“Beauty and Strength Come from Within”
This week marks 10 years that the Universe “removed” me from a most toxic work environment. Despite the challenges that followed, I will be forever grateful.
You see, for years leading up to the start of yet another school year in 2012, I felt my soul was getting more and more compromised. My integrity, values, self respect, intentional way of living, being and moving in my world were not in alignment amid that type of work environment where backstabbing and outright meanness, bullying and harassment from “higher ups” was the status quo.
Thankfully, my yoga, meditation and mindfulness practices kept my head above water-barely shall I say- and, unknowingly, prepared me for the journey that lay ahead….especially the physical journey. The irony was that despite being in tune with my body, I was not listening to it. I asked the Universe to intervene- it delivered and, just like that about a week later, I was removed from a place that otherwise would have been the cause for whisking me away in a stretcher or in a body bag that school year.
Fast forward a few weeks later, on the eve of my 54th birthday, and I almost died on the operating table (amidst cursing and screaming as per my surgeon), as I lay there for 7 hours getting put back together again. I had several out of body (near death experiences) immediately after my surgery due to my horrifically low blood pressure and blood loss. In total, I had to get 5-6 units of blood. This surgery would also require a future one, which I was in denial about from the onset, until I had no choice but to have it 3 years later. Then another one 4 years after that…all because I wasn’t listening to my body while in that toxic environment where I was working anywhere from 10-15 hour days.
At the time, I was a vice-principal. As I just told you, I was in tune with my body as a result of my yoga, meditation and mindfulness practices, but I wasn’t “listening” to the sounds that were coming from it. Sounds where a simple Google search would have had me running to my orthopedic surgeon mind you!
Looking back now, that “forced” removal brought with it the forced “rest” that comes with physical rehab. The inquiry and inner investigation that came with it was the start of a much needed and overdue rest practice. It was the start of me falling into me.
After 12 years as a VP in such a toxic atmosphere and working with bad behavior ( and in some cases mentally ill higher ups), recovery didn’t come easily. I couldn’t immediately process all of it as I was trying to process WTF happened to me…to my body… what I put it through…and how I was going to get through each day moving forward. Would I ever walk on my own again? Would I get any feeling back in my leg? Would the nerve pain ever subside? Who will help me? I also looked skeletal, and all I could do when I saw my friends was cry. The fact that the end of my career got ripped out from under me didn’t even factor into the equation at this point in time.
It took me years of tears, physical therapy, sadness, self-love, compassion, rest, patience, and tapping into my resilience and inner fortitude to feel it all in order to heal. You know how the saying goes, “You have to feel it to heal it.” It wasn’t until last year, after my last orthopedic surgery and finding myself free of physical pain and debilitation, that I FINALLY started enjoying retirement…only to have another surgery this past June. It was one I had wanted to have done years ago but was consumed with all things orthopedic. If you haven’t read my last two blogs, Doing a Thing and The Heal is Real, you can read about my elective surgery.
Thanks to one of my beloved teachers, Tracee Stanley, and her online portal, the practice of Yoga Nidra has played a VITAL role in the quality of my life, rest, healing, presence, discernment and intentionality over the past couple of years. These practices and habits have also helped me to eradicate the word “busy” from my vocabulary. If you know me, you know how I loathe that word!
We all know the saying about time being our most valuable currency, and we should be very discerning about how we choose to spend it. Of late, I have been looking at time as a function of mindful moments where I choose to be 100% present. No multitasking allowed…wink, wink. Not even something as simple as talking on the phone and doing something else. I try my best to give my full attention to the person or the activity I am engaged in. In retrospect, I think that my 2022 word, spaciousness, has been a game changer. It’s allowed me to explore ways to create more space, fluidity and awareness.
Being aware, fully rested, grounded, rooted, and resourced has gifted me with the magic of presence . Over the years, I’ve evolved into a human BE-ing rather than a human DO-ing. And I really owe it all to my rest practices; both the forced ones from years ago and the ones I’ve cultivated with teachers like Tracee Stanley and Octavia Raheem. Tracee’s book, Radiant Rest, Yoga Nidra for Deep Relaxation and Awakened Clarity as well as Octavia’s book, Pause Rest Be: Stillness Practices for Courage in Times of Change, have also been game changers! I know this may sound crazy, but these books and rest practices have gifted me with more time, space, creativity, clarity, discernment, intuition and grace. Now THAT is the power of rest!
What we have all put our bodies through in this toxic culture of productivity and 24/7 connectedness is mind blowing! Stop and think about it for a moment. No wonder our bodies have been broken down, why we’ve been brought to our knees, developed diseases from all the dis-ease in our bodies and perhaps even live in a state of depression and/or anxiety. I encourage you all to take the time to determine where your life is out of balance, what needs to change, who or what you need to let go, what you want to call in and what areas of your life are in need of deep healing.
Have you been listening to your body?
How do you tune in to your inner GPS?
Are you numbing yourself so you don’t have to feel and, if so, in what ways?
What is your relationship with loss and grief?
How do you deal with transitions or sudden changes?
In what ways do you care for your inner Self?
As I’ve written in other blogs, September and October have always been difficult months for me due to the many losses that have occurred in those months. As I prepare for yet another big transition, I am able to see that as a result of my mindfulness practices, yoga, meditation, and rest, I find myself in deep gratitude for endings and new beginnings.
I am presently getting ready to move out of a place I’ve called home and have lived in for 12 years. A place I refer to as my Treehouse Oasis because of all the trees outside my windows, the myriad of birds that visit, the high vaulted ceilings, and the peace, serenity and quietude that surrounds it.
As I look back on these 12 years, my Treehouse Oasis has been a refuge of sorts. It’s been a place of sacred ritual and much healing: physically, emotionally, mentally and spiritually. It has held me, held endless tears, losses, and grief – welcomed and unwelcome as well as planned and unplanned. Conversely, it has also been a place filled with much love, immense gratitude, celebrations, learning, unlearning, evolving and transformation. And let me not forget REST….for it is the foundation of beauty and strength in my book. My mama was right all those decades ago! Too bad I listen listen back then.
The hardest part will be leaving my close-knit circle of friends, since I will be taking up residence in my little seaside “crash pad” for a while. I know new life experiences, people, adventures and opportunities that will enable me to InspireLoveServe await. Nevertheless, it will be yet another transition I find myself preparing, planning and organizing for during this time of year.
I will be falling into myself yet again. The thing is that I’ve realized falling into oneself is a continuous process of releasing, shedding, becoming, unbecoming, calling in and attracting. It’s a process that, when embraced, fills our hearts with joy, intention and meaning. I admit that I love change, I embrace it and I thrive on it. So…I know that all good things await.
September, the fall season and the darkness that comes with it is a great time to look back, take stock, assess, let go and create space to draw in. I will continue to look back and reflect on these past ten years and connect the dots: see all that had to fall away so that new circumstances, people, places, adventures, beauty and blessings could come in. I am steeped in deep gratitude for all of it and, along the way, I will be planting some new seeds this autumn.
What seeds are you planting this autumn?
How do you want your life to evolve?
What do you need more of?
What do you need less of?
Where is your energy best spent?
Darlings, there is no season quite like Autumn! May this season of change bring you a beautiful harvest, abundant blessings, beauty, strength, and space to be still and listen! JTC