Stick to your Gunns – Tim Gunn!

I am fascinated with good reality TV shows.  My DVR is set to record just about anything that is about people using their natural talents to produce something beautiful.  One of my favorites is Project Runway.  And, let’s just put it out there, I love Tim Gunn.

I look forward to his witty humor and sage advice each week.  I may not be a fashionista, but I believe that what Tim has to say goes beyond fashion design and points to how we can strive to be our best selves.

What I love about Tim Gunn is that he doesn’t push an agenda onto the designers; he encourages each of them to stick to their own unique point of view.  When he does give advice, the advice is usually along the lines of staying true to who they are as a designer, make the garment look effortless, and don’t over think the challenge or overwork the garment.  And then of course, there is the classic line, “Make it work.”

While this might be Tim Gunn’s catch phrase, I don’t believe he over uses it.  This line is used when a designer just has to come to terms to what is really happening – these are the resources available and this is the amount of time left, so just go with the flow and make it happen.

Sometimes we all have to come to terms with what is really real.  So often the story we make up about our circumstances is far from the reality of what really is going on.  My yoga teacher has taught me that the world we create and live in inside our heads is very different from the real world and what is actually happening.

The designers on Project Runway who are the most successful are the designers that don’t let the drama and stress of the challenge detract from their vision.  They stay true to who they are and use that as a powerful source of inspiration that translates into their work.  It’s quite beautiful to watch those “make it work” moments unfold, which is why I love the show.

This past year has been one major “make it work” moment for me.  My partner and I moved from Boston to rural Oklahoma in June 2009.  Moving to Oklahoma was not my first choice.  One of the primary reasons for our move was to help my partner’s career move forward.  I was hoping for us to stay in Boston or find something in Seattle.  When we received the call that something was opening up in rural Oklahoma, it was incredibly scary, but it felt right.

Once we moved and got settled, it really started to hit me: I was in rural Oklahoma without a job, without a yoga studio, and without friends.  I think about 2 weeks into living in here, I called my mom in Seattle, sobbing uncontrollably.  Somehow I managed to get out the words, “There’s nowhere to go here.”  I had never felt so alone.

I could have made the choice to become best friends with Ben & Jerry and sit on my couch and wallow in my sadness. It actually seemed like an attractive option at the time because it would have made things easy – I could wear elastic waisted pants and comfortable shoes and then blame everything else for my loneliness and unhappiness.  Oh, that doesn’t sound attractive to you?

Then, I had that “a-ha!” moment when I decided to get off my butt and just get moving.  I decided to get back on my yoga mat.  Sure, I didn’t have a yoga studio, but I had my backyard and 102 degree heat for weeks on end (good thing I like hot yoga!).  I didn’t have my yoga teachers, but I developed my own yoga practice.  I’m not going to lie, it wasn’t graceful, or fun, and at times it was actually pretty painful.  It was raw.  But I knew that the only way out was to move through it.  And breathe.  And keep breathing.

It was during this time that I took a good look around and got really present to what was actually happening: my move to Oklahoma was not the end, but another beginning.  I had a huge opportunity to step into to a new way of being, to do things I never would have done if I hadn’t left my comfort zone.

Over the last year I attended Level I and Level II Teacher Training bootcamps with Baron Baptiste.

I forgave my father.

I started teaching yoga in my church and town library.

I baked exquisite cupcakes for church potlucks.

I let go of the lies I used to tell myself : that I’m all alone, that I’m not good enough, and that I have to do everything by myself.

I planted a vegetable and herb garden.

I gave a presentation about vegetarianism to people at my workplace.

I started a blog.

Instead of waiving a white flag and giving up, I am making it work.  Everyday I roll up my sleeves and go to work both on and off my yoga mat. 

Baron often says during our teacher trainings that in life we are either a yes or a no.  What I’ve learned from my own yoga practice is that life is much easier when we are a yes.  So, I am saying yes to Oklahoma.  Yes to change.  Yes to life – yes to my life.

Just when you think you can’t – or that it’s too hard – remember who you are.  You are a 10.  So, why show up as a 3 or a 4?  Be a 10.  Be a YES


Everything you need is within you now.  Enjoy your next make it work moment.  We are all a breakthrough waiting to happen.  If not now, when?





  1. Ann says:

    YES!! Aweosme Chelsea. I feel so happy and teary…not just for you, but for your words. Thanks for being my inspiration :) Keep it coming…And keep saying “yes!

  2. Sar says:

    I cried too, Chels! (Not that it’s so hard to make that happen…remember the adorable blind-man-on-Jeopardy video from our education class in college?) This is a beautiful post, and I just love your blog. Your life in the last year has been an inspiration to me, too.

  3. chelsea says:

    Thanks for reading Ann & Sar! And I will absolutely keep it coming and keep being a yes!

  4. Krista says:

    Chelsea, Thank you for this blogpost. It really spoke to me and is just the inspiration I need today. What a wonderful find during my lunch break!! Thanks!! <3

  5. Eric says:

    What a wonderful post! How great to have a yoga practice to help guide and help to center you from within, and via teaching, to guide others through their trials. Thanks for sharing the wisdom and the love!

  6. Melissa says:

    So Chels, I just got home from a wonderful dinner with you and immediately logged on. Thank you, thank you, thank you for your lovely, inspirational post. What a beautiful way to end a wonderful evening. I look forward to re-reading this post often and I wait in great anticipation of more interesting, thought-provoking, up-lifting and warm posts from you and your fellow blogger. Travel safe!

  7. Marla says:

    Chelsea, THANK YOU for the post. I cried through most of it. I was reacting to some combination of the truth of your words for my own situation AND the experience of reading about your journey in Oklahoma. I have often thought about you since you moved, knowing that the culture shock must be overwhelming at times. It was great to see you this week in Somerville. Saying “yes” isn’t always easy. Your courage and determination are an inspiration!

  8. chelsea says:

    Marla, thanks for reading! Being a yes isn’t always easy, as it often requires us to step up to something bigger, but over time it sure feels better than being a no. Great to see you, too! Peace.

  9. chelsea says:

    Thanks, Melissa! It was so good to reconnect with everyone from Bentley. I’ll be sure to keep the posts coming!