Honor Your Wild; To Give We Must Also Replenish
Three years ago, at my wit's end with life in many ways, I found myself at the receiving end of a Yoga Teacher Training that had been gifted to me by a dear friend who has always seen my potential, beyond the struggle and conflict. It was an attempt to shake things up, maybe even tap in to a new life path. I graciously accepted and humbly stepped into a new journey. What neither of us could have anticipated was what lay ahead as I spent the entire year in two worlds. Half the time I was immersed in learning anatomy, yoga sequences, guided meditations, chakras and Sanskrit chants while bonding with some of the most wonderful people I've ever met, stepping way outside my comfort zone on a weekly basis.
The other half of my time was spent navigating the emotional and physical decline of my teenage daughter, then only 14 years old and descending in to one of the absolute darkest times of her life (and mine) although I did not know that at the time. I would come back from yoga class steeping in inspiration but was quickly jolted back in to "reality" by a deeply depressed, suicidal daughter soon to descend even deeper in to an eating disorder.
By the end of that year I was stressed beyond comprehension. This was not my daughters' "doing". This was my life. I chose her and I would choose her a thousand times over and go through all of it again for her if I had to. By the time we reached the last few weeks of Teacher Training there were some days when I simply could not leave my daughter - for she was sinking and her wellbeing came first. So, while everyone made their way through graduation, I did the next best thing that was available to me; I would finish my last teaching requirements at a later date. However a mere 2 months after that, I found myself facing a breast cancer diagnosis while dealing with a teenage daughter who was wasting away behind the grips of an eating disorder and she was, it seemed, a million miles away. Suddenly yoga teaching didn't matter. Anatomy didn't matter. Finding love didn't matter. Nothing mattered, I just wondered if my daughter and I would each survive. Was this the end of the road for me? Was this it? Was my number up? I had no way of knowing logically and part of my journey brought me face to face with that question time and again. Looking back now, I see there were so many blessings and support systems that were planted in my life during YTT that eventually played some pivotal roles in my life upon diagnosis and truly helped me navigate the labyrinth of decisions that lay ahead.
It's been almost two years since I faced that diagnosis and I have calibrated and recalibrated a lot through those two years, constantly adjusting my sails to harness the currents of ever-shifting tides. For the first 16 months of healing I was able, in many ways, to immerse in to a 'bubble of healing'. I had chosen to heal my body naturally and began working with the intricate healing systems my body came equipped with rooted in my absolute unshakeable faith in my chosen path and the unwavering support of my naturopath, I set out.
It was with the help of friends and family I had the financial resources that allowed me to get some very important treatments early on and fund a pure diet high in fresh-juiced veggies and fruits, supplements and regular visits to my doc to monitor my progress. I felt blessed, supported and loved. In healing cancer naturally, there is an entire different language and monitoring system that differs greatly from the traditional path of that most people are familiar with in treating cancer. It was never just about getting rid of the symptoms or in my case "the lump". It was always about changing my entire life because only then do we change the climate and landscape within which disease first took root and from there, healing happens. This path requires a lot of trust, diligence, commitment and willinngess to change and evolve.
It required addressing healing at yes, a physical level but also a deeply emotional level and digging up unresolved stuck emotional patterns that over time take root in the body on a physical level. It required addressing the massive amounts of stress I had been living in and around for at least - but really a lot more than - a decade. It required changing how I dealt with the inevitable stress that comes with being human on planet Earth in 2016. It required an overhaul of my daily routine, detoxing my body, nourishing all my systems while maintaining a willingness to look within on a much deeper level. I would say that over the first 16 months I was able to focus largely on my healing, as those around me made adjustments to support my efforts. I was able to witness a profound healing take place in my daughter also as she gradually found her way too. Healing began to happen. I felt it. I intuited it. I embraced it.
