Category Archives: work-life balance

Taking Care of Yourself

Sunday morning I woke up with a sore throat. I had the little headache, the little cough, and the sneezes. My body was coming down with something. So I skipped biking to yoga class, which sounded like too much for my sinuses and my chills. I drank throat soothers tea with tons of honey and I sat on the couch all day.  I thought I was taking care of myself.

What was actually happening was what looked like taking care of myself. I did the things that came to mind if I was just going to skim the top of the list. I didn’t bother really questioning my body for what it needed. I did what I wanted to do. No, let me rephrase that. I did what I thought I deserved.

Yes, folks, here it is. So much of taking care of ourselves is the allotted amount, not the necessary amount. It is like buying organic. I’ll buy organic food as often as I can, but every once in a while I end up with something a tiny bit horrible in my cart because the organic costs $2 more, not just $1 more. Why am I drawing lines in some places and not others?

Right now I’m getting lots of bodywork for back pain, I get weekly or biweekly acupuncture and I’m on a slew of expensive vitamins to recover from grad school. Most people would say that is really taking care of myself. Today, with this fourth day of a sore throat, I’m less certain.

All of that would be enough if I hadn’t put myself through the ringer for the last three years. Truth has it grad school + commuting + planning a wedding = longer than two months of recovery.

Today this really dirty word came into my mind. Pampering. I was in the shower exfoliating months of dead skin off my body and hardened feet and feeling fabulous. That is when it happened, the thought slipped through my mind—you just needed a little pampering today.

It almost ruined my whole shower. For three years I occasionally showered, I occasionally washed my hair and the closest thing to pampering was cutting my fingernails, which is technically an obligation for someone who pushes on people’s abdomens for a living.  I did not pamper myself and I certainly didn’t allow my mind to dream up ways that would make my body feel less chaotic, more appreciated.

That’s what I’m getting at today. Appreciation. This word feels less dirty and a little more aggressive.

Are you appreciating yourself?  Really it is a challenge.

Think of the way we take care of plants. We water them when they start to droop. Think of the way we take care of our cars, we wait until a light comes on. What if we didn’t take care of our bodies, we instead appreciated our bodies every day.

What if we asked our bodies every morning what they wanted from the day and listened? How would that change our little worlds?

When asked, my sore throat wants to neti, it wants to rinse with salt water, it wants to stay better hydrated and eat salty foods. It wants a nap sometime this afternoon and a little fresh mint in my water. I haven’t tried any of those things all week because I didn’t ask. Now I’ve got a treatment plan.

Balance: Juggling Business, Life, and Sanity

Everyone knows the perks of owning your own business, but the downsides are less obvious. I love Window of Heaven Acupuncture & Yoga. It is the most exciting and wonderful job I could possibly imagine, but I think I need to remember it is a job from time to time.

When I am passionate about something my work ethic goes slightly haywire. The month of October has been a crash course in how much my mind can sustain.

Grad school is nothing compared to the hours I’ve been putting in behind my computer writing blog posts, planning marketing schemes, seeing patients, scheduling appointments and keeping up correspondence with long lost friends who have swept back into my life through the start of this business. Whew. It’s been great and it’s been full.

It isn’t sustainable, even if it is tons of fun. Bosses don’t require employees to show up for work before they shower or brush their teeth. I should be drawing the boundaries within the business in a more precise fashion.

I decided to make and publish new employment rules for Window of Heaven employees. Right now they only pertain to me, but I will respect them more if I contemplate having future employees.

  1. No work before 8am or after 9pm (small steps)
  2. Show up clean, fed and dressed to the office every morning
  3. Weekend work is capped at 5 hours per weekend
  4. Employees are required to attend one yoga class per week in addition to personal practice for inspiration purposes
  5. Lunch is to be eaten before 12:00pm every day
  6. Employees must drink 6+ glasses of water every day during work
  7. Vacations and days off are fully unplugged (no email, no facebook, no phone)

I am the owner of Window of Heaven Acupuncture & Yoga, but I’m also a yogini, teacher, fiction writer, poet, avid reader, wife, sister, daughter, friend, dancer, bread baker, church member, walker, biker, movie watcher, gardener, cleaner, organizer and napper.

