May: Find a Way to be Very Tender

I had a good plan for May. I had a blog post written, my intention was going to be to reading yogic texts. My kindle was full of books and I had my list of coffee shops to read and study in.

Then I got a promotion.

And this is wonderful news. APAX English is growing quickly in Vietnam. I am working at a brand new language center. My boss approached me during training and asked if I would consider moving into the Head Teacher position immediately. Starting Wednesday I am teaching and managing our teaching staff.

This week was taken up my teaching demo lessons at our center, shadowing other teachers, and training for my new role. Yesterday In a panic of PMS, doubt and stress I realized something had to give. May is going to be a hard month. I know the kind of intention I was planning would end up feeling like the last item on a to do list. What will not feel good this month is a nagging “you should be reading” voice in my head. The Yoga Sutras will have to wait.

Instead, in May I am going to become a master of self care. My intention for the month is to take excellent care of my mental health. I want to be so gentle with my mind and body while I settle into this role. I want to take very, very good care of myself so I can become very, very good at this job.

My game plan for managing stress is to make time for acts of self care and cooking. I will engage in daily reflections by naming an affirmation and intention.

1. Name my intention for the day.

2. Name my affirmation for the day.

3. Cook a healthy dinner to bring to work.

4. One act of self care.

(yoga, meditation, running, reading, sitting my the pool with a podcast, painting my toenails, etc etc...)

*A word on affirmations – I believed this was totally hokey until recently.

When Jon and I were biking to the motorcycle shop I was scared shitless of buying myself a bike and riding it home through Hanoi traffic. On the back of his bike I started loudly declaring “I WILL RIDE A MOTORCYCLE SAFELY AND CONFIDENTLY!” into my pollution mask.

During my bout of PMS along a stretch of highway I yelled “I AM COMPETANT, CAPABLE AND DESRVING OF THIS JOB.” Later I chanted the Gayatri Mantra. When I got to work I felt better. The length and anonymity of my ride to work is ripe time for presence.

I’m not about to get preachy about the power of manifestation. In moments of doubt and anxiety this is one strategy for ‘getting free of the story.’ In many ways having the intention of self care is about becoming deeply present. I'll try it. 

My work before becoming an English teacher was organizing art shows about mental illness and addiction. I walked away from that job feeling incredibly grateful for my mental health. It is a type of privilege to be generally comfortable in your own mind. That said, mental health (like physical health) requires upkeep.

I felt myself totally derailed by anxiety about work this week. The intention of this month is to mindfully and deliberately make space for ease, pleasure, gentleness and care. Mind, spirit and body.

“It is in your best self interest to find a way to be very tender. “ – Jenny Holzer