Feeling Groovy

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I have not yet fallen into the groove of my life. You know, that comfortable, yet active, relaxed state. Leaning back into life, open and ready but not anxious. Available for the next moment by being present in this one.

I feel it must exist. I have friends who seem to be there, but then that’s my perception. I think I’ve even been there, dipped my toe in on occasion, only I just recognize it as somewhere I’ve been, I don’t catch it in the moment. Perhaps that’s by design. If I notice I’m in it, will that take me out of it? Yearning to recreate it, missing the present once again?

My imagined groove goes a little something like this:

I wake up smiling and refreshed at 5 am. I brew myself a cup of organic free-trade coffee, add a dash of organic cinnamon, raw sugar and organic half and half. I take mug, that I purchased from an extremely talented struggling potter, full of this morning brew, on the deck of my modest ocean front home, or the balcony of my 12th floor upper west side apartment in New York City. Of course I could be traveling, probably I am, so maybe it’s a chai on the rooftop of a 5 story walk up somewhere fabulous in India or a steaming cup of tea in a coffee shop in London. Whatever the case, I am armed with gentle caffeine and settled into a chair, facing east, with my journal and pen, ready to watch the sun rise and let go of thoughts that may be bouncing around creating havoc.

Then I go work out, because I love to, usually dance or some other high energy sweat-making movement. Come home, shower eat a breakfast of organic goat’s milk yogurt with organic granola and a banana from my own tree (why not?).

Refreshed, fed and ready to go, I am at my desk at 9 AM ready and waiting for inspiration to flow through me, which it always does. Sometimes I write, sometimes I edit photos or create photo cards, other times I make jewelry.

I stop for lunch. Something delicious, nutritious and organic, no doubt.

Ok, so this is my groove. The rest of the day just naturally unfolds into a glorious evening of meaningful conversations with great friends back on that deck or balcony. We talk about consciousness and ways to make the world a better place. We share what we’re working on creatively and our processes. We plan to go to gallery openings and take trips together. Maybe we’re drinking naturally decaffeinated organic tea grown since the 6th century, that someone has just brought back from their recent trip to China. Or perhaps a new Malbec from a friend in Argentina. Jazz plays in the background. It’s a band we know personally. Or maybe one of us is sitting quietly plucking the strings of an acoustic guitar, creating on the spot.

The flaw in this scenario? When do I get to eat too much of the wrong thing? Where do I fit in Orange is the New Black? Where’s the struggle that make success sweet?

Truthfully I would be totally okay with this groove. I don’t need to create struggle anymore.  I know enough people who do and they don’t age well. They don’t see that they have a choice. Struggling is a choice. Suffering is truly optional – a state of mind. It’s in their perception. A wise teacher, Yogi Amrit Desai once said something like, “Wanting things to be different than they are is our only problem.”  Acceptance of anything is the key. You cannot change something you refuse to accept, it doesn’t exist.

And so, I accept that I need to move, write, be creative and tromp through wildlife to snap photos. I also accept that I’m in my groove more often than not. I have sipped excellent coffee from ocean front decks, high rise balconies in New York, Chai on rooftops in India and tea in coffee shops in London. I write. I move. I create. I have done all of these things.

It is in those moments that I feel disconnected and outside that I need only remember that this too is part of my groove. It is the recognition of the present moment that is indeed the groove.

[Photo: The magnificent city of Udaipur, India.]

Super Powers for Sale

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In our ever-evolving world it’s no longer necessary to be born with your super powers; they can be purchased and even financed. Once acquired it is difficult to let them go. Fortunately upgrades are usually available.

So what’s always within arms reach?

The romantic side of me wants to tell you it’s my camera I can’t live without. The ego side of me wants you to believe I have a yoga mat slung over my shoulder every waking moment. Sadly, I believe the truth of it might be a bit more mundane, pedestrian.

My super powers are in my phone. There, I said it, but before you judge (those of you that aren’t woefully nodding in agreement) allow me to elaborate.

I, like so many, rarely use my phone for actual conversations anymore, succumbing to the efficiency of the text. I am also fortunate enough to work in a pseudo-retail environment where I have ample human contact on a daily basis. And it’s a yoga studio, so it is 99.999% pleasant and uplifting.

