Archive for the ‘Inspiration & Motivation’ Category

Having made it through 3 Half-Marathons — and finally “smashed” my own 2.5 hour goal at this year’s 3M — I wanted to take on a new challenge: a triathlon. In 2007, I ran in the Danskin Triathlon as part of a relay team, leaving the swimming and cycling to others.  The supportive atmosphere of that experience and the inspiration I felt watching women of all ages, shapes and fitness levels, planted a seed that someday I needed to do this myself … the whole thing. THIS would be the year. I joined Tri Zones Training, an Austin-based group that offers coaching and camaraderie, and embarked on a new journey. On May 8, 2011, I participated in the Skeese Greets Women’s Tri, a triathlon with shorter distances (especially in the swim). What follows is my race report …

My First Tri: Will Tri Again

I believe in starting with the positives so let’s just begin by saying that I looked cute in my Zoot shorts & matching trishirt!* And oh yeah, I’m also very creative & kinda smart with occasional moments of brilliance. It’s true, just ask me. Now about my athleticism …

O Say, Can You See …

The morning started with a short yoga practice for all the participants before the first air horn blew. Were that I truly am as smart as I THINK, I would have rolled up my beach towel and gone home knowing MY best event had just taken place with the yoga. I then would have paused for some fuel, before I transitioned straight to the mall. But no, my judgment was as murky as the open water I was about to wade into.

Diving In …

Swimming has proven challenging for me, way more so than I expected, producing off the charts anxiety. This tri only required a 300 meter swim with promises that I could swim to the side and stand up if all else failed so I felt encouraged. The photo at the right, taken by Tom Marek Photography captured this apprehensive, but optimistic first time “triathlete.”

I will spare you all the gory details of the water conditions, including what I sank into knee-deep when I actually attempted TO stand up “at the side”.  Let’s just say my swim was somewhat reminiscent of  a scene from Jaws but without the shark — panicked arms flailing about but thankfully no blood. Can we say, I SERIOUSLY SUCKED!? Despite the promise that I’d settle down after a few minutes by those who were more experienced, I never settled & spent almost the whole time on my back. Couldn’t even get my face in the water without FREAKING. (Aside: Can someone please explain why we needed goggles at the Texas Ski Ranch? Could anyone see anything BUT muddy water? I mean, not that I would have known if you COULD, but seriously?)

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Supposedly, I was in the water for “only” 15 minutes; it felt like FOREVER. See the TWO lifeguards swimming alongside that panicked woman holding her breath?  That would be me.  (For the record, they never had to actually help me, though they DID ask.)  I didn’t struggle to breathe, and I wasn’t tired, I was just flippin’ freaked out. Had my heart rate monitor been strapped to my heaving chest, my beats per minute most certainly would have short-circuited the Garmin.

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Capturing The Thrill of Victory, The Agony of Defeat

I emerged from the water dirty & deflated. (Visualize: Loch Ness Monster finally nabbed after all these years! See above.) Didn’t feel the surge of adrenaline that I’d imagined, only intense frustration at my inability to simply stick my dang head IN the water mixed with a tinge of annoyance that my husband thought THIS would be an ideal opportunity for a race candid. No endorphin high for me … just a LOT of cortisol pumping through this stressed-out 49 year-old. Decided to take my time & regroup during T1 (Triathlon lingo for Transition #1 … CHECK … I got it down!)

Dancing on the Pedals a la Lance!

Out of the corral after a leisurely 3 1/2 minutes & I felt strong the whole ride, rode hard, passed more than a few people. By far my best (and most enjoyable) event. My cadence was high, my legs were strong, my form was impressive! Right up until … the dismount — one foot clipped out, one did not & I went down hard on my side. Right in front of God, the photographer, and everyone. Despite a post race bruise, the biggest casualty was my pride. Had been feeling pretty cocky about my cycling skills up to that point. What is it they say? “Pride Cometh Before the FALL” … Literally!

Shaking it off, I took my time (again) in T2, then had some trouble figuring out — and I’m not making this part up — where to exit the transition area to START the run — DUH — but I made my way out of the maze of bike racks & started slogging towards the finish line, motivated by the promise of free beer. (Gu’s for Girls!) Other than the first 5 minutes — known in the triathlon world as “the brick” — my legs felt pretty good. The finish line was in sight. (Are you impressed yet with my technical grasp of this sport?)

I Feel A Party Comin’ On!

At the finish line, we were met by enthusiastic race volunteers who handed us a refreshing cold wet towel and commemorative race necklace. The post race celebration was fun & gratifying — fish tacos & beer & lots of camaraderie with the TriZones group. The T-Zone tent offered red carnations for all the moms & we took group photo of our large contingency. It was nice to be embraced by this pack of strong, positive women after my very solitary and humbling first endeavor.

(I have to say, I LOVE the race necklace … much better than a medal & certainly a tad bit less flashy at work on Monday morning. And I’ll admit it … I didn’t scrub off the telltale race signs of permanent marker on my leg & okay, maybe I practiced the nonchalant, “over the shoulder” glance that I’d be sure to give when coworkers queried, “What’s that on your calf?”

The Depths of the Night

Later in the evening, I began to seriously doubt if I’ll be ready for the Danskin next month. As my husband & I talked, tears rolled down my face while recounting my panicked, open-water attempt. He tried to encourage me sharing his own struggles with the open water swim, but to no avail. Finally he sighed, “If you hate this so much, Pam, I have to ask … why are you doing it?” I could only mumble, “Because I have to, I have to do this. For me.” Later I thought that maybe my answer lies in the title of this blog. Maybe it’s all about discovering “the potential within”.

