God DNA

I woke up at 3 am this morning because my new little kitties willed it to be so.

I walked through the darkness and made my way downstairs as they followed. I was on automatic again, doing my routine stuff when I opened the bathroom door and there they sat waiting for me. They looked up at me with big green eyes and I stopped and looked back at them. We made our way to my overstuffed chair in the living room and got comfortable – Onyx at my neck, Noir curled up at my feet. I listened as the slow purring started and immediately melted into the day. What a gift they have become. A gift of awakening in many ways. Their presence opened up my heart and gave me a few thoughts to share with you:

What if today you knew who you really were, where you came from, and what would make you feel connected and alive?

What if everything inside you shifted and your eyes were opened to see things as they really are…who YOU are?

What if you found a way to never be shaken from your center again – to feel so secure in the world that no matter the strength of the whirlwind circling you, you felt steadfast and immoveable even if you had to sit still with arms wrapped tightly around bruised knees, sitting on cold ground every once in a while?

I feel that way all the time.

I have a knowing inside that tells me I have “God DNA” and so do you. I’m made of the same stuff and come from the same place as joy and light and love. I am connected to all things and everyone as you are, too.

My gift is that I know it.

The ocean, the trees, the wind – they all know me, I think better than I know myself. I can feel it. On my walks or swims or even driving, when I open my spiritual eyes – the ones that have a veil over them that I have to consciously part – the world becomes a different and more real place. Everything in it is a teacher, a friend, a gift that reminds me of who I really am and why I’m here. I remember how precious and perfect each moment is, how incredible and unique every soul I meet or pass by is, and that I can deepen my joy as I choose to experience all of it as the spirit whispers how.

My challenge is that I forget that sometimes and I’m not sure how that happens. Maybe it’s supposed to be that way so that I’ll treasure remembering?

But when I remember, I feel it again. I feel the life in life. I see the beauty in the simple things. I once again know who I am.

And heaven smiles.

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What I Didn’t Expect…

Me and Meg Hansen in November 2013. Her expression is priceless! She makes me laugh so hard!

52.

I was 52,  so I chose that number as a goal.

52 Polar Plunges from November 2013 ’til June 1, 2014. And once I get a thought in my head it’s hard to ignore it or change it’s mind. I just go where it leads me and have fun with the adventure, knowing I’ll learn something along the way.

I knew something about the committment I’d made – cold water, cold air, laughing, etc. I knew about the 15 minute drive to the beach and how anxiety would sit on my lap and get heavier, the closer I got to the shore. I knew that there would be a lot that I didn’t know, like what the weather would be like on any given day, or what it would be like to walk through snow and over icy steps to get in the frigid water. I found out that life hands you the opportunity to face many “firsts”, introduce yourself, and see what you’re made of all the time, and when you least expect it.

The hardest part of this challenge (besides getting 52 dips in – that goal had to be changed to Saturdays only.) has been following through after the newness of the experience wore off.

I can handle adverse weather conditions.

I can calm my heart down so that I don’t die of a heart attack just thinking about the cold.

I have overcome my fears of being seen in a bathing suit, on camera, in video.

I’ve managed to push through the discomfort of feeling like a “pain” by sharing these weekly plunges on Facebook. (You might not “get” that one, but that’s huge for me.)

I’ve even kept to a schedule: every Saturday at 10 am, at Chappaquoit Beach. (this one is huge, too. My kids are used to me telling them that we’ll be leaving for somewhere in an hour and 10 minutes later saying, “Everyone in the car!” They hate that!) Schedules are good for things like trains, planes and classes. I like to know when something that someone has planned is going to happen. I just like the freedom of coming or going as I please. That can be annoying to some people.

I could go on, but I think I won’t. Instead, I’ll let you in on something that I didn’t expect – something that touches my heart so deeply it makes me a bit teary to think about. Something that gets me out the door every Saturday when I don’t see a reason any more, or when I just don’t feel  like going. I’ve noticed a pattern: when the newsness wears off it’s easy to forget the underlying joy that is embedded in the activity. It’s easy to say, “been there, done that, don’t need it.”

I didn’t expect to have a constant companion to come to the polar plunges. I didn’t expect there to be another person who’d depend as much on me showing up as I would her.

Every time I imagined the eight months the plunges would span, I pictured myself alone. I knew my best friend, Lisa would come when she could to cheer me on. But I never really thought anyone else would go in the water with me. And that didn’t matter. I don’t count on people to do what I do. I have fun by myself. That’s how I lnow I’m being true to myself.

But then Meg Hansen said that she wanted to try a plunge. She said she’d always wanted to try it and, “once would be enough, thank you very much!”

