Tag Archives: yoga

yes to quiet

31 days of WTHKW

I have been writing a lot. Much of it hasn’t ended up here; in fact, most of my 31 days haven’t ended up here. Maybe because there are some thoughts that are just better held close to my chest for awhile. One of the lovely things about writing for me is that, the more I do it, the more layers of myself I uncover. Which is beautiful and terrifying simultaneously. Terrifying because it feels so exposing, and I always feel the need to hide in the quiet for while.

So I’ve been hiding in the quiet a lot. But today, my thoughts are clear and easy and not quite so inward turned.

Last week, I was talking to a dear friend and mentor, someone I love very much. We were talking about me being exhausted and sick, about my body just leveling me with one thing after another. And I was explaining to her a little bit about how I believe that’s stress related, that my body was responding to a lack of rest, a lack of good food and proper hydration, a lack of general nourishment. And she made the comment that it’s just how life goes. That busy is just the way it is.

The older I get, though, the more I don’t really believe that. I believe that we’re as busy as we choose to be. I think of “yes” and “no” as currency these days. And I believe that when we’re exhausted and overextended and tired and sick, it’s because we’ve lost track of our yes and our no. We’ve decided that someone else gets to spend the yes and the no for us, and we just have to go with it.

I don’t think that’s true. I do believe that there are certain seasons that are naturally busier than others. I know this to be true in my career. Last week, half the reason I was so worn down was because work was really busy and really stressful. Saturday was solo contest, and trying to prepare twelve middle schoolers for that is just stressful. It just is. And I do know that was half the reason I was so tired, and likely a large chunk of the reason I felt so sick.

I also know that the other half of the reason was because I haven’t fully learned that, when I’m in a season of spending a lot of yes at work, it is vital that I learn how to spend my no in other areas for that season. In the same way that, when work is slow, I know I have some more yes to give to other areas of life.

I know as well that when those busy seasons hit, and I only have a little bit of yes to spend outside work, I need to be choosy about where it goes. I didn’t do that last week. I spent my extra yes on a lot of junk food and a lot of time with TV and social media when what I really needed to be saying yes to was making sure my body was properly cared for, with good food and plenty of water and long baths and phone calls with my best people and writing sessions and yoga and meditation and maybe a few naps.

I’m not doing this perfectly, the spending of my yes and my no. Not by any stretch of the imagination. But I am growing. I am learning how to re-chart my course a little bit more quickly than I used to.

For example, I know I should have spent my yes more wisely last week, and made more use of my no, but I didn’t. I am, however, mapping out this week to look a lot more like last week should have. I’m giving myself the margin and the downtime I need. I slept in a little today. I went to yoga. I watched one episode of Gilmore Girls and then turned the TV off, rather than spending the entire day marathoning my way through Netflix. I got groceries so my home is full of good food. I took the time to cook for myself. I’ve been drinking plenty of water, and nothing else. It’s 7:30 pm, and I am curled up in bed, snuggling my dog and listening to absolute silence while I take the thoughts in my head and put them on paper. I’m not planning to stay late at work this week, or to go out in the evenings. I plan to spend plenty of time snuggling with my puppy and my husband, or curled up with a book, or painting my nails, or coloring. Doing something that allows me to stop trying for awhile and just be.

It’s time to quiet down. It is always my choice to say yes to quiet.

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Living open is hard. It’s stunning and beautiful and exactly like cold water to the face. And sometimes it feels like that’s all this year has been. One foot after another toward living wide-eyed, living open.

I don’t want to be a person who holds on to my life with a white-knuckled grip. I know there are better pieces inside me, pieces that are pure and wild and fearless. Those are the places I want to live from.

But open hands are such a tricky thing. Because as quickly as they receive, they surrender.

And surrender. It’s that thing that’s beautiful and freeing, but it can feel so hard in the moment, when you’re surrendering things you thought you needed.

This year has been that. Opening my hands and receiving beauty that I never dreamed about, while simultaneously letting go of pieces I thought I needed. Pieces I have allowed to define me.

