The other night I went to what I call “Jersey Yoga.” It’s a bit of a tough class, but I love my friend, Renee, the instructor. I always walk away with something valuable when I go. Unlike me, Renee is extremely flexible and a teacher at heart, so teaching yoga comes easy for her, and I can tell it brings her happiness.
She started class with her thoughts about doing things that don’t come naturally. Renee talked the guitar she’s always wanted to play has carried around with her for the past 10 years. The part that made her uncomfortable was the upstroke – it was awkward for her and made want to stop trying. But Renee kept at it because she did want to learn. Recently she made a small adjustment to how she was holding the guitar that allowed the upstroke to flow comfortably and create the nice sound it was supposed to. Pressing on led to a small breakthrough that gave her great joy on her musical journey.
She shared that story with us and challenged us to be self-teachers during the class, doing things that might be uncomfortable for the possibility of that joyful breakthrough. During the class, I made small adjustments, experimenting and discovering how this old stiff body could do more. What was even cooler was watching these 2 guys practice forearm stands, and making the changes that allowed them to actually do it for the first time. I could tell they had a big sense of accomplishment.
If you keep doing what comes naturally, you will certainly find happiness, but if you can push through something uncomfortable, you may find a deeper joy to experience.
- Bernadette Peters, Natural Marketing Services
It’s funny. Every time my phone starts acting up or conks out completely, it turns out that I’m eligible for an upgrade. I hate having to learn a whole new phone each time, so I’m resistant to an upgrade until something happens. But then I’m always happy I did because the new features make my life easier and help me stay connected to those I love and the things I love.
So why am I talking about my cell phone? Because a friend of mine noticed that it is a great analogy for life!
Sometimes we have to be pushed along to whatever is next for us, and most times it comes out to be an upgrade. And during that period where you are dealing with the broken phone, waiting to get the new one and even getting used to the new one, you don’t think it will ever be as easy or enjoyable as the old phone. You just can’t see that light at the end of the tunnel and it can be painful.
When you look back at every time you have switched phones, you can’t imagine that a new one could be any better – in fact, I’ve been tempted at times to trade back to the old phone, but pushing ahead has always proven to be the best choice.
I’ve got a lot of friends who have been dealing with things that appear to be a “broken phone,” and some have shared the results of refusing to tell that story over and over and stay in that place. Instead, they noticed the amazing things happening in their lives or even their past experiences that point to goodness and joy.
While my phone is broken and I’m waiting on the upgrade, I’m encouraged by those stories and strive to find that joy and hope in my own life. The friend who coined the analogy also helped me notice the gifts in my life and although my “phone” is giving me fits at the moment, there’s so many great things I have gained as a result of having it.
Joy From A Perfect Analogy,
I love it when my sister comes to visit me. We talk about everything, and we always try to hit some tennis balls at least once while she is here. We both grew up playing tennis, so even though we are older and less fit, it all comes back to us when we are on the court. Normally, we play at the Nantahala Outdoor Center, but I heard about these great courts near the hospital and figured it would be closer.
We parked below the courts and I took our stuff up while Nadine visited the little girl’s room. As I approached, I saw the beautiful mountains surrounding the courts, and could see what I thought was newly paved courts in bright, unfaded red and green with very solid white boundary lines. I walked onto the court, looked down and asked out loud, “what is this stuff?” It was plastic mesh tiles, all arranged to look like a tennis court. Although the “lego courts” where nice and squooshy on the feet, the funny bounces and unpredictability made our game quite frustrating.
Of course we made the best of it and still enjoyed our time together. The tennis was good, not great. Next time, we’ll choose “great” by traveling a little further to the Nantahala Outdoor Center to play. But I wondered how many others drove up for the first time, saw those beautiful mountains and bright court surface, then discovered they were playing on legos. Then I also wondered how many go back again and again, enamored by the new, clean looking tiles.
I notice that we tend to do that in life too. Often, we’ll choose what looks good, rather than what is a great experience and truly brings us joy. I get that sometimes we need to settle for good, rather than great, and that’s ok. But when “great” is out there, why not go for it?
