Look What I Can Do

me on ringsIt appears the treadmill is a good teacher and the second best place for aha moments – the first being “the chamber of insight” or as you may know it, the shower.

Walking has always been a head-clearer for me. If I’m walking in my neighborhood I don’t wear headphones, I like the sounds of birds, children, cars and the wind. When I’m at the gym, I’m definitely plugged in. And the music is loud. It propels me forward, because lets face it, the History channel, reruns of Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Fox News just don’t really inspire me to break a sweat.

As my heart rate is rising and The Black Eyed Peas are encouraging me to pump it pump it, my mind is free to wander. Have you ever thought about how amazing that is? How we are able to do one thing, think another, look at something that has nothing to do with the first two and be aware that we are witnessing all of it? Pretty special, we are.

The most recent treadmill insight came as a nice energetic head slap. Don’t you just love it when you think you are a certain way, you are sure of it, you know yourself, then the tiniest thing flips everything upside down? You begin to question everything you believe to be true about yourself. Or at least I do.

I honestly believed that I no longer cared what others thought of me. Right? We all have that inner diva who still wants attention on some level. I noticed that as I was pumping away on the treadmill I couldn’t help but let my eyes wander to the heavy sweater next to me. At what speed was his treadmill set? Was I faster? Did he notice? Look, I’m faster. And I’ve been on here longer.

Out of left field. I wanted him – a random, middle-aged, slightly chubby man – to be impressed by my speed. Ignoring the fact that there were at least 10 people actually running that were way more impressive. I have no idea what this guy even looks like. I don’t know his story. I didn’t care. Did he notice and was he impressed?

Wow.

Of course I let that realization ping all over my frenetic mind coming up with all sorts of conclusions and ridiculous speculation. Who was I now, if not the strong, confident woman who didn’t care what others thought? But the fact remained that, of course I care what people think of me. It’s the human condition. If we don’t care what they think we look like, we want them to think we are smart or funny or have some other unique skill or trait that makes us completely unique.

The way we dress, talk, spend our money and our time all tell others something about us. This does not necessarily make us narcissistic, but human. How we look, what we say and how we say it is how we find each other. It’s how we relate.

The less we get caught up in the story we’re trying to convey to the world, the more likely we are to find those whose energy is a match for our own. Trying hard to convince others we are a certain way covers our authenticity and creates false impressions. The more we relax with who we are, the more peace we have. The more our true selves and authentic uniqueness can shine.

Dropping the masks and facades takes time. Lots of time and lots of practice.

For me, the realization was helpful. In truth, they all are, some are just harder to swallow. It showed me there is much work to be done. Continuing to let go through practices like yoga nidra, yoga and meditation. Continuing to be aware of these realizations and allowing space for them.

And apparently continuing to use the treadmill. At any speed.

21 Day Challenge – Day 9 – Non-negotiable

tan horsey IMG_1790

It’s amazing what happens when you point yourself in a direction with intention and conviction. It’s not that things become easier or that you muscle through them, they just happen. Without having to “think” about options, the healthiest one is just naturally chosen.

I remember talking to a friend recently who was lamenting about his lack of time to do the things he really loved. Among those things were going to the gym, mountain biking, surfing and playing the guitar. He wants to start eating healthier and juicing. He’s been inside, working several jobs to provide for his family and get some financial traction.

He let go of all the things that support his true Self, that make him come alive.

He commented on some of the podcast heroes he listens to. “They’re working out at 4:30 AM. Everyday. Seven days a week. They have all this energy.” One does beget the other. Commitment + exercise + eating healthfully = Energy. And generally the equation stacks up exactly like that. Commitment must come first.

The commitment is not to the exercise and eating healthfully, it is to the result of doing that. Exercise and a good diet is just the stuff you do, not the goal itself. If the goal is to lose weight and get healthy that will only take you so far. It’s not a sustainable plan. There must be a bigger return on your investment. That would be the energy and attitude to accomplish, what? That’s up to each individual.

We all know these 4:30 AM people. We’re in awe of them and wish we could figure how they do it.  It’s not that they don’t have children or a crazy schedule or a ton of responsibility. It’s likely the contrary.   So what sets them apart from us? Their health and energy are non-negotiable. They won’t sleep in because they stayed up too late, The rarely have that extra round of drinks, if they imbibe at all. They’d rather their own stomach lining eat itself before going to a fast food restaurant, of any kind.

They’ve figured it out. It’s not a secret. It’s not even a mystery. It’s well-known and well documented. It’s a choice. They’ve made a conscious, cognizant choice to live their best life. Their enchanted life. Why would anyone settle for anything less? Why indeed.

I have been in optimal health before. I am pretty healthy now. But I let go of the early morning workouts if I don’t sleep well, putting them off until later, which usually translates to never – or at least not that day. Same goes for food. I’ll eat this little bit of chocolate but then I’ll stay on the treadmill an extra 15 minutes tomorrow. I’ve been working really hard, a glass of wine won’t hurt – or two. I’ll put off the project, the planning, the fill in the blank until I have a little more energy to focus.

