In Pursuit of Crow Pose

I have recently returned from a week away at a yoga retreat.  This was one of those things I’ve always wanted to do, but for one reason or another, had never actually done.  I can’t even tell you how I heard about this event, or why it came across my radar, but when I saw it something said I needed to do it now and this was the one.

Our initial evening we were asked to write our intentions for the week.  What did I want to get out of the week?

I was stumped!

This goal girl had no goals for the week, except, maybe to finally get into crow pose for more than a millisecond before toppling.

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Toppling crow

As I pondered this question and searched my soul to figure out my goal for the week, I realized it was just to have this experience.  My goal was to let the week unfold and teach me what it wanted and for me to just be curious and a allow myself to be a novice in this experience.

Now you all know, I am an action person, I like to set goals, make plans, allow them to change but always I seem to have my eye on some prize, some goal.

I have begun to explore another way, to see if there may be times when I would benefit by allowing life to unfold for me. The idea to not drive my life every step of the way and to allow the path to reveal itself with each step is new for me and I’m seeing how much it might benefit me to listen, watch how each move I make changes the landscape before me.

I’m not saying that I believe sitting on a couch eating bon bons is the way for me, nor do I believe you can just OM your way to a fulfilling life. I am saying, maybe releasing my grip on the driving wheel might have some benefits at this point in my life. How about you?

The challenge for me is to find a way to both allow life to unfold while still having a strong direction and taking action and steps. Lord knows I can’t just sit around and wait for life to happen to me – I’m never going to be THAT chill!

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For example, the action I took was to attend the yoga retreat, the release and the unfolding was that when one came across my plate and it struck me, I didn’t question it and I jumped on board. Once I determined I was in a safe space, I further released to the unfolding and allowed all of the people I came into contact with during that week to teach me and share whatever it was they chose to share.

I did not have a list of questions to ask others nor did I have any agenda of accomplishments I hoped to achieve. I did not have to be the best yogi, I did not know anything about the topics that were being taught.  In fact, I knew very little about the stories that were shared or any of the activities or rituals that occurred during the week. I was in a “child’s mindset” which I could have embraced or fought – I chose to embrace it.

Curiosity Is Action

What I learned during this week was precious and not entirely what I could have thought to put into an intention at the beginning.

One of the most important items I continue to learn as I practice my crow pose, is to take careful assessment of how I feel, align myself well, take my time as I move and concentrate on the moment as I look forward, let go and trust myself.

Although you may or may not be a practicing yogi, I believe these lessons may prove helpful in all that you pursue.

Are there places in your life that you are safe enough to let go of the driver’s wheel, be a novice and just be curious? Are there times when you are so busy setting goals and being the best you can be that you miss what others share with you?

I encourage you this month to consider where you might loosen your grip on the driver’s wheel in your life to trust and allow some of life to unfold for you and show you what it has to teach you.

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Give It Up!

I know that this is not what you are used to me saying.  I know I am usually the one pushing you forward and encouraging you to keep going.

Today, I’m changing my tune a bit to both keep you on your toes and to lighten your load.

Sometimes to keep moving forward you need to look over what is going on in your world.  So let’s examine a few things that might be worth giving up.

I hear all the time that in order to be successful it is a hard road that requires sacrifice and pain. This thought is the basis of the statement that “if it were easy it wouldn’t be worth it.”

I’m here to challenge all this.

First off – if we buy into the notion that whatever we’re working on is hard, we look for ways to prove this.  If you are trying to lose weight and you tell yourself how much stuff you can’t have and how hard it is to stay on track – how do you think you feel about your eating plan?  Then, top it off with what everyone refers to as a “cheat meal” and then feel wonderful about that!

If you’ve been reading my work for any amount of time you know how powerful I feel language is.  I believe this is where many people can benefit from a change of mindset and it will make a huge difference in how it goes for them.

If you work on creating a positive atmosphere around what you are doing I guarantee you that it will make even the hardest tasks more pleasant and easier.

For example – when setting out for a long run, I can choose to think about the miles, the heat and the effort the whole thing is going to take me.  Instead in order to get a good run in, I think of the fact I’m doing meditation at the same time, how good I will feel when I’m done, how accomplished I will feel and how strong I am becoming.  I’m not telling myself anything that is not true however I’m just focusing on all the benefits of my run instead of all the challenges.

