Last Friday Todd, the girls and I taught family yoga - I wasn't super jazzed about it initially (it's Friday night, I have to wrap presents, I have to get some sleep, blah, blah, blah) but I ended up having a ball, mostly because of the awesome kids.
They were jazzed to be there and boy, were they ready to shine. They walked into the yoga room full of energy and full of questions and they laid their mats right in the front row, almost on top of mine.
I teach adult yoga and more often than not students will place their mats as far from the teacher as possible - everyone wants to claim a spot in the back, everyone wants to blend in - so much so that I often have to move my mat toward them.
But not the kids - they want the front row, they want to be a part of the action, they want to claim their space, they want to shine.
As adults we tend to be uncomfortable shining. We don't want anyone to think that we think we are better than them, we don't want to look foolish, and we don't want to stray from the norm.
So we do our best to blend in, to not rock the boat, to make everyone else feel comfortable.
But that's such a disservice - to ourselves and to the world as a whole.
Shining doesn't mean we are bragging, and shining doesn't mean we are trying to be better than anybody else - shining just means being real. Shining means being yourself.
At some point in our childhood or teenage years we are taught that if we shine people won't like us; so we learn to dim, we learn to tone it down - we learn to fit in any way we can.
But through dimming we lose our voice, our ability to be ourselves, and it may even hide the gifts we came here to share.
Everyone carries a gift or gifts, everybody has something to share, and everybody has inherent shininess, but too often it's covered up by years of pain, fear, or discomfort - so we opt for the status quo, mostly because it seems easier.
But is it easier?
Personally, I find it a lot more difficult to pretend to agree when I disagree, or to do work that I don't enjoy, or to take on a parenting approach that just doesn't feel right.
I have done my share of dimming in my life; we tend to teach what we need to learn. But I have also become better at "being." Being honest and focusing on how I feel rather than what I "think" everyone else is feeling.
Initially this made me super uncomfortable. As a life-long people pleaser I would never want to appear self absorbed, narcissistic, or lose my perspective on the world.
But I tend to experience the exact opposite - "being" produces more love, less judgment, more compassion, less worry.
Being real eliminates the need to prove things to everybody and it eliminates the need to win. I just want to be me and I just want you to be you.
Self love and shininess = more love and understanding for others.
I would never claim to be completely free of the ego or the need to please (I can't escape being human), but I definitely notice it, I don't identify with it, and I often use it as an indicator that it's time for some downtime or self care.
And on Friday night, a night where I was in the throes of "musts" and "to-dos," those kids taught me yet again how cool it is to shine - well really, kids don't have to "teach" us, they just remind us of what we used to know.
They remind us of a time when we wanted to be in front of the class and when we knew we had a place in the world.
A time when we knew exactly who we were supposed to be - a time when we were present to the moment and we forgave in an instant - a time when we took care of ourselves, spoke our mind, and treated ourselves with kindness.
Because when you treat yourself with kindness you treat others with kindness. When you love yourself people find it easy to love you. And when you feel safe in your skin life becomes fun.
So as you embrace this new year, consider allowing yourself to laugh a little more, speak your truth, do what you love, and truly appreciate who you came here to be.
Or just be a kid in a yoga class - get jazzed, head to the front row, roll out your mat and SHINE.
Cathy Adams is a certified parenting coach, yoga instructor and mother to three girls.
See more of Cathy's stories here.