The other day I posted on Facebook “I wish everyone I know had been in Brooke Carlson’s class this morning” and I wanted to take a moment to elaborate, as I realize that the vagueness of this statement defeats the purpose of making it. Brooke is a colleague at Okra and one of my favorite yoga teachers in Charlotte. The point of my post was not to advertise Okra or kiss-ass to Brooke, although if either of those things happen, so be it. Rather, the words she spoke during her awesome Friday morning Yoga Revolution class were really what resonated with me, touching on not only my focus of the month, but also issues I have encountered with many friends and family members as of late.
For whatever reason (and there’s always a reason) I’ve recently found myself in conversations revolving around dissatisfaction in life, desire for change, and uncertainty about how to do it. Several friends have approached me with personal dilemmas and questions of how I have gotten to “where I am”. First of all, I do not think “I am” anywhere different from anyone else; I am living, just like you, making choices and taking steps to shape my life into what it resembles today. Yes, from the outside (and, OK, from the inside) my life looks pretty good; my days are engulfed in dance and yoga, I have an awesome husband, a nice place to call home, and an amazing network of friends and contemporaries. What is not always apparent is HOW I, and many others, have created a life that is both fulfilling and sustainable – I work DAMN HARD. I have put in my hours (years) of teaching shitty classes. Days-off are few and far between, and weekends-off are just mirage. Yes, I am lucky to have a partner who supports me, my art, and my decisions. But teaching five classes a day, rehearsing various projects at once, and making space for a personal practice takes a toll on one’s body, voice, and morale after a while (and I’ve been doing this a while). Most days I come home way past dark, fatigued and famished, only to eat what’s left of the dinner I made earlier, take care of what I have the energy to do around the house, wake up and do it all over again. No, I don’t work a typical 8-hour day or a 40-hour week, but I do travel to a handful of studios and schools each day, take time to plan classes and choreography, and often my workday spans 12 hours. My days are long, exhausting, exciting, demanding, and gratifying. Sometimes I want to quit everything and become a secretary; most days I wouldn’t trade my life for a million bucks.
I do not share all this to brag or complain (is it even possible to do those simultaneously?). My point is, “You TOO, can have all this… and MORE!” As Brooke so eloquently shared that day, life is what YOU make it – yes just you (not your boss, your spouse, your parents, or your president). You, me, we, all have the power to create the life we want, to fill our days with more of the stuff that makes us feel happy, important, fulfilled, and productive. Yes, it takes effort, bravery, and adaptation, but it is beyond possible – it is your birthright. Even if what you do “for a living” is not what gives you life, everyone has the ability, and responsibility, to do the thing that you would do for free because you love it so much… every. damn. day. Volunteer, take a course, obsessively research online, surround yourself with like-minded people, et al. The point is DO SOMETHING. Don’t sit there, waiting for someone to rescue you from the doldrums of your so-called life, and certainly don’t complain about it when no one does. If you are unhappy with your job / relationship / haircut, think about what needs to happen to change and start taking those steps. I know this sounds easier said then done (I’ve got bills to pay!), but here’s my thought… you can stay where you are and be unhappy indefinitely, or you can shift your situation (or maybe just your perspective) and be poor / uncomfortable / terrified for a while, until you figure out what the next step is to take you where you want to be. Great! But how to do you figure out those next steps, or more importantly, make them happen?
- Think good thoughts. Yes, it’s cheesy and cliché, but for a reason. The seeds you plant are the ones that sprout. The plants you nurture are the ones that flourish. Grow what you want to spread, and don’t forget to harvest the results.
- Don’t think bad thoughts. We are all way more powerful than we give ourselves credit for, and whatever we devote our energy to becomes stronger, and eventually manifests. Focus on what you love and desire, not what you hate and fear.
- Write that shit down. Journal, make a mind map, doodle inspiring words, draw a picture of what you want. You don’t have to be creative or an artist to do any of this, but visual manifestation is like signing a contract with your mental thoughts. You put it in writing, now it’s GOT to happen.
There are certainly more ways to start creating the life you want and deserve. These are just some tips that have worked for me, so for those who have asked “how do you do it?”, well there you go. This is not magic, voodoo, prayer, or luck; this is stuff you DO, this is hard work. We all have the tools and permission to do the things we want and live in a way that brings us joy and spreads peace. Sometimes we have to first figure out exactly what that looks like, or maybe… just start doing it.