Red Light… Green Light!

stop-wait-go

Wait… wait… wait… GO! Wait… wait… wait… GO! GO!! If this sounds anything like familiar to you than either you’re an expert “Red Light Green Light” gamer or you have encountered the hurry up and wait challenges that life often brings.

Living in NYC, my level of patience tends to fluctuate between absolutely nothing, and when I am mindful, slightly more than very little. This of course doesn’t leave much for my 9 million fellow New Yorkers I share the space with. It certainly doesn’t leave much for my coworkers and colleagues, and at the end of the day, there’s almost nothing left for my loved ones, friends and family.

Since this is ultimately a post about life balance and community, I’d love your input on how you find your patient place. How do you snuggle up to the red lights when you already have all the adrenaline rushing through your veins from the green? Do tell! Wait… ok yeah, please share. 🙂

-TZB

Helpless Yet Hopeful

The sky must be falling.  I feel as though I’m trapped inside of a snow globe that’s still being shaken; but I’ve prepared myself with knee pads and a helmet- way to think ahead!  But my elbows are getting pretty banged up, and my ankles are all scratched and bloody and tears of sadness pour down my face for the shaking doesn’t stop and I cannot help ease the pain.  I feel helpless. 

And just as my body prepares to retreat into a ball at a final attempt to soften the never ending blows, my world is set down on a side table next to a beautiful sky blue ceramic lamp shining brightly on me as I finally begin to relax my clutched hands and remove my helmet. 

I never expected to see another beautiful day, but now I know to expect the unexpected.

-Leah Joy, The Zenful Blogger

P.S. This is dedicated to all the people I love who are in the middle of their own darkest storm.  I love you and know that I’m thinking about you.

TZB Project 365 (Day 19) – Lost and Found


When I was in my early 20s, I spent some time in Zimbabwe studying dance and music and in between I would get lost. Literally lost. My sense of direction was so bad it was good! I would ask for directions somewhere and would start walking with so much conviction that everyone cleared out of my way. At times, I even fooled myself into thinking I was going the right way because my steps held so much conviction. I got into a little trouble once wandering around dark streets of Victoria Falls at 3 o’clock in the morning looking for the campsite. I walked for hours in the dark while grunting warthogs roamed the streets. Scary! Or another time I walked around downtown Harare absolutely certain the backpackers hostel was only blocks away (when it was more like a few miles). That happened a lot!

I am happy to report that my sense of direction has since improved but I learned a lot about myself while I was busy getting lost and then found. Bravery and courage were there to lead me through accompanied by a heightened sense of awareness. A big lesson for me was learning to trust complete strangers to help me when I otherwise had little choice. Whatever street-smarts I brought with me to Africa, I came back trusting myself more than I ever had before.

I’m not suggesting you lose your GPS and get crazy, but maybe tomorrow take a slightly different route to work. Maybe instead of averting your eyes on the subway, you could build up the courage to make eye contact with a fellow passenger and smile. And here’s another thought: maybe playing it safe and following the directions isn’t always the safest way to go?

Keep on keepin’ on. Enjoy the journey, you’ll get there eventually.

-Leah Joy, The Zenful Blogger

Change Your Life and Be Thankful!

On November 17, 2007 my 13-year dance career ended abruptly during a student-teacher performance at the studio where I taught ballroom dance. I was accidentally dropped during a lift fracturing 2 ribs, herniating 3 discs in my neck and causing nerve damage in my back, arm and hand. While the ribs healed quickly, the neck and nerve damage were severe and the proverbial dance was literally over.

It was a devastating day for me.

It was definitely one of the best things that ever happened to me.

The first 2 years were really hard. Preoccupied with pain management, I was also coping with the loss of my primary form of expression for the last (nearly) 30 years. All the while, I was fighting. As much as I tried to feel thankful for all the wonderful things in my life, the resentment was eating me up inside.

But I was lucky. Within the first 6 months of my injury I found a sales and marketing position in the entertainment industry. I began to shift my focus to feeling thankful that I had a job that I could be good at. But in a year and a half I had become good at my job and the results that I brought in were recognized by my company and even the competitors in the industry. As soon as I had accomplished what I set out to do at my job, I felt my attention shift back to feeling sorry for myself. And oh what a pity party it was! I became ill.

Doctor after doctor after doctor. I changed my diet. I changed my priorities. I changed my attitude. I changed my life. I remembered to be thankful again. Thankful that my body and my mind are my vehicles for being happy and kind, and thankful that I have the capacity for healing.

So as my attention shifted to feeling thankful and as my actions became in line with my thoughts an incredible thing happened. I realized the accident was my teacher, not a disability. I became grateful for how much my neck had healed. Grateful for all the emotional support I had received from my family and friends. I let go of what I could not control and for the first time, I moved on.

A little over a week ago I found myself in a Pilates session with a teacher who gave me a very basic exercise for strengthening my neck. My neck immediately released all tension and pain. For longer than a moment, it was literally like the accident never happened. I knew it was the exact, right thing for me to be doing. I was inspired. My whole body smiled. I knew I was healing. I was told that if I kept this particular exercise up, I would be able to fully heal and go back to dancing. Whoa.

It has been 4 years and 3 days since the day of my accident and I am stronger, happier and healthier now than I’ve been in a long, long time. I am incredibly grateful.

So long story short, what “they” say is right on point: Be thankful for what you have right now. It really will change your life.

Keep on keepin’ on and Happy Thanksgiving Zenful Dancers!

-The Zenful Blogger