The Mist Riders

October 14, 2012

If I were a bird, I would slice the mist with my wings just to see what it felt like. On a morning like this one, it must be nice to be a bird. Birds don’t need to physically see where they are headed. They already know.

Mist over Paunzhausen, power of slow. slow living, magic of nature

The Mist over Paunzhausen

Even without wings, we can learn to fly if we have an inner vision. Much like our avian friends, we must learn to rely on our inner navigation system to move about the mist when things aren’t clearly laid out in front of us. The more we tune into our internal compass, the stronger our connection to that purpose becomes and the higher we can go. No amount of mind talk will get you to where you are meant to be. It is the heart and its innate wisdom that carries your secret map.

While life is indeed a mystery, we can more acutely interpret our experiences when attuned to the voice within. At first in a whisper, the voice will grow in strength when you feed it what it needs. It takes courage, trust, patience and love to do so.

I can promise you this: That voice will guide you, especially when you are in a fog. When you see with your heart, the beauty of your life is revealed.

Are you listening?

 

That last statement of the pitch was what really hit home. As a long-time blogger, I receive countless pitches from PR folks about their various products, causes and ideas. It is rare that I respond to one, mainly because a good story is really hard to find amongst the massive onslaught of commercialized messages.

But this one is a story worth telling.

Christy Turlington Burns, Every Mother Counts

It is a fact that when women are healthier, societies overall are healthier.

Global health advocate and former model Christy Turlington Burns is participating in the ING Marathon on November 4 along with Dexter’s Jennifer Carpenter, World Renowned Tattoo Artist Scott Campbell, The Smile Co-Owner Carlos Quirarte, Oiselle Founder/CEO Sally Bergesen and 45 other runners, to raise money and awareness for her non-profit organization, Every Mother Counts (EMC). To expand the reach of this effort, Every Mother Counts is calling on supporters everywhere to create their own team, and participate in a 5K run/walk in their town on November 4 while the EMC team hits the pavement in New York City.

Did you know that 5k is less than the average distance a pregnant woman in the developing world must travel to receive the basic health care she needs to deliver her baby?

Let’s face it. 5K is simply too far to walk for a woman who is 9 months pregnant, in labor, and has no access to transportation.  By walking or running in communities across the country, Every Mother Counts aims to raise awareness of this simple but devastating barrier and empower people everywhere to get involved in helping women to overcome it.

How to join: It is as simple as grabbing a couple of friends and going for a 5K run/walk during the official ING New York City Marathon. Make a sign, tell friends on social media about your efforts. Then share your photos and stories with Every Mother Counts on our facebook page or by email at info@everymothercounts.org.

Three additional ways to help support the un-official run:

1.       Purchase the official Every Mother Counts marathon team shirt for your team and all proceeds will go to EMC. This year, team EMC will be outfitted by Oiselle, a growing women’s apparel company dedicated to female runners and EMC’s official athletic apparel sponsor. You can purchase team jerseys from the “EMC Collection,” on oiselle.com, and 40% of the proceeds will go to Every Mother Counts.

2.       Join our Team by setting up your own CrowdRise page here and have friends and family sponsor your run by making donations through CrowdRise. All proceeds will go to EMC.

3. Please use Charity Miles, a free app that enables you to earn 25¢ per mile for Every Mother Counts, whenever you walk or run. It’s a free, easy way to raise both money and awareness for Every Mother Counts.  And you can use it any time you walk or run— even if you’re not doing a full 5K.  Please download the app to your iPhone or Android today. Every Mile Counts!

I’ve downloaded the app, which is based on your GPS so it is best to use outside (and not indoors where I tried to log exactly how much distance I run up and down the stairs all day).

You win through exercise. Pregnant women win through the help they need.

Let’s run/walk so others don’t have to.

Busting Buddha’s Knees

October 12, 2012

It was not one of my finer moments. Eyeing the soft, dry grass, I knew it was a now-or-never moment to whip out the lawn mower for the final cut of the season.

In between phone calls, I raced around the house, collecting the extension cord and my tennis shoes for a quick jaunt around the yard with our electric mower. I read Buddha, power of slow, slow living, slow movementsomewhere that grass clippings act as a natural fertilizer so I opted to mow without the clipping basket, making the mowing experience a tad louder and messier.

That’s when my neighbor decided to say hello through the hedge. In my breathlessness, I waved her off, although I hadn’t seen her all summer.

“Things to do!” I shouted over the mower’s drone.

“That’s right,” she said flatly. “You never have time.”

Ouch.

