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Monday, February 17, 2014

Celebrate our differences

I've written in a previous post about enjoying yoga and how beneficial the practice has been for me this year (see the post here). No matter the instructor, yoga teachers all talk about accepting our bodies as they are today, not wishing they were the same as when were twenty--or even yesterday. There is also a lot of emphasis on how the class is our practice, and not the practice of the person next to us. It can be hard not to compare ourselves to our neighbor and usually when we do this, it has a self-defeating tone: i.e. "I can't stay in downward-facing dog for a full five breaths and my neighbor can, which must mean I'm not as good." We do this in the rest of our life as well, comparing ourselves to our neighbors' cars, their gardens, their pets, their marriages, their decorating taste, etc. And feeling like we come up superior to our neighbors is--in the long run--no better than feeling like we come up short.

My dearest friend came to visit over the weekend and we got to talking about yoga and comparing our experiences. As I said, often comparing ourselves to others leads to feelings of self-doubt. In the case of my friend and me, it was a wonderful celebration of our differences. My friend and I have different body shapes. Also, she's flexible and I'm not. She can do a standing forward fold and get her head to her knees without feeling anything in her hamstrings. My head hasn't met my knees yet and may not ever in my life time. However, I have excellent balance and can hold dancer pose or half-moon pose (with the aid of a block, because I'm not flexible) for a ridiculously long time.

We had a good time getting into and out of poses and seeing what poses were made easier with flexibility and which were made easier with balance. And which were just hard. 'Cause some are just hard. Neither of us left the conversation feeling jealous, overly bad or overly good about ourselves; we just celebrated what the body could and couldn't do and how it was different for each person.

Where I am going with this post? Sometimes when we concentrate on our differences, we do so to our determent. But there are those wonderful times when examining our differences gives us a chance to celebrate the diversity of life. And those are wonderful moments.

What about you? What are some differences that you have with people who are closest to you (siblings, partners, friends) that you celebrate?


  1. Jennifer,
    Great blog! I always fall into the trap of comparing my housekeeping with my best friend's and sister-in-law's. They have spotless homes and I sometimes feel like a failure that mine isn't. I grew up in an insanely organized & clean home, even with three kids, so I'm sure that has something to do with it. But to be on top of everything like my friend and sister-in-law, I would have to change things about myself and my lifestyle that I really like. I wouldn't be able to be as spontaneous, and I don't think I would be as laid-back. I think I would grow angry and resentful for having to do all that work, or else I would really have to crackdown on my family, who doesn't seem to recognize a mess. (I'm not saying my friend and sister-in-law are that way. I just know that's how I would become with my personality.) I also wouldn't feel the freedom to let the dishes go for a while when inspiration strikes me and I'm excited about writing, and writing leads to my bliss. :)

  2. Samantha,

    I completely sympathize with the housekeeping trap! My neighbor also has a spotless home and I used to feel like I was a mess because mine is... fine. But now I just appreciate her clean home and her great decorating advice and enjoy my okay cleaning skills.

  3. I have raised "messy house" to an art form! LOL! I have very little free time, so as long as the dishes & clothes are clean, I can't be bothered. Unfortunately, I don't do much celebrating of differences, since I feel like I fall short in most areas. I would like to try to adopt your great attitude, though! Much healthier than the negativity & competition with friends. :)

    1. I agree, Sharlene. Jennifer's attitude is great!

    2. Sharlene, regarding your messiness as an "art form" is a good start! :-) And my attitude is often a battle reminding myself to that I need to be more patient with who I am.