waiting to be inspired

It’s been four years, ten months, and six days since my last entry. I could ask, ‘Where did time go?” but there’s no need to. I know exactly where time went and what happened. I can still feel the effects of the events that transpired during this time.

There were profound losses; first my father, mother and twin sister, then my mentor and, most recently, my childhood friend.

There were milestones; the girls leaving for college and Neal deciding when to retire. I found myself unable to do anything other than chop wood, carry water … good old Van the man has nothing on me. I suspended my coaching practice and got a part-time job. I needed a break. Badly.

The girls have officially entered their senior year in college. They’re pretty much in control of their lives. Neal is two years away from retirement and I catch myself thinking and dreaming about all sorts of things.

I’m reflecting on the ways these last five years have altered me. There are days when I’m not sure of who I am.  Often, I have this certainty that I’m on my way to becoming the person I couldn’t even dream of being  ten, twenty, thirty years ago.

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same lesson . . . time and again

Twelve years ago, when I was trying to decide which direction to take my coaching practice in, the message that kept coming to me was . . . “Keep it simple!”

Over the years and through many trials, when I’d find myself plagued with doubt, I’d remember and set myself straight.

When in doubt, keep it simple!

About two weeks ago, I facilitated a retreat for nine women at my home. It was lovely and profound. As I was preparing for the retreat, I decided to create small card bookmarks with words and phrases printed on them. The retreat participants picked randomly and used the messages they received for contemplation. Everyone seemed to receive the perfect message.

At the end of the day and as I was cleaning up, I noticed there were two bookmarks left on a table. Since I hadn’t picked a message for me, I took them and placed them on my altar, in the kitchen.

They were . . . “Keep it simple!” and “There are no wrong turns!” I took a deep breath as I was confronted with the synchronicity and the realization that even though I facilitated the retreat, I was a participant too and there was a lesson for me to contemplate.

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rising waters


The gates are now open.
But how? When? You ask,
who wants to know?
Who is doing the asking?
The heart wants to feel
the rising of the waters,
rushing through the gates,
sparing nothing.

Where are the waters taking me
I don’t know.
The swelling of something
long awaited for –
a deep longing.
It has no name or shape,
this wave of anticipation.

Do not let the flood waters
scare you into hiding.
Do not think.
Breathe!
Through the rising waters,
this wave of your so-called life
gaining strength;
gearing up.

Breathe!

 

Copyright ⓒ 2011 Yota Schneider – the art of pausing

always i

Who is this person,
timid and fearful,
at your mercy,
self-correcting, no matter the cost.
Living in doubt
questioning, searching,
unsure and silent?
It is I!

Who is this person,
strong willed and sharp witted
quick thinking,
two steps ahead,
solid and unforgiving,
black and white
and never grey?
It is I!

Who is this person,
soft and loving,
feeling deeply,
knowing,
sensing the depths of another,
speaking words of wisdom,
walking the circle,
seeking, searching,
hearing the spirits’ call,
walking,
tracing the path
that many took before her,
walking, feeling, seeing, hearing,
sensing the call?
It is I!

It is always I!
Dancing on soft ground,
playing,
laughing, crying,
warm and cold,
soft and harsh,
sweet and bitter,
loving and withholding.

It is I!
Always I!

Copyright ⓒ 2011 Yota Schneider – the art of pausing

the yellow raincoat

The girls were sitting on the bench, waiting for their turn to join their team on the field. It was a rainy, chilly afternoon. “There is my mom,” one of them said. “Where?” the other asked. “Do you see this woman in the yellow raincoat? My mom is right next to her!” the first one answered. The girl looked to that direction and put her face in her hands “Oh, no,” she whispered. “What’s up?” the first one asked. “That’s MY mom in the yellow raincoat. I don’t know what’s gotten into her with this neon yellow raincoat.”

My daughter doesn’t approve of my yellow raincoat. This is not the first time she’s made a comment about it either.

As we talked about it during breakfast I turned to her and said “I love this raincoat! Anyway, you can always see me when I’m there, watching you playing. You can’t miss me!” She made a vague gesture and dismissed me.  Got to go!

I was left wondering. How did I transition from the adored mother this kid couldn’t get enough of, to this crazy old woman in a yellow raincoat who should mind her place? When I ask her this question she pretty much gives me this answer: “Mom, you know how much I love you but I’m fifteen, can’t you see? I can’t help it!”

I know she can’t but the yellow raincoat stays. You see, I can’t help it either. I think it’s important that we both give each other space to be who we are. At this point of my life I know who I am and I understand that she’s still exploring who she wants to be.

