step twelve

as a child, i loved to read.

as an adult, i love to read sometimes, but when i do, i am a voracious, holistic reader.

when i took my dogs outside, i preferred letting them run in the backcountry, where it was just us, just them. i always felt that taking them for a walk around the neighborhood was like letting them read the same book, maybe different chapters, depending on who or what had visited at night.

but taking them to a wild, unknown place ~ that was like a whole library for these puppies.

the busier life gets, the less time i want to spend on reading books. autobiographical notes, human experience stories capture me, and then poetry. good, dense, multilayered poetry, simple words with complex meaning.

good poetry is what keeps my mind happy for days. it doesn’t come in the language of letters all the time. like my pups, i read fragrances and visuals. a field of lavender, a budding cottonwood tree, the smell of sweet grass, or even salmon running upstream, and letting go of life after they spawn… all those things are poetry to me.

and things like this, found today, in a most wonderful manual for a part-time position i am taking on – food for the soul, written by William Stafford:

The Little Ways that Encourage Good Fortune

Wisdom is having things right in your life
and knowing why.
If you do not have things right in your life,
you will simply be overwhelmed.
You may be heroic, but you will not be wise.
If you have things right in your life, and you
do not know why, you are just lucky,
And you will not move in the little ways that
encourage good fortune.
The saddest of all are those who are not right
in their own lives who are acting to make
things right for others.
They act only from the self, and that
self will never be right;
No luck, no help, no wisdom.

—William Stafford
(1914-1993)

 

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step eleven

showup

teaching in alaska, as everything in my beloved, big-wild home state, comes with its own challenges. i learned quickly that nature, and the nature of things, will dictate attendance and appearance. i had students ski to class and lean the skinny tall skies against the wall as they scrambled to find a chair inside; others fat-biked across the same snowy trails, tired of waiting for people movers (our public busses) that wouldn’t arrive, or waiting for accidents on the glen highway to be cleared when the cheechakos (new to ak) try to navigate through the first snowfall or ice of the season. i had students with cerebral palsy show up in their high-tech chairs, ready to learn this complicated european language of poets and ponderers.

alaska does not do “walking distance”.  even if you live in town, walking to class is rarely an option. driving is expected, especially when you live in the greater anchorage area, including eagle river, or the matanuska-susitna valley, which is over an hour in the winter. a flat tire, or a blizzard, usually means late to class, or no-show at all.

we kept a strict no-tardy policy in my class, but just as each winter is different, each class is different. one winter, it seemed like an exceptional number of students struggled coming to class on time or at all. interestingly enough, some of the people with the biggest challenges were the most driven to succeed.

there was an interesting group whose only challenge seemed to be to show up at all, although they lived on campus, and remain present. the amount of excuses for not appearing, for not having homework, for not having materials, for not being able to do an activity was baffling.

so i adjusted, and that’s where the “show up” rule was born.

the single mom who worked a 35 hour job and had a full credit load showed up. if she can do it, the single guy living with mom and dad can do it too.

the senior about to graduate with a research project and an athletic dream that required daily hours of training showed up. if she can do it, what’s holding you back?

a new student from china who barely spoke english was the first to show up and the last to leave, although he was tired, and he truly struggled understanding, and speaking. but: he showed up.

so to those who had a different excuse each week, one day i said:

if people can ski to class, if they can find rides from an hour away, even in a blizzard, just to be here, you can do this too. i don’t care what you look like, if your clothes are messy or wet, if you are mad because you missed the bus or frustrated because your car broke down and triple A can’t be here right away – it doesn’t matter. if you want to pass this class, you have to show up. even if you are late. show up. it will cost you, but even if you are late to each class, you will still be able to pass.

just. show. up.

it’s simple. show up. show up for yourself every day. brush, floss, hydrate, take notes. show up.

show up in your relationship. show up for your kids. show up for your friends. show up for what you’d rather run away from. show up.

be there.

lead.

just like my students did.

