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Bend and begin

This issue feels both a bit full circle and shocking all at once. At the start of the year I shared a column about being present, personal grief and reading more.

What I did not know at the time is exactly how much of my life would unfold from there as I worked at staying committed to my goals.

Truth be told, the final days of 2016 ended rough.

Ever the optimist I felt this to be timely and no accident, as 2017 would stand for and be about new beginnings.

Boy was I ever right on that one...

On the final day of 2016 I spoke four simple words to my closest friends: “I’m done being angry.”

At the time I had no idea how those four words would transform me, my life and the year ahead, but I was done. Done being angry with the father of my children, those who had hurt me, judged me or spoke ill of me publicly — all of it. Done. No more anger. Forgiveness, love, light, acceptance and hope began to take over as anger was released.

I moved forward, stayed mindful and present of what my role is to myself, my children, this world and the God which I pray to.

A quote from Mahatma Gandhi became my anchor: “If you want to change the world, start with yourself.”

I recently traveled to Sedona, Arizona. Prior to going I had a number of friends who were excited and anxious to hear of my glorious Sedona adventure and the story I would return with. I am a writer after all, and more times than not my adventures result in somewhat entertaining stories.

Yet, this time there isn’t one. Well there is, but not in the traditional “I had an amazing vacation” way.

My Sedona adventure had little to do with hiking mountains, covering terrain and discovering new eateries. This Sedona adventure was about something bigger, deeper. It was about connection, seeing each other, humanity and facing our truth.

It was about taking off masks, revealing who we truly are and making peace with imperfections — our imperfections and how we manifest that to others.

Before judgement begins to blur the vision of the reader, permit me to explain.

A few years back, I shared my love for running and yoga in these very pages. Both have been transformative for me physically, as well as emotionally. This Sedona trip came by way of my continued yoga practice and an interest in leading, by way of teaching yoga. In short, I felt it time to give back to a studio, which had given me so much. What I have learned (personally) through a simple hobby, has literally changed my life. That knowledge is empowering and as a person of service, I now wanted to pay it forward.

Yoga encompasses a variety by way of practices and methodologies. The practice which speaks best to me is Baptiste Yoga and that is how I landed in Sedona.

I was encouraged by my studio owner to attend the Level One: Journey Into Power training. A one-week submersion into the practice, principles and possibility through a strong yoga practice and truer sense of self. The days were long, the isolation with 130 plus yogis from around the world a bit overwhelming (at times). The experience – irreplaceable.

To expand beyond that is truly difficult. My friends who had attended prior were great in helping me prepare via how to pack, how to mentally prepare and encouragement by way of being a “yes” for my own life. They told me little beyond that other than to remain open to the journey and get out of my head.

Even now, looking at that last sentence I chuckle. Telling a writer to get out of her head – funny. Yet, I did. I also opened up and allowed others to “see me” for a change – another breakthrough. In short, it was transformational and indeed the perfect way to end this year which has been so epic and memorable in so many ways.

So what’s the take away, the lesson, the purpose beyond?

The answer quite simply and honestly in keeping with the theme I tend to share each time I pen a piece for this space – you choose.

As you face the year which is ahead and reflect back on the one which is coming to a close, choose wisely. You and you alone are the creator of your life novel. Your choices will either bring you peace, heartbreak, lessons or all three. Will you always get it right and come to the other side with laughter and smiles? Of course not.

Often times the choices we learn from most are the ones which leave the scars, prompt tears and yes, self-doubt. Yet in those moments we possess the power to push down and rise up or as we say in the Baptiste practice “begin again.”

That’s what I leave you with in our final issue of 2017 and first of 2018 — rise up, open up, be a yes and — begin again. Biggest of blessings and Namaste.