Lake Michigan’s Solitude

I looked out at Lake Michigan, taking a break from my early morning walk.

She was calm with only some snow trapped between the rocks on her shores.  This winter scene is one I never tire of.  Although these cold months are long, I swear the Lake loves them.  It’s her rest from the activity in her harbor.  The boats, kayaks and jet skis have long been put away.  This is her time alone to rejuvenate.

I started reflecting on the last time I was truly alone.  And I mean just me.  No phone, no computer, no company.  Sadly, I know I haven’t given myself even an hour alone in years.  While working out, my phone is by my side.  Emailing from the sauna and bathtub allows for my most creative emails and problem solving.  “Work is just insane right now!” I would tell myself and others.  But it’s not work’s fault.  My phone did not walk itself onto my yoga mat or ask if it could join me in the sauna.  I allowed this.  I invited it.  Not only that, but let’s call it what it is…something in me wanted the non-stop distractions.

The cry of a seagull brought me back to the present moment.  “Look how content she is” I thought while noticing the lake again.  I realized when I’m in my thoughts I stop seeing what’s in front of me.  Oh lovely, so I’ve been walking while being both distracted and blind.  Sounds like a dangerous combo…

I let out a sigh and know I want to be more like her–content with nothing to do, content with solitude, content with being.  “May I join you?” I quietly whisper.  It may only begin with just a few minutes each day, but those minutes will grow and hopefully allow me to better understand my love of distractions.

I start walking back towards home, so thankful for this cold winter morning and our beautiful Lake Michigan.

Pushing Buttons

My vintage silk scarf saved our “seats” for my two friends and me at the Krishna Das workshop at Bhakti Fest.  I lovingly touched the beautiful threads with my fingertips thinking, the five dollars I spent for it had already paid off.  Krishna Das is arguably the most thought of face when the subject of kirtan (sacred chanting) comes up.  We had spent four hours listening to this man’s moving music the night before underneath the stars… and now, front and center, we’ll hear his thoughts on whatever topics come up.

He began speaking of buttons we push to receive the feeling of love…people, alcohol, sex, exercise…some more “healthy” than others, but still external.  This led me to think about the phrase, “They push my buttons.”  This statement has dual meaning…it’s unknown if it’s a good or bad thing unless you have an understanding of the context around this statement.  Either way, it means the other person knows what stirs passion within you.  In Sales, I know I look for those buttons in my customers and clients…it was to better understand them, to encourage action, but not to be manipulative….right??  I began questioning my motives.

I wanted to think that my own personal buttons weren’t as obvious as others’ were to me….surely I’ve pulled them in.  But just as my ego was about to kick in high gear, a flood of my external weaknesses came as a fast slideshow in my mind.  Alright, so I have a LOT of external buttons…I began to panic.  Could I not drink, swear, shop (the list goes on…in fact, it may have no ending) the rest of my life?!  Glancing down, my sweet silk scarf confirmed the unlikely-hood.  But in asking myself, a powerful desire to own my “love” buttons swelled in my heart.   The erratic pendulum shift one feels with the presence or lack of presence of that button now seemed wildly unnecessary.

Certainly, I will still experience joy outside of myself, but there was a shift and in that moment I knew, finding bliss internally would become my greatest focus.  Looking around the room, a sea of people had their eyes closed, while listening and singing with the sacred chants.  If we could all find and follow our internal bliss, imagine the creativity, joy and kindness we could extend to each other.  May we all find a part of our day where this internal bliss has space to grow.  Om Shanti.

Allowing Love

One of the television programs I enjoy watching is The Dog Whisperer.  He frequently states, “You don’t get the dog you want, but the dog you need.”  This thought lead me to reflect on my own (human!) relationships.

I began thinking about how friends and family show love.  If being honest with my feelings, in the past at times, I have become disappointed or frustrated in the way it has been expressed. However, to reflect on Cesar Milan’s statement…I thought–in truth–to get exactly what we want, isn’t allowing the other person to be their authentic self.  Asking a “circle-loving style” friend to love you within your “square-loving style” is missing the point of experiencing life with others.

Maybe, if one wants to be loved a specific way—we should love ourselves exactly how we’d like.  We can ask ourselves to fall perfectly within our love parameters.  We can take the space we need on a quiet morning and tell ourselves the things we wish to hear.  “Great job not losing your temper!”  “You made a wonderful point during your meeting”….etc.  As silly as it may seem, why not tell ourselves what we so need to hear?  After all, we internally created the desire to hear this statement, let’s authentically tell ourselves what we know deep down to be true.

When we need to mentally place roles/character traits and expectations on others, we are saying to them, “I don’t trust your true self.”  This may be a valid realization with some people in our lives and serious reflection may be in order.  But if there is faith and trust, let’s recognize how our expectation and desires are affecting the relationship.  If we let others be who they are—what surprising ways they enhance our life!  What amazing, unexpected joy one will find in their fresh perspective.  To truly love another, let’s be compassionate of their interpretation of the world.  And an amazing thing happens…we’re loved not necessarily how we want, but how we need.

