Comfort With Uncertainty – Yet Keep Your Agency

control comfort with uncertainty yoga

Recently I’ve been hugely enjoying reading some young adult fiction. I’ve noticed that a universal theme is control. After all, children have very little control over their lives. But do adults have more control? Should we give up the illusion of control? Can we navigate so that we plan yet remain flexible. How do we find comfort with uncertainty yet keep our agency? Just a few unimportant topics before breakfast, as the Red Queen might say.

Understanding Culture

One book – Madeleine L’Engle’s And Both Were Young –  really resonated with me. I related to this book because, like its main character,  I was sent to boarding school. I was 12 and I hated it. I hated the school itself – and when I transferred I was much happier.

Adapting to an English boarding school was tough. It wasn’t just being away from my parents, it was the different culture. In particular there was a lot of teasing and I didn’t know how to handle it, so it became less good natured and more pointed. I was baffled.

My background didn’t have this sort of teasing. I have no siblings so there wan’t that rough and tumble at home.  I think the culture of teasing is different in the UK from the US, so when I arrived I didn’t know what the teasing meant. I’d been at my previous school, along with most of my classmates, since kindergarten. Suddenly I was dropped into a situation where I was with a group of girls I didn’t know, whose language I couldn’t translate – although we all spoke English. It was a huge change.

I didn’t understand the culture and had to find comfort with uncertainty, while trying to become familiar with what it all meant. How I could navigate this new culture?

Being Determined to Have a Bad Time

I do think I came to the school with an open mind and heart. I’ve always been gregarious and approach new experiences from a place of optimism. Yet it was hard trying to find any comfort with the uncertainty of my new life. I felt on unstable ground.

We have so many things that are out of our control in our lives. As adults, we have a hard time recognizing that. How often do we go into situations with our arms crossed, determinedly knowing it’s going to be hideous.

This often happens with something related to work or family. Perhaps there’s a  family member we don’t like but feel we have to visit. We roll our eyes and sigh and try to put it off. When, in the end, we arrive at the front door we are sure it’s going to be awful. Our arms are crossed. We think I don’t want to be here – but I have no choice.

I Have No Choice – comfort with uncertainty and agency

Now don’t get whiplash! I know I’ve just been talking about not having control and how we have to find comfort with uncertainty – but we always have a choice. I’m radically against the phrase I don’t have a choice. Your choices might not be great, but we can always make a considered decision rather than float along carried by the tide and bemoaning the situation.

Lets take that relative you don’t like. Joe is mean to you and his family. He says things that are snide and belittling. He runs roughshod over boundaries. In short, Joe is nasty and demanding. Unfortunately, he also complains bitterly that you don’t visit. After months of this sniping, you sigh and say – I don’t have a choice, I’ll just have to hold my nose for a few hours and visit Joe. Lets get it over with. This is not an unusual situation. So how do we re-frame it and why do we go anyway?

In fact, you do have a choice – you can just not visit. You can let Joe be as nasty as he likes. You can be cheerful about it and ignore it as interference, not worrying about any flack coming your way.

So lets dig deeper to see why you still choose to visit Joe. Obviously, you don’t want him to complain and moan about you. But is there more?

You know Joe will go on a rant to his family about you, because that’s what he’s like.  He’s the type to go on multiple tears. Joe will  sound off to off about how selfish you are and how that’s not how family behaves  etc. Joe’s family will have to bear the brunt of your decision not to visit. You might not have to deal with his meanness, but the unpleasantness will be passed onto them. His family will pay the price if you don’t visit.

In fact, you realize your visit helps the rest of the family!  This is why you do it -so you can give them some relief!

You’ve made an altruistic choice. It’s something to feel good about. Perhaps it even enables you to sail through the visit with some grace. Rather than feeling like I don’t have a choice you understand why you are making this visit and you feel good about it.

Control and Agency – owning our decisions

So often we are in a situation at the office or with family where we have to deal with circumstances and people we don’t like  – and gaining comfort with uncertainty is hard! Sometimes it helps us navigate the situation and adapt. Other times we come to the conclusion that the situation has to change. That’s what happened at my boarding school. The girls at the school weren’t very nice. I was much happier after I moved to another boarding school. But the insights I gained and the lessons I learnt at the old boarding school really helped me in the environment of the new school.

