Excerpts from the Bike Path

I live next to the Ojai bike path and for many years I found the conversations early in the morning on the bike path annoying. I managed to find the fun in the process over time and developed the idea of finishing the thoughts, phrases and snippets I hear as people walk or ride by on their bikes. I envisioned a book titled, Excerpts from the Bike Path, the uniqueness of completing. I have been collecting the phrases but until today, April 20, 2018, I have not actually written one. As I am typing I just heard a girl whizzing by on her bike saying “I feel so free – oh guys” and I know just how to finish the story. I love the synchronicity of perfect timing.

[ Newest entry at the bottom]

I feel so free – oh guys . . .

I am so excited. I finally have my writing website up and running. This is the way I always knew I would feel when I finally dared to put my heart out on paper. Not the perfected, well crafted, highly edited piece for my professional clients, but just me in the freedom of the moment writing what is true in this moment.  [And thank God for Mary my amazing editor who checks in from time to time on my syntax and bloopers] I love how expanded I feel.  The web designer and I just finished all the details of this website a few minutes ago and I am in awe of how easily and simply it all came together. When things are this easy you know they are lined up. I am lined up inside and on purpose. I think it is time to celebrate. A waffle ice cream cone at the Ojai Valley Inn would do nicely. Time to hop on my bike and follow the bikepath over to the Inn and give myself a treat!  One Excerpt down and many more stories to go!

So Quiet . . .

Of course, the usual flow of comments by passersby has dwindled since my first post. So I will tell you about how I used to try to make the bike path suit my needs and be quiet. Really? I laugh thinking I ever did that. For a long time maybe a couple years I begged inside for early morning silence on the bike path and it was quite a topic of my irritation. The more I focused on it, the greater the noise become along with my disturbance. At one point I had visions of putting a chair out there at 6 am and having a big sign that said – Quiet please neighbors still sleeping. Honestly, the first words were more like – Shut up – we are still sleeping.  Thank God I never went that far. Finally, I relaxed and placed my focus on my real job here –  to cooperate and to incorporate the sounds that disturb. My inner quiet became the place that needed my attention, not the bike path. How silly of me to ever think I could control people I don’t even know and expect that things change to fit my preferences. That just isn’t the way the world works.  I laugh now when I think about all the energy I put into trying to change the bike path inhabitants. Laughter – now there is the sound I love to hear coming from the bike path and from the one listening. I love how taken care of I am. For at this moment, while typing there is laughter and joy flowing in from the no longer silent bike path. A sweet family is passing by and all I can hear is the joy of a small child sweetly calling, “Mama, Mama.”

I hope not . . .

I heard this phrase yesterday floating in from the bike path and when I sat down to write nothing showed up. My first two excerpts were not real finishing of stories so I was disappointed as I was ready to write one. I moved on thinking another passerby would give me something to write about. One didn’t come. In a dream last night I told a friend of mine that I needed to meet her artist brother as I thought he and I might collaborate with my words and his art. I woke up this morning and wrote down the dream. As I wrote I remembered my greeting card project that I tabled years ago. My friend Bea and I talked about perhaps doing a line of cards. I said to myself, I wonder if I deleted them in my recent great purge of old files. And I heard myself say – I hope not. I laughed realizing I had a bike path excerpt after all. Things do come around again if I am patient. PS  I checked my email files and found an email titled “Let’s make Art together with all the one-liner card ideas included. Perhaps I will add a page called Greeting Card ideas.

And honestly, I am wondering . . . 

what were they talking about as they walked by my window? And since I can’t know and it’s probably best to keep to my own 10 acres I will see what I am honestly wondering about. I wonder how people who live in towns with more clouds than sun lifts their spirits [this is the fourth day in a row of gray], I wonder what wonderful thing could happen today that I have not yet imagined. I wonder how my friend is doing after his mother and partner departed this world in the same 24 hours. I wonder what the birds are singing to each other and I wonder how can I reach out this day with more of my heart and I wonder about all the surprises coming my way and I wonder . . .

