Our Best Self…Inside Out

Seconds…minutes…hours…days…years…

All of life is lived in tempo to the silent tick, tick, ticking of each minute’s passing. This muted drummer is forever playing its ghostly background beat, but always just out of range from our waking perception. Yet nature’s seasons clearly inform our senses of the forward cadence…onward it idles…time maneuvers itself with alarming regularity.

Often as we are being transformed, we cannot tell what is happening. For while in the midst of staying afloat, it is next to impossible to see the ocean we are being carried into. Mark Nepo

This commodity, measured as units are consumed, allows for no replacements; once spent, it is forever gone. Like a spendthrift, time drones on shamelessly; always unfolding forward, devouring itself before it has a chance to live or give. With an unrelenting, never-sated appetite, time marches; time may lull; but time never misses a beat. If only it would hold still or stop altogether, just long enough for us to rest a while in its growing shadow…to catch our breath…breathe in, breathe out…

Life is not lost by dying; life is lost minute by minute, day by day, in all the thousand small, uncaring waysStephen Vincent Benet

Yet as we measure time, it is clearly the great equalizer unto all humanity. Without partiality, time as currency, is meted out in equal portions to every living being. Whether young or old; rich or poor; strong or weak; time stands still for no one; each one is granted the same allotment of minutes per day from which to make life meaningful for living.

How does one become a wise manager and investor of this precious commodity? What activities enlarge the quality of our minutes? What activities decrease their value? As physical beings who are relegated to the constraints and boundaries of a 24-hour day cycle, we must remind ourselves that we are not without recourse. We may recompense time before it spills and spends itself before us.  How do we master the illusive, forward, ceaseless minutes of our life? We make time our captive when we engage our center… our core…our hidden life…our spirit-life.

We are spiritual beings living a human existence. Stephen Covey

By spending quality minutes in relationship with ourselves and the Divine, we enter eternity’s realm; in this timeless place we may invest ourselves in care-full pursuit of our divine life. In this hidden place, we may expend and exalt our being to a higher plain; above the fray of seconds and mintues. We may transcend to the higher calling of our inner life whever we settle into the cocoon of our center.

It is at the core of being where we may realize and learn how best to live our life on the outside.  When we spend time with the Eternal One, we invest in our long-term well-being. Time spent in quiet devotion, meditation and contemplation will always build into our life (hidden and otherwise) the tri-fold dividends of purpose, peace, and passion…from the inside, out.

TIME WITH ME cannot be rushed. When you are in a hurry, your mind flitters back and forth between Me and the tasks ahead of you. Push back the demands pressing in on you; create a safe space around you, a haven in which you can rest with Me. I also desire this time of focused attention and I use it to bless you, strengthening and equipping you for the day ahead. Thus, spending time with Me is a wise investment. Bring Me the sacrifice of your precious time. This creates sacred space around you. Sarah Young ~ Jesus Calling

Signs of Life…Being Alive

Our community chorale has been practicing Stephen Sondheim’s music “Being Alive” and the lyrics have completely imbedded in my head over these last two months. So much so, that I find myself wondering about what it means to ‘be alive’.

In terms of my personal training business, I train my clients to be fully alert so they may focus their attention on their working muscles and breath when they engage in their strength and cardiopulmonary training. An unfocused mind during an exercise session is a lot like sleep walking: the body is moving, but the mind has no awareness of it.

“The Glory of God is a human being fully alive.” Saint Irenaeus

Life is full of intriguing, wonderful mystery, begging us to live out loud and on purpose. Yet, for all our aliveness, we often take being alive for granted. The question which plagues me and begs for an answer is this: What does a life look like…feel like…when it is lived fully alive?

If living to the full brings glory to the One who gives us life to live, then surely we must have built into us a capacity, a drive, an overwhelming need to live in abundant, over-the-top alive-ness! And as I ponder these thoughts frequently these days, the words of Sondheim’s song give me some insight into what life looks like when it is less than fully lived:

Somebody hold me too close
Somebody hurt me too deep
Somebody sit in my chair
And ruin my sleep
And make me aware
Of being alive, being alive

Perhaps we choose to live less than fully alive because being fully alive is uncomfortable! And yet I know from my physical training, that if I want to improve my stamina or strength, then I must learn to become comfortable with being uncomfortable for a while. Now, that’s a funny way of thinking isn’t it? Yet, ironically this is another tool in my trainer’s tool box. The principle of learning to be comfortable with discomfort is a tool which athlete’s ply every time they train their physical body to perform, whether in practice or in competition.

