I turned 29 three months ago and my body is falling apart.
In the last five months I have torn two ligaments in my ankle, fallen out of a handstand and given myself a gnarly road rash on my face, and as I write this I have just gotten home from the chiropractor for a pinched nerve and muscle spasms. And then, because of said chiropractor visit, I learned that I have “straightening of the cervical spine” which honestly I’ve probably had for years, but still.
That being said, I’m physically working harder than I ever have.
All the time.
On average, I teach 17-19 classes a week. I work at 4 different gyms, community centers, and yoga studios, I operate my own kid’s yoga programs, teach private lessons, and I try to do a special event or community class every week. Add friends, family, freelance work, a thriving garden, a spoiled kitten, and my incessant need to watch bad reality TV and read classic literature, and there are just not enough hours in the day (or episodes of Skin Wars on Hulu).
But I think I’m finally starting to get the message.
Turns out, this is as far as I can push myself. I can feel myself getting sick more, my sprained ankle is struggling to heal as I continue to run it through the ringer, my face (and chest and back) are breaking out, and I’m having a very hard time sleeping through the night. It’s all just a little too much and my body keeps taking new hits before it’s rebounded from the last.
I’ve had more x-rays in the last few months than I have in my whole life.
The thing is though, I love my job. I love it so very much. I love teaching babies and seniors and millennials alike. I love being able to offer myself to my students, to look at their bodies and guide them in a way that is beneficial, and to create space for their healing- big and small. I love the people I’ve met through classes and events and I love every single time someone says “I feel so much better than when I walked in the door.” And 9 times out of 10, I feel so much better at the end of a class than when I walked in the door.
So while I know I’m doing too much, while I know I need something more sustainable than a “break” or a “night off”, it seems impossible to slow down – to not take every single opportunity I have to teach and lead and learn and grow and play and create and love. That’s what we are here to do right? To Love. We are told our whole lives that we will “never be poor if you love what you do”. This is the ultimate goal.
But no one ever tells you what to do or how to feel if even that gets to be too much.
How do we say “No” to WORK?
And even more than that, how do we say “No” to work we LOVE?
Yoga at the Neches Brewing Company that got moved to the Port Neches Park Pavilion because of rainy, windy weather. My favorite thing about yoga students is that they are so flexible when plans have to change at the last minute.
(See what I did there?)
I have always known that I would have to hustle for work.
My degree is in Theatre and I graduated in 2009, my longest job titles have been at non-profits, and I spend every tax season cursing 1099s.
I function well in this mode and honestly, it’s never really crossed my mind that there was any other way. Even today, I was digging in the garden and talking about power washing the house and I said the phrase “Hard work ain’t never hurt us” and I heard my mother’s voice coming out of my own mouth.
This was the first day I got my plants in the ground.
Thank goodness, things have gotten a little greener since then.
In yoga we are supposed to focus on the mid-line. To find the space where you are challenged but focused and relaxed, where you are working hard but not hurting yourself, where you feel confident but maybe just a little bit scared.
Each posture is intended to be a balance of effort and ease and I have considered this advice applicable to all areas of my life for some time now.
But apparently. it’s not advice I have been following that closely the past couple of months, or maybe I never actually did but it’s just catching up to me in my old age.
(Balanced and emotionally stable…. doesn’t that sound nice.)
I feel like I should go ahead and say right here that I don’t have answers for all the questions I’m asking myself (and I guess you).
In-fact, if you have the answers, please let me know. No-one ever got anywhere by being rhetorical.
You see, I’ve always prided myself on not needing to hold on too or collect physical possessions (except for books, those are treasures). So what is it about work that makes me feel like there is never enough and it can never be replaced? Is it my darling Irish/German heritage? Is it the fact that I was raised by a single mom? Is it a past life I need to come to terms with? I’m sure it is some combo of everything wrapped up inside my (too heavy for my spine) brain.
What do you do when you have an abundance but can’t let go of a scarcity mindset?
I don’t know, and maybe I don’t need too know what or why just yet. But I do need to learn how to slow down and when to say enough, not because I don’t want to do more- but because I don’t need to.
Who says you can’t teach old dogs new tricks?