I am not going to sugar coat this post, I am not going to tell you about my summer through Facebook smiling pictures which hide the reality of life. I am going to be raw and authentic about the last few weeks, because no-one is helped when you are not truthful.
So here it is – my summer was tough! The first week of school has been tough! I had a major parent fail on the second day of school when my youngest (5 years old) refused to go back to kindergarten and I just lost it. In addition, I took a summer hiatus from teaching yoga AND unfortunately didn’t make it to any classes. Hence I have not practiced any yoga for 4 weeks (and counting!).
It seemed like it didn’t matter whether we were at the pool, beach, out on a day trip or traveling abroad, my kids still bickered and argued, annoyed each other like it was an Olympic sport, and managed to make me forget every good parent advice and technique I have ever learnt!
I spoke to one of my wise friends over the weekend (a mum of 5 boys!) and told her about my summer experience. Her response – “Why did you think it would be any different? Kids are kids wherever they are, and will behave as such whether you are at home or on your dream holiday”. I realised she was right. Which brings me to a thought I have written about before – Stress is created when reality DOES NOT meet expectations.
How many of us have visions of how we expect or wish our kids would behave. How many of us dreamed about how this summer would be just perfect? How many of us have expectations of how we will respond in a particular situation. Of course the concept of expectations meeting reality applies to a multitude of life and business situations. In every case the expectation is an artificial creation that we make, based on some ideal alter-reality that we concoct in our heads. And in case you haven’t realised it already – reality NEVER lives up to those expectations. All that is created is a sense of shame, guilt, embarrassment, failure and disappointment.
Of course in hindsight I know my kids had a great summer – we went to the pool, beach, day trips and a great two-week holiday abroad. THEY won’t remember the arguing and shouting. They will only remember the summer through the great photobook I will eventually make with amazing memories! But I WILL remember it, the exhaustion, the draining arguments, the threats and not-implemented punishments. All I can hope for, is that I have learnt some lessons about myself, about my kids and about my expectations, which will help me manage the next vacation.
Which brings me to my most important insight of the summer. I did NO yoga and I felt it!
Yoga is the type of complementary therapy whereby the effects are gradual and cumulative. Because it happens slowly and it is more powerful. Until one day you turn around and realise how different you feel, how differently you approach things, how your perspective has shifted, how your body feels more relaxed and you don’t have that lower back pain anymore.
So after a few weeks of NOT practicing Yoga, my body and mind slowly felt it. I have small aches which I haven’t felt in ages, my muscles feel a little stiffer, but more importantly I KNOW that I had less patience to deal with the craziness of summer because I was not giving myself that space to calm down, balance my emotions and to connect to my body. There was NO time for myself and I gave everything I had to my family. And I know that that is a recipe for disaster. It was just another life lesson that got lost in the summer madness.
As the late great Mayo Angelou said “Do the best you can until you know better. Then when you know better, do better.” So what do I know now that will make it better next time?
Firstly, drop all the expectations and accept the reality of what is (easier said than done, I know).
Secondly, this summer has reminded my how intrinsic yoga is to my mental and emotional health and well-being. Without it, I lose my sense of balance and peace of mind.
Thirdly, and I guess most importantly, at the end of the day we did have a great summer. And this was just ONE summer. It passed, its over. And now we move on to the next life challenge and remember to feel grateful for every lesson we learn along the way.