Monday, December 29, 2014

Careful The Things You Say...

Twenty years ago ... it's strange to see that in writing but it is nonetheless the truth ... I was lucky enough to perform in a production of Into The Woods. We had a tremendous cast, great costumes and a lot of fun. I mean, playing Cinderella can't be anything but ... right?

Well, twenty years later the lessons taught by the songs and script in that musical still resonate with me. And perhaps this is the case never before as much as they caught me unawares this year. Kinda ironic, considering the play just came out as a movie. Or, perhaps, I'm just more self-aware now. Perhaps I'm just more "in tune" to the subtle and not so subtle "nudges" from the Universe. (No pun intended.)

Last January in my post "The White Shirt," I announced that I had chosen One Thing for 2014. A word. I selected a personal theme for the year and my role in it. In my first draft, I shared the word. Then, I decided to keep that to myself and edited it out. Well, my reading friends, the secret is out. I was going to Shine.

That's it. And for someone who likes sparkles, glitter and bling the way that I do, I didn't imagine that would be as difficult a task as it turned out to be. I didn't realize that by saying that out loud, I was throwing caution to the wind and daring the Universe to thwart my ambition. To challenge me.

But, as the Witch in Into The Woods stated, "Careful the things you say ..." See, the Universe listened. But the result for 2014 was NOT what I envisioned when the word popped into my head. It was NOT what I expected. It was NOT what I had planned. I mean ... expectations are great but they don't always unfold they way we "expect" them to ...

2014 wasn't a "terrible" year for me, as years go. It was fine. But it was a bit of a let-down in many ways. There were very few personal highlights and more disappointments for me than I like to experience or admit. Some losses devastated me for a time. Some sent me off-line and off the grid. Some stress pushed me beyond what I liked to manage. Some struggles I would have preferred to avoid. Some family challenges and health stuff that I wouldn't wish on anyone.

So there it is. I said I was gonna Shine and ... well ... I don't really feel like I did anything of the sort in 2014 ........... BUT ...

... and this is when the Witch's Wisdom hit me  ....

Careful the things you say ...  

You can't Shine in the bright light.

Your glow is invisible in the light of day.

I mean, who sees the stars in the daylight? Other than the Sun, there isn't a visible star out there. And the moon needs the light from the sun reflecting off the earth to glow.

When everything is crystal clear and perfect, there's no place to Shine. You HAVE to Shine in Darkness. And only in the deepest depths of night, does your glow reach its maximum potential.

This I did not consider. This I did not take into account.

But, ya know ... even in the worst moments of 2014, I did what I'd set out to do. I sparkled. I spoke words I might not have spoken. I made discoveries I might not have made. I connected with people that I lost for a time. I found my authentic self -- bruised and battered at times -- but I know who I am today because of it and I'm good with that. See no matter the "stuff," I let my light Shine. I didn't turn off or give up. And I made some personal advancements and came to peace with my true self as I fought my way through the dark ... discoveries that I might never have made if things had gone the way I had planned them to go. 

If I'd tried to Shine in the Sunlight, no one would have noticed. I wouldn't have grown at all.

Oh, I didn't get all the parts and the issues I dealt with were still issues I had to deal with ... but, I didn't cave. I didn't back down. I didn't hide my light, I battened down the hatches and glowed in the night sky.

See, this little light of mine, can only Shine in the deepest darkness. So all the stuff that happened that I didn't like just taught me to Shine through it. I didn't give in or give up or hide my light. Perhaps that's what 2014 was meant to teach me all along ... to Shine no matter how dark things seemed. And only when I got that, did the Universe nod my way and offer a last minute gift.

So, 2015 is upon us. My One Choice or Word isn't the same. But that's a different blog for a different time.

The moral of This Story ... Careful the Things You Say. The Universe is listening. And the outcome of your Wish may not be as you envisioned it to be.

But, it will be what you Need it to be.
                                                                                                                               -- Jenni

Monday, December 1, 2014

No Day But Today

“There's only us
There's only this
Forget regret-- or life is yours to miss.
No other road
No other way
No day but today …” 
                                   - Rent

December has arrived, bringing the Christmas Holiday List along with it. I’m sure you can relate. My calendar is dominated by Have To events, including my son’s swim practices, social plans and meets, my daughter’s dance and choir commitments, my husband’s work party and Scout commitments and my own holiday rehearsal, performance and auditions. I think you could create an actual image if you connected the dots on my calendar!

Deep breath ….

Before my heart begins to race though, I want to talk about what I learned in Therapy this past Saturday.

