Playing More

I was messing about tap dancing around at my brother’s place the other day (trying and miserably failing to emulate The Nicholas Brothers) when he said something to me:

“You’re becoming just like how you used to be when you were little”.

I stopped mid-time step (triple time-step with a triple break, in fact), brow furrowed:

“What?  You mean ‘childish’?”

Turns out that’s not what he meant.

There’s a picture of me as a toddler in a little stripy dress with hair like Don King. I’ve got a huge grin on my face as I’m ‘making a break for freedom’ down our street.  For a long time I wasn’t keen on that picture (mainly down to the hair), but my brother has always liked it and says it’s because he thinks that picture sums up the person I really am.  My brother is older than me so he remembers better than me exactly how I was as a little kid.  Apparently, I was smiley, determined, mischievous and especially, very playful. On top of that, once I found my feet I was somewhat hyper, a bit like Tigger – a pretty annoying little sister really, though my brother assures me I’m not quite as annoying now…

I do smile more.  My yoga practice has made me keen to play more.  I’ve noticed this gradually spreading out away from the mat into other bits of my life along with my growing desire to learn more and explore more and say ‘yes’ more.  Of course, I still have my fears as we all do.  I feel fear often, but little by little I see myself being more willing to face those fears whether it’s practising headstand away from the wall or saying no to work that might be ‘safe’ in terms of a regular income but that I know will be less than fulfilling and be so all encompassing that it will drain me physically and mentally. I feel myself getting a teeny bit braver. Baby steps.

After that comment from my brother, I took a look at that photo of me as a toddler again and instead of cringing at it as I always used to, it made me smile, bad (baaad) hair and all.  That was me before the world got hold of me and made me self-conscious.  If I am becoming more like that then I’m glad.  I take it as a huge compliment.  I think that for a long while I forgot how to play.  Through my yoga practice I rediscovered that part of myself.  And I’m so thankful for that.  I have no plans to mislay that part of me again anytime soon.

Which is possibly not great news for my big brother 😀


More Anxious than an Anxious Thing

I have been feeling a lot more anxious than usual lately.  It’s a combination of ‘stuff’, but I’m pretty certain this is mostly down to one specific thing:

In less than a week I leave the place I have worked for almost ten years. 

Yep. Hello Freelancing and Goodbye Regular Salary.  I know this is absolutely the right thing for me.  The timing could not be better.  It is something that I know I want.  I feel so much clearer about things than I ever have.  And yet…

I am Terrified. 

AND Excited.

From day to day the pendulum swings as to which of these two emotions I feel the most.  There are moments of euphoria then usually, at the least convenient of times, including during class, there are tears.  But one bonus of crying in a Hot Yoga class is I sweat so much that I guess no-one’s going to notice apart from me 🙂

I’m also at that certain point in my life when people wonder why I haven’t settled down with a husband and kids yet.  But strangely, I feel far younger and far happier now than I did ten or so years ago when I was always the first in and last out at the office and striving so, so hard to progress.  To be perfect.  I put so much of my identity and self-worth into what I did for a living to the point where I lost myself for a while, then couldn’t work out why I felt so miserable all the time. I became disillusioned and deeply cynical.  Not my natural state.

I am really grateful that I get to practise yoga.  For me it is a huge gift that I do not take for granted in the slightest.  I truly believe that this has helped to give me a better perspective.  At least now I notice if any old negative anxiety patterns are beginning to creep in (like mindless eating – “Where did that whole bag of almonds just go??) instead of blindly going into self-destruct mode.  I feel that through my practice I have gained awareness, enabling me to observe my behaviour, change it accordingly and be kinder to myself, even when I do slip up from time to time.  

I know this is a life-defining phase for me.  Not because of leaving my job or the age I happen to be when this set of circumstances has arisen, but because of how I feel about it.  It’s a gut-feeling and, to date, my gut has never been wrong. At every significant point in my life so far I have felt like this.  I’ve never known how to describe it without sounding all ‘woo-woo’ but I came across a post on zen habits (via @samdavidson) about ‘Joyfear’.  For me this sums up what I’ve been feeling so well.  Here Leo Babauta writes that every single defining moment of his life has been filled with Joyfear:

“Having only joy is great. Having only fear sucks. But having both … that’s life-defining.

Do not shy away from Joyfear. Seek it out. Recognize it when you happen upon it. Joyfear will change your life, and you’ll never forget the moment you find it.”

I know this is big change.  I am pretty sure it will delight me and test me and frighten the hell out of me.  I know I am probably going to have to ‘Woman Up’ in order to find the courage I feel I will need at times. But somehow, I think it will be okay. 

Bring on the Joyfear.

(Thanks to @zen_habits and @samdavidson for highlighting Leo Babauta’s ‘Joyfear’ post)