Thoughts on Being Competitive

My writing assignment from my second batch of homework was to reflect on the sutras that I’ve read – so far, we’ve had to read up to Sutra 1.20 of The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali – and make sense of the somewhat conflicting ideas of effort (“virya” in Sanskirt) and non-attachment (“vairagya”). While pondering what I would write, I started to realize that I have been living my life this way for a number of years now – most likely as a result of the things I’ve heard my yoga teachers say in class. It’s so funny how things creep into your subconscious.

As an example, my BF and I ended up dressing as David Pumpkins and one of his skeletons for Halloween this year. This appealed to me on two levels: 1. the David Pumpkins skit from the Halloween 2016 episode of SNL cracked me the hell up – to the point that I’ve been using his picture as my user icon in a number of places, and 2. I found myself really wanting to dress as a skeleton – in general, not just as one of David Pumpkins’ skeletons. I had no idea where this urge to dress as a skeleton came from; it wasn’t a sugar skull thing, even though I have a strong affinity for Mexican culture. For Halloween, I typically channel an iconic character as part of an ensemble cast (think Darth Vadar, The Tin Man or Medusa), with my ultimate fallback costume being a witch with a prosthetic nose. But a skeleton? It was a whole new thing. And then I happened upon a slideshow of memorable celebrity costumes – Kim Kardashian in a skeleton bodysuit being one of them. Apparently that image was burned into my subconscious.

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But back to effort and non-attachment. It’s so funny because I, like most people, work in a sales-oriented industry. We sell a product and we are constantly “winning” or “losing”. We hire people that want to WIN. No surprise, a lot of these people have heavy sports backgrounds and our conference calls and meetings are filled with sports analogies. Let’s hit it out of the park! This sales meeting is our Superbowl! Go team! Do I like getting a bonus? YES. Do I work my ass off and have pride in what I do? YES. But this whole idea of “winning” – crushing someone or something else – just doesn’t resonate with me. I have never been competitive in that way. I have always been a “go getter”, an innovator, a task hacker, but I’m just not a mindless executor of plays. Does that make me not a valuable member of a team? I guess everyone has a role and I am probably in the right one, but I just cringe over battle cries of winning when there is no clear reason why we NEED to win. Are we curing cancer? NO. Are we trying to keep our jobs? YES.

At the end of the day, I do have faith in the universe. That faith has served me well so many times in my life. The best things have happened to me when I have truly turned over the reigns and let the universe do its thang. That is not to say that I didn’t put in any effort in these situations. I tuned up the car, put my seatbelt on, and let the universe take the wheel. What I learned in doing so is that the universe won’t actually show you any results unless you are truly genuine in your intention – unless you are truly okay with the outcome. Cause it can not be great. I mean, hey, you’re speeding down the road without your hands on the wheel! There can be casualties. But you need to know that going in – eyes wide open. And you need to have faith that when it’s not great, there might be a good reason. So you must detach yourself from the results. Vairagya.

But the best part of virya – the effort – is that we are supposed to be putting our effort into living selfless lives. Oh man, that is HARD. Especially when there are so many ASSHOLES out there. But honestly – I know it’s cheesy – I do really have the best time when other people are having a good time. That’s a very superficial way to put it, but I mean it on ALL levels. I just want us all to have the best time possible, no matter how long we have. That is my new mantra and it will continue to bubble up on this blog.

Thoughts On Pressure

I’ve been thinking a lot about what I want to “do” lately. Most of these thoughts haven’t stemmed from my own inner voice – they’re a result of conversations I’ve had and positions I’ve been put in. I have a good job but it is very corporate and when you’ve mastered your responsibilities within such a corporation, there’s an undercurrent of pressure to move up. Sure, I could do more – but at what cost? I am at an age now where I strongly weigh if a job is worth its price tag; a title just isn’t enough. In the cases where I could’ve moved up, there was very little benefit to me personally and I wisely stayed put.

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In my personal life, I had a conversation with a dear friend recently in which she asked me what my plan was. It honestly kind of made me feel bad – as if the life I was living wasn’t good enough. I know she was coming from a place of genuine interest, but I felt judged. As a result, I started spending too much time analyzing my life and wondering if I was giving too much of my energy away instead of using it to propel myself forward.

