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Say “HELL YES” or “NO”.

I’ve been asking my friends to send me their life’s problems so that I can solve all of them.  I enjoy thinking through the issues we all struggle with, and it makes me feel useful.  It also allows me to avoid my own problems, which…  Well mind your own business!

Recently, my new Instagram friend, Courtenay, sent me a great question.  She asked,

“How do I stop saying yes to everything and everyone, ultimately leading me to a constant state of burnout?”

We went back and forth a little more and Courtney explained that she doesn’t say yes to shit she hates, she just wants to say yes to too much.

I have three considerations to offer.

  1. The desire to be liked and avoid conflict:

This isn’t as much Courtenay’s problem, but it’s a big one for most women.  Many of us have an imposter complex. Deep down, we don’t believe we deserve the position we’re in, and we work harder than our male counterparts for the same recognition.  We also coat the whole thing in being agreeable and likable.  Men get away with being more matter of fact about the work they offer.  Is this true for all women?  No, and I hope not.  Is this not also true for men?  Surely not.  So plug it in if it resonates, or don’t.

If you’re this person, my suggestion is to think about the value you bring to your work, and focus on that.  Write it down and keep it at the forefront.  Then practice how to say no in many different contexts.  Rehearse how you would say no to an inappropriate conversation, a request for help, a job you’re not really interested in, etc.  Have those scripts ready so that you don’t get lost in the moment when you need them.

  1. You don’t know your calendar:

When was the last time you looked at what you do in a week?  Not just appointments on your phone calendar, but a break down of the tasks, by the minute?

Begin to do that.  Break it all down to the hour.  Then you see how little or how much time you actually have.  When I was child-free, it took me three minutes to roll out of bed and get in the car.  After becoming a mom, it took a long time for me to figure out that while I was a minimalist in my heart, I now had two other humans who were balls of unfocused lack of urgency.  Now I start getting ready an hour before it’s time to leave the house.  A bonus to knowing your time is you’ll be a lot less stressed out.  Knowing how much time you have will also lead you to the third consideration I offer.

  1. You don’t know your priorities: 

If you’re like Courtenay, you care about everything.  Don’t wait for the right answer.  There are lots of right answers to what you could do with your life.  Pick the things that speak to you the most, that you have the most to offer to, and then get focused.

It reminds me of one of the concepts with self-branding:  If you try to be all things to all people, you end up being nothing.

If you say yes to everything that sounds good, you spread yourself too thin and you kind of suck.  In this case, think of saying no as saying yes to that which is most important to you.

 

I could write a book about this, but a lot of people already have.  I recommend a book that was passed along to me a few years ago:

When I Say No, I Feel Guilty, by Manuel J. Smith

 

Silver Bullets

I’m writing a book on mindfulness.  It won’t be called that.  That word has lost its meaning.  I might call it something like “Get Turned On” or “How To Not Feel Dead Inside”.  But all the mindfulness stuff is in there.

This is very exciting for me.  I’ve been a writer my whole life, but for some reason, I gave up any serious writing around the time I had my boys, seven years ago.  Now, I have this book I want to write, that is definitely about my own journey as much as it aims to help others.  I could go on and on about the revelations I’m having, but there’s another reason I’ve stopped to write this post.

I’m in the development stage, so I’m sourcing from all the people around me to find some common themes.  What are the real problems?  This is way more interesting to me than the answer part.  And as I go back and forth with others, I’m practicing the dialogue of coaching.

Yesterday, my friend messaged me that he needs a “silver bullet”.  He explained that he gets so fed up with his poor diet, that he ends up going on some kind of “master cleanse” around this time of year.  It feels really good at the time, and then he yo-yo’s back in a few months.

Do you know this life?  I fucking do.

And when I heard him telling me my own story, it made me feel angry.  Because…  It doesn’t work.  We all know that, right?  Then why do we keep doing it?

