What Is Your Stride

What is the distance between your feet as you walk? Do you take generously long strides or tentative short ones?

What do you think it says about you?

What messages are you sending to yourself?

It strikes me that there is something quite valuable to learn from spending some time observing this simple physical phenomenon.

I find that I take very long strides. I can gobble up distances quickly, especially if my pace is intentionally fast. The other day I wondered why this was. It seems to be my default. But why? And what, if anything, does it mean to me?

I had to sit with these questions.

As you probably already know, sitting with questions can be somewhat uncomfortable. I find I want to know the answers and am not always patient enough to wait. I’m inclined to want to move on to something I can solve.

Well, there’s a pretty big clue for me!

Perhaps one of the reasons I take long strides is because I am impatient. That feels very familiar to me. I think I’ve told myself this before. And this answer seems to link automatically to another insight. It’s the one about ‘running out of time’.

There is an internal time clock running in the background somewhere inside my head. It prompts me to move and suggests I need to move NOW, or risk running out of time to get done what I say I want.

And the clock is connected to a list, identifying all the tasks and accomplishments I seek to complete. Tick tock, time to move and take some more long strides.

It’s interesting to me, that when I take long strides, I find I often lose my balance. Could it get any more metaphorically obvious?

The sheer act of walking too quickly affects my balance.

Hmmm.

When I’m conscious of this, I try to slow down and shorten my stride and give myself an opportunity to consider the path I’m taking. Would it enhance my life to be more careful and more patient?

I wonder too, where am I going in such a hurry anyway?

I’m not sure exactly. And this observation feels important too.

I encourage myself to stop and sit for a while and consider. Where am I going and how do I want to get there? And how do I want to feel once I arrive? Each of these questions seems worthy of answering.

So, here’s a question for you.

What is the length of your stride?

Is it slow and thoughtful? Is it just the right amount of slow, or is it so tentative that you risk never arriving anywhere?

Does it vary? Does it change whether you’re going uphill (facing hardships or challenges) or downhill (when everything seems easy, and nothing is out of place)?

I wonder whether, like me, you’ve rarely thought about this. I wonder too, whether now that a seed has been planted, what will happen next for you?

For me, I believe it’s time for some changes.

I’m going to try to shorten my gait and stay in balance more often. I’m going to give myself a break by releasing the inner need to beat the clock ticking away inside my head. I plan on hitting the pause button, so that I can find a new sense of balance, without the misplaced belief that I will run out of time. And I’m going to pay attention to the length of my stride and listen to see if it wants to share a message with me.

Helpless

Have you ever encountered a situation where you felt absolutely helpless?

I have.

As a matter of fact, I’m feeling that way right now with my mom in the hospital, having fallen two days ago. Yesterday she had a bad reaction to a medication and when I saw her, I was shocked. Very little about her seemed normal to me and the disparity left me reeling. I tried to make sense of things.

I spoke with her doctor and nurses, looking for some reassurances. I received some but couldn’t reconcile what they said with what I was seeing.

My mind revolted.

I am used to being able to solve problems with and without others help. But, in this case, I felt ill equipped to do anything for my mom.

I’m not comfortable with this at all. It feels like the essence of helplessness to me.

And this feeling fully uncovered my need for control. I’ve become used to having at least some measure of control over my life and the things around me. And yet with this situation, I have none.

In my wisest moments I know this idea of control is a sham. At any given time, my expectations of being in charge can be shattered and reality can overcome me. I am not as helpless as a baby, but in certain situations, I feel like one.

It’s an arresting thought and one that creates deep side effects for me.

My mind struggles and my emotions are in turmoil and my body feels their dramatic effects. I wonder, where is my spirit in all of this?

Will it be a source of strength or just lie dormant?

I know I certainly need it, its healing, its centering, and its grounding wisdom. I need something within myself to hang on to, so that I don’t get swept away.

How do I reach for this, hold this?

I gently ask myself to sit back and breathe. No pattern, just breathe.

I close my eyes and allow the world to slip away and let breathing be enough.

I am all too aware I need help, not only help, but hope. More breathing.

As I breathe, I feel a little space open up inside. And within the space I feel an invitation.

Some inner wisdom comes to sit with me saying, “It’s okay to feel”. Another breath, “It’s okay to feel whatever you are feeling”. Another breath and more words of wisdom, “You are both weakness and strength. You slide along, experiencing it all, wholeness, and helplessness.”

Air moves in and out of me, following this wisdom.

“You don’t always have to be in charge or in control. It’s okay to let others have their turn.”

I’m feeling relaxation wash over me.

A realization takes hold, it’s okay to feel helpless, to be helpless, and like all other things, know that it will fade away and move beyond me.

I breathe this in and out. I can go on how

The Anatomy of Success

What was the first thing that came to your mind when you read this post title? Did you actively wonder whether you are a success in the world? Perhaps you began at once to measure and compare yourself to others who you believe are successful.

It can be quite a losing game, if you are not careful.

Maybe it would be good to back-up a bit. After all, what really is success? Do we get to choose our own definition, or do we feel obligated to use those others have created?

