Monday, April 21, 2014

And a Special Thank-You…to Mother Earth!

You know how it is at the Oscars, when the winner lumbers or skips (or stumbles) up there and insists on thanking everyone? It’s a giant snore, and after a few names the winner is booted off the stage. Who wants to hear about their mother (of course!), grandmother, garbage man, agent, nursery school teacher, their yoga teacher (well, yes!) and everyone else who made their movie possible?
           I finally understand that need for the effusive thank you litany; after all, anyone who has ever created anything (and that includes a baby!) knows that he/she didn’t do it alone. Getting up on stage, to the podium, is a way to openly acknowledge that fact, to put it right out there that all your hard work was supported and uplifted by a host of people and energies known and unknown (including the Big One—the Universe).
           This week, my memoir about yoga and breast cancer (Yin, Yang, Yogini: A Woman’s Quest for Balance, Strength & Inner Peace) comes out. It includes almost three pages of acknowledgments, thanking everyone from a boy I was fond of in fourth grade to my surgeon and my hairdresser. Did I get carried away? Absolutely not! It’s been my dream since I was five years old to write a book of my own creation (I have written other books supporting others’ dreams), and though I did the hard work of writing and re-writing (a zillion times) I was supported along the way by so many who cheered me on, urging me not to give up, offering ideas, opinions, critiques, and hugs. Thanking them all profusely is the icing on a cake that has been very long in the baking. (As my best friend mentioned the other day, she is so ready for this “baby” to be born. I totally concur, having been pregnant with this particular “child” for eight years from pen to publication.)
           At one point in the production schedule, I received an advance copy of the book, which did not include the acknowledgments. For a brief moment, I thought I would expire. I swiftly contacted the publishing company and asked what happened. Oh, don’t worry, I was assured: The acknowledgments will be in the final version. “Well, that’s a darned good thing,” I barked via email, “because for me, the thank-yous are almost as—if not more—important than the book itself!”
            Why this need to thank others? Of course, I know it is my story, and my writing. And those who won the Oscars and other awards know that they did the running, the acting, the composing etc. But they also know—just as I do—that there were so, so many turning points when they could have given up. And if it had not been for the family members, friends, and strangers who stepped up to say, “Yo! Carry on!” that work of writing, music, dance, or whatever, would never, ever have come to fruition.
           I will never zone out on the thank-you’s at the Oscars again. In fact, I would like to hear fewer jokes and more thank-you’s in the future. And if I have neglected your name in my book’s acknowledgments please know that I am grateful, whether you were the waitress who handed me a delicious cappuccino on a day when I was feeling discouraged or a writer I have always admired (I can’t even remember the name of my nursery school teacher---oh, wait a moment, I didn’t go to nursery school!). We are all, I believe, in loving debt to everyone who has touched our lives.
           With my deepest gratitude to all … Namaste.

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Signs of Spring

Today, while I was taking a walk, a sharp pain in my knee suddenly reminded me that I was rushing. It was a beautiful, sunny day but I was in a hurry to get home and finish some work. At the exact moment that my knee started “acting up” I slowed my gait and noticed a large, gorgeous stone in a rock garden someone had arranged on a front lawn. As my gaze traveled across the sparkling amethyst, I discovered two more such rocks. Someone had taken the time and care to create a lovely tapestry of stones and flowers. And I had almost missed it! Even more disturbing was my realization that I had walked that route at least a hundred times and never noticed.
Sometimes, when I’m speeding down a certain busy highway on my way home from here or there I notice a sign that says, “Drive carefully.” It’s in a perfect location, too; it always catches my gaze just as I’m about to accelerate. Yesterday, I came across a sign that said, “Time is running out.” That one was ominous—I think it had something to do with taxes, but it’s not the way I interpreted it. Instead, it made me think of a few things I really want to do soon—and a few things I really want to stop doing soon. At least we know when the deadline for taxes is—we’re not really aware of when that “other” deadline is going to crop up!
Springtime is a time of joy and renewal, but it’s also a reminder to keep our eyes open lest we miss the lilies of the valley, the lilacs, the pear tree blossoms, or the arrival of robins (or the departure of eagles). Last spring, in fact, I missed the blossoming of a frothy pink tree in my neighborhood because I didn’t make a point of getting out and walking along that path in time. I know for sure that if I don’t stop whatever I’m doing the last week in June and walk a certain route in my town I will totally forgo the scent of the linden trees—one of the most beautiful aromas I’ve ever inhaled (next to pizza bubbling in a brick oven, of course!). Maybe it doesn’t really matter if I miss these things (you may be thinking) but I know for a fact that if I neglect to harvest the blackberries in my backyard that always ripen on July 4th weekend, there will be no pie. And it’s a very long year until those blackberries are ripe for pickin’ again.
Tonight, as I went outside to dump the glass recycling in its bin, I stumbled across a message in my own front yard. I remembered placing it there last summer, and now that the snow has melted it’s in plain sight for me to see once more. I share it with you here (above) because it’s a lovely reminder and yet another sign of spring: “Be at peace with all things.” Namaste.