I hosted a moon circle last night. Like I do. It was powerful. Like they are. I LOVE holding space for women to heal, grow and support one another. During the new moon we always spend time writing in our journals. We use the collective energy of the group and the power of the new moon to set our intentions. I always take a peek back at my last new moon entry to see if my intentions are now my reality. They usually are. Last night I laughed so hard at the fact that all of this shit I have been dealing with in my own healing journey is exactly what I asked for. Seriously. I could tell by my writing that I was a bit angry at the last circle. Or maybe defeated. It certainly wasn’t joy and optimism that I was experiencing. I wanted to be open and vulnerable and feel ALL THE FEELS. And guess what? HAHAHAHAHA The Universe handed that gift to me in so many ways. I am in the process of working through some newly unrepressed (that’s totally a word now) traumatic childhood memories. I have been sitting with a lot of anger and a lot of grief. But the world keeps spinning and moving and life goes on while I figure it all out. I’m not exactly sure how long that takes, but if there’s one thing I have learned, it’s that I can’t force anything. I am just riding the wave and allowing it all to unfold. There is a purpose to all of this. I know that my own experiences will help someone else. Somehow. Someway. I am slowly finding gratitude. Shifting into a space of gratitude happens in waves. I just knew that these memories were coming up because it was time for me to let go. I knew it was time. I knew I was safe. I knew I was creating space for something better. And then it happened. I was sitting in an AA meeting on Monday when I received a text from my landlord. I told him I could call him at 1:00. Then I proceeded to think of everything in the world that could possibly be wrong that he must want to speak to me about. Because as much as I teach others not to do this, my mind still goes there. One day maybe I’ll get control of that bitch. In the meantime, I’ll keep practicing. And guess what? There was not a thing in the world wrong. Everything was so right in fact, that my landlord wanted to let me know that when the time comes and I am ready to expand he wants to build onto the studio for me! WHAT?! Say it with me…..HOLY SHIT! I had already accepted the fact that expanding meant I would most likely have to relocate to a different space. This opens up a whole new world to me. Further confirmation from the Universe that I am in alignment with my divine assignment. The idea is exciting and I have more options now. I have a new list of things to think about. A bazillion to be exact. I haven’t been in the space very long, and “the season” hasn’t started and I am not sure how much yoga this island can support but I’ll figure it out. Rebel Soul is a healing space. There is so much potential. I have no desire to play small. I can do great things. I am loved and supported by a tribe of amazing people. I am connected and divinely guided.
Tag: Yoga Teacher
Inner Child Healing
This week my therapist asked me if “I ever have anyone sitting in front of me in circles or what not who obviously don’t want to talk about something.” She asked what I do when that happens. She said she uses that time to take notes. And then she took notes. Can you believe that it was hours later before I had a clue that she was talking about ME? Of course I don’t want to talk about things with her because the things she wants to talk about don’t always feel good. My preference would be to go in, sit down and tell her all of the amazing things going on in my life. My life really is FULL of amazing things that I am grateful for every day. I especially feel good when I can present her with some work that I did on my own or some fascinating discovery I have made about myself. It’s a classic “Look at me, I am so good!” moment. And really, all that stuff is great. What’s not so great is the actual work I am doing. Inner child healing. First of all, I know I said I wasn’t going to “work” on myself anymore. Obviously, that’s not true. Second, It’s more like figuring things out than work. Third, I am my favorite project. Inner child healing is no joke. She mentioned this to me over a month ago. I bought the book she recommended and jumped right in. If there’s a book involved, I am usually all about it. But then it got weird. Unfamiliar. Uncomfortable. So I stopped. My favorite line is “that’s weird and I’m not doing it.” It was that way for me when I got to AA. It was that way when meditation was suggested to me. It was that way when I went to my first yoga class. Weird. Not for me. I ignored the idea for a month and eventually came back to the book. I skipped the first few chapters because they were weird and not for me. Then I hit on the inner 3 to 6 year old. And HOLY FUCKING SHIT. So that’s what happened? Mind blowing really. I won’t get into specifics, but I will tell you that there was some trauma I first experienced at this age that shaped the way I processed, dealt with and lived in the world. This little girl needs to be protected. She needs to feel safe. She needs lots of love and support. She is me. Her experience makes me sad because she is also the little girl who learned to numb herself with drugs and alcohol at a crazy young age. I haven’t even started on the 7 – 12 year old and wonder just how that works since that child was already using. And missing out on being a child. Guess I’ll figure that out soon enough. Or not. I still really struggle with staying open with my therapist. Some days I do great, and some days I feel the wall go up and I feel myself become numb. I don’t know how else to explain it. She tells me she experiences me as going in and out of being present. I think that is called disassociation. I’ve read the DSM too many times for someone who is not a psychologist. I am just going to call it throwing up the wall and closing my heart. And I hate it so much. I know that it is a way I protected myself in the past and that it served me well then. It’s time to let that go because it truly doesn’t serve me today. I just don’t know how. I can do yoga poses to open my heart. I can meditate and recite mantras. I can write about it, teach about it and talk about it. I have yet to figure out how to get there and how to stay there. On the days when I shut down like that, it feels like a giant step back. A friend told me it’s a stand still day and not a step back. I can live with that. I can be still and be ok. Meditation has given me that gift. I don’t have to hurry through this process. I don’t even have to love the process. I just have to love me. I am being extra gentle with myself through it all. Making sure to sleep enough and eat the right foods. Random daytime baths are a must. The main thing is to remind that little girl that it all turns out alright. She’s a little warrior. A survivor.
