The Finish Line

When you get to the finish line, will you wish for more time?

I had to ask myself that question as I watched the beat of my own heart on the EKG machine. Lying in the emergency room in the middle of the night on a Thursday, I realized how precious life is. As I heard the horrible sounds emanating from other patients in deep pain, I knew I wasn’t finished yet.

Our bodies are smart. They speak to us. Quietly at first, then louder if we forget to listen.

Last week I landed on my head on a cold stone floor as my circulation collapsed into itself. The emergency technician who rushed to my aid twenty minutes later smiled warmly. It was a warmth I really needed.

When she asked if I had an allergies, I told her I am only allergic to really bad experiences. She laughed. So did I.

Seven hours and an ambulance ride later, I was released from the hospital with a clean bill of health. Stress and forgetting to eat for nine hours were the culprits.

Stress is not very Slow. Stress is silent, but its impact can be very loud. It begins and ends with our thoughts, then lands in our hearts. It can steal our quality of life if we let it.

Taking care of myself does not come naturally. I often push back my own needs to make room for others’.

Slow is about mindful living, but it is not just the mind that needs care. We need to go deeper to that sacred place in our center. We must fiercely guard our divinity, our beauty, our everything.

None of us gets out of this world alive, but we can ensure we truly live while we are here.

We owe that to ourselves and to those who love us. We really do.

Love and Magic

swanWhere there is love, there is magic.

Where there is magic, there is mystery.

Where there is mystery, there is life.

Where there is life, there is love.

Amazing how that works, right?

If you’re not feeling the yin and yang of life, just remember it is like air — it is so very obvious to our existence and yet we cannot see it. We can only see the evidence of its existence. Like up and down. In and out. Yeah and nay. Heaven and hell.

Like that.

Yin and yang are two opposites that fold into each other beautifully. They match. And they need each other to complete the circle.

Of life.

Of ferris wheels.

Of Lollipops.

Like that.

So if you are wondering where that love is and you’re just not seeing it, well, my friend, then just be it.

Be the love you seek.

And then the magic will come. Sometimes from the strangest places indeed.

And well, the rest goes without saying.

Are you with me?

The Joy Factor

What brings you joy? Do you ever ask yourself that question?

I don’t know about you, but somehow I get the sense that we place a cap on our joy, as if we aren’t allowed to be too joyful in case something goes wrong. As if we’d be hogging the joy pool or something and that we’d be cheating someone else if we had too much of it.

An innate optimist, I tend to find joy in most anything – the chirping of a bird, the smile of a French garbageman, the beam of sunlight straining through the clouds. I see joy in the howling wind (how impressive you are!) and the gleam of a freshly mopped kitchen floor.

And yet there are moments when I wonder if all this joy is rightfully mine, as if there is a finite amount of it somewhere that only a few can have at a time.

Am I overthinking this?

Whenever I share these thoughts with my German friends, they remind me that most people are envious. I hadn’t really ever thought about envy much until I moved here. It is a culturally based explanation for why most people don’t smile in the streetcar. But envious of what? That they haven’t found their own inner joy? That they think joy is reserved for someone ‘better off’? And what does being ‘better off’ really mean?

Attitude determines your altitude. Joy is free and can be found everywhere. It starts with each of us.

So let’s form an infinity pool of joy for everyone to en-joy.

Tomorrow is Valentine’s Day – for those of you who celebrate it, spread the love. And for those of you who don’t, spread the love anyway.

The world could use it. Now more than ever.

 

Your Secret Place

The holiday season is meant to be a basket of joy, but I am getting the sense that many people are more on edge than usual.

On those days when life gets out of hand, expectations mount and stress spills into your bloodstream, it is important to go to that secret place inside yourself that makes you feel whole again.

Sometimes it helps to surround yourself with beauty. Nature can do that. In fact, Nature does it without trying. It is amazing how effortlessly the sky can look like this:

FR Llama

Mundenhof, Freiburg

FR Sky

The Freiburg Sky, December 16, 2013

FR Sky with Llama

Mundenhof, Freiburg

Astounding grace! The perfection with which the Freiburg sky embroiders sunlight with cloud humbly brings me back to my secret center ~every time.

If you are getting lost in the hustle and bustle of the holiday season, go outdoors. Discover the simplicity of Nature’s call. It will help you return to that place inside that is more powerful than the sun, reminding you that who you are is more than enough.

Always.

 

Beauty in the Strangest Places

Forget the Fountain of Youth. According to Franz Kafka, “[a]nyone who keeps the ability to see beauty in every age of life really never grows old.”

If we look about us, we can find beauty everywhere ~ in the gentle lilting fluff of a six-month-old baby in the pediatrician’s waiting room; in a sonorous bird’s song in the forest; in the gleam of light that strains through the clouds for the duration of one breath on an overcast day; in a friend’s caring voice that you haven’t heard in a year.

Beauty’s triumph surrounds us every day. If we listen closely, we can hear its call. Yet, beauty, like time, is fleeting. It is for us to behold but for a moment before it retreats once again. Ephemeral beauty captivates the soul and breathes life into every one of us, if we let it.

Where do you see beauty today?

Forgiven

If you hold an eight ounce glass of water for a minute, it feels like nothing. If you hold it for a day, the weight of it can crush you.

