesday class is my favorite because of the instructor. Her teaching style really works for me; I challenge all of the elements that I’m there to work on —my mind, my body, my soul. I find peace and rest while my muscles and joints find their edge and surpass it. At the end of each class we always do a meditation and relaxation period. As we were settling into corpse pose, the instructor said, “thank your body for giving you this hour.” It wasn’t something that she hadn’t said before, but this time it struck me. I felt a lump forming in my throat, and it was like I was doing my best dancer’s pose all over again.

I started seeing my body as a separate entity and as an extension of myself at the same time. I know this might sound confusing, but I’ll try to explain. When I saw my body as a separate entity, I realized that I spend so much time criticizing it —when I get dressed in front of the mirror, when I shop, when I shower. I am quick to point out all the lumps and bumps, the squishy parts, the stretch marks, the veins, the different places I want to lose an inch or two. A shopping trip for clothes results in a tirade of insults as I curse my body for being too short, wishing my legs were long and lean rather than disproportionate in the thighs and hips. Viewing my body as its own entity made me realize just how hurtful I was being. Imagine if there was a person you insulted every time you saw them.

And so I took that time, 7 minutes or so, to thank my body for getting me here and there, for being healthy most of the time, for letting me get restful sleep every night, for not hurting, for craving fruits, for loving vegetables, for not having allergies, for giving me an hour of yoga three times a week, for holding dancer’s pose longer than I ever thought it could.

And as I started to see my body as an extension of myself, I realized that my inner mean girl wasn’t as quiet as I thought she had gotten. She was quieter than ever now, but still cruel when she spoke. I still struggle to be kinder to myself; I am still my own worst critic. But that revelation there on that yoga mat helped me realize that being grateful not just for my body but toward it is a big step to being kinder to myself. Namaste.

Love and (a book) light,


Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Bonjour, 2013.

In 2013, I want to:

-read more poetry
-blog more; write more
-do yoga three times a week
-live with compassion at the forefront of my mind rather than in the background
-embrace vulnerability
-do a 10K
-venture into DC
-use the library more
-do more volunteer work
-practice gratitude
-practice mindfulness
-become conversational in French
-dare greatly

Happy New Year! What are your goals?

Love and (a book) light,


Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Au revoir, 2012.

2012 has been full of changes for me, both big and small. On the small scale, I stopped drinking soda and coffee, though I do indulge in a decaf latte once in a while. Has it made a difference? I would say so. I used to drink coffee in the morning, which made me jittery and unproductive. I’ve since taught my body to get its energy from sleep, exercise, and healthy food. I gave up soda to avoid the sugar and sodium and to protect my teeth. So far so good!

I also tried yoga for the first time this year. I’ve always been intimidated  by it. I had a picture of the type of girl who did yoga. She was skinny, fit, self-confident, flexible, and looked great in spandex. She was not me. But I did it anyway, and I’m so glad I did. It does wonderful things for my mind, body, and soul, and it’s something that I know I’ll practice for the rest of my life.

One of the biggest changes I made was in my career path. I used to work for a large consulting firm. I learned a lot and I grew as a person, but the time came for me to move on. I didn’t feel fulfilled. When I imagined myself in that career ten years later, I didn’t feel joy or satisfaction. I knew I wanted to do something more. I didn’t figure out what I wanted right away —that was the scary part. If I wasn’t going to continue in a path I had spent two years on, what was I going to do? I felt like a failure. I felt lost. I felt horrible for being discontent with my job when so many people were trying to find one, but I knew that wasn’t a reason to continue in that direction. As a starting point, I thought about the things that I enjoyed. I considered going back to grad school for a Master’s in industrial/organizational psychology, but that would have likely put me back in the consulting world where I already knew I wouldn’t be happy.

I finally realized I wanted to teach. To be honest, it wasn’t such a revelation to me. I had been running from that calling for a very long time. I used to tutor college students, and they would often tell me that I would make a great teacher. I still flinch when I remember my response. “Oh, no,” I’d say with a dismissive wave of my hand. “I’m not going to be a teacher. But thanks.” I was going to do research, or maybe open my own practice —anything but spend my days in a classroom for a laughable salary.

Turns out, I will be spending my days in a classroom, and my salary as a teacher after 20 years won’t be anywhere near what my salary would have been in the consulting world after 10. But I will be doing something that matters to me. Something that makes me feel whole. And even at the end of a very bad day, I can say that this world is better because of what I do. As a lifelong people pleaser, I worried about what people would say. They might call me na├»ve; they might say I was selfish. Foolish. Rash. Ungrateful. Thankfully, people were overwhelmingly supportive, and Blair’s support was the only thing that mattered, anyway, which he gave fully and without hesitation.

Perhaps the biggest change of all, even bigger than a career change, was the decision to become a vegetarian. I first started to slowly reduce meat in our diet because of health and financial reasons. Then we got a dog, and then another one (which is another big change for this year). That really changed my perspective in a lot of ways, including the way I viewed the meat that I ate. As I started to educate myself about the meat industry, I realized becoming a vegetarian was the right thing for me, for animals, and for the environment. This is a very personal choice that I elected to make for myself. I don’t judge my friends for eating meat, and for the most part the people in my life don’t judge me for abstaining from it. If anything, the response has been very supportive.

There are many other less tangible changes that I’ve made this year — I’m still my own worst critic, but I’m much kinder to myself these days; I’ve learned to slow down more and give each event in a day its own time and space; I’ve embraced the fact that I’m an introvert, but I’ve gotten a lot better at making new friends; I’ve started to live with more vulnerability, which I now view as a positive thing. (Please read Daring Greatly by Brene Brown.) Basically, 2012 has been a good year full of change and growth. I hope 2013 tops it.

Love and (a book) light,