the words of 2018.

Wow — welcome back, Jenn. All previous attempts to stay alert and alive on the blog have failed, but I’m making a triumphant (?) return to close out 2018 in the best way I know how: with words.

There have been so. many. words. this year. Words shared with friends; words read well after dark and under covers (13,959 pages of them, and counting); words listened to; words of love, joy, and excitement; words of sympathy and grief; words spoken to guide others; words needed to be heard; and words repeated quietly, carefully, intentionally to remind me of the truth.

In some ways, it’s been a year of words. And in others, it’s been very, very quiet. I spent more time alone this year than any other of my life, and those last kind of words — the ones I tell myself — have been the most powerful.

I started the year with an intention to “do the work,” and having that guiding purpose behind the last 300-some days was helpful. It didn’t mean that every day was filled with activity or “doing,” but it did mean that every day held something to move me forward. Some days it was 8+ hours at a computer, learning how to code font changes on a new website, set up a scheduling app, writing hundreds of words about bone broth and sushi and salad dressing (freelancing is never dull), discovering that making and editing videos is not my jam, and tackling the never-ending stream of emails.

Other days, it was using my voice to guide others to finding their strength on a yoga mat, a bike, a reformer, in a hammock. Some days I did less talking and more listening, holding space for others who felt brave enough to share their vulnerability with me and also wanted to “do the work” of growing.

On the really magical days, it was all of the above.

And I’m happy to say, that many, many days were magical.

One of the greatest gifts I received this year was the advice from a dear mentor to give every word of my teaching an intention, not to let anything come out of my mouth that didn’t have a point or purpose. While I’m not always the best feedback-taker, I knew this one was coming from a place of love and the desire for me to shine in my truth. I decided, in that moment, that I’d put all of my effort into being “impeccable with my word."

That decision changed everything. Teaching, which on many days started to feel like a real slog, a job, something to get through and move past, became brighter and better. It shifted the focus from planning to doing, and really, to being, which is what yoga is all about. I was no longer stuck in the rut of muscle memory, but empowered to be so present as a teacher. The words we say are always a choice, but often we just let them roll out with a power all their own. Bringing my attention to the words, giving myself the power to choose them, recognizing that people are listening, breathed life back into something that was starting to feel stale.

Being that intentional isn’t always easy, but I didn’t ask for this year to be easy. I asked to “do the work,” and this is the work I want to do.

When we talk about flow or dharma or doing the thing you know you were meant to do, there’s always an element of challenge. It’s the space where our skills are perfectly tuned to help us meet the obstacles we’re facing. The exhilaration from knowing you can do it, but having to really try, is where the magic lies. Much like a marathon runner takes every step, or an artist applies every brush stroke, or a chef chooses every ingredient with purpose, being so impeccable with words turned teaching back into a creative act, into something that needed doing and being, rather than something that just needed to be done.

To borrow an example that my husband would applaud, it was like seeing the Matrix — I feel like I discovered a secret of the Universe, and I’m not going back.

There are also, always, so many words said, written, sung by others that give more life to my feelings than any words I could ever string together. This one, by a perennial favorite poet, does it well:

“This is how it works:
You want to do the doing,
than you want the doing

is where love

— Tyler Knott Gregson

Wishing you all big, magical love.

Shine brighter,