18 April 2013

Life as a care bear

Last week a friend of mine told me that I remind her of a Care Bear - mostly likely because I tend to view the world through rose coloured classes.  I am, most definitely, a glass half-full kinda gal - choosing everyday to look for the best in a situation and for the good in people.  This week however I feel like Grumpy Bear as my current view on the world took a beating.  The only problem with living in a Care Bear-esque world is that when humanity disappoints, it really breaks your heart. 
Last night was a not uncommon battle in my head of "should I go to yoga or stay here cuddling with Ruby?"  Even with an impending thunderstorm I decided to just go in hopes that a good sweat would take my mind of all this and try to center myself.  The moment I walked into the hot room and felt the warmth surround me I began to let go.  Laying on my mat waiting for class to begin it was a struggle to maintain my composure.  I could feel my closed eyes welling up with emotion as all my thoughts of the day pounded in my now still mind.  As our teacher came in to class to welcome us and help us set an intention for our practice. I must admit that at first I tried to tense my face and hold them back but at one point I knew I needed to just set my intention, calm my breath and let them go.  My intention was peace.  In our world.  In my own world.  In my mind. In my heart.  

I've been trying to hard this week to deal with the feelings that are so deep in my soul and quite honestly that I thought I had made peace with.  For the first few months following 9/11 it was hard to talk about being there but it was the only way to try to make sense of it.  There was definitely survivors guilt - wondering why my life was spared when so many perished.  I thought that the more I tried to talk about it that eventually it would make sense but that's the catch - it can never make sense because an act of terror of that magnitude is completely senseless. Then eventually I stopped talking about it and tried to move forward because life carries on.  I used that experience and decided to try to seek happiness and be grateful for each day.  My life had to have been spared for a reason and I was determined to live my life fully as honour to those that did not survive.  It became part of my own personal philosophy to say "I love you" more without worrying what the response would be.  I tried new things and made a crazy amount of "bucket lists" and starting crossing things off.  I paid respect to the lives lost each anniversary of Septemeber 11th by sitting and listening to each name being read - so thankful that my name was not on that list.  That my morning at the World Trade Centre was scheduled for September 12th.  

I used to hope that one day I would forget the clouds of smoke or the insanity of people hurling themselves out of the trade centers - body parts & random items littering the streets below.  I hoped that I would stop cringing every time loud fire engine and ambulance sirens went past me.  I hoped that I would forget the looks on family members faces searching for their loved ones that night.  I hoped I would forget the fear.  Part of me hoped that one day it would be a distant memory.  

But on Monday, when those bombs exploded and there was chaos everywhere - with injured people everywhere and good people rushing towards them to help - it brought all those feelings back.  Remembering how it felt to be in our hotel rooms that night with every channel broadcasting the horror and wondering if we would wake up.  Wondering if there were bombs underneath us in Grand Central Station or next to us at the UN Building.  Seeing the streets of NYC empty except for armed guards with very large weapons.  And I realized I will never forget - it will always be a part of me and that's ok.  Because I am survivor and I could not be who I am without having that experience.   New Yorkers rebounded - forever changed - but the city pulled together and eventually regained it's vibrancy.  Boston will do the same.  Marathoners will do the same.  If we can maintain focus on the people who ran toward the explosions to help.  If we can share the stories of people opening their homes to stranded & confused runners.  If we can remember that we are blessed with people who do more acts of kindness than acts of terror.  Hopefully we will all eventually heal from this and move forward remembering that we must do good with our lives.

I made it through the rest of my yoga practice but then in our final shavasana I again could not control my tears as they ran down my face and mixed in with the sweat on my skin, cleansing me of the despair.  It was in that moment I did finally feel at peace and grateful.  And happy.  And alive.  

Maybe that is a total living in a 'care-bear kinda world' thing to say but I've been blessed with my life and that's the way I want to live it.  I want to be Tenderheart bear and Friendship bear and yes maybe even Grumpy bear from time to time in order to remember that though bad things happen, there are so many good people there willing to help.   I admit I got caught up in the feelings of sadness this week, unable to see past the despair and the hatred of this act.  It was overwhelming to remember but now as we see people running in solidarity for the people of Boston and we hear the crowd at the Bruins game sing the National Anthem in unity, I know that hope is stronger than fear.  The people of Boston & the runners of the marathon will carry this with them forever, just as I will carry 9/11 with me forever.  Let us remember that we are all affected by something - we have been broken but we heal.  We have been hurt but we regain strength.  We are charged with task to love each other, help each other and make sure that kindness overshadows evil.  