Yes. Therapy. I’ve been attending sessions for over two years now and they have had a tremendous impact on my Anxiety Level, Perspective and Self-Judgment. In fact, through regular attendance – I go 2-3 times per week – I have found a path to acceptance and peace regarding my own personal idiosyncrasies and drama. I mean, what IS Normal nowadays?

My Therapy does Not involve a couch. It’s a group gig. It’s organic and unique session to session. Sometimes it’s even sweaty. I wear cute outfits and do some serious visualization and breathing exercises in preparation and even during my sessions. But my Therapy takes place on a Mat. In a very warm room. On a hardwood floor.

My Therapy is Yoga.

I’ve talked about Yoga before. But something pretty awesome this past Saturday came to my attention. It probably wasn’t something I didn’t know. No, it definitely wasn’t something I didn’t know. But I guess it was something I needed to hear.

There is no Later. There is only Now. And all we need to do is offer Now our very best.

That resonated with me and hit me hard. Especially at this time of the year when we are all rushing about trying to check off lists, get stuff done and buy gifts for “later.” See, I realized if I’m constantly worried about what is next, I’m not making the most of what is Now. And, I just might miss something.

There’s no guaranteed later. There’s no promise that Tomorrow will bring something better. Anyone who has suddenly lost a loved one or faced a surprise illness knows that Tomorrow isn’t necessarily another day where we can take care of things. Tomorrow is uncertain.

In Yoga – as in life – there is this tendency to think ahead. To anticipate the next move or pose. But, frankly, there’s no guarantee that the next pose will offer any less challenge or relief. What comes next may not be easier or more comfortable for us. During class, we make the most of Each Individual Moment in Time as they happen We do our best as we ease into or hold a pose. And when we shake, sweat or struggle, we grow stronger and truly exist in that precise moment. That's what we carry out of class with us at the end.

Our minds try to distract us. My mind is Crazy. I have this “room-mate” in my mind who constantly chatters at me and challenges me and works to distract me. If she were corporal, she would SO not be my friend. She gives me more drama and doubt than any friend should. I try to silence her. To block out her words. But she’s still there nonetheless.

But during Yoga, I’m able to focus instead on the challenge of the Present. I’m able to quiet that voice in my head. I’m able to see the Now and set aside all the bullshit that tries to distract me.

I take Slow Flow Therapy … er, Yoga. In Slow Flow, you don’t memorize poses or sequences – called “Flows.” You stay in your moment and wait for the guidance, wisdom and instruction from your Teacher. And that way, you go deeper within to find strength. In your Now, there is no Later to deal with. Sure you still have stress, fear, sadness, worries, desires, passions and doubts.

But they don’t beat you.

Oh, you may carry them in and out of class – heck, I know I carry them in and out of lots of classes. But as I shake in a pose or wobble in a balance move, I do my best to find calm and serenity – and a strong element of joy as I realize all that I can do right in that moment – even with the baggage. Balancing on one leg in what is known as Airplane (but I term “Angel Pose”), I find strength and acceptance for the unique individual I am. And I honor myself -- foibles and all -- as I stand in the light.

In Yoga this Saturday, Suzanne reminded me that There isn’t a Later. All we have is Now. And that means I need to focus on the Present. Honor myself for my Sparkles, Struggles and Scars. And if there is only now … today … this minute … I need to be myself and love my way.

I used to think that Therapy – Yoga – would “Fix” me. Sure, it’s exercise and that in itself is good for me. But my hours at the Yoga Shelter give me more than a good workout. They empower me to love myself as I am and accept my little craziness and unique view of the world. I find joy in the lessons learned. And I honor the people who come in and out of my life and enjoy our time together as it comes … when it comes … if it comes.

In Yoga, I’ve learned not to fight Gravity, but instead go deeper inside to find my strength. I resist trying to control everything and instead accept the uniqueness of others too. I’ve learned to smile as I shake. I’ve learned that if I lose my balance and fall, I can stand up and try again.

And in Yoga, I’ve learned that Time is fleeting. That This Moment is all we have. There is no Later. So, I intend to make the most of each Moment I have …

And when I start tackling that crazy List and rushing my kids and self around town, I’m going to smile and enjoy every Now I get. I’ll be the woman smiling as I stand in that really long line. I’ll be the woman who stops to buy her Peppermint Mocha even though it will mean a wait. I’ll be the woman singing as I dodge the crazy, desperate shoppers.

I might even be the woman who takes a moment to reach out to you. Because Now is all I get. You may not have time or choose to make time. That's okay. But, I hope you feel a little bit of sparkly energy coming your way to remind you … There’s only us. There’s only this. Forget regret or life is yours to miss. No other road. No other day.

No day but today...”

                                                                                                                     -- Jenni