I love you, Babe . . . 

he said with great loving. And I love you, Babe, I whispered in my heart with great delight as he continued on his way down the bike path. It made me smile as I am currently asking each day to welcome a partner into my life. Part of my vision is imagining the sound and energy of his voice with loving that is genuine and caring.  How fun that his voice was the one I have been imagining. Even though he was not talking directly to me, I received it. What makes me smile even more is maybe 30 minutes ago I wrote another excerpt titled “And honestly, I am wondering” in which I wondered about what wonderful thing could happen today that I had not imagined. And I received. I love you, Babe for letting me wonder.

I forgot . . . 

so many thoughts flood in about forgetting and how I could finish his statement. “I forgot to close the garage door, I forgot to call so and so. And then the  “oh no” I forgot to,” which can carry the energy of judgment. Interesting that of all the options available to finish his thought, I chose what I forgot to do. What about what I forgot to say, see or feel? Do I ever use forgot in those contexts? I forgot to see his point of view; I forgot to say what was in my heart; I forgot I could do it this way.  So many other choices. I guess in our world when we say I forgot it usually refers to something we didn’t do. What if using the word forget could apply to a whole other arena such as, I just noticed I forgot to judge, react or make fun of. Or what if we used forgetting to remind us of what we would like to do more . . . I forgot to tell myself how much I appreciate what I just did. I forgot to laugh and have fun. And maybe we could switch from forgetting to remembering. I am remembering I want to close the garage; I am remembering to take a deep breath. I am remembering to be kinder to myself; I am remembering to laugh etc. Remembering is an action in motion and forgetting tends to keep us on the static side of the equation. I have a friend who is dealing with Alzheimer’s and sometimes she can’t remember what she is about to say. She doesn’t choose to say “I forgot.” Instead, she focuses on remembering and she will say – just a minute or I’ll be right back (which simply means I am waiting till I know what to say) It is a very sweet kind way to speak to herself. Using the word “forget” in fact makes the retrieval harder as you are signaling the brain to forget instead of remembering. We make sure to have fun with the process and keep ourselves laughing with what could be quite challenging. What is clear to me in our friendship is that it is all about the remembering of the loving we share. I will never forget the loving.

There are things that come up that . . . 

are just not on my schedule, and I have to choose to ask myself do I stop what I am doing and handle it or do I let it go, or write it down for later. Sometimes I wish someone else could decide for me. A friend of mine years ago began living her life by what was spiritually aligned and checks inside with her inner knowing before rushing off to do something that perhaps is not the best choice at that moment. Often my mind can over think a choice and then get in the way of what might be the higher aligned action. I have learned a lot observing her. Practicing that level of inner attunement has a great deal of freedom in it and takes the angst of having to decide out of the equation. I also find for myself there is a higher level of cooperation if I get an inner green light. If the Light is on it, I can easily move forward. Like this excerpt. It came about while I was writing the previous one. My first thought was, do I do this now or later. Then it started writing itself. The Light was on it.

I did it, I did it . . . 

the young boy kept shouting. How delightful to hear the enthusiastic, proud, joyous declaration of doing what his heart wanted. I was lifted just hearing him shout. I am imagining him doing a trick on his skateboard or running a distance or whatever was his vision. The expression of exhilaration of being able to do it for me is the piece that is often missing. I was with a client yesterday who was focusing on all that wasn’t completed instead of celebrating what is being done. The joy of celebrating for me is often missing and it can be our best support. Keeping my own enthusiasm active has been one of my challenges, although people I know might not understand that. I know that the celebrating has been a major key to keeping my enthusiasm engaged. No matter how tiny an achievement I make celebration part of the equation. I talk out loud to myself with words of appreciation such as “great job, honey” or “thank you for doing that.” For me, sharing the joy of completing with myself is blessing what is.

