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Archive for November, 2013

An Attitude of Gratitude

As the days grow increasingly shorter and the nights longer now in the northern hemisphere, my mind often wanders back to the winter of 2001-02 when I lived in the wild heart of Yellowstone National Park. Nearly everything that season felt surreal at first, from riding a snowmobile and lugging my belongings to my winter home near the shore of Yellowstone Lake, to traveling over un-plowed roads over 50 miles to West Yellowstone, Montana every three weeks or so to restock on provisions. Cell phones didn’t work there, wi-fi access was sporadic and limited, and the snow piled up as winter progressed.

Ravens, bison and trumpeter swans easily and by far outnumbered my human neighbors, and a winter solstice encounter with a lone bull bison unexpectedly unleashed a floodgate of creativity, inspiration and appreciation that inexhaustibly fuels the nature connection work I continue enjoying today.

The bull bison had several battle scars on his face and flanks, revealing stories from competing with other bulls for breeding rights during the annual late summer rut, or perhaps from fending off hungry resident wolves. He seemed far more skilled than me at conserving his energy, and being fully present and patient. Perhaps this came from transforming past encounters, experiences and lessons into wisdom that helped him thrive in that moment. I thought long and hard about that as our twilight standstill continued-the bison refusing to yield his comfortable place standing in the middle of the snow-covered road, and me, fairly new to the workings of winter in Yellowstone, unsure whether or how to pass by him on snowmobile to return to my own winter home. 

Nearly twelve years later, the bison’s scars, countenance and perseverance still motivate me to bring my full talents and nature to the table of life to share with others. Earlier this fall, the calling to serve, empower and inspire even larger numbers of people to connect with the natural world and their own nature was palpably triggered by something actor Wentworth Miller shared in an Out Magazine interview:

…What you think of as scars are medals. They’re badges of honor, testifying to something inside you that is determined, tenacious and enduring…Don’t feel sorry for me. Because I know what it is to be tested. I know what it’s like to be broken and to have to pick myself up again. I know who I am in those moments and I’m stronger for it.

Twelve years since that pivotal winter in Yellowstone, I am deeply thankful to know more fully and deeply who I am and why I am here, and indeed I am stronger for it. I am grateful for the love I have given and received in my life so far, to be able to share and cultivate that love with Erik, our families, friends, neighbors, clients, customers, and everyone else we know and meet. I am thankful for everything at the table of life, and this Thanksgiving, may you also be grateful for everything as well.

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Nature, Uncertainty and Trust

Often members of our Reiki healing circle feel inspired to gift or loan others a book, a magazine, or other uplifting material. A few weeks ago I received an older copy of Tricycle Magazine, and the following passage from Joanna Macy strongly resonated with me:

With the gift of uncertainty, we can grow up and accept the rights and responsibility of planetary adulthood. Then we know fully that we belong, inextricably, to the web of life. Then we can serve it and let its strength flow through us.

Uncertainty, when accepted, sheds a bright light on the power of intention. That is what you can count on; not the outcome, but the motivation you bring, the vision you hold, the compass setting you choose to follow.

 

For much of my life, I never thought of uncertainty as a gift. I love Joanna Macy’s insight that when you accept and embrace it as a present from the Universe, it intensifies your intentions and hones your focus.Then it’s just not us out there alone doing the things we are doing, We’re calling on unseen yet palpable universal forces that guide, strengthen and amplify life endeavors, dreams, and desires.

Macy’s quote also calls out the elephant in the room- the motivations underlying our actions (or in-actions) in the first place, and often, our attachment to narrow, desired outcomes.

Do we hold back or hide, thinking that what we have to offer is not worthy or valuable to share?

Do we get hung up over whether we’ll be be accepted, understood, or approved of if we honestly and authentically express ourselves?

Do we allow perfection, procrastination, people pleasing and putting others first to be excuses for not risking or taking action at all?

Uncertainty is a force of nature. Some days the hawk goes hungry; other days it catches a mouse or a rabbit. Dormant volcano Mount St. Helens violently erupted into life in 1980. Within days, signs of new life emerged. Over the past three decades, the landscape there has continued to regenerate in a continual dance of risk and action, the outcome never quite known or finite, the only constant being change.

There’s a lot of freedom to be found in partnering with uncertainty. We invoke the best in ourselves and know that we’re not alone as we venture out into the world with our unique natural talents and gifts.

We do our best today more relaxed and trusting over how things will turn out. Hopefully, at the end of the day we also more compassionately look back and know that we did do our best, and remember there will be new opportunities to give our best tomorrow as well.

Otherwise, to quote hockey legend Wayne Gretzky, “You miss 100% of the shots you never take”.

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