I write to you today to prove to you definitively that:
your burnout serves no one and
to suggest methods of self care which are specifically useful in building resilience.
I am hoping to make this case so strongly that you begin these nuriousing practices immediately and maintain them consistently ongoing. I start by sharing my story. Please bear with me.
When I arrived in Rwanda I could tell the team was already burnt out. Sarcasm, bitterness and tension were always felt. The thin smiles that covered them did nothing for me. It was a shock. Not Africa, not Rwanda, not the Rwandan people, the people there to help.
I’m asked often about my experience in Rwanda and it pains me that this is the first and most visceral memory which comes to mind. I know it’s not what people want to hear. It’s not the story that I want to tell, but it’s the one that lingers and it nags at me for a reason.
Since those three months in Rwanda over a decade ago I’ve thought hard and spoken at length about just how dangerous it is to have people in service who are burnt out. Attitudes of cynicism and resentment hang like clouds around this particular flavor of exhaustion and so adversely impact the recipients of our service, it is advisable to do nothing rather than work while harboring these feelings. It’s something I talk about for a long time in my Trauma Informed Yoga Teacher Trainings where I advise yoga teachers on how to teach marginalized communities and those who have been through trauma.
I hammer in the point both because we don’t want to harm the very people we are here to serve and because when we commit to ridding the world of harm that means harm to self as well. It’s documented and common knowledge in the nonprofit sector that some of the best in service and activism abandon their causes because of experiencing these feelings. We don’t want to lose them. We want them healthy spiritually, mentally, and physically, and filled with joy when they serve. This can only happen if they take proper measures to take care of themselves.
Self care that works is of a specific flavor.
It’s not really a bath or a glass of wine (although those are great). It’s filling oneself with self-love, self-compassion, inner joy, and equanimity. These four attitudes, the Brahmaviharas, or highest dwellings are the answer to a long life in service and activism and you can practice them in a variety of ways, the most common being Metta or Loving Kindness Meditation. I recently gave a talk on this at virtual yoga retreat and you can purchase the whole retreat (9 sessions) or that single talk here. It will guide you through how to think about and practice each of the four attitudes.
Being in nature is another way to “fill the cup”.
We are nature, and getting in touch with that and grounding in it is imperative for our health. Specific practices such as walking meditation, standing barefoot on the earth, sitting in a particular corner of nature and observing the life there, sun gazing, following the moon cycles, and others can all reconnect us to our true nature and give us the rich wholeness we need to pursue activism ongoing. As many of you know, my husband and I are currently residing in the Catskills and where we are practicing these methods and preparing programming to help you do the same.
Enriching yoga and movement practices can also fortify us mind, body and spirit.
Here we must make sure to choose those somatic experiences which are low or no impact, quiet, and meaningful and be sure to do them with an intention of soothing. The Yin/Restorative class at Land Yoga is a perfect example of this and one we want to deeply encourage at this time. Make it extra juicy with props from Manduka who gives a percentage of sales to Land Yoga when you write “landyoga” in their promotion box at check out.
These three practices are for everyone.
You may not identify as being actively engaged in activism or service but most of us actually are in positions of giving for many parts of our day. Whether it’s as a parent, teacher, friend, or colleague, it is of benefit to all of us to find ways to be in this world with an abundance of generosity and whole-heartedness that never gives out. It’s possible and it’s closer than you think.
Hurt people hurt people and therefore your wellness is of benefit to yourself and others.
You are no good to anyone if you burn out and could unintentionally harm those you wish to help.
There’s a special kind of “self-care” which is rooted in self-love and self-compassion. This type of self-care results in a boundless flow of care for others.
You and the world are worth it.
This way of being is closer than you think. Make the first steps and you will feel that.
Is it possible the best things really come from New Jersey? As I wrapped up a week of incredible connections, I couldn’t help asking myself if Fair Lawn, New Jersey the hometown I ran from is really where it’s at.
Last week consisted of four really major New Jersey connections: Marie Forleo, Bruce Springsteen, Seane Corn, and well, ME!
To be fair, I’ve been hanging with Marie (on line that is) for the last six weeks. She’s a proud Jersey girl with meaningful stories about her roots, most notably the one about her mother and the Tropicana radio. It’s so good I’m going to let her tell it. The lesson there: “everything is figure-out-able”. Chew on that one for awhile when you are stuck in a jam and imagine it being at the core of your understanding… Brilliant!
