Monthly Archives: February 2016

Ideal: Sweating through Chaos

yellow beltAfter 18 months of preparation, I was scheduled to take my yellow belt karate test last Sunday.  Circumstances were not ideal.   I was coming off a few days of a low grade fever, and I had tweaked my shoulder while practicing earlier in the week.  I considered cancelling.   Why put so much preparation on the line knowing I wasn’t at my best?    Why infringe on the teachers’ time?   Or on the effort of the two other students who would be testing with me?

On the other hand, I had entered a psychological sweet spot.  That inner place where countdown planning, commitment, anticipation, and the willingness to step into the unpredictable all converge.  After due reflection, I decided to proceed.

The warm up (cardio, sit ups, push ups, etc) completed in a reasonable 15 minutes. But standing at ready, I suddenly felt dreadfully (I am going to faint or vomit) ill.   To my surprise I actually didn’t panic or self-criticize.

In fact, in that physically chaotic moment, unseen calm and positivity enveloped me.  And I did something I never thought I would do; I asked to leave.

I headed for the bathroom, but after a mere 15 seconds crossing the lobby I somehow felt reasonably better.  I no longer needed the bathroom. I turned around and bowed back in.

Over the next hour plus of demonstration, question and answer, and the final set of push ups, I struggled with speed and form, but again I felt invisibly, yet tangibly supported   By what I’m not sure.  Months of practice?  The teachers?   The shared striving of my fellow students?  The simple ideal of doing my best in each sweating moment?   I don’t know.

What I do know is that I emerged from the experience feeling unexpectedly confident.  In myself.  In the value of chaos.  And in the unseen ways of the karate universe.   Perhaps this is evidence of why the first line of the school’s student creed states:  “To Build True Confidence.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ideal: Minding the Gap

February Forest Light

Spring tugged me through the door in my pajamas, out onto the back deck into an unexpectedly balmy February dawn.   The moment’s overflowing freshness, texture and luminosity poured into my eyes and rushed over my skin.  Its enveloping richness exceeded (once again) the mechanics of my camera.

You’re familiar with such spontaneous, Life-infusing instants.  The ones that evoke the all-encompassing, heart-expanding, multi-sensorial Wow!   Whose gifts are preserved far more vividly in cellular and spiritual memory than in megapixels.  It was one of those moments.

Most striking to me was the utter clarity of the trees.  Their bark, indeed their very presence, shone.  Beautifully!

In the midst of my awe and admiration, the phrase “Mind the Gap” zipped into my thoughts.  And I began to notice not just the trees’ brilliance but the light in between.

“Mind the Gap” springs from two sources in my life.  My late father and my mother loved hiking together in Great Britain in May and October.  Over the years they collected tales of soaking rains, lost trails, welcoming landscapes, generous hospitality, and the novelty of public transportation punctuated by the iconic reminder to Mind the Gap.

Brene Brown’s insightful book, Daring Greatly, provides my second point of gap minding reference.  In her encouraging work, she emphasizes the importance of being alert to actual behaviors vs our ideal values and aspirations.

Some days the gap between my current capacity and my ideals feels daunting.  Sometimes draining.  The morning light pulsing between the trees reminds me that connective substance already exists between here and there; between today’s ability and the ideal.  It exists simply because the ideal is sensed and perhaps even pursued.

I’m sure you can add to a list of that which comprises and vitalizes this luminous connection: clarity, caring, Self-embracing, and an intrepid willingness to learn, to change, to grow and to keep on trying.   To close the gap.

 

 

 

 

Earth: In company of a Crescent Moon

Screen Shot 2016-02-09 at 8.46.48 PM

A Screen Shot From Stellarium

She rested in the gathering darkness to the west.  Offering a graceful sliver of light.  A beautiful crescent moon slowing setting.  I relished her presence, as I travelled home from town, grateful for Hwy 62’s ridge line views.   I wish my cell camera had the capacity to produce a clear nighttime photo to share.  But, hopefully, you were able to experience her company in realtime with your own eyes and wonder.

It’s been a week of enjoying celestial companions.  Have you seen the pre-dawn planetary gathering, arching from horizon to horizon?   Mercury.  Venus.  Saturn.  Mars.  Jupiter.  Prominently joined by the stars Spica and Antares. By some kindness of fate, this entire spectrum has been visible through the still-leafless trees from the quiet solitude of my back deck.  Despite the cold, definitely worth rising early.

We humans tell stories of the moon, planets and the stars, infusing them with character, qualities, myth and influence.

And what do we tell ourselves and each other about our planet, Earth?   And of our relationship with Her?  Dominion? Playground?  Resource?  Mother?  Home?

One story I tell myself is of our interconnection.  Her health is ours.  And ours is Hers.  A relationship to be honored.  Defended.  Celebrated.  With daily choices.  Prayers.  Reverence.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Earth: Lost in Desert Light

 

 

sabinoThe Earth offers abundant gifts.   One I cherish most is late Winter hiking in the Sonoran desert.  I love the silence, the invigorating air, and the spectacularly hardy flora. From the bold Cholla to the humble, mosslike Resurrection Plant.  But most of all I love the Light.

Cholla

Light. It’s everywhere.  Penetrating.  Surrounding.  Embracing.  Pouring from the sun.  Radiating from the prickly palette of vibrant arid browns and greens.  Inviting exploration.  Immersion.  Meditation.  Healing.

Mount Wasson

For four days at January’s end my Mom and I hiked our favorite Southern Arizona landscapes. Mount Wasson, rising from an expansive saguaro sea.   Madera Canyon’s progression from riparian woodlands to absorbing views of Mount Wrightson’s snow drenched peaks.   Sabino Canyon with its back country trails and gushing tannin-stained stream.

I had encountered a difficult loss and some rigorous professional challenges in the preceding week. The luminous meeting of earth, sun and spreading sky evaporated my concerns and melted my sorrow, creating space.  Where a phrase associated with Capricorn: Lost am I in Light Supernal, yet on that Light I turn my back arose for contemplation.  In my heart.  And mind.

My understanding of astrology and astronomy levels in at basic.  But certain aspects, such as this Capricorn keynote, have experiential appeal to me. The desert beckoned me into its Light and invited me into the enveloping Luminosity of my greatest hopes and interlacing dreams for the Earth, the human family, my friends, family, and myself.  This Light renewed my strength and prepared me to return to the Ozarks and my everyday responsibilities with refreshed initiative, optimism, courage, and creativity.

desert flower

(Note: Capricorn in late January?  No, according to current mainstream astrology.  Yes, in the view of astronomically-based “real time” astrology which looks at the sun’s transit of the ecliptic in relation to the constellations, as they appear in the night sky.  Click here  for more information about this system).