I really love the yoga concept of "aparigraha" or non-grasping. I think of all the things I'm grasping right now and where can I let go my grip just a little. Maybe not release completely, just make it so the pain of holding on so tightly lessens.
Image credit: CM Dasilva
Brrrr. It's cold today and the wind is punishing. It brings back memories of fixing things in the cold with my Dad.
I love tadasana, mountain pose. Samasthiti is the call to action that says "equal standing pose" that brings you to tadasana. I love the feeling of falling rightly into this posture. I tried to capture that "falling rightly" in today's poem.
Do you ever get flashes of recognition, fleeting moments of deep certainty, that you had spent a previous life at a place and time that you could recall? My whimsical mind likes to think that's the case, that I'm remembering moments that I've lived. My logical brain tells me it's because I can imagine it, from reading about it, watching something, talking with someone. I guess we'll never know.
image credit: Money for Coffee
I had a long car ride by myself today and I thought about my name. I really love my name. My parents had it and another name picked out and they asked my Grandpa his opinion and he picked Amy. I also really enjoy meeting and working with other people named Amy. The name Amy means "beloved" and I've often felt it to be a self-fulling prophecy. I do feel loved. Which made me wonder if all the other Amys of the world feel loved. And so, I wrote a fantastical origin story poem to match that dream.
I had my first lecture of my second MBA course tonight. My brain is so full. It's all good knowledge to have and it gave me a headache. So, here's my poem about a learning headache.
It's the first week of my MBA program and I'm really enjoying my Writing in the Workplace course so far. The professor has stimulated lots of conversation and thinking about communication so it's on my mind. Here's an acrostic poem on the word "communicate".
This poem is inspired by a text my dad wrote that my mom shared along with a reminder to see the beauty of the world that's always around us. Dad, your text was your poem. Here's my take on chickadees.
I've had a jam-packed weekend of socializing. I have been buzzing from back-to-back work parties, Oprah's Vision Tour, and a fabulous one-year old's birthday party. All of the moments of connection serve as a reminder that talking to each other can be a gift if we let it. To hear the experience of someone else, to be able to speak your experience and be heard. It might not seem that that's what's happening, when you're talking about a mundane happenstance between wiping up a little one's drool, or walking through corridors to find a restroom. It's happening though. The magic, the connection. When we don't bottle ourselves up, when we feel worthy enough to be forthright in what we are thinking or feeling. Those are the moments we are the most alive.
It was a high energy day. Wow. 100% inspiration recharged. My sister-in-law generously gifted me a ticket (and bought herself one too!) so we could go to Oprah's Vision 2020 Tour in St. Paul today. It was just as magical as you would expect. She's charismatic, mesmerizing, captivating, motivating, and just plain interesting to listen to. So much of her message resonated with books and things I learned from my teachers in my yoga teacher training. Often, I found myself nodding at her bits of knowledge she wished to impart, hearing it align with Inner Engineering by Sadhguru. I've been home now and relaxing, ruminating on what I heard today and decided to capture my experience as a haiku. It's a non-traditional, syllable haiku only (missing the opposite ideas, nature, and the pop!). I also thought up a non-poem. I think "to oprah" could one day be a verb. I would define it like this:
To Oprah: verb, to energize with vital force
Used in a sentence-
She oprahed us with her mad charisma so we went out and changed the world.
I spent a large part of my day cultivating culture at Top Golf in Brooklyn Park, MN. It was great. A wise person I met once told me that culture happens to companies whether they want it or not and if they want a culture that actually helps them accomplish what they want, they better be intentional about it. When organizations dedicate time and energy into offering an event to staff that is paid for and designed to not be related to anything they typically do, that can create a really healthy environment to create culture. Jokes are shared, assumptions are set aside, friendships are built. Today's poem is about creating culture.
I'll be sharing two poems today. They are both on the same subject that I feel strongly about: gender norms and values are culturally constructed and the sooner we stop applying assumptions to each other, the better off we'll be. I grew up on family-owned and run dairy farm in central Wisconsin and my parents had five daughters and no sons. "No sons!," people would parrot in dismay. That's right, no sons, and the work got done, and the cows were healthy, and the farm flourished. No sons.
And here is the second poem, some variation from the first. I get different feelings from both.
Today my poem is about a goat. It's about a very precious and unique goat that we had for only a few years on the farm. He served no purpose other than being a pet. It was pointed out to me at work that it was a miss not to use the "GOAT" acronym (Greatest of All Time) in my poem. So I'll use it here. I hope this is the GOAT poem about a goat.
