Somewhere in the Dance

November 6, 2012

The framed picture spoke a thousand words in just a few:

“I get up. I walk. I fall down. Meanwhile I keep dancing.”

Your heart can dance even if your feet cannot. As I recently posted, life is a dance. The partners we choose make all the difference. You might not be able to choose the family you are born into, but you can choose the people that surround you. You can choose who to hang out with and who to let go. You get to decide whether to waltz or do the Texas swing.

You might fall down every once in a while, or trip over life’s unpleasantness. But as long as your heart keeps beating, you can remain somewhere in the dance.

Where are you in yours?

Planting the Seeds of Joy

October 30, 2012

Merrily plant the seeds of your vision. As with any living being, those seeds grow in their own time. In my experience, planting seeds and leaving them to grow does indeed take time.

Patience is a virtue I was not born with. It is an acquired skill. But when we truly surrender to the process of sowing good ideas, it comes back to us tenfold when left to breathe and grow.

Oftentimes I receive intuitive thoughts that I call “messages from the Universe” that come floating into my brain and stay there. Last year on a walk, for instance, I kept hearing “You are a healer”. I was on my way to my twentieth college reunion and was in no state of mind to hear such things. But there it was. And for a year I’ve been grappling with what that means. Slowly, but surely, as I meet new people who come to me with their stories, I realize that indeed listening to them is a part of their healing process. In essence, I needn’t do anything but be who I am.

How often do we think we have to take this class or that, prepare ourselves formally for what is ahead or strive to achieve things that we think we must, only to find out we have all the resources we need at our disposal, right here, right now? I have come to believe that these sacred messages I receive are merely gentle reminders of what I already possess.

You can hear them too. We are all capable of listening to know which seeds of joy to plant. It might take a few years for you to see the results of your efforts, but the wait is well worth it indeed.

The Flame of Intuition

October 28, 2012

Intuition mostly comes like a flash of lightning. It is a strong inner knowing about something you couldn’t possibly know about through facts or even experience. It can be a guiding light in the storm of confusion. It can be your saving grace.

Listening to your inner voice requires that you slow down long enough to hear it. In our hustle and bustle of every day life, it can be challenging to take pause and reflect, much less stop for a moment when that intuitive voice decides to speak. It’s not something you can plan, really. It’s not as if that voice works on a schedule like you do.

So when it chooses to speak to you, you had better listen. It’s your divine intelligence showing you the way. You may not feel lost at the moment, but if you ignore your inner voice, you are not on the path you are meant to be on.

Some people tell me they don’t have an inner voice. Maybe they have never actually heard it before, or knew what they were experiencing when they did. But it is my deepest conviction that we all have the Divine Within. Give it a chance to express itself and it will take you on a journey of incredible beauty.

It takes fortitude to trust that voice. Sometimes you might get visions that accompany your intuition. I sure do. That’s usually when my ego mind jumps out of its chair and shouts:

“You’re crazy, right???!”

Take Sedona, for instance. For weeks I heard a voice that said, “Go to Sedona and you will heal.”

Sedona, Arizona? Really? I already have weeks of travel ahead of me both in Europe and America. How could I possibly squeeze in another trip this year?

Then it occurred to me to see how far Sedona is from San Diego where I had a few unplanned days to explore the area. It is well within a day’s drive.

Plans started to form in my head. Then, as I told my mom about the idea, she said, “I have a movie called ‘Sedona’ right here on my desk. Let’s go together!”

And so the flame of intuition that started to burn over a month ago has grown into a roaring fire. I do not question the “why” of things. I trust in this voice as it has never led me astray. The more I do, the more vivid my ideas have become.

What intuitive thoughts have you had lately that you have disregarded? What if you were to follow just one of them? Where would it lead you? It might take you out of your comfort zone, but it is only there that you will grow. How far are you willing to follow that voice?

With a treasure chest full of trust and love, I’m ready to take that journey. Are you?

 

The Principles of Yes

October 20, 2012

Going Slow means saying no.

But not always.

