Tag Archives: personal truth

What does it mean to be ready?

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A lot of my healing over the years stems from the need to accept myself – my whole self. I think everyone has varying degrees of this experience embedded in their lives – wanting to fit in and feel “accepted” by their families, peers, communities – whoever it may be. For me I experienced a heightened sense of this need growing up adopted-Korean in a predominantly white community. Being inherently different on the outside forced me to make peace with the world one part by accepting myself and one part by trying to fit in desperately. Let me tell you only one of these parts worked.

As a teen attending Korean Culture Camp, I went through self-esteem classes each year. Definitely one of my least favorite aspects of camp. Really all I cared about was mandu (Korean dumplings) and plum candy. (I paid for that care later in life – will save for another post). But the self-esteem classes at the time weren’t especially helpful or practical. I just thought of it as fluff – acknowledging that my peers and I were prone to lower self-esteems than everyone else and yet not recognizing that we were not feeling open or receptive enough to share about it or even identify this about our very nature. It was one of those classes you just go to to only wait for it to be over. You maybe even feel worse about yourself, afterwards knowing that you have a bad self-esteem. It’s victimizing. So then what to do with oneself? [Go to the camp store and buy some more potato snacks, right?]

Well years later I can say an important part often missing from those early self-esteem talks was the readiness factor. It is possible that at camp they touched on the idea of self-compassion, but it took me until my post college years to really understand that practicing self-compassion could alter the effects of low self-esteem. Funny how education and learning works…you can only retain and understand the message when you are ready, and messages become clearer to you when it becomes personal.

At the same time, if we all waited until we were completely “ready” we would never move forward. (This is a popular topic among the new parent camp, believe me, I hear it all the time :)). So what does it mean to be ready? And why does it matter?

Of course there is no simple answer. But I find there is this delicate balance with the readiness factor – you cannot push yourself somewhere you are not ready to be (or you can, but you may force yourself into a healing crisis), but you also must push yourself beyond what you believe is possible at times. The key I’ve found for me is not doing too much of one or the other. Do a little of both. Let the busyness inside you settle, and stir up the well-rested parts within you.

I always say in my yoga classes, if you tend to move and breathe slowly, allow yourself to increase the pace of your breath, or viceversa, if you are a person who breathes fast and is moving quickly all the time, let yourself slow down your movements. It’s good to switch things up, it keeps us well and it challenges us to be better people.

In what parts of your life are you putting on the brakes because you are not ready and sincerely need more time? In what ways are you ready to move forward but are stalled because of habit or fear?

Challenge: This week find a way to either slow down or speed up something that needs attention in your life.

Fall & Recover

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“There is a split in the human psyche between each person’s rational and intellectual side and our chaotic and emotional being. The true essence of modern dance is the movement that happens in between these extremes.”

“Dance occurs in the fearful moment between falling and recovering by the arc swept by a body moving between equilibrium and uncontrol.”

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fall and recoverI am not a dancer, but I love this concept. Mainly, I want to live this concept.

People always talk about balance as being so important to our well-being. I used to be one of those people. However, the more I think about it, the more I realize that it’s not simply about balance and stability. It is about a rhythmic balance. It’s not one or the other, it’s somewhere in between. Its not about smooth sailing. It’s about rising after falling.

Life doesn’t work in a way that’s completely balanced. There isn’t one good day for every bad day. Being a good person doesn’t stop bad things from happening to you. That’s just not how it is. In life there are ups and downs, and what’s important is to make some sort of rhythm out of the highs and lows. We must find the space between equilibrium and uncontrol that allows us to live our lives on the edge. We must trust the rhythm of falling and recovering.  We must not be afraid of falling, and we must know how it is that we recover.

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Yesterday, I mumbled and stuttered through my 75 minute yoga sequence – the sequence I am to teach to graduate from my teacher training. It was supposed to be a rough draft, and it was certainly rough. After I taught it I almost wanted to crawl back in bed and quit my training all together. Isn’t teaching supposed to be easier? I thought. No, it’s not. After talking with my husband I realized that I need to put more effort into my teaching if I really want to become a great teacher.