We are going to go around . . . 

so as not to run into the people walking is what the Dad was saying to his kids as they rode by on their bikes. Oh darn I thought, I heard the whole conversation. I was standing at the window listening to see what snippets I might hear from the path on this Mother’s Day Sunday. At that moment I realized that the snippets I am used to hearing from the bike path are parts of stories or conversations that come from early morning walkers. The kids with parents are usually laughing or shouting. And parents with kids on their bikes are mostly giving directions or warnings. The two or more walkers are the talkers. My bedroom used to be on the side of the house with the bike path. I might have to get up earlier and go in that room to get more snippets. And who says that since I heard the whole communication I can’t make something up. We are going to go around . . . and around and around until we all fall down. A childhood refrain from a game just popped in my head. I remember the delight of all of us crashing to the floor in giggles of laughter and delight at ourselves. We could play that game for what seemed like hours. Again please, again please, the constant refrain of a child who is experiencing the simple joys of being present in the moment.

Are you . . . 

doing okay is how I would complete that phrase. That came to mind as a client told me today about a person in their life who “holds court” when they are together and there is no opportunity for conversation. I offered them a technique I used years ago when my boss would do the same and I remember being so frustrated. All I did was repeat these simple words,  “I love you, God bless you” inside of me when he would continue talking. And it worked. The first time he turned to me and said: “I sure do talk a lot, don’t I ” to which I replied, yes and we both laughed. Turning my judgment into neutrality was the issue.  And tonight I finally practiced using this technique on a bulldozer outside my home that has been beeping non stop all day with a very shrill sound. I laughed when I recognized the issue was not the beeping sound but the outrage inside of me that I had to put up with it.  Those simple words I love you, God bless you, were for me, not the bulldozer. Nor were they for my boss. I am grateful for being reminded of my responsibility to be loving and to be patient.

The hardest . . . 

part for me is loving my impatience, the trying too hard, the not knowing and the fear of surrendering to the trust. I laugh thinking of the years of unnecessary impatience, anxious worry, wanting to know etc and the truth that everything, every time has worked out perfectly. My impatience, worry or concern was never required or asked for. Just a habit I acquired in this world. It’s quite audacious of me to even consider I am actually in charge of the universe and how it is unfolding. This week alone I have had so many instances of grace and perfect timing that overshadowed any concern on my end. I keep loving the impatience etc while practicing a new behavior of simply asking throughout the day to receive what is mine. It is wondrous to watch and see how simply and easily what is mine is delivered.

Like my Dad, you know . . . 

always willing to go that extra mile for someone else, kind to everyone he met and joyful in his doing. I remember wanting to be so much like my Dad. Everyone always said I looked like him. [Although to a young girl that didn’t seem like a compliment] He was one of those people who everyone loved and loved being around. His thoughtful nature was a great teacher for me. I appreciated his self-reliance and he taught me the importance of taking care of myself not by demonstrating it but by his lack of self-care. He seemed to burn the candle at both ends with his wanting to handle it all and take care of all of us.  And I mimicked him quite well for many years until it was clear it wasn’t serving me. The fun part is that he knew how important self-care was as he was often reminding me to “take it easy” as he would say. Putting myself at the top of the list has become a practice, one I practice daily. My Dad would be proud. I am now my top priority and can give of my overflow of loving and caring that my Dad generously showered on me.

There’s so much . . .

My first inclination was to go with finishing this sentence with “to do, ”  and then “to learn” and then to “be thankful for” and as I write I am landing on “there is so much good I can focus on.”  And whenever I forget I can focus on another good, or God thing I am aware of taking place around me and in the world.  A friend and I both attended a conference last week with a different format than in the past.  My experience was quite different from theirs.  Those surrounding me experienced it as deeply healing and profound because of the new format. The people around this person had some negativity. I noticed inside myself that just hearing about what others were saying started having an impact on my opposite positive experience. Negativity has a very strong pull and effect. I was aware of how easy it is to get on the negative bandwagon and let go of responsibility for what I focus on. During a process at the conference, I had a very clear glimpse of how my viewing point has been clouded with negative perspective and thinking another was responsible while ignoring responsibility for my part. It was humbling and freeing. Taking responsibility for what I say, think or do matters and keeping my focus on the good and the divine is Heaven on Earth. [name of the conference]

