Spring is a time of new beginnings. New growth. New life. New birth. Time to let go of the old, the cold, the gloom we may feel as we endure a long winter. Because of winter, spring is that much more pleasant, joyful, and welcoming. The slush, the sleet, the last of the snowy days bring a smile, knowing that not long now and the crocuses, tulips, daffodils will begin to push through the earth, and grace us with a rainbow of brilliance in Teton Valley. Bird chirping weather becomes everyone’s favorite! Spotting a robin, with its’ fluffy feathered chest of red, hopping around the porch, pecking at the seeds that have been sprayed out of the bird feeder from the little chickadees that had lunch just before. The cat sitting on the back of the couch, gazing out the window, watching every movement of the feathered commotion, tail twitching, excited to pounce if I would just let him out. The dog resting in the sunshine on the floor at my feet, ready too to frolic through the grass that is sure to come.
I am grateful for a winter of Hot Yoga in Teton Valley. Attending and teaching Hot Yoga made winter that much sweeter. The slopes, the races, snowmen, snow forts, snow ball fights, sleigh rides, sledding, skiing, snowboarding, or whatever your winter sport joy may be….we are all looking forward to spring! From many who attended classes all winter long, hearing over and again how wonderful it has been to come in out of the sub zero temperatures and into the heat, the humidity…..with eyes closed, entering any paradise the mind can imagine, even in the longest winter nights!
Spring, is a lovely reminder of how beautiful change can truly be! Spring, when you really do feel like whistling even with a shoe full of slush! With the reminder that no winter lasts forever, no spring skips its turn. I am so excited to see what bulbs have not been eaten by the burrowing winter creatures. Hundreds of bulbs have been planted around my house each fall, digging through the soil, toiling, the smell of earth on my hands, jeans covered in dirt. Knowing that my reward will come in the spring with the brilliance of each bloom, the song of the birds, the colorful flutter of butterflies, and the buzzing of the bees returning to life.
Change is inevitable, you cannot control it. Do you cave when it comes to change, or do you embrace it? Are you ready to plant seeds of positive intention with the changing season? Ready with open arms to accept whatever comes your way and truly relax, to surrender, to the flow of life? With the warmth, with the blue skies on their way, and the longer days with the sun on your face, begin to note what you want to change in your own life. What has challenged you, come face to face with the hardship that is stopping you from entering into your full potential this spring! Create the you that you want to be!
If you need a great place to start! Please join us at Hummingbird Yoga Studio on March 31, 2:00-4:30 pm. Our First Sunday Spa Day! Delight yourself in an afternoon of pampering, of intention setting, a time to plant new seeds in your soul and embrace change as you bloom this summer into more of who you were destined to be! If nothing else, let your smile shine, it will uplift your spirit! Please see the link below to read more about what we will be offering you.
Martin Luther King Jr, a champion to our world, once said, “He who is devoid of the power to forgive is devoid of the power to love.” One year ago, I wrote a blog titled, “I Have A Dream!” Writing about my hero since I was a child, Martin Luther King Jr., and sharing the joys of opening Hummingbird Yoga Studio on January 15, 2018, Martin Luther King Jr. Day, (M.L.K.Jr.) Once again, we celebrate this historical figure who changed our country because he had within himself the capacity to forgive, and to love his enemies.
I have always been a dreamer, a thinker, a doer, a creator. I have never stopped dreaming no matter what challenges have come my way. I have learned that one thing in life that can stop people from moving forward in the direction of their dreams is bitterness, and lack of forgiveness. Many are trapped, harboring negativity, dwelling on the past, too angry at what life has thrown their way to live in the present. Many are suffering, unable to live to the fullest, hiding the light that is wanting to shine, the light that is longing to burn bright within. There are those who are afraid to live as their authentic self, too timid to love the life that has been set out before them. Those not willing to “live from the heart, unapologetically.”
I spent years forgiving the man I was once married to. Every morning choosing a fresh start, a clean slate, choosing to forgive, to believe again another day, to hope for the best, to renew my strength with the power of forgiveness. I was trapped in this constant battle of forgiveness for nearly 10 years. But, having been raised to “Turn the other cheek” to “Forgive others, just as you would want Christ to forgive you.” To “love unconditionally” to “always be humble and kind.” This is all wonderful in a healthy marriage, but one full of rage, outbursts, violence, mental abuse, and all other forms of abuse, with small impressionable children underfoot…….this is where I learned to finally draw the line.