I recently started therapy again with a new to me therapist. I have been hesitant to mention this on social media, but I’m not really sure why. I openly share my story of recovery and this step is part of that process. Never have I ever gone into therapy when I wasn’t in the middle of a crisis. Until this time. I am a strong, sober, emotionally stable woman. And yet I still struggle with a few things. I’m sure that’s natural. Especially for someone “like me.” My new to me therapist thinks it might be time to heal some past trauma. A lot of what she calls trauma, I just call normal shit that happens when you are an addict or an alcoholic. A lot of what she calls trauma is actually real, unhealed trauma. She suggested we go the EMDR route. I don’t know if any of you are familiar with EMDR, but a quick google search will fill you in and save me the trouble of posting a link. I have this desire to be the very best EMDR patient EVER, get through it quickly and heal completely. All in record time. However, this isn’t the way it’s going. In fact, I would say I suck at it. My therapist earned my complete respect today when I completely shut down (again) and wouldn’t/couldn’t share with her. I learned a lot about her while I wasn’t talking. I learned that she is patient and kind and willing to walk me through this process that is painful and not nearly as simple as I was hoping it would be. She’s also a bit of a hard ass which is good for me because I need someone who will push me. Gently. I am strong today and ready to do the hard work. I say that as I sit here writing this blog instead of writing in my journal actually doing the hard work. And this makes me laugh. I do know for sure and certain that the one thing that always helps me is sharing with the world. Even when it makes me feel vulnerable and scared. There’s always that one reader who sends me a “me too” message. That helps the most.
Today in therapy we talked about shame and forgiveness, and really, who the fuck wants to talk about those two? Not me. Not today. So I closed completely, feeling FULL of shame and not ready for forgiveness. I left there having accomplished very little. I stopped by the Buddhist temple on my way home for a few minutes of quiet time with the giant, green Buddha. It’s been a while since I’ve done that. And I have missed it. The monk noticed me and was kind enough to point out that I haven’t been there in a while. I told him I would be back on Sunday. Now I pretty much have to go back on Sunday. This also makes me laugh. All are welcome to join me Sunday! After the temple I went to the studio to teach my 4 o’clock class. We began our practice by pulling an oracle card. I got the forgiveness card. Of course. Thank you Universe. I hear your message loud and clear. I am not sure exactly who I am supposed to forgive, but I suspect the list is long and difficult. I have done the acceptance work. I guess forgiveness isn’t necessarily the same thing. So here I go. Diving in. Attempting to stay open. Doing the work. I have no doubt it’s going to be hard before it gets easy. I wouldn’t be surprised if there are days that I want to pluck my eyeballs out. My hope is that I won’t. Wish me luck.
