Lighten up and forgive

I think there comes a point where you have to grow up and get over yourself, lighten up… and forgive.

-Jennifer Aniston

As tempting is the need to be right, it’s a miserable existence. Not giving it the energy, letting it go, and having a sense of humor and curiosity is a blessed life. You’ll know how you’re doing by paying attention to the amount of tension in your body. To how easily you can smile from the heart. It takes a self-assured (or tired!) person to do this. Or… by doing this, you become self-assured, less tired, and joyful.

Support is all around us. I learned to receive it.

When I pay attention, and check my defensive nature, it’s everywhere all the time.

I recently created a video.

I haven’t done many videos because I’m uncomfortable with them. It feels strange to talk to a camera, and I don’t know what to do with myself when the other person is talking. I know it takes practice, but I’m not practiced in it yet, so it’s scary. But I finally did it, and it’s out there on our membership site, with many more to come.

One woman said that my tone was silly, uncomfortable, and didn’t reflect who I really was, and that she was a little embarrassed for me as she watched the video.
I had to really take that in and stay open with it to understand what she saw. Perhaps I was trying too hard. It was scary, after all. But I remember preparing for the recording, and the prep work with my business partner put me in a funny mood.

I received feedback from another woman about the same video, and she said, “Your welcoming videos are great – just the right blend of fact and fun. ┬áVery clear, professional, and friendly in your unique and authentic style.”

I love and appreciate both feedback equally, because I know there’s truth in both.

And, both those women are powerful women who march to their own drummer, know how to take care of themselves, aren’t afraid to say what’s on their mind, aren’t in the business of managing others, and would only give meaningful feedback with my – our – success in mind.

If I only received feedback like the second one, I’d question if I was pushing myself to the edge. The first one was definitely harder to swallow for sure, but made the second one that much sweeter. I can’t discount either because neither came from fear, scarcity, or trolling energy; otherwise I would have. They both came from an intention to support, hold vision for, and elevate.

My business partner talked to me about different perspectives, where they come from, and who our client avatar is as it relates to how we create our content. I think about how I put myself out there, and whether or not our content feels fully aligned. It takes some thought to put the two together. It takes the right balance of knowing my expertise, and paying attention to how others connect with them. My partner was concerned about my confidence being “crushed” by the more critical comment(s). I can’t tell you how grateful I am for her love and support.

Being able to receive feedback, and being willing to delve deeper into what’s been called out without getting caught in my own victimization, shame, blame, and justification is a skill that’s taken me – yep – nearly 50 years to learn. Do you know what it’s like not to be able to take compliments? Yeah. Well, this – along with doing the scary stuff – makes the sweet compliments much easier to receive. It’s a game changer.

You can’t flourish otherwise.

Fumble, make mistakes, embarrass yourself, get it wrong, turn red, contradict yourself, get called out, make people question or get mad at you. But voice yourself. Not for the sake of hearing yourself, but for the sake of expressing your truth. Not for the sake of being right or making a point, but for the sake of being you. Try different parts of you out; it’s how you’ll find who you are. You’ll know. It’s how you get better at being yourself and finding your tribe. Because they’ll get you and make sure you show up for yourself. It’s how you’ll know you matter and feel truly connected. It’s how you shed the weight of your own suppression and find meaning and purpose in your day .

It is what it is…

Right now, I’m thinking of the Hamilton song “The World Turned Upside Down”…

When our life changes overnight – even when the build up’s been there all along – what used to be almost seems like a dream. I wake up asking myself, was it real?

There are memories in my mind, proof in photos and even in conversations with those that shared the same dream with me.
On some days, it feels like poof! Gone, like it was never there. It feels good, bad, and neutral at the same time. Sometimes the bad feels bad because I feel like I should miss that dream more than I do. The good feels good because I’ve learned to take what I got and make something magical out of it. I’ve learned to trust that this is yet another pivotal moment that I’m supposed to be a part of, and I get to decide how.

It is what it is.

I hear this often with a tone that implies, and there’s nothing I can do about it.

Yes, and….

Like improv. We get to navigate and play with a new scenario and new information that’s thrown at us. We get to first dictate our own amendments to the constitution by which we lived.

