On the first night of our family vacation, I had a moment of perfect contentment. It was late. We were hungry. The restaurant was too loud, too warm, too crowded, too slow. AND I was perfectly happy. Happiness and contentment are not around the corner in some imaginary future. They are right smack in the middle of each messy, hangry, less-than-perfect, hilarious moment along the way. All we have to do is notice.
Have you ever been at a concert and felt the massive crowd moving, breathing, singing, and bouncing up and down together in synchrony? This is called collective effervescence. It feels amazing. I believe it is also a glimpse that we are all indeed connected. Each one of these experiences helps us understand that we are meant to live keenly aware that are connected to a great whole.
When a friend asked me if I set New Year’s resolutions I told him that I like to set a tone for the New Year rather than setting a particular goal. This felt like one of those spontaneous “straight from mind to mouth” answers that gets right to the truth. The "tone" I am choosing for 2023 is love. I’d like to be clear that, though I am a girl who appreciates Rom-Coms perhaps more than most, this is not the “tone” of love that I am choosing for this new year. I’m choosing instead a “tone” of love that aligns more with loving-kindness than romantic love. Loving-kindness focuses on friendliness, benevolence, good-will, and an active interest in the well-being of others. I'd love to know what "tone" you are setting for 2023! Let me know!
Sending and receiving Christmas cards is a reminder to me of how much I love and am loved. I closed the note in our card this year with a heartfelt truth, “Please know that each time you cross our minds, which is way more often than you hear from us, you make us smile.” For the opportunity to realize how fortunate I am and to be able to express this gratitude to those I love, I am grateful for this seasonal tradition. These weekly musings are yet another opportunity for me to feel grateful for the web of love and support that life has weaved for me. So, I’ll close this last essay of 2022 the way I closed the note in my Christmas card – in gratitude: “Mwah! Thank you for being a part of my life. Thank you for making my world a better place. xoxo”
I have been struggling with a quiet sadness for a while now. It’s not constant. It’s more nostalgia than sorrow. It pops up at surprising times – while walking into town, or sitting in the pew at church, or driving past mothers and children on bus stops. It is the vague ache of missing daily life with my now grown kids. Like leaves on a tree in autumn, we would be wise to hold each of life’s stages lightly. Even the sweetest times draw to an end. We are invited to gratefully let go of what was in order to step forward into the riches of what is next. This is not easy.
When you and I are kind, yoga philosophy promises that we are changing the world around us. My favorite way to grapple with yoga philosophy is with little real-life encounters. A random smile shared with a total stranger in Bed, Bath & Beyond last week accidentally confirmed that the ancient yogis were onto something! Pay attention - you want to be the change you want to see!
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.
An adolescent lack of self-awareness in a high school math class taught me the hard way about the power of body language when my teacher mistook my extreme discomfort as extreme indifference. Decades later my yoga practice furthered my understanding that mindful body language can help me convey to those around me that they are welcome, interesting, and valued.