The turning point for so many who have had to undergo a deep healing crises, is that eventually, you have to come back to the world. This is not so easily done for some and is an entirely new and wild terrain that one may not feel equipped to traverse; this is part of the healing journey and it asks us to remain malleable and intuitive to our needs and our ability to give back. Everyone's landscape, gear, support system and demands will be different. I was beyond blessed with incredible support early on but gradually one must rely on the resources they have and as a single parent living paycheck-to-paycheck it required great patience, faith and trust to continue on with this path and find new innovate ways to resource what I needed. Through my healing journey I deepened my connection to yoga profoundly but it was so personal; I deepened it for me and for my healing. Suddenly I began to feel the "call" back in to the world...to begin slowly, tenderly to vision a new life for myself...with so much gratitude that I had a life with which to vision for. This call back to the world, required a delicate navigation as it was counter-balanced by the ever changing demands of my life circumstances seeping back in. There were ambitious responsibilities at work that had grown which stemmed from the exciting growth of the company I work for. While my daughter nears 17 years old and has moved amazingly and wisely through her own healing journey, there are still - as a single parent -a laundry list of demands that must be met. The path of healing cancer, or any deeper dis-ease, also poses economical challenges and this too, has been an ever-shifting challenge requiring me to dig deep to rise up and meet. One can only run a GoFundMe account for so long before the contours of one's pride begin to shrink and we must begin to resource our own healing. Insurance companies do not speak the language of natural healing, they only speak the language of "profit" and hence most who endeavor to take a natural and alternative route to healing will be funding their own journey out of pocket. As my healing took root I have been determined not to compromise that and with my increased energy and well-being, my confidence increased also. I began to welcome the intuitive call to step back in to the world again and began longing to connect with like-minded people; to begin to tap into a new vision for myself that allowed me to offer something back to the world, back to my own life. As exciting and inspired as I have found myself to be, there is and always will be a very deep listening process that must be respected in the unfolding of one's healing path. One must take great care to designate themselves to the call of their wilderness, consciously and delicately - especially in the beginning of their return to the world. We must allow for integration. The ego has no say in how fast this process will go but beware, it will try. Our steps must be guided by heart and intuition and the wise and trusted input from our naturopath and other healing guides/support system. Over the last few months this has been the fine line I've navigated mostly under the radar. I have never been a natural leader. But I am passionate about some things and will share willingly for those who want to listen. As we navigate our lives, we will begin to notice the universe (Or whatever you would like to call this big, beautiful, mysterious, wise, sparkling energetic solar system of which we are a vital part), it will begin to call you in certain directions. As we begin to let our walls fall away, we are better able to hear the direction in which we're called toward. In this process, we're also asked to do the deeper work of determining what we are ready for and what we need to take a little more time to lean in to. This requires listening. This requires courage. This requires trust and patience.
Over the last several months as I have been calibrating and leaning in to life a little bit more, there have been several requests for me to teach yoga - both from individuals as well as studios and friends. It is an immense honor, especially given the powerful awakening that is going on in our western world these days. Through my own process I definitely feel called to be a dynamic and inspired part of people's healing process with no idea yet what that may look like. I thought to myself, "I have to jump at this opportunity for it may never come to me again." So I said "yes", without much thought or reflection, fueled mainly by the high of others' believing in me. Yet, over the following months and weeks the reality of my life responsibilities began to bubble to the surface and I continued to extend myself to meet the demands of each moment as if I were jumping through hoops at a circus. Sometimes the hoops we are asked to leap through are not intended to be stressful but they demand our energy just the same and if we are not replenishing ourselves in some organic way.... we will end up depleted.
To venture forth into new territory from a place of depletion (too many demands without equal replenishment) out of a place of lack mentality (this opportunity will never come again) will drive us to our knees. As I have spent these last weeks leaping from the various points of increased work demands, unpredictable but understandable parenting demands while navigating the continued needs of healing and thriving my mind and body while visioning a new path for my life that will authentically lead me from struggling to thriving, I found myself on my knees, at the edge of depletion, hungry for nourishment, ease and respite. In this recent moment, it became clear to me that I had extended myself far beyond capacity and was not yet equipped with the resources to replenish. This left me crumbling in to a pile of tears. (Yes, it seems crazy that I was not able to simultaneously meet the demands of single parenthood, a full time job and the emotional and economic challenges in healing the aftermath of breast cancer while figuring out what my purpose in life is, but hey we can't all be superwoman.)
Healing is a profound, delicate yet fierce listening process and somewhere along the way, I had stopped listening.
I am beyond humbled and honored that so many others see my promising potential to teach and share yoga. I hope to step in to that beautiful journey one day very soon.
But one thing became startlingly clear to me on this day of down-on-my-knees-puddle-of-tears-sobbing...
I can only truly give when I have truly replenished and just as healing takes time, so does replenishment.
To give authentically of our hearts, whether that's through teaching yoga or being a healer, or offering ourselves in some way to another person's healing path or the world's well-being at large, we absolutely must re-fill our own container; We cannot drink nor serve from an empty well.
It was in this moment that I had to let go of ego ("What about MY life?? When will it be MY turn??"), all the lack and fear ("This is a once in a lifetime opportunity, it’s now or never!") and I had to surrender and lean in to the powerful and unwavering truth that healing and finding our new path takes time; we must support the integration process to unfold.
We must answer our life from where we are now, not from where we want to be or once were.
Through listening and surrendering to this deeper process and trust, we ignite latent forces beyond logic that go largely untapped by so many of us and from here, we spark alchemy in our lives which will then ignite us in new ways of thriving and living.
In this way we begin to honor and respect our inner wilderness for the earth can only provide once she has been replenished. We must begin to recognize that we are dynamic, integrated and sacred systems rooted in earth cycles and rhythms that rely on a relationship of giving and recieving in order to thrive. We are not machines. This is not a weakness but a profound strength.
While I am thriving and healed in so many beautiful ways and learning to step back in to the world more and more each day, I am reminded of the importance of listening deeply and most of all honoring my need for replenishment and creating opportunities where this may take root. More than ever, I trust my journey and recognize that when the time is right I will be ready to offer myself to the world in new ways. Until then, I will continue to listen...