Famous Failures

Breakthru Fitness Yoga Crow

My amazing students surprising themselves in crow pose! (A couple doing it for the first time!)

There is no such thing as failing in yoga.  We may need to take breaks sometimes, we may wobble or lose our balance, we may shake or struggle in a pose, we may modify or completely skip a pose, or we may even literally fall (or roll over) in some cases.  But we NEVER fail.  That is the beauty of yoga.  Yoga is learning to detach ourselves from outcomes, or how much you did or did not do, and instead appreciate the whole process of just doing.  Some days you can do only 10%, other days you can do 100%.  It does not matter.  As long as you tried your best, you have succeeded.  And the best part is that your yoga practice (and your mat) will always welcome you back to try again.

In other areas of our life, it may not be so forgiving and you may actually face very clear barriers that seem to be stopping you from pursuing your goals.   Does that mean you have failed?  Or does it mean you just need to keep on trying?  Here are some stories of failures from some pretty incredible famous people that I hope will inspire you:

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Famous Failures

* Steve Jobs

Growing up in Cupertino, I’ve watched Apple grow from a rainbow colored apple logo on my dad’s Apple II computer, to a leader of the sleekest products everywhere I look.  Who knew that Steve Jobs, who co-founded the company at age 21, ended up getting fired from his own company 9 years later?  Of course, we all know he eventually returned to Apple and made it into the company it is today!

I’m pretty sure none of this would have happened if I hadn’t been fired from Apple. It was awful tasting medicine, but I guess the patient needed it. Sometimes life hits you in the head with a brick. Don’t lose faith. I’m convinced the only thing that kept me going was that I loved what I did. You’ve got to find what you love.”

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* Oprah Winfrey

Who doesn’t love Oprah?  You don’t even have to say her last name, and everyone knows who she is.  After having a successful talk show on TV for 21 years, Oprah decided to start something new, the Oprah Winfrey Network, which ended up being a huge disappointment.  Oprah had to deal with that embarrassment and figure out how to improve the network.

“It doesn’t matter how far you might rise. At some point, you are bound to stumble. If you’re constantly pushing yourself higher and higher, the law of averages predicts that you will at some point fall. And when you do, I want you to remember this: There is no such thing as failure. Failure is just life trying to move us in another direction. Now, when you’re down there in the hole, it looks like failure. When that moment comes, it’s okay to feel bad for a little while. Give yourself time to mourn what you think you may have lost. But then, here’s the key: Learn from every mistake, because every experience, particularly your mistakes, are there to teach you and force you into being more who you are.”

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* Michael Jordan

No one can argue that Michael Jordan is a legend in basketball.  He was absolutely brilliant at what he did.  But he was human, and just like everyone else, he had his stumbles.  I love the words from this famous Nike commercial, where Michael Jordan shares what failing, and thus, succeeding really means.

“I’ve missed more than 9000 shots in my career.  I’ve lost almost 300 games.  26 times I’ve been trusted to take the game winning shot… and missed.  I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life.  And that is why I succeed.”

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* JK Rowling

I followed the Harry Potter books so closely, that I had to buy the last book the day it came out.  Lucky me, I happened to be backpacking in Rome at the time, and honestly, there wasn’t much room in a backpack for a 784-page hardcover book, but it was worth it!  It is hard to believe that this imaginative and creative author had suffered from depression and was living in poverty before the Harry Potter craze!

“So why do I talk about the benefits of failure? Simply because failure meant a stripping away of the inessential. I stopped pretending to myself that I was anything other than what I was, and began to direct all my energy into finishing the only work that mattered to me. Had I really succeeded at anything else, I might never have found the determination to succeed in the one arena I believed I truly belonged. I was set free, because my greatest fear had been realized, and I was still alive, and I still had a daughter whom I adored, and I had an old typewriter and a big idea. And so rock bottom became the solid foundation on which I rebuilt my life.”

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* Walt Disney

The happiest place on Earth became possible only because Walt Disney believed in his visions and was willing to overcome a lot of obstacles to create it.  He faced a lot of setbacks, from getting fired to becoming bankrupt to people rejecting his ideas, including Mickey Mouse.  Somehow he just kept trying and his dreams eventually came true!

“It is good to have a failure while you are young because it teaches you so much.  For one thing it makes you aware that such a thing can happen to anybody, and once you’ve lived through the worst, you’re never quite as vulnerable afterwards.”

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What are your goals?  What are your unfulfilled dreams?  What are you trying to achieve next?  I hope reading the experiences above can encourage you to continue reaching for your dreams, no matter how far it may seem and how difficult the process of getting there may be.  Keep believing and keep trying, and you will get there!!!

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Power Yoga Playlist – “When the Fog Rolls In”

In many of the yoga classes I teach, I choose not to use music because I really love getting students to focus on the beautiful sounds of their breath throughout class.  Once in a while though, I happen to hear a bunch of songs that really speak to me about whatever I’m going through at that moment, and I want to flow to them.

