Fear

I’ve had a lifelong fear of flying. It’s never prevented me from going anywhere but I am not saying I haven’t grabbed (or rather dug my nails) into the passengers arm next to me (okay usually Lance, sometimes Roxanna) during some scary turbulence. I sat next to a pilot on one of my flights back from Puerto Rico (poor him, yay for me) and quizzed him on everything from wind sheer to lightening to what the heck happened on that Air France flight from Brazil (I am like Rain Man with plane accidents). Then I asked him about his diet (as he pulled out  a baggie full of candy) and I told him he ate like crap. I think it was an enlightening experience for both of us….if I do say so myself.

But what it really got me to thinking about (something I have pondered a lot this year) is fear. I have spent a lot of energy of being afraid of flying and yet I’ve flown 100’s of flights and I’m still here. It’s the things that I never feared that have happened. I certainly wasn’t fearing a brain tumor. And since Lance was diagnosed I have had fewer fears than I have had in my life. I realized what a waste of energy those fears have been. Lots of expended energy and not a whole lot of return. I have really tried over this past year and a half to have trust in our process but be grateful for each day, knowing that fear is a head thing and that if I lead from my heart that the fear diminishes. I am not saying I am some master at this. I’M NOT. I just practice this daily because well, frankly I have to.

In fact these past couple months fear came up in a big way again. And I just wanted to yell “Go away! You are not helping the situation!” But then it was still there. And at times it’s been overwhelming, even paralyzing. Lately though, I’ve felt this feeling of moving beyond it again and I wanted to share what has been helping. One has been my continued meditation practice (ah yes, any chance I get I will encourage you to meditate…the cure for almost everything).

I would wake up with that dreaded feeling and drag myself out of bed and sit my tush on my cushion and slowly it would melt away. And meditating always helps me be present and then I realize when I’m in the moment, I am not afraid. So why waste my energy on fear? The pilot brought up a good point that fearful flyers are always anticipating for the big moment when the plane looses control. Ahh, that would be me!! But that’s not being in the moment now is it? I loved that pilot so much, that I gave him a list of books, movies, and food suggestions to help him change his and his family’s diet. 🙂

So recently I feel calm, knowing that we (Lance and I) have today and that’s all any of us know. It gives me a reprieve and makes me grateful for this day.

Doing my best to fear less,
Nancy

Just a cute little picture of my family being in the moment...

 

HBT

I know at least one friend is going to smile when she sees this topic. Her dad coined the term “HBT” or Horizontal By Ten. I know you all know this but I think it’s something we all need to be reminded of…including me. As Lance watches me doing circles around the bedroom (so patient, my man), he often wonders, “will she ever get in bed?!”

I can’t tell you what exactly I am doing but I often find myself diddle dallying and suddenly it’s 10:45 and I am annoyed at myself. It’s a constant balance for me and when I do succeed at getting HBT I feel so much better the next day because it is actually a fact, that almost ALL humans get a second wind after 10:30 at night. I’ve heard people say, “I just get so much energy at night.” Actually you are not alone. If you are staying up past 10:30, that’s pretty normal and makes it a lot harder to wind down. Also, research shows the sleep you get before midnight is actually your most restful sleep of the night. A night owl’s sleep is much less rejuvenating.

Instead of listing all the benefits of sleep, I wanted to tell you a story that I found particularly fascinating. A friend of mine has been dealing with arthritis for years and years. She has kept her head high but all of us have seen the inflammation and knew the pain she was in. She tried it all from western to eastern but relief wasn’t coming easily. The other day, we were talking about the importance of getting in bed early. This friend is a self proclaimed night owl. She said for the first time in her life she was really working on getting to bed earlier. What really amazed me was she said for the first time in 3 1/2 years she was symptom free. So I hope that is enough to express the importance of sleep and being horizontal by ten.

Zzzzzzzz,
Nancy

The power of touch

I have been practicing yoga for about 15 years. When I first started, yoga teachers would adjust you, touch you, sometimes wrap their arms around you and it felt like you and your yoga teacher were one. Then around 8 or so years ago, it stopped. Completely! Well, you get a tap here and a tap there but really it changed pretty drastically. I realized quickly in this litigious society we live in that they were all afraid of getting sued. Thus I adjusted to the new way of doing yoga…no adjustments and finally after awhile, I accepted it.

