Ouch.

Image

That hurt.

And no, that isn’t me in the picture above (it’s my sister having a never-ending winter 2014 meltdown) but it’s exactly how I felt early last week.

I felt like I fell flat on my face. Smack. She’s down folks.

Last Tuesday afternoon I got an email from the agent I had approached regarding my children’s book – she didn’t feel like it was a good fit with her and decided to pass. Ugh. (Though she did write me a nice email and encouraged me to find other agents to approach and I totally appreciated the cushioned fall).

The email. The exact email I had been waiting to read for four weeks, though the words did not appear as I had imagined. My first no in this process. Ouch.

That no was like a gentle punch to the gut, and I did feel like I fell flat on my face. I lay there a little too. I let myself marinate in the rejection. This is a writer’s life, I told myself. Dr. Seuss was rejected like 40 times, I told myself. Do push-ups while you’re down here, I told myself.

Now I realize that one no isn’t the end of the world. I also realize that writers need to build pretty thick skin as they are destined to face rejection from time to time. And yes, I also understand that these stumbles will make me grow stronger. But all that being said, sometimes I’d take weakness for a little success, you know?

Last Tuesday was tough. I wallowed a bit. I questioned myself and my creativity. I wondered where the hell I go from here. I was quiet and didn’t talk to many people. I just needed to feel everything that came up and deal with it.

But something else happened last Tuesday that surprised me even more then that no from the agent. My reaction. Sure I felt I’d landed in the middle of a storm in the middle of my leap year, but in the eye of that storm I was OK. I truly was. Yes I felt crappy initially, but even while feeling crappy I didn’t second guess my journey. I questioned my next steps, but not whether or not I’d continue. I knew I’d continue. I knew I was still going the right way.

Last Tuesday’s storm brewed from one no, and in that moment I could have reacted one of two ways: feed it until it became a full on tornado, or brace myself as it blew past and allow it to leave. I chose the latter. Life really isn’t about what happens so much as it’s about how we react to what happens. One no doesn’t change the fact that I wrote a really sweet kid’s book. It doesn’t change how I feel about this book, and I remain just as happy and proud of it as I did when I first finished it and called my mom squealing in delight. One no will not throw me off course. One no will push me forward. One no will make me work harder, finding another agent who will see what I see when I read those words. One no is just that – one no.

 

 

Advertisements

I Yam What I Yam

Image

This picture pretty much sums me up. It’s me with a dear friend being exactly what we love to be – our foolish, silly, carefree selves. No walls, no expectations, no hiding. I am at my best when I’m being true to exactly who I am.

So why is it that sometimes I try to make that girl into something she isn’t?

Expectations. Not other people’s expectations, but my own. For myself.

I have spent most of the past seven months trying to figure this journey out. As a result I’ve fought myself along the way and spent a great deal of energy trying to become something I told myself I needed to become. I’ve lamented over who I used to be and sped past who I am in this moment to try and get to a future (better?) version of me. But those two other versions do not exist. I am not them.

Yesterday I woke up with an intention set for the week. I am going to allow myself to be exactly who I am. Letting go of who I thought I was and who I think I should be.

What could come of a week like that?

What would I write? How would I teach? What would happen if I gave myself permission to be the silly, imperfect writer/yoga teacher that I am?

Giving Up or Giving In?

Giving up or giving in?

Why does one sound better to me than the other? Why would I snub my nose at the thought of ‘giving up’ yet embrace the idea of ‘giving in’? How are they different?

I’ve given up on my memoir – for the time being anyway. I’m not burning pages and erasing hard drives, but I’ve given myself permission to put it away for now. For the rest of April actually. During my no-reading week I had another breakthrough. As I sat there, writer’s block digging its boney fingers into my shoulders, I noticed how I felt when I approached this memoir – drained, irritable, agitated and frustrated. Could that just be normal writer’s block? Absolutely. But could it be something else? That question I needed time to answer. 

Time away. Giving up. Or giving in?

I am not giving up on myself, but I am listening to my intuition. I am done battling and working towards something simply because I told myself I NEED TO WORK TOWARDS THAT SOMETHING. I’m giving in. To that feeling in the pit of my stomach. To that little voice that sits down with me at my desk as I attempt to write but feel detached from my words.

I’m giving in to the idea that this year may not look at all like I had planned. At the very beginning I warned myself – Nadine, the end could look very different from what you expect, be open to that. This sounded great when I didn’t consider it could have to do with the very book I took a year off to write. Gah. 