My latest playlist is about 70 minutes long and it is appropriate for a Vinyasa or Power Yoga class.  I’ve named the playlist after one of the songs by Train, “When the Fog Rolls In,” because most of the songs are sharing about some sort of obstacle, pain, hurt, or experience, where you can really hear the artists’ hearts pouring out.

At any given point, we all experience some “fog rolling in,” whether it’s heartache, stress, or maybe just fatigue.  When we get on our yoga mats, we give ourselves the chance to work through that fog.  You may be weighed down by a heavy heart, but your practice will lighten and free you.  You may have a million things to do, but prioritize your physical health and mental sanity first, so that you can take care of other things.  You may be tired when you start class, but you will be energized when you finish.

DancingPhoto Credit: ‘Dancing’ by mccauleys-corner under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

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I hope you love these songs as much as I do, and I hope that you can always find the way to your yoga mat, especially when the fog rolls in your life.  Let’s dance!

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Power Yoga Playlist – “When the Fog Rolls In”

Introduction / Pose Breakdown / Breathwork:

1. “All That I’m Asking For,” by Lifehouse, 72bpm, 3:54

2. “I Can Barely Say,” by The Fray, 81bpm, 4:20

Sun Salutations A & B:

3. “Satellite Heart (Air Mail Remix),” by Anya Marina, 152bpm/76bpm, 3:31

4. “Glowing,” by The Script, 79bpm, 4:47

Standing Work Series:

5. “Beneath Your Beautiful (feat. Emeli Sande),” by Labrinth, 84bpm, 4:32

6. “Only You,” by Joshua Radin, 98bpm, 2:28

7. “Burning Bridges,” by OneRepublic, 98bpm, 4:18

8. “Turn to Stone,” by Ingrid Michaelson, 106bpm, 4:36

9. “What You Wanted,” by OneRepublic, 120bpm, 4:01

Core Work:

10. “Goodbye My Lover,” by James Blunt, 95bpm, 4:19

11. “When the Fog Rolls In,” by Train, 85bpm, 4:21

Deep Stretching:

12. “Fall For You,” by Secondhand Serenade, 85bpm, 3:06

13. “What If You,” by Joshua Radin, 87bpm, 4:37

14. “I’m Through,” by Ingrid Michaelson, 74bpm, 3:28

15. “When I Was Your Man,” by Bruno Mars, 73bpm, 3:34

Savasana and Closing:

16. “Hamburg Song,” by Keane, 122bpm/61bpm, 4:37

17. “Flightless Bird, American Mouth,” by Iron & Wine, 78bpm, 4:03

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“Your worst days are never so bad that you are beyond the reach of grace.  And your best days are never so good that you are beyond the need of God’s grace.”

~ Jerry Bridges

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“Some of the secret joys of living are not found by rushing from point A to point B, but by inventing some imaginary letters along the way.”

~ Douglas Pagels

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“Our job is to look and say, ‘You know what? You’re imperfect, and you’re wired for struggle, but you are worthy of love and belonging.'”

~ Brene Brown

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“These days, my practice is teaching me to embrace imperfection; to have compassion for all the ways things haven’t turned out as I planned, in my body and in my life – for the ways things keep falling apart, and failing, and breaking down.  It’s less about fixing things, and more about learning to be present for exactly what is.”

~ Anne Cushman

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“Yoga is a way to freedom.  By its constant practice, we can free ourselves from fear, anguish, and loneliness.’

~ Indra Devi

How to Become a Bone Marrow Donor

Last week, I lost a 38-year old friend, Michelle Allen, to breast cancer and there was nothing anyone could have done to save her.  Nothing.  Some people, like Nina Louie (www.savenina.com), are suffering from life threatening blood cancers and they CAN be saved… by you or I.  If you could save a life, literally save a life, wouldn’t you?

I do not know Nina personally but I am friends with her cousins and old roommate.  Nina has a rare form of lymphoma and she is urgently searching for a bone marrow donor match to save her life.  Her friends and family have been actively spreading the word to ask people to get typed and join the bone marrow donor registry.  If you are like me, then maybe you have never been typed before.  In fact, I didn’t even know what getting “typed” meant until a few days ago.

Let me show you how easy it is to get typed and to join the bone marrow donor registry.  Maybe instead of just wanting to help people, join me and take this easy step to really help someone.

How to Become a Bone Marrow Donor

* Find a Be the Match Registry Drive near you: http://marrow.org/Join/Join_in_Person/Join_in_Person.aspx

Just enter your zip code to see the closest registry drives to your location.

OR

* Sign up online to join the Be the Match Registry and receive a Free Home Typing Kit: http://marrow.org/Join/Join_Now/Join_Now.aspx

All you have to do is fill out a basic questionnaire that collects information about who you are.  You will also enter your shipping address to order a free home typing kit that will be delivered to you.

Be the Match Home Typing Kit

Your Be the Match Home Typing Kit.

1) Receive your Be the Match Home Typing Kit in the mail!  It includes:

– a Confidential Donor Information Form

– a Buccal Swab Kit

– a pre-stamped envelope for you to return the Donor Form and Swab Kit

– a Registration Card for you to keep

Be the Match Donor Information Form

A questionnaire collecting some basic information about you.

