Hating Sports, Feeling Powerful And Not Owning A Yoga Mat

I went to a yoga class on my own last week because I will soon be 30 and I am just slightly overreacting.

I hate sports. Well, I don’t know if I actually can say that because I simply don’t exercise ever. I went to the gym with a friend for almost 6 months, two years ago, and that was that. I was 27 and the last time I had done any kind of exercise was 10 years before, in college. Going to the gym was huge for me at the time. I was working remotely for the first time and needed something to clear up my mind once a week. But I gave up because I did not truly enjoy it. I liked seeing my friend, feeling tired after the session, but it wasn’t enough for me to keep going after the initial “Woop Woop I’m going to the gym” phase.

I am going to be 30 years old in less than a month (did I just say that twice in the space of two minutes?) and I am reflecting. I won’t bore you with the details of my labyrinthine mind but I felt like going to Yoga one day. Basically because I want to clear my mind, feel connected to my body and disconnected from the rest of the world.

It’s actually why I love skincare and makeup so much, because it does all those things, except I only feel connected to my face. I wanted to live in my body not drag it around if that makes any sense.

Our rule in the class is that we all have to wear Lulu Lemon’s gear but apart from that, everyone’s welcome!

I have always been intrigued by Yoga, but couldn’t find a class at a decent price. Until I did. I emailed the Yoga teacher beforehand to let her know I was a beginner and maybe in the secret hope that she’d tell me “this class will be way too hard for you“, “Elsa? Yeah we know you around the block, you’ve always told everyone you don’t like sports? Well the joke’s on you, we don’t want you in the class“, “Our rule in the class is that we all have to wear Lulu Lemon’s gear but apart from that, everyone’s welcome“.

You know? That kind of s***** thoughts.

None of that happened of course.

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First of, going to this on my own felt really empowering. Though I’m quite happy with my own company, going to something related to sport by myself only trusting my motivation is something else. Something I had never done before.

I was ready way too early, had a cigarette in front of the Yoga building and, of course, met the Yoga teacher at the same exact moment. AND I had no mat.

As I’m getting older, I’m trying really hard to not care about what others think about me. I’m hard enough on myself you see. I’m also quite often thinking that people might have a specific opinion on this thing I said or this aspect of my life when in fact I’m the one judging myself. So as I went into the Yoga class, I tried to leave judgment outside the door. (Edit: I’m proofreading this article before it goes live. I never thought I’d write a sentence like “leave the judgment outside the door”. But guess what? Might sound stereotypical, obvious, whatever, I’m leaving this in the text even though it makes me cringe BECAUSE…it sort of worked!)

At first I thought, “What do you mean not compete with myself, Isn’t that the point of exercising?” You’ve guessed it, I was angry.

I had so many annoying thoughts on my mind. “What if I look silly, what if I don’t understand this movement, what if it’s too hard and I need to stop, what if they’re all really into and I feel like laughing because it’s only Yoga, come on!

I did want to laugh sometimes because of how bad I was, but sometimes I felt quite content because I could hold a posture, and was trying something new, on my own. I could see my younger self thinking “that’s what it must be like to be an adult” and I felt so damn proud.

The next session will be in two weeks. I think I might go back. The teacher’s lovely. It’s a small group of friendly, focused, quiet people. At some point during the class, the teacher said, “don’t compete with yourself, don’t push too hard. Just try and see what it feels like! And accept what your body’s able to do.”

Now, I’m so angry at so many things. At first I thought, “What do you mean not compete with myself, Isn’t that the point of exercising?” You’ve guessed it, I was angry. Then, I tried to think differently. I pushed my body to stay in whatever position we had to be in at the time, just a little bit, gently, not from an angry corner of my mind. I want to be stronger. That’s why I’m trying Yoga. So instead of just feeling frustrated, I reckon I used my anger to be strong, stay still, accept my limits but go all the way up to these limits. And it turned into power. It’s nice to feel – not in your mind, but actually feel, with your skin, your legs, your arms, your whole being – powerful.

I walked home feeling stretched out and realigned. What a cliché right? I really did though. In addition to that, I felt a new kind of power. When someone would ask me “Do you practice any sport?”. I used to say, Churchill style, “No sport!”. We’ll see what my future answer will be. Needless to say I don’t want to become an insufferable sport lover who tries to convince everyone to exercise or whatever… How annoying would that be?!

Oh by the way, I need to buy a Yoga mat, do you guys have any recommandations? No? Anyone?

Well, Nama-fucking-ste.

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The Day “Self-Help Content” Stopped Helping Me

The other day I told my partner, “I’ve heard something on this podcast that really made me think. It goes ” The only difference between you and the people who are successful, is that they’re doing it, you’re not“”. Well, something along those lines anyway. He looked at me and said, “Yeah (sigh), I don’t really connect to that, I mean, this kind of stuff just goes without saying. What’s the point of that kind of affirmation anyway?

I thought he had a point, but to be honest I also thought, because he doesn’t have Instagram or listen to podcasts, “Well, he doesn’t really get it, he’s not familiar with that kind of content. He might see it from a, not hostile per say but “meh” point of view.

