Saturday, April 25, 2009

Playin' the Game

I'm not a big organized, competitive sports fan, but I do like the concept of play in living life. Earlier today, I was playing in my mind with sports terms as metaphors.

For instance, playing offense in LIFE would put you in the position of going for a score. You want to achieve your goals and are totally pumped to keep on plugging, no matter what kind of injuries or setbacks occur. You love to be on the field of LIFE whether you're running the distance or tripping up every few feet. It is the game that you love. Sure you may want to win, but you enjoy playing so much, that is what stimulates your desires in the first place.

If you play defense in LIFE, instead of going after your goals, you are always fighting off others. If you're defensive, then you are focused more on your competition than you are about your own focus. You know more about what's wrong about others than you know what's right about you.

If you're benched then you are out of the game. Maybe it seems safer to not take the chance to fail. Being benched is not a lot of fun because you just watch everybody else playing. It's likely any confidence you once had would be gradually going up in smoke since you're just sitting on the sidelines and not learning the ins, outs and new ways to play, that can only come with experience.

Sometimes you may call for Time Out. You need a break, a time to breathe, get refreshed and maybe talk to your coach (get it? coach) to be reminded about the way you want to play the game of life.

If you're a cheerleader you are so focused on helping others to win their game of LIFE, you never get to play. Sometimes parents focus more on cheer leading than playing in their own game of life, believing their sacrifice actually helps their child. My personal belief is the child better learns to play the game by watching their parents play full out. Besides, you can always cheer others while you're playing yourself.

The truth is we all probably jump from position to position on our game fields. My suggestion is to stay awake in the game, know where you are and pay attention to what learning comes with that position....then choose where you want to be.

I know this may not be true for all of you that read this post, but for me, winning is not the most important thing about the game.....I just want to have fun in the process.

GO_________________(fill the blank with your name)!!!

Friday, April 24, 2009

A Cheerful Warning

My new Yoga practice has been teasing me out of bed extra early three mornings a week. I meet my friends at 5:45 to carpool to class. Perhaps it's the reason for my early rising, or maybe it's just me, but I tend to naturally be pretty cheery at this early hour. I like mornings a lot (that is after my coffee). There is something really exciting about being up before the sun and then witnessing it's rising. Our drive to class heads east, so I can't help but be delighted by the show of colors painted on the skyline. It really tops off my "joy tank".

I know from past experience with some of my friends that I need to put a lid on my cheerful energy early in the day and let it seep out slowly so as not to disturb those that can't take it.

I believe I have been quite sensitive to those around me that are more subdued at an early hour and treat them respectfully with no loud laughter, restricted humorous banter and a more gentle way of interacting.

This morning, that is exactly how I was being with one friend that arrived to class before us, who is particularly not a "morning gal". I quietly said "Good morning, Coleen" and planted myself on the mat in front of her. At the completion of class, I felt even better than an hour earlier and when I stood up from my mat, I said something to her like, "So are you feeling more awake now?" When another non-morning loving friend heard me, she said "Leave her alone, you Cheer Bully".

Perhaps the comment was meant to shut me up, but that was not the impact. I cracked up with a good laugh, probably causing even more cheer damage than I normally do.

I'm afraid I can't help it. I can try not to talk so much and if I do my words can be quieter, but sometimes cheer or joy squirts out of me when I'm so full there's simply no room to store it.

So, if you can't take cheer early in the day, run the other way when you see me coming. I cannot promise to contain it.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Swallowed By The Sunset

My usual sunrise walking routine got bumped this morning due to an early morning speaking engagement. My day was very full, so exercise got put off until evening, making it a special event for me to close the day with a walk, rather than open it. I wondered how it would feel.

As I trekked off, the sun was still bright. My I pod was on shuffle ( I love surprises), and I was curious to see what was different in our little village at this hour.

I circled town and found it to be almost as quiet as the early morning. There was not too much traffic. Most shops were closed and the streets empty with the exception of an occasional jogger, bicyclist, and parents with babies in strollers. I often see joggers in the early morning hours, but never babies, so that was a perk for my change in routine.

I knew rehearsals for an upcoming show were going on, so I stopped in only to find the cast and director to be wrapping it up and going home. Rehearsals are never going on at 6:00 a.m, so that was different.

Next, I ran into a woman I had just happened to meet earlier today while getting my hair highlighted. We discovered we had a lot in common and I was pleased to see her out walking too. I walked her home on the far side of town and then went back to my evening discoveries.