“The best way to predict the future, is to create it!” This quote by Abraham Lincoln, is absolutely true. I would predict my future over and over in my head as I endured yet another day of domestic violence. I knew that I was going to end up dead by the hands of my own husband, or cancer would kill me from living with a heavy dose of anxiety, dread and fear on a regular basis. I knew that my children would end up wounded, hurt, confused at the meaning of life from watching the abuse that continued in the confines of what was meant to be our safe haven. As dread of predicting my own future grew, as anger hid around every corner, as I balled up in bed and cried out to God to save me from the misery, as I felt my only hope was suicide, as the very last string on the “three-cord strand that is not easily broken” was just about to snap!……..I finally breathed deeply and plunged with my whole heart into a completely opposite direction. I escaped to tell my story and do so in hopes of encouraging others to do the same!
“All labor that uplifts humanity has dignity and importance and should be undertaken with painstaking excellence.” M.L.K. Jr. Thus, the journey of new beginnings, new joys, new hopes, predicting the path of a better future, and creating it one step at a time. But, I was angry and afraid although free at last from the constant suffering. I was bitter, I purposely held on to un-forgiveness, replaying the worst situations I had ever endured in hopes of keeping my mind fully occupied with the negativity so that I would not cave in and return to the nightmare, as I had done so many times before. At times, I was boiling inside with anger of what I thought should have been, what could have been, and now was never to be. I was angry at God, how could he throw me away like this, handing me over to the hands of a violent man, allowing me to suffer. What had I ever done so wrong to end up in such a destitute situation for so many years? I would soon change my thinking and discover, who am I to direct the hand of God. He chose me from the foundation of time to endure, to have a deep inner strength, to have a faith that can move mountains, to learn that from suffering in this way would bring about a bright light of healing, of hope, of forgiveness, a painstaking change to uplift humanity.
“An individual has not started living until he can rise above the narrow confines of his individualistic concerns to the broader concerns of all humanity.” M.L.K. Jr. I began to write my life story in floods at a time as all the memories came rushing through my mind, my fingers typing as fast as they could, not missing a single thought. I knew that in writing and releasing my thoughts, my mind would begin to relax, to be fully set free. My mind would no longer feel the need to live on constant replay. This became a healing balm, a method of forgiveness to myself and forgiveness towards the man who had nearly taken my life from me in every way. After keeping my life story hidden away for sixteen years, I began to publicly share my story through my blog, I have been asked to share my story at public events, with now over 70 countries checking in and reading my life stories, with others writing to me sharing their fears, and the hope that my blog has given them to start a new chapter in their own life. This is when the doors started opening, I was compelled to start Hummingbird Yoga Studio. I had reached beyond myself and was full to bursting to help others heal on their journey as well. To rise above my narrow confines and individualistic concerns and look to the broader concerns of all humanity.
“Nonviolence is absolute commitment to the way of love. Love is not emotional bash; it is not empty sentimentalism. It is the active outpouring of one’s whole being into the being of another.” M.L.K. Jr. It was July of 2012, I had turned 33 in June, I was now a divorced, single mother with three children under the age of three. My youngest sister came to stay with me for two weeks to take care of my two boys, to help take care of me, and to cuddle and hold my brand new baby girl, before she moved to Hawaii to join her husband. She was the description of absolute commitment to the way of selfless love. She had her second child three months after I opened my yoga studio, in 2018. I was so excited to fly to Hawaii to be with her this time, to take care of her, help with her toddler, and cuddle her one week old baby. I had no idea, in this time, I would also find a channel of release that I did not know was still holding me back. The ocean itself is healing, just sitting on the shore, eyes closed, listening to the constant waves as they crash upon the land. Dancing through the waves, splashing through sea foam, smiling with my whole heart, spinning, twirling, laughing all alone on the beach. Feeling grounded, feeling at one with life.
