Yogi Assignment: Reflection
Good morning from Copenhagen. Today my Mom arrives for a visit to Europe for the first time in over a decade. The last time she came over was when Tim and I had been together for a little over two years. Tim and I had the romantic idea that we would spend six months of the year in Denmark and six months of the year studying yoga in India. My parents came over for a ten day visit to support my choice to live abroad. I was chasing my two loves, the practice and Tim. When my parents arrived to Copenhagen in late June, the Danish national weather service issued an advisory to expect what they called “particularly catastrophic” weather. I still remember the nervous laughter when Tim’s step-father told us that. While it was no hurricane, the weather was in fact rather awful. The wind was stormy and strong and the temperature dropped quite close to freezing. Dark grey clouds thundered and lightninged, which is rare in Denmark. By Florida standards it may as well have been the arctic tundra.
It was actually the next year that I would tell Tim that while I love Danish culture and spending six months of the year in India, I couldn’t take the Northern European weather anymore. It’s lame, I know. But I am a Florida girl through and through. I “think” I might be able to move to some place else in Florida, a Caribbean island, a remote beach in Southeast Asia or Fiji one day. Tim’s father used to say that Denmark has two winters, the white winter and the green winter. Well, that’s not exactly always true. Sometimes, once every couple of years or so, Scandinavia has what is often called a “good summer”. My first visit to Denmark happened to be a good summer. That’s when I agreed to spend six months of the year with Tim in his home country. But the following five years were what is called a “bad summer”. One year I remember that the sun came out for one glorious day in May and then didn’t come back until September, when the light had already started shifting towards Fall. As the days progressed through a gloomy June, lead to a dark July and culminated in a rainy August I could feel myself sinking lower. After not seeing the sun for nearly three months we bought overpriced tickets from Copenhagen to Mallorca. When I felt the heat of the sun on my skin something in my body relaxed and I felt somewhat more like myself.
The Danish amaze me in their ability to shrug off a bad summer and just keep going. They remain happy and easy-going as they put on their rain gear and scarves to ride their bikes through whatever weather happens to be present. Tim always says to me that there is no bad weather, just bad clothes. Well, he might be right. But I don’t know if I’ll ever feel like myself wrapped up in layers of fleece and (vegan) puffy jackets. And the shoes! If you know me you know that I live in sandals and the first thing I do when I walk into any house is take off my shoes. It’s ingrained in me from growing up with my Japanese grandfather. I actually feel like something is wrong when people where shoes indoors. Yes, I’m that person that asks all the maintenance workers to take their shoes off before coming into my house. Whether it’s the carpenter or the internet provider or guests for dinner, I ask everybody who can to take their shoes off when they come into my house (I didn’t ask my Dad take his shoes off when he was in the wheelchair—just getting him up the steps and into the house was enough).
For all the talk of the weather in Scandinavia it’s been a truly awesome summer this year. In fact, there has been so much sun and so little rain that it has caused some problems. Sweden had forrest fires and much fewer of the wild berries that they are known for because it didn’t rain enough. The grass around Copenhagen has been brown from too much heat and not water (they usually get so much rain so that sprinkler systems have not been needed). If I must say, there is no place more glorious than a Scandinavian summer when the sun is shining. The long days are incredible, filling you with a sense of infinite energy. And the light, soft and pervading, yet never harsh bathes everything in a delicate sea of illumination. It is almost without shadow as the sun sets over many hours prolonging what is often just a few minutes of dusk or dawn in more southern latitudes. It’s magical. So magical in fact that one good summer almost makes up for a few bad ones.
I’m changing. Things are changing. I get a sense of it and sometimes reflecting on where we’ve been is important. This past year has been a big one in terms of the challenges that I’ve faced. From personal friendships that were lost to the death of my father to challenging business situations that ended with heartbreak, I’ve had a hard time coming up for air. There have been times when I have been unable to forgive myself or feel grateful for all the blessings that I do have. I have felt stupid, naive, ignorant, self-centered, aggressive, uncaring and more. I have beaten myself up for making bad decisions and failing to meet certain standards of success in my personal, relational, business and spiritual development. I’m working on forgiving myself for my short-comings and mistakes. While where I am is certainly a good place in an objective sense, I feel like I’ve reached the end of an era, or that some cycle is coming to a close. I don’t know where the next cycle will take me. I really truly don’t. Being in this nether space of not-knowing is difficult. I am most comfortable when I have a plan and I’m moving forward in concrete steps.
I sat down to write a Yogi Assignment this week and instead this is what I ended up writing. Sometimes it’s useful to reflect on your own history, to remember the past, and reflect on the lessons learned (or the lessons still being learned). Today, I am sitting in quiet self-reflection and pondering these questions—
1. Where have I come from?
2. What have I learned?
3. How have I felt along the way?
4. What do I want the next chapter of my story to be about?
Join me in Reflection for this week’s Yogi Assignment.