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gratitude

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SDC10767 I let my yoga practice drop over a year ago now. I’ve felt bad about it because: 1. my body + mind + soul missed it, and 2. I had gotten pretty good at it. Running replaced my time on the mat. It provided me with just enough endorphin release to push forward with all the changes of these past months. But, every now and then, a little voice wondered: when are you gonna get back into it?

Well, the time has come. I may have made my travel more cumbersome, but I carried around my yoga mat with me throughout my 3 week Greece trip. The sun, the sea, the easy pace of life gently nudged me back into a practice I have loved and treasured for some time.

In this journey back to yoga, I’ve new-found gratitude…for the power of intention that surfaces before a practice, for the gift of the learned poses given to me my patient and soulful teacher, for the union my spirit finds with the body that holds it.

There’s a pose at the end of the primary series, right before sinking into restful Shavasana called उत्प्लुतिः  Utplutiḥ, meaning “lift”…also known as Tolasana. In lotus position, spine lengthened and hands placed on the mat, you lift your legs and butt off the mat balancing and holding for 5 breaths. After having done a challenging practice of many poses already, for me it takes every last bit of strength left to hold. To enhance the experience, my teacher would always instruct: ok, lift and breathe…don’t forget to smile. I always wondered if the smiling was part of the pose. When asked, he simply said: Nope, I just add that in. Makes the pose easier, lighter.

It’s true.

A great lesson in a simple act. When life has got you exhausted, stretched, challenged to the point of giving up, the slightest shift (movement, mood, perspective…smile) can really be the lift needed to keep on.

photo (23)Marianne/ 37

What is something you’re grateful for?

Where I am: Northern CA, in a tiny cottage near the ocean in the middle of nowhere…kind of…simple, quiet, lush, easy, authentic and real. Peaceful…mmm, peaceful.

Who is someone you’re grateful for?

My parents. You. Hmm, I mean, a long list…Timothy, Kara, Kara’s parents, all my friends who are just supportive and open and get it.

What part of your body do you love?

My hands. My shoulders and this whole area (she motions the span of her clavicle)…my hair (laughing); I have a long list.

What advice would you give someone who is feeling low?

How can you flip what’s making you unhappy into something to your advantage? Whatever is making you low, can you re-write the story to make it to your advantage? How do make an asset of what’s making you feel down?

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Gus/67 yrs.

What is something you’re grateful for?

Gainful work activity for a number of years, in spite of having encountered difficulties along the way.

Who is someone you’re grateful for?

Your grandmother. She was an example to follow of family importance  and being a provider.

What part of your body do you love?

My right hand.

What advice would you give someone who is feeling low?

Snap out of it!

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Gold-glitter-champagne-glassI saw this today and liked it immediately.  I like that it’s not in-your-face goal scribbling rah-rah. I like that it’s paying reverence to time given and not invoking panic on what’s not yet been accomplished.  I like the lightness of tone, the simplicity of message, and the images make me smile.

And, as someone drawn to words, #3 caught my eye. It goes like this:

3. Write something down. I always find that I sometimes don’t even know what I think until I write it down. Writing is therapeutic, and it’s an incredible way to free our mind from all that stuff I mentioned earlier. Take pen to paper and write something down. Make a list of the new places you explored in the past year… or of the people you met… the things you learned. Write down 5 things you’re greatful for, 4 things you learned about yourself, 3 things you never thought you’d try but did. Write down a goal for the next year. It can be as specific as where you want to be living and with whom and by what date… or it can be as vague as a 4-word phrase. Be nicer to people, perhaps. The simple act of writing one thing down can offer closure to the past, gratitude for what you’ve experienced, and a giant wave of motivation for what’s to come.

