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  • Tracey L. Kelley

Letting Go, Pt. 1

Updated: Apr 27, 2020


About five years ago, I pestered a near-stranger into hours of conversation about a new project she wanted to develop: a statewide magazine dedicated to the yogic lifestyle. Fortunately for me, she didn't think I was too strange, but entertained a lot of my ideas and shared her vision. Thanks for that, Angela Ossian!

Another division of my company is writing and editing, and I really wanted to be a part of this new endeavor. So, I contributed a few articles for free (which should always be a choice of the writer and -not- the expectation of a prospective client!); then wrote for ad trade; then started getting paid assignments and finally, to help with the growth, was asked to become the managing editor of YogaIowa.

Angela and I worked side-by-side developing each issue, and always had more stories than we had space to share. Amazing people, interesting events, countless workshops, endless concepts--the yogic lifestyle culture in Iowa is rich and varied, and even when development was hard (low ads! missed deadlines! printing errors! distribution snafus!) it was such a joy to promote these wonderful stories and hear time and again how much people loved each issue, and what they could do to support it, partner with it, and extend their voices and talents to make it the best representation of our tribe. And the world of yoga is definitely that: a tribe of like-minded people who may have different approaches, but with a singular objective of good for the sake of it. Some people are designed to fit into the proper niche and carry on with certainty. Others gravitate toward new ideas and open those paths for exploration. Angela and I have facets of both, so it wasn't a surprise when she wanted to sell the publication and try new things. And I understood the myriad reasons why this decision was full of mixed emotions for her, but it was the right choice. After the publication transitioned to a new company, I recognized my opportunities were morphing, too. It was an uneasy feeling. I thought my groove, my niche, was well-defined. I wanted to surf in it because it was developed, comfortable, and routine. Because of that, I didn't want to take chances. I wanted things to be calm. Perhaps slightly predicable. For a pleasant change of pace. However, my years of yoga practice reveal a constant component: change. And due to its inevitability, it needs to be welcomed. A prairie fire always reveals fresh growth due to the burn, not in spite of it.

So I created space to face some realities... ...examined strengths and weaknesses... ...pondered my personal and professional growth... ...acknowledged the ego hurt and fear so it could rise up and out... ...cried a lot... ...entertained new ideas... ...and I allowed that after years of dedication to the publication, it was time to step away from my current role. Even though we don't like to believe it, modern yoga is often full of ego. External validation appears in every Instagram post of Lord of the Dance on a precipice at sunset. It appears with multitudes of "I" statements from both teachers and students. It appears as a little symbol on the back of yoga pants. If we really wanted to "yoga", we'd all be sādhus and sādhvīs living in caves in India. The most difficult question to answer was, quite simply, who am I without this aspect of my yogic identity? What's my relationship with yoga--so carefully crafted over time--without this extension of self? Would "I" be "me" without it, and why does that matter? And the comfort! And the predictability! And the tribe!

All vital. But it was time to let go. So if you've read this far, thank you. And now I ask you: what have you held onto that perhaps you can release now? Is it time? What space will that create for you?

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