Uzima is the Swahili word for life: wholeness, vigor, and vitality of mindbodyspirit.  This word inspires me to be creative, adaptable, and compassionately aware in my service to others; to encourage others to seek balance in their commitment to wellness and learning in their respective lives; and to be open to the possibilities and opportunities that can transform perceptions of the ordinary into celebrations of the miraculous.

story telling ira glassOne way that I best connect with uzima is through shared stories.   The nature of narrative — with its origins of truth, knowledge, and heritage — makes for a powerful tool for unleashing Voice – the inner awareness of the possibilities and the power within.

Exercising Voice can shape the way we see the world and how we choose to participate in it.  Narrative is a lens by which one can view each experience, be it positive or negative, to build powerful metaphors that can better guide an understanding of how to approach life’s obstacles from an empowered state – rather than a hopeless state.

we all have storiesWe create and we grow our lives by being transparent with our stories.  By exploring the powerful tradition of narrative, it is possible to transform our ways of thinking and processing new experiences.  Through journaling and storykeeping, it is possible to make connections that lead us along our respective pilgrimages of healing and make us the authors of our life stories.  When we share our stories, we share our core beliefs – a powerful step in life’s growth and healing process.

I came across a passage in my reading recently that resonated with me: our blessings and gifts earn value when used . . . our abundance is an expression of how we use our gifts and how we can feel truly prosperous (from the Daily OM).  When we share — our hearts, our lives, our stories — our riches become more valuable because we have given of them with compassionate awareness.

Sharing is one of those uzima experiences that grows us.  Sometimes in ways of which we are completely unaware.

The ripple effect goes unnoticed.  We do not know what the ultimate outcome will be of bestowing a kindness upon another.  Maybe it is getting a box of tissues for someone who is crying.  Or it is letting someone into traffic.  Loaning someone $20 for gas money.  Rubbing someone’s shoulder while she is struggling against life’s current.  Buying coffee for the person who is standing in line behind you.  Sending an I-love-you letter via snail mail.  Listening to your best friend tell his story.  Laughing until your sides ache.

Abundance.  Compassionate awareness.  Wholeness in existence.  Happiness.  Contentment.  Significance.  Connection.  Sharing.

We can create abundance in our lives and in the lives of others by giving freely of what we have and who we are.  It is a humbling thing to write of this: to believe that we — you and I — stand to be instrumental in another’s growth.  It is life’s ultimate gift.  To others.  And to our own selves.  It is powerful, magnificent, and humbling . . . to think that we all have the opportunity to love another with uzima reflected in our actions.  toaster oven




Are you caught in Yo-yo Land?

PROMPT: Is there something in your life that you keep doing over and over again — even though you say that you don’t want to do so?  Something that you know is b-a-d for you?  That is blocking your Bliss?  Is there something that you keep returning to, even though you have vowed that you never would? Are you trying to lose weight, and you have fallen victim to yo-yo dieting?  Do you keep going back to that unhealthy relationship that you know will never allow for mutual respect?  Do you return each morning to that unrewarding job with the maniacal boss?  Up and down and all around — going in loops and circles and reversals?

Is there something that you feel mysteriously and inexplicably tethered to — unconsciously or otherwise– that keeps reeling you back in?

We have all heard the metaphor that life is a river.  That you can never step into the same river twice.  That fighting the current expends a great deal of misspent energy.  That if you go with the flow, things will feel easier.  That there are eddies and currents that will befuddle your senses.  That there are drops in the river that will surprise you.  That there are Class IV rapids that will tip your raft and divest you of not only your luxuries but your essentials.  That any ol’ dead fish can float downstream — it takes a live one to go against the current.  Still waters run deep and narrow waters cut deep.  That a waterfall is the unfortunate realization that you have made one helluva big mistake and are in for the ride of your life.

You get the idea.  There are so many wowza metaphors for rivers.  Why?  Because they are cool and powerful and unpredictable and demand a great deal of respect from anyone who ventures into its current.

But a yo-yo?  Is a yo-yo cool enough to be a metaphor for life and its crazy trajectories?  Just look at the names of yo-yo tricks: the Sleeper, Rock the Baby, Breakaway, Braintwister, Man on the Flying Trapeze, Around the World, Walk the Dog, Invisi-Whip, Buddha’s Revenge.  Look at all of this coolness that can identify life’s mysteries, demonstrate really amazing skill of movement, and explain how to resolve personal problems.  Feeling stressed?  Walk the Dog.  Feeling restless?  Take a trip Around the World.  Feeling like life has become boring? Be a Woman on the Flying Trapeze.  Feeling unmotivated?  Crack the Invisi-Whip on your Sleeper.

At this point, is anyone else ready to simply drop everything and go buy a yo-yo?

As impressive as some of these tricks may appear to be, I am not so sure that I want to continually be reeled back to Point A.  Or Point B.  Or L-M-N-O-P.  Wait, I just realized: I don’t want to be the yo-yo.  I want to be the Yo-Yo Slinger.  I want to be the one spinning the yo-yo into cosmic fantastic-ness. defines YOYO as “You’re on Your Own.”  Well, we are on our own.  I am on my own, the Yo-Yo Master Herself.  Spinning tricks and following the arc.

Lest I get lost in Yo-Yo Land, I pull myself back to my original question:   Is there something in my life that I keep doing over and over again — even though I say that I don’t want to do so?  I might want to pay attention to this.  Or at the very least, get out of Reversal Mode and distract myself properly by buying a yo-yo and googling some youtube videos on how to learn some of these very cool tricks.  I might not only surprise myself with an aptitude that defies gravity but divert myself from the unhealthier tether points in my life.

So, how does The Art of Yo-Yo actually translate and guide me on the trajectory of

Life Wisdom?

  1. Around the World –> Get rid of some stuff.  A lot of stuff, actually. Be ready to travel.  And travel light.
  2. Double or Nothing –> Become more habituated to taking risks.  Try Something New every single day.
  3. Over the Falls –> While knowing that life has its share of waterfalls, do not fear the unknown around the bend.
  4. Dizzy Baby –> Don’t be fearful of the tricks of the current.  You will eventually pop out of the eddies.
  5. Stop and Go –> Take time to pay attention and cultivate mindfulness.
  6. Hop the Fence –> Jump the grooves in life.
  7. Forward Pass –> Create your own trajectories and work your own magic.
  8. Wormhole –> Be the Yo-yo Master, not the yo-yo.