Should Be

This should be a time of celebrating and all that goes with a birthday but instead it is a week of sadness and guilt. These feelings lurk in the shadows and rarely make themselves known, but in the last six months they have creeped out of the dark spaces more and more.

The sadness is the recognition that although she ages biologically each year, she remains the same.  The developmental abilities of a young woman continue despite the ticking off of another year.  I am not celebrating a future of what this twenty-third year might offer her;  final years of college, a new apartment, a boyfriend, career opportunities or fun travel adventures with friends.  Instead, I am simply acknowledging another year of the same things we have celebrated since she was eight years old; coloring books, TV shows, puppies and horses.

The simplicity of this stings the very core of my heart at times.  One might think that after all these years, I would be over it.  Actually it is just the opposite.  I am finding with each passing year I am feeling more and more sad. I am suffocated at times with the burden of it all and the idea of celebrating makes me want to flee and hide.

In the darkest moments, I ask myself  “what exactly am I celebrating”?  The answers spill out of my truth, and they are not pretty.  What is to celebrate, really? The last twenty years fighting for what is right for her? Longing for a relationship that isn’t based on which color crayon she used in today’s masterpiece? Wishing I had a break from her, and then feeling riddled with guilt?  Being anguished by rage at her father for walking out and leaving me to do it all, and then allowing himself to self-destruct to the point of death, leaving me with no hope of support? Acknowledging the drowning of fear about what the future will be?  The resentment that surfaces when I see how she has effected my intimate relationships?

The guilt I feel with this sadness and the strangling of shame when I even think those thoughts buries me.

I recall times when she was younger when I had more opportunities to share the experiences of raising with child with a disability with other parents and I would be aghast at some of their raw and real feelings.  Perhaps all along I have been wearing a smoke screen that I am now attempting to painfully take off. I judged them for the very things I am now feeling. I did not just have critical thoughts, I judged them greatly.  I told myself I was such a better person and parent for not having those thoughts.

And here we are.

I am now facing those judgments eye to eye as I grapple with the exact feelings that they so courageously revealed; the yearning for a different experience, searching for answers that would offer them a life of their own to live, the emotional exhaustion and the imploring of an easier and more fulfilling relationship with their child and the rest of the family.

I am looking right into the eyes of those judgments as I am now feeling the same desperate feelings and the guilt that washes over me is stifling.  I am questioning my intentions and my persona for the last two decades.  I am asking myself if I have been denying these raw feelings all along.  I wonder if the pain that I feel in my physical body is a result of carrying and stuffing all of these heavy emotions around.

I hold hope that like all cycles of grief, I will come closer to peace and return to the gratitude that has guided me all along as her mom.

 

Stepping Stones

I have come to realize time and time again that the journey of life truly compares to stepping stones that travel down a long and winding path. Sometimes the stones are large and we stay there awhile and other times our feet barely touch them and we are on to the next segment in time, or lesson.

As I prepare for yet another surgery to repair/reconstruct my hip, I find myself once again sitting on a large stepping stone of healing, hoping again to trust the process and enjoy the view at the same time. Each time I come back to this place, I find wisdom and some sort of lesson.

The first surgery taught me that my time is as valuable as making money,  if not more.  I realized then that working/teaching seven days a week for the last ten years was absolutely not necessary and in fact it was destroying my body, mind and spirit.  I was hanging on to life with the death grip of fingertips on the side of a cliff as most life-long survivors do.  I had no time for self-care and the effects were enormous.  With this first surgery, I experienced what valuing myself, and my body, really meant. I also learned to trust on a much deeper level that I will be taken care of and the quality of my day to day far outweighs the chaotic schedule of working so hard.

The second surgery taught me that I am not as invinsible as I had come to believe.  I learned humility on a deeper level and I most definitely learned that my body speaks volumes but, I had to be still enough to listen.  With this recovery I took it incredibly slow and mindful.  I stayed on my crutches far longer than the doctor had suggested because my body told me different. I walked with a pace of a monk and reveled in the slowness of life.  I took each day in from a completely different vantage point and I had come to love a much slower pace.  Within that slower pace, I found the ‘space’ that is so often strived for in a yoga practice.

