A story of vulnerability and the will to survive another day.
I could not have been more miserable in my entire life as I stood in the dark, black night, the sky now clearing after a heavy downpour. Earlier that evening we had been out with friends and I was driving our purple Neon car. An argument was getting so heated, as I drove us the 30 minutes back home, that I finally pulled over on the side of the road. I hoped to get out for a breath, to put a pause in the aggression and calm things down with a walk together through the dimly lit park just across the street. That is when the downpour started in more ways than one. My eyes brimming with tears that overflowed into the puddles of rain building at my feet. I was wearing my winter, light colored UGG boots, laced up in the front to my knee, with a soft, slick sole. I was not wearing the right boots for the rainy weather, but I did not care, I didn’t really care about anything anymore. It was July, America was celebrating Independence Day, and I was celebrating the darkest day of the year in Mayfield, NSW. I longed for home not only because of all of the wonderful 4th of July festivities, but this time of year, winter in Australia, always reminded me of Christmas in the snow with my family back home. But, that was not to be. I was trapped in a silent world of domestic violence. He agreed to get out of the car with me to cross the street, and take a walk in the rain that had just begun to break free from the clouds above. We had been married for five years, bound by the promise to God and others, “Til death do us part.” I had been thinking about having a child of our own for quite some time, a child to hold, to love on, one that would love me back. A tiny being to nurture and care for, to pour my attention into, to fill the void, the longing for family in a foreign land.
I took a chance, I said, “When do you think we might have a baby?” The reply, “Not until you can get your emotions under control.” I was shocked! What? My emotions under control?! That is what he thinks!? So I am at his mercy of living with no emotions, no feelings, no laughter, no crying, no anything for how much longer? With no end date, because, I had been living like this for 5 years already. Hiding every sorrow, every feeling every emotion, keeping a straight face, always saying, “I’m fine,” to him when asked how I was, because he never wanted to know any differently. His cold, callused heart, always shoving every situation under the rug like dust, never to return to any topic, always avoiding, ignoring, focused purely on his own needs and desires.
I could not take it any longer, it hurt too much too deeply, this God-given desire for children of my own one day would never be. I grew up with a happy family of eight, sure it had its ups and downs too, but nothing like what I had been enduring all these years. This was unbelievable! I was trapped in a marriage that made me feel like I was the most unlovable creature on earth, the ugliest woman that ever existed, and surely the saddest human being. Thoughts of suicide ran through my head on a regular basis, the fight or flight mechanism was always firing off in my brain. Depression was so real every day as I had no way out. If I earned money, he would take it out of my purse to use for himself, the bank accounts were in his name, I had no credit cards in my name, no access to money. He would hide large amounts of cash all over the house so I could not find it. The list of horrors goes on.
As we walked, and I tried to reason with him, he shouted at me, “You need to humble yourself before Almighty God, and before me!!!” Again, shocked, devastated beyond belief, I fell at his feet in the rain, lying down on the wet earth shouting back, “Is this humble enough for you yet!” His angry reply, “Get up, you are getting your boots dirty!” Crushed, my spirit nearly destroyed, how could a human being be so cruel to the woman he asked to marry him? I was so confused, I had waited my whole life for a marriage of love, honor, respect, and I knew for sure this was never to be. The only way out would be by suicide, and believe me, I was fully prepared to take my own life! There is only so much misery a human being can endure!! I had loved God my whole life, I believed in Heaven, I knew that if I could just end my life, God would wrap me up in His arms and I would never hurt again!
He marched off to the Neon across the street without me. He then climbed into the back seat and crouched down really low. I could only see his eyes peering over the edge of the back car door, stalking me from a distance. My hair on my head began to crawl as I felt his black eyes glaring at me from across the street. I turned away from him, my back vulnerable for an attack. I looked way off into the distance, I stood there for what seemed an eternity, praying to God, tears spilling down my face. The sky was beginning to clear. In the black, moonless night, the stars began to burn bright. A little shadow of hope washed over me, off in the distance fireworks were being shot off in celebration of the American Independence Day. My heart was warmed for a moment, the longing for home so great that it took the will to commit suicide away just for the time being.