I will never forget that day. I sat in my Beetle at Nobska Beach with a new bag of Dove chocolates and was so nervous that I unwrapped and read all 36 messages wrapped around chocolates I didn’t eat! I sorted the messages on the wrappers into piles and finally saw her coming down the lighthouse hill, signalling my need to get out of the car and head for the water.

After answering her question, “So how do we do this?” with, “Just don’t think about it and run!” she ran and dove in with me.

(We’ve since stopped diving in because the cold is too much for the head and neck! We dip under instead.)

We had a blast as her husband looked on and captured the experience in a few photos.

And she kept showing up!

And getting in the water!

And screaming and laughing and learning with me!

I did not expect that.

This was MY “crazy”. Now it’s OUR “crazy”!

I not only had a friend in Meg, but I had a friend who seemed to sense a reason to be on the same path that I was on. There was no convincing her. She chose it and shows up because  it’s important to her in a way that only she could explain.. She’s not “supporting” me. She’s not “taking care” of me. She’s not worried about me. We are just enjoying an experience TOGETHER.

I think that there’s a lesson there. Don’t you?

Do what you love and the unexpected will blow your joy out of the water and into another realm…in whatever way it does.

For me, the unexpected was companionship, camaraderie – attracting a like-minded soul.

Don’t you just LOVE surprises?!

What If Today…You Were Addicted?

pplunge

Photo by juliedemellophotography.com  Julie is a new friend I made at the beach yesterday who just happened to be there doing what she does best – photographing nature!

“We are shaped by our thoughts; we become what we think. When the mind is pure, joy follows like a shadow that never leaves.”  Buddha

I knew the feeling. My heart had started racing as soon as I woke up yesterday morning and remembered that it was Saturday,  a polar plunge day. I sat at my desk for hours, drawing and thinking. I wasn’t scared, just anxious. But I had expected to feel that way. I had always experienced a nervous rush of emotion before I went onstage when I was a dancer, and nothing I did back then had helped alleviate those feelings that were connected to thoughts of failure – what if I trip? forget the steps? fall off the stage?. New thoughts taunted me: What if it’s too cold? <actually that was the only one I had! Looking at my phone at 4 am. and seeing that it was -4* (it eventually reached the 20’s) wasn’t helping!

When I finally got in the car at 9:30 I was on automatic. All I had to do was drive there, get in, get out and warm up. But half way to the beach a new thought came to me, “If you never got to the beach (flat tire, etc.), what would you have remembered of your morning? What’s more important, the event or the living that leads up to it? Will you always need a polar plunge?”

Hmm, I asked myself. Could it be that I could move to the next level with this experience?

So, for the rest of the drive I studied shadows and snow on trees alongside the road. I’m an artist-in-progress so I’m always trying to see things that I think I understand in a new way. Light and the way it falls on things is fascinating. So, I absorbed and learned about light…and noticed how calm I felt! And I loved it!

That’s when I KNEW… I’m not addicted to adrenaline. I’m addicted to joy and living deeply in the moment. I love getting to the place inside of me that’s calm,and full of love and awareness of what’s going on. I realized that for years, when I was going to do something stressful, I’d project myself into the future as if I was already doing that thing, and as if I’d feel all the feelings I thought I would feel doing it (we do that when we are asked to speak in public, perform, publish a blog post, show someone something we’ve created, say ‘I love you’, etc). But the truth, I found out, was that I could manage my emotions and thoughts and never go to the future again. I could stay in the moment, calm my heart down, and live with the truth of what was going on. Does that make sense?

I haven’t mastered it yet. It was a new one to me yesterday – one I had right before reaching the ocean for another cold dip. But I watched the video and saw a new me in it – a slightly less nervous version of me. I was calmer than I had been ever before.

I never know what I’ll learn from these plunges. But this lesson was powerful for me. I’d lived my life believing that I’d HAVE to take the adrenalin rush WITH some chosen experiences. CHOSEN is the key word. But that’s not true! When you choose the experience you have the power to choose your experience of it. That’s not the case when there’s an emergency OR when you aren’t aware of or care about why you’re doing things like bungee-jumping, or even polar plunges. It’s easy to become addicted to an adrelalin rush. But I, my friends, am on a path to uncover, loosen, and get rid of things that are negative and block joy. These plunges area a tool to do just that: to look closely at my thoughts and feelings while following through with a commitment to do something difficult, and to learn about how I’ve let those thoughts and feelings run my life instead of the other way around.

To wrap this up, like a body fresh from a frigid ocean, I’ve learned that adrenalin has it’s place, but in order to feel deep joy one has to find the calm and look for beauty in life to truly experience it. Adrenalin is a powerful “drug” and can actually slow down one’s journey to joy if you can’t learn to master it.

That said, the PLUNGES ARE AWESOME.

(link to the video: Jan.4, 2014 Polar Plunge  )