And so it is when we carry around bad feelings. A fleeting moment of sorrow or sadness is a part of being human. But carrying the weight of those feelings for years can feel like a ton of bricks.

Forgiveness can set you free.

Forgiveness is not about accepting or embracing bad actions. It is about releasing the hold they have over you.

Forgive yourself for your wrongdoings. No one’s perfect. Including you. So you messed up. Okay. Did you learn from it? The mistakes you make give you your unique patina. Self-forgiveness is critical in letting go of negative thoughts about yourself, which, in turn, hold you hostage to making even more bad decisions.

Forgive others for their transgressions. They did what they did. Release yourself from the shackles of pain that keep you connected to the feelings about what those people did. Bless everyone. Yes, even that thorn in your side who is there to teach you something really great about yourself.

You cannot undo the past. But you can make a new future.

Today is the day we begin.

 

 

Travels to Myself

Whenever I board a plane, train or automobile to a new place, I am guided by my internal GPS. Every interaction I have or person I meet opens my eyes in new ways. I am informed by the novelty of the situation, but also by the ever-unfolding plan of the Universe that places me right in the middle of whatever I need to experience. It is particularly astounding to me how many cool people fly on airplanes.


Waiting at the Dulles International airport with Husband, I noticed a cute young couple in the corner, sharing food and body warmth as we waited to board our five-hour flight to San Diego. Husband and I had to change seats at the gate to ensure we sat together so our once randomly assigned seats were once again rearranged for that purpose. In other words, I wasn’t supposed to sit where I did, but I am so glad it worked out that way. I met the most fascinating doctor-in-training who laughed with me across the continent. When we got up to stretch our legs, I noticed the cute couple was right behind me in the next row. That’s when the girl engaged me in some small talk. It turns out she and her husband were returning from their honeymoon cruise just in time to miss Hurricane Sandy. Then, to my delight, she asked me if I might go to lunch with her.

“I just love your light,” she beamed. I beamed back and we made a date. A few days later we spent a lovely few hours together, chatting over lunch then walking on the beach. We revealed that neither one of us was supposed to be in the rows we were sitting (she was supposed to be on a different flight altogether). I shared with her the mystical-magical that we all possess. She already knew that. What impressed me most was when she said we already have everything we need. At 24 years old, she knows who she is. I was encouraged that the next generation’s consciousness will be higher than ours.

Travel brings us closer to who we are, guiding us to people of all ages and backgrounds. It shows us that no matter where we are on the planet, we expand a piece of who we are when we are engaged with each other, just like the Universe itself.

Dance in the light, my friends, wherever you are. Know that everything will work out just as it should. And that you are not alone.  Ever.

The Wisdom of the Trees

Tanja didn’t believe me at first.

“Hug a tree?” she skeptically looked at me over her steaming mug of coffee. “Alright then, Christine.” She refrained from rolling her eyes at me. For the moment.

I explained the power of trees, of their grounding nature, of their ability to speak to you if you listen closely. Tanja didn’t seem convinced, but a month or so later, she confessed that she tried it one day while traipsing through the woods.

Eyes lit with a fire I’d rarely seen before, Tanja recounted the experience.

“The tree literally talked to me,” she said in a reverent whisper. “There is wisdom in trees.”

If you haven’t paid attention to the trees in your life lately, you might want to take a look at the nearest one. How old do you think it is? In a recent visit to Switzerland, I found the most gracious giants, standing tall like sentries of a long-lost secret you can only access by hugging them tightly.

And hug them I did! This tree spoke to me in a language beyond words. Its solid grace made me bow before it. Before drawing closer, I asked its permission to give it a warm embrace. It nodded a “yes” in the wind. It told me of a time before the cemetery on which it stood was built. It told me of horses and wildlife and romantic lovers meeting under its limbs. I was astounded at the stories it told in that precious moment of connection.

Trees are the lungs of the Earth. Treat them with the respect they deserve. They are one of our greatest resources, not only for the air we breathe, but for those times of Slow that bring us back to our truest selves.

Do you doubt what I am saying? Give your neighborhood tree a squeeze. You, like Tanja, might just be surprised at what happens when you do.

Step into Your Mystical-Magical

Words touch me like fire and wind. They move my heart, my spirit, my soul. They haunt my dreams, collecting themselves in a line, pushing through my mind to be heard.

So I give voice to them however I can.

In the silence of the forest, I listen to those words whisper their truth in my ear.  They march alongside me like soldiers, stomping their feet in unison.

Whenever I express a particularly deep truth, I am moved to tears by it. Those words, so sincere, caress my very being and I can do nothing but weep. My friend, who is also as tearful as I, recently asked me why he cries so much when he’s with me.

“We step into the mystical-magical, my dear friend!” I told him. We are close to such powerful truth that it can be overwhelming and what is a mere mortal to do but to cry!?

Stepping into your mystical-magical needn’t be that dramatic. It might cause you to smile warmly to yourself as you observe a beautiful moment in time such as a small child delighting in an ice cream cone or the slant of light as it pierces the morning mist. It only requires that you look and listen closely.

Your mystical-magical is waiting for you, too, if you slow down long enough to let it in.