nature, personal growth

Flying Above The Clouds – Navigating the Thought Storms of Life

The last time I flew on an airplane I was reminded of a simple, yet often forgotten, truth: the sky is always clear above the clouds. It was a rainy takeoff and my logical mind started listing all the reasons a few bumps and lurches didn’t mean imminent death, because as many times as I remind myself to stay in the present moment and ride the waves of life, part of me can’t help instinctively projecting worry into my future. I know enough nowadays not to give that fear-mongering voice much attention, so I did the psychological equivalent of putting my fingers in my ears and humming a tune to drown it out – I started deep breathing.

Much to my surprise, the ascent was pretty smooth as I cast furtive glances and watched droplets of water slip-slide across the tiny window. And then, as quickly as the rain raced, it stopped. We had crept above the clouds. And all I could see were blue skies.

20121002-213634.jpgThe clouds bubbled beneath us, no longer threatening stormy weather. From up above they were gorgeous as all the rest. The beauty was all in the perspective.

As a child, I’m sure most everyone played the game of trying to find shapes in the clouds. Some of us still do. Aren’t our thoughts so similar to clouds and the images we found in them long ago? Some are lingering, some are fleeting. They loom large one moment but then change so quickly as to be unrecognizable the next.

I often forget this about my thoughts. I give them such power, believe them to be true and solid, when they are actually ephemeral. I often forget there’s a blue sky of peace behind them. To get there, you have to push through the often-frightening takeoff. You must relax and keep moving through the clouds, undeterred by the bumps and detours. Often, just remembering the blue sky lies beyond gives enough courage to breathe through the thoughts and emotions that thunder and drift through your inner skies.

So today, as I look up at a sky that simply can’t make up it’s mind (one moment storms, the next pockets of blue), I smile and am glad for the reminder that, in many ways, I am like that sky. And no matter how stormy life seems, the blue sky is there whether I can see it or not. The storms shall pass. Or I shall fly above them.

And then I will kiss the sky.


nature, personal growth

Perseverance and Abundance

“Perseverance is failing 19 times and succeeding the 20th.”
Julie Andrews

Acorns blanket the ground this time of year so that I have to step carefully in certain spots on the playground so my feet aren’t carried away on some mad-scientist-squirrel acorn conveyor belt. Trust me. Its a riot. As I found myself tiptoeing through the piles the other day, I wondered why the trees have to make SO MANY. Wouldn’t a hundred suffice instead of thousands? Apparently not.

Of course, the squirrels need some, which is abundantly clear as they embark on near-suicidal missions into preschool territory to claim their nutty stash. But surely the trees aren’t really concerned about the welfare of the squirrels – its ultimately about the trees creating baby trees – and it seems to take a lot of acorns to make that happen.

Long story short, this got me thinking about ideas and perseverance. If you’re like me, you’ve been told all your life about the benefits of sticking with things, seeing them through to the end, fighting the good fight, etc. etc. etc. That’s usually the point in the conversation when I gaze out a window and start wondering how I’d survive the zombie apocalypse. But when my mind finally rejoins the discussion, I know the good-advice-givers are honestly trying to give good advice. Only problem – its half the story and doesn’t apply across all situations.

Sometimes, the best thing to do is make more seeds. Acorns. Ideas. Paths. Make lots of them. Its like brainstorming your life. Sometimes the best thing to do is to let your leaves go and put your energy into new ideas (seeds) for the future. Its difficult to know when to hold on (spring and summer) and when to let go (fall and winter) but they are equally crucial parts of the cycle of growth and abundance.

The acorns also show us that in order to truly create something new in your life, whether it be a job, a relationship, or anything else under the sun, you need to generate lots of ideas and try many new things in order to find those few that will root and grow with the ravenous energy of new life. Are there areas of your life which are stagnating? Which areas would you like to transform? How can you start generating seeds for your own life, today, that will grow into beauty tomorrow?

nature, personal growth

Be Like The Tree

“All changes, even the most longed for, have their melancholy; for what we leave behind us is a part of ourselves; we must die to one life before we can enter another.” ~ Anatole France

On the playground where I work, there is a tree in bright orange leaf right now. I’ve never noticed the tree before, but this week its putting on a show and refuses to not be noticed. In a few more weeks, it will be a skeleton of itself, bare and hunkered down for winter. It leaves me thinking about how quickly and elegantly nature changes. The trees pay attention to the length of the day by registering the amount of sunlight falling on their leaves. Once the days begin to shorten, the leaves pull in their chlorophyll, revealing the brilliant oranges and yellows that have been a part of the leaf all along. Knowing the leaf won’t survive the winter, the tree pulls back to protect itself, but not without its own unique display of beauty. It makes me wonder what we can learn from the trees.

How do you approach change in your life? If you are like me, do you sometimes resist or ignore the natural cycles in your life until you find yourself in the dead of winter wearing shorts and a tank top? You look up and say “Hey! What happened?” By that point, you have frostbite and often lose more than you would have by shedding your “leaves” at the appropriate time and strengthening yourself for the changes ahead. You’re much more vulnerable when the change is thrust upon you.

Of course, there are events in life that seem to happen from out of the blue. But there’s another lesson the trees have to teach us: pay attention. You are more intuitive and wise than you think. Signs abound if you are only open to seeing them. And once you begin to notice them, you can start to make decisions about change in your life. You start to see it coming from farther away and you begin to accept it before your life reaches a critical mass and you’re forced into a change of last resort.

Take strength from the tree. Look up as it showers you in glorious color, preparing to take the long, solitary plunge into darkness. It knows the light will come again, so now it rests, pulling strength deep within. Soon, so soon, it will emerge from its winter cocoon with a burst of new growth and abundance.

You will too.