You know that feeling when you’re in the middle of a vacation, or a winter, or a weekend? It’s that moment when time actually feels suspended. For me, it’s like that moment high on the arc of a swing, hanging in midair for a moment before the rush of movement pulls me. It’s like time slows down, or even stops and everything becomes more clear. Sounds, smells, and a visual snapshot of the scene get impressed on my mind and heart.
It’s what happens when we pause. The pause, the moment of transition, is part of what we do. It is part of what we must do because this existence works like that. These bodies work like that.
We don’t always notice the pause. We don’t always like the transitions, interuptions, changes… But, they’re still there. Just like our bad habits and annoying relatives… they’re opportunities. Learning to linger… to tolerate and investigate, to listen and to look around with genuine curiosity, with loving awareness, can take a lifetime to realize has actually been happening all along the way. Consider a toddler on the trail, a teenager with their friends… you, doing what you love..
It has been the greatest blessing of my life to have these teachings put in my path. It has given me more life, more time, more love, more gratitude and ease than I ever imagined. It has given me the opportunity to live a life of abundance, even when the lists are long and the balances are low. Which, they still often are.
Do you find yourself caught up in a narrative of scarcity? It’s one I know all too well. Now, I recognize it.
Listen to your thoughts (and words) and see if you can here it. See if you can start to entertain an alternative. Consider the possibility that you have everything that you need. You don’t have to (and likely won’t) believe it when you first hear it. Maybe there’s a parallel with something else you’ve learned: how to play an instrument or do a yoga pose.
We can learn to see that we have time and every day are choosing how to spend it. We can learn how to say no in order to preserve time and energy for what’s most important. We can linger… we already have some idea how to do this… We can enjoy the flavors, the colors, and the nuances of life even when movement is just behind us and just about to return.
One of my favorite techniques, especially when outdoors, is to simply look up. 👀⬆️ Also, set a timer (lingering doesn’t have to equal running late!) ☺️
This is what we do on retreat. We give ourselves time to arrive, to linger, to prepare and to depart gracefully. As we become more adept we can do this more consistently and over time it becomes, not a break from life but the nature of life itself. We can find this bliss in each breath. We KNOW instinctivly to breathe deeply when we need to slow down.
Practice breathing slowly helps too… try noticing that you’re breathing right now. Ideally, stop reading so you can focus on your breath but don’t think that you can’t ALSO notice and slow your breath while you’re doing other things.
I’ve been trying to find ways to scale the retreat experience to make it more and more accessible, wherever you are in your practice or in your experience of scarcity/abundance. A few that I’m currently offiering (in order from least to greatest investment required from you):
The latest offering in Anchorage is a series of mini-retreats on Sunday afternoons: Jan 26, Feb 23 and March 29 from 2-5pm. You can come for one or for all three. You can use a Health Savings of Flexible Spending Account to pay.
Our annual Brooks Range Retreat dates have just been confirmed and another Alaska summer weekend retreat is in the works. These are usually 2 nights, 3 days and involve some cool travel and unique accommodations. Space is limited.
There might just be one spot left for our April 26-May 2, 2020 retreat to Umbria, Italy. And, we’re going to Mexico October 31-November 7, 2020. You can save $250 by registering for the Mexico retreat by January 31. Click here to see all current retreat offerings.
Coaching, counseling, consulting and teaching are how you can connect with me individually. This is where you get the most personalized feedback and is certainly one of the best ways to practice. Time is our most precious gift. I gladly share it with you.
Practice noticing the pause. Practice noticing that what you need to coming to you and what you don’t has already gone or will be on its way soon. Practice noticing that all this is impermanent and only here NOW for learning and loving and living. Forgive.
Look for links in the text above to connect to more information on the site. Contact me directly: email@example.com if you have comments, questions or need some support. Call our office for administrative help: (907) 277-9642. LOVE!
Obstacles get in our way, slow us down, interrupt our progress and, depending on our mood can “grind our gears” or “harsh our mellow.” And, they seem to be everywhere.
Other people (traffic, lines, phone calls, tantrums,) the weather, technology, furniture, fatigue, pathogens… all of these might also show up on your list of obstacles. They get the blame and we fall their victim. Click here to link to a previous post about the “difficult person.”
