LIFE ON A MAT TURNS ONE: 10 WAYS I GREW FROM IT

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SO PATIENCE WAS A VIRTUE

THE PAST YEAR HAS BEEN A LOT OF TWISTING AND TURNING, A LOT OF SELF DISCOVERY. THERE'S MANY THINGS THAT I'VE HAD TO MAKE MYSELF AWARE OF, USING MY EARS AND EYES A LITTLE MORE. MY MOUTH, A BIT LESS. I FEEL LIKE LIFE LESSONS KEPT STACKING UP LIKE LEGOS, FORCING ME TO PAY ATTENTION TO THE WAY I REACT TO CHANGE. SO I WOULD THINK IT'S SAFE TO SAY THAT OVERALL THE BLOG HAS BEEN A GREAT EXPERIENCE FOR ME, A TOOL TO HELP ME IMPROVE MORE THAN ANYTHING.

I'VE BECOME A LOT MORE FOCUSED, OUTSPOKEN, YET CALCULATED. I STUDY BEFORE I MAKE A MOVE, IT'S SERVED ME WELL IN THE PART ABOUT AUTHENTICITY AND WALKING TO MY OWN BEAT. I FAVOR MYSELF ABOVE THINGS THAT DON'T SERVE ME, BUT THAT'S WHAT MY SOUL HAS BEEN ASKING ME TO DO. LIFE ON A MAT HAS GIVEN ME MUCH MORE PATIENCE AND SELF-LOVE THAN I IMAGINED.
 

HOW LIFE ON A MAT WAS BORN

AS OF TODAY, I SOMETIMES DON'T LIKE TO CALL MYSELF A BLOGGER/INFLUENCER/CREATIVE. I TELL PEOPLE THAT I HAVE A BLOG. BUT FOR ME, I'M JUST WRITING, PHOTOGRAPHING, EXPLAINING, EXPRESSING, CREATING, DESIGNING, INSPIRING, GIVING LIFE TO CERTAIN THINGS. I'M WORRIED THAT IF I TRY TO BUILD A PERSONA THAT I HAVE TO LIVE UP TO, I'D BE DOING MYSELF A DISSERVICE. SO PLAINLY PUT, EVERYTHING I PUT ON MY WEBSITE, INSTAGRAM, OR SOCIAL MEDIA IS JUST JAZZ. IT'S JUST ME.

JAZZ IS HAVING A HUMAN EXPERIENCE, THAT'S ALL I CAN SAY.

I'M NOT TRYING TO BE KNOWN OR BE LIKE ANYONE, I HAVE MY OWN ESSENCE, AND IT'S TOO PRECIOUS TO BE COMPARED. A LONG TIME AGO I DECIDED THAT IF I AM GOING TO DO THIS PROJECT, I'M GOING TO DO IT MY WAY. I DON'T WANT TO LIVE IN A CURATED WAY, I DON'T DO PERFECT GRAMMAR, COLOR SCHEMES, OR LIVING IN NUDE/BLACK/BLUSH TONES. IT'S GOING TO BE DIFFERENT EVERY TIME, I'M NOT TRYING TO WORK AGAINST OR TOWARDS ANY ONE THING IN PARTICULAR. THE GOAL OF MY SELF-EXPRESSION IS TO BE TRUTHFUL ABOUT MY STORY AND HELP PEOPLE LEARN MORE ABOUT THEMSELVES. I LIKE TO HELP PEOPLE.

LIFE ON A MAT GOT THE NAME FROM A BRAINSTORM SESSION BETWEEN ME AND MY MOM. I WAS TOSSING AROUND IDEAS AND TALKING TO FRIENDS. ORIGINALLY, THE WEBSITE WAS GOING TO BE SOLELY FOR YOGA, SO JASMINEYOGA.COM WAS WHAT CAME FIRST. I WAS LIKE, NO WAY I'M NEVER GOING TO DO A LIFESTYLE SITE. BUT I HAD TO COME TO TERMS WITH MYSELF BEFORE I PURCHASED THE DOMAIN. AND HONESTLY I HAD A LOT OF STYLE / TRAVEL / REFLECTION IDEAS THAT I WANTED TO PUT OUT THERE. SO I CONSULTED WITH A FRIEND TO HELP ME BUILD THE SITE.