The 800 meter swim looms large. Everyone keeps saying, “You’ll be ready,” though I have come to accept I may not. I may need more time to get ready. If I do, I do, but until then, I’m gonna keep putting one arm in front of the other, trying to remember to breathe.

“Don’t let the fear of the time it will take to accomplish something stand in the way of your doing it. The time will pass anyway; we might just as well put that passing time to the best possible use. ~Earl Nightingale

My congrats — and GRATITUDE — to those of you who shared the day with me! It mattered!

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* My husband has since informed me that I MUST get the TriZones team shirt … “If you’re on a team, Pam, you need to don the team gear! Get with it!” Next stop, the online order page.

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My Photo Montage Recap of the Day

With gratitude to Tom Marek Photography for several of the photos included in the slideshow, and especially my husband Brian who was there to capture “All Me, All the Time”!

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“When we work from a place I believe that says, “I’m enough,” then we stop screaming and start listening, we’re kinder and gentler to the people around us, and we’re kinder and gentler to ourselves.” ~ Brene Brown

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This being human is a guest house.
Every morning a new arrival.

A joy, a depression, a meanness,
some momentary awareness comes
as an unexpected visitor.

Welcome and entertain them all!
Even if they are a crowd of sorrows,
who violently sweep your house
empty of its furniture,
still, treat each guest honorably.
He may be clearing you out
for some new delight.

The dark thought, the shame, the malice.
meet them at the door laughing and invite them in.

Be grateful for whatever comes.
because each has been sent
as a guide from beyond.

— Jelaluddin Rumi,
translation by Coleman Barks

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Dealing with Depression: Self-Help and Coping Tips.

Having an action plan is always a good route. The problem with depression however is that you just cant seem to do the very things that you know will help.

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“God Smiles When You Be You!” ~ Rick Warren

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“What Do You Have that is in your Hand?”

Pastor Rick Warren, author of The Purpose Driven® Life: What on Earth Am I Here For?, reflects on his own crisis of purpose in the wake of his book’s wild success. He explains his belief that God’s intention is for each of us to use our talents and influence to do good.  ~ from TED.com

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Have you ever had those times when you just seem to be bombarded by the same issue over & over again? It’s the same problem, it just keeps coming at you from different angles? Such has been the case in my life recently with the whole concept of forgiveness. Despite the direction I turn, it keeps finding me in the cross-hairs pinned down by a relentless barrage of painful episodes. The faces of the messengers are different, but their message is the same … I need to “let go” of the past. Exactly what that looks like & how to do it, I don’t know but I better get it figured out.

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“Forgiveness does not change the past, but it does enlarge the future.” Paul Boese

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*Originally posted March 3, 2010

Heart of the Matter

I got the call today, I didn’t wanna hear
But I knew that it would come
An old true friend of ours was talkin’ on the phone
She said you found someone
And I thought of all the bad luck,
And the struggles we went through
And how I lost me and you lost you
What are these voices outside love’s open door
Make us throw off our contentment
And beg for something more?

I’m learning to live without you now
But I miss you sometimes
The more I know, the less I understand
All the things I thought I knew, I’m learning again
I’ve been tryin’ to get down to the Heart of the Matter
But my will gets weak
And my thoughts seem to scatter
But I think it’s about forgiveness
Even if, even if you don’t love me anymore

These times are so uncertain
There’s a yearning undefined
People filled with rage
We all need a little tenderness
How can love survive in such a graceless age
The trust and self-assurance that can lead to happiness
They’re the very things we kill, I guess
Pride and competition cannot fill these empty arms
And the work I put between us,
You know it doesn’t keep me warm

I’m learning to live without you now
But I miss you, Baby
The more I know, the less I understand
All the things I thought I figured out, I have to learn again
I’ve been tryin’ to get down to the Heart of the Matter
But everything changes
And my friends seem to scatter
But I think it’s about forgiveness
Even if, even if you don’t love me anymore

There are people in your life who’ve come and gone
They let you down and hurt your pride
Better put it all behind you; life goes on
You keep carryin’ that anger, it’ll eat you inside

I’ve been tryin’ to get down to the Heart of the Matter
But my will gets weak
And my thoughts seem to scatter
But I think it’s about forgiveness
Even if, even if you don’t love me anymore
I’ve been tryin’ to get down to the Heart of the Matter
Because the flesh will get weak
And the ashes will scatter
So I’m thinkin’ about forgiveness
Even if, even if you don’t love me anymore

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Value Every Minute

To realize the value of one year: Ask a student who has failed a final exam.

To realize the value of one month: Ask a mother who has given birth to a premature baby.

To realize the value of one week: Ask an editor of a weekly newspaper.

To realize the value of one hour: Ask the lovers who are waiting to meet.

To realize the value of one minute: Ask the person who has missed the train, bus or plane.

To realize the value of one second: Ask a person who has survived an accident.

To realize the value of one millisecond: Ask the person who has won a silver medal in the Olympics.

Time waits for no one.

Treasure every moment you have. You will treasure it even more when you can share it with someone special.

~Author Unknown

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As those who have ever kept a gratitude journal can attest, one of the effects of such a practice is that it causes you to become more conscious, to become an active witness of your own life. After all, if you have to write something down about it later, you better be paying attention. I have found the same thing to be true from my practice of composing daily 6-word memoirs. It “forces” me to reflect, to “BE” conscious, and frequently at the very moment I am ready to crawl into the UNconscious world of sleep.

