Get Out of Your Own Way

I’ve just had a funny experience. What makes it funny is that I thought it was all about me.


It’s springtime in New England which means that one day it almost feels like summer and then the next day it starts to snow. My backyard garden is a mess – leaves and debris in the flower beds and dead sticks coming out of the ground. My condo next door neighbors have already cleaned up their yards and gardens but I haven’t. I started to feel guilty.


Then I noticed as I walked out to my garage that there were sticks and stringy pieces of old leaves hanging from the entry way lantern. Huh? How’d these get there? I decided that the wind must have somehow blown them there. So I pulled them down and chastised myself for not getting to the yard work yet.


The next day on my way to the car, there were more stringy pieces and sticks on top of the lantern. There hadn’t been any wind since I had cleaned off the lantern the day before. This time I began to think that someone was trying to give me a message, like “CLEAN UP YOUR GARDEN, YOU LAZY PERSON!” Were my neighbors checking up on me? Was I a bad fellow condo dweller? Those thoughts gave way to: How dare they judge me? Stop spying on me!


The third morning this happened I began to rethink my assumptions as I pulled more debris off the lantern. Why on earth would someone sneak into my yard to do this? It would have to be at night or very early morning and who in their right mind would use this method to get me to clean up my yard?


Suddenly it dawned on me that this was not the work of a human. It was the work of a misguided bird who was desperately trying to build a nest. Granted it was a fairly inappropriate spot to do so in terms of safety but it was apparently a spot that the bird really liked. After all, it had begun building a nest several times after I had removed its previous efforts.


So the whole episode wasn’t about me at all. Nobody was watching me or criticizing me. No one was metaphorically complaining about my messy garden. No one cared about it but me.


So how does this relate to physical awareness and effort? Simply this: your lack of physical awareness or health is your own issue. Don’t let thoughts of others judging you, prevent you from doing what is right for you. So you don’t look great in tight exercise clothing right now. Don’t let that stop you from proceeding with your exercise program. So what if you are not the strongest or most flexible or fastest at picking up new athletic skills. No one is faulting you but yourself. Maybe those glances from other people are ones of admiration for your tenacity or jealousy because you are actually moving. Or most likely, they have nothing to do with you. Don’t get in your own way!


By the way, this morning I looked out the kitchen window and caught a large robin remaking the nest on top of the lantern.


© 2010 by Sheila Peters. All rights reserved.

A Flexible Spine Equals a Flexible Mind

What does a flexible spine mean? The back feels loose and moves easily. You can change positions quickly and smoothly. You have a full range of motion so you can reach high and bend low, move to the right and left and on a diagonal plane. You can make sudden moves to catch an errant baseball, or drop to the ground to watch a strange insect traverse the grass, or swing a child around in joyful abandon. Your back doesn’t hurt on a regular basis. You stand tall. You feel alert and confident.


My dad shrank as he aged. Although he was physically active working outside in the garden in the spring and summer, raking leaves in the fall and shoveling snow in the winter, he shrank. Once six feet, he eventually lost 6 inches. The one thing he never did was stretch his spine.


Why did he grow shorter? Because he didn’t stretch, the muscles and vertebra along his spine became compressed and contracted. Year after year he didn’t relieve the contraction and so the spine became accustomed to that shortened position. His back ached and he lost his ability to move and react quickly. He lost some of his height and bemoaned it and felt less powerful and confident. He became tentative, more afraid to try new activities, more rigid in his ways and mindset.


A flexible spine allows the muscles, tendons, and ligaments attached to the spine to breathe. A fully functioning spinal column doesn’t impinge on nerves, or blood vessels or other bodily systems that carry toxins away. A flexible spine allows you to move spontaneously, react to new situations, and maintain equilibrium. You feel more open to change. You feel freer to try something new. You are less rigid in your thinking and more open to possibilities.


It’s all connected – how our bodies feel, what emotions we experience, what thoughts our minds hold.


© 2010 by Sheila Peters. All rights reserved.