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Filtering by Tag: improvisation

Not What You Expected

Squeezing a workout in while raising a family and running a business is a challenge to say the least. I recently decided that for my own health and sanity, I needed to make it a priority again and was thrilled to find that a yoga studio had opened up just a mile from my house! I went to my first class, ready to be challenged, to sweat and get the most out of this one hour of “me time”. When we were still laying on the floor and breathing 15 minutes in, I became frustrated. All I could think about was how much “more” I could have done on my own in 15 minutes. Ugh, I should have just done a workout video at home, I should have gone somewhere else, when are we going to pick up the pace and get moving?!

These thoughts occupied my mind for a good 40 minutes until, finally, I realized that I could have used the quiet time to think, relax, meditate and honor my body by giving it a much needed stretch, had I simply let go of my previous expectations. In practice, yoga is much more about meditation than it is “working out”. I was expecting the class to be something that I wanted it to be.

Improvisation, as an art form, is based completely on the unexpected. Because two or more people are creating something from nothing, no one knows exactly what will happen. This means that the actors have an opportunity to create something together, that they never would have created on their own. This is where the infamous “Yes, and” of improvisation comes into play.

Saying “yes, and” means that, no matter what idea is put forth, the team agrees that they will say “yes” to it and build on that idea together. Even if one person had another idea that, in their mind, was “better”, they choose to let it go and jump on board to support their team member.

In my yoga class, I was doing exactly the opposite. I did not accept what the class was putting forth. It was not meeting my expectations, so I did what many of us do when faced with the unexpected. I resisted, I said “No” and in my mind I spent 40 minutes reasoning why this class was a waste of time. I bulldozed over its value with thoughts of what I would have considered a better class. I tried to make it what I expected it to be, instead of jumping on board for what could have been a transformational experience.

When we let go of expectations and simply take the next step with an open mind, we open ourselves up to infinitely more possibilities. By letting the frustration of expectations not being met take over your brain space, your own creativity is inevitably elbowed out as well.

I have another class scheduled tomorrow, I’m choosing to let go of my expectations and let the class be what it is. Whether I get my definition of a “workout” or some time to meditate, I’m ready to take it one step at a time and say, “Yes” to reaping the benefits.

Why am I Doing This?

Have you ever been in the midst of a major life change, whether it was a promotion, a move or going to college and wondered how you got there? Or if it’s really what you still want? So often we allow others, or an outdated version of ourselves,  to inform our “next step” in life, we forget to ask ourselves if it is the right step.

In an episode of comedian Marc Maron’s podcast, he interviewed actor Lauren Lapkus. As an improvisor and actor, she shared in the dream that so many have, of being on Saturday Night Live. However, at the time of her audition, she already had a sitcom under her belt and was doing really well professionally. Should she have been cast on SNL, her 5 day weeks would have turned into 7 and her 12 hour days, to 16. But that prevailing notion that SNL was some kind of huge accomplishment, took over the space to ask the question, do I really still want this? She says, “The idea of getting it, is more important after wanting it your whole life, than doing it.”

Straying from the path is scary, especially when that nicely paved path leads to recognition, security or wealth. I encourage you to take a moment today, look at where you are and where you are headed and ask yourself, “Do I want this? Why do I want this? What do I want?”

Yes, there are “I’s” in each of those questions. Women especially, think much more of their relationships with others first and the effect that they will have on those around them. That’s not a bad thing, it’s a great characteristic to have but if left unchecked, and I say this from personal experience, we can get lost in all that we’re doing for others and forget that our own pursuit of joy is important too.

Here’s to a year full of JOY!

12/19/17 Update:

The response to this blog inspired me to create a group coaching program, "Leap - make your next step a bold step" to give women the space to think about what it is that they do want for themselves and how to take steps toward making that a reality.