Looking Back ( creating a business that loves me)

I’m writing to you from most most sacred space.
I have a sweet little office, with quotes and pictures, candles and flowers.
On the floor is a large round mat, one side for yoga and one side for our art projects. The windows are old and don’t open, there is nothing fancy or new about it- but it’s mine.
I am surrounded with pictures of my yoga and meditation teachers and people I love….. memories reflected & reminding me of this incredible life. It’s a luxury, I know.
I’m grateful to have this space to cultivate my creativity and support daily operations at the yoga studio, which I own.

My business is now 5 years. I recently have spent some time remembering the early days.. where we started and now I also dream & vision about where we want to go.
I have NOT spent a lot of time looking back or reflecting on the business practices, day to day operations or systems we did NOT have.
I’m proud of where we are today- but it’s been a long road of learning, asking for help and taking action to make it better, to make it work, to make it sustainable and profitable.

Almost 4 years ago, I called Racheal Cook. “ HELP ME!” I said. “ I’m scared and drowning. I just had a baby ( my 2nd), he nurses all night long. I’m exhausted. My yoga studio lost our lease and we have to move to a new location. I don’t know how to structure my life or my business to serve me. I am so tired. My hair is falling out all over the place ( HUGE bald spots) and I’m scared of loosing this community I have created and adore.”

Rach was so patient and direct with me. “Let’s get you a manager. You need help. Let’s get you an updated website, your current one is not working! Let’s get you an office! WHAT?? You are working off your dining room table? That is not going to work. You need systems and structure.” She went through each part of my life with me helping to smooth out the rough parts and point me in the direction of success. If I was going to COMMIT to owning a yoga studio I HAD to take my job a bit more seriously. I had to stop telling people I was working part time, and staying at home with my kids full time, I HAD to create space for me to actually DO the admin work that our yoga studio needed.. I had to pay attention to finances and budgets and I HAD to start paying myself. ( like, yesterday)

I invite collaboration into my life on almost all of my projects- retreats with other yoga teachers, conferences with non- profits, masterminding with yoga friends, co-writing with my grandmother, meditating with my sangha.. working with others is something that totally lights me up. I now have 5+ part time employees, 20+ sub contractors, and 4 people on the lilomm yoga leadership team. I interact with people all the time. I love it. And I have learned how much it can totally drain me and deplete me, leaving me empty and depressed. I have been to the depths of overwhelm many times. I have always done too much. Striving to be superwomen, overcommitted, overworked and jam-packing my schedule with responsibilities for as long as I can remember. This all had to stop. Racheal was one of the first women who told me about self care, who taught me about time off, who encouraged me to rest, to not work so much and to plan time ALONE. Wow. I had never even considered that could be valuable OR to be a proven method for a successful, growing, thriving, profitable business! Now, I spend weekends on meditations retreats, yoga retreats, plan time with my family and friends and make sure that EVERY DAY has some time for ME carved out. I have learned that I TRULY SHINE when I fill my own bucket. When I am nourished, I am able to serve & connect with so many more people in a truly authentic & meaningful way.

I can’t even believe how naive I was to start a yoga studio without any idea of what I was doing.
BUT, here is what I have learned… I am a fantastic problem solver and a creative thinker. I CAN learn about expenses and budget and cash flow, I can hire and train employees and team leaders and yoga teachers. I can grow a business that has a HUGE heart and ALWAYS puts people first. I can support my teachers and my yoga practice WITHOUT sacrificing my integrity, my core values or loosing my hair.

Rachael encouraged me to 1. Find a space in my house to claim as my office. 2. Organize it, clean it up and love it. 3. Create small task lists so that each time I came to my space, I was ready to work! ( I often had things piled up and never made time to organize it so I could just get to work ) I was so overwhelmed with running the business, starting it, and managing day to day! I could NOT catch a breath. So, I slowly started to make time for organizing, planning and filing. I got help to go through files and I found a space in my house where I could work. ( I had to re-arrange the kids art area to make it happen..) I turned all of these into habits, routines and rituals for long term, sustainable growth- rather than QUICK fixes, putting out fires and having my business run me into the ground. I took the reigns back and redesigned how I wanted to live my life AND grow a business I love that is meaningful in my community.

Fast Forward 4 years…. I now have my own office in our new- to- us rental home. When we were looking for a place to move last year, I reminded me husband we needed a space in wherever we moved, for my office. As soon as the moving truck left, I started arranging my sacred space. File cabinets, art supplies, bulletin boards, alters for my candles and meditations and inspirations. My heart was racing with happiness! MY OWN beautiful office and work space. Now I paint in here, practice yoga, meditate, pay bills, file taxes and work with Quickbooks.

The total integration of my work and my practice is what makes this all such a gift. I light a candle before I do payroll. I listen to beautiful Kirtan or devotional music when I login to the tax and revenue website. I do whatever I can to create the kind of space I want to work and live in – all the time! My life is complicated with a thriving growing studio, 2 kiddos, a wild dog, a supportive husband and so many lilomm staff and students BUT I am SO much better prepared for the LIFE I want to have. My intention and purpose for the day to day tasks balanced with the incredible reality of the gifts of family and meaningful work have truly led me to want to share this with others. And I’m painting more! I’m reading more! I’m living a LIFE not just working on my biz. I spend a few hours each week mentoring women & college students to help them create meaningful change in their lives. I share with others the tools and habits that have helped me create a business and a life that I love ( and that loves me!)


One comment on “Looking Back ( creating a business that loves me)

  1. cathy muir says:

    I love how much like ETL you were, and how living yoga has mellowed you. What a gift. Thank you for opening your heart for all to see, and feel. Love you.

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