As we approach the new year it can be easy to start looking ahead to the possibilities that await. Instead of rushing into that, I want us to take this window of time before January 1st to look back on the previous year. I know for me that when I stop and take the time to look back I am often blown away by all the amazing things that have happened.
Here are some questions to help you, feel free to just answer these in your head or may I suggest writing them out, perhaps in a journal:
What have you accomplished?
What have you learned?
How have you grown?
What are you grateful for?
Did anything unexpected happen, if so what?
How have I changed?
How have I surprised myself?
Please do not feel that you have to answer all of these questions, just use them as a prompt to get you started. Keep in mind to look at the whole previous year when answering, you might be surprised at how far you have come!
Get to it my friends! If you have any questions that help you reflect please share them in the comments section!
You may or may not have noticed that I did not post last week. GASP! This was not due to the world ending but rather because I was happily attending one of my closest friend’s weddings. Which just happened to be at an all-inclusive resort in Jamaica! I promise I am back, well rested, and have had a lot of valuable reflection time.
Making Big Expensive Decisions
As my priorities have changed in my life, going to this wedding was a big decision. On one hand it is extremely expensive and we have a lot of long-term financial goals that this does not exactly align with. On another hand we never actually went on a honeymoon and have not been on a vacation longer than a weekend getaway. When faced with decisions like these in my life these days I try to look at them through a different lens. Will I look back in five or ten years and say thank goodness I spent all of my money on useless material possessions I do not even remember now or thank goodness I went to Jamaica with my friends? Given that perspective we decided to save and that this trip was 100% what we needed. So next time you find yourself with a big expensive decision to make, try putting it into a different perspective to decide if it is worth it for you or not.
I Left My Phone At Home
Yes, you read that correctly. I could have easily taken it with me. I could have used it in airplane mode and connected to the resort’s Wi-Fi. It would have been simple enough to use the excuse “but it doubles as a camera” and yet at home it stayed. And you know what? It felt GREAT! Okay, so technically my husband still had his phone with him just in case but I think we would have been able to survive without it. There were no notifications, no emails, nothing! Just real, distraction free conversations with all of the people that also came to the wedding. Plus I happen to have a real camera so I still got to take some pictures! This was a weeklong adventure without my phone and that may seem like a bit much but I wholeheartedly encourage you to try to find more times when you can leave your phone at home or in your car and really be present in the moment. I assure you, it is worth it!
But Why No Blog Post
Don’t get me wrong this trip did not come as a surprise. We saved, slowly paid for it over time, and knew about it months in advance. I could have written a post ahead of my departure and scheduled it for Wednesday. I also could have taken my computer along for the trip and written a post while on vacation. Yet I did neither of these things. Part of my decision to not post was a self-experiment. Instead of me feeling like I broke a commitment to myself, this was part of my learning experience. I can miss a post and it will be okay. Missing a post is not me giving up but rather me taking a break and coming right back to it! The other part of my decision to not post was also to make a point. Sometimes we need to disconnect to find true connection. Instead of worrying about writing an extra post or trying to write one on vacation I decided to stay 100% connected to my experience in Jamaica. It is easy to get caught up with our to-do lists and feel like if we don’t do it all, all the time then we have somehow failed. I am here to tell you that when we do what really matters most of the time, then we are already doing exactly what we need to be doing. This blog matters to me and so does practicing self-care while deeply connecting to friends. I may not be able to do everything at once but I can still do them, even if sometimes that means giving myself permission to take a small break.
Chime in friends! How do you make big expensive decisions? When have you left your phone at home? What ways have you tested yourself in your journey and what matters most at the end of the day?
I am about to tell you something that may shock you! Occasionally in my yoga classes I purposefully choose NOT to play any music! GASP!
This practice may be normal for you but in the studios I have been to, I assure you it is not. The only venue where a lack of music may be normal has been the large outdoor yoga classes in my area. Some classes are even entirely themed based on a particular genre of music. For example I have seen several places featuring Hip Hop Yoga.
Please do not misunderstand me here, I love music and I love having music be an option in not only my classes but also my personal practice. What I am suggesting here is that you take a step back for a moment and think about how attached you are to the music that is playing during your practice. For this reason every so often I leave out music for the entire class. We take our awareness to the loudest sound in the room, the quietest sound in the room, and all of the different kinds of sounds happening around us.