And then, as I stood there, on the shoreline, no one in sight, the sky gray, the waves ebbing and flowing, I began to cry. I cried and I cried. I let the tears just flow, fall from my cheeks and drop into the sea. The salt of my tears mingling with the salt of the blue vastness, the liquid drops of forgiveness washing through me as I stood, motionless, effortlessly forgiving. Letting go of pain that I did not realize needed to be released. I yelled out into the air, “I forgive you! I forgive you!” Sending that forgiveness by a message through the waves, across the ocean, and washing up onto the shores of Australia, to the life I once knew. And then, “I am sorry! I am sorry for what could have been, what should have been, and what will never be. I am sorry for your pain, I am sorry!” I crumpled up in a heap on the sand, the tide tickling my toes, as more tears fell into the water swirling around me. In that moment, I was set free in every way. And in that moment, I never knew just how strong I was until I had forgiven someone who never told me he was sorry, and accepted an apology I never received. I had truly forgiven and was able to say, “Thank you,” into the wind, “for the experience of knowing you.”
I flew back to my quiet little town. I flew back into the arms of my husband as he picked me up at the airport showering me with kisses. Back to my sweet family that was awaiting my safe arrival. So happy to be married now to a man who never ceases to take care of the woman he chose to protect, to comfort through pain, to allow the space for healing, to the man who encourages me to follow my heart as he supports my dreams. And this is why we are where we are today. One year later, celebrating the birth and growth of Hummingbird Yoga Studio. My heart is full to overflowing as I teach, often with tears in my eyes, grateful to be alive, thankful for the hardships endured to bring about hope to those who attend classes. There truly is joy in suffering, there is strength in forgiveness, there is more love to go around then I ever dreamed possible. My hope for you: May you let go, relax, surrender to the flow of life today. If there is bitterness blocking your way, choose now to release it, forgive those that have hurt you and love instead. As you open your heart to love, your dreams will begin to come true. And if you feel empty of any dream at all, begin by forgiving yourself, loving yourself, let go of the need to control and just ride the waves! “He who is devoid of the power to forgive is devoid of the power to love.” Martin Luther King Jr.
There was a pounding at the door. “Can I come in? What is wrong? Ruth, are you okay?” All he could hear was the shower running and muffled sobs. He began to worry when she did not respond and quickly came into the bathroom where he found her balled up in the corner, dripping wet and naked on the cold shower floor, who knows how long the water had lost its’ heat. She looked too thin, her eyes puffed and red from crying. He quickly turned the water off, reached for a towel and gently helped her to her feet. Her body fully exhausted, limp, almost lifeless from experiencing yet another attack of post traumatic stress. What was the trigger this time, he wondered. Through her sobs, she faintly asked him to throw the bottle of shower gel into the garbage can, not wanting to smell it ever again. “Every time I smell it,” she said, “I am flooded with the worst memories. I just want to die! I can’t take this anymore.”
Earlier that night, Ruth had tucked her three little ones into bed with stories, songs and prayers. She had then wandered around the house from room to room, everything was safe, the doors locked, blinds drawn, opening and closing the fridge, so hungry but unable to eat from the dread of anxiety. Turning on the hot water jug for a cup of tea, then heading to her room. She climbed onto her bed, knees drawn in close to her chest, rocking back and forth, trying to comfort herself from the flood of memories that came every night when the house was quiet. Talking in a low voice to herself, repeating kind words to herself in hopes of comforting the damage that had been done. Squeezing her eyes shut trying desperately to drown the vivid images from her mind.
Ruth had completely forgotten the hot water that was now ready to be made into a cup of tea to calm her nerves. It took all the effort she had to care for the three little ones every single day, leaving no energy to care for herself. She stared at the wall in front of her as it began to transform into clips and flashes from episodes of her previous 10 years of marriage. Shaking her head to clear it, to no avail, sitting for what felt like an eternity. She had finally called her boyfriend, Fred, to see if he could please come over. Her anxiety had been triggered again, it was late, dark, Fred had not called, she had been waiting for too long. But, her reality was often confused with her past life, a life filled with trauma, abuse, and domestic violence. They say time heals, but she relived her past every single day although it had been over two years since her escape back to America.