Running a heart-centered business requires that I am in balance in my life. Balance, like chaos, is contagious. Which would I prefer my patients catch? The answer is obvious.

This post will go live, I hope at least, on Friday morning at 9am.  When it goes live I plan to be sitting having my hair done in a fancy salon in preparation for my sister’s wedding. Most of this week I won’t be working or thinking about work. I’ll be playing the role of sister (and Matron of Honor) full time. See you again Monday the 29th.

Sick Day(s)

One of my husband’s greatest strengths is how well he gets sick. When he gets sick his body goes to war.  I can almost hear his immune system rising up and fighting from within him. He gets high fevers easily and sweats profusely like the body is not just pushing, but propelling out the germs. He stays home from school and doesn’t leave the bed, sleeping in four to six hour stretches during the day. He lets his mind shut down and his body takes over. It is a sight to be seen.

I, on the other hand, am not very good at being sick. For the last two days I have been home sick contemplating the immune system and how to rest deeply to make the body heal faster. After two days of being in the house and watching an absurd amount of television I have nothing to report, no brilliant lessons learned. Rest is hard.

Last Friday I taught an entire yoga class on the concept of yield. We did some partner work sitting back to back with another yoga student in the class and practicing yielding against each other. Yield by definition is relational. It is not a giving over completely, but a resting against to feel what comes back to meet you. In order to yield to a partner’s back you have to be able to support their yield and give equal yield back. The meeting halfway creates a safe place to rest. That is yield. It is fundamental piece of embodyoga,TM the style yoga that I practice and teach. If we first find the earth and can yield to it, we can begin to push away and find the support of the earth in more challenging postures.

Canceling class and staying in bed all day is not necessarily yielding. The last two days have included more grumbling and fighting of the cold and not much yielding.

So what would yielding look like? What would it feel like? Yielding would be canceling my afternoon appointments right now instead of waiting a few more hours to fail again. I’m not going to be strong enough to treat patients in a few hours. I know that now.  Yielding would be using a gentle soothing voice in my head when I talk to myself and say it is okay to be sick. This morning on this third morning of sinus pain and body aches I need to hear that I’m going to continue to take very good care of myself and will continue to as long as it takes. If I have to be out sick all week, that is okay. My students and patients will understand.

I love how difficult it is to tell if pictures of the sun low in the sky are sunset or sunrise pictures. This is a sunset picture. I’m using it to tell my body that today I am still sick. We took this picture through a dusty, scratched old window and I love the graininess of the view. That is how I feel with my sinuses fully clogged and this lightheadedness that threatens to tip me over every time I stand up. I am not emerging from this illness today. If I take very good care of myself I may or may not feel better tomorrow. I’m not going to be attached to any outcome. Today the sun is setting, the sickness is still in deep. I can be okay with that.

To the rest of you home sick—may you recover quickly and peacefully and remember for the body to falter it must be warring against something very powerful. Have faith in the strength of the body to overcome, it will.

My History of Beginnings

Starting this new business is a definite beginning, but unexpectedly it is also a spiraling back to the numerous places in my life that helped bring me to this point. This whirling of names and faces from the past coming out to show support reaffirms I am on the right course and that somehow all along they saw this coming.

I started practicing yoga in my bedroom when I was a freshman in high school. Every night after my parents went to sleep I would pull out my copy of The Sivananda Companion to Yoga. This creased and flattened book introduced me to pranayama, meditation, postures and a healthy diet. When I started practicing I didn’t know anyone else who did yoga. Literally no one. My mother and aunt had taken one class together in the 70s, but that was it. This was before google and certainly before the idea of finding a yoga studio in the yellow pages was feasible.

