Wednesday, August 29, 2012

That's What It's All About

I grew up in the seventies.  I remember hearing about this new craze that seemed to be drawing the free-spirited, incense-burning, in-tune-with-the-universe type to dimly lit rooms with mats and twisted poses.  I didn't understand what it really was.  I think I believed it was more about meditation than fitness; more about the spiritual than the physical; more about the hippie generation than about down-to-earth health seekers.

I didn't understand Yoga at all.

Yoga is delightful and deserves a place in everyone's life.  It is about becoming in tune with your body and creating a dialogue between one's physical and spiritual beings, creating awareness and unity.

Yoga is about becoming strong without having to lift a single bar bell, using one's own body as very adequate resistence.  It is about achieving overall fitness in a peaceful, tranquil environment.  No grunting, sweaty men strutting around, flexing their muscles and dropping weights. No plastic barbie dolls in lycra drawing attention to themselves.

This is fitness for the introspective.  This is a regimen for those seeking true health; striving for well-rounded wellness of body, of mind, of spirit.

And I like it.

Not only do we isolate groups of muscles to strengthen them, but built into every workout is improved breath control, oxygenating the body, sufficient stretching and toning to reduce post-workout pain and stiffness.  Each session also ends with a relaxation and wind-down portion.  This allows one to catch their breath, remember why they are there, and rejoice in a renewed frame of mind and an invigorated body.

This is about wholeness.

And I adore my yoga instructor.  She is elegantly graceful.  Her lithe limbs and gentle nature are lovely and inspiring.  Her self-assured spirit invites an uplifting experience as she seductively leads her class to reach farther, gain more, do more, and try harder than they ever thought they were capable of doing.  She encourages us to live more purposefully as she radiates love and motivation.

Yoga has inspired me to envision the future me in a whole, new way.  I now see an able-bodied older woman with deceptive strength and flexibility who is warding off the signs of aging.  I will have energy, balance, and surprising tone in my muscles and my skin, standing straight and tall as the well-adjusted, confident, graceful old woman that yoga has enabled me to become.

And That's what it's all about!


Friday, August 24, 2012

The Lovers, The Dreamers, and Me

The world needs dreamers.  We have all the efficient, capable, make-things-work kind of people that we need.  We have all the nuts-and-bolts, carry-on, foundation-layers necessary to make the world continue to go around and around and around as it always has and always will.

Where we lack are the frosting-on-the-cake kind of people.  These are they that infuse the beauty and the life and the new ideas into the mundane, prosaic, pedestrian, day-to-day, get-er-done world.

My husband and I watched a movie about one of these dreamers a few nights ago.  This dreamer struggled to fit in.  He was frustrated that others didn't see things the way he did.  He couldn't understand why his efforts and contributions were astonishing to baffled, frightened, bewildered "regular" folk.  Those regular folk didn't seem to see life on the same grand scale that he did, full of vibrancy and beauty. Where they seemed content with the status quo, in carrying on within the bounds set by staid and safe society, he desired to serve and give and share the passion he had for life.

He was Vincent van Gogh.

During his life he managed to give us a body of work that broke free of the formulaic and the expected. The world that he saw, full of dynamic color and energy, has been preserved in some of the greatest works of art treasured by the world today.  At the time, his boldness was misunderstood.  His "Lust for Life," as the movie was called, made others uncomfortable.  They didn't know what to do with this anomaly that couldn't function on their "normal" level.

There are in our midst those capable of offering to the world something extraordinary.  There are those that see possibilities in the impossible; those that carry within them genius and brilliance; they think deeper, feel stronger, love truer. 

And yet.

Maybe they struggle to be understood.  Maybe they don't hear the cadence of the masses, the driving beat of normalcy.  Perhaps they have their own sense of timing.  Tried and true isn't good enough. Why must things be done the way they always have?

Perhaps these unique individuals run on a different time table, often starting well after the masses have already taken off. Perhaps they run best alone, allowing time for introspection and solitude and creativity.

Whose to say that outside of humanity's rat race, a special set aren't enjoying the scenery and serenity of a creative life, while the doers are struggling to keep pace with the real madness of a chaotic world?

The greatest travesty would be to try and chisel off their corners to make them fit in the round hole of normalcy. Let us rejoice in the dreamers in our lives, celebrating them for the sweetness they add to life.  There is a place for the doers.  Let's also make a place for the dreamers.

                                                       Starry Night

"I could have told you, Vincent, this world was never meant for one as beautiful as you."

Saturday, August 18, 2012

A Personal Inventory: Taking Stock

It would seem easier to just drift along, letting the current of life take us wherever it will.

 Row, row, row your boat gently down the stream.... 

Life is pleasant enough.

Merrily, merrily, merrily, merrily, life is but a dream.

But somewhere along the way, I have become convinced that life has purpose; that our decisions and actions matter; that it becomes necessary to submit to a little self-examination from time to time.  And what better time to take stock of one's life than, each year, annually, as we open gifts and eat cake.

It becomes more and more difficult to see pictures of myself.  I cringe as I observe the changes that my mind doesn't perceive. I still feel like I can do anything.  But my stamina suffers; my memory suffers; my flabby muscles, flawed complexion, fading color, present a much different picture than the one in my head.

So when did it happen?  When did I get old?  And has age brought with it any perquisites? I cannot deny that I am settling into the role of matriarch, which brings with it a cloak of honor that I hesitate to claim.  As my family gathers around me, eyes filled with love and a desire to celebrate and toast me, I feel a little like a fraud.  Who am I to be esteemed so highly, when I merely feel like a peer who doesn't really have all the answers yet either.

