Summer Guest Post Series: “Cultivating A Beautiful Community” by April Janzen

guest-april

This summer I’ve decided to host a guest post series here on bumblebird. Each of my guests have written posts in keeping with the theme of finding meaning in the mundane aspects of life, whether related to practical matters or matters of faith. I love to hear perspective from others and I hope that you’ll enjoy reading these blogs as much as I have!

Our next guest is April Janzen of MyYogaCloset.com. April is a mom of three, a social worker, and is currently training to be a yoga teacher. Her newly launched, awesome website sells high-quality, eco-friendly, and ethically made yoga clothing and accessories.  April is passionate about social justice and I love her site because her business has intention; every purchase made helps vulnerable women and children in the developing world. Check out her website at myyogacloset.com or find her on Facebook and Twitter. Today, she’s writing for us about how a good community can encourage us to use accountability well:

In my practice today, I was introduced to a profound concept.

I didn’t have time to make it to class, so I did a simple home practice by watching a Holy Yoga Slow Flow. At the beginning of the practice, the instructor gave a short devotion for viewers to meditate on. I was in the mood (as I often am) to rush through the meditation and just get to the workout. But since I have now begun my yoga teacher training, I decided I better work on this meditation stuff. I need to learn to quiet my mind. So, I sat on my mat like a good yogi and listened.

Accountability.

That’s what the devotion was about. Now, most of you are probably wondering what accountability has to do with yoga. A lot. A lot, my friends. I admit I was confused at first too, but as she spoke the bells of clarity went off in my mind. She explained how the word accountability in our culture typically refers to keeping one another from doing something that’s bad for us. Alcoholics Anonymous provides mentors to help hold members to sobriety; diet programs have accountability pieces built into them where you log what you eat and how much you work out; non-profits have strict accountability protocols to avoid financial abuses of donated money. All for the purpose of making sure we don’t screw up again.

What if, she proposed, accountability wasn’t about our failures keeping us from doing things that are harmful but about exactly what it is – an account of our ability? An account of our ability. Wow. It hit me right between the eyes.

What if, instead of focusing on flaws in ourselves and others to motivate us to do good, we focused on the good we are already doing?

Wouldn’t that be amazing? We could be world changers. It’s common sense that building up does better than tearing down, but in our day-to-day life the emphasis on accountability keeps us on our toes. We feel like we have to perform to perfection. It puts us under a microscope. What if instead of asking about our flaws we asked, “What did you do well? Show me what a good job you did this week!”

Instead of asking, “Did you use the money that was donated in a good enough way?” try, “What good things can you do with your finances?” Instead of, “Did you get your three workouts in this week?” ask, “What workouts did you do this week?” Do you notice the difference? It’s subtle. But it’s there. One puts us on the defense and focuses on our flaws while the other empowers us to reflect on and build on the good we have done.

Account for your ability this week. Account for the ability of those in your community. Start changing the world, one simply good thing at a time.

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