“I am seeking. I am striving. I am in it with all my heart.”–Vincent Van Gogh
Butterflies in the stomach. That feeling you get when you are nervous, or perhaps filled with trepidation. I tend to get them a lot and I used to dread the feeling, thus making the sensation all the more intense. It has been in the last two years or so, that I am starting to think about these butterflies in a different way. Instead of thinking about them in a negative way, I welcome them. I know that I care deeply. Deep breathing, jumping up and down, looking at someone I love, or closing my eyes and thinking of a favorite memory helps to calm the butterflies. In that moment, I try to let the butterflies free.
What gives you butterflies? How do you know when you care deeply? What helps you to let butterflies fly?
Here are some things that give me butterflies:
Entering a mini-triathlon at the beginning of the summer.
Admitting that I wanted to write a book.
Taking the summer off to write short stories to fulfill that dream of a book.
Giving my heart to someone and admitting I love them.
Teaching, I have been doing it for 10 years, I think I am good at it, and I get butterflies. Every. Single. Time.
Running a race, no matter how small and low my expectations are.
Sending a dear friend a draft of a story for critique and feedback. I just returned from the post office and I’m still full of butterflies as I type this.
Swimming the first lap, as it is a new endeavor for me, until I relax into the second and third laps and beyond.
Realizing that a half marathon I registered for is less than two months away and the training is going well.
Sending a text and waiting for a response.
Applying for a dream job.
Helping a stranger pick up their dropped items.
Going to a party or dance alone.
Making a list of things I am looking forward to this fall.
Being unsure of a big decision.
Knowing that I am not playing fair.
Writing this blog entry.
Going back to work in a few days.
Moving in with my sister again.
Admitting that I am wrong.
Apologizing with the intent to make true amends.
Worrying about not being able to measure up to a task.
Admitting fragility or sensitivity.
Providing emotional support for someone else.
Failing to come through on a promise.
Sometimes the butterflies remain. Sometimes they fly free. They tell me that I am living. Their presence lets me know that I care about myself, others, and the world. Their presence tells me that I have my heart in the right place. The butterflies tell me that I have something to look forward to, and something to do.They remind me of passion and participating fully in the world.
Welcome the butterflies. Set them free when you let yourself free into the world.
“Be happy for this moment. This moment is your life.” –Omar Khayyam
Sometimes we experience time warps. Moments can feel like millennia. Seconds can fill days. Days fly by in blurs. Moments are beginnings and endings. Life is lived in those moments. What are some of those moments for you?
The moment when . . .
You look across the room to see the person you love staring at you.
The words you said hang in the air and you cannot take them back.
You did not get to say the thing that is impressed upon your heart.
The event you have been looking forward to finally takes place.
You look in the mirror and see your well-worn and well-loved spirit in your reflection.
Lunch cannot come soon enough.
It is time to fly to new opportunities and new settings.
It is time to sit back and reflect.
That feeling of dread hits you in the stomach like a brick.
You feel relief when someone comes forward to share the burden.
You take a big gasp of air, breathless from laughing.
You pause and walk away, grateful for the foresight to do so.
Your hands are covered in dirt and you are as happy as you have ever been.
They step off the train.
Strangers become friends.
Friends become strangers.
The sun sinks into the horizon.
The clap of thunder startles you.
Your head hits the pillow.
You pull off your hiking boots and socks after a long hike.
You send a loved one off to war.
You put the letter in the mail.
You pick up the phone to answer.
Your heart breaks.
Your heart becomes whole.
All of your effort and hope is not enough.
You smile at a stranger.
You bask in sunlight.
You feel your wisdom, only to rebound into foolishness.
You make a friend who will be there throughout life.
You realize love is all there is.
You let go of ego.
There seems to be no hope.
You are healed and new, broken and old.
Everything you thought you knew is no longer so.
You doubt your strength.
You help someone else.
You sink into a deep sleep.
You wake refreshed and ready.
You swat at a fly.
You hear the song that makes you remember.
You let go and dance.
You are surprised.
You say yes.
You ask the big question.
You are brave.
You stand up for someone.
You begin again.
You take a different path.
You know that some advice is given by the ones who need it most.
You realize intention and actualization are different.
You realize that some lessons are difficult to learn.
You discover someone else is fragile.
You stop trying and start being.
You realize that life is a big and beautiful mess.