Apparently, obstacles have been around for a long time, even before technology and traffic jams. The yoga sutras were written thousands of years ago and outline the path of human experience with startling relevance and insight. The two below outline what is common.
avidya asmita raga dvesa abhinivesah klesah
The five obstacles, also known as afflictions or troubles, are lack of wisdom, a sense of separateness, attachment to pleasure, aversion to pain and clinging to life.
vyadhi styana samsaya pramada alasya avirati bhrantidarasana alabdhabhumikatva anavasthitatvani cittaviksepah te antarayah
There are physical, mental, intellectual and spiritual obstacles which may distract consciousness. They are disease, lack of perseverance, doubt, pride, laziness, sense gratification, delusion, and a lack of commitment.
These afflictions and obstacles are the source of our suffering. They may be active, intermittant, or dormant and can be pleasant or unpleasant. The point is that they disturb our sustained loving awareness and prevent realization of what may be described as the eternal bliss of complete absorption.
Awareness of these obstacles, willingness to acknowledge, and, language to describe them, can help to restore and strengthen the connection between our conscious intention and subconscious motivation.
To practice working with the obstacles, start with avidya. It means “not seeing.” It may also be understood as innocence, ignorance or lack of wisdom. It suggests that our efforts to better understand our experience will clear the path to awareness. Use your senses, ask questions, use words, images and colors to describe sensations. Talk, write, listen, read, look around. Expose yourself to various perspectives, opinions, climates, postures.
Be especially curious about extremes. If it “feels awesome” or “feels awful” or if you are convinced that you (or someone else) is “awful” or “awesome,” consider the alternative and see what you find.
A connection is likely there. Compassion may flourish there.
Perseverance, patience, perspective and poise are available to us. We must practice. That which we practice becomes embedded. These states of being become traits of longtime practitioners.
The Sutras are a brilliant guide to support us on our way. I am so grateful to have received them from my teacher and to pass them on to you. If you want to learn more, please register for my on-line course where we’ll walk through the sutras together.
Click here to link to the course. And, linger a while on what you’re seeing, hearing, smelling, tasting and feeling today…
Truly seeing you for the complex and complete being that you are and so touched by our connection,
Sutra II.3 aSu
Yoga for grief is a practice of paying attention to the potential for process that leads to clarity and calm. Whether you are grieving the loss of a loved one, a part of yourself, an opportunity or a relationship… this practice is for you.
It’s time for me to share more. Many of you may know I lost my mom a couple of years ago, and my dog this spring… also in these past few years, my best friend moved away, we experienced infertility, I walked a beloved client through hospice to the end of life and now, sit here in the heart of another Alaskan winter. Grief has become my companion. I have been befriending it. Yoga has been with me along the way.
Yoga is a practice of paying attention. Grief is one of the most complex, confusing and absolutely most human experiences we are likely to have in this life and will demand a fair amount of your attention!
Grief can bring you to the brink. It can sharpen your senses and your resolve. It will change you.
Yoga will bring you back to your true self. Importantly, these practices will sharpen your senses and, will bring them back home to your heart.
To practice yoga is to practice paying attention. In this practice we hold our attention steady with love and confidence… as you might hold a loved one’s hand. Hold attention steady and guide it through experience.
Practice paying attention to what is going on, around us and inside. We gain perspective, tolerance, confidence and wisdom in this way.
To begin a formal practice:
1. Find some space.
It doesn’t have to be much. You might just move from the couch to a chair, from one chair to another, into a quiet room or outside. You can sit on cushion on the floor or a yoga mat but it is not necessary. Yoga for grief doesn’t have to look like anything you’ve seen or assumed, this is new.
2. Dedicate some time.
It’s important and will be beneficial even if it is just the length of one breath. Yoga for grief happens in a moment. When we add more of these moments, it becomes more of a habit, more of our norm. If you can spend 10 minutes, that would be great. Set a timer so you are less distracted. Then, silence devices until you are done.
