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Sunday, June 30, 2019

Just Use the Supports

Hello, friends! I'm trying to post at least once a month, and I'm in just under the wire!

--

Over my years of practicing yoga, I've become very fond of using my props.

There's some stigma across yoga communities

that using props is a sign of some kind of weakness;
that you aren't a true yogi 
unless you can bend your body into the right shapes on your own.

I laugh that most of our long-held traditions

originally came from a bunch of privileged dudes
who liked to hear themselves sound special.

So I'm pretty skeptical of anyone who tries to tell me

that those answers still hold true
in this culture
in this time
with our current people.

Our props are not supposed to be judgments.

Our props move the world around us and bring the poses to us
exactly where we are.

All so we can put our focus and energy in the right parts of our practice.

Finding openness.
Creating room to breathe.

So often, we just push and tug

and wind ourselves into painful, awkward versions of our poses
because we refuse to accept the supports.

We refuse to accept that we need the help.


--

Today in my yoga practice,
while deciding if I should use a prop in one of my poses,

my mind wandered to thoughts of this
self-imposed, unnecessary effort.

The effort we expend in our lives 
when we refuse the most productive path to our progress,
because we're afraid to ask for help.

Or we're afraid of being honest,
both with ourselves and with our loved ones.

So we struggle, and we suffer.
For no good reason.

Because we ALSO seem to be hanging onto traditions

that tell us that we're supposed to suffer for things we care about.

That if we are truly committed, 
we shouldn't give up when things get difficult.

We stigmatize mental illness and brush off therapy.

We feel bad just taking a day off to reset ourselves.

We think that doing something loving for ourselves is selfish.


--

I admit, I have a lot of de-programming to do.

You don't get to wake up one day magically cured of your baggage.

It's a process.
One that sure takes longer than we want it to.

Until then, though,

we have our supports.

We have the people and things in our lives 
that will help move the world for us and with us.

If only we would use them.


-C McG

Monday, May 13, 2019

Things

Friends! I'm wrapping up my Yoga Teacher Training this weekend and will have so much more brain space to write blog posts again. I'm so excited to share this next chapter of my life with you! Stay tuned!

For now, I saw and shared this comic from Webcomic Name on my personal FB account last week because it resonated with me in deep places in my heart I hadn't gotten to yet. And from my friends' responses, they really felt it, too. I love how simple ideas can really, oh, how do the kids say it..."Hit us right in the feels."

So, today, I want to write about things.

For today's purposes, I'll say that 'things' are anything in life that we're up to that can take up mental AND/OR physical, real-time space in our lives. Work, projects, friends, family, hobbies, chores, just like, THINGS, man.

To people who don't know me super-well, they think I'm very good at juggling many things.


To people who DO know me super-well, they know my collection of things seems to change every few months; that I seem like I quit a lot of things.

I have a very intense, very important balancing act that I practice when dealing with things.


1) I understand I have a limit to the amount of thing-space I have. When I commit to a thing, I try to assess ahead of time how much mental/physical space it will take up. In other words, I assess not only how much time I'm actively engaged in doing the thing, but also how much time I'm going to mentally hold open to think about it when I'm not doing it. That also takes up space. My mental space can turn a relatively small thing on the surface into a LARGE thing, totally on accident. 

Sometimes I can anticipate that, and compare to my other things concurrently happening, and decline the new thing on the spot. But that's only sometimes. And, on a total side-tangent, the amount of mental space it takes me to tell someone "no" sometimes completely overrides declining a thing I don't want to do. It's ridiculous. I'm getting better, though.

2) Once I've committed to a thing, I may discern a shift in what my initial assessment was; if the new thing (or any thing, really) starts getting too big, mentally or physically, I can feel the space of the thing pushing against all the space I'm already trying to hold open for the other things. 

So I have to make a choice:

Can I shift the other things at all right now to allow the space for this thing to spread out? 

OR 

Do I have to let a thing go? 

