Tomorrow it will be two years since my brother died. It feels as if these two years have been a compression chamber of sorts. Somehow more life, more emotion, and more growth have been squeezed into these 730 days than in any other 730 days of my life. Sitting here at my keyboard, on the brink of this anniversary that I will never celebrate, but will never not mark, I want to share with you a choice we all must make - to choose to accept grief as the sister of love. We must dive into it and allow it to take us on its journey. This takes courage, gentle determination, and steady patience, but grief can lead us to a heart-space we never dreamed possible.
I don’t like messes – physical or the less tangible kinds. I prefer order in my environment – bookshelves organized, laundry put away, gardens weeded, to do lists filled with more checked off tasks than not. In short, messes make me uncomfortable, antsy, and agitated. I am learning through my practices of yoga and meditation that many of life’s messes, though uncomfortable and sometimes painful, can be the fertile soil of growth and change – but only if I resist the urge to clean them up.
I loved bike riding on our recent bike trip for a surprising reason. I loved it because it created the same state of mind that has kept me unrolling my yoga mat for 20 years – one of being 100% engaged in exactly what I’m doing for every moment that I’m doing it. In other words, I traveled to Croatia to accidentally discover another mindfulness practice.
Do you remember the opening line of the movie Four Weddings and a Funeral? Hugh Grant opens one eye as he is fumbling for the snooze button on his alarm clock to see the time and exclaims, “F*#k!” I don’t think I’ve ever laughed so hard before a movie even got going. In real life, harried is not a funny (or fun) way to start a day. Yet, more mornings than I care to admit, I wake up feeling like there is not enough time in the day. Almost as soon as I open my eyes, I feel harried and hurried. While some days are legitimately busy, most are not. Most mornings were I to take a “get some perspective” pause, there is plenty of time. Time to spare, even. What's a gal to do? Read on.
“I was thinking about the GPS in my car. It never gets annoyed at me. If I make a mistake, it says, ‘Recalculating.’” Have you ever considered the spiritual role model your GPS could be? Calm. Even keeled. Gracious. Creative. Endlessly patient. Even (especially!) when finding solutions to some ludicrous mistakes and wrong turns. Can you imagine accepting your mistakes and wrong turns with such poise? Can you imagine extending the same grace to your partner or your children? What would it take (short of being a piece of technology) to navigate life with such a certainty that all will be well? That all that is needed is a moment to calculate a new route?
We live every moment at the frontier of what we know and what we don't know. It is at this frontier that we explore the growth and possibility of our lives. Living here - as I learned as a child from Laura Ingalls and her family - requires grace, courage, focus, and a willingness to embrace the reality that none of us know where we are going and that is wonderfully OK.
I am writing this on the eve of my birthday, annually a good day for a little introspection and retrospection. This year marks a birthday that ends with a 5, hopefully a mid-mark of another decade here on planet Earth. I remember vividly the joy and anticipation I felt when celebrating my last birthday that ended with a zero. In hindsight, I am thankful that one of my birthday gifts that year was not a crystal ball. Had I known how the next five years would challenge me, stretch me, and, in some ways, break me, I would have been more afraid than excited. But, while painful, the past five years, have also been a profoundly fertile time of growth and change – exactly what I believe we celebrate when we celebrate birthdays. I hope you'll join me in celebrating your next birthday as I am celebrating this one of min - as a wonderful opportunity to celebrate your capacity for growth and a moment to welcome the coming year with joy and anticipation.
For six years my dog has been bounding into my garden, crushing my plants. For six years, I have been hollering at him. This pattern of ours had become so normal that I'd almost forgotten it was a problem I could solve. It turns out that a lot of our stress comes from little bursts of friction caused by our own behaviors and choices! The self-awareness that comes from yoga can go a long way toward smoothing these self-induced bumps in the road.
"You can be the sunshine for another person." It is simple - love one another. It is also difficult. Love takes effort, courage, creativity, generosity, and trust. It is also the most empowering thing we can do. Sharing your light in this world does not dim your light at all. In fact, sharing your light actually makes your light shine brighter. It is in giving ourselves away that we receive the riches of this wonderful life we're here to share.