Sunday, December 25, 2011

It's A Wonderful Life if I Believe It Is



Christmas day 2011 is closing in on the finish line and has certainly been a full day. After a lovely time of celebration with friends and family, my husband and I watched the classic movie "It's a Wonderful Life" and it has stirred up some inspiration for me. 
I imagine most readers of this post have seen the movie many times, but for those that have not, here's the gist: The story is about a talented and likable young man, George Bailey, that due to various circumstances, let go of his dreams to go to college and then travel the world building sky scrapers and doing other exciting things, to manage the family business in his small town. After years of hard work, he found himself in a desperate financial situation that caused him to consider taking his own life. Thankfully, his guardian angel, who just so happened to be in need of earning his wings, showed up on the scene and gave him the opportunity to see what his community and those he loved would be like if he had never been born. As you can imagine, it was an eye opener for him, showing clearly that he truly had a wonderful life even though his original dreams were not realized. 
I imagine this movie became a classic since it speaks to the viewer's heart. We all want to have a wonderful life and sometimes our plans to do so don't work out, which can trick us into thinking we failed. As I thought about the situation George faced in the movie, I saw a man that had many gifts to share and even though his original plan did not work out, he definitely had a very powerful impact on countless people and had much to appreciate.  
We may never know the totality of our impact, yet I strongly believe that each of us have touched someone, somewhere in some way and if we had never been born, our presence on earth would surely be missed. 
So how do you have a wonderful life when your experience of life is not going like you hoped or planned? Do you have to change someone else's life for the better in order to have a wonderful life? Do you have to create or stimulate phenomenal things to have a wonderful life? For me, the answers come from a simple belief, and that is life is wonderful if we believe it is. 
The message I get from this film is that we all have access to living a wonderful life. The way to see and feel the wonderful-ness is by being aware, open and grateful for all of the simple little things we take for granted and to be open to shifting gears when things don't go as planned. 
It is by being engaged fully in our relationships with those people that we see and talk to everyday as well as the strangers we meet. It is about accepting "what is" when change is not possible and stimulating change when it is. A wonderful life comes when we appreciate more than we complain and by pausing long enough to know when we are doing either. 
Life feels wonderful when we cease to beat ourselves up for our missed opportunities, dreams and goals and when we can trade in our fear of failure for a hunger to live as fully as possible.
I believe this formula is one anyone can follow. It's simple and non-discrimnatory. Live from your heart, meaning make choices that simply feel "right" for you in the moment. Be kind to yourself and to others as you travel your path. Don't look over your shoulder or far into the future, but be present in the current moment, since that is all that really exists. 
Although I don't anticipate a visit from my guardian angel who will give me the experience of seeing what the world would be like if I did not exist, I believe I am on the right track... not because of huge accomplishments, but because I am thoroughly enjoying the process of life. It simply feels "right" and in my movie of life feeling "right" means wonderful. 



Sunday, November 13, 2011

Your Secret Weapon. . .Use it Wisely



We each have a secret weapon and I urge you to use yours wisely. 


The weapon? It is your impact. You are always having an impact. . . all of the time, without exception. It may create a positive or negative response in any given moment, but your power to have an impact is always present.


When we interact with others, even if we don't speak, we are having an impact. If we pass someone on the street, we have an impact. When we answer the telephone, we have an impact. When we ride public transportation or go to a movie, or walk our dogs, we are having an impact.


The opportunity list for impact can go on and on, but I think you get the picture. As human beings, sharing this planet and all of it's resources, our individual impact can have an effect on our fellow humans, animals and even our environment. Being wise about how we use our impact could make for a more pleasant experience of life for yourself and others. Being aware of impact can also protect you from adverse reactions from others. 


Since wherever we go, whatever we do, we are having an impact, it makes sense to be aware of the power we each wield. In light of that fact, it seems like a noteworthy phenomena to hold in our awareness. 


Sometimes our impact may be intentional, such as smiling at someone or saying hello. In that case, we intended to be friendly, which would be an intended positive impact. Other times our impact may be unintentional such as when we are deep in thought and don't acknowledge a greeting from someone else. At times like this, we might think we're invisible and our frown belongs to us and has no impact on anyone else, but it does. 


We may also choose to have a negative impact, which would fall into the intentional category. An example of an intended negative impact may be yelling an obscenity at a fellow driver that just cut you off. 


As I observe and interact with many people every day, I frequently notice impact and find that most often, the negative impact many people have goes unnoticed by the person responsible for creating it. 


A recent example was noted on facebook. As I scrolled through posts on my page, I came across one that was in stark contrast to most of the postings I typically see from my friends, which are usually intended to be positive. This one was obviously written in anger and contained profanity laced throughout a ranting complaint about an unnamed individual. The purpose of the post was puzzling to me since the person about whom the complaint was made was not on the receiving end, but innocent readers as myself were being hit with it. I am quite sure, the author did not intend to offend me or others, thus this post fell into the unintended impact category. 