2) Fill out the Confidential Donor Information Form

There are three fold-out pages with just some basic questions to answer about yourself. 

Be the Match Donor Signature

Don’t forget to sign the back of the information form (I almost did!).

3) Follow the instructions on your swab kit (Swallow saliva, open mouth, swab inside of cheek for 10 seconds, label swab and put in cardboard holder.  Do 4x in all.).

Be the Match does a great job clearly writing and illustrating all the steps to swabbing your cheek.  You get 4 swabs (for the upper right, lower right, upper left, and lower left inside cheeks), and they even provide a foam insert for you to place the swabs on.  Very clear and organized.

Be the Match Swab Kit

All the directions on how to swab your cheek are clearly given in words and pictures.

4) Mail the Confidential Donor Information Form and Buccal Swab Kit back in the pre-stamped envelope.

The only thing you keep is the registration card.  Done! 

Be the Match Return Envelope

My return envelope was pre-stamped for Asians for Miracle Marrow Matches.

The whole process probably took 10 minutes.  If you have not registered to be a part of the Be the Match Bone Marrow Registry, please consider doing so.  You really can make a difference, a huge difference.

For more information about what happens if you match a patient on the registry, please click here: http://marrow.org/Registry_Members/Donation/Steps_of_Donation.aspx

Remembering Michelle

Remembering Michelle Allen

I wish you didn’t have cancer too, Michelle. Miss you.

Dear Michelle,

Do you remember the first time I met you?  It was my first time walking on the Eaton campus as a brand-new teacher, and I was a lost puppy trying to find my displaced portable room 1 among all the construction.  You and Stacey were the first people that greeted me and welcomed me to what would soon be my home for the next 10 years.

Do you remember our Friday afternoon buddy sessions?  Your fourth graders always took care of my little ones.  In fact, they took care of them so well, that you and I could sit in the corner grading, doing report cards, checking emails, running to the bathroom, or just giggling and chatting together.

Do you remember when I shared about my migraines?  The next day, I found out that you had done all of this research online for me and then printed out articles for me to read listing all the triggers I should be avoiding.  I still have those papers because I’m terrible about avoiding those trigger foods.

Do you remember taking a chance to do something new and uncomfortable because it meant a lot to me?  After three years of watching the end-of-the-year teacher talent show dance, you decided to appease me and participate in our fourth routine, MC Mrakava and the Funky Bunch.  I know you had fun, secretly =)

Do you remember all the struggle you overcame to become a mother?  After waiting patiently for so long, your dreams came true with the adoption of Tyler and then later Grayson.  I will never forget visiting the NICU when Tyler was a premie fighting to survive, and you were there by his side gently stroking him with those gloves you insert through the glass window.

Do you remember meeting the love of your life?

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16 years ago today, I stood outside the movie theaters, nervously looking for the woman I was supposed to meet for my blind date (let’s face it, my first date ever) All I knew was that she was a pretty, petite, blonde. I also knew I had a fever of 101. When I spotted Shelly for the first time, my first thought was, “She’s cute, hope it’s her.” It was. We met up with Marcos, to find that his date had flaked. We went in, ordered food, and found our seats… Marcos sat 2 seats away from us, so we felt like we had a chaperone. We watched the 20th anniversary re-release of Star Wars. Each of us had a hand on our own knee, so only our pinkies touched. It felt like my finger was on fire, though it could have been my fever. After the movie, Shelly and I sat in her car for a while, chatted, and exchanged phone numbers. We hugged when we parted, and I felt like I was floating! When I got home, I checked my temperature… I was at 103.2!

And that was the beginning of the most amazing 16 years of my life.

Michelle,
I love you more than you can ever know. You are my everything.

I Love You
Happy Anniversary
-Andrea

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Andrea, you are an amazing person that has loved, supported, and walked with Michelle through everything.  I admire your courage, your focus, and your determination to heal Michelle and to take care of your family.  No words can ease the pain of what you must be feeling, so I can only offer you my prayers for healing and for comfort.  I am thinking of you, Tyler, and Grayson…

Dearest Michelle,

I will always remember you, buddy.

I miss you.

Yoga Dance

Is it possible to synchronize yoga movements with musical melodies and lyrics?  I’ve never thought of yoga as a choreographed “dance,” but here is my attempt at trying it out.  By the way, this is the direct result of having a caffeinated beverage (milk tea) after dinner: Creating random yoga dance routines at 3 am.

Note: I chose this song because so many times after introducing myself as a little girl, someone would say, “Oh like Amazing Grace?” and they would start singing. It has a special place in my heart because I’ve known the lyrics for so long, but didn’t really understand the meaning behind the words until 20 years later. I am far far far from “amazing,” but I do appreciate and am grateful for God’s wonderful and amazing graces in my life – giving me second, third, hundred chances, loving me when I didn’t love myself, helping me find a purposeful life, and guiding me day by day. This routine is a blend of everything I love: yoga, dance, choreography, music, and God. Thanks for watching!

A Just-For-Fun Choreographed Yoga Dance Routine

Music: Chris Tomlin’s “Amazing Grace (My Chains Are Gone)” and Pink’s “Try.”