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Lessons Learned in 2017

Market Street from Twin Peaks. Taken Feb/Mar 2017.

I swiveled on my heels and started down a new path this year. An unnerving and trying, albeit exhilarating pathway. An unforeseeable change of plans. I bought my first car and moved 34 miles north into an apartment in San Francisco with nothing more than my backpack, a few boxes, and a shitty air mattress. Without a doubt, my year was anchored in finding grounding, normalcy, and wherever the hell I had lost my identity along the way. Here are a few of the lessons I’ve learned:

  1. Back intention with action.
  2. Slow is strong. This came to me via yoga class. Moving slowly through chaturanga helps to build strength and accuracy — yes — but I can’t shake the idea that there are also significant aspects of our lives in which moving slowly is preferable. Healing and grieving take time, building community takes time, relationships take time, success takes time, adapting to change takes time. The process matters, despite the urge to speed up and reach the end, despite the need for relief. And when we choose to lean into the agony of the process, we build lasting strength.
  3. Balance is a series of micro-movements. Another lesson learned in yoga that I believe applies at a macro level. When we feel broken and unsteady, we aim to fix. We swing the pendulum too far and we overcorrect. Many of us witness this during the first week of January when the gym fills up with new faces. Instead of committing to one big [and often unattainable or unsustainable] change to counteract imbalance, try committing to 3–4 micro changes or slight adjustments. In yoga, it might mean dropping your chin, tucking your tailbone, adjusting your gaze, shifting your weight. But what could it mean in your life?
  4. We seek to confirm what we already believe to be true. As I write this, it seems absurdly obvious. And maybe it is. But it has served as a true gut check this year — in my classrooms, in my relationships, in my personal growth, in dating, in my career. It’s not a coincidence that the mornings in which I wonder whether I’m qualified to be doing my job, everything in my classroom seems to go to hell in a hand basket and my confidence is shaken. Our ideas, our assumptions, our rose colored glasses, have immense power.
  5. Fear is often masked as practicality. Don’t live a practical life.
  6. Where we find identity and belonging matters. And without question it should come from within. True belonging is the spiritual practice of believing in and belonging to yourself so deeply that you can share your most authentic self with the world and find sacredness in both being a part of something and standing alone in the wilderness (Brené Brown, Braving the Wilderness).
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