4 Years ❤️
I couldn’t let this day pass without telling the world that today I have been sober for FOUR YEARS. That’s 1,462 days of feeling all the feels without numbing myself out. Four years of healing. Four years of growing emotionally and spiritually. Four years of making (mostly) good choices. Four years that have been beautiful because I have been awake and completely present. I love this day more than my actual birthday because this day four years ago is the day I chose to live. I didn’t just wake up on this day four years ago and stop drinking. That would have been great. Getting sober was a process for me. A long process. I know some people who actually do wake up one day, make that decision and get sober. That’s not my story. I couldn’t imagine my life without alcohol. Everyone I knew drank A LOT. It really didn’t seem to me like I should be the only one getting sober. I knew I would never have fun again. I was sure of that. I had been bouncing in and out of treatment centers, ER’s, medical detox facilities and even the ha ha hospitals. It was a long, miserable road for me and my family. On this day four years ago I woke up in a treatment center and I knew it was the day they were going to stop giving me pills to help me detox. It was the day I was going to have to be in my skin. I did the only thing I knew how to do. I sat. I sat for what was the most uncomfortable two minute meditation. And I didn’t die! The next day I sat a little longer. And every day after that. It was my go to when my emotions were too strong for me to manage. That, a ton of meetings, all the yoga and an awesome AA sponsor who I texted every 3 minutes so she could reassure me that I was ok. Those first 8 months were the hardest for me. I thought about drinking daily. Something shifted during that eighth month and the desire to drink practically left me. Sobriety, AA, meditation and yoga have given me a strong foundation. I have learned to love myself. Believe me that was a process too. I still work at it. Some days it’s easier than others. My life is so beautiful today. My relationships are healthy. I have so many loving and supportive friends in my life. Today I woke up at a yoga retreat in the mountains that I was invited to lead. I drove home to my beautiful family and then I taught a yoga class in MY yoga studio. All of these things are gifts of living sober one day at a time. That is never lost on me. My heart is FULL of gratitude tonight. ❤️
“We will be amazed before we are halfway through.” Anyone who has ever been to a 12 step meeting has heard this read aloud as well as the rest of the 9th step promises. I can honestly say, as I sit here tonight, reflecting on where I’ve been and where I’m going, these promises keep running through my head. I am still in awe of the love and support I feel from every direction. My family. My friends. My community. It’s mind blowing really. November is such a special month for me. I got sober in November 4 years ago. I remember how hopeless and alone I felt sitting in that treatment center detoxing. Again. I had no idea how quickly my life would turn around by making one empowered choice after another. It’s called “doing the next right thing” in the recovery community. Doing the next right thing one day at a time has lead me here. To this day. To this new chapter. I am anything but hopeless and alone today. I am connected and divinely guided. ❤️
The happiest girl in the world.
Yesterday was one of the most exciting days of my life. I signed a lease and got the key to my my new yoga studio. I’m a joyful person under normal circumstances, but yesterday the joy was so big I thought my heart would explode. On any given Monday I teach two classes, hit the local coffee shop in Southport and then roll over to an AA meeting at noon. I had planned to meet my new landlord and sign the lease after yoga and just skip the rest. But, I couldn’t do it. I had way too much joy to carry around by myself and I needed to share it. I called my new landlord and asked if I could meet him at 1:30. That was perfectly fine with him, so I hit the coffee shop and went to the meeting. What a fabulous experience to sit in a room FULL of people who have been with me since well before I got sober and share my good news. Seriously, it was so amazing I had the joyful tears going on. This was a room full of people who loved me before I learned to love myself. That’s one of those things they say in the rooms that made no sense to me until I actually learned how to love myself. If you haven’t been there, I can’t explain it. This key right here has absolutely everything to do with my sobriety. It represents every time I chose to do the “next right thing.” I felt so loved and supported in that meeting because I am loved and supported by my AA community. When I got home, I posted to my FB page and the love and support is still rolling in. The messages, the phone calls and texts. It’s mind blowing really. I have so many real friendships and healthy, loving relationships today. They are all gifts of sobriety. What an amazing life this is. I remember being terrified of living a life without alcohol. I just knew it was going to suck so bad. I certainly wasn’t going to enjoy anything ever again. Today I know that every good thing I have in life is because I live my life without alcohol. Who knew?! I’ll tell you who knew. “Those people” in “those meetings” who told me over and over to “keep coming back” because it gets better. They knew. I am so grateful for each and every one of them. And as far as this new yoga studio goes……it’s going to be FULL of love. I have absolutely no idea what I’m doing, or how to do it, but I’m doing it! I’m doing it with lots of love and support from my amazing friends. And in one more little nod from the Universe, my new landlord is an old man. My favorite! I’m the happiest girl in the world. 😊
