Recent thoughts on blogging

BeachWalkingBlogging

Perhaps you have noticed that the spaces between my posts get larger and larger? I’ve enjoyed sharing my tricks, tips, and even my life over the years with my blogging readers. I’ve spoken at Blogger 2013 and this past month at ShiftCon 2015. I have blogging friends, Twitter friends, and most recently, Instagram friends. People that I’ve never met in real life but I have shared important times with, and who encourage and inspire me every day.

Sometimes, truthfully, I hang onto the space just so that I won’t lose those friends. I want to say that I’m a blogger because I want to be with them.

But, truthfully.

As you probably know, I recently completed my yoga teacher training. I am in the midst of a study right now about making space in our lives for the divine, for the holy. In order to properly lead meditation, one must meditate.

With three new yoga classes per week and existing 1-2 Lagree classes to teach, where will this space to meditate and dwell come from?

It will not come from more activity. It will not come when the feeling of “I must do this next…” follows me every time I sit down for a moment.

My kids are growing up so fast. Little Sir just entered kindergarten, and Little Lady just cannot wait to join him. This is my last year at home with her. I cannot believe that he is not with us during the day anymore, and he never will be again. As much as I waited for the day when they would both be in school all day, I am already grieving for the time that is ending.

How will I spend this last year? Will I spend it dashing upstairs to get a blog post finished as they finish dinner? Will I spend it trying to drum up business for sponsored posts? Will I attend Twitter parties instead of putting them to bed at night?

No, my friends, I will not. Not because any of those things are wrong – many women with children enjoy them. I don’t. At least, not anymore.

And while the blogging conferences provided plenty of swag at Christmas time, the money for the travel could just as well have gone toward a family weekend.  And if I don’t spend the money at all, I don’t have to earn it through blogging, either.

I read the piece that Dooce published recently about stepping back from her own blogging. It felt a little bit like the end of an era. So many of the bloggers from those early years are stepping back. Gina of The Feminist Breeder, for example. Others have stepped back for a while and returned full force with new passion, like my friend Charmed Valerie.

Maybe I will be one of those who comes back in a few years with renewed vigor, who knows.

In yoga, we use the term “holding the space “. That phrase has been following me around for a few weeks. It describes the idea of sitting in silence (or even within activity around you) and waiting while something grows or becomes clear. It’s a nonjudgmental place, where there is no right or wrong answer. Just waiting to see what will happen, to understand what should happen.

Readers and friends, will you hold the space for me? I may visit now and then with some thoughts. But I am no longer going to promise to blog regularly.

For now, I am still loving Instagram, where you can find me @consciouslyjenny, and my new love is Periscope, where I am, incongruously, still @_conscientious. Please visit me there!
Love & hugs,

 

Jenny

Yoga Teacher Training in 2015? GoFundMe!

Jenny's YTT GoFundMe | Living Consciously Blog

I have a big announcement today: I have finally decided on my Yoga Teacher Training (YTT)!

It’s not at all what I would have thought.

When I first approached the idea of doing YTT, it was as an extension of my part time job teaching Pilates the past several years. I have enjoyed teaching so much, and have grown so much in my yoga practice since I’ve been doing Lagree fitness (the workout that I teach). However, my heart has always been with yoga. You can read more about my fitness journey in this post and this one.

Beginning in September of 2014, I dedicated Mondays while my children were in school to visiting yoga studios, meditating, reading, and listening. I was listening to see where I would be guided when it came to YTT. Was it something I should do at all? If so, when — now? Or when both children are in kindergarten (2016)? In what program should I enroll: fitness-centric, full out Sanskrit, a hybrid of the two?

In my exploration of the different types of yoga training, I stumbled across Holy Yoga. As I mentioned in my intro to Amanda’s guest post about Holy Yoga, the first time I heard of it, I literally laughed. And I know that a lot of my yoga friends and current clients might be laughing now (please see the FAQs, below). But I found that it was not much different than the yoga I’ve always done, except that before savasana, there is Scripture read instead of reading from the Bhagavad Gita or the teacher sharing personal thoughts. In Holy Yoga, the teacher may pray over the students in lieu of OMing, a practice which is beautifully explained by Holy Yoga founder Brooke Boon in this video. For me, this is just a natural extension of the faith that I already have. I already do these things in my mind during yoga.

200 Hours is a lot of hours to do anything. As I meditated on the potential directions my YTT could take, I was more and more lead to believe that what is right for me is to be trained in a manner that is an extension of how I already live and think, because I have to be fully fulfilled in my own spirit to be able to pass that peace and joy on to my students, regardless of their personal faith (or lack thereof). In other words, even if I do not end up teaching in the Holy Yoga format all the time, I want to attend a training in which I feel that I can be fully invested. I simply would not feel the same connection to a Hindu-based program, as I am not Hindu.

