Archive | August, 2012

Day 243: blue moon – what do you want to start?

31 Aug

TGIF.
Today continues the weekly series, F*ing Fridays, which will coincidentally occur on Friday. In Year One, I mentioned some of my favorite F words back on Day 5, including: Fearless, Fabulous, Fine, Fun, Faith, Freedom, Forgiveness, to name a Few.

Last week I dove into the words Funny, Funny.

Today’s F*ing Friday is dedicated to the word:
Footed

As in, left foot first.

I watched the sunset tonight and then the moonrise. 

The blue moon rise.

This was right after an incredible yoga class with Sara Ivanhoe at the Martha’s Vineyard Yoga Festival.

Sara guided us through a special practice specifically for the Blue Moon. What does that mean? Well, for starters we did everything backward.

Left foot first. 

Because the right side of our body is all energy, sunshine, light, masculine, external. While the left side is shadow, internal, the feminine within. And, since all (most) yoga teachers begin with the right foot first, right side first, our left sides get a little less work, energy, attention.

Which, as Sara explained, is a fascinating phenomenon in our masculine, external, energy driven society where we are so busy projecting out our energy. Basically, we shortchange our left side and our internal energy in this right dominated culture.

So today, we focused on the moon side. Left foot first.

It totally screwed me up.
In a good way.

Sara also guided us through some incredible moves and even greater insight and tips for our yoga practice. One of my favorites:

“Where the eyes go, the energy flows.”

Makes so much sense, doesn’t it?

I know this from my basketball days — where you look is where the ball goes. Where you look is where you hands go. Where you look is where your body takes you.

It works in yoga too.

1) Where your eyes go is where your body goes.

2) The body has two energies – moving forward and backward.

Why does this matter? If you want to hit a Crow and then jump into Chaturanga, it helps to look forward instead of down. Really, it does.  AMAZING.

Not that I can do it (yet) but I fearlessly tried. I also tried to do a handstand leaning up against the wall. I TRIED. I did not succeed. Which I am still a bit uncomfortable getting comfortable with. It sucks to be the only one in class not able to do something.

Which I know isn’t the point.  And, I’m sure that’s just my moon side, the shadow within, complaining. To that, I promise to be fearless and return to yoga again tomorrow. As my father always says — “the sun will rise tomorrow.”

Speaking of the sun and moon rising, Sara also asked us these two intriguing questions in light of the blue moon — a powerful time to begin again.

What do you want to start? 
What do you want to let go of?

Day 242: “you can tie your body in knots but without the essence there will always be a piece missing.”

30 Aug

I spent the day (and most of the night) at the Martha’s Vineyard Yoga Festival. I volunteered to help out in exchange for participating. What a good deed, win-win, I thought.

It turned out to be a greater gift to me.

I wasn’t sure what to expect when I read the class title for Saul David Raye‘s “Inner Alchemy:  Igniting the Fire of the Heart” — I just knew I had to be there so I signed up.  Especially with this being my year to lovemore+fearless.

The class promised to “focus on strengthening and activating the spiritual HEART and doing inner transformation through the 7 levels of energy within.”

And, focus on the heart we did. Tonight, I can honestly say I am moved, stretched and mentally drained, and energetically lightened in a very rejuvenating way.

I also participated in my first Kirtan or “chant.”

I left with these thoughts swirling through my head: 

1) We are ever-evolving and never “done” (isn’t that reassuring!)

2) Enlightenment is not a state to aspire to — it is not separate from our current being or something we attain to turn into — it is a state of being who we already are.

3) “Essence” is more important than the pose.

As Saul David Raye said:

“You can tie your body in knots but without the essence there will always be a piece missing.”

How true that is.

It made me think back to my very first hot yoga class — where I strained and stretched in order to “hit” all the right poses, while cranking my neck, looking up at the instructor and around at everyone else in the class to figure out what knot to tie my body into next.

The foreign names of poses meant nothing to me. Garudasana? Balasana? Shavasina?  What the hell were they saying?

Then the instructor announced that we “Type A” people need to stop comparing ourselves in yoga class and stick to our own mat, go at our own pace, and stop competing.

“She’s talking to me.” I thought as I strained my head to see if she was looking directly at me. I had never been told to stop competing before. I am a trained athlete. Competing is what I do!

But that whole new world of yoga exposed my inner athlete and all her self-conscious pursuits.

And, now, four years later, I am still trying to figure out what the instructor is saying. What pose comes next. Where to put my head and hands.

The difference is, today, I found myself dropping into Child’s Pose whenever I felt called. Taking a break whenever I needed it. I stayed flat on my mat in Shavasina as long as I wanted.

