Work to live or live to work?
The whole work-life balance idea is something that I personally struggle with, especially in this day and age.
And although moving from NYC to “paradise” has helped, it didn’t exactly eradicate my never-ending to-do list. (darn it!) It seems like there’s always an urgent email, a meeting, a skype call, a website update or some social marketing that could be done…not to mention tweets, blogs, videos and picture albums to post!
So this is my big inquiry right now: really striking that balance so I enjoy both sides of the coin. One thing that I’ve realized is that there isn’t a magic formula and it isn’t a fixed point, but rather a sliding scale – because of life and it’s full range of demands, some weeks are obviously more about work and “expansion” while others can be more about play and relaxation (whatever that means to us individually) and/or “contraction”, going inward to revitalize. And, in truth, it’s really the way we’re perceiving our life and our busy-ness, yes? …I feel strongly about helping myself and others explore this, and create a life that equally supports both work and play.
On this note, I had the wonderful pleasure to interview Rita Trieger, who I deeply admire, and who seems to have this optimal balanced living down pat, or at least the right attitude about it.
Rita is the editor-in-chief of both Fit Yoga Magazine and Fit Magazine, and the author of “Yoga Heals Your Back” as well as a meditation cd. Besides her career in publishing, she is a highly regarded yoga teacher who works with numerous students as well as cancer patients.
Side note: I’m also thrilled to have Rita, along with Bruce Bassock, teaching for inward bound in Jamaica this March and sharing more of her insights and wisdom on retreat, in person!
Q: Rita, how do you do it “all” and keep your center?
A: For me, having a sense of humor is the key to staying centered. I need to laugh more than once in a while. I don’t get people who are dour all the time.
All of us get caught up in our daily dramas and all of us think that our drama is the drama that REALLY matters. The reality is that none of it matters. We just get attached to the busy-ness — the job, the title, the house, the car etc — and rely on whatever to define who we are; then when we realize [sadly, some people never do] that our attachments are causing us suffering, we get angry, depressed, anxious, and sometimes sick.
I feel fortunate to have two “jobs” – editor and yoga teacher – and they balance each other quite well. Being an editor of a national magazine is stressful. I work for people who are not yogis but my readers demand the magazine hold the integrity of a yogi. It’s a slippery slope more often than not, and for me that is the hardest aspect. I get to practice what I preach on a daily basis.
The stories and the ideas happen very organically – each issue seems to build itself. Very often my assistant editor, Lorraine, and I will look at a newly printed issue in amazement. We know we worked hard on it but it’s always a nice surprise.
And of course I am always grateful to be able to shut down the computer and teach. Even if I am in the foulest mood I will always be smiling afterward. It becomes my yoga practice. I usually teach what I feel I need, and it is always incredible to hear people say, “How did you know what I needed?” I think I “know” because I empathize with the stresses they face.
I often make a point to bring humor into my teaching too. I think it’s important for people to smile, or maybe even get a good belly laugh. Yoga isn’t brain surgery. It’s supposed to make you feel good in every way. Sometimes I’ll tell a funny anecdote while they’re holding a difficult pose. They’ll have these serious looks, and some will be struggling while others will be all full of ego. Then I’ll get to the funny line and everyone snaps out of their heads. The strugglers let go of the tension of “can’t do” and the egotists let go of their “perfection.” Humor allows us to realize what we are attached to, and, that it’s also possible to release attachment to our samskaras.
Q: Can a retreat really help give us tools to deal with life’s little and big challenges?
I especially love teaching on a retreat because the people that partake are seekers. They are giving themselves the space to learn and grow, and are open to experience. That attitude blossoms into a very creative environment resulting in an equal opportunity for the teacher to grow and learn. Destinations like Round Hill add an extra special, even magical dimension that makes the retreat experience even more valuable. Practicing yoga in the beauty of nature reminds us of the origins of the practice as well as our connection to something uniquely profound.
Q: When you write your “Letter from the Editor” each month, how do you decide how much of your personal life to reveal to your readers? Would you speak a bit to your creative process?
When you become a writer the most important lesson is to write what you know. The second lesson is not to be overly earnest.
Generally, I try to think about the overall theme of the issue and tie it back to some personal experience or memory. For example, if we feature a master teacher who is practicing advanced asana, I might discuss my trepidation for handstand, subsequent performance anxiety, and ultimate insight. However, I will often take poetic license to protect my privacy or the privacy of someone I may be writing about, even though the feelings are very real. I think when you reveal your heart it resonates with people even if they don’t agree with what you’re saying. Also, my letters are usually self-deprecating and a little funny, which is always acceptable in polite society, and hardly ever earnest!
Thank you Rita! As someone who is really living and fully engaged in both worlds, you offer such insightful perspective on this topic.
In closing, a friend who advises me regularly, told me that for every hour, or length of time, that she’s fully engaged in working, she gives herself that equivalent time to recharge and regroup. While initially that may sound a bit indulgent, especially to our hard working psyches, I find that by just holding that notion in my awareness I somehow begin to find more, or maybe create more, time and space in my schedule to relax and breathe. My next step is to get out of my left brain and play PLAY more!
(Although I’m still hoping the 4-hour work week will kick in at some point – if I read the book again, learn tango and hire a virtual assistant…maybe, just maybe?)
please email me your thoughts, ideas and insights around this topic.
In gratitude for all,