My whole body, and then some...
My Edge

I think of my edge as that place where the human experience and the deeper self – the soul – the essence – the divine – meet, and sometimes collide. Those moments when we begin to awaken. When we FEEL. When we realize that we are so much more than this body, this space and time -  and tune into our intuition, our fears, our resistance, our pain – all in an effort to return to our true self – who we TRULY are.

As a child I encountered my first edge at the age of 11 when I finally told my sister that my brother had been molesting me. It happened in a moment of anger – I couldn’t hold in it any longer. It was the scariest thing I had ever done. It felt so BIG. So much bigger that me. But deep inside I knew that it needed to end. That I deserved to move beyond the abuse, the confusion, the intense pain, and the resulting self hate. I felt fragile, alone, and scared but I dug deep inside of myself and followed my gut.  I opened my eyes. I opened my heart. I moved beyond the pain, if even for a moment…I started to awaken.

From a very young age I learned to stuff down my feelings. To pretend. To avoid the edge at all costs. That communication was dangerous and feelings were even worse. I learned that silence was the answer. From that silence grew a pain that couldn’t be ignored. So I didn’t ignore it. I addressed it  – I found the edge with drugs. Whatever, whenever, as much as I wanted. I did it. I sold it. I OD’d on it. I lived my life around it. I lived my life on the edge. It showed me more than what I knew. I felt love. I felt a greater meaning in life, a greater connection to the people around me, and I found a deeper part of my soul. Perhaps it’s unusual to look back on a decade of drug use and abuse with such a fondness. But it was what got me to my edge, and my edge is what got me HERE.

Motherhood has definitely pushed me to my edge. If you can’t dig deep for your child, who can you dig deep for? I have learned patience, understanding, compassion, and PURE love from my son. Being so blessed to be his mother carries with it the responsibility of being the best me I can be for him. This requires constant work. A constant pushing up against the edge. With the extreme love that you have for your child comes the other extreme – pain. You ache for them. You feel dropped to your knees and raised up to the heavens all within a moment of each other.  In these extreme moments of motherhood I find my purpose, my mortality, that place where my human experience meets something so much larger than you, or I. I find a love so perfect, so divine, and so never ending that it exists beyond this time and space, beyond this body, beyond this human experience. I find my edge, and I smile in gratitude.

There are times in our life when it all just bubbles up. Like hot lava, so thick, so undeniable that you have no choice but to wade through it. To BE in it. That hot lava feeling started for me during my last marriage. He was depressed. Horribly depressed. He was negative, and reclusive, frustrated and miserable. His pain, my pain – the pain of multiple miscarriages and a marriage crumbling beneath me boiled up. The urge to run from the pain subsided and the need to STAY forced itself in – the edge appeared. It was a 40-day transformation. It was yoga. It was journaling. It was meditation. It was exactly what I needed. From that edge I could see my path so clearly beneath me. It was beautiful. And open. It was where I was going – but not where I was. The view from that edge allowed me to see not only where I had been – but where I was called to be. From that edge I spread my wings and jumped – with complete abandon, despite the fear, despite the worry – I jumped as high as I could and as I slowly descended – the net appeared. The net was divorce, the net was leaving my career, the net was following my heart, living my truth, meeting the love of my life, going to teacher training, finding forgiveness – for myself and others – the net was teaching, was Leap, was Yoga, my yoga community, my passion, my path, my love, my purpose, my light. From the edge I jumped and careened into the light.

From the edge I continue to float, finding new edges along the way. Sometimes the view from the edge reminds me of where I’ve been. Sometimes I see where I’m headed. The view behind me is not always so pleasant. The view from the top is filled with light that illuminates all of the shadows beneath, exposing the cracks and crevices, exposing the shadow and the darkness that lives within the cracks. It can be scary and unpleasant. For most of my life I’ve tried to avoid this view – choosing to move away from the edge and gravitate towards solid ground. But there are times when I’ve felt pushed or led there. Like I have no choice but to step up to the edge and just take it all in.

