I’ve been thinking a lot about labels, definitions, the comfort of duality that many of us live in. Perhaps this is prompted by my yoga teacher training. The more I learn about the philosophy of yoga, the idea of balance and wholeness, of the lack of separation between you and I, us and them, the more comfortable I’m becoming with accepting all of my parts, as conflicting as they may seem.
This is fitting for my 41st birthday. A time of year when I naturally want to reflect on the ideas of ‘who am I’ and ‘what am I doing’ and ‘what should I be doing’? Oh, those tricky shoulds.
It was a tough year for me; one of change and upheaval, as I started to view my world differently and sought out ways to live more authentically in it. That meant ending a long-term relationship and redefining my home life, suddenly a quiet, sometimes lonely space.
And I spent that quiet time soaking in the silence and getting to know myself again as an individual outside of the relationship label I’d worn and discarded. I meditated. I journaled. I cried — a lot, which was a new thing for me. For most of my life I wore my inability to tear up in the most emotional of settings as a badge of honour, and only now see this as a possible contributor to migraines and sleepless nights.
I went on my first solo vacation (aside from business trips) to Paris. Yes, I went to Paris alone, fresh out of a seven-year relationship. It was magical…and I cried, a lot. I found the beauty of that city to be breathtaking and quite overwhelming. The autumn light was perfect for moody, golden-hued photos that I kept all to myself, staying off social media while I was there. My tiny little AirBnB was free from hotel housekeepers wanting to change the sheets when all I wanted to do was lie in bed and cry and eat my chocolate eclair. The thing is that I saw how tears come and go and I’m still there, surviving and suddenly ready to head out to a cafe for an espresso. There’s value in watching and just allowing your state to change.
In March, I committed to yoga teacher training, something I’d thought about for years but never had the courage to undertake. I always feared that it was a passing fancy that would see me drop out before finishing, wasting money and energy for something that I couldn’t envision a sure outcome from. (Read acceptable, secure job.) But something felt different this time, and I jumped in with both feet, ready to absorb and expecting little in return. Let’s just use this as another way to get to know yourself, I thought.
With only three weekends left of official training, I’m astounded that I made it here. It passed so quickly, something I couldn’t have envisioned in my 20s or 30s or even on those first weekends when I longed for the freedom of an empty day stretching out in front of me rather than hours of downward dog.
It’s been transformative. I wobble in tree pose one day and feel firm as an oak the next. I may dread bending back into a bow shape and yet feel my heart soften as I do so. The thing is that it’s all practice and every feeling, every emotion, every state is welcome.
So I’m getting more comfortable accepting that I am a yogi and I am a corporate communicator; I am happily single and I am at times overwhelmed with grief for a lack of partnership; I want to spend my time writing and creating and seeking truth, and I want to have the comfort of a steady paycheque. I love to socialize and I just want to be alone. All of these things can and do exist at once and it’s at this midway point in my life that I’m finally ceasing to favour one over another in the hopes of defining myself perfectly according to LinkedIn or Bumble or for SEO. The more I consider one aspect of myself better, or more worthy of sharing publicly or even with my smaller circle, the more discomfort I feel at the subtle way this reinforces that other parts are unworthy. That I shouldn’t value the shadows. The concept of performance besting practice makes me feel less than.
I want to only have one version of me existing in this world and that version is just practicing life. It’s too exhausting trying to maintain work Lisa and friend Lisa and family Lisa and yogi Lisa and sometimes vegan Lisa and give-me-a-burger Lisa, as separate entities that I hide away depending on the audience and the performance I’m trying to live up to. I can be one who exists with many sides and celebrates those sides. To know me, you will know that I’m ever-changing and imperfect and have never met an idea I didn’t like…for a time. Aren’t we all just looking to connect with reality in all its forms?
As I turn 41 I see that there is less time to waste with behaviours that hold me back, hide me, dishonour me. So I’m going to try to worry less and write more. Writing is the other thing that I’ve dreamed of doing for years and tried to fit in a little box marked fragile. I’ve made it so precious that I usually talk myself out of ever beginning, let alone sharing it. Well, now I’m making space and breaking my mold. You’ll find my writing practice here if you want to follow along as I share life lessons, who I’m uncovering within myself, or just theorize on something I’ve read. Topics will include whatever the heck has caught my attention, which may show my expertise in corporate communications or it may be a work of complete fiction. It’s all worthwhile.