Who understands me but me when I say this is beautiful. When the path looks crooked and torn with rocks, stumps, roots and uneven ground. I take the first step. They say I should be afraid and not wander out too far, not go out of my comfort zone: the safety net that has become a leash tethering me to this spot training me to be okay with this small plot. They say I am reckless, foolish and asking for trouble. I lace on my sneakers and head out the door. The sunlight streams through the tree branches A lighted beam pointed toward freedom: Freedom from thinking small Lighting the path to discovering my own voice and inner strength. They say the path is dangerous. Its twists and turns unknown to an untrained eye. I do not need a compass in my pocket to show me the way. I have always known this journey. I may return to it again and again Reminding myself of my true worth. My true north is an innate part of me. It cannot be scared, beaten or numbed away. I will always resurface and be a companion and a guide to my own suffering and fears of being lost, Filled with doubt or shame, Guilty for taking the first step. I am in my corner. They say it is for my own good. It is uncomfortable to go against the grain. I show up again and again Not only to prove them wrong But to show up for me. I am on my own side and free to be me.
After morning yoga. After I’ve rearranged the furniture. I’ve cleared out space mental and physical. I welcome the movement, the sighs, the popping joints, the twists, the surprising strength. The mental games that try to take me away from the moment. When I arrive in my mind and body, I find soul full awareness. I am grateful for this body. For the time carved out just for me. There is no shame as my strong thighs hold me upright. The meanness of cultural norms in what a pose should look like what a body should look like. I honorably greet both ends of the spectrum and invite a small smile to my lips as I inhale and clear out the mental clutter once more. The morning birds are making loud short bursts even through the soft rain. They too must meet their needs and feed that hunger. It feeds my soul and theirs to find a shared delight at another glorious day to be on this earth. To occupy the same space. Breathe the same air and each feel free in our own way. Free from shame. Free from stiffness and aches. Feeling strong and in flight as I move my body just like the little birds outside my window. We may not see the sun today but we each welcome its arrival when it greets us once again.
We start out as children and young adults learning and following the footsteps of those that came before us. They made it possible for us to exist! Now it’s my turn to create my own imprint and footprints for the next generation to follow; to trust my inner wisdom; to acknowledge with gratitude all the facets of life. When I’m unsure or the path seems misguided and leading me off course, if I get still enough, the path gets illuminated before me and I can be the guidepost for those that will follow in my footsteps.
I spent the weekend on a mindfulness for mothers retreat at Copper Beech Institute in West Hartford, CT. I had so many amazing insights and breakthroughs, which can only happen when we slow down and retreat. I wrote a lot in my journal. I took full advantage of all the yoga and meditation workshops. I kept my iPhone in the drawer in my private room and I went within. The group was led by Hunter Clarke-Fields, the mindful mama mentor. You can listen to her podcast and take advantage of her free resources at: https://www.mindfulmamamentor.com/
We were a small group of nine mamas. I learned new tools and tips for my mindfulness journey. Mindfulness and meditation are not an attempt to strive, self-improve, or add to my day as another to-do. In this retreat I was reminded about my why. Why do I meditate and do yoga most days? It gives me freedom and a sense of relief, as simple and profound as that.
As the retreat was coming to a close, I still hadn’t visited the labyrinth. So it was my own personal closing ceremony to integrate the group sharing and insights. I was alone. It had snowed the day before and I had to follow the footprints that led to the labyrinth. The path in the labyrinth was gravel and not shoveled. I saw footprints in all directions within it. I was able to find the path and stay the course. At one point because of the snow, I was unsure how to get to the center. When I got still, I saw that no one had gone right and when I did, I was back on the path. My gatha or mantra came to me in the center of the labyrinth: “Peace with this, Peace within me.” I am ready to be the guidepost for those that will follow my footsteps.