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Pink Slip to Bliss: Job Loss Leads One Woman to Find Herself Through Yoga
Funny things happen when you lose your job. Some people hit the ground running, blanketing the marketplace with resumes and searching for a position like it’s, well, a full-time job. After all, that’s what the experts say to do.
For others, like Mary Ann Lopez, 41, of Naperville, Ill., job loss incites self-reflection, exploration and a search for life’s greater meaning.
When her job as a reporter at the Chicago Sun Times was eliminated, little did Mary Ann know just how many sun salutations lay ahead. “It was a blessing in disguise,” she says. A pink slip forced her to reexamine her overall happiness, especially since her mother’s devastating death from lung cancer in 2004.
Returning to yoga
Turns out, it was her mother who had first introduced Mary Ann to yoga at the local park district, when Mary Ann was just 4 years old. Throughout grad school in Colorado, Mary Ann dabbled in the practice, but later, as a “starving reporter,” she found a consistent lack of funds an easy excuse for not continuing yoga.
As karma would have it, losing her job was a crucial impetus for yoga becoming a central part of Mary Ann’s life. After participating in yoga classes once a week and craving a more intense practice, she found a better fit at a power vinyasa studio.
But it was the decision to participate in an all-day intensive with visiting Baptise power vinyasa yoga teacher Dave Farmar that sold Mary Ann on yoga as a transformative practice. She started practicing six days a week.
“I realized I hadn’t focused on myself,” she says. “It’s easy to spend money and buy things you think will make you happy, but investing in yoga helped me find a balance and be aware of my emotions.”
Letting the love in
Armed with a brighter mental outlook, an energizing diet and a more powerful body, Mary Ann, a self-professed cynic from her years in media, decided it was time to “let the love in,” as she describes it. Connecting with others and the community has been an eye-opening aspect of her practice, she says. “You see the same people, there’s a good vibe and the teacher has a very positive outlook.”
This new openness bleeds into all aspects of her life. Now her extended job search is something that Mary Ann works at, but refuses to obsess about.
“Looking for a job is a depressing thing,” says Mary Ann, but she believes that jobs she doesn’t get are simply not the right jobs for her. “We want to know that things will be certain, but what’s meant to be will work out in the end,” she says.
Mary Ann approaches her job search from her mat outward. “Do you find peace in [joblessness] or make it torture?” she asks, reciting her teacher’s fitting analogy. She chooses to look at it like a resting pose because, “How you are on your mat is how you are in the world.”
Mary Ann is also exploring how to use her skills in other places and other ways. “Before, I felt like I was living to work. Now, I want to work to live.” She likens her outlook to those apropos Beatles’ lyrics: “Nothing’s gonna change my world.” She understands now that “whatever happens financially, I’m still the same person."
“I wasn’t happy for a long time. But I didn’t even realize how unhappy I was,” says Mary Ann, who has dropped two dress sizes while still indulging in occasional chocolate and a real Chicago hot dog. “I really feel like I’m the happiest I’ve ever been. I know who I am and what I like. And it’s no longer about what other people think.”
5 tips to find your inner yogi
For Mary Ann, it’s not a choice between practicing yoga and searching for a job; they’re really one in the same. Here are a few of her tips to inspire the yogi in you (job loss or not):
If you are out of shape, don’t worry about it. You have to start somewhere. Just go and try it.
No one knows your story or what you’ve been through. Don’t worry about other people. It’s about what yoga means to you.
Don’t worry if you don’t know the poses. It’s just yoga.
If you say you don’t have the time/money, those are excuses. It’s so important to your health to try to make it happen. Even if it’s just one day of yoga, that’s one day.
To really make a change, you need to make at least a month-long commitment.