5 Ways to Enjoy a Red Light

The world is in such a hurry these days. In a society running on Starbucks and work deadlines, it is tough sometimes not to get caught up in the “go, go, go” of every-day-life. I think that red lights have been the bad guys for too long. I think red lights and stop signs and traffic jams all deserve a second thought. And that thought is this: Is it really so bad to pause every once in a while? Is it just awful to have a second to think, to reflect, or to slow down long enough to notice the extraordinary sunset sweeping across the sky? Don’t you ever find yourself wishing you could just escape for a minute? Here is what red lights have been trying to tell us for a century now and five ways to fully appreciate their potential.

1. Take in the stillness.  Take a second and look around and feel the world rush past you. Be a part of the trees or the buildings, the things that are being still, and appreciate life from their perspective. The masters have always told us to go with the flow, but that doesn’t mean losing yourself in it. You deserve to have moments all your own. Be your own flow. Take a deep breath… and then Go.

2. Be grateful.  It always feels good to remember all the things we are thankful for, especially if we are having a bad day or stressing out. You can’t help but stop at a red light (well legally), so even if you are in the biggest hurry of them all, you have permission from traffic laws everywhere to slow down and take a breather. Take advantage of it, relax, name a few reasons you are happy to be doing what you are doing. Think about what you enjoy about your life and what you are fortunate to have.

3. Be friendly.  Notice the people around you. Smile at a stranger. Study your fellow beings. Barge into their lives a little and let them know they are not alone. Making someone smile is a simple gesture that often takes you further than you could ever imagine. ” I don’t even know you, I don’t know what you do for a living or what church you go to or whether you’re a Stealers fan or not, but I’m going to smile at you.” How could that not feel awesome?

5. Quiet your mind. I’m sure we can all relate to streaming and unyielding thinking marathons that just never seem to stop and yet never seem to get us anywhere. You’re just thinking about nothing and everything at the same time and maybe you feel like you wish you could just turn your brain off. Your favorite song is on the radio and you can’t even enjoy it ’cause it’s so loud between your ears. This is when you stop and simply think to yourself “I wonder what my next thought will be?…” (The only way to know if it works is to try it) But I would not suggest doing this while driving, which is why red lights are wonderful!

5. Take care of your body. Red lights are the perfect time to do those little things you should do and always forget to like drink water or do your Kegel exercises! Whenever we do anything nice for our body it sends a message of security and value to all our moving parts and working systems. Cellular biologist, Bruce Lipton, says “our cells really are sentient entities that are trying to work together for our good.” When we send our body messages of love and security our cells take that message and run with it which enables our systems to operate more optimally. Take good care of your body, it will take good care of you.  Also, Doing your Kegel exercises strengthen the PC muscles, helps in treating urinary incontinence and can increase sexual gratification. So many red light wins!

So, instead of being impatient and stressed or bored and stuck with nothing to do but read the bumper stickers on the car in front of you, you now have five productive mind, body, and soul practices to enrich your life one red light at a time. See you out there!

The 5 B’s of Doingness

 

#1 Beginning- I have to admit it is kind of intimidating staring at the blinking curser as it prods almost intrusively at my skill and ability to write. I just dive in. It seems characteristic of me, like jumping off the roof when I was 12, into the make shift snow mound.  Now, just like then, a second of uncertainty is less uncomfortable than the thought of standing there feeling frozen and unsure.  When I try to stay in one place and think it over patiently and rationally, I often just talk myself out of things.  I’d rather just take a chance and see what happens then spend too much time second guessing myself. I’m not afraid of mistakes.  I am afraid of feeling stuck.  So here I am.  I’ve begun to write. I’ve already gotten through a paragraph and it all seems relevant and thought provoking, which is after all what I was going for when I sat down to write my first piece for potential publication.

#2 Baby steps- I’ve never done this kind of writing but I’ve always wanted to.  “Well,” I think to myself “anyone who’s done anything has never done it before at one point.” This thought is very reassuring to me and so I press on.  I have found that whenever I do anything new or exciting, whether it is life changing like a move to a new place, a break up, or perhaps less serious like deciding to take a class or start an exercise routine, it’s best to just take it one tiny step at a time and not get all hung up on the final project.  I adhere to the saying  “Progress not perfection.”  Most of the time nothing turns out the way you thought it would anyway, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t turn out wonderful.  The fun part is often getting there and the little-by-little-stuff can be just as exciting as the final step into your original pursuit.

#3 Breaks- I stop writing and go to the store with my honey, due to late night BBQ cravings (an excuse to be outside and around the fire really).  All along I’m writing this in my head as we browse the isles at Fred Meyer’s for short ribs and salad dressing. Then I stop. “Wait, this is nice. I should enjoy this”, I think to myself as I grab my honey’s hand.  Sometimes we forget to take breaks when we are excited about doing something for the first time. I often get over involved forgetting to travel back to the surface of reality, for a breath of fresh air or a warm moment of clarity.  A deep breath is waiting for me here, between all my nerve and ambition, the sound of crackling embers or the plot of my four year old daughter’s day spilling out in broken words and infectious laughter.  When I step back into the project later I may have something more to bring with me than if I had just stayed and obsessed.

#4 But-what-if’s- I look over what I’ve already done. I start to get anxious and self-critical and then I stop myself and remember that mistakes are also great teachers.  It’s not enough to start something if I’m not going to give it my all. Sure it’s true not all things are meant to be, but if you don’t try your best and do everything you can to make it work you will never know.  I guess that brings me back to the “doing-ness” factor.  In the first place, it is tough sometimes to just get out there and do the stuff you’ve always wanted to do.  Whether it’s starting something or ending something. I don’t know exactly what makes it so difficult. Maybe it’s a case of relentless what-if’s rooted in our fears of failure and disappointment?  All I know is I’d rather be disappointed than disenchanted any day!

#5 Balls – I believe we should do the things we want to do even if others warn us not to. Isn’t that what all the greatest do-ers and revolutionists in history have done?  We are ordinary people but we can do extraordinary things and lead extraordinary lives, just by indulging our simplest dreams and want-to’s.   So I am doing this. Writing a column is one of the many things I’ve always wanted to do and I appreciate you being a part of it. I bid you all a good week full of opportunity, change and mistakes to urge your quests to do stuff.