Thursday, April 17, 2014

Merging into One

On a well traveled road that is intersected by another road and a stop light, underneath a bridge, there are two lanes of traffic. When you arrive under the bridge at the stoplight, there is only one lane. which means you have to merge. When traffic is light, most travelers remain in the right hand lane. but as it begins to be lunch time, or rush hour, there is nothing left to do, but to inhabit both lanes. For if we all chose to travel in the right lane, we'd be backed up two or three lights back, and those traveling in the perpendicular direction would be hampered in their travel.

I've observed the behavior at this traffic light for a while, and I've noticed that traveling in the left hand lane amounts to the same thing as traveling in the right hand lane. When you travel in either lane, and you  reach the bridge where the road narrows and turns into one single lane, people inevitbably take turns. No one remains steadfast in their belief that cars should be in one lane or the other. They realize that in order to move ahead, and get where each is going, that  each,  must at one point, submit. If you are already in the right lane, you may have to submit to the person on the left. you may let them go first. If you are on the left hand lane, you may have to submit to the person on the right, allowing them to go first. When you do, it is inevitably your turn next, and the person in the right hand lane just knows this.

The merging of traffic is much like the weave of fabric. Over under, over under,  over under. Left, Right, Left, Right--many strands merging together, taking turns, become one piece of cloth.

The flow of traffic becomes effortless when we travel in our own particular lanes, side by side,  and arrive at a point where we surrender. 

Without surrender, we'd merge into each other, not around each other.

I can't help but think about how smoothly it all works out, when we submit once in a while.
At least when you travel this particular road. 
When you travel this road, you have to. 
Whether we make the decision of our own accord
or We're left with no other option. 
When we Surrender, traffic isn't a curse, 
It's a blessing. 

Monday, April 14, 2014

I Dreamed of an Eagle

Last night I dreamed there was a young eagle
in the open window above my kitchen sink,
 just sitting in the window sill

As I got nearer,
 by the site of his beak, his orange beak
I knew he was an eagle
And I knew he was young
Just by looking in his eyes

I wanted to hold him
Because how often do
You even glimpse site of an eagle
let alone a young one
Let alone in your house

And some how he perched upon my arm
And I carried him as if he was a parrot
And I wondered where he came from

And as I walked into the living room
I see where he came from
Lindsey, my daughter, is standing there
With the mother, perched on her arm
Her arm bent at her hip,
its feet resting firmly on her arm

She carries it as if she has a scarf draped over her arm
the weight and power
it bears no burden
And I wonder why they're here.

Because it's spring
and the windows were open?
Because they perch near by?

I can't speak

They are emotionless
Yet knowingness
I accept that they're here
And wake up

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Saturday, April 12, 2014

How to Be Bold: 10 Habits of the Bold

The latin proverb, "Fortune Favors the Bold" is a powerful proverb. Essentially, it referred to Fortuna, the goddess of fortune, bestowing graces upon those who were bold. What is boldness? What makes a bold Sharpie the correct implement over a fine line?
It's Bolder. It stands out more. How often do you use a pencil on a school poster board project? You may use a pencil to draw out your plan, but to give your project 
the attention that you want it to get
you want it to catch the eye. You want it to be bold.

You want it to stand out.

When you look at this blogpost as a whole, where does your eye go? I bet it focused in on the bold Italic print. Because it was bold, it stood out. Because it was in an italicized font, it appeared different, and it caught your attention. Because the type was larger than the rest of the type, it got your attention. You may have even read that part first, before you read the post as a whole.

The Sharpie company itself, originally Sanford Ink,  began in 1857, as a manufacturer of ink. in 1964, it changed its focus. That was a bold move. No longer was its focus ink alone. It dove into the  manufacture of markers.
Sharpie was the first Pen-style permanent marker.
They were the first, because they took a risk

Being Bold is a the result of many practices:

1. Taking Risks: there is the possibility you'll fall flat on your face. But there's also the possibility you won't.

2. Having Faith: When you take a leap into new territory, Faith is knowing that either one of two things will happen. There will be a net to catch you or you'll be taught to fly.  If there's a net to catch you: no harm, no foul. You get back up. If you're taught to fly not only are your spirits lifted, you have a new vantage point. A twenty thousand foot view: you can see more from way up there! and you're Free! once you've learned to fly, you can carry others on your back, until its time to take their leap.