The spider web . . .

is huge, I imagined the kid might be about to say. I wonder if the web was on his bike or the fence on the bike path. And then I wonder how does one little spider accomplish so much and create such beauty?  When spiders are in my house I am careful to collect them in a cup and deliver them outside.  I honestly don’t spend any time looking at the artwork that they leave behind. Seems odd not to treat spider webs as art even if only for a few seconds. I usually get the broom and brush them away.  What if we treated the web of spiders as a gift to be received and appreciated like we do each other’s talents in our lives. It’s quite an art to weave those webs given the size of the spider and the expanse of some of the webs they weave. Growing up we learned about getting caught in spider webs and the creepiness of it all. I say maybe it is time for some reverence for the creature artists among us. Their webs tell their story and while temporary they are here to been seen and admired. Maybe I could enjoy them a bit before I sweep them away.

And the next day she . . .

gave it all away. She took all the things that she never uses, the things she was keeping because she couldn’t part with them, and dropped them off at Goodwill. As she drove away she suddenly felt exhilarated.  The new song Have it All by Jason Mraz was playing in the car and she realized as she heard the lyrics; “I want you to have it all” that her definition of having it all was changing. It used to be about stuff and accumulation and doing. She thought about the stuff at Goodwill and realized that none of it had been serving her in any way and in fact pulled on her attention. Now she felt the difference of being free of her attachments. Having it all is really about being relaxed here in this moment in her natural state of being, filled with enthusiasm for her life,  finding ways to make the mundane more fun, loving what is taking place, giving of herself where she can serve, enjoying friends, family, laughing, playing, being outside in nature, moving her body and knowing she is a divine being.  The stuff while fun to give and receive isn’t where the vitality lives. Being connected to the all of this moment and giving and receiving of the living love, now that’s having it all.

He reached out . . .

with great affection allowing her to receive his gentle touch and relax in his presence. She noticed the quality of his touch was genuine, and she smiled in recognition. What a blessing to get to connect without the sometimes awkwardness of first meetings. She appreciated the gentle introduction and wondered about this very intriguing new person to get to know. If how he reached out was any indication of his consciousness she was delighted at the prospects to get to know more about him. A friend had introduced them and she was grateful that he initiated the communication and with such grace and ease. She returned his touch by placing her hand on his saying, “it is so lovely to be in your presence.”  Likewise, he said as he opened the door to the restaurant.

I heard . . .

the sound of the loons as my body was drifting off to sleep. The sound is one that takes me far away as if I am in another land. Being at the lake relaxes me into being. And the loons are an invitation to let everything go and follow the sound wherever it leads. I love how different places on this planet have sounds that are unique to that place. The one worldwide sound unique to every place I have been in this world is the sound of a buzzing fly. Probably not most peoples favorite sound but it happens to be one of mine.  The sound of a fly always takes me back to my summers as a child in Waldoboro, Maine at my grandmother’s farmhouse. There was no indoor plumbing and we fetched water from a well. We picked wild blueberries and ate Nana’s homemade doughnuts and blueberry cake. The sound of flies takes me right back to the swinging hammock with the green and white striped cushion warmed by the sun. Those days were carefree and full of the wonder of simply being a kid.

But he could have . . .

let me do Mom’s eulogy. I have been unable to complete that bike path phrase for over a week. Today I decided to sit down and just see what showed up.  My Mom died when I was 24, a very long time ago. I had asked my Dad if I could please speak at the memorial. His reply at the time infuriated me.  “No honey, you will cry.” As the minister waxed on without any connection to my Mom, my Dad leaned over and said – honey I’m sorry, you would have done a much better job. We both learned from the experience. It was my Dad’s feelings he was trying to protect not mine. Often we think we are protecting others when it is our own feelings that are the issue. In the larger scheme of things what was said that day didn’t matter as the loving that was my Mom was present in all those who attended the service. Everyone loved my Mom.  Except me at that time. I was the oldest and the most criticized. Over the years as I let go of what I thought I should have had from her and realized I received exactly what was needed, I opened back up the loving in my heart for my Mom. She gave me and all those who knew her the loving of her heart above all. And that was what I would have said back then at her service.