It has been difficult for me to accept something so “Christianized” sometimes. I am not so far removed from my years railing against the church that I can’t remember some of the fear, some of the exclusivity that I experienced. The last thing I want to do is exclude people, to become what I hated so much all of those years. So please know that I am choosing this training for me, to develop my own love and compassion for all in a manner consistent with my beliefs, the ones that you hopefully know me to have already. If I can grow more in love and knowledge through this training, I can bring that experience to each of my yoga participants. This journey should be the opposite of judgement or exclusivity.

There has been a shift in what I thought that I was looking for: in looking for a part time job, I actually found a ministry. What had started out as a way to earn extra money in a one-income family has become what some might label “a calling”.

I made this decision in the way that we are so often encouraged to dream: “What would you do if money was no object?”

It’s a great exercise, but once the decision has been made, we have to return to reality. Money IS an object. And YTT is not free.

I thought long and hard about the ways to go about this, and I’ve decided to share this opportunity with you. With everyone. Despite how scared I am of what you will think.

I worry that you will think “this is not really yoga” or that you might think “you are not really a ‘Christian’ if you’re going to teach yoga”. For a wonderful answer to both of those concerns, see the FAQs below and please take a moment to read this piece from Stephanie Moor on Mind Full Collective about caring what people think.

If this is truly a ministry, I will have to rely on others. I will have to trust. It will not be about my timing. So difficult for someone who has control issues! But nothing is impossible. To this end, I have set up a GoFundMe web site where I can collect the necessary funds for my Holy Yoga training.

On the GoFundMe site (the URL to Share is http://www.gofundme.com/JennyYTT), there is a breakout of all the costs associated with Holy Yoga YTT, including textbooks, flight to the immersion week, and childcare. There is also a shorter version of the background that I just shared with you.

I encourage you to do your version of praying, meditating, and asking questions to see if donating to my ministry is something you might feel led to do. I know that you might have questions, and you can email me any time at jenny{at}living-consciously{dot}com. But first, please check my FAQs below.

Namasté

Frequently Asked Questions

When do you plan to do this training?

I will not even enroll in the program fully until I have at least half of the entire amount needed. I would prefer to be fully funded before enrolling. Here is the schedule of trainings in 2015. I would do a 9-week session online followed by one of the week-long immersions. There is no timeline, since I am not yet enrolled. If I do not have the funds in 2015, it will be 2016…or even later.

I have wanted to take yoga from you, but I do not share your religious beliefs! If you get certified through Holy Yoga, does this mean you will only teach classes with a religious angle, effectively excluding me?

Absolutely not! I have practiced religion-neutral yoga for 11 years and taught Pilates (which is also philosophy-free) for 2.5 years. I can teach yoga with or without the Holy Yoga format. Yoga is a wonderful way to challenge the body and still the mind, regardless of your personal beliefs. It is beneficial for healing and promoting flexibility. I hope to eventually teach in mainstream studios as well as in the Holy Yoga format, you should have the ability to select which classes you would like. If you hire me to teach at a specific location, you can specify what format of class you would like me to teach.

If you’re spending all your time in Holy Yoga on bible study, is it a less intense anatomy and asana training?

Not at all. The Holy Yoga training program fully meets & exceeds the requirements of the Yoga Alliance as a Registered Yoga School (RYS), although they are NOT actually a certified RYS (more about why here). Holy Yoga training provides all of the comprehensive anatomy, safety, and asana training that is received by any other Registered Yoga Teacher 200 Hour course. The Holy Yoga certification is actually a 225 hour program, the bible study is added on in addition to the 200 hours of yoga instruction (not taking away from the 200 hours). Watch a testimonial from an instructor who has also experienced traditional trainings.

I DO believe in God and I’ve heard that yoga is from the devil!!

Personally, I began doing yoga when I was not following God or involved in a church. It was in the silence of yoga that I found God’s presence, despite my own running away. That does not seem like the devil to me. But people more eloquent than me have addressed this issue. Here is an excerpt from the Holy Yoga Training introduction manual:

Most Christians do not dislike yoga because they are educated about it, but because they are un-educated. We seek to educate in the light of the three modalities of yoga; the breath, meditation, and physical expression. While the word “yoga” does not appear in the Bible, if you look at those three modalities of yoga through the filter of the Word, you can see what the Lord says about the importance of them. The “yoking” comes together in Mark 12:30 where it says to ‘love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength’. It is the bringing together of all He has created us to be for a full immersion into worship. We tend to approach God as we do the rest of our lives, compartmentalized and fragmented. Holy Yoga is about being fully immersed in the worship of our Lord and Savior. Our training does, indeed, teach the history of yoga and its principles. However, the intent of doing so is to educate you so that if you are challenged, you have the knowledge to answer potentially difficult questions.