The competition was gone. Just breath, in and out, remained. 

And, really, it’s the breath that matters most.

As Saul David Raye explained today, our breath determines the length of our life. The deeper and more we breathe, the longer we live.

And that may be the essence of it all. 
No matter what, just breathe.

Day 241: closing in (and cleansing) on summer

29 Aug

The winds changed today.
The air, while still warm, felt new with a crisp autumn twinge.

The kids are back in school. Martha’s Vineyard is clearing out. Let the official change of seasons begin.

And with it, I will change too — or rather cleanse — right after Labor Day. This new cleanse is from Vibrant Health and called, not ironically, the Vibrant Cleanse (AL).

In my mission to lovemore+fearless this year, I realize I need to apply a big dose of that to my body. And, it’s time for a cleanse. I can feel it in my bones, my muscles and my fat cells. The toxins are calling my name.

So I will enjoy this last week before Labor Day.  I will celebrate summer!
Enjoy the last hurrah!

And then….I cleanse.
Who wants to join me?

Day 240: swinging in the rain

28 Aug

It rained this morning. Scratch that, it poured — as if the earth cried a blustery sob.

And then blew its nose on all of us.   

The rain kept me inside all morning, until finally the sun gave way and I left my perch above my laptop. I had errands to run. The Post Office awaited.

After mailing my parcels I turned right instead of left out of the parking lot (to avoid one crazy intersection).  Just that one move, that split decision, sent me in a whole new direction.

As I drove a different road home I spotted something I have not done for years, maybe even decades. A park swing. Memories of swinging rushed back to me. College days and lazy afternoons with my roommate Laura, where we grown women too-old-to-play-on-a-swingset sought them out and sang in the sunshine as our bodies tipped up and down and back up again.

There’s really nothing else that makes you feel like a child. 

So today, as I passed the park swing I abruptly turned around and drove back.  Why not?

The park was empty. The swingset was all alone. I grabbed the widest, most sturdy looking rubber seat and gave it a go. I even (tried) to take a photo with camera phone in one hand, the other gripping tightly to the chains.

It was fun!
And freeing!

If I thought I was too old for a swingset at eighteen, as a freshman in college, then I don’t know what that makes me at thirty-eight?  Call me the Grandma of Swingtown. I don’t care, it was worth it.

As my feet pumped me up and down, through the air and back to the earth again, I felt a little voice inside me scream, Wheeeeee! 

And then another belted out: You’re too old for this!

Then again it said: Whhheeeeeeee! 
And I retorted: You’re too old for this!
To which I finally landed on: Who cares!!

And, then it occurred to me that I had to LAND somewhere.

When I was young I would just jump out of the swing, waiting for it to reach its peak and then fly out of the saddle without a care. But, now, I’m not so young. But, I’m not so old either, so who says I can’t jump right out of the saddle?

I decided to go for it.  No fear.

1 – 2 – 3 – JUMP!
I thankfully landed on my feet. No bruises or scrapes.

Just a big smile on my face.

And, isn’t that how it goes? 
Once you decide to jump there is always a safe landing. Somewhere.

Wheeeeee!

Day 239: lovemore monday :: hunting for a friend in a graveyard

27 Aug

It’s Lovemore Monday and I did something totally new and different.

I went on a hunt. In a cemetery. 

I know, not my usual course of activity while out running errands. But I was motivated while filling out a questionnaire, specifically answering this question: What three women have most inspired you throughout your lifetime?

Let me count the ways.

There are actually too many inspiring women to fill the allotted three spots, so I went with my younger-self answers, since I can clearly see who led me then, being on this side of thirty (and closing in on forty!) now.

The first woman, of course, is my dear Mama Sling. I cannot imagine my life without her, even though she left way too young, she remains a ferocious force of positivity and a daily influence in my adult life. I could write a book about her incredible strength, love and laughter through all of life’s challenges — and, maybe I will!

The second woman is my high school basketball coach. Coach Kohring was an example of stick-to-itiveness as she, at 9-months pregnant, coached us on the court at summer basketball camp and then drove a van full of teenagers the entire eight-hour drive home, before she finally dropped herself off at the hospital to give birth. She was back on the court less than a week later and has always been a shining light for showing up. Her mantra still rings in my head today, “Practice Makes Permanent.”

The third woman is someone I never met. 

I know all about her life because I studied her papers for my Senior Project at Smith College. She is a Smithie and was the first female television sports producer. She won Emmy’s for her work, she was a part of ABC’s Wide World of Sports and she pretty much set every record there was for breaking barriers in the television sports production field – everything from the Olympics to NFL games. As a woman. Back then.

