Today was a beige day.
By beige, I mean that it was not bright and colourful. Not particularly eventful. Nothing remarkable happened. It was just ... beige.
Which is different than grey. A grey day, to me, is one that is heavy and laden with doubt, fear, or anger. Grey is a cloud. Grey is a tidal wave. Grey is a mountain and I am underneath it. This wasn't that. This was just a day.
Not that there wasn't colour within. I am very mentally aware of the amount of colour that I have the privilege of taking for granted on a daily basis: I awoke this morning. My loving husband was at my side. I stood on my own two feet out of my warm bed. I hugged my healthy and happy baby girl. There was food in my fringe. I locked the door as I left my home and drove my car to buy breakfast at Starbucks 'just because'. I spoke to and spent time with people who love me ... and so on. This is colour at its brightest!
Isn't that the definition of black though? All of the colours blended to one. Actually (according to Wikipedia) black is "the result of the absence or complete absorption of visible light". But that is two different things. To me, the absence of visible light is a time of deep work. I can bring to mind some times in my life that could be described as" the absence of visible light" and, thankfully, I can count them on just one hand. Those are butterfly-making moments - times when you went in as a caterpillar and, afterwards, it takes a while to get used to the wings (and a looooooooong while before you see them as beautiful). "The complete absorption of visible light" ... yes ... that's a definition that I vibe with. The light is there, but it all becomes kind of blended together and then you forget that you had any light at all.
I digress. In fact, I detoured. That's the definition of black, but black isn't beige. Beige is like ... light that's been dimmed. So, yes, I can still see the light, it just doesn't have the same lustre as it did yesterday. Which, I do not write in order to garner sympathy. In fact, there is nothing to be sympathetic towards. I have a life that is full of light. What's the difference what filter I'm using? You're very right, I know ... I told you, I am mentally aware of this ... it's just how I feel and that's an important perspective. There's room for both of these experiences to weave together within the fabric of my understanding.
Here's the problem I have with beige: I live in technicolour! Beige is the colour of my lighthouse. Beige days are an early wake up call to get on my mat, sit down with a pen and paper, crawl out from behind the screen and look a breathing human in their eyes. Beige is a reminder to connect, reconnect, and connect again. That's what makes me come alive! Sure, I could blow right through beige. I could swim against the current, "power through", and put my To Do List at the top of my priorities, but that is a one-way ticket to grey-dom and I am not. interested. Grey takes days to climb out of. Grey is lots of Netflix' "Are you still watching"s. Grey is stiff and heavy. Not beige though. Beige just blows on through and says, "You okay buddy?". Interoception and experience has taught me to be sensitive to the beige. I let its gentle breeze remind me of what matters, what sets my soul on fire, and what colours my experience. Beige helps give me perspective. After years of practice a little beige is all I need to remind me what my priorities REALLY are and to allow colour to re-emerge. It's a practice though. A practice of mindfulness - present-moment awareness. A practice of choosing to LIVE my life and a refusal to watch from the backseat as it cyclones past snatching my empowerment in it's wake.
After I write this, I will close my laptop and turn my phone to silent. I will pick Isabella up from daycare and spend the afternoon with her at the park. We will move, laugh, kiss, and play. I'll connect with a couple of friends and go out of my way to do something nice for someone I love - have them over for dinner.
Tomorrow, when I wake up, I know what awaits me: Oz! You know that scene in The Wizard of Oz after the twister when Dorothy emerges to a bright and cheery Oz? That's what mindfulness does for you. Changes the prescription. Clears away the fog. Lets all the beautiful light shine through. It's as close to magic as I have ever experienced.
Give it a try! Start right now. We'll, not now. After you're done reading this. It doesn't cost any money. It doesn't mean selling your worldly possessions and living a whole new life as a nomad. It's 'simply' (*not that simple*) an integration of mindfulness into your already abundant life. Call the first loved one you think of. Don't text or message them, call them. Just let them know you're thinking of them and that you love them. The next time you find yourself face to face with a person who is serving you, ringing you through, or otherwise doing their job, look them in the eye and thank them. Call them by their name (the wait staff just mentioned it and the cashier is wearing a name tag). Maybe even ask them how their days is going and fully immerse yourself into hearing their reply. You never know what kind of colour you might just be painting into someone else's day.
Your life is FULL of light. It might just have absorbed together into black or maybe, if your lucky, just got a little washed out to beige by expectations, tasks, deadlines, consumerism, and over scheduling.
Wishing you rainbows and the perspective it takes to see them.
There’s something in the air today … In my community, it’s the first day of school for most children. It’s the first day of the fall schedule at Life Yoga. For me, it’s the first day of a new chapter of my personal and professional life. For the first time in the eight years since opening Life Yoga, I am not on the drop-in schedule and I don’t have set office hours. This was always part of my long-term plan. As my teacher training programs and the workshops that I created are taking me all over the world, it is not reasonable to hold space for myself on the schedule and in the office when, at least half of the time, I am travelling and would need to disrupt any routine and regularity that I’d developed with a substitute. It makes more sense to fill in all the gaps with loving, dedicated, capable individuals. Don’t misunderstand this to mean that I am less connected to Life Yoga. I am still very present in my studio – my first baby. In fact, this space in my schedule will allow me to return to the mat as a practitioner and immerse myself within the Life Yoga community, which is a regularity that I crave.