3. Use a gesture to begin.
Here are a few ideas:
- close your eyes
- light a candle
- bring your palms together in front of your heart
- place one hand on your heart and one on your belly
- jumping jacks
4. Articulate your intention.
If you’ve gotten this far, your intention is already set. This is where you practice paying attention to it. It might be that your motivation is for someone else or for yourself, it might be related to loss or, focused on the potential for growth. As you practice articulating intention, try saying it three times using the following framework:
- May I be __________
- May (they) be __________
- May WE be __________
5. Check-in with your body.
Do this either passively with a body scan or actively with movement. If you’ve been running around a lot, you might use the time to be still. If you’ve been in one spot for a while, you might need to move. You might feel grief as pain or even numbness in parts of your body. Any of it is ok.
(If you’ve come to the end of your practice time, skip to step 9.)
If you have more time try some small -> BIG movements with different parts of your body (eyes, lips, throat, hands, arms, etc…) and then with your whole body. (I’ll share a video of a Yoga for Grief practice soon.)
Choose a movement that feels interesting and repeat it up to 10 times, at any pace.
7. Be still and focus on breathing.
Try loose/horse lips on your exhalation, breathing into side ribs or elongating breath to a count of 6 on inhale, 6 on exhale. Maintain focus on breathing practice, hold attention to task whether it’s counting, breathing into side ribs, relaxing lips or another.
8. Tune in to your senses.
To practice this step, try to listen for your breath and then for a sound that’s in the room, one outside of the room and then another that’s far away, another that’s closer and then breath again.
You can stay focused on one sense, like hearing as suggested. Or, you can go through each of the senses and focus on a few impressions.
9. Offer gratitude
… for your body, breath, and loving awareness. And, you can also offer gratitude for anything else that has arisen in your awareness during the practice, even grief. You can either just repeat the phrase “Thank you.” Or, you can use the whole phrase: “Thank you for my body.”
10. Repeat intention
… three times: for yourself, for others, for all.
Gesture the end of the formal practice (bow, blow out candle, open eyes… your choice.)
In summary, whether it’s the loss of a loved one or an opportunity… grief can be a powerful push towards our own fulfillment. Take the time and make the space to engage with the process and YOU will find yourself, calm and clear in the midst of it all. Yoga for grief offers a path.
Finally, if you’re finding the holiday season to be especially ripe with opportunity (NEED) to practice. Link to our previous post: 5 Tips for a Mindful Holiday. If you want some more individual support, you can schedule time with me, online or in person by clicking here.
Please join me in the process… I’d like to build this network and strengthen our resolve together! I’m starting with a new Yoga for Grief Facebook group. Click here to join the conversation. Thank you, thank you, thank you. 😌
These are tips for a mindful holiday, any holiday. Birthdays and anniversaries, sunrise, sunset and all of the other events that repeat on our calendars… give us the opportunity to realize our powerful potential.
Yoga for mental health is a soulful practice of poise. It allows us to look at life, from all aspects, with equanimity and curiosity. It encourages compassion and creativity and reveals gratitude and joy. What follows are tips to practice in the midst of it all..
#1/5 tips for a mindful holiday
in between bites, in the midst of a hug, before walking in the door.
These are the good old days… and you don’t want to miss them. These can also be trying times, and you’ll want to have your wits about you.
Take a deep breath and pause before the next one.
Prepare your plate with care (and lots of color!) Position yourself so that you breathe easily while eating. Direct your gaze downward, even close your eyes while you savor flavors. Put your fork down while you chew.
Take a deep breath before you answer, or ask, questions. Try using a “Hmmmm…” as a sign of active listening, and, as a way to tune your nervous system before responding.
Take a deep breath when you have your arms wrapped around someone you love. Sustain your gaze, wink, smile… at your own reflection in the mirror and when you see your heart reflected on someone else’s face.
Pause when you’re washing your hands and marvel at them. Feel the water, smell the soap.
Make some space, take some time before bed to relax and reflect. Stop ingesting and start digesting… be quiet, close your eyes, maybe support your spine (to help open your belly) or put your feet up. Just a few minutes like this can help to prepare your body and mind for the deep reset that is sleep. To help keep your mind more focused, less scattered, you can choose a few moments of gratitude. Repeat them to yourself or write them down. End with a wish for wellbeing, for yourself and for all of those who have been with you in your world on this day.
