Reflection

Love/war

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It’s quiet in my corner of Salt Lake City today. A soft blanket of snow from the first real storm of the winter paints my whole neighborhood in the perfect picture of the season. I’ve missed it. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve had my fair share of fresh snow up in the mountains, but to have it weighing down the prayer flags and tree branches in my backyard is a special kind of gift. My bedroom is cool and bright, and I’m watching incense smoke curl gently around the feathers of the dreamcatcher hanging on my window.

Today, I feel the love.

Last night, we filled my house with people that we like and blanketed them in pink and blue light and groovy sounds from our friend’s first live set as a DJ. As the night wound down, and the stragglers lay lazy, sleepy, laughing, and eating homemade cookies, I leaned on a strong leg and felt warmth like I haven’t felt in a long time.

I feel the love. Soft, quiet, gentle, and bright.

There is a lesson in this.

Since moving to Utah, I’ve reflected many times over what enough looks like for me. Over the last few weeks especially, I’ve felt myself raising my sword and screaming battle cries at the open sky - but the slow breeze just raises its eyebrows at me, because there’s no war to wage. Living isn’t a fight. Loving isn’t a fight.

Loving isn’t a fight.

I’ve claimed for some years now to be a warrior of love. I have known myself to be a revolutionary, but of what? For what am I fighting?

Today, in the calm of the blizzard and the watercolor stains on my hands, my higher self smiles patiently at me as I pause wide-eyed in understanding.

Loving isn’t a fight.

Love is not a battlefield. Love is not like a war. I am not a soldier.

I don’t have to paint my face and arm myself for love. I don’t have to give or receive orders for love. I’ve imagined myself becoming a general, leading an army of warriors of love like myself, pictured myself standing before them with a fist in the air and howling at the sky as they join me in my fight - but the metaphor doesn’t actually make any sense.

Loving isn’t a fight.

Relax back into the arms of the present moment, and find that love is there. Gently step deeper into the darkest corners of your Self, and use love as the candle to illuminate all of your truths. Rub your eyes and blink at the light of love that is blindingly brilliant and radiating from every atom of your being. Imagine what could be possible if you allow for the possibility that love is who you are at your core?

I offer this to you because in this moment, I am realizing that I’ve had it all wrong. I have a fire spirit, and so I imagined that there must be ferocity in all that I do and in all that I am. I think now that this has been a belief that’s been holding me back. I am always geared up and ready for a fight. I always have a flash in my eyes, and my tongue is sharp, and I’ve prided myself on that. But I’ve been playing tug of war with the universe. The universe doesn’t care, of course. It just keeps dragging me along as I dig my heels in deeper and snarl, thinking I’m so powerful for resisting the pull. The universe says to me, “come this way, there’s love here,” and I cackle and stubbornly resist, thinking that I know better. I’m a fighter, after all, and I won’t be dragged anywhere against my will.

But loving isn’t a fight.

Dear one, you are worthy of love - of every kind. It is already everywhere in your life. You need not fight it, nor fight for it. Relax into it. Open your eyes and your heart to it. Fear not.

I’m rooting for you.

Lovingly yours,
Spencer

P.S. If you're wondering what kind of love I'm talking about, it's the limitless kind. Don't box it. Let it be broad, all-encompassing. You'll thank me later.

How you do anything is how you do everything.

Athletes on the Brighton Ski Team. Photo by Chris Monte (Instagram, website)

I talk a lot, especially on my Instagram, about how much I like to coach ski racing.

When I was teaching in a high school setting, and when I was teaching more yoga, I often noticed that I would offer one piece of advice, one lesson, that seemed relevant to everyone for days (or weeks) at a time before realizing that the person who really needed that advice was me all along.

Tonight I remembered that sneaky little habit, and I wondered what I’ve been saying lately to my athletes that might actually be about me. It didn't take me long to translate my coaching into subtext that's really actually directed at myself as I navigate my own path.

1) Keep your upper body facing down the hill, like you had a headlight shining out of your chest lighting the way down the fall line. Let your skis move underneath you, but keep a level head and shoulders.

Translation: the Path is winding, but the point on the horizon remains steady. Don’t lose track of the goal as your rock-hop your way towards it. Hold your heart steady and trust your footfalls, even when they aren’t pointing exactly straight.

2) Hands up, arms extended, driving forward but not stiff. Don’t drop your hands and lose your drive, keep ‘em up.

Translation: Reach for it. The thing that you want is there. It feels far away when you’re in the start, but it’s there. Don’t relax into the backseat. Don’t get complacent. Keep reaching.

3) Get your weight forward. Throw your body down the fall line and trust that your outside ski will hold. Strong legs, fully commit.

Translation: If you want it, lean towards it. Put your foot on the gas and believe that you are capable of handling the speed - because you are. You've been training for this.

4) Stop overthinking. Get out of your head and into your body. Don’t think - ski.

Translation: Release the need to think yourself into immobility. Paralysis by over-analysis will bring your dreaming and scheming to a screeching halt of, “shit, now what?” You don’t always need to know intellectually what you’re doing and how to do it. Trust your intuition, trust your practice, and keep moving. You can do this. You know how to do this.

5) Arc ‘em or park ‘em.

Translation: You’re not out here to float along aimlessly, listlessly, along for the ride. If you aren’t going to dive in and fully engage with your life, you might as well quit. You’re not a quitter. So don’t.

6) If you ain’t fallin’, you ain’t haulin’.

Translation: Don’t be afraid to go so fast that you fall on your face. Your failure is an indicator that you’re trying your damnedest to get out there, get fast, and get good at whatever it is that you’re doing. Take risks. Your face-plants are signs that you’re giving it your absolute best - and that’s fucking awesome. Get up and go again.

7) Pressure your boots, not yourself.

Translation: Push yourself in your efforts, but don’t beat yourself up so bad that you’re grinding yourself into the dirt (or ice). Stay vigilant in your pursuit of whatever it is you’re pursuing, but be mindful of how you talk to yourself throughout the process. Work hard, play hard, but show yourself compassion. You won’t get anywhere if you beat yourself into a rag doll of “not good enough.”

I'm coaching grit. Perseverance. Ways to keep going in the face of resistance. Self-confidence. Trust in the process.

I hear all the time, “as in ______, so in life.” For me, the blank is filled with coaching and teaching. I’ve heard it said about skiing, about dance, about surfing, about hiking, about the creative process… it’s a long list. The way you go about your passion is directly translatable to the way you live your life.

How you do anything is how you do everything, right?

So, how are you doing it?

Cheers,
Spencer