Day 214 – the luxury lunch

It takes 2 hours to get ready for the interview, 25 minutes to shine at the interview and over 24 hours to wait for the call back that will tell me whether or not I was successful. This is perhaps only the third corporate interview I have had in my life. I decide on a pencil skirt and ankle boots. I read somewhere that ankle boots indicate that the woman is more likely to be aggressive so I went out and bought another two pairs. I am going for a sales job in a German wine company so I feel there is nothing wrong with a little aggression. I am once again aware of my tattoos as I struggle to keep my sleeves covering my wrist. I am nervous, but as I drive to the interview, focusing on my breath and calming myself down, the nerves change form and I grow in confidence. I say exactly what I want, in the present tense, as though it has already happened and repeat that to myself like a mantra.

‘I work for Pieroth wines. I am a highly successful rep for Pieroth wines. I am the best wine rep for Pieroth wines.’

When I get to the interview, I am full of confidence and excitement. I sit down with Goran, who has a thick German accent and seems impressed when I tell him that Gewürztraminer is my favourite type of wine. He even laughs and says that I seem very confident.

“I am a compulsive optimist,” I tell him, “And it has worked for me so far.”

He agrees, “I have not yet seen a pessimistic person succeed.”

I walk away with my spine long, finally taking the deep belly breaths that the pencil skirt did not allow. Whoever invented stockings must have been a man. Am I really ready for a corporate job in sales? Am I really ready to talk about wine all day instead of yoga? Wine is considered a sacred elixir. Am I really ready to give up my yoga classes to work full time in this industry? I treat myself to a pre-emptive celebratory lunch in North Sydney, watching the waves of suits walk past. I used to live near here, in Cammeray. I used to be a part of the money-driven consumerist society. I used to dine like this daily and think little of ordering a $60 bottle of wine. I also practiced yoga five times a week at a studio and meditated every day. While this job may not seem like something you could picture me doing, I would love the opportunity to find balance, to focus my attention on one single thing and do it well, to become a yoga student again, to not wake up wondering which job I am supposed to be rushing to… I would love to go to sleep before midnight and NOT have to clean the bar down. I take another sip of the strong flavoured Roussaane as I eat the perfectly boiled egg on my haloumi salad. As long as we do anything with intention, with purpose and with full conscious awareness, then I am sure that I can make this part of my daily bliss. And I firmly believe that anywhere that I am is exactly where I am supposed to be. Many small events brought me to this point and knowing the turn of the wheel keeps life every-flowing and changing, I gratefully accept any opportunity that presents itself to me.

Day 212 – anxiety and confidence

Teaching yoga, I find that some students really need to hear the cue to relax their shoulders and breathe into the diaphragm or the belly. They take a deep breath in and I watch their shoulders rise, the chest puff out and the whole point of the deep breath becomes null and void as the entire bottom part of the lungs remains unused. When the shoulders are tightly wrapping around the neck, we call these the waiting muscles. This is where anxiety most commonly presents itself in the body. The student I am speaking to is aware of this but admits that he needs to practice this, that he always forgets and falls back into his old habits. I tell him he can change his habits and I can see the doubt in his eyes. Only one minute a day, focus on your breath and slow it down and breathe into the belly. One minute is not a long time at all. His excuses start to fall away and as we talk, I see the breath move down. Once he is more relaxed, the tension falls out of his shoulders and he seems calm. Sometimes new students come to yoga and feel that they aren’t quite getting it, or that they aren’t doing it ‘right’. They can stress out at the time when they are supposed to be relaxing the most. I tell them not to worry too much about the alignment, it will come. I remember being there; looking around the room, trying to follow the other students and understand what the hell the teacher was on about as she spoke jibberishasana. And then one day, it was like something clicked and when I heard “Bakasana”, I found myself immediately in an arm balance. The important part is not how much you know, how high the legs go, how close you can touch the nose to the knee. The important part is how it makes you feel! It was the confidence that set me soaring into that arm balance. Despite this student’s compulsive tension and chest breathing, he tells me the class was perfect and just what he needed and he leaves with a smile on his face.

When I get home, one of my best friend’s, Luca, is already there, chatting away to Krystle as she prepares dinner. Luca is a tall, vivacious, highly intelligent Italian who I met at yoga teacher training and made the impressive comment in a room full of yogis, “Sometimes yoga is not doing yoga”. He has cut off his mop of Side-Show Bob curls and is walking like the Tin Man after running for the first time in weeks. His job keeps him in Papua New Guinea most of the year so it has been months since I last heard his infectious laugh. We are talking about work and attitude and he says that the secret to his success is confidence. “Liz, you must demand everything that you want because nobody will offer it to you. When they offered me my contract, I asked for everything to be improved upon. When I asked for more money and they said ‘No’, I knew I was pushing it but to everything else they had already said yes so it was worth a try! I know my value and I know I deserve what I ask for. I work hard.” I wonder if he walked in there doing chest breaths? I can pretty much guarantee that he did not.

I don’t know if many people in this world can say that they know their value. I think there are many people who estimate their value on their monetary gain but there is so much more to a single being than a salary. Luca is the kind of beautiful yogi who can scratch the back of his head with his toenail and then walk into a room and manage a team of eleven people in a subtropical developing country where he can’t walk in the streets due to the dangerous political climate. He is only 28 and already talking about buying property.

Going to bed, I look over my day and think about the anxiety that sometimes grips us all. Everybody, even the most conscious yogi, does a chest breath every now and again. Relax, take a deep BELLY breath, know your value and demand what you deserve from the world. Because nobody else can breathe for you. Nobody else knows your value and nobody but you will hand it to you.