Happy New Year – this year I will keep embodying vulnerability as a road to strength. I never realized just how true Brene Brown’s words were until last year. Being a business owner and teacher has many rewards, but it also has challenges. 2017 taught me to handle fear and intimacy. Seattle is going through an economic boom, I am happy for the prosperity, but it also brings challenges for business owners. In the past two years, there has been an abundance of growth in new Fitness Businesses in West Seattle. Yoga is not the newest trend, but I hold to my vision of teaching mindfulness. I often tell Regan, my husband; if I cannot teach what I believe in, I rather close shop. Thankfully Spira is blessed with loyal practitioners. But I do face fear day to day, and I do my best to tackle it. Being brave does not mean running away from the problem and putting on a brave face, being brave means staying and being able to stay for the tough discussions, facing our fears, vulnerably willing to work through the tough times even if we lose the battle.
This is how I handle intimacy as well, for intimacy requires endurance and conflict resolution. Otherwise we are left with superficial relationships. Social media allows us to de-friends, block, not deal with conflict. I wonder if this is helping us as a society? I watch my aging parents; they have so many friends around them, but these friendships were hard earned. My parents value human bonds, and recognize that the road is full of bumps and people don’t always agree. Now in their 80s having worked through these bumps allows them to enjoy relationships that date back 50 years. I always smile when they talk about one of their best friend from childhood, they don’t agree on a single thing, politically, they are rigid opposites, but the friendship never the less blossomed, they accepted each other and made their rigid differences dissolve with loving jokes.
Intimacy is hard when you are a business owner; I got to keep my business hat on, but at the same time friendships blossom. I am faced day to day, year to year with the same question; “Do I shut down to human relationships, because it is easier to keep business separate?” My answer, after a bit of self-pity of sadness, tears, anger is always a resounding; “No!” or rather “Heck NO.” Maybe if I were a clothing manufacturer it would be easier to isolate life into categories, but I teach mindfulness, holistic living, and meditation, the subject by it’s very nature is about intimacy! I am also a firm believer that our humanity does not see bifurcation line between business and personal as clearly as our lawyers do. This is one reason I absolutely hate the new vogue in our HR culture. Humans are not robots, if we spend 10 hours/day of our life working in a community, that community is going to form relationships beyond serving the capitalist goal. Yes, it can get messy, but a little messy once in a while is worth it. I would not want to live in a society where all our human tendencies, our need to form human bonds is regulated according to preferences by companies and lawyers. We often complain of solitude and lack of free time, I wonder if we are our worst enemies by making all our failed human relationships responsible to the law instead of one and other. (and please don’t misunderstand me, I am not talking about rape and harassment that had consequences to your paycheck) I am talking about friendships. Most of my mother’s generation found their spouse and best friend through work. Are we ready to give that up? Do we want to go to work putting emotional blinders on to all possibility?
But I digressed, I am talking about my own heart, through the years as a business owner, I stayed vulnerable, this is the only way that I know how to teach yoga. I have to live it; I have to be able to face my fears, vocalize my fears, and risk heartache. I found a beautiful community with Spira; my teachers are my best friends. I consider everyone who works at Spira as my extended family. If they called me at midnight, I would pick up the phone to make sure they are OK. I would spring from bed to help them.
I believe students enjoy coming to Spira because they can sense that is it a “human environment” and not a “corporate establishment.” Over the years I had heartbreaks when friendship, intimacy, and business collided. Some worked out for the better; some never gave me a chance for a conversation. I am not saying it does not hurt, losing a friend, especially without a discussion is hard, it is like having someone die, but you are not allowed to grieve. But all I can do is stay open.
This is the lesson of vulnerability, stay open so you can have the joy of forming relationships. Sometimes our emotions don’t make sense to our friends or our coworkers or our family. It is our responsibility to speak our heart with love and all we can hope that the recipient is willing to listen and share his/her heart until we understand each other. It is not easy, but I am encouraging all of you to try it. I am welcoming in 2018 just as open as I did any other year. With time our scars multiply, but we all carry scars in our heart, it is what gives us wisdom and intimacy in our older years.
Here is to 2018 – be honest, be open, be vulnerable – find meaningful relationships and strength!