Tenacity and Tenderness

Navigating Life Changes from the Hear

By Kellen Brugman for www.mariashriver.com, on November 12, 2012


Last summer I moved to California. I had just finished a two-year yoga and Ayurveda program in Albuquerque. Instead of returning east to Nashville, the town I lived for 9 years, I headed west to Santa Barbara. I had no job, lodging, family, or friends there. Only a tiny door of opportunity at a college and yoga retreat center beckoned me.

It made more sense returning to Nashville, to dear friends, solid yoga teaching connections, and a steady stream of Ayurveda clients. However, my heart’s compass kept pointing west. I saw a welcome mat at that tiny door in Santa Barbara. The opportunity involved doing what I love; sharing yoga and Ayurveda, in a gorgeous town nestled between the Santa Ynez Mountains and Pacific Ocean.

For the fifth time in eleven years, I was considering a major move and life change. Return to Nashville – a place of satisfying knowns, or venture to Santa Barbara – a place of alluring unknowns. I was at a point of dead reckoning.

I learned the strategy of “dead reckoning” in 2000, just after I left the corporate world and moved to Nashville. To escape the sticky southern summers, I retreated to an Adirondack cabin on the Great Sacandaga Lake. I learned to sail on a Rhodes Bantam 14’ wooden sailboat. It was built in the 60’s by my Norwegian Adirondack neighbor who is a crafted boat builder.

In sailing, to dead reckon means plotting a course based on one’s present position and external conditions such as wind and water currents. One also considers prior voyages, tide charts, and wind patterns. Then based on information gathered, the first step of the new course is taken. Although nautical facts are part of the navigational equation, keen intuition is also required.

While plotting the course for my move, I first recalled past moving experiences. One benefitted my corporate marketing career. Another was for love. The most recent move allowed me to deepen my study of yoga and Ayurveda with one of the world’s most respected Ayurvedic teachers. Each move brought adventure, fulfillment, happiness, and abundance into my professional and personal life.

I then evaluated my present position and the current conditions in Santa Barbara. After spending two years in the high dry desert, my body and soul thirsted for water. During a short visit to Santa Barbara during a spring break, I fell in love with the charm of the town’s architecture, warmth of the friendly folks, and the balletic flight of the pelicans along the magical shoreline.

And so I began to dead reckon. In charting and following my new path westward, I relied on my heart’s trusted navigational tools – tenacity and tenderness.

Tenacity means persistent in seeking something desired. When rooted in the heart, tenacity is not harsh or forceful. Rather, it is persevering and patient, even when external conditions appear challenging. Life changes, like sailing, require patience, as the best route to one’s destination is often not the quickest.

I knew from past moves to new cities, the perfect yoga, Ayurveda, and writing opportunities would arise, if I was patient and persistent. Prior experiences showed me where the heart guides, God provides. In sailing, when the boat and sails are aligned just right, movement is effortless. Similarly, by being aligned with the right forces during change, one moves forward to their intended destination with ease.

Complimenting tenacity is tenderness. Besides compassion, tenderness means having a yielding texture. In sailing, to yield is to surrender to conditions you can’t control, like wind and water currents. One tacks to be in the best position, so the natural force of the wind moves the boat along the desired course.

Like sailing, life is not a linear course. Changes in towns, careers, and relationships invite us to tack – to change direction. Any life change is easier when it’s approached from the heart and navigated with tenacity and tenderness.

Yoga’s three basic warrior poses connect me to the traits of tenacity and tenderness. They open the heart center – the home of divine intelligence. The heart is the most reliable compass to navigate any life change.

When I go into Warrior I with arms up and hips forward, I feel strong and confident to move forward. My heart feels tenacious. Transitioning into Warrior II, my arms lower and shoulders soften. I surrender the conditions I can’t control. My heart feels tender, yielding to divine possibilities.

Then I move into Warrior III, also called Hero Balance. I feel the perfect balance of tenacity and tenderness in my body, mind, and spirit. With hands at the heart center, I reaffirm the heart is the truest navigator in life.

I’m thankful my dead reckoning brought me to Santa Barbara. From the moment I arrived, I’ve been embraced and supported. Many doors have opened regarding yoga, Ayurveda, and writing. Welcome mats have appeared at yoga studios, colleges, and blogs.

If you are experiencing a major life change, trust your gifts of tenacity and tenderness to move you forward with clarity, grace, and ease.

Be tenacious. Be yielding.

Be tender. Be wielding.

Bon voyage to exciting adventures and cozy harbors.