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Owning Our Mess

What do you when everything goes really, really wrong? I’d like to say that being a yogini and a seasoned yoga teacher that I am calm in the face of every storm and that I always take 10 breaths, relax with what is, forgive and find something to be thankful for. But I am human and lately I seem to be massively error prone. Perhaps because I have fully taken on the practice of celebrating imperfection, the Universe has deemed it appropriate to send me opportunities to fall and stumble and face the messiness of life. But I am not exactly thankful…yet.

Typically the deep breathing and the looking for rainbows in the dark clouds, as Maya Angelou so eloquently puts it, come hours after my initial reaction to accidents, blunders and stumbles. Typically when I find myself falling flat on my face, as I did today when a new email customer service vendor sent out more than 100 unfinished, draft thank you messages to Radiance students, I find myself more like a cat with my claws in the ceiling, my blood boiling, heart pounding and on the verge of a complete stroke out.

I also know  – and practice – owning my mistakes. This is one of the most critical steps we can take when we find ourselves in the awkward awful position of having royally screwed up. Brushing our mistakes under the rug and expending time and energy hiding them only fans the flames of embarrassment and shame.

When I discovered that these emails had gone out, I immediately felt like Bridget Jones at her mother’s fancy charity party, standing on the lawn in her hooker bunny suit, ears, fuzzy tail and fishnets, amidst the well heeled guests in black tie garb, stung by the realization that her mother had forgotten to tell her she’d changed the party’s theme at the last minute.  I frantically called my contact at the company, got voice mail, called three other numbers, fired off some not-so-nice emails and waited breathlessly on hold for 20 minutes until a representative came on the line. I found myself nearly screaming into the phone – turn it off! Just shut the whole thing down! OMG! What have you done! Until I realized that there was absolutely nothing anyone could do. The emails couldn’t be reeled back in, the stream of reviews from our students onto the Internet couldn’t be stopped. I was berating some poor man who wasn’t at fault.

It’s kind of like the feeling you get when you are leaping into handstand, maybe for the first time, and you go way over into a funky wheel and roll over onto the mat of the person next to you. In that moment we get the choice to either go back and try again, or curl up in a ball and swear off trying ever again.

After my email incident, I took a drive to calm my nerves. And Beck’s song “Loser” came on the radio and as I listened to the ridiculousness of the lyrics (“I’m a loser baby, so why don’t you kill me”) I bust out laughing and realized that I had to let this go. I saw the rainbow in the clouds and took 10 really deep breaths.

I was reminded that when we dare to try new things, when we open ourselves to experimentation and the unknown, the outcome is often first failure. But it doesn’t mean we stop being creative, stop reaching out, stop putting ourselves out there. Most of my students probably didn’t notice that the photo in the email was a stock image of a woman with an exercise ball or that the survey questions were for a gym, not a yoga studio. They may even have appreciated the Thank You.

So go out and keep daring greatly. Remember that there is always time to breathe, whether it’s in the moment, an hour or day or week later. And when we own our mistakes, we get to write the ending.


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