I Am Open To The Possibilities

karen_beautiful

 “My favorite words are possibilities, opportunities and curiosity. I think if you are curious, you create opportunities, and then if you open the doors, you create possibilities.”                                           Mario Testino
 
 Last month I had written about being in a bit of a rut and how I experimented with the idea of seeing things differently.  Oh my, how much has changed by just acknowledging where I was at…
Right now I am writing this on the plane flying home from Canada where I was part of a New Thought retreat called “Circle of Love.” This was a sweet intimate retreat, led by my dear friend Rev. David Leonard and held on Vancouver Island.  I was hired to do a keynote talk, a workshop, and be part of the music team with two musicians I had heard of but did not know. Making music with strangers can be an interesting experience. I have been part of music teams that were magic, and others where the egos and diva behavior made it feel like musical hell. But this week was different. From the moment I heard these amazing musicians sing, I was hooked. Gary Lynn Floyd and Amy Bishop, who had been at this retreat before, welcomed me into their musical tribe and I was thrilled to be making music with them.
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The true “Who Knew?” moment came when we decided to try writing a song together. Within minutes we had a seed of an idea for a song and the blending of our voices, ideas, and wacky humor resulted in not one but two songs that first day. Actually the magic continued through the week, and we wound up writing 5 chants/songs together. After getting to know both of them it feels like I’m in 6th grade running in the front door and yelling, “Mom – I made two new friends in school today and we all really like each other!!!” These two people were strangers just five days ago and now I have two sweet new friendships that I get to play in a new musical sandbox with. Who knew?
The reason I wanted to write about this is to remind myself (and maybe you, too) how miracles and new possibilities can be right around the corner from where you might be feeling stuck, or depressed, or thinking that things aren’t working out for you. Just meeting these two people, and re-awakening the joy of music, has changed me. It has made me look at other areas of my life that seem like they are not working, and I find myself more willing to surrender to the process of letting go of control, trusting that things work out the way they are supposed to, and that it all occurs in divine right timing.

Stuck!

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Stuck
 
“Being stuck in the rut, doing the same old routines and not accepting the opportunities that arise, is like eating left-overs even though there is fresh food available to be cooked.”     Ronni Manoa-Hofbauer
“If the only prayer you ever say in your entire life is thank you, it will be enough.”     Meister Eckhart

I have been in a bit of a rut, feeling kind of stuck. Even though things are okay in my life, I’m just kind of in a rut. Do you ever feel that? I have been traveling a lot this summer and having wonderful events, meeting great people

– but when I came home from my last trip I found myself just feeling kind of blah. Maybe some of it is because I was tired from all the travel, but I was also feeling like I was back in the same routines, and tired of feeling overwhelmed by my “to do” lists.

Luckily I was able to have a breath of fresh air and insight come to me. Visitors! Yep, I had some friends and family visiting over the summer and there is nothing like seeing your life through other people’s eyes. My home, where I keep seeing all the things that should be done, was seen through my friends’ eyes as a sanctuary. My routines that had felt boring were reframed by them as exciting and creative.  This summer I co-facilitated a women’s retreat at Unity Village with my friend Lori Sandstrom. Lori challenged all of us on the first night to see our lives and this retreat with “new eyes.” What a concept – to re-look and re-think about the places in my life through “new eyes” in order to keep it fresh and new.  I also realized this “stuck” feeling was my soul calling out to me to really look at the places and situations that were not really working for me anymore and to start telling the truth about them.
So I started playing the “new eyes” game in my life to see what would happen. I started with the simplest things:
Driving a different way home.
Going through my clothes and getting rid things that felt tired and boring.
I had dinner with a friend in San Francisco and decided to take the ferry across the Bay instead of drive and be stuck in traffic – I had a blast!
I am experimenting with taking Friday mornings to do one different thing a week – walk in a new place, go out to breakfast, make a plan with a friend – but change it up every week.
All these little choices have changed me. Not in radical ways but just being grateful for my friends, my home, the area that I live, and waking up the gratitude, awe, and wonder that is always available. As my dear friends Erika Luckett and Lisa Ferraro sing in their song “Awe” – “If you’re not in awe you’re not paying attention.” I guess I just lost sight of it for a while and it feels good to be reminded.

