Tuesday, February 24, 2015

The ability to call on courage.

I’ve thought a lot lately about the word courage. Courage is defined as the ability to confront fear, pain, or uncertainty.
Son #2 didn’t want to do a blood test this week and threw a huge fuss that had him frozen in fear. Even though chemo is over (thank God) for now, he just wasn’t sure what the nurses were doing, how long it would take, or if it would hurt. I reassured him before hand, but it was the experience of it that no words could soothe. It showed me how the fear of the unknown can paralyze, numb or make us bob up and down in a place of indecision. 
I don’t know about you but the last time I threw a fit like he did was…. yesterday. Yoga mom had to walk out of the hospital room for a few minutes to collect herself and figure out a way to communicate that calmed him, rather than making him feel more threatened. (Parenting and anger. That’s another topic all together. Please tell me I’m not alone here! I feel a bit like George in Seinfeld yelling, “serenity now!” Then, I remember to do what I tell my kids to do, just breathe.)
I’m not sure it matters how we tackle that fear or uncertainty, actually. Perhaps just allowing ourselves to wholeheartedly acknowledge and face it time and time again is what makes someone courageous. 
"I always thought courage was some kind of characteristic. I'd see people doing brave things and think "Well, they just simply have more courage than I do." But I now know that's not really true. The truth is that they call on their courage more than I call on mine. So it's not the courage one must develop, it's the calling. The ability to call. Anyone can practice this thing called calling." ~ Steve Chandler
There are so many that I know in my life who exhibit courage. A friend, uncomfortable in her own body, tried yoga for the first time and came back to try it again. My Dad, a 10 year caregiver to his wife with Alzheimer's, comes to mind. And, of course son #2. They’ve shown me how to practice the calling of courage.
Whether it’s something as life altering as chemo or simply having to start a new challenging project or even having to "speak honestly and openly about who we are and about our experiences”, if we just begin, and know it will eventually end (everything does), then we can call upon the courage to face it. Personally, when I acknowledge that fear within me and choose not to run or hide from it, I am a little stronger and more able to uncover the robust potential of love underneath.
I appreciate what Brené Brown has to say about courage: 
“Courage is a heart word. The root of the word courage is cor - the Latin word for heart. In one of its earliest forms, the word courage meant "To speak one's mind by telling all one's heart." Over time, this definition has changed, and today, we typically associate courage with heroic and brave deeds. But in my opinion, this definition fails to recognize the inner strength and level of commitment required for us to actually speak honestly and openly about who we are and about our experiences -- good and bad. Speaking from our hearts is what I think of as 'ordinary courage.'"
I hope that whatever it is you’re facing this week that you find the calling and step out with ordinary courage. You don’t have to defeat your fears — you just have to dig into a part of yourself that has always been there and allow love (of yourself) to be a little stronger than the fear. Love, I’ve found, is really the absence of fear.
Wishing you a beautiful weekend. May Valentine’s (whether you celebrate or not) be a reminder to return to loving and being more gentle with yourself. 
In love and joy, 

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Caregiver’s Wellness Retreat
For the Caregivers of Alzheimer’s: Caregiver’s Retreat near Houston, Texas, June 7th. Tools for wellness, it's free event with application. Read more here about the event and why over 20 yoga teachers and volunteers are inspired to make a difference. 

Monday, February 23, 2015

on love, compassion and courage.

It's a pretty vast cavern. That sometimes scary, sometimes euphoric space we navigate around love.

The more we love, the more courage is required. Where to gather this courage? Don't know, really. It usually arrives when I show up without agenda, compassionately.

The ability to hold love and pain together in the same moment; that is the incarnation of compassion.

Once I exhibit the courage to investigate without calculating expectations, I believe that's where I find tenderness and clarity.

I nudge forward.

Moving forward doesn't change the past or lessen my experiences. I now understand don't have to let go to grow. 

I can choose to un-dwell and view things from a sharper lens. Learning to tether my heart to myself, I am becoming steady and immovable within.

Realizing the greatest love affair of life is embracing mySelf with all it's wrinkles, crinkles, smiles, tears, joy, and pain. All of it.

And, just like that, not magically, but with consistent mindful effort, I know love is invariably worth the risk.

"I have learned not to worry about love; but to honor its coming with all my heart."~Alice Walker

MelissaSmithYoga.com and daily posts here

Monday, February 16, 2015

On Grief and Love stepping into bless us

One of my dearest friends lost her father recently and shared this quote below. Grief and death just isn't talked about much among my peers-- words of comfort or advice is usually given. Truly, until we have walked in someone else's shoes, we simply don't know everything they have been through. Any kind of loss: a loved one, a job, a marriage, a pet... brings grief, and it's process.

I'm always amazed when another layer of grief stops by to hold my hand again. This was comforting today:
"We can awaken while dying but we can also awaken while cleaning the cat sand. Perhaps the most deeply held justification we have for delaying our complete awakening is our belief that death is somehow transformational, or that our efforts to live a good life will be rewarded at that time....But what sense would it make for Love to wait for our organs to fail before stepping into bless us? It doesn't matter whether you view reported "near death experiences" scientifically or mystically, now continues to be the only time you can know God. And awareness of God is infinitely rewarding. The ego doesn't fade away merely because the body dies, and the eternal doesn't become more present after death. Why would it? Don't put off heaven. It surrounds you this very instant."~ Hugh Prather..Spiritual Notes to Myself.

"Practice dying means living as close to reality as we can in each moment. It is the ultimate bravery." This is from an earlier blog post on dying and includes a meditation that allowed me to draw awareness to releasing my fears of change that I tend to cling to.