My husband claims I am very bad at dealing with change. And I’m not here to tell you that he is wrong. Sure, I’m great with small changes – shifts in schedules or plans, adapting to a new look or hairstyle, or taking on a task or challenge – but the big changes really throw me for a loop. Deciding to move, changing careers, buying a new car, going on a big trip – these take some time for me to process as I try to understand how this new shift will affect my life.
The thing is I know I’m bad with change, which is probably why I gravitate towards jobs that challenge me in this manner. When I was acting professionally every couple of months your entire world would be turned upside down. A new show meant a different theatre, a new cast, director and production team, as well as, a change in living arrangements and a new town to get used to while performing in a given show. My writing gig is constantly evolving each year to the point where I can never really tell you when my busy season will be or when I will have breaks in which the company won’t need me. And teaching yoga demands that your schedule be flexible in a new way as you teach students at the crack of dawn, the middle of the day or late into the night to accommodate as many people as you can.
But that’s me. I could easily do many things with this life that would make it predictable and easy, but I’m never truly interested in something unless it challenges me. Processing change is definitely a challenge.
When I started performing in shows after college the only work I could get at first was dancing in the ensemble. Now, I danced in high school, but in college all I concentrated on was singing, as I was a Vocal Performance Major intending to audition for operas when I graduated. But I was tall and looked like a dancer and could sing loud and proud to hold up the vocal lines of the ensemble and was consistently hired even though dancing was not my strongest suit.
I forced my body to do a lot of things it probably should not have done to continue to work. You are taught in that field to always act as if you can do anything that is asked of you because if you can’t do it there are 500 girls lined up behind you to take your place. So when a choreographer demanded splits or a deep back extension, you just did it and dealt with it for the run of the show whether you could actually do it or not.
This is how I created so many imbalances in my body. There was one show in particular in which we barely danced at all, but that at the end of the last number we needed to kick as high as we could and then slam down into the splits. It was towards the end of this 4-month run that I started to feel lots of pain and discomfort in my left leg, dealing with sciatica for weeks at a time and developing tendonitis in the hamstrings.
The first time I tweaked my back was during rehearsals for a show. All I did was pickup a chair to move it to the other side of the stage and my whole back lit on fire. I would never complain about it though, you just took some ibuprofen and kept going. There were thankfully some deep back extensions in the choreography and knowing what I know now about how back bending heals the spine it probably was a blessing.
By the time I found the yoga I was in pretty bad shape. My left leg was a disaster, my back had a tiny bulge in the lumbar spine you could physically see, and when I looked in the mirror one shoulder and hip was naturally higher than the other. I had some work to do.
Over the past 7 years my body has changed significantly due to the yoga. My leg no longer throbs with pain, in fact it’s a rare day that there is any discomfort at all. My shoulders and hips actually line up when I look in the mirror as the body balances out with a consistent practice. But my back still gives me some trouble now and then.
Every couple of months it gets tweaked. But whenever this happens I choose not to get discouraged or mad, but excited. Sure, the following week after it tweaks is going to be extremely painful and humbling, but I also know that if I continue to practice to the best of my ability, when it heals up I will be able to go deeper into the postures. I refuse to get upset about it because I know that as my body gets more and more balanced through the process of the yoga practice there are going to be times where the shifts the body needs to make will not be easy to take.
I am asking the body to change, which is not an easy process. It took hundreds of performances and rehearsals to get my body into this state and it’s going to take a long time for it to heal up.
Change is never easy, but life is all about change. If we embrace the fact that life is constantly evolving and choose to go with the flow of it instead of digging in our heels and fighting it ,we may be in for the ride of our lives. We can take an easy ride down the river or choose to fight our way upstream – it’s our choice. So whether you’re dealing with a change in the body, a change in location, a schedule change, or whatever else may arise in your journey try not to grumble or complain, but rather find the excitement of this new change. It might bring around a whole new adventure you never dreamed of, invigorating you on your life’s path. Choose to embrace change and you will be embracing your life.
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