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The Act of Balance

The excitement was building!

My physical act of balance.

My physical act of balance.

I did it! I ran through Hero Rush (my 5 mile, 18 obstacle course) after days of rain and mud up to our ankles, and oh what a rush it was!  The photo above reveals the excitement we were all feeling before the race, and to be honest, my excitement was mixed with nerves as I had no idea what I was in for.  As it turns out, it was one big wet muddy blast!  Psychology Today recently published an article about people who are consistently curious, and present challenges in their lives, as happier than those who remain complacent.  All I can say is that I felt ecstatic for days after this last curious challenge, for many reasons.  I pushed my body to reach to the outer limits, I laughed a boatload as we slipped through the muddy ravines, and most of all, I felt joy in my heart.  When the race was over, and they pulled out the last hose to wash us all down, I danced through the water with a smile on my face and a light in my soul.  Yes, I was a giddy girl.

Horses were always my mom’s great act of curiosity. Here she is on Noble Savage in 1966.

Horses were always my mom’s great act of curiosity. Here she is on Noble Savage in 1966.

With that being said, some recent events have forced me to remember the importance of balance in our lives. The photo of me up on that high wire may be an example of a physical balancing act, but life, well, it’s one great big act of balance. We must choose what is to be a priority at any given moment.  Sometimes, it won’t be what you planned but it will be what you know in your soul is right.  Just a few days ago, we lost our beloved family dog, Ollie, and on the heels of that, my mother was in need of increased care in her assisted living facility.  Between grieving and caring for my mom, certain things have to take their place on the back burner.  I have a swim meet coming up, which I should be training for, but more important things happened to pop up on my priority scale.  After spending hours with my mom, and organizing changes for her, I was just getting ready to leave and head to swim practice when her nurse’s aide walked into the room and reported that mom had a last minute doctor’s appointment. Her aide offered to take her but I knew in my heart the right thing was for me to take her.  In setting my outer goals aside (and missing swim practice), I nurtured my inner sanctum by aligning with love.  Not to be a martyr, simply to listen to the silence of my soul and believe in my knowing.  It turned out to be a great day with mom, ending with a lovely lunch in her room.  She will be 86 years young in a couple of weeks, and I must say, it’s been a life well lived.  A woman who was extremely curious and challenged herself constantly.

Louise and I at our last swim meet together in Skaneateles, NY

Louise and I at our last swim meet together in Skaneateles, NY

And so it goes, I have my swim meet next week.  Am I physically prepared to swim my best?  Nope.  Am I okay with that?  Yep.  There’s so much in life to love and be grateful for.  Trophies and accolades are nice but the icing on the cake is giving and feeling the love that surrounds.  I plan on having a great weekend with my high school swimming bestie, Louise.  We don’t take swimming as seriously as we did in high school but we sure have a ton of fun with it.  I’m certain it will be a wonder~full weekend at her lake house this time, enjoying the views of New Hampshire, sipping a little wine, reminiscing and laughing. Lots of laughs.

A Blast From The Past!

Well, I did it.  I ventured in to my first masters swim meet and what a wondrous experience it was!  The fact that it was at my alma mater, Ithaca College, made it even sweeter.  The last time I swam in an IC pool was 30 short years ago, and needless to say, the old pool is no longer there. In its place is a brand new state of the art swimming facility, equipped with an Olympic size pool, swim tank & huge hot tub.  Nostalgia hit me big time as I read the records of the IC Bombers on the wall.  I might have been up there for a minute back in 1980. It warmed my heart to think back.  And if I quiet my mind enough, and look far into the bleachers, I think I might have seen my Dad with his old 2 hand stopwatch, yelling out my split times.  Oh the good old days.

The biggest difference I noticed with masters swimming compared to college swimming is it’s so much more FUN!  All the pressure is off and it’s more about doing your best rather than having to beat the person next to you.  Since you’re swimming alongside women and men of all different ages, shapes and sizes, according to your qualifying time, you don’t know where you’re going to place in your gender and age group, until the end.  My end resulted in 2 firsts and a 2nd in my age group.  Pretty sweet for a first meet. I very likely had the biggest smile on my face mixed with shock and wonderment while I stood at the scoreboard.  Sometimes, it’s the little things that bring the biggest feelings.

Louise and I circa 1979

Louise and I circa 1979

I’m so grateful for my friend, Louise, who has been encouraging me to take the plunge for 2 years now, around the time she started with her masters swim team.  She had expressed to me how much joy she felt swimming again, but it wasn’t until I felt the flow of practice, and excitement of the meet, mixed with the memories of what’s in my blood, that I really got it.  And a huge added perk, she will be joining me next month at my next meet.  My bestie high school friend, and swim team co-captain, swimming together once again.  What could be better than that?!  Perhaps a weekend at my cottage intermingled with hikes and savory dinners, pre-swim meet.  Oh life is good.

