I have been doing some deep reflecting the past few weeks as I take shelter from the cold, dark winter nights inside where it’s warm and cozy . Reflecting mostly on the year that’s passed since it has been coming to an end. I thought about where I was this time last year. How I’ve changed. How things have changed. And the biggest change I can conclude from this year overall is: my spirituality. My faith in something bigger than me. Than all of us.
Let me explain a little.
You see I have waxed and wained between my love and resentment for the Universe my whole life. Source. Spirit. Whatever you want to call ‘IT’. I was a true skeptic. It’s funny, I was born into a Christian family. Ukranian catholic on one side and Protestant on the other to be specific. I went to catechism and learned plenty about the bible. I had my first communion and as a young adult I was confirmed into the catholic church. It still wasn’t good enough for me though. I had questions. I wasn’t convinced. I new it was a ‘sin’ to even question it. But spiritually I felt lost and empty. I never felt like I truly belonged there, inside of the church, praying to someone I questioned existed. But it also felt a little safe. There were, after-all, a lot of people that believed it all to be something big, long before my parents and their parents were even born. So I kept myself to the sidelines not speaking much of my inner struggle. But the waxing and waining continued well into my adulthood. I was so confused by what I wanted in life. And had no idea who I was down deep. Or where I wanted to go, do, or be. I felt insecure and scared. Then add a patchy spirituality on top of it all. Man, no wonder I was a train wreck!
Two summers ago I was introduced to meditation and mindfulness. It was simply one of the most challenging tasks I’ve ever undertaken. If you knew my type-A personality you’d understand. I’ve never been one to sit still and just feel. I became very interested in learning more about it and was introduced to some of Thich Nhat Hanh’s books and the Buddhist lineage. I began to feel more open about spirituality in a different way. Not that meditation is spiritual for everyone. But it’s crazy the things that would come up for me during those times of stillness. It was a struggle. But it had me coming back for more at the same time. I could see some similarities on my yoga mat. The feeling of oneness. The feeling of being a tiny spec in this giant galaxy and yet big enough to make waves.
Needless to say I was curious. So I decided to sign up for a 200 hour intensive yoga teacher training (YTT) to learn more about the philosophy and understand more about Yoga beyond the mat.
YTT was life changing. I’ve never met a more open honest group of like-minded inspirational people in all my life. We were all so very different, yet all very much the same. I had many ‘ah-hah’, personally transforming, positive spirituality-inducing moments in those four weeks. Let me be clear it was not all sunshine and rainbows, sun salutations and cute Namastè bows. It was open, raw, can’t-hide-anything-but-nice-try kind of an emotional rollercoaster. From crying to laughing to holding side planks for what seemed like an eternity. It was epic. In fact my words could not possibly do it justice. The funny thing is, I never actually went into that training hoping to teach after, but when I left with my certificate in-hand I knew without a doubt that I wanted to share yoga and it’s philosophy with the world.
And that was how the year began to magnificently unfold. All with Viva la Lemon, this little sprout of a wellness company I had created.
And even though it grew more into a communal journey, my personal life continued to transform along side.
As my first backyard Summer yoga session started coming to an end, a close friend of mine was admitted to the palliative care floor at the hospital. He had been battling cancer for months.
I remember literally feeling my heart break for him and his family as we watched them bravely fight for his life.
It was an emotional time, but almost every day or at least every few days I’d try to visit. Most of the time the conversation was light but at times it became deep, as I’m sure it does with anyone who is faced with such a battle. We talked about our dreams. He talked about his plans of retirement and traveling the world with his beautiful wife. I talked about my dream of having another child. And sometimes our conversations would be about spirituality. And I remember not feeling so lost about it. Feeling like Yoga, the Buddhist lineage, and everything else I’d been learning about in that regard gave me a sense of peacefulness or clarity. I shared this with him as I stayed at his bedside one night in hospital. About a week later him and his wife asked me and a good friend of mine to speak together at his funeral. I was both honored, crushed with sadness at the thought of his funeral, and terrified of speaking all at the same time. But of course I said I would love to.
A month or less later I remember being at this meditation gathering at a girlfriends house. She had invited a special guest to perform sound healing with his traditional drums and Tibetan singing bowls. I had spoken to the guest before class about my friend who had terminal cancer and about speaking at his funeral. His eyes welled up as I poured my fears out to him asking for advice.
He simply reached down into his pocket and gently placed this smooth crystal obsidian rock in the palm of my hand. He said he wanted me to keep it and to blow all of my fears into the crystal and then place it outside in a special area on the earth for it to be cleansed. The critic in my head thought he was crazy. Another part of me felt my shoulders become 10x lighter. So then we sat in meditation as he guided us through a few different sound healing techniques. At one point he had us imagine a part of our body that needed healing. He began to rhythmically beat a traditional drum made of hide. I immediately focused on my womb. I wanted a baby so bad I thought more than anything that’s what needed healing. Still holding the crystal in my hand I moved it over my lower abdomen and with every beat of the drum I felt a heartbeat inside of me there. I kid you not. It was profound. It moved me to tears. I went home that night and did exactly what he told me to do with the crystal. The next morning I went outside and picked it up and placed it in my bra next to my heart. I kept it there everyday.