At the end of 2012 I was called to the edge and I decided, yet again, to jump. The edge was ayahuasca, a medicinal herb from Peru in the form of a tea. Ayahuasca takes you on a journey that exposes it all - dark and light. It takes you to the edge and shoves you off. I plummeted into the darkness, opening it up, cracking it wide open and allowing the light to penetrate through. I felt my insides literally ripped out, and years of pain exposed, dissected and ultimately destroyed. In the absence of the pain rushed in light, love, clarity, strength, understanding and healing. From this edge I found the courage necessary to tackle the next edge, and the next, and the next.

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A letter to my son…

Dear Dean Paulo,

My beautiful, sweet, loving, compassionate, emotional, selfless, affectionate little soul. You sprung from me in the most beautiful and magical way. The pure representation of everything beautiful and raw inside of me.  I see you. I feel you. I hear you. I long to shield you - protect you from all that is evil in this world.

Loving you with such intensity has given me the highest of highs and the lowest of lows that life has to offer us. I love you so intently. So deeply. It’s beyond definition this love. This gift.

I worry. Yes, I worry. I worry that your heart will be broken more times than it will be filled. I worry that you’ll put others before yourself in a way that leaves you depleted. I worry that you’ll inherit the same insecurities that your Dad has carried with him his whole life. I worry. And then I worry some more.

I guess this is the job of a mother – to produce something so perfect. To be given such an incredible gift and then work your whole life to protect it. But….I would NEVER trade it because it is the reason I am here. YOU are my reason. My sense. My peace. My serenity. Through you and with you it all makes complete sense and anything of lesser consequence suddenly falls away in the face of YOU and all that you are to me.

I don’t have all of the answers baby. I don’t always know what to say to make you feel better. I can’t always erase the pain that I SO long to. But I can love you. I can support you. I can be there for you no matter what. No matter when. I can come to you, ask the questions I need to ask, dig a little and encourage you to let it out so that you feel better. I won’t be that kind of parent that says, “I’m here if you need me.” and leave it all up to you. I know that never works. I communicate best when someone drags it out of me so I’ll assume you are the same.

My hope and dream for you is that you love with reckless abandon. That you dig deep and do the work you need to do ON YOU to be the best and most incredible Dean Paulo you can be. I pray that when you know pain – that love and acceptance is waiting on the horizon in mass amounts. I pray that you’ll work hard, play hard and never give up. I pray that you’ll know failure – followed by success beyond your wildest dreams. I pray that you never lose your compassion and empathy for others. The fact that you have had those qualities since you were born is so mind blowing to me, and just one of the many reasons I love you so. I pray that you’ll leave this world a better place, just because you were in it. I KNOW YOU WILL! J And mostly I pray for you peace and perspective so that you understand that the most incredible things in this life, in this crazy journey called life, have absolutely nothing to do with material things, but instead it all lives within the beautiful perfection that is you.

With all my love,

Forever and then some,

Mom

Jean & Joe - a love story

Breathe. Just breathe. It’s over. The Roller Coaster that has been my life has finally pulled into the station and damn, am I relieved! The highs have been many and, luckily, well worth the lows.

I feel like this blog has been being written in my head for weeks. It’s getting it all down on paper that is the tough part. I made the conscious choice to publish my truth – with that comes a sense of fear, vulnerability and nervousness. But that’s why I do it. I think it’s important for the reader, and a source of growth for me. So here we go…

Last Friday was my Grandpa Joe’s Memorial Service. 21 gun salute and all. He would have loved it. He DID love it. Two days ago was his Birthday. He would have been 94. Maybe it’s because I’m older now, but saying goodbye to a Grandparent seemed a lot more intense this time.  My grandparents were Jean and Joe. Married 63 years when Jean died. I was extremely close to my Grandma. Her eyes lit up when I entered a room. I felt her love so intensely and I returned it every chance I got. She took care of me when I was little. I’m sure I was the only Kindergartener that came home for a snack of liverwurst on rye to an old German woman with blue hair, a limp, and plastic runner covered carpets – but I didn’t know anything else and those memories and experiences made me who I am today.