What exactly . . .

are you saying?  I am listening and would love to hear more about what is going on.  I can only imagine what you are walking through. The one thing I can offer you is my attention and receiving anything you want to express. Sometimes for me just saying it out loud helps resolve what is challenging me. I will shut up now and you can speak and I will simply listen.

Ha, ha, ha, ha . . .

was all I could hear. As I listened for the conversation the laughter continued. I thought to myself how wonderful to just hear the laughter. No need for words, just that delightful experience of laughing together about something or nothing. The joy coming from the bike path at that moment was contagious. I am remembering a moment in a training where my partner and I were laughing so hard we couldn’t stop. Then I made this very unusual sound and it made us both laugh even more till we both dissolved as did those around us. (and we both peed our pants a bit)

No conversation . . .

The bike path is speaking in muffled sounds of late or my hearing is changing.  I used to see two people walking having a conversation. What I am noticing in the last few months is more bike travel and more families. The sounds I hear as people peddle by are not conversations. Mostly I hear the shouting out of directives/commands; slow down, go left, stop, stay to the right. And those directions are usually to kids. It seems to me that we have moved as a culture from conversation to commands. Parenting in our fast-paced and full to the brim scheduling of activities has become less about conversation and more about yes and no, getting kids from place to place and asking questions or giving commands—Please put the phone away!  Don’t forget your lunch.  Have you eaten?  Remember, I am picking you up at 3:30 on the dot.  Hurry or you will miss the bus!   When we ask about our kid’s day, often we are not actually wanting to know as we ask questions that can be easily answered with one word—how was school or did you have a good day?  Yes /No/ Fine end the conversation.  If we want to engage a conversation then we need to ask an open-ended question like, tell me about your day today.  And then we need to listen and engage in the conversation.  Directions and commands are part of life but when they become the only communication then we are not in conversations that are essential for our well-being and connection. To me, connection is worthy of our increased attention.

I would be willing to move to . . .

a town or city would be the logical completion to this statement. But what if they were talking about moving to a new attitude or point of view or to another bedroom in a house or a new office. It can be so easy to fill in from what makes sense and then there are hundreds of other possibilities. What might I be missing if I assume these bike path walkers were talking about moving locations. I love that I don’t know and that the wondering opens up other possibilities. As this is Dec 31, 2018, I would be willing to move to some new behaviors in 2019. The first one that comes to mind is to write more. I notice my entries have been quite sporadic. I know that making a commitment to a daily entry is one way to make a change and I just might take the plunge. I love the freedom of writing. A friend and I are doing a writing partnership once or twice a week for 2 hours together. Today I an seizing the opportunity thanks to the bike path walkers to write on my website vs the inner soul writing that I tend to do. And maybe it is time to publish some of that writing. So many options and all it takes is the willingness to do. A new year is always a wonderful time of expansion.

Or Maybe . . .

leave it wide open and not have to decide how to proceed. What if there is a bigger plan in mind and my wanting to decide and structure things is keeping something even more amazing from appearing.  Maybe choosing the spontaneity of the moment is the best choice.  Allowing the freedom of what can unfold without the planning is the joy of unscheduled days simply listening to where my attention wants to flow.  Trusting the universe to present all kinds of options expands and engages me in new ways.  Like right now – sitting down to write with pen and paper and suddenly finding myself at the computer and on this writing site finishing the “Or maybe” words uttered by a bike path passerby 3 weeks ago. Initially, I didn’t have any thoughts about what to write at the time and maybe today was the day. Or maybe . . . or maybe. . .  or maybe. Endless reasons and endless options.

