I've spent an extraordinary amount of time in my life striving for an ideal. This vision in my mind of what is, I guess, what Oprah would call “Your Best Self”. Or your Best Job, or Your Best Family, or Your best Whatever. Whatever that ideal was though, it certainly wasn't happening now.
Let me back up a bit. 10 years ago I was single, making a very good deal of money, with freedom to do whatever I wanted. Despite this, I was usually unhappy. I pined for the family I saw many of my friends creating. I pined for a livelihood that was useful to other people. I pined for a version of myself that was more together, more sober, more capable of self-care, more, more, more..... something.
Even my yoga practice reflected this. I wanted to become more proficient, more knowledgable, more yogi pure. (Oh how this purity thing screwed with my head...). I was rarely happy with where I was right then and there. I was always planning the future. Creating. I did meditations for this purpose. I had intentional collages everywhere, I even had a vision binder putting together all the words and visuals that I wanted to call into my life. I was quite diligent about it, actually. And guess what? It worked.
I got exactly what I asked for. The beautiful family. The (albeit modest) livelihood running my own business that I felt made a difference.
And guess what else? I still wasn't really happy. And I didn't really understand why. From the outside looking in – things looked great. I put on a professional smile and taught sweet, balanced yoga classes. I managed to grow my family and grow my business but in the midst of all that growth – I got smaller. Smaller, smaller, smaller....and then I couldn't find myself.
And then I broke down.
I was that yoga teacher with the soothing voice that came home and screamed at her kids.
I was that yoga teacher that told everyone to go with the flow and then came home and gave my husband attitude because he didn't straighten up the house to my liking.
I was that yoga teacher that didn't practice yoga (all that much).
And I made excuses. When was I to practice? Working basically every day and (co) maintaining a family did not leave much time for me (I said). I woke up exhausted and went to sleep exhausted. I made choices with food and drink and drug that created short term fixes and long term problems.
That “ideal” me was still very, very far away. I knew it and I hated myself for it.
I was that 30 year old woman still in a lot of ways – really sucking at self care and self love. Except this time – I was not in a bubble. I was a member of a family. A wife and a mother. And my self-love and self-care, I came to realize, was critical to the health of my marriage and my children's happiness.
This sort of cemented itself into my consciousness this Christmas as I sat amidst unwrapped Christmas presents, having not spoken to my husband in 36 hours, crying, screaming “I fucking hate Christmas”.
Not exactly ideal. But certainly very, very real.
The real is hard to be in. It can always be better. My house can always be cleaner. My yoga practice, always somehow better, my meditation practice, more consistent (ie, better). The list goes on, actually, but you get the idea. My reality kicked my ass. I could not handle the life I created for myself. Joy left the building.
Looking at my life I realized I was not experiencing joy and that scared me. That realization rattled me to the core. And then I remembered why I started practicing yoga in the first place 15 years ago. To cultivate happiness and joy for myself. To stay off of anti-depressants. To manage my temper. To try and be the same light-filled person on the outside that I knew I was on the inside. To synchronize.
This is what yoga is for me. A life raft in the middle of the ocean. An anti-depressant. A practice that brings me toward my “ideal” by anchoring me in the “real”.
There is a reason I made yoga my livelihood – because without it, I become a servant to unhealthy learned behaviors and habits. Without it I am unhappy. Plain and simple.
So, how do I do it all? This is a question I get a lot. I can get a lot done, it is true. But without a yoga practice I straddle insanity, barely keeping it together, living in a house of cards.
This is a really personal post. And I'd like this blog to be a personal connection to the community of yogis that i've been blessed to help create. A real connection representing a real life. Not an ideal life. A real life and a real yoga practice from a business owner mom with three kids.
And maybe, just maybe, as I share my life and my practices – you can be there with me, resonating with my words because, ultimately we are all the same. We are all looking for happiness and the expression of what we feel to be our Best Selves.
Lets begin by being real.
Sat Nam (True Identity).