when the yoga teacher grows up.. and other wonderings.

My mother, in her retirement, has recently graduated Clown College and when she isn’t playing Bridge or researching new clubs to join in her over fifties lifestyle community, she and her clown friends are volunteering at the local assisted living facility and entertaining the elderly.

My mother, who has never in her life not parlayed a passion of hers into some kind of opportunity to market her way to a career, has found her recent love of clowning awakening other possiblities for her. She has always loved to help people – whether that was doling out some trusty relationship advice or mentoring young women in how to write a business plan. It wouldn’t be my mother if I did not spend more than a few phone calls listening to her brainstorm ways her clowning could be a national brand. I try to temper her inner enterpeneur by saying, “Mom, some things we love to do are simply for the joy of it.” She can’t help it. Marketing anything is implicit in her personality.

Career wanderlust runs in my bloodline. Reinvention has always been my mother’s thing. She has gone from travel agent, to marketing executive, to salsa dance studio owner, to self publishing author, to a clown named Rosie. She seemed to me through all this risk taking and shape shifting to always be unafraid, unapologetic and inexhaustiable. (I won’t even mention the time she flirted with living on a farm and breeding Saint Bernards).

Up until recently, I have never questioned my work in the world. I have for the better part of almost twenty years been doing what I love and making a modest but sustainable living from it. I have always been way more focussed on the work I love, more than the stream of income I was producing because of it. It wasn’t a job I was showing up for and leaving at the end of the day. My work was synonymous with my whole life. I lived and breathed (literally) the work I offered and I could not imagine spending more than fifty percent of my days not doing what made me feel that alive.

This is the first time in over a decade I have not owned a yoga studio. It feels both freeing and awkward. I have for the majority of my working years not only known that but been strongly identified as doing that. It was what shaped my routine, the things I choose to study and read, my lifestyle, my entire community with which I surrounded myself in.
With this no longer being the central place from which I conduct my life from I find myself in Chicago asking more and more — so, Tracy what’s next? I know I will always stay close to my teaching roots, as I reailze what I loved most about having a yoga studio is what happened on the yoga mat with my students. I am not surprised that one week into living here I found a place to teach.

Yet, lately, feeling on the precipice of all this change in my personal and professional life, I think of my mother’s path and cannot help but reflect on my own. Not the dog breeding part, but the what do I want to be when I grow up part?

Perhaps there has been a side of me that has never really asked myself this question. My passions have moved me along like a steady current and landed me smack in the middle of opportunity. Getting here did not require brute effort it required a trusting your gut approach. It has not been an easy path, but it had been fulfilling for awhile.
But like everything, that is changing.

With more time on my hands than I have had in years, and being older and slightly more weathered from my own life experiences, I sit here and wonder where I will continue to point this interest arrow of mine.

Next to my bed sits a stack of memoirs from writers whom I love. Joan Didion. Dani Shapiro. Anne Lamott. And another book with the unabashedly embrassing title, You are a Badass (how to stop doubting your greatness and start living an awesome life). The title was compelling enough for me to click purchase on Amazon and be grateful I was not putting that one on the counter for the cashier to eye and judge me for a book called You Are A Badass. While it isn’t my style to open myself to self-help type genres, I did buy the thing and I find myself flipping through the pages.
I appreciate the inventory it asks me to take.
I am not afraid to admit I may be a little stalled in my life for some of the subconscious reasons she so cheerily identifies.
I am happy teaching but I can’t help but feel there’s more of this life, this body I am here to do. That there is some unfinished project that awaits my attention.

For the past two years I have been painstakingly working on a memoir that has nothing to do with yoga.I have found a million reasons to dismiss this as a crazy farfetched idea. It would me more realistic if I chose to breed Saint Bernards.
But like yoga teaching found me, writing this thing has reawakened me.
And like my mother has taught me, I follow my heart no matter how wild and crazy the ride seems to be.
And like teaching has shown me,  we do what we love and that is simply the offering.
The pay check for that?
I can always keep working on that too.


  1. Lara Melniker says:

    Yea! Do it, get it, take it!

  2. steven says:

    “People who wade into discomfort and vulnerability and tell the truth about their stories are the real badasses. Daring is essential to solve the problems in the world….We also need a critical mass of badasses who are willing to dare, fall, feel their way through tough emotion and rise again…We need more people who are willing to demonstrate what it looks like to risk and endure failure, disappointment and regret-people willing to feel their own hurt instead of working it out on other people, people willing to own their own stories, live their values and keep showing up. When I see people stand fully in their truth or when I see someone fall down, get back up and say, “Damn. That really hurt but this is important to me and I’m going in again” – my gut reaction is, “What a badass.” Brene Brown from “Rising Strong”

    • yes. Yes. YES… ! Thank you for sharing this and the important work of Brene Brown. We all know reading it how true this is. Here’s to a critical mass of badasses. xo

      • steven bernstein says:

        I can’t wait to read your memoir. There are so many families going through similar experiences. I think your voice would really be so helpful. As an aside, i would like to start journaling. Any recommendations?

        • tracybleier says:

          Thank you for this. I am inspired and (humbled) by the process of making this happen. Yes! journaling. I have many ideas. One is to do a “mind-cleanse” every day timed for three minutes – just write whatever comes to mind without stopping. Then email me later and I will offer a few great exercises I use often in my teaching and in my practice of journaling. (suggestion: write a letter to a quality you are observing within yourself (i.e.. “Dear Frightened,” or Dear Wondering…). Write a journal where you just ask yourself questions you would like to know the answers to. So many more! xoxox

  3. My dear friend, you are the ultimate badass when you stand before the world exactly as you are. The figuring it out is the yoga, it might take different forms (in fact, it should) as it is about the path, the route we take and if we continue on it the journey has so much to offer us and the world. It gives.
    I adore you and appreciate your journey as it intersects with mine…

    • Right back at you, fellow badass. I am so grateful for our connection, as it just keeps me remembering how important this work is. xo

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