Finding My Strength - A Safe Place

The new year is almost here, and as the holidays come and the new year moves closer, it is easy to look back on all of the things that you are missing. It is easy to get lost in missing my sweet boy, the excitement of Santa, and knowing that a whole new year of possibilities, growing, and learning was just around the corner. It is easy to drown in how much I miss my sweet, handsome, Matthew. Today, I choose to hold on tight to my little ball of love and light, but also focus on what I have found this year. With a little help, I have found strength and grace and gratitude.

Sadness and grief have a way of stealing more than many people realize. Of course it takes your joy and comfort, but it can also take your motivation, hope and sense of purpose. Once you lose those, it is hard to pull yourself up.

On my birthday, in May 2015, my husband got me a gift card for yoga classes and a brand new Manduka mat. He knew that I loved it and had done it off and on for a few years when I was able to find the time between having two kids and dealing with all that comes with having a child with autism and epilepsy. After losing Matthew just two months before, I was struggling to find motivation and purpose and he figured that this would be good for me. He was right, of course, but I was not in a place to find the motivation to go. So for two years, my new mat sat in my closet, with its label still firmly wrapped around it. From time to time, over the next couple of years, I would think, “Hmm, I really should go to a class.” But I never got as far as actually going.

It wasn’t until, July of this year (2017) when packing and unpacking for our Matthew’s Helping Hands’ events, I noticed that things seemed to be getting heavier and heavier. Not that it was the new activities or crafts that I had never lifted before, but the things that we bring to every event (rice bins, weighted blankets, water beads, etc). I had gone from being able to lift a 10 year old Matthew and carry him all over; as well as all of his stuff and lug his very heavy chair in and out of the car all day long, to thinking that 20 pounds of rice was super heavy. With my grief from missing Matthew and my lack of motivation, I had lost all of my strength, both mental and physical. This is what made me realize that it was time to do something. I looked at my yoga mat and signed up for a class at Enlighten yoga.

I set the bar pretty low. Knowing how much energy it took me just to get out of bed and stay out until what was an “acceptable” bedtime, I also knew that if I pushed too hard, I wouldn’t sign up for a second class. Not only did I sign up but I went! The second I walked through the door, I was glad that I did. I was greeted by Dina and Katrina at the front door. The were sweet and warm and anything but pushy or overwhelming. Even the air was easier to breath than I had felt in a long time. I started with a Basics class. I fumbled and struggled to concentrate enough to just know my left from my right and I had to modify every pose because I didn’t have the muscles to do it all. I wasn’t pretty or graceful but I had gone and done it! I am not sure who the teacher was that first day (I could barely remember my own name some days) but I remember feeling encouraged and at ease. For sixty minutes, I had concentrated on holding myself up, not falling and breathing. For sixty minutes, I wasn’t swallowed by grief. I went home and checked the schedule online for to sign up another class.

Keeping the bar low, I set a goal to go to three, level appropriate classes a week. That meant Basics and gentle (I didn’t even want to push to level one). I kept signing up and I kept going. There were days that I wasn’t motivated but went anyway, knowing that I would be so glad once I walked through the door. Over the past several months, I have graduated to higher level classes and average six days a week, taking workshops and trying new classes whenever I can. I have found that if I keep raising the bar slowly (as Jan would say by “millimeters and decades”) I will always have to concentrate on something new. I now know the names of the teachers who’s classes I’ve taken and though many of them may not realize it, I send them all gratitude everyday. They are all different and amazing, offering encouragement and light at every class.

There are still days that I struggle to get motivated and there is not a single day that I don’t miss my sweet, handsome boy. But I know that if I can just walk in the doors of Enlighten Yoga and unroll my mat, I will have that time to feel peace and calm. I have found my safe space. Somewhere to focus the feelings and energy that have had nowhere to go for quite some time…

Today is November 29th, 2018. Why does that matter? Because I just sat down at my computer to write a blog about “safe spaces”. With Halloween and Thanksgiving having just passed and Christmas and the New Year’s right around the corner, we are smack dab in the middle of the holiday season and once again, I find myself struggling with missing my sweet boy. The difference this year, is that I find myself thinking, thank God for my yoga and for a safe place to practice it. In these heavier moments, it makes all the difference to have somewhere safe to go and be wherever I am in my head at that moment. That is what I sat down to share. When I opened the website to start writing, I came across the post above.

For over a year, this place has lifted me up and kept me moving forward even in the times when all I want to do is to go back! It has given me strength and support and now, just picturing the studio in my head brings a sense of peace. Since I wrote this last year, I have been going to yoga 6-7 days a week, I am in teacher training and beginning to think about sharing this light with others. It has taken time, for sure and some days are much harder than others, but I am able to get up each day and breath and get through the day with grace.

For me, Enlighten Yoga is my safe place where I am able to be myself and be okay with wherever I am on any given day. It has helped me to realize how important it is to everyone to have a space like this! A place that they can go and feel supported and safe. This place will look different for different people, but the feeling of safety and support should always be there.

My sweet Matthew has done it again!! He has given me the opportunity and inspiration to provide a safe place to the families of Matthew’s Helping Hands. I am honored to be able to bring support and light to all of our amazing children and families.

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