I always hear about these challenges and let's face it, I've done several; 7-Day Detox/Cleanse "Challenge," 14-Day No Sugar "Challenge," 21-Day Affirmation "Challenge". And what I have found with these "Challenges" was that in the end, yes, I felt better but I also eventually slipped back into old habits. I get the feeling that some of you reading this are nodding your heads reflecting back at your many "Challenges" as well. In July of this year, I hit a big roadblock in my life and I decided, "Well shhhhh*********t, I need to get back to focusing on self-care." Anytime I have had a struggle and took time for self-care I have felt insurmountably better:
We talked about "Challenges", and I know several people are thinking "30 Day Hot Yoga Challenge." Hahaha...No. Surprisingly, my 30 days, let alone 60 days did not start out as a challenge at all. It was about economics plain and simple. If I went to hot yoga daily, then this unlimited package was only costing me $4.60 per day (that being if I only went once a day, which so far has been what's happened. Give me time though, I might do two). So, for me to justify spending $140 on a month-long package, I needed it to make sense of it in my head. $4.60 per day for a month is less than a one hour massage at most places or three visits to a chiropractor. However, more often than not, most people don't feel all warm and refreshed after a chiropractic visit (Although, I will share a story later of one such guy who rocked...but I digress). All of this to say, if I went every day, it would be worth it. So that is exactly what I did. I went and believe me the first few weeks were not a cake walk. In fact, the last 60 days has not been a piece of cake but I have been doing it and I will tell you, something amazing has happened.
Throughout these last 60 days, I transformed, both body and mind. No, I don't look like a super model but do I feel freakin fantastic and think I look pretty da*n amazing? YES! Of course, I did what many people do in the beginning, I went beyond my limits. Trying to prove something to myself that in the end proved that I could pull a leg and thigh muscle in one session. Note to all: Go slow and easy! This is not a tough man contest, and I was not racing to some unforeseen finish line. There are 26 postures in Bikram, and you do all of them twice...except the very last one. So go at your own pace and don't go beyond your limits.
When did I know this daily yoga practice became more than just a financial equation and more than proving something to myself or others? It was the day I showed up and class was cancelled. That moment is when I knew that I needed this. Studio or no studio, I needed this daily mantra to continue. And so, I went home and did all 26 moves holding each position for one minute at a time. I needed this because it was more than going through the motion of the positions. During this 90-minute physical meditation, I was problem solving my life.
Heading into each session, I found myself hit with these dilemmas:
What this process has all boiled down to for me is dedication, lots of faith, and an unshakeable belief in myself when there are question marks all around me. So here is my question for you, what is that one activity that makes you feel alive and connected? Whether it is catching a wave, going on a bike ride, a hike, kayaking, going for a swim, playing ball, or the multitude of other activities there are to do in the world which disconnects you from all of the noise but reconnects you to your body? Do that for yourself. No one else will.
"Creativity [...] is entirely and unapologetically based upon magical thinking. And when I refer to magic here, I mean it literally [...] I am referring to the supernatural, mystical, the inexplicable, the surreal, the divine, the transcendent, the otherworldly. Because the truth is, I believe that creativity is a force of enchantment — not entirely human in its origins."
-Elizabeth Gilbert, Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear
Serving My Happiness
For a long time now, I have shared my story with close friends, loved ones and yes, even therapists. When they hear my story a similar comment has come up, "You should write a blog!" The reality is that I have collaborated on blogs, I have written about other women and their lives, I have covered topics focused on advocacy and online communications but when asked to write about myself, I felt stunted. LinkedIn even shows I have high 85 people who have endorsed my blogging skills. The idea of a personal blog was...well...so personal and, as I am sure many people feel, it is exposing. However, there are parts of my life which appear very relevant for others, could possibly help them and so, I decided to buckle down and write this blog. I will say that if you read the beginning and stop, you may find me shallow, uncaring, heartless even, but if you read what I have to share in its entirety, a completely different picture may arise in your mind.
So, here is the reality, I am going to say what you aren't supposed to say. It goes against several theories and beliefs on how to serve the world best, but I am going to share it anyway. Forget your friends, loved ones and humanity, if you are not serving yourself to your highest power, you are doing a disservice to the world, and you will not be as effective at your craft if you do not explore WHO YOU ARE. Who you are is relative to many things and can be psycho-analyzed in many different ways.
For years, I have associated my mindset with that of an advocate. I wanted to serve my community in several different capacities. I have served through running a non-profit, owning women empowerment businesses, doing online communications for local and statewide political campaigns, and sitting on steering committees focused on advocating for youth of color and youth impacted by poverty. I hosted an Undoing Institutional Racism workshop for the city of Tacoma and aided with a national Race and Pedagogy conference. It was a few years ago that a thought began to percolate in my mind, 'What if I am not serving my community and those I love to the best of my ability? Am I staying in negative situations because I believe I am serving a greater good? Is that even healthy?!' The thought which I am sure many millennials before me have had, and most likely other generations before me will detest was, "What about MY happiness?! What about ME?!" Then an idea popped into my head.
Serving My Happiness is a thought that came to fruition at a very low point in my life. I was drained, tired, had given my all and lost, failed, and now it was time to pick myself up again. However, this time I wanted life to be different. I didn't want to fall down the same rabbit hole. I wanted to rise and serve my highest purpose. What I have found is that by honoring that feeling and following my gut instincts, I am now serving my happiness -- something few people do for themselves in a lifetime. I realized that the more I served my best interests, the more I was available to purposefully help others.
A Blog Focused on Happiness and Healing
Tasha Ina Church