Yogariffic: Planning for the future doesn’t mean you’re not living in the present

Carrie by HighContrast, CC-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons
This isn’t me, and there’s no way I can do that anytime soon…
(Image of Carrie by HighContrast, CC-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons)

I wrote this blog at the end of last week, actually, but didn’t have time to post it up until today when, ironically, this popped up on my phone:
Let us not look back in anger or forward in fear, but around in awareness.  – James Thurber

First, I’m shocked that it was James Thurber, author of “Is Sex Necessary?,” that said that.  But I’m also shocked because it’s a perfect segue into the topic of this blog.

So, I have now gone two Fridays in a row without what I’ve come to call my grumpy old man yoga.  (See the connection to Thurber?!)  I don’t call it grumpy old man yoga in a bad way.  I’m actually totally thrilled with grumpy old man yoga.  That’s why I’m sad to be missing it for two weeks in a row, especially because there won’t be any this Friday either due to the Thanksgiving break.  Admittedly I’ve only attended grumpy old man yoga a few times, but I feel like each time I go, I get something new from it.

The last time I was there, we were doing a pose.  I have no idea what the pose is called.  Something with a lot of Cs or As or Ss or Vs in its name.  Basically, it started in a lunge and was supposed to end with the person balancing on one foot and one hand while the other foot and hand were raised.  It was hard.

Grumpy old man suggested using a yoga brick for the hand if it helped.  Then he stopped and asked if the reason we were struggling was because we were worrying about the future and not being in the present.  Were we already thinking about lifting that arm and leg?  Or were we focused on being in the current step of the pose and our breathing?

Well, I don’t know about anyone else there, but I was totally worrying about the future and sabotaging myself.  There seemed to be a contradiction, though.  If we were in the present, how could we be putting out that yoga brick for the next steps?

Because it isn’t really a contradiction.  There’s a difference between worrying about the future and preparing for the future.  Having the yoga brick handy is like having food in the refrigerator.  You’re probably going to use it.  But you didn’t spend all day worrying about if you have a stick of butter.  (Well, I hope you don’t!)

So why was that so important to me?

Because I worry.  A lot.  I’m always thinking about how something will work out or what’s going to happen next.  It’s easy to get overwhelmed with the big picture without looking at the little steps and just taking one at a time.  But I shouldn’t.  I should prepare, sure.  But I don’t need to live in the future.  I need to live in the future and take everything one step at a time, being in the moment, breathing.

And the idea of the yoga brick being preparation but still being in the present has stuck with me.  It crops up at the oddest times.  Like shopping for Thanksgiving.  Crowded store.  Tons of groceries.  Get them home and immediately have to log into a webinar for work before I can put away anything but the perishables.  Then after the webinar, I wandered into the kitchen.  A very, very full kitchen.  Every counter covered with bags and Thanksgiving goodies.  An overwhelming moment, if you think about putting it all away, the future moments.  But if you think about each step, just put away each thing at a time, suddenly it’s done and there’s no stress.

Okay, maybe it’s something little, but it’s just one way to remember the lesson, and it’s just one way to keep applying the thoughts of grumpy old man yoga and keep it with me.


My open application letter to ElephantJournal’s “Apprentice Certificate Training Program”

Money Money Money
Money Money Money
(Image from jdurham via morgueFile http://mrg.bz/fhzsZy)

As a writer, I’m used to seeing any number of publications who offer “exposure only” for work.  While that may not seem like a good deal to most – it doesn’t pay for groceries or the mortgage, unless it’s the kind of exposure that comes along with tips in dollar bills – sometimes it’s worth it for an author, especially if they’re trying to get their name out there or if it’s for a good cause.

I, however, generally prefer to get paid for my work, like most normal people I know.  If you (rule number 6) prefer to not get paid, and, instead, you very (rule number 6 times 2!) much enjoy paying someone else for the privilege of working, then I think I’ve found your place in the world.

Let me start at the beginning.

First, what an apprentice is.  As per the Merriam-Webster dictionary, an apprentice is “a person who learns a job or skill by working for a fixed period of time for someone who is very good at that job or skill.”  Makes sense.  Always good to learn by doing, right?  As a teacher, I know that practice makes perfect when it comes to a lot of things, and that includes writing.  So a writing apprentice program makes a whole lot of sense.

Second, the apprentice program I found listed on ElephantJournal’s page.  You see, they are willing to let you apply to be an apprentice in their program.  In return for a potentially non-refundable (it’s at their discretion, rule number 10) $100, you are allowed to find them pictures, post articles, use social media, write weekly blog posts, work for 10 to 15 hours a week, and attend non-optional training twice a week (rules numbers 1 through 7).  They fully admit that they probably won’t hire you on at the end (number 8) and they will “fire” you (rule number 6) because you’re not productive enough (rule number 9).

Yes, you read all that right.  You pay them, and then they decide if they like you.

So I have a counter-offer for them.  I want one of their yogis to come offer me free yoga lessons twice a week.  But before they can start teaching me yoga, they have to pony up $100 to me.  If I decide that I don’t like the lessons, I can fire them and keep their cash.  If they get sick and miss, I keep their cash.  And, at the end, if I decide they’ve done a great job, I’ll return their money, but I won’t hire them or ever pay them for all their hard work.

Sounds like a fair deal to me!

Writers, remember the rule: money flows *to* the author.  Paying for the privilege of working for someone else doesn’t sound like a good deal to me.  (And I’m saying this as someone who had done a writing apprentice program before…and I got paid for doing so!)