But in the past few weeks I’ve had to step back and take a breath. I took the gloves off and stopped fighting the material, waiting to see what would show up. 

And then to my surprise something did. I wrote a children’s book. Out of nowhere it flowed, but out of everywhere it came. The work I’ve been doing for the past seven months seemed fruitless until it led to the very product I am most proud of.

I know I needed that memoir as a guide to this year. I wouldn’t have given myself permission to quit my job and wait for a book idea to emerge. But was that its sole purpose? Who knows. I might come back to it another week, month or year. I might pull it all together one day and feel as great about it as I do about this book I wrote. It doesn’t really matter either way, what matters most is that I worked with what came up. I trusted my instincts.

I didn’t quit my job to write children’s books, but when I stopped telling myself who I should be and just let myself be, a children’s book is what I wrote. I sent off a query letter to an agent who then asked to read the manuscript. Regardless of what happens going forward, I wrote this book and it felt fantastic. I felt happy, energized and connected to the material, which further convinced me that I’d made the right decision. 

I didn’t give up on writing, but I did give up on fighting it. 

 

Your Dream Job – Apply Within (LITERALLY)

Job Title: Your Dream Job

Contract: As long as you can hack it

Salary: Get comfortable with financial uncertainty (for the first while anyway)

Position Overview:

This job requires someone who is driven, hard working and slightly crazy. You must love it, and on the days you don’t you must work hard to remember why you actually do.

Risk taking is a must. Leaping into darkness is a requirement. Trust is big and you cannot fake it.

Self-study is important but not necessary (unless you actually want to succeed). Know yourself to understand your business even better. Get to the bottom of the real you – flush out the crap to become the person you really are.

Responsibilities:

You will be responsible for knowing what you want to do with your life and then having the balls to go after it. Then you will be responsible for trusting that everything else will fall into place, but not necessarily in the order you had originally  planned.

Requirements:

* Courage

* Faith

* Awareness

* Energy

* Creative thinking

* Passion for the business

* Imagination

* Belief in yourself

* Vulnerability

* Working under stress and confusion

* Acceptance of change

* Ability to find comfort in discomfort

* Determination

* Thick skin

If you match the above profile then apply within – literally. Ask yourself what is holding you back and if the answer is something you can work with, take baby steps forward. Leap.

My Road to YogaVille

I still remember my first yoga class about sixteen years ago. It took place at the YMCA in St. John’s, Newfoundland in an old building that housed an old room in which I practiced the sun salutations for the very first time nestled between two of my oldest and dearest friends. I vaguely remember the room; it was painted that beige colour you see in classrooms and old buildings. The paint bubbled in the nooks and crannies throughout the brick it had been brushed over. The front of the room was mirrored and mats were placed closely together. I remember my confusion and I can still feel the insecurity I felt in that moment as I looked around the room assuming everyone else knew what they were doing.

I cannot explain this in terms you will understand because I don’t fully understand it myself, but I’ve always felt a pull toward yoga. Even before I rolled out my borrowed mat on that YMCA floor, I wanted to do yoga. I wanted to fall in love with yoga.

But I didn’t. Not that day anyway, not after that class. Instead of joy and love I walked out of that room feeling annoyed and confused. What was a sun salutation and how many of those did she make us do anyway? I looked over at my friend who is still the only person I have ever met to get stressed out by a yoga class. “Be a leaf?” She said. “What the fuck am I supposed to do when the teacher tells us to be a leaf?” I laughed. We all laughed. The three of us walked away differently: I was curious, one friend was hooked, and the other still gets angry whenever yoga comes up in conversation.

I spent the next sixteen years falling in and out of love with yoga. It took many different studios, gyms, community centres and church basements to find a class that resonated with me. I wanted to love yoga and at times it felt like I was hanging on to something that would never become a part of my life. I’d sign up for an eight week session and by the end struggle to find motivation to attend and then not find my way back for months or even years.

Looking back now I can pinpoint the time in my life when my heart opened up and everything yoga flowed in unobstructed. Things lined up: the studio was close to my home, the teacher was motivating and kind of silly, the physical practice was difficult and inviting, and perhaps most importantly my timing (the beginning of the end of a short marriage) was perfect. I remember spiralling out of control and the only thing that made any sense was this need to get to a yoga class.

