Tag Archives: priorities

The End In Sight

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We’re all in this together.
To believe otherwise
is to close yourself off
from what will save you.
We were all born,
we will all one day die.
Let the reality of your life
one day ending
wake you up
to the connections in your life,
the connections
that really mean something to you.
When you lie on your death bed,
you won’t care how much money
you have in the bank
or how many cars you have in your garage
or how big your house is.
You will only be asking,
Did I love as much as I could?
Did I live the best way I could?

If you died tomorrow,
what would be your regrets?
If you have any,
it’s time to start living!

Meditate First

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Guilt and shame
Rage and frustration
Disappointment and impatience
Hopelessness and despair…
all before 9 am.
I should’ve awakened early
and meditated first.

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It was my daughter’s first day of first grade.  My in-laws were preparing to leave.  The house was in chaos, and what I thought was an innocent request to help with the garbage was somehow interpreted as a tyrannical outburst which mortified and outraged my husband.

I think I need to develop the discipline to get up and meditate first before I speak to anyone–even when I’m tired and am seduced by the idea of meditating at some point mid-morning, after I’ve had my coffee and the number of humans in the house has been reduced to two.  When I sit first, I have a tendency to be more calm, more insightful, more patient, more aware, and this translates into better, smoother interactions with my family.

I’ve known this for a long time, but sometimes I flub up and can’t manage to get up before everyone else.  This is where I need to remind myself that I’m human, and sometimes life is messy.  I can offer myself a good dose of self-compassion and give myself a break for once.

I’ll try to wake up earlier tomorrow and see what happens.

What Really Matters

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It struck me how backwards we can be
with our priorities.
Take, for example,
the emphasis we place on the size of our homes,
the way we decorate their interiors,
how powerful our car’s engine is,
how much our income is,
where we will take our next vacation,
how fast our internet is,
how large is our flatscreen,
how expensive our shoes…
We get so caught up in these things,
we might forget that there are many other things
that matter so much more–
the size of our hearts,
the way we decorate our inner world,
how powerful our mind is,
how much we can love,
where our generosity is most needed,
how quickly we can forgive,
how large is our vision,
the value we place on our relationships…
If you ever feel dissatisfied
with the way your life has turned out,
ask yourself if you haven’t momentarily
gotten your priorities mixed up.
You might find that reducing
your material desires
and setting your sights
on the singular goal
of realizing your fullest potential
will immediately shift your perspective
and help you see clearly again
what really, truly matters.

Priorities Change

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Priorities change.
It is no longer about being noticed in life,
but about noticing as much about life as possible.
Amassing wealth can only do so much,
but there is no limit to what can be done
by one with great will.
Instead of wielding power over someone,
we can cultivate the power to do what
will heal, what will help,
what will make a positive difference
in the lives of those around us.
Being right is not the goal anymore.
Now it is about connection,
communication,
compassion,
coherence,
collaboration,
coexistence.
What are your priorities?
If they are centered around
gathering more things
into your sphere of existence,
consider what you can take with you
when you leave,
and consider what you will leave behind.

Just Sayin’

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Just sit.
You don’t need to analyze.
You don’t even need very much time.
Just five minutes,
if that is all you have.
Let your seat be stable.
Let your spine be long
and your heart open.
Keep your face relaxed
with your mouth slightly open.
Your hands rest comfortably palms down.
And now you breathe.
If your mind wanders,
notice its wandering
and then return your attention to your breathing.
It is that simple.
Just a gentle nudge:
if you don’t have five minutes every day
to ground yourself in the peace
at the center of your being
then you might want
to rework your priorities.
Just sayin’!

Relaxing Into Contentment

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Slow down,
please slow down,
and take a deep breath.
Yes.
Take another deep breath.
Now look.
Do you see what lies before you?
Look again.
Do you see what lies within you?
Now breathe again.

