Monthly Archives: September 2013

I Have a Dream

Fifty years ago on August 28, 1963, two hundred-fifty thousand people gathered to march on Washington and witnessed history unfold on the steps of the Lincoln monument watching Martin Luther King’s “I Have a Dream” speech.

I’ve heard parts of this historic speech, but never listened in its entirety before. It gave me goose bumps.

http://youtu.be/smEqnnklfYs

Just before the anniversary, I had the pleasure of watching the amazing movie, ‘The Butler’. It’s hard for me to believe how different the culture was back then, though things haven’t really changed as much as I’d like to think. I think the behaviors are less overt, but they are still present.

I met a guy at a party last week, and we had a conversation about what it’s like to be judged based on something out of your control. People aren’t just judged by the color of their skin, but also their sexual preference. He’s gay, and shared with me what it was like growing up feeling like you’re living a life that is untrue, what coming out was like, and what life has been like since then.

He is very comfortable with who he is, and though he doesn’t accept other people’s judgment, he does acknowledge that it’s a reality of his life.

Wouldn’t it be beautiful if people didn’t judge each other, but simply accepted? Wouldn’t it be amazing to walk around the world thinking of all of the things you can do for others, instead of what you can gain?

It’s possible if we make it happen.

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Live Like Today is Your Last

Last week on September 11th, I was reading a blog post by Lissa Rankin with the same heading. It got me thinking, both about all of the changes in my life since that date that we will never forget, but also about the lessons that I have learned as a result of that day.

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I remember standing in a conference room at work near Boston, staring in awe at the television, not really understanding what I was seeing. I remember thinking that I had been on that flight from Boston a few months earlier. I remember wanting to reach out to my boyfriend for reassurance that there was still good in the world. I remember feeling numb for days and feeling like the world had tipped upside-down.

Since that fated day, and because of it, I’ve learned so many lessons.

Letting Go

It’s important to let go of things that don’t serve you. I’ve let go of a lot in the last ten years: the anger from my childhood, unrealized dreams, unhealthy relationships and a long list of things that I thought I should do. Anger and hatred breed more of the same and aren’t healthy. While these feelings may be unavoidable in small doses, I can choose to let them go. Instead, focusing my energy on loving myself and being true to myself has served me well.

Focus on the Positive

Look at all of the amazing things that people do in the face of a tragedy: post-September 11, earthquake in Haiti, the tsunami in Japan and so many countless other natural and unnatural disasters. People have banded together to face the aftermath. People have a beautiful and giving side as well, and it’s challenging times that remind us of that.

Importance of Connection

I felt like my life was invaded by monsters on September 11, 2001. The news portrayed such horrific images that it was hard to close my eyes, as they were all I could see. It was my connection with other people that kept me grounded in reality and in the importance of the wonderful people in my life, allowing me to lean when I needed it. Be sure to tell people you love them frequency. It’s so important to live in the moment and be grateful for those around us.

Drop in the Pool

Have you ever noticed something when you see someone laugh, a really deep, infectious laugh that you feel the impulse to smile? A small drop of positive energy is like a drop into a pond, and can cause ripples that continue to spread out to others. We can choose to spread positive to those around us. This is something I thing about every day, in terms of how I influence others around me.

The Big Stones

My priority has always been on doing good, helping others and my relationships with friends and family. Yet, my focus was always on my job. I can’t change decisions I’ve made in the past, but I can certainly consider the decisions before me to ensure that they align with the things that are most important to me.

The past cannot be undone, much as we may wish we could. I think the best way that we can pay homage to the tragedy of September 11th is to do better: be kind, be grateful, be forgiving. I think it’s important to learn from difficult and painful experiences, and to put good out there to create more of the same.

Someone to Catch You

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I spent the weekend in Colorado with my brother and nephews, who are almost three, and six. As you might expect, we spent a lot of time playing. This included trains, Hot Wheels, and basically any object that can be wheeled, flown or tossed.

As children, play is how we learn new things about our world. It could be discovering our physical limitations while on a swing, learning about the volume of liquid in a small cup of chocolate milk resting next to our toys (and how quickly people will jump away when it’s spilled), sharing to get access to more toys, seeing just how far a car can fly when launched over a track covered with pebbles or the harsh lesson that balloon race cars don’t last very long in a six-year old’s hands. Playing is our key to learning all about the world around us, and how we interact with it.

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We went to the park to play on a jungle gym, which the boys loved. The three-year old loved to race up to the ladder, climb up then throw himself head-first into the slide to be caught by Daddy. He had complete faith that Daddy would him catch and didn’t seem to give it a second thought. Thankfully, Daddy was an excellent spotter.

Independence is a great quality. However, knowing your limitations and reaching out for help when you need it, and then counting on others to catch you, is even better.

Lesson learned from a three-year old.

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Life Lessons Learned in Yoga

Last week I put my intention out there: within the next two years, I want to spend several months a year in Colorado to be able to live near my nephews and be a part of their life on a more regular basis.

Immediately following that declaration, I went into a tailspin. My “monkey brain,” the very same one that churns like an ocean in a storm when I try to meditate starting buzzing with everything that I will need to do to make that goal a reality.  

My brain very quickly turned to: What the hell am I thinking??

The blessing and curse of being an achievement-oriented person, I view a goal, and immediately begin to map out the tasks I’ll need to do to get there, almost like building a set of stairs moving me to the next floor. My brain starts churning and I become very focused considering all that I must do, the risks, the issues that I’ll deal with, what and who I will need to make it happen.

And then I realized, I don’t really need to do this. At least not right now. Sure, at some point in time, I’ll need to figure out the details, but my job for the moment is setting the intention: the what. How that will happen will come later, and when it’s the right time, the big pieces will start to fall into place.

For now, my job is to have faith, to be clear in my intentions and to be sure I’m putting out there exactly what I want. When I feel my brain start to slip in this mode, I find the following lessons learned in yoga class help to get me back on track.

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Be in the Now

I don’t need to worry about all the details of my future plans in one year, two years, or even further out. I need to focus on my now. “When you feel your mind drift off, come back to the mat” is the guidance in yoga class. So, I work to ground myself in my day-to-day of what I am doing, what I enjoy, and where my attention currently needs to be.

Acknowledge the Feelings

I find that often, I’m my own harshest critic. Some of my tailspin is because I’m feeling nervous, scared or even panicky about something and don’t think I should, or don’t want to feel that way. Then I judge the feeling as not good and I get annoyed with myself for it. It’s a vicious cycle. Instead if I just recognize how I’m feeling and why, it seems to not be quite so important. In yoga, I’m told to go as far into a stretch as I can, and stop when I feel pain. My body needs to be my barometer and I need to listen to how I’m feeling and acknowledge it.

Envision the Future

Slowly but surely, I’m starting to learn to calm my mind to meditate. Yoga teaches us to take a moment before getting into a pose to envision ourselves in it. I find that when I focus on how I want to feel about things, more than what will be, then I can better keep my brain from spiraling. I want to feel happy, peaceful, content and joyful, so I focus on that, and not the details of what my life will be like. 

Remember the Priorities

My goal of being in Colorado is all about family and being with my brother and nephews. Focusing on that, and how I will feel when I get to spend more time with them, watching the boys grow up helps to keep me grounded and calm. The details will work out, and most of them just really aren’t important.

What’s important is my nephews. Staying focused on that, makes a difference. I liken this to the concept of drishti in yoga, which is a point of focus where the gaze rests during a posture where you are gazing outward to bring the awareness inward.

I have my drishti point and I’m grateful for that.