Posts Tagged ‘resilience’

I am always amazed at how things often have a magical way of unfolding.

This past weekend I was supposed to go camping with my meditation group. We had had it on the calendar for a while and I had gotten the time off from my weekend job. I was excited as this would be my first camping trip in years and I looked forward to going deep, in the stillness of nature, with my sweet little meditation group.

But as it often does, things come up and as the weekend got closer, unfortunately a couple of people had to cancel and in the end we decided to postpone. I was disappointed, but I knew we’d go another time.

However, as the weekend unfolded, and different plans began to take form, I was blessed to witness something so magical, so inspiring, that I knew I was exactly where I was meant to be.

My good friend Rebecca (also from said meditation group) and I decided to go for a day hike in Tennessee Valley, just a handful of miles north of the city. San Francisco summer was full on: it was hot, sunny and clear blue skies; the perfect day for a hike to the beach.

When we got to the parking lot, we decided it was too hot for sneakers and slipped into more comfortable shoes for the fairly flat walk to the beach. Rebecca put on her favorite pair of flip-flops and we made our way to the Pacific. It was a beautiful day at the beach. It was hot, but there was a perfect, soft sea breeze and for once it was actually warm enough to wade in the water (a rare thing in San Francisco).

Photo by Rebecca Fettig of http://goldenpointsf.com/

Photo by Rebecca Fettig of http://goldenpointsf.com/

We left our shoes in the sand, went into the water, and waded around happily for a while at the shore. Walking along the beach, the tide was clearly coming in and the waves were catching us by surprise and splashing playfully against us. Set against the shimmering water were the beautiful California hills, limestone cliffs jutting up dramatically against the sky.

We walked around a rock and at that moment, we saw a big wave coming. Rebecca managed to run away from it, but I on the other hand was not fast enough and got a refreshing sprinkle.

With the tide coming in so fast, our thoughts turned to our shoes and it occurred to us that we hadn’t even thought about how far they were from the water. We wondered if they were even still there, or if they had been whisked away, sacrificed into the sea. We began walking back the short distance of the beach, preparing and laughing to ourselves about the prospect of having to possibly hike back to the car barefoot.

As we got closer and closer, I saw no shoes in sight. I was convinced they were long gone and I chuckled. Yes, it would be unfortunate, but it makes for a great story, so the humor in it did not escape me. However, as we made our way back to the spot where we thought the shoes were, a friendly woman asked us if these shoes were ours, pointing to the wet, sand-covered shoes. Yep, that was them. The tide had in fact tried to steal them away from us, but thanks to the kindness of complete strangers, we would not have to go shoeless that day. That was just one of the magical encounters of the day.

I tell this part of the story because it is relevant to the next part. If we hadn’t found our shoes, we wouldn’t have ventured out on our next adventure and we wouldn’t have experienced the most magical encounter of all.

As we began making our way back towards the car, along the dry, dusty path, we saw several different trails, to the left and right, meandering up and over the rolling hills. We knew we didn’t have loads of time, and as the trail heads were marked with their corresponding mileage, we decided to take the shortest one, a 1.9 mile trail up to the right. And off we went.

Shortly after embarking along the path, suddenly we were under a canopy of trees, in what I can only describe as a tiny enchanted forest. We crossed over a sweet little bridge over a trickle of river and the sun was magically filtering through the trees. Within the rest of the dry, hot landscape, this little oasis seemed very out of place. We reveled in it.

Emerging out of this small grove, we then started heading up and up over the hill. As we got further along and it began to get steeper, Rebecca began to hesitate. She was uncertain if her flip-flops would be able to handle the slippery slope back down and she of course didn’t want to fall. We knew we weren’t prepared to do a major hike in our chosen footwear, but we figured we’d go as far as we could. So we paused for a moment as she tested out the security of her footing beneath her.

In that moment, I looked up and saw something I will never forget. I turned to Rebecca and in response to her question about whether or not we should keep going, I said, “Look up and I think you have your answer. Let’s keep going.”

She looked up and saw what I saw. There was a man, with not one, but two prosthetic legs, walking carefully down the steep dirt trail, ensuring that he had his footing as he went. And if that isn’t incredible enough, not only did he have two prosthetic legs, he also had one prosthetic arm. And this man was hiking, by himself. Are you blown away yet? Because there’s more. Yes, more. On top of having three prosthetic limbs, this amazing human being was also carrying a mountain bike over his shoulder. This man (perhaps a veteran of war?), who through some unknown turn of events was left with only one natural limb, was spending the day hiking and mountain-biking. Rebecca and I were completely dumbfounded.

As the man (who was quite good-looking by the way- just sayin’!) walked by, we greeted him and asked him how his day was going. He returned our greeting with a friendly smile. We asked him how much farther it was to the top and he told us we were about 65% of the way. We wished him a beautiful day and kept on going. And as we continued up the hill, our hearts were blown wide open. We, both of us, were absolutely in awe of this beautiful spirit, this incredible being whose story we knew nothing about, but who clearly had the immeasurable strength to overcome so much adversity. And we stood in wonder of the resilience of the human spirit.

We got to the top of the crest and looked out at the breathtaking scenery: romantic, rolling hills colliding with the churning ocean, and a group of hawks soaring majestically above. I was filled with goose bumps. Rebecca and I looked at each other and we acknowledged the absolute gift with which we had just been blessed; the absolute wonder and testament to the triumphant nature of the human spirit. The two of us were overflowing with amazement and gratitude.