Do you feel this life?
Can you dance with the uncertainty?
Can you love what you have
even when you think you deserve something else?
Can you live with the disappointment
until it reveals to you what you need to know?
Can you reach for what is good and true
and then change your ideas of “good” and “true”?

How can you notice all this subtle beauty
if you are constantly rushing, breakneck pace, no pause?
Come home.
Come home to yourself.
Nothing is more important than your homecoming.

So slow down please.
Stop.
Take a deep breath.
Now look.
Do you see?

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Since trading in our gas guzzling 2012 Dodge Durango for a much more fuel efficient 2014 Toyota Prius V and completely changing the way I drive, I’ve noticed some pretty incredible shifts in the way that I experience my every day life.

An eight cylinder hemispherical engine packs a lot of power…back in the days of driving the Dodge, whenever I was stopped at a light on my way to work, on my way to an appointment, or really just on my way, I would plan to quickly leap ahead of anyone I could so that I wouldn’t be stuck behind some unfocused cell phone using ninny who didn’t boast the same strategic driving skills as yours truly.  I would feel my system flooded with adrenaline as I anticipated the light changing and putting the pedal to the metal to take off from the intersection as quickly as possible.  I would still give a quick glance left and right when the light changed to make sure that the intersecting traffic had stopped, but I would take off as quickly as I could and feel satisfied by the roar of the engine and the pull of the g-forces as I left the other ninny drivers in the dust.  Oh, the beautiful torque. Boy–what a dummy I was with that Dodge.

Such behavior left me hurrying everywhere I went.  Such behavior cost me a great deal of peace of mind,  put a strain on my body, trickled into my parenting, my marriage, my housecleaning, my meditation practice, and most especially the way I perceive my personal evolution:  my growth into the person I most want to be.  I was living a glaringly obvious breach of authenticity and it left me feeling uncomfortable on a very deep level. I mean, come on–I was teaching my students to be gentle with themselves, to give themselves time to notice subtle sensations and make mindful choices about how they transition from pose to pose–and “All of this can be achieved,” I told them, “by slowing down”–yet I was unable to slow down in my own life, and this left me feeling like I was living a lie.

And then one fine blue sky day my husband drove away with the Dodge and came back with the Prius.  I was resistant at first, thought I’d miss all that power.  I didn’t even want to drive it at first, out of some kind of weird loyalty to the Dodge.  But then my husband told me about hypermiling, gave me a rough estimate of how much money we’d save by fueling up less often, offered me a few tips about how to drive more fuel efficiently, and my whole outlook changed.

Okay, I told myself…I have been feeling uncomfortable about my aggressive driving for years now, afraid that one of my students or colleagues would see me behind the wheel and feel shocked and disappointed and lose respect in my teaching because of what they witnessed.  I have been acutely aware of the stress reaction in my body in response to my driving choices.  I have felt guilty about the toll my fossil fuel consumption is taking on the earth and her resources.  I was exhausted by all of the hurrying around, by the anger I directed at other drivers, assuming that they were out to get me, to hold me back.  Maybe I’m not losing out by giving up the powerful car.  Maybe I’m actually gaining something precious.  Maybe something will change.  I think it’s time.

So I started slowing waaaaaaaaaay down.  I began playing a game with myself called “Get the best MPG possible” everywhere I went.  Because I wanted to consume less gas, I was taking my time accelerating.  I was watching the cars up ahead and anticipating stopping well before I needed to use my brakes, so that I could coast to a stop and save gas and my brakes.  For once I was consistently going the speed limit, so I wasn’t worried about being caught by police officers who were looking out for speeders.  And I discovered that driving felt calming, relaxing, soothing even, meditative even…

I stopped worrying that someone I knew would see me driving and be appalled.  That was a relief.  I began to take myself more seriously when I would once again encourage my students to slow down in their yoga practice. I started feeling like I had more time…I wasn’t arriving any later than before. Well, maybe a minute or two later max–but how ridiculous it was to think that I was saving myself time by driving like a maniac!!  I leave the same amount of time to get where I’m going as I left myself before, and without speeding at all, I’m arriving at the same time. Epiphany.

