I just love hearing other people’s story. It serves as inspiration and motivation that you can truly design a life that lights you up, that feeds your soul and that you love. In my Sparked Up, we are working towards designing a life that leaves you feeling alive, energized, more purposeful and just plain happier. During this course, I share four interviews with inspiring women who took a road less traveled and created a life that aligns deeply to who they are. I couldn’t keep these stories to myself so I wanted to share them with you too. Today, meet Checka Antifonario. I know you’ll love her as much as I do.
What is your story (in a nut-shell)?
I have always been a driven person. “Perfectionist” and “Type A” come to mind when I think of how I was often described as a child. I stepped onto a path of “achieving” early on, and stayed the course. I studied, I strived, I worked at my corporate job to the point of exhaustion. I challenged myself to always be reaching for the next accomplishment, and did not consider “contentment” to be a place where I should stay for long. And still, I considered myself a happy person. I loved to be with my family, to dwell in the outdoors, to practice movement of many kinds. I even laughed a lot! With so many good things in my life, it was easy for many years to “shush” the increasingly frequent moments in which I found myself feeling deeply anxious and, in fact, fundamentally unfulfilled. This continued for most of my 20′s…
I will never forget the moment, at age 29 (I joke that I was so worn out, it felt like 29 going on 80 at the time), when I found myself sitting on a rock in the Adirondack mountains, alone in nature, with no distractions from my truth – which at that point was desperate to be heard. It may have been my first moment of true meditation. For the first time, I really listened to my Self – not the “shoulds” and the expectations – but the true wisdom of Self that is always there, but often not given the time or space to be heard. That day, I listened, and knew in that moment that there was much more – that, for me, true contentment was in fact the most important goal I could set and that it was time to get on my way!
I really believe we all have the power to design a life that we love. In what way did you design yours?
I believe that as well! I started small. I gratefully accepted the help of friends and relatives who wanted to help me in pursuing my dreams, and trusted that there would be opportunities to return the kindnesses (which there have been). I did my best to network, but also found courage to reach into uncharted territory as I established a presence and grew my business. I was supported in this process by my practice of “non-attachment” – in yoga, “Vairagya”; if a connection was made, wonderful, but if not, I did not take it personally or dwell upon it. We can save ourselves a lot of worry and stress by putting our best intentions forward, and then accepting what happens in the flow of life and work.
Was there a point in time that you just *knew* it was time to move forward with your dream?
Yes! At one point, amidst my travels, an opportunity in my prior field arose, and I came home to interview for it. At the interview, I could feel physically in my being that this was not the right choice, that this path was not a match for me. I was so grateful in that moment to be tuned into my body’s wisdom through the practice of yoga and meditation, and able to hear its clear message. Needless to say, I kind of bombed the interview , but after that I never looked back or questioned the new path I had chosen!
In what way does your life match up with who you authentically are? (ie: What do you get to do in your life that you love because of the path that you chose)
1 – I have the privilege of connecting with people. Whether it is sharing a simple smile, song, or laugh, or having the honor of witnessing and supporting someone on a deeply transformative journey – I cherish all of these moments. I have always felt and believed on a deep level that the greatest privilege and purpose of life is to connect – to ourselves and to one another. I love that I get to do this each day!
2 – As my own “boss,” I get to step out of my comfort zone and grow as a teacher and person at whatever pace feels right to me. I am always free to fly!
3 – I am in charge of my own schedule. Five years into this work, it still makes me giddy that on a beautiful fall day, when the leaves are on full glorious display, I can choose to take a two hour break midday to get out into nature and revel in the fleeting beauty. I can always make time to take my dog for a walk. I can be there for my niece and nephew when they need me, and perhaps one day for kids of my own as well.
As you moved forward, what kind of fears came up and how did you move through them?
There were many fears…What if I’m not good at this?? What if there’s not enough work? What if I don’t like it as much as I think I will? What if i can’t make enough money to support myself?
I think it’s important to know that everyone has these types of fears, and also that they don’t just disappear one day. Sure, they became much quieter and less frequent, but I believe that anyone who truly cares about what they are doing will have these moments of self-doubt and worry. My practice is to recognize these fears as just experiences – part and parcel of being human. I acknowledge them as an indication that I need return to center, to Self, where I know that my intention is true and strong, and that I am putting in the work to back it up. Also, I suggest not to let let “setbacks” get you down. I think many people would be surprised at how many setbacks pop up along the way even for people whom we consider to be very successful. It was a process for me to get here, but I am now at a place where I appreciate setbacks and constructive criticism as truly valuable opportunities for learning and growth. If we can let go of the feeling that we “messed up”, there is often a huge gift to be received!
The best thing (in one word) about living an authentic life:
Oh, this is tough – FREEDOM and JOY are both very strong contenders. Can i invent a new word? FREEJOY?
Best piece of advice for women who are craving a life of deeper purpose, meaning and happiness?
Your craving is wisdom! I invite you to honor and nurture those instincts, feelings and desires. Find ways to share these seeds of growth and happiness with like-minded individuals who will support you on your journey. Surround yourself with *positive* people. Make time for practices in your life that help your creativity and confidence to flourish – cooking, walking, journaling, dancing, volunteering – whatever it is for you. Remember that your potential is limitless and you will be amazed at the deep and self-renewing well of love within your heart as you travel your chosen path.
And my final thought – please know that as you increase meaning, purpose, and happiness in your own life, your ability to give authentically to others will grow in leaps and bounds. This for me has perhaps been the most beautiful lesson of all.
Checka Antifonario (E-RYT, RCYT, RCY Teacher Trainer) is a full time adult yoga instructor and children’s yoga specialist based in the greater Boston area. She also runs Radiant Child Yoga Teacher Trainings both locally and throughout the U.S.. Breathe, expand, challenge and nurture yourself, discover something new, and maybe even laugh a little (or a lot!) – these are the intentions that Checka holds for her yoga students each day. Checka is deeply honored to share the practice of yoga, and passionate about her work. She teaches an upbeat Vinyasa Flow class, offering fresh and creative sequencing along with compassionate and skilled assists and adjustments. She provides smart and safe pathways to deep openings and peak poses, so students feel both exhilarated and supported in their practice. Moments of challenge and intensity are woven together with times of deep relaxation to keep yogis curious, engaged, and full of breath! You can find her at http://www.checkayoga.com