Grumpiness and Not Following Your Own Advice

I don’t know why.  I don’t know if it’s the season or work or life or my ego or my diet or my exercise regime or my supplements, or my decrease in caffeine, but for some reason I’ve been feeling rather “meh” lately.  I will have days where I feel happy and motivated, but lately I have more days where I feel lost and don’t know where to begin.  I have things that I *think* I want to do, such as read one of the books on my  mammoth book list, practice meditation, go to yoga class, research vacation options, color in an adult coloring book, start the Great American Novel, paint a picture of Lucent, figure out a great material with which to make the BEST YOGA TANKS EVER, plan a retreat at Kripalu, input all my yoga income and expenses, move to Boulder, start a yoga book/video club, etc.  However, when I have a free hour or two, instead I find myself sitting on the couch in my pajamas and watching Seinfeld or Community.

I don’t understand why it is so difficult to do the things that I think I want to do!  Maybe I am just getting overwhelmed with options – too many things to do in too little time means I just resign myself to doing nothing.  Or maybe work is stressing me out, and so in my downtime, I elect to just vegetate.  Or maybe I’m just lazy and scared and don’t want to attempt to create anything because it means I cannot fail.

What is really odd is that this period of despondency is punctuated with periods of lucidity.  For a few days, I was waking up at 4:30 AM, drinking some warm lemon water, and then meditating with this  for 20 minutes.  I was starting to notice that I was becoming more aware of the present moment, which was very interesting, and I liked it.  But then I would be attacked by another bad mood where I really didn’t want to go into work. I hated everyone and just wanted to lay in bed and watch Gilmore Girls all day.  Why can’t I sustain the good stuff?

I also have been eating gluten with almost abandon.  I don’t know what it is. I know it’s not good for me, and that it makes me emotional and weird, but I keep eating it.  I just feel a little off kilter. Maybe it’s just the change in seasons. Maybe it’s a stressful fall with lots of changes.  Maybe it’s just a natural ebb in the waves of life.  I feel as if I know what I need to do to make myself feel better, I just need to figure out how to make myself do it!!

On a positive note, I leveraged my emotional wobbliness into a really good yoga class!  Since I’ve been feeling moody lately, I did a little research and found a Yoga to Balance Your Mood sequence in one of my YTT books. I used it during my Gentle Hatha class on Saturday, and everyone loved it.  I heard at least 1 audible sigh of relaxation at the end of the class. I wove in some of my own stuff too. I began the class with a seated meditation and asked the students to note how they felt in the meditation.  Then I told them that we would do another meditation at the end of the class and asked them to compare the two. I told them that the whole purpose of yoga is to calm the body enough that it can sit quietly in meditation, so I wanted to test out that theory.  Everyone said that their meditation was easier at the end, and they felt more focused.  I just absolutely love it when people are happy, relaxed, and excited when they leave my class.

So now I need to take some of my own medicine and do the sequence.  I just have a really hard time finding a good quite, solitary place to practice at home. I guess it means we need to buy a new house. Maybe that would make me happy. 😉

And the light gets brighter and bigger

I had what I would consider an adventure Thursday night.  One of my fellow YTTers (yoga teacher trainees) messaged me and asked if I could cover her 6PM Pre-Teen Yoga class.  Well, if you don’t know me, then you do not know precisely how far out of my comfort zone this request fell. I was never a kid who liked babysitting or who liked playing with younger kids. I babysat exactly 3 times that I can remember, and it was always for my cousins who really didn’t need a sitter anyway.  I had dolls, and I loved playing with them – dressing them up and taking them on marvelous adventurous through mazes (aka our front yard).  But I never loved real babies.  Even now, I can appreciate some of their cuteness from a distance, but I have no desire to get up close and personal unless I think it will offend someone if I don’t.

BUT I figured that maybe, just maybe, I could handle pre-teens. I kind of remember being in 5th and 6th grade.  I remember having a monstrous crush on Corey Schatz.  I remember our teacher handing out Woofies. I remember playing Boys Chase Girls at recess.  I remember smack-talking my mom and having her chase me around the outside of the house a few times.  I outlasted her, but when I finally came back inside, all my dolls were gone – hidden away until I behaved.  I remember how a harsh word from a teacher would devastate me and make me quiet for days.  I remember how noisy everyone was at lunch-time and how upset that would make the teachers.  Perhaps I could connect to these girls.

So, while I really wanted to say, “No, I’m super sorry, but I’m busy tonight,” instead I told my friend, “Sure.  What is your class usually like?”  Oh boy.  Her answer made me even more trepidatious than I already was!  Evidently class consists of partner work, some yoga dance, some student-led sun salutations, and all sorts of fun-ness.  Well, I’m used to teaching stressed out adults with sore backs and necks.  I wasn’t sure ANYTHING in my toolbox would translate over, but I figured, how bad can it be.

Don’t tell my boss, but I spent a few pockets of time that afternoon at work, jotting down notes for a class.  During YTT, Abby showed us some partner poses and some Thai massage moves. I figured the girls would think that was fun, so I wrote those down.  Then I tried to think of other fun postures that would challenge girls  whose bones are the consistency of rubber – wheel, bow, etc.

Armed with my list, I walked into Indigo.  I only had 4 girls show up (thank God it was an even number!!), but I knew I was in trouble when the first girl paid me for the class, and I could tell she had more sass and confidence than I EVER will.

