Tonight’s post is for YOU. By “you”, I mean everyone who is a part of my community on a weekly basis. The loyal students who show up week after week to take my yoga classes and the people trying out my class for the first time ever. My dance family (#damily), the young ladies and gentlemen in my dance classes, and all the parents who entrust me with their kids’ dance education. My own favorite dance teachers, yoga teachers, & trainers. Right now I’m thinking about the friends and family who have given me advice lately (and vice versa), and every single person who has admitted to me that they are riding the struggle bus this week (ALLL ABOARD!!) This is for anyone who has recently thanked me for something, or told me I was doing a good job. Most of all, this is for any one of you who have commented on your enjoyment of some of my recent and real blog posts in the past couple of weeks. It’s vulnerable and scary. But it also feels good for me to be able to deconstruct the mass of jumbled thoughts in my brain and put them out there in a way that helps me make sense of things. It’s easier for me to say things in this space that can help inspire you to reconsider the way you take care of yourself. It’s so much more difficult to apply these same ideas to my life. I know that I am in a bit of a position of power in my line of work. I can be a role model. A “force for good” as I like to call it. Or I can encourage destructive behaviors and perpetuate the mainstream media’s message that we are not enough as we are. I prefer the former.
About a week ago I had one of my yoga students ask me why I always seem to be so upbeat and cheerful. She wanted to know what my secret was. I had to laugh a little, because at the time she pointed this out, I was actually in a terrible mood. I’m glad that I seem to come across this way. I feel like I am generally a pretty happy person. But I’m also secretly (now openly?) a bit of a mess too. It’s people like her who apparently look to me for guidance on being more positive that inspire me to keep working towards it.
“It’s funny when people think ‘yoga people’ are supposed to be calm. NO. We’re all here because we’re nuts.”
I am so very nuts. Just a few weeks ago, I taught a Yoga Sculpt class where I kept reminding everyone to give themselves permission to take the day off the next day. “Work hard today guys, I don’t wanna see your face around here tomorrow.” I’m not saying that you have to do anything in particular to earn the right to take a day off (from work, a workout, or whatever), but I know so many people who have the hardest time doing that. One of them is me.
I was thinking about this yesterday. It was a gorgeous day and I had stopped by lakefront to just chill. This has become a new habit of mine whenever I have some spare time, am not too far from the water, and it’s a nice day out. I had planned to go to the gym in between this activity and teaching, but as I was sitting on the rocks watching the waves crash up, I noticed how incredibly sore my shoulders were. Crunch-free core work in my new contemporary class warmups was clearly taking it’s toll. I also noticed that I was just plain tired. Being back to a full school-year schedule of dance teaching always takes a lot out of me for the first couple of weeks. I was happy there on my rock. I wanted to sit for awhile. Journal. Walk along the shore with no shoes on. But in the back of my head, that nagging voice (I call her B&$%! Jenna) was telling me that I was being lazy and making excuses. “25 year old Jenna would have gone for a run and taken two dance classes anyway…” Then it dawned on me: the old me might have been a little bit skinnier, but she wasn’t necessarily stronger. The old me always had a cold and some sort of injury, and needed triple grande lattes to get her through most of her crazy days. And in spite of her size 4 Lululemon tank tops and booty shorts, that Jenna wasn’t all that happy with her appearance anyway. So I sat and looked at this for awhile, and thought about that.
It’s still really hard for me to call myself out on my own ridiculousness sometimes. But I do it because I see myself in you guys. I know that every time I allow myself to sit back and enjoy a beautiful day in a way that feels good to me, it might make someone like you consider doing the same. Eventually I had to leave, and as I was walking back to my car, I smiled an elderly woman walking towards the beach in a black one piece swimsuit and a little headscarf. Joyful and carefree, she smiled right back and exclaimed “What a beautiful day!”. Yes. Yes it was. In that moment was glad I had stuck around for awhile to soak it up. As I drove off to work, I saw her swimming in the water, the only person in the lake that afternoon. She had it right, in more ways than one. I don’t want to wait until I’m a grandma to figure this stuff out. So I skipped the gym for the day. Instead I chatted with the dance office staff, said yes to the chocolate when my boss offered it, and I went on to have a great night of teaching with no coffee needed. This stuff is hard. So thank you for being you. For reading this to the end. For giving me a reason to keep doing what I do. You guys inspire the heck out of me.