Prompt: What surprised you this year?
I didn’t have to think too hard about this one. It came to me pretty quickly. I am surprised how comfortable I’ve become with teaching, specifically yoga.
There’s a history here. As an introvert and a highly sensitive person, teaching is an extreme sport. I quit one of my first teaching jobs 15 years ago because I made myself so anxious I couldn’t sleep, so nervous I could barely eat, so upset I was making myself physically ill. I was a graduate teaching assistant at CSU, my first year of graduate school, teaching my own section of our “first year” composition course. Every student who graduates from CSU has to take this course, so it’s not limited to English majors or even people who particularly like reading or writing. It was a tough crowd. I was adjusting to the rigor of my life as a student while at the same time trying to figure out what I was supposed to be doing as a teacher. By the end of the semester, I convinced myself I just couldn’t do it and I quit.
That’s a long story short version of what happened. More long story short, I eventually went back to teaching at CSU and was able to find my way, find my teaching voice. Interestingly enough, the most important thing I had to do was BE MYSELF. In particular: smart, compassionate, and funny. I also learned to have good boundaries and set clear but reasonable expectations.
Ultimately a university classroom isn’t the best fit for what I have to offer, which brings us to now — teaching yoga, as well as workshops that are a combination of yoga, meditation, and wild writing. Teaching yoga is something I never really thought I’d do much, even as I was doing teacher training. I thought I’d be too nervous, too self-conscious about the limitations of my body, too uncomfortable about my weight. Thankfully, that’s turned out not to be true. My weight and limitations have actually been an asset — I’ve become more accepting of myself, and better able to cue modifications for my students, empowering them to become their own teacher. I still have a lot to learn, but what I am doing feels natural, like an embodiment of who I am and what I know.
The prompt for the first day of Reverb:
In her seventh ever blog post, all the way back in March 2003(!), the inimitable Andrea Scher wrote: “Maybe lists are like prayers.”
What sorts of lists do you have on the go at the moment? What do they suggest you are praying for?
I have a serious problem, kind and gentle reader. I take on too much, try too hard, do too much, push myself too hard, smash myself to bits. It used to be a very destructive and ugly and secret and dark thing. Now it’s filled with light and smells good and there’s kirtan music in the background and I beat myself up with the prettiest stick. #same
Here’s the list of things I committed to or have going on in the month of December:
- Reverb, which comes with a daily prompt. I blog my response and share it on Kat’s site, and there’s also also a lingering unaffiliated Facebook group where people share responses to various Reverb prompts
- Savor with Rachel Cole, which provides a daily meditation and optional writing prompt
- December Reflections, a daily photo challenge from Susannah Conway that has a Flickr group, hashtag, and blog roll
- Winter Joy Retreat: Edible Memories, which includes daily prompts, recipes, and a private Facebook group
- An online book group for Awakening Shakti: The Transformative Power of the Goddesses of Yoga
- Encouragement Notes from Esmé Wang, a daily email with a private Facebook group
- The Inside Story: Running a Heart-Centered Business with Susannah Conway, which also has a private Facebook group
- Teaching another Wild Writing, Crazy Wisdom workshop at Om Ananda Yoga (this one without the yoga)
- Finishing our bathroom remodel, not having a place to bathe in our house so needing to shower at the gym every day (or go without)
- Eric’s birthday
- Fearlessly Creative: A Meditation and Writing Retreat with Susan Piver at Shambhala Meditation Center
- Creating a class on cultivating practice for Inky Path
I didn’t realize just how much there was until I flipped the calendar over to December and the emails started arriving in my inbox. When I saw the prompt for Reverb, I half jokingly made the above list. Then I sat back in my chair and stared at it, allowing the insanity of it to wash over me. Add to that the regular stuff: teaching my Tuesday morning yoga class, putting together my weekly Something Good list for my site and for Wanderlust, laundry, my CSU work, etc. It’s just not workable, and even if it were it wouldn’t be sustainable. If I were to answer Kat’s prompt (What sorts of lists do you have on the go at the moment? What do they suggest you are praying for?) based on this list, I’m clearly praying for overwhelm, breakdown, exhaustion, complete and utter annihilation.
I’ve been asking myself for a while now: what are you running from? The way I’m filling my time, spreading myself thin and running myself ragged, I’m clearly avoiding something. Whatever it is, it can’t be as bad as this.