You know the world is an interesting place no matter if you try to be a part of it or not. It is constant. It is moving. It is fluid. It is chaotic. It is symmetrical. It's interesting and it's all inclusive. In it, so many people seem to struggle with identity. I'm not talking about the sexual identity or ethnic identity or anything similar to those. I'm talking about the identity looking back at us in the mirror. Being comfortable with one's self.
All one has to do is open the internet and there are thousands of memes, videos, gurus and such telling you the most "bestest" way to be a better you. I mean, hell, even my blogs and post do it too. We all have a way that either works for us or we think works for us. But what is the "right" way and, more importantly, how do we know what will work for the "me" in this dance of life? It is an interesting question really. I wondered about the answer to that very question. Then, I remembered something someone said to me, "How do you always have such a great attitude and understanding with life?" As I think of the answer I realize that it's really very simple... I take a breath. I know we all take breaths. It is part of how we live. While true, those breaths are natural. We don't consciously have to do it. We don't go out of our way to make it happen (barring a medical issue) and we don't even recognize it until we can't take it. What I am talking about is a purposeful breath, or, better still, a pause to refocus ourselves. In this blog I am going to try and paint a picture of why I have a great attitude on life.
(Confession time: I started this blog several days ago and like with many of my blogs I save pictures I have taken to add to my points. This blog is not any different as I have 7 pictures saved for it. The problem? I don't remember what I initially was going to use each picture for and what point I was going to make with each. So today I am going to pick the pictures one by one and let them decide how I form this blog. Live Every Tiny Moment Exceptionally? Hell yea, let's be flexible, shall we?)
As I look at the pictures I took I can see a sequence in them and lessons to be understood in each that would represent this Take a Breath post. Without further ado lets do this.
1. The Walkway
I think about the times when life is hitting me hard. When I am not in control of where I am going or what I am doing. I seem to only have one option to go. How do I trust the person in the mirror when I am not in control of where I am going? How do I know that heading up those stairs is going to be good for me? How do I take a breath in this moment?
The truth is that many things we worry about controlling are nothing more than fallacies in our minds. We are in a constant state of unknown. Even when we think we know, that is helping build our resolve, or knowledge and our understandings of life. In times like these I slow down, take that breath, and remind myself that I don't have to rush to the top of the stairs. I just have to climb them one step at a time. The unknown isn't scary. It is exciting. When we focus on the good that can happen we start to embrace those stairs as opportunities to be taken instead of possibilities to fail. Remember, the way we approach life is the way life reacts to us.
2. The High and Low
But what if we have choices instead of that one path? What if we can take different routes BUT it is headed to the same place? As I look at this picture I remember thinking how cool it was when I took it. I thought we never know how people get to a destination be it at the top or deep down in the belly of the boat. Truth is, it doesn't matter. The destination will come. We aren't always driving the boat, steering the car or flying the plane either. Most times we are simply a passenger waiting to get off at the next stop.
How do we "Take a Breath" in this? Simple. Sit back and enjoy the ride. You aren't in control of where this proverbial ship is going, but you are in control on what you do while aboard. When we sit in the mirror and we have choices of going up or down (i.e. positive or negative) choosing the one that feels most positive is going to, more likely than not, yield better results. It is okay to want to be down below because sometimes that is where we can catch our breath. For others, going up top is the best choice. However, the truth is, each choice leads to the same place. When we realize that, we can just sit back and experience the ride. How many times can you think of when you ruminated over options only to realize they all led to the same place? How much energy is wasted on that? In this one, being comfortable with that person in the mirror is about understanding what is vexing us, what we are needing to do, and what we are wanting to do as we move forward. It's about being comfortable with making a decision and rolling with it.
3. Sunrise Flock
Sometimes the mind is full of stuff. In this case, flying geese, as the new day comes. This is the stuff we ruminate on, stress over, and allow ourselves to not only doubt what we are doing but doubt ourselves.
