Monday, October 01, 2007

On Becoming Yourself...


The Vicomtesse Marie-Laure de Noailles, a French patroness of 1930's Surrealist poets and painters, used to ask new friends the question, "At what age did you become yourself?" (for more on her read this abstract of an article in the September 24 issue of The New Yorker) I think she was doing it to be witty and unpredictable , but I find the question is a fascinating one to mull over. What are the most affecting events of your life and how did they shape the "final" (if there is such a thing) product? Finding a partner? Leaving home? Having kids? Studying yoga?

The last question may seem a bit of a stretch, but I suspect it might have more to do with your answer than you think (I know it does for me). Once you start a regular yoga practice, you start to notice some of the "noise" begins to slip away and you find yourself stronger, less stressed, even happier. I think I became myself around age 32 or 33. I moved to Washington DC from Los Angeles to be closer to my partner (now husband) and began working at the Washington Opera as a costumer. It was the first time in years that I had a steady gig (versus free-lance stuff) and the security of a regular paycheck was very comforting. I also began attending a weekly yoga class with the teacher I eventually trained with. All of these elements combined to make me feel very settled and centered and I think that's when a lot of the grad-school insecurity and unfocused energy of my 20s began to dissipate.

Of course, motherhood means a new phase has started, but a lot of the habits and traits that were established in DC have helped me juggle the challenges of parenthood. The combo of teaching and writing about yoga and chasing little kids around has made me even more focused (you can only get done what really has to get done) and able to let the pesky stuff go ignored. So, I guess you could say I've been "myself" for about 8 years.

How about you...when did you become yourself? Did yoga have anything to do with it? Can you really put a date on something like this? If nothing else, you have an ice-breaker for your next cocktail party...

6 comments:

Michelle said...

That is a FANTASTIC question. I think studying yoga has made me start on the journey to "become myself". I find that I have a definite direction in which I want to head, however I often get sidetracked. It is only when my attention is focused back on my practice that I step back on the path. Life can be so busy that I need the stillness of yoga to quiet my attentions and regroup, refocus and redirect my life path.
I started yoga when I was 35 years old. Now that I am 42 it is much more clear to me what is important and what is not.

Doe Grozs Art said...

I am 52 and still discovering myself. Some major turning points where I felt my true self emerge was when I quit working for someone else at 40 and started my own business. The real me really starting shining...
The next one came when I decided to teach yoga and found more of my Self :-)
It is a process that goes on til we leave this planet and maybe even then we are still finding our true Self in a different plane.
Glad I found your blog...
Doreen

Nadine Fawell said...

Hi Brenda!

What a great post! I am almost 32, and I feel like the process of becoming really only started at around 30. I have been practicing yoga since my mid-twenties, but the early years were a process of stripping away, and I have only got clear enough to start seeing mySelf very very recently. Maybe it is also an age thing?

I haven't had a chance, with all my recent traveling, to congratulate you on the new guru! Congrats!

Everyday Yogini said...

What an amazing question... and one that has several answers for me! I think that I have been fully myself in many stages of my life and each iteration feels more authentic. Now that my daughter is getting ready to go to school, I am finding myself on an entirely new journey AGAIN!!

I love you website, thank you for sharing your insights!

Brenda Plakans said...

Thanks, all. I keep revising my answer...which I guess is the point of the question. Maybe it's sort of a trick question--one is always a work in progress.

Anyway, I'm glad you enjoy the blog. I hope to get some new stuff up soon, as I turn my mind from new-motherhood back towards yoga a bit more...

Brenda

greenfrog said...

Thanks for the question. (I found you through Playin' the Edge's side bar listing.)

For the current me, at 45, I started on the journey 8 years ago when an acquaintance asked me if I was interested in practicing something called "yoga" with him.

Connecting the things that yoga connects changed my entire experience, to say nothing of my body and mind.

Fun trip.