I have written a lot about how much I love my life and all the wonderful, creative things I get to do each and every day. Every day of my life I get to write, or sketch, or paint, or teach yoga. Not every day is wonderful or perfect, but every day I get to do something I love. Not only do I find all of those things creatively fulfilling for myself, I find each them satisfying because of what I am able to bring to other people’s lives when I do them.
Anyone who has taken my yoga classes can tell you: I’m not a real “woo-woo” yoga teacher. I don’t try and make my yoga classes into a spiritual experience because I don’t believe I have been trained to adequately address people’s spiritual needs. I don’t judge the instructors who do that, it’s just not something I’m comfortable doing. That’s what spiritual teachers are for.
I also don’t make any medical claims about yoga. If something hurts, talk to your doctor. If you’ve talked to your doctor and they’ve recommended yoga, I can probably suggest specific moves that could help, but I won’t suggest anything unless I’m perfectly comfortable the moves won’t make things any worse. I’m much more likely to point out what moves to avoid to make your pain or injury worse. The best advice: If it hurts when you do it, don’t do it.
There have been several times when people have told me how much my classes have helped them. A guard at City Hall where I teach loves my morning stretching routine and told me she has recommended them to friends. I had a mother in one of my classes tell me how much yoga had helped her teenage daughter’s posture. Another frequent student had sciatica that was making her cramp all along the outside of her hip and thigh. When I showed her two simple iliotibial stretches, she later told me she was able to sleep without pain for the first time in a number of nights. These are the moments that make running from one class to the other for up to16 classes a week worthwhile.
When I paint, I do not try to reproduce a photo realistic piece. Every time I approach a canvas, my intention is to play with the colors, and to try and communicate an energy. Working this way, I am able to relate to people on an emotional level, even if they’re not real sure what that connection is.
At a recent open-studio night I was thrilled when not once, but twice, people had tears in their eyes looking at my work. It was two different pieces that evoked those emotions, and I’ve never considered either of the pieces particularly emotional, but to those two people, on that particular night, they connected with what was on the canvas. That connection is why I do what I do. I tried to politely let those two people know that if they had just made an offer, no matter how low, I would’ve happily sold them those paintings just because of their reactions.
When I write I am occasionally able to word my thoughts in a way that resonates with people. Sometimes, people laugh at these posts. Of Mice and One Scaredy-Cat Woman remains one of my all-time favorite posts and my sister says she still can’t read this one without gasping for breath because she’s laughing so hard. Sometimes my posts help a person find the words they had been searching for. An old friend from high school called me one night to thank me for writing Rolling In The Glass. This friend’s daughter was going through a difficult time in her relationship and they thought that post was exactly what she needed to read at that juncture in her life. And sometimes, I am able to look at what’s happening in our world and help someone find a new way to deal with the turmoil we’re seem to be surrounded by. I wrote about a local shooting last winter in Racism Hits Home. I knew I’d found the right tone when a friend, whose political opinions are far different than mine, called me to thank me for pointing out the positive things, not just the negatives.
Every single one of us touches the lives of the people around us every day. We may or may not ever know the extent of that impact. I am so grateful that the things I have built my life around are things that other people have found beneficial in their lives. I may not make the most money, or have the most power, or be the most renowned, but I know every night when I go to bed that I’ve connected with people in a positive way. That’s a great way to live.