“One isn’t necessarily born with courage, but one is born with potential. Without courage, we cannot practice any other virtue with consistency. We can’t be kind, true, merciful, generous, or honest.” — Maya Angelou
I wrote this two years ago, but I think these are still excellent ways to celebrate and savor the end of summer.
Originally posted on Running Into Life:
Summer is as much a season as a state of mind. Some of us tend to slow down because of the heat. Some of us slow down because that’s what we do. We might be following kids’ schedules or following the pace of our business plan. Sometimes we’re not vacationing or even slowing down, but there’s still a “summer mood” in the air. Suggestions for summer reading lists capture our attention and local festivals give new life to the “same-old, same-old” existence of every day. Summer is a mindset, even a lifestyle.
My own daily life switches very quickly from summertime to school-time and busy-time. As an environmental educator, my professional life follows the school year. This summer, I worked part-time and enjoyed a switch in my day-to-day. Making the transition back to full-time work, I want to find ways to remember the last of summer. Despite the temperatures, I will be…
View original 983 more words
This morning I woke up, a bit lethargic, but still happy to greet the day. Slow moving, but willing, I exchanged pajamas for a swimsuit, shorts, and t-shirt and grabbed keys, wallet, a towel, sunglasses, and the little plastic box that holds my swim cap and goggles. I headed to the pool where I have made a second home this summer. In the locker room, I rinsed off, shivering in the cold shower. I flip-flopped out to the pool and tossed my belongings into a lawn chair poolside. Down to my swimsuit, I sat on the edge of the concrete, legs swirling aimlessly in the water, while I tucked my short brown hair into the blue swim cap and snapped on my goggles. Then I slipped into the vivid aqua and began the quiet and contemplative 1200 yards. There is something meditative and monotonous about swimming. I had a whole lane to myself, so I did not even have to calculate my swim speed or be concerned with switching sides of a lane. I just swam. I just was. I was swimming into life, the water cloaking me.
A little over two months ago, 25 yards felt difficult, and now I can swim 48 times that distance comfortably, confident enough in my strokes and ability to get there. To swim is to glide through water. It feels weightless and freeing. Once I get in the water, it is just me. Sometimes I count, sometimes I pray. Mostly, though, I concentrate on moving. The goggles, the water, the swim cap, even my tank suit, envelop me into another world, a different existence.
When I started this blog, almost four years ago, I was eager to reclaim part of my self. I was eager to do and to be. I was eager to run and learn, instead of sit and atrophy. Time flies and a few things have changed. I am writing more. I am running more. I am living more. I am doing more. I am swimming. Some lessons, though, still elude me. I also know that the things I do and know, do not end. It is a constant process: living and learning and doing. That process is much like swimming.
I move from the crawl to the backstroke to the breaststroke. I swim 400 yards of each in a 25 yard lane. Back and forth. Back and forth. This indoor swimming pool, where I have made my summer home, always seems to be the perfect-just-right-Goldilocks temperature. The pool manager has the chemical balance figured out, because there is no piercing or burning scent of chlorine in the air. Sometimes there are other lap swimmers, sometimes there are pool walkers. In the evenings, there is an exercise class that meets in the rounded shallow recreation end of the pool. I stick to the straight lane end. I move from wall to wall, sometimes pausing for breath. Sometimes I stop to adjust my goggles or to check the time on the wall, but mostly I just touch the wall, turn around, and begin again.
Today, I prayed and thought about life in the present. I felt the joy and bliss of doing work. I saw myself writing. I saw myself running. I saw myself perhaps finally over a crush that has threatened to crush me lately. I saw myself meditating. I saw myself learning. I saw myself letting go. I saw myself with more patience. I saw myself fully living. I saw myself free.
I saw myself swimming, deep in bliss. I saw myself swimming back and forth. I saw myself right where I am. Swimming. . .into life. Swimming into being.
“When despair for the world grows in me and I wake in the night at the least sound in fear of what my life and my children’s lives may be, I go and lie down where the wood drake rests in his beauty on the water, and the great heron feeds. I come into the peace of wild things who do not tax their lives with forethought of grief. I come into the presence of still water. And I feel above me the day-blind stars waiting with their light. For a time I rest in the grace of the world, and am free.”
― Wendell Berry, Sex, Economy, Freedom, and Community: Eight Essays