Thursday, January 19, 2012

Learning to Let Life Happen

Day 19 of Your Year to Wellness

On my bathroom wall, right next to the commode hangs a sign which reads:

Lack of tolerance for petty annoyances destroys significant plans.—Confucius

I need this reminder as I’m often annoyed by life’s petty annoyances, like having to stop mid-sentence to use the bathroom or the interruption of one of my children just as I’ve dozed off to sleep, but life really does happen when we allow it to take our routine off course.

I love my routines. Each morning when I wake up, I meditate, and then I do my mental exercise of thinking on the past, the future then returning to be present. I stretch before getting out of bed and then I get up, making my bed while saying a prayer of gratitude for the bed, my ancestors, my family and friends and life. I routinely wash up and then set out to write for a few hours, drink water, eat breakfast and when that’s done I do my cardio, then yoga. Then after showering and getting dressed, I start my work day--all before 10; I could have been in the army.

Each day, I feel renewed and refreshed for a new beginning. Wellness does not happen over- night, it happens daily. When people tell me how hard it must have been to lose weight and keep it off, I tell them it wasn’t hard at all; that it’s just a series of small changes. The difficulty lies in the consistency. Wellness requires that you adopt healthy habits and do them over and over again.

Sometimes though, we have to let life happen. Yesterday, I started my day like every other, but just when I was about to start my yoga routine, I noticed a bird I’d never seen before just walking about in my yard. It had long legs and long pointed beak so at first I thought it was an egret that had been rolling around in the marsh. Egrets are mainly white, but this thing was the color of my old van; something the manufacture called “chameleon,” having many colors but no one in particular. My sister Christine, our resident ornithologist was out on a morning walk, so I couldn’t ask her for one of her instant identifications.
 I marvel at my sister’s love for wild birds and at her ability to identify the different calls and songs from the multitude of species in our marshy back yard. We grew up on a street that was really just an alley with a small dirt square for a backyard, but Christine always told us that Delaware’s Brandywine park was our real yard and that if we closed our eyes and imagined it, we could see it outside our back window. I now live in a place that looks like the picture she painted for me and my siblings and every day, we all marvel at the natural beauty.

I had a time trying to identify this unknown bird. It walked about calmly searching for worms looking behind the pool and all along the magnificent outdoor mural  painted by one of the original Alvin Ailey dancer turned artist, Juliet Seignious which fences in a portion of my yard. (Wonderful art)
Like me, my yard is cultivated in some places and wild in others. The bird strutted about fearlessly looking for what it needed. Othello my American dog (a mixed-breed of many kinds) looked on as if he too wondered what this thing could be but never made a sound. Without leaving my spot, I looked about for one of our many bird books and tried to take pictures but a camera phone only works so well. Not wanting to experience this alone, I called and awakened my daughter Fatima whose classes didn’t begin until late in the day.

By the time she got downstairs, the unknown creature was gone and so I quietly opened the back door hoping to find him hiding out but I didn’t see him anywhere. Then, in an excited whisper Fatima asked, “Is that what you’re talking about?” I looked to where she was pointing and saw an enormous red tailed hawk perched just a few yards away. I gasped with delight, came quietly back inside and watched until Christine came back home and joined in.

By the time the hawk flew off, Chris had retrieved the bird books and binoculars, and had identified the earlier visitor as well; it was a Glossy Ibis and had never been in our yard before. (All about birds)

When I looked at the time, I realized that an hour had gone by and I hadn’t done my yoga. Then I looked down at my legs and saw that I was standing in tree pose and had been shifting from left to right the entire time.

Wellness requires routines. It demands that we do the same thing over and over again until our practiced habits become success but every now and then, life calls us to be right where we are, seeing everything for the first time as if we’ve never been here before.

·         Create your own 5 things.

·         Be well

·         Love you

·         See things differently

·         Invite someone in.

Be you, Be well Enjoy Life

Bertice Berry, PhD

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