I was alone in this new exciting world. Everyone in my life knew the word “yoga” the way they knew the word “tofu” but had never tried either. I still remember the first time I saw a “Namaste” bumper sticker. My father and I were in Santa Fe and we took a picture of it we were so excited.

In college the yoga morphed into dance and from there into the desire for anatomy training. When I graduated from college I just decided to pick a town, move there and figure life out. Because the universe provides in its mysterious ways I stumbled into my first job and found my first two mentors. These two amazing co-workers taught me everything I know about employment, job searches and how to build a career.

I was your typical post-private school elitist who thought I could just roll out a resume and everyone would come knocking at my door. But you don’t make or even start a career by looking through the want ads. My two brilliant co-workers taught me the first step to getting a job is knowing what it is you want and what it is you have to offer. Then they taught me not to compartmentalize my life. Instead of thinking of writing as my only career option and having a mile long list of interests and passions, I could design a career path. I could imagine a career that incorporated writing, yoga, health, nutrition, business, organizing things, planning, birthwork, sexualities, researching, helping others and dance all at the same time. In fact if I could figure out an angle and had the guts to try, I could actually make a living from the delightful mix of all of my interests.

Now years later, though not many, I’ve got my angle. For five years the IRS has received taxes from the occupation: yoga teacher. This year I could add the occupations: acupuncturist, herbalist, doula, writer and business owner to the list, but I won’t in order to avoid confusing them.

My point is your path is there for the finding. You must first know deeply what it is you want. You have to find that which causes the utmost passion. That which makes you desperate to know more. Then you brainstorm and push and pull. You ask questions, you get hung up and you get confused. Yet all the while you have to trust that your desires are worth exploring. Let me say that again, your desires are worth exploring.

As my insightful father-in-law said to me the other day “You’re going to have a rich time building this practice, whether you get rich or not.” This has already proven itself tenfold. The opening of this business has reminded me of the richness of my community. Thank you to my marvelous network of loved ones, friends, mentors, inspirations, students, teachers, clients and patients. This beginning is the most spectacular homecoming of my life.

Life Changes

We all go through them. They spring up just at the moment we thought we were getting comfortable. And then boom, life goes haywire. I’m in a life change right now. Starting my own business, or a different aspect of the business and simply finishing school is a major life change. Like all things that I do, this change is rather scattered, chaotic and ungraceful. Things will eventually smooth out. I know this and I’m doing my best to open my self to the universe and just trust.

One of the key components to my yoga teaching is the lesson of allowance. I teach it because it baffles me. The more I teach it, the more I can almost see it and the more I know I need it in my life. The way I teach it to beginners is simply by asking them to witness their breath. Everyone can do that. Everyone can watch his or herself breathe (insert feel if the word watch scares you too much). But the practice, as every advanced yoga practitioner knows, is to watch the breath and not change it. Just witness it with all of its gloriously perfect imperfection and let it stay as it is. Some people don’t breath, they gasp every now and then. Others pant little shallow breaths. Other people are shallow breathers who every once in a while give a huge sigh to release the breathing diaphragm.  Whatever our pattern is, we obviously do it all day long—making it a rather sustainable practice. We are not going to keel over momentarily for breathing so poorly, but as soon as we witness the breath we want it to change. We want it to be better.

Right now I am witnessing the life change. I am seeing that I have successfully graduated from school and I am honoring that in all its significance. But I also want to hit the ground running with my new business. So I am alternating between periods of deep rest and insane activity. Which looks more like not sleeping at night and needing to take long naps to catch up. Not very effective.

So here is my goal for myself and the one I challenge you to on this rainy day when the seasons are adjusting slightly, but steadily. What is the change coming? Name it. Spell it out. Right it down. Read it to yourself. Then sit for as long as you can—60 seconds, 5 minutes, whatever you can spare and just watch your body respond. Allow your body to just be present with it. Racing heart, rapid breathing, extreme fatigue, sheer panic, excitement, smiling, release of the jaw, tension in the neck. There is no negative, there is no positive. There is just response. Stay present, stay interested and then get up and go face the change head on.