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Fall-sunset-gristmill_-_Virginia_-_ForestWanderThree years ago, on November 10th, I posted this on my Facebook page:

“I have seen people posting the things they are thankful for in November…here’s mine: I went for a walk on the battlefields last night during my son’s soccer practice. It was a beautiful, beautiful twilight. The sun was setting through the trees, leaving them in silhouette, shining on the water of a little creek, making it sparkle. The fall colors were luminous; the sky was clear blue aside from the colors of the sunset just starting to bleed in. It was quiet – so quiet – except for the sounds of a woodpecker that I stopped to watch for a while, and a chipmunk who ran through the leaves. The air was cool and crisp and smelled like fall. Perfection.

And I had a moment of clarity.

All of this beauty is always here. Every day. I may be running around, busy, thinking of other things, but it is always here. I just need to stop and notice. You can call it God, you can call it Love, you can call it connecting energy, Beauty – it’s always around us and in us: in relationships, in work, in nature – in everything, but you have to stop, look, listen and feel the bliss. Gratitude.”

Up to that moment, it had been an ordinary November day.

In other words, I was feeling stressed and overwhelmed with work, life, and family.  If I am completely honest, I will confess that I had also just had an argument with my husband, the details of which having since faded from my memory.  I took the walk to try to slow down the recording that was playing and re-playing in my head – he said, I said, he said, I said – along with all of the reasons that I must be right and a mile-long to-do list riding underneath the surface of all of it.  I finally yelled at myself in my head, “STOP!  Just breathe.  Stop thinking.  Just breathe and try to be quiet for a moment.”

That’s when the moment of clarity happened.  Just like that.  Suddenly, the details and to-do lists and the noise in my head faded away into oblivion, and the scene I described above revealed itself to me.  I was filled with a knowing that I could come back to this Quiet place at any time and from any physical location.

Today is another ordinary November day, and like that day three years ago, I find myself overwhelmed with work and the to-do lists of birthdays and impending holidays.  It seems to be a common theme this time of year for me.  The domino-effect starts with my son’s birthday in October right before Halloween, and then all of the birthdays and holidays come faster and faster, one after another, along with a burst of projects from people who are trying to spend their budgets before the year’s end.

But on Monday, despite a mile-long to-do list and deadlines hovering over my head like dark shadows, I went to yoga class.  Three years ago under these circumstances, I would have bailed on yoga to work.  I would have told myself that I didn’t have time to do yoga.  On Monday, I told myself that I couldn’t afford not to do yoga with so much work to do.

So I took a few minutes to be a mountain; grounded, strong and immovable.  For another few minutes I was a warrior, ready to take on the challenges of the day/week/life ahead.  Then I was a tree, rooted and strong, but flexible in the gale-force winds that seem to whip around me with some regularity.  And for a little while, I felt strong and peaceful and happy.  In the midst of chaos, I found my Quiet place.  I promised to bring that peace with me for the remainder of the week and remember to breathe when Life started trying to bully me with the notion that there are more important things to think about than breathing.

My teacher, Lynn, closes many of our classes with this thought:

“Take an inventory of your practice and your body.  Notice how you feel right now, and know that you brought yourself to this place.  You always have the power to make yourself feel the way you do right now.”

Happy Anniversary of An Ordinary Day to me and to you.  In the midst of chaos, please stop and breathe and find some peace.  Namaste.

Photo credit: http://www.forestwander.com/2011/09/fall-sunset-gristmill/