When we say “no” to certain opportunities, we are saying “yes” to the possibility of others. We are creating space for what is meant to come into our lives. But many of us fear that space, that moment of nothingness, that void in our hearts and souls that we feel compelled to fill with something, anything. Oftentimes we fill it with noise ~ whether it’s the TV, the radio or our own chatter.

Taking time to be quiet will give you the strength to get to “yes”.

The principles of “yes” do not mean you affirm everything everyone wants from you. Nor does it mean you are a yes man to anyone. It means you are standing firm in your power and in your belief in yourself. You are saying “yes” to the life you want to lead.

As I have often said, when we say “no” to someone or something, we are actually saying “yes” to ourselves. The first tenet in the principles of “yes” is to be clear about what is important to you.

Action items:

  • Name five things that have a priority in your life.
  • List an action for each one that you can undertake to support that belief.
  • If you can’t think of an action, reevaluate your list of priorities. Are you walking your talk or just paying lip service to those things? You may find you have entirely different priorities than you realized. Knowing this will help you get back into alignment with “yes”.

The second tenet of “yes” is to understand that even when we say “yes” to something, it may not turn out as we had planned. Maybe we say “yes” to a project that we think will be fulfilling, only to discover it wasn’t at all what it seemed. You may feel disappointed that things turned out that way, but in saying “yes,” you learned exactly what you needed to learn at that time. Trust that saying “yes” with conviction will lead you down the path you need to take, even if that path seems scary.

The third tenet of “yes” requires that you listen deeply to what you are affirming. Are you saying “yes” to the actual experience or are you saying “yes” to that pretty picture in your mind, painted with wild expectations? This tenet is based on the high involvement/low attachment idea. You are highly engaged in what you are doing without expectation that it will turn out at all.

Pretty Zen, huh?

The final tenet of “yes” is the contagion factor. When you smile out into the world with an aura of “yes”, others will notice and want to know where you got it. Glowing from the inside out, you can share your “yes” story with them.

Sharing your “yes” moments with others will make the world a better place. It will encourage them to do the same for themselves. Can you imagine a world in which we all dance to the rhythm of  our personal “yes”? Oh, yeeeeeesssss!

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.

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 other night I attended a Twitter party. For those of you unfamiliar with such things, it is a gathering on the microblogging social media platform Twitter to discuss a particular topic. This time we were a group of bloggers that convened on Twitter using a particular keyword to follow the conversation for thirty minutes. The topic was, of course, blogging, one of my favorite subjects.

One question the moderators posed was what’s more important: grammar or getting the point across. I have to admit I love grammar and respect all its rules because language is something I highly revere. And I am traumatized even now, thirty years later, by my English teacher Ms. Willis whose smoker’s voice and steely glare still permeate my brain when I even consider saying “There’s two things” instead of saying “There are”.

But language, like anything else, is a compilation of sounds that is fluid and ever-evolving. We bend the rules sometimes to fit the situation. Being a Southern girl, I respect rule-bending. Ain’t nothin’ wrong with that, ya”ll. It gives life to new possibilities and ways of expressing ourselves.

You may have noticed I bend the rules on this blog a lot. Suddenly adjectives become nouns. Slow is one example. It is this very juxtaposition that challenges the reader to think in new ways.

So while good grammar is something to be preserved, let’s leave a little room for imperfection. After all, it is in that very place that we grow the most.

P.S. To my embarassment, I wrongly attributed yesterday’s image as Lower Elk Canyon, Arizona. It’s Lower Antelope Canyon. Apologies to all wildlife that has been offended. Imperfection at its best!

Insistence Creates Resistance

September 12, 2012

Have you ever observed the battle of wills between a parent and a child? The parent insists that the kid should eat his vegetables. The child, in his fury, resists. The more the parent demands a certain action, the more the child refuses to deliver that action.

The Universe is like that too.

When we insist upon something, stomping our feet like little children, we are creating a wall of energy against the very thing we demand. It is universal law.

And what we resist persists. Have you ever noticed that too? When we are in fear about something, we automatically show resistance, which sets up the same wall of energy that sustains the thing we wish to repulse. We become attractor points for that which we push away.

Insistence is the pull. Resistance is the push. In both cases, we don’t get what we want. And we feel horrible in the process.

