The past couple of weeks I have been pushing myself to my cognitive, and subsequently physical, limits – ironically while striving to model a life-balance ethic. I found myself trying to juggle 3 high priority items; four actually, when I count myself! ( Interesting how that last bit was more of an “oh, yeah – I am important too”, despite all the forward strides I have made in self-awareness and self-acceptance in the past year. Still working on that!) This past month I was juggling a number of hats: my professional life had me focusing on 3 priorities (2 hats for big projects plus a 3rd hat for a language exam); my personal life had me juggling the kids’ needs and schedules, planning for milestones events in my sons’ lives this spring, and my ever-deepening transformation through yoga.

One of my traits that has always been a source of strength, and sometimes my weakness, has been my type-A drive – pushing myself to achieve no matter the odds, shooting for the stars. No middle ground for me – shoot for the stars, and if you land somewhere below that, that’s good too. So, during my times studying, I pulled long hours (longer than I typically should) trying to make sure that I would be uber-successfull in my language testing. I may have suffered a couple of nocturnal seizures – hard to tell for sure. I did yoga arduously to help relieve the pain and mitigate the fatigue. The I wrote my exams: my first day, I felt foggy and sluggish; my second day, after napping, doing a vigorous hip-opening yoga session, and taking an evening “off”, was much more productive in that my brain was fully “on” and the testing took almost 1/2 the time of the previous day. So what did that teach me, yet again? That giving to yourself allows you to do better outside, in your professional and personal lives. That putting yourself as a priority always pays off.

I will repeat that: Putting yourself as a priority always pays off.

A very good friend of mine (someone I consider my non-biological big brother) pointed something out to me recently that made me say “wow”: my whole life these days revolves around a theme of active change (change in the work place, change in the climate, and change in daily personal life through my yoga transformation as well as the daily changes that crop up with MS). Wow. He is right! And through it all, I find myself happier now at this point in my life than I have ever been. Why? With all the changes surrounding me, shouldn’t I be a mess of stress? If so, why am I not a mess?

I am not a mess because of self-awareness and self-acceptance.

One of the gifts that I received this year was a gift of self-awareness & self-acceptance. By this I mean that, basically, I don’t sweat the small stuff. And as the saying goes – it’s all small stuff. For me, that gift came in the form of diving into yoga fully and open-mindedly with the purpose of opening myself up to a different way of living – because the way I had been living just was not working as well as I wanted or needed. I learned to stop criticizing where I was in each moment. If I could not touch my toes on the mat one day, that was ok – maybe the next day I would. I learned to listen more to my body, becoming intimately aware of each ache, creek, pull, twinge, and each moment of pure physical bliss. I learned to tap in to the recovery aspects of allowing your body to enjoy relaxation. This in turn lead to self-awareness and self-acceptance off the mat too – living in the moment and accepting where I was at that moment. Some days I can’t add simple numbers; some days my MS is more symptomatic than others, some days I am “on”, some days I am “off”. But it is all ok now – I mean, really ok.

The irony is that people notice this complete transformation by seeing me with more energy, a more youthful and energetic appearance – now, when my MS has more affect in my life than ever before. Fascinating, ain’t it?

I came across a quote that resonated with me on this topic:
“Somehow we learn who we really are and then live with that decision.” ~ Eleanor Roosevelt

Every person has their own tool that they can tap into to find their self-acceptance, self-balance, self-awareness. As I mentioned, my “drug-of-choice” to deal with the ever-present chaos of change in my own life is yoga. What’s yours? The challenge is to find it…and apply it!