Where’s Your Tipping Point?

I heard the most fascinating story a few weeks ago. A friend of mine was leaving work early to rush off to an afternoon ballet class. It had just begun to snow, even though it was late spring. That happens a lot in Colorado.

When she put her key in the ignition, a snowflake gracefully floated down from the sky and landed squarely in a chip on her windshield. As soon as that snowflake touched down, the entire windshield shattered. From one harmless little snowflake!

She sat there in shock, trying to figure out what just happened. How could one delicate little frozen drop of water shatter an entire windshield? In her own words, she said, “If I hadn’t seen it for myself, I never would have believed it.” At least she wasn’t driving at the time. So, instead of going to ballet class, she (carefully) drove off to get her windshield replaced.

Two days later, she shared her story with us. We all marveled at the power of one tiny little snowflake. We speculated what conditions must have existed for that to happen. Was it temperature related? Did the snowflake have the identical size, shape, and dimensions of the chip which caused it to shatter? Are the properties of glass not as solid as we think? Or, was it merely a bizarre coincidence? What was the tipping point?

The truth is, we all have a tipping point. Everything in nature does. And, as I learned in my martial arts training, water can take down a mountain. So it makes perfect sense that it can also shatter a windshield.

Like everyone else, I’ve hit a tipping point multiple times in my life. Sometimes we feel like we’re out on a ledge, ready to go off a cliff. Other times it takes us completely by surprise. But how we react to these life changing events is what counts. The important thing is to stay positive, resilient, and learn from the experience.

So….where’s your tipping point?

 

 

 

 

 

Self-Indulgence Is Not A Dirty Word

My ballet master was incredibly demanding, which is one of the things I loved about him. After all, I don’t want to become complacent. Complacency breeds mediocrity, and in my opinion, that is a waste of human potential.

He would often chastise us if we weren’t working hard enough to satisfy him and his high standards. During the middle of brutal and complicated movement patterns he would frequently scream, “Don’t be so self-indulgent!” Not only was it distracting, it was demoralizing to be called self-indulgent when you were dancing your heart out and working your butt off.

Besides, the way he said it made it sound like a dirty word. In his mind, it was a dirty word. I always wondered why, and I never understood what he meant. I would have asked him, but he terrified me. He terrified all of us, even though we loved him, and we were adults.

Here it is, many years later, and I think I finally understand what he meant. To achieve the goals we set for ourselves, we have to fully engage all of our effort and focus to that goal. We have to pour our heart, soul, body, mind, and spirit into it. That leaves no room for self-indulgence.

But I disagree. There is an incredible amount of untapped potential in each and every one of us. However, we can’t reach this potential if we don’t allow ourselves a bit of pampering. A chance to rest, relax, and hit the refresh button. Some people may call it self-indulgence. I call it common sense. And it really isn’t a dirty word. At least, not in my mind it isn’t.

So, don’t be afraid to take some time off, hang out, and get some rest. Indulge yourself. It’s so good for your health!

The Power of Grace….

Grace. It’s such a beautiful word. Just the sound of it brings forth a sense of ease, elegance, and peace. Who wouldn’t want to experience grace? Maybe we felt like we had it at some point but lost it along the way. (I don’t know what happened to it….I know I left it around here somewhere). Perhaps we feel like we have been looking for it all of our lives. It’s possible that we don’t even know what we’re looking for, but intuitively know that something is missing. What is grace, anyway?

In my mind, grace is a feeling. It is a sense of confidence and well-being. It is about having a strong sense of self-awareness, and being comfortable in your own skin. You know how to set personal boundaries and how to cultivate healthy relationships. You respect yourself. You have the flexibility to move through life with an effortless flow, even when the going gets tough.

One of my favorite quotes is from a remarkable man named Moshe Feldenkrais. He said, “What I am after is not flexible bodies, but flexible brains. What I am after is to return each person to their human dignity.” Ahh, grace. It is a lovely word, and a powerful one as well. It’s also a wonderful feeling–one that returns you to your strength, power, and human dignity.

It was through life’s trial and tribulations and the most difficult chapters in my life that I discovered the power of grace. I will admit that it hadn’t always been easy. But I did find it, and I sure like the way it feels. And I hope I don’t lose it like I lose my car keys. Because, there is incredible power and grace in each and every one of us. As well as human dignity.

Build It, and They Will Come….

Build it, and they will come. Who doesn’t remember that famous line from the movie, “Field of Dreams?” All you have to do is have a vision, apply a lot of hard word, and dribble on a healthy dose of faith. Because, if you build it, they WILL come.

