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There’s a lot in my life that I frustratingly feel like I have no control over. So much effort I put out into the world with little or no results. And especially for beginners yoga can feel that way–it takes so much time to gain strength and flexibility, to master difficult asanas (and sometimes no matter what you do or how many years you try, you’ll body will never cooperate).

Which is why having a tangible task that you can see the results of once you’ve completed it can be so deeply satisfying. I’ve found small home improvement are great for this. I live in a small rental apartment in Brooklyn, so I’m a little more limited than home owners in what I can do, but you don’t need a $10,000 kitchen renovation to feel like you’ve accomplished something.

I painted the main wall of my living room yesterday and it looks great and I feel proud and accomplished. It sounds like a small thing but, aside from having a huge impact on the room, the process felt like such a metaphor. I’ve lived in this apartment for six years, I don’t know how long before I moved in that the wall was painted (the building is over 100 years old). But I see it every day, for hours, and for the last couple of years there has been a few spots of chipped paint that irritate me. But doing something about them seemed like too much of a hassle. And besides, I’m not going to live here forever, I don’t own the place…so I lived day after day, with chipping white walls, feeling mildly irritated.

(the wall before with paint samples)

Finally, I decided to do something about it. I went to Home Depot, picked out a color, talked to the “paint expert” and got all the necessary tools. She told me to chip away at the quarter-sized areas of missing paint until the paint wouldn’t chip anymore and then just paint over it. Simple enough. But when I started chipping, the paint just kept going and going until a giant section of the wall was chipped away.

I was worried, this seemed like a much bigger issue. Back at Home Depot I was told I now needed to rent a power sander and sand the entire wall. I was near tears. Then an alternative was offered, sand the edges with sandpaper, use putty and primer then paint. I was nervous, but I did it, painted over it and the results are beautiful.

How does this relate to yoga, and to life?

There’s something small that’s always in the back of your mind bugging you, you try to ignore it and make excuses for not fixing it. Finally you force yourself to make the change and prepare with all the proper tools, but something goes wrong, you face a setback, things are now worse, you want to quit. But, you can’t, you’ve come to far (you can’t live with a giant patch of missing paint). You persevere, you finish–your results may not be perfect, and it may not be as easy as you planned, but you’re better for having tackled the problem.

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