#2/5 tips for a mindful holiday
unique smells, colors, sounds and feelings when outside of your normal routine. The holidays are a GREAT opportunity for this. Linger for a while and learn. Invite others to notice with you… especially if you have kids at your table. Develop a broader perspective, make or reinforce connections, let the moment make an impression by noticing it!
It can be helpful to apply this tips for a mindful holiday with equanimity. If you notice negative or unpleasant sensations you can elevate your response to them from the subconscious to the conscious level. We don’t have much power over our instincts. We do have, especially with this practice, a LOT of power over how we respond.
As you invite all of your senses to be present and engaged, you will likely find a greater sense of ease. It is easier when we have our mind, body and heart’s resources all available to deal with whatever’s right in front of us. When one, or many, parts of us are somewhere else… we suffer.
Have you noticed that most of your suffering comes from this sense of separateness? Sometimes our mind is in a memory, or a fantasy and it misses a reality. Sometimes, we miss the wisdom of our bodies, their fullness, hunger, aches, pains or ease. Sometimes it’s our heart’s desire that’s pushed out or down or held back.
Notice where there is space, when there’s too much and when there isn’t enough. Notice when you are hungry and when you are full. Notice that it is impossible to eliminate this dynamic, it is possible to cultivate poise in its midst.
Notice when you are breathing in, when you are breathing out and when you are between breaths. 🙏🏼
#3/5 tips for a mindful holiday
yourself and those vulnerable souls nearby from unnecessary pain and suffering. There’s quite enough that’s unavoidable, don’t you think?
Be thoughtful with your words (the ones in your head and the ones on your lips.)
Take breaks from the bustle and go to a quiet place… if there’s not a room in the house for this try sitting quietly on the couch or the floor with a kid or a pet or an elder, take a extra trip to the bathroom or out to the car to walk slowly and breathe deeply for a few minutes.
This desire (need) to “defend” is intrinsic. If we don’t do it mindfully, our subconscious will come up with ways to do it that might not be so mindful…
Let the intimacy of a closer connection, a more sustained gaze or touch be part of network of safety that can hold you steady in the midst of a lot of movement.
Even for a moment, you can shift your senses inward to be sure there’s enough space for you to feel safe. Do this by listening for your breath… amplify it if you can’t hear it. If you can’t hear it still… move to a quieter place and try again. It’s there. Try a Yoga Nidra practice to help clear your mind. We have an audio download for you here: https://yogaformentalhealth.com/guided-meditation/
When you are sure and steady… see if you notice that anyone else is a bit more shaky.
Share your intention and mindful presence to those who might be dangling. These might be the loudest, most obnoxious people in the room. They might be the ones who are diving into their screens or not saying a word.
Be careful about projecting your behavioral intentions onto other people. Instead, DO what you need to do to stay present and then pay attention to the vulnerability of those around you and honor them.
#4/5 tips for a mindful holiday ⠀ ⠀
yourself and others for the mistakes of the past and any impatience with the present. ⠀ If this one feels impossible go back to steps #1 – pause, #2 – notice, #3 – protect until you feel safe enough to proceed. ⠀ ⠀
Forgiving doesn’t mean forgetting, it doesn’t mean permitting. ⠀ ⠀
To forgive is to find freedom. ⠀
Once free, the life force may grow. It may evolve. It may be that the spark of compassion that sees the potential for this growth is the very component that was needed to allow it to happen. ⠀
It’s ok. We’re human. We can learn from our mistakes. ⠀ ⠀
See the potential that your brilliant life force has to be realized and, see it in others. Check out a previous post about “The Difficult Person” if you’re dealing with one.
#5/5 tips for a mindful holiday ⠀ ⠀
the outcome you WANT. We spend a lot of time thinking about the worst case scenario… imagine that mental power directed towards this mindful process!⠀ ⠀
With this vision, focus on the feelings, (know that you can’t eliminate unpleasant ones but you absolutely can encourage more pleasant ones!) ⠀ ⠀
This requires that you focus on YOUR role. Build your awareness, tolerance and resolve.