MY INSPIRATION AND IDOL FOR THE WEBSITE WAS LINDA HAMILITON, ALSO KNOWN AS SARAH CONNOR FROM THE TERMINATOR (MORE ON THAT ANOTHER DAY). LIFE ON A MAT WAS UNDER CONSTRUCTION FOR MONTHS IN THE SUMMER OF 2016, ALL I DID WAS WRITE AND PHOTOGRAPH. AND BACK THEN, I THOUGHT LIFE ON A MAT COULD BE LIKE THIS "MARKETING" TACTIC TO HELP ME BOOST A BUSINESS THAT I WANTED TO START. AT THE TIME I WASN'T EVEN CERTIFIED, BUT I HAD THIS VISION. FOR THE FIRST TIME I HAD TO HOLD MYSELF ACCOUNTABLE TO SOMETHING. SO I LAUNCHED THE SITE IN OCTOBER 2016. 

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10 THINGS I LEARNED FROM MAKING
LIFE ON A MAT

YOU GUYS, THIS YEAR HAS BEEN SO INCREDIBLY GNARLY, THERE'S SO SO MUCH I CHOSE NOT TO SHARE BECAUSE I REALLY WANTED TO FOCUS ON THE CREATIVE PROCESS AND WRITING AND EDITING. I NEEDED TIME TO FIGURE OUT WHAT MY SKILLS AND TALENTS WERE. MY HOPE IS THAT 2018 WILL BRING MUCH MORE PERSONALITY AND STORY TELLING, BUT FOR NOW, 

HERE'S WHAT I LEARNED IN 2017:

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1. DEVELOP A PROCESS.

THERE'S A REAL GROOVE YOU SORT OF GET INTO WHEN YOU HAVE AN IDEA AND WANT TO PUT IT INTO MOTION. SO MY FIRST GOAL WAS TO GET THIS PROCESS DOWN, SORT OF SCREW WHAT ANYBODY THOUGHT ABOUT THE "BLOG" AND JUST FIND MY OWN WAY OF DOING THINGS. THROW IT IN THE AIR. HIT IT WITH A BASEBALL BAT AND RUN AROUND. ON MY OWN THOUGH, I DIDN'T COLLABORATE WITH ANYONE. I WAS TESTING THE WATERS WHILE POSTING ON VARIOUS TOPICS. YOU GOTTA KNOW WHAT YOU LIKE.  THE BEST ADVICE I'VE EVER GOT IN 2017 WAS, "IT'S NEVER GOING TO BE PERFECT, MAKE IT WORK." AND I DID THAT. TO START A PROJECT, YOU HAVE TO GO EASY ON YOURSELF. BEING NICE TO MYSELF CHANGED THE WAY I MADE MISTAKES.

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2. RULES ONLY APPLY WHEN YOU MAKE THEM.

START BEING FLUID MY DEAR, STOP TRYING TO MAKE IT EXACTLY WHAT YOU WANT. WITH ANYTHING IN LIFE REALLY. PREVIOUS NOTIONS AND IDEAS OF WHAT YOU THOUGHT IT WAS SUPPOSED TO BE, THAT'S OUT THE WINDOW. WITH DESIGNING AND EXECUTING AN IDEA, A "BRAND" OR "RESOURCE POINT", I DECIDED TO START BY NOT HAVING ANY RULES OR RESTRICTIONS. IT'S A HEADACHE TRYING TO JOIN A RAT RACE OR COMPETE WITH OTHERS. I LEARNED HOW TO STOP PRESSURING MYSELF, AND THAT CARRIED OVER INTO MY YOGA PRACTICE AND AS AN INSTRUCTOR. I DIDN'T KNOW, STILL DON'T KNOW EVERYTHING ABOUT YOGA, BUT I CAME TO ACCEPT THAT AND THUS I AM MORE AUTHENTIC. AUTHENTICITY IS KEY. RULES SOMETIMES HINDER THAT.

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3. SOCIAL MEDIA IS AN ASSOCIATE, NOT YOUR BOSS.

