It’s interesting to me how difficult it’s been to sit down and write lately. My fingers settle on the keyboard but nothing appears on the screen. Words can’t be forced. Anyone else with me on this? So I close my laptop and move on with my day. In the past week or so, thoughts have been relentlessly swirling around in my mind, practically begging to make themselves known. My anal retentive tendencies prefer organized posts that make sense — I can’t promise that is what will follow due to the emotional floodgate that is about to open and spill on this page as I sit here on my couch in my tutu.Hey, sometimes you take extreme measures for inspiration and today, it was glitter and a tutu.
You’ve been warned.
Twelve years in the Holy City (Charleston, SC), and I was convinced that I would never leave. It was hOMe. My friends there were family. The city was familiar and always exciting. Picking up and transitioning life to Florida, to a place where I only knew those associated with the hospital, all while being incapacitated to an extent, was/is one of the hardest things I have ever done. Don’t get me wrong — change is marvelous in many ways AND it is also gut wrenchingly arduous.
It’s been five months of change and I can honestly admit that Florida is growing on me; even though the drivers here think they are racing for their lives and competing in an ongoing demolition derby. Despite my Bostonian driving tendencies, I-95 in the sunshine state might be the most frightening thing I have ever witnessed. Living in a condo, it’s easy to stay holed up in my little tower for hours on end, rarely doing anything productive. [Unless binge watching Netflix is fruitful in your book, and if it is, well BLESS YOU.] Since becoming more mobile, I began to notice a void in my heart that needed to be filled and yet, I wasn’t quite sure what the missing piece of the puzzle was.
One day while soaking up some Vitamin D at the pool, I was minding my P’s and Q’s, for the most part, with my nose in my book… OK, FINE, I was eavesdropping a wee bit on the conversation that was happening next to me. That’s when I heard someone say, “…Montessori school teacher by day, yoga teacher by night.” SAY WHAAAAAAAT?! My heart leapt and kicked her heels together. I closed my book and without a single ounce of politeness, I interjected the conversation that was happening and inquired as to whom had just said the one word that instantly corked the void in my heart.
Fast forward a few months to today — you guys, I have friends here. I’m talking friends outside the confines of St. Mary’s Medical Center. The woman who announced herself as a yogi, Brittany, she’s my girl; the key to my new community here in West Palm Beach, a yoga community. The language I speak, one of love, acceptance, body positivity and soul; Brittany voices the same principles. There’s no fluff.To be able to talk about life, the ups and downs, the grit and grace, with someone who doesn’t have a medical opinion — sweet Jesus is it refreshing and oh so necessary. Our favorite location for our sol sista conversation is the hot tub… with wine… liiiiike a whole bottle. We’ve dubbed these sessions ‘The Hot Tub Chronicles’ where we openly discuss the dark messy stuff and also laugh our asses off all while eluding the concierge and security with our glass wine bottle and beverages within 4ft of the hot tub. Rules? What on earth are those?
You see, there are people who think I need to be fixed. NO, THANK YOU. You are entitled to your opinions and please don’t try to fix me. My pain, this journey, is my gift. For the longest time, I thought I was broken. I thought I had to change myself. I thought I was supposed to behave differently. I thought that my way of being wasn’t the way of existing. I wished I were someone else. Everyone, everywhere, throughout my life has been ready with advice for me on how I should be. There’s nothing wrong with the mess. We all have it. And what works for you may not benefit someone else. Don’t should all over yourself and don’t should all over others. Over the years, not knowing any better, I bent myself to other’s suggestions. I tried to blend in. I held my tears in. I attempted to buy people’s acceptance. I tamed my dreams. All of that extrinsic effort brought little intrinsic joy, I felt pain and it didn’t make anything in my life work better the way people suggested it would. Let me tell you, there isn’t and never was anything to fix. Our job is to work through it. Part of the path is meant to be traveled alone and then there are areas where we are meant to walk, hand in hand, with others.
Life Hack #1 : Find people who are FOR you. Those who listen, support, uplift and encourage. They don’t attempt to fix you, they help you to open your wings and fly.
On more than one occasion, Brittany encouraged me back on my mat. Yet fear still stood in my way. She also spoke, VERY highly, of a woman who also lives in our building; Katherine, a yogi and integrative massage therapist. Now that I have reached the end of my allotted physical therapy benefits, my rehabilitation has fallen solely in my hands. Even though I consider myself well versed in the recovery process, the task of rediscovering how my little soul suit functions in a SAFE and beneficial manner is quite daunting. It’s a process full of breakthrough and loss. The thought of someone who knows the body, how it works and is a yogi… I mean, c’mon… obviously I just had to get acquainted with this magical human. So, I reached out to her. Even through a texting conversation, Katherine radiated magic. And come to find out, she and I have a few mutual friends — this world is small, I tell ya — and share a love for glitter AND tutus. Helllloooooooo?! Where has this woman been all my life?!