So I got myself to a yoga class. A 5:45am yoga bootcamp to be exact. I began going three mornings a week. Then I added an evening class. Then a weekend visit. Before I knew it I was attending at least five classes a week and if I missed one I felt it, in my body and in my mind.

One day, nearly a year later, I was on my way into class when my teacher (one of the studio owners) asked me if I thought of signing up for teacher training. The question literally stopped me in my tracks. I had never considered becoming a yoga teacher and the idea of it at that moment did not appeal to me. “No.” Was my simple answer. He told me to think about it and honestly I didn’t until months later when he brought it up again. The answer was still no, but this time I did think about it when I went home. And I thought about it for weeks and months afterwards as well. I wasn’t in a place in my life where I could make space for the intense training, but the seed had been planted and this teacher’s gentle nudging was fertilizer that helped the idea grow.

I began to ask myself why not? Why not me? Why not become a yoga teacher? The reasons I gave were straight out of BullshitVille: I’m not ready, I’m not strong enough, I’m not good enough, I’m not physically fit enough, I’m not precise enough, I’m not knowledgeable enough.

But then another question worked its way in there: why am I not enough?

That question caused a shift. I pushed my ego out of the way and followed my instinct.

I remember the day I signed up for hatha yoga teacher training. I all but skipped into the studio, smiling so wide the sides of my mouth could touch my ears. I probably looked crazed, but I tell you that is the look you get when you truly listen to yourself. As I walked back out through those doors I left my feelings of doubt and insecurity inside, ready to be swept away – I didn’t need them for where I was going.

As a fairly recent graduate of teacher training, and a new-ish teacher, yoga is even more ingrained in my world today then I’d ever imagined. I do a home practice, I go to classes, I attend workshops, watch videos and read books on the subject (though I’ve yet to rediscover that leaf posture from my very first class). I’ve given up my old profession to explore this one and in doing so continue to follow that feeling that tells me I’m on the right road. In my life yoga has always been a clear answer, I’ve just had to listen harder for the question.

 

Making Space

Do you notice where your time goes? Beyond work, family, errands, and the normal day to day of life, where do you spend those mindless minutes/hours? Take a moment and ask yourself.

I spend a lot of time reading and I love it. Reading is definitely a good habit and when I was challenged to give it up for a week I thought the test was…to be totally honest…bullshit.

Why would I give up reading, of all things? Alcohol, sugar, negative people – yes, I see the benefits of limiting those, but to stop reading for a week seemed ridiculous. Until I did it.

For one week I read nothing (ok ok, besides Facebook status updates and Twitter feed when I was weak). I wasn’t allowed to read my book before bed, I wasn’t allowed to click on tempting links, I wasn’t allowed to open the magazine subscriptions that get sent to my email and I wasn’t allowed to google random interest stories that passed by my ears and eyes. Nothing. Zilch. Nada.

One week. Seven days. I gave up something I love and made space to see what role it filled in my world.

I honestly didn’t think much would come of this exercise and was surprised to see what did. When I took away a habit I began to notice when I reached for it. Like a crutch, I was amazed to see how much I lean on other people’s writing when I’m having difficulty with my own.

Every week I teach yin yoga and I tell my students to face discomfort. “Rest in the pose,” I say, “Breath through it. See if you can find comfort in discomfort.” Little did I realize that I’d come home after class and sit in front of my computer and do the opposite. I’d face afternoons of writer’s block, a very uncomfortable feeling for me, and right away I’d escape it in the words of others. I’d leave no space.

Last week I left space. I faced writer’s block and I had nothing to distract me. I had to sit there. I stared at the wall. I let myself get frustrated and then angry, and then full of doubt. As it turned out, without reading I was forced to face myself.

It is easier to click on a link. Read something. Escape. Watch a cute video of a baby sloth making squeaking noises. It’s easier to do anything but make room for your own emotions to surface.

Without reading for a week I began to notice my own writing and it’s had a major affect on the direction I’ll take from here on in. Instead of ignoring the reasoning behind my writer’s block I faced it head on, asked it questions and left space to hear the answers.

It’s uncomfortable to face something that isn’t going quite as planned, but it also opens up a new road filled with possibilities for all the ways it could work out. Without leaving my crutch alone for that week I would never have learned to walk in a different direction.