Since unintended impact can be a common experience in our human experience, I urge you to be aware of what you intend, and then act accordingly. Do you really want to offend, insult or ignore those you care about, or even the stranger you are sitting next to on a flight across the country? How does it feel when you become aware of your impact? What is the impact you want to have in your everyday life? 


If you are on the receiving end of an intended or unintended negative impact, I urge you to look beyond the words, actions or email and be curious what may have been present in the person that created the impact. When we can look a bit more deeply, what we will usually find is someone that is afraid and feeling vulnerable. When I see vulnerability in another person, I can find compassion and when that happens I am no longer offended by the negative impact my counterpart created. 


I believe we are all doing our best with what is on our plate of life at the present time. Unfortunately, sometimes we forget that we are all connected. Our pain or our joy is not a private experience. It leaks. It leaks out and affects others. 


So I encourage you to be aware of your impact. When you are feeling off balance, angry or upset, be extra aware that your negative feelings may be leaking and affecting others. 


If it is your intent to create a positive impact most of the time, I encourage you to take excellent care of yourself since when you feel good, you are most likely going to be having an impact that is of equal value. 


Bottom line...stay awake....clean up the messes your negative impact may have caused and remember those that affected you in a negative way may not have even known they even fired their weapon.



Sunday, October 30, 2011

Watch Yourself

When I am especially tuned in and present, I sometimes notice the still small voice within me, say "Watch yourself".  I don't take this as a cautionary warning that I may be harmed or may harm someone or something else, but accept the message as words of encouragement to stay awake and find things to appreciate. 


In the years since I have made it my intention to live my life in a state of awareness, I have come to learn that the more in-tune I am to what my thoughts are, the more control I have in steering myself in a direction of thought that feels good. 


Many people will argue that last statement, defending that their status of happiness is not fully in their control. Believing you are a helpless victim of life is not likely to be pleasant. 


My suggestion to those that find themselves drowning in a sea of scary thoughts, is to look at one thought at a time. Be curious about it. . . where did it come from? Are you focusing on beliefs that others have taught you? Are you replaying news clips from Fox news? Is it simply easier to think the same frightening thoughts since that is what you've always done?


The good news is once you are committed to watching yourself, you may be surprised to find you do indeed have control over what you think. Remembering you are the creator of your thoughts and therefore your experience of life (no matter what is happening around you) is a gift we each have every day. 


So watch yourself and see how it feels. 

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Like it or Not....It's Fall



Every year once the weather begins to cool, I notice many of my friends and acquaintances begin to complain about the disappearance of summer and lament the beginning of Fall. I don't think they really dislike Fall, it's just that they equate Fall with winter coming fast behind. 


For many years, I would quietly enjoy the break of the heat and humidity and feel myself become more alive as the temperature drops, afraid to voice my preference since the summer lovers might be offended. 


These summer lover friends (you know who you are) need more than the average dose of sunshine. They don't seem to mind sweating or sleeping without a fluffy comforter on their bed. These friends of mine prefer sandals over socks and loafers, prefer shorts to corduroy and don't like their arms or necks covered. In addition, they prefer cold drinks to warm, choose to grill chicken on charcoal over making chicken soup, and dream about sitting ocean side in the relentless beating sun rather than wearing a soft cotton turtle neck and jeans while kicking dry leaves on the forest trails. 


The perfect day in my book of life consists of a temperature in the high fifties or low sixties, sunny skies, fluffy clouds. crisp feel in the air, leaves turning colors  and the smell of apples. I love it when it's cool to cold outside, while warm inside. I love having the fireplace burn as I read a great book, tucked under a fleece blanket and a cup of green tea within arms reach. I love sleeping without need of a fan blowing directly on me. I love having the energy to walk an extra two miles rather than being hot and melting after a humid trek requiring hydration every half mile. 


To me, Fall means homey time. It's nest making time. It's soup simmering and cookie baking time. I'm most creative when the weather gets cooler. I enjoy hugging more when it's cool (for many reasons I won't go into here). 


Although every year at this time, I find myself keeping my desires and loves to myself so as not to offend or seem uncaring when my summer-loving friends are suffering, this year, I am speaking out. Yes, I am openly claiming my love for Fall. I don't fear winter. It's coming  whether I want it to or not. I will not let my dislike for driving on icy, snowy roads intercept my joy and enjoyment of Fall. 