Her name is Eleanor Sanger.

And, today, as I reflected on all the ways she inspired me, I also felt crushed that I lost The Paper I wrote chronicling her life.

I wasn’t crushed just because I spent an entire year researching Eleanor’s life while at Smith. Or, because I had special access to the Sophia Smith Collection where Eleanor’s papers are kept, or even because I was mesmerized by the interviews I conducted with her family and co-workers.

No. I am crushed because there is very little documented about Eleanor’s life and times and the barriers she broke. And, I lost that damned Paper in my devastating divorce (among so many other things).

Even the Wikipedia page on her life is sparse pickings.

As I looked over that Wikipedia page today, remembering all the facts and details about her life, there was one that I totally forgot in all these years. And that line jumped off the page at me.

“Sanger and Riger are buried side by side in Village Cemetery, West Tisbury, Massachusetts on Martha’s Vineyard.”

It all came back to me. I remember interviewing her children and learning how Eleanor loved the Vineyard, how she came here all the time and how she wanted to die here. And, she did.

Then, I did something totally out of character.  I decided to do something I have only done for one other woman (Mama Sling) — I would walk the cemetery and find Eleanor’s grave. 

So, I set off without a map or any idea where to go, except I held the gut instinct that you can pretty much find anything on this island if you keep looking.

As I drove down State Road I scanned the fields for signs of gravestones and finally spotted a fence line marked with graves. I didn’t know if it was the Village Cemetery, there was no sign, but I turned down the road anyway.

I parked at the end of the dirt road inside the fenced cemetery, feeling like an intruder busting my way into the graveyard. Immediately, I felt sheepish for showing up without flowers or any offering in my hands.

In my head I held conversations with all the imaginary people that I might run into, as if catching me in the act while walking up and down row and rows of tombstones.

Just how do I explain what I am looking for? Do I say I am looking for an old friend? Doing research? Just out for a walk? Lost?

Luckily I didn’t run into a soul — not a living one. But, I didn’t see any sign of Eleanor either.

As I walked to the end of the road, after weaving in and out of rows of Mayhews, Daggits, Slocum’s, Davis’s and other recognizable Vineyard names, I determined my search was over. There was no Sanger.

Besides, I didn’t even know what I was looking for… A tombstone? A bench? A rock? A temple?

And then, just as I turned the final corner to walk back to my car, I saw her name.

Eleanor Sanger.  

“Eleanor!” I sang her name out loud as if finally meeting an old friend for the first time. “There you are!”

As I sat on the grass next to her gravesite, I apologized profusely for losing The Paper. It’s a good thing no living souls were around to see me talking to myself, but I have to say it felt freeing to apologize OUT LOUD and make my peace with this woman who will never know how much she inspired me.

I realized something else too.

I guess it’s okay that The Paper is lost and gone forever.
Because, in reality, she’s been right here with me on this island all along.

I have to say, Eleanor…
it was nice to finally meet you. 

And that’s why, on this Lovemore Monday…
I. Love. It.

Day 238: white butterflies

26 Aug

I see butterflies. White butterflies. Everywhere. 

I first noticed white butterflies in the Grand Canyon during one of our amazing hikes up to Upper Deer Creek and the “Patio.”

There, the beautiful little creatures flew all around the waterfalls and crevices in the canyon wherever it was growing greenery. I didn’t think anything of it then, other than the fact that it was the most perfectly peaceful spa-like setting I could imagine out in the wild.

But, lately, here on the Vineyard, all I see are white butterflies.

And, it has me wondering... why?

Maybe it is butterfly season?
Maybe it’s some strange butterfly dance or mating call?

Who knows?

Something inside me has a feeling that it is something else. So I did what I recommend nobody should ever do — I looked it up on Google. Which returned more results than I could possible sort through in this lifetime.

To some, the white butterfly symbolizes rebirth, or a spiritual stage in life.  To others, it represents the soul of a child or even a sign of death.

I’m not sure which source to trust, but I can tell you this — as soon as I tried to take to the streets to take a photo and hunt the elusive white butterfly, they all disappeared.

No more white butterflies. Just like that, gone. 

I will of course be on the look out with camera phone constantly in hand, wondering …
What are these white butterflies trying to tell me?

 

Day 237: not very gracefully grateful on a heinous-day-not-worth-writing-about

25 Aug

I saw the word grateful today and thought it said graceful. 
Amazing how one letter can completely change the meaning of a word.

Also ironic what a “c” does in place of a “t” — because, as I sat staring at the word grateful, not feeling very grateful after a heinous-day-not-worth-writing-about, I thought I was seeing things.

