Every Monday night, I grab my water bottle, change into (or stay in, as the case may be) my yoga pants and head downtown to the yoga studio. If I’m early (which is rare), I stand awkwardly with all the other ‘yogis’ as we wait for the class before ours to finish. We’re an interesting group: short, tall, thin, full-figured, male, female, showered, un-showered (you know who is who. I’m usually in the latter category).
We lay out our mats, grab blocks, bolsters and blankets and settle in to start class. It’s at this point that the rest of the world stops a bit. There are no cell phones, no TVs, no people other than the ones doing exactly what I’m doing. We focus on breath, we stretch, we downward dog and go through vinyasas. A few minutes in and there is no choice other than to focus on the exact move I am in, or I risk falling, injuring myself or hitting my neighbor—all things I’d like to avoid. I am there. And I am all in.
A multi-tasker at heart, motherhood has been a strange juxtaposition for me. On the one hand, it’s an asset, as I am able to swiftly fill an orange juice cup, flip a pancake, get the toddler’s bottle and write a preschool check all while holding said toddler on my hip. Those moments happen often in motherhood, and they are par for the course. By maybe because of all the necessary minute multi-tasking, I find that if I try to multi-task the bigger things—if I try to fit too much in, I lose focus. I become imbalanced. I fall, and I injure the people closest to me in the process, except those bruises are ones you can’t see.
Going into a yoga studio and turning off the rest of life for an hour is pretty easy. Focusing on the grocery list in front me, the laundry I am folding, or the conversation my husband is trying to hold with me is a lot more difficult. My mind flits from idea to thing to ‘Oh! I forgot!’ to “Let’s do this next week!’
Or, far too often, I simply fail to accurately assess my week. I haven’t seen so-and-so in ages, and the girls are getting together for Wine Wednesday, and I have 7 different errands to run that can’t wait. I have insurance calls to make, a staff meeting to attend and blog entries to write…and…and…I’m exhausted, panting; by the end of the week, wondering why I’m so bent out of shape, why the people in my closest vicinity are testy with me and I don’t feel anything close to rejuvenated.
So, I’m learning to place boundary lines in my life. Just because something is good, doesn’t mean it must be done now. Carving out time and space for certain activities: a morning devoted to writing; an evening devoted to meal planning and scheduling activities; a daily routine that requires discipline but keeps things running smoothly…leaves more time and space to "yes". "Yes!" to the last minute invites. To the new mom who needs help. To the day of ditching the schedule and going and doing something fun all day. Also, it gives the freedom to say "No, not today." if it's pushing it too far.
Just like yoga, some days I’m able to be flexible, to stretch and move and make progess, or to be strong and hold onto something difficult longer than I thought I could. Other days, my body is telling me “not today”. Today you can’t stretch that far, be that strong, meet those expectations, do that same thing you could do easily yesterday. And I need to listen to that, because honoring my boundary lines not only allows me to be present in that day, at that time, but it directly impacts the people next to me. And it is those people who allow me the room to stretch, to grow and to learn. And so, I'm learning balance. For me, yes...but also for them.