There is ALWAYS a period of time where I try to just juggle it all and see if something will give and let the fullness deflate back to normal if I feel like something just needs to pass -- like a gassy burp, right? Is this a relatively short amount of time this discomfort is happening?

3) After awhile, though, it will become very clear that I've been too full, too bloated with things for too long, and something has to give. And the question I ask myself at the time is:

What is the thing that is too big for no good reason right now?

I can handle big things really well, as long as they are supposed to be big, and I've mentally and physically opened space and prepared for it (hello, Yoga Teacher Training). And in the midst of my big things, I can juggle a lot of little things.

It's all about timing and return on investment, really.

It's not about the actual thing, or the person asking me to do it. I will do things I hate if they don't take up much space, and I'll stop things I love if it's unnecessarily taking too much space.


What I think is hardest to understand and see about me, is that the same thing can take up little space one minute and take up lots of space another minute. Those are almost always mental space shifts. They ebb and flow.

For me, my breaking point will always be, "Is all this space necessary, though? Or could I let this go and focus my space back into other things?"

Remember when I used to knit hats all the time?


When the shift happened from doing it for fun while I was watching TV to doing it because other people expected it from me, the space EXPLODED. Feeling the weight of deadlines and getting perfect matching yarns to make other people happy just really wore me down FOR NO GOOD REASON. And these were self-imposed expectations sometimes, too! It doesn't matter, though. Space is space. And I can either shift it, or I can't.

But now I've been away from it long enough that I can pick up my loom again from time to time, and it takes up very little space again.

So I never truly quit things. I just stop holding space for them.

If it's still in the world when I have space again,
I'll always come back again someday.

--

Now that I have finished my teacher training,

I will have a big physical space open again.

But to follow up with all the new things I want to do,
I'll need to leave that space open (mentally and physically),
even if there's not immediately a new thing to do.

That will be tricky for me,

but I will keep practicing.

-Classy McG




Sunday, March 3, 2019

Our Potholes, Our Selves

Kansas City is having a legit winter this year.
Snow, freezing snow water thundersleet, 
you name it.

Then the skies warm up for a few days,

melting most of the mess away.
And then the skies dump again,
further confusing the situation.

Due to erratic weather conditions, 

poor, not-well-maintained road construction,
or some combination of both those things,
KC has a huge pothole problem this year.

I, therefore, have a huge 
"complaining about potholes" problem this year.

This is my silly, "For Entertainment Purposes Only"
advice-of-the-month recommendation for you,
based on what particular fight you are having with the potholes.

"Ward Parkway pot holes are ruining everything!"
Your stubbornness to continue on the same path,
even when you know it hurts you,
is something you should examine more closely in other realms of your life.

What's keeping you from trying another path?
What are you afraid of?

Change IS difficult,

it takes so much adjustment,
so much trust in ourselves.

But we get so stuck in our ruts sometimes,

and those feelings spiral out in how we interact with others.

Examine where even the smallest change can be made.

See if that opens a new world of possibility.

"I keep hitting the potholes! My car is suffering! The repair bills are atrocious!"

Sometimes the path to our destinations
requires time and space to allow our safe arrival.

Why are we in such a hurry?
Why aren't we giving ourselves enough time to be ready for the unexpected?

When we're set on a goal, on our destination,

it's rarely an A-to-B type of journey.

We have to leave room for the detours,

the sudden stops.

We need to understand those little blips on our journey
are STILL part of our progress.
But we need to create the space for them to exist.

"The government is failing us! Where is all my tax money going?"

Do you often feel like everything should always go your way?
That somehow you deserve good fortune
because you are entitled to it somehow?

Existence is pretty unfair.
Or at least, ultimately pretty unbiased.


The value we place in ourselves and each other
and the expectations we place on institutions to protect us,
ultimately are only that, just values and expectations.
And very flawed ones at that.

Ideas and identities invented by humans

to try to force chaos into order,
to somehow protect ourselves from misfortune.

In your life, try to flip the narrative.