I also have another, much longer PDF document that goes into some theology and reasoning that I can email to you if you would like to contact me personally (email below).

What other questions do you have about my training? Please feel free to email me at jenny{at}living-consciously{dot}com or leave in the comments below.

You have to get up pretty early

You have to get up pretty early: the sun coming up at 7am as I'm headed home | Living Consciously Blog
The sun coming up at 7am as I’m heading home.

How is the part time job going, Jenny? (I teach Lagree Fitness at a local studio – it’s a form of Pilates on the Megaformer)

Welllll, let me tell you.

For the past 2 years, I have been teaching a class or two on the weekend and 2-3 morning classes during the week. It works great for me, because on the weekend the kids get some alone time with Daddy and I get some adult interaction doing something that I love! The mornings have also been nice because the kids are still asleep, and just getting up as I arrive home. Some days Daddy gets them completely ready and even takes them to preschool. You can read more about my philosophy of working out in the morning in my post about working out as a SAHM.

And for the last 2 years, morning classes have been verrry slim.

As in, 1-2 people in a class with a 10 person capacity.

And more than 50% of the time: no one.

No one was dedicated enough to their fitness routine to get up at 6am to work out.

We changed the time to 7am.

Still no one.

We have changed days all over the place: every day of the week, Tuesday/Thursdays, MWF.

Nope.

It is totally understandable that the studio finally actually cancelled morning classes altogether this week. And that, therefore, I’m not really technically “working part time” anymore. Because is working 1 hour a week even enough to call part time? Probably not.

So many times on this blog, I take the middle road. I respect all peoples’ choices even if they are different from my own. But I have had enough of the following constantly recurring conversation and I am taking a stand.

Here goes:

Stranger/casual acquaintance/current studio client: “Wow, your arms are amazing. I wish I was that strong. I would give anything to look like that. What kind of workout do you do?”

Me: “[insert explanation of Lagree fitness], I teach morning classes twice a week at 6am [or 7am]”

Stranger/acquaintance/client: “OMG I could never do that! 7am! That is waaaay too early, haha, you must be joking!”

Often there is a pause where they are waiting for me to tell them some other way of getting in shape. I have nothing else to say because, um, I just said it. Get up & DO SOMETHING.

Does no one else see the problem here?!

Intrusively remarking stranger, if you were truly interested in a radical change in your muscle mass and strength, as you say that you are, why do you put restrictions on yourself? If I told you, “Just buy this pill, drink this powder, say this magical incantation under a full moon”, would you do it? Trust me, some people would. But if I am telling you to just get up an hour earlier a few times a week? SURELY NOT, YOU MUST BE JOKING. THERE MUST BE ANOTHER WAY.

Obviously, this is a very specific type of person I am talking about here. There are plenty of us who get up at 5am or 6am to get some fitness in at the beginning of our day. There are others of us who get up that early to read, meditate, or (let’s be honest) are woken at that hour or earlier by a small human. Many other Lagree studios are completely sold out at 6am and 7am. Yoga studios often have maxed out classes at that time too (I know, because I go sometimes).

I AM talking to the people who say that getting up at 5am is impossible.

I AM talking to the people who want to see results without any sacrifice.

I AM talking to the people who aren’t willing to take the risk and therefore, unfortunately, will never see the gain.

I am sad for you. It’s just one little “no” the night before.
No, I won’t watch one more show.
No, I won’t get started on Pinterest or Facebook right now.
No, I won’t pick up that magazine.

So that you can say “yes”.
Yes, I will go prepare a healthy morning snack now.
Yes, I will set out my workout clothes.
Yes, I will register for that class.
Yes, I will go to bed now, even though it is early.

Yes, I will see a change in my energy level, strength, and stamina.

Because, you will.

Where does a SAHM part-time worker fit?

image via memgenerator

When someone asks me “What do you do?”, it isn’t an easy answer. Do I answer, “I stay at home with my kids” or do I list off my various part-time jobs as a fitness instructor and blogger? Usually I do both. It’s such a weird place to be, a SAHM part time worker, right in the middle of both “mom” categories.

As someone whose significant other earns almost all of the income for our family, are my part time endeavors even significant enough to call “working”? Even combined, none of the jobs pay much. As someone who only works part time, I am definitely thankful for the flexible schedule that I get in exchange for the lower pay. I love that I can work a few days a week at 6am, part of one weekday, and then a few hours on the weekends doing things I love. It is all a huge blessing.

But there’s also the parenting part.

