May 6, 2013

Balancing Life—Motherhood, Work & Joy.

Life is strange, the way that things sometimes work out.

I finally finished my 200 RYT—over five years since my very first teacher training workshop—and five years since I began teaching yoga. Ironically, this isn’t terribly far off from how I finished my bachelor’s degree either.

I left college with one semester to go in order to join my boyfriend (now husband) in New Mexico. Before I left, though, I busted my tukas finishing the classwork for my major, geology, leaving only things like upper level English classes to work on. I went so far as to beg and plead in order to get my school to sign off on the last-30-credit-hour-from-your-home-school rule.

Then I got to New Mexico and the tech school where my husband was getting his master’s didn’t offer upper level English, only science classes, and being an out-of-state student would have made completing my degree there astronomically expensive. Needless to say, it was many, many years later—when I was almost 30—that I finished my bachelor’s, and from my original university to boot.

Along the way, I’ve encountered prejudice for not having these “paper” qualifications for degrees and certifications that I, knowledge-wise, possess and, in both situations, was literally moments away from actual completion.

At one point in New Mexico, I was waitressing at the pub I worked at full-time, waiting on a table of geochemistry students (my original major), when I got into a conversation with a student because I overheard him saying something incorrectly. A girl at the table, who I’d spoken to many times before, looked up at me with complete shock on her face and said, “I didn’t know you went to college!”

That’s the funny thing about people: if you judge them by their covers, you’re usually making a mistake.

Regardless, these experiences in the academic world, and sadly similar ones in the yoga community, led me to make sure that I finished and obtained the educations that I knew I needed, to live the life that I wanted to—and that I deserved in countless ways. At the same time, I have to be careful of overachieving or pushing myself for the wrong reasons.

I already know that I want to work towards my 500 RYT. I think, possibly, the fact that I began seriously looking into the program I’ll choose on the very day of my graduation ceremony this weekend, however, shows that I need to stop and smell the roses—or in this case, admire the diploma sitting on my buffet.

That’s part of what’s so strange about life.

I work so hard, I try so much, and usually, life seems to unfold at its own rate, and in its own manner, anyways.

“Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans.”

I love this John Lennon quote, because it’s true.

Still, this doesn’t give you or me permission to sit around and wait for our achievements to spontaneously occur.

I also happen to believe that the universe (the divine, God, whatever you choose to call it) helps those who help themselves.

When I committed to finishing my 200 hours so that I can finally apply for my RYT, the perfect program—literally right down the street!—opened up for me. Its unorthodox regularly-planned schedule, as opposed to the typical chunks of long days once a month, could not have worked out better for my small family, at the center of which is a routine-hungry toddler.

Now, I’m seriously looking at hopping into my 500 much sooner than I’d initially planned, and, quite possibly, a wonderfully ideal teacher and I are already in touch.

Yet I did the preparatory work.

I put the effort into my life—but when is too much work, well, too much?

It’s too much when my daughter’s life is inappropriately shoved to the wayside. She’s a tiny, little, growing girl who needs her mommy, quite frankly, more than her mommy needs her 500 hours.

Our lives are supposed to be effortful—because work can, and should, be rewarding.

However, our lives are supposed to be enjoyed, too.

I also recently committed to teaching one class a week.

Since moving away from my family, I’ve been on a self-imposed yearlong sabbatical of sorts. I choose (over and over again, every single day, I choose) to happily raise my daughter myself. Without extraneous familial support this means that I can no longer have the luxury (to me it is a luxury) of teaching several classes a week, but—and this is a big but—just read nearly any one of my past elephant blogs and you’ll see that I strongly support not letting your life as a woman fall apart because you’re a mom.

Not living up to your self-expectations, to your dreams, and to your higher goals in life is not doing your family a service.

If you choose to be a stay-at-home yogi like me, then obviously, I think that’s great, but it also doesn’t give you a free pass to never practice yoga or have an evening with your friends or do anything for yourself, for that matter.

Teaching your children that you love them and that they come first goes hand in hand with showing them self-love and care. These are not competing factors.

So, yes, life can be funny, the way that things work out.

I think, for example, that if I had finished my initial bachelor’s degree “on time” and found a geological job that I might never have pursued my dream job in yoga.

I think it’s also probable that I wouldn’t have found the confidence to live as the writer that I’ve honestly always been—since I wrote my premier story at age seven—if I hadn’t first found my voice through my yoga teaching.

Living life is mandatory. Unfortunately, finding pleasure in it isn’t.

I hope that as Mother’s Day approaches, as the summer starts to dawn on us, and as you, hopefully, find something that lights your heart on fire and that you’re desperately wanting to achieve, that you’ll also contemplate practicing the art of balancing.

“The best and safest thing is to keep a balance in your life, acknowledge the great powers around us and in us. If you can do that, and live that way, you are really a wise man.”

~ Euripides


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 Ed: Brianna Bemel

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