As she spoke to him on the phone, he was confused by the fear that came from her voice. “It’s going to be okay,” he said, “take a hot shower, and I’ll be over as soon as I can.” “It’s not going to be okay, ever!” came the quick reply. “I can’t live like this any more, my head hurts every single day. My mind is full of memories that are killing me. I can’t eat, I can’t sleep, I am scared all of the time. What if the anxiety never goes away? I just feel like I need to throw up. There is no safe place, even when I sleep I am haunted by nightmares, reliving the past, and dreaming up threatening events in my mind of being chased, and hurt, my children kidnapped and I can’t find them anywhere in my dreams. Or, I can see them, but I can’t get to them to protect them from him.” “Take a hot shower,” he lovingly repeated, “and I will come over soon. We can talk about it then. I’ll drive over and hold you soon Ruth.”
Fred now gently drying her off, rubbing her skin to warm her, helping her into her robe, then tucking her into bed. He rested next to her, stroking her hair, whispering softly in her ear, holding her hand, and waiting for her to fall asleep. But, sleep did not come, not yet. She began to describe what was haunting her. The trigger from the smell of the shower gel, reminding her of one of many escapes, this time with her baby boy, just three months old. The home she had found refuge in had the same fragrant shower gel…….and with it a vivid repeat and rush of frightening memories.
Every drip of water flooding her again with painful memories from a life she had endured for so long and freezing her in fear. The shower water that had turned so cold, playing back the time she was lying in the rain at the feet of the man who had so often tried to destroy her. The cold, isolation of the shower reminding her of the time she fled for her life in the early hours of the morning, crouched on the porch of a total stranger who had not let her in for safety, but had called the police to pick her up off of her front porch. The four walls of the shower causing her to relive the time she had been pregnant and trapped in the four walls of an elevator for nearly an hour with the man who over and over forced her to overcome her claustrophobia. The many times she had locked herself in the bathroom to take a shower in the hope of finding solace, an ounce of peace, and to just cry and cry and cry wishing the pain away.
Her mind haunted, battered, flooded with sorrow, with memories that were a constant companion of doubt, condemning shame, of fear, of worry, of bitterness, darkness and the inability to fully trust again. Fred longed to help her heal, to set her free from the grip of darkness, but how? He rested next to her for over an hour, soothing her with his presence, praying for comfort from the pain. She had fallen asleep at last, he then placed a soft kiss on her cheek. Getting up, he headed to the bedroom door, letting himself back out to drive back home for the night. Worried, but hopeful that she would be able to sleep, to rest her mind for the few hours left till morning. He had placed her phone on her bedside table in case she were to wake up frightened in the night needing to call him again.
The chirping of birds in the early morning, the sun beams shining across her bed through the cracks in the closed window blinds, from the other room she heard the cry of her baby needing attention. All greeting her to begin another day! But, her mind began its’ race again, afraid to start another day, afraid of when the next panic attack would grip her life. Afraid of not knowing what the next trigger would be…..constantly bracing herself for the next flood of memories…. and there it was, just from the simple sound of the birds chirping outside.
Her eyes darting to the wall again, she hid under the blankets and pillows, not wanting to hear the sweetness of the birds. And there she was, heart pounding in her chest, the birds chirping so loudly in her mind, looking back over her shoulder, sure he would track her down as she pushed her baby boy in the stroller. Trying desperately to stay hidden but to get out in the fresh air for a walk. One ear phone in her left ear, playing uplifting songs, her right ear free and keenly aware of the surrounding sounds, listening for his truck to pull up from behind and take her baby away. Her phone handy to call the couple she was staying with in case of an emergency. Her chest tight, breath quick and shallow, mind flashing fight or flight, eyes darting, palms sweaty as she determinedly walked along, stopping again to check all the surroundings before turning onto the next street.
“Stop!” She yelled out loud and jumped out of bed. All the while wondering if complete recovery would ever be a possibility. She quickly dressed before another thought could haunt her mind. Into her bedroom came her younger son, “Mommy, can we have a picnic? Look, the sun is shining!” “Yes!” she replied! She walked out of the bedroom to then pick up her baby girl from the crib, then peaking into the boys’ bedroom to see her older son playing with toy cars. Time to be strong for them again. Time to get them fed, bathed, dressed, and outside to play. Thankful for a second chance at life, thankful for the hugs and kisses she received every day from the three little gifts that God had given her to protect, love, nurture, and provide for, giving her hope to live another day. Thankful for the man that was now in her life, loving her back to health.