Does it say graceful or grateful?

My eyes scanned the word over and over again as if playing tricks on me.  Finally, I focused in and realized it, indeed, was the word grateful.

There are so many things to be grateful for, even on a heinous-day-not-worth-writing-about.  However, I find I am not all that graceful in remembering to be grateful.  It takes a few too many huffs and puffs and screams inside my brain before I calm down and center myself again.

And, so it is, on this heinous-day-not-worth-writing-about, I am very grateful for all that I have to be grateful for — not all that gracefully, mind you, but grateful I am.  I suppose there is love I can find in that somewhere.

At least this day is over.
Blog post done.
Great. 

Day 236: f*ing friday :: funny, funny

24 Aug

TGIF.
Today continues the weekly series, F*ing Fridays, which will coincidentally occur on Friday. In Year One, I mentioned some of my favorite F words back on Day 5, including: Fearless, Fabulous, Fine, Fun, Faith, Freedom, Forgiveness, to name a Few.

Last week I dove into the words Fire works.

Today’s F*ing Friday is dedicated to the words:
Funny, Funny.

As in, funny, funny, ha, ha.

That’s what we said in high school.

It was some sort of girl code speak between my basketball teammates, you know, when a joke was meant to be funny.  It started with, “Wait. You’re gonna laugh. This is funny, funny, ha, ha.”

And, I have no idea where that came from, who said it first or who made it up.  Did we quote it from a movie?  Did we dream it up at a slumber party?  Did we repeat one of our older sisters?

Who knows?

But, on this F*ing Friday, it was the first phrase that popped into my head after watching this car dance video by Harvard’s baseball team (thanks Karen for sharing).

It also made me remember those road trips, hours spent on the road for basketball games in high school and college — and all the lip-synching and singing that went along with it.  It is just WHAT happens when you pack a van or load a bus full of 18-year old athletes.

Versions of this video have made their way around the web and back again, in parodies and spin offs and other fun such stuff. It makes me think, who needs to make music videos these days?  Certainly not Carly Rae Jepson, she has a whole team out there working for her.

You’ve got the Lock Haven Women’s Lacrosse version, the Miami Dolphins Cheerleaders version, the SMU and Harvard remix with both hands and feet.  Even Justin Bieber and Katy Perry got in on the action.  And, the one by that guy too.

But, my favorite, may just be the 8-year old girl response:

You’ll laugh. You might cry.
But, somehow, they are all funny, funny, ha, ha.

I promise.

In a way, to me, it just seems like more proof that we are all connected — even through a fun, simple, summer song.

And, just in case you haven’t seen enough of it yet, here’s the original:

Happy F*ing Friday.
May fun find you.

xo~Jamie

Day 235: are you happy?

23 Aug

Tonight, Justin walked in the door, outstretched his hand and said, “Here’s your next blog post.” 

In his hand he held a DVD of a movie called Happy.

It’s all about what happy is made of and where it lives. (Turns out it lives more often in Denmark than Japan.)

From Bhutan (where they are measuring a Gross National Happiness equation) to meditating (takes only two weeks to rewire the brain) this movie covers all aspects of what happy is, can be or ought to be — and how to get there.

Back in college, I was required to fill out a questionnaire that asked, “What do you want to be when you grow up?”

While everyone else had a more clear vision for their future, be it lawyer, doctor, mother, teacher, I wrote something else.

My answer?
You guessed it: happy.

I’m not sure back then I had a plan or roadmap to get to happy. I just knew life was better when it was fun, adventurous, and spent with friends and family.

According to Happy The Movie, my college-aged notions are part of that formula.

I wasn’t surprised to hear these words above all else: gratitude, compassion, caring and love. 

That’s right, LOVE. There’s that word again.

The bottom-line? Happiness is a skill and it includes many things we can practice, like:  Play. Adventure. Friends. Family. Appreciation.

The good news? 
It’s all free. 

Now, doesn’t that make you happy?

Day 234: 600!

22 Aug

Wooo hooo! Break out the champagne!

This is officially blog post #600.

Which means this promise has gone 600 days in a row with me writing, reflecting and posting. Not every day is superb, but every day has been recorded, all in the name of a promise.

And, that’s good enough for me.

Because something I have learned about myself and my promise in this process of letting go and going deeper, is this:  perfect is not what it’s cracked up to be.

But showing up, no matter what — now that is a pursuit worth perfecting.

What have you promised to do this year?
For yourself?  For others?

One thing I know is true. No matter where you are and no matter what you’ve done, you can always start over or begin again.

Tomorrow can always be Day #1.

 

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