Today We’re Getting Personal

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Let me tell you a story.  Instead of the usual posts about kids yoga let’s mark the 100th anniversary of International Womens Day (IWD), by getting to know the women behind the yoga. Today we’re getting personal.

Its easy to wear blinders as we ride the merry-go-round called planet earth.  To not see our companions, real people, with real hearts and real heartache. A big part of IWD is to come together as women and help make each other stronger.  This would be great to do everyday, but March 8 helps me remember to do it.

I’ll go first and I’d love, if you can, for you to share something too.  Maybe a comment or a link back to a blog post about yourself.  This post (whenever you may be reading it) is for building a sense of solidarity, connection, and community.  It may even help someone see a little light at the end of the tunnel.

I’m going to share three personal things today:

  • My life started in polyester.  Both my parents worked to make ends meet. They had three kids by the time my mom was 26 and my dad was 28.  Now, it seems strange to have a family at such a young age, but it wasn’t strange at all back then.  Many people started families young.

A Family Picture at my First Communion

That’s me in the middle.  Its a favorite picture of mine because I feel so cozy in the middle.  I was always in the middle of my two sisters which probably helped me become a better mediator.  This photo reminds me of my spiritual identity, which began with me feeling like a Princess of the Creator.  It’s how I still want to feel.  Plus I really rocked the jaunty crown.

  • Flash forward, here’s me speaking at the big IWD rally in Toronto.  This was in 1995 when hundreds of women joined together for the Women’s Day parades which marched right down Yonge Street, the main strip in Toronto.  I used to do social work before I became a yoga teacher, mostly working with the homeless.

Here I'm giving a speech about poverty issues at IWD in Convocation Hall, Toronto (the woman beside me is signing what I'm saying - cool!)

Two of my best friends were there (thanks Brenda and Catherine for taking the pic of me!).  We were standing up for children even back then!  I thought I had the world all figured out.

"Hands Off Daycare" Women standing up for those who can't stand up for themselves.

  • Then three years later my life changed direction when I was sexually assaulted at work.  Its been sixteen years since that happened and for the first two years I couldn’t talk about it without either breaking down in tears or getting angry at someone.  I was not fun to be around.

The rug had been pulled out from under me.  Everything I thought was real, turned out to be an illusion.  I thought I would be smart enough that it wouldn’t happen to me.  I thought society would dish out some justice but the charges didn’t hold up in court.   I thought it was the worst thing that could happen, but it ended up changing my life.

Yoga like Archer Pose showed me how to set the mark!

Looking back now I can see that that depressing time eventually led me to greater happiness. I did months of therapy, tons of yoga, and eventually left social work to became a yoga teacher.  Now with my blogging and teacher training I feel so grateful to connect with others and help uplift children all over the world.

But as I said, I didn’t know this in the midst of my pain.

If someone told me back then that the sexual assault would be the cornerstone of a new life, a happier life, I couldn’t have believed it.  The Masters suggest that through inner strength greater happiness is possible.  By getting to know who I am, I began to feel like the Princess of the Creator again.

Still, how do we help others who are in pain feel that happiness is possible again?  By speaking our truth. Today, let’s remind each other that while we put on a brave front that we have everything under control, we have all gone through our share of heartache, we are not alone.  Out of tragedy, happiness can triumph.

I think blogging is so popular because that’s exactly what is happening:  Women sharing our stories with other women. Now won’t you share a piece of your story, here or with someone you love, a story to uplift others.  Women, we are not alone. The only thing that is constant is change.

To all around the world:  Happy International Women’s Day!