Connect to your Calling. Pause. Respond.
In the famous words of Gandhi: Your thoughts become your words, your words become your actions, your actions become your habits, your habits become your character, your character your destiny, your destiny, your legacy.
In other words, our thoughts, often times a by product of our feelings (or, wait, is it the chicken or the egg?!), are oh so powerful! What we think, we become! If you can see it, you can be it!
BZZZZZ. BZZZZZZ. I know, I know. There are a lot of buzzy+cliche words/the whole quote above, but just hear me out. I think we are all being asked to do a little recon right now- to perform a little CPR on our lives. Also to evaluate, re-evaluate, call into question our purpose, our Why, our way of existing. But that’s a lot. Let’s just stick to how I have learned and continue to practice CPR for now…in hopes it helps you too. And, in hopes that taking the time to write it out helps hold me accountable on the days when..accountability runnin’ low.
I grew up a dancer and an athlete- at any given time I would be carting my backpack and two+ bags around, cleats over my shoulder, dripping sweat or caked in it, moving from school, to softball or volleyball or field hockey or gymastics practice, to an audition or a jazz, tap, ballet, modern dance class or show rehearsal.
Movement has been an integral part of my life for as long as I can remember really- even as a young child I looked so forward to week day soccer practice and weekend games, to rollerblading with friends in our neighborhood, to hiking on the weekends to bond closer in with whatever sports team I was a part of. Living and leading life in motion has always been a source of joy for me. When the noise of the external wold sounds the alarm on the internal, leaving me depleted, scattered, confused- distanced from myself, I know it is time to perform recon. CPR even. CPR always leaves me feeling closer into myself and more able to show up authentically, genuinely and exist in the way that I want to for the world: as a light, and a support.
In retrospect, our lives can come that much closer into focus, I think. When I ask myself ‘how did I get here?’ and ‘does this make sense?’ and ‘what am I even doing with my life?!?!’ and ‘am i making a difference? am i adhering to my calling and at the same time granting myself the space for it to evolve? Evolving is messy; ‘am I granting the space necessary for others around me to mess up and evolve?’, I know it’s time to perform CPR. I reflect on my time as a dancer (and in so doing I am re-assured in how much I miss it and even crave it!) and I arrive at the realization that dance was a tool that helped align my body with who I wanted to be- with how I wanted to feel, what i wanted to contribute- with how I wanted to exist in the world. I wanted to feel clear minded, strong, and free, centered, connected, confident, supported– united even. So that I could be that for the rest of those in my dance troop, or those I showed up to practice with everyday. I remember this one dance I did in a show with my dance partner, Gerald (who went on to study at the NYU Tisch School of The Arts and perform in NYC- he was badass). The way he and I moved so swiftly together. Not in a romantic way, but in a truly supportive, united way. I can still sense the feeling I got from that sort of movement- that performance left me feeling like it wasn’t really a performance at all, since we both felt so…in alignment. The memory of that performance reminds me that we must first find our footing so that one day, all together, we are able coexist more peacefully. More swiftly. Magic.
While I didn’t necessarily appreciate this then in the way that I understand it now, dance was in fact, a healing tool for me. It allowed me to do a little day to day CPR- Connect to my Calling, Pause, Respond, in the midst of growing up and learning how to navigate the world, particularly socially, as a deep empath. Dance let me express my feelings through movement and in so doing, I had to confront them- befriend them even. Thank you, Dance, for teaching me how to move with, and move through from such a young age (but why didn’t you warn me it would feel so much harder as I got older?!?).
But, I also believe (again, with the help of retrospect, and also, mind training) that challenges aren’t happening to us, they are happening for us. Challenges are strengthening us and changing the material on the inside of us. They are setting us up to stand tall for whatever it is that we envision for ourselves in the future..our vision ideally in alignment with- supporting- our intention for how we want to feel, and exist in the world.
Ironically, I think it was the structure that dancing provided me with that actually allowed me, from a young age, to connect with both my calling, and that sense of freedom within. Mind Body Spirit, man. It is somethin’! Dancing allowed my middle+high school worries to flee, even if temporarily, so that I could actually listen and learn the art of discernment between all the external noise, and all that existed beneath the surface.
Fast forward some years, after many nagging efforts from my mom ‘to give yoga a try’ (having tried yoga before I did), I finally ‘tried yoga’ and sure enough…I was hooked. It was the summer going into my senior year of college after studying abroad for a semester- I was staying the summer in Madison, WI (where I went to school), at the suggestion of a boy I was super in love with, at the time. I had my car with me that summer- a luxury- but I continued frequenting Inner Fire Yoga religiously for the remainder of college by bus, and by bike. In the freakin’ Midwest cold. It was true devotion.
Inner Fire. Yoga was one of the most comparable and powerful ways, since dancing in middle school and high school, that I found to reignite myself. To transform and triumph. College boyfriend heartbreak? Exam stress? Parental discord? Frustration with the senior year job search? Feeling in the midst of an existential crisis and looking for a way out? Drink too much the night before and wake up with a massive hangover that left you feeling in the dark, in the depression chamber, even though you had a great night beforehand? Inner Fire. It was my early on devotion maybe borderline obsession with the practice of yoga that awakened me to, reminded me of, and instilled in me the need to keep. returning. To practice daily. Practicing daily might look different day to day, but It meant re-iginiting the internal spark- the flame- the light- that is too easily distanced from with the way we are often taught to exist in the world.
Whatever it is you hold for yourself. Whatever vision it is that you hold for yourself to live out your purpose, you must practice adherence to or pay your respects to that in some way shape or form, daily. While I am human, so I don’t always operate this way, I am of the belief that Each day matters. Everyday we choose. Everyday we can pick up our courage, and pick up our power. Everyday we can pick up our hope, and our love, and we welcome in the gift of the Now, of today. Of whatever moment it is that we are in. Everyday, we can turn a corner. Everyday, we can choose to be great. Even if that greatness is only visible to you- from within.
Yes, You Can. Why yes, yes, you can, because you can’t afford to Not.
Fast forward almost 10 years later and I found my way into the world of indoor cycling (from an instruction standpoint- I always appreciated it as a mode of therapy via movement as a rider). Spinning. Cycling. Stationary Bike. Going ‘nowhere’, and yet, strengthening my vision, going- being guided, guiding myself…guiding people…everywhere. Often times, hopefully, closer into themselves. Positive affirmations abound, ‘Yes You Can’ being a team favorite, there is something about powering up a steep climb or racing through mud to the end of a road that ironically, leaves you feeling lighter. You can hardly move through any of it without confronting your shit, or whatever thoughts are flurrying the mind, likely clouding it…masking your ability to re-plug into your Inner Fire. But, spinning, like dance, and like yoga, has granted me the opportunity to shift energy. And why not share, teach, spread that skill. It allows me to uncloak, de clutter, and unclip feeling…centered, strong, clear minded, confident…you know, all the things. Dancing. Yoga-ing. Spinning. They are tools for performing CPR, each in their own, complimentary ways.
I think sometimes we really struggle with Purpose (or what some might deem ‘Calling’), but I believe that we were all created with Purpose within. So much of our journey is to uncover it within ourselves, and activate it within those around us. That’s how you know the CPR is really working. When we do the practice (s), daily, that re-align us with our Why, when we are living In our Purpose-our purpose an expression of our intention- we can be the light.
And if being, providing, existing as a light unto the world isn’t our greatest contribution, I don’t know what is.
Like I said at the top, if you can see it, you can be it.