A few days later, I heard the exact same sentence on another podcast, and for some reason, it made me feel really angry. I don’t know if I was angry at myself, or the type of content I ingest, or both, but I decided it was all a bit too much. What was? All the “self-help” content I listened to, watched, read about.

*When I talk about self-help here, I know the term probably is too vast, and a business podcast for instance might not be considered like self-help content, but basically to me it means, any content related to how to improve your life, be successful, be better at communicating, be confident etc. Hope it’s clear!

It started with a few success stories about people making it. It would usually go like this “I started from nothing, worked my ass off before and after going to my everyday job, and after a lot of hard work, not seeing my friends, or family because of the amount of work I was dedicated to throw myself into, it finally…worked. See what I did there?

Then I started to see people on Instagram telling their audience, “I know I posted this amazing photo of me on holidays looking glowy and all but just know that right now, I look and/or feel like shit.

I could not stop consuming stories about entrepreneurs, content creators, self-help book writers, people who inspired me. And, don’t get me wrong, some of them still do BUT, we’ll come onto that later.

Then followed, videos, TED talks, articles, Linkedin posts. They were all about the same idea, turned into a statement: you are responsible for your own happiness. Which, let’s be REAL, and nuanced, is so simplistic and just not true. It simply doesn’t take into account, culture, social background, education, life shit, anything. It’s an affirmation making you responsible for your own happiness but it sort of means that, if you’re not happy, well, guess what? That’s on you as well.

Then I started to see people on Instagram telling their audience, “I know I posted this amazing photo of me on holidays looking glowy and all but just know that right now, I look and/or feel like shit.” And everytime I saw that kind of post I thought, “Ok, then Why would you post that amazing looking picture of you in the first place? And then remind us that, hey, it’s not real life folks, don’t forget!” Some say, “I want my account to be positive, I want to spread joy”, etc. Which is a nice thought. Yet, they must be aware that this type of content does not have that much of a positive impact on people if they keep having to apologize for it, or deconstruct the images they put on Social Media for the sake of being honest and more transparent, right?

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It all started to make me feel dizzy, guilty and worst of all, small. I remember walking around in my flat, cleaning or folding my clothes away, listening to this podcast and hearing for the second time in a few days : “The only difference between you and the people who are successful, is that they’re doing it, you’re not“.

I stopped doing what I was doing, and said out loud, “Stop. This had to stop“.

I don’t want to meditate, or maybe I do, but ultimately, do I want to hear about other people LOVING it all the time?

Consuming all this so called “self-help” content was not helping me at all. Years ago I’d be excited about it, it felt really new and full of hope, and I guess in a way, it was really new and full of hope, and probably necessary as well. However that day, I thought, ” Too much “self-help” content is eventually going to fuck me up.

I don’t even think I want to be an entrepreneur. I don’t like to fake it until I make it. I don’t think it’s easier to give up than to pursue your dreams, it’s way more complicated. I don’t like making lists, I always loose them or if I don’t, I forget to tick the boxes. I don’t even like baths and candles, it’s so boring it does not help me to reset at all. I don’t want to meditate, or maybe I do, but ultimately, do I want to hear about other people LOVING it all the time?

I miss raw content, unedited honesty. I miss real life stories. You might argue that culture, online content should or could, amongst other things, make us dream. And I agree. The thing is what I was consuming was not making me dream anymore. Because you know what makes me dream? Real life. With its flaws, errors, misundersantings, wobbles, failures, successes, joys, hopes. All of it. I’m sick of the edited version. I don’t love the word authenticity but I’m going to be crazy and say that, I want more of it.

I want the good, the bad and the ugly.

This post is a bit rambly. You might disagree or think it’s just another rant against society, consumerism, social media, and it might as well be. Oh also, I’m well aware I might be contributing to that, yet aren’t we all? I’m not sitting here judging everyone, I’m just being honest.  Anyway, I’m now choosing very carefully what I watch, read, listen to “self-help” wise, and I’ll share it with you soon. I touched on that a few months ago, and I’ve already done a bit of clear out this summer. But it’s not over.

What do you think about all this? Do you feel the same or not at all?

This space is called Le Beauty Journal and I like to think beautiful things in life can be rough, raw and real. Same goes for happiness and success. Failures and disappointments. We’re just doing our best. Don’t you think we might need less “self-help” if we could just help each other?

It’s the little things you know.

Working From Home : 5 Tips To Be Productive

I’ve been working from home for the past 4 years. First I was a remote employee, now I’m doing freelance which is a completely different vibe. However, when working remotely my amazing manager and colleagues have shared their “working from home tips” with me over the years. I was definitely inspired by what I’ve learned on my own, and by what I’ve been advised… Though the first and only rule should be, you do you!

Why an article then you might think? Well because it’s always reassuring to read about productivity tricks because where to start right?

I was basically a Carrie Bradshaw in the making. Or so I thought.