No offense to our Bryson City citizens, but after a few weeks of living here, we started to think that there were some pretty weird birds living here. There are so many “characters” and if you live or work in town, pretty much everyone knows them by description at least.
I grew up in Orlando, lived 13 years in Birmingham and the last 11 in Atlanta, so its safe to say I’ve really never experienced small town living. In fact, over the past 5 years in Atlanta, I focused my life in a small area of the east side of town which was comprised largely of my type of people – earth lovin’, beer drinking, outdoorsy hippies who own small businesses. I bet you are wondering actually how many people in Atlanta meet that particular criteria. Well, out of the 4 million people in Atlanta, believe it or not, there are a lot! And once I surrounded myself with these EL, BD, O, H, BO people, I was quite happy, enjoying life and encountering very few beings along my way who were not like me.
Well now in Bryson, yes, I immediate found earth lovin’, beer drinking, outdoorsy hippies who own or work in small businesses – all 20 of them, but I run across a whole heck of a lot of people who are NOT at all like that every day. I walk by them on my way to work, encounter them in the neighborhood, at the Ingles or at the “green cans.” Some smoke, some litter right in front of you, some sell puppies from the back of their trucks, some are high, some don’t work, and a few don’t have teeth. Some ain’t from around here, and some lived here for generations. Some run for every office imaginable, some skateboard, some shop at the Dollar General every day, some ride the train, some grunt instead of say hello, and some pass out Jesus tracts on the street. Some will engage you in conversation about their entire life in just a few moments from a town bench.
So I find that I am exposed to a more diverse community here in a town of 2,000 then I ever was in Atlanta. Yes, I would love to hang with just my top 20 peeps, but you can’t. Even in my yoga class the other day where I am surrounded by people who are all intent on the same objective, some dude busted in asking if his friend still worked there (clearly, he did not notice all the people in pigeon pose scattered on the floor of the studio).
Ultimately, here in Bryson City, you have to co-exist with those who are vastly different than you. I am noticing that my work is not only to have a positive impact, but to change from within, accepting the things that make us all unique on this huge planet. And I’m experiencing more love and acceptance for others, and I’m also more comfortable with who I am as a unique human being in this community.
Noticing the Great Big World in My Little Town,
I’m not much of a “quiet meditator” . . . I prefer the active kind where I am cycling or hiking, either by myself or thinking through something out loud with a friend. I’m not sure if that’s right or wrong, but I certainly get more epiphanies and enjoyment from my active meditation.
I’ve also been a big journaler all my life. Writing helps me process things. A few years ago, I went to a Joyce Rennolds class about “scripting.” It’s pretty simple. You script out what you want and feel the sense that you are there experiencing it as you write or re-read it. Its an amazing way to leverage the law of attraction for positive change in your life. I was so excited to learn about scripting because it is an active form of meditation.
Scripting precipitated a big decision to invest in mountain cabins with my sister 6 years ago. Scripting drove my journey to get me to those mountains full-time. And scripting continues to shape my future as I envision the next change in my life.
Recently I sat down to script about my future. I didn’t want to focus on what’s wrong right now, and I didn’t want to get attached to how I wanted things to happen, so I took a section of my current day at work that I already enjoy and built upon it in my imagination. I love the quiet morning by myself at the coffee shop preparing for the day. I love the smell of fresh ground beans, the “coffee house” music and setting up processes that will help me serve people quickly and efficiently during the morning shift. I love seeing the regulars and having their drinks or bagels started as they walk in the door. I love catching up with new friends and sharing the first moments of their day with them.
So when I sat down to script, I took that scenario and expanded it, adding specific events that would make it even better and create the future I desire. I know that the world is at work crafting the details of the next steps in my life. And it brings me joy to imagine it, even if it doesn’t play out exactly as I have scripted. Scripting helps me discover the essence of what makes me happy, and sets things in motion to bring more of it into my life. If you like a more active form of meditation, you might enjoy this process.