We were built to create something from nothing

When I’m low on food items, missing many of the obvious ingredients to make “the usual,” I can decide to feel put out, or get creative and make something out of what I can find. They often turn out to be the best meals, and my kids are always surprised that something so good came out of “nothing”. Frankly, so am I.

When we let something go, or something lets go of us, there’s something to mourn and feel put out about. There’s hardship. The key ingredients that make up parts of our day are missing. But we can also honor what was good about what we lost by remembering the gifts that came with it. We can take the ingredients that are still there and not let the lessons, and our values and desires that emerged from it, disappear with the loss. We can create something out of what feels like a skeleton that is our life. This is how we change our world. By finding creativity, and something delicious, in the middle of nothing. We’re all built to do it.

My body, my mind, my awareness

I frequently check my shoulders to see if they’re even slightly raised. I place my left hand on my stomach and listen for a moment. I feel for what my heart is feeling. My body tells me things that would take hours, days, weeks, and sometimes years to realize otherwise. It’s a matter of knowing that my intelligent body is there to listen to. A friend pointed out to me that I do this. That I’d say, “My stomach doesn’t like it, ” instead of “I don’t like it.” Or “It hurts my body to hear that [gossip],” instead of “I don’t want to hear that gossip.” Because if I were to be honest with myself, I want to hear that gossip. Because I always recognize the pain in my body first before my mind catches on. My mind is more desensitized. Which means, when I ignore my body signals, my awareness around that topic or event dulls, and by the time my mind catches up to it, it gets stuck and enmeshed in the fear and scarcity of letting go, or in the shame of my complicity, to do anything about it without a lot of digging that I don’t want to do. So I’d rather defend it.

Better to check my body first.

“I’m so inflexible and stressed out, I should do yoga”

To think yoga is to get body-flexible and to manage stressful moments may be missing the point.
True flexibility and stress management comes from the practice of breaking through your own barriers and blind spots, and using your newly honed tools to serve others. Service and advocacy (for oneself and for others) is the ultimate self-care. The practice of yoga places the mirror in front of you, puts you under pressure, and taps you into your internal resources to better navigate those irritations and to overcome yourself so that you can thrive in life and elevate the rest of the world with you.

Feedback puts you (back) on track

My partner and I have been building a new client site, and after the first 10 hours of work, we had some of our members look at it. They were totally confused about what it was.

Yikes!

THANK. GOD. for feedback! I would’ve kept going with my design trajectory, and the deeper I would’ve gone, the more attached I would have gotten, and the more catastrophic the results would have been. Rather than beating myself up or saying “maybe I can’t do this,” I stepped back for several days, self-soothed my bruised ego, let the feedback sink in, asked more questions, got solid in identifying where I had to get out of my own head, shifted, and redesigned the site. After a few more key notes from clients – also life saving – the “final” output that we are currently rolling out is getting sweet, delicious feedback.

One evening, a week ago, I got lost in a dialogue inside of a private Facebook group.
In this long thread, two woman shared some things. You could tell they meant them from the heart… yet they were so blinded by privilege, it really hurt to read. The cringe factor was awkwardly high.
What ensued was some serious schooling by other women that evening. It was difficult to witness because the two women got very defensive. I knew quite a few of these women, so I was drawn in. Their voices projected a mixture of disbelief, anger, clarity, firmness, accountability, and tough love. No one attacked their be-ing. I take it back. One woman did towards the end, probably out of sheer frustration. I don’t know if the two women were able to take the feedback as a wake up call to do some reading and inquiry after that night. I understand that it would be difficult to be open at the moment (clearly they were blind-sided), but the next day, or the day after that, hopefully the defensive posturing melted and they became open to looking at what everyone else was trying to say.