 

You know we have a . . .

friend, we would like you to meet.  He’s a bit younger than you and he is looking for the same things in a relationship you are or at least you used to talk about.  We have been hesitant to say anything as you look quite content in your life and this opens up a whole new ball game.  As I listened to her talking I could feel that old excitement rising when the opportunity of meeting someone new was a possibility. At the same time, I am aware that my life is quite wonderful on my own.  I have been blessed with many wonderful relationships in my life for which I am very grateful. And honestly, while the idea of a partnership still sounds yummy I notice that inner voice rearing its cautionary head asking, are you sure? My heart is for sure all in and my mind has a lot to say about it.  Imagine having to negotiate space and time in cooperating.  And I reply – yes and don’t we do that already with our friends?  My mind asks: and what about how you love the silence in our home.  And I reply, maybe it’s a little too quiet.  My mind asks: and how will you write with someone else in your space.  And I reply: perhaps we won’t live in the same house?  And my mind says: then why even consider being in a relationship.  I laugh inside realizing that this conversation is pointless as there is no one at this moment that I am partnering with and all of these considerations can’t be dealt with except in the present moment. I turn to my friends and say, sure I am happy to meet him.  One moment at a time.

 

I asked . . .

and there was no response to my question, “do you agree?”  As I listened for their reply, moving between impatience and patience, I wondered if I really wanted to hear what they thought?  Maybe I was seeking outer validation not trusting my own truth and awareness.  So I listen inside for the real question I was asking,  “I just received an inner message that touched me.  Can I share it with you?”  It’s not about agreeing or validation. It’s about closeness.  I wonder how many questions I ask that are not needing an answer but are simply looking for a way into intimacy.  

 

I asked . . .

and there was no response to my question, “do you agree?”  As I listened for their reply, moving between impatience and patience, I wondered if I really wanted to hear what they thought?  Maybe I was seeking outer validation not trusting my own truth and awareness.  So I listen inside for the real question I was asking,  “I just received an inner message that touched me.  Can I share it with you?”  It’s not about agreeing or validation. It’s about closeness.  I wonder how many questions I ask that are not needing an answer but are simply looking for a way into intimacy.  

 

Is anyone there?…

Tomorrow is April 1, 2020. The ever-bustling bike path has become silent with our current ‘stay at home’ circumstance. There was a time when I prayed for the quiet when I first moved into this home 20 years ago. Now I am very much aware of the missing sounds of the bike riders and walkers.  It is comforting. And now a new comforting has arrived. The silence is bringing my awareness to what I have been rushing past and missing. I am hearing more clearly the sounds of the birds chirping joyfully. I am experiencing the stillness that always wraps me in it’s gentle presence that I was not always experiencing. And I am listening to my own inner awareness asking for my attention.  I am aware that being on my own gives me that luxury as I am not sharing my space with many others. I am grateful for my single status in this time and at the same time feeling connected to all of us in this time together.  As I am typing, I just heard two voices passing by on the path.  How sweet to be reminded of what will come again in time. 

 

I can put it in the backyard…

Now it is early May and slowly sounds of life are returning to the bike path.  I have loved the quiet and I am grateful for the return of the sounds of human life.  And a conversation between two friends as they walk by and talk about putting something in the backyard reminds me of being in my neighborhood growing up. The adults gathered and talked in the early evening as the kids played hide and seek and other group games till twilight.  The feeling of family was real and palpable.  We shared meals, celebrated birthdays, took care of each other when needed and we knew each other. We offered our time and resources to one another.  As we come out of quarantine I am envisioning a return to the connection between us all in ways that may have been dormant. If the last two months are any indication we are well on our way to greater community and support of everyone.  I am awed by the way we all stepped forward doing what was our part in this time of sheltering at home. May our homes welcome each other with open arms and hearts. 

And then there was music …

wonderful music, as if floated down the bike path filling the noonday sun with its melodious joy. Hearing the sound of music at that moment amidst the silence I recognized it as the sound current of God reminding me to continuously be listening and receiving.