For the first two days of my I-Can’t-Go-To-Burning-Man-So-I’m-Going-To-Celebrate-Where-I’m-At one woman festival, I focused on the principles of loving what is (self acceptance), and building your inward strength, as well as your outer.
All of those things are important to me. Just like Burning Man has principles that its community is organized around, I have principles that I hold dear…self acceptance and inward and outer strength building (spiritual and physical fitness) are two of them.
One of the Burning Man ideals that I love is the one centered on giving (I’m sorry, I refuse to use “gifting” as a verb–I just don’t…can’t say it).
I’ve talked about this past year being one of the worst and best I’ve ever had. One of the things that has made it so incredible is that I have been given many gifts…material and otherwise.
Materially, I mean I’ve actually had people give me money. I make no secret of the fact that when I left my marriage of over 20 years, I basically had to start life over, at about college student level. My three younger kids and I live in an apartment that’s about 800 sq feet, and although I’ve gotten two raises since taking on an office job (I started out freelancing), things are still tight.
It’s humbling, to have someone provide you with the funds to give your kids the ability to make Christmas cookies, and decorate your domicile. To help you get a lawyer. To give you a blanket when they know you hate the cold, and to provide you with the means to do something recreational.
The last one–giving someone the gift of recreation–is probably one of the most overlooked aspects of addressing poverty.
Someone limited in income needs food and shelter, yes, but we all need to be able to just have some fun, or do something that makes us feel good once in a while.
If you have a business centered on recreation…have you considered a “Pay It Forward” program? A process that allows those who can easily afford the pursuit you provide to give the gift of participation to someone who might not otherwise be able to take part?
I know people who do this–either formally or informally–and I’m telling you…it can be a game changer. Both for the business owner, for the people who are willing to share what they enjoy, and most radically of all, for the individual who will get to experience something that will make them forget for a moment that we live in a world that usually divides us into classes. Haves, and Have Nots.
One such place here in Oklahoma City is YogaLAB.
Yoga has become a bigger part of my life this past year, and it’s helped with so much of my physical and spiritual growth. I’ve been fortunate–blessed–to be able to not only have access to instruction on the Internet, but also through incredible teachers who have invested in me, and opened my eyes to a new aspect of living in the moment.
Some of it I’ve been able to pay for, and some of it has been given to me. Freely. With love.
While yoga has something of a reputation as a pursuit for white, upper class folks, there are many who are on a quest to change that, and bring yoga’s healing properties to the masses, and YogaLAB is on the frontline of that fight.
Located in the Plaza District, the studio is accessible to a wide range of people, and co-founder Martha McQuaid says that this is exactly what they wanted when they chose the spot.
“We love this area,” McQuaid says. “It’s a good area, but also lower income. We get people of all ages. There are a lot of people who are typically “classed out” of yoga, and we wanted to make it to where money was not an issue.”
“If it’s a question of eating or doing yoga, we want people to eat.”
And do yoga.
Hence YogaLAB’s “Pay it Forward” process.
Even though their classes are eye-poppingly cheap ($6/class), YogaLAB encourages those who can’t afford even that to come in…and enjoy a class on someone who has paid their way, through the means of a system that allows patrons to pay for someone else’s class.
If you want to provide a class for someone else, you simply add it on to your own bill. If you would like to take part and don’t have the money, you can take one of the sticky notes off the board that get put up when someone pays for another student’s way, and plop it down as payment.
It’s all good. Sticky notes, money, credit card…everyone sits side by side, and everyone gets to enjoy the peaceful strength of yoga.
(My sister in law, Doll Face, at a YogaLAB class. Her first time doing yoga. Isn’t she adorable?)
If you haven’t got a program like this in place for your business, please consider it. I think it’s great for businesses–especially those that cater to pastimes that are generally only the province of the better-off–to provide sponsorships, or programs that allow the less-financially-fortunate to participate, but making it something that other patrons can help with not only lessens the burden on business owners, it builds community. (In my mind, anyway.)
And if you take part in something you think is awesome, and it doesn’t have something like this built in…you can always just do it, yourself.
Ralph Waldo Emerson talked about there being not just length of life, but depth of life. As important as it is to help others in need stay alive, it’s equally important to try and share the depth of life that fun and recreation can bring.
We all matter. We all love to play. We all need activities that help us feel connected, and/or give us a thrill and make us remember what it means to be alive.
For my 3rd Day of Wakened Woman Week, I’m grateful that I have people in my life who have not only given me material gifts, but those of fun and recreation, as well.
You’ve helped keep my heart alive, as well as my body.