I Can Do It!!

“The mind is the limit. As long as the mind can envision the
Screenshot 2016-08-11 18.29.52fact that you can do something, you can do it, as long as you really believe 100 percent.”
David Hockney

“If you can dream it, you can do it.”
Enzo Ferrari

It was my 10th time doing this race. The 40th annual Trans-Tahoe swim race that takes six members per team swimming next to a boat, each doing one 30 minute leg and then 10 minute legs across the 11-mile width of Lake Tahoe until you finish. It was the race that I did 30 years ago that got me hooked on cold-water swimming.

I came up to Lake Tahoe two days before Saturday’s race to acclimate to the altitude as well as the cold water, and to have a few practice swims with members of my swim team. I was nervous about the cold water due to considerable snowmelt from the winter storms we had in California, all which causes colder water in the lake. At 4:00 pm a group of us were supposed to meet at a dock and make the plunge to see how cold it would actually be. I was anxious thinking about how I had just been training in the pool but not in the San Francisco Bay and the temperature could be really shocking.

My entire inner dialog came to a halt when I saw Theo rolling up in his wheel chair, red hair blazing in the sun, with a smile and charisma that could melt a glacier. Theo St. Francis is a member of my masters swim team and an inspiration to us all. When he was 18, after years of being a star swimmer – captain of his High School swim team and a Scholastic All-American swimmer – he went off to MIT to swim for the varsity squad team. He wound up having a freak accident swimming in the ocean that left him paralyzed from the chest down. Now at 21, where others may say their life was over, Theo has demonstrated all the principals that we talk about in New Thought (especially “what you focus on grows”) and he is so focused on what he can do and what he will do that there is no room for self pity or letting life pass him by. Theo was here to train to be part of the relay swimming across Lake Tahoe.

So that afternoon, standing on the dock in front of the beautiful blue lake, all of us were on board to figure out how to get him down the dock and into the water. With the help of two strong men navigating his wheel chair down a narrow ramp, they helped him onto a little platform where he outfitted himself with a pool buoy between his legs and a blue float around his waist, and he proceeded to shimmy over to the edge and into the water. We all stood there humbled and inspired and basically let go of any small fears we had.

Theo took off doing a version of backstroke where he throws both arms over his head and was out in the 60-degree water for 30 minutes. Yes it was cold, but like Theo said to me, “I didn’t come here to swim this race to be comfortable.” I worried how we were going to get him out of the water but as he would say over and over “We’ll figure it out when we get there,” and he did.

On Saturday morning 240 small boats were lined up ready to start the race. The gun went off at 7:30am13717199_10154506110839156_3710991273743647536_o and the first swimmer from every team ran from the shore into the water. When I looked out at all the chaos that morning I thought of Theo and wondered how he was going to get in and out of the water from the boat. About two hours into the swim there he was on a boat right near ours. When he saw our team he shouted out “Game on!!” Accompanied by a bunch of his young friends, I saw them lift him over the side and he basically threw himself in the water and started swimming. He had a kayak next to him pointing the way but it didn’t matter, Theo was going to give it his all for that swim and inspire everyone that saw him that day.

Theo swimming
Every time I do any kind of performance, retreat, or talk, I always ask myself “Why am I doing this? What message will I receive? Where will the inspiration come from?” I had come up to Lake Tahoe to do this swim across the lake thinking it was all about finishing, or dealing with the cold, or testing my own endurance. But instead it was all about watching Theo overcoming all the obstacles that could have stopped him and witness him living, thriving, inspiring and showing me what is possible. His goal is to walk someday and return to MIT – and I know he will do it and more. In all the group pictures we took Theo always wanted to be standing – so we would move the wheel chair away and there he would stand – as a swimmer standing with his team.
Tahoe 2016