Alive For Me Now


Sitting under my pergola one recent summer evening, I noticed a bee making a patient trek across the lawn. She meandered up and over each blade of grass until reaching the smallest yellow blossom atop a bundle of weeds. She perched there awhile collecting pollen and then continued along her mindful way.

I was in awe of her tenacity and humbled by her choice to walk rather than buzz directly over to the flowers. I wondered if the bee was savoring her journey as much as I delighted in observing it. Regardless, in the stillness of watching the bee, I began to feel some clarity about my current work.

It isn’t the kind of work that comes with a paycheck or external feedback. It isn’t the kind of work that is witnessed by others. Instead, it is the slow patient work of learning to pay attention, allowing pauses to fill my day with stillness and grace. It is work that teaches me how to listen more deeply, past the obvious noise and into the heart of life. It is work that invites me to drop into the moment with my body, mind, and spirit allowing me to feel completely alive. It is the work of welcoming what comes rather than wishing things to be different. It is the most meaningful work of my adult life.

I say this is my work because it isn’t always easy. I struggle to filter out old thinking patterns that tell me I need to be doing more— that I only have purpose if I am busy or making money and that somehow simply being in my life isn’t enough. But when I allow myself to rest into my day and savor this time of exploration, I know that I am exactly where I need to be...doing less to experience more.

Thinking back on the past year, I realize how it began with morning walks. Fresh out of a stressful and emotionally exhaustive teaching career, I was gifted the time and financial support to explore other areas of my life.  After decades of waking to the buzz of an early alarm and feeling hurried to get to my job, I suddenly had the luxury of sleeping in. Yet I found myself rising early with the edge of dawn. Without a job to rush to, I could enjoy a slow cup of coffee while watching the sky shift from cool to warm. Before long, this ritual of rising early evolved into a morning walk, extending the quiet stillness beyond my living room.

At first, the morning walks were the only time in my day when I felt a sense of movement amidst the unknowns. For the first time in my adult life, I was without a plan and without a clearly defined direction. I felt an urgency to justify my time and figure out a new career in a hurry. But the more effort I put into figuring out what was next, the less clear I felt. Walking provided spaciousness outside my anxious mind.

Along one of my morning walks, I discovered some solace in a dandelion peeking up from a sidewalk crack. There wasn’t anything special about this dandelion but I felt compelled to get a closer look. I sprawled out across the cement and peered into the seed head through my camera lens. Sprouting from the pincushion center were hundreds of tiny parachute seeds.  All I could think was how each seed held possibility. With a single puff, all those dreams and desires would travel out and into the world, eventually landing and thriving.

In that moment, I recognized that I didn't need to know what was next in order to move forward. I only needed to step into my life and allow the seeds of my heartfelt desires to lead. I didn’t need to force a direction or chase the future. I could lean into uncertainty and navigate my life with a sense of presence, choosing to trust the moment by moment process. That single dandelion moment planted a seed of courage in my heart. I abandoned the question of what’s next in favor of noticing what is alive for me now.

Over a year of mindful exploration, meaningful learning has come from deepening my awareness. From a snail, I learned the value of slowing down and approaching my journey with patience. From a robin’s nest, I reconnected with my nurturing heart and the tender reminder of impermanence. From a feather, I learned to trust the whisperings of my inner life as I ride the winds of change. From a patch of mammoth sunflowers, I grew the courage to rise up rooted and strong. And from the bee crossing my lawn, I learned to savor my experience and allow myself to be more fully present.

My creative ideas and energy live in these moments and in the question of what is alive for me now. My creative joy flutters like a hummingbird along my morning walk. It surfaces in the sanctuary of my own backyard and awakens in the quiet small moments of my life. My creativity thrives when I take notice— when I allow myself to slow down and connect with my experience in an embodied way. The experience doesn’t have to be spectacular or even positive to be worthy of my attention. But in paying attention to whatever is alive for me in a given moment, I have learned to greet each experience with compassion and a gentle touch. Every moment is a welcomed guest. Each moment is ripe with sensory details and learning.

Out of this time of paying attention and listening in, I have landed into the heart of my creative dreams. I am writing the moment as it unfolds, capturing its essence with my lens and my pen. I no longer project into the question of what’s next, because this moment is exactly where I want to be.