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Today, I watched the bravest little girl dance on stage alone. At first, I didn’t really see her. Instead, I was admiring how the stage lights scattered around her, bouncing off her black hair, creating a little golden halo. Her movements were so confident and her face so focused, I almost didn’t recognize her.
As I looked closer, I realized I knew those eyes. I had seen them smiling, crying, and gently sliding shut each night after sweet “I love you’s.” But they were different today. Sparkly. Lovely. For some, it wouldn’t be a big deal, but for my little introvert, it was amazing. Her life was in perfect balance and I watched in awe as she leaned into the moment and began to fly.
Balance: my story. I hope I haven’t confused you by starting my story somewhere near the end. If my story were a movie, you would see a black screen with the bold words, Seven Years Earlier. Since that’s not possible, you’ll have to rewind the story in your mind like an old-school VCR tape. Yes, you heard me right, a VCR tape. Now, rewind it.…
From the beginning, I never imagined my daughter would be seven months old much less seven years old. As an infant, she was a tiny, colicky and a beautiful mess, but she was my beautiful mess. After months of feeding her, changing her diapers and occasionally getting a shower, I realized something was missing. Balance. I had no clue how to find the magical formula but thought exercise might help. So I began my quest for balance and found yoga instead.
I’ve heard people describe yoga as boring, while others complain it’s too tough. For me, it felt a little like home. During my first class, I easily flowed through the poses until the teacher prepared us for Bakasana, a pose involving strength, core stability, and balance. Hmmm… it sounds suspiciously like being a mom, doesn’t it? That’s what I thought too.
Like any decent perfectionist, I was determined to get Bakasana right the first time. I bent my legs, laid my palms on the floor, and placed my legs on the back of my arms. Ta-da… Exactly one second later, my face was planted firmly on my rockin’ new yoga mat. “Hello mat, meet my sweaty face.”
I repeated the process but my second attempt resulted in the face-mat phenomenon again. Exhausted, I stopped, took a breath and became completely still for the first time since my colicky baby had screamed her way into my life. I hushed my chatty inner thoughts and they all disappeared except one clear voice. It was me. “Hello stranger, long time no see.”
I turned my attention to the yoga teacher who was busy repeating warm and fuzzy mantras about listening to my body and staying in the moment. I alternated between silent giggles and thinking she was a genius. I decided to try again. My legs groaned shamelessly as I placed them on my arms again but this time I stopped to listen. I leaned into the pose slightly and shifted; I was balanced. I had found the sweet spot! I was a new mommy learning to fly. Suddenly, Bakasana sounded less like a weird virus going around daycare and more like a mantra for my life.
Following my yoga experiment, I decided to search for my own sweet spot in life. Sounds easy, right? Not really, especially for someone still trying to balance changing poopy diapers and showering every day.
I started small. I remembered Bakasana. I got still and listened. I studied those small moments when I could feel joy bubbling hot below the surface. I discovered I loved doing cartwheels when no one was looking, indulged in my ridiculous coffee addiction, and jogged through my neighborhood with my iPod blaring loud enough to cause permanent hearing damage.
To my surprise, little pieces of joy showed up like a path to happiness. So, I leaned in more, shifted my thinking and followed the path. There was Balance waiting around the corner, hand in pocket. “Dude, where have you been?”
Now, cut to the stage. You see my daughter dancing again. The camera pans to me. You notice I’m a little older and maybe wiser. What you don’t know, is that two seconds ago my mind was anxiously reviewing my to-do list for the day. At first, you think I seem confused and then you notice I really see her. You see me take a deep breath and still myself. I lean forward. It’s subtle. I’m in the moment. The camera pans out. You realize we are in perfect balance, my polar opposite on stage and me. It’s beautiful. You watch us fly.
The screen goes dark and you, the audience are left with the feeling you can achieve more than balance; you can find the sweet spot in life too. So, you get still. You take a deep breath and hear your children giggling and playing. Why didn’t you noticed them before? You look closer. They’re so beautiful you can’t take your eyes off them and you realize you don’t want to miss a moment of their lives. Until now, you didn’t know you’re part of the story too. Suddenly, you lean into the moment. It’s subtle. You forget the rest and you fly.
QUESTION: What are the things in life that bring you joy? Do you take time to “lean” into joy?
CHALLENGE: This week, keep a list of your joyful moments. When you experience them, pay attention to how they taste, look, feel, smell and sound. Decide how you can add more joyful moments to your daily life.
All photos courtesy of Amy Fonseca
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