Recently a video has been resurfacing on the internet and several friends have sent it my way. It shows the incredible transformation of a partially disabled veteran who discovered yoga as a tool for healing. To watch Arthur Boorman slowly evolve from precariously walking with crutches to energetically sprinting is nothing short of extraordinary. Still, it's not a miracle per se, but a man dedicated to changing his life, step by step, moment by moment.
I know the commitment it takes to turn a life around, and it's not simple, nor is it fast and easy. For more than twenty years I've been making choices one by one which have allowed me to shed the skin of who I used to be in order to become more of who I am meant to be. Some say it began when I discovered yoga shortly after my thirtieth birthday, but I know the practice found me after I had already catapulted myself out of the rut in which I had been living and onto an unknown and unclear path.
In my early twenties, I was following all of the rules: I finished college, got a job, bought a house, fixed it up, went to church on Sundays, and volunteered most every other day of the week. I was being a good girl, or so I thought. I worked hard and focused on creating that which I had been taught to want, but all I created was a host of illnesses and anxieties because I could not measure up to what I thought I was supposed to be. Yes, I was being a good girl, but I had no idea what it meant to be a healthy woman, so I threw away the yardstick and started making vastly different choices, ones that would take me 180 degrees away from where I was living in depression and grief, but also repressing it because I could not make peace with myself.
Enter meditation and yoga and Rolfing and a host of other healing modalities that would peel off the layers of my past and allow me to integrate them in ways I had never known were possible. I spent endless hours hiking alone at the park or working in my garden to become more grounded and whole. I spent more time listening to my body's messages and answering them with a healthier diet and sleeping schedule.
Most importantly, I stopped listening to the incessant messages from the outer world and tuned more deeply into my inner muse which intuitively knows the way through the darker forests of my imagination and always leads me to a bright, beautiful awakening on the other side.
When I'm working on a novel, there's always a space in time where I start to lose my foothold on sanity...just a bit. My mind splits open as I delve into the character development and leave behind the notes and outlines on my desk. This past week I've had late nights working on THE LACE MAKERS and find that whenever I try to stick to the script, the story gets jammed. But when I allow images to flow through my mind's eye, writing is nearly effortless.
Just last night I abandoned my plans for one of the main character's story and just went with what I saw unfolding as the words spilled out onto the page. I'm not at all sure what I'm doing or where it's going, but to get to this point in the process allows me to know that I'm on a better path than the one I had originally planned. It's not a complete 180, but it'll do for now until I can move through the darkness of the mystery as it leads me to the light of revelation. It happens with every manuscript, so I'm used to this space of uncertainty and trust it more than I trust the pile of notes cluttering my desk. Having faith in the process is a choice I continually make, especially when I'm feeling stuck or unsure of what will happen next.
It's a choice I've learned to actively weave into other areas of my life as well.
Last summer my Rolfer invited me to speak to a panel of students in his advanced class. Tony wanted me to talk about my incredible transformation over the past sixteen years that I've spent working with him to evolve my physical body, which in turn has evolved me in ways both tangible and intangible. As I was sitting in his waiting room waiting to be invited into the session, I could hear Tony talk about a patient who needed extensive work in the head, neck, and jaw and how his new technique was proving to be incredibly effective.
He was showing photos of this client as well and I heard one of the students say, "You wouldn't even know it's the same person." As I entered the room, I was surprised to see before and after pictures of me on the screen. Then I saw one of the Rolfers Tony had trained more than ten years previous who had practiced a five-series on me in the summer of 2000.
"Katie!" Kim beamed. "I didn't even recognize you!"
I gave her hug and said, "You were a big part of this change."
She nodded. "Yes, but you've kept it going."
As I sat and chatted with the students, Tony referred to my photographs. "What do you think would have happened to that girl on the left if she didn't have intervention?" he asked.
I looked up at the shot of me at twenty years old and smiled sadly. "She would still be circling the drain," I replied quietly. "Living a miserable life and never knowing what could be possible."
Tony then nodded toward the shot of me taken around my forty-second birthday. "And what about that woman?"
I lifted a finger and spiraled it upward. "There's no end to her healing and evolution," I smiled. "She's learned how to keep moving up...and I never want it to end."
Yesterday my longtime friend, Nancy, sent me the video of Arthur's story, and to thank her, I shared the before and after photos with her, writing, What a difference getting healthy can make.
She wrote back, I remember you (then); what I remember most is your unhappiness. 180 degrees, my friend!
Occasionally, I think about my life twenty years ago when I first began to unravel who I thought I was supposed to be in search of someone for whom I had no tangible roadmap. I know I'll never be finished and what a blessing that is...to have faith that I can always turn my life around by making a different choice. And then another one...and another one.
For I've learned there are endless second chances to begin anew.