Kermit the frog told us, “It’s not easy being green.” I am beginning to think Jim Henson was talking about far more than color.
Maybe you already figured this out long ago, but it has been a while since I thought about Kermit. Of late, I have been reflecting on how difficult it is to just be. It is challenging for me to stand on my own two feet.
In literal terms, I am quite capable. In yoga, I am learning to align my feet so they face straight ahead and sit directly below my hips, creating a powerful and healthy Tadasana—mountain pose. This alignment provides the foundation for the rest of my body to move with grace and strength without injury.
In yoga, I have been learning to pay close attention to the small movements I make. How I move my hips, shoulders, and neck. I am learning to listen to my body and not push too hard.
These are expectations that have been set by my teacher. The tenet for yoga teachers is to “do no more harm.” I am thankful for this yogic guideline, particularly as I think that I have experienced enough harm to last me through several lifetimes of soul work.
Harm is simply a part of western culture. We look for the negative before the positive. We are guilty before proven innocent. We have to prove ourselves as valuable players in a culture where success means bigger, better, and more material gain.
Well, I think I have had it with this definition of success.
This definition of success turns my insides into a tangled web of anxiety. There is tightness and more knots than I can untangle without creating a more complicated mess.
To interpret Kermit’s message: “It’s not easy being me.”
I don’t mean that I have trouble walking around; I am not trying to be dramatic. I simply am stating that it has been a long road to get to a place where I am aware of who I am and what I need to experience joy and peace in my life.
But figuring me out is not enough to derive true joy. I need to be me, to embody who I am through everything I do. To walk this talk I express about following a sustainable path.
And to be honest, not everyone is comfortable with me being my own self. This I have experienced since I began advocating, however tenuously, for my true self.
My yoga teacher told us, “The greatest gift you can give the world is to tell your truth.” I believe this to be true. I also think that truth comes with the responsibility of communicating with kindness and love.
No matter how kind I communicate my truth, each person makes a choice of how they respond to this truth, and they do not always respond kindly. I know enough at this point to be a log—i.e. to not respond—or to respond gently and with more love without compromising my position.
If I compromise my position, I will lose my balance.
To maintain my foundation, I am beginning from the bottom and building up from there. I am rewriting my definition of the person I can and should be based on what I need to live a sustainable life.
This requires some serious uprooting of the values I have learned from western culture—from previous jobs, role models, and expectations and rules bestowed upon me by other people.
In the classical music world, I found success to be defined by how many hours a day a person practiced and how closely they mimic a piece of music that may have been composed hundreds of years ago. This world may fit some, but I felt stifled and limited. I wanted to learn French. I wanted to travel the world. I did not want to sit in a room by myself and practice piano all day every day, only to endure intense criticism by teachers and colleagues if I dared to stray from convention.
Nope. Not for marieke.
I tried working for the government (I know, what was I thinking), and I was far too idealistic, abstract, and independent-minded for such a strict culture and chain of command. While there were many people who supported me, I found a strong focus on where people were failing. Success meant working overtime. It meant sacrifice.
Not a good fit for an already sensitive woman with low self-esteem. But it took me ten years to figure that out and pursue a path where I could be creative.
I started my own business; I wanted to be my own boss. But even there I have found confinement.
To be a successful musician, people have informed me that I shouldn’t wear glasses. A female songwriter should be sexy, and apparently being able to see is not a requirement. I was told that playing a ukulele was less sexy than playing a guitar. I told that if I wanted to be a successful songwriter, I could not also be a writer. I had to prioritize my commitments.
And I tried. But my heart was not in it. I realized that I was being a complete hypocrite if I created a business model that did not reflect my own definition of self-sustainability.
Couldn’t I create a successful business in a sustainable way?
Einstein was quoted as saying, “We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them.”
Well, I only recently realized that I could not create a sustainable business upon the foundation of success as defined by the world I have lived in for nearly 34 years. I needed to create a new definition of success.
And for me, success is a far cry from what I have been taught.
Success does not mean making a lot of money. Success allows for emergence and creativity. Success includes spaciousness and flexibility.
I am successful when I nurture my soul, my body, and my heart and mind.
I woke up this morning at 5:17am and lay in bed for a few minutes before getting up. I made coffee, and I sat quietly writing for an hour. Then, I went swimming. I moved my water through the water and reflected. For me, swimming, like writing, is a meditation. I went to yoga. I committed to a practice to open my body, mind, and heart. I stood on my own two feet. I exchanged kind words and laughter with other people who were all there for reasons that may or may not be reflective of my own.
I came home and bestowed loving caresses upon my cats and dog.
I carried on with my day in this fashion, and I wound up at a friend’s house talking about all that you have read thus far (except Kermit and Einstein).
I told my friend that I felt like I had done a lot of work that day, even though to most people I was simply unemployed.
She responded, “You did do a lot of work today. You woke up and you were you.”
It’s not easy being green. And it’s not easy being who you are.
Regardless of all that may be against those of us who commit to following our own path with as much honesty and grace as we can muster, I still wouldn’t have it any other way.