I bring this up because recently while in yoga I got the royal treatment and realized how differently I felt when I left the class. My teacher did the full on shivasana treatment, pulled my legs, ran his hands down my back, pulled my shoulders up, smoothed my forehead out. Little does this yoga teacher know how much he made my day (or maybe he did). Then in another class the other day, I was feeling down and desperately hoping my yoga class would change my mood. Towards the end of class, a woman next to me that I had never met before (turned out to be a yoga instructor), just reached out and gently laid her hand on my leg giving me an adjustment in my supine twist. It literally snapped me out of my funk (thanks Valerie :).) 

Which got me to thinking about the power of touch and how much it can transform the way you feel and if it transforms the way you feel, what else does it do? Well I researched it: touch triggers the release of brain endorphins: an endogenous analgesic more powerful than heroin or morphine. Wow!

I believe for the most part, we all liked to be touched and it can literally transform a moment of being kinda blah to feeling so good, even transforming your entire day. Touch is a powerful tool and I think people are deprived of it in our society. We are a “touch phobic” society due to the reports on sexual harassment, child molestation, etc. when the simplest hug can be completely innocent.

Our 9-year-old son Zach and his buddy Quinn

From our first moments of life, the sense of touch is the most important of our five senses. We can’t live without it. It is a basic human need. This isn’t surprising when we think about how infants need loving touch to be healthy and develop properly. Additionally, touch can heal. Many conditions can be alleviated by the healing touch of another human being: headaches, stress, anxiety, difficulty relaxing, tiredness, chronic pain, strained or injured muscles. Healing touches release the body’s natural capacity to heal. It’s holistic; starting with the skin, it “touches” the mind and spirit as well as the body.

 

So my message is, if you see me, touch me! Hee-hee. No really, hug someone, reach out and touch someone, a loved one, a friend, TODAY. Don’t be afraid to touch. You could literally change the way that person or yourself feels for the rest of the day and best of all, it’s free!

Hugs,
Nancy

I LOVE Madonna

Last week, I didn’t watch the Superbowl, but I did watch the halftime show on YouTube. I was pretty impressed with this 53-year-old woman who looked amazing up there dancing, but I was more impressed with her pre-game press conference: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ta9gbgRqalI

She was nervous, honest, mentioned her mid-western roots (she grew up 20 miles away from me in Michigan), talked about prayer, talked about God and did a little salsa dance. She looked even better in the press conference than on stage, I thought.

The first time I really took notice of Madonna was in New York City in 1999, when I moved back to the states from Sweden and Nancy took me to her yoga studio. We were laying out our mats in this tiny studio downtown, and this 5 ft tall girl on the mat next to Nan says, “Nancy do you have an extra scrunchie?” Nan gave Madonna a hair band like it was nothing. I spent 5 years in Hollywood and was never very interested in seeing stars. I was totally star struck doing yoga next to Madonna for 2 hours. She was so unassuming, normal, and a really good yogi. Plus she’d just recorded our guru’s opening prayer as a song on Ray of Light. I thought that was risky to say the least.

It’s so easy to be critical of someone like Madonna. I’m reading this really great little book my mom gave me called “The Quiet Mind.” It says among other awesome things, “Enlightened ones do not get angry nor do they judge anyone. The young in soul are quick to pass judgment on others. Always find the goodness and light in everything. You can purify your own atoms by right thinking, right speech, right action and judging no one.” Needless to say, I’m way into purifying my atoms and if loving someone like Madonna helps me get there, I’m all for it.

Anybody in your life or in the world you might have a hard time loving? Can you find the goodness and light in them? It will heal your soul, I promise and so does The Quiet Mind, “If you train yourself to think in terms of love and forgiveness every moment of your life, a most beautiful healing will take place in you.”

Love,
Lance

Happiness is not having a cell phone

I’ve had a number of “enlightening” moments over the past year and a big one was how incredibly addicted I was to my cell phone. This sounds so shallow writing it, but I had been connected constantly since 1998 when I moved to Sweden and got my first Ericsson Worldphone. It was blue and beautiful and it could “SMS” which was really cool. It defined me. It made me feel important. It kept me connected to everyone and everything.

Since 1998, I’ve been constantly connected, not realizing how “disconnected” it actually made my life. For instance, in March, I found myself hiding my cellphone in the cushion of our couch while reading a book to my 6-year-old daughter. Checking it every five minutes. Not in any way present for Amelie. Fully disconnected. I felt like a drunk hiding bottles around the house.

In May, I was at an acupuncture appointment, laying there jumpy because my phone was over on the desk and I couldn’t check it. I thought, “What is wrong with me?” And that began a day-long look at me and my cellphone. By the end of the day, I’d put down my cell phone for good.  I changed the message to “Don’t call this number any more,” and apologized to everyone at work and friends who didn’t know how else to get ahold of me.

