”Sometimes the things we can’t change end up changing us.” – Unknown
I’m going for a walk at the beach next week with a friend I’ve only seen once since COVID. On our last visit, we both said one of the hardest things about this challenging year is not getting together with friends. Thankfully we have phone calls, FaceTime and Zoom sessions to keep us in touch. I appreciate being able to connect, see faces, smiles and expressions but it doesn’t compare to being with someone physically.
While it has been a frustrating year not gathering with friends, attending events, engaging in regular activities, it’s also given us the reward of spending quality time with family. Fortunately, my spouse retired this past year so we’ve enjoyed sleeping in late, sipping tea and coffee while reading, making meals together, comparing exercise accomplishments, watching movies and playing games. We appreciate the calming, safe haven of our home when we’ve needed to shelter there. I sometimes wonder with our new relaxing routine how or if we’ll go back to a busy social life.
Many of us have said there will be a new normal. More people will continue working from home. Business travel will most likely decrease. There’s been a shift in businesses moving to a virtual platform reaping benefits including worldwide interaction and cutting costs. Change gives us a chance to evaluate life and embrace opportunities that enable us to grow and thrive in a new way.
“The ocean stirs the heart, inspires the imagination and brings eternal joy to the soul” – Robert Wyland
This is my first post since being in COVID quarantine. I’ve journaled several times but haven’t mustered the motivation to write something for my blog. During this pandemic, we’ve had no or limited access to the beach. The first day it opened up I went at 7:30 in the morning only to find swarms of kids surfing and skim boarding. The beach buzzed with a crazy number of people happy to be there. I promptly headed back home.
Today when I discovered the tide was low which would give more space to walk, I ventured down again. It took a couple attempts to find a nearly secluded spot. I kicked off my flip flops and made a bee-line to the ocean. The cool water felt so soothing. I strolled slowly along the beach savoring every moment of the waves while feeling my feet squish in the sand.
It was a great moment to exhale letting go of recent worries. I soaked up the sunshine and playfulness of people enjoying time with their children and dogs. Some sat in meditation. Others played squash ball, swam and picked up shells. I passed by our favorite bar on the beach reliving memories of laughter, lunches and dinners with Peach on the Beach martinis. Inspiration and creativity comes to us in unique ways now and changes day to day. I’m continuously grateful for many things including the ocean which always stirs my heart.
“Some people feel the rain. Others just get wet.” – Roger Miller
Fortunate to be out of a drought, we’re enjoying a lot of rain in California. Driving in town today I noticed kids playing in the park despite a little drizzle, people still taking their daily walk. Some of us like myself prefer to stay at home when it rains. It’s all about how you feel in the rain.
Recently while reading the Book of Joy – conversations with the Dalai Lama and Desmond Tutu – I learned about Anthony Ray Hinton who served 30 years in jail for a crime he didn’t commit. After his case went to the Supreme Court, his case was overturned and he was released in 2015. His powerful perspective on rain deeply touched me. “People run out of the rain. I run into the rain. How can anything that falls from heaven not be precious? I am so grateful for every drop. Just to feel it on my face.” You can read his memoir: The Sun Does Shine (which is on Oprah’s book list).
The picture above is in the Rain Room, a permanent installation at the Sharjah Art Foundation in India. It’s described as a surreal experience where you can walk through a downpour without getting wet because motion sensors on the ceiling prevent water from falling on you. Definitely an interesting concept to be in the midst of rain without getting wet. I’m thankful for rain and the freedom to feel it on my face or just appreciate it while bundled up inside.
“Sometimes, in a summer morning, having taken my accustomed bath [in the pond], I sat in my sunny doorway from sunrise till noon, rapt in a revery, amidst the pines and the hickories and sumachs, in undisturbed solitude and stillness, while the birds sang around or flitted noiseless through the house, until by the sun’s falling in at my west window, or the noise of some traveler’s wagon on the distant highway, I was reminded of the lapse of time. I grew in those seasons like corn in the night, and they were far better than any work of the hands would have been.” — Henry David Thoreau
After several years engaging in a number of committees, volunteer work and social justice causes, I took time off to just be. My sister’s illness, then losing her reminded me again how short life is and the importance of taking time to appreciate every moment.
Living in a fast-paced, busy world we’re expected to do something constantly. Otherwise, we’re seen as living frivolously without ambition or purpose. I’ve been retired for some time now and have the good fortune of slowing down, taking time for simple pleasures like long walks in nature, watching hummingbirds sip flowers, sitting in silence. When people ask me “what have you been up to?” I say: I’m just enjoying life.
Thoreau lived in the early 1800’s long before our multitasking, action-packed world. He spent years living alone in the woods captivated by the beauty and simplicity of nature. These experiences inspired his classic book: Walden. Today I listened to Mitch Albom’s podcast on the pace of life, a segment he recorded when he interviewed Morrie Schwartz for his book: Tuesdays with Morrie in the mid-90’s. Morrie said that many people get caught in the high speed pace of life and often forget to find meaning in simple things. His advice: “Take time to see what’s out our own windows.”
We are travelers on a cosmic journey, stardust, swirling and dancing in the eddies and whirlpools of infinity. Life is eternal. We have stopped for a moment to encounter each other, to meet, to love, to share. This is a precious moment. It is a little parenthesis in eternity. — Paulo Coelho
Lately this has been my favorite walk and jog. Some days I’m the only one on the trail. It’s a place I can retreat to the serenity of nature with wind whispering in my ears. The stillness is literally a breath of fresh air for my body and mind.