How could this be? Did I really give my retired neighbor the feeling I never have time for a chat over the fence? Did she feel slighted because I wouldn’t turn off my mower and have a gab in the light of the setting sun?

Maybe she heard the ticking of the clock in my cranium. I was busy and gave her the feeling she wasn’t important.

Back at the task, I sloppily pushed the mower around for a few minutes until our tiny lawn had been slaughtered into a diminutive version of itself.

As I flew back into the house, I caught the extension cord on the pedestal where my Buddha statue placidly rests. He tumbled to the ground, leaving a dent in the wood floor and shattering his right knee.

It was a sign that I needed to slow down. Now.

In that moment, I knew what I had to do. I headed back outside and called out to my neighbor.

“Where have you been, my friend?” I asked her calmly. She smiled. A warm exchange ensued. She suddenly felt heard, important, loved. It made me smile from the inside out.

I’m sorry, Buddha, for shattering your knee in the process. But since my mom saw the Dalai Lama live last night, I hope you’ll forgive me.

It’s a lesson I hope I’ve learned for the last time.

A Genuflection to Nature

October 10, 2012

Nature, in all its beauty, waves a last goodbye before winter. As a harbinger of the coming cold, it bursts with color one last time. A sweet, yet sorrowful moment of another season departing. But as with everything, the seasons go full-circle.

What is dawn without the night? What is warmth without the cold? What is connection without moments of disconnection?

Nothing is ever lost. It merely transforms. As you enter a new phase in your life, remember there is a reason for every season. Beauty in all things, my friends.

Fall Foilage, power of slow

Your Life: Summed Up

October 9, 2012

The average American spends nine years of his life watching television and two million commercials. Only two weeks of his life is spent kissing another person. Imagine if those numbers were reversed (and probably are in some countries!).

The average Joe spends 4,050 hours at a standstill in traffic (that is the equivalent of 506 nights of sleep), 4,320 hours at traffic lights, 5,365 hours talking on the phone and 122,400 hours working. He will have walked 35,000 miles in a lifetime, which is equal to walking from Paris to Shanghai and back ~ twice. At the same time, he will drive 798,000 miles: That’s 3.5 times to the moon and back.

If you look at these staggering statistics, it makes you realize how much of our time is spent with machines, not Nature or even each other. It makes me want to hug a tree and remember that we are all connected to everything: Not just through Facebook, but through our ultimate purpose in life, which is to love each other with all our might.

How will you spend your day today?

Life Summed Up

Your Sacred Space

October 7, 2012

This weekend I attended a workshop by my brilliant acting coach and friend Gabrielle Scharnitzky called Acting from Your Sacred Space. It is based on ancient Native American wisdom that involves connecting with Nature and yourself. The centerpiece of the work is honoring that space within that we all have, yet all too often freely give away to others.

Tending to our sacred space is like tending to a garden. We need to cultivate it, give it enough room to grow and fend off predators that might wish to wreck it completely. It involves a listening we don’t often practice. How could we then? Most of us are brought up without the ears to do so. We do what we’re told, conform to the norm and stifle our creative inner child until it withers.

Your sacred space is where everything is allowed to be without judgement. It is where your inner beauty originates. Imagine a world in which everyone honored their sacred space.

That world begins with you.

 

A Shot of Vitamin P

October 5, 2012

According to Scientific American, moods are contagious. If you see someone frowning, you are more likely to frown. If they complain, you become less able to problem solve. Like someone who coughs, we instinctively turn away so as not to catch their germs. So-called emotional contagion can impact relationships significantly.

positivity, fight germs, emotional contagion, power of slowMarriage researchers Lisa A. Neff of the University of Texas at Austin and Benjamin R. Karney of the University of California, Los Angeles, tested over 150 couples for three years to determine how one spouse’s stress influences the other spouse and overall marital quality. Although women are thought to be more emotional than men, the findings were surprising. The study found that wives were not affected significantly by their husbands’ bad moods, while the husbands experienced lower marital satisfaction when their wives reported higher stress.

Ladies, it’s time we had more fun!

What the research has not suggested is that a good mood can be just as contagious. I experienced a group of extremely positive people in my travels recently. As a result, I found myself smiling constantly. It wasn’t the fake social smile we all give. It was one from the inside out. Positivity can touch you like that.

So be careful of the company you keep. Give yourself a dose of vitamin P by hanging with folks who make you feel good and drop the downers in your life. Otherwise their problems may become yours quicker than you can catch a cold.

Possibility grows in the space of uncertainty. If we were absolutely certain about how everything would turn out in our lives, we would have no room to consider what might happen if we choose a different path altogether. We would be stuck in a one-way street, on a track with rails so high, we would never be able to see beyond the straight and narrow.