The hardest part in the beginning was sitting at stoplights with nothing to do. I’m a big KGNU fan now. Co-workers said, “How will I reach you?” I said, “I’ll be in my office or at home, you have my land line don’t you? If I’m not at one of those places, I’m not available.” That was initially an unacceptable statement. But as the summer progressed, we got into a groove.

The impact this has had on my day-to-day life is immeasurable. It’s like I have my life back. It’s liberating. It’s freeing. I am not reachable at every second of the day. I can rake the leaves or be with my family and not stop when I feel a vibration in my pocket. My kids are ecstatic. My wife was totally supportive and loves me not having a cell.

Recently, it crept up again! My wonderful friends bought me an iPad when I was at my worst (physically and emotionally) in my entire life. Nancy didn’t want me to get one, but when I was in such bad shape they pounced on her, “Can we get him one now?” She caved. It was such a generous gift and the best grown up toy ever–like a big iPhone. Skyping, Sonos, Rhapsody, Exchange for my email, contacts, calendar. Lot of good fun, right?

Cut to three months later. It is with me at every moment. I bring it to every meeting, open it and look at my emails in no way present for whomever. It is back in the cushions of the couch and then the breaking point. I’m at a stoplight and there’s a Starbucks on the corner. I’m looking at my iPad and I connect to the Starbucks Wi-Fi and I’m so excited. Every time I stop at this light, I’ll be able to send an email or check my email. What a bonus!

So now my iPad stays at home. I’m wondering what this is all about? Why are we all so wrapped up in our phones? Some of us more than others. Is it a validation thing? An expectation thing for others to get back to me quickly? What does it fill on a deep level inside of me?

Here I am, probably one of the only people in my town of 80,000 without a phone. I know some older folks, 70+ that don’t have one but that’s all. Do you know any? Are they weirdos? Off the grid? Paranoid? I’m grateful for this change in my life and cannot see myself going back. Can you imagine your life without one?

Lance
This post was originally posted as a “guest blogger” on fearlessrevolution.com  http://fearlessrevolution.com/blog/happiness-is-not-having-a-cell-phone.html

Beautiful Boy

I’m in Brazil. My flight connected through Atlanta and I picked up a 17-year-old boy at the airport. I met him the last time I was in Brazil. He was here with his family. This time his parents entrusted me with his safety. Little do they know that his presence in my life is a much bigger gift for me than my semi-parental/big brother role here in Brazil.

This journey of mine since January has given me so many gifts and sitting in the Atlanta airport with a young man who as been battling what I got in January since he was 9 is an indescribable experience. Not only is this one of the few people in the world who knows truly how I feel, but he’s 17 and its as if he’s my wise old teacher. He’s brilliant, taking 5 Advance Placement Honors classes usually held for Seniors as a Junior in High School. He quotes intricate texts from the bible in simple ways, applying biblical lessons to my daily life. There is so much unsaid between us that doesn’t need to be said. It’s like we’re Vietnam soldiers sitting around a fire but one of us is a rookie and the other is a 4-tour lifer. I’m the friggin rookie. Hardly anyone outside his family and docs knows about his condition. It doesn’t define him, he doesn’t let it limit his potential in any way and he does it all with a great big smile.

So here is this beautiful boy who I know would have been beautiful anyway but I cant help to think that the tragic ailment we share has deepened him beyond all measure. I find myself looking up to him daily. The stuff that comes out of this kid’s mouth (and heart) is as extemporaneous as it is profound. Every once in a while he’ll call me “dude” and it’s almost weird. My wise old Zen Master isn’t supposed to call me “dude.” Oh, wait, you’re 17!

We were eating dinner and he starts telling me about Zacharias in the Old Testament who denounced Archangel Gabriel for saying his wife was pregnant. Zacharias was immediately unable to speak until 9 months later when the baby was born (John the Baptist). Teach him to argue with an angel! Then I try to pull out some smart remark about Saul going blind on the Road the Damascus, then he starts going into a very interesting story about The Road to Emmaus and I am engrossed and in awe at the same time. Am I really having these conversations about life and love and faith with a person young enough to be my child?

A small window into the life that I have now that you may find boring but for me everyday is like an adventure. I was so touched by Nan’s last post I was hoping to share with you more of the same from the other end of the world. These two young people have one big thing in common: Faith. They have faith in everything. Themselves. Their friends and family. And most of all a Higher Power that gives them the security to live every day to the fullest. They trust in this faith completely. And it’s not a blind faith or a fundamental faith, things I used to be so judgmental of. Its a faith full of love and forgiveness and smiles. Big smiles.