3. Wearing Blinders: In order to make big changes, innovate, or introduce something entirely new, you've got to wear blinders. Naysayers will abound, distractions will rear their heads, and the prevalence of convention will tempt you to back down. However the more risks you take, and the more faith you have, the more comfortable the blinders become.

4. Being Free Spirited: Are you a free spirit? Then you're well on your way. Free spirits are adventurous. Willing to try something new. Willing to diverge from the norm. Free Spirits are open to the possibility that something new may in fact be good! A Free Spirit may walk into a new store, and find a new friend, a favorite new food, or a lucky penny on the floor. Like Forest Gump, they never know what they're going to get, which is what drives their spirit on.

5. Being Open Minded: Perhaps the most common trait of a free spirit is Open mindedness. With an open mind, free spirits encounter many new adventures and ideas and are willing to let this things guide them into other things. they are willing to see possibility in a way that may be other than what they've ben taught.

6: Being Spontaneous: At the Very heart of boldness lies spontaneity. They are very close relations. If you're  listening to the radio, and the DJ announces that a band you like is in town and their concert is tonight, If you are apt to shift gears, you've given yourself an opportunity, and perhaps the friend you encourage to be spontaneous too, to enjoy something that makes your spirit soar. And not only that, you open yourself up to any number of experiences you may not have otherwise had.

7. Dwelling in Possibility: You are much more apt to be bold, and spontaneous, open minded, and free spirited,  if you Dwell in Possibility. Nothing drives creation and innovation and progress more than the possibility of something better resulting from those things. And it's much easier and take risks and have faith,  and wear blinders, if we dwell in possibility.

8. Being Courageous: If we have our blinders firmly on, it's much easier to be courageous. Because we block out that which might cause us to back down. Courageousness resides behind fear in the back of your mind. To be courageous we have to believe that what ever happens, it will be ok.

9. Being Optimistic: If you believe, whole-heartedly that what your focused on will come to fruition, It has a much greater chance of happening. Because if you entertain any doubt at all, you're more apt to quit. period.  It means you have a greater belief that it will happen than it won't. 

10. Having Vision: Can you see the outcome already actualized? Vision can be active or inactive. As a dreamer, you may see yourself already in the role you aspire to, in your daydreams, or as an idealist, you may actively create scenarios in your mind that have the potential to result as an outcome of a desire you hold dear. Vision, inactively can be an inner knowing. There is a mindset of certainty in those who visualize their goals. They have the audacity to believe.

Committing to any of these things, (and we all engage in at least one)  involves initiative. Initiative is a force, that once in place, allows for the unfolding of what can be considered providence, or as Basil King said, on the subject of overcoming fear, "Be Bold, and Mighty Forces will come to your aid."  The mighty forces capable of unfolding might therefore encourage:

"Whatever you can do, or dream you can do, Begin it. Boldness has genius, power and Magic in it."(attributed to both Goeth, and William Hutchinson Murray)

 “Until one is committed, there is hesitancy, the chance to draw back. Concerning all acts of initiative (and creation), there is one elementary truth, the ignorance of which kills countless ideas and splendid plans: that the moment one definitely commits oneself, then Providence moves too. All sorts of things occur to help one that would never otherwise have occurred. A whole stream of events issues from the decision, raising in one's favor all manner of unforeseen incidents and meetings and material assistance, which no man could have dreamed would have come his way. Whatever you can do, or dream you can do, begin it. Boldness has genius, power, and magic in it. Begin it now.”

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"Be bold and mighty forces will come to your aid"
-Basil King

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Rubber Duckie Bookbags and Earth Shoes


When I was in first grade, my mom sent me off to my first day of school, trailing behind my 5 older brothers and sisters, with my peter pan blouse, my freshly pressed uniform and my Yellow naugahyde Rubber Ducky book bag. I was crying. I had just turned six and I hadn't been to kindergarten. Sesame Street had done what it could.