If you stay with it, there are gifts in reflection. Combining a day’s events with my own reactions and then distilling it down to six words involves a certain kind of alchemy. This is not at all unlike the deeper opening you experience in yoga the second or third time you move into a pose. At first take you don’t yield significant results, and the process may be painful, but then … AHHHHHH, there’s the bliss.

I spent yesterday in the company of old friends. At this point in our lives the conversation will inevitably turn to the effects of aging at some point, and our ongoing, futile efforts to hide the ever-increasing lines on our faces. And so it was that on my drive home as I considered my six word memoir for the day, I began to audition a host of words on aging to try to settle on the six finalists that best expressed my frustration with this whole “getting old” thing: Age, Rage, Line, Define, Sag, Bag, Hag. I was on quite a roll.

Then the alchemy began to occur. Sifting through the words, my thoughts turned to how LONG I’ve been blessed to have these friends look into my eyes (aging or otherwise) and the grace that God has granted me with their very presence. I began to play with the words “face” and “grace” until I critically considered, is that the correct use of the word “grace”? So I paused to look it up the definition online: “grace: 1) the freely given, unmerited favor and love of God;” Wow. “2) The influence or spirit of God operating in humans to regenerate or strengthen them.”

Isn’t THAT the definition of friends; “the influence or spirit of God operating in humans to regenerate or strengthen them.” Friendship, a synonym for God’s grace.

“Friends’ Faces Reflect Graces of God”

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In my last post, I wrote about coincidence and “God Winks” as coined by author SQuire Rushnell in When GOD Winks: How the Power of Coincidence Guides Your Life. The following is one of my favorite God wink stories from Rushnell’s book as retold in an article about God Winks on the Christian Broadcast Network:

The story of Stasia Kelly was given to SQuire by Stasia’s husband. Stasia is the daughter of the famous, sad-faced clown, Emmett Kelly. She was taking a plane from Denver bound for Sarasota. That morning, her father’s face had been on the front page of the morning paper announcing his death.

The night before, she talked to him on the telephone. He had sounded out of character and was reminiscing about his life. He regarded the day he asked her mother to marry him and the day Stasia was born as the happiest days of his life. A photographer even captured the only picture of Emmett smiling, the day Stasia was born. Stasia knew that her father guarded his trademark frown so carefully that he never allowed himself to be photographed smiling, so this was a rare and special picture that was famous worldwide.

As Stasia was sitting on the plane, she had a copy of the morning paper and an old paper with the picture of her father smiling. She reflected about the picture of her father smiling and it struck her that he was smiling about her. She began to cry. The man on the plane next to her asked her if she was all right. She whispered “yes” and that her father died this morning. The man’s face turned ashen as he told Stasia he was the man who took the picture. A peace suddenly overcame her and she felt that her father was by God’s side smiling down at her. The photographer, Frank Beatty, and Stasia became good friends. He even was the photographer at her wedding.

Kelly on the day his daughter was born ~ photo by Frank Beatty

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To read the CBN article in its entirety, visit: SQuire Rushnell: The Wink of God.

If you have a “God Wink” story you’d like to share, please feel free to post it here. I do believe that the more we pay attention ~ and celebrate ~ these gifts from the Divine, the more conscious we become of the ever-presence of grace in our daily lives.

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“… There’s no coincidence. In fact, coincidence itself is a mathematical term. Remember in geometry, they would say that two angles that coincide, fit together perfectly – so now we’ve taken a term that means ‘two things that fit together perfectly’ and interpreted it to mean ‘something that fits together accidentally.’ We’ve just reversed the whole concept of coincidence – it’s co-in-side.” ~ Wayne Dyer

I heard this the other day in a podcast of Oprah Winfrey’s Soul Series in which she was talking with Wayne Dyer about his book, Change Your Thoughts – Change Your Life: Living the Wisdom of the Tao. I have long thought that coincidences weren’t random happenings but gifts from God, little messages from the Divine. Author SQuire Rushnell calls them God winks. “There is a powerful correlation between wishes and winks, because when your wish comes true or your prayer is answered, it sometimes comes in the form of a coincidence – a wink from God.”

Much more to say on this … but it’s late & thoughts are still rumbling around in my brain. Call them coincidences synchronicity, or God winks, I DO think that when you begin to pay attention, you start to SEE these wonderful messages from the Divine much more frequently.

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Rushnell’s book When GOD Winks: How the Power of Coincidence Guides Your Life is available in both audio and print form.

Rushnell shows us that by recognizing our ‘God Winks,’ we can use the untapped power of coincidence to vastly improve our lives. The author applies his compelling theory as to why coincidences exist to fascinating stories in history, sports, medicine, and relationships involving both everyday and famous people including Barbra Streisand, Charles Schulz, Oprah Winfrey, Kevin Costner, Mark Twain, and Presidents John Adams and Thomas Jefferson. (from the Amazon.com book description)

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… I ran away from home!

I have not written for quite some time. I miss my writing, I miss my yoga, I miss my yoga that comes in keystrokes on a blog. When you get away from something for awhile, it’s SO hard to return to it. All sorts of feelings & resistance surfaces: how much have I lost, what if I can’t do it, who is judging me? (Could anyone be harsher on me than myself?)  “What are THEY doing here, acting like they know what to do?” So many things I don’t know.