The first time I noticed this attachment was ironically not during yoga at all. Over two years ago the radio started going in and out in my car. Sometimes it would work and other times it wouldn’t. It was like all of the buttons, the CD player, and the radio itself were slowly giving up. After a few months of lucky days and super frustrating days, it finally completely stopped. There I was in silence. It was so strange not to have something on while driving. At first it drove me insane so I would set my iPod in my lap and listen to music while I drove. But after a while I began to love the silence. It gave me time and space to think without distractions. I did not even notice how big of an impact this was making in my life until one day I had to borrow my husband’s car and I had a radio again. I craved so much fast food that day it was insane. I had no idea how much marketing was being thrown at me in between my joyful sing-alongs! Now I go between listening to audiobooks on my phone while I drive or cruising in silence. I do not want a new car radio and I am grateful for this event happening in my life to change my perspective.
I know that for some, this is a very touchy subject. Again, I am not saying to live a life without music! As a yoga teacher I frequently receive comments about my music selection for class. Often they are people praising my selection and asking what the artists or songs were. Being perfectly honest, it does feel good when people enjoy the music I have selected, I guess that is some of my own attachment peeking out! Every so often however, someone will say that they did not enjoy the music I had chosen for class. They wish it was more peaceful or more upbeat or more “yoga” or had words, etc. As part of the eight limbs of yoga we come across Aparigrapha, which can be translated as non-attachment. This word can also mean non-greed and non-possessiveness. I find it funny that despite my practice, it took an electronic glitch for this to come to my awareness. Maybe this example does not necessarily resonate with you, but I do hope it ignites a curiosity about what in your life is holding you back with unnecessary attachment.
Here are a few things that I am currently working towards letting go of my attachment towards:
The Outcome. How often do we find ourselves doing something just so that we are able to get something in return? Or we do something expecting the end result to happen a specific way and then are upset when it doesn’t work out? It can be a big challenge to do something simply for the act of doing it. It is easy to forget about actually doing the action itself and not being present in the moment because we are so worried about the future outcome.
Physical Belongings. This one becomes blazingly apparent when it comes to downsizing or when our favorite ____ ends up ruined. It can be very hard to get rid of things. What if we need them one day? But I spent so much money on that! My favorite ____ is irreplaceable! Does any of that matter? Are you being held back by your stuff? Is the item itself what you truly care about or is there something larger at play like a memory or a cause you care about that the item represents?
Other People. How often do we attach our emotions and well-being to other people? How they act, react, and treat us has the potential to have serious implications in our lives. This is much easier said than done, but we cannot control how another person acts towards us. What we can control is our actions, how we react, and how we let it affect us.
What have you found in your life to be a problematic attachment and how have you found ways to let go? How do you balance the line between enjoyment and attachment?
My whole life there has always been this expectation to choose something, become an expert, and have that be your lifelong career. Despite the changing views on this topic, this still seems to be the mainstream sentiment. It is far more likely now than ever before to be let go from one or more jobs throughout your career. Sure you can move to a position elsewhere doing the same tasks, but do you want to?
Career advice I have been given on several occasions was never to be a “jack of all trades and master of none.” I feel that this sentiment is bad advice. I also think it’s a little bit wrong. I am a jack of many trades and master of some. We all know about the standard life path, pick a career and keep it, but how many of us are still in the dark about all of the other possibilities?
A wonderful friend introduced me to this new to me concept after I had been let go from my “career” job. You know the one I went to school for and was destined to work in forever, yes that one. My whole world changed. What exactly was this new and exciting thing? Well it goes by many names: Renaissance Soul, Polymath, Multipotentialite, or as I like to say Infinite Wonderer. I had never heard of any of these things before so of course I started reading and learning about this idea. It made so many things in my life make so much more sense! Why was I not told about this sooner!?!
There is definitely a range of people when it comes to this scale. Every single one is important and invaluable wherever they find themselves on this spectrum. On one end are those who like to delve entirely into a subject and never come up for air. They are irreplaceable experts who know so very much about something extremely specific. On the other end of the spectrum are people like me, who will forever be Infinite Wonderers.
