I’m Off

In search of my own saga. The Norwegians have used sagas to tell the stories of their historic exploits, to narrate events in the history of personage. So now I will use this space to tell of my journey; hoping to build a tale of achievements, my own epic adventure.
Undoubtedly along the way I will meet people who amaze and inspire me. I will share pieces of their sage as well. Perhaps in my voice, perhaps in theirs.

31 Long Years Ago

The beginning of my saga was recorded by my sister for a junior high project and since no one can tell it like she did, I’ll let her lead off.
“The Saga of Sonja Begonia: Third Child

The saga of Sonja Begonia
Began on the second of May.
Eleven o”clock brought us Sonja,
Nine pounds and nine ounces she weighed.

An uncle named Frans getting married,
We took her to Maine on the plane.
A traveler so small she was carried,
And then she would start to complain –Waaa!

The baby turned one on a Sunday;
Too bad she was sick with the flu.
Her party was scheduled for midday
With family and Godmother Sue.

A tree house was built for the big kids.
Six feet off the ground did it stand.
Attempts to ascend were all thwarted;
They made her play down in the sand.

The words she first spoke were forgotten,
For shrieking was such a fun game.
From all we could tell t’was Brazilian,
For that we don’t know who’s to blame.

The terrible twos came like lightening,
And mother was reading from Spock.
Advice he gave freely to parents
But never prepared us for “pox”.

Fourth birthday for Sonja meant parties,
And friends came with presents galore.
Then how the excitement was mounting
As into the presents she tore.

Companion to Sally H. Dally,
To talk with each day and each night;
Our Sonja was always so happy.
They never engaged in a fight.

September brought school for dear Sonja,
And everything started out fine.
Til one day she came home announcing,
“I quit”, was her most famous line.

A sunny day Sonja went skating.
She fell on her soft derriere.
A broken arm, x-rays and casting,
It gave her quite a big scare.

Tundu, pirouette, pas de bourree;
Through sax and piano she whined.
Recitals and lessons were boring,
When would it be her turn to shine?

As six we heard nothing but Barbie,
And Skipper and Ken and the rest.
“Pick up,” said her Mom with voice raising,
“Pitch all of that junk in a chest.”

To copy her sister was tempting,
At seven her world opened wide.
She wished to wear makeup to school.
“Just wait awhile, “Mother would chide.

At seven, thirteen seemed appealing.
She wanted to do it all now.
It seemed to her Springman was nifty.
Just wait ‘til it’s her turn …Oh Wow!”


A Little Something I've Been Working On

So I know I have been a little sparse these days... and I suspect that will pick up again soon. To get us back in the game the following is a piece I wrote as part of an application. It fits the theme a little bit here, so I thought I would share it.

"Words to live by. The words that ring in me. The mantras that remind me of the right path. Some days I repeat ‘Be Present’. Other days I must channel Daniel Burnham and “make no little plans, for they have no magic to stir a man’s blood.” The intersection of these two ideas provides a compass for my life.
The first of these thoughts became clear in my mind five or so years ago. Having traveled over half the country to be with my brother on the weekend of his birthday, we were out together catching up. I felt anxious, insecure, and over the course of our dinner I saw what was causing my mood. His questions were not pertinent. His answers to my questions were not relevant. Although I have often tried to appreciate his busy mind, at that time I asked that he adjust it to ‘Be Present’ with me in that moment. His absence affected how we related to each other. I understood, then, how important it is to ‘Be Present.’ I never want to make anyone feel irrelevant by not paying attention or not taking an active part of the moments I spend with them, whether in conversation, in action or in silent stillness.
Being present gives me context. There is perspective to be gained in absorbing everything you can from the moment. It’s easier to understand my place in the world when I see how things are placed alongside me. Listening and observing my own self just as I observe others helps me to see how things fit together and make guesses as to why. Only by living in the moment am I able to experience the nuances that give the people and issues that I care about depth.
I cannot be stuck only in this moment, though. Forward momentum is ultimately what allows me to set goals. I derive that momentum from a quote from Daniel Burnham, architect and Chicago city planner, “make no little plans, for they have no magic to stir a man’s blood.” Daniel Burnham had a vision for Chicago’s potential. His foundation and plan, made public around the turn of the century, still provide the principles for the city’s ongoing development. Burnham’s vision was an urban community where all residents had access to the nature that surrounds the architecture of one of the greatest cities in the world; the lakefront to the west, the plains to the south, the forests to the north, and the rivers that cut through the middle. Chicago has long had a reputation of corruption and elitism yet amidst all that, Burnham gave the best parts of the city to all people. It’s those big plans, and visions that make an impact on the world.

