in the hypnotic routine of the day-to-day, it’s easy for me to forget that we are fluid creatures, capable of – and arguably honed by evolution – to change, expand, grow endlessly throughout our lives.
sometimes the catalysts for change are tragic or just uncomfortable – unanticipated, unwelcome, an intrusion into my comfort zone. sometimes i choose them. regardless, those bursts of change are vibrant times when i feel the edges of myself.
i like that they have covered a huge range of growth zones in my life. six years ago, i jumped with both feet into a professional growth cycle that was an intense, incredible journey into being a creative director who could rehabilitate a team and help build the bridges necessary to change the way we did business. fifteen years ago, i experienced a burst of personal connections and relationship-building that to this day still nurture me. eighteen years ago, i waded up to the hips in my own pool of reflection, rooting around in the things that caused me heartache and began to emerge with a more clear idea of the person i wanted to be, and what habits and choices defeated that potential.
expansion is so delicious, but those periods of rapid growth have also taught me that it comes in cycles and that going all-in for too long can grind down the progress gained. grow, reflect, rest, settle, grow – they are the cycles of our life and a natural, healthy rhythm. i’m learning to draw more boundaries around these cycles so i can have and benefit from all the seasons, which is sometimes a battle all in itself.
i’ve been passing through a period of rest and settling – a bit of hibernation. but as i’ve been working through a feeling of being less connected in my relationships, i have inadvertently kicked off another cycle of expansion – focused this time around yoga and photography. both are awakening that pervasive feeling of extending who i am, nudging out my boundaries, propelling me into a new space, physically, mentally, intellectually. what started as a way to nurture myself and give my emotions a break as i did something productive with my time, has suddenly brought me back to that tingly feeling i wasn’t expecting.
yoga is perhaps my most long-standing lesson in slowly, patiently pursuing something. i’m definitely guilty of tossing something aside if i don’t get it quickly, and yoga is so multi-layered that i just keep coming back and peeling off another layer. my last two springs in Austin have fundamentally changed my practice. physically, i’m changing before my own eyes. my shoulders and back are becoming defined. my endurance is up, my aches are down, my sleep is filled with actual dreams instead of anxiety-laden nightmares (which is my usual state). i have sustained getting my ass out of bed at 5:45am 3 times a week to get to mysore class, which is nothing short of a miracle. i am so inspired when i look around that room – people discovering ashtanga and working every day to break through and just get comfortable (it’s such a climb) and folks who are beyond me, moving through asanas that currently break my brain and growing their practice sustainably. i love seeing every single person come to the mat and be where they are and push for that next boundary, reflecting and sharing my own experience.
the last time i felt so motivated by a physical pursuit was gymnastics as a kid. obviously, yoga is way more than a physical experience, but that component makes this time unique in my adult life. i don’t know where it’s going, but this ride is making me high as a kite for the time being.
my photography is now at almost 3 years of slow and steady expansion, but since arriving in Austin, it’s taken a new leap forward. while i’ve been working on technical skills and experimenting with How To Take A Picture and How Do I Want To Paint The World I See, i have focused very avidly on birding in the last 3 months (as everyone looking at my photos knows). what i didn’t expect was the naturalist self-education i was going to get along with it. there is a camera-geek angle to improving my technique, but as David has said, “you are like an 8 year old girl who can’t get enough of learning!” i LOVE that birding has made me a total geek for knowing about each species, learning about behavioral and nesting habits, researching all the wacky things i see and understanding more about the world i’m observing. my brain is soaking it all in and i feel intellectually stimulated in a way that i haven’t in years and years – certainly not outside of my professional life.
i’m not sure how long this expansion will last, but while it does, i am going to thoroughly enjoy my 8-year old curiosity and growing body awareness. it will be interesting to see how this changes my perspective and approach in future cycles.