I negotiate. I justify.

I am negotiating away my power. My valuable time. When I put things off I cannot enjoy the present moment. My energy is now divided between what I am doing – which is an important task like filing paperwork or vacuuming my car – and finishing the energetically heavy task that would allow me the freedom and time to do something creative.

When I do yoga everyday, go to the gym or for a nice long walk, and do yoga nidra, as I have been for 9 days now, I feel energized and alive. And this energy empowers me to make additional positive decisions for myself.  Do the hard thing first, watch less TV, spend more time on creativity, drink more water. It’s as if the flame has been turned up just enough to illuminate the other menu. The one I can’t see or comprehend when deep in sloth and debauchery.

Who is it I am negotiating with anyway? My ego? My evil twin? (I am a Gemini.) My inner sloth? If I am negotiating with a sloth and it wins that’s not saying a whole lot about my personal power. I mean, come on, have you seen a sloth move?

Like attracts like. If I am feeling good and energized and moving in a direction physically, spiritually, emotionally and professionally that looks at least interesting if not down right magical why would I do anything to jeopardize that? Right now I wouldn’t. And every day I say, right now I wouldn’t I reclaim a little bit more power.

I believe it takes a  while to get the non-negotiable rooted cellularly, but until it is I will do my best to place the sloth on the couch with some tasty leaves, put Madagascar on and go to my mat.

[Photo: While leaving a private yoga client’s home this morning I passed two horses in a nearby yard. One was asking me to come pet him while this guy was very involved in getting some sort of snack out of the tree. Side note: Horse represents power in the Native American culture.]

21 Day Challenge – Day 4 – The Wiley Ego

white birds IMG_1496

Challenge Day 4. Today I thought I was going to let myself down. My plan was to be up at 5 as usual, do some Yoga Nidra to ease into the day, write, go to an 8 am yoga class, followed by 30 minutes at the gym (did this Tuesday and it felt great), lunch with a friend, a couple of hours in the afternoon wherein I would fit work, photography, writing and ANOTHER Yoga Nidra. Then dinner, writing and hanging out in the family room of the Enchanted Living Facebook Group Page. To bed with positive vibes and a smile in my heart.

Here’s what actually happened.

The muse roused me at 3 AM. On the dot. Really? Come on. She begins dropping words into my brain and they form these delicious sentences. The words get louder and louder and impossible to ignore. They take on an importance that I fear I will lose if I fall back to sleep. So I slog to the living room crack my laptop open just enough to slide my fingers into position, because opening it all the way would sear my retinas at this ridiculous hour, and hammer out a few sentences. Satisfied I have appeased the muse I press the screen back onto the keyboard and sit back. Now what?

My body was ready to go back to bed. Lobotomized of thoughts my mind now roamed the dimly lit halls unable to conjure a direction. I asked it to sleep, it refused. So at 4 AM I did Yoga Nidra. I was able drift away to a nice sweet space and let go a little. The soothing voice on my ipod relaxed the synapses in my brain enough to allow me to wander back to bed where I eventually found sleep. And sleep I did, until 8!  The day was half over!

The mind being what it is – a naughty, unruly child – already had me reclining on the back porch drinking wine, eating Ruffles and reading a trashy novel by noon. I failed to meet my schedule.

But with all this “inner work” that tiny little ember of the Self has grown stronger. So while my mind carried on with its slithery speak of, “why change? You’re good. Take a day off from that nonsense, you deserve it,” my Super Self was quietly reorganizing my day.

Write now. Work now. Go to lunch. Work a little more. Do some Yoga Nidra. Take the 5 pm yoga class. Search all day long for light and shadow, movement and stillness and have the camera ready. Go to the gym tomorrow after the 9:30 yoga class. You’ve got this. Don’t let the mind on the corner entice you with free samples of artificial freedom, you know the difference. Thank the sandman for much needed rest, put on your big girl panties and start your day.

And that’s pretty much how it went.

The morning shifted a little when I got a call that “those white birds” were back at the nearby pond. Yesterday they were flying back and forth and I was hoping to capture one in flight. No luck. I wanted to try again today. Instead of driving the mile or so up the road, I took to the sidewalk. The weather was perfect. I’d get my walk in and take a few pictures. This way I could kill two birds with one stone or if you prefer, shoot 20 birds with one Canon.

When I arrived at the pond I only saw a few birds. I was a little disappointed at first, but as I edged my way around the perimeter, popping acorns announcing each step I took, I noticed a little movement out of the corner of my eye. When I looked up I found a tree filled with angels. Then another tree. They had moved up. As I watched, some of them took off and flew away. I was still unsuccessful in capturing them clearly in flight. But tomorrow is another day and maybe I’ll get another call.

I got it all in pretty easily once I sat that dramatic ego in time out and let the Super Self work it out. I retire this evening with hopes of a good night’s sleep and look forward to whatever magic awaits tomorrow.