“The last 18 months have shown me that I need to temper my ambitions and motivations with wisdom. That means setting priorities and picking one new thing at a time to add to the mix of my wondrously full life. … I’ll move a little slower, more mindfully, as I try to have it all going forward.” I wrote these words just over a week ago. In the ensuing days, I have thought more about my desire to have it all and how plausible that desire is.
I discovered my passion for community work while an undergraduate. Throughout my four years of college, I volunteered every week in a nonprofit organization that provided educational services to those in need. Whether incarcerated males or ten-year-old girls, all the folks who I tutored and mentored needed someone who believed in their ability to learn and thrive in this world. Eventually, my passion translated into my decision to become a teacher and a professional development specialist.
As I graduated and moved into the world of full-time work, I always made time for community work. Right out of the gate, I began interviewing prospective students who had applied to my alma mater. I also raised thousands of dollars over the years for an international NGO that focused on meeting the unique needs of the population in each location where it operated. When I settled in DC a few years ago, I continued interviewing students and got involved in the local Princeton AlumniCorps chapter. I served as a mentor and organized seminars to provide career exploration and preparation opportunities to recent grads working in nonprofit jobs in the District.
I decided to give up that volunteer work when I enrolled in my yoga teacher training program four years ago. I needed the extra time to study and practice. Once I finished the program, I began teaching two weekly classes and had little time for another commitment, so the volunteer work remained on the sidelines. I enjoyed my yoga teaching a great deal. For several years, I didn’t miss my volunteer work… that much.
This past fall, I decided to switch things up: I once again sought out opportunities to be engaged with my community and stopped teaching yoga. Volunteering fulfills me in a slightly different way than my yoga teaching. Currently, I serve on the academic committee for a DC public charter school focused on bilingual education, along with expeditionary learning and sustainability. We talk about curriculum and instruction, data, and long-term planning—things that I know well from my work life.
I also have signed up to mentor a Posse scholar who is a senior at Anacostia High School. Like me, my mentee is a young, ambitious, African American woman. She also will be the first person in her family to graduate from college. She and I will meet at least once a month from now until she goes off to school in the fall to work on her writing and prepare her for the rigor of college-level courses. That’s when she will have the encouragement and support of her fellow Posse scholars on campus as she navigates unchartered territory. I remember how much I struggled with freshman writing due to the lack of rigor in my high school English classes. I also knew that no one in my family could help me; I would have to figure it out on my own. I’m hoping our work together will set her up for a smoother transition and even greater success than I enjoyed.
As much as I have enjoyed my return to community work over the last few months, I miss my yoga teaching. I’m realizing that the reason I want to have it all is that there are different parts of my personhood that is nourished in different ways. The social part of me enjoys spending time with my close friends. The generous side of me needs to give back to the community. The Divinity in me longs to share itself with the world through my yoga teaching and writing.
In the past, I aggressively pursued one passion at a time, usually at the expense of the other parts of me. I devoted a lot of my time to teaching yoga and running my studio last year—while neglecting my friendships and volunteer work. Lately, I have been doing the opposite. But I have decided to try a different path this spring—one focused on balance. I want to live a well-rounded, integrated life that includes work, time with family and friends, yoga teaching and community work. Moving forward, I am going to have it all in moderation.
I will start teaching yoga again—but only one weekly class. It will be All Levels on Wednesday evenings at 8:30pm, beginning April 6. I’m looking forward to welcoming back my regular students who I haven’t seen in months. By only adding in one class, I give myself time and space for the other things that I enjoy—church, community work, fellowship, friendships, relaxation, and self-care. I do believe it’s possible to have it all. I just have to be realistic about what all looks like.
Would you say your life is well-rounded and integrated? Or have you been neglecting one part of your personhood to nurture another? How can you bring all the parts of yourself into your daily life?
Crystal Moore began her wellness quest in 2003 after being diagnosed with lupus. Her quest has led her to embrace yoga, faith, exercise, healthy eating, and relationships. Share her journey.