When I was in elementary and middle school my dad would occasionally forbid me to attend a sleepover at a friend's house and he wouldn't tell me why. I remember thinking this is PERSECUTION (!!!!) because, like most young girls, I LIVED for sleepovers, Disney movies and chatting into the wee hours of the morning in a homemade fort of pillows, sheets and old pilly blankets.
: Fast forward 1.5 decades :
Scene: One day my Dad and I were having lunch in California, a rarity since I'd left home in 2007. We were splitting a sandwich, sharing a salad and bag of Sea Salt potato chips at our favorite deli. I was a few years out of college and home visiting my family when the conversation turned to my nomadic lifestyle, country hopping and moving every nine months.
Me: "I'm fed up. I just want a normal life. I want a careerrrrrr dammit! (fist slams down on the table) I want to see my friends on the weekends, go to BBQ's and put some roots down. I'm losing touch with my people because I'm not here, and it's getting harder and harder to pack up and go."
Dad: (Quiet for a moment). "Do you remember when I wouldn't let you go to each and every (eye roll) sleepover when you were young?"
Me: "Ummm..... random, ya. But I never knew why when you did say no. I just thought you were being a jerk."
Dad: "I said no to loads of parents for no reason whatsoever. Well, there was one simple reason. Too many children get what they want when they want it and they don't learn to appreciate what they have or the adventures they are lucky enough to experience. Had I let you go to every party, sleepover, and God knows what else, you would not have coped well when things didn't go your way. And guess what? Life doesn't go the way you want it to a lot of the time. You say you want a 'normal' life, but how many people would chop of their pinky to experience a year in your shoes, galloping around the globe with your husband? The grass is greener where you water it, Erica. You won't always get your way, so make the best of it while you can. You have the choice to be happy or not."
Once I shook off my annoyance that he simply said "NO" to keep me from being a spoiled only child, I mulled over the words. Dad didn't want me to grow up thinking I was special, entitled, or deserved to get whatever I wanted on a silver platter. I was simply astounded at the success of his parenting style, even if it was difficult for him to execute when I was an irresistible eight year begging to go to _______ 's house, bake cookies and watch Beauty and the Beast. Because, the reality is, I wasn't a spoiled child and didn't ever feel entitled to anything. I grew up incredibly appreciative and was taught to enjoy life's simple pleasures.
With practice, I had a better attitude. I welcomed my hectic life more gracefully, and moving every nine months became a challenge rather than a chore. I complained less and counted my blessings more. They say "practice makes perfect," but in my case, practice just made me happier and feel more fulfilled. I took more risks and was more open to what the universe might have in store for me, and I was rewarded ten fold.
Moral of the story: I believe in the importance of making yourself do things you don't want to do, things that might even make you uncomfortable. I believe in the power of change, evolution and not always getting your way.
I've started to implement an open circle discussion in my Sunday night Restorative Yoga class. I give the floor to my students for a few minutes, and it's 100% their time to do or say whatever they want, free from judgements.
I've seen so many yogis have an aversion to these circle discussion. I can see it in their eyes: I'm here to do YOGA, not make eye contact with a room full of strangers. It's something that most people don't want to do, and it makes them uncomfortable and/or feel vulnerable. I can see the tension start to permeate through their expressions, their jaws tighten, eye downcast.... Please don't make me participate...
Please don't make me participate.
I've loved seeing my students express how they feel to a room full of strangers, sharing the good and the not so good. We've laughed and cried together on more than one occasion. No, it's not easy.... but guess what? Life isn't easy either. Baby steps, day by day. I can only hope that with each passing day my student's confidence will continue to grow.
Yoga isn't just about the asanas after all. Sometimes you need to open up, branch out and try something new to reveal who you are and what you need from your life.
Yo, I'm Erica
I'm Erica: a globe trotting Pinterest addict, sushi enthusiast, craft beer drinker, yogini, wife and mum.... not in that order.