I am not afraid to be heard and counted as I boldly stand in a state of complete enjoyment of all that is cool, crisp and rust colored. Perhaps it is simply accepting and fully enjoying what is, or maybe it's because I have a birthday and anniversary this month. Whatever the reasons, I will no longer just smile and nod with an appearance of being understanding as I hear summer lovers complain. I will smile and maybe even laugh as I enjoy what is now



Sunday, September 11, 2011

Getting Rid of the Dead Heads

I am not much of a gardener. . .In fact if the flowers I joyfully plant in the spring actually live to see (and be killed by) the first autumn frost, they're lucky. My husband calls me a plant murderer. I think that's harsh, since I don't willfully intend to kill, I just seem to lose interest after I plant, feed and water my lovelies for the first few weeks. 


This year, however, I discovered something I enjoyed about gardening, and that is getting rid of dead heads which you probably know are the flowers on a plant that have shriveled and died. Pinching off these dead blooms apparently stimulates new life to grow and sustains a healthy beautiful plant for a longer period (at least that's what my gardener friends tell me). Since my window box is right next to my back door, it was very convenient to pause for a moment as I entered or exited to pinch off a few dead heads. As a result, the petunias this year were especially prolific and beautiful. 






One day as I was seeking out dead heads that were ready to be removed, I began to make a comparison of my petunia plants to my life. It may seem like a stretch of an analogy, but stay with me. . .here's what I came up with: 


Sometimes what I once considered to be an appealing component of my life ceases to have that attractive appeal. If I don't pluck it from my routine, it can end up draining my energy, keeping me from flowering and enjoying life in a more beautiful way. 


A good example of this phenomena for me are various forms of exercise I have tried over the years. I have lost track of the fitness DVDS and their ancestors in the form of VHS 
tapes, that I have purchased and diligently worked out to as part of my daily routine. Eventually I lose interest and notice it's no longer fun. The disappearance of the fun factor for me usually means it is time to pluck this particular dead head from my life. Once I do that I am renewed and ready to put my attention to something else that feels better. 


I have also removed dead head relationships that no longer seemed to serve me or the other person in a positive way. Terminating or moving on from a relationship does not minimize the impact that it may have once had, it is simply recognizing that people, their schedules and their lives change so what once felt perfect, now feels strained. Since I only choose to be in relationships that I can be fully committed and engaged, I have a limit. Pinching off what no longer has life, creates space for more stimulating and enjoyable interactions, which is always life giving. 


If you can align with my gardening dead head analogy, I encourage you to evaluate your life. Notice where you put your attention and then ask yourself if it is enhancing your flower box of life, or simply using your energy with nothing beautiful to show for it. 



Wednesday, August 24, 2011

The Good Life

My dog, Thor lives a good life. In fact, I'm sure he has it better than many humans I know. I'm not sure how good his life was before we picked him up at the SPCA two years ago, but without question, he knows how to live well now. 


I think humans can learn a lot from animals. They seem to have the right idea about living well and maintaining a fairly peaceful and happy attitude about life. 


Here's some lessons I have learned from Thor:

  • If you want attention, let someone know. Don't take no for an answer. If they refuse to compliment you, rub you where it feels good, or at least smile, persist with being cute until they cave in and give you what you want.
  • Take naps. Your naps don't have to be long ones, but it is imperative you take frequent rests so you can have the energy to exercise later. 
  • Walk or run daily and enjoy being out in the fresh air. Sniff the air often too. You never know what wonderful scents may be in your vicinity. 
  • Be playful....even if you think you're too old. Remember there is always the spirit of a child (or puppy) within. Give your inner child the opportunity to be silly and playful. You can't help but giggle when you're playful. 
  • Just be you....without apology. Thor knows who he is and apparently has nothing to hide. Either you like him, or you don't. I think that's why he's so happy. He doesn't spend any time trying to act like a poodle or a Great Dane....He just enjoys being himself.
  • Stop eating when you're full. (This one needs no explanation)
  • Receive affection when it's offered. Thor loves to be loved. Sometimes people don't think they deserve it, which is really a shame, since it feels so good to be loved. 
  • Don't hold grudges. Forgive regularly. This is something Thor does well. If he gets upset with me for not throwing his toy, he doesn't hold it against me for days. He just tries again later and forgives me in the moment. He also seems to forgive himself if he happened to do something naughty like steal meat from the counter or get into the garbage. 
If I ever temporarily forget I am living a good life, I just look at Thor and remember that my experience of life depends on how I see it and how I see myself. 


Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Bear in Mind

Living in a small, rural town I am reminded on a regular basis of the special experiences that are available naturally. . .that is if you're paying attention. Today was a great day for incoming inspiration. 


First of all, my husband experienced a bear sighting on his walk to work. At 6:15 this morning he took a short cut down a hill that intersects two streets, one of which that leads to the woods. As he walked the route that he has covered countless mornings, he became aware of an unusual sound to his left. Instead of continuing his trek, he stopped and saw a bear dragging a garbage bag up the hill, probably going home with breakfast for the family. Based on the story of The Three Bears, he told me this one probably represented the size of momma Bear. 


