Tag Archives: competitive

The next time you feel like judging: A cautionary tale

15 Dec
This is what #winning should look like in yoga - if at all.

This is what #winning should look like in yoga – if at all.

The other night I went to yoga. I know it’s not supposed to be a competitive sport – it’s all about you and your edge. In fact, most teachers encourage you to make modifications so the practice is your own. That said, for a Type A person, it’s hard to not look around the room and judge assess people.

As shameful as it is to admit, my thoughts are often along the lines of:

  • Bet I’m stronger than her.
  • Wow – bold move wearing those shorts!
  • Eww – no pedicure? Hope that’s not a communal mat!

Tacky, I know, and I’m constantly working to turn off the judgmental voice in my head.

The other night was a good reminder. I was one of the last people to show up, so I tucked my mat between two women who were stretching before class. I began stretching as well, and in doing so, noticed that the woman to my right had an incredibly hairy shin. Hairy enough that I did a double-take on her face to make sure she wasn’t a man.

Indeed, it was a woman.

Once I confirmed that, I thought, “Well, it *is* Movember. Maybe she’s not shaving as part of the whole prostate cancer solidarity thing.” (If you’re not familiar, that IS a real thing. Check out this link.)

And to be fair, I’m lazy so my legs are lucky if they see a razor more than once a week. Even so – let’s note that I felt totally fine judging a stranger for her leg hair. (I am really a horrible person.)

So class starts. We do our sun salutations, our downward dogs, our vinyasas.

And from the corner of my eye, I’m watching my mat-mates, confirming that I’m executing the moves better than they are in some way. Building myself up because I’m the best in my row. Because yoga is a competitive sport, as it turns out.

About half-way through class, our instructor shifts gears and we go into balancing poses. “Tree,” she announces, and everyone shifts on to one leg, lifting the other to demonstrate balance.

The hairy-legged woman to my right drops to the mat and relaxes in child’s pose, not even attempting tree. Feeling victorious, I balance and extend my arms. Then – doing what I’m not supposed to do – I shift my eyes away from their “fixed point.” This move is guaranteed to make me wipe out. But I can’t help it, because I’ve just noticed something as my mat-mate shifts from child’s pose into her own version of tree: she has one leg.

Yes. I’ve spent half the class competing (in my own mind) with a woman whom I’ve judged for not shaving – and now I’m realizing that she is missing part of her leg and has a prosthesis lying on the floor next to her.

Image Source: http://images.elephantjournal.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/12/Screen-shot-2010-12-14-at-10.42.34-PM-500x346.png

OUCH. I’m such a dumbass.

While it was fresh in my mind, I was quick to write down a few lessons:

  • Careful how you define “winning.”
  • Question your motivation to compete in the first place.
  • Ask yourself if you’re putting others down to boost yourself up.

Oh. And never forget the old adage that you can’t judge a man until you’ve walked a mile in his shoes. Or on her prosthesis. And also? She was clearly better at yoga than I was. 

Giving thanks for humility this year. Thanks, universe, for reminding me we’re all One.

 

 

I can make anything a competition.

22 Jun

Image Source: www.someecards.com

I was looking down, chin to chest, so my stylist could clean up the back of my hairline, when one of his co-workers shouted from across the salon, “Look, Tom – we’re doing the same haircut!”

Without moving my head, I lifted my eyes to the mirror, trying to get a look at his customer. And there she sat, across the room, half hidden by a support beam, her head tilted to the side while he worked on giving her bob a straight line along her chin.

Clearly no one “owns” a haircut. But until that moment, it hadn’t occurred to me that my haircut wasn’t a unique masterpiece that only Tom could create. As soon as I realized this, I could not stop checking out the other woman.

Is it the EXACT same cut? 

How’s her color? 

Does she have more or less hair than I do to work with?

Is her hair as straight as mine?

Let’s see her face – does this cut look good on her head?

Who wears it better? 

Is her guy better than Tom?

Is Tom faster than her guy?

Is speed actually desirable in this situation? 

Does her guy use clippers?

Is it better if he only uses scissors? 

And when Tom released me from my chair with a rock-solid cut while she still sat, waiting for her hairline to be cleaned up, I realized: I had won.

It was all I could do to not high-five Tom, then walk over and – standing in front of the woman – point to my hair and say, “Suck it.”

Wouldn’t that be an interesting way to finish your haircut? Having a stranger come beat their chest with pride in front of you? I’m actually a bit sorry I didn’t do it.

Also? From now on I’m going to refer to Tom as my Hair Jockey. And yes, I realize what that makes me.

An epiphany on the potter’s wheel.

12 Oct

I’ve always thought I might enjoy pottery, so when a space opened up at Hinckley Pottery – a few blocks from my house – I decided to give it a go. I’ve now had three classes, and have thrown six bowls, trimmed four and am about to fire my fire few so I can glaze them.

Everyone assumes it’s therapeutic, but I think you have to get good at it before that’s the case. (People say that about yoga too, and I’d give the same response.) Actually – now that I think about it, perhaps it IS therapeutic and I’m just too competitive to achieve that zen-like state. (Same for yoga.)

Let’s just say, when it comes to a pedal (be it on a car, a  sewing machine or a potter’s wheel), I know only one speed: FLOORED.

Whenever the teacher walks by me, she’s like, “Alison, I think you might want to slow your wheel down a bit.”

And I turn it down until she’s past me – then floor it again. Because at that pace, I can make twice as many bowls as my classmates in two hours.

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