Stretching

I have been pretty athletic for all of my life. I’ve gone back and forth with exercise, sometimes committed, sometimes not so much. I decided three years go to truly make the commitment this time to myself and for myself. When I grew up much of what I did in this realm was based more on the external. Will I look good enough, play well enough and perform in general well enough to be accepted? The external was my focus and that that’s where my drive came from.

I am now 41 and things have shifted very slowly with the compass now pointing inward, every day focusing on building the foundation from the inside out. One thing that I have avoided though, is stretching. I exercise three days a week in an class that I love. Every Monday, Wednesday and Friday I get to my 7 o’clock class just after 7:05. I am not terribly late, but I’m late enough to miss the stretching portion of the workout. Stretching to me is like water, I know I should be partaking, but I have some major resistance.

This has not been majorly conscious, but more of a subconscious thing that has grip on me that is slowly becoming more and more clear. When I go back to my past I can see that I didn’t really take time to build the foundation, I was treading water on the surface. I started to shine a light on my lack of stretching and water drinking a couple of months ago. I started to ask why? Why am I resisting these things that I know are good for me when I’ve started to incorporate so many other healthy habits?

Suddenly around a month ago my lower back started to ache. It felt so tight and it was very irritating. I’ve never had an issue with my back which I was always very happy about, but now there was aching. My mind had been able to avoid the depths of foundation building by skipping the stretching but my body was now saying no, it’s time. Take time to stretch. I have been listening.

I mention this because I think stretching applies to all different areas in our life where we are required from within to dig deeper, to build a foundation. This can be waking up earlier in the morning to have some extra time before we are off for the day, taking vitamins, opening our hearts and being vulnerable to those we love, taking time to express ourselves creatively. These are all ways that we can stretch and they are calling to us and getting louder and louder like my back did all at once one morning. What are you being called to stretch?

“And the time came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom.”

―Anaïs Nin

Lauren

Sparks of Awareness in the Car

I drive my daughter to school most mornings. I started to take her when she complained about the bus here and there and then it evolved into a nice extra chance for connection. In my way, taking her to school is like a hug. I’m really doing it because I want to and I think she knows that.

On our 15 minute journey, sometimes we talk, sometimes we just listen to music (and sing at the top of our lungs, especially to Queen for the past few months), and sometimes we’re just quiet. The other morning we had a great conversation and an awareness sparked from it that I’d like to share.

I didn’t like school when I was young. Actually, I never really liked it. My daughter asked me if I ever liked a grade or a teacher and I told her that 5th and 6th grade were good for me. I loved the two teachers I had because they let me create which is all I really wanted to do. They saw me and valued me as a person and I felt it. It felt really good. I was able to blossom a bit in certain ways. My Elementary school art teacher came to mind suddenly along with the word inspiration.

My art teacher wasn’t overly involved in our process. He was often working on his own projects but I learned the most from being around him. Why? He inspired me. His art was at a level and spoke in ways that I could only dream of. I wanted to do that! I wanted to open up in those ways and refine my skills, not for praise or achievement, but for passion, desire and growth. Even thinking of this feeling makes me take a huge breath in. That feeling is something I’ve carried with me inside my heart all of these years and hadn’t really made the inspiration connection until that very moment in the car.

The word inspiration comes from the Latin word inspiratus which means to breathe into. In English the meaning was to draw air into the lungs. Isn’t this how we feel when we are inspired? Like we are literally taking a deep breath and coming alive? I’d like to ask, what inspires you and why? Definitely something to connect to on the path of our own evolution and desire. Spend time with those things and around those people who inspire you.

Lauren

Flashlight

Yesterday while journaling, the concept of the flashlight came to me. Not to light a path in the dark in reality, but in our lives. Often times each situation that comes up in our lives touches upon choice. What do we say yes to? What do we say no to? How do we get really clear about what our instincts tell us and follow that inner awareness? It is hard to be true to that inner awareness oftentimes because of fear. When fear creeps up it literally dulls our vision and the haziness makes it hard to see what we really want or don’t want. The image of the flashlight came to me because I had this thought that if we only had one flashlight and it shone only one beam of light, where would we direct it? In that moment our power of choice would become pretty clear. This could be choices for many things…When to speak, when to be silent, when to say yes, when to say no, when to move and take action, when to remain still and create space. Choices that we otherwise dull due to fear would suddenly become clear in the light of our flashlight. This is a daily, and truthfully moment to moment experience. We are not meant to be perfect and always make perfect choices but to be true to what we feel in our heart from a place that is not about ego, but about inner truth and honor. This is a lifelong process I think of making some choices that connect to this place and some that don’t all the while learning and growing from each experience. What choices would you make if you used your flashlight?

