Surrender and soften. That was the underlying theme in yoga today. I couldn’t help but think how opposite that is of what is going on in the world outside of that yoga door. Maybe that is why I crave it so much. Perhaps that is why I am pulled to be there everyday. Maybe that is the world I fit into, the one that feels right and safe with my soul. Yes, surrender and soften. We could all use more of that.
We expect so much out of life and the people around us. Today, be the unexpected. Be the smile, the kind voice, the helping hand that reaches out when no-one else does. Be kindness, offer motivation and be the reason someone feels a tiny sparkle of hope. You can change the world one small act of kindness at a time.
Before I pick my son up from school, I walk at the local YMCA. The track is located above the basketball courts where the after school program takes place. There are kids yelling and running and bouncing. To be honest, after coming directly from yoga, the noise and the movement really gets on my nerves. A week ago I walked into the restroom where two little girls insisted I go first. They were chatty and smiled at me through missing teeth. I smiled back half heartedly. Yesterday, they met me there again. They told me they watch for me so they can come and say hello. This time, I knelt down and I looked them both in the eyes. I am very happy to see you both today I said through a warm, inviting smile. See you tomorrow then?
It takes one person to warm your heart. One person to show a kindness you didn’t notice before. Look for the blessings. They are there waiting for you to notice. Those little girls made an enormous difference. I am so grateful for them.
On Thursday, my daughter will turn eighteen. How blessed I am to have had the opportunity to hear someone call me mom for that long. We celebrated her birthday over the weekend. The ride home was quiet. Her cake sat on my lap like a weight hanging heavy on my soul. Where did the time go? The same little girl who clung onto me for dear life at preschool was ready to let go and run. Would she even look back? My tears escaped onto the cake box, each one a reminder of how much I was going to miss her. Each one aching, begging for just a little more time. Am I ready for this? Is she ready? Eighteen. How can it be. I close my eyes and I see her little pigtails blowing in the wind. For a moment, she is two, sitting in a field of wildflowers and time stands still. I see her little hand move through the colors. A purple and orange tapestry of pure beauty with her sitting in the middle of it. The symbolism smiles back at me. Why didn’t I see it before? She is my precious, unpredictable wildflower, growing at her own pace and in her own precious time unbound by anyone’s limits. Her spirit, her beauty could not be contained. I go to the place I keep that picture. I drink it in, desperate to taste the day one time more. My heart breaks a little as I study every detail of her tiny face. For that single moment, I am there in that field pointing my camera at her sweet little face while the flowers tickle my bare feet. In my next breath she is standing before me, eighteen and I think again how blessed I am to be her mom. I remind myself quietly, savor every moment. You can’t get a single minute back.
Nature offers an escape from the noise. The reality that we are all connected cradles me as I sit on the grass. We create an energy that is sometimes too painful to endure. I sink back. My sigh is like the whisper of the gentle breeze that tickles my skin. Let them go I say to myself as the sun illuminates the ripples on the water that are racing toward me. I imagine they are my thoughts running through my mind and I watch them flow by me. I stare as the creases on the surface glide past my weary body. There are children yelling in the background. All the noise hitting my soul as it longs for some quiet, some peace. Solitude is a rare gift. My husband wraps up the sandwich that is leftover. Every crinkling sound reminding me of the agitation in the world I desperately try and leave behind. A fish jumps in the distance. There are two ducks floating on the surface of the water as the current moves underneath them. Be like the ducks I tell myself. Float above the chaos. Find your place of peace and ignore what is happening underneath the surface. I am reminded that peace is not a destination. I center myself and I close my eyes as the warmth of the sun rejuvenates my desperate skin. I am calm and I rejoice in this moment. My reminder goes off. There’s somewhere else I need to be but I will take a piece is this place with me. I sigh again as I walk to my car only this time it is a sigh of relief. I am grounded again and ready to waltz back into the crazy with grace. I breath it all. Yes, I am ready.
