What we get when we turn pro is we find our power. We find our will and our voice and we find our self-respect. We become who we always were but had, until then, been afraid to embrace and live out.

~ Steven Pressfield, Turning Pro

I have a challenge for you:

Start handling your life like a professional.

Run with me on this. I’m not suggesting you start wearing a suit to dinner or demanding payment for walking your dog (though these might be cool experiments to run to screw productively with your life’s status quo – who knows). I mean take on the mindset of a pro in all areas of your life. Think about it –

  • If you approached staying in great shape as though it were your job, how would that change how you do it?
  • If you thought of yourself as a professional chef, how would that affect how you cook?
  • If you treated your relationships like you were a thought leader in that field, what would you do differently?

What going pro with your life means

Go PRO with your life: "I'm not bossy; I'm the boss." ~ Beyonce Knowles

Going pro means committing. It means risk, hustle, caring about what you do. It means you make it matter, so what you do is rewarding, fair, enriching. When you go pro, you value your time and actions, and you’re clear about what outcomes you expect. You take pride in your efforts and set consistent goals. Going pro means you don’t pass the blame, sit and bitch, quit, or not show up. You learn to say no, so you can say HELL YES to the life YOU want.

What going pro with your life looks like

Staying in shape right now might look like the occasional gym visit and a lapsed yoga studio membership. If you approached it like a pro, you’d get clear on your goals, set budgets for your time, finances, and attention (what you’ll do, how much it’ll cost, and how much of your life you’re willing to dedicate to it), and you’d quit treating it like something you can skip whenever you want. You’d create a strategy for how to get where you want to be. If you’re not getting there, you change strategies until you do.

If you thought of how you feed yourself like a pro, you’d learn great cooking habits, plan ahead, buy quality produce, and stay creative so your food stays delicious, satisfying, and healthy. You’d require anyone involved in your kitchen to respect your standards. You’d make the hard choices to create good food even when you’re tired or lazy or when no one else might see you eating a bag of cookies for dinner. And when you occasionally eat a bag of cookies for dinner, you’d own it, brush the crumbs off your shirt, and get back to doing better.

What would you as a relationship pro look like? Your focus would shift to the success, health and viability of your connection with others. You’d shed any dynamic you wouldn’t advise someone else to keep. You’d choose what roles you’re willing to fill and get better at them. You’d be a problem-solving master. You’d invest in the value of each committed relationship. You’d expect a rich return on your investments (and divest your assets if you’re not getting what you need). You’d stop being ignored or dismissed because you’re the boss and you don’t have time for that shit.

Why going pro matters

Go PRO with your life: Believe in yourself. Trust yourself. Love yourself. Invest in yourself.

It’s easy to become complacent in our own lives. We drift off course and sometimes it takes a major life event before we wake up and realize how far we are from where we want to be. What keeps us from saying WTF and immediately taking the helm of our own lives? For many, we just don’t know our value. Who cares, right? This is fine. I’m ok. It could be worse.

It could also be a FUCK of a lot better.

Going pro works

I’ve worked with many people over the years in my yoga teacher training who’ve broken me open with how powerful they are. When they start they’re doing ‘fine’, maybe a bit lost or struggling, usually they’ve lost sight of what they want for themselves. Often they’re wives, moms, daughters, fathers – people who’ve spent so much of their time taking care of others they’ve learned to put themselves last over and over until it feels “normal” or “right”. They’ve placed their own goals and desires to the back of the line and hardly feel anyone would care if they pursued them.

But when they get in this training and finally devote time to their passions, when they’re heard, asked, encouraged, and given tools, they SHOW UP LIKE A PRO. The transformation is inspiring. They stop being amateurs in their own lives and start committing to themselves. They take risks, they get focused, they hustle – and they start to care again about their own dreams. They prioritize themselves again. They invest in themselves, and they see big returns.

My challenge to you is really this: No more blaming others, no more bitching about what was lost, no more letting another day go by while you’re too busy, distracted, or making everyone else’s dreams and goals matter more than your own. Go pro in your own life and find your power, your will, your voice, your self-respect. Find yourself again.

