Reading time: 2 minutes
The two most significant days in each of our lives are the day we are born and the day we die. These form the front and back cover of our unique and fascinating book of life. Everything on the pages in between is a story, bound together with glue at the seams, filled with a lifetime of experiences of love, joy, sadness and, above all, personal growth.
We grow from babies to children to young adults to adults. And when our bodies stop growing and slowly start contracting as we age or become ill, we then have the choice to continue growing on the inside. To enjoy the wisdom that comes with age, experience and mistakes we have made. To be thankful for those mistakes and what they have taught us. To learn from life’s challenges and inevitable curveballs.
I haven’t experienced many back covers closing in my lifetime, but 2017 was a year of one book after another being closed. And while it is easy to put books on a shelf and let them gather dust over the years, there is one very important book I want to celebrate today. A book whose beautiful cover was crafted 66 years ago on December 15, 1951 and whose back cover was prematurely closed on March 4, 2017. A book I would read over and over and over again, because there are so many stories of love, creativity, adventure and growth within it.
I love you more than ever Mom. You had worried that people would forget you as they move on with their lives. For me, the opposite could not be more true. While I am trying hard to find contentment in a life without your physical presence, to grow through this experience, I am realising that life without you isn’t possible. I will never forget you, or what your life meant and still means to me, and to those whose hearts you still live within. December 15 will always be your birthday, and your book will always be sitting warmly, prominently on a shelf in my heart.
Happy Birthday, Mom. I am forever grateful you were born.
Reading time: 3 minutes
I can’t tell you how many people have asked me why I want to teach yoga. Why would I leave my well-paying and highly respected corporate job...to teach yoga? Why would I waste all the education I worked so hard for...to teach yoga? I was even told that there are so many yoga teachers and yoga studios out there already; the world doesn’t need another one.
If hairdressers and restaurants took on this same advice there wouldn’t be 3 of each thriving in my small town of 5,000 people. They had a passion with a vision and they went with it. And the world made space for them.
Yoga has become so popular that it is offered in the workspace and schools, at homes for the elderly and rehabilitation centers. Yoga has also become so commercialised, with advertisements of people with the perfect yoga body doing the perfect advanced yoga pose in the perfect yoga outfit, that many people are intimidated to even try yoga. I have met several people over the years who have told me they are not flexible enough or strong enough or fit enough to do yoga. I have never owned the highly coveted Lulu Lemon pants and probably never will, as that is not what yoga is about for me.
Yoga is not about the shape of your body; it is about the shape of your life.
Yoga brings me back to who I truly am. Yoga simplifies my life. It brings me out of the sometimes obsessive thoughts in my head and back into feeling my body. It brings me closer to my more difficult emotions, which helps me process them and let them go, freeing up space for the feel-good emotions.
Life makes sense when I am on my mat, and each time I practice yoga I bring a little bit more of that feeling of clarity and grounding back into my life off of the mat. It is no coincidence that it was in yoga class that the idea of becoming a yoga teacher broke through the walls of my heart and traveled to the realm of my thoughts.
And that thought, of sharing the beauty of yoga with others, of helping others to benefit like I have, kept nagging at me, despite the naysayers, or the fear of change, or the intermittent self-doubt.
I now have the opportunity to use my business knowledge and experience (think strategy, P&L, marketing, tactics!), no longer within the safety net of a corporation with a paid salary. I am challenged to go out of my comfort zone, to feel the fear and do it anyway. To face the uncertainty that comes with being an entrepreneur, even if on a very small scale.
These are the facets of business that I read about in business school but never had the opportunity to practice until now. It is exciting to be able to draw upon different parts of my education than before, following half of the guidance and throwing the other half out out the window, being brave enough to follow intuition and heart instead.
Have I mastered all the lessons I want to teach? Not at all. Most good teachers will admit that they must continually work on practicing what they preach. We teach what we need to learn, and some of the deeply ingrained habits and thought patterns we want to change take years of practice to reprogram. But there is a deep knowing that I have something to share that will be valuable to someone, hopefully to many.
Check out my classes at www.michelleborner.ch/yoga. Try out a class. Share with your friends. The world might not need another “yoga teacher”, but it certainly needs more community, more consciousness and much more love.
It seems my thoughts and feelings about my Mom's death prefer to express themselves in the form of poetry, something I haven't written much of since my teens. I'll be playing a card game with the kids, or trying to fall asleep at night, when suddenly words come flowing into my head. I stop what I am doing to grab my journal (I have many; the one titled "Life is a Journey, not a Destination" feels fitting for poetry) and let the words flow to paper.
