Sunday, January 30, 2011
I LOVE the #batshitcrazyyoga crew. It's grown but started as me and three other women including Debbie. We've had several more join in on the madness. We use Twitter and texting to communicate our yoga plans for the following day or a few days in advance. On any given day, there is a Twitter conversation between us on who is going and what studio we're attending. The yoga studio has several different locations with various times, so we try to accomodate schedules. Some of us go more frequently than others. Unfortunately, my work schedule restricts me from going as much as others, but I try to get there 2-4 times a week. Some weeks are easier than others for me. I'm now at 72 classes. I've been every day for the last three days and it feels great (though my legs are currently jello).
Over the last ten years, I've joined three gyms, completed a half marathon, and bought countless workout tapes. I never stuck to anything past three months. I've been doing yoga for well over six months and don't want to stop. I've finally found the exercise that is right for me. I agreed to yoga to get Debbie off my back about it. Figured I would try it once, hate the heat, and be done with the obligation. I don't like heat (it's a mere 98 degrees in the room for the main class we take). I don't like to sweat. I don't like exercise. Why on God's green earth would I possibly like yoga? I don't like it. I LOVE IT. I'm watching it transform my body and strengthen me. I've lost two dress sizes without starving myself. I eat healthier but I have been on a nontraditional nondiet since August (that's a post for another day--my breaking free of emotional eating). Clothes fit again.
I'm challenging myself. Yoga is a discipline that takes years to master. I am better at some poses than others. I can't hold the standing bow position for a full 60 seconds without falling out at least once. It took me over 30 classes to finally be able to be comfortable enough to go back far enough to get camel pose down better. I'm determined to one day be able to do the crow pose, but I'm nowhere near it yet.
I am fortunate to have the #batshitcrazyyoga crew. It's nice to work out with them. Rarely do I go on my own. At least one other is usually there. I never do as well without one of them on a mat next to me. There is something about having that person next to you with a like minded goal and determination there to support you that makes all the difference. We may also mouth a few cuss words to each other when we're exhausted or when someone just rocked a pose so much that it deserves a "holy shit!"
To my batshitcrazyyoga crew--thank you for the encouragement and support you continually provide. Namaste, bitches! :)
Monday, January 24, 2011
I think I've had an epiphany of sorts. The realization of what I've been through in the past seven years and where I am now. Now is good. It's better than good. It scares me to say it so much that I begin to choke up or cry when I do, but I'll take the leap and say it--I'm HAPPY. Not just faking it happy, or happy at parts of my life, I'm truly, genuinely, overwhelming happy. I can literally feel the difference.
The thing is, I *thought* I was happy before. I thought I was good. As it turns out, I've been faking it for years. So well that I had even convinced myself I was alright. Immediately after Allie passed, I launched myself into keeping busy. I volunteered at the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, substitute taught, co-founded Heroes for Children. I worked to help make a difference and keep my daughter's memory alive. I was fine. People marveled at how fine I was.
I was fine until, simply put, I was NOT fine.
My breakdown this summer showed me just how not fine I really was. I've realized how little I've actually processed her death in the past six and a half years. Yes, I've made large speeches and presentations about Allie and her cancer treatment. The truth is that when making those speeches and talking about Allie, I found a way to be mechanical and business-like. I could separate myself from the situation enough to talk about her without emotion.
I went through the motions in my life.
Speaking of emotion, I hated it. Rarely would you see me cry over my loss. That's not to say that I didn't hurt or feel that pain. That's to say that I couldn't bring myself to allow that much pain to bubble up to the surface. So, I would eat instead. I'd stuff those emotions right back in with ice cream and cake. My weight fluctuated for years. As Debbie told me the other day, I was so afraid of being happy or finding happiness that I self sabotaged. I would hit a point of feeling good with my weight and feeling happier and I would start to feel the grief bubbling up. The pain coming to the surface was enough for me to destroy it all over again and begin gaining weight again.
In the past six months, I've faced my grief head on. I didn't run from it. I got help. I opened up my heart to the pain. I cried. My GAWD, I cried. I cried as much in 2010 as I did when she died in 2004. I don't think anyone really understood how badly I struggled during this time, not even Andrew. I tried my best to keep it private, though people knew I was in pain. I was "sick" more than once this summer where I just couldn't go into work or function. Andrew didn't know what to do at times. I finally hit the point of literally not wanting to get out of bed that I avoided when I first lost her.
Somewhere along the way, I got better. Yoga helped. Medicine helped. Friends and my husband helped. I lost 20 plus pounds without dieting. Can you imagine? The literal weight of my grief was wreaking havoc on my body. I still have weight to lose but I'm finally working towards it.
I've finally realized just how incredibly sad I was with my life.
I'm happy now. My children are AWESOME. My husband and I are happier than we've been in years. YEARS. I'm over the moon, ridiculously, butterflies in my stomach, IN LOVE with that man. I've been with him since I was 17, and I feel like a teenager again. He says he feels the same way. We are happy in this home and our life with our family. We're solid.
I still cry. I still miss her every day. However, now I let myself feel that emotion and not run from it. Now, I feel a lot less mechanical and more relaxed and comfortable. People keep mentioning to me that they SEE the difference, beyond just the weight loss. They see me show emotion, smile more, be happy, relax.
I'm still a grieving mom. I guess I always will be. At least now I can be a grieving mom who has still been able to find a way to find happiness in my life.
It feels good.
Friday, January 14, 2011
In November 2004, two moms who had lost their precious daughters to leukemia partnered to start a non-profit and help fellow families with a child battling cancer. Now, more than six years later, Heroes for Children has donated over $3 million to thousands of Texas families facing the economic and emotional burden of a child undergoing treatment. What started as a way to help others through one of the hardest times in the lives of two mothers has grown to become a lifeline for many families who had nowhere else to turn.
I am extremely proud to be one of the co-founders of Heroes for Children. The words "your daughter has leukemia" literally changed every facet of my life; I was a wife and mother, living out my childhood dream of teaching. For the past six years, Heroes for Children has helped me through one of the darkest periods in my life. Along with my co-founder Larissa Linton, I am proud of our success as an organization. Never in our wildest dreams could we have anticipated the support and growth Heroes for Children has experienced thanks to our loyal donors, dedicated Board of Directors and volunteers.
In celebrating the organization's success, I'm also cognizant of where and how the organization still needs to grow. As I look forward to the year ahead, I've made the personal decision to step down as the Executive Director and return to teaching. I strongly believe this is the right decision for the organization and for me personally. This transition will allow me to continue helping families in the fight against childhood cancer while returning to my love of teaching. My decision makes way for new talent with the experience to help Heroes for Children make even greater strides in the non-profit arena for years to come.
As a co-founder, I will remain an active member of the Heroes for Children Board of Directors. My passion about Heroes for Children grows with every family we touch, and I am committed to continuing the mission Larissa and I developed when we founded this organization.
A search committee designated by the Board of Directors will begin the process of hiring a new director in late February with the goal of hiring someone by the beginning of May to allow for training and transition in June. I will remain the Executive Director of the organization until mid-June when the transition is complete.
I truly appreciate the support of the Board, staff, and of course, my wonderful family in making this very difficult decision. I know I will have your support as well and your continued involvement of this amazing organization as we look to grow and mature in new ways to help more families touched by devastating news Larissa and I know all too well. Please feel free to contact me with any questions at all; I am happy to share this news with you in greater detail.