Archive | January, 2016

The Universe Supports Boldness

27 Jan

“He who hestiates is lost,” my father used to say when teaching me how to drive. He was referring to passive drivers, those who hem and haw when changing lanes or when merging onto the freeway. They often accelerate and decelerate irradically, never making their intentions known to other drivers. The result is comparable to having the foot on the gas and brake simultaneously. “People who drive too slow or without assertiveness are just as dangerous as those who drive too fast and reckless.”

My father used to race stock cars as a hobby and was an excellent driver. I don’t know that I can say the same about my skills but his words stuck.

She who hesitates is lost.

These words apply to so many situations. A figure skater going into a jump at high speed who pauses right before lift off, typically can’t land the jump and often lands on her fanny instead. Similarly, a surfer who hesitates when the wave is cresting, won’t pop up right. He’ll end up on his knees, or won’t pop up at all. Likewise, he’ll miss the wave entirely, or it will take him at the wrong time causing him to pearl, the wave sending him into a-not- so-sweet-tumble into green and foam.

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He who hesitates is lost.

So much about life is about listening for the right moment and then committing to it with boldness. To jump on every wave does not reflect boldness; just foolishness or ignorance. Instead, the conditions need to be right. The wave needs to break with good form and without too many people on it. But when you are in the zone of a perfect wave, it is a Nike, “Just do it!” moment. Do not turn away the gift horse.

Reading the waves is an inner art form but the inner informs the outer. The impulse starts within.

“The Universe supports boldness,” a friend of mine said recently. This is such a quintessential California statement; it reads like bumper sticker. And yet it is so spot on. The Universe most definitely supports boldness. The Universe is bold herself. She is wild, she is beautiful, she is free.

When Chapters Close

23 Jan

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I remember when I first started reading big girl books that actually had chapters. I was fascinated by how events would wrap up towards a chapter’s close only to have a new plot element introduced. The suspense kept you reading.

I believe our lives also have chapters yet we often are not aware of them. We get so caught up in the day-to-day, we often fail to recognize what events have wrapped up and what is coming down the pike. It’s important to pay attention; to keep a ten thousand foot view. We need to be active readers of our own lives.

Chapters are often noted by geography and the years spent in different places. For instance, certain cities have called to me, propelling me to devote key years of my life in their regions. Because of this, I have always related to the movie “Chocolat,” where the protagonist, played by Juliette Binotte, relocates frequently. When the winds stir, she feels the call to pack up her belongings and set up shop in a new village with her little girl. You could say the character runs from establishing roots. She is after all a gypsy spirit. Yet she also knows the wisdom inherent in the wind’s promptings. It’s important to listen to what howls at night and the dust that whirls around us.

You can’t rush the chapters. It’s not to us to say when they’re finished. Although we’re the central players in our own stories, there are too many other agents at work in the unfolding events. Chapters are done when salient information has been processed, lessons have been learned, and actions have been revealed. Some chapters reflect loss and catastrophe; other chapters reflect great joy and triumph.

Perhaps a better word for significant periods in our lives would be “epochs.” Indeed, epochs are often highlighted by big events – deaths, weddings, births of children, and career changes – but not always. Sometimes, it is just time for change. Nothing much is happening. We’ve reached a period of comfort. Of stasis, stability, and peace. And then voila! The winds stir.

Yet when they do, we know IT. We can feel it. We then know that to stay put and defy transformation is to wind up in the belly of a whale. We’ll be spit out in Ninevah whether we pack our bags or not. To defy fate is to tempt the Maker and just makes our paths harder.

I always know when it is time to move into another epoch of my life when things start happening effortlessly and at an accelerated pace. Opportunities seem to fall out of the sky just by making a few inquiries. Likewise, a flow emerges that sharply contrasts the pushing-a-boulder-up-a-mountain periods we’ve been in previously. We become like leaves floating down a river to the next phase. Excitement eclipses fear and we summon courage despite walking straight into the unknown. It becomes surreal and strange to put belongings into boxes and yet we couldn’t imagine staying another month longer. Like our ancestors, we set sail or sit in a wagon, headed out for the new frontier. These are important moments. They mark our lives. They change the trajectory. They foster our becoming, as we leave behind our old selves and allow our true selves to emerge. And thus, a new chapter begins.

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Valentine to the City

14 Jan

A few days ago I found myself in a hotel room with my legs up the wall in a yoga inversion pose trying to induce sleep because in the city that never sleeps, it’s often hard to dial down from the buzz. Because of NYC’s initiative to train 250,000 New Yorkers in Mental Health First Aid, there will be a number of instructor trainings to meet that said goal and thus, I was fortunate to be one of the trainers who visited here recently.

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Twenty years ago I was a New Yorker. I was one of those starry eyed youth who came to the Big Apple because why not? I will never forgot those years. Once Manhattan has been part of your life experience, it’s always in the DNA. You really can’t understand the city until you’ve lived here; until you’ve been crammed on a subway daily in winter, spring, summer and fall either bundled up in a coat or sweltering in the urine smelling tunnels when it’s 100 degrees underground. You really can’t understand the kindness of the people here until you’ve had the guy at the corner market store chat with you every morning while getting your non-Starbucks coffee in one of the cups you always see in cop shows.

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The city is a heart beat pulsing with life and vitality. I love the rumble of the trains and and the old fashioned glamour of Grand Central Station. I love track lines that take me outside the city to people and places I love and the sense that anything is possible if you put yourself in the right place at the right time and keep your eyes and heart open.

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En route to the airport a few weeks ago, my uber driver was very young. I knew he was relatively green when he put the airport address into his phone GPS when the directions are a pretty striaght shoot. I also knew he was just shy of a kid based on his demeanor, the way he spoke to me, etc. “Today is my first day as an uber driver,” he said. “I just got out of the navy and am at school. I like uber. Everything is a tax write off and I can work my own hours.” And you can also make some seriously good money, kid. Good for you! I was touched by his lack of pretense; his lack of needing to do things perfectly; and his willingness to take life by the horns. He reminded me of a young woman I met in the city who was visiting from Canada. She was here just because. It was her third trip this year because she is smitten with the city.

New York is an old city with a history and yet it retains the joie de vivre of youth. Sure, the city can wear you down. In parts of it, it’s loud and dirty and grey and gross. The rents are high and there are lots of people. Yet it’s also glorious and romantic and wild.

New York is vitamin B for the spirit. You just have to find time for a little legs up the wall to quiet down from the stimuli and to fully appreciate the vitality.