Circling the drain at tax time

Today I got around to doing my taxes and it turns out, for the 11th year in a row, I made no money.

Once again, I operated at a loss.

I am really a happy person as long as I don’t have to consciously face the fact that I make no money. But as soon as I have to add up all the numbers, I get really depressed, and sad, and I begin to seriously wonder:

What the hell am I doing??

What kind of dream world do I think I am I living in that I think I can afford to go tripping merrily along, teaching my classes, working on my little projects, while other people underwrite my existence?

(Apparently I am a freaking genius, though, at getting other people to fund my existence.)

Bur how fair is this? I should be making a living wage, right? Funding my own existence. Pulling my weight. But instead, a bunch of people (who love me) underwrite me and my schemes.

And I know they love me. And I know that I am not an impostion on them, and in some way it is okay that I live like this. But still, at tax time, when I see it all laid out in horrible numbered columns on an Excel spreadsheet? I begin to circle the drain.

It’s pretty terrifying.

What am I doing wrong? Am I a failure? Am I devaluing myself? Should I be charging more? Should I give up the lounge and reduce my rent?

How come ordinarily it feels so wonderfully perfect to be doing what I am doing, and yet at tax time when I see that I don’t make a dime I get so depressed?

A few months ago I went through this Money Map thing. It was an extensive series of exercises that had me put a dollar value on everything I did. Everything. It took me a long time to complete, not to mention a lot of soul-searching, but at the end I had figured out how much money I would have to make, per month, to be “Minimally happy”, then “Preferably happy”, and finally, “Fantastically happy.”

I just now looked up that exercise and laughted.

Ridiculous.

And then I just re-read my post from last night where I was blithering on and on about my amped life, my great classes, my wonderful students, my new client, and now today?

I feel like shit. I feel like I have been undervaluing myself.

And yet I know (because I had to do all that Money Map research) that in my market, I can’t charge any more than I am for what I do.

So what do I do?

Friday night

It’s Friday night. I love Friday night, despite the fact that I don’t have a conventional job, and the “week” and the “weekend” are virtually interchangeable for me.

I don’t get paid on Friday. I don’t even work, so I’m not even spent from the week.

I am amped from the week, actually.

Right now I wish you could see me.

I am sitting here, on the couch, in my pajamas and NaNoWriMo hoodie. There is a margarita at my left elbow, and G’s head is on a pillow at my right elbow. She is reading The Art of Asking by Amanda Palmer, which I have been talking about ad nauseam ever since I finished it at the beginning of this week. (I am so happy she is reading this! Whee! We will have so much to talk about in the days ahead.)

My week was terrific. I taught my yoga classes, I figured out my March offerings, I wrote my newsletter, I took on a new Health Coaching client.

I am particularly happy about that client, in fact. I really like her and I felt a particularly strong connection to her, and her story. She is exactly where I was this time last year. (Which was NOT a good place. I was recovering from wrist surgery, unable to practice yoga and addicted to pain killers.)

She is not addicted to pain killers, but she is suffering from shoulder surgery and is in a lot of pain.

I had a lot of help digging myself out of that pain/depression hole last winter, and I hope to provide that same kind of help to her.

So, yeah. It has been a really good week.

Also: The sun has been shining despite the wicked temps. The bears are waking up, despite the wicked temps. There was a “bird report” on my Facebook feed today. They are starting to “sing” again, despite the wicked temps.

So yeah.

I found myself saying to my class tonight: “Life is simple.”

Life IS simple. Or it can be, if we don’t complicate and muck it up with our expectations and our judgments.

I hope you are enjoying your Friday night.

Namaste.

A Rumor of Bears

The other morning while G was walking Boomer, a neighbor stopped to tell her that she had seen bears up behind the cemetery. “Yeah,” she said, “just so you know, the bears are up. It’s time to take the feeders in at night.”

So for the last 2 nights we have been taking the feeder in. Not the one down on the patio, just the one on the porch, because a few years ago we were awakened in the night by the dog going crazy, only to put on the light to see a big black bear destroying our feeder right outside our French doors.

It is hard to believe the bears are up. It is still below zero most nights. If I were a bear, I would definitely not be up. If I were a bear I would be up in my cozy lair with my new Seth Godin book, and my space heater, dressed in my pajamas and my hoodie, sipping something hot.

I would definitely not be out raiding bird feeders. No sir. Not yet. It’s definitely not safe to come out yet, bears.

IMG_1540

Building an amplified community

Today I spent a lot of time on the phone with a yoga teacher, trying to hash out an accurate description of the class she will teach on Wednesdays in March at MSY.

