“Yesterday is history. Tomorrow is a mystery. Today is a gift, so that’s why we call it the present.”
~ Eleanor Roosevelt
Have you ever “got more than you bargained for?” Does it ever seem like you’ve gotten into something over your head? How have situations like that been learning experiences?
Sometimes life gives us an opportunity to ask for something, and then provides us with much more than our original request. The phrase “embarrassment of riches” points to this tricky law of the universe. “Be careful what you ask for, because you might just get it!” is another one of those old aphorisms that illustrates this phenomenon.
There’s a fine line between too much and just enough. If we hesitate too much and never make any real moves toward our real goals, they remain on the receding horizon for ever. When we crash forward headlong with no foresight or planning, we can find ourselves in a situation that we didn’t expect, with consequences we might not have wanted.
The middle path of staying in the flow, and clearly moving towards our intentions is a more subtle choice, on one hand we’re staying in motion, on the other, we know when to hold back. It’s a constant give and take between grounding ourselves in the present, and taking a leap into the unknown.
The beauty of living in a time-based universe is that we can make informed guesses about the unknown future based on our memories of our experienced past. The present moment is the only place where we get to actually feel anything with our senses, and it’s also the place where all of our decisions are actually made.
When we spend too much time dwelling on the past, it can hinder us from being fluid in the moment, likewise, focusing on the future, especially with apprehension or a sense of fear can be paralyzing. Someone once said that “Hope and nostalgia are the enemy of present moment experience.”
Our minds have some very interesting properties. When it comes to human performance, many of our perceived limitations only exist between our ears. We collectively hold a belief that something is “just the way it is” and then when something comes along and disproves that limiting idea, the dam breaks, and suddenly the boundary is shattered.
Take the four-minute mile for instance. For millennia it was a commonly held belief that no human could run a mile in less than four minutes. Then, in 1954, English runner Roger Bannisterastonished everyone by covering a mile in three minutes and 59.4 seconds. A collective “aha” rose from the runners of the world, and since then the four minute barrier has been shattered over 1,400 times, with the current world record being 3:43.13.
The thing about learning, is that if we stay safe and never venture out into the unknown, we’re never put to the test to learn anything new. And sometimes the universe has a funny way of surprising us in order to teach us things we didn’t even think we wanted to know!
I found myself outside of my comfort zone earlier this week, and learned something new about backyard wildlife management in the bargain! With Teresa and her son Elliot on a trip to Alaska, it’s been up to me and my daughter Geneva to take care of the chickens.
Recently we had an unforeseen development with our flock. Several months ago we acquired five new baby chicks to add to the coop, and one of the babies, a black Bantam Silkie turned out to be a rooster. Now, if you’ve ever raised chickens, you know, roosters aren’t the least bit necessary for prolific egg production from the hens.
This little fellow grew up to excel at all of the things that roosters are good at. Ready to attack and chase you out of the yard, no matter your size? Check. Reliably willing to announce the upcoming break of dawn with a series of ear-piercing cock-a-doodle-doos starting around 4:30 or 5AM daily? You got it. The tiny tyrant earned his name Napoleon and provided hours of entertainment due to his behavior and resemblance to The Black Knight in Monte Python and the Holy Grail.
But with the start of the school year putting a premium on sleep, and additional work responsibilities coming online, we decided that the pre-dawn wake-up calls had to cease. We half-heartedly threatened him with the stewpot, but he was far too charming in his cocky ways. So with a little networking in the poultry community, we found a woman who exclaimed in a thick Austrian accent, “Don’t kill the little guy!” She was friends with the owners of six acres near Vacaville who were happy to let him live out his early-morning-alarm-clock years.
So it seemed like his chapter in our poultry story ended there, but no, he left a legacy. About a week after he moved, Elliot comes running into the house exclaiming, “There’s a baby chick!” Actually, it turned out there were two, he had managed to do the one other thing that roosters are good for, and that is helping hens lay fertile eggs. One looks like it got the Silkie genes, the other one appears to have inherited more of the Buff Orpington DNA. We’re still crossing our fingers that he didn’t take revenge on us and sire another rooster!
Fast forward a couple of weeks, and the chickies are growing and bopping around the yard in the sun during the day, cute as little buttons. All good, except for the fact that to a feral cat, they look like little McNuggets on the hoof. And unfortunately, we have some neighbors down the street who support a large population of homeless cats by keeping food on the curb.
Ordinarily, the cats on the corner are none of our business, but when they start stalking our baby chickens, we have to intervene. We have a catch-em-alive critter trap designed for raccoons, last winter we re-homed one out to the countryside and away from our chicken coop. I found out that the local animal shelter has a “no-kill” policy for feral cats, they fix them and find homes for them with farmers who have barns needing rodent control. So I decided to catch and relocate some of the kitties who had our chicks on the menu.
The first night went well. According to plan our trap netted one of the feral chick hunters, and the shelter confirmed it had no chip, and would cool it’s heels for a week or so in case an owner was looking, and then be shipped out to a barn full of rats to live happily ever after.