15 April 2013

prayers for Boston

There are a lot more people in my prayers this evening as my heart aches for those in Boston.  My heart aches for all of us - in a world where such senseless violence takes place and where people, children, lose their lives because of a coward.  As with many things in life,  you can't fully understand something until you have gone through it.  Unless you are a long distance runner, it will be hard for you to understand the sacredness of the finish line and the prestige of running Boston.  It doesn't matter how many races I've done but I can tell you that each time I cross the finish line - knowing that my body and my mind are both equally spent - I cry.  I am overcome with emotion that I did it, that I pushed myself physically and mentally and made it over that finish line.  There comes a time during the race where it becomes a race within yourself.  When physically your body is telling you to stop and you have to rely on your head to convince yourself to push through - run harder - don't quit.  The runners who qualified for Boston are amongst the best in the world - they are an elite group of men and women who worked hard, sacrificed and pushed themselves to get to this historic race.  There is no reason for this type of violence to occur - let alone in the last few hundred metres of the race where finishers should be celebrating and crying tears of triumph.  

Next month I will venture back to NYC to attend a trade show in lower Manhattan.  I'd be lying if I said I wasn't feeling emotional about this return.  It's been over 11 years since I was last there on 9/11 but as I start to think of going back, it has brought to light so many of the feelings that still remain within me.  I'm not fearful of anything happening again while I'm there but I do think it will be an emotional return.  I'd like to see the memorial site and hopefully find peace, forever grateful that my name is not amongst those that perished.  Today's events brought back the feelings that we went through that day and in the days following 9/11.  The sound of all the sirens.  Seeing people bloody and dazed, laying in the streets and chaos all around them.  People running, people trying to help.  The unsettling notion that other explosions could still be planned to later detonate - fearing that your life is still, in a way, in jeapordy.  Again, it's not an emotion that I can really describe - honestly I don't really want anyone else to have to know that feeling.  

All I can do is say an extra prayer tonight and hopefully put more good into the universe than the bad that rears it's ugly head.  For those that made it out unscathed and unharmed today, be grateful and know that it's ok to be grateful.   Runners know that hard is what makes it great.  Running in the rain and snow, getting up at 5am to get to a race, losing a toenail or having blistered feet - the hard makes runners special.  We are kindered (or crazy) spirits.  We run because it's who we are.  I run because it clears my head, because it makes me conscious of my own strength, because it makes me a happier me.  I know it's not good for my knees or my hips but it's good for my heart - physically and emotionally.  To all the runners, especially to those not able to finish, you are amazing and I am sorry that this triumphant moment was taken from you by senseless violence.  To those who lost their lives or who were injured - you didn't deserve this.  You were there out of love and support.  Please know that I will keep you in my prayers.  It should have been all happy tears today at the finish line. May you all eventually find peace and heal.  xo 

08 April 2013


Impermanence. That was the intention put forward in my Moksha yoga class today.  It's true that nothing in life is ever permanent.  People, possessions, locations - all go through some sort of change at one point in our lifeSome things are in our lives for a long time and some just pass through like a whisper of wind.  Change is sometimes scary but at the same time, invigorating as it gives us the opportunity to begin again.  Every ending, be it with a tear or a smile, is in turn another beginning.  The impermanence of life may mean that a good thing must come to an end, bringing with it the pain of letting go.  But congruently, impermanence also means that said pain is also temporary.  At some point, it ceases to consume us and perhaps helps us find a way to move forward.

Today my mother dropped off a Rubermaid bin of mementos that I stored at my sisters house when we moved overseas.  Items of special significance but from highschool & university days, so not necessarily items I wanted to ship back and forth from Canada to Finland.  It's likely been four or five years since I looked through those items.  There were mixed tapes, tons of pictures, journals with so many of my thoughts & dreams, letters from friends, poems and so much more.  The box was most certainly filled with love.  I alternated between laughing and crying as I poured through everything, flipped through photographs and read words that friends had written to me.  I can only hope to be the woman that they see me as.  If I can be even half of the way their kind words describe me, it will make me proud.  

It's true - nothing is permanent and eventually things will end, people will leave us, possessions will be lost - but what we are able to carry in our heart will live as long as it keeps beating.  Sometimes I pray for peace within myself to be ok with the impermanence of it all while doing my best in the day to day.  Today my intention in class was for a friend who is struggling to let go of love and consumed by the inability to move forward - may they find the strength within themselves to know that the pain they feel today will eventually subside.  May their heart mend in such a way that they are able to love again.  May we all embrace the impermanence within in our lives and live in such a way that the things which matter most to us remain always in our hearts.  And in our Rubbermaid bins.