Avoid Failure, Avoid Success.

"Failure is part of the process of success. People who avoid failure also avoid success.”
- Robert T. Kiyosaki

It's Day 11 of my 17 days in Nor Cal, and I'm starting to feel pretty settled in. I'm grateful that my sister E was able to join me initially, and I've gotten over the loneliness hump that swept over me after she left. I just wrapped up a chill weekend with my friends W+D who came down from San Francisco to visit me. I, in turn, popped back up to SF to spend a night in the city at their place, and to meet one of my clients in person for dinner. I'm now back here in Santa Cruz for a few days, eagerly anticipating B's upcoming visit. I'm feeling pretty upbeat, and not at all lonely this time around on my own.

I know part of that reason I'm not so lonely is that I broke my TV fast. Tonight I watched last week's Bachelorette episode. Don't judge the swift conclusion of my detox; I lasted a week! And I wasn't sure I'd even hit that milestone, so yeah, GO ME!  I committed and I stuck with it, and I am going to continue to work to cut back my overall viewing. And, I KNOW you're not judging my consumption selection! Bachelorette Rachel and her suitors made for excellent company this evening. AND we're even hanging out again tomorrow night (minus a few suitors) when I catch up on tonight's episode. I do what I want!

It's obvious that I still love TV. And tonight, I appreciated having TV companionship. However, I recognize that, too often, I use it as a way to avoid my 'real life' And, I recognize that when watched in excess, TV makes me feel sluggish and unproductive. Yes, earth shaking revelation, I know.  What did I tell you about not judging? And, in the absence of TV, my brain starts seeking out other time sucking, low productivity activities that may or may not rhyme with browsing mocial sedia . Ugh. Gross.


But, brain, I get it too, and now I'm sorry for yelling at you and shaming you for your TV coping mechanism, the one you've been trained to seek out. Because I know it's scary to face the real shit in life, and how overwhelming it can be. I know what it's like to fear failure so much that you seek any distraction to keep from entering into the game at all. We'll work on this together, brain, and we'll forge a new neural pathway.

In related news, this past Thursday, July 13, I hit a very big milestone.

A little backstory: Just over 3 years ago, I wrote about my cold turkey breakup with my favorite caffeinated beverage, the unbeatable sweet, jolty fizz of fireworks in a can, Diet Coke. My goal was to kick the habit for a month, and I ended up abstaining from that sweet nectar of the global corporate branded gods for 240 days. At that time, I consciously chose to lightly step off the wagon, and scamper along behind the wagon for a while. 

And then a year ago, I decided to jump back on the wagon. I've now been diet coke free for a 365 straight days (370 days actually!) and I'm still going strong. In fact, I haven't had any soda pop in the past year. Unless you count the delicious nectar that is San Pellegrino. Which I don't. And I rarely drink anyway. So - diet coke and soda sober for over a year!

So, hey! That's kind of a big deal!

And, along with quitting TV for a week, achieving my 1-year diet coke sobriety milestone is kind of a big confidence booster for me, too. I was beginning to think that I had lost my capability to self-motivate, to set challenging personal goals and commit to the hard work that it takes to achieve them. That I was falling back into my familiar pattern of being so concerned about failure, that I wouldn't even put in the effort. Write a blog entry? Work proactively on building my business? Immerse in becoming a yoga teacher?  Practice Spanish and learn a new language? Well, just one more episode. Procrastinate a little longer.

If you don't play, you can't fail. And...you can't succeed either.

And these goals, giving up TV for a week and cutting diet coke out of my diet, as silly and inconsequential as they may be, have helped me to get back on track, to rejoin the part of myself that desires striving for success, even if it means stumbling and risking failure.

I have a renewed oomph to keep recommitting to myself and what matters to me. To keep my head out of the sand (where it's watching all that dang TV) and live above ground.  Most of the time anyway. Someone's got to watch the Bachelorette, and I think that someone should still be me!

Movement and Stillness

Greetings from sunny Santa Cruz! Technically, I'm in neighboring Aptos, but it's pretty darn close. So, in any case, greetings! I'm feeling just fabulous!

Well, fabulous with a side of anxiety, a direct result of too much alone time with my thoughts. Maybe it's more accurate to say that I'm feeling just 'anxious' with a side of fabulous. fabulous with a lowercase f.  Hm...ok, so maybe fabulous isn't quite the right feeling at all.  