He considered himself very fortunate to be able to witness this wild animal in an act natural for it, but not usual for him. He related that it took about ten minutes for the bear to manage to get the garbage bag un-snagged from trees and brush until it reached an open space to the finish line. Although we occasionally see bears living in the mountains of Pennsylvania, this observation was a special treat. 


I also had my own little glimpse of nature. After returning home from my daily walk, I was going through a variety of stretching exercises on my living room floor. As I relaxed into a back bend, I notice a bird, perched on a branch leaning against the window. It caught my attention, so I took a closer look and noticed it was standing over a nest and was feeding two babies. 


What is interesting to me is this nest, momma, and babies have been within easy sight for sometime, but I didn't see them. I'm not sure where my mind was, but apparently it was not on my immediate surroundings. 


Although I was grateful that I was tuned in today, as was my husband, I wondered how many things that escape our attention each day that are potential sources of unique delight and wonder. 


I am reminded to not allow myself to always be caught up in thought of what is next on my to-do list. I am reminded to breathe and to stay present to what is around me. I am reminded to bear in mind that I am always surrounded by things of nature and people that deserve my attention. 


I am reminded that if I am not paying attention, I may miss a priceless opportunity to enjoy what is right before me. 



Monday, August 1, 2011

Trust Fall


An old, dusty dream of mine was awakened after a thirty-five year nap. The dream was born when I was eighteen years old, soon after I graduated from high school. It appeared at a time when I realized I wanted to live an adventuresome life rather than an ordinary one. 

As I brainstormed experiences (which were essentially a Bucket List, long before that term became popular), skydiving was high on my list.  In spite of my having a great fear of danger, and in fact, even hesitant to ride on a roller coaster at an amusement park, I still longed to have thrilling experiences in life.  I'm not sure why or how, but something deep within my heart seemed to know my childish fears would some day disappear and I would meet this dream. 

Although the desire to skydive originally came from the source of a young woman’s thrill-seeking adventure, when it popped back into my consciousness a few years ago, there was a different source stimulating the desire. At that point in my life, well established in middle age, minus many of those old fears, and quite open to new challenging experiences, a skydive epitomized the opportunity and actually the challenge to feel complete trust. 

I realized what I needed was to experience surrender in my body and especially my spirit, trusting all is well, no matter how a situation may seem and no matter what the outcome may be. To me, this feeling of totally letting go, leaping into space and being at peace unconditionally, regardless of the outcome, was going to be my teacher. 

I also knew my trust fall would be an opportunity to experience complete peace, even when in the face of potential danger or harm. I longed to feel safe as if in the palm of God's hand, no matter where I was or what I happened to be doing.  

With so many elements of trust blending together, this skydive was intended to be a life changing experience. The intended change in my life would be to feel peace rather than fear, no matter what I happened to be facing. 

On a sunny, breezy Sunday morning in June, after prior research for a competently run skydive center, I showed up at OZ Homestay in northern Pennsylvania to finally live out this dream. After signing the waivers and learning what was required of me, to complete my free fall, I was ready. 

Prior to boarding the plane, I noticed I was feeling unusually calm and present. A feeling of complete peace filled me as the plane took off and climbed to an altitude of 10,000 feet. After about 20 minutes and reaching the optimal altitude, I received instruction to prepare for the jump. I followed the rehearsed routine of making my way to the open door and positioned myself at the edge of the plane with my legs dangling in the air. As I looked down there was no sign of earth beneath me. There was nothing to hold me up, yet I was not in fear and trusted all was well. 

I will never forget the feeling of surrender when I physically let go of the wing and fell away from the plane. In spite of being battered by wind during my explosive descent,the paradoxical feelings of calm and exhilaration filled me. Once the parachute opened, the free fall rush at 120 miles an hour shifted to quiet peace around me, matching what I felt within. 

Once I softly landed on the ground, I knew I had changed. My physical experience of complete surrender and trust rather than fear-based attempts of control, showed me this was possible in anything I choose to do .  .  . even when both feet are firmly planted on the ground. 


Sunday, July 31, 2011

Peace Without Apology

I periodically notice some people exhibiting signs of annoyance with me, and in some cases, even agitation, when I choose not to join the band wagon of complaints, worry and attack of a perceived enemy in reaction to local and world events. It seems, my positive attitude and approach can be disturbing to others that choose a different path. Although I notice the reaction of some of my friends, I will not apologize for being at peace. 


Thankfully, how we each deal with the issues of life is a personal choice. My preference is to stay aligned with joy and sustain peace "within" regardless of what may be showing up in the "outside" world. When I have been hooked by anger and then acted out with righteous indignation (even in cases when it appeared I was victimized) my negative emotions never improved the situation in question. What is especially true is that acting out in anger has never....repeat... NEVER made me feel better. I understand some of my fellow humans are convinced that their anger spurs them on to correct a wrong...to set things right, and that vindication and revenge feels good. Perhaps that is true for them. I just don't choose to roll like that. 


