Bend… Don’t Break

Hello Friends,

Recently I returned home to Belize from a quick trip I took to the states to celebrate a friend’s 40th Birthday while also taking care of some technical melt-down issues and some health issues (neither of which were able to be solved in Belize.)

Unfortunately, my plane leaving from San Francisco was delayed because of a mechanical issue which made me miss my connecting flight in Dallas.  There were no more flights leaving Dallas going to Belize that day on any airline, so I was stuck in Dallas. 

I was really disappointed, but I reflected—as I always try to do in situations like this—on the lesson from the trees in the storm, when life sends storms, bend, don’t break.  I said a prayer of gratitude that the delay was not weather related as if that had been the case, I would have had to have paid out of my own pocket for accommodations and all food.  I chatted with the gate agent who at first had been told to send me on to Miami, only to have me overnight in Miami.  I very nicely said that seemed to be a bit ridiculous, and that it would be much better for me if I could just overnight in Dallas and fly direct from Dallas to Belize.  She laughingly agreed with me, checked flights leaving the next morning from Dallas to Belize, saw there was space and booked me on the flight.  As I was interacting with the agent as she was working on the computer, a guy walked up who had also been on my flight and was on his way to Belize as well.  He and I started talking when he realized I live in Belize.

As we had to wait for our luggage to be re-routed, we agreed to go together to have lunch (with our, oh, so generous lunch vouchers from the airline.  ; )  We had a lovely time going back and forth between talking about Belize and also our personal lives.  When our hotel shuttle arrived, it was very old and falling apart and the list of names of hotels it serviced had me very worried for the quality of the hotel the airline was paying for us to stay.  I noticed my thoughts running away with concern and worry, and I did my best to just let them go—worry and concern would not make the hotel any better.  : ) 

When we arrived at our hotel, there was a horrible chemical smell in the lobby, so I asked the man checking us in, if the windows in the rooms opened, and when he said yes, I gave a sigh and prayer of gratitude that I would be able to get some fresh air into my room, as the main health challenge I had to deal with in the states was my asthma getting out of control and my going into acute respiratory arrest.  Strong chemical off-gassing in the room was actually not going to be feasible for me, and I would have had to pay to get a room somewhere else, so I was very grateful when I knew I would be able to avoid that.  My new friend and I were both exhausted from lack of sleep the night before and agreed we would take a nap and then check back in with each other on doing something in the evening together.  Our plan was to go to the movies (I want to see Despicable Me2—yep, I am that kind of girl.  ; )  But it turned out it was too far away and too expensive to take the cab there, so we chose to just walk across the street to a place where we could have a decent meal (we both laughed in a scared kind of way when were first told that our eating option was Denny’s!  We both gave a sigh of relief when we found out the hotel across the street was a nicer hotel that had a bar and restaurant inside.) 

The hours flew by with ease as we talked like we were old friends reuniting.  As the evening became late and it was time to head back to our respective rooms (in the cheap hotel across the street ; )  I mentioned how grateful I was that if I had to get stuck en route, that I met someone so nice to pass the time with.

I was not always as patient a girl as I am now.  My fuse was much shorter when I was younger, largely in part because I was so filled with judgment (which I now recognize is a defense mechanism.)  I remain so grateful for the lesson of the trees in the storm—bend, don’t break—bend, flow, let it go.  I have come to realize that when life gets painful and challenging, it is as if life has knocked us upside the head with a shovel.  It is intense, and often times it is painful.  However, if we respond to the painful challenge (aka: “storm”) with feelings like frustration, anger, or judgment, it is as if we then pick up that same shovel again and hit our own selves in the head with it!  Not really the best idea if our goal is to find freedom, happiness, peace or anything like these!

When it comes to the issue of travelling, I am extremely aware that I cause harm to the Earth, and ALL its beings, every single time I travel.  I do my very best to make sure that if I am travelling, I am doing all I know to do to somehow try to balance out the harm, suffering, and violence I am causing and creating.

And sometimes, in situations like this, where so much goes “wrong,” part of that equation includes  being mindful of the “chainsaw” of my thoughts, and how that kills off and destroys any possibility for interactions of kindness, mindfulness, and meaningful connections with other people. 

