It was during Vipassana years ago that I began to understand the meaning of this word. Mental calmness. Composure. Evenness of temper. “Could I ever get to this place of total equanimity?”, I asked myself. It is possible. However it is not easy, nor is it appreciated in the face of frustration.
This past month has been one invaluable experience after another. From complete elation having celebrated 40 years around the sun, to immediate heartache to learn someone I was so very close to, had taken his life. There was no time to allow it to sink in. In true Gemini form, I had myself spread so thin and had so many To-Do’s that needed attention. Disheartened, I dug deep to give as much as I could without falling to pieces. Few people knew, even fewer understood how much his passing affected me.
“Should I have reached out to him?”
“Could I have helped him?”
My eyes well and the lump in my throat lifts even as I type this. Selfishly, I questioned,
“What kind of a yoga instructor am I?”
“What good am I?”
“Am I even reaching the people that need this practice of finding stillness within themselves?”
“Why am I doing all this?”
These are questions that have lingered as I carried on with my days. These thoughts whispered in my mind when my friend & I shared our retreat up North. I was not at my best, but I fortunately work with someone who, despite my shortcomings that weekend, helped me get out of my head and helped me get through one of the best retreats we’ve shared so far. During that weekend, I was able to find moments in nature to acknowledge his spirit, but found that I began to question mine.
Shortly after this amazing weekend, I was preparing for a big show in the community. The week before show time, I learned that his memorial fell on the exact same date. “What do I do?” I asked him.
This was the guy that encouraged me to audition for things I didn’t think I would get (and then I would). This was the guy who would perform with me at the drop of a dime at any night club, middle of the street next to a kick-ass busker and even parades. He was a performer at heart. As I reflected, I heard,
“The show must go on” … so I dedicated my performances to him that night.
One would think after a big show, the wrap party would be flowing with the sweet nectar that helps us to forget our worries. However this was one party I could not partake in because, as life should happen, I’ve been planning and nurturing my body to prepare for egg freezing.
There were no vices to help me through the month. An equanimous mind and love from Tristan were my saving grace.
I sit here now, tender and healing from a successful egg retrieval reflecting on the chaos that was June.
Life is abundant with highs and lows. There is no death without birth, there is no success, without failure, there is no light without darkness.
“… and you begin to accept your defeats with your head up and and your eyes ahead with the grace of a woman, not the grief of a child.” – Veronica Shoffstall, “After A While”
We are bound to experience pain, but it can be matched with exquisite joy. Not everyone has the support system or the resources to learn how to heal. Despair is so hard to detect.
The last and final time I tried to take my life, I called a dear friend… I had already taken a bunch of pills and I needed someone to talk me out of taking more. The compassion and determination in her voice was enough. I hung up and called 911. It wasn’t an overnight success, I went through more abuse, self-sabotage and heartache for a few years after that phone call but I found myself earnestly looking for ways to heal myself. Vipassana. Landmark Forum. Yoga. Meditation. All. of. it. And I haven’t felt that type of despair for 7 years.
This past month, I worked with a team of amazing leaders to share Self-Care tips to help everyone learn how to start a practice that builds strength from within. When we are strong enough for ourselves, we can be stronger for our family, our friends and our community.
D, I cannot turn back time to help you through the darkness, but I hope you understand now how much you are loved and missed.