“We run away all the time to avoid coming face to face with ourselves.” ~ Author Unknown

What I DO know is that I just have to start today ~ not wait until tomorrow, or the new year, or the first of the month, or even Monday ~ but RIGHT now. So I’ve started back at my 6 word memoirs, and I rolled my mat out onto the floor, and now I’m throwing something onto this blog to see what’s going to stick, and the Nike commercial plays in my head …  Just do it. Just do it. Just do it.

And trust.

“God, why do I storm heaven for answers that are already in my heart?  Every grace I need has already been given me.  Oh, lead me to the Beyond within.”

~Macrina Wieherkehr

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Last month, my nephew graduated from high school along with my cousin’s daughter. Family gathered at my parents’ home to mark the double celebration. One of the “gifts” was a book of advice that my sister compiled for the two inbound college freshman. She had solicited input from everyone in the family ~ young & old, 8 year-olds & college grads alike. The result was quite entertaining, inspirational, and dare I say, practical as well.

Our oldest son, Austin, will be a junior at the University of Texas this fall. During the past two years, he has experienced both dorm & fraternity living, gained entrance into the McCombs School of Business, and navigated a host of extracurricular activities. While most of us waxed poetic, offering the high school grads a half a dozen pearls of wisdom, Austin took the task to heart and delivered pointed guidance to his cousins who are about to join him in the collegiate world.

From saving money on textbooks, to getting along with others, to utilizing technology tools effectively, I found his resulting list “33 College Tips for Freshman” to be worthy of a reprint. Maybe it will make you smile, or maybe you’ll nod in agreement. Then again, maybe you’ll simply rush out to buy underwear!

Advice for the College-BoundAustin_Walsh

by Austin Walsh

  1. Get gmail and learn how to effectively use it. Seriously.
  2. Paper plates and cups are gifts of heaven.
  3. Get a good backpack: I recommend Northface Recon Black.
  4. In Microsoft Office learn to use the program OneNote.
  5. You’re in college, don’t take yourself so seriously.
  6. Find “your place” to study. I like big open rooms that are cold.
  7. First day at dorm/apartment meet EVERYONE on your floor. Go knock and introduce yourself, ask about major, tell where you live, what you do. It may seem intimidating but you will not regret knowing everyone when your printer runs out of ink last minute.
  8. Meet your RA and treat everyone nice, always say hi. I had a computer science/ philosophy major neighbor who I had nothing in common with but made friends with anyways. Saved me when computer messed up during finals.
  9. Walk to class if possible, adds up to a great amount of exercise.
  10. MEET YOUR TEACHERS AND TAs. Grading is an inexact science, use personal relationships to your benefit.
  11. Learn how to write e-mails. Don’t use shortcuts, (almost always) address it with “Professor Blank:”.
  12. Find an organization, whether it’s a major group, fraternity, sports team, whatever it is, great to have a group.
  13. Don’t eat while studying, drink ice water. Keeps you hydrated and limits useless calories.
  14. A great healthy meal that can be made in 45 seconds: protein scoop with water. I recommend Syntha 6 Chocolate Milkshake.
  15. Be a good roommate: clean up after yourself, don’t complain, and always offer to help out with chores. Good relations can literally change your year.
  16. Download audiobooks you can listen to on way to class. Vango Notes are great if your book has it.
  17. Get a pickaprof account immediately.
  18. Register on the first day you can, the earliest you can. Classes fill fast, make sure you know the classes and schedule you want.
  19. DO NOT TAKE A CLASS BEFORE 10 am unless you absolutely have to. It is not high school, you will not wake up.
  20. Go to class. Seems obvious but many students don’t. Texas tuition translates such that every class missed is equivalent of wasting $280.
  21. Plan ahead, what’s your long term goal? Find a way to make it happen.
  22. Don’t bring video games to college. Time waste to the max, there is plenty to do.
  23. Exoficcio underwear is amazing. Can be washed in the sink and dries quick. Lifesaver.
  24. Anti-wrinkle spray: also great.
  25. Don’t buy books at your campus bookstore. Use chegg.com, older friends’ books, amazon.com, Facebook marketplace, Craigslist, anything. Saves me roughly $500 a year.
  26. Get an online calendar, I recommend google calendar.
  27. If you like studying with music: pandora.com.
  28. Limit Facebook profile to friends only and don’t post stupid pictures.
  29. Have a positive attitude. I’ve bombed tests with 20’s and still made A’s in the class. Not the end of the world.
  30. Do homework that isn’t required, usually where test questions come from.
  31. Use pickaprof to figure out how tests will be. Most professors test off of lecture, some say they will, then use test bank questions straight from the book. Know their style.
  32. You can cram. Although not recommended, it is possible to make an A cramming.
  33. Try and take classes back to back and don’t take more than 12-15 hours per semester. A consistent schedule will save your life.

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* This summer, Austin is studying abroad with the University of Virginia’s Semester at Sea program. On board a ship with over 700 other college students from 300 colleges and universities, he will visit 8 countries in 67 days. To read more about the program and his experiences this summer, check out his blog: Longhorn at Sea.

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… it’s what you DO with your feelings that’s important.

This is one of my favorite quotes … And I said it! Of course, many others have said it too in some form or another (and certainly long before I ever did) but still, I’m happy I figured this one out enough to articulate it quite some time ago. I also came across the writings of John Powell quite some time ago, though they’ve sat buried on my bookshelves for many years. I remember reading him back in my early 20’s, and found him wonderfully wise even then. Nearly three decades later, I ran across one of his books and pulled it out to read. His piece below illustrates “MY” quote perfectly 😛 I am happy to say his books are still available. Little wonder really, his insights remain timeless.

