Change

via Daily Prompt: Savor

Life is full of changes. My job was recently complicated when one of my leads resigned to take another position. A new team was put in place and I found myself in the position of being one of the most seasoned members on that project. Now, I’m perfectly capable of leading. I’m even kind of good at it, but I still don’t always look for excuses to lead. I love mentoring, but being the leader is a different ball of wax. Being the leader requires more commitment, more stress and frankly, less freedom; and if I’m going to be perfectly honest about myself, freedom is one of my favorite things in the whole world. So it’s a struggle. As per my normal reaction, I’m trying to find a happy balance with the situation.

In addition, my baby sister has decided to move to California which is literally on the other side of the country. I’ve been scrambling to get some time with her before she goes; and I’m already thinking ahead to my first visit, which has been difficult to pull together due to conflicting timelines.

Last night, our large family came together and we took her to dinner. There were seven small children total in our group so I imagine the restaurant is still nursing the wounds of that trauma 🙂 (Needless to say, we tipped our waitress very well). Afterwards, my sister and I stood outside of the restaurant and talked to one of my brothers and his family for about 45 minutes then she and I went for a drink with a couple of her friends.

As we stood outside of the restaurant, I looked up to see the sky in all its glory as the sun set behind the clouds. A sense of awe and freedom and gratitude washed over me as I stood under the sky and talked to my siblings in the parking lot. Afterwards, my sister and I went out and extended our visit.

Sometimes, life takes twists and turns and we don’t know where it’s taking us. I was talking to a friend a while back. She was looking to make some changes in her life and was overwhelmed by how she should do it.

“I have a tendency to get bogged down with the big picture,” I said.

“Me, too!” she answered.

But I think the key is to just take the next step. We can be aware of the big picture, but most of the time, we won’t be able to just jump to the end. We just have to take the next step and savor the good times along the way. Make the most of a visit when the opportunity presents itself and always glance up to see the sunset.

IMG_2974

 

 

Mirror

A while back, I was listening to a podcast of Between the Covers featuring the writer, Dani Shapiro. I actually don’t know that much about Dani Shapiro, I have not read any of her books, but I intend to. I loved the podcast. I got so much out of it.

In one segment, she talked about reading some of her old journals and how they made her feel about her younger self. I, also, have read back over some of my old journals, and it is a very interesting experience. At times, I was frustrated with myself. I could read the struggles and patterns that would lead me down the road to certain mistakes or life experiences, but on the other hand, I was struck with the recognition of my own personality and the fact that I recognized my own voice, even from an early age. Me at 14, 17, my 20s, 30s and so on, it was always me. There were different levels of maturity, naivete, cynicism, happiness and pain, confidence or self-doubt, but it was always me. It was actually a very good tool for helping me to have compassion for myself. It gave me the ability to stand outside of myself, to see myself objectively, but at the same time, I understood completely what that girl was going through.

It makes me wonder just how early on we develop our sense of who were are, whether we know it or not. This thought process is what drives my haiku for mirror.  

 

Reading old journals

Younger me is a mirror

of the me I know

Breathwork and Baby Pines

This past year, a friend recruited me to be a part of an online meditation group led by a friend of hers who teaches yoga in Costa Rica. I’m not an expert yogi, but I do attend yoga classes from time to time and I always experience a sense of calm when I do yoga. Something about the stillness and the stretching wrings out my tension and gives me a sense of peace.

Recently Ashley, the instructor from Costa Rica, was in the US. She has ties to my hometown and stopped in to teach a few classes on breathwork at a local studio. I had never taken a class focused solely on breathwork, but I like to try new things so I attended one of the sessions. Before the class, Ashley asked me if I had an intention, something on which I wanted to focus during the class. I shrugged.

“There are a few uncertain changes going on at work,” I said.

“Well, that is something you can think about,” she answered.

When the class started, I didn’t focus on anything, at first, except for breathing. The idea of breathwork, as I understand it, is to breathe fully in a circular motion, from the diaphragm, through your chest and out of your mouth then back. We breathed in the air through our mouths and we exhaled out of our mouths. Ashley asked us to breath throughout our entire body. I imagined the air moving from my feet through my legs into my belly and my chest, then up into my head and out of my mouth. At times, I was distracted by the sounds of other people breathing around me, but I focused on the breath. I started to imagine the breath as a circle, traveling the length of my body then looping to go back around. Somewhere along the way, I started to think about other things, but not about work, and my thoughts took me to the heart of something. I started thinking about how most people play it safe with other people. We share enough of ourselves to be seen as friendly, but little enough to protect ourselves from being hurt. I know I do. This prompted me to start thinking about forgiveness and letting things go.

