Getting Off the Ice

Although the world might seem flat and grey when you're on the ice, all it takes is raising your head a few inches to see that there is a much bigger world out there.
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I have a friend who is a former Olympic ice skater. Ice skaters have to practice their jumps over and over again in order to perfect their form. This means falling thousands of times. Along the way, the lesson was ingrained in her that what matters is not the jump or even the fall -- it is the willingness to get up off of the ice after the fall and try again and again.

Getting off of the ice isn't easy. It's cold, it's wet, you're battered and your ego is bruised.

However, you are still alive. You can choose: It's only going to get colder and more uncomfortable the longer you resist it. Rumi, the 13th century Persian poet, said it best: "You were born with wings. Why prefer to crawl through life?"

Those of us who are in pursuit of a fulfilling and joyful life quickly learn that it means falling on the ice, over and over again. I have learned that it is not necessarily the beauty of our jump that matters, but instead our willingness to get up and try it again. In my many, many falls, I have learned a few tricks that make getting up more joyful -- I liken it to a helping hand, reaching out to make it just a little bit easier to get back on our feet again.

Recognize that you are on the ice
This is sometimes the very hardest one to do. As I recounted in my piece about my wake-up call, sometimes when we are on the ice, we don't even know it. It takes a severe slap in the face like a health crisis, a breakup or losing your job to realize that you're not where you thought you were.

Oftentimes, our intuition tries to tell us when we are on the ice, but we are so busy running away and trying to shut it up that we can live in denial for a long time. Sit in silence. Remove any distractions. Within a few seconds, things will start to bubble up. Let it be and just sit with it.

Can you be kind to yourself? We all fall. It's part of our birthright as human beings. Try to imagine yourself as a child who is going through this same situation, and feel the love and compassion that you would offer to that child. That is your other birthright -- to give love to yourself.

Go outside
If you are lucky enough to live near a lake, a forest, an ocean, a bay, a mountain or a even a city park, find your way there. Humans have an innate connection to nature called biophilia. Look for ways to connect with plants, animals, humans and the natural environment.

Elevating your heart rate optimizes our brains, helps regulate our emotions and allows us to flourish. You might not feel up to going for a run or to a yoga class, but what about a quick walk around the block? What about swimming in the ocean? What about chasing your child around the backyard? There are hundreds of ways that you can move and bring some new energy into your life.

While you're on the ice, look around: There are millions of people there too, all of whom would appreciate a kindness. Buy someone else's meal while going through a drive-through restaurant. Engage a tired service worker in a conversation. Look a homeless person in the eyes and say hello.

Seek elevation
Music, art, film, creativity, literature, poetry and more: These are all gifts that can help to elevate our spirits. Interacting with something that moves you can help us to transcend ourselves. I often return to my favorite books when I'm on the ice. They offer me something bigger than my limited self to connect to; they also remind me that the universe does not, in fact, rotate around me. Get yourself to a museum, a beautiful building, or a concert and engage with what you see and feel.

Express yourself
What makes you feel heard or seen? Writing out your feelings, throwing paint at the wall, rearranging your spice rack - these are all activities that help us to express ourselves. I once had a singing teacher who told me that you can never be sad when you're singing. I have found it holds true for any form of creativity.

Nurture yourself
We all yearn to be cared for, and learning how to nurture our own spirits is incredibly important. What makes you feel cherished? Is it a home cooked meal, a massage or coffee with a friend? Offering ourselves even the smallest act of nurturing shows us that we really exist and that we really matter; it reminds us that we are loved.

Do something daring
If you feel like you are up for it, there is absolutely nothing like daring yourself to do something new, scary or different. Every quotidian experience was once something that scared us. What things do you want in your life that seem scary to you right now? Could you take a step in that direction and see what happens?

We are social creatures who need relationships to thrive. Spending time with someone who loves you helps us to experience joy and connection. Be thoughtful about the way that you connect with people, for a false interaction might leave you feeling more alone on the ice. Try being vulnerable with someone and see how it changes the way you feel, your relationship with that person and how you feel about relationships in general.

Count your blessings
Although the world might seem flat and grey when you're on the ice, all it takes is raising your head a few inches to see that there is a much bigger world out there. One of the easiest ways to raise your head is to think about what you are grateful for. Spend a few minutes every morning or evening bringing your awareness to what is good in your life. Often, there is so much to be grateful for and if we don't take the time to notice it, it will pass us by.

Here's to getting up off of the ice together. What are your strategies?


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