The Fully Human Person is an Actor, not a Reactor

Sydney Harris, the syndicated columnist, tells the story of accompanying his friend to a newsstand. The friend greeted the newsman very courteously, but in return received gruff and discourteous service. Accepting the newspaper that was shoved rudely in his direction, the friend of Harris politely smiled and wished the newsman a nice weekend. As the two friends walked down the street, the columnist asked:

“Does he always treat you so rudely?”

“Yes, unfortunately he does.”

“And are you always so polite and friendly to him?”

“Yes, I am.”

“Why are you so nice to him when he is so unfriendly to you?”

“Because I don’t want him to decide how I’m going to act.”

The suggestion is that “fully human” people are “their own persons,” that they do not bend to every wind which blows, that they are not at the mercy of all the pettiness, the meanness, the impatience and anger of others. Atmospheres do not transform them as much as they transform their atmospheres.

Most of us, unfortunately, feel like a floating boat the mercy of the winds and waves. We have not ballast when the winds rage and waves churn. We say things like: “He made me so mad.” “You really get to me.” “Her remark embarrassed me terribly.” “This weather really depresses me.” “This job really bores me.” “The very sight of him saddens me.”

Note that all these things are doing something to me and to my emotions. I have nothing to say about my anger, depression, sadness, and so on. And like everyone else we are content to blame others, circumstances, and bad luck. Fully human people, as Shakespeare puts it in Julius Caesar, know that “the fault, dear Brutus, is not with our stars, but with ourselves.” We must learn that we can rise above the dust of daily battle that chokes and blinds so many of us. This is precisely what is asked of us in the process of growth as a person.

There is nothing implied here that suggests repression of emotions or that denies the fullness of life in our senses and emotions. The suggestion is rather of balance and integration of emotions. In fully alive human beings, there can be no such thing as either deadening or unconditionally surrendering to the senses or emotions.

Fully alive people listen to, are attuned to their senses and emotions. However, surrendering to them would imply abdication of intellect and choice. These are the precise powers that make human beings more than brute animals, though a little less than the angels.”

From Why Am I Afraid to Tell You Who I Am? Insights into Personal Growth by John Powell

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Most of us would agree that language is powerful and particularly its impact on our own ability to clearly see our own circumstances.  “Be careful what you say” is advice worth heeding, yet when we are in overwhelm, we typically describe the situation with the use of extreme words like always, never, and totally. This has a dramatic impact, and one that keeps us from clearly seeing the truth before us.

The following is an excerpt from Debbie Ford’s book Spiritual Divorce: Divorce as a Catalyst for an Extraordinary Life. Though her book was written to help people heal from divorce, her insight on getting stuck in the drama of your life is relevant to any overwhelming situation.

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Things Aren’t Always What They Seem

Divine guidance lays the foundation that gives us the support and understanding we need to begin practicing the Law of Acceptance. Acceptance is the essential ingredient that enables us to begin the healing process. We cannot accept a situation until we’re ready to look fearlessly at the facts of our circumstances. We can’t heal what we cannot see, and we can’t heal what we cannot feel. Yet too often the pain from our past and our fears of the future keep us stuck and unable to see our lives as a whole. Our blurred vision prohibits us from being in the present and opening up to higher levels of awareness. “It is only when we have the courage to face things exactly as they are, without any self-deception or illusion,” the I Ching states, “that a light will develop out of events, by which the path to success may be recognized.”

Acceptance comes when we step out of denial and judgment and are willing to see the present exactly as it exists in this moment, without any drama or story line. Drama keeps us stuck in an endless spiral of excuses that prevent us from being able to distinguish between fact and fantasy. Our drama serves as a defense mechanism designed to protect us from the pain of our past. When we’re caught up in our drama, we are no longer living in the present moment. Instead, we get hooked into every similar experience from our past that was left unhealed. We think we are responding to the challenges of our lives when in fact we are reacting to all of our unresolved pain.

We must realize that what is happening in this moment is calling us to heal what happened to us in the past. To break free from the confines of our story we must distinguish what is real from what is unreal. What is from the past and what is happening now? What is our present day pain and what is the unresolved pain of our past? (more…)

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Gretchen Rubin writes The Happiness Project blog, a wonderful collection of ideas on happiness which includes everyone from ancient sages to new-age gurus, spiritual advisers and pop psych touters. Rubin shares her experiences “test-driving” these ideas and has written a book which will be released sometime this year.  Earlier this week, she recapped her 10 Myths about Happiness, along with links to her thoughts on each one.

Ten Myths about Happiness — Which Do You Believe?

Each day for two weeks, I posted about Ten Happiness Myths. Today, for your reading convenience, I’m posting the entire list, with links. ~ Gretchen Rubin

No. 1: Happy people are annoying and stupid.

No. 2: Nothing changes a person’s happiness level much.

No. 3: Venting anger relieves it.images1

No. 4: You’ll be happier if you insist on “the best.”

No. 5: A “treat” will cheer you up.

No. 6: Money can’t buy happiness.

No. 7: Doing “random acts of kindness” brings happiness.

No. 8: You’ll be happy as soon as you…

No. 9: Spending some time alone will make you feel better.

No. 10: The biggest myth: It’s selfish to try to be happier.

What do you think of her list? Are there ones you’d add or modify?  Which ones strike you in some way?

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Vodpod videos no longer available.

