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  • Frances Schwabenland

"Be Where Your Feet Are" and...

Updated: Jan 23, 2023

I attend a yoga studio, Yoga Home, which was voted the best yoga studio in Conshohocken and it is so aptly named...I get the "Cheers" experience there - "everyone knows your name"! Last week at my class, Allison Gold Russell, my teacher extraordinaire, started the class with the quote,"Be where your feet are." She spoke about cultivating a true sense of presence and shared a personal story of being on a hike and when tired and contemplating giving up, a man appeared and encouraged her to keep going and just think about one step at a time. Allison completed the hike that day! My teacher's words resonated so deeply with me. I just happened to be reading "Be Where Your Feet Are" which interestingly enough, was written by the hometown CEO of the Philadelphia 76ers, Scott M. O'Neil and I was finding it very inspiring.

Travel is always not only a journey of learning but also an opportunity to face your fears head on and open to expansive richness. High in the mountains of Burma, the rain was torrential and the mud from the mountains was sliding down and covering the small path we were on. My courageous friends, David Heath and Win Kyaw Zan are both of the mindset, "Do anything and go anywhere for the picture", not so much! Wouldn't you know that there would be one hut high on the steep slope with a man and a fire that was so intriguing to David and Win. So of course they started off with not a moment of hesitation going up against the mud slide. They took one look at me and read fear all over my face. Win found a large stick for me to brace myself and David got in front of me so I could hold onto his shoulders and Win was right behind me. David just kept saying to me, "One step at a time!" "One step at a time!" "Look down, don't look up!" I will never forget both the lessons and the emotion of that day. First off, how lucky was I to be surrounded by such amazing friends who believed in me when I didn't believe I could do it. I am continuing to learn that when I am off the charts on the fear scale, each and every small step forward is a win. Sometimes not seeing the big picture or the end result can be a good thing. Just focus on where my feet are. Up and up we went and we came upon this lovely gentleman who did not seem to mind strangers suddenly appearing at his hut! Thank heaven Win made the introductions for us! The gentleman welcomed us with our cameras and graced us with the gift of being able to photograph as he was weaving his basket. I not only was so touched by his openness to us but also felt such profound gratitude that my friends encouraged me to journey to a vista of courage, kindness and beauty...a sight that few tourists would ever see in Burma.

So be where your feet are but try to be there in joy if possible. I learned that in Iceland! I had just turned 60 and both my parents died suddenly at 60 so I was determined to celebrate big time since I was breaking that trend! Off to the "land of fire and ice" I went and to its largest glacier. Vatnajokull is Europe's largest ice cap and covers 8% of Iceland's total land. It is also home to Iceland's highest peak, Hvannadalshjukur. It was overwhelming to me looking up at the glacier thinking I had to climb this giant of ice. (I now know it would have been better had I said, "I get to climb this glacier and how lucky am I!") I had never before walked on crampons or carried an ice pick - I looked the part but had no idea how to do it! Add to that a broken toe and two cameras. If anyone knows me, they know I hate to miss any opportunity but they also know I can easily go into fear and trepidation! So, I made the decision that I was going to go! There were 6 people in our group and I wasn't going to be the only one to remain behind. I began the climb and remembered what David had told me, "One step at a time" and I walked hesitantly the entire way and I made it! A win for sure but I learned something new. There was a wonderful couple with us who had the most amazing energy. They exuded such joy and had us all laughing and at one point, the husband took one of my cameras to help me out. Nothing was a their very soul they felt this was an amazing opportunity and they were going to thoroughly enjoy every moment and they did! That was huge for me. They "opened a new window and traveled a new highway" all with such contagious joie de vivre and I keep this picture on my phone to constantly inspire and remind me!

So be where your feet are. Take one step at a time and know each step is a win...and if at all possible let the French spirit guide you...Joie de vivre..." an exultation of spirit and the buoyant enjoyment of life!"

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