step ten

ask meaningful questions.

take a close look at the intricate play of foam, waves, and swirls. spend some time there in your mind. have a minute? take two, even three.

imagine what the air tastes like. do you smell the salt water? can you feel the waves washing over your skin? how rough or smooth can the texture of those rocks be? where are the birds nesting?

when you feel yourself inside this image, ask yourself:

what does the ocean teach me about purpose?

what can i learn from this rock?

if i were able to read coffee grounds and tea leaves, i could make sense of the patterns on the water’s surface – what do they tell me about the waves of life?

and then, give thanks for what is, and for what you will create.

step nine

today’s step is all about the odds and the haters, loud ignorance and subtle sabotage when you go for your purpose in life, when you create a reality that matches your vision for yourself.

grit is something you either have, or something you create for yourself. it’s not about not caring, or selfishly steamrolling those around you. it’s about caring a lot less about what others think of you. care less about whether they like you or approve of your dreams and goals. care less about the labels they give you. do they support you? great. do they ridicule you? also great. both are more of a reflection of how they view the world, than of how you truly are. both reactions of others to what you are doing can work for you, if you have grit. grit is a choice. growth is a choice. resilience is a choice.

if how others react to you hurts, dig deeper. what hurts the most? what is this pain teaching you about yourself? what can you learn from it? what is really going on here?

if other people’s reaction to you is making you feel awesome, notice what it is that creates that feeling. a beautiful soul mentioned in conversation the other day how she was taught to “notice what you are noticing”. pay attention to what you see. if bliss is all you see, it is because your heart and mind are open to seeing. if hurt is all you feel, it is because your heart and mind are open to hurt more than to the gift that comes from the experience.

so what’s the worst that can happen? what’s the worst anyone can do if you wear something, say something, or do something others disapprove of? just think about it. sh!t happens to all of us. mistakes are made by everyone. so: get your grit on!

grow, regardless what others are saying or thinking. give what feels good to give.

be resilient through obstacles, resist ignorance. respect your experience and that of others. respect the life force in every thing, no matter what name you give it.

inculcate yourself with intelligence.  intelligence of the mind brings clarity of vision, intelligence of your heart feeds intuition.  honor what you know, honor what your elders know. intelligence will allow you to be creative with your dream, your goal, your purpose, tweak it, enhance it, re-design it.

t is for tenacious, trust and tender.  yes, grit has to have a soft belly of tenderness. otherwise, grit gets brittle and you’ll break the last teeth you’re left with on it. not worth it!  a tenacious you sticks to your goals. a tenacious you is loyal to your values. the tenacious you is determined, won’t be dispelled or disenchanted. the tenacious you will make it through!

trust that. trust the journey. trust the life force. trust the source energy. trust the laws of balance and of averages. the choice is yours.

lastly, be tender to your soul. gently embrace that original faith you came here with. the knowledge that you have a place here. you belong here. you will find your tribe. as grit keeps you going, lean into tenderness, lean into the soft belly of your vulnerability. tenderness and vulnerability keep you flexible. grit will protect you, and vulnerability will connect you.

now you go and shine!

 

step eight

try something new every week.

that’s 52 new things in a year. here are some thoughts:

~ try hotsprings. a two-week east-west road trip left my butt triangular and my back sore.  the picture above is at mystic hotsprings in monroe, utah – a fabulous place for more than bathing. the accupressure chair massage i got from tammy, the therapist on site, immediately took the edge off my pain (but my behind retained the subaru-seat induced pie-shape). although i loved the property at mystic, where the hotsprings have shaped the rock formations in a unique way i have not seen elsewhere, i preferred a little less exposed setting. tammy recommended a few stops on the way to oregon and i tried a total of three different springs. it felt amazing, light, i slept better than ever, and if you’ve never tried hotsprings, go ahead – tell ’em your coach said you had to.

~ try… a new restaurant, a new dish, a new spice, a new drink, a new fruit.