What I find to be a particularly interesting comparison is that I may even choose to take the same steps that those on the fist pumping side of the line may take when an injustice occurs. I make phone calls, write emails and sign petitions to inform my elected officials of what I believe, although what I say in a letter may differ from others. I don't sugar coat situations, but I avoid attacks. I write letters to the editor in support of that which I want to see more of, rather than complain about what should stop. I donate money to causes that support peace rather than destruction. I read articles that support peaceful solutions that are in alignment with my beliefs, rather than feed myself with more news and reports that stimulate hateful actions. Although many of us may take the same stand and in some cases even actions, how we feel in the process of creating change can vary greatly. 


Although I understand when people get hooked by an issue many are looking for others to join in the fight believing there is power in numbers, I am very careful with whom I will stand. Watching how the political parties work in our country are a great example of how fear is used to create a movement against the enemy (enemies vary depending on the issue). Bottom line...I resist jumping on a wagon that is destined for perpetrating a movement fueled by fear. 


What I have trained myself to do instead, is to keep my intention on creating a positive outcome. Rather than keeping my focus on battling a wrong, I simply keep my vision on what I want to see created instead. I have heard the story that Mother Teresa was once asked to march in an anti-war rally. She informed the activist inviting her that she would not rally against war, but she would be happy to rally for peace. This simple statement has been a tremendous  inspiration for the way I choose to live.


So which perspective is most productive in the end? The good news is we each get to decide. I will continue to choose a peaceful response since I know my creativity in problem solving, my effectiveness to create positive change and my ability to encourage others to show up at their best occurs when I stand in the light not the dark. 



Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Peaceful Smile with Wings





Earlier today when I returned home from my early morning Yoga class, I discovered a bird  in perfect condition, lying dead in my driveway. It had a surreal appearance that caused me to stand and stare at this little form for several minutes. 


From my giant-like perspective, I could see it's eyes were closed, feathers unruffled, beak slightly parted. If birds could smile, I think the look on it's face would have definitely qualified.  At first I tried to figure out how this little creature met it's demise. There were no physical signs of fowl play. None of  the neighborhood cats were anywhere in the vicinity, high fiving each other for taking this sparrow down. 


It appeared to be a death due to natural causes. Maybe it was a heart attack, or old age. Since there was not a tree branch, which could have been a perch, hanging over this death scene, the cause will always be a mystery. 


As I mourned the death of this little creature, wondering if members of it's family were nearby planning a little bird memorial service, I was reminded how natural death is. When I moved beyond my own sadness for the bird's relatives and friends, I realized the deceased bird was at peace. There was no suffering, no resistance. . .only peace. 


I then decided to create a little funeral. I prepared a grave under the Mulberry tree and gently scooped the bird with a trowel and placed it in it's grave. As I said a little prayer, birds swooped overhead. I'd like to believe they were paying their respects. 


When this unexpected experience was complete, I went inside feeling very peaceful. It reminded me that when it comes time for me to leave this world, I also hope to have a peaceful smile and wings. 



Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Intuition Over-ride



I have been working on developing my intuition for some time. You know, that small inner voice that always knows what's best for you. I consider my intuition to be God talking to me. Of course God wants the best for me so I often pause and check in with this inner guidance to keep myself on the right track.

My intuition guides me in many ways such as business decisions, what to eat, what form of exercise is best for my body today, what book I should read, whether or not I should take a short cut while driving through town or if I should purchase that leather bag I saw on sale. In essence, my intuition takes care of me and keeps my life running smoothly....that is, if I don't over-ride it.

Since I practice listening and sometimes even asking for guidance much of the time, messages come through frequently for little things as well as the big things in life.

Last evening, while cleaning up after a dinner party, I was attempting to store my crock pot on a high shelf. My intuition gave me a gentle warning to remove the lid first, since it could fall off. I over rode that warning. While on tippy toes with arms fully extended to reach the shelf, and with my face turned upward, the lid slipped off and clipped me just beneath my right eyebrow. As the blood ran down my face, my first thought was "I should have listened". My second thought was. . . "This eye is going to be a great reminder of this lesson every time I look in the mirror for the next week".

Perhaps I needed a black eye to hone in this lesson on listening. I will be reminded to slow down and be present. I will be reminded to not cut corners, but to do things with "smartness" rather than "flippedness". I will be reminded that I always get another chance.

Right now, my intuition is telling me this post is complete and to apply an ice pack to my right eye. I will now do as I am guided.