That moment vanished, as I stood in my reality. I did not care what happened to me any more! As the night wore on, a man in an old pickup truck began to circle the park, watching me, stalking me. Again and again he would pass by, not seeing the man in the Neon car, figuring I was all alone in the park. Time ticked by, I did not want to get back in the Neon to drive home, only to be trapped in my house with my husband. I was so scared, frightened to the core, my legs were beginning to feel like jelly, ready to give out from underneath me at any moment, my heart was giving up, the will to go on completely stripped from my soul. The man in the truck continued to circle the park, creeping by as I watched him from the corner of my eye. I was frozen in time, afraid to move. I began to reason with myself that either way, getting raped or going home to a man who was going to destroy me, mattered no more.
I began to pray for courage, for strength, for the will power to overcome the darkness of my soul and the night. I turned and walked to the car, still seeing the beady, sinister eyes of my husband peering at me from a crouched position in the back. I wanted to vomit, to vomit every thought, every hurt, every sorrow, every injury caused by this man. I got into the front seat to start the car. He said, “Do you know that man drove by you over 20 times?” Again anger began to fill my heart at the thought of him merely counting the times I was circled by the stalker rather than come to my rescue like I had hoped he would. A longing hope that he would shift his mindset and want to take care of the woman sitting before him. It would never be. He then proceeded to tell me that I needed to apologize!
Apologize for what?!!! This was ridiculous! “For what!” I yelled back at him. “You know,” came the reply. I began to list every single thing I could possibly think of, “I am sorry for having emotions, I am sorry for hurting your feelings, I am sorry that I upset you while we were driving, I am sorry I brought up having a baby, I am sorry for crying…….I am sorry…..I am sorry…..sorry…….sorry for……..and on and on I went, and it was never enough, never what he wanted to hear. Never the right apology, never……just never……
I started the engine up to drive us home. He had no license, suspended from too many DUI’s and aggressive driving, so I was the one forced to take us everywhere, still trying to figure out how to rid my habit of driving on the right side of the rode from the left side of the car. Now, driving on the left side of the rode and steering on the right side of the car. All the while being told how to drive, how fast to go, when to pass, when to go, when to use the windshield wipers, when to turn on the car lights, when to turn the heat on, when to turn the ac on………and having the emergency brake pulled up by him on a few occasions while I was driving along the highway. What an idiot!!! So many times, just like tonight, I could not see to drive for the tears stinging my eyes, but told to continue, even though telling him….”I can’t see,” my eyes full of pain, of tears so thick.
Finally, we creep up towards the mansion we were care-taking. The acre lot enclosed all around in a massive black iron gate. A code to get through the 12 foot high double gate entrance. Our little cottage hidden in the back corner of the elegant gardens. The gates locked heavily behind us, my heart tightening in my chest, my palms sweating, an episode of anxiety fogging my mind as I drove forward to the next gate, much smaller than the first. The gate again opens by code and as I drive through, the sideview mirror brushes against the gate! The voices in my head just as loud as the vocal explosion coming again from the back seat driver! Angry at me for grazing the mirror. I am shaking like a leaf now, fear of what he might do to me again! Tears threatening, burning in my eyes, my throat is so thick and my chest so tight I can hardly breathe anymore, willing death upon myself to just end the misery. But, death does not come, and I am forced to get out and march toward the house, feeling like a gun is pressed into my back as his eyes watch me from behind. Independence Day for some, a murderous trap for others in a marriage bound by law.
I hate my life! Why should anyone endure such misery, such brutality?! The voices in my head, a constant companion, they never comfort, only condemn, criticize, and destroy just as loudly as the voice of the man I was married to. After 10 years of horror, and three kids later, I finally broke free! And that is why today, I share with you from my heart! From an escape to a second chance of life. To live to the fullest, to open Hummingbird Yoga, a studio that reaches the hidden recesses of the heart of all who enter. Those who are looking for healing from physical, emotional, and mental anguish. As well as a place for those who are absolutely loving life and excited to try something new, to challenge mind, heart and soul to exceed limitations placed on self.
I have written many true stories of my ventures. My escapes, healing, recovery, being vulnerable to you, the reader. All in hopes of encouraging you in your walk of life to stay strong, stand up for yourself, for your truth, to hold your head high, to walk with humble pride, smiling at total strangers, inspiring others with the stories of your life, and loving the journey you are on. If you are not loving your journey, jump off the crazy ride and get on a new path!
