Ode to 2015
It's the eve of 2016 and for so many years past I have joined the big party of welcoming in the New Year. Each year I find myself full and bright with hope for new opportunity, hungry to transform what has oh-so-not worked in my life. A year ago was no different, as I found myself nearing completion of a 200-hour yoga teacher training which was an immense blessing and equally full of challenge and growth. From that experience, I was blessed with inspiration, community and re-connection to the yoga path. These were boons that helped me shine my way through what was also a deeply challenging time with my daughter who was in the unrelenting grip of an eating disorder. As I recently scrolled through old journal entries from a year ago I was quickly reminded of the heavy ache and worry that I carried around every day as I became witness to my daughter's own deep internal struggle which I felt essentially unable to help with. Deep in my gut I knew she had to heal for her, not because I told her to heal. She needed to right the wrong, mend the hurt, soothe the inner sharp edges of whatever brought her to that dark place which no doubt was years in the making. That kind of trust also left me profoundly vulnerable and slipping back in to the shadows of myself.
I stood on the cusp of a new year and held my basket of hopes and visions gingerly, not entirely sure what I wanted but knowing things needed to change; I was depleted, stressed beyond belief, laden with worry and tired to the bone. 2015 arrived and with it, well, that change I so desperately knew I needed arrived without a doubt. Early in the year, just after my 40th birthday, I received a breast cancer diagnosis and everything in my world, as I knew it, simply turned upside down. My core was shaken loose; nothing was recognizable to me anymore. Those first few weeks I was Alice tumbling down the rabbit hole, lost and bewildered. But slowly through the storm I found the harbor. What was meaningful, sacred, authentic and true surfaced amidst the chaos and became my guideposts. I began to find my voice.
Unapologetic, rooted in a deeper knowing, stronger than fear and clear as the north star. Even though a thousand other booming voices tried to drown me out, I knew in the deepest core of my being what I needed to do. There wasn't a single shred of doubt and nothing would, or ever has made me waiver in my decision to opt out of the traditional chemo/radiation treatment and instead, heal my body naturally. So I dove in and surrendered to the vicissitudes of my healing journey. I got down on my knees, prayed for guidance and each step became clear, as if my courage to take the necessary steps was the very key that unveiled the path. The more I listened, the more I was guided. Soon, herbal tea and green juice replaced my coffee and wine and comfort foods like sugar and dairy were shown the door, they would not serve me on this journey. Yoga became more about the breath, moving the cells and lymphatic system and less about trying to master the next posture. It became a safe place to look directly in to the eyes of my stuck emotional patterns and allow them to transform with devotion through regular practice. I rediscovered a deep and profound love for nature and found one of my greatest healers. In nature we can find ourselves reflected back to us and this becomes a potent vehicle for transformation. After going it alone for so long, just focusing on survival I've come to realize that none of us is meant to go it alone. We are meant to uplift one another and support each other as we all make the difficult, beautiful, exalted journey of our unique life trajectory. A year later and my daughter has healed both physically and emotionally from her eating disorder, on her own as she reckoned with her own demons. She's now a vibrant, confident 16 year old navigating her own road with love and support from those around her.
Healing is not a linear path, it's winding and bending and steep at times. It brings us through dark, dense forests where shadows seem to lurk at every turn and then brings us in to great clearings of light and shimmering dewdrops on green canopies of promise. It will carry us through plateaus and long stretches of desert sand where the path suddenly seems lost until one day it appears again and you realize you were on the path the whole time it was merely obscured. Ultimately through each landscape we always have the steady, unwavering voice within as our guide and need only be willing to have the faith and courage to trust it. I have traveled far and wide and with each step on this journey it seems the old world - the life I once knew - has fallen away, although the new life is still forming and so I stand on the cusp. On the bridge between two worlds. I have begun to hear echoes of guidance directing me further down the path, urging me further outside my comfort zone and in to my purpose. I don't yet know what that looks like although visions abound as I hear a deeper call to writing, speaking, sharing the yoga path, and oh the wanderlust is strong. And yet I will not find my way by pining or attaching myself to that which I do not yet have. Instead I navigate this terrain by being in the moment with what is and listening; being willing to ask the questions and as Rilke reminds us, allowing ourselves to live in to the answers themselves. What is being asked to show up in your life? What are you hungry for? What no longer serves you? In what ways are you still beating yourself up or judging the countless imperfections in your body, your work or your relationships? Where is false fear keeping its grip on you and are you ready to listen to the deeper, steadier voice within? Are you wating for external circumstances to be just so before you take action? In what ways can you offer a lending hand to the world?
In the cycle of our breath, on the end of the exhale there is a brief moment before the inhale resumes where stillness resides. We inhale and again meet that stillness and the exhale resumes. The stillness is as much a part of the cycle as action. Trust the cycles. Honor the rhythms. Embrace the process. Wishing you a vibrant and healthy New Year, dear reader. XO