As I enter into the third surgery I don’t have any fear, and certainly no reservations. The pain has become such a norm for me that I am certain when I feel no pain, or at least a huge reduction, it is going to be amazing. I have so much respect and compassion for those who suffer endlessly with chronic pain. Since this surgery requires the use of a cadaver, I am already feeling gratitude and appreciation like I have never felt before.  I find myself often pausing to realize that a person chose to be a donor so that others could have a better life brings extraordinary grace into my heart.

Until I land on the third surgery stepping stone, I am planning to scamper across a few smaller ones this summer and enjoy what life has to offer during the long and warm days.  I am going to keep my appreciation of time and space, while I also prepare to open my heart and mind to what may come with this third, and hopefully, final recovery.

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Forgiveness

As whacky as it may sound to some, I believe this to be the absolute truth and the divine nature if one is willing to see it. Open your heart and your mind as you keep reading.

I recently ordered a little hand-held device that uses your bodies own frequencies to determine what essential oils are needed based on the matching frequencies of the plants. It is fascinating technology and if you’re curious you can read about it here. If you live near me, I would love to scan you and share more about the emotional and physical benefits of essential oils.  My personal fascination with the emotional side of plants and oils has been years in the making and this little device has validated what my intuition has often sensed.

Since I got my itovi scanner, I have consistently scanned for the same five oils: myrrh, thyme, digestion blend, forgiveness blend and roman chamomile.  Turning to my handy little emotion book, I read that each of these oils hold a common theme as it relates to forgiveness.  Diving deeper there are aspects of anger, resentment and the need to let go. Each morning that I sat down to scan and then saw the results my immediate thought is that I do not have anyone to forgive and that I do not feel anger towards anyone.  I applied  and diffused the oils and went on with my day.

Last night as I laid in bed, I asked that a dream be revealed to me that would guide me or show me what I may need to know.  When I woke up this morning, my first thought was that nothing showed up in dreams.  And then, I sat down to meditate and it hit me.

Immediately the familiar sensation of cold air down my left arm was felt.  The enveloping fog that is icy and brisk that I have sensed since the death of my children’s father. The first year of his death, I had this sensation daily but as the years have gone by, it is much less frequent and less intense for the most part. Until this morning.

As I sat with the sensation of cold on my left side, I realized that I have been aware of my building resentment for the burdens that I feel my life has.  The biggest burden relates directly to him. The lifetime of parenting by  myself; celebrating the successes, watching the heartbreaks, worrying about the future of my girl, seeing my boys in pain, financially supporting myself and them and all that goes with being a single momma.

All alone.  Certainly I have wonderful people in my life who love and support me, but the other parent is gone.  And he always was gone, even before his death.  It has always been just me.

Over the years, the seeds of resentment for him have grown into full-blown weeds that I often spend time pulling. No matter how much plucking I have done, the weeds still grow.  It has been awhile since I have been intentional with clearing out the feelings of resentment, so this morning I sat with him and allowed him to be present.  I let the resentments bubble up until my heart was empty from the last 27 years of memories that triggered me to feel this way.

Then I spoke to him and I forgave him.  I spoke ‘I forgive you’ over and over.  I wrote to him in a letter in my journal and then I sat in silence again allowing all the dark and murky pain to slowly drift so that a lightness and spaciousness could fill me.

I realize that we have to come back around to forgiveness time and time again. Sometimes it is a lifetime.  I am okay with that.  I am curious to see in the coming days if I scan differently and even more, if there is a lightness to both my heart and my physical body as it relates to pain. I know that the oils that I keep scanning for also relate to physical pain and the loss and grief I am experiencing from my two major hip surgeries that just don’t seem to heal well.  I believe so much in the mind/body connection that it all makes sense to me.

Awesome whoo-whoo stuff, eh?

 

 

 

A modest version

For as long as I have been teaching Yoga to adults with disabilities, I have found myself at times wavering between noticing what has often brought me to tears and other times being so humbled that it is sometimes hard for me to grasp just how I arrived in this true space of grace.

I know that my ‘story’ and having a child with a disability has been a huge, if not the hugest, stepping stone that has led me here, but I am beginning to realize more and more that it there is another great force guiding me.

I have come to recognize that when I am teaching, I am doing an incredibly modest version of God’s work.  The intuitive nature that my classes take on is so far outside of my actual thinking brain thoughts.  There is something more. Something completely heart driven. Something so pure and so light guiding me that I often leave the class  feeling as though I was the one to receive what I may have just offered to them.