My dad is kind of the same. He fixed our dryer everytime it broke for years, until they finally stopped making replacement parts for that model. He had just finished re-building the wall which creates the narrow stairway down to the basement when the dryer broke for the last time. It never fit up that hallway which was one of the motivations for fixing again and again. What did he do? He broke down the wall, replaced the dryer, and built the wall up again. I was tired hearing him tell it, but it never escaped me for a minute, his fortitude.
I took dad with me to the second Jersey connection last week, Bruce Springsteen, or as we fans lovingly call him, The Boss. In Springsteen on Broadway, Bruce weaves childhood memories with solo renditions of some of his greatest songs. His stories bring you right inside the Jersey town he grew up in, so much so you can see the church bell, hear the heels of his mother clicking, and smell the Nestle factory coffee wafting through the air. (We had the same thing on windy days in my Jersey hometown with the smell of baking cookies from the Nabisco Factory covering the town.)
Bruce tells of the friction he had growing up different in a small town. His dad was against his desired profession, there was barely money to rent a guitar, and when his first break finally seemed to come in way of a record label, the producer slept with his girlfriend. What were the lessons? He learned that rubbing up against resistance is fuel for an artist and developed a fire inside of him. He learned he had more to lose from being comfortable than ever from taking a risk. He got good at going to challenging places in life and within himself. Boy did that pay off.
These are the same lessons we aim to learn as aspiring yogis and seekers. All of us in life experience our greatest leaps when we dare ourselves to step into the uncomfortable and stay to see what is beyond it. Yoga practitioners must take the time to see what is underneath, how we react to stress, and what we can learn from turning friction into fire.
Jersey girl Seane Corn talked about this and more in her Yoga Journal LIVE Fundamentals of Vinyasa Yoga workshop last Friday. Laughing about her since then highly diminished Jersey accent, she recalled the embarrassment of the Jersey “Downward Dawg” off her tongue when she moved out west to California and how she shied away from Sanskrit words like Om and Namaste for fear of sounding even more ridiculous. Eventually that hiding didn’t work for her anymore. It was inauthentic. She had to release the real prayer Goddess she was and is. Today Seane’s yoga class prayers go way beyond a simple Namaste. They have become central to the classes her worldwide followers flock to hear her teach and she’s even teaching others how they can add prayer to their teachings. To imagine a Seane Corn without prayer is nearly impossible.
It was by embracing her unique voice that Seane was able to shine to her fullest. She continues to do just that and that is why we are so excited to welcome her to the SOULFest Global line-up.
We all have to run away, escape, joy ride, and experience our freedom. That’s what Bruce Springsteen talks about in so much of his music. We flee, sometimes to absolutely nowhere, leaving everything we know so we can be new. So we can be free.
For a while this is magic. Eventually the novelty wears off and new becomes regular once again. Then we return home often with a new found respect for everything we ran from. Nostalgia, yes, but maybe even deeper than that. Having left we can see the gems we once rejected are the core values that took us so far.
We return to those strengths, and to the warm embrace of our culture and community.
That brings us to me. As I put the last work into My Bliss Book, my daily planner + online coaching system releasing this May, it became obvious I had to launch it at home in Fair Lawn. What has Jersey meant to me? My hometown gave me so much, but most of all it taught me loyalty, commitment, and the protection of a community. Through all the years, no matter where I ran, the devotion of that community was always there, just waiting for me to return home again.
Signs You Might Be Just a Bit Jersey
Truth is if you have the fortitude of Marie Forleo, the ability to make fire out of friction like Bruce Springsteen, the authenticity of Seane Corn, or the coming home loyalty of little old me, you might be just a little bit Jersey too!
Is this real life? Is this how things will now be? What is coming in 3, 5, 12 months and if I don’t know, how can I plan?
These are the questions plaguing so many people today.
Should I move forward reaching for, developing my goals when the future is so uncertain?
The short answer is yes.
We need dreams, goals, and plans. They keep us motivated and excited about living. Without them we drift aimlessly unsure what to do with no reason for anything we are doing.
Humans crave direction.
So yes. You should, now maybe more than ever, have goals and dreams.
However, these can’t be the same as your pre-Corona ambitions.
Life has changed and being able to adapt and modify is crucial for moving forward.
What kind of pursuits and activities will be relevant in the near future?
