new year reflections

What's better than a new year intention?

new york city

Happy January!

How is your year going so far (non-rhetorical question)?

Usually I do a word or motto of the year. This year I'm thinking about intentions that are more seasonal. Something that feels right at the beginning of the year when it's cold and dark might not be where I am at the peak of summer or the dryness of autumn.

When I think seasonally, I can work with where I want to focus in the short-term and how that is supported by the energy of the season.

For example, even though I have big dreams for this year, the next couple of months are about getting some structure and routine in place, as well as staying quieter and restful for the big work ahead.

I can imagine, as the days lengthen, that that will shift into more action, more outward expression. But I'm not there yet.

If you like thinking seasonally, here are a few questions to consider:

Where do I want to focus my energy for the next 2-3 months?

What does my body, mind, spirit need right now (knowing you don't have to stay with that answer all year)?

Is there a short-term goal that wants my attention this season?

If there is a long-term goal this year, what are three things I can do to prepare or move toward it in the next few months?

How do I relate to this season? Do I have a story about this time of year that is positive (or not)? How that might affect me/my dreams?

You can revisit these questions as you feel the seasons (of nature or inside you) shift.

As you know, our work as humans is generally slower and more circular than we prefer. Stay gentle with yourself.

Wishing you health and love,
Michelle


Just back from New York City (photo above). We watched the ball drop (on TV!) and saw the now-famous Mandarin duck (see below).

memories

Like many people, at the end of every year I do a general review of how things have gone the past 12 months and some dreaming and scheming for the coming seasons.

This has been especially helpful in business -- assessing what programs and events were well received, which did not go over so hot and what new things I want to create.

As I did my review of 2017, selling the studio was a major focus under the headings of triumphs and changes and biggest gifts. 

It also made me feel a little nostalgic and the memories have overflowed, especially memories of the early days.

 

My stepdaughter was 8 when It's All Yoga opened. She's 21 now. Our whole family was "in the business"... carting, washing and folding endless towels; checking in every class on the paper cards we used for class passes; cleaning, promoting and caring for the studio daily.

I taught 12 classes a week, both at the studio and on-site at a local law office. All while working a full-time job as a business consultant. After two years, I made the scary leap to full-time business owner. At the time, it was a huge risk for our family and opened us to a wonderful simplicity of time and resources. It also forced me to develop (a small amount of) business savvy, expand my creativity and eventually grow into a larger space.

At our first location on 11th Avenue, we had a quirky neighborhood coffee shop next door. Espresso Metro was the perfect pre- or post-yoga hang out. Which was great, except for the dogs tied outside our windows who would start barking or the people who would congregate for long (and loud) goodbyes. I thought it was my job to protect the perfect container of peace in which the students could practice. I have since learned that the "noise" is a part of the practice, not in opposition to it.

michelle marlahan at it's all yoga

Our 2nd birthday was quite a party. Southside Art School had an art show and their band performed. There was, of course, cake. And somehow, the evening culminated with fire dancers. Cervantes Park across the street held all of our birthday parties, as well as a community arts fair, poetry classes, innumerable Yoga in the Park and 4 R Friends benefit classes, many with coordinating bake sales. It was always fun when the sprinklers would come on in the middle of a down dog.

southside art show
fire dancers
yoga in the park

Our second location came at the last moment possible. I had already declined renewing the lease on 11th but had not found a new place. A friend had been shopping at the antique store at 21st and X and got to talking with the owner, Steve, about the "annex," which is now the studio space. He was trying to pare down inventory and wanted to sublet. It had concrete floors, florescent lighting and the most disgusting bathroom you've ever been in. We renovated in less than 20 days.

before remodel
a big pile
before remodel
outside painting
it's all yoga

So many memories....

In those 12 years, It's All Yoga held people through personal transformations, diagnoses, births and deaths, marriages and divorces, job changes and moves. It's been more central to people lives, friendships, health and sense of "place" than I could have every imagined. What a blessing to have been a part of it.

 

new year motto

Like many of you, I like to choose a word of the year. Something to use as a filter for decisions, a guiding idea, a reminder. I choose a word that brings a felt-sense of something I want more of in my life.

2018 seems to be a multi-word year, warranting the power of a full-on phrase.

I'm a big fan of mantras or mottos -- often attention grabbing and outcome-oriented, they can get right to the heart of the thing.

I've been sharing some of these in class, and like a catchphrase, folks have reported finding them helpful. In that spirit, I thought I'd share a few I'm considering this year.

 

You already have an A
This comes from the book The Art of Possibility (highly recommend). 

The book outlines 12 practices for reshaping one's world. Giving an A is the first practice and is the one that stuck with me most persistently.

This could loosely be thought of as giving the benefit of the doubt or seeing someone else's perspective. But it's bigger than those things, too.

It's acknowledging that our story, our version, isn't the only one or even the right one. It invites us to get out of our own small world and consider that there's more to the picture.

And even if we can't do that, we can leave room for the possibility that the other person is coming from integrity and the best of intentions.

It's important to give yourself an A as well: I did the best I could with what I had.

 

What you think of me is none of my business
This is a phrase that I learned many years ago from a southern female preacher on a cassette tape recording of her sermon. I still hear it in the Southern drawl of a strong woman.

As I remember it, the sermon was about living in alignment with one's higher beliefs and letting go of the preoccupation with mortal distraction and need for approval. When one is right with God (or her Self), she needn't be concerned with what others think.

Passionately, the preacher repeated over and over, "I take dominion." The recording was full of gospel music and Amens. I wore that tape out.

 

I am increasing my tolerance for _____________ (my two go-to's are "other people's disappointment" and "discomfort")
The original phrase, "I am increasing my tolerance for other people's disappointment" came from a therapist who was helping me not be such a good girl. I mean, being good is fine, but not at the cost of your own life.

It was a phrase I would repeat to myself in situations that involved family or marriage or step-parenting or business. So pretty much all the time.

And it was incredibly helpful to hear, and later experience, that I can disappoint someone and we will all live through it. Chances are it won't even matter next week.

Reconditioning my tolerance was so helpful I started using it with other things -- to increase my tolerance for discomfort or uncertainty. In some situations, it might make sense to swap "tolerance" for something like "capacity." Try it!

 

Who am I absent other people's feedback?
A lot of my writing and personal work this past year has been devoted to strengthening my Sense of Self. Here again I've been challenging and questioning old patterns and beliefs, especially those related to other people's opinions.  

Similar to What you think of me..., this one has reaches in to social media, looking for signs and nudges that come from within, developing my trust in myself and it calls on continued Yoga practice to slough and shed all the guck that can get stuck or in the way.

 

If you don't take extraordinary care of yourself, who will?
A friend from New York sent this question when I was in Nepal, struggling with health issues and wanting to go home. It felt like this great mix of empowerment, kindness and responsibility. So I brought it home.

 

Reading over these, most seem to be a similar version of the same thing. Clearly there's a pattern in what I'm working on this year! 

How about you? What are you working on? What word describes the feeling or value you'd like more of in your life? What phrase sums up your approach? Share in the comments below or feel free to email anytime -- love to keep the conversation going.

Wishing you wellness of body, mind and heart as we move into the seasons ahead.

Michelle