Being fifteen is all about fitting in and conforming to some kind of social maze. On the other hand, being fifty is about taking the journey back to the origin of self. It’s about shedding the layers of identity piled on over the years and setting our wild selves free.

Exchanges like this make me realize how easy it is to loose ourselves as we try to please others and feel accepted and endorsed by them. I want to be loved, respected, and admired by my daughter but I don’t want to be someone other than who I am. It’s been a long journey to claiming self-hood. There’s no going back.

I know that friendship and love are often used by people to extract a heavy price. How many times, especially women, morph to fit who they are with, be it family, friend or lover? Is this what love and friendship are supposed to be? Certainly not.

I was born to parents who expected perfection, albeit their version of it, and demanded obedience. They were strict and unyielding. I worked hard to satisfy and please people who weren’t meant to be satisfied.

I became really good at reading people’s moods and adapting accordingly. I became self-reliant at an early age. What I couldn’t get at home, I looked for in books, nature, and the wise mentors that seemed to always be there for me. I was blessed in that way. Life kept ushering me forward and I learned, at times the hard way, the importance of self-awareness and self-acceptance.

It’s true, when people say that our children become our teachers. As parents we’re meant to love, protect, and guide them. Our children can help us take the journey back and untie the knots that keep us bound. And, that’s what love is, isn’t it?

with me always

Being here looking back
the distance traveled.
You moved me forward
often dragging my feet through mud
up, up the mountain side
sun beating down
other times walking, running
moving along
cool grass under my feet
a pleasant breeze on my face.

The weather didn’t matter
my mood, my resistance, my blindness
nothing mattered.
You moved me forward
installing clarity where there was none
transmitting inspiration on arid soil
polishing my understanding
enriching my experience.

Step by step
there is a lesson in all
we meet on the path.
Chance? You smile.
This is a gift, fear not.
Open it!

I know the way
I’m here, now and always
you can’t see me and you get tired
you cry and despair often
your thoughts and emotions cloud your recognition.

Fear not! I know the way
I’m with you
always present
always moving you forward
through rain and fair weather.
With you always!

Copyright ⓒ 2011 Yota Schneider – the art of pausing

what’s cooking?

Have I mentioned that cooking is something I truly enjoy? It’s one of the activities that keep me grounded and give me a great sense of satisfaction. The only exception being, when I entertain.

I’m still working on letting go, accepting what is, and surrendering to the process when I take care of other people. I have this unhealthy habit of taking too much responsibility for other people’s experience. Call it control, a constant effort to look good, a heightened sense of perfectionism, or all of the above. Whatever it is, I’ve been watching it for years and I’m happy to report there is progress in the making.

I didn’t use to enjoy cooking. I used to be pretty terrible at it. Once I started experimenting though, I discovered that one of the reasons I didn’t enjoy cooking was because I’m not that great at following recipes.

I’ve played by other people’s rules all my life. Do I really need to do the same while cooking? That’s what happens when you try to be “good” most of your young life. You reach adulthood and one day you realize that today is as good a day as any to rebel.

It didn’t help that my mother, who was a great cook, often took a critical stance at my attempts at cooking. I figured, if she doesn’t like what I make I don’t have to cook. And I didn’t – which of course brought about a whole other wave of criticism.

And so it went, until I got married to a guy who loved to cook and eat. Not only that, but he was vegetarian. I never loved meat but no self-respected Greek was a vegetarian or had ever heard what a vegetarian is. And here I am, marrying one. That ought to be fun . . . and so it’s been fun for the past 27 years.

Have you seen “My Big Fat Greek Wedding” by the way? We went to see it and we almost got kicked out of the theatre, that’s how loud we were. We laughed and laughed. It was deja vu! The memory of my mother’s reaction to learning that her son-in-law was a vegetarian, was classic.

Today, 27 years and approximately 19,000 meals later, I can honestly say that cooking has become an activity I enjoy. I’ve even found cookbooks I love using as inspiration. I follow recipes now and then, although there are very few recipes I don’t alter. I love that I can be creative, experiment, and have something yummy and nutritious to share in the end.

For me, keeping it simple and authentic is the way to go. Who needs too much intervention when all this fresh stuff is here for our enjoyment? I love fresh herbs and vegetables; the more flavor and fragrance, the better.
I’ve also decided that cooking suits my style whereas baking doesn’t. If I’m going to have dessert it better be divine. That’s what the French Bakery in our town is for.

I’ve found that being myself is all I can do these days and the people around me agree. I think I’ve found my tribe . . . but more on the subject of “tribes” later.

Stay tuned. . .