Status Quo

The other thing that deserves review is this idea of change.  This is a natural progression in life.  Why are we so against change?

I encourage you to give up on the notion that life should be the same all the time.  If we didn’t have ups and downs how boring would life be? [Raise Your Hands And Scream-Aug 2012]  Think of the blooms we would not see if seeds never broke their shells and sprouted their first leaves!  Think of the life you would live if you never grew up and never changed.

Give Up The Story

Finally, the last thing I want you to give up today is the notion that your dream life can’t come true. Please give up the thought that your dreams are too big, you’re too old or that your time is past or whatever is holding you back from chasing that spark that lights you up.

Look, if you are still breathing – even if you’re on life support – it ain’t over til it’s over!

When you give up all the stuff above, you make space for all the greatness that you can possibly hold, and if your arms get full, think about what else you can give up that is not allowing for great stuff to come into your life.

Focus on the benefits you reap from chasing what you truly desire.  Focus on the life that you wish to live and what you look, feel and act like when you are living that life.

Remember that change happens, it is not something to be feared or forced it is natural, doesn’t have to be scary and brings beautiful things like butterflies and blooms. Sometimes there is a spot during this that it feels like life is in chaos however it will pass and just understand it is a temporary part of change.  If you fight it less it will carry you along.

And last but not least, step into your dreams bit by bit.  Nothing is too big or crazy – look, we’ve got people sending cars to the moon and a guy who created the pool noodle.  So get crazy, creative and dream anything you want then take a small step towards it.

Look, you’re going to give up things along the road of life, let’s make them things that have been weighing you down or holding you back from living your dreams, not the dream itself.

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Becoming Limitless

**Warning this process can become addictive**

Fear is paralyzing at times. It causes us to remain in a place not necessarily of comfort but of familiarity. The old statement “the devil you know is better than the devil you don’t know.”

However fear stifles growth if you let it. It shuts down the very essence of living because as the saying goes, “if you’re not living, you’re dying.” I don’t know about you, but I’m not ready to be dying.

I have no desire to live a predictable life where outcomes and results are safe or guaranteed, so I live life in a manner that scares most people (mostly my poor father).  I move to places I’ve never been and don’t know anyone, I take risks like starting my own business and I dream big, like building an island retreat center.

I am constantly taking steps in the direction of my fear because although I’m not a thrill-seeker, I do like the feeling of overcoming my fear.  In the case of fear, the end justifies the means for me.

Most of what I do on a regular basis is something I hear others say they could “never do” – but I thoroughly disagree. I think everyone has the capacity to live the life I do however for some, it’s not what floats their boat, and for others they just haven’t mustered the courage to take the chance to try.

Here is the thing though. I did not wake up one day with the courage to do these “crazy” things and dream as big as I do. As a matter of fact, I was a child who was scared of the dark and had many fears that required an unimaginable amount of stuffed animals for comfort and a feeling of security while I was growing up.

I made little strides over time. My mother was not entirely gentle on pushing me through some of it, but it worked just the same. Sometimes the fear of your mother being mad is way bigger than whatever bogyman you think exists! Regardless of how, my mother was intent on raising me as a capable young woman and stretched me to do things I was afraid to do. Through the process I began to cultivate courage.

As I got older, I put myself into circumstances that were a bit difficult to say the least. I found that I was able to overcome incredible odds because I just had to. I learned that even if I thought something was not possible, I should try anyway.  Sometimes things turned out the way I hoped…and sometimes not, but I always learned something from the experience.

I found that my boundaries and limits were really not as clear as I thought. I continued to push them both figuratively and litterally. I started small and continued to expand as I had successes.

I can still remember the feeling of crossing the finish line of my first 5k race. Having been a two pack-a-day smoker for over ten years, this was not only an unthinkable achievement, but a goal I never would have even considered just years before.

Today I’m a marathoner.

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So this is where the warning comes in. I have found that once you start realizing that limits are self perceived, you may start looking for your next challenge. Each time I overcome a challenge or overtake fear, I think, well if I can do that, what else can I do?

Today I encourage you to take those baby steps to stretch your courage just a bit.  To work at something you feel might just be a bit out of reach for you.  You will be amazed at the feeling you get just by trying and as you build successes.

