Friday, March 13, 2009

Steep Inclinations

Lately it seems that everywhere I drive I’m parking on an incline. I find myself yanking back the handbrake with both palms and willing that the car doesn’t roll downhill. Before I walk away, I glance back over my shoulder a couple of times to make sure that it’s cooperating and holding its position. So far, so good.

As more and more fascinating Austin entrepreneurs cross my path, I’m enamored with their determination to stay up in down times. Their impressive enthusiasm and confidence lift my spirits and build hope. If anything will solve the problems facing the nation, it’s the brave characters of these individuals. Ten years from now, we’ll look back on these challenging years and continue to draw from their strength, initiative, and genius.

Not everyone will carry forth a successful business into the next decade, but these folks are out there living their dreams at a time when wringing of hands seems more common than a friendly hand clasp.

I stop and think about what’s my spiritual hand brake; what prevents me from slipping into a panic over the economy, social and racial intolerance, and environmental ills. At the end of the day, it’s my faith in people – individuals who strive to connect and create a better world. In my faux Streisand voice, it’s people who believe in people, and I’m grateful for those who keep encouraging me when the hills get so steep.

So my question this week is: Who believes in you? What helps you hold your position and prevents you from backsliding? As we build our new micro-communities, who will you support shoulder-to-shoulder and how? As the first layer in the new pavement, I suggest we roll out faith in one another, tempered with a little forgiveness for being human, in all its glorious imperfection.

It’s time to pop the brake, push it into gear, and go.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Belly Dancing, Babies, and Flowers in Bloom

How delicious is it to stare at a new baby? As I cradled three-week-old Maya near my heart last week, it was at once exciting, thrilling, and peaceful. During this crazed time of economic downturn, companies and prospects flail like mobile fobs in a windstorm. Meanwhile, right in the crook of my arm nestled this twisting bit of pink perfection, calming and mesmerizing me and evaporating all my cares and concerns.

Standing over her crib, her parents at once bundle love, exhaustion, amazement, anticipation, and worry. They nuzzle her, coo with her, and gaze in her endlessly-seeking hazel eyes. She peers out toward a window and you can almost hear her blossoming brain whiz and whir as she seeks to make sense of her wondrous world. She sows her soft magic over us all and reassures us that everything is going to be just fine.

After my visit with Maya, I wandered into our backyard and found voluptuous blooms emerging on our jasmine vines. I buried my face in the scent and inhaled the fresh, heady perfume. This prolific burst of flowers demonstrates Mother Nature’s recurring promise: Regardless of the edgy, nervous business climate, the spring buds faithfully appear and pop into glorious banquets of color and fragrance. We just need to lift our goblets and rise for the welcome toast.

My teacher, Najla, introduced new movements in our belly dancing class this week. We novices attempted to blend the disparate motions of our feet, pelvises, bellies, shoulders, and arms into fluid choreography. Reminiscent of Maya waving from her crib, I lacked the elusive swaddling of confidence to consolidate shoulder shimmies into piston hips and slink into an Egyptian walk. Yet I believe that with practice and with Najla’s patient cajoling over the next weeks, we’ll shed our inhibitions and sprout into a barefooted bouquet of vibrant-hued scarves fluttering and jingling to exotic rhythms.

So the week’s exploration is: What serves as your bunting? In what do you wrap yourself that binds your character yet frees the graceful gazelle within? What nudges you to flower? For me, it’s the mantle of hope, and I thank little Maya for the reminder that it does spring eternal.