Learn more about Pranalife Yoga Teacher Training. 

This morning I read that 17,000 people had signed up for Sadie Nardini’s latest course:

Sadie Nardini's Fit and Fierce over 40 course

A few initial thoughts. First, I like Sadie Nardini. She does Sadie. She’s a brilliant business person, she’s been asking good questions and being how she wants to be, whether people like it or not, for a lot longer than most people would have the tits to do. Good on her. This isn’t about her. This is about that, up there – that image and message, and everything that’s confusing about it.

Does “over 40” have to look like that?

Can women look like that outstandingly fit woman in the photo above? Of course. I mean, that is a real woman. I’ve been that woman, I know lots of women who work out constantly and watch what they eat and sculpt their lives around their fitness goals in order to maintain that kind of body. And I say GREAT. Anything that gets people moving and healthy and happy and isn’t causing harm is great in my books. So you go, Sadie. Congrats on a successful course that’s addressing a market. You go, badass model in that photo. I know exactly how hard it is to get a body like that, and I admire your dedication.

Here’s what I really want to talk about, though: Why do women want to be younger, youthful, toned, tightened, to “transform” our bodies? Really, though – why?

Let’s first parse out the idea of healthy movement and lifestyle from the deeper, more insidious issue here. Clearly, I support movement. I dedicate my life to encouraging people to move, be present, feel great, embrace life, take risks, try new things, play, learn, grow, challenge themselves – you know, LIVE. Wanting to move and be healthy and happy is awesome.

It’s this push for “young” and “youthful” and “younger” that I’m over, and I think we all need to interrogate.

Why do women want to be “younger”? What does that mean? Where is that desire coming from, and how is it being fed?

I asked myself this question recently: What does it mean to want to be “younger”? Younger than what? I’m 41, and I’ve wasted a lot of energy the past few years anxiously watching laugh lines no longer disappear when I’m done laughing, or seeing my hard-earned toned butt get lost under increasingly ‘stretchier’ ass skin. All my life people have communicated to me what they notice and value by saying things to me like, “You don’t look [my age]; you look way younger” (and they mean it as a compliment). For 20 years I’ve heard that and thought, “Oh WHEW. Good! That’s good.” And now I’m thinking, Is it, though? What happens now? Now that my wrinkles and my grey hair and my ‘relaxed’ skin are part of how I look. If I don’t look “younger”, then what?

It seems trivial, and in the face of most of the world’s problems it is of course. But women spend an exorbitant amount of time on this issue, and an even more exorbitant amount of money and energy chasing after this youthful ideal. For that reason alone it’s time we sat down and took a good, hard look at what this is about, what we’re doing, and how we can change our minds.

Why do women need to be younger?

There’s a male equivalent to this anxiety around youth in terms of virility, ability, strength. But a glance at photos of the Fortune 500 CEOs will tell you that being “youthful” and “looking young” aren’t priorities for men when it comes to their success, recognition, power, or ambition. When men are in shape past 30, it’s usually admired without being required.

But women? Well, don’t get me started on how a glance at the photos of the current Fortune 500 CEOs will reveal only 6.4% of them are women (and Fortune will tout that as an accomplishment, because it’s the highest number in the “63-year history of the Fortune 500.” Yay? But that is another post.). When women cease to be youthful, what happens? If you listen to the verbal drool of society, women who age “let themselves go” (blame), aren’t “taking care of themselves” (shame, blame), get fat, frumpy, lazy, past their prime, unattractive … all labels that might just encourage a woman to not want to do this aging thing. And what do we as women learn will happen when we cease to be youthful?

We disappear.

Well, I call bullshit.

On all of it.

Embracing Our Age

You know what “younger” is? Superficially, it’s an artificial, well-marketed opinion about what “beautiful” is: tight (usually white) skin, perky breasts, a toned ass, no belly fat, lots of energy for running around with flowing (usually blonde) long hair in the sunlight (which you are actually avoiding in real life, of course, because you want to keep all of the above and your beautiful wine-grape self will turn into a California raisin in that blistering sunlight). Youth is beautiful – apparently.