I have learned a great deal about letting go this past summer. When we spend all our energy hoping to avert the worst case scenario, we are placing all our attention on that which we don’t want to happen. And because we have fed it so much of our power, we are left drained and the fear grows. We then create the very circumstances we wanted to circumvent by our sheer level of concern.

Someone once said worrying is like praying for what you don’t want.

The next time you find yourself insisting on something (whether to a child, your partner or even God), remember this: what you insist resists and what you resist persists. You can shift a great deal of energy by simply taking a different action. Divert your attention to something else. Move forward without concern. Have confidence that your choice is the right one for you.

Surrender, my friends. And do it with all the grace you can muster. In one simple act of loving release, you will be set free.

3 Steps to Nirvana

September 10, 2012

Strolling across countless Tuscan piazzas from Florence to Siena to Pisa to Lucca, Italy, one cannot help but see the birthplace of the Slow Movement with Slow Eyes. The three-hour siestas, the wine, pasta and beautiful shops are breath-taking. Around every corner is a new sensation in which to immerse yourself. Even the air tastes good in Italy, at least in Tuscany where we spent six glorious days with the top down in our two-seater, pretending we lived there without a care in the world.

Nirvana under the Tuscan Sun

Perhaps it is the sea that tightly hugs both coasts that brushes away the soot and smell of modern life. Or perhaps it is the sun that kisses your face in relentless delight. Your skin absorbs the light, entering your heart in a constant wave of glowing warmth.

Can you tell that I’ve fallen in love?

Yes, Italy is an amazing place. For the past two weeks that I’ve been on vacation, I have experienced the world with immeasurable delight. As a writer, I must live in order to feed my creative source. So it was my mission to live life to the fullest and report back to you on what I found.

And what I found was Nirvana.

It started in Paris where I began my Slow travel. The city cast a spell on me as I wandered about the cobblestone streets, practicing my French and remaining in constant awe at the grace and refined, yet celebratory nature of the people there. Whoever says the French are arrogant are simply wrong. They know how to live…and eat. Three-hour lunches? Absolutely!

I realize now that anyone can experience Nirvana at any given moment (a beautiful setting helps expedite the process, of course!). It takes practice to get there, but it is possible. In my view, there are three essential steps one must take to reach that place.

1. Harmony

One must first enter a harmonious space. It starts with our thinking about things. If we are in conflict over something, harmony is hard to find. When we adapt our thinking to embrace change, challenges and upsets, we enter a state of Flow. Flow leads to better decisions, which leads to better action, which leads to more Flow.

See what I mean? Harmony is a habit based on your thinking about, then reactions to, the things that happen.

2. Bliss

Bliss is the next step. Once we have reached a level of harmony in our every day lives, we are open to the sheer joy of being without conflict. Everything passes through us without judgement or scrutiny. We reach an inner peace that passes thinking to a true state of beingness. Our brains are still operating, but our emotions have been disengaged from their dependency on external circumstances.

This state is Flow to the nth degree.

3. Nirvana

Also known as Enlightenment, this stage is pure Heaven. Everything is in alignment with everything else. There is nothing to do, want or even be. You are in complete Oneness with All That Is.

Getting to Nirvana is a highly personal experience, but it is a journey worth taking. We all have our own path with many bumps, twists and curves in the road. Slow Travel helps get us there if we are willing to take on the world with a different set of glasses.

And who knows? Your Nirvana might co-mingle with someone else’s. Imagine the fun that would be!

 

In many ways this has been the most instructive, awesome summer of my life. You readers have filled my heart in so many ways, I don’t know where to begin to thank you all. My gratitude goes beyond words to a profundity I cannot even express.

So as a celebration of who you are for me, I offer you the Best of the Summer Posts for 2012 in the form of an audio. In true power of slow style, I am taking off for two weeks on a new adventure to France, then Italy. I have decided to post the audio versions of the most popular posts so you can enjoy them in a new way.

I hope you like them. To listen to the first, click on the link The Act of Self-Forgiveness, and you should automatically be able to hear it. If not, right click the link, then save to your desktop to listen on your own audio software. Be sure to turn up the volume and enjoy.

Many blessings to you, dear ones!

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 148 other followers