The successful one

     I was once given this sort of advice from someone who I deeply respected in business. He said to me, “Your best revenge, is your success.”
     I knew what he meant. It was a time in my life when my yoga studio which I had co-owned for almost a decade was going through a sad divorce. My partner and I were breaking up. It was brutal. Traumatic. Devastating. On us. On our communities. On our friendships and families. On our business. This advice while well intended seemed to impress upon me that it was only when I surpassed my former partner in business that I will be free of the pain the breakup caused.
     As time passed and transitions have made that point in my life seem more distant and oblique, the regret of how it all went down and choices thereafter still claim its territory within. I have a hard time buying that it has much to do with where I ended up. Letting go I learned is a creative process as much as forgiveness is. It’s two steps forward where I might reach the pinnacle of calm acceptance, and three steps back where I might feel gripped by the burn of having no control over so much.
I repeated my mother’s advice as if it were that easy.  “We cannot look back, we can only move forward and learn from our past.” Of course, the lessons I have learned. Where would I be without them? The lessons I received about my own behaviors, my own shadows, my own weaknesses, they all came rushing forward as if they were begging for my attention. I may not be grateful for everything that happened, but I can be grateful in every moment for these lessons which have shaped me and are defining some of my finest aspirations today. I listen for the ways my present has benefitted from this kind of learning.
It is my body most of all that tells me how over things I really am. I wonder about that on days like today where I feel compelled to write about this or days like yesterday when I was triggered unexpectedly by a conversation I had with a dear loving friend and longtime student. She was filling me in about her life, her yoga practice, and mentioned innocently that my old partner’s classes “are packed.” “It’s so crowded there,” she said. “She is running a good business.”
While I wished to God that my first response was one of beauty, that the accrual of these lessons would have showed up when I told my friend, “Oh, I am happy for her. She deserves that success.” I said the words and wanted to stand by them completely. But, amidst that I could feel in my belly those small tentacles of my own ego catch hold of me and for several breaths in the conversation I felt the uprising of hurt and pain, jealousy and regret. I looked around at where I was in my life and started comparing. I started tragically asking, what if things had gone another way? What if I had done things differently? And the line up of questions that ran completely against the current of reality. Of the present moment. Of accepting what was. Of looking around at my life and embracing exactly where I am. I am starting anew. I am not sure how it will all turn out. I don’t yet know from where my stability will arise. I resisted the self-denigrating side of me that wanted to blurt out, I deserve where I am.  That according to my business advice, I was on the losing side of success.
There is a place within me that is at peace with all the ways my life has been led.  There is also a place within that longs to have a do-over. That wishes I can look back and take with me the centered, older clearer version of myself that sits in my bedroom in Chicago feeling humbled and softer. (Had I known then, what I know now…)  I know I am a better teacher now than I ever was. A better mother. A better friend. Possibly a better business woman. (I would hope).  I wish that my past could somehow know me as I am now becoming.  That I can bump into my old self and carry her along with me rather than chastise her for all the foolish things she did.  She is not a mistake. She is and will be such a huge contribution in me understanding, valuing and creating a life that is successfully lived.



  1. Oh, I love this. Sometimes I feel old versions of me almost animate in the room, and I feel empathy for her, or, sometimes, anger … and I wish I could go back and say it’s all oing to be okay. And frankly I wish my 60 year old self (if I’m lucky enough to get there) come come and tell me the things I worry about now are going to be okay too!

    • tracybleier says:

      So true! Ah… I have heard somewhere that if we are blessed enough to grow old and maintain our health than we are at a place to “harvest all that wisdom.”

  2. Vera says:

    A dear friend and mentor said to me just today “My definition of humility is to be teachable. I pray to always be teachable.” This is one of my highest bars for teachers, and I truly admire your humility and your grace through this transition.

    • tracybleier says:

      I pray always to be teachable. Ah! I love that. Thank you my wise counterpart and soul sister of the South. xoxox

  3. Elaine Pauley says:

    Dearest Tracy,
    Our regrets are always with us, if only to remind us of our humanity, and to show us the progress made going forward. We do what we can under the circumstances of the moment, always with best intentions. It is our expectations that mess us up. One day, we realize life is as it should be, never without struggle, always with hope.
    Much love, dear friend. So good to read your heartfelt words of truth.

    • tracybleier says:

      Dearest Elaine,
      You are so right. Our expectations can really obscure the beauty of what is right there. And yet we continue to carry the weight of them forward — Thank you for your wisdom from afar. I miss you and Bruce and send you my heart always.

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