But I had an appointment – a pleasant surprise in the RMV line

rmv 2015

worth the wait

Twenty minutes checking boxes online at the Massachusetts RMV website – yes, I have previously held licenses from other states, no, I do not have any cognitive, neurologic, physical, or any other impairment that may affect my functional ability to operate a motor vehicle safely – followed by signing, printing, and gathering required documents to accompany the converting-an-out-of-state license form, and receiving a confirmation email stating the RMV location/date/time of my appointment, I anticipated smooth sailing ahead through the typically murky government waters. I have an appointment, you see.

“Back of the line!” the stone-faced ticket number issuer barked from her coveted booth.

But I had an appointment…

Clearly, it didn’t matter. Back I went, to the tail of a serpent shaped line of other would-be drivers stuck in park mode snaking past the front doors of the entrance and onto the chilly winter curb. Apparently, my appointment meant nothing until I received my number. A quick assessment of the line told me I should have packed a lunch. Funny thing, though. Before I let out my first sigh of government-inefficiency-my-tax-dollars-are-a-wasting, humanity smacked me right in the face:

  • Behind me, a bubbly nanny showed a young mama next to me a more comfortable way to hold her baby carrier: “honey you’re gonna trash your poor shoulder holding it like that! Let me show you…”
  • Five or six would-be drivers ahead of me: “Really? You repair stereos? I need some help.” Business cards and smiles exchanged.
  • All around me: white, latino, african-american, asian, indian, several accents, dialects, languages – a gorgeous melting pot of humanity that make up the United States of America.
  • After I got my number and sat on a bench, I waited no more than five minutes to pass over my forms, show my documentation, and smile for the RMV camera. “Welcome to Massachusetts sweetie!” my friendly agent shared before sending me on my way.

Made me almost wish I didn’t have an appointment. Next time you’re ‘stuck’ in line, reconsider. Put down the phone, make eye contact, and engage with the amazing human beings all around you.

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Finding space in my luggage, and my life.

My new suitcase

Lighten up.

After forking over too much cash at Whole Foods (a 9-buck bottle of cold-pressed juice? Hell ya!) two weeks ago, I wandered next door to Marshall’s and found a sleek silver carry-on suitcase for 50 bucks. Now I don’t need another suitcase. Seriously. I own an indestructible Tumi, a sassy orange High Sierra carry on with zippers on every side, and an old Costco warrior that has muscled its way through turbulent skies over Croatia, held steady on bumpy trains across the Tonkinese Alps in Northern Vietnam, and tumbled down a carousel unscathed at an airport in Siem Riep, Cambodia.

I don’t need another suitcase.

But a recent flurry of packing, flying, and schlepping luggage around Seattle, Barcelona, New York and Boston, just two months after moving across five states in the middle of an epic winter, has resulted in a perennially stiff right shoulder and vehement commitment to lightening my load – in luggage and in life. Gimme some space! Hence, the little 50-buck gem lured me in – with it’s light profile, agile four-wheel spin factor, and super extendable handle suited for leggy girls like me. And after guzzling 9 bucks in under 30 seconds, a good deal-of-the-day felt in order. I’m sold. So I bought the thing. Fully expecting to cruise through my next trip, and my life, lighter and more worry-free.

If only it were that simple.

As I packed for a two-night stay in New York, I put stuff in. Took it back out. Back in again…Do I really need my hairdryer? They have one at the hotel. But it doesn’t have the little wedge-shaped attachment I need to get it smooth and straight. Put it back in.

As I strategically aligned heel to toe to pack in yet another pair of boots, and refolded a sweater to make room for one more pair of yoga pants, it hit me: it takes more than moving shit around to create more space for yourself – in luggage and in life. You gotta let go. Surrender to less in order to receive more. My suitcase served as the perfect metaphor. For how hard it is to resist filling up the very space I’ve just created.

I’m currently struggling to resist filling the extra space I’ve created in my life by taking a break from teaching yoga. I’m not teaching. Time to sign up for the French immersion course, practice three hours a day, nail my handstands, submit more articles for publication. Honey, let’s adopt a rescue dog. 

All pursuits worth considering, sure. But not right now. Because right now my heart is telling me I need space. We all need it at different times in our lives, and listening to our hearts vs. the shouldshitspeak consuming our brains 24/7 is the only way to recognize it.

