A good yoga teacher, in my opinion, will spend some time (gently) pushing her students’ thoughts as well as their bodies. Last week I was fortunate enough to stumble back into a studio I hadn’t practiced at in over a year. I noticed that my yoga practice, while consistent, was lacking creativity and progress, so I humbly walked my butt back into Playoga to spend some quality time with Becca. Why I haven’t been there in over a year is ever a mystery – the woman sings like an angel during savasana for crying out loud! Anyway, the point is, she got the group focused on what really motivates us each individually in life. Is it money? Is it creativity? Is it philanthropy? Is it family? Something else?
Before she even got the question out, I knew my answer. Freedom. And the crazy thing is I think if you asked me this question 5 years ago or even one year ago, I would have faltered. But now it’s just so crystal clear. So, so obvious.
For starters, my drug of choice, my passion for life as I know it, could not exist without travel. But perhaps not in the way that some people enjoy travel. I do not particularly enjoy cultural immersion or tourist attractions. What I do enjoy is the high I get (quite literally) when I’m jet bound to some far-reaching corner of our planet. As a self-affirmed experienced solo traveler, there’s also the freedom in waking up in a foreign country without a single responsibility, a single worry, a single itinerary item to tend to. Travel is freedom, but of course tied to it are financial freedom and the freedom of United States citizenship. I may have to seek out Canadian citizenship if Trump gets elected, but my personal income and my luck for having been born here are not lost on me – the ability I have to slap down my U.S. passport and my United Mileage Plus Explorer card and go anywhere in the world on a moment’s notice is one of my greatest treasures.
Freedom in my career – I’ve been able to fight for and succeed in achieving an almost impossibly liberating work from home situation. I have built a network of long-standing customers who trust me and who have consulted with me for years; backing that up, I have an employer who believes in my ability to keep these same customers happy from just about anywhere; currently from Colorado, but hopefully one day from Costa Rica. And I do, because when I’m happy, my customers are happy. And for me, happiness means having the freedom to set my schedule in a way that I can balance hard work with a demanding family life and a host of self-care practices like yoga and happy hour. Whiskey business, if you will. (Stole that one from New Girl – another one of my many self-care practices). “Working from home” also means I have the freedom to liven up my workspace by settling in for the day at any number of hipster coffee shops. Or there’s my breathtaking home office which overlooks the mountains. Or there’s my other office in charming Old Colorado City which I’ve decorated into a lovely zen-like sanctuary. I’m still trying to figure out how to get a Koi pond in there. So many choices…ah, freedom!
You can find evidence of freedom’s lure in the most mundane aspects of my life as well. I may be a planner, but I loathe routine. And rules. I endeavored to get eyelash extensions a few months ago and ultimately came to the conclusion that, not only am I likely allergic to them, but that they require me to not do certain things like rub my eyes, put my face directly in the shower water or sleep on my side. So many restrictions, so little freedom. Doctor’s orders? I never follow them. Diets or food restrictions? Ha! Go ahead, just tell me no. Tell me I can’t do something or can’t have something – I will unleash the fires of hell in order to take back my power and my free will. The circumstances and relationships I find most challenging are the ones in which I feel somehow trapped. I would be lying if I said this doesn’t make motherhood a challenge for me, especially in these early years. There are just some rules and responsibilities that every self-respecting mother must accept – like picking the kids up from school, feeding them, bathing them, playing with them, talking with them, answering their questions, answering more questions, reading to them, putting them to bed. Above all, loving them. That one is easy. Trading in personal time and freedom for the rest, though? It’s hard. My remedy for this assault on my free will is likely the same one my mother had – teach them independence and nurture their creativity. Give them every opportunity to learn from their own power to choose, within reasonable safety guidelines of course.
The point is, I encourage all of you to spend a few minutes thinking about what really, truly, in the depths of your soul, motivates you in this life? If you aren’t sure, look to people and circumstances that bring you joy and you will probably find some good clues there. When you finally identify it, sit with it for awhile. Stew on it. Are there areas of your life that are not serving your feeling of purpose? Can you alter them or maybe even let them go completely? Sometimes finding contentment in greater self-awareness is a gift in and of itself.
Peace and love from a free bird in Colorado.