Throwback Thursday – Walking the labyrinth

This is an edited piece posted originally August of 2018. Now that I’ve arrived at a new position at the University, I realize that the assessment phase feels like a bit of a labyrinth. 

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After a morning appointment in St. Paul I decided to make a stop at the College of St. Catherine in order to walk the labyrinth.

labyrinth walk
Photo credit link – Meditate in a Labyrinth

Have you ever walked a labyrinth?  I considered taking a photo while there but I was without electronic devices on my walk, so I did not. However, I found a great article on how to meditate in a labyrinth, so I am cribbing a photo from that, and the link as well.

I used the walk as a meditative experience, starting from the outside and following the path toward the inside. Then I spent some time on the inside, taking a few deep breaths, and slowly walked back out again. I walked barefoot, and did not worry about the acorns that occasionally stabbed my feet. I did nudge away a few small branches that had fallen along the path to make it easier for the next person’s journey.

My intention was to reflect and consider the big changes happening in my life, the opportunities that are ahead, and any possible fears I was holding. It was a walking meditation, a slow and intentional trip back and forth through the “folds” of the labyrinth. It occurred to me how little I knew about meditation last time I had walked it a decade ago. Yet repeating it gave me sacred feeling both times.

labyrinth visual.JPG
Photo credit link – Fractal Enlightenment

As we traverse through life, our paths are rarely linear. Some of them meander and fold back on themselves. Some of them seem to go in spirals, and we wonder: Are we in the same place AGAIN? But really we are never in the same place twice. Even if an event seems similar, or we seem to repeat a mistake we have made before, we are not exactly the same people this time.

Our lived experiences give us a different context. This is why I love the work of Marion Woodman so much. She understands that many of us learn in a non-linear way. We forget things we have learned, or sometimes we must re-apply lesson we have learned, but in a different way, or in a different relationship.

Our learning and wisdom are never lost, even though it may seem like we did not absorb a lesson the first time. Maybe we are ready to learn in a new way. Maybe there was resistance the first time, and we were not ready to complete lesson. We receive multiple opportunities and invitations for our souls to expand and grow.

The journey inward allows us to check our soul’s intentions. The journey back outward allows us to live our ultimate purpose. This is the essence of a life well-lived.

cristy@meximinnesotana.com

 

Icarus, are we flying too low?

I re-listened to a podcast this week from the On Being Project, one of the shorter form Becoming Wise editions with Seth Godin. In it, Seth explains:

The Icarus Deception points to the historical change in how Western culture both propagated and interpreted the Icarus myth arguing that “we tend to forget that Icarus was also warned not to fly too low, because seawater would ruin the lift in his wings. Flying too low is even more dangerous than flying too high, because it feels deceptively safe.”  -Wikipedia citation

the Icarus Deception.JPG
snipped from Amazon entry

I had not really *heard* this the first time I listened. But this time, it hit me differently. The part of the myth I remember most is the part about flying too high, not  getting “too big for our britches” and to be more humble in our aspirations. As Minnesotans this is especially ingrained in our culture. We are taught not to brag, not to be too proud of our accomplishments.

But that leaves out the other, more relevant part for those of us seeking something different than the “average” work experience. When we fly too low, when we aim for relative safety, the seawater draws us down, and ruins our wings.

While I have not yet read The Icarus Deception, I am intrigued. It is on my reading list. I wonder whether some of us haven’t yet gotten the hang of those wings yet, and we are not allowing ourselves to stretch them fully, and use them for what they were designed to do.

cristy@meximinnesotana.com

 

Seasonality

Today was a trip down memory lane in a way, but at the opposite side of the season in which I was married a year and a half ago (September).

Gooseberry Falls
Gooseberry Falls – still quite icy but flowing as well

I reflected on how different Gooseberry Falls State Park appears when it is covered in snow and ice, but also with strong and flowing currents. Seasons change, and nature has cycles. And yet humans so often want to keep push, push, pushing forward rather than allowing time for stepping back, reflecting, and renewing.

My biggest takeaway from this current phase in my life is that these “winters” of our souls are healthy and necessary for our growth. As I contemplated my gratitude for this time, I realized that I have no regrets.

I appreciate the nature of the cycles in my life.  There are ways in which I take in knowledge and wisdom and then process them. I use them as raw materials to create the next phase of my life. And even if I have a vision for what that might become 5 years out, I can only take the next step in front of me. I need not know every step along the way.

