A few days ago I was rushing out the door to yoga.
Yoga is my saving grace, and the holidays had brutally derailed me from my schedule. I needed this is a bad way.
My internal native Chicagoan was already awake, belittling me for not leaving a bit earlier. As I hit traffic and a construction zone, she got louder. It was then that I saw the flashing lights in my rearview mirror. I pulled over right as the lanes merged from two to one, clinging to the hope that maybe the police officer just needed to get around me. That hope vanished as he followed my lead.
I removed my sunglasses and my big, green, cozy hat as the officer explained that my license plate sticker was expired by about six months. My inner Chicagoan yelled, “Why didn’t my husband take care of this?!” And then, “Why didn’t you take care of this?! How can this be!?”
As the officer returned to his car to decide my monetary punishment, I frantically texted my husband as if he had the answer that would make this all go away and get me to yoga on time. As I was awaiting my destiny, it dawned on me that I had been in Colorado for nine months and had yet to change my Illinois license plates. Serenity now. I closed my eyes and hoped for the best.
The officer returned to inform me that he was only giving me a ticket for the sticker and that he understood how dealing with the plates could’ve slipped my mind after such a large move. He understood? Hmmm, I guess I have had a lot on my plate moving my family from Illinois to Colorado only a mere nine months ago. I pulled away with my ticket and continued on my path to yoga as my inner Chicagoan started to pipe up again, “You are never going to make it,” shaking her head at me.
I whipped my minivan into the parking lot and grabbed my yoga mat. I went to open the door, and my heart sunk as it jolted to a stop. I peered through the window like the forlorn person I had become. Class had begun. I was about to walk away when my yoga teacher peeked out of the second door, “Cara,” she whispered, “come in this way.”
I opened the door right into the studio. There I stood, wearing the biggest coat I own, my large winter boots, my yoga mat, my purse, and my enormous water bottle. It’s warm. It’s quiet. It’s packed. Yikes.
Here she comes, “See what you did? You have disrupted the class. Everyone is annoyed with you for showing up two minutes late. You are ruining their Zen.” I tried to hush my Chicagoan as I removed my boots and coat as gracefully as possible and tiptoed to the coat room.
When I returned to the studio, the woman next to me was moving over her mat so I could squeeze in. I have done this plenty of times for others, and it has never bothered me. I never got annoyed or angry that the slightly latecomer had shifted me over six inches. After all, this is yoga. But, my Chicagoan was not happy with me; “She had to stop her rhythm for you. She had to make space. Do you even deserve this?”
As I started breathing, my mind started to settle. Even when I was using my left foot instead of my right, and ended up staring at the woman next to me fully knowing I’m facing the wrong direction, I was able to override my Chicagoan with a bit of humor. I received a smile back from that lovely woman. It wasn’t until I was in Savasana that I realized how many people had showed me compassion that morning. And if they could show me compassion, could I show it to myself?
We all have an inner Chicagoan that may go by a different name. It’s our ego, our inner critic. The one that holds us to higher standards than anyone else we know.
They say you can take the girl out of Chicago, but you can’t take the Chicago out of the girl. That may be true, but you can certainly quiet her down by ignoring her. And when you ignore her, she gets smaller. She takes up less space. And that space becomes the container for you to hold compassion for yourself, as well as recognize the compassion you are receiving from others.
Allow your true self to quiet your ego. Breathe. Show yourself the compassion you would show others.