And then I noticed that I was slowing down around my kids.  When I held my two year old son up to the sink today to wash his hands, I wasn’t just trying to get it done as quickly as possible so that I could get on to the next thing.  At first we were just there, the water was running, I was pumping the soap onto his hands, and I noticed suddenly that I was being a little brusque, a little too fast; so I slowed down.  I used a gentler touch… and it struck me how precious his little hands were, how soft, how tiny his fingers were, how much of a privilege it was to hold him, and there was this outpouring of love coming from me…and whatever thing he was doing two minutes before that was annoying the crap out of me had suddenly melted out of my consciousness.

As I have started to see myself relaxing while driving, while parenting, while teaching, this miraculous thing is happening where I have more space to see and appreciate all that I have.  Because my mind isn’t cluttered with a list of to-dos, with the urgency that I have to get this and that done so that I can rush on to the next thing, there is room in my awareness to just be present and enjoy the sound of the keys on this keyboard as my fingers tap them.  There is room to hear my son’s breathing as he concentrates deeply on fitting a puzzle piece into its proper position.  I can listen to my daughter singing, I can watch her light steps, and I’m not waiting for her to be bigger so that she can stop making messes.

How can it be that one little choice can have such far-reaching effects?  But isn’t this what the greatest thinkers of all time have been telling us forever?  That God is in the details, that the little things in life count, that every thought matters, that all of our actions have rippling effects…

It feels good to live my way into this knowing.  It feels good to adapt to a way of being that promotes health and deeper connection.  How about my decision to give up half of my yoga classes so that I can spend more time with my family?  This happened because I became so acutely aware of my frantic drive to develop myself professionally, and how this drive was leaving little room for my loved ones.  My hurry sickness was giving me tunnel vision, and once I slowed down, I saw the bigger picture and realized that nothing is more precious than my family.  I could’ve told you before that my time with my family was precious, but I wasn’t living it until now.

So there it is.  I slowed down, it helped me to relax, and now I’m feeling this great sense of contentment welling up in me.  It wasn’t some groundbreaking event that happened.  I didn’t win the lottery.  I wasn’t nominated as best yoga teacher in the universe.  I didn’t teach myself how to levitate, or see remotely, or read other people’s thoughts.  I’m not living in my dream home, we have no plans to go on my dream vacation, and there are still dirty dishes in my sink, crumbs underneath the table, and cat litter on the floor right by my bed. No major explosion of genius or windfall of material wealth has happened.  There’s only this gentle realization that slowly dawned on me, and a feeling of being so incredibly grateful for it.

Thank you life for revealing how awesome you are, and thank you for being patient with me as I toddle my way into realizing what really matters.

 

 

I Will Keep Writing

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My husband and I had another serious talk yesterday morning, revolving around how much time I spend by myself writing and meditating.  I remained calm, I listened.  I wanted him to get that I’m doing this because I want to evolve as a person, to be more present, to be clearer.  I wouldn’t be able to express this wish about evolving if all I could do in that moment was fly off the handle, become defensive, and react.

I’m doing this writing project because I know I have a creative side that wants to be expressed.  I know that the more I work at this expression, the easier it will become.  Or if not easier, perhaps more natural.  Or if not natural, at least more familiar.

In the last 49 days I’ve become quite familiar with the voice that says, “Don’t bother.” And I’ve become familiar with the focus that it takes to find the words hiding behind the voice.  I’ve called upon strength I’d forgotten I had–the strength to have a thought, and then try, try, try again until I find the right words to express it.

I also have become more familiar with the editor.  This is the one that won’t let me go on, that won’t allow the thoughts to gush forth, because it must go back countless times and reread every sentence I’ve written, to make sure that there is some cohesive flow to the whole thing.  Progress is painstaking, and there is always a better way to say what I have said. Trying to find the best way to say something takes time.  And hence, three hours later, I might present the blogosphere with around eight hundred words that are reasonably understandable, sentences that are acceptably articulate, instead of three thousand words that are the raw contents of my mind.

