This week, a wise friend told me that I could afford to let it all hang out a bit more than I do. Without flattering or criticizing, but matter-of-factly in her straightforward way, she said “You seem like you have it really together. You do all the good things, like teach yoga and eat kale. That can be intimidating to people. If you clue people in more to your vulnerability, they will really connect to you.”
Ironically, I had been in a conversation earlier that very same day about yogis who I find intimidating, because- well, because they seem like they have it really together and do all the good things, like teach yoga and eat kale. Plus they’re more flexible than me.
Friends. We do NOT have good perspective on how other people see us in the world.
And this wise advisor of mine, she knows all about my vulnerability. We often refer to our time as roommates together as “those three months when Kristen watched 5 seasons of Mad Men in bed and ordered takeout every night.” I had just gone through a major breakup and I was not in a good place- except that I had the support of this amazing woman, so I wasn’t in a good place, but I suppose I was in the right place. It’s funny now, to describe that time with a catchy phrase that says “what a hot mess I was,” but there’s nothing comical when you’re going through it.
Yoga, my friend tells me, is what brought me back. I couldn’t see it at the time, but she could. I practiced when I was able, and gradually I started to practice a little more. I spent a year doing 30-day trials around the city because I couldn’t afford the full membership to any studio. Yoga was my therapy and my church. It was a place I could go to put the stories inside my head on pause. It was a place that didn’t care if I was happy or sad, it just let me be. Bit by bit, I resurfaced.
I started to make connections from my yoga practice to the rest of my life. Patience, compassion, mindfulness- I had to carve out the sacred space of my mat in order to find those tools, but their real value has been in the way I have learned, am learning, to treat myself every day.
It’s not always clear why we do the things we do, but looking back, it’s so obvious why I started Edge of the Mat. It isn’t because I am the picture of a perfect yogi, whatever that might mean. There have been long stretches when I have struggled to maintain a consistent yoga practice. I love french fries and cheese far more than kale. I can destroy a beautifully tidy apartment in 15 minutes, and act like a brat to my mother, and I have a deep-seated perfectionism that hides out in dark corners of my mind. I started Edge of the Mat because the lessons of the yoga practice make my life better in all ways, and I want to help other people to share in that incredible, transformational experience. It’s not that I have life figured out- but I do love the figuring itself.
I’m so grateful to this woman for once again pointing out what I couldn’t see myself. If there is one thing humanity shares, it is that we are all flawed. Broken, cracked, misshapen, defective, faulty, imperfect.
And absolutely glorious.
P.S. I don’t regret one single episode of Mad Men. Not one.