October 2009

I’m a little geeky.  What can I say?  I love gadgets.  I crave the latest technology.  I adore my Mac.

I just can’t figure out where I got this from.  No one in my family has a technical bend, or even handyman skills.  The joke in my house growing up was if Dad would make something worse if he tried to fix it.  We were just as amazed as Billy Crystal to learn that you could program a VCR while watching another program.

Not that being geeky makes you an AV genius kodak 045or able to fix the washing machine (now that’s a good story about my Dad), or even to write code.   But I do love iWeb, Photoshop and iMovie.  Finding the coolest iPhone app is a real conquest.  It took an iPod to really get me excited about music.  I have a basement filled with out of date PCs, monitors and video equipment (but who doesn’t?).  I geo-tag my photos.  And don’t get me started on eReaders.

The worst thing about my love of gadgets is that there is always something new, something better.  It encourages consuming far more than I’d like.   And, it means that my husband thinks I should know how to hook up the new DVD player…

Brilliant.  Ground-breaking.  Our competitive advantage.

What a rush to hear such descriptives from company leaders regarding a project that I’ve put a lot of time into.  The power of praise is an incredible thing. And one that I must use much more with my own team.

But just as these simple expressions buoyed my spirits all day, a negative sentiment expressed without thought was what I focused on all night.

DSCF0413I am not alone in putting undue emphasis on small stuff at times.  More often than I’d like to admit.  How do we keep it all in perspective?  Why do we allow someone else to control how we feel about ourselves?

It’s one of the great mysteries in life.  I try to remind myself that no can alter my outlook… only I have that power.

Listening to James Taylor relaxes me.  His lyrics can inspire me, although I know his life has not always been as easy one, and I think about that when I hear his songs.

But one song that resonates strongly 100_1019with me is “The Secret O’ Life”… which James tells is us simply enjoying the passage of time.  It really should be easy, but I often find myself trying desperately to slow it down.

The secret of life is enjoying the passage of time
Any fool can do it
There ain’t nothing to it
Nobody knows how we got to
The top of the hill
But since we’re on our way down
We might as well enjoy the ride

The secret of love is in opening up your heart
It’s okay to feel afraid
But don’t let that stand in your way no
‘Cause anyone knows that love is the only road
And since we’re only here for a while yeah
Might as well show some style

Give us a smile now
Isn’t it a lovely ride
Sliding down
And gliding down
Try not to try too hard
It’s just a lovely ride

Now the thing about time is that time
Isn’t really real
It’s all on your point of view
How does it feel for you
Einstein said that he could never understand it all
Planets spinning through space
The smile upon your face

Welcome to the human race
Isn’t that a lovely ride
Sliding down
Gliding down
Try not to try too hard
It’s just a lovely ride

Isn’t that a lovely ride
Oh mama yes
See me sliding down
And gliding down
Try not to try too hard
It’s just a lovely ride

Now the secret of life is enjoying the passage of time

Observing thoughts and feelings instead of being consumed by them is an interesting thought.  A challenging practice.

In our yoga 000_0038practice tonight, we were encouraged to still our mind.  To wash out thoughts with each exhale.   Until our mind became like a lake without ripples.

What a great analogy.   An easy visualization.  Something to grasp on to when a still mind seems impossible.

I fully intended that this represent both the big and little experiences of life.  But I think I’ve failed to really capture any of the little experiences that make up everyday life.

Mostly I have focused on past experiences that have been memorable.  Certainly valid.   And I’ve noted some thoughts and inspirations I’m encountering today.  Like meditation.  Like yoga.  Like pleasant weekends.

But I’ve neglected to recognize experiences in my work life (clearly a significant portion of my waking hours) or personal life that may lack the memorable quality of other things.  But that have an impact on our lives.

This past weekend, Tom’s brother required hospitalization while on a trip.  It must have been alarming to both him and to his wife.  It undoubtedly was to us as well.

It was one of those eye opening experiences that remind us that life is short.  It made us consider our own mortality.  We don’t spend nearly enough time with those we love.  It helps to ground us in what is important.   And how to live our lives.

Vairagya a liberation and lightness as we begin to renounce the very things that have held us back.

Kino MacGregor (in her MyYogaOnline blog) commented P2161123that the driven mind directed at a task at hand is one of the most powerful tools we have to change our lives, but can get in our way at the same time.  So the question then becomes not how to rid ourselves of our desires or our drive but instead how to train our mind to work towards our desires without the unnecessary tension of attachment.  For it is often just at the moment when we truly let go that everything we want arrives with ease.

The yoga tradition teaches non-attachment, vairagya in Sanskrit, not so that you walk around in a state of emotional detachment devoid of expression, but instead so that you will know that your deepest sense of self exists outside the realm of things, goals and material success.  By practicing releasing attachments you let go of your intense identification with the world of materiality and begin to relax and play with life in a state of joy.  The odd thing is that often the moment when you experience the state of vairagya, things that you have literally been slaving for often arrive with little or no effort.  It reminds me of the character in Under the Tuscan Sun who failed miserably at her attempts to catch lady bugs — until she just laid down in the grass and fell asleep.   When she awoke she was covered with them.

The truth is that you have to practice and you have to show up for life. The truth is also that you have to exert much less effort and strain than you might otherwise think to get the results you want.

Living in another country –  immersed in another culture –   was one of the best experiences of my life.

I often thought I would have majored in International Business and made a life out of it, if I hadknow it’s effect on me.  I went to Mexico in my 30’s.  We lived there for 3 years.  I would have liked to stay longer, but my job was done.

Peach colored flowerWikipedia mentions this about “expatriates” which I find interesting:

In its broadest sense, an expatriate is any person living in a different country from where he is a citizen. In common usage, the term is often used in the context of professionals sent abroad by their companies, as opposed to locally hired staff (who can also be foreigners). The differentiation found in common usage usually comes down to socio-economic factors, so skilled professionals working in another country are described as expatriates, whereas a manual labourer who has moved to another country to earn more money might be labelled an ‘immigrant’.

Quite a difference to live in another country sponsored  by a corporation – not just of your own accord.  When we were asked to go to Mexico, we considered that it was one of the safest adventures that we could undertake.  If we didn’t like it – or if anything went wrong – the company would certainly bring us back to the US.

Aside from the wonderful cultural learnings, we also had some of the most satisfying friendships that we’ve ever had.  Twelve couples in a similar situation.  In a foreign place.  Away from other friends and family.  Learning new customs and language.  It created quite a bond between us.

Admittedly, it was a little unusual that I was the working half of our twosome.  In every other case, the wives were staying at home and starting families.  Planning lunch dates and sipping margaretas.  But on weekends, we found true compadres amongst this group.

We’ve long since dispersed throughout the world to other lives, but the memories and connection remains strong.