Dieting is the same thing as overeating.  It’s the same fucking thing, re-packaged as “good”.

Both overeating and dieting are about avoiding the pain of your thoughts and emotions.  They are distractions.

Don’t try to solve your eating life.  That’s way too hard.  There’s a much easier way for all of this to come into focus.

Begin with the moment you reach for something out of discomfort.

Willpower is a muscle.  If we start with the little things, the bigger things seem much easier when we come to them.

What’s the first step?

Just observe.  What are the three habits you turn to the most?

I asked my friend this question and his answer was in this order:

PHONE

FOOD

DICK

Okay, now write that on a sticky note and put it on your bathroom mirror.  Don’t take it down for company.  Begin to live with it.

No silver bullets here, and I won’t even share the next step, right now.  In the meantime, if you get the impulse to do a cleanse, imagine yourself fifteen pounds heavier in three months.

What are your three habits?  Will you try this?
You can follow me on one of my worst habits, Instagram, @adultyoga 🙂

Currently Reading: Smile at Fear, Chogyam Trungpa

Mind Your Life: Step One

I want to know this life.  I don’t feel like I have any more time to fuck around.

In the past few months, I’ve been taking action.  Consciously making changes in my daily life and how I show myself to the world, namely you.

Of course, this didn’t start a few months ago.  This has been the work of a lifetime.  But it’s now, that I feel it reaching an apex.  It’s coming into focus.

As I do this work for myself, I feel a wonderful excitement.  It makes me wiggley.  I want to share it.  I want other people to feel this.  Somewhat organically, as I see the next step in my own process, I’ve started to plot it all out as some sort of program.

That program isn’t ready yet.  Not at all.  But I’m impatient.

So if you’d like to follow along with my prototype Mind Your Life program, I don’t think it will hurt.

Let’s begin!

STEP ONE:  MEASURE YOUR LIFE

Really!  Measure it!

Get on the scale.

Check your height.

Look at your finances.

Get your blood work done.

Also:

Measure your relationships.

Your desires.

Your discomfort.

You don’t have to take any action.

Just see your life.

Look closely.

Get honest.

Reflect on what you find, without storylines.

Just see.

That’s all you do, right now.  Let me know what you find!

Much love,

Rachel

Currently Reading:

Awake in the World: Teachings from Yoga and Buddhism For Living an Engaged Life,

by Michael Stone

It Does Have To Be Like This

I’m always learning from my boys.  They haven’t figured out how to think in limitations yet.  This means they are incredibly insightful and observant of what it is to be a human.

My son, Reese, discovered self-affirmations on his own.  When he’s in the car, feeling insecure, I’ll hear him whispering, “I’m not scared.  Reese isn’t scared.”  Then I ask, “Do you feel better now?”  And he says, “I do, Mommy!  I’m not scared!”

In a similar organic fashion, I find myself repeating something like an affirmation throughout the day.

I say, “This is just what life is like.  It is EXACTLY, JUST LIKE THIS.”

When I say this, the resistance goes down.  I stop arguing with reality.  My sense of victimhood, dissipates.  All the things I experience and you experience, are exactly what life is like.

This is acceptance.  It’s recognition of the basic human condition.

It doesn’t mean that I condone or observe passively.  I get angry.  I have goals.  I am SO HUNGRY.  I do what I can.  I guess I think about it as fulfilling my purpose.  Accomplishing my goals won’t make me happier, but they will expand my experience.  Why wouldn’t I want more adventures?  Why wouldn’t I want to live new lives?

The world has never been better or worse.  The world is.

This is exactly what life is like.  It is EXACTLY, JUST LIKE THIS.

Currently Reading:  Comfortable With Uncertainty

 

Give Them What They Want

This past weekend I was visiting a friend in Denver.  My friends, truly friends that I hang out with and adore, stepped in to teach my classes over the weekend.  Someone asked me yesterday if the attendance go’s down when my classes are subbed.  I guess it does.  I can’t put a number on it, but there are definitely people that see my name isn’t on the schedule and decide to do something else.