Nan and I have started to soak a little bit of this in and sometimes we lay in bed together and pray side by side in silence, I’m not sure to whom, and count our blessings. And you have no idea how weird it is to watch my fingers type those words. If you would have told me a year ago I would say something like that, I would have laughed. Little did I know, Nan was doing it silently for years and never told me.
Love from Abadiania,
Lance

Beautiful girl

I met a beautiful girl last week. She is 24. I was afraid to meet her. But I wanted to help her however I could. The days leading up to meeting her I felt nervous. Why, you are asking? Because she was diagnosed with the same thing as Lance two months ago. She is in the middle of chemo and radiation and I was afraid of the emotions it was going to bring up. Memories I want to put in the past, rather than relive. You see, I like the fact that the people I am in touch with are anywhere from 5 to 20 years out. That comforts me. But to be in the presence of someone who is just a few months behind us scares me. However, it was she who ended up helping me.

How we got connected to this girl is how the universe works. It was no mistake. It was meant to be. I wanted to share whatever knowledge I could give her.  We are ahead of her in this game. I researched like crazy. I have the food thing down. I wanted to suggest some alternative things. I have all the latest research. I wanted to help this girl who I just assumed was alone. I knew her family lived in another state. However, when I opened the door and saw this beautiful girl, petite little being, with the most amazing eyes, I immediately felt at peace. I can’t explain it but all the emotions and nerves I had been feeling up to meeting her melted away.

So what was it? I know you must be wondering. She had the most inner calm. She was at total peace. How you must be wondering? Faith. She has strong faith that all this is meant to be. All I could think was, “I want to feel like you do.” She was like some angel that had come to my door. Instead of me imparting my wisdom, I suddenly wanted to interview her Barbara Wa Wa style (as Lance has often named me) and figure out how she has come to this peaceful place so quickly. I mean, I think Lance and I have worked hard to find that peace and we have obtained that feeling at times for sure but I still struggle intellectually sometimes about what faith means. So I wanted to know. She didn’t give me a straight answer because it isn’t something you can intellectualize. It’s just a feeling. She just said, “It’s in me. I know I will be okay whatever happens. The Holy Spirit is in me.” OMG. She was the messenger.

Before all this, the subject of religion made me uncomfortable. However, when something like this happens to you, you need something greater than yourself to believe in. In the beginning of our journey, I started asking every person I knew if they believed in God. I was amazed at the answers I got and who believed. It seemed like unanimously everyone had some sort of belief in God and rarely (or never actually) was it some man with a hairy face up in the sky. To some it was “God is in nature”, something bigger than themselves, to many it was something inside themselves. This was hard for me to grasp because of my experience with Sunday school when I was a child and how I was taught that God is separate from you (man up in the sky kind of guy). Thus the difference between spirituality and religion. So I continued to intellectualize all of this instead of just feel it.

Again as the universe makes no mistake, I hired a guitar teacher (yes, I am learning guitar! :)). The first day my teacher showed up at my house, my immediate impression was all wrong (without saying exactly what I thought), he is covered in tattoos, his license suspended from a DUI, has 3 kids and he’s young. Do you hear JUDGEMENT screaming from every pore of my body? I am ashamed the way I sized him up. But my impression changed quickly as soon as I started talking to him. Turns out he is this incredible musician, a very involved Dad and yes, also someone with a strong faith. I learned about that when I noticed his huge Jesus tattoo on his arm. Now Jesus is someone I can relate to. He was one cool dude and you can’t deny he was kinda hot. Barbara Wa Wa immediately surfaced and I had to inquire about it. Now every time we have a lesson, I have a ton of questions to ask him. And slowly I am learning what it all means. Getting my own interpretation of how to find that inner peace.

My big take away from all this and the message I want to convey is that whatever it is you do or do not believe, find something that is bigger than yourself NOW to fulfill yourself and give you peace. Maybe it’s meditation, maybe its the Universe, Buddha, Shiva, God, Allah, Jesus, maybe it’s nature or being at the top of a mountain or swimming in the middle of the ocean. If you work on it NOW and figure it out NOW you won’t have to do the crash course us Gentry’s had to do in case something life altering ever happens to you (and i sincerely hope it doesn’t). But even as we age, and life takes on challenges that are different from our youth, it will carry you through anything you may face in your life. Take it from the 24 year old. Who wouldn’t want to face such challenges with such an inner calm?

Love and Laughter,
Nancy