Saturday, October 29, 2011

Listening to the Beat: Finding a Personal Rhythm (even--especially--in the midst of chaos)

"Self Portrait at 36" by Jessie Marianiello, Stray Dog Arts

"How strange that the nature of life is change, yet the nature of human beings is to resist change. And how ironic that the difficult times we fear might ruin us are the very ones that can break us open and help us blossom into who were were meant to be." ~Elizabeth Lesser

Somewhere along the lines I lost my footing--with a crash. In one swift moment, the world as I knew it was dumped upside down and I went tumbling right along with it. Maybe at some point you've experienced a similar sort of spill. For me, the fall came with the unexpected end of an eight year marriage. We each have a different story, but it's pretty safe to say that most of us will go through something at sometime in our life--something that causes us to break open, perhaps even fall apart. Of course, it doesn't always require a life-changing moment to cause us to lose the beat. Sometimes we simply get tripped up because there's too much going on too much of the time: the dogs are barking, the piles are piling, the phone is ringing, the bills haven't yet been paid...go ahead and insert whatever type of stress or distraction you know best. Life happens. Chaos sneaks in.

While in the midst of chaos and crisis, it's easy to lose your footing. I most certainly lost mine. And yet, somehow, I managed (however haphazardly) to find my way towards some semblance of balance between stillness and movement--it is both that I needed, after all. Sometimes, however, I was consumed by those horribly black nights when fear and uncertainty and more fear would grip me tighter than I had never before known. Those were the deepest of darkest times and it was in those moments I learned a very important question: "What will make me feel better?" The question would rise jaggedly, silently into the night. And, each time, I was met with the same answer: "Horses." With the question came an answer and with the answer came an unquestionable space of relief. Over and over I followed myself to that open space. It was a space of healing. By night, I gave myself over to my horse-filled imagination. By day, I took both big and small steps to turn those imaginings into a reality.

A simple question led me to a simple answer that led me on a month long cross-country adventure. I was in search of wild horses and, in the process, I found myself. That adventure is still playing itself out. There are still difficult days, but in all honesty, it is much easier to find my way through them. It seems strange to become so unexpectedly thankful for heartbreak, but I am. I am thankful that my world fell apart and that it forced me to break open in order to find my truest, deepest drumming rhythm once again. Still, now, I continue to ask the question. Life never stops. As Elizabeth Lesser quotes of a woman named Sharon: "Make no mistake, I still struggle. But the rewards are clear: I'm all here."

Sometimes we lose our way. Consider the break-down of "life-as-you-once-knew-it" or "life-as you-would-prefer-not-to-know-it" as an invitation to rebuild. Losing our rhythm might be a slow descent or an unexpected surprise--but finding it again is simply a way of saying yes or no to the things that matter most. It is a way of making room for a natural, more authentic, more powerful flow of energy. It is a way of getting back to our essential self, our truest form of thinking and being. Like any habit, it is a mental groove in our brain patterns. Our brain is like a record player and, believe it or not, we all have the capacity and ability to trade in our pain and discomfort with a more harmonious form of rhythm making. The trick?


Listen carefully to those glimmers and sparks. Don't question them. Instead, move in their direction. Over and over. Just keep doing it. Feel a spark? Follow it. Another spark? Act on it. Feeling a glimmer? Go for it. That bright space is an invitation to shine your brightest and every time you learn to walk towards it, rather than away from it, you'll get better at figuring out how to find more of it.

I promise.

So here's the deal...

* Don't get stuck in your head.
* Surround yourself with people who inspire you.
* Give yourself time to breathe.
* Take bubble baths, swim in rivers, give yourself over to long showers.
* Eat beautifully. Vibrant foods create vibrant cells create vibrant living create vibrant insights.
* Follow your sparks.
* Don't get bogged down by activities and projects that lack the almighty spark.
* Leave room to say YES (and that sometimes means learning when to say "no.")
* Notice what lifts your energy--follow those thoughts--that's the sound of an honest rhythm.
* Notice what brings your energy down--and then set it down, let it go, leave it quickly as possible!
* Give priority to INSPIRATION!
* Explore new roads--literally and metaphorically.
* Permit failure. After all, failure is what shows us the way towards something even better.
* Pay attention to what makes you smile.
* And laugh.
* And cry.
* Look underneath things.
* Climb to the tops of buildings and trees and mountains.
* Pay attention to your dreams--both daydreams and nightdreams.
* Get naked.
* Paint.
* Doodle.
* Dance (leting your body lead).
* Do things you've never done before.
* Be bold.
* Be brave.
* Sometimes, just be quiet.
* And never-EVER underestimate your power.

Saturday, March 5, 2011