Archive for November, 2011

How to Survive the “Uh-Oh” Moment

“Courage is not the absence of fear, but rather the judgment that something else is more important than fear.” ~ Ambrose Redmoon

“Courage is being afraid but going on anyhow.” ~ Dan Rather

Why is it that just when we are on the doorstep of doing exactly what we want to do, there is often a moment of hesitation and fear, a moment when we wonder, “Can I really do this?” I had this feeling a few months back as I was about to begin my therapeutic yoga teacher training. I had just gotten onto the subway to head downtown to Integral Yoga Institute for my first session of Therapeutic Yoga Teacher Training with Cheri Clampett and Arturo Peal. I spent months looking forward to this training and it was the first training step toward transitioning my career to work on Compass Yoga full-time. And though I know this is the right path, that this is what the world needs and what I need, I had a very brief “uh-oh, what have I done?” moment.

This isn’t the first time this moment has crept up on me. As an actor and musician in college, I always had this exact same moment right before a show. I would literally be in the wings, on the verge of being sick, wishing I could just run for the exit. It happens to me when I speak publicly, whether I’m presenting or just asking a question in front of a large group of people.

I often feel this moment just as I’m wrapping up a blog post and my finger is hovering over the “publish” button. Is what I’ve written too personal, too candid, or on a topic that is much too sensitive? There is something inherently scary about whole-heartedly putting ourselves out into the world, in front of others, and saying, “This is who I am.”

How can we get comfortable with being uncomfortable? How do we remain equal parts vulnerable and strong?

Now that I’ve dealt with stage fright in all it’s forms for many years, I’ve got a few methods that I use that have never failed me:

1.) Remember that what you’re feeling is not unique and it’s okay to be afraid. I’ll even go one step further and say that if you aren’t afraid to do something new, it may not even be worth doing. Fear is a very human response and a sign that you care so much about what you’re about to do, that you want to honor its importance as much as you possibly can. The best way to honor your action’s importance is to keep going right through the fear!

2.) Remember your intention. For me, this path of Compass Yoga is the work of my lifetime; it is my contribution to humanity. On the doorstep of Integral Yoga Institute that night, I reminded myself of all of the people who will be helped by my work in therapeutic yoga, people who right now at this moment need that help and aren’t receiving it. I walked through that door for them.

3.) Remember what’s on the other side of your fear. There’s so much anxiety that resides in anticipation. Once I get to where I’m going, I’m fine. What I fear is the lead up to that uh-oh moment, not the action I’m taking in and of itself. On the other side of your fears are your life’s greatest accomplishments. So don’t run from fear, but run toward your future accomplishments, recognizing that fear is just a bump on the road to great learning.

4.) Carry an inspiration with you. When I’m really frightened, I remind myself of two very inspiring passages about moving through fear. The ideas behind them always help me walk through my uh-oh moments:

Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light more than our darkness which scares us. We ask ourselves – who are we to be brilliant, beautiful, talented, and fabulous? But honestly, who are you to not be so? ~ Marianne Williamson

Many of us have lived desert lives: very small on the surface, and enormous underground. Because of this, so often we feel we live in an empty space where there is just one cactus with one brilliant red flower on it, and then in every direction, 500 miles of nothing. But for those of us who will go 501 miles, there is something more. Don’t be a fool. Go back and stand under that one red flower and walk straight ahead for that last hard mile. Crawl through the window of your dream. ~ Clarissa Pinkola Estes

I want you to keep moving along the exact path you want to be on. You will have moments of fear, hesitation, and doubt. You may feel like a fraud, and on the surface this feeling may seem insurmountable. I assure you it is not; it is just part of the journey.

Fear is an obstacle placed in your way only so that you can realize how much strength and conviction you really have. You have every right to have exactly the life you want, to do the work you really want to do, to help the people you want to help with your own gifts and talents. Push through.

– Christa Avampato

Christa Avampato is a yoga teacher who learns from her students every day, a product developer who loves the possibilities of new technology, and a writer who believes that hope and creativity are the most powerful duo on Earth. She travels with a purpose and regularly practices the high art of people-watching in New York City, a place she is proud to call home. Find her online at http://christainnewyork.com and http://www.twitter.com/christanyc.

Not the Same Old Yoga

Meet Christa Avampato, a renaissance woman who, most recently, founded her own not-for-profit organization named Compass Yoga.  Compass Yoga is an organization dedicated to promoting the therapeutic healing powers of yoga for individuals with specific healthcare needs.