Tennessee Valley

In the end, I’d have to say I’m pretty happy that our camping trip got canceled because I wouldn’t have wanted to miss that encounter for the world. It was an experience by which I was deeply humbled, a gift for which I am truly grateful, and a moment that I will remember for the rest of my life.

And if ever you find yourself thinking that you are incapable of accomplishing or overcoming something? Think again.

“Although the world is full of suffering,
it is full also of the overcoming of it.”

~ Helen Keller

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Have you ever been the victim of a character assassination? Have you ever had someone attack you in an unjust manner, in such a cruel fashion that you are rendered completely flabbergasted and speechless? Have you found yourself thrown into the midst of an unexpected storm? I have. Yesterday. To my absolutely shock and dismay, one of my readers (whom I have tried very sincerely to help) sent me an email viciously attacking my integrity and my character. Because I have been busy with family visiting for the holidays, and because I receive hundreds of emails from my fans, it took me a couple of weeks to respond to this person’s latest email. Because of this completely unintentional delay on my part, this person told me that I am someone with no conscience, that I am only out for my own interests, and that I am an insensitive person who does not care about other people. Now anyone who has read any of my brutally honest writing, and certainly anyone who knows me personally, will be just as shocked by this assault as I was.

So why am I telling you this? This seems like the sort of thing that I’m better off keeping to myself, right? Why would I want to air this dirty laundry? Well normally I would agree with that, but as I pondered the situation all evening long, it occurred to me that there is a powerful lesson in all of this, a lesson that I think is valuable to share.

As many of you know from my stories, I have lived through what I can only describe as a “dark night of the soul” in recent years. These were the absolute darkest, most painful years of my life. For most of those years I struggled to find any possible reason why I was being put through this trial, this horrific fire. It was only when I became an “accidental” writer and began sharing my stories from the heart, that I began to see the meaning of it all. All of us on this Earth have lived through our times of pain and suffering, and many of us share the very same stories. As I began sharing my stories of pain and the stories of healing that followed them, I began to see very quickly that people were relating to and connecting with these stories. My pain was their pain. My healing was their healing. And I realized that my having become a writer was not “accidental” at all. I truly believe that I have found my calling. I truly believe that I lived through my own profound time of pain and healing, so that I can help others through theirs. And this is something by which I have been immensely humbled and proud.

One of the accusations from this person was that I only care about publishing my book. It is true that I am working on publishing a book, in fact several books. But my motivation is not at all the dark and selfish reasons that this person has assumed. It is exactly for the reasons that I have shared above. I feel that I have a powerful message of love and healing to share with the world, and in my heart of hearts I truly believe that I can use my healing journey to help and inspire others. That is my intention.  I hope to publish my books so that I can continue to spread a message of positivity, of healing, light and love.

Photo by San Diego Shooter

Do I hope to be able to feed myself as a result of these books? Yes. And I’ll let you judge that for yourselves. We all have bills to pay and I am a single person who has to support myself. I too have to put food on the table. So do I hope that this calling can also turn into a career path and a way to live fully? Absolutely yes. Yes, because I hope to do something in which I truly believe, something that fulfills and inspires me, something that can make a difference in people’s lives. And this is it.

I’ve often heard a similar criticism of yoga teachers, that they should not be making money to teach yoga. I vehemently disagree with this premise. My yoga teachers are all beautiful people who spread light and love and bring profound healing to others on a daily basis. The only way that they are able to do what they do is because they are able to make a living at doing it. Sure, they could do it as a side job while they work another 9-5 job. But the rest of the world would really be missing out if that were the case. These teachers have a gift, a gift of teaching and sharing and helping others. I know that many of my fellow yoga practitioners will agree with me when I say that I wish for all of my yoga teachers to have the means to be able to teach more and spread their message of light further. They are a gift to humanity. And because they are doing good for the world, the Universe is supporting them by allowing them to support themselves with a career that they love and in which they believe. This is not wrong. This is good. I hope to be able to do the same with my writing.

When I received this email yesterday I was initially taken aback. And in the past I would have internalized this and really been upset about it. I would have spent the evening pacing back and forth, full of anxiety over such an attack. But this time I did not. I did not because I know who I am. I know that my intentions are pure. And I know that I live and act from the heart, always striving to be the best person that I can be. And I have been given an opportunity to help others. That is my wish. I will let the Universe be the judge of that.

As I was contemplating the situation, the following quote came into my head:

“People will doubt you. People will judge you. People will try to undermine you. Stay true to your own virtues, live with the highest intention, follow your heart and you will navigate your way through the choppy waters.”

And the reason I wanted to share all of this with you is to highlight exactly that lesson. Life is not easy. It is hard enough to find what is our true “calling.” Many people struggle for their entire lives to figure out what it is they wish to do with their lives. And even when you do, it is not always going to be smooth sailing. There will be gale force winds. There will be obstacles that are put in your path. There will be forces that try to blow you off your path, that will try to stall or even halt your journey. There will be times when your ship becomes completely stuck in a blockade of thick ice. When this happens, pull out the ice-cutters and start chopping. Keep forging forward. Be true to yourself and your journey. Live from the highest and be the best person that you can be and you will navigate your way through the storm.

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