“Late in November 2005, we concocted a crazy plan. 1) Darren Rhodes would perform every asana in the Anusara Syllabus in two days. 2) He would do all of the poses of each type (backbends, armbalancing, forward folds etc) in each level as an uninterrupted set (for Ross’ video purposes). 3) Michael would photograph every pose for output to a syllabus poster. This is some footage from the process.” ~ Ross Evans

Those of you familiar with Anusara Yoga have seen the poster. Darren Rhodes, an accomplished Anusara Yoga practitioner and certified teacher, took on the yogic task of doing every asana on all three Anusara Yoga syllabi … and that he did. Recently, I was directed to this video which was made during the photographic shoot. The beautiful background vocals are those of Darren’s wife, Bronwin. Hanuman Jai is one of ten songs available on her CD Bhavana. In 2008, Yoga Journal named Darren one their Top 21 teachers under 40 who are “shaping the future of yoga.” You can find more information about Darren, his studio in Tuscon, and his upcoming schedule at Yoga Oasis.

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Anusara Yoga Immersion with Darren Rhodes & Christina Sell in Tuscon

  • Part I – August 2009
  • Part II – October 2009
  • Part III – December 2009

For more information, contact Rachel at Yoga Oasis

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  • Read Darren’s approach to Hanumanasana and see more photos of him in the Pose of the Month column for Anusara Yoga’s Currents newsletter, Winter 2008 edition.
  • See photos from his workshop with Christina Sell last summer on this blog.
  • Special thanks to my friend Deirdra ~ my Twitter & Facebook friend ~ for bringing this awesome video to my attention.

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"Reflections always include light and dark" ~ Ron Box

"Reflections always include light and dark" ~ Ron Box

As those of you who read this blog regularly know, my 6-word memoir posts are part of a challenge I made to myself: could I write one a day for a whole year?  The project is nearing the halfway point. While sometimes I am less than inspired in my posts, I continue to find it an interesting and insightful. The daily discipline alone sparks my creativity, and reminds me that benefits come through regular practice ~ true in writing as well as yoga.

In addition to recording my thoughts here, I also keep a separate blog, The Pam-oirs, that is dedicated to my six word musings. There is no other writing included with the posts, just my daily reflection and an occasional related photograph. As such, comments on that site are rare, but recently I received one from Ron Box, a professional photographer in Brentwood, Tennessee:

“Just browsing through the blogosphere and your site caught my eye. Not an easy thing to do. A cool concept which you are executing beautifully.” He followed up with his own 6 word post: “Challenge creates growth we never expect.”

I told him I LIKED that and was going to have to share.  A day or two later, another message arrived.  “I just downloaded some new pictures on my blog and tried my hand at 6 word descriptions of each picture.” Be sure to check out his beautiful photography and creative captioning. Six words inspires creativity in many different forms.

Creative energy builds when we are in collaboration, whether that be with one another or the universe as a whole.

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I am your constant companion.
I am your greatest asset or heaviest burden.
I will push you up to success or down to disappointment.
I am at your command.
Half the things you do might just as well be turned over to me,
For I can do them quickly, correctly, and profitably.
I am easily managed, just be firm with me.
Those who are great, I have made great.
Those who are failures, I have made failures.
I am not a machine, though I work with the precision of a
machine and the intelligence of a person.
You can run me for profit, or you can run me for ruin.
Show me how you want it done. Educate me. Train me.
Lead me. Reward me.
And I will then…do it automatically.
I am your servant.
Who am I?
I am a habit.

Author Unknown

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By going over your day in imagination before you begin it, you can begin acting successfully at any moment.”

~ Dorthea Brande

Dorothea Brande was a well-known writer and editor in New York in the mid 1930’s.  Her book, BECOMING A WRITER (published 1934) is a staple on the bookshelves of creative writers throughout world. Her second book, Wake Up and Live (1936) sold over 2 million copies, published in 11 languages, and was even turned into a musical the following year. A recent post by Gretchen Rubin on my favorite blog, The Happiness Project, shared one of the teachings from Brande’s book: 12 Mental Exercises to Make Your Mind Keener & More Flexible. Rubin writes, “These exercises are meant to pull you out of your usual habits and to put you in situations that will demand resourcefulness and creative problem-solving. Brande argues that only by testing and stretching yourself can you develop mental strength.”

As I read through the exercises, I found myself thinking of them as a kind of yoga for the mind, mental asana of sorts. (In Becoming a Writer, Brande actually does advise practicing a meditation before a writing session.) I find these intriguing. I’ve acted on #1 from time to time, but usually with passive-aggressive motivations so I guess I need to revisit THAT one!

Summary of Dorothea Brande’s Twelve Mental Exercises

  1. Spend an hour each day without saying anything except in answer to direct questions, in the midst of the usual group, without creating the impression that you’re sulking or ill. Be as ordinary as possible. But do not volunteer remarks or try to draw out information.
  2. Think for 30 minutes a day about one subject exclusively. Start with five minutes.
  3. Write a letter without using the words I, me, mine, my.
  4. Talk for 15 minutes a day without using I, me, my, mine.
  5. Write a letter in a “successful” or placid tone. No misstatements, no lying. Look for aspects or activities that can be honestly reported that way.
  6. Pause on the threshold of any crowded room and size it up.
  7. Keep a new acquaintance talking about himself or herself without allowing him to become conscious of it. Turn back any courteous reciprocal questions in a way that your auditor doesn’t feel rebuffed.
  8. Talk exclusively about yourself and your interests without complaining, boasting, or boring your companions.
  9. Cut “I mean” or “As a matter of fact” or any other verbal mannerism out of your conversation.
  10. Plan two hours of a day and stick to the plan.
  11. Set yourself twelve tasks at random: e.g., go twenty miles from home using ordinary conveyance; go 12 hours without food; go eat a meal in the unlikelist place you can find; say nothing all day except in answer to questions; stay up all night and work.
  12. From time to time, give yourself a day when you answer “yes” to any reasonable request.