I’ve struggled with this concept during my life.

In my early years the expectations which defined success seemed to be easy to grasp. During my school years, it was primarily my test scores and grades and where I stacked up to the others in my classes. Sure, there were other measures, like how skilled you were in sports or music or extracurricular activities.

As time went on there was more friction involved and success became more difficult to achieve. Folks wanted to know what college you got into, what your major was, what your job prospects were, did you have a girlfriend, was it serious?

The focus seemed to be on bigger and better regardless of whether you could classify your actual anticipated outcomes.

That’s part of the problem with success. It slips away as soon as you start to accomplish it. It moves a little further from your grasp and keeps you reaching.

You think to yourself, I’m almost there and then another step appears, another task to check off.

If you are fortunate enough, you move into the business world and search for a job you hope will offer you a decent income, growth potential and a good retirement. You might get married and have children, a house, a car and go on nice vacations.

For some, these are the measures of success that matter most, and by and large, they are the ones society treats with respect.

I wanted all of these, and I am fortunate because they all came into my life. I am deeply grateful for this, for each one of these.

But do they define my success in the world? Can they? Am I not more than these?

What about our other dreams? The ones that live deep inside of us? The ones no one else can see? What about the success of these?

I care about these too.

Do you have some dreams that you want to live outside of yourself? Dreams that you want to shine?

If you do, I encourage you to breathe life into them. I also encourage you to relax all of your ideas about success.

Maybe, if you need to, write down what success would look like if you accomplished them, but then purposely set the list aside. Put it in a safe place and forget about it.

You see, dreams are different. They came with you when you arrived here on earth. They live in you but want to live outside of you. That is their great measure of success. They blossom and bear fruit and share themselves with others, perhaps far beyond your wildest imagination.

This post comes from inside of me in some previously hidden place that I wasn’t aware of until right now. It’s the same place my first book came from when it was born.

I’ve come to realize that I am a channel, a way for my inner dreams to reach the outside world. And I’ve come to realize that I profit by shifting my definition and measures of success. I try to release what the world believes and embrace what feels true to me.

When my dreams take flight, I soar with them, and they are my best version of success.

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Default Settings

I used to think that I reacted to situations one by one, and responded depending on a variety of factors. But, the more I’ve paid attention, the more I see how untrue this is.

What I actually have is a series of default settings, sort of automatic presets that kick in before I consciously think about them. It’s not that I want it this way and it often creates problems for me, prompting me to ask, “how did it get this way?”

For years, I would try to answer this and other questions aimed at explaining ‘why’? Most of these explorations failed and I found myself spending excessive amounts of time analyzing things, only to realize I couldn’t move forward, if I remained stuck in the past.

To me, it’s another version of the same dilemma, when applied to the future. I can plan and speculate all day long, but the truth is I can’t predict or experience the future before it arrives, so why try?

Okay, so what’s left?

How about accepting that my default settings exist, then see if they serve me somehow. Do they make it easier for me to cope with my life, without creating unnecessary problems? If so, perhaps I’m better off because of them, so why not keep them.

But if they don’t serve me in some way, maybe it’s time to consciously choose to either release them or to substitute new defaults for them, ones that improve my life.

But I wonder, how is this to be done?

One way comes to mind. It requires a little bit of work, but I suspect it’s well worth the time.

It involves an imaginary bell that you set to ‘ding’ every time one of your default settings gets triggered. Images often help, so imagine one of those small bells that dings when you enter a store. Pushing the door open makes it swing forward and back and ring, alerting the staff to your presence. Using this imagery and connecting it with your awareness provides an alert to you.

Here’s how it works for me.

One of my defaults is impatience. It shows up a lot, way more than I would like. If you’ve been reading my posts for a while, you already know one thing that sets it off, slow drivers. But, rest assured, there are many others; toasters that take forever to toast (only to burn it when I’m not watching), playing the game UNO, waiting for the shower to get hot enough to step under and long customer lines, to name a few.

So, let’s take long customer lines as an example.

Awareness is the key and the sooner I realize I’ve been triggered, the quicker I can adjust. And, the faster I can pull out my prepared speech. What speech, you might ask?

It’s really more a set of questions and it goes something like this (with my likely answers in parentheses).

“You see what’s happening, right? (yes) You know this situation always creates upsetting feelings for you, correct? (yes) Do you really want or need to continue experiencing this? (no) So, what other response could you choose? (ummm) Okay, I’ll help you. You could release it, telling yourself it’s not worth getting upset about. (I’ve tried that without success) Or, you could choose a new reaction (like?). You could look around your environment for something interesting, you could talk to someone, you could sing to yourself, you could close your eyes and breathe or any of a hundred other choices (do you think that would work, really?). There is one way to find out- give it a try the next time the bell dings. You can’t know if it’s worth it until you try. So, next time, listen for the ding and make a wiser choice.

Seems like a good idea to me, and maybe my impatience will get a chance to rest, opening me to new possibilities. That’s the plan.

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