Some days I witness and hear things that are truly divine actions and words.  Just this week following a yoga and meditation session, I asked a young woman how she was feeling and her response was, “I am bankrupt for words that would describe the peace”.

Another moment of grace came when I was sharing the idea that beyond any of our labels, roles, responsibilities and abilities or limitations, at our heart we are just Love.  Pure and bountiful Love. A young man in the far corner of our circle who rarely speaks up and is often struggling to manage his emotions said, “I want to learn to believe that I am Love and not just this guy with a brain injury”.

That is the modest version of God’s work that I get to do while I am here on Earth. I am so thankful for every opportunity to lets God’s Life be expressed through me.

Beyond thankful.

 

Bold #2

For years I have had a book in me that has been wanting to be written.  A contemplate and yet educational narrative of how I came to be in this existence of living my life purpose with passion and new founded BOLDness. A record that touches on the aspects of my life raising a child with a disability, waking up to my own spirituality, an incredible weight-loss and health turn around, but mostly it is a tale of how I have walked through some of those fierce and hot coals of life to come out and live my life purpose through sharing Yoga  with people living with disabilities.

Two hip surgery recoveries have forced me to make the time to write. While my body does what it needs to heal I no longer had the excuse of a busy work schedule or other distractions to take me away from what is seeking to be spoken.  As I have learned to adopt a newer and much more deliberate pace to my personal life, I have made decisions that support the finest of my potential.  Not just the potential of writing this book, but choosing to walk a bit slower, observe my body more, listen better, speak with intention, think with clarity. Although I am back to work teaching Yoga full-time, I made the BOLD decision that I am worth this.  My story is worth it.  The lives I may touch are worth it.

My BOLD #2 action has been to purposefully set aside time each week to go to a coffee shop with my lap top and write.  Just write.  The reasoning behind getting in my car and going to a noisy coffee shop is to help me foster the importance of an appointment with myself to grow and to stretch.  It encourages me to walk again towards the edge of my comfort zone where there will be no household chores to distract me, no meals to prep, no dogs to walk, and even, no people to talk to.  Just write.

And it is a pretty good view to boot with the majestic Pikes Peak watching over me.

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The Rare Rant

I woke this morning with both rage and fear coursing through me.  I rarely post personal views and controversial things to my Facebook page, but I realized today that at the very least, being able to verbal vomit may touch just one person and perhaps the world can begin to make changes.

Whenever I rant, I feel as though the pebble being tossed into the lake creates ripples that are endless.  Here is my pebble today.

A rare rant from this (mostly peaceful) gal: Have you ever considered what it costs to raise a child with a disability? Not just the financial burden of therapies, co-pays, evaluations, time off work, etc during the childhood years…but the deeper and often forgot about costs that lasts a lifetime; the impact on the relationships to include siblings and partners, the demands of having an adult child who requires as much care a child every. single. day; the housing problem that presents itself as that child becomes an adult; the fear that exists when only one parent remains alive and wondering who will eventually be this adult’s guardian and keeper, the limits of experiencing the second half of life living as a parent–vacations, time for self, retirement planning, the fact that a simple dinner out requires finding someone to ‘hang out’ with this adult, and more. 

The list could go on and on…..my rant goes beyond the horror of what is happening in our world around education and disability rights…..it goes deeper into a personal level of seeing that when the small child with a disability becomes an adult, the disability remains. And yet, the lack of services and funding and support for parents living with adults with disabilities is an outrage. 

I want more than anything for my adult girl to have her own place space. I bought my home last year with the hope and intent that the detached garage will someday be an amazing space for her to live as an adult, as independently as possible. I pray everyday that my hard work, my tenacity to seek funding, my faith in something much greater will provide me with the path to make this happen. 

When I did my CNA practical rounds and I was in a long-term living center and entered a room of a mid-50’s woman clutching her coloring books and her stuffed animals–obviously developmental delayed– my heart broke for the reality of what could happen to my girl. 

I ask this: think about the moms and dads out there that have sacrificed and given up their second half of life freedoms and finances for the sake of being dealt the cards they were. Send them a little love and hope that our world someday begins to see the value in providing those who cannot provide for themselves housing and support to live as independently as possible.

