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Dr. Wendie Trubow Headshot

Ready, Set, Step

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Raise your hand if you find December to be the most restful, relaxing, zen-filled time of year. You're probably thinking, "Yeah, right!" OK, raise your hand if you're someone who finds it easy to make a lifestyle change. I'm suspecting there aren't many out there who would say yes to both of those options.

Now, raise your hand if you like being a novice around experts. No takers?

Recently, I realized that while I was happy that my spouse has what I'll call "protected" time (e.g., time in which he can work out), I was deeply resentful at the absence of "protected" time for myself. And not being vigilant about caring for myself was beginning to take its toll. My temper was shorter, I wasn't sleeping well, and I was less focused, both in and out of work. I am blessed to have married who I married, because when we were able to uncover this (I'll spare you the sob story!) we immediately implemented "protected" time for me, three times a week, for one hour each time. For many of you, I'm sure that doesn't sound like much, but with four kids and a rapidly-expanding business, three separate hours a week was an immediate gift.

But what should I do with this time? That was pretty easy to figure out, actually. This past summer, I watched a mini performance by someone who had spent two years studying tai chi and was immediately drawn to this martial art. I wanted to have the control over my body to be able to move like that. I've been thinking and talking about learning tai chi since then, and turns out there is a wonderful place 10 minutes from our house. The class times worked, and new students were always welcome.

And here is where I got a little stuck:

Have you ever heard the saying by Lao-tzu, "A journey of one thousand miles begins with a single step"? While I find that this saying gives me great hope, I also find that first step to be the most difficult. In this case, the first step involved going to a new place, where I didn't know anyone, and taking a class with a bunch of people who all had colored belts around their waists, signifying their expertise. We all have things that are challenging; my challenge is that when I am the expert, I am fully comfortable. But when I am the novice, I am paralyzed by fear: of making a mistake, of looking foolish. I am terribly shy in those situations in which I don't know people. So walking in the door of this studio activated just about every one of my fears.

However, after making such a fuss about needing protected time, and how much I wanted to learn tai chi, I really didn't have much of a choice, right? So, I went. It felt kind of like jumping into the pool at the beginning of the summer when it's still a little cool: My heart was racing, I kept looking around to see if I was doing it right (mostly I wasn't) and if anyone had noticed (they hadn't -- in fact, they didn't care!).

The end of the class came all too soon, and to my amazement, I wanted to come back. I also felt calmer, more centered, and a little upset that the next class wasn't for another three days! So I signed up for the intro program and when that ended signed up for more.

After three weeks, I've learned three sequences out of more than 100. But for me, it was that step, that first step, that was so difficult to take. As the new year approaches, we each have that once-yearly opportunity to create and recreate our own, personalized thousand-mile journey. What's yours? Begin it now! As I recently experienced, nobody's judging you!

For more by Wendie Trubow, click here.

For more on emotional intelligence, click here.

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