I’ve gotten plenty of feedback on my gender pronoun confusion by my daughter. I make mistakes all the time, and sometimes I want to defend myself, but I don’t. No reason to explain why I can’t get it right…that’s really not the point, and I know that. Though as I write this, what hit me is that I can commit harder. I only hadn’t because… wait for it… “it doesn’t affect me.” Shit. (That sentence was hard to type out, and I have a strong urge to delete it.)
My daughter, when she corrects me, isn’t sweet about it, nor is she hateful or judging. She doesn’t excuse me or tell me it’s okay. She comes at me with an assumption that I’m not fragile, and that I’m open and can be held accountable. She uses the right amount of firm (which is “very”), she’s succinct, and she’s totally unapologetic about it. She wakes me up, makes me pay attention, and want to do better the next time.

Random -not so random- thoughts for today.

I’m having difficulty knowing what to write these days. Day in and day out, I focus on two things: (1) moving our Urban Yoga community over to a new platform to deliver what we offered through our studio directly to your screen, and (2) educating myself in Black Lives Matter. The latter is heavily influencing the foundation and relevance of the former. What we’re in for right now is a total spiritual reckoning. I’m feeling as awkward as the next privileged person right now, but I feel a responsibility, so this is me working things out, trying to understand the dissonance.

  1. We all start out in life believing what we’re first taught. Why wouldn’t we? We were born loving, and we believe those around us… even when they say abusive things. We lay our foundation on our initial exposure. Shifting our beliefs away from it threatens our identities, even when we’re dying for a new one. We lack the strength to disagree with those we spend the most time with because we need to belong, and we want the approval. Our beliefs only start shifting when conventional wisdom shifts (when it’s safe), or when our personal experiences challenge them, and we are lucky enough to find courage.
  2. We learned edited versions of history that benefit the “winners” at the expense of everyone else. This happens not just in American history, but in all other areas of capitalism, like pharmaceuticals and what ends up on the USDA food pyramid.
  3. No matter what side we’re on, we believe that WE are coming from love and the other side is coming from hate or ignorance. I refer only to the general public. I’m not speaking about those that created certain policies (that make up the New Jim Crow laws, for instance).
  4. We’ve had enough privilege to appreciate the things that seem to be serving us… up until recently, like the police. We’ve easily accepted that the POC experience stems from bad behavior and choices instead of oppression deep and systemic that continues to this day. Why? Because that’s what’s been explained to us is happening. And, it averts responsibility. Makes it easy to go about your day.
  5. In order to see something different, we need to turn to new sources.
  6. When our beliefs are challenged, we get defensive. We feel threatened, as if this new information will make us complicit or take something real away from us. That’s an incredible belief.
  7. Brene Brown’s personal mantra is “I’m here to get it right, not be right.” We could all benefit from adopting this mantra. I’ve taken this on as my #mantraforlife. We serve each other by engaging in open discourse. Not to get it perfect, but to ask questions and learn; to call out and to call in. When we stay on the defensive, when we make it about being right (and the other person wrong), we end dialogue and, in actuality, we end relationship.
  8. We say we value education. This is how we embrace it. Education is our lifeline out of the ignorance that causes us to make harmful choices. Education is what allows for sustainable action. And, it’s a lifelong process that we need to begin today. This is true whether we’re talking about Black Lives Matter or what’s happening in our own personal relationships.

Regenerate and rock your work

Get fresh air. Play. Find laughter. Serve the people around you. Get in touch with your sadness and let your tears flow. Let things go, you’ll be okay. Know why you’re letting things in. Stay hydrated. Find your humanity.

At the end of her podcast called Unlocking Us, Brene Brown asks every guest a number of personal rapid fire questions. One of them is, what do people get wrong about you?
Often, the answer is something like, that I’m serious and angry...I’m really not; I have a great sense of humor, in fact.

There’s work to do to make this world good for everyone and everything. You can do it like Trevor Noah, or you can do it like Ta-Nehisi Coates. Just because we see people advancing humanity through their serious work, calling in, shedding light on injustice, and shaking reality, doesn’t mean that they’re serious and angry. It’s just that it’s an appropriate moment to be serious (unless you’re a comedian). Calling them angry is a distraction.

All that said, play, laughter, tears, fresh air, personal space, and service to others is your regenerator. It’s what allows you to get serious, to harness anger for good, and to find your true vitality, your potency, your humanity. I imagine that there’s a good dose of that in the personal lives of her guests.