A couple of my close friends have heard me exclaim over the last few months that I have been plagued by a lone magpie- even taunting me as far afield as Burnley! I was getting quite vexed by this, particularly as the magpie coincided with some sorrow in my business life and then personal life and THEN continued to persist in stalking me to really rub salt in the wounds. Its action triggered some further worry about what is coming next – what other possible sorrow could befall me? Well, it pleases me to announce that in the last week I have seen not one, but two magpies together. Joy, oh Joy! Such had become my anxious alerted state I actually whooped out loud the first time I saw two and scared the bugg£rs out of the tree! If I see three or four then I will start to worry for other reasons… does anyone know what happens after four? Has anyone ever seen more than four? Is this how you start out birdwatching?!
Birds aside, it occurred to my rambling overthinking brain that we are given signs, support and signals in our lives in many different ways. Some of the yogic principles I espouse in class are to connect more to ourselves, our intuition, and to the environment around us. And by doing so we are able to step forward with more confidence and peace of mind as we are guided forward by our own truth.
If you have read my blogs in recent weeks you will know that I hit a number of stumbling blocks which could (and perhaps did for a short time) derail my confidence in the path I have chosen. But whilst eating hobnobs and licking my wounds a wiser person pointed out to me that it has never been promised that life would be easy. I have also read many a wise yoga phrase, and quoted them to my students, that when things challenge us, or we feel we have failed, it’s actually a sign to change things up, to move in another direction and not a step backwards. It’s a sign that we have been channelling our energies into the wrong thing. And that if we acknowledge this, let it happen and let the disappointment go, we will move on to something new and to something better for us. It’s easy to roll your eyes at this optimistic whimsy (particularly today and no, I do not have any yogic insight as to the merits of the path of President Trump) but I have mused on this (whilst keeping eyes peeled for magpies) and there is no clearer illustration that it is true than from my own career history.
In order to become a Solicitor you need a degree. You then have the honour of spending around ten thousand pounds for Law School – a quite frankly overrated and relatively pointless part of legal training in my humble opinion. Qualifications achieved, you then have to get a Training Contract for two years on the job training and then once completed apply for a job as a Qualified Solicitor. Sounds straightforward? Well, in theory it is. It is also relatively straightforward if Daddy is a lawyer too (chip on my shoulder?). Obtaining a Training Contract is the most competitive stage of the legal bear pit outside of the pupillage process (for Barristers) which is akin to the Hunger Games. You are pitted against thousands of applicants and many of those have run small countries by the time they are 23 such is the calibre of candidate. Despite the odds, the hurdles and the odd prejudiced boss, I slaved away for years gaining relevant legal experience to boost my CV and prove I could do the job. And I got there eventually. And I was proud. And I enjoyed it. But then the battles continued, the promotions, the targets, and the juggling of personalities which culminated in years of stress and then anxiety and compromised health.
Conversely, in January this year I started teaching yoga. I just did it. Certified and insured of course. Setting up a business is scary, overwhelming and lonely. But it’s also empowering, rewarding and right for me. Doors have been opened. Yoga mats filled and money earned. For a first year it is a success for so many reasons – the main one being that feeling in my heart as I teach and know I am in the right place doing the right thing for right now. Don’t mistake me – this is not an easy path and I do not know what the next year will bring and how it will all move forward.
My Guru, Yogrishi Vishveketu, posted a short video on Facebook the other day on this very point – that if we want to change things in our lives then we just need to begin to move in that direction – one step every day. Thinking about it won’t help – it’s the action that starts to make a change. And I realised that along with my yoga teaching and love life I am actually moving in the right direction! This last year I found a man who respected my yoga lifestyle and my faith in it. A man who willingly tried out a couple of classes, chanted and flailed his arms around and acknowledged there was something in this yoga stuff. A man who was as excited about the tempura tofu in Blind Tiger, Liverpool, as I was! A man who I shared the weird and wonderful musings of my mind with, and who supported my personal growth. And whilst our connection no longer exists, it is a sign to me to keep moving on the path that I am on. To keep an open heart and open mind and keep open to there being more Northern men who will eat tofu.
It is easy to feel overwhelmed at the outset of making a change. And it’s also easy to focus on the end game – the house we want, the partner, the job title, the new handbag etc and to feel that achieving something tangible will bring us a sense of satisfaction and of happiness. It’s also normal to worry about our decisions when we hit a bump in the road and need to slow down, stop or divert our course. But I am learning the importance of letting things be, of having patience, and that the stumbles are all part of the journey, the ups and downs, and the signs along the way. That if we just focus on the results we risk being blinded into pursuing something or someone for potentially all the wrong reasons – competition, fear, worry, or that ‘it’s what we should do.’
The path of least resistance isn’t a path of no effort, or of lack of drive, desire and ambition. It’s an honest and slower path where you look, listen and feel your way forward. And watch out for the signs. And the magpies.