Setting Boundaries

I’m still here!  It’s been a crazy spring.  Between professional obligations, visiting friends and family, and not a few tears shed over a turning point in my life, I pushed my online presence to the back burner.  I simply couldn’t summon the will to write when I was rushing from place to place, grappling with struggle, and, I confess, binge-watching “Shameless.”  I was in complete overwhelm mode.

I’ve been here before and know what happens.  I start to panic.  I put on my stiff upper lip and soldier through, but at the same time, I complain.  I sleep less.  I make poor food choices.  And when I simply can’t do anything more, I collapse in front of the TV and watch for hours.

Not conducive for productivity and creativity, right?

But this time was different.  Maybe it was maturity.  Maybe it was talking to the right people, or reading the right books, or simply getting tired of doing the same thing over and over again, hoping for a different result.  In any event, a few weeks ago I had an epiphany:


I have a hard time saying “no.”  I have a hard time speaking difficult truths.  I have FOMO (for the six of you who don’t know what that is, it’s “fear of missing out”).  I have a hard time standing up for myself.  I worry that people won’t like me if I’m not agreeable, kind, cheerful, funny, and on my game 100% of the time. 

This, my friends, is the road to burn out. 

So things will be changing with me, slowly but surely.  I am practicing replacing old habits with new ones, saying something isn’t okay if it really isn’t.  I am opening myself up publicly so I can be open to love as well as open to rejection.  I am letting go of old dreams that have broken my heart and old expectations that will never come to pass.  I am trying to take care of myself the way I would take care of someone I truly love.

In short, I am setting boundaries.  Yoga teachers are generally TERRIBLE with boundaries.  We take on our students’ issues and make them our own.  We try to please everyone but lose our authenticity in the process.  We schlepp from place to place, spending more time in the car than with students, or worse, on our mats.  And I, who others look at and see a Warrior Goddess, am guilty of all of these. 

It doesn’t have to be this way.  I am prioritizing my practice and my physical and mental health.  I am taking some time to write and think and walk and ride my bike and spend quality time with friends.  My dog and I will be seeing a lot more of each other, and I predict that I’ll be going to more farmers’ markets and spending less time in the car.  I may even learn how to tweet and use Instagram (although Lord knows what I’ll share!).  But nothing is a “must,” or even a “should.”  I want to give myself some space to see what happens.

Epilogue:  Of course, in keeping with that old maxim that the minute you are in a relationship, everyone else wants to date you, I’ve had some really awesome work opportunities appear.  It was a really good time to test out my new practice.  And I’m happy to say that I can both grow professionally AND say “No…not yet.” 

February 2017

What do you think about when you think about love?  Do you think about your partner?  Your children?  Your parents?  Your pet?  Most of us are fortunate enough to have someone or something in our lives onto which we can project our love.

But how many of us are able to turn that love within?  Can you honestly say that you love yourself?  Or does that bring up uncomfortable thoughts like “I’m being conceited” or “I’m inherently unlovable?” 

Self-love, and its cousin, self-care, are often seen as self-indulgent activities that narcissists engage in.  Our culture values selflessness and sacrifice, but at what cost?  A lifetime of giving without taking in can leave you depleted and, ironically, less able to share your gifts with others.

If you decide to be your own Valentine, get curious:  what can you do for yourself that brings you joy?  That nourishes you spiritually?  That brings you peace?  How can you even figure this out? 

Mindfulness practices can be really good ways to tap into your deepest needs and desires.  That’s probably the reason I resisted them for so long—because feeling my needs and vulnerabilities made me feel selfish and weak.  It can still be challenging to get quiet when I’m feeling uncomfortable.  I’d rather run away from the “bad” feeling than explore it.  So I try to sneak them in if getting to my mat is just impossible:  I’ll go for a walk outside with the dog and take an extra-long route so I can enjoy watching her little butt wag back and forth as she prances down the street.  I’ll walk into my son’s bedroom and imagine him happy and busy in college, just like he’s supposed to be.  I’ll take the time to wash my sheets just so, scenting them with lavender so that when I get into bed, I’ll feel nurtured and cared for.

None of these things will give me the jolt of a kundalini experience.  But sometimes, I just need a little reminder that there’s some beauty in the world and that if it’s not presenting itself to me, I can go looking for it.  Believe that there is good in you and that you are worthy of love, and treat yourself like it.   Practice and I promise that it will get easier.

Happy Valentine’s Day!