As much I was was hurt by that conversation, I am thankful for it. All the thinking I did led me to sign up for the yoga teacher training (which starts next weekend, fyi). But I fear that I mainly took that action so that I have a definitive answer to the “what’s your plan?” question. I have something that I’m DOING with my life other than going to work every day and helping out my family as much as I can – I’m studying yoga!

But in the weeks since I signed up for the training and started this blog, I have done even MORE thinking and realized my true answer – my true PLAN.

I just want to enjoy and appreciate life. What’s wrong with that?

Thoughts On Running

I have never been a runner. I have never been very athletic overall – but I have definitely never EVER been a runner. Growing up, I played basketball, which I hated, tennis, volleyball, and softball, which I was actually all fairly good at and liked, and was also a Pop Warner cheerleader – although I was usually a “base” at the bottom of the pyramid, which is not necessarily great for a pre-teen’s self esteem. Needless to say, hardcore cardio work was not for me. I didn’t have the heart strength or the breathing regimen for it. I just always felt like I was drowning every time I had to run.

It’s interesting how much more health conscious kids are today. I worked in a high school for about a year and the kids would actually go to the gym just to GO TO THE GYM. They weren’t even specifically training for anything, like football! And they were certainly more aware of what they were putting in their mouths. I did not grow up like that. I actually liked eating vegetables, but the ones I ate were usually soaked in cheese and butter. It was just a different world and I wish I knew then what I know now so I didn’t have to work so hard to undo the mistakes of my youth.

Twice in my life, I have lost a significant amount of weight. The first was in college: I actually joined a women’s gym one summer (it was kind of like Curves but they had actual food coaches and cardio machines). I went five days a week and dropped 40lbs before going back to school. For the first time since becoming a teenager, I was a single digit size! The entire experience was wonderful. I bonded strongly with the other women even though they were much older than me. They even threw me a birthday celebration with a sugar free ice cream cake. It was awesome.Image result for scaleThe second time was after I relocated from New York to New Hampshire just as I was turning 30. I came up for air and realized that I had put on a lot of weight while immersing myself in my career. I decided to treat this move as a complete life reboot and hired a personal trainer. I had never gone to a regular gym before but I was hopeful that the trainer could help get me over the hump. We had a comfortable rapport and he actually turned out to be a boy that had a crush on me when we were children, but it took us a few sessions to figure it out. He gave me a realistic regimen and I stuck to it, and slowly the weight came back off. I was once again a single digit! Although I fluctuate slightly, I have maintained it for the past 10+ years.

Now I live in a building that has its own gym, so I really have no excuse. The gym is small and the equipment is old, but it has two treadmills, two bikes, an elliptical and some weights. My BF is a runner and we’ll often be in the gym at the same time, him pounding on the treadmill and me on the elliptical or other treadmill with my hand-weights. My heart is in much better condition than when I was a child; I can sustain long periods of cardio activity now, as evidenced by surviving my weekly cardio kickboxing classes. What’s interesting is how all these things in your life can converge and lead you on a new path. The combination of watching my BF run and the breathing techniques I’ve learned from yoga has actually gotten me to consider running myself. One day while speed walking on the treadmill, I literally thought, why can’t I do that? So I just decided to do it. I cranked up the speed higher than I ever had, and I just ran. Not for very long – maybe a half mile – but I still ran.

I wouldn’t say that I actually enjoyed it, but I didn’t hate it either. And I felt like I accomplished something. Every once in awhile, I even do it again. Who is this person?

A Yogic Thought From RHONY

The way you treat me is your path. The way I react is mine.

This is a quote from the Real Housewives of New York. The ladies went on a group trip to Mexico and lots of drunken hilarity ensued, yet they still managed to do yoga every morning. This is something that their instructor said to them during meditation. It resonated with me.

Thoughts On Garbage

I stepped incorrectly on my kitchen garbage can and broke off part of the pedal. It still marginally worked so I thought I could get away with only stepping very gingerly on it moving forward, but then it finally gave out. I had shopped around for a new garbage can last year before settling on the now broken one at Target. All the really nice metal cans (with metal foot pedals) were quite expensive so I “cheaped” out and went with a plastic one, which still cost $50. I decided not to make the same mistake this time and ended up paying $79.99 for a Simple Human can at Homegoods. Allegedly it is “finger print proof”, but I think it should also take out the garbage for you.

