Fall feels

So…is anyone else getting those #fallfeels really strong right about now?

Was that a very millennial thing of me to say? haha. I think fall has been made into such a big thing the past few years where it seems like it’s everyone’s favorite season, and the Halloween and pumpkin-spice-everything marketing is off the charts. Eye-roll inducing, maybe, but it’s hard to say that the fall love is unfounded. It is a pretty lovely season that seems to bring strong nostalgic, cozy feelings with it as the air cools down and the leaves change to those gorgeous warm colors in contrast.

While I think spring will always be my favorite season with my mid-April birthday and undying love for flowers galore, fall certainly makes me question my allegiance year after year. There must be something in that crisp autumnal air that hits me with waves of bittersweet memories, as if my entire life could be summed up in all the autumns I’ve experienced. Suddenly, I’m back in my little woolly brown coat, my tiny fingers learning how to do up the buttons, or sitting in a pile of leaves as my cousin makes up scary stories, or testing my sewing skills putting together another homemade Halloween costume, or meeting family to go apple picking or exploring one sunny weekend.

I’m beginning to ramble, but I believe autumn is the season for rambling…a season to slow down a bit, appreciate the fleeting beauty in the air as the leaves change and fall, to take time to get outside on the weekends before the weather becomes too frigid, to reflect on all those magical autumns from childhood to present and try to rekindle that magic in a busier time. The summer warmth is still lingering this year where I live, but when those temperatures drop, it’s also time to embrace the coziness of wrapping yourself in sweaters and layers and grabbing a hot drink or soup. Soak it allllllll in. 🙂 I don’t know about you, but while I would prefer to ignore everything and take up residence in a cozy cabin somewhere to read all those books I haven’t made time to finish, I also find that even schoolwork and typically monotonous responsibilities are more tolerable when I embrace the fall spirit and cozy up to get work done.

So wherever you are, take a moment to feel all those fall emotions…it’s a season for the joy, and the grief too. Take it all in with extra gratitude if you can, and use those changing leaves as one of nature’s clearest illustrations of transition: time passing and seasons shifting. Because time and change are the constants in our fickle world, and all we can do is appreciate every season we have. 🙂

Jumping In: Yoga Teacher Training

Picture this: it’s summertime and the sun is beating down, the pavement is hot, but the pool water is cool and refreshing. The water temperature is so different from the air that wading slowly into the shallows would make you tense up in discomfort. So there’s only one thing to do…

jump in.

Some things in life require you to do the same thing that you would to enter cold water on a hot day: jump in, all or nothing, submerge completely.

I quickly realized that’s how it was going to have to go for me when the opportunity arose to go through Yoga Teacher Training. I didn’t feel ready. In fact, I wasn’t even considering it as something I wanted to do, even though I’ve been doing yoga for around ten years now. (Remember I mentioned my ballet teacher in my last post about Focus? The same woman is my yoga teacher and I’ve been doing yoga this long because she would incorporate it as cross-training for ballet.) That changed when the aforementioned yoga instructor announced she would be offering her last round of Yoga Teacher Training.

Knowing her, it’s debatable whether this will truly be her “last,” but nonetheless I decided pretty quickly that this was not an opportunity I wanted to pass up. Initially, I had serious doubt and hesitation. Could I ever really be a yoga teacher? Well, yes, I guess I could, but it would certainly mean leaving my comfort zone, which I am trying to do more anyway. Could I really commit the time and energy (and finances) to doing this intense year-long, 200-hour training on top of my college education that is nearing its end? Well, I want to become more consistent about practicing yoga, and since I’m living at home and have finally become decently organized with my coursework, I guess I could handle it. And so the doubts slowly lessened, and I realized two things: there would be absolutely no better time in sight for me to take on this training in the future, and I would seriously regret not doing it if it truly was my longtime teacher’s final time offering it.

So: challenge accepted.

I’ve already made it through one twelve-hour Saturday and a nine-hour Sunday at the yoga studio to kick off our year of training, and honestly, it was super fun. Luckily, we have a great little group of people doing this round of training (my mom is in it too!) ranging from 20-something to 60-something, and we’re all in it together. It’s definitely not easy, but I think this will be one of those experiences I’ll remember for a lifetime, and hopefully I’ll learn a ton and be able to pass on what I gain to others through the teaching part in the future. 🙂

I look forward to documenting more of my experiences in YTT on here, I’m sure I’ll have lots to talk over! Also, “Jumping In” seems like a concept I could continue in future posts as well. We’ll see.

If you need a shove this week, try visualizing the pool metaphor…and just jump in. 😉

Focus

There’s so much going on in the world today. So much good, so much bad, so much exciting, and so much mundane.

In a way, social media has leveled the playing field. Major news headlines sit alongside headlines of lesser importance about celebrities or sports. People from anywhere in the world with WiFi access can have a discussion in the comments on a Facebook post. It seems like everything is accessible thanks to the internet and in turn, this makes everything harder to filter and process.

It’s so hard to focus in this world, but focus we must.

In recent years, it has become painfully evident to me how much I struggle to keep myself on task when I’m alone. I have gotten much better at cultivating focus out of necessity, but every so often I still have days when I just feel constantly restless, when it is just difficult to think. I tend to do best when I am in a semi-public place, like a coffee shop or library. My self-consciousness keeps me accountable to my work when there are other humans around me.

In addition to forcing yourself to focus in order to finish a certain task, it is also important to cultivate focus in your hobbies/activities and interests as well. This is perhaps where I struggle the most. I love doing anything remotely creative, so I often end up creating nothing because I can only think about the ten different things I want to try–weaving, sewing, painting, you name it–and end up indecisive and doing none of the above. Something that has really helped me lately is realizing that (God willing) I have time. I don’t need to learn and try everything I ever want to learn and try right now. I can focus on one thing at a time, and then move on to something else when I have sufficiently explored the topic. As much as I am always living either 10 years into my past or future in my head, I am very much here-and-now in reality: not a big planner, probably too emotionally-led, always wanting to do everything on my to-do list at once, and often a play-before-work kind of person.

I think about something my ballet/yoga teacher said to me when I once asked her about the potential challenges of teaching ballet in the 21st century. She said the challenge is that kids these days (or their parents) aren’t as willing to make the commitment. Ballet is one of those art forms that takes a solid 10 years minimum to really learn, to get the posture and muscle memory and all the nuances down. You can tell a trained dancer from a casual class-taker often just by the way they move their upper body, their port de bras; the minute hand, finger, and arm movements requiring years to develop into the strong but delicate proper expression.

I wondered the other day about how different I might look and move if I had grown up playing basketball or something instead of ballet. When you spend so much time on something, it truly shapes you. My feet instinctively feel the floor as I walk, my toes automatically point and reach for the steps as I descend stairs. When I look in the mirror and stand up straighter I can still see the ghost of my ballet posture, lean and long. It’s been years since I was consistently in class, but my body still remembers the movements that were drilled into my muscles by repetition during my developmental years. I didn’t do much besides ballet growing up; it was my primary, and sometimes only, extracurricular activity. I was in class 2-4 days a week from age 8 to age 18, with hours of rehearsal around performances up to 4 times a year. This is partly where I learned the importance of focus.

Now that I’m in full control of my life outside of school and spending hours in a ballet studio is no longer part of my routine, the art of focus is a constant pursuit more than ever. There’s just so much I want to do, but life is so short, and we must choose wisely. I didn’t really intend for this post to go so deep when I started writing it, but this topic has been on my heart for the last few years. Simplify, simplify. Focus. That’s the real key.

Where do you need to cultivate more focus in your life?