Great, right? The next night, I set the trap again, thinking that if I get two or three of the feral feline assasins evicted from our neighborhood, our baby chicks can grow up in peace. The next morning is when I got my “more than I bargained for” teachable moment. Because yes, the trap had worked, but no, it wasn’t a cat! In my infinite wisdom, I had managed to capture a cute little black and white SKUNK!
This was the last thing I expected, and suddenly I was faced with a whole new set of wildlife management dilemmas. First of all, I love skunks, and wouldn’t hurt a hair on one’s head for the world. I suppose they might steal an egg or two if they had the chance, but the pose no real threat to our chickens. But one thing I do know is that you don’t want to scare them, and having one caged up in a trap was like having a living stink bomb under my nose that I had no idea how to defuse!
I call Animal Control. They won’t touch wildlife, so it’s not their problem. They tell me to call the Fish and Game Department. They say it’s not something they deal with unless it’s bit someone or looks like it has rabies. But the person on the phone is nice, and says they will talk to their staff biologist, and have them call me back.
The biologist calls me back, and some of his advice is what I might have guessed myself. Approach the trap holding an old blanket or tarp out in front of me to hide behind. I was fully expecting to get sprayed, and was already imagining myself in a tub full of tomato juice. So the piece of advice the biologist gave me that I wasn’t expecting, but that probably saved the day, was actually really cute and kind of funny to those who heard this story.
He told me to sing to the skunk, that if I would kind of croon to it as I approached in a soft, reassuring voice, that I might get lucky and not get sprayed. So you can picture me out there in the backyard, nervously tiptoeing towards the trap behind an old painters tarp, softly sing-songing “Skunky, oh skunky, please don’t spray me today! Sweet little skunky, I’m here to set you free, and send you on your way!”
Little Pépé LePew must have had a sixth sense for human kindness, because I was able to carefully cover the trap with the tarp and gently prop it open with a stick before backing up out of the way, and slowly and carefully my little black-and-white friend walked out of the trap and under the fence without a wasting a whiff of the fragrance I was hoping to avoid. I breathed a fresh-air sigh of relief that lasted the rest of the day!
You never know when life will hand you a lesson, and now I know how to handle a mistakenly trapped skunk! The biologist also advised against trapping at night, since I could easily get the ferals without risking capture of our nocturnal friends.
So as you dance through life’s present moment experiences, remember our world is a wild one, so be ready to learn something new at any time! May your week be wonderful and your flow be filled with love!
All the best till next Monday,
Dance First Member Spotlight – Amber Ryan – Global 5Rhythms Luminary!
This week’s Dance First Member Spotlight shines on Amber Ryan, one of the 5Rhythms Tribe’s most well-loved and well-traveled leaders! Amber trained under the wings of The Raven herself, Gabrielle Roth, for over ten years in New York City and beyond.
She’s now on the Omega annual staff at Blue Spirit Retreat in Nosara, Costa Rica, has taught at Eileen Fisher Lifework, and has guided ecstatic spaces at Burning Man, Envision Festival, Wanderlust, Bonaroo Music Festival, and an untold number of 5Rhythms dance floors across the globe. She hosts two different weekly 5Rhythms classes in Boulder Colorado, The Flow State , a morning movement meditation on Tuesdays, and Gateways on Wednesday nights.
You’ve got some great opportunities to join Amber on a 5Rhythms floor coming up soon. Next week on Sept 28-29 you’ve got Rhythm Shift in Nashville, Tennessee. Next month, on October 16-20 she’s in Joshua Tree, California with Kate Shela for ZERO . In November, on the 14-18, she’ll be leading a 5Rhythms + Meditation retreat calledSTILL at the Prama Wellness Center in Marshall, North Carolina.
And then for your chance to ring in the New Year in the peak of conscious movement style, make plans to join Amber along with collaborators Monica Ramos and Serena Gabriel in Nosara, Costa Rica for GOLDEN, a 5Rhythms New Years Retreat.
Amber says “I believe that we are all artists with an ability to create our reality and manifest our dreams, yet we need practices to keep us fluid, tools to help us express our boundaries and what we stand for, physical ways to help us to let go when the time is ripe, maps that lead us back to the simple pure joy we felt as children, and teachings that show us what true compassion is.”
Put one of these movement opportunities with Amber on your calendar today, and catch her on her travels between her base camps in Boulder, New York, and Costa Rica. Thanks for all your great work in the field Amber, and may your travels and teachings be epic!
Rhythm Shift :: 5Rhythms with Amber Ryan
Sept 28-29, Nashville, Tennessee
Zero with Amber Ryan and Kate Shela
Oct 16-20, Joshua Tree, CA
STILL: A 5Rhythms + Meditation Retreat with Amber Ryan
Nov 14-18, Prama Wellness Center, Marshall, NC
G O L D E N: A 5Rhythms New Years Retreat with Amber Ryan, Monica Ramos, & Serena Gabriel
Dec 28 to Jan 5, Nosara, Costa Rica