After the class, Ashley paired us with a partner and we talked about our experience. I was paired with a woman on a mat behind me. We sat cross-legged on our mats and looked at one another. She was older than me and a little weathered. Her silver hair was cut in a very hip style and she had two of the most alert, smiling, clear blue eyes I’ve ever seen. I told her about my thoughts.

“Wow,” she said, “that’s very similar to what I was working on.” And she shared some things about herself with me.

Before we left, Ashley suggested that it might be a good day to spend some time in nature since we were already in reflective moods. That worked well for me as I was already going for a walk.

I went to a local park, Hugh McRae Park, and walked for about 45 minutes. Hugh McRae is filled with established pine trees, but as I walked, I noticed that the park has planted new pines, as well. Several baby pines were nestled among the older pines. The scene of pines filled me with pleasure and I stopped for a while to look at them. Now, that I look back on it, I know why they made me happy. Not only were the pines a bright, happy green and quite pretty, but they were new little lives releasing oxygen back into the air. Breathing their own cycle like me. There was a sort of synchronicity to finding them right after my breathwork. Pretty cool.

FullSizeRender (29)

 

 

 

 

Sunflower

It’s Father’s Day and I’m making my rounds. This morning I had breakfast and a visit with my step-father and this evening there is a cookout for my dad.

I discovered this sunflower in my mother’s garden while visiting my step-father this morning.

Sunflowers symbolize many things, among them happiness, good fortune and loyalty which seems a fitting tribute to the dads.

IMG_2805

They are also symbols of spirituality and worship.

This sunflower served as my inspiration for the “bright” haiku challenge:

Face of a daisy

Bright golden-rayed worshipper

Standing in the light

 

Have a peaceful Sunday, all!

 

 

 

 

Deep Breaths-Revelation

Yesterday, I got into a bit of a snit. I sat around the house too long, paralyzed with competing thoughts over what I should do with my day; then I felt remorse for not accomplishing anything. I also ate too much yesterday. I think I was trying to fix my inner agitation with food, as if it were some kind of hungry beast that could be pacified and would quiet down if I fed it. Finally, and I mean FINALLY- late in the afternoon- I left the house to run some errands.

 

This segued into a walk at the park. I had to push myself to do it. My belly felt full which is not conducive to exercise. I was like a snake who had fed on a rodent and couldn’t move, but I pressed on. As I pounded the trail, the fresh air and the music on my phone started to pound out my agitation and regret. I felt myself loosen up.

 

On the way home, I toyed with the idea of driving down to the beach. I took a route home that would carry me past the beach and as I approached the turn off, I felt my car going in that direction. I arrived just in time to see the sunset. Everything started to melt into the revelation that I always have, time and time again, when I am outside looking at God’s wonder.

FullSizeRender (27)

The world is still moving, whether I am or not, and it is still beautiful. We can’t change the past, but as long as we are here, we can keep on going to meet tomorrow. So glad I found a way to remind myself of that.

 

 

Better

This week for the first time, I met my new children’s lit critique group. I submitted two pieces for review: a nursery rhyme about a little girl trying to find a matching pair of shoes and a short story about two cats learning to live with one another. My group loved the nursery rhyme but schooled me on stress syllables. They ripped apart the story of the cats but they liked the theme of the story. I came away with hyperlinks to stress syllables, two book suggestions and a reminder of how far I have to go before I craft my stories into the best stories that they can be. My response? I’ve purchased one of the books on Amazon, I’m reading up on the subjects of stress and meter and I’m planning revisions to my stories. In the end, both the stories and I will be better for it.  

So much of our lives, in every area, are spent growing whether we want to grow or not. At work, computer systems are constantly being upgraded and new people always need to be mentored. Once you reach a level where you can mentor someone else, watch out, because that means you qualify for more responsibility. With additional responsibility comes additional correction which is stressful (not to use that word again), but without the correction we cannot get better. I’m learning to think of getting better as growth instead of a sign that I’m not good enough, and I’m learning that no matter how much I grow, there will always be hard work to do.

This morning, I was lazily sitting on the couch drinking my coffee when I heard a vehicle pull into my drive. I looked out the window and it was my father. I wasn’t surprised. On springtime mornings, he frequently arrives unannounced with his pickup truck, trimmers and weedeater in the back, to offer assistance in my yard. I pulled on a robe and walked outside, cup in hand, and smiled.

“I guess this means I have to get dressed,” I said.

We spent a couple of hours working in the yard. I rode my  lawn mower, and he did the weeding and trimming. At lunch, I got us a chicken salad from Zaxby’s, and we sat on the back porch and ate together. The time he spends working in my yard is for both our benefits. I need the help in the yard and he knows it, but it’s also something that we do together. And there is reward in the end. The yard cleans up nice and visually rewards us for our efforts. As for us, well, we are better for it, too.