Instead, I use my phone for other communicative conveyances. I take copious photos – it is much more comfortable in my pocket than let’s say my digital SLR with its telephoto lens. I blog – it’s true – the whole time I was in India in February I would recount the day’s events on my tiny little screen, squinting, backspacing and correcting auto-correct, just to get the memories down. It wasn’t ideal, but it was efficient and a lot more portable than my laptop.

I manage a few Facebook pages. Phone. Check.

I schedule events and clients. Phone. Check.

I have to-do lists, too many. Phone. Check.

I have passwords that need managing. When did this become a thing? Phone. Check.

I don’t wear a watch. Phone. Check.

I don’t have an alarm clock. Dogs, first, but when away…Phone. Check.

But like all super powers I too have my kryptonite: no wifi. After my brain empties completely and I stare blankly at the lovely person who meant no disrespect upon informing of such, I take a deep breath and look around. I have learned to use Notes or Evernote and pre-blog my musings, thereby pacifying my need to connect in that moment. Or, I meander wherever I am and snap photos. See? Magic. Powers restored.

I suppose if I were a recluse I could live without my phone. Or use it, you know, as a phone. But if Dorothy had never left Kansas she wouldn’t have needed those sparkly red shoes either. And neither one of us would have any stories to tell.

So, back on the road, finding every day enchantments to photograph and write about, I bring along my little digital world. But don’t worry, it’s all backed up to the cloud, so should I *gasp* lose it I won’t lose it. My super power, that is.

Writing Prompt: Object Lesson. Sherlock Holmes had his pipe. Dorothy had her red shoes. Batman had his Batmobile. If we asked your friends what object they most immediately associate with you, what would they answer?

[Photo: Sunrise in Long Island, Bahamas with my iPhone 5S – Super]

 

Sniff, Swoon, Repeat

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The sense of smell is our most powerful memory sense.

Coconut suntan oil transports me to hot, lazy summers in Myrtle Beach, SC. Boy crazy, junior high, not a care in the world. I can hear ELO fade as the DJ announces ‘WKZQ, Myrtle Beach,’ followed by the summer ditty, “Time to turn, so you won’t burn.” I can feel my skin, tight with dried salt water and my hair stiff with sand, my lips pregnant with the brine of the ocean.

The smell of burning wood evokes chilly autumn nights in northern Virginia. I can see the curl of smoke coming out of the townhouse chimneys. I am cozy, safe, and warm as I watch the blustery air outside kick up the last of the season’s fallen leaves. Soon, night would fall long before an acceptable hour, causing me to burrow into the warmth of grandma’s crocheted blankets and warm woolen socks. Wool. I love the smell of wool.

If winter were defined by one scent, it would have to be soup. Soups, stews, and pot roasts, all seem to tickle the same memory; walking into the warm house from the cold, shedding my winter coat and gloves and holding my hands over the steam of the simmering pot on the stove; the windows in the kitchen sweating with condensation while the tile floors stayed cold.

But perhaps the fragrance that causes me to swoon the most is honeysuckle in Maryland in the spring. Sitting high on a hill, climbing a fence that separates me from a busy street, vines wrap and tangle in on themselves, full of white flowers. I would pluck one flower at a time, pinch the end and suck the nectar from its center.

Here, in Florida, honeysuckle struggles in the sun, unable to grow. Instead, we have the gift of orange blossoms. In the spring I drive with my windows down, slowing down as I pass by groves, and inhale as deeply as I can hoping to store some of the sweet, light essence. On a windy day this perfume can be carried for miles, and like the tiniest present, it slips just beneath my nose, stopping me in my tracks. Closing my eyes, I inhale gratefully, intoxicated.

It’s hard for me to imagine a world without aromas, so much memory is wrapped up in them. A single sniff of diesel fuel takes me to the Princess couch of my grandparent’s sailboat, just behind the helm, as we motor out to sea. From that unlikely smell, a million pleasant memories flood my awareness.

Without scent, would it all be lost?