~ look up medicinal plants that grow wild in your area and harvest what you can. in alaska, i loved picking fireweed shoots and young lambs-quarters or dandelions for salad greens. there is a powerful plant that belongs to the ginseng family, devil’s club, whose shoots in early may are the only tender thing about them to harvest and eat (watch out for the spiny stalks and leaf edges, the pulverized root of the plant is the only remedy for the rash they induce), so try something wild like that.

~ try dancing. learn how. if you know how, learn a new step. or dance in reverse. film it.

~ look at the “word of the year” … in different languages. try using them in a sentence.

~ draw, paint, do a paint-awake workshop.

~ absolutely try speed-dating. even if you are in a relationship. bring your partner. set an intention not to fight, regardless how it goes.

~ stretch. hit that spot of discomfort. sit with that for a bit. should i give an example? i don’t like elevators. for many reasons, but let’s just say it is a place that i would not choose to be in. so on some days, i know i have gotten complacent and too comfortable. enter the elevator. if it is time to stretch myself, i will go in. if it is time to face the fear, i just remind myself of how good it feels to know that panic subsides if i just wait a while, because the body simply won’t be able to sustain that state of high fear for longer than 20 minutes. once i come back outside, i have more sense of accomplishment than washing windows or vacuuming a whole day. those of you who are passionate about clean windows and carpets will be able to relate.

~ try a new road to work or to the store.

~ get a library card and check out a book. you’ll be surprised how much has changed in the last seven years.

~ pay for someone else’s cake pop at starbucks.

~ read E2 by Pam Grout.

~ part your hair on the other side, or do a comb-over. if you have children or grandchildren, give them a brush and a comb, and some water in a spray bottle, and let them practice how to be stylist on you. artistic selfies afterwards. which reminds me:

~if you haven’t yet, get an instagram account.

~check out new apps. try some of the virtual reality ones (e.g. Within-VR) and build your own 3-d-viewer, or assemble a google cardboard (good luck with that).  i got my first at TEDxBuffalo, which was a fabulous experience altogether, which reminds me:

~find a TEDx event near you and go. it will change your life.

~ …

keep going. you got this.

step seven

it’s all about choice.

every day, each moment, you choose how you show up.

free will allows you to choose whether to react, or to respond.

are you mindful and reflective? will you decide to stay relaxed as the day unfolds?

would you choose to trust that you are where you are supposed to be in your journey?

i find that the older i get, the less there is a need to prove my point. instead, there is a desire to satisfy my curiosity.

it wasn’t age that brought me there. i tried many things to worry less. chanting nam yo ho renge kyo helped for a while, just like reading “begin with yes”. trying something new every day for a week, and then every week for three months.

the more i focused on learning, being curious, discovering the world and people around me, the more relaxed i became.   this might be a natural occurrence as we mature.  but we all know that energy of people who worry, regardless what age.

we don’t need to change them.

we can choose to accept their energetic choice, and love from a distance. or simply allow them to be who they choose to be.

life isn’t all sunsets and summer breezes, gentle snowflakes and female rain.

life is a shitstorm sometimes. cold, wet blizzards are part of the experience. powerlessness, literal and figurative, happens to maintain balance, and keep life interesting. no need to love it, but you grow stronger when you allow it.

why?

because as an observer, an allower, you realize it can’t touch your essence.

your essence is safe, and it is your essence that propels you to follow your heart forward.

all a matter of free will. such a beautiful thing.

note: the image depicting evangola beach at sunset was used for another article on my coaching website, thekiline.com. all rights reserved.

 

step six

a motto someone shared with me many years ago, “ki-lined”:

prepare for the toughest outcome.

expect little, if you must expect anything at all.

hope for the best. and more: hope for everything.

if you prepare for “the worst that can happen”, and you can see that you will still make it through, you can relax.

if you expect little, if you are not attached to the outcome at all, you can relax a bit more.

if you can hope for everything, you can step into each day with a chance of joy, and contentment.