When we got to school, having walked up our street and crossed Euclid avenue, it was time to get in line. In Catholic school, you're always getting in line. Lines to come inside, lines to go outside, lines to go to the bathroom. Everyone goes to the bathroom at the same time, whether you have to or not. But that's a story about second grade.

Apparently, a yellow Rubber Ducky book bag is for babies. Not first graders. That's how I was greeted by someone in line. I don't remember what their book bag looked like. I only remember I wasn't getting a new one. First grade proved to be challenging. In all regards. Apparently, I wasn't much for sitting still, or much for keeping track of my Easter Seals box. But I played a mean triangle! and I wasn't bad a the sticks either. No one mentioned that.

Despite these things, I did get chosen to portray Mary, the Mother of God, in our first grade Christmas Pageant. Perhaps Mary wasn't good at remembering her homework, or sitting still either.  Steve Gay, the cute boy in the class, who was the Librarian's son, got to be Joseph. He couldn't keep track of  his Easter Seals box either.

The Christmas of first grade was a memorable one. That year, I got a much coveted gift: Earth Shoes! I don't remember what else I asked for, but I know I asked for Earth Shoes. So Did Katie Carroll, my next door neighbor, best friend. Katie had more experience at First grade than I did, so she might have been a little more compliant. She had a practice year of first grade under her belt before I got there. Katie was the 6th child of 8 kids. I was the 6th child of 7. Katie weighed 29 lbs in first grade. We all carried her around.

I got suede Earth Shoes. Katie got leather. We probably got new socks too. Knee socks. There wasn't anything but knee socks in Catholic school. The fact that we didn't have to wear saddle shoes was more progress than we realized! The first day back to school after Christmas Vacation, wearing our Earth shoes was a day I remember. For some reason, Katie and I were still allowed to sit beside each other, and no doubt we were comparing and admiring our Earth shoes, shoes that made you feel barefoot. It was heaven on earth that one day in Catholic school. Until....A certain unnamed girl, who didn't get Earth Shoes for Christmas, wanted a closer look at Katie's. She touched them--without permission,  her nails dragging along the outside edge, scratching Katie's prized Christmas gift. Katie was dashed. I was dashed.

We still talk about it. Katie's  nemesis, OUR nemesis, hadn't yet developed the potential for sympathetic joy: The joy you feel in someone else's good fortune, or happiness, or achievement. I guess you could call the opposite, jealousy. Jealousy might be defined as wanting something someone else has. Whether it's a skill, or a personal strength, looks, or something material. But I don't define it that way anymore.

I think Jealousy is more rooted in the absence of recognition of our own personal gifts, and attributes, unique qualities or posessions. It isn't that we want something we don't have, it's that we forget to recognize what we do. Maybe it's because we're expected to get in line so much. Do what everyone else is doing. Get the same book bag as everyone else. We loved our Earth shoes, but what we probably loved more, is that we BOTH got what we wanted for Christmas: 


Friday, April 4, 2014

Apples are to Oranges, as Beans are to Flour.

I recently tried a new recipe for Chocolate Chip Blondie Bars. They were delicious! But I knew they were going to be before I even baked them. They weren't your basic Blondie bars. They were amped up a little. They had beans in them. Yes, Beans. Garbanzo beans.
And absolutely no flour. Or sugar. Or eggs.
But they had lots of peanut butter, and Maple syrup!

When I saw the recipe, and the picture that went with it, I knew I'd like them. I  am committed to eating nutritionally dense food. Variations like this one resonate with me. It makes sense to me, so I do it. I'm invigorated by creativity, and most of all possibility. 

There's beauty in the tried and true, no doubt, 
but there's also beauty in the possibility that 
something new may ring true. 

But, of course I expected it to. 

