How decisions shape you

It’s really strange, but in the past month a few of my friends have all asked me similar questions about whether I have any regrets or if I would do anything in my life differently, or if I can identify certain decisions that hugely shaped my life. I found it odd that various people (who don’t know each other) were asking me this. Coincidence, I’m sure! But it did get me thinking…

I try really hard not to have regrets. Nothing should leave you with regret, it is all just a learning experience in some way (even if sometimes you have no idea what you’re learning). So that is a simple enough answer. But then I guess it gets a bit more tricky – are there things I would do differently, or any big decisions that I can identify as life changing that I might go down a different route?

My immediate reaction was ‘sure, there probably are a few’, and I even thought about some of those big moments and the choice I made. And then I started thinking about where I would be if I had done things differently. But the more I thought about this, the more I realised that again I wouldn’t do things differently or make different decisions. Not the big ones, anyway. There are smaller ones I would love to have a do-over for, and a little part of me does consider that I wish I’d done the big things differently. Yet, ultimately, as with the regrets thing, everything I’ve done, every choice I’ve made, has led me to where I am now. And although some things I wish hadn’t happened or had taken an alternate path, they helped shape my life. Good and bad.

If I’d chosen a opposing way in any of these, I might not be who I am now. I mean, things might have ended up the same way. But maybe not. And I really like who and where I am now – I have an amazing community of supportive and loving people across the world, I teach yoga, I get to do some writing and marketing, and I get to feel way less stressed than I used to. Yes some things could be better and they might be if I’d done things differently, but they aren’t enough of an issue for me to change everything.

So I guess what I’d say is, if you are having big regrets or wishing you’d made different choices, just take a second to think about if that’s really the way you’d want to go. Would you want to sacrifice where you are now, who you are now, for that? Can you see why doing things that way made you who you are now? And if you realise that these things have moulded you and your life, maybe reconsider having them as regrets. Instead, have them as lessons, or just things in your life. It’s all an experience, after all.

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Taking control

For anyone that has read my blog for a while, or anyone who knows me, you know I always come back to my issue of making decisions. I tend to be unsure at times, and I often ask so many other people what they think before I make the decision (even if I don’t always listen to what other people think). It is a part of me that frustrates me each time I struggle with decisions, as I know at times I can do them alone and other times I can’t.

I like to think that lately I have become a little better at it. And it the last few days I have realised that when the decision is entirely right for me, I don’t ask for opinions of others. Maybe when I’m confused or ask for guidance, it’s because the right path isn’t clear. But very recently I have made a decision about the next step in my life – and I made it entirely alone. In my head I already knew what I wanted and I knew what was right for me, what would make me happy. So when the opportunity came up, even though it was against the plans I’d made for myself for the next few months and it may be against the more logical and sensible options for me, it still felt right and it took me no time at all to make the decision. And as soon as it was made, I felt calm and at peace. I haven’t questioned it once, I’ve just done it.

I felt similar about my decision to quit my job and move to Morocco a year ago. And again I’m reminded that if it feels right to me, it probably is. Sure it might not work out how I think, or it might not be the most sensible option, but that’s ok. It’s not like I’m exactly sensible a lot of the time anyway!

So I’m jumping into this new adventure with an open heart and an open mind. And hopefully with the ability to recognise what decisions are right for me and with the trust that it’s all meant to be just the way it is. Here goes!

Thank you, body

Yesterday was the first day since coming back from India that I didn’t do any yoga. I was too tired in the morning and it was far too hot in the evening – and all day I felt a bit jittery and restless. By the end of the day I was really stiff and sore, and I didn’t really know why.

This morning, I woke up even more stiff, and with a headache and sore throat. So I decided to just do a restorative stretching session on my body. It was tough. My downward dog was difficult and my legs were so tight, and I couldn’t get into it anywhere near as deep as I had done recently. I began to panic that I was losing my flexibility and strength that I built up in India, and that I would start to become a worse yogini again. But instead of worrying, I just let myself breathe into my stretches. I listened to my body, to the postures it needed. My pigeon was painful, showing how tight and sore my hips were. So again, all I did was breathe. Yes, I couldn’t go into it fully like I have been able to for months, but I didn’t let it stress me. Because if I’ve learnt anything lately, it’s that I need to listen to my body and understand what it needs and how far to push it. I don’t really know why my body is having so much trouble today, but it clearly needs the rest.

People who know me know I’ve had issues with my body for a while. Some are purely mental, where I have issues with my appearance and the mainframe that I need to keep pushing it when I should just stop. Others are physical – I’ve struggled with illness that affects me physically, I’ve had weight problems in the past and I find my body frustrating at times. But doing yoga so intensively has given me a new-found respect for my body. It can do amazing things, I have a lot of strength and I can perform yoga poses to a pretty good level (I think). Alongside the yoga stuff, my body has seen me through a lot and not given up. I’ve abused it with way too much bad food, a lot of binge-drinking, not taking care of it like I should have done. It is constantly getting me through my illness, and although at times it doesn’t function as well as everyone else’s, it is still going. So that, in itself, is pretty incredible to me. And I fully appreciate that I am much better off than so many other people in this respect.

So I’ve decided to not let it get me down. I will respect my body and all that it does for me, keep me alive and healthy and active. I will listen to it, give it rest when it needs it, push it harder when it is able. I will love my wobbly bits, accept that my hamstrings are quite tight after years of dancing and running, be fine that sometimes my arms don’t feel as strong as other times. I will give it the love and care it needs. And I will feel gratitude every day that I have this body, that I am living a good life and I can do some amazing things. So thank you to my body.