Monday, May 9, 2011

Good Intention.....Gone Bad


Over the years, I have found a way to be in relationship with friends, family and even strangers, that allows for ease and comfort in communicating. . .both for myself and for anyone I may be with in the moment. My usual impact tends to be positive, so I was caught off guard when my good intention went bad.

I realize that all I could do at the time was apologize, which I did, and now I am taking the opportunity to gather up some learning from my experience to minimize the likelihood of repeating my well intentioned boo boo with some other unsuspecting person in the future.

As in most occurrences I observe in my life, there is learning that transcends a particular set of circumstances and can be applied to other areas and relationships. In this case, at least for me, I am being reminded to think before I act....or speak.

So here's my lesson... use as indicated in your life if you have ever made the same mistake:
  • Even though you have expertise, knowledge, coupled with confidence, do not offer it without checking to see if the other person desires to hear what you have to say
  • Do not give advice, unless asked
  • Do not invade another person's personal space, even though you would be comfortable if they were in yours
  • Listen and respond accordingly
  • Do not assume people know your intention; they may be very vulnerable and susceptible to being offended or hurt, regardless of what you say or do
  • Remember that everyone is having their own experience of life and it is always wise to assume that they are competent and able to seek help if they desire it
I am grateful for the reminders of this lesson and regret that someone else had to pay the price for my temporary lapse of memory.

As I gently forgive myself, I move on, not with fear that I may offend again, but with a gentler and deeper awareness that life is a dance. At times I may step on my partner-in-the moment's toes, yet know that if I am mindful and aware in the moment, my impact will be one of greater sensitivity and will guide me to behave in a way so that my intention will match my impact.


Friday, April 29, 2011

Letter to Kate




Dear Kate,

I greatly appreciated your recent letter and agree that communication between us becomes more and more important as the decades click by.

It seems like only yesterday when our simultaneous existence required almost no thought or planning. You always seemed to have a natural ability and inclination to take care of me. In fact, during some periods of our life together, you were quite timid to do anything that may have even remotely affected my safety. Ironically, however, as you grew older, you began to trust me more and more, and tested my abilities to move beyond what you previously believed was safe.

It is in those times that you trust me most, that I feel the most alive.

I remember that you never considered yourself to be an athlete until you began to run. It was apparently the simplicity of putting one foot in front of the other in a regular rhythm, that seemed easy enough for even a non-athlete to master, that you first actually tested me.

Your stint of canoe racing was the next step in learning how well I could function. This time, it was my upper extremities that were pushed and used to the point that muscle grew almost instantly . . . almost as fast as your confidence in me.

Little by little you introduced me to many forms of exercise, from belly dancing (which was so much more fun than those abdominal crunches) to Judo, Tae Bo and Yoga. You always paid attention to what I liked and continued those, while giving up the things that didn't seem to match me. I was particularly grateful when that step aerobics class ended.

As more years went by, your confidence in me grew. It was the skydive from
12, 000 feet, a few years ago that was the ultimate test of surrender and trust in me, although I know in my bones, it was really more about you wanting to experience trust when you and I weren't in control that inspired that activity.

The pattern I've noticed in you, Kate, is that the more you experience the possibilities that life holds, the more chances you take.

As long as you keep my health and maintenance in mind, please know I will do my best to maneuver you through all that you desire to experience.

So, it is my turn to say thank you. Being your body for all these years, or as some may put it, the garage for your soul, has been a fun ride and I look forward to safely and comfortably carrying you through many more adventures.

With love and appreciation,
Your Body


Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Letter to My Body



Dear Body,

Since we have had a long history of open communication and understanding, and certainly one of mutual respect, I thought it would be wise to put my observations and requests for this next stage of life in writing. From what I understand, at this point in time, relationships like ours can suffer. Communication breaks down, trust is loss and all that was once beautiful and healthy can deteriorate. I want to avoid as many issues as possible between us, so consider this letter as a means to serve us both.

First of all, I want to thank you for holding up so well over all these years. With only a few exceptions, you certainly have functioned at a very high level and with very little discomfort.

That incident with the fractured little finger on my left hand from fourth grade that healed crooked, was obviously you just showing your sense of humor. I'm grateful it has never hurt, so I have joined you in finding amusement in it's lack of perfection. It has always been a reminder that I need not look perfect to feel good.

The pain and deformities that have occurred in my feet, which I understand were due (at least in part) to many of my chosen activities and use of shoe wear are regrettable, although I am exceedingly grateful that they are still able to carry me on long treks and allow me to dance with complete abandon.

That bout of cancer a few years ago was a surprise, but I must say you rallied beautifully on that one. Yes, I know, my mindset and attitude had much to do with my recovery and lack of fear, yet kudos are well deserved for your amazing rebound.

