Soft Will Power

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I am strong willed. I prefer to think of this stubbornness as a super power. I’d go as far as to call it one of my greatest strengths.

As with many positive attributes, it does have a dark side I encounter once in a while.

Lets take for example my morning walks. Walking is great! Walking is healthful for body, mind and spirit! So when the temperature cooled enough last September, I headed out on my first neighborhood walk in our new home. In the beginning I had a very nice 5.5 mile loop established. Every day I’d lace up my shoes, push play on a podcast and head out into the sunshine.

Speed walking over five miles a morning should have been enough. Not for this strong willed girl. I added on a little bit at a time until the day my walk had grown to 7.5 miles. Occasionally I’d have a few muscle aches and pains, but nothing that kept me from my routine.

Pushing myself further and further while trying to increase my speed took a toll and by the end of December my left leg said “Screw this action. I’m out”. All at once I could only hobble around trying not to anger my hamstring.

I don’t deal well with being sedentary. Surely I could go for short walks once I was no longer in the hobbling category. How wrong I was.  I would gingerly go for a walk only to come home in tears.

So, I sat. I hobbled and I sat more.

I was forced to look for the lesson I had been trying to ignore. What was the universe trying to teach me this time? (The universe has seen me take my strong will and use it as a weapon on my body more than once.)

Still pondering the universe, I went on a trip to the Grand Canyon where I could only walk on the rim trail. For an avid hiker, this felt like torture. But it was during that trip I understood. By slowing down, I could really take in the magic surrounding me.

All I could do, all I needed to do, was walk slowly and allow my eyes to take it all in.

This morning I was able to walk my original 5.5 mile circle. I am overjoyed and grateful for healing and the ability to begin again. I know how lucky I am to have a healthy body. Lord knows I’ve put it through a lot, and yet it heals.

I’ll always be strong willed. If my Grandma is any indication, it will only get stronger. And I’m okay with that.

I will, however, be prepared to be soft willed once in a while.

Still learning. Still growing. Still changing.

Still just me through it all.

 

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Reaching

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Most of the time, my definition of strength is complete self reliance. Admitting I need help or attention…the epitome of weakness.

Life throws random difficulties at me and I respond by hardening my outer shell. Oh life, your parking tickets, rain, loneliness and depression can’t reach me in here. Nothing can get inside. I’ll even crawl down into this deep hole to hide from you. Nothing can harm me through my thick armor down in my dark pit.

Nobody can know I’m hiding so I smile bigger and I laugh louder. Distraction is key.

Eventually I remember I’m afraid of the dark. I don’t like being alone. I’m very brave and I’m very strong, but why wouldn’t I want my hand held? Why wouldn’t I reach out to someone who loves me and ask them to hold me up when I get too tired?

I’m still learning. I’ll always be.

But, I see my fingers stretched out in front of me more often. I see how this does not make me weak. Quite the opposite.

When my confessions are met with love and validation, when I’m bolstered by even one person who reminds me none of us are going it alone…. my heart opens and I know I’ll be okay.

And so will you.

Out of the Nest

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It’s hot. No really, I mean it’s HOT in Vientiane. Six weeks ago when I arrived, walking the city streets was easy and enjoyable as long as I had a little bottle of water with me. I could walk for hours, popping in and out of shops and markets to see as much as possible.

The heat will continue for a while. This morning I was asked via a text from home what season we are in. “Dry” was my response. “So, it’s summer?” the reply. I laughed a little to myself because I would have asked this same question before. We have two “seasons” if you can call them that. It’s going to be dry and hot and then it will be wet and hot.

The temperature hovers around 100 degrees every afternoon. When I leave the air conditioned bliss of the apartment, I’m sweating through my shirt within the first half hour.  I can carry water with me but the extreme sweltering takes it’s toll and I head home sooner than usual.

Staying close to home for so many days left me feeling as though my world had gotten very small. I’d started to forget the magnitude of where I live and what it means to me. Yesterday we were able to hire a Tuk Tuk for a ride up to a distant shop and back home. The ride was a vital reminder of the scope of Vientiane. I’m living in a world far far from anything resembling America. I was thrilled to return home with ground cinnamon. Who knew I would ever spend an entire afternoon for the luxury of cinnamon in my morning coffee.

Expanding my perspective with this long bumpy ride around the city was exactly what I needed as a bit of a reset button. I have to push myself out of the nest daily or risk regressing.

The only way I’ll learn to fly, is to continue jumping (or being shoved) out of my nest.

Anonymous Horse

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I’m striving for balance. The fine line between holding on and letting go is difficult to walk. Most days find me leaping from one side to the other never to land in the middle.

The word that defines my ultimate goal is “Equanimity”.

Equanimity (Latinæquanimitas having an even mind; aequus even animus mind/soul) is a state of psychological stability and composure which is undisturbed by experience of or exposure to emotions, pain, or other phenomena that may cause others to lose the balance of their mind.

My bizarre brain decided this word sounds like it should mean “anonymous horse”. Equine Anonymity.  I also decided that this might be the real meaning of the song “A Horse With No Name” by the band America. Maybe wandering the desert is a metaphor for stillness and balanced emotions.

I’m about to live in a mostly Buddhist country. Perhaps I’ll soak up some of the calm and mindfulness wafting off of the monks and emanating from the Temple walls. It certainly can’t hurt.

Or maybe I’ll be searching for that anonymous horse even in Laos.

………………………………………..

On the first part of the journey
I was looking at all the life
There were plants and birds and rocks and things
There was sand and hills and rings
The first thing I met was a fly with a buzz
And the sky with no clouds
The heat was hot and the ground was dry
But the air was full of sound

I’ve been through the desert on a horse with no name
It felt good to be out of the rain
In the desert you can remember your name
‘Cause there ain’t no one for to give you no pain

After two days in the desert sun
My skin began to turn red
After three days in the desert fun
I was looking at a river bed
And the story it told of a river that flowed
Made me sad to think it was dead

You see I’ve been through the desert on a horse with no name
It felt good to be out of the rain
In the desert you can remember your name
‘Cause there ain’t no one for to give you no pain

After nine days I let the horse run free
‘Cause the desert had turned to sea
There were plants and birds and rocks and things
there was sand and hills and rings
The ocean is a desert with it’s life underground
And a perfect disguise above
Under the cities lies a heart made of ground
But the humans will give no love

You see I’ve been through the desert on a horse with no name
It felt good to be out of the rain
In the desert you can remember your name
‘Cause there ain’t no one for to give you no pain

~A Horse With No Name