Too busy for abundance????

To say that the pace of my life was slower last week while I was on my weeklong retreat would be an understatement.  I can’t think of a time when I have so thoroughly let myself slow down, relax, sleep and spend my days doing what might seem like nothing.  Sleeping.  Eating. Walking Outside. Watching the birds.  Listening to beautiful music. 
 
It was exactly what I needed – mind, body and spirit.   And I re-entered “normal life” this week with the commitment to bring that experience home with me – to  remember that I often need to SLOW DOWN (not speed up) in order to access and fully EXPERIENCE the abundance that surrounds me and is within me.
 
Today I’ve had not just one – but TWO – amazing experiences that have powerfully reinforced this lesson.   It’s these experiences and the lessons they’ve given me, that I want to share with you now.
To set the stage, it’s important you know that this morning was not a typical one.  Dan and I were up, dressed and out the door at 7:00 for an early morning meeting. When we left, I fully expected to be home by 9:30 (or even earlier) so I could get to work in my office.  I had a BUSY day planned.
 
I’ll spare you the details and simply tell you that things did NOT go as planned.  As a result, we were just STARTING our drive home at 11:00!
 
The first “event” happened about five miles from home.  There, in the field next to the road, was a sight so amazing I almost couldn’t believe it.  I immediately slowed down and turned the car around so we could take a closer look.
 
I could only partially pull off the road – so I put my flashers on and then sat back to watch in wonder and awe.  So did Dan.
 
No more than 20-25 yards from the edge of the road were FOUR bald eagles, sitting on the ground, fighting each other over the fresh carcus of a deer.  One was fully mature with bright white head and the other three were not fully mature and/or females. 
 
Dan and I were awestruck.  After all, how often do you see bald eagles ON THE GROUND – let alone 20-25 YARDS from where you’re sitting in the car?  They were beautiful. And when they spread their wings to “shoo” another eagle away… well, their wing span was HUGE!  It was, in a word, stunning.  
 
We sat there, bathing in the beauty and wonder of this amazing experience, for about 10 minutes until, one by one, each eagle flew off.  That was beauty in motion as well.
 
Both of us were grinning from ear to ear.  Talk about abundance and talk about “making our day”!  I wish you could have seen it and shared it with us.
 
Now… onto now for the “abundance lesson” and “mirror” it provided me and, I hope you.
 
As we sat there, with our emergency flashers on, several cars came upon us from behind and had to cross the center line to go around us.  Some had to wait for oncoming traffic before they did so.   
 
All in all, probably 15 cars had to go around us.  And even though it was pretty clear we were “gawking out the window” and even though the eagles were only 20-25 yards from the road, NONE of these cars slowed down or pulled over for even a minute to watch this rare and beautiful sight.
 
I felt sad for them… that they either didn’t see or thought they didn’t have time to stop to watch.   Until I began to wonder how often I’ve done the same thing – so intent on GETTING some place that I MISS the abundance along the road.
 
I began to think of all the times I’ve been rushing someplace, running behind, with no time to stop.  And I wonder now how many “bald eagles” I’ve driven by, unseeing. 
 
For so much of my life, I’ve thought that living life fully meant I had to PACK AS MUCH IN as I could… to have every minute spoken for… to always be DOING or GOING someplace.   But my retreat and the bald eagles this morning reminded me that if I don’t leave space in my life for the simple pleasures and unexpected surprises, I miss out on a lot.  And instead of feeling open, relaxed and abundant – I feel pressured, stressed and anxious. 
 
We arrived home, still grinning… just in time for me to get on a conference call that ended at 1:00.   So instead of beginning my work day at 9:30 as I originally planned, I was now 3.5 hours “behind”.   I got off the call, planning to go straight into my office and get to work. 
 
But I was out of sync with myself.  It had been a crazy and chaotic morning (save the eagles) and I was feeling rushed and anxious.   So I took a deep breath and realized that what I REALLY needed was to go outside for some fresh air and a 10-minute run.    
 
My initial and automatic reaction was to reject the idea.  After all, I was already way behind – I didn’t have time to go for a run now, even a short one.  But remembering the lessons of my retreat and of the eagles, I decided to do it anyway.
 
I was about 1/4 of a mile from our house when I heard a familiar – although strange – sound.   Stopping, I took off my ear muffs to listen again.   Scarcely able to believe my ears, I looked up and there – flying low overhead – were three sandhill cranes.
 
At another time of year, this would not be unusual and if you’re a long-time subscriber to this letter, you know how much I LOVE cranes.  But I have NEVER seen a sandhill crane in this area after the first week in November.   So there I was, on December 6th, gaping skyward in wonder, watching these three beautiful birds fly northward overhead.
 
(Yeah… I know what you’re thinking. They’re going the wrong direction.  I thought that too.  And I’ve called the International Crane Foundation to see if they can explain it – as well as their presence in December.)
 
As I watched them fly into the distance, all I could think was that I was SO GLAD I had been willing to practice SLOWING DOWN enough to go for this run.  Because had I done what I have done so often and rushed to work, trying to make up for lost time (an impossible task), I would have missed them.   I would have missed this amazing experience of seeing my beloved cranes in DECEMBER!
 
So there you have it, {!firstname_fix}… one of my “lessons” from retreat reinforced BIG TIME by the amazing events of today.
 
Now it’s your turn.  Was there anything in me sharing my story that resonated with you, challenged you, encouraged you, affirmed you?Is there any chance that you are RUSHING through your days (or life) and, as a result, are missing some of the abundance along the way?

 
Is your life and schedule packed so full that you don’t have (or take) time to “watch eagles” along the way or take 10-minute runs or other kinds of breaks that replenish, renew and surprise you?
 
How could you practice SLOWING DOWN and enjoying yourself, your life and your process?
As always, I’d love to hear your response if you care to share.  Questions?  Comments?  AHAs?  Celebrations?  Just add them below…