Hello sweet friends,
It has been many moons since I have felt an urge to write from a true place, not a place of pushyness or expectation. As many of you who practice with me know, much of my personal work and work that I lead in classes and workshops is about honoring the medicine and advice we give out to others. Oh how easy it is to see what other people need to do, heal, change, etc., and how hard it is to put your own knowing into a consistent practice in your own life. The forever challenge of the healer and teacher! We are the worst. Ha!
I deal with a lot of internal pressure to constantly produce, to reach out, to offer. I have so many ideas, so much I want to offer to the world, so much I want to accomplish and steward. For the majority of my last 6 years here I have been pushing myself hard to offer just about every little thing that comes to mind, every whim, every yearning nearly immediately put out into the world to be picked up or not. It was a necessary time, a time of learning my capacities, of seeing the deeper reasons behind the near constant obsession to produce.
You see, I grew up in a wild and unruly way. I grew up with a lot of trauma, with parents who were equally traumatized and did not have the inner resources to ask for help in anything other than drugs and the bottle. It was a childhood of intense love confusingly smashed up alongside immense loss and pain. My parents were loving and passionate people, but also addicts who were never really shown how to properly deal with pressure and pain. From an early age I was breaking up fights, having the cops come to the house, worried to death that they would kill each other if I didn't interject. I am the oldest of 3. I was not the child who could sit by and wait out the fights, I had a deep drive in me to MAKE IT STOP NOW and really anything that didn't feel right and so that is what I did for better or for worse for most of my life: fight. I wasn't shown any tools around acceptance. I wasn't prepared for the darkness. I hated it and I had to make it stop. What a tiring little life it was to fight so hard against what is.
When I was 10 years old my brother Sam was diagnosed with a deadly brain cancer at the age 8. We found out he had a brain tumor after being in a major car accident that left my brother with a concussion. When they scanned his head they found the tumor. Needless to say it was a devastation to our family. Naturally we were caught in absolute dread coupled with trying to have hope that this sweet little boy would find a miracle to get through this.
My family was not religious but I had been to church with close family friends and explored religion when things got rough. My childish mind thought, "If Amy's family is normal and goes to church maybe that is what normal, healthy people do." So I walked myself down to the christian science church down the street from my house, not understanding that there were different sects of religion, not knowing really what I was doing. I was searching vast and deep for some meaning behind all this pain and suffering. After we were in the accident -- though it was terrifying -- I also remember having a sense that something - something BIG - had been looking out for us that day. Something had guided us as gently as it could toward the knowledge that my brother had cancer so we can could start to deal with it. A deep chasm ripped itself into view that day as if everything was now in slow motion: so very terrible but also so very alive. I learned to experience the moment that day, in all it's vastness; adrenaline is a wild thing. I also learned the preciousness of life and the depths of my love that day. In some distant awareness inside I felt held, even as absolute darkness was closing in. As life would teach me again and again, it was ALL OF IT, so I also felt cheated, angry and confused. I felt hatred for this path that had been laid out for my family. I wondered if we were cursed, if I was being punished. I felt it all. It would take me many years to realize consciously that I could choose to make anything good out of that time in my life.
I share this story because I think it is important to our healing to understand the roots of our darkness so we can practice compassion with ourselves and make different choices moving forward that aren't based in old pain, resentments and patterns that don't serve. I share this story to show you a tiny window into the work that I have done in my own life to find wholeness and to understand why I am driven to make the choices I have.
The story of my brother ended with him dying at 13 years old... in my arms, in my family home on November 11th, 1997 after many years of courageous fighting and supreme grace. It was the most transformative and beautiful moment of my life. It also broke me. He is to this day one of the most important teachers I have had and will ever have. Not surprisingly the toll that time took on my parents was a heavy cloak of darkness they did not know how to remove. Though my parents loved me greatly they did not have the energy or tools to know how to care for themselves in a healthy way through all that was happening. As the saying goes, the empty well cannot give water. They were depleted, angry, and unable to be there for me and my sister. I felt that I was left behind. I think my parents saw that I was strong. Born strong and meant for this unfolding. But I was still a kid. A kid who needed to be reminded she was loved, who needed to be reminded that she was good, that she was not crazy, that what was happening to us was insane and it was natural and normal to feel what I was feeling.
When I decided the close the studio it was because I had an intense realization that all that pressure I felt to keep pushing myself to offer more more more, to create healing space for people, to create community and belonging - although partly altruistic - had a whole lot more to do with a deep yearning inside me to have those spaces for myself. That space that I was not given, that space that I had not been taught to create for myself. I would create class after class, workshop after workshop, offering after offering and though I was satisfied for a moment in fulfilling a need for others that I understood so deeply, there was no energy or room left for me to get that space for myself. I didn't know how to give it to myself. I know now that I do this because it was what I learned. I know now that I did this because I wanted that feedback from the world that I was a good and worthy person, I wanted what my parents weren't able to give me back then. I was trying to heal old wounds through these offerings of myself.. I know now that though I am deeply called to healing and helping in this life that I cannot continue to do so until I have practiced what I teach and given myself the same amount of care and attention that I so easily give to others.
This practicing what I teach is a daily work. Some days are better than others. Some weeks are stronger than others. Some years more fluid than others. I know that this is a natural part of the unfolding, of the healing. It takes time to create new pathways, new ways of seeing the world and of being. Though I want a magic wand that will take my pain and the pain of this world away, a wiser part of me knows that pain is essential to our wholeness as human beings. It motivates change. It helps us see ourselves and what we are contributing to it. We cannot fully understand the pain of another without having dove deep into those same spaces within ourselves. This new year I am working on honoring my rhythms, of only offering from a place of true inspiration. The uncomfortable space for me is the waiting, the being with the liminal space, and practicing grace in the times of not knowing.
This new year my prayer for the world is that we find the permission and courage to start uncovering our old stories so they can be dusted off, sifted through and then transformed into something we can use, something that can motivate our purpose in life. I pray that we especially look into the hard stories, the traumas and darkness, the mistakes and ugliness. How can we heal the ugliness in the world if we have not found compassion with our own? How will we ever find wholeness and peace when we are making others wrong or less than ourselves? We heal from holding space for all that is and trying our best to let go of fighting things we can't control. Believe me I know it is hard during times like these. I also pray that through looking into and understanding ourselves through these old stories that we can start to let go of them and allow ourselves space to become new. Set intentions of health and happiness, not resolutions that fill you with shame if they are left unfulfilled. Be soft and forgiving as you would want others to be to you. Treat yourself as you would want to be treated.
Self care is of the utmost importance. If you'd like, join me in choosing one thing per day to commit to that which brings you joy and a sense of nourishment be it a home cooked meal, or a hot bath, or 15 minutes to sit with your heart and hear what it has to say. Start with small, simple and attainable things. Schedule them in like you would work or a dinner with friends. Be an advocate for your own healing and I promise the positivity trickles out into more and more of your life. I will be working breath by breath by your side.
With Love & Deep Appreciation ~