My lungs feel as though they have shrunk and even taking a few steps is leaving me light-headed.
My inner dancer is screaming, “I thought I was in great shape!”
Oh wait….I’m in the Andes Mountains.
I’m at 14,000 feet elevation.
That may have something to do with these New York City lungs so accustomed to sea level.
I’ve never been here before. This is a whole new experience.
Where have you found yourself in a new situation feeling exhausted and breathless?
* A new class where you are overwhelmed with information
* A new project that will highlight your work on a larger scale
* A new environment or studio
* Standing in front of a full audience with a dry mouth and knees shaking
How did this affect your Creativity and the QUALITY of your work?
How did it affect your overall PERFORMANCE and your ability to commit and complete your project?
So many times we find ourselves out of breath and dizzy as we up-level in our Creativity. We desperately want to claim the Spotlight and be seen, but those lights can be so blinding.
Thankfully, there is a way to dim them and still achieve our Dreams.
And it came to be while I was breathless, birding in the Abra Malaga Pass in Peru.
Last week I was in the majesty of the Andes Mountains, staring at vast landscapes, in awe of the expansive power, and raising my binoculars to view 181 different species of colorful South American birds. The temperatures were in the low 30’s and I had five layers on top, and three on my legs. I resembled the stay-puff marshmallow man a little, but I was warm.
And I was breathless.
We were birding along the Abra Malaga Pass and had stopped at a Highlander’s house to see birds and also to have a quick tea break.
The landowner, Maxima, came out with her grandson, in traditional Peruvian dress…literally.
Did I mention I was in five layers?
Maxima brought us warmed potatoes, fresh from her farm, and her three dogs trotted around us, tails wagging. She spoke happily to our local guide, Lucrecia, in Quechua.
Our group stared, jaws open at Maxima’s open toes and bare legs, as we held our piping Coca tea and warm potatoes.
How was she not freezing??
After our snack, we ascended her property to view hummingbirds and endemic species. The mountainside rose at a sharp angle and we slowly made our way up, huffing along the way, towards a patch of trees.
My father was alongside me and said,
“Make sure you are taking deep breaths at this altitude. We are adjusting and want to fill our lungs with as much air as possible.”
I realized in that moment that I had been breathing shallowly, and immediately placed my awareness further down, opening my belly and slowing my breathing. I felt immediate relief.
“Maxima has spent her whole life here, so she has more red blood cells. That is what allows her to breathe with ease.”
My upbringing was much closer to sea level, and my home is directly on the water.
But here is where the human body is incredible…..we can adjust. I may have begun the week feeling the altitude, but it didn’t last, and every breath I took in deeply was changing my body chemistry.
I looked at my many layers, and started to ask the questions,
How much are we protecting ourselves?
Do we really know what we are capable of?
The Highlanders of Peru are a sturdy and strong people. I looked at Maxima and saw my limiting beliefs around cold temperatures being blown out of the water. She didn’t have frostbite, because her body had adjusted to her environment. It had created more red blood cells.
And her name? Well…..she was living up to it. Tending to her family, farm, her chickens, and her pigs. She was at her full potential, in tune with her environment.
So, how do we deal with ELEVATION in our Creative Life?
First, we breathe. But, we breathe deeply. Take the moment to come back into your body and give it the oxygen it needs. Stress breeds on tension, and is destroyed by the simple act of coming back to your breath, and dropping out of your whirling mind.
Secondly, we adjust. A new experience can be so exciting. It can also be a shock to the body, and leave us breathless. So, allow the time, and also recognize that your body will adjust with repetition. Your Creativity will adjust with repetition, and your glorious gifts will find their audience with repetition. When you feel stuck, it’s temporary.
We have to put ourselves in the NEW environment to grow. This is where our “red blood cells” form….at the higher levels. This is how we climb.
Your work wasn’t meant to stay at sea level, and we are far more capable and stronger than we ever imagined.
Wouldn’t you like to know what your Maximum is?
So, take a hike with me, breathe deep, and raise your binoculars to the sky.
The change is already occurring.