It's funny to think that this picture is stunning to me because I stood in front of my neighbor's yard to watch the sunrise and this flock of geese flew over. I love this photo, but in this context it isn't beauty. It is chaos of the mind. Perspective is a monster when it wants to be. In any case, back to the point. How do we "Take a Breath" when our minds are full of wayward thoughts heading into the new day?
First, you have to breathe. Yup, take that deep breath. No person in the "mirror" can fix all the problems (in this case, geese) at once. That breath allows us to sit and bring logic into the chaos. Like a multiple choice question the first thing we do is eliminate the things that don't matter or are plain wrong. You know those things we say, "What if I look foolish in this shirt?" or "I'm not good enough for this position" (that you already have) or... whatever that negative self-talk that happens. Those are useless and can be tossed aside immediately. Then, what we have are the possible answers/responses. When we take a breath we can make the chaos smaller and more manageable. How great would this morning shot be if it was simply a morning shot? I'm biased but I think pretty dang great.
4. Darkened Sun
What if it isn't geese that have the mind a flutter but the feeling or knowledge of impending darkness? What if the sun isn't reachable and the skies are ominous? How does one take a breath then? How does one even want to move towards this level of scary? Simple. Really. I am serious. Taking a breath here is very easy. How? Oh, let me share.
More often than not we focus on the dark clouds. Yet, if you look close enough, the sun is still there. In fact, it is always there. Even behind the darkest, stormiest of clouds. And in this is where it becomes easy... Breath because you know that you can deal with life and the darkness as you need. Breath because you cannot do anything about the clouds but dance in the rain, if it rains, and stay out of the lightning. When you look in the mirror, remember that what you can control is what you control, and when you cannot control it then ride the wave... just breathe.
5. Rocky Zen-like Ocean
I tell people my biggest trick to finding balance and "zen" in my life. I find my way to the water, the mountains, or simply in nature where the world. Sometimes the "Take a Breath" is taking a "me" moment and slowing down the world.
If you really want to know how to find happiness in life then learn to find peace alone. When you can sit with self and love the company it makes all those other moments easier to deal with and to keep them in perspective. Find the Zen in nature.
6. Deep-rooted Strength
A tree that is healthy will stand tall, proud and strong through most things. Its roots and trunk must be strong for it to stand the test of time. It is the same for people. In order to not only look at the person in the mirror and like him/her one must consistently do the things that one is proud of to one's self. In other words build that solid root system. It is easier to take a breath when one has a solid foundation in his/herself that limits the self-defeating questions and self-doubt. This will also make it easier to look that person in the eye, which, to be fair, is a very difficult thing for many people.
Remember, when you can look yourself in the eye, then you can look others in the eyes with confidence and truth. The best way to breathe easy is to know yourself.
7. Take Flight
If you been paying attention to my blogs, my Twitter, Instagram and Facebook you will know I have personal affection for birds of prey especially Eagles. This was a lucky shot from me noticing a juvenile Eagle in a tree. I pulled to the side of the road and aimed my cellphone at it. I snapped pic after pic and then he took off. I was literally giddy since I have been trying to capture an Eagle taking flight for years. Okay, sorry I had to tell that story. :)
The reason this picture is used is because when an Eagle takes flight it drops forward out of the tree. It has to have room for its large wing span (I assume) to get clear. It, essentially, takes a breath before it takes flight. One of the reasons you want to learn to take a breath is because it preps you for flight. Taking that leap of faith requires a deep breath. Before you start that day, or end it for that matter, look at that person in the mirror and take a breath. We fly higher, farther, and more gracefully when we do.
That is it. I've finally finished this blog. I've finally got to a point where I can tell my biz partner that it is ready for her to read. To be honest, I don't know how well it flows from beginning to end (note: The biz partner is currently wondering why I even put that in. Suck it up, April!) but what I do know is that it is important to take that breath from time to time. It will be something you won't regret making it a part of your daily self-care. LETME!