Work Is A Four Letter Word

I made a mistake in work last week that nearly cost me my job.

It wasn’t a big mistake. In the great scheme of things it was within the realms of understandability. But, it was the latest in a long list of mistakes that have happened recently, and the client was not happy, not happy at all.

There was a very real chance that they would be out for blood. And me, being a freelancer, am easy to get rid of. If the client wanted a sacrificial goat I’d be it, and really who could blame them? Get rid of one to help the many.

It was enough of a reality to keep me awake at night. I found myself lying in bed at 4am worrying about what was going to happen. I started Googling things like “I might get fired” and “What to do if I get fired tomorrow”, but they were no help. They just brought up long lists of ways to know if you’re on your way out. But I already knew that. I needed more practical advice.

Then I tried “Getting fired was the best thing that ever happened to me”, and that led me (eventually) to this video:

Here I was, lying awake, stressing about “…doing things [I] don’t like doing in order to be able to go on doing things [I] don’t like doing!”

The ridiculousness of the situation struck me. I realised something had to change. Maybe me losing my job would be a good thing? After all, as a friend of mine said, “…sometimes we all need a little push.”

As it turns out I didn’t lose my job in the end. Not over that incident anyway. But! a couple of days ago I got an e-mail telling me that the company was restructuring, taking on new permanent members of staff, which meant that come April there’d be a lot less freelance work available (ie: none).

So after all the angst and worry, the late night philosophy and the return to business as usual, I lost my job anyway. How’s that for a turn of events? Do you ever get the feeling the Universe is trying to tell you something?

Now, I was already thinking about what I really wanted to do? I’d been looking at properties in the Lake District (more late night musings) and thinking about finishing my novel, when I came home one day to catch the end of this documentary* about one of my favourite authors, Terry Pratchett. (*only available on iPlayer until 13/3/17)

Most of his story I’d heard before, but there was one line in there that really struck me:

“The thing is, I’d have written [the books] anyway, whether they’d paid me to or not.”

Terry Partchett wrote for the joy of writing. He wrote because he loved doing it, just as Alan Watts suggests in the video. Success was a by-product to him. He was doing what he loved.

I realised I wanted that. I wanted to be doing what I love, whatever it was.

That was a wake up call for me. I realised it was time for me to do what I really love.

The next day I finished third draft re-writes on my novel. I did the last half, 120 pages or so, in a day. Now I just need to type them up, get it proof-read, and then I can send it off to people, try and get it published.

The road ahead is/was clear.

I wasn’t prepared for the job offer that came my way.

It was TV work again, full time, 8 hour days, 20 days a month, €40 an hour (effectively €75,000 a year, or £65,000 at the current exchange rate). But it would just be until September. And it would mean relocating to Amsterdam. The minuses outweighed the pluses, but still it was a tempting offer.

Having learnt from my previous mistake I got some more information, then took some time to think about it, but in the end I turned them down.

If I’d gone to Amsterdam it would have just been for the money, and that’s not enough for me anymore. I want more out of the things I do. I want the things I do to be interesting, and fun, and exciting, and worthwhile. I want to do what I love and love what I do, and sod the money side of things.

Because if you do what you love not only are you already a winner, but eventually you’ll get good at it (because doing things is how you get good at them). And then one day someone will give you money for doing what you’re doing because that’s how the world works. People like what you do and they give you money for it, either so they they can do it with you, or they want you to do it for them, or to them, or they just appreciate that someone is out there in the world doing this thing so that other people can do something else. And even if they don’t give you money for it it doesn’t matter because you love what you do! You’re already way ahead of everybody else, pretty much.

You just have to figure out what it is you want to do? I need to figure out what it is I want to do? And I need to figure out now, because this is the first day of the rest of my life, and there’s not a moment to waste!

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How Do You Get To Carnegie Hall?