As you begin to expand your vision of what is possible for you, you may find yourself looking for the next big thing just out of reach, and the next, and the next. You get the point.

I’ll just remind you, you’ve been warned!

I can’t wait to hear where your newfound courage takes you!
-E

 

Can We Have A United Team?

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Have you ever watched a group of six year olds playing soccer? It looks like a flock of birds in the sky; you know the ones, where it looks like a swarm and they seem to move in perfect unison. The entire group dives left then soars right all together in flight.

When birds do it, it looks almost poetic, when kids do it at a soccer game, it looks comical, when adults do it…

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Field of Dreams?

When I look lately at what is happening in the world around me I feel like I’m watching a field full of soccer games played by multiple teams. In each separate game all the children are chasing the ball regardless of their position, on the sidelines there are coaches shouting directions, and all sorts of commentary from the observers both celebratory and derogatory.

We have plenty of players, plenty of coaches and people with opinions on each side of every game but there is not much progress. Sure there is a lot of running around chasing something and observers getting excited about if those chasing the ball are right or wrong in doing so. We have noise, emotion and commotion, but is anyone making a score?

What Position Do You Play?

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So here is what I am wondering. Where do you sit on this field? No matter what your opinion, there is certainly something that you can do that is helpful. Something you can do that will help with education, skill development and ultimately create a better game by improving the players’ understanding of their positions. Maybe it even starts with understanding what position you want to play in the game.

I believe what has been forgotten in this mayhem that is today’s news frenzy is that we all have roles in which we excel. If we each play our roles that speak to our best skills then regardless of the score, there is a well-played game. When games are played well and everyone understands how their role makes an impact we have field of players who respect each other and the game. When the players show respect for their opponent it translates to the coaches and the spectators. It is from this we can all learn and grow and develop into better teams.

United in Civility

I understand we are all concerned about the issues today, so let’s start there. I believe divisiveness is beginning to tear apart this great, united nation and I believe we will all lose if that happens.

I long for the days where there is no name calling in the schoolyard and we each begin to listen to our neighbors again. Stop unfriending and turning away from the differences between us and begin to ask what does our neighbor want and what can we begin to agree on.

When we start coming together again, we can begin to move into the world we all want to live in. No one wants to be called names, no one wants to feel dumb for their opinions and we don’t create the world we want by yelling at each other.

Can You Hear Anything Through The Din?

Getting back to the soccer game – you know on the sidelines everyone is yelling out commands. You also know, none of the kids on the field can hear or are listening for the commands. And then there is this one kid standing right by the net, waiting for someone to pass the ball because they are in perfect scoring position but….

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Where to Start

So I ask you to take a moment to take stock of the position you are in. I encourage you to take a couple of issues that are near and dear to you and really get clear on what it is that you do want to happen. Speak to those issues and maybe reach out to someone that doesn’t have the exact same view and listen. Don’t judge, qualify or argue, just listen for any possible way that you and they have a common desire. I challenge you to find the humanity in the cause and begin to develop solutions and dialog that is constructive towards the world we all want to live in.

imagesI believe that for the values of this country to remain in vision we, as a nation of people, need to constructively identify what has to be done to keep the country one that stands for all it has always stood for. In order for impact to be made on a meaningful level we need to continue to do positive actions that speak to our skills, to be respectful to our opposition so that we can find the best values of this country and move them forward as a united team.  Isn’t this at least worth a try?

I welcome any comments or feedback, I understand this is an emotionally charged topic, but I do truly value all opinions. I respectfully request no name calling or finger pointing.

The Key to Success

Just Show Up!

The key to success: Show up and don’t give up. This is it. It is that simple, don’t complicate it by thinking too much!

I have been a runner for almost 10 years. I have challenged myself many times along the way, and at times I have just complacently run along at a pace and distance that were comfortable for me.

I just recently ran my second marathon, I felt better prepared for it than my first because I had one experience under my belt. Although I had read the elevation map this time the hills still took me by surprise. I had read about how flat and fast a course this was, however neglected to remember it was still going to be over 26 miles of running! Of course I knew it intellectually, but I forgot how that feels in the moment.

The First Battle Is Your Mind

 I had a lot of time to think over the seemingly endless miles. There were many times where I was tired or sore and I thought about how much easier it would be if I just stopped. I began to try to figure out how would I get back to the start line to get in my car. Then almost immediately I dismissed the crazy idea; I started a marathon, I would finish it. What helped me through this was that I began to realize how far I had already run and how little was in front of me. I remembered the stories about how many people quit when they are right about to get to where they envisioned. At that point, there was no decision to make but to see it through.