I spent a large part of my day sitting at the side of an IT person as they "fixed" some issues with my technology. I was thankfully able to work on things at the same time. I thought about how "fixers" are so important. People willing to pull up their sleeves and stick on an issue until it's solved. In my work today, that means casting magic spells in software and applications, on the farm, it was spinning a wrench or wielding a hammer. So here's my poem today, a farm-kid poem, about fixing things around the farm with my dad.
I'm stressing about my prerequisite so I took it easy on myself with the poem today. I thought about one of my favorite yoga poses, crow pose, a.k.a. bakasana, and I set my fingers free on the keyboard.
Have I mentioned I've committed to grad school again? You heard right. Again. Round 1 was over ten years ago at the University of Utah. I completed 100% of the program credits with a 3.441 GPA - degree not conferred - for a master's degree in archaeology. At the time, enrolling for archaeology seemed like the logical choice and, thanks to my sister's sagacious words, I've never regretted the experience and knowledge gained. In fact, I use much of the writing and statistics skills that I earned in that program in my continuous improvement work. In hindsight, I think a career in business would have made more sense for me. Growing up on the dairy farm showed me so much about the benefits and challenges of being an entrepreneur and making smart organizational decisions that I took the ease with which I grasp those concepts for granted.
Not anymore. I am officially enrolled to start earning credits towards my MBA with classes beginning on January 11th! It's exciting and nerve-wracking at the same time. It's got me swirling in a funnel of emotion so that's what today's poem captures for me. Enjoy!
I've been really inspired lately by the incredibly uplifting response to the challenging world events I've been seeing on social media. People I follow have been posting helpful post that offer tangible steps people can take to increase the love, hope, and goodness that composes the global connected experience. Those messages got me thinking about symbols of hope and peace that humanity has rallied around in the past and I always think about the dove. It's one of my favorite symbols especially this time of year and many of my holiday decorations feature a dove (also because I love birds, in general).
So my poem tonight is of the dove and hopefully inspires some of us to holding peace in our hearts where hate or anger might come easier. I hope you like it, and even if you don't, I love you.
You had two options for poems tonight. One was me definitely giving into the negative side of the force in reaction to every trending hashtag on twitter today. The other is a simple nature poem that can be interpreted as you will. In an effort to spread love, not hate, I'm posting the nature poem.
As I was about to fall to sleep last night, I had this vivid "lucid dream" as my friend, Meg, mentioned such dreams might be called, where I dreamt I was soon to die. I went through a myriad of emotion and ultimately settled on an "awshucks" reaction. Once I landed there, I was able to drift on into sleep. In the morning, I was thinking about poems about death. In 2018, my last poetry go-round, I hesitated to write many poems about deep, difficult, or sad type of poems. This year, I'm resolved to not shy away from real and difficult topics, even if they may be a downer. My intention is to be anchored in the human experience and avoid fluffing up the sharp bits. And with that intention, I give you the second poem of 2020: "Death Sits Behind My Eyelids".
Last night, while idly watching my spouse youtube channel surf all the live views of the New York Times square, I was flipping through the "sample" pages of all the books that remain in my library "wishlist" queue, sighing. I was sighing about my decision. Sighing about my commitment to not reading books for pleasure in 2020.
Now, to be clear, there is nobody holding a knife to my throat. No one is going to condemn me for picking up a book for pleasure when the semester gets hard, or I get a cold and want to stay in bed reading. There is no one whose judgement is going to affect my sleeping if I happen to give in to the twinge, when I get the twinge, except my own. And for that, I was sighing. I am a certified facilitator for Franklin Covey's "Foundations of the Speed of Trust" and one of the things they talk about is how integrity, doing what you say you'll do, starts with yourself. So if I want to trust myself, then I have to make commitments and keep them. For myself.
A few years back, I read The Power of Habits by Charles Duhigg and was impressed with the information on what is really happening in our brains as our basal ganglia keeps us safe with the patterns are created in our brains. And I'm not trying to play it safe in 2020. So thinking about the recommendations from Duhigg, I'm going to attempt to pay attention to the physical cues that trigger my reading. For instance, I know that reading on the bus after a long day at work then eating supper and immediately sitting back down on the couch often results in an evening spent only on the couch. The bottom-black-hole syndrome is exactly what I'm trying to avoid.
My vision for myself after I've gone one year without reading is one where I've been engaged and interested in what my spouse is doing, where I'm creating instead of consuming, where I'm active instead of lethargic, and ambitious rather than stagnant. The pieces of me that I'm trying to leave behind with my commitment to abstain from reading for pleasure in 2020 are the pieces that are "ok" with the status quo, the pieces that ignore my spouse in favor of a ripping good tale, the pieces that let the inertia of sitting on the couch keep me at rest for far longer than is healthy or needed. Rolf Gates, in his book Meditations from the Mat, talks about the importance of "renouncing" that which doesn't serve your highest self as a part of your practice of "yoga". So to "yoke", to unite and engage in the universe of experience going on around me, I am renouncing reading books for pleasure in 2020.