Interesting how this idea of becoming accustomed to discomfort is best realized in the sphere of  relationships. As in, how we relate to others, ourselves, and the Divine directly impacts the quality of our aliveness. Relationship is the humus of a life fully lived. Because being alone is alone…not alive!

being alive

You Choose!

Most of the time, given the opportunity, I prefer not to choose. My general preference, when the time to choose arises, is to let my spouse or friend or client or employee make the choice for me: where to dine; what to work on; where/when to exercise; which movie to watch or music to listen to.

This is not a comfortable or flattering thing to admit about myself, especially since I am the type of person who likes to ‘work out’ my body. How strange then to realize that I am quite lazy when it comes to choosing in the realm of the everyday and mundane. How hard is it really, to make a choice? Why would I rather deflect an opportunity to make my own choice onto others? And yet, to not choose is making a choice too, isn’t it?

“The truth is, if what we choose to do with our lives won’t make a story meaningful, it won’t make a life meaningful either.” “Life has a peculiar feel when you look back on it that it doesn’t have when your actually living it.” Donald Miller

Perhaps the problem with choosing comes from the fact that there is so much from which to choose. If choice making was always about this or that; black or white; yes or no; stay or go, perhaps choosing would be easier. On one hand I wish that making a choice was a one-and-done deal, like when I say I choose to lose weight, gain strength or improve my health status, then BAM, my choice is made and I’m done. Wouldn’t that be grand? No more decisions to make. But that system wouldn’t work too well for me if I made just ONE unwise choice. How could I undo a poor choice if I only had a one-and-done choice making system?

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Fortunately, for all of us, life is full of choice making opportunities, except when our perception tells us otherwise. If we feel stuck, plumb out of choices, then it’s time to remind ourselves this one thing: as long as we are breathing, we may choose; and we may choose as many times as is needed and we may choose differently every time.

Even though I am a lazy choice maker, I am grateful this life I live is not a one-and-done game of chance. No, this life is more like playing the slot machines with the statistical advantage stacked in my favor, because I am privileged to choose; and my choice to choose means I may choose over and over and over again…or not.

In this life, it’s a happy, powerful sentiment to know we have the authority to re-write our life’s story line if we find our story less than meaningful. If by our choices we choose to do the same things enough times, eventually the statistics play out in our favor and our choices become our habits (for better or worse); then our habits create our life (for better or worse). So here’s to the wonderful, wacky world of choice making, and here’s my note to self: You CHOOSE…like your life depends on it!

Toddler Tactics & Mind Gymnastics

I love to be asked a good question, don’t you?

Have you ever been in the proximity of a 3 or 4-year-old child whose every sentence or thought was a question? Or how about this? Have you ever been in a meeting or with a group of people discussing ideas or problems, and to your surprise noticed the most obvious question(s) were left unasked?

Here’s the deal, from my perspective, it seems that living a meaningful life begs us to question…everything! Socrates said, “The unexamined life isn’t worth living.” Those are strong words, but they may be worth considering when life feels like its ‘off course’.

Honestly, the longer I live the more I realize how much I don’t know about anything. And yes, I realize that some things in life are meant to remain as mystery to us. But as long as my thinking processes are in tact, I will question, question, question.

“To the question of your life you are the answer, and to the problems of your life you are the solution.” ~ Joe Cordare

Sometimes I think the reason we struggle to live peacefully with ourselves and others is that we fail to question the constructs of our own status quo. I wonder if we could eliminate some stress and unfulfillment from our lives if we practiced asking ourselves (and appropriate others when necessary) the right questions on a regular basis.

“Questioning is the ability to organize our thinking around what we don’t know.”  ~The Right Question Institue

I wonder if we could help ourselves learn to question more readily if we gave ourself permission to think like a toddler and, “Question everything!” What might we discover about ourselves and life in general if we lived like life ran on questions and not answers?

