Category: Empowerment

Uphill Just Got Easier

Uphill Just Got Easier

Moving from coastal flatlands to the mountains has certainly challenged my ability to cycle. In fact, I haven’t even ridden my road cycle since arriving here in the Smoky Mountains in late November. And that bike is my sweetheart. There aren’t really designated bike lanes or worse, flat places in which to ride. Nothing comes close to that blistering 33 foot elevation I’d experience while riding through Gulf State Park.  Or the 77 foot high bridge. No, here the elevations are in hundreds of feet. There’s even a chart for the Blue Ridge Parkway of elevation gain per section…and it’s not exactly a comforting document to behold.

The intimidating road cycling here prompted me to invest in a mountain bike. It has been years since I did off-road cycling but I figured I could at least break into elevations on the trails before trying the roads. Where I’d ride 20 miles and know I could have gone many more in the flatlands, if I make it 6 or 8 miles on my mountain bike I feel a nice accomplishment.

But yesterday I had a breakthrough and I think it’s a breakthrough that applies most wonderfully to the rest of my life. It seems simple but it made an incredible difference in my ability to pedal up some challenging hills.

On the usual 8 mile ride I do on a wide, gravel trail there are a few hills that prompt me to get off and walk my bike. Even in the lowest gear my legs protest too much. When I attempted them yesterday, I noticed I was energetically pushing myself up rather than staying centered over my bike with my attention and energy. When I brought my focus into the exact present moment and location in space, I found my bike was moving up the hill with much less effort and pain.

That may sound weird but it happened on several hills and I was able to continue pedaling up inclines that had previously caused me to give up and walk up. After the first success, I begin to fine-tune my attention and recreate it with other hills.

In the frustrating bike-walks, the moment I gave up I noticed my energy and attention was focused far up the hill and it seemed impossible to continue. In fact, my first ride there a rider was pushing up the hardest hill and so that outcome seemed normal. It’s what my mind accepted as true and right. But then I read a review on the trails at Deep Creek and the writer said the cycling was easy there. WHAT!?! As compared to what? Cycling up Clingman’s Dome?

But that came to mind as I was pedaling. How can I make this easier?My body took over and basically said…watch this.It was as simple as pulling my energy back to the exact place where my body was working. I had been directing my attention and thus my energy far up the hill and leaving less of me to actually pedal.

It’s difficult to accomplish one task if my mind is elsewhere. But if I give it my full attention, without focusing on the final outcome, I have more energy available to complete the task in front of me.

We are taught to live in the future, to always focus on ‘down the road’ to create a life of success and affluence. To support ourselves we are taught we must always think of the future. Yet when we do this we often miss the true beauty and richness of life. If our energy is tossed out into some unknown place far ahead, our daily lives can be more difficult because less of our self is present to create, live.

My goal is to make it up the hill but to do so I have to be totally present and keep my energy right here with me to make the effort less difficult. That’s what my bicycle teaches me. I can’t thrive in daily life if I am constantly worried about the future, if my focus is on some imaginary moment down the road of life when everything comes together. That place comes along organically by the everyday present moments of attention given to the quality of life in the here and now.

Struggle increases when we project our energy outside of ourselves to force an outcome. When we ease off and just stay present, life changes…for the better even though it still requires effort.

My road bike just had a tune-up. She’s ready to ride some off-the-beaten-path paved roads….am I? I’m getting there. Definitely…getting there.

 

Wild and Whole

Wild and Whole

Late this afternoon Buddy and I went for a walk in the woods of the state park near where we live. It was a survival move. A passive aggressive man decided to unload on me earlier. And you know, my wild women sisters, when a passive aggressive man starts pointing fingers at us, he’s struggling with taking responsibility for his own mess. So we have to take care of ourselves and get back to the wild places in nature that can reflect the purity of the wild places within us.

