One year ago today, I opened Johns Creek Yoga.
It seems almost impossible that I am already celebrating this first anniversary, and yet virtually everything about my life has changed over the course of this year.
As joyful as that opening day was, when I unlocked that door on February 13, 2012, my life was in ruins. Two months prior, my husband of 20 years and I had separated under paralyzingly painful circumstances, my children were struggling, I was healing from a major surgery, and I had no idea how I would find the strength to support my dream. All I knew was that I NEEDED this. A tiny voice had been whispering to me for years saying "more...you need more....there is something more...find it...build it." And when my husband moved out, the voice became a scream. I had no choice but to listen. I was yearning for a community of authentic, introspective people: people who were committed to making the world and themselves better and kinder; people who were thirsty for knowledge about the mysteries of the universe and interested in exploring the depths of their souls for answers. The creation of the studio was an "if you build it, they will come" invitation to people I didn't even know, and as much as I wanted them to show up, I was wracked with fear and doubt and my vision was clouded by the trauma in my life.
In the midst of my despair, I dove into my own yoga practice with a vigor that I never had before. I woke up early to practice and meditate, I took breaks from readying the studio to practice more, I ended each day with Pigeon Pose and more meditation, and I broke into a million pieces in the process. I shed more tears on the mat in those first few months than I knew a body could contain. And I healed. Little by little, day by day I grew stronger.
What's more, I learned more about the power of Yoga during that time than I had in the whole 12 years I had practiced prior. All of the lovely words and philosophy, the information about the energetic body and how it connected to emotion, suddenly became completely visceral. I KNEW, without any doubt, that there was a completely whole, perfect, calm, strong, capable Self at the center of my being that could sustain me if I could access it. I knew it because I could access it on the mat. I found peace there and it began to seep into my life off of the mat. I found strength there, and it began to sustain me off the mat. I found compassion there, and it allowed me to forgive and leave the past behind.
While I was healing, every day, amazing, inspiring, compassionate people were showing up in my life. Students came trickling in until they became a steady stream of visitors. Most of them had no idea what I was going through on a personal level, but their enthusiasm and willingness to explore the depths of their beautiful multidimensional selves inspired me. The teachers I had hired out of nothing more than gut instinct became dear friends and trusted colleagues. The friends I had had for many years held me in their arms and carried me through on the days it seemed too much, and something magical happened. I fell in love.... with yoga and with the beautiful Sangha that was emerging at JCY.
As I look back today, I believe that all I went through was necessary. Every day is more joyful than I ever dreamed possible. I feel deeply blessed, and I think that perhaps the losses I suffered then were necessary to clear space for this incredibly rich and full life that has emerged.
On opening day last year, I copied a poem that inspired me into my journal. I wrote it there as an intention...a wish...I hoped that at some point I would grow to feel completely aligned with the sentiment and the words. Miraculously, I can say that today it speaks for exactly what I feel. I share it with you as a reminder of the power of intention in your life, of the rewards of honoring the cry of your soul, and of the inexhaustible resiliency of the human spirit.
Now I become myself. It's takenTime, many years and places;
I have been dissolved and shaken,Worn other people's faces,Run madly, as if Time were there,Terribly old, crying a warning,"Hurry, you will be dead before--"(What? Before you reach the morning?Or the end of the poem is clear?Or love safe in the walled city?)Now to stand still, to be here,Feel my own weight and density!The black shadow on the paperIs my hand; the shadow of a wordAs thought shapes the shaperFalls heavy on the page, is heard.All fuses now, falls into placeFrom wish to action, word to silence,My work, my love, my time, my faceGathered into one intenseGesture of growing like a plant.As slowly as the ripening fruitFertile, detached, and always spent,Falls but does not exhaust the root,So all the poem is, can give,Grows in me to become the song,Made so and rooted by love.Now there is time and Time is young.O, in this single hour I liveAll of myself and do not move.I, the pursued, who madly ran,Stand still, stand still, and stop the sun!