Book designer and Yoga teacher, Vanessa Masci, shares her definition of success and the rituals that ground her.
Growing up success was modelled to me by dad. He comes from a traditional family that had very little when they began their lives in Australia which no doubt influenced his passionate work ethic. I have memories of him leaving for the office in the morning only to return home for dinner before disappearing into the study until the early hours. Despite being 60+, he’s yet to experience work in any other way. What I learned then was that success is earned through long days, hard work and much sacrifice. My path was to discover that singular thing I loved, follow it through uni and remain faithful to it into the foreseeable future.
My early design career mirrored his in many ways. The goal of the 9-5 was to continuously gain experience, prove my worth and be granted greater responsibility. Success in every way was an external measure, or rather, something I’d be able to add to my resume or show and tell. It was a benchmark for career comparison that eventually weaved its way into my perception of self worth. For someone with perfectionist tendencies, this mentality was likely inhibiting rather than supporting my growth.
Success and celebration
Although I’m yet to land upon a clear definition of success, the awareness I’ve developed in my yoga practice has gifted me with greater clarity and perspective. On occasion I fall back into that old mindset and play the external game of comparison but for the most part, I’m learning to measure success internally as a deeper feeling of fulfilment. The more I explore mindfulness practices like reflection and gratitude, the more I notice that success can be found within so many layers and experiences of this life.
Yes, it may be the landing of an amazing new project but it may also extend into the little things day to day; keeping a promise I’ve made to myself, accomplishments done with a calm frame of mind, falling into a state of flow and enjoyment, or exploring the edges of my comfort zone.
A lot of which I have to celebrate has stemmed from courage and trust. They’ve led me overseas, to travel through continents on my own and to start living from square one in a foreign country. They’ve opened opportunities to draw in design work for myself and to take the non-linear and non-financially stable path of teaching yoga. They’ve created the moments to experience deep love and appreciation for all that has come my way and all that will.
Both book design and teaching roughly began together. When I opened myself up to working solo I gained the luxury of time to dive deeper into my practice. The two have always complemented one another; time spent on the mat is nourishing after time spent on a screen, and connecting to my body and breath facilitates the headspace for focus and creativity.
There is so much beauty in the similarities I’m continuously discovering between movement and visuals; both are artistic expressions designed to enliven the senses, both are to be experienced and to be treasured. I’m sure this has something to do with how they feed one another!
Goodness, rituals are truly one of the most valuable tools in my kit. Actions done with presence and purpose are what ground me throughout shifting days and an ever-fluctuating schedule. They create that sacred opportunity for pause and to re-channel awareness.
A few favourites are laying in bed with blinds open to listen to the birds before the start of a new day, lighting candles and pranayama (intentional breath) before teaching, slowly steeping tea, cleansing my desk space ahead of work and taking ample time to gently wind down before sleep.
Some days, rest is time spent in silence or feeling the warm sun on my skin. On others, it’s a long hug with my partner and my go-to restorative shape; ‘Viparita Karani’.
“Rest is everything soothing that also re-connects me to a sense of wholeness”.
Learn more about Vanessa, through her site.