BKS Iyengar, my teacher’s teacher, says: Yoga teaches us to cure what we cannot endure and endure what we cannot cure. ⠀ ⠀
Waiting for the chance that “they will… do… say… not do… not say… ” is a terribly powerless situation. Instead, try envisioning another outcome, get your mind working FOR you, not against your (or anyone else’s) potential for NOW. ⠀ ⠀
Your people will benefit most from SEEING you happy, contented, joyful, patient, focused, clear (or whatever else you may be desiring.) Feel that possibility, notice when it’s close, do the things that bring you closer. Your insight and intuition can be your guide. ⠀ ⠀
Cycle back through Tips 1-4 with each new moment of awareness and watch your path unfold with ease… ⠀ but not without some effort to stay on it!⠀ ⠀
Follow @yogamargi on social media for mindfulness practice tips, inspiration and stories! I LOVE hearing how these tips have helped! Share comments, tell people, or message me to keep the intention flowing… 🙏🏼
With great gratitude and LOVE,
Practice gratitude for mental health. When we practice gratitude we become more present. When we are more present we see more clearly. To see clearly is to know deeply. Deep knowledge is a reservoir of peace. It will steady us in shifting light. It will allow us to stay present even with that which we are resolved to transform. Especially with that…
Gratitude practice is both the outcome AND can be the path to mental heatlh.
It can be alarming to confront aspects of our selves that we thought we’d so carefully contained. These are the parts that we’d packed our bags and moved away from, put in the back of the closet or have worked so hard to transform. We might notice embarrassment, shame, sadness or other negative emotions arise when these parts emerge.
Gratitude practice for mental health is both the outcome AND can be the path.
Notice the range of emotion that you experience in a day. Notice that even when unpleasant feelings are there, there is also room for neutral and even pleasant feelings too. For example, you may be both embarrassed by past behavior and proud of how you’re more likely to act now.
Gratitude for mental health is the outcome AND practice is the path.
Alertness is the hidden discipline of familiarity wrote the poet David Whyte. It is mindfulness in all things that will give us access to the depth of knowledge that comes in the absence of complacency. Don’t deny the insight that is possible when you pay attention.
Expose yourself to a different perspective… sometimes it might be a place or a person. Cultivate the power to change perspective from within by looking at your current surroundings with more curiousity. Focus attention there. Describe, with great detail, the more adjectives, the better, what you see!
Gratitude is both the outcome AND the path.
Practice paying attention. Practice offering careful, curious and loving attention to all aspects of your experience. Set time aside, it doesn’t need to be much. Even a minute will make a difference. Practice gratitude for mental health, flexibilty, perspective, compassion and creativity.
I’m grateful to have just spent time with some of my oldest friends, the people who became my family after I left my parents’ house. Like families that start all nestled in shared space and expand over time, so have we. Over decades, our paths have diverged. If just starting from here, they may never have crossed.
Gratitude practice for mental health is both the outcome AND a strategy that can clear a path to a deep connection, an abiding love for WHO is present in these people with whom we find ourselves in this life.
I’m going to focus on these teachings over the next couple of weeks in classes on G Street. THIS is yoga for mental health. https://yogaformentalhealth.com/calendar-of-events/
You can register for classes in advance by following this link: https://yogaformentalhealth.as.me/
Thankful for you…
Feeling that new moon this month. The beginning of something, that comes right after the end of something… it’s such a tender time. Think of moms and babies, tiny seedlings, a new school, a new job, a new relationships… that tremor of change… sometimes we recognize it as excitement, anticipation… sometimes fear, vulnerability, rawness.
Our orientation on this spectrum of emotional tone has everything to do with all of the other cycles that we’re traveling.
We have the daily spin of the earth, the monthly pass by the moon, the yearly trip around the sun and then the arc of our whole life.
We also have relationships, projects and places that come closer and then move farther away throughout our lives. It can be dizzying!
To gain perspective, confidence and clarity, practice orienting to these cycles and adjust your expectations accordingly. Sure, every day might be our last and, maybe that awareness is helpful if there is a bigger change that you need to make. However, if you’re here, reading this, you’ve probably also noticed that the days keep coming in the meantime…
For us humans, everyday, we need, at a minimum: water, food, air, movement and sleep. Our physical body’s needs cycle quickly! If/when we develop strategies for consistently anticipating and meeting these needs… then we can address our more subtle (though often not so subtle) needs.
