I sat on the lawn watching the half-hearted moon rise,
The gnats orbiting the peach pit that I spat out
When the sweetness was gone. I was twenty,
Wet behind the ears from my car wash job,
And suddenly rising to my feet when I saw in early evening
A cloud roll over a section of stars.
It was boiling, a cloud
Churning in one place and washing those three or four stars.
Excited, I lay back down,
My stomach a valley, my arms twined with new rope,
My hair a youthful black. I called my mother and stepfather,
And said something amazing was happening up there.
They shaded their eyes from the porch light.
They looked and looked before my mom turned
The garden hose onto a rosebush and my stepfather scolded the cat
To get the hell off the car. The old man grumbled
About missing something on TV,
The old lady made a face
When mud splashed her slippers. How you bother,
She said for the last time, the screen door closing like a sigh.
I turned off the porch light, undid my shoes.
The cloud boiled over those stars until it was burned by their icy fire.
The night was now clear. The wind brought me a scent
Of a place where I would go alone,
Then find others, all barefoot.
In time, each of us would boil clouds
And strike our childhood houses
To lose confidence in one’s body is to lose confidence in oneself-
Throughout our lives, our daily experiences feed into the deep, old sense of shame that grips us. We assign this ongoing feeling of shame to parts of our bodies that we see in a negative light. Ranging from feeling awkward in front co-workers and friends, feeling our of place running on the treadmill, to race day failures or even minor training oversight(s) can be attributed to simply not looking “right” … Only serving to feed from our inner trough of self-hatred.
Have you ever blamed a poor performance, or failed to show up to an event because you were ashamed to be seen? Soul sapping thoughts that you are too “out of shape“, I don’t belong or deserve to be here with all these “fit” folks? When we lose confidence in ourselves, we instantly surrender to failure, instead of pursuing what our hearts passionately want to do. Why is this so?
My battered and beaten body is hands down, the biggest target of my ever so critical inner voice. No matter where I stand in life, it continually provides feedback of my many imperfections and keeps me from fully relaxing in my own skin …
Each morning when we wake, we are afforded the beautiful opportunity to hide or reveal our true selves. When the harsh “voice” is telling us to keep our sweaters on or to stay home on race day … Be brave, be bold my friends – for you truly belong in the here and now.
Have a blessed weekend and please take care!
That long-ago morning at Ruth’s farm
when I hid in the wisteria
and watched hummingbirds. I thought
the ruby or gold that gleamed on their throats
was the honeyed blood of flowers.
They would stick their piercing beaks
into a crown of petals until their heads
disappeared. The blossoms blurred into wings,
and the breathing I heard
was the thin, moving stems of wisteria.
That night, my face pressed against the window,
I looked out into the dark
where the moon drowned in the willows
by the pond. My heart, bloodstone,
turned. That long night, the farm,
those jeweled birds, all these gone years.
The horses standing quiet and huge
in the moon-crossing blackness.
Shine your soul with the same
egoless humility as the rainbow
and no matter where you go
in this world or the next,
love will find you, attend you, and bless you-
Here’s the real deal folks, when ever I hear that I should do “something”, my resistance ramps up. For example, as a child, when I was told I had to practice my hand writing (Catholic schooling – go figure), Guess what happened? I never wanted to, and I have the scars to prove it! It should come as no surprise, that when I was introduced to how wonderful yoga and mindfulness are … I threw up my defenses and prepared for a fight.
Although, “something” keeps pulling me back to center. I have studied enough texts, read many more books, attended enough workshops (not in Bulgaria though … ), and practiced enough to know that mindfulness and yoga help(s). However, yoga and mindfulness are not the magical cure-all to every challenge we face in life.
I fell prey at the Gravel Worlds one hot breezy day last August to one particular mindfulness practice notion – That by practicing mindfulness you will magically and instantly feel relaxed – Chill. That may happen, although as I learned, the hard way, most likely it will not. By simply smiling and being fully open to the present moment, is truly what matters. I don’t practice meditation to get better at meditation. I practice meditation to wake up to this beautiful world. Think about this for a moment please … Don’t practice to get better, simply be you.