I recently tried a meditation technique where I was able to distance myself from this filter of alleged “beauty” standards. And you know what? All of that negativity around my own body WENT AWAY. I actually like my hands’ landscape. I like my strong legs wrapped in softer skin. I don’t actually care at all that the baby fat has left my face.

In fact, once I was able to see myself the way *I* see myself (and not how I’ve learned to scrutinize myself against this alleged “ideal” of “beauty and youth”), it seemed creepy to me that anyone would want to make me younger. It’s infantilizing. It’s dismissive of my intelligence. It’s disrespectful to me as a human who has experience and value to bring to the table.

Why would I give a shit about someone who would rather evaluate the tone of my ass than the thoughts in my mind?

Why would I allow that kind of script to run in my own head?

Well, I don’t. Not anymore.

What would happen if you lost all of these alleged markers of “beauty” that come with youth? Think about it. Would your partner stop loving you? Then I’d suggest you’ve got some serious thinking to do about why your partner loves you, and how that’s going to go as you get older. Would you lose power? Then, love, you’ve got a problem because this is an investment with diminishing returns. You’re only going to get older. You’d better start thinking about your own power, how you attain it, whether you have it or it has you, and how you can change your relationship to it so you become empowered. Because if you only have power from your beauty – you’re in a very precarious position. If you say you’re “empowered” but you’re terrified of losing your youth, you aren’t empowered. You’re letting an external judgement rule your life.

What “youth” actually is

Women, hear me –

Youth is what you are when you don’t know anything. Youth is when you’re naive and innocent, easily influenced. You know – kind of dumb. Youth is when you’re full of enthusiasm and you think older men know shit and are fun and love to ‘help’ you! Youth is when you’re trying to suss out your sexuality so you’re trying all kinds of dumbass shit to see what it feels like and what reaction it garners. Youth is when you don’t feel powerful, so you’re easily intimidated. Youth is when you don’t have power, so you want get close to it to learn it, learn from it, benefit from it, the way a child hugs the leg of an adult to feel their strength and safety. Youth is when you don’t have a good job, you don’t have YOUR career yet, you’re not yet taking care of yourself so you’re relying on banks for loans, credit cards, and sometimes other adults for lunch or rent or new shoes the way your parents took care of you as a child. Youth is when you think there’s something called a “free ride” that’s actually free.

Youth is when you don’t yet know who you are, what value you can bring, or what the fuck you’re doing that’s got any meaning.

Youth is what you should grow out of in your twenties. Because it’s fun, for a while. It’s adorable, for a while. It’s an important learning phase, for a while.

And then it’s just infantilizing.

When society, when men want you to be “youthful”, what do you think they mean? Just “beautiful”? Well, that’s already troubling; why the fuck do they have the power to tell you how they want you to look? Fuck that. And youthful as a state of high energy? Sure, ok. Again, that’s really got more to do with being healthy. You can be any age and have great energy.

Beyond beauty, then, what does being “youthful” mean? It means you’re being valued for being devoid of thought or position or wisdom – you know, for being NICE and AGREEABLE and SWEET. You’re more “fun” when you leave the hard stuff up to big daddy and just giggle at his jokes and let him have his way with you. Relax, daddy’s in charge. Be sexy!! Be great in bed!! You’re beautiful when you let a man “be a man” and you expend your incredible, powerful energy on being thinner, cuter, quieter, sweeter, more helpful, supportive of his/their needs – on being less, on being there *for others* rather than fill your rightful space as ambitious, self-driven, powerful, and self-centred (you know – what men are encouraged to be and what we’re supposed to love them for yet despise in ourselves as negative?). You’re youthful when you don’t have your own agency, so you rely on (usually) a man to pay your bills and give you an allowance. Why get grey hair stressing about silly little finances, right? It’s all “too hard” for a little thing like me! Youth is when you’re expendable for the next young little thing.