Barry owns “The Filling Station” deli down the street. He makes a mean Cuban and my favorite egg salad and bacon sandwich. He’s a hard worker. In fact, most of the conversations we have are short and on the run, because as you know, small business can encompass most of your life.
But the other morning Barry came into the coffee shop right before opening, and we were able to have a slightly longer conversation. Barry was lit up, even before having his caffeine. That weekend he did something that allowed him to express his creativity and passion – he catered a nice dinner for just one couple celebrating their anniversary.
Barry talked about the menu items, the special requests from his client, the way he set the table and how he was able to ready the meal and leave the couple to be alone and enjoy their wonderful date. Barry described how the clients’ wife looked at her husband, and how that warmed his heart.
It was fun to see such enthusiasm on Barry’s face and hear such passion in his words – all because he was able to express his creativity. If we could all do that from time to time, we could really make a positive impact on the world around us with our joy.
Do you express your creativity through painting, song, writing, problem-solving, gardening or a wonderful meal? Figure out what lights your fire like Barry and be sure to make time to do it.
I’ve got to tell you about Eric. He spent a whole day with me in the Cork & Bean during his family vacation. Mind you, it wasn’t his first choice. The transmission on his car went out and he was waiting for it to be fixed while the rest of the family went horseback riding. I admired him from the get-go because he wanted his family to have fun and seemed to have a pretty good attitude about waiting in the coffee shop. He had coffee, then breakfast, then later lunch, then a dessert. As the hours passed, he entertained himself on his computer and took short walks in the downtown area.
Eric is a dad and a father. I got the sense that his understanding of his purpose in those roles were to be a good provider and ensure that the family had a fun vacation. That purpose allowed him to be ok spending the day in a coffee shop.
But here’s the cool part – we ran out of tape in our pricing gun and no one could figure out how to reload it. I went down the street to see if any of the retailers had a similar gun and could show me how. A couple of the shops were closed and I didn’t want to get too far across the bridge away from the shop. On my way back, I ran into Eric during one of his short walks. I asked half-seriously if he could help. Eric immediately grabbed the gun and started fiddling with it. NOW, Eric had a greater purpose in his day. We went back into the coffee shop and he searched for YouTube videos on this particular make and model of gun. Sure enough he found one and got the gun working for us.
Now I don’t know what Eric does for a living or even the hobbies he might do for fun, but I do know that solving a problem and helping me gave him great joy. I thanked him with a bag of beans, but I’m sure he got even more satisfaction from getting the gun fixed, and possibly from telling the story later to his family (only after he listened to their stories about their horseback riding adventures).
Kudos to you, Eric. You showed me that living my purpose can help me be patient and even enjoy the things life throws at me!
As a lesbian, hippie of sorts, some of my friends were surprised to learn that I enjoy Christian music. Regardless of beliefs, the message is positive and the music itself makes me feel good. Seven years ago, my partner and I went to see Christian singer/songwriter, Jennifer Knapp play at the Tabernacle in Atlanta. Needless to say, the audience was a very different crowd from us, and we expected a laid back musical show. We were pleasantly surprised when this tattooed rocker came out and entertained us with the passion and stage talent that we really didn’t notice on her CD. We had a new respect for Jennifer as she expressed her “authentic self.”
But after that concert, Jennifer didn’t release any new music. There were no tour dates and her website lie dormant for years. Fast forward to a few months ago, my partner discovered that Jennifer Knapp was playing at Eddie’s Attic in Decatur of all places. We had to go to satisfy our curiosity. Turns out, she spent the past several years disconnecting from the Christian commercial music scene and discovering more about herself while exploring Austrailia. On stage seven years later, we witnessed even more passion and a deeper connection to her music. Jennifer still has a strong faith, but her beliefs have broadened to embrace all people and the incredible world around her. What an inspiration!
I am amazed that when a person discovers more about who they are and what brings them joy, the expression of what they do and how they impact the world is extremely powerful. I am on that journey myself, and am finding greater satisfaction when I make decisions that are in sync with my authentic self. How about you?