Going With the Flow

It’s that time of year again. The beginning time. The time for reflecting and resolving. Instead of making resolutions last year, I picked a focus: running and writing. I had two big, quantifiable goals. I wanted to run my first ultra-marathon and finish a draft of my memoir.

I did the first one and immediately went into hibernation. Or what I referred to as “an extended off-season.” I was burnt out and injured and a break from running was mandatory. I do feel incredibly proud of myself for putting in the work and completing the ultra. Yet I also regret all the ways I went wrong during training. Namely – letting fear get the best of me. I ignored years of experience and knowledge, pushed myself too hard and ended up injured. If I ever attempt a similar race in the future, I will approach it very differently. And if I ever go after something longer than a 50K I will hire a coach.

The silver lining is I was able to pick up cycling during my “off-season”. I’ve only really dabbled up to this point, but I’m excited to grow in the sport. I bought a decent bike this summer and my husband bought me clipless pedals for Christmas. You know, the kind that clip to your shoes. (What’s with the nonsensical nomenclature?!) I’ve been busy riding laps around my court and am relieved to find that clipping out, and therefore not falling, is fairly easy. Clipping in is proving far more challenging than I ever would’ve anticipated. I’m currently sporting two beautiful bruises on the inside of my right knee because half the time I attempt to jump onto my pedal with a maximum amount of force and body weight I also slam my knee into my water bottle cage. Which reminds me, I also need to learn how to pull out my water bottle without completely lifting my bike off the ground. Baby steps.

I was also able to delve deeper into my yoga practice, which was rewarding until I injured my shoulder. I know – not another injury! I still don’t know the cause, but I don’t think it was yoga. That said, it’s been limiting and I stopped going to the more challenging class I had taken up for fear of making it worse. I’m trying to stay patient as it heals and keep the panicky, I’ll-never-do-shoulder-stand-again! thoughts at bay.

My home teaching business continues to grow, thanks largely to my neighbor who should really take up a career in marketing, and I’m excited to add a third class to my schedule. I look forward to seeing the transformation in my students and to discover new ways to share my ever-evolving practice with others.

As for the writing – I am halfway done with a draft of my memoir. I have mixed feelings about this. On the one hand, I clearly did not meet my goal. On the other hand, I made progress and I learned something about myself: my passions and hobbies are cyclical. It seems obvious now in retrospect… as things often do. In May, I spent every spare moment furiously making jewelry, very much enjoying it, and very much feeling guilty that I wasn’t writing. In October and November, I spent every spare moment, reading, writing, thinking about writing and feeling incredibly guilty that I wasn’t making and marketing my jewelry before the holidays.

In December, I decided that all of this feeling guilty was silly. Which is why for 2019 I’m choosing a word, instead of making resolutions or even picking a focus: FLOW. I’m just going to go with the flow and do what I feel compelled to do when I feel compelled to do it. I’m going to get carried away by my passions during their season and let their leaves wither and die when their time is done.

I do hope I can accomplish some of the more quantifiable goals I have, but I’m not going to beat myself up if they don’t happen or sacrifice my natural rhythm into order to force them into existence:

  1. Cover 1000 miles either by foot or bike
  2. Participate in an organized bike race or ride
  3. Climb a 14er or two or three
  4. Get back into half-marathon running shape
  5. Go backpacking
  6. Participate in a craft fair
  7. Finish a first draft of my memoir
  8. Re-establish a regular yoga practice
  9. Continue to grow my yoga teaching business either through regular classes, workshops or a retreat
  10. Establish a meditation practice

I hope going with the FLOW will also enable me to better shed the “shoulds” and live more authentically. To show up for myself, my family, my friends, my clients and my students with more honesty and compassion. To create space in my life to listen and heal.

The Tootsie Roll at the Center of Every Really Good Goal

My writing instructor sent me an email this week outlining what I’m supposed to bring to the first class on Monday, January 8th. She explained and then she spelled it out again, just to be clear. Or (the expression that comes to mind is) to rub salt in my wounds.

  1. 20 consecutive pages, plus
  2. The 5 first pages of my book

This scares me. The expectations laid out in the class description were explicit when I registered. Writers were to be a minimum of 20 pages into their projects. For weeks I waffled.

