What keeps me going?

by on September 28, 2014

A student of mine once asked me if we could find time to sit as friends and chat about what keeps me going.  Me.  Wow, really?  He said I am always smiling and wants to know my secret…

Well, I wasn’t always like this: seen as the positive person – someone who is always happy and smiling.

I grew up in a small town with parents who loved me (and my siblings) like crazy, but who argued with each-other all the time about various things.  I was always stressed out, insecure and borderline depressed.  I had an older sibling who was always having a tough time with mental health – and therefore with school, family, substance abuse, authority figures, the law – my entire life.  I had a younger sibling who relied on me for transportation, advice, covering when she was with friends, comfort when the arguing began, etc.  Being a middle child is a huge privilege and sometimes a curse.  Today, though, I see it only as the former.

When I moved out to go to college, I was too excited about all of the freedom.  When I graduated from college, I still hadn’t found my calling and was left with extensive student loans.  After years of making too little and owing too much, life just seemed like it was supposed to be stressful.  All of the time.  Now don’t get me wrong, I’m thankful for all of the above as it has all made me who I am today and has presented me with so many different opportunities of many different kinds.  It has allowed me to cross paths with a variety of people, cultivate meaningful relationships, and hone some very important skills.  But, as a general rule, I was always stressed out.  Always worried about one thing or another.

My yoga practice changed all of that very dramatically.  It allowed me to feel better physically and emotionally.  It allowed me to put things in perspective; to look for (and find) the positive in all (ok, most) situations.  It showed me that life doesn’t have to be stressful.  It taught me that my life is a huge gift and I have so much more power to design my future than I had realized, but also that I don’t have to fight so hard for things that weren’t meant to be in my life.  As I continued to cultivate my yoga practice on (and inevitably off) my mat, I continued to shift my perspective of life, people, relationships, family…I continue to practice gratitude and letting go.  On the days when I’m not feeling my best, I always try to remember just how amazing my life is and how much more I have than many people.  I try to remember that behind every face I see, there is a whole story that I know nothing about.  In a world that is so stressful for so many people, I can make a huge difference just by offering a smile, or by leading a yoga class.  I can turn someone’s day around by showing up with a positive attitude, teaching something that has changed my life, and by offering a light touch.  What an incredible honor.  And that’s what keeps me going.

EmilySeatedNamaste

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