But the actual truth in my opinion is : try things out, find a routine if you can but don’t freak out if days don’t look the same, if you’re not as productive as last week, if sometimes you find it hard to be motivated, if you find the line between personal and professional gets blurry or if you find yourself putting makeup on at 5.30pm because you haven’t left the house. It’ll get easier, and you’ll eventually find what works and what doesn’t work for you.

When I got this job where I’d work remotely, I thought “This is the dream. I can work on my computer from my couch in my pyjamas and have coffee all day long and not have to socialize with colleagues I don’t even find funny and…” I was basically a Carrie Bradshaw in the making. Or so I thought. Here’s what I’ve learned over the years…

  • Working from home is working, period.

This is key. What it means is, no your friends can’t pop around for tea so you have to make things clear for your friends, family etc. Working from home is great and it might look like heaven to those who don’t, but it’s still work. Let’s say you’ve decided to work roughly between 8am and 5pm for example, you’re as unavailable as they are. Why? Because you’re at work. Just so happens that work is located in your home.

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Try to make your office look nice if you care about that sort of stuff because it does help to get in the mood.
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You know how when you have colleagues, you take coffee/tea breaks? Well, take a little break during the day just to quickly reset and get your groove back. I always make sure I have a full pot of coffee ready in the morning to keep me going.
  • Get dressed. Or don’t.

Working in my pyjamas seemed like an absolute luxury and I believe it has to do with the fact that I hate waking up. I’m 29 and still struggling. In a way, keeping your PJ’s on means you don’t have to face the world the same way than when you get dressed, drive or commute to GO to work. You’re up but you’re still in the warm comfort of your own home, drinking coffee out of your own mug, wearing something comfortable.

Well, I hate keeping my PJs to work. Which in a way makes sense when you read this sentence doesn’t it? Would you wear your pyjamas to work? That’s what I thought.

However a friend of mine just loves it, and it does not affect her productivity at all, or only in a good way I reckon. I did try to of course because of this romantic vision I had and to be honest, I still have massive FOMO that I’m not one of those people who enjoy working in loungewear. I like to get dressed, wash my face, sometimes even put makeup on and then I head out to…my work space which is basically my living room. Though I have a proper office in there with a proper chair which is very important to me. It sets my mood and helps me realize that I have to get shit done!

  • Structure your day…

Try to start around the same time everyday, set a time to eat a proper meal for lunch and try to finish work like you’d stop working if you were in an office because everyone’s going home so why stay late if you’ve done what needed to be done. Of course in some jobs, you could always work, always do more, and find it difficult to actually stop. When I started my remote job, I was extremely committed to the mission and wanted to be sure I was working enough. I did not know when to stop and I’d end up at my computer at 8 or 9pm just refreshing my emails, checking projects that we’d be working on, trying to think of groundbreaking ideas… Let me tell you, I did not have one single good idea at 8pm on a friday staring at my computer. Basically, I found it difficult to stop working without feeling guilty so I told my manager. She helped me to set tasks and to structure my day but also, and that’s the main thing I guess, I knew she trusted me to do a good job. The only problem was, I wasn’t trusting myself. That’s a whole different issue BUT to help with that feeling, making lists, creating a routine and try to avoid procrastination really helped. So I started working fro 8am-ish to 6pm with a lunch break in the middle and when my partner would come home, I knew it was time to close all the tabs on my computer and put it away. I also disabled work emails notifications from 6pm so I wouldn’t be tempted to check and eventually answer. It’s a bit more difficult to do that as a freelancer because I only depend on myself but I try to stick to a real routine because it sets you up for success I think. There’s a time to work and a time not to, own it.

  • …but be flexible

If you have a doctor’s appointment, need to catch up with a friend or just suddenly want to get your hair cut you don’t have to take a day off. Enjoy! It’s one of the perks of working from home, you’ll finish work a bit later that day and that’s that. Allow yourself to make the most out of this situation. Also, working from home can get lonely so when there’s an opportunity for me to head out and talk to people, I take it!

  • Don’t forget to eat

I don’t eat breakfast though I really want to make it a new habit, but it means that if I realize at 3pm that I haven’t eaten anything, it’s bad. Set an alarm for your lunch break and stick to it. Don’t eat in front of your computer. Try and think about the meals you’re going to have during the week when you go grocery shopping. I hate cooking lunch for myself, so I tend to either eat something that me and my partner had the night before, or have something like a soup with a bit of cheese and a fruit for example. I’ve also recently discovered mackerel in mustard sauce which is quite nice… Ha, well, I’m sure you’ll do better than that, I’m the worst at finding things to eat in the flat and I don’t really know how to cook from scratch so it’s a work in progress! The main thing is to make time for lunch. People who work in a office take the time and it’s not being more productive in my opinion to eat a sandwich in 5 minutes in front of your computer. Take a step back, refresh your mood and ideas, come back to work.

Hope these first few tips helped and good luck with the working from home thing. Don’t feel guilty by the way if people don’t get that working from home is actual work, it’s getting more and more popular these days, they’ll understand it eventually. You just sit back and enjoy!