How I’ve Grown in 2014

Reflecting on the past year and how my movement practice has grown, I realize that my outlook and life practice has grown in many of the same ways. I don’t know which practice is the influence of the other – chicken and egg sort of thing – but I’m sure it’s a mixture of both. As I grow as a person my movement practice is affected and as my movement practice grows this extends into my personal life as well.

It is hard to see growth – it happens so gradually. I have to really look back in time and see what is different. But I am stronger, more flexible, and more adaptable than I was at the beginning of the year. Even though I want MORE of these qualities than I have now, it is important to stop and realize how far I’ve come – to appreciate and celebrate that. Here are some of the ways my practice has grown:

Knowing when to say no

In the beginning of my yoga practice, I thought that even if I couldn’t perfect a pose it was important that I at least give it a try. I knew to extend myself gradually and to breathe into the movement, but I still tried to do more than my body wanted to a lot of the time. I had a few muscle pulls. I’m trying now to respect what my body wants to do even if that means resting in child’s pose. I realize that this is not a decision of weakness and that rest is beneficial.

At the same time, I’m making an effort to not overextend myself in my personal life as well. I’m an overachiever by nature and happiest when I’m busy and needed, so this is very difficult for me. I have 3 kids and work full-time and still try to make time for my yoga practice, my volunteer work with families and an autism non-profit organization (TACA), and being part of a special needs ministry for my church while still finding time to spend with my family and friends and managing our own autism therapy/supplement/medical schedule. When someone asks me to do something I try to find a way to do it because I don’t want to let anyone down. This is especially true if the activity will directly benefit special needs families. So, my schedule is pretty packed. But, there were times this year when I didn’t really feel I could take on anymore. So, when my son’s school asked me to organize and oversee their annual 5k, I declined. In the past I probably would have said okay and then completely stressed over putting everything together. When I was asked to join yet another committee for work, I declined as well. I’m still trying to juggle everything that I DO have on my plate, and it’s harder to say no to my mother-in-law’s constant needs (more like, she doesn’t accept the “no”), but I’m getting there…

Happy in imperfection

It is so easy in life to say that we will celebrate when everything is perfect – we will take that vacation when we have enough money; we will buy that new dress when we look perfect, we will relax when we get everything done. But there is always something that still hasn’t to get done, something we are still trying to change about ourselves, and there is never enough money….

I’ve always been “running to stand still” and it hasn’t worked. I’m so focused on trying to heal my son, or get the house totally clean, or get all my work projects done that I often forget to stop and enjoy life. Nothing is ever going to be perfect, so I’m trying to learn to celebrate now, and be happy in the midst of the chaos and imperfection.

Yoga has helped with this, especially considering contrasting poses – when one part of the body is totally relaxed while another is stretched and twisted. It is a challenge to find peace in these poses, but they teach us that it is possible and important to find peace in our lives whatever our circumstances.

Enjoying small victories

I find that I am better able to be in the moment and appreciate the moment. Little things matter – realizing that I can stretch much farther than I was able to a month ago or that I can hold a pose much longer than I could at the start of my practice. It makes me feel better to stop and think about this instead of thinking about how far I have to go.

I’m trying to do this in my life too – to stop and appreciate that I’ve completed a big project at work (or a load of laundry!) and celebrate before moving onto the next thing on the list. This is especially important with my son who has autism. I could look back over the past year and think about how he still can’t speak and he still has autism and how far we have to go and how hard this journey is. But I can also look at him and remember that this time last year he wasn’t potty-trained, he couldn’t sit still in a restaurant, and he was having trouble taking his medicine. He’s made incredible progress and if I can remember that and appreciate it and celebrate it, all the progress to come will mean so much more.

I still have trouble clearing my head. I feel like my to-do list is miles long. What I have to do at work tomorrow or pick up on the way home or what the kids need for school always pops into my mind and then it is so hard to let go. But, that’s a part of growth and my journey. I realize that my practice is never “finished” – there is always room for growth and improvement. Bring on 2015!

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