lessons, part 1

I haven’t done a lot of writing lately, primarily because I convinced myself it would seem boastful to write about how spectacularly great things have been lately. People like to commiserate, let’s be honest. We like to read and hear about how tough other people have it, because it makes us feel like maybe we don’t have it so bad, after all. We I like to dole out sympathy because it makes us me feel better about ourselves myself, but we I have a hard time sharing when things are great because it makes us me feel selfish.

Between Jesus and yoga, I’ve come to realize how that mindset sucks the joy out of life, and that it’s important to choose to focus on that which edifies, encourages, and sustains. After all, God has filled my life with smart, kind, honest, gracious, and hilarious friends who challenge themselves and everyone around them to live their best lives. He brought me into a place of leadership and responsibility in my work, and handed me the opportunity to run a business that brings my love of teaching, yoga, and community into one space. He put me back together after some minor physical and major emotional setbacks. He made a way for my best friend and I to do life together in a city that we both adore. He’s guiding me through some life management changes- financial, nutritional, and spiritual- that are coming to define the way I live in the world.  He’s given me what I have come to see as an invaluable gift and opportunity: time. The busy-ness of running the studio and being on the road with RC comes in waves, and in between the waves there lies this beautiful, restful calm. I love it so much, I cancelled my home cable and internet so I’m not tempted to fill it up with shit that doesn’t matter.

Hoarding the good in our lives doesn’t secure it, giving it away does. 2013 has been a year full- I mean, bursting full- of life-giving, joy-birthing, full-face-smile-inducing happiness, and I honestly didn’t think people would enjoy reading about someone else’s bliss. However, not writing about the beauty of the past few months would be stupid because the beauty didn’t come easy, and there are some important lessons I’ve learned along the way that I’d rather not forget. Here are some of the big ones.

Do things that matter. I love what Francis Chan said in Crazy Love:Our greatest fear should not be of failure but of succeeding at things in life that don’t really matter.” You are spending your life on something. I’m not talking about your career or job, although maybe that’s what comes to mind for you here, but about the conversations, encounters, endeavors, and experiences that you fill your life with every single day. The things you do most often, those are the things with which you will have the most success. What are you doing most often? Do you really want to be a deeply successful Twitter user? A runaway success at complaining about everything and everyone around you? If you let life happen to you rather than living your life on and with purpose, you’ll find yourself remarkably successful at things that don’t matter. Find your gift and use it. Start somewhere. Do something. Keep trying. Fail. Fail again. When you’re using your gifts and doing what you love, even the failures will make you better at the things that matter.

Take care of your body. Seriously. Eat a lot of plants. Drink them, even. This isn’t about an all-or-nothing, cold turkey,  approach to revamping your diet but it is about starting somewhere. About 85-90% of what I eat comes from the dirt or the ocean and I feel more healthy, strong, clear, and balanced than I have at any other point in my life. I stopped eating the things that were causing harm and discomfort to my body, and found freedom rather than feeling restricted. When you cut out the crap and your body has the space to operate the way it was designed to operate, you lose interest in clogging it back up. You only have the one body, folks. Don’t jack it up with processed “foods.” It matters. Want to get sick, fat, and die sooner? By all means, keep up with the weekly Arby’s and CocaCola habit. Want to find health, confidence, and strength? Eat more plants.

Be picky. You don’t have to say “yes” to everyone and everything. Your time, your emotional and mental well being, and your heart aren’t big enough for everyone to get on board. Quality over quantity is a good rule of thumb for: friendships, jeans, lovers, your iPod library, calories, education, hard lessons learned, and wine. I probably missed a few. You get the idea.

If ya ain’t got it, don’t spend it. Debt is self-induced slavery. Period. Living on a credit card is about as stupid as cooking with arsenic and pretending that you’ll be the one person it doesn’t kill. Living outside your means doesn’t make you lavish, it makes you an idiot. I can say that because I did it, and I was an idiot. Pay it off, cut it up, use cash.

Give the benefit of the doubt. There’s probably a good reason for whatever happened, and assuming the worst sucks for everybody involved. Ask questions. Be honest. Don’t make assumptions. Get clarity as soon as possible. Be nice.

Move. I personally believe everyone should practice yoga, but I realize that might be a tad unrealistic. Whatever you do, do something. Get off the couch. The very best thing you can do for long term health is walk for half an hour every day. 30 minutes! We all have 30 minutes. All of us. You will be such a happier version of yourself if you find some way to be active every day, and you’ll be around longer for your kids and the people who love you.

Be humble. Listen more than you speak. Admit when you’re wrong. Tell the truth. Don’t take criticism personally, but learn from it. Margaret Thatcher truly said it best: “Being powerful is like being a lady. If you have to tell people you are, you aren’t.” Don’t need to be recognized. Do kind things for others and tell no one.

Laugh. Even if you don’t feel like it. The world is full of people who take themselves far too seriously, create drama wherever they go, and expect others to buy into the madness. For the love of God, and I mean that sincerely, don’t.  Find the humor. If you can’t find humor, create it. That’s not to say horrible things won’t happen, but if we can’t laugh when we’re not in the middle of horrible things then how will we ever survive when those things do come?! Choose to laugh.

More to come.

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