I'M NEW TO THE GAME, SO I WASN'T ABOUT TO START BEING SOMETHING I'M NOT. I DIDN'T REALLY KNOW WHO I WAS OR HOW I WANTED TO "PRESENT" MY OWN IMAGE. THE TRUTH IS, "PERCEPTION IS REALITY", AND IMAGE CAN BE VERY POWERFUL. SO I HAD THIS BATTLE OF "WHAT DO I POST?" AND "WHO SHOULD I BE?" AT FIRST I FELT THIS NEED TO POST A LOT OF YOGA STUFF BUT THEN I HAD A NEED TO ALSO BE MYSELF. I KNEW THAT I WANTED LIFE ON A MAT TO BE STRONG, BEAUTIFUL, AND INSPIRING. THERE'S A MILLION IG MODELS, I DIDN'T WANT TO GET CAUGHT UP IN THAT. SO I THINK IT'S OKAY TO BATTLE WITH YOURSELF, BUT I ALSO THINK YOU SHOULDN'T DO EVERYTHING FOR THE GRAM, ESPECIALLY IF YOU WANT PEOPLE TO TRUST YOUR WORK OR BUY YOUR PRODUCT. SO HERE'S HOW IT GOES: THE GRAM / SNAP / FACEBOOK, IT'S MEANT FOR FUN / CREATIVITY / CHILL TIME. MY RULE OF THUMB IS THAT I DON'T USE ANY OF IT FOR NEGATIVITY, BULLYING, OR TO GAIN FROM ANOTHER PERSON'S PAIN. EVERYTHING ELSE IS FAIR GAME. SO IF I WANT TO POST A SELFIE, I DO THAT. IF I WANT TO SHARE A PHOTO FROM MY NEW YOGA POST, I DO IT. THERE'S NO PATTERN OR COLOR SCHEME, NO RHYME OR REASON. THAT SHIT IS FOR THE BIRDS MA. YOU GET TO A CERTAIN AGE, IT'S BECOMES VERY OBVIOUS.

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4. SCHEDULE TIME FOR CREATIVITY.

SCHEDULING TIME TO BE CREATIVE IS REAL WORK. SO WHEN I HAVE INSPIRATION, I WRITE IT DOWN. THAT'S WHEN I DECIDED TO BUY TWO PLANNERS, A CALENDAR, AND A JOURNAL. IT'S GREAT FOR BRAINSTORMING! I HAVE A GOOD LINE UP OF TOPICS AT ALL TIMES, IN CASE I HAVE WRITER'S BLOCK. WHEN I STARTED BLOGGING, I REALIZED THAT YOU HAVE TO MAKE TIME TO BE CREATIVE. IT DOESN'T JUST HAPPEN OVER NIGHT RIGHT. I HAVE TO BE IN A CERTAIN PLACE, SO FOR A FEW MONTHS I DIDN'T REALLY GO OUT EVERY WEEKEND, I JUST STAYED HOME AND WOULD WRITE AND READ. MY INSPIRATION COMES WHEN I WATCH INTERVIEWS, OLD FILMS, LISTEN TO MUSIC, PEOPLE WATCH, OR WHEN I GO SHOPPING. I LIKE TO GET MY HANDS ON TEXTURES AND FABRIC AND COLORS. I REALIZED THAT IF YOU ARE TO ENJOY WHAT YOU ARE DOING, YOU'LL DO IT WITHOUT PAY AND YOU'LL MAKE TIME FOR IT. SO I STARTED TO FEEL LIKE I WAS REALLY DOING WHAT SPOKE TO MY SOUL.

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5. JUST KNOW THAT EVERYTHING IS A FAD.

ONE THING I HAD TO LEARN BIG-TIME WAS THE BUDGETING ASPECT. IT'S REALLY IMPORTANT TO NOT LET YOUR FINANCIAL HEALTH FALL BEHIND. I'VE HAD TO LEARN SOME LESSONS BY MAKING MISTAKES. FOR INSTANCE, OVER-PAYING SOMEONE FOR A JOB YOU CAN DO YOURSELF OR BUYING MATERIALS YOU ONLY USE ONCE. I'VE HAD TO GET CREATIVE AND TRY TO FIND BACKDROPS OR NARROW DOWN SOMETHING I WANT TO FEATURE. I'VE REALIZED THAT ATTENTION SPANS ARE VERY SHORT. I'M AWARE THAT PEOPLE WILL THUMB THROUGH YOUR WORK FOR .2 SECONDS, AND IT TOOK YOU A MONTH TO EXECUTE. SO I HAVE TO MAKE DEADLINES, TRY TO COMPLETE A PROJECT WITHIN TWO WEEKS, AND STICK TO MY OWN STYLE! IT'S EASY TO GET CAUGHT UP WITH TRENDS. IF IT'S MY STYLE, I PUT LOOKS TOGETHER BASED ON WHAT I WOULD WEAR AT LEAST 4-5 YEARS FROM NOW. I TRY TO WORK EFFICIENTLY AND IN A COST-EFFECTIVE MANNER.