When the clock rolled around t0 6, I corralled all the girls, and we tromped, skipped, and flipped into the center of the room, where they proceeded to tell me what to do for the next hour.  It was both horrifying and hilarious. I now have a VASTLY greater appreciation for what teachers do every day.  I was exhausted after an hour of trying to figure out how much authority I had and when I should use it.

The girls were great – they ran the gamut from super boisterous and energetic to shy and reserved (which WAS something I could actually identify with), to somewhere in the middle. One of the girls, I swear, was a 40-year-old in a 5th grader’s body.  During the Thai massage work, she was sighing as if she just got done with a 12 hour shift writing briefs for the Supreme Court justices.  It was awesome.

So, while I can’t say I really *enjoyed* the experience, I am very glad to have done it once. Each time I get out of my comfort zone and do something that I’ve never done before, I see my worldview brighten and my circle of understanding broaden.  My empathy for others’ increases, and my appreciation of the fact that we are all good at different things deepens. If everyone was like me, no one would be teaching these girls yoga, and they obviously LOVE it.  That would be very sad.

I was also pleased to observe a different attitude within myself.  For years, when I have not done something well, I typically felt as if it was because I had no aptitude for it and no chance of getting better.  I don’t know if it’s yoga or 4 years of reading about happiness research, but this time was different.  Afterwards I reflected on my experience and saw mistakes I had made and things I could do better, but it was with an understanding that this was my first time dealing with kids since I WAS a kid.  It was a learning experience – one I could use to improve my skills for next time.  I was so happy with myself for not seeing myself as a failure at this task.  I think I’m growing. Or something.

All that being said, I don’t know if I WOULD volunteer to teach that class again. I pretty much used up all my material on Thursday.  But if I got coerced into doing it for some reason, I’m confident that I would do a better job.

This whole experience just solidified my belief that I need to start trying more things out of my comfort zone.  Another one of my fellow YTTers gave me that advice over the weekend when we were discussing finding our purpose/passion.  It’s sage advice, and even if I try something new and fail miserably, now I am confident that I will learn A LOT from the experience.  I will get a more clear view of humanity and how things work and a better appreciation of the shades of gray that fuzz the rigid definitions of Right and Wrong and Good and Bad.

What challenges have you faced that helped you realize what you are capable of? What “failures” have taught you valuable lessons?

On Figuring out What you Want

Last night was my first night NOT teaching yoga on a Monday night since 7/1.  When I was fresh out of yoga teacher training, I was super jazzed and driven to teach.  I talked to the owners of the studio where I did YTT, and they agreed to let me teach 2 regular classes – a 75-minute beginner’s level vinyasa class on Monday night and an all-levels 60 minute vinyasa class on Wednesday mornings.

Within a couple of weeks of teaching the class, I noticed that I truly loved my 5:30AM class. I had a good energy, a good connection with my students, and I could get teaching in and done for the day bright and early.  It just felt right.

My Monday night class, however, was a different story.  I was tired from being at work, and I missed being at home.  It made  for a really long day too. I would wake up at 4:30AM, do my normal morning routine, go to work, come home, scarf down supper, head to Moline, teach, and then get home around 8:15PM.  I think I have an invisible power cord, and the only plug-in is my house.  I just NEED to be home quite a bit to feel relaxed and calm.

I noticed this difference in the classes almost immediately, but I powered through for a few months, continuing to teach the class. But it seemed as if life just kept getting busier and a little bit more out of control.  A whole week would go by, and I wouldn’t see Tim in the evenings until Thursday or Friday.  I also stopped exercising outside (running/walking), and I stopped reading and writing as much.  While I had picked up a new thing that I thought I would love, I lost other things that I loved as much if not more.

So I finally took an uncomfortable step and asked the studio if someone else could take over the class or if they could cancel it. I felt super bad doing that because they had gone out on a limb with me, a new teacher, and had set up a brand new class for me.  Abby was very understanding, however, and they decided to just cancel the class since attendance was not great anyway and they need another night for workshops.

Last night was my first night at home.  It was bittersweet, of course, because I cannot ever just be happy or sad about anything. I must feel multiple ways about the same thing!  I was happy because I came home and took a 45-minute walk in the gathering darkness along the bike path.  It is warm here in Iowa for November – about 72, but I could feel winter coming in random icy breezes that blew across my face.  It was so calm and beautiful on the lonely bike path.  Over the past few busy months, I forgot how important to your physical and mental health it is to GET OUTSIDE and MOVE.

After the walk I came home and ate supper with Tim.  He made homemade chicken & rice soup with homemade chicken stock.  It was super tasty.  Then we watched one episode of Seinfeld, and then I did the dishes, and then I laid down in bed to listen to this body scan meditation.  I really love it, but I almost always fall asleep to it, and last night was no exception.

That probably sounds like a pretty boring evening to a lot of people, but honestly that is my idea of a perfect night – exercise, good food, time to tidy up, and then someone to talk me to sleep.

Yet I was still a little melancholy about NOT teaching. I felt bad not living up to my commitment.  Also one of my students in my biweekly Saturday morning class told me she was sad to see the Monday night class go because she really enjoys my classes, and that one fit with her schedule.  I am sorry to disappoint my students too!

But I made the right call, I know.  I have to take time to take care of myself. I very very easily get overwhelmed, even when it is with positive stuff that I love to do.  We’ll see how this simplified schedule goes and then take it from there. I think what I really need to do is get my boss to let me work 32 hours/week so that I have more time for all my interests and hobbies and learning. 🙂