Friendships and Funny Bones

I asked my girls last night, “What should I write about, girlfriend fun, manifestation, or ego and attachment?”  Girlfriend fun won, hands down.  Out of the mouths of babes.  The other topics will come, but I think we all need a reminder to surround ourselves with those we love and simply insert FUN into our lives!

I recently took a weekend girlfriend trip to NYC.  How long had it been since I sang in the car at the top of my lungs?  I must say, Susie and I harmonized pretty well.  Remembering all the words to Billy Joel, Dan Fogelberg, The Eagles, just to name a few.  Red lights in the city, cell phone snapshot time!  No, not of the sights, of our own silly poses!  And it didn’t stop when we joined Marjie, more pouty face, late night silly shots to come.  We were giddy and exhausted, and yes, completely enjoying each other.  There’s something to say about friendships that bring out the “girl” in you.  It allows you to be completely free with your authentic self.  No judgment, no have-to’s or supposed-to’s, only total acceptance.  Add doses of laughter and your package is complete.

I take a “Round Robin” trip with my girlfriends from high school every year.  We call ourselves the “RR” girls.  The term came from a circle of letters we’ve sent to each other over the past 30 years.  So many ups and downs, so many wonderful memories, some wild, fun times, some sad times, but always being there for each other, no matter what.  We’ve traveled to Boston, Maine, the Finger Lakes, Lake Placid, the hills of NY, Sedona, Las Vegas, Santa Cruz, Napa, and my home.  Many hikes, hot tubs, wild rides, late night talks, and interesting meets along the way tell the tale of the depth of our friendship.

Don’t pass it by.  Call a friend today, have a laugh, remember what brought you together, and relive it!  I’m so very thankful for ALL my girlfriends and the joy they bring me.  I am blessed!  You know who you are, sending you love and kisses today and everyday! Now let’s get out and PLAY!!!  xoxoxoxoxoxo

Spontaneous Combustion

Remember to insert JOY into your life today!  Spontaneity allows the natural flow of our feelings to burst into the effervescence of life. Constraint holds its purpose in situations just as the complete release of freedom does.  Maintaining balance in your everyday existence creates a fuller, healthier you.

Open your heart, your mind, your soul, and experience the taste, the touch, the feel of life!

I Feel Good!

Whoa-oa-oa! I feel good, I knew that I would, now
I feel good, I knew that I would, now
So good, so good, I got you

Whoa! I feel nice, like sugar and spice
I feel nice, like sugar and spice
So nice, so nice, I got you

{ sax, two licks to bridge }

When I hold you in my arms
I know that I can’t do no wrong
and when I hold you in my arms
My love won’t do you no harm

and I feel nice, like sugar and spice
I feel nice, like sugar and spice
So nice, so nice, I got you

{ sax, two licks to bridge }

When I hold you in my arms
I know that I can’t do no wrong
and when I hold you in my arms
My love can’t do me no harm

and I feel nice, like sugar and spice
I feel nice, like sugar and spice
So nice, so nice, I got you

Whoa! I feel good, I knew that I would, now
I feel good, I knew that I would
So good, so good, I got you
So good, so good, I got you
So good, so good, I got you
HEY!!               ~Song by James Brown

Whenever I hear this song I want to get up and dance!  The sax sound and James Brown’s feet slippin’ and slidin’ get a soul movin’!  So good, so good, so get up and dance…

Dance with yourself in your kitchen at night

Dance with your love under the moonlight

Dance with your kids on your grassy lawn

Dance with your friends till the break of dawn

Feel the freedom as you move

Time to get up and groove….Hey!!

Play Day!

I’m meeting up with my high school bff today!  Three hour drive for each, meeting in the middle.  So much looking forward to great chat, food, shopping, laughs and fun!  We are visiting another friend from high school that we haven’t seen in (dare I say) 31 years!  I bet it will be like picking up our conversation from yesterday.  Some friendships are like that, even though you may not talk for years the comfort level never leaves.

So what are you doing today?  Get out there and PLAY!  If not today, tomorrow…don’t forget to enjoy life and all the beauty it offers.

Joie!!

Confessions of a Spa Junkie

Ok, I confess, put me in a spa full of personal pamperings and I’m like a kid in a candy store!  I’ll have one of those, two of those and five of those!  Everything about a spa rejuvenates and relaxes me, and centers my soul.  From the music to the aromatherapy to the sound of the waterfall, not to mention the amazing treatments.  Massages, facials, pedicures,  manicures and special treats like mud baths, “lavender dreams” and “the balancing waters ritual”.

