Earth Day for the Impactful Lazy

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Earth Day is a big movement, and there are lots of shouts about what we can do in honor of our home planet. Like kids, we tend to reject what is shouted at us. We defy based on an inner urge to thumb our noses at authority. What if, instead, you did the least you could do? What if today, we all did the least we could do?

We all have our routes, our daily trails on to work, our errands, our fill-ups at the gas station. What if today you used your two hands to pick up litter there? It’s not mandated. This is your idea, so naturally it feels better. It’s not self-righteous. It’s the very least you could do. More might mean multiple trips to the garbage can. No. No. That’s more than the least you could do. Ambition doesn’t feel as good.

Ambition will only make you like my friend Susan who walks around local schools, neighborhoods, and strip malls once a week to pick up litter. She dresses in a reflective vest, so she won’t be killed by a car. She pulls her hair up and wears gloves.

She picks up the trash that people drop to the ground without a thought. The trash men know her and often let her put her garbage bag in their truck. The least that Susan can do is more than the least that I can do. It’s more than a lot of us can do, but it’s a good idea to be yourself. Don’t be Susan. Be yourself, and that is worth something. In this case, it’s worth two handfuls of plastic cups, food containers, wrappers, and Styrofoam.

Your hands aren’t worth a whole lot today. Maybe that’s what you are thinking, but think about how other people feel about them. Someone that loves you dearly remembers holding your hand. Remember that jar you opened, and the caress on the cheek? Your hands have done a lot. There was that time you steadied a child learning to ride without training wheels, and the dog you held back from the speeding car. Oh, and, gosh, who can forget the tissues you’ve handed out over and over again? Your hands aren’t as impressive to you, because you take them for granted. A shark didn’t bite one off and further your determination to be a champion surfer. You didn’t have one blown off while running a marathon or have a an unfortunate run-in with a flesh-eating bacteria. Trust me, though. Your hands are wicked-awesome.
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The Feeling of You

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I feel most like me when I’m connecting to someone. Are you this way? I see the context of a situation, but then I dip into the subtext. I relish the unspoken world of communication that includes body language, respiratory rates, vibration, and spirit. I adore the way a plant’s tendril will reach for a trellis a few inches away. I like a hand on a cafe table that falls on top of mine at the right time. The feeling of me for a very long time has been waiting for these connections. It has been a longing, even in the face of lovely relationships in my life. The world was living on one level, and I was waiting for them on another. Anything that quenched this was sacred. Anyone that quenched this was equally so, but that meant they walked a fearful wire in my mind.

If I make you Holy, because you bring out the feeling of me, what happens when you aren’t around? What happens when you have an off day? What if you don’t need me to feel like you? The only way people can be made Holy in your life is if you make yourself sacred at the same time, and that was something I’d never tried before. Like I said, the feeling of me was one of expectation, not fulfillment. Why treasure that? Then it occurred to me, thirty-eight years into my life, ten years into a marriage, and four and half years into motherhood that I might change this equation. The feeling of me had to get better without the feeling of you.
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Wouldn’t it be great if I decided that and just made it happen? My life doesn’t work that way. It comes as the result of a trigger – many triggers actually. Spiritually, I take this as grand tweaks for the  better. In the moment, however, triggers feel like an energetic black hole opening in the center of my chest. They take your fear and play it out. They take the dish of heartache you sure can’t stomach, and they give you three servings. Why? To teach you the bad taste of your own distorted perceptions. My perception was longing, being left out of the good stuff, not being picked to join, people needing me less than I’d hoped. My feeling was the fear of never getting exactly what I wanted.

Nobody does get exactly what they want, but I had a list of people who I figured had a good chance. Top among them were runners. Runners were unlike me. They had stamina and discipline, so I lumped them into the getters, the achievers, the satisfied. Then, on a random day at the YMCA, I started running. A mile was what it had to be first. Runners can run a mile, I told myself. With no pain, no angst, and no tears I ran that mile and then some. I was a runner! In that instant, the feeling of me was no longer me anymore. It had changed. Better yet, it could be changed again.

That’s when the latest trigger came.

I Ran to the Water Tower

 

Water Tower at the Island's YMCA

Water Tower at the Island’s YMCA

About 20 yards in I decided to jog. I had a cold. My chest was congested, but I needed to do something to make myself feel productive. The walking path at my local YMCA goes through the woods, and I’m a plant lover.  I’m not a runner. I’m not a jogger. I’m not even a regular walker. I just decided to do it on this sunny, cool morning. I jogged at what a pace that felt like jogging until I was panting, and then I began walking the loop which would eventually led back to my car.