On the way to our regular walking trail I had a dark, familiar energy arise that felt very self-abusive. I hadn’t felt that way in a while so I immediately paid attention and it brought amazing clarity as I tugged at it.

When people wish to control others but wish to be nice about it, they twist and turn their words to try and pry under our boundaries. If they can just plant a tiny seed of their passive aggression within us, we take it from there and turn the knife ourselves. I saw clearly today how that works energetically. They know they cannot be outright aggressive but if they are passively aggressive….well, then their work is simple….that is until they meet a wild woman.

Today, as we walked the trails and watched wild deer watching us, I also looked inward and saw how I used to allow other’s passive aggression to work its way quietly into me and rattle me, make me doubt myself, make me hate parts of myself, and make me not want to even exist, so intense was the pain. I think women are especially prone to do this as we allow ourselves to become domesticated and controlled by receiving ‘silent’ aggression and then using it to destroy ourselves.

Why? To be loved….to have security….to have attention…to feel safe….to be noticed….to advance our careers…to not have to deal with our own wounds…the list is endless but perhaps the saddest of all is we are willing to take in another’s passive aggression because we believe that’s all we deserve.

Later today, in meditation, I sat with this and realized it’s a chronic problem women have faced for how long?…from the beginning? Passive aggressiveness is a lazy person’s way to get what they want–control. And the need to control is based in fear. The insidious part is that we destroy ourselves….yes, sisters. We do it to ourselves by taking that tiny little seed of someone else’s quiet aggression and become the assassin. We are the hired hit-man for our own execution.

We have been conditioned and domesticated to the point that we are not even aware it’s happening. We just gradually know that we feel less engaged, more depressed, sadder and our self-talk becomes darker and more abusive. We lose friendship with ourselves and rightly so. Who wants to be friends with a bully?

After a while we begin to think we are crazy, wrong, at fault. We doubt the truth. We doubt our truth because we have swallowed the bitter seed of passive aggression and turned against ourselves. When we do this, we lose the essence of ourselves. We lose that beautiful, wild, free, amazing woman. We give our power to the aggressor and become depleted.

As I connected with that strong, powerful wild woman within me, she was able to help me see that this isn’t an isolated case of one woman struggling to keep her power. No, my sisters, this is a global issue women deal with all over the planet. It’s in families, the workplace, politics, churches, schools…everywhere.

Aggression is masculine energy warped and mutated and it can come from anyone. In my particular life it has come mostly from men, thus the reference to males. But the process is the same for anyone who uses aggression or receives it. It’s a dance of power.

Perhaps the idea of passive aggression is unfamiliar with some readers. Think of a person writing an inflammatory letter where they are subversively threatening you and then at the end writing God Bless…but you know that what they really mean is F#%k You! When that happened today I burst out laughing. I know what you really mean mister. I hear you loud and clear. Now hear this…you can’t have my power. You can’t control me with your ‘polite’ aggression.

Dear sisters….and brothers. Let us stop the nonsense of aggression and take responsibility for our own lives so we don’t have to try and conquer or steal others power so we don’t feel afraid. And women….wild women…take the time to notice if you allow other’s seeds of ‘polite’ aggression to become the method you use to abdicate your beautiful, shiny, fierce power…your life force.

If you are blaming anyone else for your misery it’s time to take a walk in the woods, on the wild side of yourself, and take full responsibility for your life…whether you are the aggressor or the willing recipient of ‘polite’ aggression. We heal our lives when we say, NO MORE! to any power struggles and live fully in our own, beautiful, wild nature.

I return to nature to re-charge, to reconnect with myself. I am a part of nature. We are nature. I always feel better in the woods or underwater, but especially need to connect with the pure essence of wildness when facing abusive human interactions–whether coming from another person or I am perpetrating them on myself.

 

Artist of the Spirit

Artist of the Spirit

simonelipscombA long time ago I had a teacher ask me to write my personal myth. I wrote about what I did and what my dreams were but knew that didn’t fulfill the assignment. I didn’t quite understand the idea.

