I have been derailed for the last year by a fungus growing on my foot. I’ve actually had the fungus since my days as a volleyball player. All that time, and the few years after, I was uninsured, and I only went to the doctor if I felt my life was at risk.

So I learned to live with the fungus—you know, how you have something that is sort of private and you don’t do anything about it and then it becomes normal to you and there is no one talking about it to you to tell you how you’re crazy? So I just sort of got used to my fungus.

Until Madison. Until this winter, which has been colder and snowier than Alaska. In Madison my fungus got pretty crusty and yellow. I told myself that I would go to the doctor, but it didn’t happen. I told myself it’s a miracle that I pack school lunches and make an 8am meeting, so trying to get to a doctor would be laughable.

But this is not really about my fungus. The point is that we create so many excuses for ourselves not to do what we should be doing. I know you are thinking: “Right. So Penelope should have gone to the doctor.”

But you know what? It would not have changed my life to go to the doctor, so who cares? It was not contagious (my husband—who I am trying to train myself to call my ex-husband—did not get it in fifteen years), and it was not dangerous (no discolored, draining infections or swollen, bloody messes or any of the other stuff you may have thought of when you read fungus, if you have a mind that has a predilection for gross).

Here’s the big problem though: I kept not going to yoga all year because I didn’t want to have gross feet in yoga. The kind of yoga I do is Ashtanga, (and I love Ashtanga so much that I am including links to very short videos here and here.) I have been doing it for ten years and if I just do it for four days in a row, it changes me. I am happier, calmer, lighter on my feet, and more patient with the world.

But I wasn’t doing it. I told myself I didn’t want the teacher to see my fungus. I told myself I’d do yoga when I fixed my fungus. And I told myself I’d fix my fungus when I got my mornings under control and could take time to go to the doctor.

How lame is that? I kept that excuse chain together for one whole year. I can see how, in hindsight: I told myself the barrier to yoga was my fungus. But it wasn’t really my fungus, it was going to the doctor. But it wasn’t really going to the doctor, it was my workload. But it wasn’t really my workload, it was my perceived workload, because when I found out at the last minute that the kindergarten sing-a-long for parents was at 9am, I went. Regardless of workload.

So what’s the one smart thing I did? I told myself that the fungus was a stupid reason not to go to yoga. And I went to yoga. And I tried to hide my gross foot from my teacher. And then, in one pose he had to pull my foot around my back to my hand, and I didn’t even notice the pain because I was consumed with the thought that he was touching my foot. There is no way he missed the fungus. It’s not subtle. But he didn’t care.

And then I realized that I had created a totally artificial barrier to getting what I wanted”?the yoga. I realized that the best way for me to get what I want the next time is to write out the chain reaction: I can’t do what I want because of X. And I can’t do X because of Y. And I can’t do Y because of Z. And then examine it—I am sure that somewhere in there is a weak link—somewhere in there is something that I can actually do, and then I am free to get what I want.