As I walked the ridge heading west that leads back to my home, I looked down through the trees to see Main St. quietly closing up shop. There were fewer and fewer cars on the street, and more lights flickering from the houses on my path.

In the final stretch to my home, I looked ahead and was pleased to see a beautiful sunset. It struck me that it looked as if it was about to swallow the day, with me in it. There were only moments left of daylight, but enough time for me to be grateful for a full, but joy filled day before it took me in to rest. I don't mind being swallowed when I'm complete.

In the morning, the sunset grabs me and tickles me awake, so this experience was very different, but just as sweet. Good night.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Playground of the Mind

For many of us, the experience of life is one we take very seriously. Sometimes we believe if whatever it is we are facing is important, then it must mean we should hold it with complete seriousness. What I see happen with many people is that the joy and peace of life slips through the cracks of seriousness.

Can you imagine going through life and approaching any issue that shows up in a more playful way? For me, it is like having a playground in my mind. The options for things to do in life are endless and they can all be fun, even the ones that are challenging. Just imagining this playground makes me smile and there's a very natural sense of childlike wonder as I assess my life from this perspective.

Children at play can be great teachers for the rest of us. One of the key ingredients I see in children that feeds JOY, is imagination. Playing in a playground opens up all sorts of possibilities beyond what pieces of equipment might be available. For instance, riding the swings can be a trip to Mars....with each pump of your legs, you get closer and closer to this unexplored planet. Jungle Gyms can become pirate ships; Sand boxes are art centers. The playground in my mind also has a quiet place to be still and rest. Whether the stuff of life that we face is extremely challenging or simply day to day stresses, having some lightness, humor and imagination are likely to be better companions than worry, fear and regret.

When are you most creative and resourceful....when you are in fear or wide eyed with imagination?

If you're reading this and thinking that there are some things in life that must be taken seriously, I would encourage you to not collapse important with serious. When we approach living life with the same openness, imagination and complete enthusiasm that a child holds, possibilities are bound to present themselves to handle whatever shows up on our path with greater ease and fewer emotional injuries.

In the Playground in my one ever gets hurt.

Monday, April 20, 2009

The Art of Stopping Time

Although I don't truly believe in TIME (since all that truly exists is NOW), I do live in a world with clocks, deadlines and to-do lists, so I live around it. Some days I actually manage to stop, or at least slow down time and I'm happy to share how I manage that skill.

Saturday was a great example of slowing and stopping TIME. My friend, Barb, called and made a last minute invitation for me to join her for a "girls day". There were some errands that she wanted to run with some specific shopping needs, as well as some other potential "girl day adventures". It just so happened I had nothing scheduled, which incidentally is very helpful when you'd like to stop or slow down time.

My state of mind as our day began at around 10:00 a.m. could be described as open. I had no specific tasks on my mind, no agenda, no timeline and no attachments to getting anything in particular accomplished. I was open to having fun being with Barb. I should mention here, although that level of openness is helpful, it is not absolutely necessary in the stoppage or slowage of time (I just made up the word slowage).

Together we created our day, one moment at a time. When we made our first stop, we were both open to the experience, which happened to be checking out the grand opening of a new Ulta store, and specifically Bare Minerals make-up. We had fun getting made over (or actually made under), checked out all of our options and decided to purchase some products. I have no idea how long we were in the store, but since time stopped and we were not rushed, we were able to do all that we wanted to do.

The next few stops were in checking out individual brew pod coffee makers. Once again, we were open, relaxed and simply moved from store to store until we noticed we were getting hungry, which signaled us to stop and eat.

Lunch was leisurely and delicious. Since we were fully present with every bite, the meal was delightful and fully appreciated. Without checking our watches, we moved on to the Mall where a few more stores were visited. The slow, un-rushsed pace continued since there was no clock to beat.

On our way out of Elmira, we stopped at a new little shop that sells designer, lightly used handbags. Our visit was full, allowing us to admire every single bag in the store and engage in a fun conversation with the owner.

When we hopped back in Barb's car, I noticed the time on the dashboard clock. I couldn't believe that it wasn't later in the day, considering all that we had accomplished.

I am convinced that when we were fully present in the moment, time stopped. I have no idea how many seconds or minutes were added to day, but I know we gained some. The accumulated minutes turned into moments, and probably even hours.

What we were able to create was a full and wonderful day, without fatigue, stress, rushing, or disappointments. We practiced being present with whatever was before us in that particular moment. Time stopped, but the fun continued to build all day.