1,400 days of choosing me. 1,400 days of waking up and making the choice to live fully present. 1,400 days of making the choice to grow spiritually and emotionally. I choose me every day in every way. When I sit down on my meditation cushion. When I step onto my yoga mat. When I go to one of “those meetings.” When I eat foods that nourish my body. When I rest because I’m tired. When I let myself experience whatever I’m experiencing without numbing myself, I choose me. I heard early on in my recovery that “eventually we stop wanting what’s bad for us and start to crave what’s good for us.” I held on to that for a long time hoping it was true. It didn’t happen overnight, but eventually, magically I think, it began to happen for me. I no longer feel like I’m missing out when I see people doing the things that I choose not to do. Believe me, it is definitely a choice. I’m not missing out on the blackouts, relationship problems, hangovers or any of that other “fun stuff” by choosing me. Recovery has given me the most precious gifts of all. Self respect and love for myself. The real kind of love. The kind of love that says it’s ok if you aren’t perfect. I love you as you are. The kind of love that says get your ass up out of bed and get on your yoga mat because it makes you feel good! The kind of love that says you are being an asshole and you need to take a nap. Real love. The kind of love that says it’s ok if the only thing you did right today was breathe. 1,400 days of learning what that real love is. 1,400 days of making one empowered choice after another. 1,400 days of choosing me. ❤️
Mornings with the Universe
Someone recently asked me about my morning routine. I have a practice rather than a routine. I practice every day. My morning practice is one of the ways I show up for myself. I call it Mornings with the Universe. Sobriety has taught me to love and care for myself on all levels. My mind, my body and my spirit. I start each day the same way. I wake up, take a few deep, conscious breaths and say thank you to the Universe. Then I get on my meditation cushion and sit silently for 20 minutes. Always. It’s the way of easing into my day and into the world that works best for me. My mind isn’t yet racing with all of the things I need to do and I am able to connect with something higher than my ego self. I love mornings. That is my standard “routine.” Some days, that’s all I have time for before I have to get started with life. On days like today, I can take my time. Some mornings I need movement and I step onto my yoga mat. Some mornings I need stillness and I spend time journaling. It’s all about tuning in to myself and honoring my needs. People often tell me they feel stuck when they try to journal. My response to that is to just do it. Don’t worry about what you write or how it looks. Write. From your heart. I love daily meditation books and try to read from one every day. Most days I do. I just picked up The Soul’s Companion by Tian Dayton and I am in love. Meditations from the Mat by Rolf Gates is one of my favorites. I feel connected to his words. He writes in a 12 step yogi way and it’s the same language I speak. It’s my life. This morning I spent my time in my books and journals. Sorting out my thoughts. I guess I needed stillness this morning. I’ve had a bit of chaos in my life this week. As we all do from occasionally. In the midst of the chaos I discovered that a 6 am bath feels pretty damn amazing. I’ll be incorporating that in from time to time when my schedule allows. Unfortunately, it won’t be a daily thing. Unless I get up at 4 am every morning. Which I won’t. Because that’s crazy. My morning practice sets the tone for my whole day. Occasionally my day falls apart, but as long as I have taken the time to connect and center myself, I can handle whatever comes my way. Some days I pull oracle cards and burn incense and play with my crystals. Some days I sit on my deck with a smoothie. It doesn’t matter what I do as long as I do it. I’ve had people tell me that my practice sounds like work to them. It might be, but I love working on myself because I am worth it.
I am a Hope Dealer! Number 499! Plus P Productions sent me a Hope Dealer chip in exchange for my story. They are doing a very cool thing by giving a face to addiction and showing the world that we do recover. Check them out! http://pluspproductions.com
Everyone has a story. This is mine.