Interesting Question: Of these twelve exercises, which ones would be the most challenging for you to undertake? Why?

More Insight: Read Gretchen Rubin’s post on The Happiness Project: “Creativity: 12 Mental Exercises, Zany but Productive”

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What is The Happiness Project?

“I’m working on a book, THE HAPPINESS PROJECT — a memoir about the year I spent test-driving every principle, tip, theory, and scientific study I could find, whether from Aristotle or St. Therese or Martin Seligman or Oprah. THE HAPPINESS PROJECT will gather these rules for living and report on what works and what doesn’t. On this daily blog, I recount some of my adventures and insights as I grapple with the challenge of being happier. THE HAPPINESS PROJECT will hit the shelves in late 2009 (HarperCollins).” ~ by Gretchen Rubin

You can find a direct link to The Happiness Project, along with the daily feed, on my sidebar.

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So this week marked the end of my third month ~ 90+ days of practice. My six word memoir project has taken on a life of its own. I created a separate blog to chronicle just that exercise WHICH also includes an occasional picture. (Check out my proverbial “microblog” HERE!) I have enjoyed the momentum the project has gained, both for me personally and with other people. I have heard from several folks who have been inspired to use this exercise in their own lives ~ a couple of friends, as well as a English teacher who is using it as a writing assignment for her class. I think that’s pretty cool.

It’s becoming easier to write these snip-its, and I actually look forward to seeing “what I’m going to say,” 😀 ~ oh, so clever girl that I am! In addition to the daily exercise, at the end of each month I take a look back at see what trends and insights might be revealed. It’s almost as much fun as writing them, and today’s the day!

This Month’s Lessons

One of the things that I’ve become aware of is how “rules” can hold me up. I worry about such things as proper punctuation and word counts. (For instance, should phrases like “Farrah-Do’s” or “San Francisco” count as one word or two?) Wanting to do things “right” often keeps me from acting at all. This is true not only in a writing exercise, but in other areas of my life as well. Interestingly, this is even reflected in one of my entries: “Failure to act makes a decision.”

There were a couple of days in November that I added addendum, a second helping of 6 words for the day. I kind of see that as cheating, but have done it anyway, albeit with guilt. (Side note: Guilt is a chronic condition for me. It is funny how a small six word practice can reveal so much about your personality.)

The most important lesson this month? Just Do It! It doesn’t have to be perfect or grand, just consistent. And THAT can make all the difference. Recently, I read something about integrating a practice or habit into your life which said it’s more important to do something small regularly than to make a big effort sporadically. Certainly everyone will agree, but many (and especially those of us with “all or nothing” personalities) still fail to act. Some examples:

  • After not running for months, I start back with a 5 mile outing, and end up so sore that I don’t go out again.
  • A friend has a baby and I want to take food over, but instead of just taking something, I want to plan a big meal and end up doing nothing.
  • My disorganized office is so overwhelming that when new things come in, I don’t even try to put them away. I just add them to the piles contributing more to the chaos.

Ironically, I was thinking about yoga when I wrote: “Key to Sanity: Regular, Consistent Practice,” but REALLY it’s true for just about everything. This simple writing exercise has taught me that if you just do SOMETHING with regularity, it will start to take hold and make a difference. (It CAN keep you sane.) Whether it’s with writing, exercising, nurturing friendships, or cleaning house, just do it. In the words of Issac Newton, “A body at rest tends to stay at rest; a body in motion tends to stay in motion.” Or something like that.

Today it’s writing 6 words … Tomorrow THE OFFICE!

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November 2008

Overview: Gratitude for Family, Thanksgiving Celebration, Frustration with Disorganization

  • SportsCenter more fun when we win. (11/1/08)
  • Self-discipline is really self-love. (11/2/08)
  • I married better than my husband. (11/3/08)
  • “Yes we can!” Hope he’s right. (11/4/08) (more…)

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I received a beautiful “thank you” note from a girlfriend earlier this week. Along with her card, she included a CD of music that she thought I’d like. It contained a country song by Tracy Lawrence that I’d never heard before, even though it’s been out for awhile now.

The song “Find out Who your Friends Are” is a tribute to those people who will drop everything and come help you, the ones who’ve got your back. As I listened to the words I cried, recalling times of such grace in my own life. I am so blessed to have a few of those angels hanging with me, some who are reading this right now…

You find out who your friends are,
Somebody’s gonna drop everything,
Run out and crank up their car,
Hit the gas, get there fast,

Never stop to think
What’s in it for me, or it’s way too far
They just show on up with their big old heart…
You find out who your friends are!

There are several versions of this out on You Tube that you may find more interesting to watch than the one posted here, but I just wanted the music and words, so I picked it. Personally, I think this song would be a perfect addition to our NON yoga playlist ~ a personal nod to my extra special kulamates (and you know who you are!)



* Note: Some firewalls block YouTube, which means you won’t see anything below, but you can view all the lyrics.

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In an earlier post, I wrote about hearing Oprah discuss Wayne Dyer’s views on ego (Edging God Out). It was a fascinating piece, and I had wanted to revisit some of the points. But as I mentioned, I was unable to find what I was looking for on the internet.

