London Roses

ROWSES, Rowses! Penny a bunch!” they tell you–
Slattern girls in Trafalgar, eager to sell you.
Roses, roses, red in the Kensington sun,
Holland Road, High Street, Bayswater, see you and smell you–
Roses of London town, red till the summer is done.

Roses, roses, locust and lilac, perfuming
West End, East End, wondrously budding and blooming
Out of the black earth, rubbed in a million hands,
Foot-trod, sweat-sour over and under, entombing
Highways of darkness, deep gutted with iron bands.

“Rowses, rowses! Penny a bunch!” they tell you,
Ruddy blooms of corruption, see you and smell you,
Born of stale earth, fallowed with squalor and tears–
North shire, south shire, none are like these, I tell you,
Roses of London perfumed with a thousand years.

Willa Cather

CultFit Penny


: Fantasy :

Gaze into the fire, into the clouds, and as soon as the inner voices begin to speak… surrender to them. Don’t ask first whether it’s permitted, or would please your teachers or father or some god. You will ruin yourself if you do that-

There are many misconceptions about the role “results” play in achieving our goals (whatever they may be.)

We should define a couple of words before we move on – outcome and process. An outcome is centered on results, beating others and posting it on social media. A process involves focusing on what we need to do perform our very best, such as how we prepare and nurture our souls, training, or even practicing mindfulness. Notice how an outcome is focused on “things” outside of you. While in contrast, a process is focused entirely on you?

Most of us think that (myself included at times), in order to get the results we want, we need to focus on those results. Wanna get better at yoga? Gotta be more flexible! Loose a few pounds before summer begins … When does the outcome of a competition occur? At the end of course. If we become obsessed on the outcome, we are not focused on the process – What we need to do to perform our best from the start to the finish. What makes you nervous before yoga class or a big ride, the process or the outcome? It’s the outcome, and more specifically, a bad outcome such as not performing well or tumbling over trying to reach your “peak” pose. When we focus on the outcome, we are far less likely to get the outcome we want.

When we pause to focus on the process, we increase the chances of achieving the results we so richly deserve.

Daily Meditation:

Sometimes, I can’t shift my heart from the outcome to process, the best thing I can do when this happens, is to get out of my mind completely. In other words, I go for an early morning walk, bike ride, or like yesterday morning – yoga practice in a quiet park. These moments gently take me from thinking about the outcome to, feeling the process.

CultFit Green


Mean Ol’ World

Don’t mistake activity with achievement-

The importance of selfless service can be found deeply rooted in our local communities.

My heart has been wanting to share my dedication to selfless service for some time now. Recent world events, a few long bike rides and the time I spent attending the Citizens Academy for Omaha’s Future has allowed me to collect my thoughts to present to you here. I have so much to share with you, I have finally decided that now is the time to pour my heart out. There still are some lingering thoughts that trouble me: Is it truly possible to give to others without expecting anything in return? To cast my pride and ego to the side? And of course, yesterdays post addressing compassion.

Recent world events in Nepal and locally have got me thinking about the “behind the scenes” act of charity. I think we can all agree that on its face, charitable giving is fairly noncontroversial. Agree?!? Someone is in need, we sense their pain, and we lend a helping hand in return. Over the years, we have developed the ability to respond to subtle cues in others, not only intuitively, but emotionally. We are literally tuned to feel empathy, to experience someone else’s feelings as our own. Our capacity for empathy is so deeply ingrained in our being, that we respond not just to actual suffering of living beings but to representations of suffering as well. Remember in the Star Wars movie when Luke Skywalker had his hand cut off? Old Yeller anyone?!?

Charity, empathy and harmony are in our genes. And yet charitable action, as personal habit, has some dubious, counterproductive features. First, our charitable impulse tends to be reactive, not proactive – The homeless man on the street and the charitable begging of Omaha Gives. We are “all-stars” when responding to the disaster that recently happened, not at preparing for the one yet to happen. How many of those who donated recently to Nepal’s victims would have contributed similarly to an effort to bring their antiquated infrastructure up to code years before the quakes ever happened?

Because we depend on raw emotion to spur us to give, our giving is susceptible to the many distortions that beset perception at hand. Every second of every day around the world, there are countless people in need, hungry and wounded and homeless. Just like those in Nepal, here in Omaha and a community near you. They are quite frankly, non-events; tedious and boring, and boredom does not elicit the empathy required to motivate charitable giving.

While charitable giving will always be necessary, I argue that, morally, if the life of a devastated family in Nepal is really as worthy as the life of a family in Omaha, Nebraska, then that life should not depend on whether someone in West Omaha rolled out of bed in a charitable mood; should not depend on the viral appeal of the Omaha Gives media blitz. Should not depend on whether that family’s suffering has been successfully bundled into a sufficiently sexy narrative about the latest “spectacular” disaster on another continent.

Daily Meditation:

Instead of patting ourselves with compassion and kindness on our backs, as we click “donate now” for the poor people in Nepal, we should ask real questions about our own individual process of compassion, and whether better ways exist to harness it for genuine, love soaked good. Through further soul-searching, I found that you must be in a selfless frame of mind before engaging in selfless service, or your efforts may be tainted and off-putting.

