I can remember very clearly my first serious speed wobble. I must have been about six or seven years old. I was flying down a very big hill on my bicycle on one of my dad’s signature all day excursions. I wasn’t wearing a helmet (you didn’t back in the ’70s) and my brakes were the reverse peddle variety i.e. not very effective. As I lost control of the handle bars and the front tire began to veer back and forth in ever widening loops, I could anticipate the crash. It was awful. I sailed over the bike onto the asphalt, scraping knees and elbows, and seriously bruising my child sized ego. It was a small miracle I wasn’t tossed into oncoming traffic and that I didn’t sustain a brain injury. I can’t say I remained calm, but I do remember carrying on. I didn’t want to miss out on the zoo visit.
Whether it’s on a bike as a kid, or as an adult on a yoga mat trying to work side plank into your practice, the speed wobbles will find you. It’s all part of the growing process on our way to building strength, resilience and fortitude.
As a yoga teacher, I like to point out the parallels in our practice on the mat and our lives outside the studio. Generally speaking, our strengths and weaknesses on the mat have an equivalent in our private and professional lives. This is not always the case but quite often.
Flexibility is one example of this. My observations are that those students who can easily slide into poses like Upavishta Konasana or Hanumanasana tend to be versatile, adaptable creatures pliable in their mental thinking as well as subtle. Balance also shows up on the yoga mat; those folks whom have balanced home and professional lives tend to exhibit above average stability on the mat too. Conversely, those individuals lacking in balance in their personal lives can tend to be pretty wobbling on the feet. I haven’t tested this theory scientifically, these are just my observations. Like everything else in life, there are exceptions.
With my own personal yoga practice, my flexibility and balance have always been good. My weaknesses have tended to be strength related.
These past few months, my strength has also been tested outside the studio. Having made a huge leap from the world of full-time employment as a journalist, to freelance writer and part-time yoga instructor, I have been confronted with enormous challenges. Self doubt, as I previously wrote about, is one of them.
The conversation I have with myself goes something like this: Did I make the right decision? Why can’t I be satisfied with following the herd? Am I being an irresponsible mother trying to build more balance in my life by doing what I love but sacrificing the pay? Have I failed because I haven’t reproduced my income levels in three months as a freelancer to what they were as a salaried employee? These are the kind of questions that nag.
Watching some students recently building their own strength on the mat, it dawned on me that I’ve dealing with speed wobbles once again. I am a natural achiever but rather than take stock of what I have already achieved I look at what I haven’t and beat myself up. Fortunately, I have friends who remind me of my achievements including a recently published book, freelance work, television appearances, a growing yoga teaching schedule and of course, my biggest and proudest achievement – motherhood.
So three months on, where do I find myself?
Here’s my stock take:
I have gone from being a reliever yoga teacher to having five permanent classes a week. It didn’t happen overnight. One small break thru, then another, then another. In addition to the regular classes, there is more relieving work and other opportunities in the works.
What I’m wrestling with mentally and financially too is the redistribution of time and energy from full-time journalism to part-time yoga. By creating space and opportunity for more to happen in the yoga side of my life, there’s been a natural pull back in the profession that I have done for 20 years. Because there is not enough time in the day it would have been impossible for me to continue on the path I was on (with journalism) while carving out more yoga. This is an adjustment I’m having to make to do more of what I love. While there has been a short-term trade off between money and love (for my work), I view it as a short-term one given my long-term objectives. Flexibility hasn’t been an issue so much as my strength at managing the transition and also offsetting fears and doubts.
Having an adequate financial safety buffer to see me through the transition has helped. I was prepared in that sense. What I wasn’t prepared for was the uncertainty that can undermine one’s confidence and the inevitable curve balls. Virtually every book written on success warns you to prepare for failure or for your well prepared plan to deviate from the path you set for it. That certainly was the case in mine. My known income from writing was cut in half unexpectedly. I’d also had high hopes for another broadcast opportunity that hasn’t YET materialised. I’m being tested.
The tests I’m up against right now are patience, faith and commitment.
Having patience – to see the scales of journalism and yoga balance out more evenly.
Having faith – that things are happening at a pace that I can adjust to. If I live up to my end of the bargain, putting intention into action where possible, then opportunities will eventuate. If they don’t, then it’s time to reassess and change directions.
And finally commitment. My commitment to my purposes is borne out in both tests of patience and faith because if I were to quit on them, then the commitment obviously wasn’t that great in the first place.
Amid all of this, it’s another big balancing act. Of motherhood, work, love, friendship and work. Fortunately for me, balance is one of my strengths and I’m relying on it to get me through the speed wobbles.
The speed wobbles are scary sure but they can serve as a reminder to slow down, take stock and stay strong as you build up strength. And if you do get thrown, as I did when I was a kid on my bike, you dust yourself off, wipe away the tears and move on. It might just be in a direction you hadn’t planned on.
I’ll keep you posted.
Amanda Morrall is a New Zealand based personal finance expert. Her first book Money Matters was published in 2013 by Penguin Random House in NZ.