Saturday, July 5, 2014

Potholes and Pitfalls

Rebounding from unexpected twists and turns in life has been the topic of the day at my house. We live under the illusion that we have a modicum of control over the events of our lives.  Then, with a flick of its fickle finger, Life can turn our world upside down and send our reality spinning out of its orbit.

Through my work I have witnessed my clients heal, recover and embrace life again by delving into their inner source of courage and strength. How do they do it? How does one heal? How does one steady oneself after being knocked off ones feet? The road to recovery is often initiated through small and steady steps rather than broad strides and bold leaps. Over time, tentative steps can evolve to ultimately establish a new level of thriving and self expression.

Numerous potholes litter the path to healing and one to keep an eye out for is the “Yeah but.”  “Yeah but” will paralyze. When you visualize failure before you take the initial step you undermine any chance of success. The journey to healing can feel like you are playing blind man’s bluff. You can stumble around like a toddler learning how to walk. But after a few unsteady steps you may discover  that you are moving more securely and confidently toward a new vision of you.

You may twist your ankle in the pothole of wondering “Why?”.  “Why?” will leave you spinning on your own personal hamster wheel feeling like a victim.  Life hasn’t shared her secret of “Why?” with me as of yet but she does encourage asking the question “What?” “What have I learned?” “What can I do to change?”

A dangerous pitfall on the road to rebounding from unexpected challenges is thinking that you have to get it right the first time. Believing that you must be perfect from the start dooms you to failure.  Imagine a child learning to stand on her own. She falls on her bottom numerous times but never gives up. Eventually through trial and error she develops her strength and can stand on her own two feet.

A seminal component to healing is reaching out for something outside of ourselves. It can be as simple as changing a routine or spending time with a friend. But more often the path to renewal is to do something for someone else. Giving of oneself is a beautiful way to ease the pain of suffering.

As Ralph Waldo Emerson said,
“It is one of the most beautiful compensations of life, that no man can sincerely try to help another without helping himself.”

As we take those brave first steps to move beyond pain and sorrow we begin to see that we are regaining our footing on the journey of life and are readied in a deeper more meaningful way for the next unexpected surprise life will offer.

Love and light,

Sunday, March 23, 2014

A Conversation With Donnie Downer

"Everything we hear is an opinion, not a fact.  Everything we see is a perspective, not the truth." 
Marcus Aureilus

One morning while leaving the YMCA I fell in step with an elderly gentleman, I'll call him Donnie Downer.

"Isn't it a beautiful morning?" I asked as I listened to the birds singing their spring mating songs. 

"I see a patch of gray over there." he muttered. 

"Spring is springing!" I declared.

"Not in the north." he grunted.

I smiled and veered off the path toward my car. The breeze on my skin was invigorating. I felt happy to be alive.

My fellow gym member was viewing the world from his perch and I from mine. There was a gray cloud hugging the horizon as I extolled the beauty of the morning. It was frigidly cold in the north as I proclaimed spring was in the air. My reality existed side by side along with his. 

Believing you are obligated to heal everyone all the time by turning their sour into sweet can be an enervating and thankless task. It was a liberating moment in my life when I truly grasped the concept that we create our own happiness. I was freed from the responsibility of changing the perspective of another. The idea that I could be happy while someone else was not was emancipating. Being empathetically attuned to another is a quality of many of helpers and healers. But feeling that we must heal and change all those around us is an insurmountable task. There will be times when the most I can contribute to another will be a smile.

When you are in the company of a Donnie or Debbie Downer may I suggest that you attempt to respect that they have a point of view, albeit different from yours, but nonetheless real to them.  A grumpy attitude is an outward sign of inner sadness and pain, sometimes we cannot alleviate that sadness no matter how hard we try.

The belief that we create our own happiness, beginning with our thoughts, liberated me from the exhausting role of perpetual caretaker. But it did not release me from loving. Along our journey through life we will have good days and not so good days. To acknowledge that perspectives and attitudes ebb and flow allows a space for love and acceptance to flourish. We can begin to explore our world through a filter of unconditional love, first of oneself then of others.

Love and Light, 

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Lesson From the Olympics

"When you do things from your soul, you feel a river moving in you, a joy." 

The montage of Olympic images still plays in my mind: a pile of snowy bodies in a heap of hugs on the frigid ground, the sound of whoops and hollers, the gleam of mouth-guarded grins of pure delight, the shouts of encouragement. I gripped the edge of my seat as I watched the Olympic snowboarding finalists.  
Each athlete took her turn sliding over the rail and soaring through the course to the finish line. Some had crashed and completed their run on their bottoms, some on their bellies. But unfailingly, each stood shouting with delight, fist pumping and smiling from ear to ear. Their jubilation was contagious. 
My own heart was pounding as I commented to my husband on their celebratory joy. We talked about how impressive it was to watch each woman rejoice as she completed her attempt to garner a medal in Sochi. They were not judging themselves or letting expectations of perfection rule their behavior. It appeared to me they were accepting that they had done their best and circumstances, sometimes beyond their control, had altered their desired outcome. The winning medalist was exuberantly embraced as the athletes celebrated each others' success as though it had been their own.
How do you manage with unexpected outcomes? How do you deal with surprises that alter your plans? Learning how to gracefully accept the ups and downs of life is a true accomplishment. What if an avenue to "flow and grace" was to put your heart and soul into everything you do while accepting that the desired results are never guaranteed? What if you allowed yourself to simply be proud that you have put forth your best effort? What if living in the present means rejoicing in others successes as well as your own? 
The Olympic snowboarders gave it their all and they celebrated. They were living in the the moment and they were doing it from their soul.  
Appreciate the effort you make each day to do and be your best. If you hit a patch of ice dust yourself off and start over. Think about finding the courage to celebrate with those who have already achieved your perceived goal. They are not beating you, they are just leading the way.