So, in ceremonious and simultaneous closure/kick-off, here’s my exercise.
new places explored-Nong Kiaw, wine country northern CA, The Hamptons, aspects of my psyche
people met-friends in Luang Prabang, Aviva, Marianne
5 things grateful for-supportive people in my life, health, this journey, opportunities, Naya
4 things learned about myself-my limits are self imposed, being guilt driven is not a great place to operate from, wanting to go home is ok, i can deal with spiders the size of my hand on my own
3 things I thought i’d never try but did-design a 12 room hotel, act as co-founder of an e design company, get into a tripod headstand
goal-write, write, write
ok, you’re turn. what about you? take any one of these and share. in a funny way, writing it down contributes to the celebration. happy new years, all.

what was an intensity of 4-5 months has slowed tremendously. hence the reason for my absence here. my frenzy culminated with a trip to New York a few weeks ago to attend the launch of the start-up company I am a co-founder of called Decorilla. the events that led to this are still no short of a mix of connections, timing, and a little bit of magic. regardless, i am hugely grateful for the chance to be part of such a unique creative process. (more to come on this, I’m sure)

four nights in the big apple is hardly enough. fortunately, i had seen some sites years ago so this experience was about being open to invitations. i stayed with a traveler i met in Laos; she was passing through in her global journey and we became fast friends. lucky for me, she was renting a house in the hamptons where I ate grilled mussels, hung out at the local general store, and went on the most peaceful run i’ve had in years. it was amazing.

going into the city comprised of catching up with old friends from varied past life chapters, admiring the success of a friend’s wine & cheese bar in Brooklyn, and greeting 200 people at the door of the launch party.

and then, just-like-that, it was over.

thank you, New York.

brag

i’m not a bragger.

i grew up being taught that humility is a virtuous quality, that pride is unbecoming, and that nobody likes a bragger.

certainly, having someone flaunt their successes in your face when you’re having a crappy day is not a good feeling. the prattling off of accomplishments and possessions can be just yucky when it is done to puff up in superiority.

on a recent post, seth godin offers an explanation of bragging and feeling small in relation to art:

“To make us feel small in the right way is a function of art; men can only make us feel small in the wrong way.” E. M. Forster

The small feeling produced by art comes from dancing with our muse and allowing our inspiration to take us somewhere the resistance would rather avoid. We feel small in the face of magic and connection. Feeling small gives us the guts to create something bigger, bigger than ourselves, the art of human connection and the gift of generosity.

On the other hand, the critic who seeks to beef himself up at our expense diminishes no one but himself.

but, not all sharing of good things is done to make others feel small. sometimes, scooting modesty aside is a positive thing:
it can inspire others, letting them know what’s possible.
it can be the source of celebration-and who doesn’t like to celebrate?
it can simply be a part of the human experience to want to express joy.

many of us, it seems, need permission to share our greatness or the great things that happen to us. that’s why facebook has been somewhat controversial in this sense. how often do you open that page up and after seeing one incredible status after another, feel just a little bit like your life is lacking? it’s that whole age of comparison thing where such forums lend to feeding our insecurities about ourselves.

yet, if we step back a bit from that virtual realm, we can see that the reality of life is not all vacation trips, baby announcements, and going to see the BEST CONCERT EVER! we know this. life is a mixed bag. facebook is just a place where we can pick what we want out of that bag and do an adult version of show-n-tell.

focusing on what’s abundant and lovely and fun in our lives, can only call forth more of that.

here, let’s practice.
in this little post of this little blog (see, i’m doing it again), you are free to share what is great in your life. be anonymous if you want. it doesn’t matter. what will happen is this: the glow of one comment will ignite that of another and another, and before you know it, we’re all sharing in a gorgeous fire of goodness. (warning: when listing what’s not wrong in our lives, a feeling of gratitude has a tendency to ensue).

like i said, i am not a bragger. you can see it in my body language. i squirm when i get a compliment. i struggle to look someone in the eye when i am sharing something cool about my life. i often downplay via a slouched posture or shoulder shrugging. this does not come naturally to me. but, to counter my propensity to compare myself to others, counting my blessings is a practice i want to make, so here goes:

people often low ball my age by at least five years. i’ve several colorfully stamped passports in my possession. i use all my senses daily; i am healthy. my parents show love for each other, even after 37 years. my high school experience was not something i want to forget-it was amazing. my life is full of options. i am supported and loved by a wonderful man. i have friendships that have seen me when i had a bowl cut and wore bolo ties (thanks, friends). i have the best.sister.ever. my future is tingling with life.

is there anything there you resonate with? do we connect somehow in our experiences? does anything inspire you in any way?
don’t be shy.
go ahead, brag.

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