What are our interests? What is our purpose? What do we love? Who do we want to get to know better?
All of those questions take time to answer. We have our lifetime!
If your daily needs are not yet well met, you should focus on refining your schedule. Use other people, and whatever you have learned about yourself and how you can best “show up” for things, to implement any changes. And, do it slowly, over time. Give your brain a chance to build new neural pathways!
If/when those patterns are well supported, you can move on to a bigger picture perspective! You may want to take on a lunar cycle and try a practice of setting intention and paying attention over the course of a whole month. Your sankalpa or resolve, should be a short, simple statement of intention. The more clear that it is, the more likely that you will be able to see your success.
I shared with you last time that I was abstaining from all intoxicants this month. I have enjoyed them throughout my adulthood as a way to shift gears, unwind, spark creativity, conversation and connection BUT… there are LOTS of other ways to do that too. I always really enjoy the experience of taking breaks from regular habits when I’m on retreats and look for ways to integrate the practice more consistently at home. Harder to do…
Committing to a specific practice for a whole month gives us a chance to see it under varied light. The weeks of the month correspond well to the seasons of the year in terms of energetics… 1st week: spring, 2nd week: summer, 3rd week: fall, 4th week: winter. Motivation, optimism, intro/extroversion and other qualities vary over these weeks and seasons.
When we see things as they are, we gain the power of perspective!
I’ll continue to offer you ways to practice applying awareness of these cycles to your processes. If you’re interested in learning more, please just start to track things for yourself. Identify one or more cycles that you’re aware of and everyday or every few days, check in with where you are.
Get in touch with me if you need help with this. We’ll work on it together.
I’m so grateful for the support your presence offers. Thank you thank you thank you… for being here and for being you.
What’s your type? Or, in the immortal words of that curious catepillar… “Who are YOU?” If you use this as a prompt for a period of self-reflection, what do you come up with as an answer? Currently, I’m someone who eats cookies for lunch! And cries when debriefing a difficult professional situation with a friend […]
Oh, this MOON, piercing the black night sky and sweetening the pastel hues of the morning. It’s the hunter’s moon, I’ve also seen the full moon called the traveller’s moon. It’s magical. It feels true to me… I’ve been looking for sustenance, open to what this season uniquely reveals. I’ve been covering miles, soaking in […]
We’ve been practicing paying attention. We’re increasingly aware when we do that all things are connected. We can use this practice to better understand (and improve) the way we relate to people, all people.
So, you broke up with your partner, quit your job, moved out of the house, went on vacation, stopped hanging out with that “toxic” friend, started meditating and/or made any other big decision to try to better your life experience and, low and behold, you’re still miserable.
Those habits, negative thought patterns
1. Well, first thing, you could consider is a celebration! You’re not alone anymore! Your higher consciousness, the one that looks over you, the one that whispers words of wisdom, the one that loves and protects and encourages you, is now here with you. You may recognize it as your intuition, the voice or reason or truth. With your help and with practice, it can and will guide you. So, celebrate! Do whatever you like to do to celebrate: bake a cake, have a party, take a day off to play, sing in the shower, have a dance party in your living room, get dressed up and buy yourself flowers – celebrate and welcome your insight, give it the real red carpet treatment!
2. Next, cultivate your new relationship. Start by spending quality time together: the wise, patient and loving you with the cranky, tired, doubtful you. Treat that less sophisticated part of you gently, like you would a newborn or a stray. Offer treats, speak softly and lovingly. Be patient, be kind. You could even have a little script prepared for when this self shows up. Try something like: “ Hello again (doubt, anger, shame) , I’m glad you’re here. I wanted to get to know you better. Could I sit beside you or walk with you for a while?”
3. Start noticing when you feel great, or good, or even, not so bad. When you do, pause, ask all 5 senses to pipe in and tell you more. To help stay focused, write it down. Be patient and persistent with this. Usually we are more attuned to some senses than others. In this practice, ask each sense: sight, hearing, smell, taste and touch to seek out, notice, and report at least two things. Let your attention be fully immersed in this awareness of the senses. Enjoy.