Over the years I’ve come to grasp the concept a little better. Each of us has a story. We create our story with awareness or without awareness. With awareness we weave our story with truth and love and without awareness we create a personal myth based on lies.

simonelipscomb (4)The personal myth or story is the internal dialogue we repeat over and over in our minds. The chatter, the busy-talk, the mantra on permanent replay that is the white noise of our lives. The problem with the story is that most of the time it is a distortion. Until we can clearly listen, it quite literally is the old trick of putting short micro-second clips or subliminal messages in movies that create within viewers the urge to buy popcorn and soda at movie theaters. That’s illegal these days. But clearly nobody has outlawed the story we tell ourselves about our own lives. Too bad.

Since we don’t have advocates for truth-busting our internal dialogues, how can we excise the pervasive messages that keep us stuck? It takes practice to tune in to the internal narrator that bombards us with propaganda. You might have heard your internal storyteller whispering your story in the first person.

simonelipscomb (6)“I can’t do this.” “I’m not strong enough.” “Why do I think people will buy my books or photographs?” “There’s nobody out there for me.” “Nobody cares about the planet.” “Corporations rule the world so why should I bother? My voice is too small.” “I don’t need his or her help.”

The list my internal storyteller (tyrant) tells me is endless and on constant replay. Yet that voice is so soft I must be very diligent in listening. Otherwise, the dialogue becomes habitual and my life yields a perfect mirror of the near-silent lies.

simonelipscomb (7)I’ve been able to trace my core myth to my toddler years. One specific experience remains vivid because it became such a family story. I was riding my tricycle under my grandparents carport and came to the end of the concrete. My uncle asked if I needed help turning my trike. I stopped, stood up and replied, “Nope,” as I grabbed the metal bar and seat, lifted it and turned it around and continued peddling.

In today’s meditation I reflected back on that moment and how my basic myth is ‘I don’t need anyone.’ I saw my core personal myth is based on this huge lie. As the realization grew, patterns of behavior became evident and I saw how I have created my life on that foundational belief.

The crazy part of this story is there is nothing I want more than a good partnership, a true love. What I desire most will never come to be until I change my story, alter the internal dialogue that is the foundation of what I believe about my life.

It takes courage to listen and become aware of our story. The courage part is necessary because we will discover darkness woven into what we believe about ourselves. And others. We all can fall prey to the inner tyrant–that ranting storyteller who weaves very negative tales.

simonelipscomb (3)So how do we create a story that is true? First, we simply listen. Carefully and without judgement, listen to what is repeating in our minds. And most importantly, if the internal voice goes against us, puts us down or reinforces those negative beliefs we have about ourselves, then stop believing what it’s saying. “Truth survives skepticism but lies don’t.”*

I’m weary of the inner tyrant narrating my story. I see glimpses of the truth as I open my heart and mind. It’s not easy but freedom comes when we create a personal myth based on love rather than lies.  All of us have the capacity to be an artist of the spirit.

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*Several years ago I read the Don Miguel Ruiz book, The Voice of Knowledge. I was recently guided to re-read it. For a deeper exploration into uncovering personal myth I suggest reading his book. 

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A Pause to Consider

A Pause to Consider

Goofing off with my friend...my Volvo pal.
Goofing off with my friend…my Volvo pal.

After my morning workout I was driving home once the torrential rain had eased up. Evidence of it was everywhere–flooded fields, ditches full and over-flowing, roadways covered. It was still raining but I waited at Pure Barre until the worst of it had passed.

The stretch of Highway 98 was looking good so I picked up speed and was listening to the Coffeehouse on Sirius radio when suddenly, as if it materialized from nowhere, the road was covered with three to four inches of water. Both lanes were underwater. Time seemed to slow down and I saw the possibility of my car hydroplaning and spinning out of control. In that split second I was keenly aware of the potential of being in a wreck. Actually I felt it, deep within myself. And I was calm.

