Why I’m Giving Up On My Dreams

A stage; a.k.a. "home"

A stage; a.k.a. “home”

When I moved from San Francisco to New York City, I definitely imagined myself on a stage in front of hundreds of people. After all, I had been doing it my whole life. I was the lead in an opera before I was ten years old. In 2010, just before leaving the Bay Area, SF Weekly readers generously voted me San Francisco’s Best Stage Actor. So I knew I’d make my way to a New York City stage eventually.

I just couldn’t have guessed what kind of stage.

Last Sunday morning I took the subway down to New York City’s Foley Square, right across from City Hall. The fountain had been turned into a stage, and I waited on it as hundreds of people crowded around to listen to an opening ceremony. It was the day of the annual New York City NEDA Walk, raising money and awareness for the mission of the National Eating Disorders Association, and after raising nearly $150,000.00, this huge group was about to walk the Brooklyn Bridge.

Then I heard my name:

Sarah Kit Farrell is a yoga teacher and health coach who recently celebrated 6 years of recovery. She is a program facilitator for mentalfitness, inc., an organization that builds mental fitness in all youth through arts-based awareness and prevention programs…

It was time for me to take the mic, though I wouldn’t be singing. Instead, I spent the next several moments leading all those hundreds of people in a yoga-inspired warm-up.

Just a slice of the immense crowd in Foley Square

Just a slice of the immense crowd in Foley Square

Lemmie tell ya – I wish I had been asked to sing, ’cause I wouldn’t have been nearly as nervous. Singing I know how to do. But playing the part of an inspirational yoga teacher? Now that made me shake in my running shoes.

Performing is in my heart and it always will be, but a few years back I stopped spending the bulk of my free time on preparing for auditions and memorizing monologues. I basically stopped living the “actor’s life”. It just sort of happened. And when I realized that it was happening, I used every weapon I could think of to punish myself for my transgression.

How could you? I thought to myself, everyone will think you’re giving up — you ARE giving up! Have you wasted your entire life trying to perform only to find that you’re not good enough? That you don’t have what it takes? Or maybe you are good enough and you’re just too lazy to make it. If that’s the case, then you deserve to fail. You’re worthless, in fact. You’re a goddamn disgrace. Get it together, SKF!

Wow, right? Um, self-abuse, party of two?

But no matter how many times I told myself to get back on track, how I should be doing this and that, I just didn’t. The truth was, I didn’t want to. It wasn’t enjoyable to me. That lifestyle wasn’t making me happy.

All the while, little by little, I was giving in to these interests and activities that have fascinated me all along: nutrition, mindfulness, yoga, eating disorders… and I felt awful about it. Each time I gave attention to one of these alternative areas, a little gremlin in my head told me I was betraying my destiny, betraying my true “purpose” in coming to NYC, betraying the goals set out for me by my younger self.

For a while now, I’ve made an effort not to “should” on myself (I should do this and I should have done that). But if I’m honest with myself, for the last few years, my life has essentially been one big SHOULD. I’ve been clinging to this idea that my life was supposed to go one way, and refusing to accept that it might go somewhere else.

This all reminds me of a metaphor used by author Esther Hicks, who says that life is a swift-moving river and we’re all conditioned to think that we’ll be rewarded by fighting to get upstream. But in all actuality, nothing that you want is upstream. In fact, the stream itself is a stream of well-being, and the second you accept the current of your life and learn to move with it, to sway with it, to go with the flow, joyful things begin to happen — and they happen fast.

With my amazingly supportive friends at the 2014 NEDA Walk

With my amazingly supportive friends at the 2014 NEDA Walk

So on the one hand, I’m flabbergasted that I, of all people, would end up leading stretches for this year’s NEDA Walk, but on the other hand, I’m not surprised at all. It’s the same reason that I was hired at the very first yoga studio I applied to, the same reason my coaching practice took off the moment I decided take it seriously.

Because the current of my life is headed that way. The more I trust that current, and the more I can let go of my preconceptions about how my life in NYC should turn out, the farther I’ll be able to go.

Of course I’ll never stop performing, don’t be silly; it’s in my bones. In fact, I’m planning a New York City debut of my one woman show about food, body image, and appetites unchecked. But it may not be the most important thing. As far as those earlier dreams go, the ones in part constructed by a thirteen year old Sarah, consumed by her eating disorder, rigid in her perfectionism, and desperate for approval, well… maybe I don’t need those specific dreams anymore.

I think I passed that fork in the stream a long time ago. And thank goodness.

So what about you? Are you swimming upstream against the dominant current of well-being in your life? What do you think would happen if you stopped fighting in order to go with the flow?

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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?

MBP Daily Three

MBP3 is a series dedicated to walking the walk. What are 3 things you’ve done today to nourish your mind, your body, & your plate?

MBP Daily Three

Welcome to the inaugural post for MindBodyPlate’s new weekly series: the MBP Daily Three! The MBP Daily Three strategy is simple: do at least one thing every day to nourish your mental health, physical health, and nutritional health. I’ll be using these posts as way to ensure that I’m not just talking the talk (blogging the blog?), but also walking the walk.

Once a week I’ll let you in on an example of my attempts to integrate the MBP Daily Three, shedding light on my successes, challenges, and the surprising interplay between these three aspects of health. I hope to inspire you to do the same for yourself and to share your creative approaches in the comment sections below each post. Let’s start a revolution of self-care!

MBP Daily Three

Thursday, September 5th, 2013

Body: I started the day off with my favorite Thursday morning yoga class. What I love about Marko’s 90 minute Vinyasa flow is that I’m guaranteed an intense workout, but he also incorporates yoga philosophy, stories from the Bhagavad Gita, and chanting accompanied by his beautiful harmonium. I always leave feeling exhausted yet uplifted. Already, we’re seeing that one act (yoga, for instance) can benefit more than one aspect of the MBP Daily Three (in this case, body AND mind).

Plate: For lunch, I was inspired by one of my favorite blogs, Oh She Glows, to create my own ultimate vegan sandwich. My version was unique to what I had around the house, and I decided to do something special for my body by making my own hummus. Oftentimes, store bought hummus contains preservatives or oils that don’t really jive with me. When you make it at home, you know just exactly what went into it – and it’s super easy!

Pickled Jalapeno Hummus

Pickled Jalapeño Hummus

Vegan / Gluten Free / Soy Free

For my homemade hummus, I just tossed the following into my Vitamix:

    • 1 can garbanzo beans
    • 1/4 c tahini
    • 1/4 c – 3/4 c water*
    • 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
    • 2 cloves of garlic, crushed
    • 15 pieces of pickled jalapeño**
    • Juice of 1 small lemon
    • salt and pepper to taste

*I used 3/4 c water so it would blend smoothly in my Vitamix, which made it pretty thin. I’d go with less water if you’re making it in your food processor and/or you want it on the thick side. Either way, it’s delicious.

**You could use anything here in place of the pickled jalapeños. Experiment with whatever flavors float your boat: roasted garlic, chives, sun-dried tomatoes, kalamata olives, artichoke hearts, or roasted red peppers…

Mind: By 11 PM my head was still buzzing, so I set my iPhone Insight Timer for 15 minutes and sat down for a formal meditation practice. Afterward, I decided to refrain from checking my email or Facebook before bed. It helped me center down and set me up for a great night of sleep.

What do you think – are you up for the MBP Daily Three challenge? Let me know in the comments below!