It was just an ordinary day as I walked through the front door of the yoga studio. From the first moment I spent time in that sacred space, I knew it was special. To be honest, I’ve tried yoga at other places. It’s never been quite the same. What is it about that place that makes me feel so at peace, so at home? Sometimes I forget who I am. My true essence is buried someplace underneath the words people use to describe me. Why did I start to believe them? I am not those words. Maybe to some degree they fit my behavior but I am so much more. More than they see, more than I show. I do it too and I never realized how destructive it was until today. We use adjectives to describe people. We don’t think twice to label them or share our opinion of who we think they are. I realized how much damage some of my own words must have caused, especially for some of the people I love the most. I am supposed to love them and protect them but somewhere along the way I’ve forgotten what my real purpose is in their lives. It’s not to judge or define them. It is to love and accept them exactly the way they are. Why is that so difficult? With each tick of the clock I feel more ashamed. Try as I may, I can’t shake this sadness that overwhelms me. Why do I have this need to define people, label them, assign names to them? You are a disgrace. You are lazy. You are selfish. You are annoying. Oh my God! As I type the words my stomach hurts. I am no better than the people I call out. Why is it not okay for them but fine for me?
Then I got it today, why that studio feels so much like home. There are baskets by the door. Everyone undresses and leaves their shoes and socks and sweatshirts in them. We quietly peel off the labels and place them neatly in the drawers. We leave behind judgement and pride next to our keys. We are all vulnerable there. We are brave. We leave everything outside as we step into that dark room and close the door behind us. I am free. I can breath and the world is lifted off my shoulders. I smile as I lie down on my back. I think to myself, I am so happy to be here today. And then it dawns on me. No one is there to judge or define me and I am not there to do it either. For the next 60 minutes, I feel loved and important and worthy. I feel the weight of my body on my mat grounded into this precious earth. I feel the enormous power of my heart as I feel it beat inside of me. I am love. I am here to love. I have found myself again. This is me peeking out from behind the walls I put up to protect myself. This is me safe from the words people use to define me. I am safe here in my own body, connected to my soul and all I feel is love…
Because I am love.
Sometimes I just forget…
And I’m here to remind you that you are that same love too.
KNOWING THE RIGHT THING IS ONLY THE FIRST STEP. DOING IT IS ANOTHER.
There are days I loathe myself.
Moments I resent the brokenness inside of me that reaches out to break another.
I regret the moments I take things a step further than I should, times when my anger spills over out of control.
I ache over words I should never have spoken. The kind of words that leave a lasting scar.
I regret the days I try and do too much, not leaving a single ounce of energy for myself.
Sometimes I’m just mean and that part of me takes the wheel and I cannot find the breaks.
Some days I resent being that person everyone can count on.
Need something? I’ll get it.
Forgot something? I’ll bring it.
Eventually I break when someone’s irresponsibility puts a tremendous burden on me that I don’t deserve to own.
I think people forget I am human too.
I get tired.
I get angry.
I am broken and I am trying to hold myself together the best I can.
Today I will repeat to myself , Be Better. You’ve got this.
Today I will practice forgiveness.
Today I will try my best not to make the mistakes of yesterday.
All this talk about truth lately was been weighing heavily on my mind. Who do we believe anymore? Who can we trust? We see news reporters reporting on the same story yet the the stories contradict themselves. How can the same story be told so many different ways? Entirely opposite ways? In art, I could paint one image and manipulate your interpretation of it simply by changing the colors. The first painting could be covered in bright, beautiful colors and the second in drab, dreary ones. I can purposely paint a happy, positive scene or a dark and negative one and that is most likely how you would interpret it. We are losing the truth, hidden somewhere behind the color. We are being tugged one way or another and it’s not doing anything to help our country heal and come together. Where is the truth? Would we even recognize it anymore because of the way we have been manipulated for so long? What a sad state when news reporting has become more like art and art has become more like truth. Just something to think about. Maybe truth IS a lost art. I just don’t know.