Maybe I had 20 pages. Maybe. Disjointed fragments scribbled in this notebook and that one, relatively cohesive paragraphs mixed in with emotionally volatile journal entries, half finished posts decaying in my WordPress drafts folder and one tiny file on my hard drive. Maybe all of this together totaled 20 pull-out-your-winter-coat kind of drafty pages. On some level, though, I understood that this is not what the instructor had in mind. So I didn’t register.

Until the day I did. I’m not sure what changed. Certainly none of those questionable pages. It felt more like some deep rooted wisdom came bubbling to the surface. This was the class that would demand I stop dicking around, that would challenge me to stop thinking about writing a book and start actually writing it.

Now I am faced with reality. I have to pull these pages together in a week and it’s stressing me out. I am uncomfortable. Which is wonderful because I know it means I made the right decision.

I went through a similar thought process a few months ago when a 17 mile trail race, complete with ~3800 feet of elevation gain, caught my eye. The Sawmill Trail Runs. Maybe there was just enough time to train, to build up to a sufficient load at a safe enough rate. Maybe. But probably not. So I didn’t register.

But a seed was planted in that deep rooted place. Every late night Google search linked back to the same race, the internet’s own circular reference. So I compromised. I scrawled a training plan in a notebook I later lost and told myself I would play it by ear. If I managed to put in enough training, without getting injured, I would register right before the race.

The last time I felt that excited about running was 5 years ago, marathon training in between my husband’s rotating shift schedule and breastfeeding a brand new baby. Since then I’ve run a half dozen or so half marathons and who knows how many 3-10 mile races, but I’ve missed the Tootsie Roll at the center of every really good goal – uncertainty.

I waited so long to register I didn’t get a t-shirt. But I toed the line. And I was reminded of something as I ground my way up the final stretch to the finish. That messy space just outside of our comfort zone, where there are no guarantees – that’s where the magic happens.

Registration for the next scary thing opens January 20th: 32 miles and 7250 feet of elevation gain. I’m not confident I will be able to finish before the cut-off, which is wonderful because now I know. There won’t be any waiting around this time.

Photo Credit: Sawmill Trail Runs by Human Potential Running Series

Happy Day After Thanksgiving

Happy day after Thanksgiving friends!

The other day, a friend of mine asked me about the holidays. I told her I expect them to be both hard and wonderful. And that’s pretty much exactly how yesterday went.

I stopped by my parents’ house in the morning to pick up a serving bowl and a pot to steam green beans. Visiting their home is always difficult, and the holiday only made it more emotional. My memories of the last two Thanksgivings were vivid:

2015 – Mere days before my mom’s diagnosis
2016 – Deep rooted gratitude, knowing it could be my last Thanksgiving with my mom

So it was hard.

But then it was also a beautiful day with my little family and old friends of my parents’ that treat us like family.

Big Girl tells me she’s grateful for family and food. Baby Girl is thankful for Christmas. And I can’t really blame her, seeing as how I’m planning ahead too.

I’m taking 25% off all orders over $20 and all custom orders in my Etsy shop through the end of the day Monday, 11/27/17. Humor me, please, and check it out! I’d love your feedback, even if you don’t buy anything. Stuff like:

  • I like that thing, but I wish you had it in a different color.
  • That’s cool, but just a little too expensive.
  • I’d like something like that if it were a different size.
  • Hey, have you ever thought about making something like this?

I hope everyone has a relaxing weekend full of family, friends, yummy leftovers and maybe even a run!

1 Year to Easy Running

A few weeks ago I was gifted with a sudden burst of motivation. Usually, I’m a meticulous planner. If it’s not on a list and the calendar, it generally doesn’t get done. But over the last several weeks, I just went and did all sorts of things I’ve fantasized about getting done “one day.” It turns out “one day” was the 1 year anniversary of this business! I didn’t even realize it until after the fact. How cool is that?!

Let’s now take a look at the 3 big anniversary presents my motivation produced:

1 Year to Easy Running

This is a free, introductory training plan for all those who don’t think they can run, but secretly want to.

Here’s what you need to start: absolutely no running experience.
Here’s what you need to finish: commit to walk/run for 20 minutes 3 days/week for 1 year.