I was born an escape artist. Simple as that. I don’t ever remember being comfortable in my body and in my own skin. So I learned to escape it. I grew up in a loving home with two parents that worked hard to make sure they provided all the things we needed and most of the things we wanted. Alcohol was present in my home and I liked to snag sips of my dad’s beers from a very early age. I caught my first buzz at 8 or 9 years old. I was with my parents at a cook out hosted by their friends. A friend and I decided to sneak into the cooler of the adults and sneak wine coolers. Oh my! Instant LOVE. I was happy and warm and completely comfortable. I loved the way I felt. Being an elementary school aged child, I didn’t have a lot of opportunities to drink, but any time the chance showed up, I took it. By junior high school I was drinking every weekend. I had also picked up a new way to escape my body and my mind. Huffing. As in sniffing cleaning supplies or other harsh chemicals. Paint. Glue. You name it. I either sniffed it, or put it into a bag and breathed the fumes. Every day. All day. By the time I made it to high school, I was the kid who snuck alcohol into school every day in a bottle of Chloraseptic spray with just enough red food coloring to make it look legit. And then came the drugs. Marijuana was first. Then pills. Cocaine and meth followed. By the time I was 16, I had quit school to do drugs and hang with anyone who wasn’t going to school. I had my 17th birthday in a behavioral health center. It should have been a rehab. Who knew? I didn’t see the point. I learned nothing because I didn’t want to be there. I left and resumed the same old, same old. My life was a string of alcohol, drugs and many, many blackouts. When I was 19 I met a stable man who wanted to marry me. He owned his own business and didn’t do drugs. My parents were thrilled. My Mom planned a beautiful wedding and then sent me on my way into the grown up world. The grown up world was not ready for me. During that marriage I drank every day and became addicted to pills. I managed to stay married until I was 21. As soon as I turned 21 I was able to purchase my own alcohol and really didn’t see the need to be married. I moved into a small apartment. Alone. I immediately became addicted to meth and in hindsight probably already was when I moved in. I had a job that paid for my meth addiction and little else. I didn’t eat, I didn’t sleep and I didn’t pay any bills. I eventually got evicted and went straight to a rehabilitation center in Nashville TN. It felt great to get my head straight. I remember how healthy I felt and how much I liked being in that center with so many women who were so much like me. They were also much older than I was and I had a really hard time imagining that I was as bad as them or that I was in the right place. I did my 28 days and went back out into the world of drugs and alcohol. I lost my job that I hated and to accommodate my drug addiction, I learned how to manufacture methamphetamine with some of my “friends.” How I lived through this, I will never know. I saw the most horrible things in the two and a half years that this went on. I hated the things I was doing, the people I was doing them with and mostly I hated myself. I was just broken enough to agree to trying another treatment center. This one was in Oklahoma and it was a long term center. I was ready this time. I was miserable enough with my life that I was honestly ready to leave it behind. So I did. I stayed at that treatment center the entire 4 months it took me to complete the program and then I stayed to work there. I met my second husband there. He had also completed the recovery program and was working there. The treatment center probably should have mentioned that it was a bad idea for two drug addicts to get married, but that’s what we did. Then we had babies. Two of them. Two beautiful and perfect babies. And I was happy. I was healthy and I was comfortable being me. Being a mommy. The good times lasted only a short time and my husband relapsed. I had the sense to know that I would not raise my children in addiction. So he moved out. I had no idea how to be alone, with myself and with my two children. Alcohol reentered my life. I found solace in a bottle of Makers Mark bourbon. Every night. After I put my children to bed. I drank myself to sleep. I had a man friend who lived in North Carolina. I called him to come and visit me. He came and pretty much never left. Within 6 months my two small children and I moved to North Carolina. Oak Island. Party Central. Everyone is on vacation all the time there or so it seemed to me. My alcoholism really went unnoticed for quite a while. Years. In those years, we had another child and lived a pretty normal life where I drank way too much. My behavior when I was drunk became pretty outrageous and AA was suggested to me. So I did what any good alcoholic would do. I hid my drinking. I knew it was a problem. Since nobody realized how much I was drinking, my behavior just seemed strange. I needed therapy. Obviously. And special behavioral therapy because my behavior was so fucked up. Enter DBT. Dialectal Behavior Therapy. DBT introduced me to mindfulness. DBT combines Buddhism and Cognitive Behavioral Therapy into one. The problem was that I was still drinking and, truthfully, usually drinking before therapy. I still saw my regular therapist who really kept pushing yoga and AA on me. After having a complete breakdown and ending up in a state mental hospital (which is one of the scariest places I’ve ever been), I decided to go into another rehabilitation center. I was ready to address my alcoholism. This treatment center was a 28 day program and it was close to home. I had my doubts. Once the fog lifted, I decided to try. I knew I had overcome bigger things and thought just maybe I could leave the alcohol behind. This treatment center had a lot of extras. Yoga, art therapy, guided imagery (meditation), and DBT. They didn’t call it DBT, but I recognized it. The problem was that I hated myself so much. So