There’s always a simpler way.
Have you ever tried to stuff twelve yoga mats into the backseat of a Volkswagen beetle? It is very difficult. A feat that requires a combination of brute strength and mathematical precision. One week, I did this…21 times. Why on earth would I do such a thing? Hahaha! Ha! Ha. Ho. Oh, pull up a chair, settle in, and allow me to tell you the tale…
Several years ago, I was leading a retreat in Portland, Oregon. I promised my guests a week of serenity and inspiration. Time to exhale, write, and work on interesting projects. No interruptions. No distractions. Space to get beautiful things done.
We’d have amazing food. Hiking in the forest. Trips to the beach. Big stretches of time to curl up with your laptop. Plus, yoga classes twice a day—every morning and evening. I wanted to create a five-star experience for my clients—handling every detail so they could completely relax.
Which brings me to…the twelve yoga mats.
My guests were staying at a hotel with a cheery, bright, wood-floored studio that we could use for our twice-daily yoga classes. There was just one small issue. We were not allowed to store the mats inside the studio during the middle of the day. We needed to clear them out. The hotel staff was very adamant about this point. Non-negotiable.
This left me with a logistical dilemma. Where would I store all those mats during the day? Anxiously, I scoured my brain for a solution. My heart thrummed as I tried to sort out a plan. Hastily, I decided I’d do…this.
* I would keep the twelve yoga mats at my apartment at night.
* In the morning, I would stuff the mats into my car and drive to the hotel.
* I would carry the mats into the hotel, down the long hallway, into the studio, and lay them out for our morning class.
* After class, I would roll them up, lug them back down the hall, and stuff them back into my car in the hotel parking lot, where they could remain for the day.
* In the evening, I’d take the mats out of my car, back into the studio, and lay them out for evening class.
* At the end of the night, I’d stuff them back into my car, drive home, and carry them up the flight of stairs and into my apartment.
* I would repeat this for seven days in a row.
* And of course, all this yoga-mat-lugging would occur secretly, stealthily, so that none of my guests would be aware it was happening. They could just breeze into the yoga studio without any stress whatsoever. Mats would be magically awaiting their arrival.
This definitely seemed like a very tiring plan. But, as far as I could tell, there was no other option. There was nowhere else to store the mats. This was what must be done.
And so, this is what I did…for a whole week. Every single day, I carried that massive pile of yoga mats from my apartment > car > studio > car > studio > car > apartment. Over and over and over.
It was tedious. It was physically exhausting. By day two of the retreat, I never wanted to look at a godforsaken yoga mat ever again. But I kept reminding myself, “This is what I have to do. I’m being a good host for my clients.”
On the final day of the retreat—after all the goodbyes and hugs and airport trips were complete—I walked back to my car. The retreat had definitely been a success. It had been a magical week. My clients were thrilled. My heart felt very full. The experience had flowed beautifully—with one big, clunking exception. Those &#%@ing yoga mats.
I unlocked my car. I stared, one last time, at those twelve mats smushed into the back of my beetle.
And then, like a lightning bolt of clarity—clouds parting, angels singing, harps strumming, bluebirds soaring, God/Spirit/Oprah gently whispering honeyed words in my ears—I was struck with a realization.
On the first day of the retreat, I COULD HAVE JUST GIVEN ONE YOGA MAT TO EACH GUEST AND THEY COULD HAVE KEPT THEIR MATS INSIDE THEIR HOTEL ROOMS DURING THE DAY!!! THIS WOULD HAVE BEEN 10,000 TIMES SIMPLER!!!
This idea literally had not occurred to me before. I could not believe what a thick-headed dumb-dumb I’d been. I had made things incredibly difficult for myself—and it had all been completely unnecessary.
I’m sure you have your own version of “the yoga mat situation.” Most people do.
Maybe you chain yourself to your computer—writing thirty Instagram captions and blog posts and newsletters every month—because you think you “must do it” to promote your business. But is that actually true? Do you really have to produce such a huge volume of content every month?
Maybe you clog your calendar with a myriad commitments that you’ve “got to do.” Is all of it crucial? Necessary? Really? Are you sure about that?
Maybe your daily commute to the office takes three hours, round-trip, and leaves you feeling drained every single day of your life, but unfortunately there’s no other option. It simply has to be done and that’s that. Or, is that true?
Could there be a simpler way? A better way? A kinder and gentler way? A more efficient way? There probably is. Maybe you’ve just been too hustle-bustle-crazy-busy-frenzied to see it clearly.
Stop rushing. Stop stuffing yoga mats into your car and just…stop everything. Pause. Breathe. Give yourself space to think.
When I stop forcing and cramming and sprinting from one task to the next, that’s when a life-changing epiphany tends to arrive. A new idea that changes my whole day.
It doesn’t have to be like this.
There’s always a simpler way.