I have spent the past seven months working with a remarkable and talented team of professionals, building this new web site. It’s been a long journey, and a lot of work. I cannot speak for my amazing team, but as far as I am concerned, it has been well worth the time involved and the energy invested.

Seven and a half years ago, I launched my first web site. It was terrifying. Just putting myself “out there” was an overwhelming and uncomfortable experience for me. Apparently I got over it, and I have come a long way since then. Haven’t we all? If we aren’t trying new things, and getting out of our comfort zone, we stop growing. We become complacent. We stop learning. And, (dare I say it ?), we become old.

The key to youthful vitality is about putting yourself out there, learning new ways of moving, sensing, thinking, and feeling. It’s about keeping an open mind, and cultivating a spirit of interest and curiosity. It’s about building. Perhaps not a new website, but building new relationships, new connections, and discovering new and fun activities. It’s about never giving up on yourself, even when times are difficult and the going gets tough.

Keep building. it helps to make sure that you’re using the right tools and you have a great team behind you, no matter what you’re building. It certainly comes in handy. So, build it, and they will come.

 

Believe In Yourself, and All Things Are Possible….

What we believe is what we become. What we tell ourselves, and what we hear from others, is what we eventually believe. Even if it goes against our inherent belief system. Unfortunately, not everything we hear is positive. Nor is it always in the best interest of our health and well-being.

Some messages we receive are so subtle that we might not even be aware of them. Others are blatantly shoved in our face like a cheese grater peeling away at our self-confidence.  Okay, the cheese grater analogy might be a bit extreme, but I’m sure you get the point. And, quite honestly, those are easier to deal with, because we can see them coming a mile away. And we can chose to ignore them.

It’s the insidious messages that are far more dangerous to our belief system and our self-image. That’s because our nervous system is always “listening,” and always processing information that it receives. Our brain doesn’t necessarily determine if the information is correct or not. It doesn’t categorize what it takes in as good, bad, true, or false. It simply takes it in and processes it for future reference.

When we hear negative messages over, and over again, we will believe it, and we will become it. It is a self-fulfilling prophecy. Yikes! On the other hand, when we receive positive messages, those are the ones that become part of our belief system, and that is what we become. I sure do like the sound of that!

So, as we move into a New Year, remember to be kind to yourself. Speak softly, and gently, sending yourself positive messages that you will surely live up to. Do not belittle yourself, not even in jest. After all, your nervous system is always listening.

If you believe in yourself, all things are possible. And, I believe in you! Wishing you all the best in health and wellness!

Solitude: Taking Time To Enjoy the Gift of Silence

Solitude. I was blessed with the gift of silence and solitude a few days ago when I happened to show up thirty minutes early for a dance class.

Fortunately, another class had just ended so the studio was open. However, when the dancers left the studio, I was alone. Really alone. There wasn’t another human being in the entire building. I began to feel a little anxious and upset.

Where was everyone? Why weren’t people arriving for the ten o’clock dance class? Did I drive the forty-five miles from my home in Denver to Boulder for nothing? My anxiety escalated as I watched the dancers from the previous class get in their cars and drive away and I realized I was alone in an empty building. That was not a comfortable feeling. It was even a little bit creepy. Maybe I should just get back in my car and drive home.

Then I realized that I had been given a rare and wonderful opportunity. The opportunity to be alone with my thoughts. There I was, in a beautiful, sun-filled space with time for quiet introspection. What a treat!

I had a full twenty minutes of sweet solitude.  I was able to relax, refresh, and enjoy the sensation of the sun on my face while I listened to the rhythm of my breathing and the sound of my heartbeat. The sound of the building answered my rhythm with its own. It was a lovely somatosensory experience. My anxiety quickly melted away.

I was enjoying myself so much that I was almost disappointed when my teacher showed up. Apparently I had the time wrong. Class didn’t start until ten thirty. Oops. However, if I hadn’t made that mistake, I would have missed out on an incredible opportunity to refresh myself. As well as a reminder that it’s good to spend time alone.

I think I’ll make a habit out of spending time alone more often. It’s amazing how even just a few minutes of solitude can clear your mind, refresh your spirit, and rejuvenate your soul. There is nothing quite like solitude, and the gift of silence. It’s so good for the health and well-being of your body, mind, and spirit!

Toastmasters, Table Topics, and the Talk of the Town

Table topics. It was a term I had never heard before. At least not until I attended my first Toastmaster’s meeting six weeks ago. I was planning on visiting a few different clubs, just like the website recommended, and see which one was a good fit for me. I was also planning on keeping my mouth shut until I felt comfortable around the members.