I tentatively applied my brakes, knowing that given my speed I would lose control of my car when I hit the water. Thankfully, my Volvo knew exactly what to do. I felt the brakes pumping so I wouldn’t skid. I kept the steering wheel steady and within a few seconds I was out of danger with only a very slight fish-tale dance move as we once again found mostly dry pavement. We…yes, we. On more than one occasion the ‘wisdom’ of my car kept me safe.

The first week I had it I was driving from Greensboro to Asheville on I-40 and an 18-wheeler in front of me hit one of those skinny, tall orange-striped cones. It started spinning all over the road. I didn’t know how to react so I waited. I waited until the last possible moment and then steered clear just before the whirling projectile hit my car square in the center. It felt as if my car was a stealthy, large feline so keen was its cat-like reflexes.

It may sound silly but that’s okay. I’ve had a couple of close calls in my life, both from careless drivers. The latest one being several years ago when a drunk driver, who was going 55mph, rear-ended me when I was stopped at a traffic signal. He was legally comatose but managed to total his BMW on my CRV. He had a drunk driving conviction seven years prior.

That’s when I found my car and purchased it. What attracted me was Volvo’s safety record. About 10 years prior to that wreck a teen ran a stop sign, hit me and rolled my truck. My dog was killed because of that wreck. Had my daughter been with me, she would have most likely been killed. So I felt as if I had a bulls-eye on my life and welcomed the solid, dependable Volvo friend.

I didn’t intend to write about my car but I see the metaphor it brings. It reminded me that I am supported and loved by something more powerful than me. Sure, it came in the form of a vehicle but I keenly felt a direct connection to Spirit when I reached out and patted the dash of my car and said, Thank you. Thank you so much for keeping me safe.

CopyrightSimoneLipscomb (1)What, in my darkest moments, do I have to fear? Only being forgetful that I am loved and cared for completely, totally. The protection and care from my guardian angel or Spirit…or God may come through the form of my car or a friend or a small, inner whisper. This near-miss caused me to pause and consider just how loved I am, how cradled I am in the Light of Spirit. How we all are, even when we experience traumas, sickness, loss and disappointments. Nobody, nothing has the power to take that from me.

 

Stay Wild

Stay Wild

SimoneLipscomb (6)A whistling duck stood in the sand frantically flapping his wings while three other whistling ducks stood in a semi-circle in front of him. They gave a half-hearted attempt but he kept whistling words of encouragement. It didn’t matter that he and his friends and many other shorebirds were in a permanent enclosure due to injuries. He refused to give up hope.

I stood witnessing the exchange and felt his wild heart yearning for, hoping for freedom. He was determined to keep his flight muscles strong so if the time comes, he will be ready.

SimoneLipscomb (31)An osprey was also on the ground looking up at me. Usually they are soaring high above looking down on me. To see such a majestic bird of prey grounded due to broken wings was heartbreaking.

I pondered the wildness still found in these precious creatures. They are fed and cared for by humans and yet there is still a spark of the feral within them at a very deep level.

SimoneLipscomb (40)Later as I wandered through Florida woods with stately palm trees, palmettos, spanish moss and sweet bays, I wondered how many of us stay connected with that wild part of ourselves. How many of us feel at home in the woods or a forest? Do we maintain that spark of wildness that helps us feel at home…in the truest sense.

Whooping Crane...one of a breeding pair. These endangered birds are part of a captive breeding program....hope for the wild!

As I stood photographing an endangered whooping crane I made a soft, little whooping sound and she immediately looked skyward. I saw the kinship this regal bird still carries within her being for others of her kind that pass overhead in migration. She longs for flight. She longs for freedom. And even though she is in an enclosure, she maintains freedom of spirit.

SimoneLipscomb (7)The little whistling duck’s message will stay in my heart as a reminder. Stay wild! Stay connected. Be ready….and above all…don’t forget you can fly!