The word yoga means union. To bring together the disparate, the imperfect, the opposing, the seemingly unconnected into unity, into wholeness. For the past five years I’ve practiced yoga, with my Saturday morning class an anchor point to closing down the week that was, and opening up to the weekend ahead. This one hour moving meditation helps me hold space for me, to nurture myself through whatever is going on around or in me.
My hamstrings remind me every class that I’m not as flexible as I would like. But I didn’t come to yoga to become more flexible. I arrived at yoga because I was busy. My work days were stressful and my exercise regime involved high intensity, adrenal stimulation – something I was already getting too much of in my day job. I started yoga because I knew I needed to be kinder to my body. I didn’t realise how much yoga would help me kinder to my whole self in the process.
It’s very fitting that we’re telling Tamara Ogilvie’s leap story from accountant to opening Yogala yoga studio in Sydney’s eastern suburbs, this Valentine’s Day – the day of love. Tamara’s leap was not motivated by money – it came from the desire to start backing herself and owning her own self worth, particularly in the wake of losing her father. The pull to unite those things that mattered to her in her world became stronger than the ‘not enough’ sensations that we all feel. Perhaps in a heightened sense of loss, we experience a heightened sense of love – for those around us, for those things we value and for a life that we feel is possible inside of us. Tamara’s leap came from loving herself enough to take a risk.
In my experience, time spent on my yoga mat has shown me that our capacity to be happy is not dependent on someone else. It’s in our own self awareness and the choices we make. Cultivating love in our life starts with the love we’re prepared to give ourselves – to be our own best friend. While Valentine’s Day commercially celebrates romantic love between two people, the love we hold for ourselves is the root of living a loving life. The compassion we give ourselves to move beyond self criticism, judgement, comparison, blame, fear, perfectionism and scarcity, helps give ourselves a break, and a chance to reevaluate how we want to be in the world. And to maybe take a leap. Tamara landed the double whammy in leaping to open a yoga studio!
Be loving with yourself today. And then share it around. Happy Valentine’s Day. xx
What did you want to be when you grew up and why?
As a wee one I remember telling our street’s bike gang that I’d be Australia’s first female Prime Minister. I’ve never had any political aspirations since. As a teenager and in my early 20s, an actor. High school drama and trips to the theatre was a doorway into human nature.
What did/do you study?
I’ve been pulled in seemingly contrary directions. I could follow a call towards the arts and in particular acting and theatre, for its connection to people – both real and imagined. Or I could tread a path into the professional white-collar world, which was an enigma to my younger self.
So my studies have oscillated between humanities and business: an arts degree in performance studies, a commerce degree and studying to be a chartered accountant, and back again to the humanities most recently to study writing. And along the way I’d been practising yoga, eventually also studying it more formally. The arts, and then yoga, have given me a set of spectacles – a way to see, whilst the business studies and skills gave me a comfortable wage.
What has been your most scary/courageous leap you’ve ever made (preferably in your business/career/life direction)?
Running my own business – Yogala, a yoga studio in Sydney’s east. We have 10 teachers and over 30 classes per week.
What were you doing before you made your leap?
Balancing life with a 10 month old, a 5 year old, and a husband who quit his career in finance to study architecture full time – all the while working full time to earn my six-figure salary [and secretly enjoying saving for retirement with a very generous super rate. I am the only person my age I know who reads my super statements].
Who have been the biggest 3 – 5 influences in your life, in terms of your career and doing work?
My father. He was a workhorse, working multiple jobs at once at times – a truck driver, a brickie, a labourer, a garbo, a bartender… He died from a heart attack a year before I took the leap to run my own yoga studio. A few months before he died we went for a walk together and I was doing my best to convince him to give up working for the man as he’d done more than enough for his family – it was time he did something for himself. I could see he was willing himself to want what I wanted for him. But he said he just couldn’t – that he’d worked pretty much every day of his life since he was 16 and that was all he knew, that he’d become so accustomed to presuming he needed to work. I remember he used the word fear somewhere in that conversation. He died at 59.
I think I got my love of bodies and movement from him – he’d been a keen runner, and was due to study sports coaching in his early 20s, but when my sister and I came along devoted himself to working whenever he could, wherever he could.
My mother. She too is a bit of an ox. Her alarm would ring at 4am so that she could do the washing, cooking and cleaning before she went off to work for the day. Mum introduced me to yoga when I was 20.
What did you have in place before you made the leap?
Very little! We’d spent a large part of our savings as my husband had made a leap of his own, quitting finance to become a student again. We’d just had a second baby so I had very little quiet planning time. It was a leap I’d thought I’d make one day, but in the past I’d always told myself I didn’t have enough – enough experience, knowledge, guts, money, time. I made the leap when we had less time and money than ever before.
What was your defining ‘I can’t do this anymore’ moment that lead you to the leap?
There hasn’t been an ‘I can’t do this anymore’ moment where I’ve needed to turn my back on my corporate career – more an ‘I can’t do this not backing myself anymore’ moment. I didn’t want to spreadsheet, plan and list this next move. Leaping into my own business was not at all about money and business, but about me being my own biggest supporter.
How did/do you overcome/work with the fear that comes with leaping? How do you decide to choose courage?
When I am anxious I spreadsheet. Microsoft Excel and I have spent many a late night together – I scenario plan, I forecast and I come up with a back up plan. Inevitably I go to bed still fearful, full of what ifs. And then I wake up and realise I should have just gone to sleep. I am my most courageous and clear self in the early hours of the morning, when I am up to do my yoga practice whilst the rest of the world is still sleeping. Moving my body is my antidote. I also think about my Dad – what would he say? He’d say just keep having a crack, there’s nothing to lose. He’d be proud I was brave enough to back myself.