This is probably hard to believe, but I always get nervous when I meet people for the first time. Especially in a professional setting like a networking or business group. The thought of going to a Toastmasters meeting filled me with anxiety, even though the website made it clear that I didn’t need to participate in any capacity. I was welcome just to observe.

However, I was still a bundle of nerves when I got in my car to drive to the meeting site. I should mention that I also get high anxiety when I am going to a new destination. I calmed myself down, reminding myself that the meeting location was only about ten minutes from my house. What could possibly go wrong?

I got road raged on the way to the meeting. It wasn’t too serious, but it was enough to shred what was left of my frail confidence and rattle my tattered nerves even more. I almost turned around to go home and hide under my bed. But then I realized this jerk would have achieved his goal. So, I put on my big girl pants and headed to the meeting location.

I pulled up in front of a large, austere, and intimidating office building. Once again I wondered if I should just turn around and go home. Hiding under my bed seemed like a pretty good idea right then, especially after enjoying a nice, relaxing Chardonnay. I took a deep breath and got out of the car.

There was a sign in the lobby instructing visitors to check in on the 6th floor. I took the elevator and landed on the 6th floor just as a major hot flash hit. I walked into a small group of strangers red-faced and sweating. What a way to make an entrance! I wished I had gone home.

Until the meeting started. What a great group of people, and so much fun! I actually relaxed and began enjoying myself. Finally, they introduced something called Table Topics. Volunteers are asked a random question, and are given one-two minutes to answer it. It challenges your ability to think on your feet and come up with an engaging topic as well. To add to the challenge, the rest of the group votes on who gave the best talk.

Two people volunteered. When they finished, the Toastmaster asked for another volunteer. No one spoke up. Everyone looked around the room. Throwing caution to the wind, I volunteered. When I was done, we voted. I was feeling pretty proud of myself just for getting up in front of the group, but I almost fell out of my chair when it was announced that I won first place for best Table Topics! I got a ribbon and everything.

I participated in Table Topics the following meeting. And won the prize again. The following meeting, I won again. What a way to gain some confidence! All three of those ribbons are hanging on my wall in my office next to my desk where I can see them everyday.

Those ribbons represent how I went from being terrified to being the talk of the town. Or at least around the conference table. I learned a lot from that first day. First of all, don’t let a bully get in the way of your goal, even if he does road rage you. Next, don’t judge a building by it’s cover. A cold building can be warm and welcoming inside. I also learned not to worry so much, but we’ll see how that goes. Finally, I learned that when you are yourself and you speak from the heart, magic happens. Don’t you agree?

Springtime in the Rockies, and Feldenkrais for One and All

Ahhhh, springtime in the Rockies! It’s a beautiful time of year, and one that I love dearly. Springtime anywhere is always special, but here in the Rocky Mountains, you just never know what to expect. And you have to be ready for anything.

It’s important to be prepared for any kind of weather or event that might surface, and it is also important to be flexible. The Feldenkrais Method can help you find the flexibility you need. Not just for the weather, but for every situation that comes up in life.

I had the distinct honor and privilege to spend a beautiful springtime afternoon last week in my favorite place in all of Colorado, Estes Park. I had been invited to teach a Feldenkrais class at their remarkable library for their Wellness Program. Of course, I accepted. I love Estes Park, and never miss an opportunity to go there. And I surely never pass up a chance to teach a Feldenkrais class and spread the word about this life-altering method. Besides, what a wonderful way to honor the upcoming birthday of the man behind the method, Moshe Feldenkrais himself.

So I happily packed up my teaching materials, and began the 70 mile drive north from Denver to Estes Park. I had no idea what to expect. I didn’t know what the room would be like, how many people to expect (if any), or what the participants wanted from a Feldenkrais lesson. Assuming people did show up. Nor did I know what to expect from the weather. Like I said, springtime in the Rockies is quite unpredictable. It can turn from a bright, sunny day to a blizzard in a matter of hours. Yikes!

But, it’s okay. I am a Feldenkrais practitioner and have been for a long time. I am flexible, and I can handle almost any curve ball that gets tossed my way. Even if no one shows up for a class I have planned and drove 70 miles to teach. Not that it mattered, because at least the librarians would be there.

Well, people did show up. Quite a few of them, in fact. I shared a wonderful standing lesson with them titled “Unlocked Knees” or “Let Your Knees Be Your Teacher.” As always, I learned a lot from that teaching experience, and I had a great time. I was even invited to come back. That’s when you know things went well.