Let's just say, I'm having highs and lows out here on the West Coast, and over these last two days, I've been all on my own with these thoughts of mine. And sometimes my thoughts are a cool companion. Other times, my thoughts are a bunch of angsty little shit-stirrers.  And, since I decided to be all, let's get introspective and take a TV detox while I'm out here, my thoughts can get pretty moody and rowdy and altogether impossible to ignore or shut off.

In times like these, these overwrought-with-shit-stirring-thought times, thank goodness for yoga. My peaceful sanctuary, my way to quietly enjoy the presence of others while breathing space and silence into my pounding, jumpy, thunderclapping brain. And hey, It's California right? The land of yogi hippie vegan people! So, there must be TONS of Vinyasa classes available just around the corner at any hour of the day.  Not exactly, as it happens. 

With my Vinyasa options practically nonexistent, today I decided to break out of familiar territory and take an Iyengar yoga class. My first ever Iyengar inspired yoga class.  

We are, like, soooo not in Kansas anymore, Toto.  

If you're not familiar with Vinyasa or Iyengar, here's a simplified set of descriptors. Vinyasa classes tend to flow to the rhythm of the breath, with movement linked to each inhale and exhale. Some postures are held longer, but usually not for more than a few breaths. Iyengar is not like this at all. The focus of Iyengar yoga is on in-depth and detailed alignment, using a bunch of props for support, and holding poses for many breaths. Many many breaths. Many many many breaths.

The class began with a collective AUM, some additional call and repeat chanting (the Invocation to Patanjali), and a brief analysis of one of the yoga sutras of Patanjali. I don't remember which one, but it had to do with the intensity of faith and effort. How's that for vague? I admit I wasn't 100% plugged into the yoga sutra review because my monkey brain was busy kicking up the anxiety about the asana/posture part of the practice and the not-knowing quite what to expect, mixed in with some lingering self-consciousness from the previous chanting.

The movement and postures portion of practice began with a highly detailed, guided downward dog, and a series of half-sun salutations. We then moved into set of hip-and-hammie focused postures, held at extreme-to-my-unaccustomed-brain-and-body lengths. Several of the postures involved standing on one leg, with the other leg parallel to the floor, foot flexed up against the wall. During these ultra-intense standing balances, the instructor gave several incredibly useful, highly descriptive, rich and detailed cues to focus on, and plenty of encouragement to help calm the mind and keep the breath flowing. These poses all looked so still on the outside, but SOOOO much was swirling beneath the surface! It's amazing how much of a sweat you can work up by simply standing with your foot pressed against the wall.

We also did some bat-like movements. Now what do I mean by that exactly? I mean that with the support of a bunch of thick ropes hanging from the side walls and a stack of blankets, we created these little personal cradles and hung upside down and folded up like bats.  We contorted into a set of funky upside down floating positions with both feet or shins pressed up on the wall, and our heads dangling toward the ground, like bats hanging from the S. Congress bridge in ATX.

For me, going upside down is a strange mix of terrifying, invigorating, and even soothing. Once I got positioned and properly supported in my upside down bat fold (a feat in and of itself) and let go of (some) my fears about the ropes giving and landing on my head, I was able to tap into those deep forward fold benefits, and relieve some of the anxiety and negative thoughts I'd been carrying.

The way we were folding was also very intense on the hips, a place I usually tend to be quite open...but in this position, I realized I may not be as open as I think I am. The instructor talked about the vivid and concentrated emotion and anxiety we often carry in our hips..and indeed, I think this is true for me. I tend to associate the physical manifestation of my stress as living in my shoulders and neck, but these upside-down bat-like folds helped me to gain a whole new level of awareness of the stress and emotion I'm likely carrying around in my hips.

I guess Shakira was onto something. The hips don't lie. (Sorry, couldn't help myself...cue eyeroll).

Class wrapped up with seated twists, a simple bolster-supported restorative pose, shavasana, and a final collective chant of AUM. The whole experience was so incredibly different than the style and format of class I usually take...and yet so extremely familiar.