 

Busy Week, Simple Joys

This was my busiest week teaching yoga to date – little time to write but so much to say. My mind is filled with a million thoughts, but for now I’ll leave you on this sunny Friday afternoon with three things that totally made my week:

1. IT’S HAPPENING!

Image

Spring IS coming! It is! I swear Ottawa, I saw signs in the melting snow and I’ve finally heard those chirping birds. Soon enough tulips will be lining our beautiful city and hats and mitts will be long forgotten.

2. I WON!

Image

An extra year of love from this guy! I realized I’m the luckiest/worst dog lover around. Parker is only 5 folks! All year long I’ve been telling people he is 6. Then, as his birthday approaches this month, I did the math and realized he’s only turning 6 this April, not 7. Wahoo! A whole extra year of life.

3. I DID IT!

After practice and practice and many many hours of, how do I say this…PRACTICE…I flipped up into forearm stand this week. With a wall of security behind me, this girl has found a new pose. And possibly new obsession. Balance young one, balance. Ha!

So, there you have it. Busy week, simple joys.

Don’t Kick A Gift Horse in the Mouth

Image

 

Sometimes you have to let everything go. The plans. The ideas. The questions. The worries.

Out. Go. Be gone. Get.

Then you throw your head up at the sky/universe/God/Mother Nature/He-Man/Whoeveritisyoubelievehasyourback and say, “Alright, I trust you. I trust this process. I trust. I trust. I trust.”

You repeat this until you believe it. And then somehow it seeps into your bones and you do believe. Because it’s true. The universe has your back.

This week I looked up and said, “OK, you got me right in the middle of my leap year. Here I am and I’m not going anywhere. All I can do is drop the questions and trust you have my back. Trust you’re guiding me in the right direction.” (Yes I talk to the universe and yes that makes me slightly kooky).

Two days later I get two little peaks inside how the universe works to keep us on the right path:

1. An email from a place where I teach telling me that students are requesting that I have a permanent class in the next session.

2. A gift left by a student at another place where I teach – homemade socks (the best kind of cozy and colourful socks) with a note that said, “Thanks for your enthusiasm and for introducing me to yin yoga.”

So I look up and say, “Ahh, I see what it is you’re doing universe. Thank you, you little minx.”

Happy weekend – keep talking to the universe and see what she sends you.

When the Storytelling Has to Stop

Do you ever catch yourself talking to yourself? I do. All the time. I could be baking cookies, in a spin class, flowing through yoga or driving the car. I don’t have to be quiet to hear my voice, sometimes it’s on constant replay and I don’t even really notice until it starts to affect me, my mood, and my entire day. 

There I am, going about my day and keeping my head high while this chatter gets louder and louder: 

“Nadine, you need to work more/harder/longer – you are not giving this enough.”

This sounds familiar…

This is one of those stories that I tell myself whenever I’m working towards something. It could be about a certain yoga pose, a tough spin class or my writing. I tell myself that everyone else around me is working harder – my neighbour on her mat, an old colleague or my favourite author. It doesn’t really matter who, I just always assume ‘they’ put more into it then I do. I wonder if I waste time and give less effort. Then I don’t wonder anymore, I tell myself that it’s the truth. 

Now why do I tell myself this? The irony is that I work extremely hard and I love it. I have drive, ambition, courage and determination. If you tell me I can’t do something I will try to do it twice. I’m not telling you this to prove it to you, I’m writing this to remind myself. 

We forget the good, don’t we? We remember the mistakes we made, the let downs we’ve had, and the failures we’ve experienced. They are permanently inked into our memory like that damn tattoo I got when I was 19. But I cannot get rid of my old stories any more than I can erase that tattoo on my back. I carry them both around with me, but do I have to let them dictate who I am?

My old stories are just that. Old chatter. Complete lies. It’s my ego talking when it’s afraid. It is telling me stories so that I feel guilty and back away. It wants me to think, “You’re right. I don’t work hard enough. I don’t deserve this. I’m just going to stop.”

Why? Because it’s easier not to try. 

Why? Because my ego hates to fail. 

But I know better. The real Nadine knows better. Success doesn’t come without failure. And failure isn’t there to stop us, it’s there to steer us in a different direction. A gift, if we choose to see it differently. 

So that’s me on this Thursday. Trying to see my bullshit stories differently – I can re-write them. Trying to see this tattoo on my back differently – I can re-ink it (sorry mom, it might have to happen!). 

How about we stop telling ourselves these old stories and let some new ones in? How about we let go of the lies and make room for truth?

You’ll know the difference between them both, trust me. Trust yourself.