So. What can you take out of your suitcase, and your life, right now, to lighten your load and live more joyfully?

 

 

“So, what do you do?” Hell if I know…and that’s OK.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Ace Wheelworks in Somerville, MA.

“I took a ten year break before I started teaching again, so you got lots of time…”

…the friendly young bike shop dude (and yoga teacher too, I learned) assured me yesterday. Yesterday being the first day of 2015 to venture outside without an ankle-dusting puffy coat and subzero-proof tundra boots ill-designed to work with the measly pedals on my snowed-over mountain bike. But glory be to God the temps in Cambridge hit nearly 45 degrees so shoveling out the bike and getting it to the shop for a good look over lifted my spirits higher than they’ve been since landing in my new town six weeks ago.

But as friendly bike shop dudes will naturally ask, in the spirit of getting to know their customers, out it came: “So, what do you do?”

1.2015 side plank

a variation on Vasisthasana. Literal translation in Sanskrit as “most richest pose”, it’s one of my favorites. The balance between grounding and massive opening makes me feel more alive than ever.

Long pause on my end. Because right now, I’m not teaching yoga. Not visiting the two studios-per-block-in-the-mecca-of-fit-young-college-kiddos-who-practice-daily asking for a job. Nor am I completing the final piece of a lengthy, pricey, and butt-kicking advanced certification process that began months ago and is literally right there – at the tip of my yoga mat.

“So, what do you do?”

A year ago, within a month of moving to Greater Philly, I would have proudly said I teach yoga, puffed up with pride over locking in classes at two studios within a week of arriving. The year before that, I worked my way into three studios in Princeton, NJ, and Newtown, PA, intent on proving to myself, the yoga world, and anyone who’d ever considered rolling out an eco-friendly 68″X24″ rubber mat that I, Shannon Brady, was a kick-ass yoga teacher. In under three years time I’ve stretched, sweat, and spiraled my way through a 200-hour immersion in a Berkshires ashram, grunted through several week-long boot camp style trainings, humbly endured countless hours of constructive criticism (“that cue didn’t land Shannon, say it another way…”), and reshaped my once-lanky runner girl frame into a yogi with visible triceps. Before landing in Cambridge January 25, I defined myself in two words:

Yoga Teacher.

Then something happened. Actually a series of things happened. And I became more than a yoga teacher. Much more:

  • A daughter who’s mama needed her. Right after the new year my beloved Dorsey (technically my stepfather, but we never used that term. He was Dorsey, my papa) passed away. My mama, the family central figure armed and ready to solve any impending crisis – my past divorce, my sister’s unexpected Christmas Eve visit to the ER, her late mother’s financial planning – needed me. And with a sense of love and gratitude I can’t fully describe I lent my hand and my heart to manage the memorial service details; helped temporarily block the painful isolation of residing alone for her first time in 30+ years; and simultaneously laughed and cried at the long chronology of images in dusty photo albums that hadn’t been opened in years .
  • A wife and relocation expert. Our move to Cambridge came as a result of an exciting new executive position with an internationally-based company. One office in Cambridge, the other in Barcelona, and my man hopscotching between the two leaves little time to fumble with address-forwarding or license plate changes. Pile seven feet of snow on top of the already-challenging details of moving to a new state and priorities start to shift. Time for me to park the teaching and drive the settling-in process! Not defining myself solely as a yoga teacher has elicited a few giddy surprises though – a lazy Sunday with my husband reading the Boston Globe and eating pineapple instead of teaching a packed 9 AM power flow class; a spontaneous shotgun trip to his global office in Barcelona – for example.
  • OK with not knowing. As I struggle daily with two opposing voices – “you’re a teacher, make it happen!” and “you’re on the right path, even if you don’t know how or where” – I’m realizing that when I heed the second voice, I’m at peace. And OK with not having a sound bite-ready response to the “what I do” inquiry these days. Because I do a lot of things – blog, handstands, hug, eat pineapple, publish articles, love up rescue dogs, overanalyze food labels, yoga – and don’t know what one “what do you do?” label I fall under. And that’s OK.

“So, what do you do?”

After replying that I’m not really sure what the hell I’m doing, my bike shop pal broke into the most genuine of grins and replied “Awesome!” Which is just what I needed to hear.

So…if you’re hung up in a transition, or trying to fit neatly under some dreaded “do” label, let it go. You do a lot of things. Be cool with that dear friends.

Xo