Your breaking point: recognize the signs

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This past year seems like it’s elapsed in a whirlwind, with my goal to pursue the power of P (peace, patience, purpose and a more passionate prayer life) being usurped by the practice of mindfulness. Which makes sense, because it’s a concept that involves each of these pursuits. This past weekend, the chance to practice mindfulness showed up in a big way: As is often the case, my plans on paper did not translate well into real time, and I quickly recognized the signs that signal my “breaking” point. Close to panic mode when the little piles and pressures in front of me become overwhelming, I turn inward and disengage. Oftentimes, this means a solitary trek into the mountains as a means of avoidance. This weekend, however, I opted to dodge all outside commitments to allow my soul to catch up to my body right where I was at. To let the day unfold with no agenda. And with no regrets.

What does your breaking point look like?

Image courtesy of Graphics Mouse at FreeDigitalPhotos.net.

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When you run out of margin: create more

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In November, my second three-year term as secretary on my neighborhood community’s HOA board of directors concludes. I’m beyond excited to allocate my extra time toward other pursuits in an already jam-packed schedule. Case in point: a goof up this past Sunday in regard to said schedule reiterates that my margin runs shallow. While I spent two hours in the mountains hiking and writing, my church peeps waited for relief at the information desk. Although written in my planner, I overlooked my commitment when organizing my morning trek. With one minute to spare, I showed up for service, located a seat and later learned I had missed my volunteer stint. Yes, I’m human, but the oversight forced me to admit I either need to a) slow down or b) color code my task list. Regardless, good riddance to crabby neighbors and hello to more time for things that thrill me. It’s about creating margin (and taking a nap or two).

What happens when you run out of margin?

Photo courtesy of nunawwoofy at FreeDigitalPhotos.net.

Walk the talk: conditioning your mind, body for success

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This past Sunday, I woke up conflicted: workout, yoga or hike? My response: When in doubt, hike it out. The moderate-to-difficult trail proved to be exactly what I needed as endurance training for an upcoming trek of mine categorized as “hard.” And, it afforded me three hours of solitude in which I mentally sketched out revisions for a book I wrote earlier this year, as well as prefaced my next work of fiction. The time I spent strategizing in the mountains served as an effective tool to condition myself for this approaching season jam-packed with writing commitments—including two back-to-back online workshops, as well as NaNoWriMo (national novel writing month)—carrying me well into the new year. Because whether it’s a hike, or a writing workshop, training and planning go hand in hand. If I’m willing to condition and equip myself on the trail, then I should do the same for my vocational aspirations. In other words: walk—or hike—the talk.

How do you “train” for success?

7 truths on and off the trail

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As I often do while hiking, I pray. I meditate. I search my soul and ask what it longs for most. I plot my goals or a story outline. While trekking through the desert this weekend, it’s as if life made a little more sense to me on and off the trail with these truths: 1) Danger is always possible: prepare for the unexpected and proceed with caution. 2) To everything there is a season, a time for every purpose under the sun. 3) Remember where you came from: embrace your roots. 4) Keep your eyes open for love: it can show up in unlikely places. 5) Obstacles [aka mountains] are inevitable: it’s our choice whether to scale or avoid them. 6) If it’s meant to be, new growth finds a way. 7) When we think we’ve made it unscathed, another obstacle looms in our path: if it’s the same one, quit going around it and tackle it head on.

Which truth(s) can you relate to everyday life?

Lean on me: finding a balance between solitude and fellowship

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I usually hike alone, using the space to reconnect with nature, to work up a sweat and to pray. This past weekend, however, I joined a group of ladies for an unhurried trek in the mountains and I gleaned a few observations along the way: 1) Circumstances might require us to slow down and come alongside others who need encouragement or a helping hand; 2) When is oftentimes less important than how we reach our destinations and 3) Although I enjoy my alone time, I believe humanity was created for fellowship and that two (or more) are better than one: if I fall, someone will be there to pick me up. Whether I fall in the literal or metaphorical sense, my friends are there to lend a hand, a hug or a compassionate ear. It’s good to enjoy our own company, it’s better to surround ourselves with a reliable tribe and it’s best to find a balance between the two.

How do you balance alone time with companionship?

Photo courtesy of Yelloo at FreeDigitalPhotos.net.

 

Change your thought patterns, change your life

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In my recent post, “Be a miracle worker…,” I list a few examples of what self-improvement might look like, and I introduce a need to focus on my personal growth. For me, this means making changes to my everyday approach to life, including a radical shift in my thought patterns. Plus, I must look at the long-term with an open mind. These aren’t new epiphanies yet, during a recent hike, they materialized in a more profound way. Every several hundred feet, I’d look up from the rock-strewn path to the cerulean skies above. The mountaintops towered over me, reminders of how tiny I am… the fragility of life. And that instead of lamenting the stumbling blocks and detours on my journey, it’s essential to express gratitude for my daily blessings. When we shift our gaze on the things we’re thankful for, we have less time to “see” the disappointments. And sometimes what we think we want is nothing compared to what awaits.

What thought pattern can you change?

No pain, no gain

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no-pain-no-gain

 

Business travel and other commitments kept me away from the hot room for days. I told a friend I looked forward to the simultaneous pleasure and pain of that evening’s practice. Not entirely familiar with Bikram yoga, he asked why I do it if it causes me pain. When I last hiked, my aching body rebelled as the wind sliced through five layers. When I write, oftentimes it’s with my own blood. So, why do we endure the physical and/or emotional pain that may accompany a strong passion(s) we entertain? Sometimes there is pain in the midst of transformation and healing. Of course, there is the adrenaline high that pushes many of us beyond our comfort zones. For me, I do what I do to face a challenge, to squeeze out every last drop of living in a particular moment. To come out a better, more complete version of me. And sometimes that might mean a skinned knee in the process.

Why do you do what you do?

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