About 6 years ago I had an employer tell me that when I said (sang) "Good Morning!" he expected sparkles and sunshine to come shooting out of the air behind me - that I was just so "damn cheery."
This is still one of my favorite compliments I have ever received.
Optimism has always come pretty natural to me, though I would be lying if I told you I never felt discouraged or overwhelmed - it can happen to even the MOST positive of people, and it certainly happens to me from time to time. And - it wasn't always this way. Though my intrinsic tendency is to "be positive" or optimistic, I also had a really dark side to my personality that lurked in the background and started taking over my life.
And it's not a big dramatic thing, in fact, if you were an outsider looking in - you might not even notice it. But it was a belief about myself that ended up making me really sick.
In the years leading up to my 30th birthday I was experiencing a whole gambit of crazy symptoms - anywhere from getting dizzy and blacking out to extreme headaches and numbness in my face. I was told for years it was stress related and that I needed to slow down. As a single mother working full time and preparing for grad school, this just wasn't an option. In the summer of 2010, my face, one side of my neck, and both arms and hands went numb - and it wasn't going away.
After several tests and long weeks of worry, my doctor confirmed an MS diagnosis along with IIH (Idiopathic Intracranial Hypertension). When we sat down to discuss my prognosis, he did not have good news. The first thing he wanted to tackle was the IIH, because at this point the pressure in my head was dangerously high and could at anytime cause a stroke. We talked about how if unmanaged, the two diagnoses together could be a catastrophe for me as a young mother. Blindness, paralysis, strokes, cognitive issues, organ failure...these are all the things we talked about that day. I left feeling very hopeless. I left feeling like I wouldn't be able to watch my girls grow up - and if I did make it that long - I would surely be an embarrassment and burden upon them.
I went home and google searched "Multiple Sclerosis." At the top of my search page, where the image search displayed, there was a row of stock photos of people in wheelchairs. Cue emotional breakdown.
It started with one book
I came across a book not long after my diagnosis called You Can Heal Your Life by Louise Hay. What Louise wrote about physical disease and spirit resonated with me, and my intrinsic optimism kicked in. I realized that how I lived was not in alignment with what I valued, and what I believed about myself and my body was making me sick.
See, even though I have a natural tendency to be optimistic and helpful, it also came with a flip side. I constantly felt like a victim of my circumstances - I constantly felt like I gave until I was empty, but didn't receive the same from others around me. I felt as though I HAD to sacrifice my own time, money, health, and sanity for others. I was always feeling somewhat slighted - no matter the circumstances - and even though outwardly I projected an attitude of cheeriness, within my own body it was causing a lot of problems.
So I made some changes within my own thoughts. I decided that YES! This is an outcome of my own thoughts and beliefs and if I had created this disharmony within my own vessel, that I could, in fact, un-create it.
And that's where my personal development journey started - with an undesirable diagnosis and a book. The woman who sat in that neurology office going over devastating MRI results no longer exists. She is part of who I was, but no longer part of who I am. I am often overwhelmed with gratitude that this is the case.
For the past 8 years I have been working on my mindset and beliefs pretty steadily. Now this isn't always an intense immersion in self-mastery, there have been times I have intentionally worked on it and times I have passively worked on it, but in the grand scheme of a better part of a decade, a lot of work has been done and it has 100% changed my life. (If I ever forget how far I have come, all I have to do is take a look at my memories on Facebook. What a freaking CRYASSBABY I was back then!)
A New Pathway
Yes, mindset and belief work is critical in aligning with your intrinsic self and living your best life - but it's important to remember the physical part of our beings while we are walking around on this incredible planet. While the mindset and internal alignment has done beautiful things for my health and my life, it's time to shift focus and align my physical body with my emotional, mental, and spiritual body. It was the resolve to work on this that created massive change in my life - and well, to put it frankly - propelled me into a virtual vortex of learning, opportunities, and growth.
I quit my high-stress job to focus on my health. HOLY SHIT you guys it was scary as hell and at the time I really had zero ideas on how I was going to pay my bills and feed my family. But it was something I absolutely needed to do. I was sliding back into victim and "poor me" mode, and my emotions and body were paying the price.
I then did another really crazy thing. I signed up for 200-hour YTT with a local yoga studio. My yoga practice up until this point was sporadic at BEST, nonexistent at worst. I signed up for this with no clue how I was going to pay for it, but I trusted my intuition, the circumstances, the universe, and most of all - myself. I mustered up all of the good things I believed about myself and talked myself into believing I could - and would - do this.
Welp. I have officially been sucked into the VORTEX of the Yoga world.
Yoga gave me the tools to heal my relationship with my body.
And now I help other women do the same.
So much of our lives are lived in shame or guilt, and it's time we changed the narrative on that. Now more than ever, we have to make room for everyone to be themselves and accept themselves.
Learning to love my body has opened up more possibilities for me than I could have ever imagined - and I know it will be the same for all women as they peel away the years of guilt and learn to meet themselves with compassion.
The principles of yoga are present in my daily life; on and off the mat. From the way I show up in my own life to the type of parent I want to be - even the type of spouse, every day I have a choice and I now have the self-esteem to make choices that are nourishing to myself and my family, rather that feeling like a victim of busy-ness and overwhelm.
And that's pretty bad ass.