The full quote explains what turns vision into reality. Plans are just the beginning. Action is what makes the mark.
“Make no little plans, for they have no magic to stir a man’s blood and probably themselves will not be realized. Make big plans; aim high in hope and work, remembering that a noble, logical diagram once recorded will never die, but long after we are gone will be a living thing, asserting itself with ever-growing insistency. Remember that our sons and grandsons are going to do things that would stagger us. Let your watchword be order and your beacon beauty. Think big.”
My objective is to live in a balance of these two thoughts of presence and plans. From time to time one may need to advance and hold up the other, but both must be strong in order to move me forward with purpose. ‘Be Present’ has held significant meaning at times when I needed and intended to notice the details of the moment. The whys and hows that are easily missed by thrusting this moment too soon into the next. It’s critical to absorb as much as possible and, if appropriate, engage before moving on. This allows for more informed decisions, not always less emotional, but ones that will hold their truth after the moment is past.
Making plans may seem to contradict being present, but I feel a full and meaningful life is lived in the place where these two meet. In order to improve the world the big picture is paramount. Here is where one needs the other. If I am only present in this moment and do not make the grand plans the impact is limited. If I am always in the planning stage, one or ten steps ahead, the connection to reality is lost. Implementation in response to a need, or to head a need off at the pass, can only be effective if rooted in an understanding of the present tense.
I may never achieve the precision of that balance, but the journey itself is significant. I will always strive to take what I learn from this moment and apply my skills of leadership and organization to implement big plans. This is the way I can give something to the world in a way that will return the gift I have been given. That is, the blessing to experience all the amazing things this earth has to offer and help those around me take part in this gift as well."


I Giggle

You will never guess where I ended up to write this. The site of a prior crime… Elephant and Castle. Not entirely sure how I ended up here, but somehow while wandering the Loop trying to find a spot to enjoy a glass of wine and write, I came across it. A little grin as I remember the panic of the last time I was here. You may remember as well. No potatoes on are my menu today just a Cab. Maybe this is the perfect place to sit and write about…


In phonetics it’s the adjustments and movements of speech organs involved in pronouncing a particular sound, taken as a whole. In yoga, we talk about muscle articulation as small adjustments and movements you make to each muscle, ligament and bone in your body to set your whole posture in alignment. I’ve learned the benefits of being able to make those adjustments in my language and my muscles to really bring each pose into alignment. I even think that although I have heard the word “articulate” many times regarding speech I didn’t really grasp the extent to which positive articulation could impact my life until I came across it in yoga.
My enlightened digital guide talked me through a downward dog. Feet shoulder-width apart, ankles lowered as close to the ground as I can lifting my hips to the sky, holding my shoulders on my back and lengthening my spine. Often feeling like those things were contradictory and not realizing I could change the length of my spine, I try my best to form each part anyway. It wasn’t until she added the direction “turn elbow creases to the center” that it all began clear. I think this will all become clear to you if you try it too…

So read this paragraph, then try it .. come back when you are done…

Downward dog. Start on your hands and knees. Knees shoulder width apart. Hands under your shoulders, middle fingers pointed forward. Swing your hips back and above your feet. Straighten your legs. Flatten your back. Straighten your arms. Keep your shoulder blades down and on your back. Not up by your ears. Now… Here is the kicker.. without changing your hand position (from middle fingers facing forward) roll your elbow creases so they directly face each other. OK go… come back when you’re done….

Did you notice the difference? The muscles that engaged? If not try it again. I promise you will notice. That is when yoga all together became clearer to me. Each posture, pose and movement is broken down to so many tiny pieces and each change you make engages different muscles changing the intensity and benefits I gain from it.

I Think I Thought

If I could make these minor adjustments and gain major results overall, think of what learning to “articulate” my words can do to enhance my communications with others and my psyche! I tried it. Paying closer attention to the words that I use and how they affect me or others I talk to has been incredibly eye-opening. The details make a particular impact and when I make the adjustment I can more finely communicate my thoughts. All of a sudden my responses are more genuine. There have been fewer misunderstandings and I feel like people take away the true meaning of my words. So now.. I can stick my arm straight out in front of me without the aid of the floor to hold my wrist in place and turn my elbow creases toward one another. Or correct my posture by kissing my shoulder blades to my spine instead of shoving my upper arm bones to the wall behind me! Movements so small with such impact.
Now I am exploring a new use for articulation. Why can’t we apply this same concept of making smaller, more exact adjustments to our emotions, the way we are feeling? I’ve traditionally been a plow-ahead type person. Always moving to the next step. Having to be productive, make quick progress. This has dominated my career and both my professional and personal relationships. I’ve just charged on.

So now by trying to more closely “articulate” my emotions, I’m trying to split those up. Maybe charging ahead in one realm on one day and be patient in another on that same day or another. It’s hard to change gears that way, but it may be a real game changer.

Articulation requires specificity and perhaps an enlarged vocabulary. First I need to identify the way I want to feel and the words I would use to describe it. Using the most descriptive words I can think of. Being patient doesn’t mean putting something on the back burner. Those things feel different. Being proactive feels different than being demanding. Being supportive does not mean holding someone up. Being involved does not mean doing the job myself. The first step is to identify the difference, I think. Some subtle.. some not so much. The second is to try them on. Feeling where each appears in my body. Where the tension or focus is.. and what feels better or more appropriate. Being supportive feels light and warm.. holding someone up shows up as tension in my chest. So I can assess for the situation… which feels right. Where do I want to be? Being proactive leads from my chest too… but demanding comes from between my eyes. Each may have a time to be engaged and if I can learn to feel them and identify them in their minute differences, I can recognize when they are engaged and shouldn’t be. Be sure they are on track with how I actually want to react.

This type of articulation has just begun with me and I am excited to try to be so exacting. The balance comes in not becoming overwhelmed in doing it right every time. Learn the technique maybe and make changes over time. Checking in with my thoughts and which path I am headed down to claim the most focus. If I become preoccupied I will be overwhelmed.. so balance and understanding that this can be merely a tool might be key.

We shall see...