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Let go my ego

margot_fonteyn.jpgEgo is an exaggerated sense of self-importance, a conceit. It is a force that causes us to care about being better than everyone else. Ego fuels our competitive nature. It can be a healthy driving force but our ego can also cause problems if we let it consume us.

My ballet teacher said, "Let go of your ego and you will be a better dancer." That statement caused me to think about letting go in places other than the dance studio. Letting go is so hard! There is so much to do on a daily basis and such high expectations to meet. I think most moms carry so much guilt around every day because we want to be able to do it all for our children. As a working mom I feel I could and should be constantly doing better. Those high expectations include trying to live up to the standards of a "stay at home mom." I do want to do it all and there's nothing wrong with trying! Letting go of my ego means being true to who I am as a mother and not trying to be someone else.

Photo: Margot Fonteyn dancing with her heart, not her ego!

Learning to accept the reality that there will always be someone younger, faster, luckier, stronger, and smarter is a key to happiness. It's good for our children to see us striving to be better. Being in competition with ourselves is healthy. I don't want to compete with someone else; I just want to be a better me!

It seems men have it so easy! They are naturally programmed to let go and don't hold grudges like women do. We can so easily be offended. Woman don't let go like men do. We are put off by superior attitudes in other women and when people talk about themselves too much. We all want to be heard; but the less we feel the need to take credit for our achievements, the truer we stay to who we really are.

A big ego can be the start of most arguments. We want to be right and that means making others wrong but, if we let go of that need to be right, we can be more receptive and accepting to others. Have you heard your friends are a reflection of who you are? I try to surround myself with positive people. After all, who we see is who we are. When we are in a happy place, there is happiness all around us. I read once that people are attracted to pregnant women because they exude happiness. I remember feeling like everything was right with the world when I was pregnant with my children and I made some really good friends during those times.

The Pollyanna in me sees this economic time we are in as a blessing in disguise. It has forced us to focus more on what is really important, family! Letting go of our ego and reevaluating our wants and needs just has to happen. We must be satisfied with what we have and it's wonderful to find that what we have is more than enough. Have you ever noticed, when we stop needing more, what we wish for magically arrives? I'm guilty of being bourgeois because I adore fashion! But, I am humbled when I think about children who grow up in third world countries. They appear happy! It must be because they're detached from needs they've never known; they don't know materialism.

Sigmund Freud said, "Love and work are the cornerstones of our humanness," and St. Francis of Assisi taught us that it is in giving that we receive. To love, work, and give make us better and happier people. I am lucky because I love my work; it gives me pleasure!

I also love the beginning of a yoga class when you create an intention for your practice. It's not selfish! It's like a prayer; you say what's in your heart. It's for you to know and God to hear. I feel more connected because it's my inner voice speaking to my heart. I find it's truer because no one else hears it. I have a very specific routine of prayers that include: to be a good mother, wife, daughter, teacher and friend. I find my intentions are more honest and free flowing because I say exactly what I'm feeling that moment.

Dance, like yoga is constantly flowing. It's unfortunate that with experience and age I am more able to let go of my ego and be the dancer I wish I could have been at twenty. I think of Margot Fonteyn (one of the world's greatest ballerinas) who danced up until she was sixty years old. On stage she was magical, her love to dance for her audience made her luminous. Margot's age didn't matter. She was more herself dancing on stage than anywhere else.

Maybe it's easier to let go of our egos when we are doing something we truly love. Dancing is unlike any other art form; there's nothing materialistic about it. You can't sell dance like a painting or manuscript, but the feeling it gives me is all I need. I dance so I can feel more alive! I let go and find myself as soon as my hand touches the ballet bar for plies. The studio is my second home. Dancing allows me to run away for just a couple of hours and I return from ballet as a better mother, wife, daughter, and friend.

Our ego is responsible for functions of the mind. And when we truly connect with our self, like we can when we create an intention in yoga, or doing something we truly love like dancing, our ego vanishes.

So often we want to protect our hearts from hurt, but hurt is inevitable; it makes us stronger, wiser, and smarter. It's reality! I think when we let go of our ego, we trust our hearts. To do this we have to give up control, and that is what's so hard. Moms want to have control to have a sense of structure, safety, and routine.

Being a romantic, I do follow my heart. I can fall in love daily with the simplest things. My husband always teases me for buying a newspaper, or bread from the sweet little old men at the grocery store. I can't resist their kind faces. My heart leads me everywhere as I am not the "ignore your heart and follow your mind" kind of girl. Losing our ego can bring us closer to our hearts.

I understand what my ballet teacher meant by letting go of my ego to be a better dancer. To me it means, dance from your heart. My heart is my dance partner and not just in the studio.

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