Monday, April 7, 2014

Do Only a Few Things and Do Them Well

Beware lest you lose the substance by grasping at the shadow. ~ Aesop

There are a few good quotes on this topic, but it's one that's been on my mind of late so I figured, it's time to sit down and write about it.

As most of my close friends and family know, I've recently LLC'ed myself as a yoga instructor. My business name is now Luna Sidera Yoga & Wellness, LLC. Or, in English, Moon and Stars Yoga & Wellness.

This isn't a self promotion piece, but rather, the example that I want to tie into the above quote and my present challenge — Focusing.

A little bit of context ....

I am a full-time journalist/editor of three papers. I am also trying to get my novel published by a small local printing press. In the meantime, I teach Yoga in Wickliffe and am about to start a class in Willoughby in addition to wanting to get certification in Reiki Therapy to supplement what I offer my clientele, a.k.a. my students. I eventually want to take the 500 hour training to be able to teach Yoga Therapy in hospitals and rehabilitation centers.

Those things are all in addition to a wonderfully flourishing social/personal life and a mom of two pet kids ;-) as well as someone who desires to spend more time with family, especially my grandparents (in particular my grandmother, who is slowly losing her memory).

I recently read an article that summed up 600 letters/emails from random people ages 37 and up about what they would tell their 30-year-old selves if they could go back. Among all the items listed, one was to focus on doing a few things well, rather than doing several things half as well ... or something along those lines.

Basically, narrow your focus and put all your energy there. That one really hit me hardest — I suppose because that's been my biggest struggle lately. I feel like parts of my life are really taking off in the recent months. And a lot of it has to do with me deciding to stop resting on my laurels and finally get moving on my teaching and expanding my reach.

But I've also really, really been struggling with NOT focusing on publishing my manuscript, the way I wanted to last year. Yoga took me in a completely different direction last year, so the book publishing went on the back burner. And now I think it might have to go on the back burner again. Which, my ego feels is a form of "failure," or "laziness." But in reality, I can't possibly do the things I want to with that manuscript while developing my business and working my full-time job. Not to mention ... having a social life, dating and spending quality time with my pets (who are getting older and older every day, making each moment I spend with them that much more precious) and my family.

Because the reality is, the biggest "pull" I feel right now is in the direction of my yoga teaching, getting organized, truly doing the best I can in that area to help it flourish ... otherwise I feel like it's going to suffer, the way other areas have suffered that I haven't paid attention to.

It's like lighting several fires and only having enough oxygen and fuel for a few of them. The others slowly die as a result. They turn into embers and eventually ... ashes.

So, my point ... the thing I wanted to share in the hopes others might benefit as well, is simple. If you find yourself trying to do a million things at once — pause. Take a moment, perhaps write them all down and decide what the top three priorities are (as my best friend Katie Khoury recently reminded me to do). Don't disregard the rest altogether, but put them aside for now and pull together all of your energy, harness it and focus it on those three areas ... don't resist "what is," don't think about getting to this and that in the future ... stay present with those three things and focus on each individual step as you reach it in the "here and now."

It seems to help me feel less overwhelmed. And when life starts pulling you in a bunch of different directions again and the universe is telling you to "slow down," listen. Take a step back, refocus on that list and begin once more. You might not realize it at first (I know I didn't), but suddenly you'll witness things just take off. If you're putting your energy into the flow and not against it, things will just happen. But don't lose your nerve, or your breath. And don't let fear stop you either.

Always keep breathing. And eventually, you'll see how quickly you cross all of those things off your list and continue down it to the rest. I've had some recently packed weeks and weekends. And my body has finally made me pay for not taking down time.

A question hit me in that moment: How can I possibly teach yoga to all my students and grow and develop as a teacher as well as an ever-learning student when I'm not taking time to practice for myself?

So, I'm on a journey to regain some balance in my life, to weed out the things that are sucking energy and replace them with a more narrowed focus on the things that nourish and produce energy ... like my yoga teaching, meditation, making time for my own personal sadhana (daily again, the way I used to practice it), reading, sketching, playing guitar and piano ... spending some more time with my grandmother and those sustaining forces in my life. And spending less time on things that aren't necessarily "bad" things, but just time-consuming things that perhaps I'll get to another time.

I implore you to take this journey with me — those of you who wear many hats and feel out of balance. Let me know how you are faring. And remember, I'm always here to listen if you ever need me.



1 comment:

  1. Time is definitely one of the most precious things we have on this planet and a non-renewable resource, at that. Even in food service, timing is everything. I think the most important sentence here is, "how can I possibly teach yoga to all my students and grow and develop as a teacher as well as an ever-learning student when I'm not taking time to practice for myself?"

    It was really difficult for me to grasp the absence of goals after graduating college last year. And it's taken a lot of time, a lot of challenge. But there it was, a piece of paper, a degree, four years as a part-time student done. I, too, have had to relearn how to be a student of life again instead since.

    Cassandra, both you and I know, life isn't a practice, it's the test. I would invite your students into your doubts, let them shape your learning for awhile. Maybe asking them to write down or vocalize three goals in class would let you see not only what makes them special, but also where they are coming from or going.

    One of the most influential things in my lifetime hasn't been what I learn or know about myself, but what I find in the people I meet. These are opportunities that may be passing your yoga instructing by blindly.

    Even in culinary school, I felt I needed to put blinders on like a race horse and had to let even some of the things you've mentioned above (like a personal life) pass me by. But that time is gone for myself. It's because of that, I think prioritizing can be a dangerous word. I've always done well with lists in my life, but oftentimes it's the things you don't expect to happen that matter most and have the most impact in your lifetime.

    Just some thoughts, friend. Plus, you owe me a phone call. Hehe. Hope your Monday went well rested. ~Chris