What's Your Mantra?
If you've been to Unfold Studio then you know a few of mine:
1. Let it go (all of it!).
2. You never know where the mess will take you.
3. Be as big as you can be.
4. Own your bones.
Last weekend I was on staff at Milton Marks Family Camp (I've written about it here before). It's a camp for families in which one parent has a brain tumor and I am the lead songleader (songleading is one of my big loves and longtime side gigs).
As with most life experiences, showing up for the work at MMFC is not just about giving, it's about receiving, too. As much as I create the music to share the joy and light that singing can bring, seeing the happy, shining faces of the 11 families as they sing with me fills me up in a way that nothing else can.
On the last day of camp I was honored to be co-facilitating the high ropes challenge course for the caregivers (the parent without the brain tumor). A high ropes course is a series of "elements" like wooden plank ladders, zip lines, wooden beams, etc., that are there to be crossed over. That are there to take you to your edge mentally and physically. That are there to be a metaphor for life!
For me there were a few "elements" already in place. One was my fear of heights. One was my strong desire to be there for the caregivers. One was my determination to get to my little platform 20' above the ground to do that. Maybe one was my pride. So, Sunday morning found me harnessed up and climbing the first piece: a ladder to the first platform.
The first element was a steel cable strung between two trees. Hooking my harness straps to the overhead cable, hands on the rope handrails I took a deep breath and stepped out. Ai-yai-yai! It was high up, it was wobbly and felt SO unsafe. Regardless of the harness and straps and many safety precautions, the ropes course professionals scattered around the site, and my fellow staffers cheering me on, I was on the verge of freaking out! It was so scary! I felt like I could have just flipped right off and over. (I could have, though the harness would catch me...and I'd just be hanging there!)
But I pushed on.
There came a moment though. A moment in which I stopped, breathing hard, shaking, afraid I might pass out with fear. How far had I come? I peeked up to see...how far till I reached the next platform? I just stood there. The sound of cheering muffled in my mind.
And then this: Be. Here. Now. This moment. This breath. That is all there is.
I know this, this is a mantra from my years caring for my middle son Ben as he went through his journey of many surgeries for a neurological condition and severe scoliosis (15 surgeries in 10 years). When I'd finally come to that truth--there is only THIS MOMENT, all other thoughts are suffering--the clouds parted, everything shifted, and I was able to make my way forward.
And so here's what happened way up there on the steel cable between Platform 1 and Platform 2: My breathing slowed, my knees stopped shaking, I returned to my body, and I felt my confidence return. I took a deep breath and took a step. THIS MOMENT RIGHT HERE. THIS STEP. THIS BREATH. And I got across.
And yeah, the clouds parted. And everything shifted.
This was the reminder I needed. As simple as it is, it is an illusive mantra. When I get out of my body and into my head...off it goes.
I think of that moment as the First Gift of the Ropes Course.
In my next post I'll share with you about the second important gift of the ropes course.
For now I want to ask you:
What's your mantra?
What the reminder you need to always come back to?
And if you don't have one, where are you needing guidance in your life right now?