I also appreciate the notice you gave me that it was time to take off that 25 pounds a few years ago. Looking back, I can now see, you had tried to warn me for some time that it wasn't healthy, but I didn't listen. Once your quiet reminders became more pronounced and impossible to ignore, I heeded your call and made the needed changes. I loved how quickly you responded when I took responsibility. You don't need to thank me, your daily messages of lightness and increased energy speak volumes.

Yes, I know my state of well being is partly due to my paying close attention to your messages when there is something awry, or if you are needing something specific, yet I also truly appreciate the innate genetic disposition that supports all of your cells.

With the understanding of that genetic make up, it is quite likely I will be living in you, dear body, for many years to come... so what do you say we make the most of it?

My request of you is that you stay open and willing to be challenged. I promise I will do my best to give you challenges that will serve you and make you stronger, rather than wear you down and destroy your beautiful cells.

On my part, I will stay open to your messages:

  • I hear you loud and clear that you love the yoga we do together, so that will continue.
  • Those monthly massages you've been getting ...you can count on those to be part of your regular routine too.
  • I promise to move you often and take you for beautiful long walks.
  • I will take care of your skin and will protect you with sunscreen.
  • I will continue to nourish you with healthy food and at least 8 glasses of water a day.
  • I will make sure you get at least 8 hours of sleep at night, plus naps when you need them.
  • I hear you loud and clear on how much you enjoy those long baths, so fear not, as long as you work well enough to fold me into that deep tub, I'm there for you.

So, is it a deal? Can I count on you to be there for me in the strongest and best way possible?

In return I will do my best to listen to you. I know in order to hear you, I must be quiet and tune in since it is at those times, you give me the direction I need to serve us both.

In closing, please know that I look forward to the remainder of the time we have together. May we always move with ease and flexibility; may all of the internal organs work like tops; and may we never forget to say thank you.

With love and appreciation,
Kate


Saturday, April 23, 2011

Endings




It is a bit amusing, albeit a bit sad, to think that at times we humans avoid experiencing a particular role, task, or relationship, since we fear we cannot "be with" it's eventual end. The truth is, there is an ending to everything in this human experience we call life. It is all part of the course. It is not wrong, bad or harmful for us when an ending occurs.

The old adage, "All good things come to an end", is true. The same can be said for that which we may call the bad things of life. It is all simply part of the process. As we move along our life paths, we are constantly given opportunities with which we can play and experiment and then eventually move on with our learning, as endings occur.

Every person we meet, every place we visit, every role we play, every job we take on, every movie we watch, every illness we experience, every relationship we have etc. etc., all serve a purpose.

In times of difficulty, we may learn how strong and resilient we really are. Those times may strengthen our relationships and inspire us to reach for something better.

By the same token, those lovely, enriching and exciting occurrences of our lives that we hope may never end, show up our path to help us learn to be present and appreciate them in every moment.

As every other human, I have experienced countless endings and have mostly accepted them without resistance. Although times, relationships and experiences have ended, the lessons are still with me.

I am no longer a child, although I remember how to play.

I am no longer a nurse, although I still nurture and choose to support others.

I no longer have my father, but am grateful for what he taught me.

My son grew up and left the nest to live his own life. My husband and I celebrate his independence and the man he has become.

Relationships with very close friends, ran their course and ended. I am grateful for having had them in my life while they were there.

Vacations in beautiful places, ended. The memories are still present and inspire me to travel to other idyllic locations.

I have completed working with clients that were a joy to coach. I celebrate their moving on and am grateful for being a partner in their self-discovery.

Each stage of my life so far including: babyhood, childhood, teenage years, young adulthood, and middle-age have ended. Each stage in itself had countless beginnings and endings.

What I take with me now until the final ending occurs, is gratitude. Without endings, beginnings lose their importance.



Saturday, March 26, 2011

Conflicts or Peace Talks



Conflict seems to be a common issue for many of us. Perhaps this is true because we have so many relationships and situations in our lives in which they can arise.

Conflicts can occur with those closest to us, such as our family members or dear friends, with our co-workers and even with total strangers. All in all, there is room for conflict everywhere....even with ourselves.

According to the dictionary a definition of conflict is: a fight, battle or struggle, especially a prolonged struggle; strife. Whenever conflict occurs, it doesn't feel good...at least for most of us that is true. Even when we are standing on the side of what is obviously "right" or "good", when we are in battle, there is no evidence of inner peace, and therefore it is uncomfortable, to say the least.

I also contend that when we are in a state of conflict, we lose touch with our most powerful self. I'm not speaking about our ability to have power over someone else by using our sharp tongue, fists or ability to cut some one else off at the knees with a deep frown and accompanying sneer, but about our innate gifts that make us who we are.