Here are some ideas:
Things which save, protect, or do no harm to the environmental
That which helps with the problem of loneliness
Connecting people in need to resources that help them
Anything anxiety reducing
Those which attempt at new ways of collaboration
Feel good activities that make ppl laugh
This is just the tip of the iceberg. Only YOU know the idea or ideas that will work for you as you plan ahead. The winning ones are all inside of you right now. They may need some nudging to come out or some nurturing. Do the things which help ideas grow. Meditation, walking, writing, talking to friends. Brainstorming with us at Goal Setting and Reimagining in Our New World this Saturday 12:30p-2:30p.
Find your new path and commit to the steps along the way because you deserve to move forward and the world deserves your best ideas.
Sometimes a little nugget of knowledge appears and changes EVERYTHING.
That happened to me a couple of years ago when my now husband proposed to me.
I wrote about it here….
Did you catch it?
I said the engagement proved you don’t have to believe.
Many coaches teach the opposite, that in order to make something happen you have to see it clearly in all its details, but here it was, something I could never fully visualize happening… to me.
I shared the nugget of knowledge, and then let it rest within me. Dormant.
Cut to a year later and I’m prepping for our wedding, starting exercise just six weeks after having a little baby girl.
I had already bought my wedding dress and I had A LOT of weight to lose to get into it.
I invested in a private trainer and committed to working out 3x weekly till the big day.
TWO weeks in I felt hopeless. I’d come in from those workouts with a face so red it would elicit laughter from my husband but NOTHING was happening on the scale.
I felt pretty down and unsure I’d ever get into that dress. I didn’t really believe in myself, but I didn’t need to.
I had someone who believed in me.
My coach, Chris Barker. My coach never wavered in her belief of me. The way she expressed it was so matter of fact it could not be questioned. And that was enough.
It was what I needed to keep me going. I didn’t believe in me, but I could trust in her.
And she was right… four months later I was in that dress.
This time the nugget stuck. You don’t have to believe. Sometimes it’s impossible to do so. Too challenging. Too draining. Too much pressure even. Those times when you can’t believe it is saving grace to have someone else who does.
And not just anyone else…
When you have a professional:
*someone who has seen enough to know for sure that others like you have come through the other side
*someone who has experienced enough to help you find the way
*someone who cares and doesn’t waver
When you have that person, you can do anything.
hat’s the person I intend to be for any of you trusting me enough to join me in Mykonos this June.
This is not just a yoga retreat.
In fact, you don’t need to do any yoga to get a world of benefit out of it.
This retreat offers a unique program for each individual, which combines yoga, meditation, & personal coaching in a gorgeous, luxury, peace promoting environment where you can rest, rejuvenate, think and create.
Your next great step is coming. You may not see it, feel it, or believe it,
You don’t have to.
To learn more about the magical retreat I have planned click HEREHERE.
It’s a common practice especially in this city to groom your child to be the best. This means starting from early as two months out with scheduling, training, classes, and obedience. It’s a commitment I’m pretty amazed at but have no desire to introduce to my own child.
Being “the best” is a singular position. By definition, there can only be one. This means slim chances of achieving it and many bouts of disappointment. Sure we can learn from our failures. Yes, we can grow and improve by setting high expectations. But setting a standard so high it can only be enjoyed by one leaves too much room for the feeling of never being enough.
Being the best requires hyper focus and while this kind of focus is a wonderful thing at certain times and can lead to great achievement, it means absolutely neglecting parts of life. Training to be the best at one thing means not putting time into other things in life. It is the one and only category. You will by definition miss out and since I believe childhood is for exploring and expanding, I can not groom my child to be the best at one thing.
The top spot is a title designed to be occupied for a brief time. There is always a person just behind trying to beat your record, be or convince others they are actually deserving of the one title role. This creates serious competition and rivalry and while competition can lead to the creation of top ideas and products, collaboration is a better way to get there.
One can never be satisfied being the best, because one knows it’s impossible to remain there long. So one spends one’s entire time there trying to figure out how to hold on to something fleeting, never even enjoying the fruits of labor.
Being the best is boring.
Instead I’m teaching my daughter trying her best.
You can try your best without perfectionism, isolation or competition. You can try your best at kindness, understanding, thoughtfulness, honesty, contribution, curiosity and discernment as well as any other topic or activity. You can try your best to be uniquely you and embrace yourself as you are all while trying your best to learn and grow.
Trying your best means having a gentleness toward yourself even and especially when you don’t perform the best. This leads to an acceptance of others when they struggle and recognizing they too tried their best. It creates a better, happier society of trying hard while holding space for all outcomes and that’s how I want my daughter to live.
What do you think about being the best verses trying your best? Tell me in the comments below.