by LS Harteveld
From yoga teacher, to writer, to student.
From cat mother to mistress.
I never considered myself someone who could live up to any of those titles.
I totally stand for my style and for the bonus teachings I offer my students. But my home yoga practice only comes to life if I’m on a challenge, I do eat the occasional sausage, or I’ll have an Angus burger, and I haven’t attended a workshop from another teacher in years. I get all my inspiration online, and in most cases not even from yoga teachers.
I don’t have any formal training, and I stopped reading a decade ago. Just like my home yoga practice vaporized the moment I became a yoga teacher, I stopped reading the moment I started writing. And I have no intention of going back.
For my high school career, to my academic career as well as my yoga career; I got the highest diplomas that were available at the time. And I’ve had every experience, from being top of my class, to being the slowest. But every education ended in one passionate desire.
To get the goddamn thing finished, and run.
I won’t bother you with the details on why my ex brought me our two cats, that we had agreed on would be his two cats. Just that I wouldn’t have wanted it any other way.
But up until he arrived with our fur-babies at my doorstep, he had taken care of all the doctor visits. I had never administered medication, nor put our nine pounder into his carrier to take him to the VET. On the back of my bicycle no less.
Half a dozen doctor’s visits later, I had to start feeding the cats separately, because the big one, Willem, had a kidney problem. He got a diet and a pill for that. It tasted nice, and Willem always ate everything he could get his paws on, so I could grind the medicine and put in his food. It saved his life. But just a few weeks after kidney gate, he got diabetes and I had to learn to inject insuline and to draw blood to measure his sugar levels.
I m scared of needles!
Ultimately he was cured from diabetes. And I was cured from thinking I couldn’t. But only because I literally had to choose between stepping into my power as a cat mom, or letting him down and staying the fearful woman who I was. Not because I was talented in any way.
I feel mistresses are these friendly, poised beings, who will effortlessly make a man feel good about himself. They’re worth putting your marriage on the line for. A good mistress is discreet and in control of her emotions.
A good mistress does not write a whole book about her affair, in order to deal with the emotional mayhem that would crush her if she didn’t let it out.
That’s not how it goes.
But despite all of those things, and despite still feeling I don’t meet the standards of any of those labels, I wouldn’t want it any other way.
Because if I had showed up with the perfect yoga-teacher-mindset, a sixth sense for cats, or as a perfect mistress, I would not have learned anything remotely interesting. I would not have learned to push myself, to reinvent myself, to rise above what I thought was possible.
We all choose our own way to grow. My best friend migrated this week, and one of the reasons I could pretty easily let her go was not because I necessarily think she will be happier there, than here. Although of course I do wish her the best, and hope she will love it there.
But the reason I could easily let her go was that I believe, being challenged by living in a foreign country is her preferred way of growing. She’s done it before. She has a whole history of travelling and of working abroad.
Whereas I have a whole history of not feeling connected to my peers.
Of dating bad boys.
Of creating situations where it only comes down to me, either doing it.
I never want to be part of a group, or be dependent in any way. My preferred way of growing is to love someone (friend, lover, cat, yoga, my eight books) so much that bailing out is unthinkable. And inevitably, like any relationship, the only way to make it sustainable is if I rise above my limitations. Above what I learned in school, above what my peers are doing, above what I thought my limitations were. And to completely reinvent myself.
Because ultimately the only thing that needs to be real about me, is me.
An unexamined life is not worth living