Christa has an eclectic employment history.  “I always wanted to have the opportunity to try new things, experiment, see where things lead.”  Significantly, Christa also did not compromise.  “I never took a terrible job just to make ends meet.  I didn’t realize that this was rare.”

She worked through college at the University of Pennsylvania and, upon graduation, was employed in the theatre industry for several years.  She left the theatre industry to pursue not-for-profit fundraising and then returned to school in pursuit of her MBA at the Darden Graduate School of Business at the University of Virginia.  Although she intended to return to not-for-profit work after graduate school, Christa moved from Virginia to New York to be near a sick family member and soon realized that salaries in the not-for-profit world were insufficient to support life in New York.  She found employment in new product development at a large company.

“I feel like I’ve been a new product developer my whole career – always developing something new that helps people fulfill a need that they have.”

In 2007 and 2008, Christa found herself in New York City working as a new product developer and watching the economy fall apart.  “I’ve had a front row seat to the recession.  They were dark days in 2008.  It was a pretty scary place to be.”  At one point, two thirds of her business school class were unemployed.  “These were very smart, very qualified people being turned out by their companies.”

Observing these events unfold, Christa started to consider how she could take her future into her own hands.  She realized she could not expect another company to create her own future for her and contemplated becoming an entrepreneur.  “The thought was very scary.  I never thought that I would own my own company or organization.  I was really scared and I had to talk to other people who had done it and get some courage and confidence to do it myself.”

Christa pitched an idea for a column about entrepreneurship to Examiner.com.  She wanted to interview successful entrepreneurs and gain courage and confidence from their stories.  Over the course of 15 months in 2009 and 2010, she interviewed over one hundred entrepreneurs.  Christa turned twenty-seven of these interviews into a book entitled Hope in Progress: 27 Entrepreneurs Who Inspired Me During the Great RecessionHope in Progress is available online and through Kindle.  Now that Christa had the courage and determination, she needed her idea.

Compass Yoga became the focus of Christa’s newfound entrepreneuring spirit.  She always had a passion for teaching and had developed a passion for yoga as well.  These dual passions prompted her to train as a yoga instructor.  As she progressed through training, she discovered that the traditional studio business model for yoga left much to be desired.  “It seemed ridiculous to me that there wasn’t a way for yoga teachers to make a living wage.  With my business, finance and yoga background, there had to be a better way to get paid to do this.”  Christa determined to find a way to make yoga financially viable.

Christa’s training inspired a strong belief in the healing powers of yoga.  “The more I saw articles in The Times about people struggling with diabetes and heart diseases – I knew yoga and meditation could help with that.  Wow!  There is a lot of opportunity there.”  An advocate for the healing power of yoga and meditation, and recognizing the weaknesses in our current healthcare system, Christa envisions a way to blend yoga and meditation with western medicine to offer preventative, holistic medical care.

“We would look at a patient from a 360 degree view.  Someone could come to us no matter what the ailment, information could be shared across therapists and doctors to provide true holistic care to a client.”

The unique skill set developed during Christa’s eclectic employment history, her education, her passions, her front row seat to the recession, all contributed to the May 2010 founding of Compass Yoga.  Christa gathered and diverse collection of colleagues and friends to form a Board of Directors, all believing in the power of people healing themselves through alternative methods.

Christa invested her own savings, earned through her new product development work.  “My work in business and finance fuels the not-for-profit work I am passionate about.”  More importantly, using her own funds gave her control over Compass Yoga’s mission.  “I want to bring in grant money and donor money but, at the very beginning, I wanted to clearly define what we are doing.  I wanted us to shape the mission, not a fundraiser.”

Approximately one and a half years after its founding, Compass Yoga will soon have 501(c)(3) status.  Once its status is established, it will begin fundraising efforts targeting the public and private sectors.  Christa currently teaches yoga classes at Compass Yoga, as well as, hospitals, universities and other institutions in New York City.  Compass Yoga is already serving the needs of populations facing specific healthcare challenges, including veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars.   Although Christa continues to work full-time, she plans for Compass Yoga to become her full time job.

Christa is proud of her accomplishments and happy to tell her story.  In addition to the Examiner.com article and other freelance writing projects, she maintains an inspirational blog called Christa in New York.

Sourtosweet is very excited that Christa has agreed to contribute a post here.  Stay tuned next week for an original Christa Avampato post designed to inspire.

“With enough will and determination your life can turn out the way you want it to turn out. – Christa Avampato

In the meantime, Christa, best wishes on continued career satisfaction and success!

If you are, or someone you know is, pursuing a passion despite this tough economy, please contact me here.

© sourtosweet