I’m grinding right now.
Not in a good way. I’m struggling with finding myself in a balance where I can have the impact in life I want; where I feel like I’m following my dharma: my purpose in life.
So, juxtapose that with this note I just received from an old professional colleague and friend:
Have been reading your Blogs and posts for quite some time. I feel compelled to tell you a couple of things. First is thank you. Second is I want you know that you were remarkably helpful to when I was [omitted for anonymity]. It was only 90 days but that experience, largely in part due to you, was one of the best in my life. Next your posts about authenticity strike a chord deep inside of me. I am not a Yogi, but your renewed passion in life has been inspiring. I recent attended a life changing leadership training course and am starting to understand with clarity the message you are delivering. Thank you please keep it up!
Two things jump out to me from that. One, the 90 day period he referred to was over 15 years ago. I never knew it had that kind of an impact. Talk about the power of how you choose to show up, even when you don’t even know it.
The second is connections. Something about what I’ve been saying online, even as I still struggle with and grapple with it all myself, started something in my friend. Next, a separate experience they had connected some dots to something bigger. A reminder that having an impact isn’t always about owning all of it.
Sometimes you just start a snowball rolling down the mountain; the universe takes care of the rest.
I think about that, and I think about how serious these topics can be, even as I write with a light and sarcastic heart sometimes. A number of weeks back I received a comment at this older post about my own transformation. Here’s what the comment said.
You and I work for the same company. I’ve been there more than a decade but we have never met and, honestly, I’m sorry to say I probably couldn’t have picked you out of a crowd. But reading reading your story brought tears to my eyes. Why? It’s like reading my own thoughts. My marriage is gasping it’s last breath, I’m overweight, overwhelmed, depressed and unsure of what’s around the corner or what to do next. Your story though is inspirational. It gives me hope that maybe my relationships can be saved, I can still turn things around, get back my zest for life and my health. Thank you for sharing your journey. It can’t be easy to let the public into your personal life but I want you to know that you made a difference to a stranger today.
That’s amazing. I don’t know what happened with that person. I don’t know who it is. I hope in some way things are better for them today.
Now, let’s get raw. If any one of us can have that kind of positive impact when we don’t expect to, what kind of negative impact can we have when we least expect it too?
October 11th was National Coming Out Day. A couple posts in my Facebook feed laid out some emotional issues, one with someone coming out as a transgendered male, the other with someone reflecting on a day in the past when a family member outed them for not being heterosexual…with resulting family damage that has never been repaired.
Think about the pain those individuals have experienced in their lives. We’ve all had pain. Can you imagine what theirs has been like? Why is it so hard as humans to just love one another? Why is that so fucking difficult?
How many times have we maybe said or done something that needlessly caused pain when we might have known deep down inside it may do so? How many times have we had that very same harmful impact when we’re not even aware of the impact we’re having.
It makes me ashamed of when I’ve done so in my past. And hopeful for what it is to come.
Maybe it’s no irony both people whose October 11th posts I described above have found yoga in their lives. Maybe that’s because yoga has done what too many houses of worship and believers have not: truly, truly welcomed people where they’re at. No, yoga isn’t a religion. But, it is a practice that can allow for and awaken real, raw spiritual growth…even when many a yoga practitioner has no idea that’s possible when they unroll a mat before their first class.
That’s where the hope comes into the picture for me.
I read recently, “Yoga is the practice of celebrating what is.” Not celebrating what we wish should be or fear might be or dream might be…what is. That means the good, the bad, and the ugly…the beautiful, the painful…the strength, the weakness…
All of it.
Celebrate and acknowledge that. Then build from there.
Maybe that’s what we should be doing.
Updated to correct layout issues…which no matter how many times I edit them are staying screwy. So fuck it, the layout will be imperfect. – EE
I love travelling. Why?
It’s definitely not the process and amenities of traveling by air.
It’s the people. The people you meet. The people you see. The communities you encounter.
I’m in Chicago right now for work. Monday and Tuesday meetings for me, so my wife, daughter, and I flew in Saturday to give us some time to check out the city before I earn my paycheck, a couple days for them to go on adventures on their own, then today together before we fly back in the evening.
One of the things I’ve enjoyed most: the diversity of our country.
