Monthly Archives: March 2014

Choose Your Own Adventure

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             Did you ever read The Choose Your Own Adventure Series? When I was a little girl, I was an avid bookworm. One of the many series I read was one which allowed the reader to be the main character of each novel by having him or her decide what happens next in the story simply by flipping to specified pages in the books. Readers would decide what action one would take as the story’s protagonist and then flip to the page that revealed the consequences of one’s decision. These books were a lot of fun to me and I even remember trying to write my own Choose Your Own Adventure Series when I was growing up! Did you ever do things like that?

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              I got to thinking (a dangerous thing, I know!) about how The Choose Your Own Adventure Series is like an analogy for life. Every day, we make many decisions that will change the outcome of our day; and ultimately, our lives. Every day is an adventure. If your life is mundane and boring to you: just work and then home everyday, this was your choice. Our lives, our days, for the most part, are what we make of them sprinkled with bits of chance. There’s always the chance that something will change or happen whatever choices you make. The more open to the new, mysterious and unexpected, one is each day, the greater the chance one will experience inner or outer revelations and/ or adventures. To be mindful/ present, is to be open.

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          On the days that I am present/ mindful and open to new adventures, I may take a different route home from work, try a new flavor latte that I don’t usually order or cook something I have not yet tried. I may just be minding my own business shopping and bump into a childhood friend I hadn’t spent time with in two decades… Try a mantra meditation I have not tried yet or play an old tune on the piano I have not played in a while…It always sounds different, just like every sunrise or star rise is different. The possibilities are endless. It takes less than 24 hours to change your life. You could walk in and quit your job in only a few seconds or make a life-changing phone call right now. Every moment is an opportunity for adventure. You just have to be present.

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       I do have days when I am living only in my daydreams and have no idea what I’ve had for lunch, if I’ve had lunch at all, or what I did all day. I could be thinking all day, “There’s so much to do!” and not notice my surroundings, whether people who love me are around or wanting to be around. I also have days when the smallest tasks as well as the most mundane tasks can be turned into an adventure by simply acting in a new perspective rather than out of habit. The simple act of visiting my dad and leaving my cell phone, worries and work behind for a few hours can suddenly be enjoyable rather than an obligation when my mind is present rather than in a state of worrying about the future and haste.

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             What do you do to keep life adventurous and your mind present? Do you go through years of monotony while just waiting for the weekend/ vacation/ retirement/ some sort of change or are you present, mindful and adventurous? Are you spontaneous and open to seeing or doing something in a new light? Or does trying new things and new perspectives take up too much energy and employ too much risk?

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            People often marvel and judge, “You are such an adventurous person and yet you are stuck in such a boring place.” What they don’t understand is that I never find where I am boring and I am never  “stuck”! I choose where I am!  You don’t have to believe your locale or your place in life is boring either! As Mary Poppins said, “In every job that must be done, there is an element of fun.” I choose to be where ever I am because I can experience the fun  and joy in any and every place.

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  *On a tangent, my ex-mother-in-law once put this random photo of a girl dancing in the rain on her Facebook and tagged it with my name. She even printed cards and sent it out claiming it was my photo. Everyone believed her!

To Ride the Waves

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Outside3aSaturday, March 22, 2014

       All of my life, I have suffered at the forces of my own mind and lacked the ability or will power to focus on one thing at a time. Always, my mind jumps to the future. I am good at letting go of the past and letting bygones be bygones, but always, I look forward to the future. This creates much stress and tension because I am unable to concentrate on the whereabouts of my own two feet in the present moment and often I stumble.

        As I grow older, bit by bit, I learn to let go of what I cannot control. I have learned that just because I have a plan, does not mean, the results will be as I planned. One blog of a yoga teacher, Karson at happy-u.org of San Diego, describes this feeling:

Every day, I make it the 1.5 blocks to the ocean to grab a piece of perspective. To remember my size in the grand scope of things, to see God’s work in the beautiful horizon, and to breathe in the fresh energy of the Pacific. More often than not, there are surfers out there (see those little dots up there?). And even more often, I see them sitting on their surfboards, NOT riding the waves. They are waiting… patiently waiting and trusting that the waves will come. Sometimes, a wave comes and they watch it pass. Sometimes, they ride it. Sometimes they fall, sometimes, they ride it all the way in. They know that they cannot choose when the waves will come, the ocean does that. So rather than forcing waves, they ride them as they come. And if a wave never comes, they try again tomorrow.

This is surrender… The fifth of the Niyamas, Ishvara Pranidhana.

I find the need “to surrender to the waves” in my life now.

    “We are so much more than where we came from, where we live, what we studied, what we have done and what’s been done to us,” Kelly Connor of Sunrose Yoga in Portland wrote. We cling to our stories of our past and to the plans for the future because those images give us the illusion of certainty. I was always uncomfortable with uncertainty. When it is time for dinner or bed, do you have the ability to put down a novel before you’ve reached the end or to turn off the TV before you’ve found out “whodunnit”? I do not. How does someone so uncomfortable with uncertainty find happiness?

    When you were a child, did you ever hide and cry when the people in the house were watching scary movies? I did. I remember also, as a child, hiding in a back bedroom in tears while everyone else in the living room was watching a documentary on the history of the creation of our universe on The Discovery Channel. I thought of the universe and all of its uncertainty a scary place.

    The day after I turned 20 (years old), while learning how to drive, I drove my boyfriend’s car off a cliff. We took our survival as a sign that our young relationship was meant to be and eloped even though I should have had deep misgivings because I have never believed in taking what was not mine, and his heart belonged to another. I believed naively that I had found my one and only true love. I discovered firsthand, that despite what society may imply, “happily ever after” definitely does not come from marriage!

    After the end of that marriage, I pursued what I thought would be a steady career that would end uncertainty. I would find a stable job and settle down and have kids. I had worked my “dream job” for a couple of years and was ready to buy a house and adopt kids when life happened: I lost my job. I was quick to find a new and similar job and quick to lose it as well in a turn of events that I could neither foresee nor control. Buddhist monk and author Jack Kornfield stated,“The realm of form is a realm of change.”

    All of my adult life, I have been attached to my status as a married woman or a teacher. I’ve been attached to what I cannot hold on to. I became a teacher to save the world and sometimes I think, I should have studied science because then I could really save the world. Now, I realize I cannot save the world and I do not intend to! The world is not here for me to save. It is simply here to carry and transmute those within It. I choose to trust Our Universal Intelligence in all of It’s mystery, wit, awe, irony, ugliness and beauty to transform and use me as It sees fit, accepting the world and those within It as We are. I choose to live as much as I can with the wonder and wide-eyed infectious joy of a child inspired by each ray of sunshine, each moonbeam, drop of rain, each imbuement and curve of the rainbow…

“To see a World in a Grain of Sand

And a Heaven in a Wild Flower,

Hold Infinity in the palm of your hand

And Eternity in an hour.”

William Blake, Auguries of Innocence