Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Thanksgiving and thankfulness

As I write this I am, like many people today, snowbound. I'm stuck at home, unable to drive my little car on the icy roads. No students or clients seem to want to venture out either so I have a day off. Tomorrow looks to be the same as the temperatures will remain below freezing. Rather than fret over the lost income or my lack of productivity, I've decided just to enjoy the day. As I often remind my students, be where your at. Besides, it's Thanksgiving week after all and I have much to be thankful for.

This year, instead of suffering under the flagging economy as unfortunately many small business have, I've watched my business grow and expand. Even August, which is usually a dead month for the studio, did well. I didn't need to cancel any classes during the summer as I have in times past due to low attendance. I've watched some classes even get too full for a time and then balance out. I've learned that there is always an ebb and flow to my classes so when one gets extremely popular, another begins to drop off a bit. (Bear this in mind if you find yourself in a class that gets too full or too empty. Most likely it will change in a couple weeks time.)

My massage practice particularly blossomed this year and I've been blessed with a steady flow of regular clients. Even more exciting is watching their health and lives improve and the opportunity to be a part of it. I've learned so much for each client and feel that everyone I work with has something to teach me about my work. I am always happy to get good feedback from my clients which helps me become a better therapist.

Likewise, my prenatal classes are continually packed. It's hard to believe that a few years ago when I first offered them, only two or three students ever showed up at a time. Now, I have a waiting list for the class and hope to be able to offer more classes in the future as my schedule allows. What I love best about this class though is getting to see the all the cute baby photos and hearing about how the class helped during labor and delivery. It's always a wonderful feeling when I can help ease someone's discomfort.

As I've said many times before, I love my work. I am so blessed to have a job where I am able to help people and get to be part of their healing process. As a fellow yoga teacher and friend of mine says, "We can't really call this work, can we?"

I'd like to say thank you to all my students and clients who have supported me this past year. I am so grateful to be a part of your lives and wellness routine. I thank God for his provision during this past year as well. Happy Thanksgiving!

Friday, November 5, 2010

The Blackberry Blues

Recently, a student reminded me that multitasking is the art of doing many things poorly. I find this to be so true. A series of blunders this past week on my part showed me that I'm not good at multitasking or wearing several hats at one time.

I love teaching yoga and being a massage therapist, but I don't enjoy doing the administrative work that goes with it. It's not a hat that fits me particularly well. Honestly, the only job I've ever been fired from (though technically not fired, just my end-of-work date moved up because neither of us were happy) was a job as an office assistant. Right now, if I could, I'd probably fire myself as my own office assistant.

If I fire myself, then who do I hire? I can't afford a secretary or personal assistant, though I've often dreamed of having one. I get calls weekly from companies wanting to sell me elaborate and expensive software programs that do way more than I'd ever need. However, these same programs don't clean the studio, answer the phone or respond to the ever growing number of emails in my inbox begging for my attention.

Three years ago I broke down and purchased a Blackberry. I always joke about the irony of a yoga teacher with a Blackberry. It seems antithetical. Isn't one of the ideas of yoga to simplify life and be more present, not more wired? Yet it was an evil necessity. I was tired of constantly running upstairs to the computer to check my email. Or run home if I was out somewhere to make sure I hadn't missed something important. Now it seems my Blackberry has become a Crackberry. I feel the frequent need to check it and respond instantly to any waiting messages. What was supposed to make my life easier has actually made it more stressful as I feel almost too available.

I often hear the same complaint from friends and students. Technology that is supposed to simplify our lives has made it more complicated than ever. Sometimes just to give myself a break I leave my Blackberry at home while on a walk. Or if it's Saturday, my day off, I intentionally ignore messages until Sunday. This week I decided that I'm going to give myself one hour or so in the afternoon to respond to emails all at once instead of responding to the constant trickle of them all day long. (Unless it's something time-sensitive). I also don't check email after 8 PM so as to give myself sometime to unwind in the evenings. My hope in setting such boundaries is that I will be more present, efficient and less scatterbrained.

You may have heard the term "tyranny of the urgent." Our attention is constantly being hijacked by whatever urgent, important, crisis of the moment which usually isn't an urgent, important, crisis after all. Perhaps it's time to set boundaries. Turn off your cell phone once in while and go smell the flowers so to speak. Something as simple as limiting email in the evening as I've done can create more breathing room. Even media-fast for a day a week might be a nice break from the constant stream of information we are bombarded with. I definitely recommend turning off your cell phone during yoga class. It should be at least one hour where your attention (and the rest of the class's) isn't being drawn elsewhere.

I'm not suggesting that all technology is bad and we should go back to the Stone Age, but we do need to be more intentional about how we use it. It should help us be more organized and less scattered. We should decide when we wish to be available and when we want to be off-duty so to speak. A healthy balance of work and downtime is badly needed in our society. Technology can help us achieve that if we use it correctly and not let it run us.