Not lost, perhaps, but certainly without that instant, surprise trip down memory lane. Scent is the key that unlocks the door to faded memories, infusing them with fresh color, enchanting us anew.

Daily Prompt:  Nosey Delights. From the yeasty warmth of freshly baked bread to the clean, summery haze of lavender flowers, we all have favorite smells we find particularly comforting. What’s yours?

Shiny Thing Syndrome

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I am a master procrastinator. Not proud, just practical. I don’t know that it’s that I really want to put things off, it’s just that I have so many things I could or should be working on that I shut down. I stare into space, usually my magical backyard, and wait for the priority to float to the top. Often it’s a nap, so I work on that first.

But, yesterday I took a little road trip from Procrastination to Distraction. Having spent the entire morning in Completion I felt no guilt about this. Especially since I was beckoned to move farther along the path of avoidance by the delicate warbling of a feathered friend.

Having accepted his invitation to the concert, I slipped out my back door and stealthily sought him out with my camera. He sat on a lower branch and was so into his own story, beak aloft, eyes closed, that I was able to get right under him to take his photo. Perhaps that was his plan all along.

I watched him for some time, his throat vibrating as he pontificated on the state of the weather and pesticides; lack of worms and suitable mates. On occasion his tone would change, becoming more conversational, understanding, softer. His passion was clear.

In order to reach a broader audience he would hop to the next higher branch, then the next higher tree.  Satisfied he had conveyed his feelings appropriately or dismayed his calls had gone into the ether unheard, he flew away.

I thanked him, hopped back into my mental convertible and headed back to Procrastination. A little sad to leave Distraction, the land of shiny things and birdsong, I lingered for just a moment to see if something else would catch my eye, extending my stay. Not today. My mission complete, I turned the old rag top around glancing back only once  at the sparkling raindrops on the honeysuckle. A mirage, I told myself as I pressed the accelerator in the direction of home.

Today’s writing prompt: Now? Later! prompted me to dust off an older blog, shine it up a bit and repurpose it for this challenge.

Now? Later? We all procrastinate. Website, magazine, knitting project, TV show, something else — what’s your favorite procrastination destination?

Fear, the Final Frontier

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Fear is an interesting companion – at times helpful, but so often very limiting.

I encounter people every day that are in fear about something on some level, maybe we all are. I think I have mostly let go of Worry which seems to be Fear’s insidious cousin, always lurking in the shadows pushing Fear out in front of me, trying to scare me into living small. Without Worry, Fear only shows up if danger is imminent and I can make a reasonable choice about whether or not to proceed.

In recent years I have agreed to do things before Worry and Fear knew what I was doing. They’d show up, all casual a week or a few days before a flight to India or as I was placing my foot into the stirrup of a camel or snorkeling beyond the safety of a cove. They’d nod in that cool, almost sinister way, chin up, just once and say, “Are you sure you wanna be doing that?” They would parade all sorts of scenarios before me: terrorists slowly walking past me on the plane only to turn around and sit right next to me; wandering into the desert on a rogue camel with no water or sunscreen; being eaten by a shark or sucked into a freak ocean floor hole. I mean, come on. At least they were creative.

Each time I would look them straight in the eye and say, “I think so.” Doubt had been cast. I felt myself waver just the tiniest bit and then like a superhero in tights and a cape Captain Confidence would swoop in, hands on hips and say, “Of course you do! Life is about experiences.” Then he’d kick Fear and Worry to the curb where they’d sit like naughty children.

I know they’ll be back. All of them. Already I am planning a road trip up the east coast, a week in Cuba and possibly two weeks in Italy. And every day I make the choice to leave my house, drive my car, walk on sidewalks and cross streets throwing Caution to the wind, who will surely run to let Fear and Worry know they’d better be on their toes.

Today’s writing prompt: Fearless Fantasies. How would your life be different if you were incapable of feeling fear? Would your life be better or worse than it is now?

No Photos, Please

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Postaday prompt: Can’t Stand Me – What do you find more unbearable: watching a video of yourself, or listening to a recording of your voice? Why?

Having had my own weekly radio show I adapted to the sound of my own voice rather quickly. I am often complimented on my calming tone when I teach yoga, and in general, and so I accept that my voice is ‘nice.’

