I’m definitely dealing with a little Peter Pan syndrome as I face the stigma of turning the big 4-0. I certainly don’t feel old, but when my father turned forty I remember buying old fart pills from Spencer’s at the mall, and giving him a card with a picture of an old man using a walker. I have watched the movie This is Forty many times and deeply identify with Leslie Mann’s character when she says, “I don't wanna shop at old lady stores. I don't wanna go to J. Jill and Chico's and Ann Taylor Loft. I’m not ready yet."
I don’t want to admit the halo of gray hair encroaching on my roots. I don’t want to have to get mammograms and get sun spots removed. I don’t want to wear both readers and progressive lenses for driving. I have three daughters ages 13, 10, and 2 - the youngest, a huge surprise born in my advanced maternal years. I don’t want to admit my complete and utter exhaustion running a household with issues concerning both Tampax and Pull-Ups at the same time.
I have spent the greater part of 2015 trying to identify my “calling.” Apparently, I’m looking for a direct hit to the bulls-eye so that I can somehow leave a greater impact on this earth! I admit that this constant striving and inevitably comparing sometimes with others, can get exhausting. There are many things I am embracing about turning 40. I know myself and I like myself. I care less about trying to please others to have them like me more and feel more grounded and authentic in trying to be the very best version of me. I think that’s all that the world can ask of each of us. I have taught thousands of yoga classes over the past 12 years, and every January I encourage my students to write a sankalpa statement, which translates to “divinely inspired intention.” I wanted to highlight my sankalpa statement for the next 40 years.
Have Courage. Did anyone else ball their eyes out at Disney’s latest rendition of Cinderella? It’s one of my favs! This brave young woman was tested and ridiculed and stayed so deeply true to herself (and to her deceased mother’s advice to “Have Courage, and Be Kind”). Marianne Williamson writes, “There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It's not just in some of us; it's in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.” I feel like applauding every time I read that quote. I am the biggest cheerleader to everyone else’s dreams and have a history of shrinking when it comes to acknowledging my gifts and the power of my light. I can tell you that it’s freeing to identify with your God-given gifts - because it makes you appreciate and not compete with the beautiful gifts that others have. It’s like lighting a candle from another flame. You don’t reduce the light by sharing it, you multiply it. In my next forty years, I may not land my “calling” per se, but I do plan to show up and burn brightly being me, and will continue to encourage others to do the same.
Be Kind. This is Part II of the Cinderella story. Cinderella recognized that the evil ways of her step-mother and step-sisters were merely a reflection of their own unhappiness, and enabled her to have empathy and to extend forgiveness to them in the end. We can spin over the assumption that people in our lives should know the impact of their unloving actions; however, we all know what they say about assuming.... I teach hundreds of students each week and have learned from watching people’s emotional reactions on the mat and having conversations before and after class that everyone is coming from somewhere. “Do not judge a book by it’s cover “ is an understatement. I’ve seen heavy set women float effortlessly into handstand and muscle men shake in plank. I’ve experienced a woman weeping on her mat for an entire class and a not-so-gentle man yell out in a raging fit that my music was too loud. I’ve learned that I can’t assume anything, but I can be kind. We’ve grown up around different dinner tables, experienced different cultures and traditions, formed opinions from influences on our paths and have thoughts reflecting our own story. In The Four Agreements, Don Miguel Ruiz writes, “We make the assumption that everyone sees life the way we do. We assume that others think the way we think, feel the way we feel, judge the way we judge...” This is what gets us in trouble. The very definition of kindness to “being gentle and considerate.” Everyone is coming from somewhere. Be kind.
Love One Another. Childs pose is usually where I find my gravity again. My life can feel like a spinning top, and the act of bowing my head, turning to the present moment, and lifting my palms upward helps me remember the many blessings in my life. When we live in gratitude, things like competition with others, critical gossip, “poor me” syndrome, and insecurity fade away. Melody Beattie wrote, “Gratitude turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos into order, confusion into clarity...it makes sense of our past, brings peace for today, and creates a vision for tomorrow.” In other words, we get our heads out of our butts and are free to love one another. Gratitude allows us to break free from the bondage of worldly judgement and cultivate a true love-interest in others - wherever they may be in life. This freedom allows us to love our neighbor regardless of the diversity in our opinions, backgrounds and choices. In my next 40 years, I want to live authentically and gratefully and hope that you would know my God by the way I love.
When preparing one year for my New Year’s Resolution (or sankalpa) yoga class, I found this beautiful translation of the Sanskrit chant, Om Namah Shivaya. It said, “Salutations to the person I am becoming.” With grace and mercy in the forefront, cheers to the humans we are becoming on and off the mat! Cheers to 40!
By Kristin Magill Gibowicz
Kristin started practicing yoga after a doctor told her she should expect a second back surgery on her lumbar spine. An outdoor enthusiast and a young mom, she refused to accept the diagnosis. She stepped into CorePower Yoga and committed to practicing to see if she’d see any improvements in her condition. With a consistent practice, yoga healed her by strengthening her core physically, giving her body awareness, and reducing stress in her mind and body. Kristin started teaching yoga in 2003 and knowing that 80% of Americans suffer from back problems, felt moved to learn everything she could about the anatomy, breathing techniques to reduce stress and how to transform other’s lives through teaching yoga. “Power yoga brings this exhilarating, cardiovascular yoga practice to “everyday Joes” like me. My goal as a teacher is to share my passion and improve the quality of people’s lives. In each class I hope to help liberate my students both mentally and physically, and leave them in a better place.”
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