What do you love? / 7 posts in 7 days

nyc metro card and birdcage - mindbodyplate

So there I was, making perfect time on my way to yoga when, upon arriving at the bus stop, I realized my unlimited metro card was expired. I wouldn’t have time to trek to the subway stop a quarter mile away to get a new one. Shit. I dug around in my purse and retrieved three dollar bills. Yesss. When the bus pulled up and its doors opened, the sign next to the driver was clear: no bills, exact change only. In other words, if you want to take the bus the old fashioned way, you need $2.50 in quarters. Yikes. As I stepped backwards away from the doors to let more prepared Brooklynites board, my right foot landed smack dab in a foot-deep, greasy and grimy New York City gutter puddle. Double shit.

Dejected, I turned around and started to head back home. I guess there’s no yoga class for me this morning, I thought; maybe I can catch a class later, or buckle down and do a sufficient home practice.

But I didn’t get far.

Wait a minute, I thought, you love this yoga class. Are you really going to let the fact that your sock is saturated with what is likely sewer water stop you from getting there? Resolved, I waited for the better part of ten minutes for a cab, soggy foot and all, and I raced to the studio.

Class was twice as packed as usual, and the air in the place was filled with a jovial and generous spirit that immediately redeemed my journey there.

Carla, a true teacher among teachers, began class with a characteristically casual dharma talk. She reflected on a passage of the Bhagavad Gita regarding dharma itself (you might translate it to mean duty). The passage suggests that we don’t perform our dharma to get something in return, we do it for love. She touched on our collective tendency to focus on all of our problems, our hangups, our issues; and how the problem is, that list is never-ending. “The question isn’t what are your issues,” Carla concluded, “the question is what do you love?”

The view from a bridge in Brooklyn's Prospect Park

The view from a bridge in Brooklyn’s Prospect Park

See, recently, out of either busyness, writer’s block, or just plain perfectionist paralysis, I’ve been neglecting the MindBodyPlate blog. Part of me expects that the blog has to be something special, which of course is a surefire way to guarantee I’ll avoid doing it. I’ve also caught myself dwelling once or twice on the unfathomable number of people with health and wellness blogs or coaching businesses these days. I mean, what’s one more? Plus, the cranky counterculture teenager inside of me is embarassed that I would allow myself to be a part of such an overwhelming zeitgeist. Like, jeeze SKF, a wellness blog? How original. Good luck being a needle in an organic, non-GMO haystack.

But the question isn’t what are your issues, the question is what do you love?

And I have thoughts about what it is to be alive in a physical body in twenty first century America every single day. And maybe like, two people will care to read them. But most importantly, I love having these conversations. And I think it’s my dharma to do so.

Which is why, as a way to kick start a new chapter of the MBP blog, I am committing to a week-long, blog-writing challenge. Get ready for at least a little bit of blog every day, for the next six days. They probably won’t all be home runs, but they will get written.

gazing at prospect park lake - mindbodyplate

My new yoga buddy gazing out over Prospect Park Lake in Brooklyn

Oh, and the rest of my day? Well, after yoga, the very same willing attitude that allowed me to turn around and get to yoga against the odds allowed me the opportunity for an impromptu summer day with a brand new friend from the studio. We talked about IUDs and family and love over perfectly chilled grüner veltliner and deviled eggs at a sidewalk cafe. Then a walk around the lake in prospect park turned into an afternoon of roller skating at the outdoor rink. It was beautiful. And I never even washed my foot off.

Are you letting your issues get in the way of doing what you love? Are they worth it? Can you name your dharma, your virtuous duty in the cosmic order of things?

The Post That Took a Year to Write

churchill

This is my first official blog post. The first time I’m sitting down to write something specifically for my brand new blog. I’m terrified. I feel twitchy. My brain keeps telling me to take a bathroom break even though I took one ten minutes ago. Somehow, a bobby pin just ended up in my mouth and I’m chewing on it like a candy cigarette. There seems to be a red bump on my forearm, maybe I should pick at it for a second… NO! STOP IT. Just. Stop.

Just start writing.

I’ve always been a procrastinator. When I was a kid, we only had one computer in the house. My parents set it up in their bedroom to discourage us from putting off assignments until the night before they were due. And yet, I often ended up in that bedroom long after my father had gone to sleep, my mom patiently reading a book in bed. I had a pearl-covered princess crown (a costume piece from when I played Cinderella in a local youth theater production), and I used to wear it during those late-night homework sessions. I called it my “thinking cap” and thought it would somehow imbue me with superhuman paper writing abilities. I was in high school.

Really, I was just terrified that my finished work wouldn’t be perfect. And the idea of creating something perfect was so daunting that I often ignored the assignment all together for as long as I could. So I’d end up bleary eyed at 3 AM editing a satirical short documentary on Montesquieu when the assignment called for a simple power point presentation.

No one ever told me I needed to be perfect. Somewhere along the line, I just decided it was the only way to be. And it’s been tripping me up ever since.

FEEL THE FEAR AND DO IT ANYWAY

I wanted to start this blog a year ago. Then this happened:

“But it needs to look professional.”

“I don’t know how to use WordPress.”

“I need to save some money so I can buy a custom template.”

“I should really study other Health & Wellness blogs for a while.”

“I don’t know anything. Who cares what I have to say?”

“People will think my blog is dumb and then they’ll hate me.”

All the usual suspects. All the usual bullshit. Only this time, Ms. Heimsoth wouldn’t be waiting for me to show up in her classroom with screenshots of my perfect blog. No one expects me to do this. And no one will miss it if I don’t.

A few months ago, I met with my mentor to discuss my emerging health coaching practice. “I haven’t taken on any clients because I feel like I don’t know enough yet,” I said. “I’m afraid I’m not going to get it right.” She leaned over her cup of Rooibos and replied, “You’re not going to get it right. You’ve got to begin somewhere.”

Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway is the title of a best-selling book by the late psychologist Susan Jeffers. I came across the phrase while reading Overcoming Underearning by the fabulous Barbara Stanny, and it really resonated with me. Logically, I know that nobody’s perfect. I’ve known this for some time, yet no amount of reminding myself ever alleviated my perfectionist anxieties. You see, some small part of me still struggles with the erroneous belief that my worth as a human being depends on my ability to perform well, to get things right. But I’m not always going to get it right. And that feels scary.

The message behind Jeffers’ now famous phrase is that it’s okay to feel scared. It’s absolutely human. It’s scary to know that you might fall flat on your face, but you’ll never get anywhere if you don’t try. So I’m going to readjust my criteria for self-worth to include what I do after I feel the fear. Do I let it paralyze me, or do I take the leap? After all, I’ve got to begin somewhere.