Things You Probably Don’t Know About Me

In high school, I won a choreography award, beating out dozens of young women who had been dancing since they could walk. I had only been studying for three years.

In college, I was very nearly persuaded to change my major from education to art. I changed it mathematics. I should have chosen art.

I worked as a legal assistant during one summer break from college. I loved picking juries, and I was pretty good at it. I took the LSAT in 2009 and scored 162. I don’t want to be a lawyer.

I ran away from home at age 4. Next door to my grandmother’s house. I only packed bikini bottoms.

As a child, I deeply believed that the only way to go to heaven was to save someone’s life.

When I’m having a panic attack, I silently repeat “Hold Your Shit Together” until I can breathe again. It almost always works.

My ears are uneven. My pierces were placed in a different location on each lobe so that earrings would look even.

I have co-written two books. My name does not appear on either cover, though my first name appears in the dedication of both.

When I’m alone, I read books aloud in an English accent. And I make whatever gesture or facial expression is being described.

I learned to eat with my left hand to keep from bumping elbows with my college roommate who always sat on my right at meals.

I really, really love being alive.

Killing Monsters

I have a story to share with you, but it requires another story, first. Some context:

I have on my life list as item #11: Ice Skate. And while those two little words might not seem like such a big deal, they are to me. Those two little words sum up a huge amount of fear.

For years, I’ve been telling myself, and anyone else who’d ask, that it was a fear of having my fingers cut off by some errant skater when I fell down. I’m running on the assumption that I will fall down, probably many, many times, before I manage to actually ice skate. And the fear of having my fingers chopped off made it easier to stay off those skates and away from that ice.

Until last week. When husband wanted to ice skate. Which brings me to the real story I have to share with you:

Husband suggested that I could watch while he skated (note: he’s only skated once before in his life. This is kind of a big deal for him, too.) And while he attempted to not fall down, I could capture some amusing photographs documenting his caper. I could laugh at his “heroics.”

Except that I stood in that ticket line with him, shaking in fear. And anger. So I convinced him – manipulated him – into walking away from something he so dearly wanted to do. I was intentionally stealing his joy.

But kind man that he is, he insisted that I tell him what in hell was going on in my head. Because stealing his joy and walking away had not reduced my fear/anger and had not improved my mood.

“What’s going on?” he asked.

So, of course, I yelled at him. “I’ll tell you what’s going on. I hate that you’re braver than me. That I’m shaking in fear and you’re laughing. And I’m not really scared about having my fingers cut off or of falling down. I KNOW THAT I’M NOT GOING TO BE GOOD AT THIS, THAT I’M GOING TO FAIL SPECTACULARLY, AND I’D RATHER JUST AVOID THE PAIN OF FAILURE THAN ACTUALLY ATTEMPT SOMETHING I KNOW I’M NOT GOING TO BE GOOD AT.”

And he just hugged me. “I’ve got you.”

“I want to be braver that this. And I know in my soul that if I walk away tonight, that this monster is going to get bigger. It’s going to be harder next time to say yes to trying this new, scary thing. If I don’t go into that rink with you, I’ll regret it for the rest of my life. And I kinda hate that I’m jealous of how fearless you are.”

You see, dear friends, I had looked into this man’s eyes and seen the disappointment and discouragement. If I shut the door to his adventure, we would have lost something precious.

I have to face myself in the mirror everyday, and I would have to acknowledge that I had stolen something precious – to admit, every. single. day., that I had hurt the one person who loves me most.

Because I am afraid to fail.

That monster of fear with the big, pointy teeth? Me.

It’s really hard to admit that the thing you’re most scared of is yourself. Or at least that the monster is some ambiguous mental creation, rather than something real. But admit it, we must. And I did.

On January 2nd, I looked my husband in the eye and asked him in trembling voice to take me iceskating. “Help me kill a monster?”

And he took my hand. “Of course.”

Personal Commandments

Lately, I’ve been thinking about The Happiness Project, and some of the tools Gretchen Rubin recommends, specifically the Personal Commandments – the internal rules we hold so dear that they define our interactions with the world. And I thought I’d share mine:

1. Know thyself. Become who you are.

2. Be kind.

3. Trust your gut.

4. Don’t save stamps.*

5. Slow down.

6. Avoid assholes.

7. Get dressed. Show up. Be present.

8. Do the work.

*This one takes some explaining. In our house, saving stamps means holding on to past injustices as a way to justify present anger. It’s counterproductive and defeats Commandment #2.

So, what about you? Do you have a list of personal commandments that direct your life? Please share!

Getting Back Into The Groove

My most successful years in sales were when I was running 2-3 times a week and practicing Ashtanga Yoga 2 times a week. I maintained that schedule for several years. And loved it.

But I totally abandoned both practices after accepting a super-high-stress, super-high-travel job. Don’t get me wrong, I was extremely successful in that job, too, if money is your only measure of success. Mentally and physically, I was a wreak. True story. Just ask my husband. And my family. And my friends.

I read somewhere that it should* take about three months to bounce back when you leave that kind of job. It’s taken me a year. So either, I’m an aberration or I suck at bouncing back. Either? Both?

Regardless, I’m joining a new company on Monday and could not be more excited. The job means I get to do what I love to do – which is help teachers and administrators make school better for a generation of kids who live and breathe technology. (We’ll talk about that more in the coming weeks.)

So, in a return to my foundational practices of success, which are really more about self-discipline and structure than anything else, I’ve resumed yoga.

And boy oh boy, has this week been a fun reminder of why I maintained a practice so consistently for so long. It’s also been a reminder that if you take a break from yoga, your muscles will forcibly remind you that you are Seriously. Out. Of. Practice.

My muscles are shaky. But I’m reminded of the central tenets of successful living – breathing, centering, connecting with your body, meditating. It’s the focus on wholeness that I really love about yoga. It’s not just about moving your body; it’s about being present and attentive. And whole.

P.S. My current favorite phrases are Uddiyana Bandha and Chaturanga Dandasana. Because they’re fun to say.

*I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again. Should is a guilt word and when you find it, kill it.