- People are staring at my daughter. Why? She’s a natural blond. In the Pacific Northwest that’s a common sight, with the heavy infusion of Scandinavian and northern European lineage. In downtown Chicago, with its heavy slice of southern and Eastern European heritage, not so much. Well, some of them are also staring because she’s a beautiful young woman with large breasts. FML.
- We act differently as you traverse our nation. In the Pacific Northwest, our collective demeanor is described as “Seattle nice,” which translates to “passive aggressive pain-in-the-ass.” We couldn’t tell you what’s actually on our minds if our coffee-drinking, Seahawks-cheering, outdoor-gear wearing selves depended on it. In Chicago, people are a tad more direct. An oft-used tap of the horn of any steering wheel is a helpful exclamation mark to such candor.
- In the Pacific Northwest, there’s a massive presence of Asian-Americans built into the fabric of the community. In Chicago, African-Americans are the dominant minority. And just like other places in the East, like Washington, DC, the overwhelming prevalence of minorities in service industry jobs reminds me we have so much more work to do as a country to improve our schools so that the concept of equal opportunity comes closer to reality.
- You rarely see a cop walking the streets in Seattle. In some parts of downtown Chicago, like the Magnificent Mile, they’re everywhere, usually traveling in 2s or 3s.
- You can’t move throughout the Seattle area without running into a Thai food joint, or Vietnamese, or Japanese, or Indian. That’s not the casein Chicago, but man, can I interest you in some Italian food, steak, or pizza? They have it covered.
- Chicago is like East Coast-lite, in that the sense of history and related landmarks is constantly visible if you pay attention. In much younger Seattle, there’s all too little of that because we our heritage as major urban areas is so much younger. History adds character, and I wish the West Coast had more.
Here’s the best part: it’s all the same damn country. There are US flags all over downtown Chicago, the most beautiful of which in my sighting was one floating gently over the WGN building. It’s the kind of meticulously and ornately carved building, you rarely see in the West: cathedral meets skyscraper. And in the midst of the hustle and bustle of a huge urban jungle, I saw Old Glory floating majestically in the breeze above it all.
Other observations and reminders that jumped out:
- We love our sports. The Bears and Raiders played at Soldier Field on Sunday. Jerseys and team garb everywhere. It’s no surprise, just like you’d see outside CenturyLink Field on a Seahawks game day, but still fun to see.
- My wife is hot. Whether casual as can be to workout or take a yoga class to being decked out for heading out on the town, she’s gorgeous! Yes, I love her for way, way, way more than her looks, but I’m reminded she is a beautiful woman! In an Uber the driver asked her about the temperature in the back of the vehicle: “Are you hot?” I instantly responded: “Yeah, she’s pretty hot!”
- You can have Starbucks on every corner like Seattle, but that doesn’t make a coffee-drinking culture. You serve coffee in a restaurant for breakfast or at a conference in tiny cups? You don’t take your caffeine seriously.
- Yoga is yoga, but each studio and teacher has its own character. We visited two different studios. The first: great studio, bad teacher. The second, ok studio, pretty good teacher. And totally different vibe from each of those ingredients and their respective community. Another reminder why I strive to teach as my authentic self when I instruct a class, not anyone else. And a reminder that when my lovely bride and I open up our own studio that it will be what we create, not an image of any specific studio we’ve encountered.
- Embracing your inner bad ass is fun. Walking around like a lemming, plowing through the obligations of life is no good. I saw way too much of that shuffling along the streets of Chicago. Grab life by the horns and make it yours.
- Speaking of which, my daughter is one independent young woman. She’s not afraid to be herself, and not going to tolerate any of the BS typically tossed the way of an attractive young woman strolling in a major urban environment [insert grateful father face here].
- Uber > taxis.
- We’re all ultimately dealing with the same stuff. In life, and at work. The professional challenges my peers in 36 different Blue Cross Blue Shield plans across the country described in my work meetings? The same as mine. Oh, there are nuances, but only serious variable is the geography.
- There’s something about this blog. Two professional acquaintances from other parts of the country mentioned it and the impact it’s had on them. Getting real and raw really does have a market. A big market. I’m still thinking about that.
All in all, Chicago was a cool place to visit and a good trip. But, it’s not home.
I’m glad to be leaving, and eager to keep moving toward the life my lovely bride and I are destined to lead.