"Promise me you'll always remember: You're braver than you believe, stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think." A.A. Milne

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Saying Goodbye and Honoring Lessons

Through a series of events, I have organized a group of women hikers. We meet and take on endurance hikes, 10-15 miles in length. The interest in the group rather surprised me but I am not sure why. I think it actually makes sense. Women crave a sisterhood, being part of a tribe. I think many of us long to come together and be our authentic self. It is easier to accomplish in nature. How you look or who you know or whatever superfluous and superficial characteristics tend to be stripped away around mile 6 if you brought them at all.

I love this group. I come back feeling more connected and refreshed. It brings me full circle. We don't hike in winter as ice is prevalent and dangerous. After a long hiatus, I was excited to for the first one of the season.

At first the weather looked perfect. The long term forecast was for sunny skies in the 60's but slowly temperatures and my spirits started dropping. In the end the forecast was in the 40's. People dropped out. Too Cold. This winter has been hard enough. I get it. I do. I had to go. I was the one who put it together but I wasn't very happy about it.

Then I realized the universe was presenting me with a beautiful opportunity. Just this past week, my daughter and I had been on a hike looking for signs of spring. We had found them. We saw the first two wild flowers of the season rising out of the stark beauty of the barren winterscape. But I had never really said good-bye to winter.

If you read this blog or know me, then you will know this particular winter has been, well pretty horrible for me. I fought hard with despair and depression. It came close to overwhelming me but I pulled through in the end. But looking back, I can see I learned some immensely valuable lessons. I learned how strong I was. I learned what friends I could truly depend on for comfort and much needed strength. I learned it was okay to throw up my hands, hunker down, and just hibernate for a bit releasing myself from expectations and self-imposed responsibilities.

We don't tend to learn the truly important lessons in easy, comfortable situations. Nope, we best learn in the fire. It is within the metaphorical crucible we are truly reborn. For whatever reason, we need hardship and strife to break through to the next level. Winter had been my frigid fire. I have grown exponentially in these months. I think I owed my honor, respect, and a heartfelt and thankful good-bye to this season of my life.

The hike was amazingly beautiful and lifted my spirits higher than I could have imagined.

There is life waiting to burst forth in each of these pictures. It is quiet and patient but it is there. I am thrilled I was granted the opportunity to say good bye and honor the hardships and lessons learned. It was  beautiful and magical way to round out the experience.

May harmony find you.

(PS My friend Laura took these amazing pictures. Thank you so much for giving me permission to use them.)

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Reflect and Refresh

Spring is almost here. I can feel it. My flowering Dogwood is beginning to bud. My surprise lilies are pushing up through the cold dirt and light layer of snow. For several days the skies have gleamed with true blue only found this time of year. It has been a hard, hard winter. My commitment to health and stability has been tried. I remained focused but it was difficult. The time to release all the tension is at hand. 

Lent is a traditionally a time for reflection and renewal. Growing up in a non-liturgical church, Lent was never something we focused on. The idea of of honoring the Lenten season is new to me but one I find myself embracing. This year I intend to take 40 days to refresh and renew my spirit and my mind. I think it will greatly benefit me after this particular winter. 

Meditation and yoga have not been practiced as diligently as I would have like. Our home was so chilly in the morning. My morning yoga sessions became miserable as cold muscles refused to warm or be supple. It was a fight I decided to forego as long as the frigid temperatures remained. 

This is my first commitment. To revisit these two practices. Both of them combined is where my true peace lies. They culminate in an equinimity that greatly enhances my patience, compassion, and ability to honor love and beauty in their many forms. I embrace them again as old friends welcomed home from a long and perilous journey. 

Peace in my mind also benefits from peace in my environment. With that in mind, I am embarking on the 40 Bags for 40 Days commitment. It is really easy, I get rid of one bag, box, or bin in my house each and every day. Truthfully, I don't know if we have 40 in this house but hey, that's a good thing. Spring cleaning will also be coupled with this process. I am not even planning it. I just know me. As junk leaves, I have an innate desire to clean. Bonus. 

I am also committed to being more intentional with my reading. In addition to the books I read for pure fun, I will reading books on mindfulness and simplicity. This actually coincides with a desire I have to implement a very slow, mindful pace for our family over the next spring and summer with a huge emphasis on nature, unstructured free play, and exploration for us all. 

Finally,  through journaling and meditation I would like to explore some deep seated irritants that are rising unexpectedly. These are deep within my psyche and are embedded below my general consciousness but it is time they are addressed. Time and time again I find anger even rage arise seemingly out of the blue. There are some things still chaining my soul and I want to deal with them so they no longer have control in my life. 

So that is it my friends. Really it is just commitment to be more mindful. I want to slow down and truly savor as my Red Bud tree explodes into color. I want to quietly watch my children make discoveries in nature. I want to really hear people and connect with them. I want to see their noble beauty first and foremost with a heart of compassion and love. I want to be the best and most authentic me I can be and live my life in harmony and joy. 

However you honor this season, I pray you find peace and light each and every day.