 

 

 

 

 

Pause

I’ve been a little anxious lately. Nothing serious. It will pass. As you know, life ebbs and flows. At some point, probably soon, this anxious little river I’ve been sailing down will turn a corner and flow into a happy place once again. It is spring, after all.

It’s not one thing in particular that gets me down, rather just the piling up of life. The house isn’t clean enough. The lawn is starting to need maintenance. It’s hard to find the time to write. The list goes on. It becomes overwhelming at times, even paralyzing. Maybe it is because I want a lot from life?

I bet you know the feeling. It’s a challenge to squeeze in the cleaning, hobbies and relationships on the weekends before you have to go back to work on Monday and commit 40 hours of waking time to someone else who, thank goodness, is willing to pay for it. But that is almost everyone’s plight.

Sometimes I forget to pause and regroup mindfully. That is ironic because when I get overwhelmed I always end up pausing one way or the other, anyway, whether it be with purpose or just by sitting on the couch and watching Hulu marathons. The difference is that one pause has purpose and the other is a waste of time (If you take it too far, that is. ..nothing wrong with a Hulu marathon from time to time).

FullSizeRender (55)

I’m listening to a book right now called, “Why Time Flies” by Alan Burdick. In the book, the author examines time: its origin, our relationship to it, our comprehension of it and scientific methods of measuring time.  I think sometimes that my comprehension of time, simple and limited as it is, produces anxiety. It puts me in a position to worry about time. I try to bargain with it and stretch it out, all the while wasting it. I’m pretty sure that I’m not the only person who does this. That is a paradox, isn’t it? It’s as if we need time to create structure, but then some of us turn around and rebel against it as if it is an authority figure. It’s a love/hate relationship. I love the days when I’m able to accomplish a lot with my time, but I hate feeling bound to accomplish too much with my time. I hate it when lazy days drag on too long and I have nothing to show for them, but on the other hand, the most joyful moments in my life have occurred when I was oblivious to time and completely in a moment. In a moment when I paused and found purpose.

FullSizeRender (54)

I  googled the term “pause with purpose”. Not surprisingly, I’m not the only person who has thought of this phrase.  My google feed was filled with businesses, yogis and life coaches who were all trying to push their plans to pause with purpose. Everyone is looking for the sweet spot.
I think I feel myself starting to turn that corner now. Maybe all I needed was to pause and write it out 🙂

Anchors

fullsizerender-31

Yesterday, I took half a day off work to watch my nephew participate in a Fun Run at school. I arrived moments before the race, just in time to see a young, athletic woman with a booming voice and a microphone announce each class.

“Mrs. Smith’s 2nd grade class is lining up for the race!” she boomed. “Let’s put our hands together for Mrs Smith’s class!”

The spectators clapped. The children ran to the starting line like a football team at the Super Bowl. They smiled and waved to friends and family. After the children were in place, we put our hands on our hearts and listened to the national anthem. Someone at the starting line held up the American flag. Then the race started. Loud music played over the speakers. The announcer encouraged the children, told them to have fun and directed them to stop periodically for water. I stood on the sidelines with my brother and my mother to watch for my nephew as he made his laps. I loved seeing the enthusiasm and excitement on his face, and on the faces of the other children. They ran with determination and some of them were grinning from ear to ear. Teachers and loved ones on the sidelines gave them high fives and snapped their pictures with cameras and cell phones.

A while back, I learned the term “emotional anchor”. It hit me that moments like the run- moments of freedom, support and accomplishment-are the moments when we drop those anchors.

After the run, I still had some time before I had to go back to work. I ate lunch with my mother then we walked at a local arboretum. As we leisurely strolled the paths at the arboretum, we discussed the topics on our minds. We took pictures of flowers and fountains and sculptures. We enjoyed the serenity of the Japanese garden and watched a woman and her child feed koi fish in a pond. We perused the flower beds to discover that the arboretum had planted clover, turnips, garlic and other vegetables and herbs.

img_2096

We found two beautiful orange Adirondack chairs and relaxed in the breeze and the shade as we talked. “This has been so nice,” my mother said when it was time to go. “I don’t want to leave.”

I agreed.

fullsizerender-34

As we left, she shared her childhood memories of the arboretum. When she was a child, the property that now belongs to the arboretum was her elementary school.

“There is where we had band.” She pointed to one door that now leads to offices inside the arboretum.“Over there is where the parking lot was,” she pointed across the way. “There were huge magnolia trees in the parking lot.” She looked around with nostalgia. “I had a wonderful teacher…I was happy here”.

More emotional anchors.

We hugged. She left to finish her day. I drove home, recharged and peaceful, to complete my work day. I will have to say that those four hours off were definitely time well spent. Anchors for me, I guess.

fullsizerender-30