Nope, I don't think so!

I started to see how much my life was like this marathon. I know it’s cliché, “Life is like a marathon” but it’s cliché for a reason. I have been going through my life and career as a 5k runner, occasionally throwing in a 10k. All these races were fine and even a little challenging as I sought to better myself through time and distance, but was I all that I could and wanted to be? Was there something more?

Becoming a Marathoner

Recently I left the corporate world (my 5k & 10k world) and became an entrepreneur (a marathoner). I get up before the sun to line up with many other great people seeking the feeling of self-powered accomplishment. We tackle hills together, some walk, some power up, and some just keep their pace slowly cresting the top. There is almost always a point along the course, or as an entrepreneur, where you question why you are doing this, is it worth it? There is most often a little pain along the way, but we keep moving forward, either slowing our pace or walking if need be. We each face our own challenges along the course, those known and unknown. We have to remind ourselves from time to time how far we’ve come so we don’t give up. The key to those of us that succeed is we just don’t stop, we keep moving forward because for us, there really is no choice but to see it through.

The Success Medal

I believe if we each live our lives as marathoners on our own course, regardless of the distance chosen, we will almost undoubtedly receive our medals. We prepare the best we can, read the maps and signs before we embark while understanding there will likely be unforeseen challenges and obstacles along the way. We power through, slow or walk if we need to but we keep moving forward. Some will get to stand on the podium, but we each receive our medal for our efforts and persistence.

In life success is our medal, some may have a faster pace than others, everyone has their own form and style, but if we just show up to the starting line and don’t give up, we can earn our medal. Where are you on your own course?

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10 Life Lessons Learned on the Rink

True happiness

I’m a hockey mom. I loved watching my son play the game because of the sheer joy I saw on his face even through the cage on his mask and the mouth guard in his smile. I also loved the lessons he, and I, learned throughout his 14 years on the ice.

1. With practice and desire one can become really good!
My son started playing hockey at age 4. I remember him struggling to cross the ice without falling down pushing a milk crate to keep him steady. He worked on just standing up without falling over for a really long time and was he was determined! Later, in his teens, I went ice skating with him on Boston’s Frog Pond and he was holding me up while skating backwards to help me across the ice. He is pretty amazing on skates and I was looking everywhere for a milk crate!

2. Don’t let physical limitations fool you into thinking you can’t do something.
My son had pretty severe asthma as a child and spent many days in the hospital trying to overcome attacks on his little body. Most people would have let this type of condition prevent activity, but with medical consent and guidance he went on to play ice hockey. I wasn’t going to let his limitation prevent him from living the life he wanted, we adjusted accordingly and kept on top and in front of his condition. We can let our limitations restrict us or make us more resourceful.

3. When you get checked (even from behind) get up and get moving, the game is still going on!
Some people from these hockey days might remember hearing this woman in the stands yelling, “Get up! This is not ice dancing!” Yah, that was me, he was a defenseman. It’s nearly impossible to defend the net from your butt! This lesson was really important to me when my mother died. I couldn’t help the team (my family) if I was on my butt, I had to get up, life was still going. I had an important job to do so I geared up and got back in the game.

This isn't ice dancing

This isn’t ice dancing

4. Sometimes there will be an unfair play.
OK, life is not fair – move on. I could have tried to teach my son this lesson by telling him that things in life may happen that are not “fair” but I didn’t have to, hockey did it for me. When a bad play is made during a game people get upset, but the game moves on. You can’t sit around complaining (unless it’s soccer ☺) you’ll get a delay of game penalty! Sticks down – the ice is melting!

5. Prepare for the game you are in.
There are times you will have formidable opponents and times you will have easy ones either way the game is the same. If you prepare for the opponent and not the game there is a chance you have miscalculated. If you always prepare for the game you should be ready no matter which opponent shows up to play.

6. Wear good protection!
Yes, hockey can be a dangerous sport, but have you seen the pads that go on before a game? Whatever the game you’re in, prepare. You may get bumped and bruised but with good padding you’re a bit protected. In life he has taken off the pads, but certainly has a thick skin because after all, this isn’t ice dancing!

