My friend Laura, Co-Founder of We Design Studios, recently posted the image above on her Instagram. The caption read:
"...you should hold on lightly to the good things and the bad things. Hold a prickly cactus the same way you'd hold on to a butterfly 🦋 🌵"
The image reminded me of a practice I've felt myself lean into more recently: embracing impermanence.
Here is some of what I've been up to the last few weeks:
- I attended my first yoga retreat, The Disconnect, out in San Marcos, Texas with some of my best friends and with cellphones, technology, and clocks stowed away. The day included several yoga and meditation sessions, home-cooked vegan meals, a hike in the Texas hill country, yelling from the top of a steep hill what we wanted to release, and several periods of time with no schedule, just journaling and relaxing.
- I'm planning the 15th Annual Texas Lead Conference in August (RSVP!), as Executive Vice President of Prospanica Austin - a national Latinx business organization. This project has given me the fortuitous opportunity to craft a day of empowering discussions for business professionals; though, it has also given me constant low-level stress, since there are so many pieces to track week by week, albeit the conference isn't for a few months.
- I'm studying for the GMAT, and decided to hire a tutor. This was a huge step for me, since asking for help - particularly PAYING for it - has never been my forte. When I started doing poorer on practice exams with my self-study approach, I decided it was time call on self-compassion and make the ask. My tutor has given me great perspective on slowing down to *actually* know the material I'm going through, plus has given me a structure to reflect on all aspects of the exam from the technical to emotional.
- I had my first foray into energy readings by having a session with a dear friend who reads "Akashic Records" - a spiritual practice of looking into one's past, present, and future lives to pick up clues to address an individual's questions. I'm learning to explore non-Western forms of healing, and generally open myself up to more in the world.
- I've re-instated my meditation practice, one I started in the middle of college but fell off over the years. I'm infamously better at keeping up with commitments I pay for, so I bought a subscription to the Headspace App. After a month of doing it, I'm feeling MUCH larger sense of calmness and being grounded to take on what the day throws at me.
- I've regained traction on my focus on health and wellness. Since mid-May I adopted a (mostly) paleo diet, largely as a way to regain control over my energy levels, which were feeling out of wack for early 2017 with all the transition I was in. I've had great results of this, constantly feeling "at 100" for most of the day. My continued practice to move/ exercise nearly every day complements this!
- I've come back into touch with my desire to be a "healer": In high school, I strived to become a therapist because I thought it was the only way I could help others. Since then, my career has taken me various directions, and while I work in the technology and education industries, my desire to help "heal" has morphed more into becoming some kind of personal and/or coach one day. Like a good one-day-maybe coach, I've began this journey by learning from others: I heard Jen Sincero, author of the #1 New York Times Best Seller You Are a Badass and personal coach goddess, speak here in Austin last week; I read: Peak - how to leverage new science behind achievement to become world-class at almost anything, and The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck - how to take yourself - and life - less seriously for amazing results; I saw Tim Ferris, of the The 4-Hour Workweek / 4-hour series, during SXSW at a secret meetup in Kyle, TX; I've also come to follow Sabrina Must - an former-Austinite - on all the social medias.
With that, observations on what I'm grasping more lightly:
- My relationship with time: The yoga retreat I went on last month that HARDLY - if at all - followed a fixed agenda, reminded me of my relationship with time. That is, that I pretty much schedule out every minute of my life (as a type-A person tends to do). I've more recently come to embrace the periods of time I have without a schedule - such as getting up on a weekend day without an agenda or sleeping in - the same way I'll relish the savasana pose in yoga. It's good practice to feel the contrast between the more rigid and structured times we've created to take us toward our goals, and the looser ones. I'm convinced these contrasts inform and necessitate one another.
- The desire to always go-go-go and this type of energy in business: A few of my recent efforts have shown me the importance of building a quality foundation to later expedite an important process, or "going slow to go fast". Reading Peak brought in the idea that one must be fully "present" and practice "deliberately" to get the most out of our actions. This can range from truly doing the work to understand the material you're trying to learn, rather than "cramming" (e.g., for a test), the way school taught us; learning a new exercise and mastering good form before all else; or, forming a healthy relationship with someone. I've also been having discussions with startup leaders around the importance of diversity and other "deliberate" efforts to make a strong and inclusive company culture while it's in its move-fast-and-break-things infancy. (Look out for another blog soon on this!)
- My relationship with indulgence: I've invested in purchases like expensive blue tooth speakers, headphones, and Youtube Red (out of a dislike of ads) to better enjoy music - a huge emotional regulator for me. Sometimes, if all I have in a day that feels completely self-indulgent is blasting Beyonce's "Lemonade" on my 10-minute drive to work, it's worth it. I'm letting go of thinking I don't "deserve" spending time on indulging myself when I have goals I need to be disciplined around. This indulgence relaxes me to better execute on those more regulated actions toward my goals.
- My desire for a larger network, to always be working, in place of authentic relationships with others and myself: As true to whoever-said-it's word, as you age, your circle of friends gets tighter. I still enjoy and cultivate a large and loved network in Austin, though there are about 3-4 individuals who I truly, truly go out of my way to see at least biweekly. I'm learning to embrace the ebb and flow of my professional network and close relationships as a life-long process.
- My expectations around my lofty goals: I've started to approach my long-term goals more at the marathon pace than a sprint. As a very achievement-oriented person, it's generally been hard for me to do things half-way. By adopting more of an athlete perspective of working little by little every day around my larger goals, I'm feeling myself ease into a more balanced and fruitful life that deals less with absolutes: I can be an ambitious and driven person and care for myself, care for others, and be grounded and present.
- My relationship with my ambition: Something I didn't realize until recently is that I have feared my ambition. There have been times I've subconsciously been ashamed of it: seen it as something that kept me from deepening my relationships because of the time I must devote to "deep work" on my own; something that kept me from indulging in life's simple pleasures like a night out or a trip with friends; I feared that being open with it would make people think that I thought I was better than them; I feared it is what kept me from being happy with what I have in the present.
As I'm coming more into my own, I'm less starkly labeling myself as "ambitious" or "driven". By labeling myself this way, I have then set myself up to see relaxing or actions unrelated to my more material goals as misaligned with my identity. I've come, over time, to see this goal-driven energy I have as simply that: energy. Energy is flexible and is meant to constantly undulate. As sentient beings, we can decide how we want to interact with it.
I'm coming to respect the "good" and the "bad" in my life for what they are: occurrences to which we assign value and to which we choose how to react. As per the image that began this post, we have agency over how we interact with these "good" and "bad" occurrences in our lives. If we hold onto each lightly - as I'm coming to with my own beliefs - we become softer and more adaptable to what the world throws at us. Allowing flexibility around our perceived permanences gets us out of our own way and allows more of the world to make its way in.