everydaybalance

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the recipe that feeds you – november 2009

November1

Recently, I went to a cocktail party where I knew only a few other people than my husband. It was a beautiful setting looking out over the twinkling lights of San Francisco. The fireplace was burning in the corner and a piano sang out into the autumn night. I enjoyed conversations with many new and interesting individuals and noticed how within each conversation the question was often asked, “What do you do?” The implicit understanding was that we were talking about what we “do” for a living, what it is that puts bread on the table. As I thought back over the evening the next morning, the parts of conversation that stood out in my mind were not the names of companies or the description of daily tasks, but what it was that actually feeds us, in less of a consumption way and more of a spiritual way. I remembered the man who described how much more difficult it is to learn the piano compared to the guitar, the woman who talked to me about her favorite restaurants and walks in my new neighborhood, the description of an individual’s love of wine and a couple’s feelings about parenting. This food for life that is our unofficial work is in so many ways a treasure. The set of ingredients that for each individual adds up to passion is fascinating. This recipe, made from a past of colorful experiences, patience and diligence is something that is often undervalued in our conversations. Perhaps it is time to examine more closely what our conversations indicate is most important to us.

Two weeks ago we moved into a home ten minutes from Peter’s work about twenty minutes from San Francisco. Finally every box and bag and parcel that we have here in America sits under one roof. I look around at the beautiful stone fireplace that sits central in our home and wonder about the stories and feelings and music and visitors that will unthread at this hearth. I feel more grounded and at the same time I am conscious of my longing for community, to feel my place in this new land. I am just entering the third trimester of my pregnancy and as our life expands into uncharted territory so does my physical shape. Each day I learn a new point of balance for my body and my emotions. There is constant movement in the tides of change and I listen hard for a rhythm that I can rest in. The question of “what do I do?” is brought up by new friends and within myself as I enter this new phase. At nearly seven months pregnant it is difficult to establish yourself in a new workplace and yet I long for the instant community that this often offers.

Instead, I reach back into that treasure trove of “What feeds me?”and I find my writing, conversations with friends, walks down crunchy Autumn leaf lined streets and the aisles of seasonal farmer’s markets feed me. I rest in the spines of my books along the white bookcase and the openness in my heart as I explore the yoga and meditation centers in the area. I’m in “recruiting” mode, looking for sanctuaries for my heart and local cafes that will feed our bodies and inspire our minds. I’m looking for my favorite tree and a walking path by the water so that I can gage the tide of my days.

Thankfully, we were given the gift that two of our dear friends from Australia arrived in the week that we moved into this new home. Their spirit and approach sung of the energy of family. We felt taken under their wings and the unmistakable gust of Australian spirit that tastes of salty air, accents and sunny optimism. Their energy swept the home clean for us to land into gracefully and the memories of their visit are now tucked into the corners of the bookcase and the dining table and the babies closet and the guest room. During our week together, I couldn’t help but wonder what part of ourselves lives in our long term friendships. The people that I’m thinking of are the kind of friends and family that you would not hesitate to ring in the middle of the night with a problem, big or small. With the arrival of Kath and Trisha, I felt a part of my spirit brought back to myself and through their eyes my life felt more grounded. In each person that we give ourselves to, is a part of our experience held alive like an ember kept safe in a fireplace? Is the air that feeds it, the quality of our trust or simply the existence of love?

I truly believe that certain individuals, whether new or old friends, come into our lives at the times when we need their perspective and energy. Our friends that visited both have experienced living in different parts of the world. They know what it is to replant oneself and the evolution of comfort and questioning that comes with that process. Their experiences which reflected the image of our present situation rocked us back into a place where we felt heard and known.

During our visit, we explored many areas of San Francisco, a city that holds parts of me from long ago. We crawled the arms of the bare headlands and gazed up under the deep orange towers of the bridge. In the midst of Golden Gate Park, I introduced Kath to the Japanese Tea Gardens, a place where as a child I discovered my affinity for fortune cookies eaten slowly and dipped in tea. As we entered the garden, we were knocked back by the change in the air. The plants and layout of the garden created a serenity packed with oxygen and life that immediately changes your mood and energy. In San Francisco the library has a program by which enthusiasts of the city can become volunteer guides. Our guide presented the garden and her history with a kind and respectful voice. We learned of the family that lived there and the energy and love that they bestowed on to the space. We learned of their sad departure from the garden when the US went to war with Japan and this family’s displacement, with only ten days notice, from a serene garden to a war camp somewhere in middle America. Years later upon their return, their home in the garden had been bulldozed and their contribution hardly recognized by the city. They lost their fortune and again were asked by life to begin again.

As I walked through the garden, I could imagine the majesty of their home amongst the various spiritual symbols of long life and good fortune. I imagined their hands shaping the bonzais that now once again plant themselves into the slope of a hill over the babbling brook in the Zen garden. I am reminded that we all are called to make new homes at different points in our lives, some more painful than others. The balance between what feeds our hearts and what feeds our pocketbooks is so important as it is our passions that can never be taken from us.

This month, I invite you to explore a shift in your identity. Ask yourself how often in each day you identify or introduce yourself by your vocation. For one week, simply notice how often you think of yourself as “a certain role”. This may be as a teacher, a nurse, an engineer or a mother. Loosen the strings around how this role defines you and in the week that follows this observation begin to strengthen your identity around what feeds you spirituality, artistically and imaginatively. Begin to speak these intuitive passions and steer your conversations towards their place in your life.

As we get closer to the holidays, our social calendars begin to fill with more events, holiday parties and catch ups with new and old acquaintances. Hold the intention of speaking about what it is that has fed you this year and learn what it is that your colleagues and loved ones practice in their free time. As you begin to consider your holiday gifts, think back to these conversations or to what you know feeds those around you creatively. Take the time to make a list of what it is that you would like to buy. If a friend once played the cello, consider buying them a CD to remind them of that passion. If a loved one once shared with you their dream of becoming a pastry chef, give them a gift certificate for an evening in a cooking school.

As you remind those instrumental in your life of their individual passions, make time in your day to foster your own. We all have unfinished business in our creative closets. Reach in and excavate a long held dream. The texture and color that this will add to your days is good compost for this time of the year. It allows our brains to switch off and dance into a space that fosters relaxation and ease. Allow this to counteract any anxiety that of the higher tempo of the end of the year may bring. As you rediscover old loves, you are also setting the stage for your January intentions in the coming year. In this exploration, you may unearth a new year’s intention that could define what is born for you in 2010.

Often in life, we think that it is the big decisions that define us. This may be what we study at University, who we marry or where we choose to live. But it is often the more subtle shifts that hold the real power, the intentions that we follow through with our bodies and minds in each day. As you explore your creativity, consider keeping a journal and recording your feelings each morning. Notice how different parts of your personality start to shine and how common worries begin to lose their allure. As I reach into my own interests and learn what new colors there are to weave, I will think of you at your own loom carefully creating a pattern that will spill into your life, one that new and old friends will wake up feeling inspired by.

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This monthly inspiration piece brought to you by author Christina Adler at ‘everyday balance’. If you would like to share your experience with these tools, please feel free to email me by visiting the contacts section on the home page. To subscribe for a monthly reminder for these inspiration pieces, simply fill in your name and email address on the home page under “subscribe to everyday balance.” For information regarding life coaching appointments in person, by telephone or online, visit the ‘for life coaching’ section of this website. Photo taken by Christina Adler in San Francisco, California.

posted under 2009 life balance