It was an exciting creative process that I was even aware of as it was happening and I actually pulled out of the convo for a moment to comment on how cool it was that we were having this incredible discussion about Tantra, and prana, and introspection and transcendence. It made me want to meet with her more often just to “talk shop.”

It occurred to me that I am really lucky in the people I know, but also know that I make my own luck much of the time.

If there is one thing that is undeniably true about me it is that I need people around me who share my interests and passions.  So my strategy is to try to rope them into my corral.

“Did you ever consider being a yoga teacher?”

“Have you read this book?”

“Do you know about this podcast, this TED talk, this  food, this meditation technique?”

I do this because I need playmates.  I need people around me who are ENGAGED IN SOMETHING. I need the people around me to be living lives that they are passionately stoked about.

The yoga teacher and I hammered out the conceptual framework for her class for March, then I wrote and sent my newsletter, and then I dashed to my meeting with my test group for the book I am writing, and there again I noticed how much I love the people who are attracted to, and love to talk about the same thingsI love to talk about:

What do you love?

What do you not love?

What are you doing?

What do you stand for?

What is amping your vibe at the moment?

These things really MATTER to me. And incredibly, these things matter to these people, too.

Tonight I had this crazy thought: What if I could revolutionize this town? What if I could be the force that starts to dispel the pervasive toxic cloud of apathy and laziness that hangs over this place?

What if I could enliven a critical mass of people, amplify their vibe, until  there would be a felt energy shift in this ‘hood?

Wouldn’t that be cool?

Grappling

Today did not go AT ALL the way I thought it would.

I walked into the gym expecting an hour of sit-ups, pull-ups, squats and other torture at the hands of my handsome and wise trainer, but instead found myself in deep dialogue. Today we worked out together. Today’s workout was to understand and articulate. Today’s workout was to hoist aloft fear and disappointment and failure and look at it. Today we both attempted to  deadlift our body’s weight in vulnerability and empathy.

He challenged, I answered. I challenged, he answered. On and on, over and over, set after set, first high reps and low weight, then high weights and low reps. He daring me to to pick up heavier and heavier things: pain, suffering, happiness, disappointment, despair. Me daring him to watch and deal.

At the end, we were both crouched on the black gym floor, eye to eye, and I held his head in my hands, and offered everything. And took everything.

We had spent an hour and a half grappling the only thing worth grappling: life and its endless conundrums. There was no winner. Winning was never the point. Artistry was. And friendship., And deep abiding respect.

As I left, the cruel, cold February sun flooded the space..

He sat happily spooning gobs of pumpkin pie into his mouth. I floated out humming Boddhisatva by Steely Dan.

Yoga Gives High Return on Investment

Tonight I asked my class what their incentive for coming was.

(Because, people, it is freaking freezing out.)

So I asked them: why do you come out in the  cold, knowing you are going to be beaten, and broken, and boiled alive as the postures slowly ratchet up, and up, and up until you are nothing but a gelatinous mass on the floor.

Who needs this?

What is the return on investment for this craziness? Why isn’t it enough just to go home after work, build a nice little fire, get in your jammies and  snuggle in?

I really wanted to know. Because I am looking through the “return on investment” lens on everything  I do these days, analyzing housework, home cooking, workouts, eating out, socializing, Facebook, reading, meditating, you name it.

If it has a high ROI, it stays, if the return of energy, or time, or money investment, is low?  Off with its head! Out of my life!

So I asked them: What’s the incentive?

One person said that class helps her come back to “normal.”

Another one said that she sits and works at her computer all day and needs to move her body.

A lot of people have just built “going to Power Yoga on Monday night” as part of their week.” It’s what they do.

I had a kind of grouchy, shitty day today. I got  an astonishing amount of nothing done, then I had to go teach.

I put my game face on, led the class, even played Otis Redding’s Try A Little Tenderness at the end, and can I just tell you? What an energy surge erupted from those people. Totally blew my circuits. I cannot even describe it.

So I won’t. But the ROI on yoga tonight? High. Very high.

This activity is a definite keeper.

Sunday stuff

I think even in Lent, you get Sundays off, don’t you?

I am sitting here watching the Oscars. I haven’t seen many of the films, but I am really liking the spectacle of Awards this year, and Neil Patrick Harris is adorable.

C’mon, Lady Gaga covering Julie Andrews? How amazing was she? And then Julie herself shows up, looking incredible?

And the stage this year? Gorgeous.

Today I wrote stuff. In Omwriter.

Today the temperature went above freezing for the first time in forever.

I walked Boomer.

I made a pumpkin pie.

I wrote a letter to my naturopath, ending our partnership, which was hard, but necessary.

I will go into it all tomorrow. Now all the good awards are starting.

Namaste