It’s been way too long since my last post. The summer has gotten away from me, but not without imprinting wonderful memories in my soul. On July 22nd, my boyfriend Charlie, the man of my dreams, my best friend, love of my life, proposed to me. It was wonderfully romantic, but I won’t bore you with details that are special only to me. And then on August 19th, we got married. We decided on a Saturday morning that we were just going to go ahead and do it, making our union legal and figuring out the details later (like, moving in together, having a “real” wedding, etc.). My daughters and a few of our very close friends were with us. The setting was simple yet beautiful, on a horse farm that is owned by an older couple (the husband officiated, the wife took pictures). The alter where the ceremony took place was just behind a small stone cottage that had an old bell hanging from a post nearby (which apparently had a custom attached to it that the bride and groom would ring it after the vows). Tiki torches were burning along the wooden steps we descended as we walked arm in arm towards the alter, and the late afternoon light allowed the warm Virginia air to glisten. My bouquet was made by my friend Juli, and it was a brilliant display of reddish-orange-gold calla lillies. Juli helps run the horticulture department at the National Gallery of Art in Washington, DC, and if you’ve been there, you know what goes into the landscaping and floral displays. You just have to visit the Rotunda at Christmas to appreciate her work. We celebrated with dinner at a little French restaurant downtown, where our friends surprised us with a wedding cake and table favors. We celebrated, we laughed, we cried happy tears, and my heart expanded that night like it’s never done before.
So now I’m a married lady. Not a big deal in the grand scheme of life, but I’m living my life, and it is a big deal. Roll back 10, 20, 30 years and I would have never, ever conceived that the life I have today would be possible. I was living at the bottom of an abyss, darkness consumed my soul, depression defined me, I saw no other possible life except the one I was living then. And I would hardly even call it “living.” I was just barely surviving, waiting for the end. But the end didn’t come. And the days passed. Then weeks, then months. And I was still alive. I’m not sure how I got from wanting it all to be over to deciding that since I was still on this earth I might as well do something with my time, but little by little, taking baby steps, I got myself to another place. Not a physical location, but a place in my mind where it wasn’t so scary to be awake. It wasn’t a smooth uphill by any means. There were incredible challenges, tests, obstacles. But just as I believe you can will yourself to die, you can also will yourself to live. That’s where I feel yoga helps. Yoga can take away the fear of tomorrow, the anger of yesterday. It can keep you Here-And-Now. And that’s all we have.
I see people individually for yoga lessons, but often times our sessions include life lessons as well. I can honestly say to them that their depression, their illness, their situation “doesn’t have to define” them, because in hindsight I realize that I allowed my depression, my situation, to define me. I was a “sick person.” I was reduced to a series of diagnostic numbers in the DSM III. My clients can learn how to empower themselves through mindfulness, moving their bodies, controlling their breath. The idea seems simple, and yet I’ve witnessed the power that yoga has to take someone from barely being able to tread the waters of life to being able to stand on terra firma. “Feel your feet grounded in the earth” is something we hear all the time in a yoga class, and yet we need to remember that we can be grounded in the earth. Stand up right now and take your shoes off. Feel it. We can tell ourselves that the slings and arrows that are hurling toward us don’t have to knock us down. As long as we feel the earth under our feet, as long as we can draw the breath into our lungs, we have hope. We must never give up. All I have to do is look at my new husband, and I’m glad I didn’t give up.