Yes, in 30 days I will turn 60. So, I decided to do this 30 to 60 blog because I feel there is a lot of stigma around aging in America that you don’t find in other countries. I hope people both younger and older get something out of this. I’m choosing to share some details about my life to set a foundation for where I am now. I’m learning to let go of shame and regret and stand in authenticity. Vulnerability equals strength! It is possible to grow older with power and grace!
For a long time I lied about my age. I didn’t want to be defined by something so superficial. However, when I turned 50 in Costa Rica, surrounded by many of my closest friends, I was proud of who I had become. You see, life was really difficult for a very long time. The first half of my life I was totally lost. I didn’t know that until I wasn’t lost any more. It was yoga that woke me up.
I lost my way at a young age in 6th or 7th grade when I lost my main purpose, gymnastics. It all started when I injured myself practicing my routine for an upcoming competition in my yard. I was doing a round off double back hand-spring, one of my specialties. On the second back hand-spring our family dog ran towards me. So instead of landing on my hands, I landed on my head. I remember not being able to breathe or talk (throat chakra). The kind people at the hospital slapped a brace on my neck and sent me home. This was the beginning of all of my cervical spine issues.
Since I could no longer do gymnastics, and I was pretty darn good, I started looking elsewhere for stimulation. In the summer between 6th and 7th grade I got lost. I met a boy who lived on the next block, and he gave my some kind of drug. He said it would make me feel really relaxed. It was acid. He was older and really cute so I tried it. I remember being on my first acid trip right in front of my parents. We were out in our backyard sitting at a picnic table eating dinner. There were eight of us keeping them busy, so they had no clue. I had no idea how that choice, as unconscious as it was, would change the course of my entire life.
I do believe that everything happens for a reason and that I wouldn’t be here writing about getting to the age of 60 if it didn’t. But why did things have to get so hard? I suppose it was simply my karma and all of those hard times made me the person I am today; a person with a big heart and intuitive nature that lives her life completely open to the possibilities. But back then I had no idea what I was doing to myself. How I was allowing others to define me. Or why all of my decisions were merely to make everyone else happy with no regard for my self worth. I still feel like I have a long way to go, but I try to remind myself how far I have come.
I was a middle child. They say we are the lost ones because there is nothing special about us since we are not the oldest nor the youngest. Stuck in the middle and invisible. That’s how I felt. I searched for love and acceptance in others. I compromised my health and well being to impress and be seen. I was beautiful, no doubt, but only on the outside. Inside I was terrified of being exposed for who I thought I was. I hated myself. I felt ashamed. I lived in shame. It was taught to us by the nuns.
High school was even worse. I was a regular drug user by then and had no intention of following anyone else’s rules. I thought I could win if I rebelled against authority. I felt alone and clung on to other kids who were even worse off then myself thinking that would give me some sort of power. I surrounded myself with other misfits that my father referred to as hoodlums. We got in trouble regularly, got kicked out of school and did illegal things to get money to buy more drugs. I was at an all time low and I was clueless.
Fortunately, every time I stepped to the edge of disaster there was a tiny voice inside of me that whispered in my ear to stop. It reminded me that if I went any further it might be the end of the line. A couple of times I told myself I didn’t care, at least I wouldn’t have to feel this way any longer. Luckily I didn’t truly believe that for some reason. I now know that was my intuition speaking to me. Or maybe the voice of God watching over me. I was a child, a teenager, a young adult, but I had no idea who I really was or what I was capable of. I had no purpose in my life.
It wasn’t until I was in my 30’s that yoga found me. My life was still a mess, although I was finishing my two college degrees, making pretty good money working a couple of jobs, and living away from my family for the first time in my life.
I was really stressed out and felt like I was losing control of my anger. I didn’t like that because that was how I was raised, with constant anger. I feared it. And when I saw it in myself I prayed for help. So when I noticed a poster on the wall at church one Sunday announcing a yoga class I thought it might be a sign. I had no idea what yoga was but I tried it anyway.
In my very first class I felt something. Yes it was powerful physically. But there was something different about this and I knew I wanted more. I sat on the floor listening to my first teacher talk about things I didn’t understand. Something deep inside of me knew this might be for me, not just to practice but to teach. It took a year of regular yoga classes every Saturday morning for 2 hours before things started making sense. I had listened to Mataji say the same things over and over but now I could actually hear her and I understood.
I asked for more information and she directed me to books like, Autobiography of a Yogi, Yoga, Youth and Reincarnation, and Eat Right For Your Blood Type. I read everything she recommended and I loved my practice. It wasn’t until four years later after graduating and moving back to Michigan that I decided to take a teacher training. I wasn’t sure what was next for me exactly, but I knew I loved yoga and that it was making me a stronger more authentic person. I was on my way.