I've asked myself many times why I even bother posting my thoughts. The answer is an honest "I don't know", but I decide to let intuition guide me and not worry about who is going to read it, and whether it will mean anything to anyone. It means something to me.
Originally written on April 14, 2017:
I've asked myself a million times
Why her? Why now? Why this?
She still had so much life left to live
So much love left to give
The question swirls in my mind, my heart, my soul
It just swirls, and swirls, and swirls
Until I see that there is no answer why
My dear Mom had to die
Why her? Why now? Why this?
It simply just is.
The answers hurts my mind, my heart, my soul
But also helps me work on letting go, and go, and go
I love you so, so much Mom.
Reading time: 3 minutes
Harmony is beautiful! Life balance is achievable!
Or so I always thought.
The ‘Wheel of Life” is a practical self assessment tool often used in coaching to help us determine which areas of our life are flourishing and which need more attention. The Wheel of Life suggests there are 8 common elements that need to be nurtured in order for us to feel content in life. There are many variations on the Wheel of Life, but most include health, family, personal growth, finances, career, relationships, social life and some combination of spiritual, mental and emotional well-being.
The significance and relative importance of each factor varies by individual, heavily influenced by how we have been nurtured as children. I used to think that finding the perfect balance of these elements was a journey with a final destination, a goal to be reached and maintained.
As if once I had that magic "life balance formula" figured out, I could just keep it going like a well-oiled machine of happiness.
Maybe if I really mastered the perfect mix, it would be a clear path to enlightenment, where unicorns slid down rainbows to wake me up to each blissful morning. I even had the idea to determine what this magic formula was for me, and then to write a book about how you too could calculate your ideal balance between the 10 elements.
Then I got distracted with moving my husband, 2 cats, 2 kids and a household of belongings halfway across the world from one continent to another. The time and motivation to develop formulas and write a book fell to the wayside. I felt frustrated that life felt so out of balance once again.
I couldn’t understand why some days everything seemed to flow beautifully and other days were such a struggle.
I became convinced it was my lack of ability to be consistent in nurturing each of these elements in life, and that I just needed to put more focus on it. Whenever I hit a streak of harmony where there was a really positive atmosphere at home, I felt like I'd finally "gotten it". And then I was inevitably frustrated and disappointed in myself when that harmony faded as quickly as it came, each and every time.
But in the midst of settling into my new home and guiding my kids and family through the transition, I realized something that felt pretty groundbreaking to me. I realized there was a pattern that not only I kept following, but also my friends and family near and far.
I became more open about sharing my own trials and tribulations, and this opened the doors for others to step away from their picture perfect social media lives and show me their vulnerable sides too.
Time and again, they failed to maintain any sort of consistency in balancing what was important to them, just like I did. We went through phases of feeling like life is beautiful and that perhaps we had finally figured out the key to health and happiness. We ate healthy, had fulfilling relationships, thriving careers, stable emotions.
Until things undoubtedly – every time – changed. And then we would suddenly find ourselves in phases of struggle and stress, feeling like everything was falling apart at once. “When it rains, it pours” had been a theme of many conversations.
And we all went through times where it wasn’t pouring, but we experienced ups and downs all in a day's work. So many of us failed to see that while life as a whole might have seemed out of balance, the whole didn't matter so much as the moments did. There were moments of happiness and harmony to cherish, moments of sadness or fear to feel and move past, and it was perfectly normal if they all happened on the same day.
What I learned from listening to others and observing my own experience from a detached perspective is that life is not about finding a constant static state of contentment. Or of harmony. Or of balance.
Life is constantly changing by nature.
The broader picture of life, of birth, growth, decline and death, is happening on a micro scale in our experiences every single day. When we are conscious of that change in motion and embrace it, we suffer less. We can feel less attached to the emotions of the moment, feeling them but not getting dragged down by fear or sadness, or hanging on to joy too tightly.
It is the attachment that creates the suffering, while detachment creates freedom and facilitates the ability to handle change without suffering. During difficult moments we can gain comfort that we will have joyful moments too. During joyful moments, we can allow ourselves to be fully present and enjoy it with gratitude, rather than hanging on to the false belief that this moment will last forever, only to feel disappointment and despair when it doesn’t.
All of those years I had been trying to change the balance of those 8 elements, to essentially change my external environment to find balance. When really what needed to change was my attitude towards life balance, my expectations about achieving a constant state of harmony.
Change is the only constant in life. And now I realise just how beautiful that is.
Michelle Borner, a mom on 23 missions, blogs about her Deep Thoughts on a wide range of topics from parenting to conscious living to lessons from brain cancer.
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