I have a friend that who when connected to her true self, embodies peace. She cares deeply about many issues and even more so about the welfare of the human race. What I have observed in her is that when a conflict arises and she gets hooked into anger, her strength of compassion, integrity and clarity are lost. Although the points she makes in her arguments may be true, it is her desire to cut her opponent down, that interferes with her showing up fully in her 'truest' form. Rather than peacefully standing in her truth, she seeks to overpower her opponent with force. This force exhibited in conflict comes through in her voice (both tone and words) as well as in her energy and body language.

When I witness this expression of anger in her attempt to resolve conflict, I actually see her as weak and scared. When she is hooked by fear, she forgets to look for the gifts in her perceived opponent and therefore loses her ability to really listen to their point of view. Her desire to defend her point and all those people she desires to 'fight for' actually lessens the chances of a resolution that would serve them.

My sense about my friend is that perhaps the most important conflict for her that needs attention is the conflict with herself.

I believe if she trusted herself enough to stay true to who she really is, anger would not be the dominant emotion expressed when she is speaking for her cause. If she felt more secure in herself, which would allow her natural gifts of intuition, clarity and resourcefulness to come forth, it seems there would be a better chance for mutual understanding, and therefore be better able to communicate with her opponent in a way they can hear.

With the exception of the daily conflicts and arguments and put-downs we have with ourselves, it takes a minimum of two to have a conflict. If one person chooses not to attack, but truly listen and then calmly speak in return, there would probably be fewer and shorter wars and more peace talks.




Sunday, March 6, 2011

Hope




It's snowing.... again. Many of my fellow northerners and I believe we have had more than our fair share of snow and have been enjoying the recent melting process as the temperature rose into the 50s. Once again, our dreams of Spring were interrupted by more snow.

As I look out the window and watch this fresh snowfall blanket the ground, I am reminded of the power of hope. You know, that wonderful feeling and belief that all is well, or will soon be well, even when it doesn't look that way. Hope is sometimes our last resort for maintaining sanity when our world, or at least our weather, is not cooperating with our plans.

Yesterday afternoon, my husband returned home after walking our dog, with a tiny flower between his thumb and forefinger. He plucked it from our neighbor's stone wall where daffodils and narcissus will soon be growing in full force.

When he handed the teeny flower to me, it was more beautiful in the moment than a bouquet of roses. This little white bud was a symbol of hope.

Being able to remember that whatever inconvenience, discomfort, lack or hindrance that may be present will eventually subside is supported by hope. Change is always happening. Sometimes change brings something we don't want, and some of the time it ushers in that which we're longing for.

At the end of winter, many of us are hoping for consistently warmer weather, hearing birds sing every morning, tulips and crocuses, long walks without mittens on our hands or ice underfoot, and a feeling of freedom that is a by-product of being in the fresh air.

Some people are hoping for better health or more money. Others may be hoping for a new job or a better place to live or an addition to their family.

Whatever it is that activates our hopefulness, it only feels good when we are believing it will actually come to fruition. If we are focusing more on what we don't want or what may interfere with our hopes, we will not feel the well being that hope provides.

Paying attention to where we are putting our attention is key. Hope feels light, complaining does not.

Although all that I hope for is not yet present, I am enjoying the feeling of lightness that is within me now, even though snow continues to fall.


Wednesday, February 2, 2011

The Bottomless Well

I think it would be fairly accurate to assume that like me, most of my fellow humans dream of what they want. We may not want the same things, but it does seem to be part of our innate wiring to "want".

Aside from our specific wants, where I think many of us differ is our level of expectancy to receive what we want. Many of my fellow wanters don't think they are deserving. Many worry about the cost, if their wants require payment of some sort. Some of my fellow humans plot and plan how to make their wants become a reality, causing themselves fear and stress in the process.

It all seems so complicated if one believes there is a formula of some sort to follow in receiving what you desire. My preference is to imagine that which I want as if it is here. When I simply close my eyes, I can see it, and even more importantly....I can feel what it would be like to have it.

I like to imagine a well of wellbeing. In this imaginary well in my mind, all that I want bubbles out when the time is right. I trust that the well never runs dry. I trust that my wants are being created as the well happily bubbles away. I don't sit and keep an eye on the well as I look at my watch, thinking "This want should be ready by now".

Impatience is avoided as I enjoy all other things that come from the well of well being. I have discovered that as long as I am in a state of appreciation and gratitude of all that bubbles forth, I am feeling the well being I desire. The specific things I long for are actually secondary to the feeling of well being, which can be present when I simply enjoy what is bubbling up at any moment.

Over the years as I have practiced sitting alongside the well of well being, my wants have become few regarding material things, but rich in the intangible. I know that what I truly desire is to feel unconditional peace and joy, and that is always there for me, as long as I allow it to be.

The well has no bottom. There is no end to the feelings of well being, regardless of what our physical experience of life may be like. Perhaps we all just need to get clear about what we really want most.