A week later I ended up in the hospital. The sickest I’ve ever been. And nobody at the time could explain why. I have never been so frustrated in all my life. I had just started a new nursing position in public health. I had just started a new fall session of yoga. I was so pissed, it could not have come at a more inconvenient time. Not that being sick is ever convenient. But it took me to a dark place. I tried to focus on one good thing. That good thing was that I got to see my friend Chris on the palliative floor more! That was literally the only good thing because he was getting much worse. The last thing he ever said to me as I was giving my usual hug goodbye was, “Will you come back?” “Of course!”, I replied. But when I did come back the next day, he didn’t speak…he just breathed. His eyes were closed. He looked comfortable. That evening people began to gather at his bedside. We sobbed and held hands as his breathing became more irregular and labored. We prayed with Joe, one of the kindest spiritual care guys I’ve ever met. And then we all watched Chris take his last breath as his soul began to transcend into nirvana. And in that moment, I felt this overwhelming energy of pure peacefulness wash over me. I can’t explain it fully but the energy in that room took my breath away. I think each and every one of us was meant to be there. The universe planned it that way. There was something bigger than all of us in that room that night and although it was comforting to know he was no longer suffering it also crushed us with sadness that he was gone.
I still had the obsidian Crystal on me that night. I pulled it out and laid it on Chris’s chest as I said goodbye. It was beautiful really. I couldn’t imagine a more peaceful passing.
The next few days were awful. Trying to get myself discharged from hospital and back home so I could grieve in the comfort of my own home. I had so many anxiety attacks during those few days leading up to his funeral. I called a friend I’d recently met to come help me calm down. She is a retired nurse and was into healing touch and energy work. She gladly drove out to my home to meet me. She did her thing. And although she touched my skin very little it was as if she was massaging my aching heart deep inside. And when she finished, she tucked me onto my couch and placed a cool cloth on my forehead. As she gently pulled her hand away she said in this incredibly soft voice, ‘my dear, are you expecting?’ I burst into tears. And she placed her hand back on my head smoothing down my hair and shushing me like a mother would her child. Reaching down to give me a big hug, I said, “No, but I have been trying for years.” She smiled with this bright shiny twinkle in her eye and said, ‘no worries darling you will be soon.’ I had no idea how she could possibly know that but I tried to take comfort in her belief anyway.
So I went to the funeral. I said my piece and celebrated my dear friends life. And back to work I went while teaching yoga three times per week.
Yoga classes got pretty deep at times as I opened up and shared little pieces of my soul with my dear yogi family. It was quite liberating actually and sometimes I’d fear they’d never show back up again knowing of my truths. But thankfully I didn’t scare too many of them away.
Over the next month or so I happened to get in for some much anticipated fertility tests/procedures with my obstetrician. After going through some seriously uncomfortable hoops I remember sitting in the OB’s office with white knuckles waiting to hear the news. He walked in and told me he couldn’t find a single thing wrong with either one of us. So he wrote another prescription for yet a different medication and told me to come back in 6 months if I still wasn’t pregnant at which point he would consider sending me for possible invitro. I walked out of that appointment feeling completely defeated. I got into my car and roared out of the parking lot. At the first red light I hit my steering wheel with my fist and burst into tears. I looked up at the sky and yelled, “What do you want from me Universe, do you want me to conceive again or not!!!??? Just fricken tell me what you want!!!!!”. Then I drove all the way home wiping tears from my face.
The next weekend was a new moon. I felt terrible. I was arguing with my husband, I was irritable with our son. But I just blamed the moon. I’ve learned over the years that it makes me crazy. I’m one of those people. So needless to say I went to bed feeling absolutely miserable. The next morning I woke up at 5am. I felt so sick. I paced the house a little seeing if it would go away then crawled back into bed to read about what that particular new moon was all about anyway. Creation it said; this moon was all about creating something new. It occurred to me that I was a day late of getting my period. I literally ran to the bathroom to take a pregnancy test. And what do you know, it was positive. I cried and jumped for joy. And as I laid in bed with this giant grin on my face I immediately thought of Chris. Not many people knew of my struggles… but he did! I thought if anyone would send me an angel from up there in the arena it would be him. The thought of that gave me goosebumps.
A couple weeks later I got a txt from my healing touch friend. She asked when I was due. I literally dropped my phone and held my breath as chills went down my spine. How could she know something like that? Only two people knew of my news.
I can’t explain it but I’ve never felt so… freaked out and spiritual all at the same time. The energy or whatever it is; life force; its all around us. I felt it. I believe it. And I get it now. The universe has a grand plan. It’s why shitty things happen to good people and vice versa. Its why things just can’t be explained. It’s why we are all here. To find our purpose. To live our life to the fullest.
I think of my friend Chris a lot. I thank him a lot too. I think of this tiny life growing inside of me and how blessed I am. All the tragic things that have happened in this world lately have taught me to trust the process and that life is simply precious. To love those who are in my life and to not sweat the small stuff so much. He taught me that saying goodbye isn’t really saying goodbye at all. That this world only leads to the next and that the universe knows exactly what to do. This year has taught me many, many things. Once again it will be a year I never forget. Spiritually more grounded and surrounded by people I love with all my heart in this perfectly imperfect life, I say thank you Universe – thank-you!
So here’s to universal love that lives in and around each and every one of us no matter what we choose to believe and no matter what kind of situation we may find ourselves in. May this new year be full of moments that inspire and deeply move each of you!! Much love ♡