I also expected them to turn out right the first time. I mean why go in thinking they might not? And I am almost always satisfied with the results. Not because I'm any great chef, just because I've already decided to. It doesn't mean I might not tweak it next time. I dwell in possibility! Next time I may add nuts! or use dates instead of maple syrup. The possibilities are endless.

I love the challenge of making the food we eat good for us. I just do. So I'm always experimenting with ingredients. Substituting one for another, creating all together new things. The more ingredients I become familiar with, the more things I can create. My family isn't always as eager to try things like bean brownies. 

But you cant compare bean brownies to traditional brownies. 

Well, you can, but they just aren't the same animal. It's like comparing apples to oranges. 

But if you look at them based on what they are, they stand on their own merit. 

The dough  looked exactly like blondie dough, and if I gave you it to taste- by the looks of it, you probably would have thought it was blondie dough. But it wasn't. And it doesn't have to be.

It is what it is. A Cookie bar made with beans.

There's beauty in the tried and true, no doubt, 
but there's also beauty in the possibility that 
something new may ring true. 

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

An Idealist's Point of View: Waiting for Optimum

 As an Idealist, I can often see the optimum. And since I try to make the most of all my opportunities, I often will wriggle around, to reach for my best.  My practice of yoga reflects this.. When we move from pose to pose, I like to take the time to settle into the pose, wriggle my hips or my shoulders, or my head or hips into as optimum of a position as I can. Partly, because I think in geometry, and partly because as a therapeutic measure, I know there is an ideal version of the pose that will suit my individual need within that pose. A version that will help me release more, will offer me comfort, and most importantly, will encourage my awareness and presence. I decided a while back, after realizing how good the practice was for me, that I was in it for the long haul, and for me, this means being thoughtful in my movements.  It's how I honor myself, and the expression of the divine through me.

Inspired by Tao Porchon Lynch, the 95 year old Yoga teacher who has been named by the Guinness Book of World Records as the World's Oldest living Yoga teacher, I am encouraged, to try new poses, and believe in myself.  Her mantra is, "There is nothing You can't do."  

Recently, I tried a new form of yoga at a new fitness studio called Purenergy. It's called Aerial Yoga. It's just what it sounds like, Yoga poses suspended in the air, from a hammock like swing, made of a silk -like material. Both deeply relaxing, and seemingly deeply daring, Aerial Yoga challenges you in different ways. In the relaxation poses, the silks are fully spread out beneath you and surround you fully, either cocooning you in an upright sitting position, or completely enveloping you in a supine position. These challenges exist in yoga positions on the floor as well. Restorative Yoga is a similar feeling, where the use of props allows you to relax deeply into the pose. Letting go, and allowing the floor to support us fully, without holding back can be one of the most challenging poses of all. In the air, there is a certain weightlessness that is apparent, in allowing your body to be fully heavy and the freedom that can be gained from it, enlightening. 

And then there's the daring poses: upside down poses, where your feet are reaching for the ceiling and your shoulders are held in the shawl-like embrace of the hammock silk, legs wrapped around each side of the silk, neck and head reaching towards the floor. As I try to get my ankles and legs in an optimum position tho, intuiting the intention of the pose, I notice something. In reaching for the ideal, I may be missing an opportunity. An opportunity to  practice it, even when the conditions aren't optimum.

Waiting for all the stars to align, I may miss an opportunity to experience the sky as it is.

 It's another thing I became aware of through the practice of yoga. 

I could never have let go of 
as much as I'd held,
 if I hadn't become aware I was holding it.

And as our awareness deepens and we notice more, we have a another ideal to reach for. We can label it as one thing or another, or acknowledge it and get back to being present. There's another pose to experience, like another cloud that passes, and as subtle as that movement might be, the more present I am, the more I appreciate it. 

As an Idealist, I can often see the optimum. And since I try to make the most of all my opportunities, I may reach for it. But there is a certain weightlessness that is apparent, in allowing your body to be fully heavy and the freedom that can be gained from it, enlightening, when you notice it then move on.

                             Next up: Yoga on a paddle Board. Yes, floating on the water.

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