My schedule didn’t allow me to get back to the ‘Y’ until Thursday. I wanted to see how far I could jog again and  decided that the Water Tower would be a good goal.
A certain type of tree was blooming. I’ve yet to identify it, but it filled the woods with a scent that reminded me of Tea Olive. It was so much more welcoming than the varied smells of the gym inside, and I was so grateful to anything that might keep me going longer.
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I reminded myself to keep my mind on what I was doing, and that called my attention to my pace. If I slowed it down just a hair, how much farther could I run? This sort of jog felt good. I wasn’t striving. I wasn’t struggling. I was just moving forward. There was so much to see, familiar friends. I smiled at the happy ferns.
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Then I listen to the rustles of brown thrashers and squirrels in the fallen leaves. I hear the cries of Blue Jays, and the steps of other runners, and who was I kidding? I was still thinking. The voice wasn’t critical. It was practical. In fact, it seemed to be the voice of my body parts versus my brain.

My feet said, “Hey, we are perfectly capable of getting you there.” Of course they were. Then I paid attention to my arms and shoulders. I twisted my torso a little more. “This isn’t hard,” they said. We can go much farther.” I liked how it felt when they broke through the hair.IMG_0518

I kept going past the pond and started toward a mild incline. This wasn’t far. I thought of women all over the world, refugees who had traveled hundreds of miles on foot. My quads spoke up. I felt them working harder now. “We were made for this,” they told me. “We’ll get you there. Don’t question it.”Then, all of the sudden I was standing right at the base of the water tower. Ten steps more and it would have been half a mile.

Today I went back and started again. I began jogging right away and passed all of the same markers with a smile on my face. It didn’t feel hard. I got to the water tower so fast, and I kept jogging. There was a bench I could have sat on, but I didn’t. I paid attention to what happened as other walkers and runners passed me.

When I first began jogging, a walker was about 50 paces in front of me. Should I pass him? The temptation was to sprint by and have the path to myself, or maybe I saw this as a polite thing to do for him. I didn’t. I kept my pace and I passed him soon enough. Then other runners would go by me, and the temptation was to pick up my pace. Why? I didn’t consciously care, but I found myself having to refocus on my speed. Keep what’s working. Pretty soon I passed my car in the parking lot, the entrance, and then I was off into the trees on the other side. When I finished the loop I’d run an entire mile.

Pace is important. Social media shows us how fast other people are going. It can make you jealous over and over. The thing about being jealous is that it concentrates your heart and soul on other people, and your own progress slows. You’re treating yourself like you’re not good enough, and you feel not good enough, not sexy enough, not in the circle. Oh, I don’t know what it is with me. I hate not being in the circle. It’s the biggest trigger for me. I try to choose different thoughts now, and even better I listen to my body instead of my mind for a time,

Daring Greatly: My Fantasy Speech Opener

There is a fantasy that I have about being a hugely successful public speaker. I want to be like the Master Teachers making it big with their books on spirit. I want to walk toward a podium with a song playing to my stride. I see the crowd. I see the stage, and when I get to the podium, hmmm. I’m working that part out slowly.

I’d like to be provocative. That fantasy goes like this:

I stare down at some notes on the podium and take a sip of water that has been left for me. The welcoming applause falls to silence and anticipation. The first words out of my mouth are, “How many of you masturbate? Anybody?”

I’d look around at the shocked crowd, and I’d pull people out a bit. Oh look, the President of that art college. “Paula? No? Hey, everyone, there’s the CEO of Hallmark Productions in town for the garden tours! Hey, Sandy! You? No. Where is my mother? She was supposed to be here today.”

I look all around the room to no avail.

“I’m here to talk about celebrating wholeness, and more specifically the whole woman. Our to-do lists are more interesting than you think. Masturbation was the start of my spiritual aperture widening substantially. It was how I came to understand my body’s energy and its pattern of movement. I got so good at it that Oprah made me sign a contract not to do it while driving. It wasn’t that she thought I was going to cause an accident; it was that I kept screaming her name. In my defense, I said that Gayle made me do it. I had to sign the contract nevertheless.”

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