Today's poem is me trying to capture a little of the trepidation and resolve toward my commitment.
2019 was an interesting year. Minnesota interesting, which means, for those of you from Not-Minnesota, something not necessarily good that makes you think and might give concern. Many good things happened, and many interesting things happened. From my tiny corner of the earth, humanity appeared in upheaval. I found myself asking from a world-view and daily-view, "which way is up?" Upon reflecting on my 2019, I think I spent the year like an ostrich. My head buried in the sand or peering around with bewildered eyes ready to run away with my useless wings spread and trailing behind me. I deliberately avoided the news. I spent countless hours with my nose in a book consuming fictional worlds with no bearing on my reality. I followed every whim and spread myself more thinly so on occasion I showed up with only a sliver of my presence and attention. According to my amazon kindle account, I read over 250 fictional books in 2019. For someone who was going to read only 4 books-for-pleasure a month in 2019, that's a spectacular fall off the wagon. It was my F.A.I.L....my first attempt at learning. Good thing I have a new year coming.
My commitment to being uninformed and avoiding reality meant I kept my aspirations out of sight. I remember going into 2019 thinking about focus. I did not focus. I reeled and bobbed and swirled around to wherever the currents flowed. Through that confluence, I have come through to the other side with a clearer vision to 2020. I now have a picture of the waters I'm swimming towards.
In 2020, I'll be starting my second stint in graduate school. This time going for my graduate degree in Business Administration. I'll be abstaining completely from reading for pleasure and I'm coming back to some of the habits I created in 2018 and then let go in my year of "focus". I'm going to do another year of poetry. 2020 feels auspicious and a daily recording of my life through poems can only heighten the grandeur. Poetry provides me a lot of clarity and reflection. I took this year's goal-setting as an opportunity to ground my dreams in poetry.
I've been reading a lot about narwhals. They have been popping up in my social media feeds and so I followed the rabbit hole to national geographic and wildspeak.com and worldwildlife.org and I can summarize. Narwhals are amazing. I think they are the perfect animal for me to reflect on to center myself towards 2020. And without further ado, my 2020 goal poem "I Will Be a Narwhal."
We just got back from an excellent Labor Day weekend camping adventure at Scenic State Park in northern Minnesota (see above). Even though I never did more than an easy seat or equal standing pose as an asana (the actual postures of yoga), I felt that I was "doing yoga" or, renewing the mind-body connection, with each activity. An invigorating hike through an oxygen rich forest, a relaxing repose staring into the enchanting dancing flames of our campfire, or even the necessary task taken for granted in modern life of water gathering, all bade me to slow down, to notice, to reconnect.
I snapped the photo of the sunrise above on our first morning when the northern chill was nipping at my fingers and the stillness and beauty was so perfect it made my bones ache. I'm resolved to offer myself more yoga through nature - with the best yoga mat.
This winter is brutal...rugged...challenging...fun. Really I love winter. I can't complain when the snow piles high, the wind snaps my cheeks, and each trek out of doors is an mini-adventure of survival, testing my will to endure. How can I not laugh with maniacal glee when a trip to the grocery store feels like a tundra expedition to the arctic? When I have to muster up the courage to step out of my toasty vehicle to procure my sustenance?
I am done with the chapped lips, the cracking knuckles, the sore nostrils, and the hang nails. The parts of winter that beleaguer the body are trials I could live without. Though, if I can't have the adventure without the hardship, I'll take the hardship. It makes me feel fierce and it makes me appreciate warm days and yoga.
In fact, I just finished a yoga practice focused on building courage and fierceness of heart. It was filled with heat-building heart and throat openers, grounding hip-flexor movement, and strength-building stillness. It made me feel so warm and so good. And, at first, I didn't want to do it.
Just how winter makes me not want to step out of my house, makes me not want to brave the biting wind to get groceries and order in for a cozy dinner, how it makes me want to opt out of the ice skating or snowboarding I love and retreat to the warm fireside couch, it makes me want to curl up with a book instead of getting on my mat. It's those moments I need my practice most. I need to have the courage to face the first cold moments. I need to have the courage to do what I say I'll do.
This week, I'll teach that same class to the tenants of the 701 building in downtown Minneapolis and I think we'll get good and warm. In the meantime, I wrote a poem inspired by this long, long winter.
Creative enthusiast, gregarious naturalist, opinionated activist, RYT 200. Amy Kay Czechowicz completed a poetry challenge for 2018 by posting an original poem daily to this blog and she's doing it again in 2020! You can read those and more by clicking and exploring below!