The backbone of this plan is a gentle build up. The gentle build up sets this plan apart from other plans you’ll find on the web. This is for all my friends, all of you, who’ve tried running and quit because it hurt. Or because it just felt way too hard. Or because you burned out.

I designed this plan for YOU.

A whole year is a big commitment. I know. But once you start, I think you’ll find it’s not so bad. And then – BAM! – a year later you’ll be running easy.

Read more about it over here or subscribe to the blog and download your free copy today.

LauraWJewels on Etsy

I moved my mala and gemstone jewelry shop over to Etsy, and I’ve been working furiously to upload my inventory. I also plan on cranking out more inventory before having a big sale Black Friday through Cyper Monday. (And then I’ll probably add even more inventory the first couple weeks of December.)

So check it out, and keep checking it out, and let me know if you can’t find what you’re looking for. I love custom orders!

Website Revamp

Last, but not least – I completely revamped my website. So come on over and check it out. (You may need to clear out your browser history if you haven’t done so since the last time you stopped by.)

Happy Anniversary Friends!


A Cataclysmic Transition

I taught my first public yoga class (for adults) on Sunday and had a blast. I wasn’t quite sure what to expect for turnout and was both thrilled and terrified to find myself facing a full room at the start of class. Thankfully half of them were familiar faces. Seeing their smiles and knowing they were rooting for me helped dim my nerves.

The theme of the class was “playing with balance”. I tried to keep things light and encourage experimentation, to give people permission to fall down and make mistakes, to try something new. Of course everything we practice in yoga asana, the physical postures, can be applied to our lives off our mats. And I wouldn’t be an authentic teacher if I weren’t asking myself how this applies to my own life.

The truth is a transition is taking place. The ground is shifting beneath my feet. Tectonic plates sliding against one another, cracks snaking their way along the pavement, bits of rock, gravel and dust rising from the trail like popcorn in hot oil.

I felt a handful of minor earthquakes during the ten years I lived in the San Francisco Bay area. They were all small enough that they were over by the time I found myself answering, “Yes,” to the question of, “Is this an earthquake?’ The most notable evidence was invariably the shelves, thoughtfully bolted to the walls, shaking side-to-side, never deviating more than an inch from the centerline. Maybe a book fell over once. They were certainly never strong enough to pick up something as big as a person.

Yet, here I am, sitting with the great, big question, “Where will I land?”

My mom is dying. She has, arguably, been dying for the last year and a half. Or, for that matter, since the day she was born. I guess the difference is she is no longer trying to stop it.

When I started this business I told myself I would give it one year. I would commit to blogging weekly and make every effort to attract business for one year. Then I would reassess. Part of me feels like a failure for what comes next. It’s only been 8 months since I opened up shop. I feel flaky and childish, like it was irresponsible to start a business without one clear and simple direction.

But I am trying to listen to my own damn advice. Cues I gave during Sunday’s yoga class, without even fully hearing them myself.

Can we go any deeper?

Can we push ourselves further?

Maybe today we try something new.

We invite that sense of play and experimentation.

And if we fall down, we remind ourselves that it’s okay.

We take a breath and get right back to it.

My path forward is very clear to me. (For now, anyway.) It took some time for the knowing to become conscious and then to get out of my one year contract. And even more time still to say it out loud to myself, to my husband and now to you.

To be clear – I am keeping this business open. I will continue to jump at the opportunity to take on a new run client. I will continue to make Yoga Inspired Jewelry because it’s fun and sell it because why not? If a job teaching yoga falls in my lap I will swiftly and happily snatch it up.

But, for the time being, I’m not going to put effort into marketing myself or this business. I will still blog occasionally, but not every week. From your perspective not much else will change here. What you might not notice is the weight knocked off my shoulders, a (perhaps fortunate) causality of this cataclysmic transition. I’m letting go of the pressure and expectations. I’m giving myself permission to experiment, to try something new and to fall down. Profits will be what they are… or not.

I’m doing this to create space for more important things. Like caring for and spending time with my mom. And one more thing.

I’m going to write a book. I’m not going to wait.

Photo Credit: Cracked highway near Long Beach, 1933 by CIR Online is licensed under CC BY 2.0 / Original cropped