Seeing myself on video holds more of a charge. For me it’s my posture sometimes, although that has improved greatly since committing to a regular yoga practice, mostly it’s a reminder that the outside packaging still does not match the inner spirit. There’s still work to do.

I have couched my soul in its journey long enough. I have hidden my heart’s true desires behind protective layers of fat that require further protection and hiding from boxy, loose clothing. Mostly now I’m comfortable in my own body. I feel when it’s off, when it needs to lose a few pounds – like now – and I feel when it’s in optimal condition. It’s familiar and comfortable, we’ve been together a long time.

Then I see it. Caught at a weird angle in a photo or moving in a video and I think, ‘Who is that?’ I don’t think it’s ego or even an unrealistic idea of what I should look like. I think it’s that my spirit is so young and playful, ready to travel, ready to go, ready to try new things. It’s an athlete and a daredevil. What it’s encased in betrays all of that.

The outer shell is soft, a little too round, hiding muscles and litheness beneath. It could be sitting on a park bench feeding squirrels perfectly content, when the inner me is on its way to zipline or snorkel or catch a plane to an exotic location.

I’ve been doing a lot of work with myself and a formidable group of women on letting go of image, but the truth is, it’s a part of our culture and therefore our DNA. We have to come to terms with it rather than ignore it or sweep it under the rug.

In doing this work, this little social experiment, I have discovered that those with the “best” bodies are hardest on themselves. There is one woman who is heavier in the hips and thighs with a perfectly flat stomach and beautifully shaped arms and she wishes for thinner hips. I can’t imagine her any other way. She is perfect for her. Another is dismayed by her inability to gain weight, when what I see is the best physical expression of the woman beneath the skin.

I have become quite adept at seeing what each individual is supposed to look like. What their best most natural weight is supposed to be. And so many people are already there, struggling for someone else’s version of perfection. For some it’s carrying a little weight, for others nearly bone thin works best.

For myself a couple sizes smaller, not thin. Healthy, sporty even, or dare I say, pleasantly average. Then, I will be ready for my close-up.

 

Losing Myself

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I don’t believe in wrong turns. I don’t believe in coincidences. And I certainly don’t believe in mistakes.

I do believe that everything we have done in the past; each choice we have made has brought us to exactly where we are right now. This gives us a tremendous amount of power. Everything we decide to do now, however we choose to react to our current set of circumstances, is creating our future. That’s the good news.

The bad news is, you can’t blame anyone or anything else for anything. Which is really just more good news. You are empowered, not a victim.

Life is experiential. While we may not be able to control our every move – realistically we’re controlling nothing – we can control our reaction. This makes getting lost and taking wrong turns a part of the adventure of life.

Some of the best experiences come out of wrong turns. I have found secret pockets of wonder inside the woods when I went left instead of right. I found a quaint, mostly unmarked coffee shop when I got lost in Savannah. I made a new friend while sitting at the wrong subway station waiting for the next train.

I have also felt frightened when I found myself in a neighborhood that was known for its active gangs and drug deals. Nothing happened, I drove right through, stopped at stop lights, no one hassled me. I learned something about myself that day, about where I place my power.

Getting lost has become my hobby. I am a wandering explorer. No amount of reading about other’s experiences can replace stumbling upon an elephant outside my hotel in Udaipur, India or finding a fuzzy baby swan in a nearby lake. Yet reading about other’s adventures always uplifts me.

Serendipity is everywhere, we just have to perceive it as such. The most inconvenient event can yield the most life affirming results. Many times I have found myself in a situation that I could never have planned yet everything aligned perfectly as if it was meant to be. Because, I believe it was. This happens with great regularity.

No matter how much I try to schedule and organize my life, it’s all those spaces in between, all the distractions, all the wrong turns, that provide the richest experiences. It is choosing to look for the gifts in everything, the messages, the prompts, that creates the adventure for me.

And so I let go, I follow my inner compass and lose myself in this big, beautiful enchanted world.

From today’s WordPress writing prompt: Wrong Turns. When was the last time you got lost? Was it an enjoyable experience, or a stressful one? Tell us all about it.