Registering for a 150+ mile gravel ride and participating in a 150+ gravel ride are two different things. I lamented: I think, I’ll take a week off of meditating and practicing yoga leading up to the race, sort of like I used to say I’d taper my training and “carbo load” (<— whatever this is), the week prior to the event. What I found out was, the conditions of my environment did not have to be perfect, that it’s fine to practice informally, and for a blonde haired dude like myself – on a complete whim, even right now. I didn’t have to taper and load to have a good ride, and I certainly don’t have to wait until I have a spare 22 minutes during the day to practice mindfulness and yoga.
What if I’m not doing it right? I don’t feel a lot of warmth and kindness toward myself right now. I’m trying to fabricate and generate all this good will toward myself and, and … Damn it! I’m just not feeling it! Sounds familiar huh?
Artificial, fleeting feelings of self-love by trying to stay positive, race day pep talks … Dear readers, after all the abuse and pain I have subjected myself to, I have arrived to the conclusion that – It’s enough to simply have the intention to be kind to your self, simply being in the present moment, no matter what may happen next.
Practice is the hardest part of learning, and training is the essence of transformation-
By obeying our iGadget, our self-imposed deadlines, our rigorous training plans, our insatiable lust for material — and carrying the burden of the “stress” involved with each action — What gets missed during our daily lives?
What’s at risk, for me, when performance is my “goal” and “wasted” time my mortal enemy? The very real and tangible consequence of inattention. My single-mindedness points me on target, completing “whatever” task, although my friends, single-mindedness it’s a narrow path to walk on. Single-mindedness speeds by our own insights and imaginings, the many creative ideas we have that never see the warm light of day. Single-mindedness refuses detours or slowdowns to hear someone’s distress or requests – mainly our own bodies screaming for attention.
Being beholden to everything but our true selves, puts our own well-being at risk, and at what cost do we obey the tyranny of time? Performance and wasted time nearly killed me last year during the Gravel Worlds. My inattention to the beautiful and inspiring scenery led me down a dark path, not this year!
Day after day, day after still day,
The summer has begun to pass away.
Starlings at twilight fly clustered and call,
And branches bend, and leaves begin to fall.
The meadow and the orchard grass are mown,
And the meadowlark’s house is cut down.
The little lantern bugs have doused their fires,
The swallows sit in rows along the wires.
Berry and grape appear among the flowers
Tangled against the wall in secret bowers,
And cricket now begins to hum the hours
Remaining to the passion’s slow procession
Down from the high place and the golden session
Wherein the sun was sacrificed for us.
A failing light, no longer numinous,
Now frames the long and solemn afternoons
Where butterflies regret their closed cocoons.
We reach the place unripe, and made to know
As with a sudden knowledge that we go
Away forever, all hope of return
Cut off, hearing the crackle of the burn-
ing blade behind us, and the terminal sound
Of apples dropping on the dry ground.
You are imperfect, permanently and inevitably flawed. And you are beautiful-
All of us, you read that correctly … All of us need to do better. To provide a little context, delicately pulling back the velvety curtain to reveal the inner workings of today’s post: I recently shared two conversations, with two dramatically different people. One person went to Bulgaria to practice yoga (for whatever reason) and the other just finished cycling across Iowa, yet they both shared the same message when they arrived safely back home:
The overpowering pressure to fit in with the “crowd“, undermined their true spirit and what they had hope to achieve – Loosely paraphrased.
Think for a moment how many people you have heard announce, particularity around New Year, “Yoga class is what I need, if I want to fit into a size 6 for our upcoming summer holiday!” or “If I had a lighter bike like some of the other riders, I believe I would had a better time out on the road.”
When I introduce the practice self-acceptance. Why is it seen as an insult to the other person? Why is celebrating life by banishing our self-loathing frowned upon?
This morning I passionately ask to stop trying to fit ourselves into the world, and in-turn, making sure the world begins to fit us.