“If I  had an hour to solve a problem and my life depended on the solution, I would spend the first 55 minutes dertiming the proper question to ask for once I know the propert question, I could solve the problem in less than five minutes. The important thing is to not stop questioning.”
~Albert Einstein

Here’s a list of five questions I came across in my readings from a couple years ago. They are meant to help us ‘examin’ our life on a regular basis. These are merely beginning points of inquiry which could quickly lead to many more meaningful questions.

Q1: What is my intention today?
Q2: Why am I doing this?
Q3: Why am I eating this?
Q4: What am I sharing?
Q5: What am I proud of?

“What have I always wished I’d done that I might try in some way now?”
~Dr. Phil McGraw

How will you know if you’re asking the right question? Perhaps when you run out of questions. Or perhaps if you don’t like the answers you’re getting. This may seem like circular thinking to you, spend some time with toddlers or pre-schoolers. This age group can teach us all how to practice this fine art of mental gymnastics. Now what would you like to know?

 

Wake Up!

I am fond of saying ‘We become what we think, that our lives and our bodies resemble our belief system.’ In the realm of my personal training business, I use this principle with every training client I engage. I sometimes feel like an empassioned evangelist because I so strongly advocate and admonish my clients to grasp the importance and power of  their own thinking and believing.

“It’s perfectly normal, perfectly natural to live in sleep. But to wake up is a revolution in consciousness. To wake up is to break free of nature. To wake up is to rise and unite with the spirit, and nature doesn’t do that for us.”   Mark Pritchard

In my opinion, the foundation for success in one’s life begins and ends with training and disciplining our thinking mind. The muscles of thought and belief must be employed  and activated constantly, consistently and consciously in coordination with a physical training program for the body.

Consider that your learning goal is the ongoing pursuit of a lifetime of consistent physical movement and self-care. Michelle Segal, PhD

The first part of achieving a fitness goal requires making a decision. A decision is simple.  What do you want? First you decide, then you intend. Then you plot a course of action in written format to make it visible; then you inform another human being of your  decision.

This final action (telling) breathes life (reality, urgency, ownership) into your original reasons for deciding and intending. Telling someone else about your decsion and intention creates a monument upon which you may build your new waking thoughts.

Whether your goal is to be measured in pounds or inches lost; miles walked or run per hour; percent of muscle gained or fat lost, never underestimate the power or your  intention to work on your behalf for your success.

In the beginning it may seem like you are acting altogether out of character for yourself. But do not fret over this idea or this feeling; let it go and just believe. Be your own very best heroine and advocate. You can do this thing you have intended to do, you have already decided! You have made your intention! bad attitude

Now that you have set your intention, be prepared to choose, many times, over and again. You will choose whether to get up early or stay up late to fit in your exercise sessions. You will choose whether to nourish your body for the better or whether you will continue to eat as though you are an unconscious auto-pilot. You will choose whether to believe your  frequent thoughts of failure over fleeting thoughts of succeeding and achieving.

Learning to ‘wake ourselves up’ from the white noise of our own thinking will require practice and dedication. The same practice and dedication we use to train the body’s muscles for strength and stamina may be employed to tame and tend the monkey mind of our own thinking and believing.

Sometimes we may need to still our bodies so as to sequester space for mindful contemplation. Other times, we may find it more helpful to move our bodies in rhythm to walking legs and feet or plowing hands and arms.

Either way, waking up requires a willingness to put  self-defeating thoughts on trial so they may be ultimatly laid to rest.

Purple Pleasure

Purple intrigue, Purple delight;
I cannot fully comprehend, How you transport me,
Purple!

Whenever I gaze, whenever I see,
Purple before me, behind me, beside me,
All the earth is crowned it seems,
In majestic Purple violaceousness!

Blue-Violet glamour, my eyes shine in misty glee,
My heart palpitates in happy purple-beats,
Deep, delicious breaths, drawn in and out,
In the presence of Purpleliousness;
Such intoxicating fragrance, Purple-like perfume!
Eggplant, Grape, Pomegranite, Blueberry, Plum.
Viva! Violescent Purple!

Purple beauty arrays the flowers of the earth in rainbow hues,
Purple brilliance, crown jewel of every gardenscape.
Lilac, Hyacinth, Forget Me Not, Lavendar, Verbena, Iris;

Blue-Violet glamour, my eyes shine in misty glee,
My heart palpitates happily, my voice will raise
In song, in praise and thankfulness for all things…Purple!

Purple