This post comes a little late – traveling yesterday was followed by the mad scramble dash to buy groceries and unpack to restore myself to my normal routine as quickly as possible so that my final day of vacation could be spent running the insanely long list of errands before I return to work tomorrow.

I took over 10,000 pictures in 2011. A picture should be worth 1,000 words, so I’ll spare you pontificating this morning. 10,000 pictures taken, 10,000,000 words not spoken. 12 months, 12 pictures for you as we welcome in ’12.

 

Be always at war with your vices, at peace with your neighbors, and let each new year find you a better man. ~Benjamin Franklin
Works for me!!!
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 One’s dignity may be assaulted,

vandalized
and cruelly mocked,

but

cannot be taken away

unless it is surrendered.
~Michael J. Fox

Just thought I should remember that.

Responding versus reacting. We all have our stories. I don’t have to be what Parker did to me. I don’t have to judge myself for trusting someone who clearly really never deserved any of me. And, I know, for as long as I choose to hold on to that pain, I let him have my dignity. I’m in the space where I’m working through letting it go. And, as I was told, forgiveness does not mean I have to “be okay” with what he did, it does not mean I have to think more of him as a person, it does not mean I have to excuse his physical and emotional (and financial) harm to me. But, it does mean I have the strength to either move aside or to climb over the big pile of junk in my way preventing me from moving forward, preventing me from being – right now – where I’m supposed to be.

Charlene’s husband, Thomas, chuckled as he looked at my pictures of this boulder in a glacier-made field in Yellowstone (in fact, he took some of these — the ones that quite obviously were taken with a camera far nicer than my own and provide the awesomely vibrant colors and details). He was with Charlene and me this day and watched me examine how to climb up the nearly completely smooth stone. He suggested to me later that evening that the boulder is the perfect metaphor for my life – right now.

And, while I’m not completely where I need to be respective to forgiving Parker (and forgiving myself, to be totally honest with you, forgiving myself for falling into him), I’m much closer today than I was yesterday. And as happily as I played on that giant rock on Monday, I hope to move beyond my own rock very soon in a very near Someday. 

Because, as so many of us do, we have our stories of being wronged and of being harmed by others who just… do… what they do. And sometimes we sign ourselves up for our pain, but other times we don’t. And either time, we deserved to lay to rest that pain and climb over or walk around the big rock or pile of junk obstructing our view and forcing a lower perspective.

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“…but to those to whom we can cling to; those are the brilliant gems of life which provide the nourishment we need so often to reach our destinations.” ~ Holly Wheeler

But it’s up to us to what “those” represents for us, individually. I think one of the reasons I find myself so unhappy right now is anger. And most of the anger is directed at myself. Because, the real, cold, hard, truth for me is I haven’t lived mindfully or intentionally this year. I became a slave to my scholarship, and couldn’t say “no” to other requests for my time and attention, and I allowed myself to become completely consumed with “life(?)” that I didn’t really live much. Oh, yes, there were moments when I remembered what it felt like to be really alive. And, although I won’t say I spent 2010 on autopilot, I did not pay attention to details that, had I noticed, because I was more focused and because I was authentically present, I wouldn’t be where I am now, trying to accept the new terms of my self-identity under circumstances that have been given to me… because I wasn’t paying enough attention to what I needed to notice what I needed to do. Make any sense?

One year (and a day later) after I created this blog, honest assessment of the reflection in my mirror is I didn’t do what I set out to do. By and large, 2010 was spent in distractions — the exact opposite of the mindful living I intended.

I make my bed every morning, and I sleep in that same bed I make every night. More lunches and dinners than not were spent crouched over my keyboard and the bright lights of a computer screen. Food I ate without even tasting because I didn’t take time to notice the experience of eating, and feeling the pleasure the experience food can give. Too many gadgets, too many demands, too many schedules and calendars crammed with too many, too much, much too much stress.  Too little time spent with people I love, laughing, too much quantity, too little quality.

I hijacked my own life. And I can so easily recognize when another person is venturing into the same rapids, and I’ll even jump in to help them get out, but I let myself flail and flounder in the bone crushing currents of my self-created rock-filled waters. I have definitely not been forgiving enough to myself as I should, and I created extraordinary demands and expectations for myself that I would not dare impose upon another person — as if I created standards to set myself up to fail.

I titled my blog specifically for seeking and following my own true north, and I’ve been so busy staring at my computer and blackberry that I didn’t bother to look at the sky to find my north star to guide my path for this journey.

And, I don’t believe I’m the only person who does this to herself. It’s as if the opportunities I’ve been given and the mantras I’ve been told about being able to do and be anything I interpreted as I must do and be everything.

I think of the autumn day in 2009 I spent hiking along the Grand Canyon of Yellowstone. I was alone, and I reveled in the solitude. I was present, and with my iPod turned off, intentional and active in my movements. I saw birds, heard bugs, and crept up to critters I would not have noticed had I brought along my distractions. And this was one of the most beautiful days I experienced before or since. In fact, the entire week I spent backpacking solo through Yellowstone was one of the greatest gifts I gave myself, because I gave myself the gift of… me. I was flying solo and I loved every second of it – and I paid so much frigging attention to everything around me, and I was such a rich woman for every breath I took by myself.

And as I get ready to reach another birth and calendar year, I have the opportunity to practice mindfulness again. I have the opportunity to forgive myself for failing to protect and serve myself. And I give myself permission to cling to the brilliant gems of my life that serve as my nourishment… and my true north. Granted, the steps must be small – and patience is not my virtue – I will find a way to be satisfied and patient, and trust the process.

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Friday evening, waiting at the courtyard bar of the Hotel San Jose, I sat, staring at the pool from over the votive on my table. The pool is heated. The water is warm(ish). The air temperature if cool (scratch that) the air temperature is downright chilly. And, although I wouldn’t actually, I’d love to dive right in to that pool and feel the juxtaposing shock of the water and air on my skin. Perhaps it’s the red glow of that votive candlelight, maybe it’s the hypnotic rhythm of a playlist I’m not nearly clever enough to create, or the Cotes du Rhone tingling my tongue… but I’d like to dive in.
And I think of my yoga classes, as my teachers guide me through my vinyasa, they encourage me to do a great big swan dive, moving from one fully extended and reaching standing position, into a snug forward fold where my hands press the floor or hold my calves and my chest grazes my thighs as I could kiss my knees. They, too, want me to dive right in to my asana.
And isn’t that what we should do with life? Dive on in? Dive in to the life experiences and live with fullness and honesty… as brutal and raw and confusing and exciting and boring it can be? Don’t we, from a tall platform off which we could leap our own grad swan dive, have the opportunity to create an intention to channel our creativity and find our inspiration – but, what do you think? Only if… we dive in?
Tiptoeing into that water will breed doubt of the decision, stemming from the discomfort of the physical shock by temperature, and that forms hesitation, and then we risk scooting and shivering back out of the water… with an experience and perspective lacking the whole potential of what could have been felt. And so, why, exactly, do I resist jumping in?
When the absence of a bikini did not stop me from stripping down to my skivvies at Yellowstone’s hot springs, my gutsy little act was repaid to me more than a hundred times over. So, what is my intention? What would I do to be totally authentic, honest, and fully living at this moment? And must that require inappropriately jumping in to a pool in front of other bar patrons? I think not. Hmm…. I believe I might be able to find another opportunity to live a night’s potential.
But, if I commit myself to live…. What comes next?
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