Thank you to all my easy and challenging relationships….may we continue to grow side by side with absolute love.

Leap of Faith

I glance behind me at the soft and welcoming dirt path I know so well.  Its familiarity murmurs words of comfort, promising safety and gentleness.  The worn trail mimics a lazy serpent, slowly wandering its way through lush grasses and stoic great Maples.  Wasn’t this path intimidating at one time?  I could see in the distance a hill I had once struggled with, but now only seems like a gentle slope.

Turning back, I gulp.  Here it is…the cliff, I knew, that has been waiting for me.  The winds blow strongly in agreement and I felt my body sway from their power.  I was awestruck by this view-both appreciating the beauty and terrified.

I shuffle closer to the edge and peer down-hoping to see a net magically materialize by some divine helper…but if there was such a net, my limited sight failed to reveal it.  “Must I?” I asked myself out loud, already knowing the answer.

The options are a lovely familiar path that I’ve already outgrown, or a brilliant leap of faith, promising new experiences.  The comfort of safety is important and greatly desired in the Spring of one’s life, but now Summer was facing me dead-on and its heat vibrating with life was too great to ignore.

I close my eyes and allow one leg to hang over the edge, as if I would continue to walk onto an invisible bridge, but I quickly pull it back.  If I’m going to do this, I’m going to do it right.

I turn around and walk five yards back onto my old road and spin back once more to face the edge of the Earth as I knew it.  Chills of anticipation and rightness wash over my body and I exhale, dropping as many limiting thoughts as possible.

“You can do this,” I tell myself.  I begin running with the sound of my feet hitting the ground acting as a war drum….and then there was lovely silence, ready to be filled with sounds of the next phase of life.

Personal Power

Personal  power ….this subject has its grasp on me.  We tend to own our power partially, allowing ourselves to be powerful within situations and then giving it up at other times.  Truly powerful people, keep their center of power, but allow the give and take of it.  This ebb and flow of energy, doesn’t change the core of who they are, but rather they act more as a flexible palm tree…bending and swaying during winds of change, but still very rooted down.  Many days I see myself as that palm tree, but then a specific situation will hit and WHOOSH….I’m now a vulnerable palm leaf at the mercy of the wind’s of another.

True strength seems to come from a Source of unlimited energy, the same that carved masterpieces like the Grand Canyon.  Similar to the Colorado River that created this tremendous trench, this power is soft and fluid.  It doesn’t ask, “How long?” and seems to know time is on its side.  This place of enduring power has patience and a deep understanding of the bigger picture…even if that picture looks different than another’s.  The short-lived explosions of intense “strength” seem volatile and erratic compared to this steadfast ownership of self.  When truly owning it, there is an understanding that you one with your own mission, that straying isn’t possible so you will stand here now and forever into the future.

True power comes from understanding yourself, the situation and knowing where you can be flexible.  It is not one-sided or forceful, it’s an allowing of other’s into your sphere of your universe.  For true strength can house the opinions of others.

But until we are in that place of true ownership of personal power, maybe being the loose leaf in the storm gives us a view we’ve never seen before.

Creating Space

“Open the hip and make space,” my yoga instructor (and dear friend), Biz, leads the class.

I’m in lizard pose and tilt my front foot on its pinky toe edge, allowing the bottom of my foot to start facing the sky.  AKA: Pain.

What was my intention I set at the start of practice?  Ah yes…’I create space to allow change.’  Believe me, the irony of this thought and my current condition isn’t missed on me.  This wasn’t the space I had in mind.  I was thinking along the lines of space from attachments, of ego…I was hoping for mental space…but while my tight hips begin to release and open, I see that space is needed in many places in my life.

Why as adults do we tend to lack space for ourselves?  We’re filling our already time-crunched days with legitimate activities, but even worse… our purposeful little time wasters we so readily allow–smart phones with texting, games, updating Twitter, Facebook and Four Square.  But it’s not this amazing device’s problem.  We also allow our time to be filled by our friends’ problems, work drama, news stories, and magazine gossip.  We truly find ourselves lost for a tiny slice of space.

If these times of potential “space” or “nothingness” had room to stay, maybe better things could fill it…for instance, actually analyzing where we spend our time and determining if it’s worth it to us.

Space has been demanded during other times of our lives:  As a teenager, we wanted space from our parents for growth and self-discovery.  In an intimate relationship, we understand the value of space.  Without it one or both of you will feel “suffocated.”  A mother about to reach full term begins nesting, creating space for a new life.  Without this created room, there seems to be little ability for growth and change.

Opening ourselves up to spare time and putting down our distractions, gives us this space again. Taking a deep breath in, filling the cavities of our lungs and exhaling  gives the “nothingness” a space to live.  By allowing ourselves to be “bored”…the time to ponder what we really love to do is created.  It’s uncomfortable at first, but like everything else, with practice it becomes easier.  Give yourself this well-deserved time to be alone in the “nothingness” and watch what can be created.

“Release the foot back and come into plank.  Beautiful….other side now.”

The intense stretch begins again with the other hip, but I go back to my intention:  ‘I create space to allow change.’