Learning to relax and go with the flow.

My career has taken me on many adventures which have involved different modes of travel.

On one such occasion I was asked to speak on Captiva Island in Florida. I went with a friend of mine, first by air and then we rented a car to get to the island.

Sandy is somewhat of a control freak and so she wanted to drive. I was fine with that since I really don’t care if I drive or not, and so we set out in our rented convertible which we felt would make the trip even more enjoyable.

The day was exquisite and the scenery was beautiful. However, I could tell Sandy was uptight.

I asked her if she was all right and she answered rather tersely that she had to pay attention to the road and the signs so she wouldn’t make any mistakes getting us to our destination. The word “mistake” is not an option for my friend.

As we headed down a curving stretch of the road, she spotted a sign that said: Toll bridge, three miles, three dollars.”

Urgently, Sandy asked if I had any money.

I replied, “I don’t know. Don’t worry. We’ve got plenty of time before we get to the toll to find it.”

In my mind, three miles is three years away.

“I need to know if you have three one-dollar bills.” she said.

“Why? Won’t a five do?” I replied.

“No.” Sandy was starting to get irritated. “That will take too much time. Just look in your purse, will you?”

Well, now we were in trouble. My purse is not just a purse. It’s an abyss.

It’s a large leather object that weighs about 15 pounds. I have enough stuff in it to do electrolysis, open heart surgery, and cook a pizza.

Attempts to hastily retrieve any particular item quickly is a joke. But since Sandy’s face was turning purple, I dug in, looking for the elusive three one-dollar bills.

“Well, do you have them?” she asked.

At that moment, my fingers touched bottom and slid around a trove of coins. “I’ve got lots of change,” I said happily.

Sandy groaned. “We can’t give them that much change. “What are we going to do?”

Her inability to go with the flow was about to give her a stroke.

I casually responded that we could pitch a tent and wait for someone to give us the three one-dollar bills, or just pull a Thelma and Louise to end it all.

The toll person could have cared less what I gave her, and Sandy finally lightened up enough for us to enjoy our time together.

Ultimately we can control nothing. Learn to be flexible.

Being in the Moment Isn’t Always Easy. Just Breathe!

I often heard my mother discuss the fact that she felt time was going more quickly as she aged. I often thought it couldn’t go quick enough. But then I was young and rarely reflected on the fact that we are not here on a permanent basis. Lately I find myself connecting to many of my mothers’ statements especially the ones around how life seems to whoosh by with each passing year. It seems that I just had Thanksgiving dinner and now it’s here again. How did that happen? And Christmas is just around the corner. Of course it’s not easy to forget either holiday since the media relentlessly feeds us their ads to buy, buy, buy starting in late August.  Christmas decorations are already up and we haven’t even cleared the Thanksgiving dinner. Black Friday is closing in on us, but now there’s some stores that will be open at 9Pm Thanksgiving night in case you have an obsessive need to go to a store and leave your guests in the living room. Forget hanging out and reflecting on the day’s gathering. It’s much better to think about what you’ll be going to purchase while you’re chewing  on a drumstick. We have turned life into a constant need to access the future without living in the present. This shift in how our culture lives their lives creates a great deal of stress  My mother and her generation seemed to savor each holiday without feeling obligated to discuss the one coming. I have talked to many people about this phenomenon and it may be time to reflect on spending more time honoring the moments we’re in rather than anticipating or dreading the ones that are coming. This is not an easy practice in a society that has come to value “doing” rather than “being”.  However, perhaps the gift you may want to access this season is reminding yourself throughout the day to just breathe. When you’re stressed out you breathe more rapidly. The simple act of inhaling and exhaling slowly and purposefully allows you to be aware of the present moment. Every moment that we honor with a deep breath allows us to feel more peaceful by helping to quell the inner critics that never stop reminding us of “what’s next”.Try it when you’re at the Thanksgiving dinner table and Aunt Hattie tells you the turkey is dry, or when you’re lying in bed worried about how you’re going to get all your shopping done, or in dozens of stressful situations that pass and soon become part of the tapestry of life. Just breathe!

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