Monday, February 21, 2011

An "About Me" Speech

              I recently started attending a local Toastmasters group. This is a group that practices public speaking and leadership skills. Since I believe that there is always room for improvement, I decided to participate and volunteered to give a speech. This speech has to be about me, and anyone who knows me will agree that I don't like to talk about myself. Knowing this is probably why I volunteered. I will give my speech tomorrow night. I typed up my speech, and hope that it will go something like this.
                (Roll out yoga mat) You're probably wondering why I rolled this yoga mat out? That's what I do every morning. I step to the front and greet the day with a smile. I go through an hour of asanas, rejuvenate is shivasana and meditate for a few moments. I haven’t always had that discipline. When I was in college I woke whenever my body decided. I’m not in college anymore and I realized that something needed to change. I couldn’t stick to the lifestyle of a college student.  One day a seed was planted in my mind to get up early and do yoga. This thought manifested into action and I rolled out my yoga mat. After I finished I felt a rush of energy I never knew I possessed. This is a great example of how I like to live my life. My world starts as a thought, or seed planted in the soil of my mind. I toss the thought around in my mind (harvest the seed) and finally it manifests into reality, or blooms.
                I am a creative person and I find it difficult to focus on one task for a long period of time. One thing that never changes is my desire to improve. Change is necessary for improvement and I strive to embrace it, though not always easily. What makes it more difficult is knowing that change comes from within. Going back to my yoga example; I was not getting satisfaction out of my day when I slept in, so I changed my actions. This is the foundation for which I live my life
I work toward living my life by three principles: karma, enlightenment and love. I view karma as doing what I know is right in my heart, based on morals that were instilled in me from my parents and other figures I admire. Enlightenment is working to improve myself. And finally love is what I aim to put into every action and interaction throughout my day.
Life is a journey and I have not mastered it. I will continue to try, using the principles and willpower that I possess. At the end of the day I give thanks when I’m on my mat. I don’t roll it up because I believe my journey is never ending.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Finding Meaning in the Mundane

Today was gorgeous! I arose with the idea that I would go sledding. Why not? I was entitled to some fun, even in the snow! I arrived at my house in Reading to find that the driveway was a sheet of ice. The sun was shining on part of the driveway and I could see a thin layer of water underneath the ice. It probably wouldn’t be difficult to remove it. I grabbed a metal shovel and started chipping away. My method was to get underneath the ice and shovel it up. Slowly, I realized that this looked a lot easier than I thought it would be. “Sure, a bit of ice, what could be difficult about it?” was my idea. While I slid around on the black ice, putting all my weight on the shovel trying to get up the thick sheets of ice, I thought and thought. Do you ever think about nothing at all? It was at this moment that an idea struck me. With a loud thud I dropped the shovel with some force onto the top of the ice.
 To my surprise the ice shattered in half and then in pieces. This made it extremely easy to shovel off, like shoveling light snow dusting the ground. Some of the ice was too thick to cut through no matter how much force I put into it. So I resumed shoveling from underneath. I chipped slowly, tediously away at the large ice, until it became smaller and more manageable. After some time I looked up and was able to see the chip, more like chunk that I took out of the larger scale. The driveway was finally starting to look like a driveway again. At this point, my arms were suggesting that I call it a day, but knowing that I could potentially get the whole driveway clear was urging me to keep going. Besides, I wouldn’t have to worry about doing it tomorrow, or slipping on the ice at 2 a.m.
I brushed the chopped snow off of the other ice, and noticed that this was also breaking up some of the ice. Imagine that, progress by happenstance. At this point my nose was running down my face, probably freezing on my legs. They were starting to get that burning sensation, or the feeling of being slapped continuously. Regardless of my situation I worked through it because I could see the results of my work. Often I will work harder when I see my progress. I threw my shovel down, echoing a loud clash like a gunshot ricocheting off the mountains. I felt like I should scream out, announcing my accomplishment, just for effect. Instead I meandered over to the snow. I noticed a strong glare from the sunset bouncing off the top, catching my eye. More ice! I wasn’t even considering shoveling the ice off the top of the snow, what an undertaking that would be. I can guarantee I wouldn’t be writing this right now if I somehow felt compelled to rid my entire property of ice. Everyone needs to know when to stop.
I cautiously placed one foot, then the other onto the snow and found to my amusement that I was standing on at least a foot of snow! After I achieve something, I like a reward. It was time to go sledding. I yanked the sled out of the back corner of our tool shed. Clumsily I stuffed myself onto the 2x4 pink plastic sheet that someone called a sled, and when I was 10 probably would’ve passed for one.  I was uncertain whether I should keep my legs out or try to take it Indian-style. I considered the unfortunate possibilities of limbs hanging out of a moving….object and decided tucking them in was best. I lifted my hand off of the ice that I was gripping onto and without even a push I was flying down the “hill” in my backyard. Without the ice a 5 year old wouldn’t have gotten any speed. I’m amused with the ability to have fun with a sheet of plastic and ice until I approach a wall of ice the plow made when clearing our driveway. Once I noticed my impending doom I screamed until hitting the wall. If it wasn’t for that ice pyramid I might’ve made it down the driveway, across the road and onto my neighbor’s roof. Would’ve been a wild ride, maybe tomorrow!
After a few more slides in the snow, I decided that I needed to thaw out my legs, probably take a hot bath and eat dinner.  I’ll do it all stress-free realizing that I put one project behind me. Regardless of what the task is, taking it on and going piece by piece is the best way. You might come across new strategies and ideas to ease the process! Whatever the task may be, do it with joy and see what wonders come from it.