Monthly Archives: January 2011

Creating Community

I didn’t get where I am by myself. I’ve had therapists, and counselors, and mentors, and friends who have been 20 year constants in my life, an ex-husband I can still call any hour of the day or night and teachers. Lord, I’ve had teachers. People who have invested time, energy and hope in me. And now I have a love who has patience and the biggest heart of anyone I’ve ever met. I am painfully aware of how much help I need to just walk through my life.

Painfully? Why do I secretly believe that I should be able to do everything all by myself?  Why do I think that having a team of healers and helpers makes me weak and not accomplished enough? Why do I avert my eyes every time I see my son’s principle sure that she remembers that I’m not on the PTO and the last time that I made cookies was when my 14 year old was in Kindergarten?

Here’s what I know. I know that even though I think I should give my kids’ teachers fabulous homemade gifts every year, run my busines till my take home will pay for my kids’ entire college career this year, pick my kids up every day from school, be fabulously sexy all the time, eat like I’ve never tasted a Whopper and work out six days a week, I just can’t. Even though I think I should be able to work every day, all day long without turning on the tv/radio or checking Facebook, it’s just too lonely. I know that even though I want to tell everyone my success is all my own, that all my ideas sprang from my frizzy little head unbidden and that every idea made me tons of money and hordes of devoted students, it’s such a fantasy.

Here’s what I know. It’s taken me community to get where I am. It’s taken me good friends, mentors, neighbors and family to help me raise my kids, have the confidence to follow my dreams and keep perspective. I absolutely need the people who teach me, make me laugh, open my heart and watch my kids.

I have friends who have taken my full-of-angst-fourteen-year old under their wings and look out for her and give her advice and tell her to give her Mom a break. I don’t worry about my scowling-dressed-in-black-tattered-clothes-but-secretly-longing-to-be-queen-of-the-world daughter because I trust these women and know they love and care for my kid. I can breathe a little deeper because they’re mothering her in a way she won’t allow me to right now.

She’ll be back. I’ve written it here before because I honestly believe it. She’ll be back and she’ll once again be the person I most want to spend an evening with and I’ll be her favorite person again. But for right now it takes more than just me to see her safely into adulthood. And really, how lucky is she? I wish that when I was alone and lonely and living with my crazy, dysfunctional parents wearing all black, listening to The Smiths and wishing I were anywhere/anyone else but secretly wishing I was Queen of the World (or at least a little more popular) that I had an adult who listened to me and really heard me. I wish I’d had someone who I knew saw me. 

And that desire, that yearning is one of the big reasons I’ve devoted my life to yoga. Because on the mat I can feel whole all by myself, but also I can help other people feel whole all by themselves. And when we feel whole we know that we need help. It’s not that we’re whole enough to be super-Moms. It’s that we’re whole enough to know that we can’t be everywhere, do/know everything all by ourselves, live on an island and raise perfect kids. When we’re whole we see/know/accept our limitations.

So this, too, I know. Not only must I sink into a community I create by my network of friends, family and neighbors to be the best Melissa I can be. But it’s also my responsibility to share. And the way that I choose to share I learned from one of the most influential teachers/mentors/friends I’ve had.

When my daughter was 2 and in preschool, I was ready to go back to work and I didn’t know what to do. I had worked in an industry in another state that wasn’t really open to me in my small town in Kansas. Innocently, at our holiday party one year I told my yoga teacher and she immediately asked me if I wanted to teach yoga. I couldn’t imagine a better life so I instantly said yes. (we’ll talk more about the wisom of going with your heart later)

And she taught me. She told me not to worry about how many letters were behind my name, that I should teach what I know and focus on the education/certification part later. So that’s what I did. I taught and I slowly took teachers training and workshops and special classes and I learned that what I knew in my heart matched what they were teaching me on paper.

I teach by example and apparently that’s how I learn too. Because she taught all of us yogis in our small town in the middle of the Kansas farmland how important community was, even if it went against the grain of the larger community. And I try, every single day, to teach what she taught me.

So, in an attempt to create community I teach yoga classes and workshops. I believe coming to the mat, opening your heart and learning to accept yourself is terribly powerful. And the experience with others around you is bonding, if you let it be.

So I hold workshops and I open the studio to potlucks and fundraisers and musical events. I encourage youngins to teach what they know and worry about the certification later. I draw a group of talented, like-minded holistic practitioners around me like a safety blanket. I use them to keep me sane and productive and running my best and I tell everyone I know about them.

And I host Final Friday Potlucks because that’s what my teacher taught me. She taught me to create a place where students and teachers can come together. She taught me to be open and available to my students and my teachers and the people who live around the corner. Because if I’m not teaching what I believe by my actions I’m not living my yoga. I’m not a yogini, I’m just a woman who teaches yoga.

This Friday is the last Friday of the month and on Final Friday Breathe Holistic Life Center hosts a community potluck. This month two of the new Breathe teachers will introduce themselves, tell their story-what they do, why they do it and where they’re going. It’s an opportunity to create community and have fun.

Living Passionately-Stay Focused with Accountability

So, we’ve gotten quiet, we’ve focused in and we’re moving towards a life that makes us so happy we’re giddy. We wake up ready to hop out of bed and get the day started. And then one day we wake up and that excitement isn’t there anymore. Something’s changed.

One of the biggest struggles we all have in living our best life is staying focused. It’s so easy to get sidetracked. How many times have we gone on vacation and thought “Maybe we should move here”. It’s the biggest downfall for small businesses too. We get great ideas that can make us enough to cover payroll for the month in one afternoon and we forget that it’s not leading us where we want to go.  We spend time and energy on the special event/promotion/opportunity and meanwhile we’re ignoring why we’re really here.  Continue reading