And you know what? I LOVED it! Iyengar is such an incredible compliment to Vinyasa. For me, Vinyasa is meditation facilitated by a fluid, wave-like movement, each breath signifying an ebb and a flow, a give and a take. My mind clears space with each wave of breath and movement. Iyengar is meditation facilitated by the intense modality of stillness, a focus of the mind to be fully and utterly attentive to the sensations in my body, aware of how subtle adjustments can completely alter my physical being and emotional feelings.

Two different paths, two harmonious perspectives. In the movement of Vinyasa and in the stillness of Iyengar, the breath still flows...clearing space, inviting in freedom, delivering clarity, offering strength, gifting support.

I've been anxious these past few days on my own with the rapid, constant giddyup of my mind here in this unfamiliar California setting,  But it turns out that opening myself up fully to the new experience of an Iyengar influenced yoga practice was just what I needed. Today through Iyengar, I reconnected with the importance of stillness. Stillness as a catalyst for focus, calm and renewal.  

Greetings from sunny Santa Cruz! It seems I might be feeling just Fabulous after all. With a capital F.

Slow Motion Yogi

I tend to be a slow thinker and decision maker. I spend more time than the average bear (over)analyzing and weighing all the options. If there is something I am interested in exploring or trying out, a lot of the times I end up talking myself out of it. I don't end up pursuing the thing I'm curious about because it might be too much work. Because it might not live up to expectations. Because I might feel discomfort. Because I might fail at it. Because maybe it's not for 'someone like me.'  Because I don't know how it will turn out in the end.

A lot of bullshit excuses, I know.

But, this winter, I decided to say "yes" to something I've wanted to do for a while, and I enrolled in a 9-week, 230-hour intensive yoga teacher training certification program. I submitted my application for the training at the last possible second to take advantage of the 'early bird discount', despite the little whisper in my ear that argued giving up my weekends for 9 weeks, along with loads of reading and homework and regular weeknight meetings, was too intense a time commitment. That I might not click with my peers. That I can't do super complex poses, so what business do I have trying to become a teacher? That I am not exactly a Lululemon model. That I'm not exactly the picture of serenity and Namaste and all that touchy-feely stuff, because, let's face it, I've got quite the temper at times, and I say the word 'fuck' a lot. That I would likely embarrass myself, like, a lot of the time. That I'm not sure what I'd do with a certification when I was done...would I even want to teach? That it's a lot of money to invest...and maybe it's not worth the gamble....or, if I'm being really honest...maybe I'm not worth the gamble.

My big, bold yoga booty front-and-center, surrounded by several of my fellow teacher trainee path-mates. What a great group of yogis!

My big, bold yoga booty front-and-center, surrounded by several of my fellow teacher trainee path-mates. What a great group of yogis!

I'm so glad I decided to calmly and politely tell those voices to just relax, will ya? I've taken risks before, and I've lived to tell the tale. And as far as this particular risk, at a minimum, I would learn some cool new stuff about a practice that I love, and that in and of itself is a great reward.

And I did learn a bunch of cool stuff. And I did embarrass myself. And I did make some great new friends. And I did cry and get frustrated and feel a lot of self-doubt along the way. And I did grant myself the permission to let go of my pre-conceived "yoga teachers are all ultra bendy, healthy, Lululemon spokespeople guru" notions and just do my yoga thang and fuhgedaboudit! And I crawled waaaay outside of my comfort zone more than once. I mean, for real, I spent a day practicing contact improv and that shit's kind of weird. And I did this:

Eff yeah, that's a HEADSTAND! MY headstand! My feet are in the air, and my head is on the ground, woohoo!

Eff yeah, that's a HEADSTAND! MY headstand! My feet are in the air, and my head is on the ground, woohoo!

The program now is over, and a lot of people have asked "what's next?" or "so where are you teaching now?" While their intentions are good and pure, these kinds of questions also immediately rush me into some of my old, dangerous thinking patterns where I assume I'm probably a failure. Because I don't know what's next, and I don't have a permanent teaching position figured out. And, I know that's ok for now, even if my anxiety brain tries to convince me that it's not. I've taught a few classes here and there, both on my own and in co-teaching settings, and right now I'm just gathering experience while I figure out how I want to move forward. Like all other things, I'm going about this at my own slow and steady pace, and that's just fine by me.

Me, my teaching certificate, and two of my yoga mentors, M & D, the founders of Your Yoga MN.

Me, my teaching certificate, and two of my yoga mentors, M & D, the founders of Your Yoga MN.