7. Authority figures sometimes make a bad call.
Yes there are bad calls made, by coaches or by referees. Sometimes that makes or breaks the game (sorry Seahawks) but you can only be responsible for how you play. No matter what the referee sees, calls or doesn’t call, you are responsible for playing the game with integrity and heart. Stay focused on what you control and how you play.

8. One person does not lose the game.
One game my son got off the ice and he was mad at the coaches for keeping a bad goalie in the net. I quickly reminded him this was a team sport and that if everyone had done their job properly no one would have been able to get past five players to get a shot off. Most losses in life are also the responsibility of multiple parties, it is often not the result or effort of only one party.

9. Sometimes you will lose and you will survive and be better for it.
I remember a particularly hard loss my son had. It was a playoff game and he played his little heart out! I know that day he left EVERYTHING on the ice and I was so proud of his efforts. It was a great game but they lost. My son came out of the locker room in a bit of a hurry and when we got to the car he just sobbed. That was my son’s first heartbreak and he learned that sometimes you can put all your efforts out there and things just won’t go your way. By the afternoon he was able to talk about the game and remember a few good plays and a few really awful plays. He became a better player and probably person from that loss.

10. When you have felt the disappointment of losing, you become a better winner.
I have such a problem with society trying to protect our children from losing! When my son was very young his team was getting just slaughtered on the ice. By the close of the first period the score was something like 8-0. So as they came out on the ice for the second period and the goals continued to pile up, the score never changed. When talking to my son after about such a tough loss he said the coaches told the players the scoreboard got stuck. I let him know that it had not gotten stuck they stopped it and that his team got schmucked 22-0 (or something like that). I reminded him that the other team just played better this time and they deserved every goal. I also pointed out how the other team handled their win – they did not gloat at such a huge score and that was what good sportsmanship was about. He never forgot that game and remains a bit humble when he wins in anything knowing what it feels like on the other end. In life clearly there are wins and losses but it’s how you handle each that determines your character.

I required both of my children to play sports growing up for the experiences they would gain and the lessons they would learn. I believe there is so much about life to be learned in a sports setting that is grasped best when it plays out on the field, court, rink, etc.

I think for all that my children learned in their sports, I also gained valuable insight. The life lessons are there for all of us, the players and the parent.

Play on!
-E

Play On!

Play On!

13 Life Lessons Discovered While Hiking Mountains

Camelback Mountain on the way to the summit

Camelback Mountain on the way to the summit

I’ve been doing a lot of hiking in a variety of locations lately.  I noticed how similar it is navigating a mountain and navigating life.  Here are a few of my observations:

  1. Keep your eyes on the path since there are often things that could trip you up along the way.
  2. Take a moment every so often to stop and look at the views along the way – it’s not only the summit that is worth noticing, there are many views to be enjoyed along the journey.Desert Flowers
  3. Watch your footing – you never know if the ground you’re putting your foot on is stable until you test it a little.challenging footing
  4. The views at the summit are almost always worth far more than the work put in to get there.

    Castle Rock Summit - spectacular view of Lake Tahoe

    Castle Rock Summit – spectacular view of Lake Tahoe

  5. Many will admire the mountains, but not everyone will attempt to put the work in to reach the summit.
  6. Sometimes the terrain is not what you expected.
  7. Prepare for the unexpected – sometimes bad weather moves in fast.

    Storm on the horizon

    Storm on the horizon

  8. If you get caught in a storm take the time to analyze the situation with as much information as you have at the time and make a swift decision, then act!
  9. Take in the entire experience all the way through from the base to summit and back to the base.
  10. It’s more fun to hike with someone than going it alone.
  11. Look for signs along the way that assure you that you are on your desired route.Signs & Maps
  12. If you make a wrong turn, acknowledge it as soon as possible and backtrack as much as you need to until you can figure the best direction.
  13. Pick a focus and relentlessly pursue it until you reach it.Mountains to Climb!

Sometimes you learn a lot about the road you are on by taking one that is unfamiliar.  I find a great deal of wisdom is gained by placing myself outside my routine surroundings.  Sometimes the obvious is seen more easily by simply changing the scenery.

Along the route to Inspiration Point on McDowell Sonoran Preserve

Along the route to Inspiration Point on McDowell Sonoran Preserve