If this were the measure of how good I am at my job, I would take that drop in attendance as encouragement that I have a loyal following.  But there are a lot of other factors at play.  People just get used to you.  Familiarity breeds liking.  Shitty disengaged teachers have followings if they show up long enough.  Also, people are fickle.  I’ve seen it enough to take some distance from studying my class size.  Someone will show up religiously and shower me with praise, and then they stop coming out of nowhere.  I see them loyally coming in for someone else’s class and they give me a sheepish look and say how much they miss me.

But I get it.  I’m addicted to new, too.  I like to change it up.  Also, sometimes I change my mind about a teacher.  Their way doesn’t resonate anymore, or I’m looking for something quieter or louder or sexier.

Hype is no joke, as well.  A packed class creates a positive feedback loop.  A value is inferred when a lot of people show up.  Sometimes my class is packed, and someone will joke, “Rachel, everyone loves you.”  That makes me squirm.  I don’t know why everyone shows up, but it isn’t love and I can’t control it.

Timing matters.  Certain times of day get more people.  Style matters.  More people are drawn to hot yoga than room temperature.  Season matters.  More people come in the Spring and Summer than Fall and Winter.  Look matters.  If you are young and modelesque and teach inversions, your classes will catch a lot of fish.

One of the first classes I ever taught, was subbing for my studio’s most popular teacher.  The class was fucking packed.  Like, 50-60 people, which probably broke fire code.  Dead center was this guy who is super strong and practically levitates while he moves.  I focused on him and started teaching a challenging class.  But I noticed he was mad-dogging me the whole time.  I kept with it and got through one of the most intense teaching experiences I’d have.

About a year later, after taking class, that guy approached me and said he was sorry.  That was super cool of him.  He totally didn’t have to acknowledge it, but he wanted to.  I guess he realized I’m a human, I don’t know.  He said, “There were just so many people in that room, and I was like, SLOW DOWN!”

I’d thought I was giving him what he came for, and I was all wrong.  It’s impossible to read people’s minds.  It’s impossible to please an entire room.

Tonight I teach in Long Beach.  It’s a different crowd than Fullerton.  More intense, more fitness oriented.  I find myself getting anxious.  My trainer tells me, “Sometimes you just have to get in, and give them what they want, like a cook who makes an order.  No feelings.”

It brings me back to something I learned at the beginning.

Trust yoga.

I don’t have to create anything and I’m not responsible for other people’s feelings.  I’ll just do my best and try to maintain some healthy boundaries.  Because at the end of the day, this stuff is important, but it’s not that fucking important.

Currently Reading:  F**ck It, John Parkin

 

Get Harder.

No, this isn’t the title for a juicy adult film.  It’s the phrase I have written on post-its which I have stuck all over my home, right now.  It’s what my trainer told me when I started getting into all the reasons I can’t stop eating at night.  She said with a gentle smile, “You yogis can be a little too in touch with your emotions.  You just need to get harder.”

I’ve been in school for the past two years, with the goal to go into marriage and family therapy.  I love to study why we think and behave the way we do, or really, why I behave and think the way I do.  But, I’m hung up on the actual outcomes that people like me get from spending a life in therapy.  I don’t believe there’s an exclusive approach that works for everyone.  I know that personally, I respond to action.  I’m drawn to positive psychology which focuses on the person’s (not the patient’s) strengths, and builds up from that resourceful state.

I’m not gonna lie.  I’ve read a lot of Tony Robbins, too.  And he’s kind of the opposite of psychology. I find his empire’s marketing strategies to be un-necessarily deceptive and manipulative, but I don’t even know how much the man himself has to do with that.

Most of all, I agree that we have a lot of decision making power when it comes to how we respond to the world.  That there are heuristics or mental short-cuts that can get us right where we want to be, without developing a narrative about why it all happened in the first place.