When my Grandma passed away 12 years ago we assumed that Grandpa Joe wouldn’t be far behind her. The sparkle faded from his eyes and he smiled infrequently. He looked lost, frail and sad without her. But in those post Grandma Jean days something wonderful happened between my Grandpa and I. Something only he and I will understand. He softened in a way that words can’t quite capture. When I looked at him I saw tenderness. Something I had never seen in him before. And our common love for my Grandma seemed to bond us in a beautiful way. I came to appreciate our time together so much. Holding his frail hands. Looking into his cloudy, sweet eyes. And always exchanging “I love you” before I left.

In those later years I also gained a sense of my Grandpa that I hadn’t had before. An understanding and respect for what he had been through and where he came from. He never talked about it much but when he did you could see that there were no regrets. No feeling that he’d been cheated out of something better. My Grandpa was an orphan. As was his sister. They were placed in an orphanage when my Grandpa was 8 and his sister was 5. The years prior to that I can only assume were rough and meager. There were drugs, alcohol and prostitution in the days prior to the orphanage, and sadness and loneliness after. When he was 16 he hitchhiked to Chicago with a buddy, got a job in a factory and met my Grandma. What started with an accidental grommet to the eye became a love story I could hear over and over again – and never tire of.

They’re our Grandparents. They’re where we came from. They’re why we’re here. Without them we would not be who we are. Without them we simply, would not be.

I never thought I’d be excited to be a Grandparent. But I am. And I can’t wait to tell my Grandkids the story of Jean and Joe. Everything they went through. And ultimately how they ended up - happy, in love and dancing in heaven.

WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE INANIMATE OBJECT?

my Ganesh statue

Ugh!!!!!!!

If you could scream through keystrokes I’d be yelling at the top of my lungs. I have so many frustrations with these damn letters. These damn words that are SO INADEQUATE to express everything that lives, breathers, swirls & lurks inside of me. But this is all I have. These are the tools. As inadequate as they are. This is what I have to express, refresh, heal and share – with you. Who are you? Friend? Stranger? Client? Sister? Whoever you are. Hear me. Know that I know what you’re going through because I’ve not only been there and done that – but I probably fucked up 10 times worst than you did in the process.

I had a doctor’s appt this week – for my knee. For some bizarre reason it’s been bugging me since starting the 6 day a week yoga thing. My friend told me that you could request they not weigh you. Wow I thought. That rocks! I am SO going to do that. And so I did. And their response? Um, that’s not an option. If I don’t weigh you the doctor will. So I stood facing away from the scale. And then? Well, during the damn exam the doctor brings up that I’ve gained 10+ lbs since my last visit and that I really need to lose some weight. Uh, No Shit Sherlock! Jesus Christ man! Have you no mercy? Do you not realize what this will do to me? And thus the sabotage began…

It began with a 2 bottle of wine dinner, progressed into banana cluster nut cereal, proceeded onto 1 missed yoga class and more eating (a Panini WITH the bread – Dear God I never do that!), it then moved on to the reflection of the fastest person I’ve ever seen staring back at me from that damn full length mirror I insisted on putting in my bedroom, and ended swiftly with yet another missed yoga class and the thought of spending my entire day, wrapped in PJ’s hiding under the covers.

So, now what? So now I write. And I think. And I forgive. And I move on. And I realize that I am my own worst enemy on the best of days and that it needs to stop. I can’t go on like this.

I visited with my Grandpa yesterday. He’s 94. What once was a vibrant man with the cutest pop belly is now an emaciated shell of a human being. The pain of seeing someone you love so much waste away can not be expressed in words. As I witnessed his skin and bones frame it struck me how completely insignificant our obsession with weight and our body is. MY obsession with MY weight and MY body. Because at the end of your days, when your body fails you and all that remains is a fragile skeleton to support what once was, do you really give a shit about those 10 lbs? 20 lbs? 30 lbs? No. No you don’t. Because what matters is the time. The laughter. The love. The energy that you brought to this world.

I need to remember that.