As a part-time worker, I don’t get the financial benefits or structure of full-time professional childcare I would have as a working mother. I know, because I’ve been a full time working mother. When I worked full time, we had a nanny who came during set hours. If I worked full time right now, the kids would most likely be in preschool. In both situations, they would benefit from the experience and training of a professional educator and childcare expert. Someone who would teach them to read before they even go to kindergarten, most likely. They would be taken care of during set hours, during which I would be free to do my work (unless they or the nanny were ill, of course — been there, done that!).

Instead of a professional educator and childcare expert, they have me. Well, part of me. Because I spend the majority of my “spare” hours in part time work, I am not using that time to scour Pinterest for worksheets, set educational goals, read about the developmental milestones they’re supposed to be hitting and target their activities accordingly, as most of my other mommy friends do. We have fun together, sure! We go somewhere almost every day, but it’s most often the pool, the museum, the zoo — somewhere that they can run freely and play, not learn specific things. The goal is to be physically tired so they’ll take a nap. My poor second child still doesn’t know any of her letters. Neither of them understand the days of the week. I think about what it takes to do all that, the extra hours that I can’t seem to pull from thin air, and I just want to take a nap too.

It’s only due to our food intolerances that I spend as much “homemaker” time as I do: making our own bug repellant, soaps, bread, and toothpaste. In fact, that’s probably how I am using the time that I should probably be teaching my kids valuable things like Scripture memory or full moon intention-setting. That illusive time goes to hand-making things to keep Little Sir from getting diarrhea due to stomach irritation. Driving to the chiropractor. I have to make a conscious choice every day not to feel bad about how much more I should be doing.

There’s the mommy guilt, but there’s also the career guilt.

As a part time worker, there are a ton of opportunities to take it a “little further”. Getting my RYT200 is one of those. Not a day goes by that I don’t think about it, but I also know that it’s just not realistic right now. Taking that kind of time and financial resources away from our family while my children are this young is not something we are in a place to do at this time. But then another client or friend asks me to teach them what I know about yoga and I just want to do it SO BADLY!

If I am honest with myself, having one foot in the working world provides some welcome gratification in contrast to the endless energy suck that is my precious children. Not once will they say “thank you” to me (except when Daddy makes them!), but my clients and friends do say positive things about my part-time work. It takes a conscious act of the will every time to step back into those unappreciated Mommy shoes and away from the seemingly fulfilling fitness instructor/blogger shoes.

As I was writing the first draft of this post, my daughter came into the room three times asking for me to sing songs. It has taken me about 3 days to complete this post, due to interruptions of the same kind.

I know in my heart that these are the best kinds of interruptions. That singing all the songs is what life is made of, and not the Facebook-ing, the Pinterest-ing, the 6am classes, the handstand practice, the Sanskrit pronunciation.

My friend Janelle was speaking today of a kind of selfless support, of having a job that consists of supporting others: being the wind. I love that analogy. As a feminist, it’s important for me to remember that I can choose what work I do, and that one kind of work is not exclusive of another kind. I CAN be a SAHM and a part-time worker, and neither one is “not enough”. Both are exactly what works for me right now, regardless of how I answer the, “So, what do you do?” question.

Yoga and Patience

If you follow me on Instagram, you might notice that I’m participating in several daily yoga challenges.

Daily yoga challenges on Instagram by @conscientious

I am having so much fun with this! I just love learning new poses and the fact that it forces me to practice yoga every day!

In fact, it’s kind of difficult for me not to get carried away with it. I have these grand plans to get my RYT200 certification once my children are in school. That’s a loooong road, because 200 hours is a lot of hours. I know it will be such an amazing growing experience, intellectually and physically. I can’t wait! But wait, I will — until my youngest child is in kindergarden and I can go through the training without impacting our time together during the day. Because I already have issues being a SAHM saying “yes” to more things than I should.

I am also trying my best to wait patiently to learn how to handstand.

Every single day, handstanding against walls and trees and doorways. Falling, falling, falling.

All those 20-something yogis on Instagram, hopping right up into handstand like it’s no big deal!

And me, falling into a tree and skinning my knee in my *cough* upper 30’s *cough*.

My goal is to be able to handstand by the time I am 40.

If I wait to start my RYT200, I hope to be certified by then as well.

So I am waiting.

In both my yoga practice and in life.

Listening to my body. Trying to live in the moment without rushing anything.

In yoga, one of the Niyamas called Tapas applies. Tapas is:

…the practice of both mental and physical discipline. To practice Tapas is to exhibit determination in pursing daily practices and your life’s mission, while remaining joyful in the knowledge that outer discipline will lead to inner discipline.

…Stay in the present moment regardless of how uncomfortable it becomes.

– Beth Shaw’s YogaFit, Second Edition (affiliate link)

In Christian terms, disciplines are also very important. See this series on spiritual disciplines.

What are YOU waiting for? Let’s wait together.