On a recent walk, I thought how life is like a long journey. Sometimes we get stuck with feelings of loss, despair, uncertainty but if we just put one foot in front of the other it allows us to move forward. If we stumble or fall along the way, it’s a time to rest and reassess our perspective. When we’re ready we dust ourselves off (as Mom would say) and continue along our way, sometimes taking a new path.
Life is full of meaningful experiences which teach us lessons, make us stronger, wiser and more resilient. We meet special people who infinitely impact our lives. They’re with us to celebrate good times and to pick us up when we’re down. The most precious step in life is connecting to others and sharing support along our journey together. I’m inspired and grateful for people who shine their light and love in my life.
“Dance is the joy of movement and the heart of life” – The Radio City Rockettes
I used to wake up early on Thursday mornings for a Zumba class which has been called a fitness dance party. All of my friends and family know how much I love to dance. One of my nieces calls me “the Dancing Queen.” So I was disappointed when the class was canceled several months ago.
Although there was another Latin dance class on the same morning, I didn’t check it out because I “heard” it was lower impact. I didn’t think I would enjoy it as much. Sometimes we get stuck in our box not trying new things because we crave comfort from familiar favorites. It’s like always ordering the same dish you love at a restaurant. But to grow we need to branch out, try new and different things, expand our perceptions.
This week I finally tried the other class and loved it! Yes, it was different but in a good way and definitely not low-impact. The point is I dance for joy. Moving my body to music while getting a cardio workout is what really matters. One person who has brought the world a lot of joy said, “We keep moving forward, opening new doors, and doing new things, because we’re curious and curiosity keeps leading us down new paths.” –Walt Disney. Enjoy finding a new path!
“Don’t go through life, grow through life.” – Eric Butterworth
I find yoga classes at a new studio in town inspiring on many levels. Often the instructor asks you to set an intention for the day. This morning, I wanted to find a connection for today’s blog topic. Tawna, a gifted instructor guided us through a gentle vinyasa while giving insightful messages about yoga, our bodies and life. She talked about our concern with anti-aging. Similar to the seasons, we change and grow. If we let go of physical changes when we age, it allows us to grow our mind and spirit. “Don’t live with regrets, move forward.” Her mature wisdom at a young age is refreshing and impressive.
Oprah asked Michelle Obama why she chose the title: Becoming for her memoir. She told Oprah it’s silly to ask children what they want to be when they grow up because we continue to grow in adulthood. “For me, becoming isn’t about arriving somewhere or achieving a certain aim. I see it instead as forward motion, a means of evolving, a way to reach continuously toward a better self. The journey doesn’t end.”
The physical aspects of aging can be difficult, so I prefer celebrating opportunities to learn more, become a better person, growing older gracefully and graciously.
“We will open the book. Its pages are blank. We are going to put words on them ourselves. The book is called Opportunity and its first chapter is New Year’s Day” – Edith Lovejoy Pierce
I’m inspired each January to move into a time of new opportunities, less clutter and stress, more healthy practices. Beyond the traditional New Year’s resolution lies the true intent of becoming the best we can be. It’s a time of reflection to evaluate what’s working in our life, what isn’t and ways we can make improvements.
In the height of winter, we tend to hibernate spending more time in our home with loved ones. We can let go of activities, commitments and anxiety of the hectic holiday season. If we allow ourselves time to slow down, rest, read, chill and nourish our bodies with healthy meals, we gain a sense of peace that comes from rejuvenating our spirit.
It gives me renewed energy to adopt new practices like meditating each morning, exercising more, appreciating stillness in nature. Overall, I feel calm and confident finding I’m able to respond instead of reacting to things. It creates a new perspective within which radiates out in all you do.
“My religion is very simple. My religion is Kindness” – Dalai Lama
For the past couple of months, my shoulder and arm have been hurting. I know three other women experiencing shoulder pain which makes me wonder if there is truth in the saying “carrying the weight of the world on your shoulders.”
When we become burdened with pain and challenges, we need relief. I told my physical therapist today she is a miracle worker. With her care, she is mending my arm. Care is what our world needs to heal and help one another.
A week ago I attended a documentary addressing hate in our country today. A few young men were passing out Kindness Matters cards. Their gesture was touching as we gathered for this difficult topic. In a time where we are polarized by politics, we need compassion and consideration to unite us for our common goals: being healthy, staying safe, having freedom.
Kindness matters. Visit the sick, lonely or elderly who may not have family close by, be polite to everyone you meet, let someone ahead of you in line, start your day with gratitude, volunteer for a good cause, give someone a hug, smiles are contagious – pass them on.
“Autumn shows how beautiful it is to let things go.” – Unknown
Last night’s full moon showered us with light during our meditation in a park perched over the ocean. We listened to waves roll into shore as our guide gave blessings to Earth wishing peace for all beings.
I joined this full moon meditation a few times before. September was the first night we were outside in the dark. As we walked to the park I wondered, “would the grass be wet, would there be bugs or dog poo?” Last night, a sea lion kept barking. I worried if it was ok since we have a marine mammal rescue center in town. Each time I reminded myself to just let it go.
Earlier this month we enjoyed a blissful vacation in Maui. Hawaii is one of my favorite places to be because it’s the epitome of exhaling and letting go. The literal meaning of Aloha is “the presence of breath” or the “breath of life.” The beautiful scenery, rainbows and spirit of the islands capture your breath. Worries and stress simply melt away.
These experiences remind me to worry less, meditate more and appreciate autumn’s life lessons.