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.