Coping Through Crisis
As a yoga teacher, I have the joy of sharing my passion with so many amazing people. Some have become friends, some have become private clients, some just ask me to listen and hold space for them. Today after class someone told me they appreciated the support I had recently given them. She shared with me about a very hard time she is going through. It felt so familiar to something I had experienced a few years back. It caused me to pause to reflect on who I got from what felt like a living hell to this life I now so joyfully experience. In November 2015, I wrote a blog post about how I had coped through such a tremendous crisis in my life. I wanted to share that old blog post here with you today. I want you to know that there is a new beginning for you. Your story doesn't end in sorrow and your dharma isn't a lifetime of pain. Much love to you!!!
For years, I have been told by friends and clients that I need to blog. A quiet voice as whispered to me for even longer that I should blog. A louder voice always told me I didn’t have anything worth blogging. Maybe I do, maybe I don’t…that I am still not quite sure about it. I just know that right now, the voice encouraging me to share my ideas, my recipes, my ups and and my downs is not so quiet. So I am going to share something with you that goes beyond a great recipe but ultimately is about health and wellness (a passion of mine in case you missed that). I have been going through a very difficult time, a crisis really. BUT, despite all the sadness, confusion, and hurt, I am coping, maybe even something better than coping… surviving, maybe even beginning to thrive.
Recently, I was at a place in my life where continuing to do the same thing I had always done, was simply no longer an option if I was going to thrive, if I was ever going to be the person I knew I was fully capable of being. I was beginning to not recognize myself during certain times and that scared me. I had to make a change. Finding the courage was hard. How would I manage all that I would have to get through? I honestly didn’t know that answer, but I was pushed to the edge and my only option was turn back to what I had always know or take a leap of faith right off the edge. I took the leap and an amazing thing as happened, I am okay.
A few really important things have helped me cope through this crisis. They weren’t part of a grand plan to change my life. The truth is I lept off that edge without a plan. These are just things that one way or another have worked their ways into my life and have proven to be invaluable during these uncertain times.
Small, simple rituals: Before I opened up with anyone about what was going on in my life, I feel into the routine of having a hot cup of herbal tea to start my day and at times throughout the day when I felt anxiety bubbling up inside of me. Something about the act of holding a warm mug between my trembling hands was incredibly soothing to my soul. It was something small I could turn to, something easily accessibly. This very simple daily ritual has been truly calming in the face of crisis.
Meditation: For most of adult life I have been interested in meditation and have used it from time to time. Over the last few months however, meditation has been a mainstay. You won’t find me sitting chanting OM, crossed legged with mala beads because I have learned that mediation is really nothing more than just quietly being with yourself, allowing yourself to sit with your own thoughts and feelings. If I can get my mind quiet, great, if not I just acknowledge the thoughts and let them pass by like clouds in the sky. Some days I just sit quietly, some days I listen to a guided meditation and some days I will silently repeat to myself one of three mantras that have resonated with me. I don’t have rules for my meditation practice, there is no set time, and I don’t have meditation goals. I just come to mediation with an open heart and patience with myself. In the stillness of mediation, I have learned how to quiet my racing thoughts, settle my fears and move forward in my day with just a tad more patience.
Writing: Man oh man, have I written a lot this last year. This has been part of my morning tea ritual quite often but I keep paper in my car, my purse, everywhere and just jot my feelings down. I started this practice because keeping all those feelings inside was just too much. I felt like I had a volcano inside me. I had to get my feelings out or they would erupt. Getting my thoughts and feelings out in written form is powerfully healing! Sometimes, I write in a formal journal, other times, it is a piece of scrap paper I later throw away, I just had to get those feelings and thoughts out. I believe my healing really began with this practice. For a while I worried, what if someone found what I was writing but again that is fear speaking and fear rarely is a catalyst for anything positive. I write without abandon now and it has given me tremendous freedom. A lightness that nothing else creates.
Taking Time Off: This is a new tool for me. I am one that keeps pretty busy. I like my routine of training my clients, home-schooling my kids, cooking all our meals, working out daily, errands, househould chores, getting the kids to their activities, and the list goes on and on. Very recently however, it hit me that I had to take some time off. I am not talking, packing up and going on vacation. For me it was just taking a few hours off of work one week, easing up for a few days on our homeschooling schedule and acknowledging that at that very moment, my tank was almost empty and I had to reserve my energy. I am simply amazed how my body and soul responded to that downtime. I was able to adjust my focus for just a short period and gain fresh perspective that replenished my faith tank.
