Sunday, February 23, 2014

Things I've Learned From Snow

We’ve had a lot of it lately. Frankly, I’m sick of looking at it. But it’s taught me a few things. I thought I’d sum them up in a list.

1.     Slow down. While driving home from a yoga event one morning, taking my usual pace, I skidded on the ice and nearly hit a car. Fortunately, there was no one in the left lane so I was able to slide over without mishap. Sometimes we need to adjust our pace. We can’t approach every situation in the same manner. When there’s an obstacle in our path like black ice or fog, it’s a no-brainer to take our time. Icy, snowy roads teach adjustment and flexibility. Leave extra time or don’t go out at all.

2.     Be helpful. Snow creates problems for everyone. Sometimes we get caught up in our own issues and forget to look out for the other guy. Recently, I overheard an elderly woman exclaiming how relieved she was that an unknown neighbor had shoveled her walk. In my own family my husband noticed that our neighbors weren’t home during an ice storm and their dog was barking inside. He surmised that something was amiss and cleared their driveway and sidewalk. The next day my neighbor told me she’d been at the hospital all night with her sick husband and she was nearly in tears when she came home and found that she could get into her driveway. Snow teaches us how to be an angel for someone else.

3.     Be grateful to go outside (and be grateful to stay inside). My brother looks forward to snow because he loves to ski. I usually avoid going out in it, but this year I forced myself to take a couple of walks. There is nothing as clean and crisp as the feeling of walking in snow. Bundle up like your kids and get out there! Snow teaches us to play! On the flip side, snow teaches us how lucky we are to be warm and safe inside.

4.     Feed the birds before the snow comes down. For weeks I couldn’t get to my birdfeeder because the ice was so thick. Next time snow is predicted (any minute?) I’m heading out to my birdfeeder. There’s nothing more lovely than watching birds peck at their birdseed after a snow storm, and nothing sadder than looking out at an empty feeder and realizing you can’t get out there to feed your feathered friends.

5.     Have patience. It seems like it will never stop snowing, it seems like you will never be able to get to the store or back to yoga class, it seems like you may go crazy being cooped up all day. But…this will pass. This will melt. And spring will come (in just a few weeks!). Snow teaches us that patience pays.

6.     Be prepared. Not just be prepared in terms of getting milk and bread in the house (or chia seeds or whatever you think you can’t possibly live without), but be prepared to change your plans. Snow teaches us how to let go of whatever we were planning, to let go of our schedules, routines, and must-dos.

7.     And last (though I could probably keep going) snow teaches us to open our eyes, to take our gazes off our computer screens and cell phones, and marvel at the incredible beauty around us. Just about everything looks good in the snow (at first, anyway). It’s Mother Nature's makeover-- covering cars, trees, streets, homes, and everything else in its path with an incredible substance that transforms the world to a place that is fresh, clean, and still. Enjoy!

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Me...and…My Shadow Self

Wonderful person, or terrible Bi*ch? It’s all about perspective, isn’t it? Recently I had the lovely experience of being called a “wonderful person.” I won’t go into the details, but let me just say that I had gone above and beyond the call of duty for a friend, for many years in fact. Being a yogini (credo: do no harm) who was raised a Christian (love thy neighbor), I’ve always made it my goal to help others. Actually, it’s not even a goal. It’s something that just comes naturally to me; it was the way my mother was, the way I was raised--to be loving, giving, and helpful to others.
            BUT…there is a dark side to every do-gooder, as I was reminded the other night when a woman accused me of being nasty, pushy, and unreasonable. I don’t even understand how this could have happened, but one moment I was trying to clearly explain my position, and the next moment I realized that the person I was talking to was regarding me as a horrible demon. “Wait a minute!” I thought to myself. Doesn’t this individual know that I am kind, loving, caring, and giving? Apparently not. Apparently, at this moment in time, I appeared to be a terrible, evil, Bi*ch (sorry, but my blog is G rated--er, most of the time, anyway).
            Now, most of you who read this blog are my friends or associates and know this not to be true (the part about me being the B word, that is). But there are plenty of people out there who may meet us once or twice and form an entirely different opinion. How to deal with these misguided folks? Convince them of our sincerity and worthiness? Pointless and useless. Probably just better to let them think the worst. And might as well get used to it; not everyone is going to like you. Not everyone is going to accept you, or experience you as a “nice” person. And, on some days you are probably not really going to be that nice, anyway.
            Sometimes, I think, it's good to remind ourselves that we are who we are no matter what others believe. Other people can be wrong (or right). We know in our hearts whether/which they are.
After the little incident in which I was (inaccurately!) perceived to be nasty and mean, I described the experience to my youngest son and asked his opinion.
 “You just need to Namaste these people,” he advised.
I loved that response. Don’t react, don’t combat, simply “Namaste” them. Kinda like giving the finger in reverse.
            Namaste: the divine in me honors the divine in you. Even if you think I’m a Bi*ch!