Get older, as soon as possible, please

Consider what it is you really want, who it is you really want to be. And then I hope you begin to embrace your age, not in some kind of resignation but as a deeply-felt freedom and long-awaited relief. Free from the shackles of “youth”, you can finally say what you want to say, stand up for yourself, earn your own way, reclaim your inherent agency over your life, stop playing into the empty fantasies of people who are holding you – and themselves – back with regressive wishes and insecurities. You can finally be the hero, complete with all of the struggles and strength-building challenges that make heroes worthy. You will finally be comfortable in your own skin. You will finally like yourself. You’ll understand your value, and take up the space you’re entitled to in the world. You’ll be able to influence others in positive ways, as an empowered role model. People will love you for more than what you do for them. You will love you.

I for one can’t wait. I want you to be fully you. There are a lot of people in the world who long for you to stop trying to be something you’re increasingly not, to let go of this outdated way of being, and get on with being your fabulous self. I can’t wait to meet you – the real you.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to get an om-grey to finally rid myself of the artificial blonde in my naturally silver-streaked hair, and book a photo shoot with my amazing Pranalife Yoga community and Mirror Form Photography, to replace the photos on this website with ones that represent more of what I’m talking about here: beautiful diversity, ranges in age/size/colour/ability, and inclusive of the incredible community I’ve built over the past decade. Over the next few months you’ll see this website transform into one full of authentic yogis whom I hope give less and less shits about being youthful.

Namaste.

grey is beautiful!

“If you want confusion and heartache, ask vague questions. If you want uncommon clarity and results, ask uncommonly clear questions.” ~ Tim Ferriss

“What do I want to do with my life?” is a terrible question.

You’ll always feel like you don’t have enough information to answer it – because you don’t. Your entire life is way too long a trajectory, and hopefully you want to do A LOT of things. When you ask yourself this question, your brain tends to give you that screen we used to see when the programming ended on tv (that’s right, kids, there was a time when the program would just *stop*).

Color stripes

Or for the younger crowd, it prompts your brain to give you the spinning beachball of death a l’Apple.

Screen Shot 2015-02-18 at 11.07.02 AM

 

Try these questions instead:

“What excites me?” (thanks: Tim Ferriss) Break it down into doable steps. What excites you right now? What excites you to think about doing over the next year? How about five years from now? Don’t try to connect the dots, just imagine, let your brain expand and explore.

“What kind of person do I want to be?” (thanks: Marie Forleo) This gives you more of a moment-by-moment manual for living and de-emphasizes trying to control so much of what’s outside of your circle of influence; namely, the events of the future that all have to play nice with your plans for them to work out. Instead, get an idea of how you would BE in a number of different situations and see which ones seem to bring out/support your Best Self.

“How do I want to feel?” (thanks: Danielle LaPorte) This question is brilliant because it gets to the “why” behind the “what”. If you think you want to be a Yoga Teacher, this allows you to tap into *why* you want that. If you follow that rabbit down the hole you’ll likely find that you end with a feeling. You want to do what you want to do because you WANT. You have desires to fulfill. It’s not selfish; it’s your ‘destiny’ and the source of what drives you. Own your feelings and desires and let them work *with* your head.

“What’s the very next thing I could do to move in the right direction?” (this one’s mine) I’ve often found that a “start anywhere” approach works for me because being stuck is pretty much the worst. Just get started, get moving, and course-correct as you go. I find that sitting down and free-writing at the beginning of my work day is exactly what I need to overcome the inertia of stuckness and get me moving toward my goals. That ALWAYS feels better than procrastinating, avoiding, or panicking.

Almost every time I feel confused, I’m asking questions that aren’t useful. Clarity comes from better questions. And don’t be discouraged if it takes a bit of practice before you know how to answer. Be patient and practice Santosa: Be content to start where you are, as who you are, and do what you’re able right now (thanks: Rolf Gates).

Try these on and let us know in the comments what kinds of insights you get!!

Are you ready to create the change you’ve been craving in your life? Check out Pranalife Yoga Teacher Training.