When we take back agency, it often helps us to approach something we don’t want to do with a better frame of mind. Here’s the funny thing – we might not have control in our life, but we do have choice. When we own that choice we feel more anchored and better able to navigate and endure. In fact, we set ourselves up for smoother sailing and perhaps even do some that personal growth people are always waffling on about.

Dress Your Identity – your style matters

Dress Your Identity Fashion Yoga Style Dress Your Identity fashion yoga style  Dress Your Identity fashion yoga style

Dress Your Identity – Why should you care?

Once upon a time BBC radio newsreaders had to wear dinner jackets – tuxedos – when reading the news after 8pm. This is radio so no-one could see them. The mind boggles!

While we’re not suggesting wandering about in your tiara or dinner jacket,  this Beeb requirement is an extreme way to make an important point: what you wear will affect how you feel.

Recently I got out of a bit of a style rut and it feels good to be enthused about how I dress again. It makes a difference going about my day feeling good in what I’m wearing. What makes you feel good might be different. But shouldn’t what you are wearing add to your daily wellbeing?

Changing Your Wardrobe Thinking

Consciously wearing clothes:

  • you feel good in
  • that you feel are flattering

makes a huge difference to your confidence and how you feel about yourself overall. You can look good and be comfortable.

What you wear will project an image of who you are.
And it will help you be that person.

Who do you want yourself to be?

Getting Real About Dressing Your Identity

Lets not beat about the trackie bums with holes in them.

What does looking like a schlub say about how you feel about yourself
and how you feel you deserve to be teated?

When you dress your identity, you show respect for yourself.  Unfortunately we are getting a different message from society.

Damaging  Self-Talk

  • ‘I wish I had time to spend selecting what to wear – I barely squeeze in a quick shower.’ Notice how our society prioritizes and rewards busyness. We buy into this, constantly trumpeting how we don’t have time. Lets pause for a moment and really investigate whether we want to live this way. Stop the madness!

➠ I live in career driven Washington, DC. Do you live somewhere that rewards career and thrusting? Alternatively, isn’t taking time and nurturing – not just others, but yourself too – also important?

  • This old thing? We often put ourselves last. We end up throwing on any old thing – or conversely downplaying ourselves. What sort of message does this send to our children? My parents made sure they did things that were important to them, even as they showed me love. Send a message that you value yourself. Your children and others are watching and will take their cue from you.

We prioritize things that are important to us. What is stopping you from spending time feeling good about what you’re wearing? Too busy – ponder how you relate to ‘I wish I had time … and busyness’ above and what that models for future generations.

➠ It is valuable for us to feel good about ourselves. It literally says we value ourselves. This is an important message to send out into the world, and particularly to our children.  Our children are watching.

  • You’re wearing that? Right from when we start exploring our own style, we get messages about how we are dressing wrong.  Yet what you’re wearing can be both appropriate and a style that that makes you feel confident and well turned out.

This is personal. I turned 50 in 2017 and feel in the vanguard of a movement for fashion for those in midlife. Previously the choices had been dire – mutton dressed as lamb or matronly. We are putting our foot down and saying ‘non’.

You can be stylish at any age,
that style will evolve with the chapters of your life.

Yoga, Being Your Best Self and Why You Should Dress Your Identity

Yoga is all about understanding yourself – your true self.

Though you may come to yoga for the physical practice, it often ends up tuning into how you feel over the ebbs and flow of the day. You end up finding out who you really are. This is deep work, sometimes fun and sometimes difficult, exploring all areas of your life. You will coalesce into your best self. One area of your life is how you value yourself – and this is apparent in how you dress.

In the end, it’s quite simple:

You should dress your identity, because how you dress
says something about who you are and how you view yourself.

What do you want to say? Let me know!