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6. DO WHAT YOU DREAD DOING.

HONING IN ON THE PRODUCT / TALENT / SKILLSET IS ALSO IMPORTANT. WHILE I WAS DOING THE BLOG, I HAD TO MAKE SURE I KEPT MYSELF HEALTHY AND THAT I DIDN'T MISS WORKOUTS OR GET SICK. LOTS OF TEA AND GINGER NIGHTS. I DIDN'T WANT TO LET MYSELF GET LAZY. I STILL HAVE TO KEEP LEARNING MORE AS AN INSTRUCTOR AND ALWAYS ASK QUESTIONS OR DIG AROUND. AT THE SAME TIME, I WAS DEVELOPING MY PUBLIC SPEAKING SKILLS, SOMETHING I WAS COMPLETELY NERVOUS ABOUT! BUT SLOWLY AND SURELY, I'M GETTING BETTER. THE MORE KNOWLEDGE YOU HAVE, THE LESS TIMID YOU FEEL. AND IF ALL ELSE FAILS, I RELY ON MY INTENTIONS TO GET ME THROUGH A ROUGH CLASS. NOT EVERY TIME WILL I PRODUCE A PERFECT CLASS. BUT I HAVE A GO-TO STRUCTURE THAT I USE OVER AND OVER. ON A SIDE NOTE: WHEN TAKING PHOTOS, I USED TO BE SOOO SHY. I DREADED IT! BUT NO PHOTOS MEANT NO BLOG. IT WOULD TAKE ME FOREVER TO RELAX AND TRY TO BE NATURAL. BUT NOW I KNOW HOW TO PREP, HAVE A VISION, THEN WORK WITH A PHOTOGRAPHER TO SHOOT. I HAD TO LEARN TO PUT MYSELF OUT THERE AND NOT WASTE TOO MUCH TIME.

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7. THINK OF SELF DOUBT AS A TEMPORARY MENTAL WORKOUT.

SELF DOUBT WILL HAPPEN, IT'S GUARANTEED. BUT EVERY SINGLE TIME I THOUGHT ABOUT QUITTING, I'D COME MARCHING BACK AND MAKE IT HAPPEN. WHEN IT CAME TO BUILDING THE SITE, FOR INSTANCE, I WAS RE-DESIGNING IT AND THERE CAME A POINT I WOULD GET SO FRUSTRATED THAT I WOULD DELETE ALL MY WORK AND JUST SIT THERE. BUT IT WAS SO UNPRODUCTIVE. I HAD TO BE PATIENT AND GO TO THE RESOURCES TO GET HELP OR JUST DO THE RESEARCH TO FIND ANSWERS. IF IT'S EASY, IT'S NOT WORTH IT. I SEE THAT NOW MORE THAN EVER. BUT THE BLOG HELPED ME, IT PRESENTED CHALLENGES THAT I HAD TO FIX ON MY OWN, IT WAS SHOWING ME WHAT I WAS MADE OF. SOMETIMES I'D BE WRITING OR THINKING OF IDEAS IN MY SLEEP, WAKING UP TRYING TO WRITE STUFF DOWN. SO I LIKE THAT ABOUT ME. I'M NOT ONE TO LAY DOWN AND TAKE THINGS. IF I OWN IT, MY NAME IS ON SOMETHING, I MAKE SURE I CAN BE PROUD OF IT.

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8. THEY'RE JUST NOT THAT SPECIAL.