Wind

The week was as tumultuous as the wind that whips outside my window.  Chaos.  Nearly every day there was a push against the direction that I seemed to want to be going.

Years ago a friend told me that the wind symbolized movement of energy and that to imagine that the wind is taking away and moving things that no longer serve you.  I come back to this time and time again, especially during a week like this one.

What is being moved through me or from me? Am I trying too hard to hold onto something that is working hard to the surface to be released? Should I just let go, open my arms and allow whatever it is to fly from me?

I am a believer in the synchronicity of life.  I believe that every single person I meet and the experiences I have are divinely appointed. The hard stuff and the easy stuff.  I also believe that if I am awake I can see that what I experience and who I meet are symbolic like the wind–movement and opportunity to release.

I met with a dear friend yesterday and he told me that his word this year is ’embark’….the spaciousness of that word is incredible.  I immediately wanted to take a really long breath and just sit with the idea of embarking.

As I watch the wind bend my pine tree into fits of what looks like rage this morning, I ask myself some questions. What am I clinging to that keeps me from stepping towards that next step on my journey?  What belief do I have that is wanting to keep me where I am at?  Can I allow myself to shake and release the old that is preventing me from fully expanding or living in a way that is leaning towards bold?  Am I willing to expand and embark on my own life in a way that is truly bold? Am I open to see what others can offer?  Can I release the judgments and disappointments that weigh me down? Can I take in all that the chaos might be making room for?  Can I sit with the movement, see that at the end of this challenging week that the most important thing to go back to is gratitude to be alive and to love and be loved?

I tell myself breathe it in.  Let the wind shake me until I am free from what is seeking to surface.  Expand.  Embark.  Be BOLD.

 

Bold #1

My intention this year is to BOLD. To take risks and walk to the edge of my comfort zone, or even beyond. 

Last year I learned that my deepest and most rooted core value is safety. The decisions I make and the people with who I surround myself all support my need and value of safety. I am meticulous and deliberate with most, if not all, aspects of my life both personally and professionally. 

It’s how I operate. 

Following my second hip surgery in just eight months and with some encouragement from my love, I opted to begin looking at a car that would be easier to get in and out of and offer me more comfort and safety. Reluctant to spend the money, I hesitated. The idea of a car payment played with my sense of safety, despite the fact I make plenty of money and my credit score came back 844 (which initially I was more stoked about than the car itself). 

Add in the laborious decision of what car to choose. I immediately sensed the shaking of my sense of security. 

So here is where being BOLD comes in. Rather than play safe and buy a car that is average and middle of the road in looks and features, I walked to the edge of my safety bubble to buy something functional, safe, fun and oh, so sassy. 

Life isn’t for shying away from. Life is to be BOLD. 

True Oneness

For about ten years, I have been sharing Yoga with people living with disabilities. A variety of limitations and challenges ranging from autism to down syndrome to traumatic brain injuries to intellectual disabilities.  When I listened to the whispering to bring Yoga to people who could not easily access a traditional class, I knew that my soul was aligned.

Since I began teaching, I have always felt that it truly is a reciprocal sharing and that I am not the ‘teacher’.  Certainly, I bring a set of skills and knowledge to share with them, but we are in it together and I believe that there is no separation from student and teacher.

My teaching style has always been to teach in a circle.  A union.  A circle to me represents no beginning and no end, a continuum. Within that sacred space of the circle, we can see each other and connect.  I feel that this creates a community within the group and fosters a sense of ‘oneness’.

People ask me if I am a Yoga Therapist. I will never describe myself as that, and I even shy away from the title ‘teacher’.  I feel that my work, and my service, is a united and shared experience in which I learn as much as those in the circle.

A beautiful showcase of this ‘oneness’ is featured in a short news segment documenting one of the classes I share Yoga with.  Enjoy!

http://www.koaa.com/clip/13002428/adaptive-yoga-sessions-help-people-with-traumatic-brain-injuries-recover

 

BOLD 2017

It came to me through a deep sleep state. The word for 2017 is BOLD, defined as (of a person, action, or idea) showing an ability to take risks; confident and courageous.

Fiercely bold.

Adventurously bold.

Sensationally  bold.

Deliberately bold.

Passionately bold.

I cannot wait to see how this powerhouse shows up this year!