Dress Your Identity fashion yoga style

Pointers for blogs that explore style:

Miss Dress – Personal Stylist – for delving into your own style
Midlife Chic – mid-life style blogger
Chillies and Cloves – a blogger adding a touch of spice
Extra Petite – for the petite woman
Twenty Something Plus – twenties style blogger
Lovely in LA – plus size blogger
Useless Wardrobe – Minimalist Danish blogger – good for those creating their style
Where Did U Get That  – Blogger with an individual style.
Run Style Run – A relaxed, low key look blogger
Looking Fly on a Dime – it’s always better when it’s a bargain
Tall Swag – for taller lady
Style With a Smile – Vegan / ethical style blog

Posture and Yoga: an upstanding mix!

Yoga Posture Stretch Twist

Yoga is Great Posture Exercise

Posture recently crossed my mind, for the first time in ages.  I was walking along a DC street and caught sight of myself in a shop window. It was a revelation. I stood tall, head over shoulders, with a neutral spine – and it was all thanks to my yoga.

In the back of our mind we tend to have a tickling feeling that we are slumped over over too much of the day. It’s modern life! Our shoulders become rounded through driving or sitting at a desk. Our head pokes forward towards our phone or our computer in what has become know as text neck. It only gets worse, the older we get, possibly even leading to the hump in the back -hyperkyphosis. Bad posture does take a toll on the body – but don’t panic!

Just small adjustments and a minimal amount of time can make long-run differences.

The problem with poor posture is its long term effects – but your posture isn’t rigid. Becoming tuned into how your body is holding itself and giving it a boost with yoga will really enhance your long-run wellbeing – both physical and emotional.

Move over forward head and slumped shoulders –
yoga helps bad posture

I didn’t really notice the change in how I stood – that yoga absolutely helps  my posture – until I caught that glimpse in a shop window. I looked so lovely and erect – and my head was in line with my body. Then I noticed how good it felt and I tuned into the different way my body carried itself.  It felt like it had more space. Yoga also gave me more of a sense of my spine – my shoulders – my head – are in space. This is called proprioception and something we don’t think about a lot. Now I’m overtly aware of how I hold myself, and not just when walking.

It takes just a few minutes

Take five or ten minutes my lovelies – that’s all it takes. Do some yoga throughout the day – at your desk, in your recliner and even at a traffic light! Perhaps you want to set a mediation bell, as a reminder. Your body will feel better – and most likely your spirits too.

Find out more about me and get in touch! Let me know about your frustrations and how how yoga might – or might not have helped.

Keeping poised

  • When sitting:
    • your hips should hit the back and your knees should hit the seat of the sofa or chair.
      • If you’re slouching back to the back of your sofa, use a cushion
      • if you’re short, put your feet up on a stool or pouf
  • When working at a computer:
    • The screen should be at eye level or placed so you’re slightly looking down.
    • Forearms should be parallel to the ground when typing
  • When sleeping:
    • It’s better to sleep on your back or your side, avoid your stomach
    • Have one pillow under your head – don’t pile them up.

A few articles on posture and health

From Harvard 

How Does Yoga Help Reverse Hyperkyphosis?

Age-Related Hyperkyphosis: Its Causes, Consequences, and Management

The power of being present – when I started my yoga practice

I’m one of those people who was athletic as a teenager but then came to a roaring halt once I was out of school. I still walked a lot – but I didn’t do any regular exercise or play on any teams. Twenty years later, I woke up and realized that if I wanted to remain supple and mobile I’d better get moving.

I found that I actively liked yoga and began going to a yoga studio 3-4 times a week. It felt great – I loved how yoga engaged my brain as well as my body.

Slowly it dawned on me that although I still felt physically great after practice, and my mind was engaged – I didn’t like how my mind was engaged. Yoga was unleashing some strange emotions. I realized that when I was doing yoga, I felt like I was a teenager again. In school, I did a lot of gymnastics, and yoga somehow brought me right back to that place. It was not a comfortable spot. I had no wish to feel like a teenager again. And the competitiveness this unleashed in me was unpleasant. Once I realized what was going on, I was able to channel those feelings differently. Of course, having a different body from when I was a teenager helped me change my energy.

When you get on the mat, you never know what you’ll find. That’s the beauty of yoga – it’s ever changing, because we’re ever changing – and we bring different things to the mat. At the same time, yoga helps us be open and connect to what is revealed to us during our practice.