Spring is a season of re-birth and re-discovery. We do love our Spring in Minnesota. We emerge from the cozy habitats we have occupied for the winter, renew our connections to other people. We are prepared for new journeys, and turn our attention toward a new set of activities. There is so much beauty in allowing and appreciating those cycles.

cristy@meximinnesotana.com

 

Taking time to reflect

I just finished teaching the final session of my “Nurturing Your Feminine Leadership” course. I had intended to write a post to capture my take-aways from the experience, and some lessons learned about how I might do things differently next time.

Then I realized as I was reflecting tonight that overall I am happy and satisfied with this first round. I also need a night or two of reflection to put together more coherent thoughts on that topic. Some of us require more processing time to filter and let things settle before we are reading to “share out” our observations.

Rest and digest.jpg

It occurs to me that this is why every team meeting I have either hosted or participated in, I always get a little wary of the final group share-out process. Typically after 2 or 3 days of meetings my introvert brain is running on empty. So even though I muster the courage to say what occurs to me when required at the meeting’s end, I know that once I get a few nights of sleep, the important stuff will emerge and the “noise” will dissipate.

So I am being generous and compassionate with myself and allowing that time. That’s the great thing about being the “boss” of yourself – you make the rules!

Cheers, all. Happy Tuesday.

cristy@meximinnesotana.com

On Becoming

On New Year’s Day this year I finished reading Michelle Obama’s memoir, Becoming. It felt like a fitting time to finish the book, given the reflective time of the year. I truly enjoyed learning her insights, understanding her struggles, and relating to her need for achievement, given her humble beginnings.

Becoming by Michelle Obama

It got me to think about my own journey of “becoming” and the ways in which our beliefs, decisions and actions in our lives determine our journeys. I love the way Michelle Obama owns her story, and reveals a full experience of living her extraordinary life, in a way that feels genuine. She is definitely an example of what is possible to so many people in the world.

We all need to own our stories. We need to take responsibility for the choices and mistakes we make.  The power of self-belief and having supportive families really comes through through in her writing. Michelle Obama takes nothing for granted in terms of having parents who sacrificed mightily in their lives so that she could excel professionally and personally. She also helps us understand the internal and personal conflicts of a feminist who had to assume a different role when deciding to support her husband’s visionary candidacy and Presidency.

I believe her wisdom will resonate with so many women of our generation (she is only 10 years older than me). I am grateful that a group of my friends will be able to attend an event in St. Paul in March, a conversation with her, where we will hear her speak. Women’s voices have powerful resonance when they speak their truth. Her story is courageous and inspiring, and I would bet that yours is too.

Who are you becoming? What have you had to overcome to be where you are today? 

cristy@meximinesotana.com

 

 

 

Letter to my younger self

After my period of organizing journals yesterday, I opted to read through some few early ones. I was only 18 then, just graduated from high school and readying myself for college. I noticed a few things that made me sad for the young woman I was then.

You-are-beautiful.jpg
Poster found in Appleby Hall at the University of Minnesota while I was exploring campus and doing research.

I had such intense body hatred and frequently chided myself about my weight. I was convinced that no guy would ever want me because I was too fat (even though I was just a few pounds overweight). I was hard on myself about academics and I was very achievement-oriented. I did not cut myself a lot of slack. I seemed to feel lonely and disconnected a lot, while I also craved and valued alone-time.

I longed to comfort that earlier version of myself, the one who worried so much, and felt I somehow never measured up or fit in. I wanted to send her some love. So I wrote a little note that I stuck into the last page of the journal:

Dear Cristy (of times past),

You are lovely the way you are. No need to beat yourself up so much. You will find love someday and more compassion and appreciation for yourself. You will be just fine, and your life will turn out to be more exciting than you can imagine. Try to worry less and enjoy yourself more. Cut yourself some slack. You deserve it. 

Love Cristy (the older and wiser one)

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It occurred to me that the older version of myself, perhaps 5 or 10 years or more into the future might give the me that same advice. As I continue to practice compassion and extend forgiveness toward myself and others, the burdens of life lighten. As I have begun to know myself better and appreciate the light and the dark, I continue to be curious about what I will discover.

We are always moving forward in life. I do not cling to the past. But now and then, reflecting on those lessons I have learned gives me appreciation for the person I am today. If you were to write a letter to your younger self, what advice would you give? What would your future self tell you?

cristy@meximinnesotana.com