Life Doesn’t Have To Be All or Nothing


Several months ago, I wrote about having to spend money to make money teaching yoga. The piece revealed nearly as much about my uncontrollable materialism as it did about the necessary costs involved in becoming a yoga teacher, but I was still intrigued when I saw a later piece pop up on the site: “Spiritually Bankrupt: How I Went Broke Trying To Teach Yoga.”

After reading it, though, I just wanted to grab the writer’s shoulders and shake her and shout You’re doing it all wrong!

Then the piece ran again today on Yoga Dork, and it made me think back to the time when I was coaching beginning freelance writers who were terrified of not being able to make enough money to survive. It made me think back to a time when I myself was terrified of the same thing. When I was still trying to find the balance that worked for me.

And what I come back to—what I wish I could have told Past Me at the very beginning of my career, and what I wish I could have told the author of that post—is that nothing in life has to be all or nothing.

I mean, it could be all or nothing. That’s obviously an option.

But as in less traditional careers, as in motherhood, as in life, it doesn’t have to be.

And whatever decision you make—whether it works, whether it doesn’t, whether it only works at first and then starts to work less and less—nothing is permanent.

When I went full-time freelance almost eight years ago, I thought it had to be all or nothing. And I struggled for all those years as it slowly dawned on me that going all or nothing wasn’t going to work for me. During that time, I tried so many different combinations of things. Some of them worked. Some of them didn’t. And some of them only worked for a little while.

By the time I became a yoga teacher, I knew. I knew this wasn’t going to be My New Thing. The only thing I was. The thing that was going to support me as I let everything else slip away. It was just one new puzzle piece. One thing that, combined with other things, made me feel as if I was building a life I could be happy with.

And then I became a mother and, though it threatened to dwarf everything else, I knew I couldn’t allow the rest of my identity to melt away. I had to keep writing. I had to keep practicing and teaching yoga. I had to keep going to book clubs and bars and Toastmasters meetings so I could show my daughter what it is to build a full life.

These days, I’m the senior writer and editor for a nonprofit professional organization. I manage social media for another client, blog about motherhood for, and teach at two yoga studios. I take on other writing and editing assignments here and there. And though it sounds like it would be impossible to have the time for anything else, I’m also a mother and a bookworm and a Toastmaster and a cat lady. With all of this, I make enough money to feel secure. And the variety in my life ensures I don’t get burnt out on any of it.

I know the writer of that post was burnt out in her career. I know she lost her job. I know that all of us wrestle with circumstances beyond our control, slipping into holes that keep us temporarily immobile.

But yoga isn’t the answer. At least not on its own.

When that writer wrote of losing her passion for yoga, I felt so sad, but I understood it. Because when you try to make any one thing the answer to everything, it inevitably collapses under the weight of your need. It happened in my marriage at one point. It happened with my writing, too.

Hopefully I’ve learned enough by this point to not let it happen again.

(photo via)

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