Guess what? I’ve discovered this amazing new way to get really good at yoga! All you have to do is just lie around all day binge watching Britain’s Got Talent on youTube. That’s what I did last night, and I want to get really good at yoga, so it stands to reason that it must be true, right?

undoing all the good work

It’s my long standing lament. “I should do more yoga!” Say what you like, but it’s the only way you get good. How do you get to Carnegie Hall? Practice, of course. But how much practice should you do? Well, that all depends on what you want to get out of it.

If your aim is to get really stretchy really fast, you’re probably talking a couple of full sessions a day (maybe 3-4 hours in total). That’s how much I was doing during my Teacher Training Course, and after a month of that I was finally able to do a proper, legs-straight Plough for once (now a long and distant memory). Now I’m not in any rush to get bendy, but I would like to do a proper, head-to-knees, sitting forward bend once before I die.

om by the pool

But yoga isn’t all about the gymnastic contortions, is it? It’s also about Realising The Self (what the Buddhists would call Enlightenment). The original purpose of the asanas was to allow you to be able to sit and meditate for longer, without getting all stiff or sloppy in your lotus pose.

So how long should you practice if self realisation is the goal? Oh, about twenty fours hours a day, three hundred and sixty four days a year (you can have Christmas off, lol). Because practicing Mindfulness – the path to self realisation and the purpose of meditation – is never ending. It’s not just about the exercises. Mindfulness should be in everything you say, think, feel, do and are.

salabhasana - the locust

Ok ok, I hear you say, so how much to be able to sit and meditate properly? Or to just stay healthy? Well, I can only speak for myself, but I like to do a full session a day when I can. I’m talking an hour to an hour and a half every day. That usually keeps me in a flexible mood. But unfortunately, that’s not always possible.

If I’m working (twelve hour shifts!) I do what I call the bare minimum: Pranayama (breathing exercises), Sun Salutations, a few extra asanas if I have time, and at least five minutes Final Relaxation (the most important part of any practice). Then on my days off I do a full session. I find this is enough to keep me on an even keel, though sadly not enough to make any advances asana-wise.

mayurasana - the peacock

At the end of the day, who’s to say how much you should be doing? As I said at the start, it all depends on what you want to get out of it. The only thing I can say for certain is, only you know if you’re doing enough or not, and if you feel you should be doing more, then chances are you probably should.

I know I should, but I’m not going to beat myself up about it too much. Little and often, that’s the key. And for now, with all the work and traveling that I do, as long as I can do a little something every day I’m going to count it as a win (clip binges and cake notwithstanding, lol).

A Landmark Year!

Well, I think it’s safe to say that 2012 was a landmark year in the life of the Yoga Bum.

For one thing, the Yoga Bum was invented. I started off the year working at a satellite broadcasting company, doing 12 hour night shifts in a sealed, windowless, air-conditioned room full of TVs, and I ended it in 40 degree heat in the west of Australia (at a rodeo, which I’ll go into detail about later). I’m now a qualified yoga teacher, I spent 2 months working at an ashram in the Austrian Alps, I’ve been to San Francisco, Sacramento, the Santa Cruz Mountains and Los Angeles, doing all kinds of interesting stuff, some of which I was fortunate enough to be able share with someone special, and most of which I didn’t know I’d be doing when the year started. With that in mind, I wonder what delights 2013 will bring. I mean, like last new year, I have an idea, but as we all know, anything and everything can happen (and usually does! ..lol..).

As a greeting for the new year, and to maybe inspire you to take some risks of your own and go do something ‘silly’, here’s a re-cap of my ‘Landmark Inversions’ series that I’ll be working on throughout 2013. I hope to add many more as the year goes on, and I can’t wait to see how many I get up to by the start of 2014; or indeed where they’ll be! I tell you what, it’s going to be fun finding out. 🙂

1. hahnenkamm headstand
2. twin peaks headstand
3. alcatraz headstand
4. golden gate headstand
5. hollywood headstand
6. santa monica headstand

Good luck for the next 365 days everyone. I hope you have much fun, some excitement, plenty of smiles, warm hearts to share it all with, and just an all round omming good time! 😉

Om Namah Shivaya. 🙂