That being said, it is important to keep even “healthy” activities in perspective to avoid an “unhealthy” environment.  Anything taken to an extreme can cause chaos and conflict.  If I went to the spa everyday, all day, my bank account would be empty and my family would be full of neglect.  Balance is key.

Find that something that feeds your soul.  As long as it’s a “healthy” filling and  your life is in balance, you will feel the benefits in all aspects of your daily living.  After a massage, I am so much more receptive, and kinder, to those around me.  My physical, mental, emotional and spiritual components are in sync and my intuition is clearer.  All pathways are open to the offerings of the universe.

What is it that brings a smile to your heart and a jump to your step?  Take a dip into the sweet delicacies of life and feel the freedom!

Only Your Shadow Knows….

The “shadow side” gets a bad rap in our culture.  We are expected to think, act and perform “properly” in our everyday endeavors.  People who choose to step out of the box are often frowned upon as strange or trouble makers.  I suggest that it is healthy to explore your shadow.  In the yin yang of life,  how can we have light without the dark?  How can we experience happiness without sadness?   You simply cannot experience the full impact of joy unless you have had immense emotional pain in your life.  You appreciate the abundance so much more in your life when you have had nothing.

The late Psychiatrist, Carl Jung, developed theories pertaining to one’s shadow.  He believed that “in spite of it’s function as a reservoir for human darkness, or perhaps because of this, the shadow is the seat of creativity.”  He went on to say that “everyone carries a shadow, and the less it is embodied in the individual’s conscious life, the blacker and denser it is.”

In other words, get out there and explore your shadow side!  Create and allow yourself to be whole.  Learn from your lessons as you travel your journey, no one elses, just yours.  Some of my most painful experiences in life have been my greatest gifts.  Those thoughts that you repress into your unconscious mind will inevitably push to be seen.  Don’t fight it, embrace it! The fight often causes more turmoil than the release.  Learn from it and grow into the wondrous flower you deserve to be.  The author, Anais Nin, has a beautiful quote that reads, “and the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom.”

Don’t be afraid to blossom.  Enjoy life, have fun, allow your own secret thoughts to come to you, guilt free.  Be free, express yourself, and don’t concern yourself with others opinions of you.  It’s really none of your business what they think of you anyway.  Walk your own spirit path and allow yourself to be guided.  You will find your way.

The Vertical Coffin

I once had a wise old Crone ask me, “What are you doing to make your life count?  Are you listening to your heart, your soul’s purpose, or are you just going through the motions of your daily routine?”  She then went on to say, in her firm motherly voice, that I am not to wither away in this life!  “Wake up!  Enjoy it, follow your heart, listen to your intuition, and don’t you dare let ANYONE pull you away from that!”  Words of wisdom from a woman who lived, and still lives inside of me.

Have you ever seen the movie, ‘Night of the Living Dead’?  I remember seeing it in high school with a group of my friends, and I still remember it vividly, to this day.  A cluster of people awake from the dead and are wandering aimlessly through the town.  They are alive, but dead.  And although it was kind of a creepy movie, it had a message.  So many of us appear to have no direction and feel extremely lost inside.  If you get nothing else from this post, get this, you are NEVER lost!  There is so much inside of each and every one of us!  You have to consciously look, and see, and act.  Make that choice to have joy in your life!  Instead of running that errand today, like you do everyday, go for a hike, ride your horse,  get a massage, go to a movie, go to a bookstore and sit in a big chair and read, go skiing, go to lunch with a friend, sign up for that conference, roll in the snow with your kids…whatever your heart’s desire.  That errand can wait until tomorrow, and so can your vacuum cleaner!  Your “to do” list never ends, don’t wait to finish it, break it up.

Throw down your broom and get out there and have fun!  You’ve got nothing to lose, and so much to gain.

Humor Us!

A dose of humor many times a day is one of the best remedies for an ailing heart and mind.  When you laugh, your whole attitude changes and you are suddenly catapulted to a different place in time.  So search out those activities that bring a smile to your face and a laugh to your belly!

For those of you who read my recent post, “Joie de Vivre”, you may recall my dance class and the joy it brings me.  Not only does dance bring a smile to my face but the connection with the women in my class often brings big  laughs.  This week, we’re dancing along and concentrating on our deep earthy African moves, and all of a sudden my friend yells out, “my ovary hurts”!  I’m still laughing as I write this… how does she come up with this stuff?  I’m just grateful that she does, comic relief is a beautiful thing.  Anyway, the saga continued, my other friend pulls out this little heat packet she had, hands it to my “ovary” friend who placed it over her ovary area and continued to dance!  For those of you picturing this scene, I hope you are laughing right now, and enjoying one of your daily doses, because mine is repeating on me!

So laugh, laugh, laugh, and sing, sing, sing, otherwise, none of it means a thing, thing, thing!