I often find inspiration in unlikely places– words and phrases from real or fictional people, books, articles, or my own brain that dreams up visions and sayings providing purpose and clarity for this moment. I thought I’d share some of my current bedrocks:
Breath (and Strength)
Last week my yoga teacher asked us to take a moment and pick one or two things to commit to during our hour of practice. After some reluctance in picking two (my perfectionist self always tries to take on too much), I landed on strength and breath. My favorite thing about yoga is that the entire practice is grounded in breath. The goal is not to lift your leg higher than your neighbor or stretch until you feel pain (though both may happen) but to maintain your breath throughout. I’m always struck by how counter this is to the world I live in (read: the world I’ve created.)
What if my own success was measured by remembering to breathe? By noticing and being present and….breathing? I often credit my strength as an ability to get through…to do all of the things I’m “supposed to”–to get through all the e-mails and the meetings and the news feeds and the happy hours and the dirty dishes and the endless stream of plans. But breath makes for life and presence. Breath allows us to show up to our lives, to our work, to hard conversations, to our surroundings and our struggles. Through sick parents and hurricanes and relentless self doubt we breathe.
Sweating is always better
I’m pretty certain this one came to me after a recent run. It’s about getting out of my own head–spending less time thinking and preparing and organizing and more time just doing (for the record, writing counts as doing). “BUT I REALLY LIKE THINKING AND ORGANIZING AND RUMINATING ABOUT ALL THE ENDLESS POSSIBILITIES MY LIFE COULD HAVE!!”, screams every resistant bone in my body. I’ve always been a very physical person but one who easily gets trapped in the cerebral. Like, it probably wouldn’t be a bad thing if someone yanked me out of bed every morning and threw me into a cold river. I would hate that person every time but I’d know it was the best thing. So, yeah. Sweating (or hypothermia) is always better. It just is.
A few weeks ago I met a friend for coffee after work (ok, well it was my pastor…but she’s my friend! And technically I had wine but…). For a moment I was outside of myself looking at the two of us sitting at this nondescript table made available to us courtesy of the “No Laptops” sign–she with her tea and me with my wine. The both of us with our “get to know you” questions and stories of faith and families and old vs. new New York. And I couldn’t help but acknowledge what a small miracle this was in a city like ours and a time like this. That there’s still space for two souls to sit and talk and connect and not have any particular place to be at anytime soon. And how much better we both were for it.