I’ve been on a whirlwind teaching tour for the past few weeks to kick off a year of traveling to some amazing studios both in the US and abroad. The opportunities that I’ve had to teach in the Pilates community could easily be attributed from an outside perspective to luck or even a secret career formula. But the hard work of distilling education, experience, skills and purpose into an offering that others may want to experience has little, if anything, to do with luck or secret formulas. The truth is, it’s been a long process of showing up whenever and where ever I could. I’ve shown up to learn, assist, teach, practice, and support. Eventually, however, all of this showing up led me to question everything I’d ever shown up for.
In the beginning, the thrill came from the “badge of honor” that I gave myself for “being the one who showed up.” The feeling I had from being in the midst of the teaching or the learning felt important, honorable. I felt like I was part of something bigger than myself. THE METHOD. I began teaching domestically and overseas, in venues that ranged from large airplane hangers to small boutique studios. I was a shepherd of the good stuff. I had the answers and was ready to share them. It felt good to be in a space of certainty, but as with most journeys, there came a point where I began to wonder if this was it? Long flights that lead to longer teaching days, random hotels, and the time away from home began to weigh on me. But more than that, the shine of my teaching had begun to wear off and I was starting to question the truth of my purpose in this role.
Though I loved the work that I was teaching, I couldn’t help but feel that I was missing something. I am inherently a storyteller and had begun to notice that some of the most powerful moments in my courses came through when I was sharing the experiences of my teaching where I had to face not knowing all of the answers. Strangely, the certainty that I thought was so valuable was being replaced with a want and need for talking about the teaching that happens in the space of uncertainty. I could see it in the eyes of the participants: When I stood side by side with the teachers in a space of uncertainty and chose to be present with the imperfection that is teaching movement to humans, they willingly stood with me. This acknowledgment of vulnerability seemed to yield so much more space for learning and discovery than simply presenting them with all of the answers. The information that had formerly been the selling point of a course now became a place for questions to be asked and a spectrum of answers to be uncovered. Participants began asking me when I was going to do more of “my work.” I had no idea how to answer them because I had no idea what ‘my work” was.
I took a break from the travel and the teaching to turn inward and see if any part of this “work” that people were asking for was ready to be revealed. The process was tedious. It required that I question everything I ever thought I knew and then question it some more. Sooner or later, I started to notice that there were themes that repeatedly emerged as the answers to the questions I was asking. It seemed like a foreign language at first. But soon, I began to remember the feeling of truth from deep inside. When I worked from my true voice, it felt pure – confident. More and more, I began to feel like a child at play. I was free and creative. I felt elated that I had something to say that was not born from a formula, but from who I was as a teacher as well as a human being. Like a child wanting to share the simple beauty of the world with the people around her, I began to share my voice.
Doing the deep work of questioning, revealing layers and listening to your truth can be frightening. There is always the risk that someone might not like what you have to say. The thing is, when you teach your truth, it enables you to have compassion for others and understand that their process may not line up with what you are offering in that moment. That’s the beauty of it. Not everyone will be ready for you. Not everyone will like what you have to say. But those who are ready will show up for you 110%. They’ll encourage you and celebrate you. They’ll ask for more. They’ll affirm what you know already – that you are sharing exactly the message that you were meant to share through your teaching. And that, my friends, is sweeter than any “badge of honor” could offer.
Today, as I prepare for a year of traveling, I am truly excited to work with those of you who repeatedly show up for me, as well as those of you who may be taking my voice for a “test drive.” Whether we connect for a minute or a lifetime, it will certainly be an experience for us all and I can’t wait to see how it all plays out ;).