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This whole experience got me thinking about how much trash my BF and I produce. We are only two people. Granted, we eat at home a lot more now that we have such a nice kitchen, a balcony to dine on, and enjoy what we make at home more than most restaurants. But still, we end up taking out the garbage every other day – and we have TWO garbage cans in our kitchen! Are we too wasteful?

When I was younger, I was much less cognizant of my environmental footprint – but so were most people at that time, really. Now that I’m more aware, I still don’t imagine that I will ever become a person that recycles everything, but I do feel a little guilty about all the k-cups I throw away. I have tried using a refillable filter – but dammit, those disposable pods are just too convenient!

I am trying to make a small contribution by repurposing everything I can – plastic grocery bags become small garbage can liners, leftovers become lunch the next day, etc. – but it just doesn’t seem like enough when I see how quickly the trash room in my building fills up. Online ordering is amazing – but all those boxes! It just seems silly.

Almost as silly as spending $79.99 on a receptacle for GARBAGE, I guess. If that’s not the ultimate symbol of consumerism, I don’t know what is.

Thoughts On Clutter

I’m not sure what your opinion of Bethanny Frankel is, but I like her. She, like all of us, can be her own worst enemy, but she is a brilliant businesswoman and a master of branding. I respect what she has accomplished and I do like many of her Skinnygirl products – in particular her low calorie salad dressings and organic stevia. I have also read her books. I would love to have cocktails with her sometime and gauge her mindset after having written a book on relationships while her and Jason Hoppey were together. How does she feel about that book now that they broke up? Is she embarrassed? I hope not. I still think it holds a lot of valuable, realistic advice – even if she made a mistake in marrying him.

But what I relate to most in her books is her feelings on clutter. She goes through these bursts of de-cluttering her apartment. She’ll rip through closets and cabinets and throw massive amounts of shit away. When my boyfriend and I put ourselves on the waiting list for a new apartment in January of last year, I began weeding through my things. I had been living in my last apartment for six years; I started with a small New York-sized 1-bedroom amount of things and then accumulated enough to fill a generous New Hampshire 2-bedroom with a walk-in closet that was bigger than my guest room. Then my BF moved in and there were even MORE things. I am so thankful for those few months while we were on the waiting list, and I am especially thankful that those months were in the winter.

What I discovered, like Bethanny Frankel, is how liberating it is to throw shit away. Of course I tried to donate or re-home most things (my BF’s sister was moving into her first apartment and she became the main benefactor of my purging), but a lot of shit went into the dumpster as well. I came up with a rule: if I don’t LOVE it, I’m not keeping it. No more hanging onto things out of a sense of obligation. Sure, I scored a good deal on that, or yes, this was given to me by this person – but do I love it? If not, then I probably don’t need it. And if I didn’t necessarily love it but I needed it (like some pots & pans that I had since college), I added that item to a list of gift ideas that I could share with my family. They are always asking me what I want at Christmas and I always struggle with what to say, but now I have a running list of suggestions that I feel comfortable with them spending their money on. And they get the satisfaction of seeing my new pots & pans in use when I make them Christmas dinner. (My Dad said that he could hear the satisfying crash of my old pots & pans hit the dumpster from a town thirty minutes away. Haha.)

Every single day, I take some time to de-clutter. My BF used to accuse me of not being sentimental, but he knows better now. I take pictures of all my apartments and have a record of things I’ve owned. And the true things that are sentimental to me – a Starbucks mug from San Diego, my small collection of ashtrays – I always find places for. But now when I travel, the souvenirs I bring home are always usable ones. I have this wooden tray from Honduras that I use to store my costume-jewelry rings. It was burned to create the design on it so it has this amazing charcoal-like coating. I remember the woman that sold it to me every time I look at it. Now when I travel, I buy mostly wearables so I am reminded of that trip every time I wear that item. And they don’t take up a lot of space!

But still, I am very focused on pairing down my wardrobe. Every day, I throw something into the donation pile. Now that I no longer have a walk-in closet, I simply don’t have the room for “just in case” pieces – everything I keep must be something that actually serves a purpose. And honestly, it’s been fun figuring out what my new “uniform” will be in my 40s. I am hyper aware of clothing now that does not feel age-appropriate. (Although I did just buy a pair of distressed jeans – after getting rid of eight other pairs, mind you – and that may have been a mistake. I will keep you posted.)