I tried to write about work the other day. What came out was a rant about all the things I do and how little it is all noticed or recognized. But the truth is, I was having a bad day and needed a little attention. Most of us work very hard. Most of us have hidden aspects of our work that we wish commanded more attention. And sometimes, yes, I do just want to complain. But really, I get plenty of recognition for what I do. If I'm going to write for public consumption, it should at least be honest. And since a good friend has insisted I write and share my voice with the world, I'd better be writing what's worth reading and not just a rant after a difficult-but-not-extraordinarily-so-day that didn't merit that much notice.
I was tasked recently with nailing down my passion. What is it that keeps me motivated/happy/nourished? First, I realized I have to decide what I consider my work. I have many current jobs (barista, felting, teaching yoga, making hoops, parenting) and have had many others in the past (singer, dancer, actor, director, administrative assistant, retail worker) but what is it I am here to do?
I believe I am here to make the earth a better place. Honestly. At one point, I did that using my voice, my body, creating moving experiences onstage. I wasn't always successful creating magic. Some of what I performed added no value to the earth, and may have actually been a loss of a couple hours' time to those in attendance, not to mention the loss of many hours of my own. But a few times, I felt part of something that truly moved people. I brought joy or beauty or or simply gave someone a chance to laugh and get away from their stress. I achieved a pretty good degree of success in that I worked frequently, supported myself with theatre jobs, had a handful of outstanding directors and plum roles for my resume, and can now name-drop liberally.
But I no longer perform in theatre. My stage is more personal. Together with Regular Guy, I am raising two children in hopes that they will continue the work of making the world better. I take parenting very seriously, but lest you think I am a helicopter parent, I have missed swim meets, concerts, volleyball games. I don't know many of their friends after our relocation. I give them opportunities to test their independence, and I let them fail now while it has little long-term cost. I take pride in their accomplishments. I feel their hurts. I try harder to help them become themselves. I don't always choose the best tactics. I am fallible. And I am determined to learn from my own mistakes, to let my children see my failings and know that we all have great and terrible moments. As they become older (11 and 15), I can see "possibility" tattooed on their foreheads, but I also see the choices they are making now that will set them upon certain paths later. It is an awesome responsibility. And it feeds my sense of purpose and passion.
But I also have another passion which I pursue, and I pursue it with as much awe that I am allowed to do it as that I get to parent. Ever since I was a girl in dance classes, I could see bodies. I could see details in how the other girls moved. A dance buddy might ask me why she was falling out of turns, and I'd watch her and report back, "Well, you keep dropping your right shoulder as you start the pirhouette ..." She'd try again, fix the error, and voila, better turns. Many former dancers make their way into teaching dance at studios, but the truth is, I can't choreograph AT ALL. And if the combinations aren't interesting, no dancer cares if you can help them figure out why their balance is off. My mom told me to become a physical therapist to take advantage of my ability to see bodies. Which I did consider, but at the time I was still performing and going back to school wasn't on my agenda.
I started to have injuries and found my way into yoga classes as therapy for my damaged body. And there it was. Yoga --- my new passion. My body started to heal. I didn't have to choreograph. I could look at bodies and use my skills. And it turns out, I am a damn good yoga teacher.
Twenty-two years after finding my way into a regular yoga practice, 17 years of teaching, and I am lucky to have been told by my students about the positive impact I have had on their lives. Most folk never get to hear how their words or actions have helped someone. For many women in the Detroit area, I know I helped usher them through the challenges of becoming mothers themselves. I know because they told me. Repeatedly. I gave them a safe space to share fears, to share ideas, to support each other. I passed on the wisdom I was lucky to receive from women during my pregnancies and early years of motherhood.
It isn't a vague "yoga makes you feel better" kind of help that I am imparting. I also have had the good fortune to learn about alignment and therapeutic applications of yoga. It is a responsibility I do not take lightly. I do not promise to help everyone or solve every problem. But often, working together, a student and I can find ways to support the skeleton, to relieve tension in the muscles. I watch as pain medications become less necessary; I hear about surgery that has been postponed. As much as I love bringing Eischens Yoga to students, I am equally excited to bring this way of looking at the body to other teachers for the very reason that more people can find relief if more of us know how to do this work. When I see a student who has struggled with specific movements, and they begin to move more easily, I feel absolutely buoyant. When I watch a light turn on in a yoga teacher's eyes, I can't wait to take them further on this path. I am a yoga cheerleader, a positive support system, a total geek.
I am passionate about making the world better. It is my work. I do this work by raising my children, and I do this work through my teaching. I get plenty of attention. My work gets recognized. And, when I think about it, I don't actually do any of my work for the attention or recognition after all. I do it because it feeds me. I do it because I am passionate about changing the world, having a positive impact on others. So whenever I feel like ranting about feeling unappreciated, or about a difficult day, I need to be clear that it is just a bad day. And then I need to get back to changing the world.
Deep, and not so deep, thoughts on yoga, art, parenting, dogs. You know, life.