I’ve been on this idea for a while and so I see it everywhere.  Highly successful people don’t make choices to perform at their best.  They view meeting their goal as a necessity.  That sounds harsh. What if you put everything on the line, fail, and have to feel like a loser?  Highly successful people do that, and they’re okay with it.  Suffering isn’t avoided.

I need to keep this short, so I’ll stop here.

Take the decision making out of your goals.  Live them.  Be a dumb jock.

GET HARDER.

 

They’re watching, I’m watching, you’re watching.

Today, I commented “barf” under a yoga instructor’s comment,

on another yoga instructor’s post,

on Instagram.:D

This guy’s comment was basically calling into question someone’s STATUS as a legitimate old school yogi, when they had only picked up meditating for the past decade.

I replied to that comment with, “barf”.  It felt pretty good.  It was honest.

To my delight, he replied in haste to say that I clearly don’t practice silence in my life and my comment was stupid.  I told him in reply, that there is no silence in my life and I’m stupid as fuck.

It felt really good to not pretend I was trying to have a conversation or find common ground.  I just wanted to tell him he disgusts me and peace out.

I know about tolerance and everything but sometimes “barf” is in order.

 

 

 

I don’t believe in yoga, anymore.

When I first started going to a yoga studio,  I felt like it was saving my life.  Not only was I skinny and bendy and powerful, but I had a whole new culture to appropriate.  I’m a bit of an idealist, drawn to the possibility of things.  Yoga was the perfect non-religion.

I was most attracted to the philosophy of yoga.  I got a little OCD for a couple years about trying to follow the 8 limbs.  I became so austere that I was weird and depressed all the time.  Then, I got reactive and protective of yoga, which is really the angry side of depression.  As far as I could tell, Instagram yogis and Lululemon were assholes.

I remember some woman asking me how many calories she’d burn in my vinyasa class, and I laughed at her.  I told her she shouldn’t care about that.  Like, “What an asshole!”

I decided I would teach everybody about the real yoga.  And I did.  Many, many people, endured my cliches and platitudes on the preciousness of life and how lost the modern world has become.

I kept teaching, and reading, and having conversations.  I got a little more experience and I began to see my students for who they were: sensitive, insightful, competent people, who I could learn from.

When I made a point to see the people in the room, I felt increasingly self-conscious about the thing I was trying to create.  I backed off from all the narrative I was injecting into my class.

At the same time that I began to quiet down, I realized something else.  Everyone was doing yoga wrong.  Like, really basic stuff wasn’t happening.  These students weren’t learning.  For the first time, I genuinely craved to help them.  Not doing something the way it will help you seems like the biggest waste of time.  When I shifted to teaching them how to move their body, all the focus and sincerity I had been trying to force, began to happen on its own.

It seems that becoming a believer took me on a long detour away from the good stuff.  Now I approach yoga like exercise.  When I’m teaching, it means we get to have normal workout face, and we’re allowed to ask questions and just be normal people.  I don’t believe that any person who comes into a yoga room and does that “yoga look” can genuinely say that’s the face they make when they’re being natural.

There is such a theatre surrounding yoga, that I often want to call it something else.   I also don’t want to say “namaste”, but I’ve tested it out and it frightens the students.  And I don’t want to call them students. I want to call them clients.  And I don’t feel comfortable with the title “teacher”, either.  I have friends who are teachers and they work waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay fucking harder than me.  When you add “yoga-teacher”, now it’s like saying, “lady-cop”, like, let’s just skip it.

I don’t believe yoga is the only way.  I know people who don’t exercise and eat bad and they are totally happy and fulfilled.  People are different.  So, the conversation needs to shift away from explaining why yoga is so great.  Musicians don’t sing all their songs about how great music is.

Bullshit is boring.  Let’s move forward.

First one to say “yoga” is a rotten egg.