LET'S TALK ABOUT HATERS, OR WHAT I LIKE TO CALL THE NAY-SAYERS. HAVE I RECEIVED LESS THAN GOOD REACTIONS? HAVE PEOPLE GIVEN ME CRITICISM? ON SOME OCCASIONS, YES THIS HAS HAPPENED. BUT IT'S MORE SO IN THE WAY PEOPLE ACT OR THE BODY LANGUAGE. SOME THINGS DID CHANGE AFTER I STARTED THE PROJECT, BUT IT MADE ME REALIZE THAT MY FOCUS WAS IN THE WRONG PLACE. WRITING MY OPINION MEANS I'M OPENING MYSELF UP FOR CRITIQUE. BUT THIS IS REALLY GOOD. I VALUE IT AND I NEED IT. SO IF YOU DO SOMETHING OUTSIDE OF YOUR COMFORT ZONE, JUST KNOW SOME PEOPLE WILL SCRATCH THEIR HEADS AT FIRST, BUT LATER THEY WILL UNDERSTAND. IF THEY DON'T, SEND THEM A FRUIT BASKET, THEY DOING YOU THE BEST FAVOR BABE.

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9. YOUR UNIQUENESS IS WHAT DRAWS OTHERS IN.

THE BEAUTY LAUNCH. SO THIS WAS MY FAVORITE PART OF THE YEAR, I REALLY WANTED TO SUPPORT SMALL BUSINESSES AND MINORITY-OWNED BEAUTY BOUTIQUES AND ONLINE STORES LIKE FOXIE BOMB AND MELODY EHSANI! SO FAR I'VE GOT MORE IDEAS BREWING FOR 2018. LAUNCHING THIS TOPIC BROUGHT UP A LOT OF DEEP PAINS THOUGH. YOU KNOW BEING MULTIETHNIC YOU HAVE A LOT OF EMOTIONS ABOUT WHAT'S BEAUTIFUL AND YOU CARRY A LOT OF YOUR EXPERIENCES WITH YOU. I TRY TO SHOW A POSITIVE IMAGE BUT I ALSO WANT TO WORK ON AUTHENTICITY AND TO UNRAVEL MYSELF A LITTLE MORE, WORK ON THE NATURAL BEAUTY. I LOVE TO DO REVIEWS, BUT I THINK BEING ABLE TO SHOW ANOTHER SIDE TO WHAT'S CONSIDERED "BEAUTIFUL" IS SO IMPORTANT. NOW MORE THAN EVER, SO MANY OF US ARE BEING EMBRACED AND RESPECTED IN THE INDUSTRY. SO I WANTED LIFE ON A MAT TO BE A PART OF THAT WAVE AND TRY TO HELP ANYONE WHO EVER FELT THEY DIDN'T FIT IN.

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10. PUT PEOPLE ON IF THEY INSPIRE YOU

GETTING TO SHARE A CONVERSATION HERE OR THERE WITH SOME OF THE PEOPLE I'VE SHOWCASED ON MY PLAYLISTS HAS BEEN SO REWARDING. I AM A MEGA MUSIC LOVER. MY DAD PLAYED THE TRUMPET, GRANDFATHER WAS IN A JAZZ BAND. I PLAYED FLUTE AND PIANO AS A CHILD. I HAVE AN APPRECIATION FOR THE INSTRUMENT AND REALLY LOVE LIVE MUSIC. I'D LOVE TO DISCOVER MORE LOCAL ARTISTS AND SHARE THEIR WORK, I WISH SOMEONE WOULD HAVE DONE THAT FOR ME WHEN I WAS YOUNG. I JUST WANT TO PUT PEOPLE ON. I WANT MY CLASSES TO BE FIRE! SO CREATING A PLAYLIST TO A DOPE YOGA SESSION WAS A VISION THAT I HELD ONTO EVEN BEFORE YOGA SCHOOL. I KNOW THERE'S BLACK GIRL MAGIC YOGA, HIP HOP YOGA, DRAKE YOGA, GOAT YOGA. I LOVE THOSE NEW AGE STYLES BUT I STILL HAVE RESPECT FOR THE TRADITION AND FOUNDATION. AT THE END OF THE DAY, MUSIC IS MY WAY OF CONNECTING PEOPLE AND MY HOPE IS TO BRING YOGA TO UNDERREPRESENTED COMMUNITIES. GIVING BACK IN THAT WAY BRINGS ME A GREAT DEAL OF HAPPINESS!

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I HOPE YOU'VE ENJOYED THIS READING! THANK YOU FOR SUPPORTING MY FIRST YEAR WITH LIFE ON A MAT. LET'S STAY CONNECTED! MY CUTE YELLOW SHIRT PHOTO TAKEN BY THE LOVELY KENNETH LE.