8/29/12

Eagle Eye

Walking on a not so beaten path between several corn fields here in Easton, PA, 
I bumped into a friend who asked, "Did you see the eagle?"

Um, nope. What eagle? 

I looked around, wondering if I had been 
so distracted that I could have missed such an amazing rare sight.

He showed me where a family had built their nest, tucked high in the 
only white tree in the distance and overlooking the Delaware River. 
It was difficult to spot, but with his binoculars, I got a clear view of the large 
nest and the two eaglets who were standing on it's edge, awaiting their next meal.
Aware of their surroundings and seeing us, they crouched lower in their nest, 
instinctively protecting themselves from harm. 
At least 75 ft. high in the tree where not much can bother them, the family has an eagle's view of their prey, which is largely fish from the river. Mom and Dad, who mate for life, use their keen vision, intelligence, and survival instincts to fish and hunt, 
feeding themselves and their young. 
If you look closely, you may be able to see the two eaglet's heads in the nest. 

When we walk with presence, we see much more than when we let our minds wander. 
Even when on a familiar path, with awareness and focus we may be surprised to find things we never noticed were there. It took a magnificent species to remind me to open my "eagle eye" and see what's before me. With eyes open and now alert, I found so much more to draw me 
into the natural creation around me.

8/22/12

Hesitating

When a new friend and I talked about swapping blog addresses, I was surprised to feel myself hesitate. 
Of course, blogs are to be read, right? Just like paintings are to be admired and musical instruments are to be heard and cheesecakes are to be savored, right? 
Whether others enjoy our work or not, we can paint for the joy of immersing ourselves in the flow of colors. We can aim to sync our hands, breath, mind, and soul when we play an instrument. We can be present while we bake, stirring in love with each added ingredient. The outcome may not always be great, but how we enjoy the process of creating can be as important as the "Why?" or "For who?" or "Will it be good enough?"

Aware that I was being a little silly, I rose from my insecurity saying, "Sure, you first, what's your blog address?"
Creating can leave us feeling a little exposed. Once we toss that blog post out there, it's available for anyone or nobody, as the case may be. We need to trust the process and that the authentic, inner self that urged us to write and share will be just fine with whatever "they" may (or may not) think. We can just abandon attachment to approval and be satisfied that we've created from our best place.

8/15/12

Yogi in NYC, part 2

As the BlogHer12 energy overwhelmed me, I decided to walk a few blocks to Central Park to do some early morning yoga. Not there yet, after several minutes I began to wonder if I had imagined passing the park the night before. I quickened my pace, ignoring the garbage and enjoying the views. 
Love the cool asymmetrical brick work on this building
Still not there yet, and sure now that this was the wrong way as I neared 1st Avenue, I wondered if there'd be a spot for my mat near the river. I spoke with a concierge who told me that there was a nice little public garden 2 buildings away. 

The garden turned out to be a small area with uneven cement pavers. A homeless man was sleeping on a bench and I hesitated, then carefully avoided some broken glass and set up my mat overlooking the water. 
I closed my eyes and got still, noting the beauty of the river, the boats, the blue sky, the sun shining, and the gentle warm wind against me. 
Soon after beginning to move with my breath, I noticed a large gooey spot on the paver in front of my mat. I let the thought, "Eeooew, I wonder what that is?" float out of my mind like a cloud rolling by. I went into triangle pose, reaching my fingertips towards the top of the skyscrapers.
A woman came in walking her dog. "Cute dog" passed through my mind like another cloud. Then a man came in walking his dog. "Big dog" wandered through my mind. Then another dog entered, pulling it's master, and I watched long enough to see the dog lift it's leg. "Wait a minute," shouted my mind, and the thought did not pass. "I'm doing yoga in the middle of a dog park!" I tried to let it pass like a fluffy cumulous cloud, but dark storm clouds were rolling in faster. "Eeooew, what's that spot?" returned. Other loud ideas of just what it might be, as well as what my mat may be sitting on, followed. 

