Thanksgiving has long been my favourite holiday. No pressure of holiday parties, or finding the perfect gift; just family, and friends, and food. And gratitude for it all.
While I shouldn’t need a day to remind myself of all of the big and little things that I have that I am grateful for, it is a nice reminder. To look back on the year, to see what I planted and what I have harvested. To remember the things that sometimes get forgotten, and to let go of the things that were good but are no longer.
No list of what I’m thankful for, because it misses the point. I am thankful for it all, for the blessing of having this life. This life full of the big things and the little joys; this life where I get to make, and learn from, mistakes, and to drink in the serendipitous moments; this life for what it has been and for what’s to come.
[Alternate Title: “Why Teacher Training Ruined Yoga for Me”]
Ok, maybe that’s a bit melodramatic. But there’s a piece of it that is true. My teacher training was this amazing experience of adhikara, studentship. Being in community with my misfit tribe. And before I decided to deepen my practice through training, yoga class was one of the few opportunities that I fully let go. There was no analysis of “shins in” or adjust this. There was the adventure of finding out where practice was going that day. I didn’t have to know…someone else knew, and I could trust them and myself to get me where I was going.
Now as a teacher, I find it hard to not play my teacher role in my own head. I find myself only half listening to what is being said, telling myself the cues, analyzing each pose for how I can adjust it. Listening enough to notice the things the instructor does that I like, that I think “oh, I should use that in a class”, and the “I didn’t really like it when…” What used to be an amazing release for someone who lives far too much in my head, has now turned into a practice of thinking not feeling.
Now don’t get me wrong…I love teaching. It is this amazing experience to share something I love. And to feel like my most authentic self. But it sometimes leaves me feeling separate, me (them) and them (students). Sometimes when I’m teaching I feel disconnected from the practice that led me to want to teach.
How do I find that balance? How to be two different roles, all from this one body? How can I move my learning out of my head and into my body? How do I be a part of the community as a fellow student while I sit in the role of teacher? Because I love teaching…and I want to use my own practice to constantly learn how to be a better teacher. But to be a better teacher, I know I need to be a student. And even if I wasn’t teaching, I can’t unlearn.
For today, I do that by going to class, getting on my mat. By being a student again. After all, sometimes it takes practice.
As Patanjali tells us, “Practice and all is coming.”
I’ve been a reluctant blogger. Oh, I’ve got excuses — life is busy…work, family, dog, friends, thinking. But there was something that inspired me to start this; something that I felt I needed a place to express it (I’m still not really sure what that is). So I’m just going to go with it and see what happens…make sense of it as I go.
Gosh…this is starting to sound an awful lot like my life right now: not entirely sure what’s next but just going with it and seeing what happens.
This year, fall brought with it a whole pile of uncertainty. After a summer feeling so “in the flow”, September hit like a tonne of bricks. But as I let go of trying to control my way out of anxiety, new opportunities and dreams are scattering the path.
I remember reading an article last year about why the leaves change colour. Basically it comes down to, they know. That trees listen to the cues around them…temperature, daylight…to begin to conserve the energy they expend in photosynthesis in the spring and summer. They pull it back into their centre, their roots, saving it up for when they’ll need it in the spring — senescence. Letting go of leaves when it not longer serves the tree to hold on. Whatever it is, I like it. And probably need a bit more of it myself. Listening to the cues around me to draw my energy back in; letting go of the pieces that no longer serve me.
p.s. you can never go wrong with Anne of Green Gables wisdom
Maybe it all is as simple as an early morning dog walk with my dad, an hour on my mat, and a good cup of coffee.
My best intentions lapsed. And nearly a month later, I haven’t followed up on post number one.
Lately I’ve been thinking a lot about what I want my life to look like. And not just “I want a great guy. I want to be a [fill in the blank job title].” etc etc blah blah blah. But really what I want. When I think about the guy, what it is that I think that would bring to me. Or the job, not just the title or a role, but what I want it to bring to my life.
After the past week of thinking “what do I want to be doing?” I came across this article by Kate Sheehan: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/05/21/women-and-stress-life-change_n_3315016.html. When I read “It’s not, ‘What do I want to do?’ it’s, ‘What kind of life do I want to have?'” it resonated. I get it universe; it’s time to start living what I speak. For my job to truly provide for the life I want. I always say, “I work so I can afford the life I want when I’m not at the office.” But what more is there than just the pay cheque and benefits to it. How can my work truly afford me the life I want?
I was in Calgary for work on Tuesday and on the drive up there was a news item about physical inactivity in kids, specifically not walking to school anymore, instead always being driven there. It got me thinking. Both about how that whole topic is what I’m passionate about. Not just for kids, but about how movement should be a part of living. And how, should I have kids, I want a job that allows me to walk them to school. Later that day I was driving down Memorial Drive and noticed all the people out for a walk. Or bike ride. Or run. At 2 in the afternoon. And I thought, “I wish I got to just be outside to enjoy a beautiful afternoon instead of being cooped up in an office.”
For now, I’m not trying to have all the answers (completely counterintuitive for me). All in good time, I will figure out what I want to do by knowing what kind of life I want. But I think I have a few good clues to start. Clue 1: I want the flexibility to choose my own schedule. Clue 2: I am passionate about actually promoting an idea of living an active life (i.e. actually living).
Who knew that before I even wrote a post that I would be confused about what to write…the blog name. I felt so much pressure to get it right; to choose a name that reflects who I am, but also makes serves my original intent as a place to post my yoga teaching schedule. There was “prairie yoga” then “under this harvest moon”. Oh, but I love to dance…maybe that needs to be there somewhere? What about reading? And does prairie exclude the piece of me that is only whole by the ocean? The stress!!
In the end, I feel like an adaptation of my first instinct – a prairie yogi – kind of sums it all up. Thinking about the roots of the word yoga (or yogi or yogini) as to unite into oneness or wholeness, it hopefully captures all those pieces of me. And the prairie – it’s not only where I live, but has always reminded me of that other piece of me, the ocean, in its own way: the soft contour of the rolling plains mimicking the movement of the tide and waves; the beauty in its ability to provide; the harshness that it has seen in a storm; so vast and seemingly infinite.
So what’s this blog going to be? I’m not sure yet. But I hope it will evolve into a place for me to express and share all of the dance-under-the-harvest-moon-on-the-prairie-by-the-sea-namaste pieces of me.
And if nothing else will at least serve its original role as a place to post my teaching schedule.