A few years back, as the studio grew and I began thinking about starting a family, I hired Studio Managers to allow me to step away from office duties and think and act more broadly in the role of Studio Director. I no longer kept office hours, so I could do website updates, payroll, long and short-term planning, outreach, etc. from anywhere and at anytime. This was fulfilling as I find business, marketing, and expressions on social media a form of creative outlet and I still held space a few classes a week on the drop-in schedule.
That is until my second baby (my actual child) came along. Very quickly it became apparent that I could do my job anytime and anywhere, when I was not fully tapped out from baby rearing. That first year of Isabella’s life was a year of adjustment where I learned to trust 100% in the Studio Managers and capable teachers at Life Yoga to keep the ship afloat because after a day of learning how this mother thing works and facing the emotional ups and downs of adopting a child, it was sometimes difficult to do much else.
After maternity leave, I found myself back to the role of Studio Director and Yoga Teacher, but with several tasks and classes off my plate after a year of others taking them over. With a little space, I was able to invest that time to my yoga school, Yoga Teacher Training Kingston. I had assisted in a teacher training program during my mat leave and discovered two things: first, I loved teacher training; and second, I was very good at it. A winning combination!
As fate continued to unroll before me, just a few months later, I was teaching my first 30 Day 200-Hour Teacher Training intensive in Bermuda. This was nine hours a day, six days a week, and I loved every minute. You’d think that I would be exhausted at the end of the long days, but I had so much energy and felt so invigorated. It wasn’t just the beauty of the island or the love I found for my Bermudian family, I saw that I was truly living as my fullest self and blossoming into this role. Deep down, I knew that I needed to follow my heart and follow this path, which was a daunting idea because I knew with certainty that I needed to make some changes back home. Space between me and my routine created a sense of clarity that I had been avoiding. It was one of those times when you see something or understand something and then you can’t go back, no matter how uncomfortable or unsure it makes you. You can’t unsee or unknow what you see or know. But, there is a comfort to routine. There is a sense of safety inherent to never taking a risk. I knew that, to honour what I truly knew was my path, I needed to disrupt this comfort and normality.
So, here I am, just a few months after Bermuda and my dear friend and previous Studio Manager Pamela is stepping into my role as Studio Director at Life Yoga. The blocks on the drop-in schedule that used to be filled by me are now filled with other beautiful offerings and I am left with space. I have successfully manifested and worked my way out of a job. LOL!
Not really. This space was created mindfully, lovingly, and with intention for all of our highest good – including my own. You can still catch me at Life Yoga most of the time, connect with me through my online studio (which is undergoing a HUGE makeover this very moment – eeee!), share space with me in my master classes and workshops, or dedicate time to Yoga Teacher Training. I will be in Kingston, Innisfil, Roslin, Bermuda … and we’ll see where else … that’s what the space is for. For what is space if not possibility? There is no room for growth or change without some space.
Space is perspective. Potential. Clarity. Presence.
And, sometimes, you’re right, it’s really scary.
Why? Because space requires trust.
For a Type-A like myself, trust means total acceptance that nothing is under control. More and more, I am embracing this idea as a whole-body notion. I hold on so tight that my neck, shoulders, and back lose all potential for movement. I stiffen up. Letting go of that need to have everything under control is something I am practicing on the mat and in the world and back again. Take, for example, the breath. In. Out. In. Out. Right? What if I told you that there was potential for pause (about 20,000 potentials per day, give or take)? In. Out. Pause … In. Out. Pause … What keeps us from having this experience of our breath? Maybe it’s just not how we were taught, so we haven’t realized this experience is possible, sure. Maybe, on some deeper level, our need to always be doing something and our inability to let go of control (and to trust) have a role to play. I have to always be in-out-in-out because what happens when we stop breathing? We die! Then what? You don’t know. I don’t know. But I don’t want to find out! In. Out. In. Out. Always in control. I have this theory that all of our fears can be filtered down to the deepest fear that we all share: one day we’ll breathe out and there won’t be another inhale that follows. Lights out. So, what? So, I am going to do everything I can, while I can, to outrun the inevitable. I am in control. I have all the answers. In. Out. In. Out.
I am choosing to walk into this next chapter leaving plenty of times for perspective, potential, clarity, and presence.
In. Out. Pause … In. Out. Pause …
The hardest part for me is that I will miss the regularity of dedicated practitioners that joined me weekly on the mat. I have learned so much from this little family of students, teachers, cheerleaders, advice givers, storytellers, jokesters, and biggest fans. I hope to continue to bear witness to your growth side-by-side with you when I am in Kingston and I trust that I have left your practices in the most capable and compassionate hands. I trust that this stability is more important to the studio, as an entity, than one individual’s inconsistent presence. I am eager to grow my online community as the online studio gets a big makeover. Stay tuned for my workshops and masterclasses to be available digitally, so we can continue to practice together in the pockets of your life from wherever your journey takes you.
So, here is a moment in time. There goes another. And I stand on the precipice of a new phase. A great adventure. The path before me is clear and is sure to be incredible, but I am leaving lots of space for detours. Nothing is under control. How boring would life be if we had it all figured out all of the time anyways?
There are times that naturally create a pause in our routines when you look for them. Your daily commute, a moment just after waking or just before sleeping, the few minutes spent waiting – waiting for a bus, for your kids, for your turn – or, even, simply and perfectly, the space after this next exhalation. If you look for them, the opportunities to pause are there and they become more and more plentiful the more we utilize them.
Wishing you space this week.