"Breathe. Let the ribs move out on the inhale, in on the exhale," I told myself as I do my students. "Don't judge it, just stay with the breath." I decided to remain where I was and see if I could finish my practice, continuing to move from my center. I noted I was breathing faster than usual. My mind stayed busier, too. "I'm a yogi, I shouldn't be bothered; and, "I guess I'm not there yet" were duly noted, as was the wall in front of me that suddenly appeared to have vomit dripping down it. I calmed myself with a wide-legged forward fold, and this is what I saw:
The homeless man was gone and someone else had sat down. And, wow! It's not every day you see a tree doing a headstand in the middle of a dog park in NYC. I laughed aloud. 

8/10/12

Yogi in NYC, Part 1

I like to try new things, so when my sister invited me to the BlogHer12 conference, I thought, "Why not?" I found myself amongst 5000 bloggers who had convened to meet, share, learn, and get inspired. 
We ran from presentations, 
to parties, 
to events like dancing with the Rockettes at Radio City Music Hall. 
In our spare time, we met corporate sponsors
and collected swag. 


What's swag? It's free loot, and here's what mine looks like: 

What does this have to do with blogging? I have no idea. And yes, I only have two eyes and 2 arms. In case you're wondering, I asked for a dozen eye masks to aid relaxation in my yoga classes at the local juvenile detention center. The cotton totes were on a swag swap table, and were too good to see thrown away.


I found myself avidly exchanging business cards, 

meeting many interesting souls, 
"It's an every day job lighting
and heating the earth." Sun Man


and getting caught up in a flurry of stories, often hearing a lot of "I... I... I..."
   
"Ay Yi Yi," some of it was even coming from my mouth.
(Self awareness is the first step, right?)
Wondering how it would save time to take the time it would take to Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, Linked In, Tumblr, Nibble, Cozi, Britely, etc, I heard the words "And on your smartphone, you can..." one time too many. I inquired, "What if you don't have a smartphone?" About 200 jaws dropped on the faces of almost everyone in the room. Apparently I became the subject of many tweets, like "Can you believe someone doesn't have a smartphone?" and, "OMG what does she do?" and "I didn't know they still make dumb phones." I reveled knowing I had inspired some deep conversation. 

I decided not to mention aloud that I don't get tweeting, much less re-tweeting. What's that? For a moment, I wished I were retreating at an art or yoga camp. Ever-present, I vowed to definitely treat myself to a yoga vacation soon, since I'd need it after this.

As I listened to Martha Stewart's keynote address, I busied my hands decorating bags for myself and my sister on free cotton totes with borrowed Sharpie markers.  


I resonated with Martha as she questioned where our culture is 
heading in this age of information overload: 
  1. "What's going on in the heads of modern women to come to a conference like this?"
  2. "How are we spending our time in a world that has changed so drastically, and are we spending it on the right things?"
  3. "Are we progressing?"

Someone suggested, "Don't check your mail first in the morning, get one thing done first."  "Do what you say." "Focus." Ah, these felt yogic, and yes, I'll keep hitting my mat first thing daily. I'm not sure who I'll give all my swag to, or what I'll do next as far as staying mostly invisible or immersing further in social networking. In any case, I've met some neat people and got an overview of the possibilities of using technology and online community to promote one's cause. Hmmm...

8/1/12

Queen of the Night

In June my husband and I had the pleasure to enjoy a short trip to Siesta Key, Florida. While there, we made new friends, ate some wonderful meals, and spoiled ourselves on the beautiful, soft sandy beaches.
Around the corner from the beach, we encountered a rare flowering cactus that grows in only a few locations, mainly in South and Central America. The Nightblooming Cereus, or Queen of the Night, has large white flowers that bloom in late spring or early summer, but only in the dark of night for one evening a year. We kept our eye on the vines that were climbing up several trees and rocks, and one night while walking to dinner we noticed several buds that seemed ready to open. 
As luck had it, we were there on the right night. Just a few hours after dark, we found several buds which had magically transformed into beautiful, fragrant flowers.


Here's a picture giving an idea of scale of these flowers:
No sooner do these Queen of the Nights bloom in all their majesty, but within hours they inevitably begin withering. That's it, a full year preparing to blossom and just one short night to live it up in full glory. By morning, the flowers had disappeared, leaving behind just drooping remnants and memories.
Are the Cereus flowers conscious of their short, often unseen life? 
Does it make them any less beautiful? 
What the Queen of the Night whispers to me is that we can each do our best to grow in our time, to climb from where we are now, and to shine forth our fullest, brightest, and most beautiful while we're here.