Try to practice not immediately trying to control others.
Try feeling your knee-jerk reactions,

acknowledging they exist,
and push them aside. 

Turn your work internally,
do something kind for yourself,
because you can only control yourself.

-C McG



Wednesday, February 6, 2019

Classy McYogi

Hi, friends! Sorry I haven't posted a whole lot this year yet.

The January tradition of "New Year, New Me" just wasn't feeling right.

I didn't make any big plans
or resolutions.

I haven't even stood on my scale yet this year.

I may never again.
JK, probably.


But that's just the mood I'm in right now.

Something so cool, though, is that I finally started Yoga Teacher Training.
So for the first time in a LONG time,
I'm back in a learning environment,
textbooks, tests, the whole thing!

I was so excited,
I had my husband take a "First Day of School" photo for me!


Along with that, I'm still working on my improv! My show calendar is always up-to-date in case you ever want to see me perform!


I've also starting doing a bit of coaching and directing, and I'm constantly pleasantly surprised at how much my yoga and improv practices overlap. They seem like they don't go together but they DO, and I'm HERE FOR THIS. And I will probably end up blogging about it a lot.

You know, whenever I find the time again.

So for now, I feel like I'm exactly where I need to be.

You'll see me posting most often on Instagram, and #classymcyogi is my yoga-related hashtag. I've been doing that for a few years, but it'll probably ramp the hell up now, lol.

Anyway, Happy 2019, whatever that means to you.

Love,

Classy McG

PS. I DID watch Tidying Up on Netflix, and YES, my workout T-shirts and my sock drawer are now meticulously folded and organized, thankyouverymuch.

Tuesday, December 18, 2018

Sorry

This will be almost a Part 2 or Follow-up to this post I made around this time of year three years ago. And I was probably 20 lbs lighter at the time and I was already hating myself again.

--

I've come to a crossroads with myself and my well-being.

There are two conflicting versions of myself

who just fight non-stop in my mind:

1) The me who is strong and smart and capable and confident in the knowledge I have in this world,

and

2) The me that got too fat and is a complete embarrassment to everyone around me. Remember that Wesley Willis song, "I'm sorry that I got Fat?" It just plays in a loop in my mind, and I haven't heard that song since college.

Conflicting Me Photo by Keith Curtis, June 2018


I'm to the point where I'm declining/avoiding social engagements (or going, but just extremely anxious the entire time I'm there) because I just feel like I'm a walking beacon of failure and "oh, gawd, look at what happened to her."

I'm to the point where I don't want to be in photographs anymore.

And I'm definitely to the point where FB Memories can fuck right off.

I've done enough reading this year (Health at Every Size by Linda Bacon is now at the very top of my recommended reading, OMG) to at least intellectually understand that going on diets is not good for us long-term. 


The constant food restrictions just send our bodies spiraling (psychologically, physiologically, just in EVERY WAY), and often CAUSES the very bingeing responses that we typically attribute to us just being shitty failure garbage people.

And as I ease up on myself and my food,

and just try to eat what I enjoy,
and just exist in the world,
the weight just piles back on,
and I'm too tired to fight anymore.

I have a life to live, and my weight is the least of my actual troubles.
My weight is society's problem.
It may very well be no actual problem,

and I'm just a misguided mess.

Which again, I understand intellectually.

--

A friend recently told me that in an improv class she took,
everyone was asked what their greatest insecurity is (or something like that).

And even though I wasn't there,
I knew my answer for sure.

I'm afraid that I'm too fat to be seen as a credible person, 
a person with value.

--

On the flip-side, if you've hung out with me at all lately, you know that I'm gearing up to begin a Yoga Teacher Training (YTT) program in January (the one where you learn ABOUT teaching yoga, and then get your 200-hours and can teach or do whatever you want) (Right now I still do not know what I want).

It's one of those things I've shuffled around in my mind forever (when I've been all kinds of sizes/shapes) that I finally decided "Ok, shit or get off the pot," so here we are.