Lauren

Open

I have decided that my word of the year is Open. I love words of the year and I feel that connecting to a word of meaning is a foundation for growth and exploration. Open is a word that both speaks to me and frightens me. What does it mean? Does it mean that I may have to open up to things that I am not ready for or not willing to step towards due to self protection and preservation? How can I maintain control if I commit to being open? This leads me to the thought of an Open Mind. What if I left my mind open, didn’t try to manage thoughts or use my thoughts to manage life? Where would that leave me? I listened to a book last year called The Surrender Experiment, written by Michael Singer. This book fascinated me and I highly recommend it. He just let go and was open to life. He went where life took him while all the while being as present in wherever it took him as humanly possible. Surrendering didn’t mean no effort. It meant going with the flow but wherever it brings you, showing up 100%. This makes me think of one of my favorite movies, Forrest Gump. This is what Forrest did. He didn’t let his fearful mind get in the way and his life unfolded beautifully, sometimes painfully and always truthfully before him. So this brings me back to Open. I know that I have certain innate qualities and I also know that left to my fearful devices I can block them all. I choose not to do that this year. I choose to keep opening because, why not?

“Life is either a daring adventure or nothing” -Helen Keller

Lauren

Giving Birth to Ourselves

Lately I have a lot of energy churning. I recognize this and know that it must be channeled through action, but I often get confused as to what action that should be. What should I do? This is often a question I find myself asking. Only when I get still do I realize that the answer is as plain as the nose on my face...Create. When I say create I don't only mean paint a painting, I also mean create something, anything new, bring something into existence. While thinking about this today, I thought of my life now and the friends I know who are in the same spot as me. We have young children, but our youngest have either just started school or are starting soon. The pressure builds to answer this question of what should I do now? It dawned on me that we are all creators, longing to create, longing to channel and express this creative energy. The problem is that we don't see ourselves this way. Somewhere along the way were told, you are not an artist or we thought this ourselves when we compared our creations to someone elses. Unfortunately being an artist falls into the category of creative being and therefore we cannot be either since we like to categorize and put ourselves in boxes. It is a lie that we are not creative because we create every day. We create in many different ways.

Going back to my thoughts on mothers with young children in or starting school...This is a time of transition, a time of shifting. We are not taught in this culture to reflect on or to sit still in times of transitions. We are taught to hold on for dear life and squeeze as hard as we can, hence anxiety and stress. This brings me to pregnancy. When a woman becomes pregnant she has to wait over 9 (sometimes 10 in my case) months to actually hold her baby in her arms. That is the beauty of the experience and we cannot control that. We must wait and let our baby grow until they are ready to be born. Can it be this way for ideas? Can we accept the cycles and allow our lives to flow and evolve and when the time is right, allow birth to happen? Can we give birth to ourselves?  Can we give ourselves permission to do that? Wouldn't it be a beautiful thing if we cared for this potential the way we care for those outside ourselves. There are so many cycles in our lives and each contains a birth process. I am sharing these thoughts because they are on my mind. We were born to create in whatever way feels right. It is my desire to let the energy flow, be still when I feel called to do that and bring the light of regeneration and birth when the time is right.

Lauren

Patterns

I love art and I love creative living. Just because I love these things, doesn't mean it's easy. Because art and creative living are so deeply embedded in my need to feel joy, I have to break through some challenging blocks to stay connected rather than just remaining in my comfort zone and hiding away in frustration and anger. Sometimes I'm sailing through like a boat on calm seas and other times I hit a storm and have to make my way through instead of turning around and going back the way I know, with my tail between my legs. Getting through the storm means that I have to employ some new skills because each storm may be different.  When we face challenges often we go into auto pilot, reverting back to our old patterns and relying on our old solutions which may not be what we need now to get to the next level of our lives, or as I am saying here "the current storm". Lately I have been coming face to face with old patterning. If it weren't for this work I love so much, I might turn my back on growth but now, that just isn't an option. I'm in it for the long haul. There's a sort of thrill in surrender to the unknown. There's a power that comes in knowing that I can handle it. I'll get through the storm and come out the other end wiser and more self reliant and resilient. This is what the journey is about to me. Growth. I know that at my age in some ways I'm just beginning a new, and I am very grateful.

Lauren