Standing out in the bitter cold looking in, the little orphan boy longed for a place to call home, for a family to love him, for a mommy to cuddle him, and a daddy to tuck him into bed at night. But, there he stood, in the sleeting rain, shivering and all alone, peering in through the low set window, hiding from view, not wanting to be seen. His Thanksgiving dream from that old broken wishbone he had found near the enormous garbage bins last year, was to know what it would feel like to belong. His wish came true as he peeked over the window ledge, into a merry home bustling with energy.
It appeared to the boy that everyone was having a marvelous time, soft music playing, voices carrying on conversation, the laughter of children could be heard, a fluffy cat curled up near the hearth, a golden retriever lingering at the feet of the older man lounged in the recliner, waiting to be noticed, to be scratched around her soft ears. His eyes met those of the beautiful dog just for a moment and then wander over to a massive table spread with the finest foods. His mouth beginning to water at the site of the exorbitant dishes, imagining the taste of just one small bite of that juicy, delicious drumstick.
The evening began with a toast, as the older man stood up from his comfortable position, held up a glass of sparkling champagne, and shared a message of hope, of thanksgiving, of love to all in the room. A toast to times past, a toast to the present moment of the gathering of family and friends, and a toast to all that yet lies ahead. The elderly man continued his speech, reminding all that there is so much to be thankful for every single day. As we celebrate the life we have been given with those we love, great fellowship, and wonderful home cooked food. In unison, with raised glasses, each shouted out a hearty “Amen!” drawing the fluted glass to their lips, allowing the coolness of the fizzy champagne to trickle down their throat.
Each year we all stop to take time out of our busy lives and celebrate our families. Gathering together in a cozy home, the fire place all aglow, amazing aromas filling the air as we unite around a table spread with oven roasted plump turkey, seasoned stuffing, creamy mashed potatoes, the perfect giblet gravy, golden yams smothered in melted butter, dark brown sugar, with toasted marshmallows. A bowl full of bright holiday cranberry sauce garnished with orange zest. The freshest, crisp green salad with a raspberry vinaigrette. Golden bread rolls steaming as they are sliced open and filled with whipped honey-butter. And the favorite among the children – deviled eggs with a dash of paprika. Another table boasting the finest wines, rich creamy egg nog with a sprinkle of nutmeg and a shot of rum, a punch bowl filled with a mixture of cran-apple and orange juices mixed with sprite and adorned with sliced oranges, cinnamon sticks, and chilled in ice.
When we have had our fill and couldn’t possibly take one more delicious bite, grandmother replaces the dishes set out for our incredible feast with delectable pies. There is Father’s famous chocolate bourbon pecan pie, grandmother’s old fashioned pumpkin pie, Auntie’s hot cinnamon apple pie, a cream cheese filled pumpkin roll sprinkled with powdered sugar, a bowl piled high with vanilla whipping cream to garnish every serving. And if that were not enough, more wine and eggnog are passed around, the music and merriment continue as games are played, conversations continued, laughter filling the air. Every belly full and content, every heart hugged in love, joy in the brightness of every eye.
The ragged little orphan boy, his wish granted, a memory to take back to the streets. A memory to carry him through as he endures yet another year alone under the stars. Scavenging for food from the streets, taking hand outs, reaching into bins for any crumb thrown out by a passerby. But, content he is, knowing no other life. As he turns around hearing the soft padding of feet following him, he recognizes the beautiful golden retriever from his view through the frosted window that Thanksgiving night. The little orphan boy smiles like he has never smiled before, his heart skipping a beat, tears fiercely pouring down his weathered cheeks, he wraps his arms tightly around the neck of the warm creature. He leans in as the animal sits down, the boy kneeling, their eyes meet.
Is this what it feels like to belong, to be loved, to feel love for another, to matter? The dog nudged the little boy back up to his feet. Turning around, the dog began to walk away, the boy frozen to his spot on the snowy sidewalk. Tears sliding off his chin, wiped away by a mitted hand. The dog peered back at the child, encouraging him to follow with one look from her eyes. The boy began to slowly move forward, unsure of venturing further, but longing for the warmth and love of this creature. The dog walked on, the boy trailing behind, timid, afraid of the unknown.
At last, they reached the front steps of that beautiful home, a Christmas wreath decorating the bright red door, carols filling the air, Christmas lights softly twinkling in the darkness of night. A gentle bark from the golden retriever and the front door was promptly opened, the warmth and smells of fresh baked sugar cookies wafting out the door. The generous smile across the face of a beautiful little girl greeted him. Her hair tied up in a big red bow, a smudge of frosting on her cheek. She reached out with the tenderness of soft fingers to grasp the ragged, mitted hand of the little orphan boy and pull him in.