I continue to struggle with my health and my ability just to breathe.  It has been a challenge my whole life.  The gift hidden on the flip side of this coin is that I am never far at all from being present to the very real gift that every single breath truly is.  Every single breath is a gift.  What we choose to do with that gift is what defines us and creates the legacy of our lives.  The true value of our lives does not exist in our bank accounts or retirement plans or anything like that.  The true value—our legacy—lives in what kind of a world do we leave behind and how much did our being alive on this planet at this time make a positive difference in the world, for our planet we call home, and to all the life it sustains—past, present, and future?

Life sends storms.  Bend, don’t break.  Bend, flow, let it go.  See what new possibilities arise when instead of fighting the storms, we choose to embrace them.  Oftentimes, miracles and angels are all around us.  We need only to open ourselves to them by releasing resisting and instead honoring the trees, our teachers—bend, don’t break.  There are wonders all around us—even in the intensity of the storms.

Love,

 

jb

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Published in: on August 8, 2013 at 4:39 am  Comments (7)  

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  1. “Every single breath is a gift. What we choose to do with that gift is what defines us and creates the legacy of our lives”. Reminds me of this quote: “How we spend our days, is, of course, how we spend our lives.” —Annie Dillard. And also this movie I just saw, which I recommend: Twenty Feet from Stardom. See it if you can! Thanks for the thoughtful post and video!

  2. The trip’s the trip….

  3. “Oftentimes, miracles and angels are all around us. We need only to open ourselves to them by releasing resisting and instead honoring the trees, our teachers—bend, don’t break. There are wonders all around us—even in the intensity of the storms.”

    Yes, Yes and Yes… I agree full-heartedly and your words throughout brought me to tears. I’ve just started my life over, following my dream, and your post is just perfect for the space I find myself in today.

    Recently I saw you in a You Tube video about “There is no ‘away’” and I just loved your message (when we throw things away, there is no such thing as ‘away’.). I am in Thailand teaching Thai teenagers English – and part of my lesson plan is about Environmentalism. It’s nice to know there are other people like me in the world – those who care about the planet, who realize it’s not how much we make each year, or that we reserve a nest egg, become millionaires, or can some day own an island. No. It’s about how we care for the Earth beneath our feet in this very moment. This has to do with now and how we will impact the future. Sometimes I’m so full of rage that so many don’t get this. It’s pure bewilderment!

    So often I get bombarded with sadness that there’s no way I can do enough. This country I am in is so far behind when it comes to sustainability, recycling, and taking care of the earth. In this part of the world, people throw trash outside their kitchen window, and alongside the road. Nature is a common dump – trash has no common place. It is anywhere one wishes to dispose of it… To help over come my sadness, I decided to put my expectations of humanity aside. Instead, I will focus on the things I can bring forth for others to grasp: compassion, love for life – for life is love, beauty in all things, messages from nature in photographs, and the notion to that which you do in one day can make all the difference.

    Thank you for keeping your blog on, Julia. It doesn’t matter how much you write, it just matters that you do.

    love,
    Melissa ~ a former San Franciscan girl, age 42

  4. Julia – I’m sure you have already scoured the alternative health world for help with your asthma – but just in case you haven’t come across it there is some research into parasites, specifically hookworms, for the treatment of asthma and other autoimmune related disorders. Just google asthma/parasites. I have no experience with this myself but remembered hearing about this a few years back on This American Life on the radio.

  5. ” Life sends storms.  Bend, don’t break.  Bend, flow, let it go.  See what new possibilities arise when instead of fighting the storms, we choose to embrace them.  Oftentimes, miracles and angels are all around us.  We need only to open ourselves to them by releasing resisting and instead honoring the trees, our teachers—bend, don’t break.  There are wonders all around us—even in the intensity of the storms. ”

    This is so beautiful, I posted on FB and it went on to inspire others also.

    Thanks Lili ( London ) x

  6. blessed to know all is well in Belize u r home and missed not a new friend a blessed day when we connect with others. =) be aware of what is around u hugs and happy thoughts =)

  7. I wrote this poem on just this subject http://wordsthatserve.wordpress.com/2012/11/12/bend/
    Thanks for sharing this powerful reminder that every moment of life is a blessing, and an opportunity to come from a place of mindfulness, kindness and love.


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