In order to fall, we must put ourselves out there, but we must be real with our efforts. Over the past few years, with my holistic lens and many interests I have always had one foot out the door throughout many of my experiences. For example, when I was working a nice gig in a “green” job, I found myself signing up for a couple weekend programs related to wellness. I even started volunteering as a doula at a hospital. I wasn’t totally invested in my day job, and because of my multiple efforts I could not engage fully in the world. Living that way certainly got me to fall but not the kind of way I am talking about in this post. Now I am aiming for the kind of fall that happens when you put yourself out there and you put all you have into it. Whatever the it may be.

Today I taught a 30 minute yoga sequence to some teens and it was amazing. Just one day after questioning my choice to be a yoga teacher, I had a reality check. While at first I was attached to my bad teaching experience and then became attached to my awesome experience, I realize now, that I cannot be attached to either outcome.

Now I see that both of these outcomes are part of life, part of the rhythmic balance – the dance. And I know that the more I put myself out into the world, the more I will fall. And as long as I fall with integrity and full engagement, I know it will become easier to recover and grow stronger with each new experience.

Be the change

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Most of us have heard the quote “be the change you wish to see in the world.” We get it, right? Or do we?

Have you actually stopped your busy life and really thought about what it means? I don’t think I really got- got it until today, when I heard a story. Because the story moved me, I wanted to share it with you. Maybe some of you have already heard it. Either way it’s definitely a nice, short, and “sweet” tale to keep handy.
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A mother from India was very worried about her overweight son’s addiction to sweets. No matter what she did, she could not keep him away from sugary treats. Running out of ideas and absolutely desperate, she decided to bring her son to the well-respected, Mahatma Gandhi. Because Gandhi was so well-known and wise, she thought if only she could get Gandhi to tell her son to stop eating sweets, maybe then, her son would listen.

So mother and son made the trip and waited in line and waited some more. When it was their turn, the mother explained her son’s story to Gandhi. She then asked him to please tell her son to stop eating sweets as they were harming his health. She knew that her son would stop if Gandhi said so. Gandhi listened to her request and thanked the woman and son for coming. He then said, “Please come back in a week.”

The mother didn’t understand but left with her son. She was at least pleased that Gandhi agreed to see them again. After a week passed, she and her son made the trip again. They waited in line. The second time, not so patiently.

Once they could see Gandhi, the mother’s worries went away and hope filled her heart. As they approached him, he remembered them right away and thanked them for coming back. He then said firmly to the little boy, “Son, you must cease eating sweets.” The boy nodded, and the mother had a confused look on her face.

She asked, “Why, sir, did you ask us to come back a week later? Why couldn’t you tell him that last week?” 

Gandhi replied, “Because dear miss, I did not know if I, myself, could accomplish what you asked me to ask your son. I needed a week to try it myself before I could say anything. For if I could not do the task myself, how could I ask him to do it? We must be the change we wish to see in the world.”

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This story is a great reminder for all of us in our work and in our lives, especially those of us who are in positions related to well-being. Discipline and knowledge can be communicated most effectively through messengers who practice what they pass along. We all know this. We see it in our everyday lives. Most of us can spot the teacher who is the fake, and we all feel beauty and grace in the presence of someone who is doing the work.

As I begin my wellness coach training and will soon be coaching people for a living* (I already have 21 people signed up for the month of March!), there is no better time than now to recommit myself to being the change I wish to see in the world. Lately, my own readiness to follow the principles I believe in is apparent, and I am doing it. While discomfort sometimes arises with that reality, I have made the choice to not step down, and I am starting to feel the health benefits that occur from not turning away from the hard stuff.

The most effective way we can help others around us is truly to model the behavior we wish to see. Thank you Mahatma Gandhi for this lesson. I am deeply humbled and nervous and excited all at the same time to embark on such a journey in my own life.

To those reading, I hope that you, too, can create moments in your life where you feel like you can embody your vision of well-being and make your life principles into a reality.

Or if anything else, next time you want to ask someone to do something, take a minute to stop and think if you, yourself, are able to do it.

*First, wellness coaching has little to do with telling people what to do. Second, I do not necessarily believe that Mahatma telling the boy to stop eating sweets would do the boy any good, in reality. However, I do greatly appreciate the wisdom that Gandhi highlights with the importance of “practicing what you preach.”