It is a chilly, blustery, Friday evening in November, rain drizzling down the windows of Hummingbird Yoga Studio, the time registering 5:26 pm. A few last vehicles pulling up outside as friends hop out together, enthusiastically chattering, bundled up to keep out the cold. One look within the window to see a cozy room made ready, the ambiance…..fairy lights glowing, illumination dimmed, candles flickering, the atmosphere a hum of excitement. A room filled to capacity as community gather together from those experiencing something brand new, to the well seasoned practitioners. As more enter the room, each making space for mats, blocks, and water bottles. The heat and humidity levels climbing. Colorful towels spread out upon mats ready to absorb the moisture soon to be created. The calmness of some evident and the nervousness of others adding to the atmosphere.
The time now 5:30 pm, the lights made to flicker, bringing a hush over the room as each settles onto a block in a supported hero pose. Hands resting on the quads, palms turned up, finger tips light and floating, arms relaxed, shoulders rolled back lifting the heart, the tension of the day released through the softening of the jaw. The cheekbones relaxed, the eyes encouraged gently closed, and then, filled with grace and compassion for self. The scattered thoughts of the day’s journey allowed to enter on the inhale and then to slowly drift away on the exhale, cares and worries flowing freely out the window.
The attention then directed to the breath, to the beating of the heart, to the intention set, giving meaning and purpose to the practice. On the inhale, the arms reaching for the heavens as the eyes gaze upward, on the exhale the arms release and draw gently back to the sides, the motion continued in unison as the room breathes as one. The atmosphere now calm, the breath of life, like a meaningful embrace. Coming to hands and knees, opening the body, making space for deeper movement. Extending legs and arms in opposing directions, and again releasing…….repeating. The rejuvenation of the body, mind, and soul prevalent to all.
Gaining in momentum, rising from the earth simultaneously, reaching again for the heavens and then cascading back down to the earth, folding the torso forward, legs long and powerful, arms soft and beautiful. Each movement lead with the breath, deliberate, and full of purpose. The rhythm of the room building as direction is quietly spoken to reach up and out, forward and backward, side to side, extending upward and downward. It becomes a dance, a journey of healing, a vibrant hope for some, a spiritual awakening for others.
Sweat begins to trickle down the legs, down the arms, beading across the brow, the lungs expanding, muscles softening, the veins pulsing with life. The atmosphere focused, unified, existing only in the present moment. The gentle voice again giving instruction, alignment, direction…..I am safe, all is well. I open my heart to love. I make space for all that inspires me. Nourishing the entire being with the sweetness of the breath. The sequencing progressively dynamic, with options for all abilities. Challenging the body into greater depths, and allowing the breath to direct the softening, releasing, and then the surrender to the flow of life in this very moment.
Gracefully drawing the body back down to the earth, sitting tall, twisting, rotating, expanding, softening. The body squeezing out any last toxins and tensions. The mind is redirected to intention, the purpose brought to the individual’s practice this evening. The breath of peace encouraged as the body reclines onto the mat, supported by the earth beneath. The knees then hugged into the chest, positions taken to lengthen, to gently stretch the muscles to the last of their full capacity.
The breath now washing over you like the ocean tide, leaving jewels, pearls, the glitter of the seas……taking back with it all that you surrendered. At last, the feet are free to soften to grow heavy, and sink into the sand. The legs are soft and heavy, sinking into the sand beneath you. Each part of the body now given the opportunity to soften, grow heavy, and sink into the support of the earth. You notice only your heart beat, thoughts no longer present, you have drifted into your sea, floating, hovering. The angelic sound of a voice, singing over you, filling every cell of your body as you are lifted from your mat and levitating somewhere between heaven and earth.
Longing to remain suspended in the stillness of this perfect place in time. But, gradually the body settles back down, touching the earth once again. The finger tips wiggle, the toes awaken, the breath deepens, wanting to hold onto the emptiness, the nothingness, the present state of just being, existing in this wrinkle in time. The breath drawing the knees upward toward the chest with ease, as you rotate over into a fetal position, cradling the head with your arm, the abdomen is soft and sinking once again toward the earth. Pulling in the breath of gratitude, sighing out gratitude for the sharing of a Heated Flow practice with all in the room.
