As a “recovering” perfectionist, failure has always been difficult for me. Be it a job interview, a relationship or getting into those skinny jeans, I’ve often struggled with getting “okay” with what I can’t get right.
I began doing yoga 20 years ago. I fell in love with it immediately. After spending my teenage years enduring the Jane Fonda workout and doing hardcore aerobics that wrecked my knees, Yoga was bliss for my body.
At that time, there was only one yoga studio in the city; that small warehouse space was my haven. Aside from loving the dance and meditation of Ashtanga practice, there was something else I liked: I was good at it. I was the one in the front row who could achieve every pose with ease.
Then, life happened. I got busy and didn’t have time to get to class, so I did my asana practice at home. And by the time I returned to studio classes (at which point they had opened on just about every corner) I had acquired injuries that had affected my practice and was far less flexible. Oh, the joy of aging.
Suddenly, I was not the one in the front and center. I was closer to the back and kind of off to the side. And to boot, everyone in class seemed to be able to do that damn Sirsha-asana (headstand) pose except for me. Cause Yoga is a competition, don’tchya know?
Tamara, please tell us about your wonderful company Begin within Productions and how your latest project, the children’s book ~ Happiness Doesn’t come from Headstands~ has been born out of this creation?
My intention in creating Begin Within was to create a space in which to share the tools, techniques, and teachings that have assisted and continue to assist me on own personal path.
I have been writing, illustrating and producing books in which to support others to find the calm within the chaos – at times, a difficult feat. I’ve primarily been developing properties designed to nurture children’s growth, enhancing their emotional intelligence. Children today face daily challenges as they navigate a rapidly changing world. Begin Within offers the support and education to children and educators to inspire their inner transformation.
Happiness Doesn’t come from Headstands is a modern day story about the search for happiness, and one girl’s discovery that even in the face of failure, peace can be found. It’s the first book in a series called Lyle and Leela that was designed to help kids navigate the complex world of today.
Your business message is how to find the calm within the chaos. What does this mean to you and how might we achieve this day to day?
In my own life, I’ve worked hard to deepen my own self-awareness and equanimity as a woman.
To me, finding the calm within the chaos involves deepening awareness and cultivating equanimity. It’s about enhancing self-acceptance, self-compassion and honoring ones limitations and experiences. These are some of the ways to find peace in this roller coaster of a world that we live in and some of the themes of Happiness Doesn’t come from Headstands.
The first time I watched the “Happiness Doesn’t Come From Headstands“ video, as it was referred to me by my good online friend David , I thought: ”What an amazing message this book has for children!” I immediately contacted Tamara for an interview the next day. Poised, professional and very kind, Tamara took a fair amount of her time to answer my questions. I am very pleased today, to introduce you to a very inspiring woman.
Don’t forget to visit the Kickstarter page when you are done reading this fabulous interview 🙂 Only 4 days left in the campaign!
When and why did you begin writing?
I’ve been writing as long as I can remember – Be it through music or stories, it’s always been a way for me to help navigate this roller coaster of a world that we live in. Life is tricky. Expressing myself through music or on paper have been ways to express and make sense of it all.
Tell us about the ‘Happiness Doesn’t Come from Headstands’ campaign:
I’ll quickly describe the premise of the book first: Happiness Doesn’t Come From Headstands is a modern day story about the search for happiness, and one girl’s discovery that even in the face of failure, peace can be found.
There’s something you and I likely have in common: a familiarity with the well-known children’s book The Little Engine that Could.
I’ll admit it’s a cheerful and uplifting story. We enjoyed it as children and now we read it to our own.
But here’s the thing. The message, ‘If we try, and we try, we’ll eventually reach our goal,’ has not always reflected my reality.
My experience is that sometimes we try and we try, and we end up falling on our face. And so do our kids.
I’ve thought long and hard about the messages we teach our children (and ultimately maintain as our core beliefs as adults). To expect our efforts will always result in consistent success is misleading at best. We’re setting kids up to have unrealistic expectations that life should and will be perfect, and that’s not the real world…
So I know Yoda is a Jedi Master and all that, but he’s got something wrong. One of his most favourite claims — “Do, or do not. There is no ‘try,'” — has a big hole in it.
I get his point: Words have power and the word try carries a defeatist attitude. But he’s suggesting that if you make enough of an effort to achieve a goal, you should be able to reach that goal. And that if you fail, your effort or conviction was lacking.
That certainly hasn’t been my reality. Sometimes I try my best, yet I still experience failure. There are often external factors that are part of the ‘success’ equation. To conclude we are to be blamed for our failures is to be denying ourselves of the acceptance and self-compassion we all deserve. It’s difficult enough for adults to grapple with these issues. Imagine how difficult it is for children.
I want my nieces and nephews to know that if they try to reach a goal, but can’t achieve it, that’s OK. Regardless of whether they win or lose, they are still amazing; their self-worth is not determined by achievement. By learning to simply enjoy the game as they’re playing it, they’ve already won…
Emma from the Joy of Yoga interviews Tamara on her work and campaign. check out the interview below!
A Toronto artist, teacher and author has taken a new avenue to get funding to publish her new book.
Tamara Levitt is the founder of Begin Within, where she creates multimedia content that fosters self-awareness, emotional intelligence and interpersonal development. Her passion for teaching children about compassion and self worth led to her writing a book titled, Happiness Doesn’t Come from Headstands.
Happiness Doesn’t Come from Headstands is about a young girl who has a dream to do a headstand, but she just can’t do it. Her resulting feeling of failure makes her unhappy. The story unfolds to gives to children a positive message that just because you have failed, it doesn’t make you a failure. Levitt says it’s kind of an anti-Little Engine that Could message, “My feeling is that helping kids learn how to deal with failure will allow them to navigate through challenges with much more ease…”
In this age of hyper-achievement, where egos rule and our self-worth is measured only by our “success”, it’s a welcome relief to find a message for children which is focused on self-awareness, self-acceptance and personal resilience. Such is the message within Tamara Levitt’s book, Happiness Doesn’t Come From Headstands.
While you may not be familiar with her, Tamara Levitt is one of those magical souls that brightens a room whenever she walks in, or comes to you via social media. So it’s no surprise that she came up with the idea for this series of children’s books.