And I've been so encouraged by people who immediately responded,

"Yay, I want to learn from you!"
and don't seem to notice
the fat hideous monster talking to them at that moment.

So hey, maybe despite of (or maybe because of) my exterior,

I can still be helpful and of use.

So, I'm going to keep trucking along.
I'm going to keep practicing

and teaching
and performing
and creating
and existing

and it'll probably be fine?

But for now,

I'm just sorry.

Because there's just a part of my brain

that feels like I've let YOU down
by not staying skinny.

And it's a LOUD part of my brain right now.


-C McG

Wednesday, November 28, 2018

Maintain Integrity


I've been thinking a lot of the word "integrity" lately.

in·​teg·​ri·​ty | \in-ˈte-grə-tē \

1: firm adherence to a code of especially moral or artistic values :INCORRUPTIBILITY

2: an unimpaired condition : SOUNDNESS

3: the quality or state of being complete or undivided : COMPLETENESS


--

When we practice our yoga poses,
as we move into the full expression of these asanas,
we're told to go ONLY as far
as we can maintain the integrity
of the pose.

After a certain point, 
we're negating the benefit of the work.

We have to acknowledge the boundary
between our safety and strength
and being over-extended and weak.

We yogis are notoriously bad at this, I think.
We see the videos, 
the instructors,
the Instagram photos,
our classmates,
and we can't help but judge ourselves against them.

We compromise ourselves
to fit someone else's expectations
and perceived accomplishments.

In our lives, we pull the same shit, of course.

We have a solid, whole foundation of our being
where we are productive, safe, and strong.

And we're flooded with external stimuli
that we think inform us about whether this foundation
is good enough.

We humans are notoriously bad at interpreting the data, I think.
We see the TV shows,
the celebrities,
the social media posts,
our friends and family,
and we can't help but judge ourselves against them.

So we push.
We add more workouts at the gym,
we stay at work longer,
we eat shit we hate,
we say "yes" to more obligations,
we give up our sleep.

And our foundations shake.

If you are constructing a building,
every brick you lay 
should add strength and stability to that unit.

Every time we try to add one more thing
that isn't moving us toward our foundation as a being,
we're just stealing those bricks
and throwing them on the ground nearby.

We're adding nothing.
We're weakening our foundation.
We're not building our home.

It takes a LOT of self-reflection,
maybe a lifetime of work,
to understand what our core values are,
what our true homework is.

But once we identify what builds us up,
what makes us strong,
what sustains our being,
the sooner we can stop wasting bricks.

At that point, 
when our building is complete,
everything we do further solidifies our whole.
Decoration,
life,
brilliance.

-C McG

Wednesday, November 21, 2018

Traditions

This time of year has been rough for me for many years.

This is the time of year where you are slapped in the face
with activities 
and plans 
and gatherings 
that seem to only happen because...
it's what we always do?

"It's tradition!" everyone will tell you.
"Don't you want to use this exact time to do these very specific activities to show love and honor to your past and present?"


It's an act of courage
to look your traditions
straight in the face

and tell them,
"You no longer serve me."

Often, traditions are rooted in oppressive,
racist, classist history.
Twisted responses to our old stories.
Stories that hurt a lot of people around us.
But we're too set in our ways to listen.
Too belligerent to try to understand.

And somewhere deep within us we know that.
And we try to break free and make new traditions
and listen to new stories
and create new love.

But the rest of the world continues to spin around us,
demanding that their traditions are still the best,
and create distance between us when we clash.

Tradition for tradition's sake isn't love.
It isn't remembrance.
It isn't honor.

I'd like to think that if our loved ones could see the evolution
of our lives, our selves, our new loved ones,
they'd understand why things need to change sometimes.

That we are able to still remember and love our past,
even if it looks a little different now.

That we can love each other all days in all ways,
not just certain ones at certain times.

You have my permission
to bail on your tradition.

Create something so new and so loving
that it begs to be repeated
year after year
day after day.

Hopefully something that involves way less wrapping paper and turkey.

-C McG