I love to learn for learnings sake. I get excited about new things all of the time. I love the challenge and the steep learning curve that comes along with this path. I am interested in a lot of different things and I want to do all of them. This is both a blessing and a struggle. What do you want to do and what makes you happy are simple questions that become complicated rather quickly. I want to learn how to garden and become a beekeeper as well as learn about wild edibles and living off the land. I also love learning about personal finance and delving ever deeper into understanding yoga. Starting this blog was part of my wondering soul. I also still feel a connection to my “career” of chemistry. I was driven to it because of the challenge it brought and how fascinating it made the world become.
If any of this sounds familiar, know you are not alone. If this sounds nothing like you, know that there are a lot of us out there. Building an understanding of this spectrum is not to point out differences, but to gain respect and understanding of one another. Let’s stop trying to put square pegs in round holes. Why not fit people to their roles? Know and use their strengths. We need experts as well as people who know a decent amount about several things so that we can all engage with one another.
Recently, I have found that these four questions have helped me find a lot of perspective and clarity in my multipotentialite life:
What was I able to accomplish in the past year (or two or three, whatever time frame you desire)?When I think about moving forward sometimes I have this paralyzing fear that there is not enough time. I have so many things that I want to do that it can be really difficult to figure out which way to go and instead of going anywhere at all I just stop. What I have found recently is that when I look back I am always amazed at what I was able to accomplish. I know that a year from now I will look back with that same admiration. There is no reason to live in fear. Just do something! Anything is more productive than being a couch potato!
What season is it?This question helps me direct which activities that I personally prefer to do in the spring vs summer vs fall vs winter. For example the spring, summer, and fall are more ideal for me to invest heavily in gardening endeavors than in the winter. I guess I could probably build a greenhouse but for right now this opens up my winter for other activities. In the winter my desires change to those that are more snuggly and indoor in nature. Like reading or crafting. Take a good look at all of the paths that you currently want to take, is there a more ideal time of year to do them? If so set that goal aside for a bit and focus on something else for now. This question does not have to be limited to literal seasons, you can look at it as stages in your life. Setting aside one of your desires is not the end for it, you are just focusing efforts elsewhere for a bit.
What do I NOT want to do?Luckily there happen to be a lot of things that I do not want to learn or do, at least for now! This helps me put my projects in perspective. Using this lens, I have found that there are commonalities to the things that I want to do. Yoga and mindfulness are not that different from taking charge of your personal finance in my opinion. Knowing where your money is going and if what you are doing with it lines up with your values is a very mindful action. Loving healthy food is not disconnected from gardening. I grow the things I want to eat!
What skills do I want to learn the most right now? This question really makes me take a critical look at all of the jobs and hobbies on my plate. This helps me try to figure out if I am benefiting from them or if I have outgrown them and need to move on. I am not trying to say that you should not do something because of sheer enjoyment but when there are a lot of possibilities bouncing around this can help you find more focus.
I want you to know that wherever you find yourself on the spectrum I am here to be part of your Infinitely Wonder Full journey. Part of the revolution to truly understanding and appreciating one another will come through knowledge. What questions have you found helpful to find a new perspective in your life?
Hello World! I am here to share my ever evolving journey with you. I am in the arena to dare greatly, rise strong, and all the while I know the universe has my back. I no longer live by fear. I am here to make a difference however big or small it may be. I revel in the beauty and frustration that my renaissance soul has given me. Throughout it all craving that big magic will come my way and I will be present enough to catch it. This is my foundation to grow and expand upon. Releasing my grip on the non-essential and tightening it on what matters most. Building friendships and changing our view of community. Strengthening our connection, growing as both individual and as ONE.
To start this adventure off, I want to introduce you to my friend Eric, who is a captivating and inspiring man to say the least. His love and passion exude from his person at every turn. His compassion is mesmerizing. This astounding man has decided to Walk Across Tennessee to raise awareness and money for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. A normal person would think this alone is a large foray for one individual to take on and you would be right. But when it comes to Eric, this happens to be his second trip. His first was walking across America! If the rest of us were lucky enough to have half of the qualities Eric has we probably would have already achieved world peace. If you find yourself in the area and spot him, walk alongside this magical fellow that our world has been blessed with for a mile or two. To help out this cause please check him out at walkacrosstennessee.org. Eric is not walking this road alone. Behind every strong man is an even stronger woman and this lucky man happens to have three! An amazing wife and two beautiful girls!
Above all else my friends, if there is a change you want to see in the world, make it. Do not let fear stop you, passion and drive will help you as will friendships, a lot of hard work, and most of all LOVE.