There is a story of a wise man who won an expensive car in a lottery. His family and friends were very happy for him and came to celebrate. “Isn’t it great!” they said. “You are so lucky.”
The man smiled and said, “Maybe.”
For a few weeks he enjoyed driving the car. Then one day a drunken driver crashed into his new car at an intersection and he ended up in the hospital, with multiple injuries. His family and friends came to see him and said, “That was really unfortunate.”
Again the man smiled and said, “Maybe.”
While he was still in the hospital, one night there was a landslide and his house fell into the sea. Again his friends came the next day and said, “Weren’t you lucky to have been here in the hospital.”
Again he said, “Maybe.”
This story is recounted in Eckhart Tolle’s book, A New Earth, Awakening to Your Life’s Purpose. He explains it this way: “…often it is impossible for the mind to understand what place or purpose a seemingly random event has in the tapestry of the whole.”
This has been my life the past six months. Continue reading: “Maybe”
I recently had the privilege to attend a Paul Roberts piano recital at The Old Church (beautiful venue!) in downtown Portland. During Intermission, a young man approached me.
“So,” he began, “Did you help organize this event?”
My eyebrows shot up. “No, not at all!” I said, chuckling. “I am just a visitor!”
“Oh,” he said, embarrassed by his mistake. “I had just gotten that impression… that you were involved in putting this together…”
Curious, I asked, “What made you think that?”
“Well, when I walked in,” he said, “the way you were standing… well… I thought you were important!”
I laughed! I laughed much louder than you are EVER supposed to laugh at a classical music event. And much louder than you are ever supposed to laugh in a church, let alone at a classical music event IN a church.
I’d love to claim that it was my superior understanding of body language and my exceptional nonverbals that led him to think I was “important” simply by the way I was standing. My outstanding skills certainly did contribute. (Ha!) But there is a little more to the story. Continue reading: ““I Thought You Were Important””
My friend, Pneumonia, is loyal and dedicated. He’s always with me, gently reminding me of his presence like my childhood dog who followed me everywhere. He also has given me some great gifts: a legitimate excuse reason to nap at any time, 8 lbs. of weight lost without setting foot in a gym, and a deep sympathy and compassion for people with chronic lung problems…
But Pneumonia doesn’t treat me very well. He makes me feel weak and incompetent. He is hurtful. He tricks me into thinking everything is okay between us, only to slam me to the ground the next day with dizzy spells, intense fatigue, and heart palpitations.
Now that I’m thinking about it, Pneumonia is a jerk.
But all the mean things Pneumonia has done to me really stem from the same issue: He has robbed me of my breath.
Breathing is the key to life. I don’t just mean that breathing is the key to not dying. But through breathing you live life. Oxygen fuels every cell in the body. We need it just like food and water to be able to move and think. Good breathing gets toxins out of our bodies, affects our hormones, and can calm and quiet us.
We also communicate through our breathing patterns. We send unconscious signals to each other continually about whether or not we feel threatened or safe, inadequate or capable, weak or powerful.
Yet most of us have no clue when or how we breathe. Continue reading: “Meet My Friend, Pneumonia”
The Sochi Olympics opening ceremony is this Friday. I love the olympics. Every two years I force Kevin to sit through the parade of countries, even though it takes HOURS just to get to Finland. (For readers new to these parts, I’m 100% Finn.)
One of my favorite events to watch is the biathlon. If you’re not familiar with the sport, it involves cross country skiing and shooting. Comedian Jerry Seinfeld once joked that it seemed like a strange combination. In his words, “It’s like combining swimming and strangle a guy. Why don’t we have that? That makes absolutely as much sense to me.”
The biathlon does make sense, really, as it played an integral part in military life in Scandinavia as early as the 1700′s. “Ski-runners” armed with rifles patrolled the borders, and in the famous Winter War in the late 1930′s, the Finnish army, outnumbered 10 – 1, defended their border successfully against the Russians.
Here are the basic rules of a biathlon: after cross country skiing between 3 -5 kilometers with a .22 caliber rifle strapped on their back, competitors reach a firing range and must shoot five targets placed at 50 meters away. For each missed target, the competitor must ski around a 150 meter penalty loop.
If you’ve ever cross country skied, you know how difficult it is. Imagine skiing for 5 kilometers, fingers cold from the outdoors, heart pounding, and dropping to your stomach and taking five shots. Which brings me to the most fascinating part of the biathlon: a technique called “easing in.” The skier knows he or she must hit as many targets as possible or risk having to ski a penalty loop. But this is incredibly difficult when your heart is pounding and you’re struggling to get enough oxygen into your lungs. So instead of racing into the shooting range, Continue reading: “Easing In”
At the gym this morning, I was huffing away on the elliptical, puzzling over Matt Lauer’s choice of facial hair when a man on the other side of the gym caught my attention. He was wearing a bright red shirt with the word “trainer” on the back, but that’s not why I looked over. As he moved about the gym, he would “sidle” up to someone on an exercise machine and strike up a conversation. I couldn’t hear what they were saying, but it was so nonverbally obvious that the person working out did -not- want to be interrupted.
As I continued to watch it became clear that what this guy was trying to do was sell his personal training services by offering free workout advice. And it was also clear he was having absolutely no luck.
He was in good shape, and it is January, the time people usually sign up for personal training. Assuming his workout advice was sound, why was he striking out?
Simple. He had no permission. Continue reading: “Do NOT approach me on the street. Or the gym. Or…”