You are encouraged to inhale peace for self, and exhale peace for the world around you, next compassion, then love. Each word resonating with your soul like never before. As you guide the body back up into a comfortable seated position, the hands are brought to the heart center. A unified inhale…….exhale……..inhale, then the vibration of “OM” filling the room, the sound of the universe and the sound within the womb. Representing the state of bliss experienced by all tonight.
You hear the soothing voice of the instructor once again, speaking a prayer over you, “May you be protected on your journey. May you be nourished from your practice within community. May your life be an inspiration and blessing to all. May you work with positive energy with those you meet. May you love the world you live in. Peace, peace, peace. OM……. Inhale fully together, and a long sigh out as one. The light in me, sees, loves, and recognizes the light in each of you. Namaste. Just Breathe.
With all my love to each of you who attend Hummingbird Yoga Studio.
Please click on the link below to see our current offerings at Hummingbird Yoga Studio. We look forward to serving you!
Abuse/Violence comes in many forms. Abuse to self, others, children, animals, the world around us. Abuse is so common it is heart breaking. Where is the Love the Love the Love?….The Black Eyed Peas sing a profound song, one I have listened to for years. A song so very popular, because it is so very true……”Where is the Love?” Discrimination only generates hate, racism, outrage, war, animosity, violence in the home, on the street, behind closed doors. What’s wrong with the world today? Where is the love? Where is the truth? May we practice what we preach and turn the other cheek? Father, Father, Father help us, send some guidance from above…….
October is National Domestic Violence Awareness month. I started my blog one year ago, sharing some true stories from my existence of over 10 years suffering from domestic violence in another country. Now over 6 years later, I am still claiming new victories every day. From the outpouring of my thoughts, and sharing my truth in word form, over 60 countries have checked into my blog/my life. It is astounding to me to read the messages that have been written to me from around the world, from others who can relate to what I have endured. I am grateful that my sufferings have become my strengths. I pray that your sufferings become your strengths, to bring more love into the world around you.
I had no idea that sharing my heart would inspire Hummingbird Yoga Studio into existence. A studio for more than just the art of exercise, but a place to come “home” to, a place to rest the soul, the mind, and the body. A place to share, to listen, to learn, to love, and to grow as an individual. I have been in tears of joy and have loved every day since sharing my heart with those who come in through the doors of Hummingbird Yoga Studio. To be a voice of truth, recovery, strength, hope, love, light, and joy in the darkness…….it is an honor and sweetly humbling to serve our community in this capacity.
When we see only darkness and hurt, suffering and pain, tragedy and sorrow, it seems there is no way out. But, there is an inner strength we have all been born with to rise above all odds! Know that whatever suffering you endure, there is a purpose, and there will be a silver lining……….to share your hope, your breakthrough, your truth with the world, with those who may be suffering from a similar situation as you. Do not stand in your own way, keep the voices in your head in check, rise above, conquer, and know that there is a Being much stronger than you, the One who created you, sustaining your very existence. The earth supports you every single day, feel the ground beneath your feet, look to the heavens, watch as the seasons change, listen to the spirit in the wind.
My son was so excited to share a song that was introduced to him by a close friend, a song by The Script, “Hall of Fame.” “You can be the greatest, you can be the best…… you can move a mountain…….” Wow! Great to hear positive uplifting songs for this generation of kids. “You can go the distance……..you can walk straight through hell with a smile…….do it for your people, do it for your country, do it for your name…..be a champion, be believers, be leaders!” To this I say YES! Live your life, live it to the fullest. No hardship you endure is in vain. Strive to find the rest, find your breath, heal your soul with the things that inspire you in life! And I challenge you to uplift and inspire others along the way.
When your world starts crumbling around you, and it will, pull yourself up with the support of those you love, those you trust, your community, your tribe, your church family, your significant other. Stay strong! Life is too short and too precious to waste time dwelling on what could have been, what should have been. Breathe in the moment, live in the present, gently hold sorrow like a butterfly, grieve for as long as you need, hold on to what is important in your life. But, do not hold on so tightly to what you think you must have, want, or need, for this will only hinder you without an open hand to receive more of the goodness and blessings that are awaiting you. Release, believe and live!
If nothing else….. just be, just smile, just relax and surrender to the flow of life. May you proser on your journey, on your path, rewrite your script today!