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Creating joy this year has brought me to a space that my soul has been yearning to be for over a decade. A space my spiritual upbringing has kept me from out of fear. Out of the deepest of deepest parts of my soul a song of need has rumbled, slowly resonating to my heart every once in a while. Creating joy has become my heart’s focus, and there is no fear louder than my soul’s song anymore.
In August of 2016, I hurt my back. I am calling this divine intervention because I did nothing physical to injure myself. I was doing short light workouts to warm up my muscles, but I was not my active self. I was preparing for school to start and emotionally I was a wreck. Stress had wrapped itself around every muscle, tendon, and bone in my body. At first family members thought it might be a kidney stone, then after weeks of pain and no movement we wondered if I had a pinched nerve or slipped a disk in my lower spine. Every time I tried to move I was in pain. I am not comparing my experience with my beautiful sister’s lifelong scoliosis pain, but what I went through for five months had me praying over her back in a new way. If I could barely move from this how did she keep so active with that? I am thankful I had this time to connect with her in this way. I am grateful that in my pain I could see her in a new light. Chronic pain will break you or make you tough as nails. She makes nails look weak. She is inspiring, and I love her so much more than she knows.
After weeks with a chiropractor my hip and tail bone finally decided to stay in place, my cold went away, and I could walk without being in constant pain. I couldn’t sit down without pain, however. I am a homeschool mother, I am a writer and my favorite pass time is to crochet. I sit for 95% of what I do. I started standing or walking around to teach the kids, grading papers standing at a tall table rather than snuggled up with one of my little hearts on the couch. I wrote standing up, and I put my crochet hook away for a while. I just couldn’t seem to wrap the yarn as smoothly while walking back and forth. I was miserable.
Emotionally, I was over stimulated and undernourished. I couldn’t breathe, and rage had become my response to everything. Not all of this came from my back pain, but it all seemed to settle into my hips. Honestly, it felt like every painful memory, every change taking place, and every self-destructive thought was living there in the space between my hips and spilled out and down my legs. Stress wrapped itself around the base of my spine like a snake slowly restricting blood flow to the lower part of my body.
My chiropractor told me I had to learn to stretch my body and move slowly through a couple of deep yoga poses. I left his office feeling hopeless because I have tried yoga before and all it gave me was a pain in my knees and some strange soft focused voice in my head that annoyed the crap out of me. Why when you attend a yoga class, do people start talking in that slow, airy voice that seems to take an extra 30 seconds per syllable? Why? I digress, I did what he told me to, and I cried. I have never felt more pain and more pent up emotional tension than I did laying in pigeon pose holding myself up on my elbows and begging myself to let it all go. I would lay on my back and Caleb would hold my knee up in stretches promised to release the pain and I would cry. I cried from pain, and I cried from grief. I felt the loss of my mother in every tendon, and I could sense the fear of losing my husband and children and ruining everything if I didn’t let this go.
In January of 2017, the Spirit of Truth rushed through me, giving me a focus for the year. I was to learn how to breathe in joy and breathe out joy. To create it, to share it and to live in it. So I did two things I never thought I would do. I started to see a therapist, and I began a daily yoga practice.
I was terrified of both and drawn to them out of necessity for change. In therapy, I learned the difference between rage and anger. In yoga, I learned to breathe through the difficulties both the poses, and life brought to me. I am learning to square my hips, breathe in than out and sink in lower letting oxygen flow through my body and awaken my soul.
I have not been particularly brave in my life, but this last week I took a few huge leaps that have brought me more joy than I had even hoped they would. It started with a rainy day last week. I have been waking up and sitting in my back yard, peacefully practicing yoga and writing since April. We have had one of the most beautiful springs in central Oklahoma, and it has been such a blessing to have this space. However, when it is raining, I can’t hide behind my stockade fence and quietly go about my day. So I sat on the front porch with my cup of hot water and my book dreading doing yoga with my two-year-old puppy bouncing around me wanting to play. I had just told Caleb I wanted to be brave and create a space for rest, yoga and meditation with Jesus on a mountaintop some day. It dawned on me if I wanted to be brave enough to get out of my back yard, hike up a mountain and spend time with the Spirit of Truth I needed to start somewhere closer to home. Why not practice on my front porch. After all, I live in a part of Oklahoma City known for its hippies and art culture. If I can’t practice yoga on my porch here than where would I feel free to do so? So I rolled out my mat and turned on my video.
I felt the earth move, and my soul stretched out in every direction. I wasn’t hiding behind my fence I was out on my front porch practicing yoga in the rain.
Just a couple days later I overslept and didn’t have time to have my read/write/yoga time in the morning, so I decided to be brave again. During my two oldest tutoring session that afternoon I would go to the lake, and I would take my time there while the geese walked around and the water crashed against the shore. Most days this little part of the lake is empty. It is quiet, and I find myself alone with my thoughts and my book. Not today! Today there were people everywhere. For a split second, I almost stayed in my van. Then I remembered I need to practice being brave just like an athlete practices her skills. So I grabbed my stuff and walked out to a clearing out of the way and got to work. I went through a yoga flow, worked out some kinks in the assignment that was due that evening and let my heart breathe.
I can’t tell you when the next opportunity to be brave will come, but as the rain came from the sky this morning, I went through my yoga practice without fear on my front porch once again.
I don’t know where you need to be brave. I can’t point you to the path that will lead you to where you want to be, but I can tell you it’s worth facing your fears and stepping onto the mat.
May you find that you can be brave. I hope today as you read this you feel my presence standing with you in love, and that you are not alone. Be brave my dear, let your soul stretch and breathe. You are worth it.