My days are different now.  No longer am I scrambling to keep up with active children. No longer is my schedule automatically filled with others' agendas.  I admit I enjoy this new freedom of choice.  My "must-do" list isn't really all that long; quite manageable, actually.

I do find myself benefitting from these four outstanding young adults in my life, especially as they bring lovely companions to the table with them.  My children are no longer children.  They are comrades-in-arms; they are thriving, productive, talented, active, hard-working members of society.  They are my best friends.  They share with me their wisdom, their joys, their frustrations, their unique abilities.

I feel very blessed.

I am blessed with a personal massage therapist, whose loving hands coax away the worry and stress and aches and pains.  I just wished she lived closer.

I am blessed with a son who will always be in a position to take care of his old mother; who has had a role-model, in his father, who has showed him how to honor, care for,  and love one's dear mama. He calls me regularly and lets me feel apart of his life.  We visit as the old friends that we are.  How gratifying to know that he will always make room for me.

I am blessed with my own personal yoga instructor, who gently encourages as she desires to see me regain the strength that time has threatened. What a lovely dear friend, who has now become a lovely dear neighbor. What greater gift than to share her family's life on a day-to-day basis?

I am blessed with a personal poet laureate.  I am blessed with someone that shares my love of great literature, who thrills with me at the discovery of new and old things to love. Who knew that the best friends come in the form of daughters who view the world from the same eyes?

I have been filled with an overwhelming desire to explore the world, to travel, to see its wonders.  But my greatest desire is to have a traveling companion by my side to share these things with; someone to thrill with me, to ooh and aah with me, to marvel and ponder with me.  I pray always that my beloved husband will accompany me.  I choose him.

This has become more than a blogpost.  The casual reader has my permission to withdraw due to its lengthy nature.

I daily ponder my purpose.  I consider the blessings which have been poured out upon me and struggle to find their best use.  Great books and ideas have filled my head with so much to think about. What is my role in building the Lord's Kingdom?  I have determined that my joy is full as I serve as a teacher.  I love the impetus to study diligently.  I love finding new ways to explore thought, to build upon a foundation of faith, to expand and enlarge my understanding, and to ponder the mysteries of God.  These are the things that fill my days.

I have many challenges, most of them inward.  I fight to overcome anxieties.  I find strength in my Savior.  He doesn't always take away the struggles, but He never leaves me alone to deal with them.

I find peace in beauty.  I try to surround myself with order.  I try to distance myself from the frivolities of the world.

I am weak in so many ways but I look with confidence forward, always forward.  It may mean adjusting to the new pictures of a woman I hardly recognize, but she means well. She knows love and feels it daily.

She tries to live worthy of those that arise up and call her blessed.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Ten Minutes!

It still resounds in my ears. My mother's voice, kind and yet firm:  Ten Minutes!  Nothing more needed to be said.  I understood, loud and clear.  Whenever I would get a phone call from a boy, it would always be accompanied by this undeniable directive. Ten Minutes!

It wasn't that one shouldn't talk to a boy longer than ten minutes (maybe).  It was about courtesy to the rest of the family.  This was back in the day before "caller waiting";  This was back in the day of the busy signal.  And I completely understood that one shouldn't tie up the only phone line in the house.

Remember when the whole family relied upon just one phone line, which was perhaps tied to just one phone? And we couldn't even comprehend the idea of cordless.  Are you kidding me?  I remember the days of stretching that cord as far as it would go so that I could take a personal call.

And imagine trying to talk to someone whose family had to share a "Party line" with several of their neighbors.  Believe me.  NO party!

At the risk of dating myself with this disclosure, I think it brings up a viable conversation about phones today, and particularly, phones in the hands of young people. I wouldn't have known what to do if I had had my own phone.  I couldn't have imagined talking (or texting!) endlessly.  I learned what it was like to "miss" someone, to not be able to communicate with the boy I liked at all hours of the day and night.  When we went on family trips, there was absolutely NO communication. I had to be "present" with those that I was with.

I am thankful that the era of personal phones in everyone's hands with unlimited minutes and unlimited texting came after my own children were teenagers.  I cannot imagine the difficulty that parents have today in regulating and having any control over these abused devices. 

I am the first to admit the peace of mind that comes in having direct communication with a child.  Gone are the days of wondering where they are and what time they will be home and who they are with. Are they having car trouble, are they lost, have they run out of gas? 

I am also the first to admit that I frequently used the phone longer than my allotted ten minutes.  But as the time was brief, and such a rare and sweet treat, sometimes it was difficult to say goodbye and hang up.

"You say it first."

"No. I'm not going to say it."

"Okay, then let's say it together."


Repeat again.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Finding Fingerprints

They are easy to miss.  When we live our lives thinking that we, alone, are in control of the outcome, it becomes easy to miss the fingerprints.

The fingerprints are everywhere.  The evidences of God's hand in our lives are noticeable, but only as we allow ourselves the time, the meditation, the stillness, the humility necessary to discern them.  It also becomes critical to relinquish a little control, to be willing to be guided by One much wiser than ourselves.

The past month has been unique for me, filled with monumental moments, pivotal once-in-a-lifetime experiences; and thankfully, God's fingerprints were very evident throughout the whole journey.  In our moments of sorrow, He was there.  In our moments of joy, He also had a hand in our lives.  He brought strength, comfort, peace, insight, stamina, reassurance, and hope.  I am certain that these were all direct blessings from a loving Heavenly Father and His Son.
Thank you.