But the truth. The truth is you never receive until you’re willing to surrender.

So tonight, with my back flat on the floor, eyes staring at a candlelit ceiling, she asked what our intention was. Asked us to phrase it in the present tense, rather than as something to be hoped for in the future.

I am open.

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because yoga is a lot like life


I can feel it in those first moments on the mat, all the tension I’ve been holding for hours and days, or maybe weeks and months. And so I lie there, dealthy still, eyes wide and staring at the ceiling and I let myself feel it.

I don’t love Pachabel’s Canon in D. I can see why anyone who’s not a music major would. Or anyone who hasn’t been doing the music for weddings since their teens. Or anyone who has managed to not hear it hundreds of times. But I am a music major who’s been doing the music for weddings since my teens, and I’ve heard it hundreds of times. So I just don’t love it, and it doesn’t feel like yoga music, and thoughts bounce around like a toddler inside my mind.

I do like this instructor, though, despite her questionable taste in music. I like her voice, I like it that she asks us to commit to an intention, a point of focus, a meditation. I usually pick my own, and tonight I think my point of focus will be this idea that all is grace. Feels like something I need to remember more than usual these days, especially if I can find a quiet enough space in my head for it to take root and stick around.

That first pose, though, has me questioning my affection for her. My long legs twisted up around one another, bent and angled and wrapped and stretched. And then she says it, the phrase that makes me hate her just a little bit.

Relax into it.

Uh. About that.

This is a great hip opener, if your muscles are tight in that area. Just breathe and let gravity do the work.

Okay…okay, I’m breathing…but for real, this is not okay.

We’ll stay here for about two minutes.

We will do what??

Try not to fidget. When it gets uncomfortable, that’s when it’s most necessary to stay the course.

You are a jerk, woman. And why, for the love of all that’s good and holy, is that wretched song still playing??

And so I’m sitting there, tangled up with myself, and I can feel the resistance and the beckoning of a constant urge to just stop, to go back to the resting pose, to just enjoy the silence of a quiet, candlelit room where no one knows my name and no one needs anything from me. I know that’s an option. I know I can use this time to relax without challenging myself. We don’t judge each other’s practice in yoga. That’s the rule.

But even as I mentally explore that option, I’m so terribly aware of my own achy pieces. I’m sitting there, and the tightness in my muscles is exposed and raw, and loudly so. I can feel it all right now, for the first time in a long time, even though it’s been there for months. I can feel the feelings that have been going unnoticed, the parts that I haven’t been caring for, the places that have been carrying the weight of unnecessary things.

And I literally laugh out loud in the middle of that still and quiet room, because the reason I love yoga is because I am a lover of metaphors. And yoga is life.

When it gets uncomfortable, that’s when it’s the most necessary to stay the course.

That thought keeps replaying itself in my mind today. Because I am so prone to chase comfort. So prone to do the easy thing. So absolutely aware, one hundred percent of the time, of the option to tap out. Because the passions and loves that beat inside my chest are HARD. They are hard, hard things. 

I made myself a deal on my 29th birthday, that I would start writing music again, that I would write my life and write raw. But writing music is like yoga for me. It’s uncomfortable in the doing. It’s so terribly uncomfortable. It is time-consuming and vulnerable, a demanding mistress who won’t be satisfied with anything but everything I have. And so here I am, almost to the halfway point of this year, and nothing. And yet–there it is, in my mind. All of the mess of truth that I need to put on paper and bring to life. It hasn’t gone away. It’s that achy hip, the one that’s been holding tension in the background for so very long, but the process of healing hurts and challenges and stretches. And I’m afraid of it. Is it okay to say that? That it’s just easier to binge-watch Netflix than it is to sit down and use my God-given gift. Because I’m afraid of it. All the time. I’m afraid of being uncomfortable.

And yet…

When it gets uncomfortable, that’s when it’s the most necessary to stay the course.

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