Some of you may already know this, and some of you may be new to reading more about me, in which case, welcome! My partner and I have spent the last year traveling the country, spending from two weeks to a month in new cities we’d never been to before. Before that I was in Chicago, and was (and still am) a full-time movement coach, yoga teacher, and trainer.
Chicago is my home. I walk around and know where I am. It’s familiar and holds the most special place in my heart. And yet, since leaving Chicago last summer and starting this cross country trek, I have noiced that whenever I return, there is something else I feel in addition to the familiar feeling of being home.
I notice what busyness does to my nervous system. The degree to which I used to burn the candle from both ends is more apparent, now that I’m not doing it all the time.
A few days after the last time I was home, I likened the feeling of knowing what it’s like to be training for and ready to run a marathon; running that marathon is still hard but it’s not unmanageable (hopefully). But if you ask me to run that marathon after a year of long incline walks, it’s going to take a different kind of toll on my body.
Jumping right back into the way I used to operate all the time was like running that marathon after a year of disregarding training.
Only, it isn’t that I wish I were in marathon shape. Rather, I’d like to become better and better at knowing what my body needs on the given day, and be able to honor that no matter what my outside circumstances are.
Which is what led me to want to write today.
I’m also gearing up for my wedding, which means it’s a week filled with lots of little items still left to do and not wanting things to slip through the cracks. My energy has been up and down and all over the place, and it’s also led me to land in situations like:
While trying to print a return label off at FedEx the other day, the self service station was out of printer paper. All I needed was printer paper.
Just some regular 8×11 printer paper.
But the only clerk working was busy with a customer. Totally fine, I was just going to wait for this customer to wrap up.
Except they didn’t wrap up.
They had so many questions. And so many follow-up questions.
I could feel myself getting antsy.
If I could just get their attention to signal all I needed was blank paper, I could load it myself!
Five minutes went by. Ten minutes. After 12 minutes I could feel my blood boiling as the remainder of my very long to-do list scrolled across my field of vision. After 15 minutes, another customer walked in and got in line, which prompted the clerk to look up and address us. I used the window to sneak in, “all-I-need-is-some-blank-printer-paper” and with that, the problem was solved.
Was it the worst thing in the world to wait a bit longer to finish the errand? Definitely not.
Did I let it get under my skin and send my nervous system into a tailspin? Absolutely, I did.
But here’s what I’m proud of. Standing right in the middle of FedEx, I closed my eyes and took a few (quiet) slow, deep breaths. Longer exhale than inhale. I removed myself from the situation for a moment. I breathed in some different air in a different way and I didn’t let the moment affect me the rest of the day.
I effectively read my energy, understood where and how I was getting myself worked up, and made some adjustments through internal dialogue to change my course of action (and reaction).
Back to what nomad life has to do with this mini success story. Switching locations and being in new environments so often has had an unlikely, net-positive effect over the last year. When my external circumstances shift so frequently, my own breath practice has become even more of a constant, especially because there are quite a few more inconsistencies daily.
When I jump back into a marathon of teaching in person after months off from it, I now know that I need to block my calendar for at least 45 minutes after that to decompress. Get somewhere quiet. Take a shower. Don’t look at my phone. Anything to down regulate my nervous system.
And through monitoring my nervous system throughout various life stressors over the past year (like being on the road, managing COVID on the road, handling uncertainty within my business from on the road, planning yoga retreats or weddings from on the road) I now have some more strategies I like to employ right when I’m in he moment of my sympathetic nervous system kicking in and hijacking my attempts to stay calm, cool, and collected.