What I wanted to write about today is particularly timely for me personally.
The last few days I have been feeling run down, like I need to tap out and retreat a little bit. It feels like I need to cease with all the outward-facing energy and efforts I've been engaging in, and recommit to the inward-facing work that is so important and restorative. I also know that if I don't choose to take heed and listen to what my body is saying to me right now, my body will make me listen before too long. :)
It's perfect timing, because what I'm living through right now is exactly the Reminder that fall offers to us. The way we approach this time of year is important in our own cycles. We all have a periodic "fall". But that doesn't mean we are weak or failing or losing steam - it means that we are given the deliberate opportunity to take a beat and go inside to listen and prepare for what's to come.
The fall is still a very active time,...
I grew up going to New Hampshire a few times a year to visit family. We would pick blueberries and go camping in the summer, and stock up on maple syrup and admire the beautiful changing of the leaves in the fall. There is nothing else like a walk in the White Mountains - the smell of nature, especially in the morning; the colors on the trees so vibrant that not even a 96-color coloring box could cover it. Stunning.
Later, going to school in upstate New York, I got to experience it all again. Sometimes the crisp air and smells around me would take me right back to a cool morning, waking up inside the tent and pulling back the zipper to climb through and help start a fire.
It is because of experiences like these, and many others, that I have a profound appreciation and admiration for the fall. Many look around and see the changes around us just as falling leaves; "everything is dying". But I don't see the adjustment that way.
If someone asked you right now, "who are you?" - how would you answer?
Would you mention your job, your profession, perhaps that you are a parent or a partner? Would you think about your value vis-a-vis finances or property? Would you think about your outward image and how social media plays a part in your life?
Would you immediately think about your "failures" or focus on the areas you want to improve? Would you describe your physical appearance?
Essentially, would your immediate response be to define who you are by all sorts of outside measures and standards created outside of yourself?
So many of us would absolutely say "yes" to that. I used to.
From a very young age, people all around us tell us who we are - tell us what our value is, how smart we are, how talented we are, how attractive or healthy we are, how funny we are. We are informed of these things - it isn't for us to decide.
I have a few huge problems with that....
We all want to have a happy, healthy life. That's what we are all striving for, in our own ways. It will look different for every single person, but the bigger picture and the fundamental desires are the same no matter who you are.
So how do you do it? How do you get "there" and create the life you want?
The components that make up a life are like a puzzle - each with its own shape and specific purpose. They all come together and fit exactly as they are supposed to - its just a matter of making and finding those pieces and then one by one, aligning them to make the whole. I happen to love (LOVE) doing puzzles, but I know for many people, looking at the huge pile of pieces, scattered and disorganized, can be completely overwhelming. When looked at this way, it's easy to feel overwhelmed. But if you create a strategy - a plan of attack - and slowly, systematically, pick up one piece at a time and sort it, suddenly the whole...
It's high time that we re-define excellence and perfection and reorient ourselves around what real success looks like.
Achieving a high level of competence in any one area is something to strive for and hopefully achieve, to be sure. Establishing a goal and going after it with determination and persistence is a worthwhile endeavor...but not at the expense of growth.
In my experience, veering off course AND BEING ABLE TO NAVIGATE IT has been a far more valuable teacher than staying on it (as long as it doesn't literally put your wellbeing in danger).
In fact, in the moments where I am "off course", when I have been able to be in that space and remain observant and curious, I have gained incredible insight into how exactly to move forward with intention and a bit more insider info than I had while I was on that original path.
When things happen in our lives, when we have recurring thoughts, when distractions come during meditation, when life offers us...
The other day I found myself doing five things at once. I was doing a lot, but also doing nothing, if that makes sense.
I got to thinking - the world puts so much "value" on productivity that it's no wonder that people tend to move a mile a minute. It seems exhausting to be honest. I know for me, in that moment where I was doing so much, I was really tired. I probably wasn't doing any one of those things as best I could. One of the things I was doing was talking on the phone with someone. Thinking back on it now, what a shame it was that I wasn't even giving this person I was talking to my full attention. That's not how I want to show up in relationships. Distracted. Reactive.
After that realization I decided to pause. To not only pause what I was physically doing but also pause what my mind was doing. I took a few moments to be quiet and ground myself and move forward to do just one thing at a time,...
One of the fundamental truths of life that I have uncovered so far is that each and every one of us is here in order to search for and discover what we are uniquely here to bring forward into the world. Then, once we find it, our job is to go about the business of living that out. Each of us has something incredible and singular to offer, and it's our responsibility to be of service to one another as we move through this life.
Over the years, the invitation to give back has shown up in many ways in my life. I have given of my time, resources, and connections. I've donated shoes and skills and snickerdoodles (vegan of course). I've produced benefit concerts, fundraisers and even went so far as to create an entire company around the idea of giving back and sharing what I have learned, so far.
Here's what I know: each one of us can do something, every day, just by being ourselves.
And here's what else I've found: that in so...
Those of you who know me have been fully aware for quite some time now that I LOVE National Geographic. I'm a super fan. I read them all cover to cover; I get all the emails; I follow them on social. I am such a huge supporter, in fact, that a few years ago I actually WON one of their very cool vacations! It's the only time I've won anything in my life and I'm SO grateful that the Universe decided to wait to gift me that one. I still smile thinking about all the incredible memories made on that trip.
I just love to explore. Whether it's on a grand NatGeo trip, or a walk around my block, I am a sponge with life - wanting to do it all; see it all. There is such huge value found in this kind of exploration - seeking out all of this fabulous knowledge in order to better understand the world around you and how you fit in, or can contribute.
More recently, on one of my long nature walks, it dawned on me that the great invitation of all...
This past year and a half (2020-present) has taught me SO many important lessons. Chief among them is how precious life truly is; how delicate it is and how miraculous our bodies are. Incredible!
Just a few weeks ago, I was fortunate to be able to be fully vaccinated for COVID-19 - the infection that claimed countless lives and impacted us all.
I've been personally interested in health and wellbeing for a bit over a decade now, having begun my own path of a plant-based life in 2010. This year though, I kicked it up into high gear and really evaluated how I was setting my body and mind up for success.
Think about it. Our bodies and minds do so much for us every moment of every day. For example, our precious heart muscle is there nestled in our bodies, relentlessly pumping away. It asks very little of us when you think about it. How can I not do everything in my power to help it along? There are thousands of examples of...
If we all were able to be inquisitive first; conclusive second, the world would be a much different place. If we could catch ourselves before we presume, we could better navigate communication.
The idea of exploration can be applied countless ways in our daily lives, but today I'd like to offer a few thoughts on how we can apply it to our relationships with others, and with ourselves.
Especially in a world culture that places a great deal of "value" on the external and appearance, it's no wonder that people go about their lives judging books by their covers.
But what if we practiced another way of interacting? What if, we could catch ourselves making judgements and instead, be inquisitive without judgement. Further, could we apply additional curiosity to that moment and even ask ourselves how we might add value and be of service, instead of flatly detracting?
I offer that if we could approach our interactions with others from a mindset that is...