Going Downhill, in a Good Way…

non-stop-flowing-in-little-river-canyon-jw-photographyBiking in the Colorado Rockies gave me ah hah that coincides with nature. After my first day out I got winded and fatigued from the altitude, especially after stopping for lunch (the margarita probably didn’t help!) On Day Two, I was a bit more cautious, not wanting to feel so sluggish.

As we headed out on the route, I felt like I was riding mostly downhill. Fun in the moment, but that way back was weighing on me. With each passing mile, I knew I had to save some reserve for the return. I even mentioned to my husband that we could go further, as long as it wasn’t too much more down hill. He said that although our path was rolling, we had mostly been biking up hill. He said he knew by watching the water flow from the river next to our route. I looked at the water and it was a fact, yet how come I felt like I was peddling down and not up??

Nature has a way of showing us truths, even when we think we know otherwise…

We turned around and sure enough, I flowed downhill on the path just like the river, with my gears shifting to take full advantage. It was one of those experiences where I felt like I got a free ride, with the wind at our backs as we rode uphill and now, on the way back, a nice easy ride home.

Life doesn’t usually work that way. Often there is the toil and then the payoff, certainly this applies to bicycling, hiking, or for that matter running a business, getting a project off the ground, raising a family—you name it.

Effortless experiences come around once in a while, especially if you don’t expect them.   And when you dip into a natural flow and rhythm, it’s pretty special. Savoring the experience makes it even better, which I did as I rode back to our hotel, not winded or fatigued, but feeling embraced by nature and all the wonders it holds.

As the summer comes to a close, think about what your moments have been. If you take the time to create an imprint, the recollection has more of a chance of getting filed with other long-term memories.

Ultimately our memories and related stories define us, so keep the good ones!

A Metaphor for Living Large: Setting the Bar/Barre

barresoul-196_23In the spirit of the New Year and thinking novelty + fitness, I took my first Barre class today. It was a blast. Lots of core, balance and elegance in the way the class was taught. I didn’t look great doing many of the poses and exercises, but it was a great workout and I will be back next week. I have only taken one other “ballet” class in my life and that was over 50 years ago and remains one of my earliest childhood memories.

Get this: I was four years old and finally convinced my mom to let me try ballet. In my first class I recall looking around at all my peers, you know, three and four year olds, deciding then and there that I was already too old to become a prima ballerina. It seemed all the other girls were much better than me, so in my little mind that meant I couldn’t possibly catch up. I told my mom I didn’t like the class, but deep down I felt too old to start something as serious as ballet! I laugh now, but truth be told, I have felt this “too old” feeling at various times in my life.

Have you ever had this tape or another “too this or too that”? My version has to do with age and experience. Now that I am in my mid-fifties, this tape has the power to become an even stronger voice if I let it. Instead, I am embracing the approach of engaging in novel experiences with a “Beginner’s Mind.” It takes letting go of old stories and opening up to new and different opportunities. January seems like as good a time as any to embrace this more conscious mindset.

Part of the challenge is being open to invitations that take you out of your comfort zone. For me, it’s about being open for more spontaneity while also planning ahead and calendaring in new activities, like the Barre class. I call it my Both/And Approach. Taking the black and white out of the story allows for a whole lot more fun and lightness.

It’s early in the year to give much of a report, but I will say in the last few weeks I have kayaked the caves of La Jolla, stood on an ocean pier to watch the King Tides show their majestic power with 10 foot waves crashing around us and taken a half day off to go play in snow at the mountains —Trust me, snow is a novelty for Southern California and if you miss it, it’s melted and gone. That’s how opportunities are at four or fifty four—you have to take advantage or lose out.