4. Create rituals and establish routines around what nourishes you (refer to step 3 above if you need some ideas.) This doesn’t mean that you can’t ever sleep late or eat out. It does means that when you do, your system trusts that you will get it back. Theses rituals and routines assure that you have some reserves, some contingency for the unexpected. The truth is you are a divine spirit with a brilliant mind that is housed in a human body. And, that body is quite fragile, it has limits. You’re only every going to be so tall, only going to live for so many years, only every going to be able to stay awake for so long, go without food or water for so long, etc… I know this one can be kind of confusing, especially when we see what phenomenal influence it seems we can have on our health and longevity, our speed, and our tolerance for excess or deprivation, and for that matter, even our height! I have had several students report that they have gained inches with regular yoga practice! However, there are still limits in this lifetime, they have gained inches, not feet in height. The more willing we are to accept hat the body has needs and limits as well as phenomenal power and potential, the more consistently we will be able to build on our strengths, rather than having to expend all of the time and energy it takes to recover from mistakes.
5. Make space for creativity, rest, tantrums and other unexpected guests. No one’s very pleasant when they’re in a rush so slow down. Practice being unscheduled. During this unscheduled time, ask yourself how you’d most like to spend your unscheduled hour/day/week. Do whatever you can manage, save other ideas on a list for another time. Invite ideas, questions, friends and nature to share space with you.
Repeat these steps until you notice that you are both enjoying your own company and others until the path seems to be unfolding with more ease before you. Then, keep going…
I turned 44 last weekend. I have to say, I love getting older. And so far, the 40s are my favorite decade yet!
Birthdays are such powerful days.
As someone who has experienced infertility knows, a viable pregnancy itself is a miracle. A live birth is another. Surviving childhood is something we take for granted now but was not guaranteed even just a couple of generations ago.
The memories that birthdays evoke and the expectations that arise with them can be startling! They can put us so surely in our experience. They can also pull us away.
I have a memory from childhood, maybe I was 5 or 6. I thought that everyone had forgotten my birthday. Then, there was a surprise party. I was confused. It was only a couple of years ago that I was actually convinced that the surprise was the intention all along…
My sister shared another powerful memory with me recently. One of our family’s traditions was that you got to choose your birthday dinner, it could be anything you wanted. Except for her… because it was too hot to cook dumplings in the summertime. She’s the middle child. She usually had to compromise. She’s really good at it.
These days I’ve come to expect that my friends with kids will be busy on the weekends with birthday parties. There are always cakes and presents. I hear about elaborate plans. I’ve seen a fair share of tantrums and tears.
These lives are so precious, so impermanent, so important. Rituals and traditions keep us connected. Except, when they don’t.
A birthday without a mom is a strange thing. And when you live thousands of miles away from where you grew up and the people you’re related to… things are different.
This year there weren’t any presents to unwrap or cake. I have everything that I need, but still couldn’t help missing the ritual…
I wore a golden crown, sat under a golden Happy Birthday sign, blew out a candle in an egg frittata and got to spend the day with 10 of my favorite people: The Golddiggers. As luck would have it, my birthday has fallen over the Klondike Road Relay race weekend for the past couple of years. It’s both the easiest built in celebration you could imagine and also, not really mine.
I got text messages from a few of my siblings, a call from another, and a card from my Dad a few days later (who’s still getting used to doing the things that my Mom used to do.) I have a dear friend who LOVES birthdays and is offering some special attention. Otherwise, it’s up to me to decide who and what and when and how to celebrate the miracle of my birth and my life.
And for each of us… as the Earth returns to the position it was in at the time of our birth… we have the opportunity to reflect on the pathway that has led us back here.
We can remember the people, characters in our story, who were close then and are faraway now… choose to see who is close now and will someday be gone. We can see the trajectory of our potential realized as it guides our course and will continue to do so. We can choose to see the power and profound impermanence of these conditions that we call our life, or not. We might just notice the aches and pains, the wrinkles, gray hairs and disappointment.
That’s not my path.
With each moment passing, our opportunity is waning. Life is here, now.
Its end is getting closer every day… celebrate however you can, whatever you can, whenever you can! Let me know when I can join you. I LOVE to celebrate!
Happy Birthday to me…