CultFit Giving


: Express :

What could I say to you that would be of value, except that perhaps you seek too much, that as a result of your seeking you cannot find-

– Post inspired by a conversation recently, discussing compassion, kindness and intention. Nothing groundbreaking to be found below, just a few thoughts that really stood out to me personally and I hope they inspire you as well. The conversation started with one seemingly simple question: How can we communicate good intentions in our community, without them seeming woefully self-serving?

When we express genuine compassion and kindness, maybe leaving a note in your child’s Star wars lunchbox letting him know you packed a few extra cookies just for him? It’s your good intentions, not just your nice behavior, that significantly improves their day.

When we express ourselves openly, and smile, it truly feels awesome doing nice things for someone else. Although we need to be sure to let them know the “behind the scenes” feelings that are driving our actions. I tried a little thought experiment recently where, for example, instead of simply serving up a tried and true yoga routine for a friend. Rather, I said, “I know how much you love hip openers after a long weekend of riding, so I crafted this series just for you.” Our tone and physical gestures can communicate a wide variety of messages, so it pays to pay attention to them.

Daily Meditation:

The more opportunities we explore to convey goodwill towards others – Family, friends, co-workers, some random rider or fellow classmates – The more the better! I suppose it all boils down to this: Being able to improve physical experiences, simply, by expressing compassion and kindness.

:Seva: For the Heartland

CultFit Express


Morning in May

Grass grows in the night
and early the mockingbirds begin
their fleet courtships over puddles,
upon wires, in the new green
of the Spanish limes.

Their white-striped wings flash
as they flirt and dive.
Wind in the chimes pulls music
from the air, the sky’s cleared
of its vast complications.

In the pause before summer,
the wild sprouting of absolutely
everything: hair, nails, the mango’s
pale rose pennants, tongues of birds
singing daylong.

Words, even, and sudden embraces,
surprising dreams and things I’d never
imagined, in all these years of living,
one more astonished awakening.

– Rosalind Brackenbury

CultFit May


: Wandering :

I am much inclined to live from my rucksack, and let my trousers fray as they like-

Lately I have been “obsessing” over a few Active Transportation problems (mostly cycling related) in, and around Omaha, Nebraska. Not gigantic, earth shattering problems, but a source of ongoing irritation and minor frustration to me personally. At any rate, and given that May is National Bike Month … Our local Active Transportation quandary has woven itself into the deepest folds of my mind, and I find myself spending a fair amount of time thinking about them, and how we as a community spend so much time and energy trying to change tedious little things. Such as “improved” bike routes, road markings and better street design, for very personal reasons.

I spent my morning ride to the market yesterday thinking about why we want to create change, while auto-piloting through a series of hills, defaulting to these thoughts during random periods of the early morning ride to keep my mind curious.

Stewing on “things” that irritate me or that fall into a “problem” category generally serves a purpose. Normally issues slide right off my back or float away little puffy little clouds dancing across the sky. In this case, I stumbled across my “aha” moment while riding back home yesterday afternoon. In fact, the solution was so embarrassingly obvious that I had to stop riding for a moment to say aloud:  “I’m amazed I didn’t realize this before.”

When our minds our locked in with tunnel vision, trying to brainstorm solutions to problems that generally do not exist. They don’t have full access to the power, curiosity and creativity we consciously choose to shut off, lamenting and obsessing. Organizing community advocacy groups and whatnot.

Daily Mediation:

My little “moment” yesterday was just that – little and insignificant to the community at large. Although, obsessing about life’s mundane problems is not as fun as obsessing about our true passion(s) in life, or the selection of artisanal cheeses at the market (Top Tip – If you want to ride faster? Buy something cold and sprint home before it spoils.)

Sometimes we have to allow a problem to slide to the top of our priority list, let it stew for a bit, and trust that the answer will bubble up when we least expect it.

My solution if you are curious?  :Seva: For the Heartland

seva


: Seeds :

It has always seemed that a fear of judgment is the mark of guilt and the burden of insecurity-

I ask of you on this lovely May morning – Are you really curious how the next five, ten, fifteen years of your life will look like?

Possibility and wonder flourish in the wide open spaces of uncertainty. If we were absolutely certain about how everything would turn out in our lives, we would have no room to consider what might happen if we choose a different direction, a different path altogether. Imagine how “life” might be like stuck in an endless one-way street, on a set deserted railroad tracks with rails so straight and narrow, we would never be able to see beyond our next step.

When we pause to think about it, like our beautiful lives, a seed is both fragile and dense with endless possibility. Provided with the proper conditions, a tiny seed can grow to be a beautiful tree or a plant that bears yummy fruit, flowers or those things called vegetables! In our hyper connected world it pays to remember that a seed grows at its own pace. For that seed to be its absolute best, it will need plenty of love, compassion, kindness and care.

Friends, we are no different, anticipation of what could be possible, is what makes life exciting. In order to breathe possibility into reality, we need fertile ground, a stable environment and a warm, kind and compassionate heart.

Daily Meditation:

May a dose of uncertainty grace your lives this morning What will become of this seed, your life? Only you possess the magic, that is your frigging awesome life, in the palm of your loving hands.

*It’s good to be back with you, my Dear Readers, after finishing the Citizens Academy of Omaha’s Future last night. There are many stories and new topics to share with you, until then – Take care and be well! And before I forget – Its National Bike Challenge Month!*

CultFit Commute


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