We agreed on a day to meet when K could look for herself at my little soul suit and all of its intricacies and internal scaffolding glory. Riding the wave of discovering new community, I returned home one night from a date [that’s a story for another day] and while talking to the concierge I turned to notice a woman walking into the lobby. Even though I hadn’t met Katherine yet, I knew it was her. This woman emanated joy. With a smile and without words, we walked towards each other for a hug. [If you don’t know by now, my motto is hugs over handshakes. Always.]Katherine and I stood in the middle of the lobby and talked for the longest time. At 1130 at night, in the elevator back up to my apartment, I could not wipe the smile off my face. The stars were aligning, my efforts were paying off. For the first time since moving to Florida, I felt hOMe.
There are no accidents. Fast forward to today… I have only known Katherine a short time and she has had a HUGE impact on my heart and my body. After arriving to my first session with her off-kilter and slightly cloudy, I left bearing more weight on my [still fractured] right leg and with an overwhelming sense of ease. There is comfortable silence and deep conversation, laughter and the freedom to process and feel emotions that have been deeply suppressed for far too long. My body is feeling lighter, my gait less wobbly and confidence soaring.
Suddenly surrounded by yogis I was feeling an overwhelming urge to get back on my mat. With fear speaking loudly in my ear, I’d been hesitant. Katherine matter of factly asked, “Why not?” Without an ounce of doubt, she urged me to rediscover my yoga. With the shadow of hesitation lingering over my shoulder, I leapt on faith and bought a pass to the local studio, Haute Yoga, where both Brittany and Katherine teach. Starting with a yin class, I eased my way back into something that was once so, so familiar. It was my first time back in a studio since experiencing a bout of paralysis and falling down a flight of stairs on my way to my YTT teach out three days prior to my spinal fusion. As you can imagine, my fear was real. And ironically enough, my first trip to the studio involved scaling the LARGEST flight of stairs I have ever seen. Ironic, eh? I remember standing at the bottom, taking a deep breath and tackling one step at a time. My heart racing as I entered the class. Not a familiar face to be seen. There was something beautiful about the unknown — as panicked as I was about beginning to rediscover my practice.
Yoga. There is no right or wrong way. Each and every one of us makes sense of the world differently. The way you are is far different in comparison to those around you; no one person the same. So many different souls uniting in one room through the breath — holy shit, I almost forgot how extraordinary the feeling is. Prana is the life giving force and the void in my life that I have now filled through my practice. [enter all the ‘ah-ha moment’ emojis here.] Instead of trying to bend myself into poses, I have begun to think more about the benefits of the shape and how I can safely achieve it. Using all the yoga blocks, I note what the pose is supposed to look like and then experiment with how I can make a similar shape all while safely protecting my internal scaffolding that makes me uniquely me. As soon as I recognized, understood, and accepted my new personal strengths and structural limitations, I gifted myself the opportunity to consciously craft a practice that is in alignment with my power, instead of trying to squeeze myself into a shape I will never fit into. Katherine has been a huge facilitator in regaining my strength both on and off the mat. Choosing to shut fear out, I am learning so much as I continue to grow. Forever a student, I am. And my heart is wading in the waters of a new community.
Not to throw a bunch of platitudes at you a n d in speaking truthfully, your vibe does indeed attract your tribe. And thats not to say you can only have one tribe. I find that an inspiriting support system is comprised of many different social circles. What you exude, is gifted back to you. I firmly believe it.
These little legs are getting stronger and growing their roots here in South Florida. And I am so, so grateful to those who are accepting and supportive of my life less ordinary, including but not limited to my Paley Institute family and ever growing troop of yogis, with tremendous love for B & K.
Remember, there is nothing that you need to fix and nothing to change.
In the aspects of your life that some might see as problematic or difficult to accept; that is where your power lies, where your roots are meant to grow. Surround yourself with those who uplift and encourage you to accept change and its challenges. Hand in your ticket to ride, buckle up and enjoy the journey to creating the life you were meant to live; all the while having an enormous positive impact on the people and world around you.
Don’t be pushed by your problems, be led by your dreams.