Ambiguity, possibility, uncertainty, path, journeyIf you think about it, a seed is both fragile and packed with possibility. With the right conditions, it can grow to be a towering tree or a plant that bears fruit, vegetables or flowers. But remember: a seed grows in its own time, at its own pace, to its highest potential. For that seed to reach its best, it needs nurturing, love and care. It needs sunlight and rain and cooler days. It requires protection, attention and support.

We human beings are no different.

As we traverse the terrain of our days, we need each other to stay the course. We also need people to encourage us to take another road if the one we are on proves to be unhealthy, unhappy, unwhole.

At the same time, we need not fear the uncertainty because it is the very packaging of our existence from which we unravel the mystery of our lives.

In a phrase, uncertainty rules. If you have learned to despise it, I invite to reconsider its purpose for you.

Imagine a Christmas tree in which none of the gifts are wrapped in bright paper, bows or bags. They are laid out for everyone to see. No surprise awaits you. Just the certainty that what lays there is yours. Consider how less exciting your holiday would be if you knew every gift you were about to receive.

So I ask you: Do you really want to know how the next ten years of your life will look like?

I think not.

It is in the anticipation of what could be possible that makes life fun. And for possibility to breathe itself into reality, you need fertile ground, stable conditions and sunshine in your heart. With a dose of uncertainty of what will become of that seed, you possess the magic that is your life in your hands.

 

The Worthiness of YOU

October 1, 2012

Dangling on a limb is what monkeys do. They think nothing of swinging from branch to branch high in the sky, flicking bugs off each other and humping anyone they see as a ‘How do you do’. To be a monkey must be so much fun. And they never once ask themselves, “Am I worthy?”

Proudest Monkey, power of slowIn a Ted talk from 2010, social scientist Bréne Brown, who studies vulnerability, courage, authenticity, and shame, asked herself the meaning of human connection. Like monkeys, we need a sense of belonging to not only survive, but also to thrive. What she discovered was that what unravels connection is our sense of shame. Simply put, shame is the fear of being disconnected, and yet it is the very thing that disconnects us from ourselves and others. It is the emotion that questions our worthiness.

What underlies this sense of shame is excruciating vulnerability. In order for us to feel a sense of connection, we have to be willing to really be seen by others ~ warts and all. It takes courage to make yourself vulnerable like that.

What I witnessed this weekend is it is truly worth it. My friend Albert Frantz, Husband and I went to Oktoberfest yesterday. As a classically trained pianist living in Vienna, Albert decided spontaneously that it was time to conduct the Oktoberfest tent orchestra. Clear-headed and focused (it was early on in the evening!), he approached the conductor and asked if he might take up the baton for one song.

The amazing thing? The conductor said yes. And Albert got to live out a dream because he believed he was worthy of doing so.

“It is fun to make exhibitions of our inhibitions,” he said.

He’s so right!

Brown discovered that people who have a sense of worthiness also have a strong sense of belonging and connection. They, like our monkeys in the trees, don’t question whether they are worthy or not. They simply believe they are worthy of love. As I have mentioned before, our belief systems carve out the pathway of our lives. If we believe we are worthy, we’re right! If we believe we are not, no external circumstances can change those feelings. The origin of all emotion comes from within.

So I ask you: what’s holding you back from living out your dreams? Everyone has intrinsic value. The moment you discover your worth is the moment your life can really begin.

Happiness is a decision.

It’s that simple.

Our mindset has everything to do with how our day will be. On those days when we’re off center, we are less apt to choose happiness. Most likely, we buy into our self-pity as if it is real. We convince ourselves that there is nothing we can do. We may feel a sense of doom and gloom that lingers over our heads, inescapable and crushing.

We’ve all been there. It’s the human condition to feel the depths of despair as well as the high that happiness brings.

There is nothing wrong with being unhappy. It happens. In our smiley-face culture, we are taught that happiness is what we should strive for (it’s even in the U.S. Constitution!). But let’s be real for a moment. Sustained happiness is a pipe dream. What comes up must come down. And we can choose in any given situation how to respond.

It takes training. Not every day is the same. You might have the very best intentions to start your day out right, but things go awry and you’re left overloaded, spent and downright stressed. With some practice, you can put yourself back on track, but everyone has their own pace to getting there.

That’s okay too. I hereby free you from the shackles of the must-be-happy doctrine. You can spit fire and curse too. Where there is light, there are shadows.

Are you ready for the biggest irony of all? If you can accept that part of you that you wish to hide from the world, you will be happy.

Of that, my friend, I am very certain.

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