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The Painted Elephant


Whew. This week was incredibly challenging. 8 hours in the car, one MRI with injection, major end of the year paperwork. I’m exhausted. I slept in until about 6:30 a.m. this morning. My body is trained like a clock to get up at the crack of dawn, but today it gave me a little reprieve.


Every morning I wake up and enjoy the first hour of my day with my exercise routine, my breathing and meditation. And, of course, my daily shot of caffeine. I sit out on my patio and listen to the sounds of silence with the random bird call in the distance. And, I think. I think about symbolism and I think about life’s challenges. Not just mine. But ours. Not just “our” hippie challenges, but our human race challenges.


So I got to thinking about elephants because I had been wearing my I Dream of Jeannie type yoga pants which are bright and have elephants. They are probably three sizes too big for me, but they are comfy! I realized that much of my yoga gear has elephants spattered throughout the fabric. A t-shirt from a yoga studio in Roseville, CA. A pair of joggers from Kohls. A tank from a yoga studio in Santa Cruz, CA and another one from a yoga studio in Maui. They all have this common theme. And then I recalled my first time doing aerial yoga (which is amazing by the way) was at a studio called The Painted Elephant.




Colleen and McKenna Joe

Up until this week, I had not even really given it any thought until I was talking with a friend about painting, yoga, the challenge of remaining hopeful and then elephants. I don’t know how the discussion changed to elephants, but she shared an amazing picture she had painted with her then eight year old daughter. We then got to talking about the symbolism of the elephant which I had never actually considered.


So, in the interest of learning something new, I found that across many cultures elephants symbolize success and perseverance. They are wise from experience. They have strength and power. Elephants are also seen as a guide when times require patience. Elephants walk “hand in hand” although they really lead trunk to tail, but you know what I mean. They are there to walk down the same path as each other and to guide each other.


Although for the most part, I feel strong and powerful. I know that I persevere. I should be wise from experience, but this week all that went out the door. It just did not walk out the door. It flew out the door. The impetus for that vanishing act was exhaustion. The fatigue of the last few weeks culminated into a heap of hopeless mindset. A throw in the towel mindset. A mindset where I threw it down and was NOT going to pick it up with my best two year old "you can't make me" attitude. I lost my way. I took a detour from the path that the lead elephant named Hope was taking me down. I instead allowed myself to be consumed by the wild animals called Fatigue, Discouragement and Frustration.


But the beauty of time is that things can change with good nutrition and a good night’s sleep. Don’t get me wrong Fatigue, Discouragement and Frustration are still there, but they are not chomping on me as viciously. The wild animals decided to prey on someone else, I guess. Maybe they don't like my vegan lifestyle.


Today, I am up and awake. For now, I have decided my elephant, Hope, needs to hand me some colors to paint my reaffirmed path towards the road called “Keep Your Chin Up” which crosses at an intersection called “You Can” and then curves into the valley of “Peace and Love”.

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