much. I didn’t think I was worth saving. I was failing as a wife, failing as a parent, and failing as a human. My anxiety was through the roof. Breathing is the one thing humans should be able to without too much trouble and I couldn’t even do that. I have this tattoo on my hand that says “HOPE.” HOPE is an acronym for Hold On Pain Ends. I knew what it meant to be hopeless. Some tiny piece of me also remembered that there was a better way. I started to pay attention to that HOPE tattoo on my hand. I went to yoga. I went to the art therapy sessions and drew mandalas. I went to guided imagery. And I sat. I sat and I stayed with whatever “happened” to me. Whatever happened was all in my head anyway. It was so uncomfortable, but it also felt good to begin to get healthy again. Eating food instead of drinking my calories. Moving my body in yoga. It felt good. I knew my therapist would be proud of me and believe me when I tell you I was all about seeking approval. I knew that I was going to have to buy in to the 12 step program they were selling. I had a hard time with this because of the whole God thing. This had always been a problem for me. I did have a tiny bit of faith in meditation. My therapist was adamant that meditation was the medication for me. I trusted her. She was the ONLY therapist I ever had that didn’t steer me wrong and I loved her for that. I began to use my morning free time to meditate. The others would play ping pong and foosball and I would take a yoga mat and go off on my own to sit. It was miserable. I could only sit for minutes at a time. 2 or 3 minutes. But I did it. Every day. 28 days flew by and I left treatment to go into a half way house. That didn’t work for me. I needed to be home with my children. I couldn’t get better away from them. My family was scared that I couldn’t be at home and get better either. I had tried before without success. I missed my family too much. After one week at the half way house, I came home. It was two days before Christmas. On Christmas I got a brand new meditation cushion from my mom. A beautiful Zafu and Zabuton set. And I sat. I sat and sat and sat and hated it. My mind darted here and there and everywhere. I went to local yoga classes. I hated it. I was so uncomfortable in my skin. I hated moving in front of people, I hated being touched by the teachers and most of all I hated the tears that I seemed to cry every time I was in class. I went to AA meetings. I didn’t hate them as much as I hated yoga and meditation, but they were weird and the people were weird. I went anyway. My life started to suck less. I was told that it’s not only OK to cry in yoga, it’s perfectly acceptable. I was taught that everyone’s mind darts around in meditation. That’s why it’s called practice. I was taught that all alcoholics and addicts have to learn how to get comfortable in their skin. I wasn’t special or unique. That little voice in my head, everyone has one. The AA people explained to me that I don’t have to act on every thought that enters my head. I really wanted people to meditate with, so I started a local meditation group. I posted to a FB page for locals in my community and found some people willing to sit with me. These people helped me so much. They were my teachers. Older. Wiser. They taught me that nobody really gets to meditation because things are so wonderful in their lives. They were all searching when they found meditation. Searching for something better. I was still going to yoga pretty regularly and still not loving it. But, I went anyway. It gave me something “wholesome” to do during my day that distracted me from my desire to get outside of myself. What it did was put me directly inside of myself. Inside of my body. It was moving meditation! For the first time in my life I was able to be in my skin, in my body with no distraction. I learned how to breathe deeply. I learned how to let go of my thoughts. I learned how to create space in my body by letting go of the years of torture I had put my body through. I learned to invite love and light into that space. I started to grow and to thrive. I wanted to practice yoga all the time. I started going to multiple classes a day. One day I saw a FB add for a Recovery Yoga workshop in Carolina Beach. I registered and I went. What I found there changed my life. I found a group of yogis in recovery, just like me. The people who put all of their addictive tendencies into their yoga practice. The people who, just like my meditation friends, came to yoga in crisis. Searching for something, anything better. I cried through that whole 2 hour workshop. This time it wasn’t my body opening up and letting go of years of abuse and anxiety, it was gratitude. Gratitude to be in a room of people who I felt a part of. Gratitude for my sober life. Gratitude for everything. I knew these were my people. The next week I signed up for a yoga teacher training in that same studio. On the first morning of teacher training we sat in a circle and introduced ourselves. Again, I heard through every one of these women’s stories that nobody gets to yoga because they love their lives so much. Yoga is healing. Yoga is love. Today I am a yoga teacher. I teach yoga to help people heal. We are all recovering from something. It doesn’t have to be addiction or mental illness. We don’t make it into our adult years without some sort of trauma, grief or loss. I teach yoga to help people heal. I teach a lot. I have the opportunity to teach mediation every time I teach a yoga class. Meditation IS yoga. I always incorporate meditation into my classes. Meditation came first for me. I had to learn how to stay with whatever came up. Until I did that, my yoga practice couldn’t grow. The two work together for me. I start my days with 20 minutes on my cushion. Every day. In times of chaos, I come back to my cushion to sit with it, to let it pass. In times of crisis, I hurl myself upside down into a handstand. My body and my mind are both aware of what they need today. It’s a beautiful place to be. I have so much gratitude for all of it.