My husband recently handed me one of his many compliments, this time one about my eyes. He told me that they are beautiful, and very unique in color, which I questioned. He asked me, “Well, have you looked at your eyes, recently?”

And I said no. I know they are green, or sometimes blue, depending on the contrast they have against whatever color shirt or hat I am wearing. I know that green eyes are not very common, but mine have never struck me as all that unique.

A day or so following that, I found a seemingly rare opportunity to stare right at an into them, for several minutes. In a yoga class, I ended up in the front row, and as the class was quite full, the front of my mat was aligned within a foot of the front wall, which is one very large mirror. This was an advanced yoga class, and a heated one at that, so about halfway into the hour, we were guided into what is known as frog pose: a deep squat with feet flat on the floor & probably angled outward, in which your knees are open, your hands together in a prayer position, and your elbows are pushing your knees outwards. Many people in the class chose to follow the teacher’s next few cues to take that pose into a very challenging standing balance pose, but several of us stayed in frog during those cues.

I often take the front row because I don’t wear glasses or contacts during yoga class, usually, and without them I can still manage to focus on my form in the mirror as long as I’m within 8 feet of it. Any further back and my mirror image takes on strange and blurry proportions, which can be challenging to balance as well as to my self-esteem, on some days.

I do not, however, normally take the front row in order to get the opportunity to stare into my own eyes for several minutes. So on that day, I got a really good look at them, and into them. They are a somewhat pale green, which first brings to mind the mint candies that were hand made for my friend Christina’s wedding. The relative light color somehow drew my attention deeper into them; it would have been easy to instead watch the several beads of sweat move down my cheeks, or to start thinking about how I earned the wrinkles around my mouth. However, I was transfixed in the roundness of my pupils, and in the green color, as if each eye were a pool of water that had an undetermined depth.

What’s more: this little staring meditation somehow managed to give me a feeling of compassion for myself. I work hard, I analyze and overanalyze myself; I’m never good enough or out there enough; my various pursuits are such… pursuits, rather than attainments. But it’s okay. I don’t need to be so hard on myself. Reasonable goals are good for giving us direction, but the goals themselves, and the speed at which we achieve them, don’t have to be what it’s all about.

A few days ago I completed my first cross-country ski race, one that had me moving over 23 kilometers of rolling terrain for three hours. The main preparation for it began in November, and it was physically challenging, and emotionally, very challenging. While I’m not stunned that I managed to show up and finish, when I look at all the factors involved, I do see that preparing for, getting to, and doing this race was a fair accomplishment, regardless of my finishing time. And, darn if it wasn’t an enjoyable weekend, up in the woods, with good friends, as well.

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