Because, the editor says, No one wants to know the raw contents of your mind. It’s not pretty.  They want art, and art takes devotion, attention to detail, meticulous planning, skill, discrimination.  They don’t want some petty stream of conscious bullcrap–that’s so unrefined, so beneath them, it insults their intelligence and reveals your ignorance!  No, you must take time with what you’re thinking, and craft beautiful gems of sentences that glow and evoke awe and awaken everyone to the beauty of this life.  You must evolve past the primordial every day slop and say something amazing for God’s sake!

My mother in law is in town for a few days.  We had this amazing conversation after we got the kids to bed, in which I divulged every gory detail of what is hanging my husband and me up in our marriage.  He was sitting right there beside me at the dining room table, and I talked to his mother about how our sex life is suffering because we can’t iron out the birth control thing, and besides we’re tired from raising two small kids.  And I talked about how my husband is going crazy with this blog project, how he sees two to three hours spent writing every night as excessive, and if I were to continue with this pace, how he doesn’t think our marriage could survive.

Yep, I candidly talked about the lumpiest, hardest to swallow bits of our relationship, right there.  And then we talked about how I think I should finally go on antidepressants, how I’ve been resisting medication for a long time.  The whole time, during this conversation, my experience was one of being refreshed.  Isn’t that strange?  To feel refreshed when you’re talking about the things that bring you the most pain?  But that is exactly what was happening.  I think I found it wonderful to be able to just talk and connect, no pretense, not trying to impress anyone or attempt to cover over what is ugly and sad and confused in me.

I just laid it out on the table, and damn, it was refreshing.  We could’ve been talking about our favorite movies or books, so light was the tone of the conversation.  We laughed and smiled, and all of a sudden these heavy problems in our marriage, the heaviness of my depression–well, it wasn’t so heavy any more.

My mother in law’s solution was that I cut back on the time spent writing.  While I agreed somewhat, I answered that I hope to be a professional writer some day.  This is something I shared with my husband only yesterday, in an attempt to gain leverage in our argument about what my priorities are.  I surprised myself, suddenly blurting out my secret plan to one day be a professional writer. I knew I could use blogging as a tool for developing my ability to write well, just the daily practice alone could help me progress in articulating my thoughts efficiently.  But I wasn’t planning on sharing all of this with my husband, not then, not in the middle of a serious discussion about the future of our marriage.  And, right there, in the middle of the argument, it just happened.  All of a sudden there I was, blurting it out…I hope to write professionally some day, and the only way I can become a writer is by writing.

I blurted it out yesterday, and then it happened again this evening.  My mother in law sounded a lot like my husband.  She didn’t say the word “priority,” but this is what she was getting at.  And just as before, when I found myself in the serious conversation with my husband, I also wanted her to get why I’m writing.  I waited, I listened…

I heard my mother in law too.  She said, Nothing is more important than your relationship.  You are fortunate to have a husband that loves you and wants to be with you.  You are such a cute couple.  You don’t want to lose your closeness.  Don’t let it happen.  Don’t let yourselves grow farther apart.

Okay, I get it.  A couple needs to spend time together.  Yes. I agree.  And also, a writer just has to write.

A couple of days ago, I explored how science and spirituality don’t have to be mutually exclusive.  It’s  the same thing right here.  I can be a writer, and I can be happily married.  I can be a good mom, and yoga teacher, and wife, AND I can be a successful writer. I don’t have to give anything up, especially not the thing that has provided an incredibe opportunity to awaken and grow in awareness of my self and my life.

I’m in this intense period of time, trying to iron out my crazy schedule, and make time for the things that matter. I have my eyes focused forward, believing that this moment will reveal to me what the next step is.  I often become tired, depressed, and a bit discouraged, but I also see the spiral dance that is this path of awakening. I have faith. I know that there are good things ahead.

And by God, I will keep writing.