Friday, August 7, 2009
It seems that most people live their lives in one of two ways.....expanding or contracting. I realize both of these words represent action, although when considering these concepts within the context of living life, it appears contracting actually occurs as a result of doing nothing.
In taking a closer look at contracting, what appears to me is that when one chooses to no longer learn new things or be open to new people, places and experiences, or practices being present in each moment, their life contracts, or gradually diminishes in purpose and joy.
On the other hand when one expands, they embrace new things in their life on every level. Learning and growing beyond what they previously believed was their limit and stretching into new experiences and relationships creates an ever present joyful and purpose-filled life.
I believe many live a contracting life due to fear. They may fear the risk of losing the elements of their life that they're proud of or those that bring comfort. They may fear the possibility of failure or the potential disapproval of others. They may blame their age, health, physical limitations or obligations for their contracting. They may believe that it is easier to stay the same than to grow.
If the mere thought of expanding in your life makes you sweat, relax. Expanding does not mean you must give up all that you have already worked for or have become attached to. You can feel your life expanding simply by breathing, turning off the chatter channel in your mind and by practicing gratitude. Expanding joy in your life does not have to require leaving your job or your town, or your closest relationships. It can occur when you see yourself as being more than a body that works hard all their life, acquires a bunch of stuff, makes a lot of money, gets old, gets sick and eventually dies.
There is room for continued expansion for all of us, regardless of how long it has been since we have felt the thrill of being truly alive. It is my intention to expand in some way every day.....how about you?
Wednesday, August 5, 2009
I sometimes have very entertaining dreams and some of those sometimes my dreams hold a lesson for me. Last night was one of those dreams.
I dreamed that I was registered to participate in a triathlon, but instead of swimming, bicycling and running, I recall only the first leg of the race which involved hopping on one foot. The race took place on the main street of a small town with crowds standing by to cheer us all on.
I was in the lineup of other hoppers, unsure if I could even do the event. I'm happy to report, however, I was not feeling anxious or upset, just open to try. Before the gun went off, we all began hopping in place and I found it to be difficult to maintain balance. It wasn't easy or comfortable. After a few moments, the starting gun fired and we all took off to hop the 6 mile course.
What was amazing to me was to find that it was easier to hop ahead, rather than in place. I felt free and had fun propelling myself forward, passing many of the other hoppers that seemed to prefer staying in one place.
Although it took more energy to move ahead, it seemed natural and easy. I felt exhilaration and great joy just to do it. Winning the race was not important since I knew my win was to learn moving was better than standing still.
The metaphor for life was obvious to me. As I hopped along the course, I was overjoyed to see the connection to how staying in the same familiar mindset or experience due to a fear of what's ahead, or having a lack of confidence in winning, or possibly just being afraid I may fall down along the way, would limit my dream for a great life.
This hopping dream showed me that regardless of the outcome, moving ahead in life by trying new things, going to new places and giving myself new challenges, will certainly create a more stimulating and fulfilling experience of life than simply standing still.
Perhaps when I fall asleep tonight, I will experience the other legs of the triathlon. I'm hoping one of them is skipping.
Tuesday, August 4, 2009
If I were to have a superpower name, describing how I assist my fellow humans, it could very well be, The Anticipator.
Obviously, my gift is to anticipate what may be needed in any given moment, as well as my tendency to prepare ahead for whatever that case may be.
My anticipating was used well when I was a nurse. Having the instrument in my hand ready to slap into the palm of the surgeon before he even asked for it, helped the operation go smoothly and efficiently.
Other ways I anticipate are by keeping my pantry stocked with any of the items I may need to prepare a meal. I have a nice selection of ingredients and seasonings on hand for most recipes that I may choose to prepare.
I pack my suitcase for a trip, anticipating any kind of weather or activity that may require special clothing or shoes.
I have a well stocked first aid kit in my car and my home, just in case someone near me may need some assistance.
I love to anticipate ahead when planning a party or some other special event. It's fun to picture what is about to happen and then create an environment, and/or whatever may be needed to help it be successful.
Anticipating and then acting on it gives me a sense of satisfaction. It's fun to predict possibilities and then later to experience ease in the moment because I successfully anticipated.
It seems, however, I have met my match in the realm of anticipation. My son leaves for Afghanistan in six days. It is impossible to anticipate what that experience will be like for any of us at home or for my son. Right now I am in a state of peaceful acceptance of the unknown and hope this feeling of peace will continue for his entire time overseas.
Perhaps I have been anticipating this unexpected event (without even knowing it) by practicing peaceful acceptance and calmly responding to the things of life that have shown up on my path prior to this current situation.
Actually to look at life in general we can never fully anticipate what is to come. We do, however, always have the ability and the opportunity to be prepared simply by being open and accepting of what we cannot change and then trusting we can handle whatever occurs.