My girlfriend Colleen is in the process of creating her website. Colleen is a journal workshop facilitator and spiritual counselor out in the Las Vegas area. We have been friends going on 30 years now and have this amazing connection that transcends distance. After I posted my blurb on Wayne Dyer, she followed up on her site with some details from a talk she attended where he was the speaker. COINCIDENTALLY ~ and are there any really? ~ she posted exactly what I had been searching for:

Dyer described the ego as: a false self, an illusion, a belief system, the cause of all problems, an idea about who we are. Following is a summary of the three main components of the ego:

I. I am what I accumulate. I define myself by that which I own. Consequently, the more I own, the better I feel about myself. And, the less I own, the worse I feel about myself. This results in the never-ending pursuit of more and better matter. It also contributes to how I judge others and their worth. The problem with this belief is that if I ever lose what I have… who am I?

II. I am what I do. I identify myself with the work that I do in the world. “I am a teacher.” “I am a student.” “I am a mother.” I also judge others’ worth by what they do. What happens when I can no longer do what I do? I may have an identity crisis, feel worthless… who am I?

III. I am what other people think of me. This puts my identity in the hands of others. It results in people pleasing. I am constantly motivated and affected by the reactions and opinions of others. I look outside myself for validation. What if they don’t like me… who am I?

Interesting Question: As you consider these ideas, which one of these three beliefs do you find yourself most often misled by? How would your life be different if you were able to let go of that?

***You can read Colleen’s post in its entirety from her site. ***

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As y’all know, I’m all about 6 words, one of the few times I’m able to limit myself. I have become so energized by the daily challenge that I’m building a new blog that’s dedicated just to that exercise. (More on that later.) In the meantime, the SmithMag folks who’ve promoted this idea have announced a NEW project: 6 Words to Inspire a Nation:

“SMITH is teaming up with the National Constitution Center for a new project, Six Words to Inspire a Nation, in which we ask readers and museum-goers to suggest the half-dozen words they hope to hear on January 20.

Help President-elect Obama inspire America. In six words, give him guidance. Or offer ideas for his inaugural address. Or share six memorable words for January 20th and beyond. In six words, a President can say a lot: “Malice toward none, charity for all,” “Nothing to fear but fear itself,” “Like a thousand points of light.”

We’re offering prizes and a chance to have your words displayed in a special exhibit at the museum in Philadelphia. Submit your words here. Contest ends January 5. So give your speechwriting a try.

The Six Word Memoir book was named one of the Top 100 books of 2008 by Amazon.com editors!”

So whether or not you submit any directly to the contest, please post some of your thoughts below. After all: Inspiring Minds want to Know!

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“Let’s Develop the Potential of America!”

~ Pammy

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Note: The image above is available as a poster at AllPosters.com.

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EGO: Edging God Out

Power of Intention

While listening to Oprah’s Soul Series on XM-Radio earlier this week, I heard Oprah share one of Wayne Dyer’s teachings on the ego … Think of EGO as an acronym for Edging God Out! What a succinct, easy-to-remember illustration!

Curious to learn more, I googled, “Wayne Dyer ego.” I came across an interview that Family Circle magazine conducted with Dyer about three years ago, shortly after the release of his book, The Power of Intention. I didn’t find exactly what I was looking for, but I did read an awesome description of “intention”.

“Rather than trying to control the world around us, Dyer believes we can allow our natural abilities and positive traits to emerge by tapping into what he calls the Power of Intention: the capacity for joy, creativity and kindness built into each of us.”

“Intention is not something you do,” says Dyer, “but rather a force that exists in the universe as an invisible field of energy—a power that can carry us.

Tap Into Intention

The article concluded with Dyer’s “Eight Ways to Tap into the Power of Intention and Feel Great Every Day.” There are no big surprises here really, but merely important reminders of making conscious choices of our intake. From our friends to our foods, we are influenced by what we allow in ~ into our minds, into our bodies, into our lives.

1. Make meditation a regular practice in your life. You need to take time to get quiet, to go within, and from this silence make conscious contact with the source of intention. You’re already connected to everything that you perceive as missing from your life; go with a realign.

2. Become conscious of the foods you eat. Foods high in alkalinity such as fruits, vegetables, nuts, soy, non-yeast breads and virgin olive oil are high-energy foods and will strengthen you, while highly acidic foods such as flour-based cereals, meats, dairy and sugars lower energy and will weaken you.

3. Retreat from low-energy substances. Alcohol, cigarettes, caffeine, sugar and virtually all artificial drugs, legal or otherwise, lower your body’s energy level and weaken you.

4. Become aware of the energy level of the music you listen to. Some rap music—filled with profanity and messages about killing, for example—is an energy drain, while music that has a more soothing impact on the soul has been proven to be beneficial.

5. Become aware of the energy levels of your home environment. Make your home a nurturing, cheerful and peaceful environment.

6. Reduce your exposure to low-energy commercial television. Children see 12,000 simulated murders on TV before their 14th birthday! Television news puts a heavy emphasis on the bad and the ugly, leaving out the good.

7. Enhance your energy field with photographs. Every photograph contains energy. Carry and display photos taken in moments of happiness, love and receptivity. (Pammy’s note: I really like this one, it explains a lot to me!)

8. Become conscious of the energy levels of your acquaintances, friends and extended family. Choose to be in close proximity to those who are empowering, who see the greatness in you, who feel connected to spirit.

Seven Secrets to a Joyful Life ~ Family Circle

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