Creativity focuses the mind and also releases feel-good hormones, leaving you feeling more centered and less anxious. You don't need to buy an easel or sign up for pottery classes. There are a million surprising ways that you can be creative every day - even when doing the most basic chores. Whether your practice is yoga, meditation, or something else, once you get a taste for mindfulness, a part of you – even subconsciously – will seize little opportunities all day long to recreate that stillness, silence, and spaciousness.
Practicing to do a hard thing such as compete in an iron man, swim across the bay, or hike the Appalachian Trail requires us to show up and do hard things every day. It's important to remember that we’re not training so that the hard thing becomes easy. We are training to become a person who, in Kara Lawson’s words, “handles hard well.” When we know we can handle hard stuff, we are more tolerant of failing and more willing to try again. We trust more in our strength to face our doubts and fears. In short, we are more resilient.
One of the hardest thing for us humans is not knowing. For me, the process of allowing new information to rearrange stories that have been mine for as long as I can remember can feel a lot like standing up after sitting cross legged for too long. Though it hurts to move when my legs are asleep, the only way forward is to press gently and slowly through the resistance of my body. Once I’m moving again, I always feel better. (Same goes for the mental process, by the way!)
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.
You and I may not know what to do in the face of the grief, sorrow, pain, and horror that we feel when confronted with the gut-wrenching events that fill our headlines each morning. We may feel powerless, but that is far from true. We each have the power to create beauty in this world. We have the power to act on the love that fills us to overflowing. Each time we share the beauty within us with the world around us, we touch others with love. What gift of beauty will you share today? I promise you, whatever it is, it will matter more than you will ever know.
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.
A truck drove into a bridge in front of my house, inviting me to imagine how a yoga practice could have helped the driver avoid some of the mess he made. He might still have had the accident (nothing, not even yoga, makes us perfect). Yoga could have helped him minimize the swath of destruction caused by his reactions - which he and my neighbors would have appreciated very much.
"Life is change. Growth is optional. Choose wisely." Accepting (even welcoming!) change takes great fortitude. Unlike the rigid strength of resistance, however, it is a flexible strength that allows us the resilience to bow, bend, and bounce as we choose to allow life's changes - welcome or unwelcome - to become growth opportunities.