As I said my farewells and packed up my car to drive the 70 miles back “down the hill” to go home, it began to snow. Big, fat, soft, fluffy flakes. I stood outside for a few minutes just to enjoy the lovely weather, the sensations of the snow falling on my face, and the satisfaction of enjoying a job well done in my favorite Colorado town. I love Feldenkrais, I love Estes Park, and I love springtime in the Rockies!

How Would You Answer The Call to Serve?

How would you answer the call to serve? I recently had the opportunity to answer that question for myself, when I was called to report to jury duty. Oh, I’ve been called before. Actually, I have been called many times over the years. However, I have never been selected to serve. I’ve never even made it close enough to be interviewed as a possible juror. Who in their right mind would ever pick me as a juror? I have a look on my face that screams “GUILTY!”

I simply can’t help it. My face is an open book, and the pages read “GUILTY!” So, I wasn’t too concerned when I received the summons to report for jury duty early in January. I just rolled my eyes, marked my calendar, and resolved myself that a Monday morning would be wasted. I don’t see clients on Mondays, so it wouldn’t impact my business. It would, however, keep my from going to ballet class that morning, but I supposed I could deal with that.

Imagine my dismay when I received another summons to report for jury duty in February, just 4 weeks after I had to report for County Court. This time the summons was for Federal Court, and it was for an entire month! How in the world was I going to manage that? I’m self-employed. If I don’t work, I don’t get paid. Even worse, I received the summons on Christmas Eve.

I texted my attorney. I asked her how they could do this to me, and if it was legal to require a citizen to report to jury service twice in 4 weeks. Her advice was to appeal (so to speak) to County Court, as they might take pity on me. Then she advised me to buy a lottery ticket.

I was in full-blown panic mode. Although I was certain I wouldn’t be picked as a juror, there was no way I could manage my business and take care of my clients while I was at the beck and call of the Federal government for 4 weeks. It would ruin my business.

Much to my dismay, I was picked to serve on a jury for a trial that was scheduled to last 3 weeks. As I raised my right hand to take the oath, I was so nervous and upset I was afraid I would throw up, pass out, or wet my pants. I also realized that I was being asked to do something that was so much bigger than myself, and my petty concerns. This was going to be an incredible sacrifice, not only for me, but for the 13 strangers standing along side me.

I didn’t know how I was going to get through the next 3 weeks. But I did know that there were millions of Americans  over the years who sacrificed a lot more than 3 weeks in service to our country. It helped me put things into perspective, and made me almost honored, and most definitely humbled, to serve. The next 3 weeks proved to be one heck of a rollercoaster ride.

And when it was all over, I was proud of myself, my fellow jurors, and the judicial system that each and everyone of us are a part of, whether we want to be or not. That’s how I answered the call to serve. God Bless America!

Old-Fashioned Kind of Girl

I’m an old-fashioned kind of girl. And I have a love/hate relationship with modern technology. Especially since I consider myself technologically challenged. While I sincerely appreciate the miracle of modern technology, it still overwhelms me a bit. And sometimes it creeps me out.

I feel like we don’t have any privacy anymore, at least not like we did in the good old days when I was growing up. When we were kids we didn’t text, message, or snapchat. We communicated the old-fashioned way. We stood on our front porch and yelled to our friends down the street to come out and play. Or we stood on our side porch and looked down the hill to see who was going to the swimming pool so we knew when it was time to join them.

We didn’t have answering machines, let alone voice mail. If we missed a call, they would simply call back at a later time. And under no circumstances would we answer the phone during dinner. It would have been considered the epitome of bad manners. Unlike today, where a family of four could eat dinner without even looking at each other, because they are so preoccupied with their cell phones.

The truth is, cell phones continue to perplex me. I can use one, but only on a limited capacity. I suppose it would help if I hired a ten year old to teach me a few things. But honestly, I kind of miss the rotary phone. It was so much easier back then. I miss the phone booths on every street corner. I even miss the party lines that some communities had, where you could listen in on your neighbors’ private telephone conversations.

On second thought, maybe we didn’t have as much privacy back then, either. But at least we aired our dirty laundry in our neighborhood and local community instead of blurting it out for the whole world to see and hear. And have it put in someone’s data base somewhere.

I really am an old-fashioned kind of girl. I prefer face time over screen time. I prefer holding a hand instead of a smartphone. I find the sound of a voice is so much sweeter than the sound of a keyboard. Most of all, I prefer lively conversation to the silence of a written response via text or email. Besides, I can talk a lot faster than I can type, and with a lot less mistakes as well.

I’m also a people person. I love meeting them, talking to them, and working with them. It is my life’s work. I need to embrace that part of myself just as I continue to embrace this wonderful but often confusing high tech world we live in. And to remember that there is always a person behind the machine.