Speaking Honestly: Now this was the hardest one for me. I am a talker, no doubt about that, but as for my deeply personal stuff, that I kept all to myself. I haven’t quite figured out the why yet and maybe it doesn’t really matter now that I have learned just how important it is to speak your truest truth. Perhaps I kept to myself those hard, sad things because I wanted to protect the ones I loved so much, maybe it was part shame, maybe it just wasn’t time before the now. Either way, opening up about my journey and sharing the not so wonderful parts of my life have given me courage to live authentically. I am sure that by opening up, I will be subject to criticism and judgment but so far that has not been the case. I have been overwhelming lifted up on a tide of support and love. My tribe has surrounded me and supported me. Any feelings of anxiety about the changes I am going through are overshadowed by the feelings of love around me. Sharing all of myself so openly, felt really scary and still does if I am being honest but in sharing openly about my situation, I have opened doors for other women I know to also share openly. In doing so, we all move forward with a sense of belonging in our hearts.
Asking For Help: Perhaps asking for help is just an extension of speaking honestly, but for me it was a whole new world. I know I would not be where I am at on this journey without the help of friends. Allowing myself to be helped has been embarrassing at times, but necessary. We can only manage on our own for so long and then we have to ask for help. I have been left completely speechless by the outpouring of help I have received. By asking for help, my crisis became manageable, easier to get through. I also learned that people genuinely enjoying helping. This has reminded me that the human spirit is wired to be part of something bigger and that again gives me faith.
Self-Care: As a wellness advocate, self-care is typically part of my daily life. In the depths of sadness, hurting, being scared and worried, I fell away from this practice for quite a while. I stopped many of my usual self-care habits. Working out dwindled to none, my nutrition was poor, I stopped creating art and wasn’t enjoying books any longer, I quit painting my nails, and worst of all, I abandoned my social life. This just left me feeling even more hopeless and sad. In the weeks and months leading up to making my big decision, I began to slowly make self-care a top priority again. I got my nutrition back in check, got myself back down into my art space creating things I loved, I planned a party, took salt baths and gave myself facials. Nothing huge, but just made taking care of myself from the inside out a top priority. It felt so good. In those moments, the fog lifted and I was able to see a new life for myself.
These 7 things have gotten me through this crisis for sure, but one last thing that I believe was powerful beyond imagination was sobriety. I have never been a heavy drinker, but I enjoyed a small glass of wine in the early evenings a few nights a week while I busily worked in the kitchen making dinner for everyone. It was a ritual of sorts. Sometimes a bottle of wine would even go bad before I could finish it. I knew how to enjoy a few cocktails at a special outing or Girls Night Out for sure. I certainly enjoyed those sips and the warm feeling that came with them. I came to realize however that, for me, it would be nearly impossible to honestly face the situation I was living with as long as the warm feeling inside was from a glass of wine or a cocktail. I needed to create that feeling by living honestly with myself. I came to this realization after doing a 3 week cleanse the beginning of January of this year. The temptation to break the cleanse with a glass of wine was huge but I said let me just see if I can go 30 days without it. And I did. And I set another. It was then that realized that my glass of wine a few nights a week habit was certainly disconnect from the rest of how I ate and cared for my body but more importantly, it had really been masking the hurt. In those days without the mask, I was able to face my hurt, my stress, my fears head on. It was hard at first. After a hard day, I would think about having a glass of wine to unwind, but I would remember that I needed my clarity, I needed my health and I had to face the hard days, not soften my reality but face it. 10.5 months later, I don’t even have the desire. I am so glad I gave up that habit. I know by doing so, I have improved my physical and mental health. Will I enjoy a glass of wine again? Oh, I am sure I will but for now this is working for me.
As for the matter of coping, today marks two weeks since I completely changed my own life. It has been an emotional two weeks, and 2016 has certainly been a hard year. I have coped, I am surviving and this morning as I sit here typing, watching the dark sky turn to soft shades of purple, pink and orange as the sun rises over the fields of the farm I am now living on, I know I am also on the rise.
Nearly three and half years later, I have not only survived, but I am thriving!
I wake each day and ask myself "How will I live in full service to my heart?" Some days it is something as simple as sleeping a bit longer and other days it is something radical like camping alone. I am still living these basic principles: small simple rituals, meditation, writing, taking time off, speaking honestly, asking for help, self-care and sobriety. They keep me grounded in faith, peace & love. I don't ever have to live a life that feels less than what I deserve. I trust that spirit is guiding me at all time. I am a survivor. I am healthy. I am whole. I am safe. I am abundant. I am worthy. I follow my heart!