How did you fund your leap?
My husband and I didn’t have a wedding – we were married at a registry office in London and went out for vegemite toast and bottle of champagne afterwards. But my selfless parents gave me the money that they would have spent on me had they been able to walk me down the aisle. And so I squirreled that money away, for a rainy day – to do my version of walking down an aisle when I felt ready.
What other leaps have you made in the past?
I leapt from working in a small art gallery in Edinburgh (my first real job after university) to training as an accountant with Deloitte in London. I loved the arts but I also loved money and wanted a way to earn more of it.
I followed my then boyfriend, now husband, to Edinburgh. I’d never lived out of home. He was sent there as a consultant and we lived a leisurely, all expenses paid life in the middle of Edinburgh’s New Town. It seemed like a leap at the time. We joke that we’ve made a steady decline in living conditions since those memorable years at the age of 23-25.
What leaps didn’t work out? What did you do about it?
I wanted to quit studying halfway through my first year of university to travel. I’d failed Accounting 101 twice already and had a fire in my belly to explore life. My mother thwarted that leap – that I was the first one in the family to go to university was perhaps an important leap for her. I satiated the need to travel once I finished my two bachelor degrees. I told my parents I was going overseas for 6 weeks. 7 years later I finally came home.
What are you most fearful of? How do you deal with it?
At the moment I am most fearful of forgetting my father. And so I persevere running my fledgling but growing yoga studio because it is where my heart is. I remind myself of my good fortunes. I surround myself with kindred spirits who remind me that the vision I have is a worthy and worthwhile one.
Connection is key. I attended a yoga class the other night with a beautiful soul who teaches at my yoga studio – at the end of the practice we lay on our mats in a final twist pose. In the soft early evening light I just listened to my heart and reached out to grab hold of her hand. Afterwards we both confessed to crying in the overwhelm of connection. Simple things.
How would you rate your level of happiness about making your leap?
1 being sad, 10 being rad.
A 9. Making the leap has grounded me, and satisfied something quite innate that I can’t even describe. It loses a point however because the accountant in me judges the move as an insanely naïve financial decision to have made.
What’s the biggest upside to making the leap?
Backing myself, turning away from the ‘you’re not expert enough, ready enough, good enough…’ chatter has been immensely calming.
What’s the biggest downside to making the leap? And how do you get through it?
The downside is the financial burden of a fledgling small business. I believe the money side of things will work itself out. To satisfy the spreadsheet obsessed accountant in me I’ve taken on some work in the non-yoga world again for a while. It’s a juggle but I’m grateful I have skills to fall back on to pay the bills. It too is satisfying because I was choosy about who I’d work for and it was a conscious choice – not just another job.
The other downside is having too little time – that scarce resource! I am a perfectionist and so there is rarely such a thing as ‘finished’ – but there is ‘good enough’ in the time I’ve got.
What might be your next leap?
Putting myself as yoga teacher front and center – I’ve been hiding behind the admin of the business. It is time I focused more on what I am really there for – the teachings of yoga.
What are your favourite words to live by?
- Never put off until tomorrow what you can do today
- Too much spoils the flavour
These were sayings I learnt from my grandfather. I’m a ‘hell yes’ kind of person but at times need to water down my gusto lest I burn out.
Who do you admire who also made the leap?
My grandfather spent much of World War II as a prisoner of war in Singapore. After the war he returned to his previous vocation as a printer in Australia, but the building where he worked had bars on the windows and he couldn’t bear it. So he and one of his brothers made the leap to start their own printing business. It operated for almost 50 years.
A piece of advice for someone with an itch to leap?
What is that you want to feel? Is this leap the right one to give you that?
Right now I’m:
Hearing: The sounds of the inner city outside our home in Surry Hills, Sydney. A helicopter overhead, plates clanking in the sink at a neighbour’s house, someone’s vacuum cleaner, and hallelujah, the tweet of a bird.
Eating: Summer fruits and my husband’s chocolate and blueberry brownie.
Drinking: Coconut water with chunks of pineapple and mint. And, because of Christmas, champagne!
Reading: The Radiance Sutras, a book of verses that serve as meditation techniques.
Loving: Beach days.
In yoga, we end each class by pressing our palms together in front of our hearts, closing our eyes, bowing our heads and saying aloud ‘namaste’, which means ‘I bow to you’. I’ve also heard it referred to ‘the light in me sees and honours the light in you’. It is a practice of union that bridges differences and separation with humility and oneness. To you beautiful kin who are creating your stories everyday, to you who offer your stories here, and to you who read them, I say ‘namaste’.
Lovingly, Kylie x
p.s. Here’s a little 5 minutes of love thoughts for you.
The Time Workshop
Melbourne, 29 February 2016
A creative and interactive workshop for curious and entrepreneurial types, exploring your business goals, knowing what is essential to do, managing your workload, making plans and becoming the master of your time and energy.
SPACE :: TIME :: THINKING :: PLANNING :: TREATS
You know how you say ‘I don’t have enough time to work ON my business?’ or ‘I’m too busy to plan!’ or ‘I’m flat out but don’t feel like I’m getting where I want to be’?
Well, this is your opportunity to do something good for yourself and your business, and get clarity and calm in your working life.
Our most precious resources are our time, energy and mental health. This workshop is specifically designed to create space to think, plan and prioritise your business goals in the next three – six months. Get your business strategy sorted, and create clarity and focus.
Think of it as a strategic planning day to get your mind clear on what are your most important priorities coming up, and how you’re going to get them done.