Over the past 26 years I’ve heard the phrase ‘time heals all wounds’ so many times it became to mean nothing to me. I thought that no matter how much time had passed I would always be sad and angry about what happened on that terrible day. Today proved me wrong.
Twenty-six years ago, on March 8, 1987, this happened. It tore my family apart in more ways than anyone could imagine. We weren’t the first family to have this happen and sadly we wouldn’t be the last – this week’s news about another officer being killed in the line of duty added to the list. Sad.
The first few years after that horrible day, I don’t really remember clearly. Coping mechanism I’m sure. During a few of my teenage years I was lucky to have found an interest and was involved in army cadets which kept me relatively out of trouble and in enough of a routine (even though my family moved multiple times throughout these already difficult years) to feel as normal as a teenager could in my situation. Otherwise, I’m sure I would have turned to all sorts of other ‘coping mechanisms’ that likely would have landed me in all sorts of problems. Then I hit my 20s… moved out on my own (only to return sporadically throughout the first few years) and had a sense of freedom but didn’t know what to do with it. Couldn’t focus in school. Couldn’t settle on ‘what I wanted to be when I grew up’. Dropped out of school – not once, not twice… but three times – not finishing anything and have the debt to prove it. Moved around more and eventually found myself settled in Calgary. Made a lot of friends wherever I went and had a really fun couple of years. Suddenly I’m in my 30s and trying to piece my life together as a bonafide adult. I think I’m doing pretty good so far.
Every year has had its struggles in more ways than I’d like to list. But I wouldn’t be who I am today without having gone through each and every experience – whether I liked it or not. Last year ended up being a fine balance of being the hardest and the funnest. I ran this. Biked this. Spoke at this. Attended this. I did a whole bunch of other things too but out of all of them speaking at that parole hearing was obviously the most significant and changed my life in more ways than I anticipated. It was the culmination of the past 25 years of my life. There was a lot of introspection. Epic amounts of talking about myself and my past. More sharing with more people than I had ever done – ever. A lot of crying. Unbelievably therapeutic. The biggest weight was lifted from my shoulders when I spoke that day. I could… finally… really… move on.
A lot of people will always remember this day and feel sad. I will always remember this day and feel sad too… but that sadness doesn’t feel as debilitating. Finally the phrase ‘time heals all wounds’ is now true for me too.
I am not a super dedicated yoga enthusiast. However, I do try to get to the mat at least once a week to find my breath and to take care of myself in a way that only yoga has been able to do for me. Over the past few years this semi-regular attendance has helped me in more ways that I may ever know. I’ve evolved through to more difficult levels of some asanas while others I find I have a mental or physical barrier that is holding me back. However, with all of this progression I found this evening’s class was exceptionally difficult. Not because it was so hot and humid I could barely breath during most positions and transitions. Not because my muscles felt like they were tied in knots. Not because it was a packed studio with 47 other yogis on their mats. Not for so many other reasons why hot yoga can be a difficult thing to do – or rather bring yourself to do.
Tonight was difficult because I received an email this afternoon reminding me of something I have been avoiding for too long. This something is financial based – the root of so many problems. This something is so much bigger than I thought I could handle right now. This something reminded me of past failures and made me feel terrible – sick to my stomach. My face went pale and at the time a co-worker asked if I was alright and I was suddenly on the verge of bursting in to tears over this something.This something is embarrassing but cannot be avoided anymore. Suddenly it is time to deal with this but I don’t know how.
At the beginning of class I was feeling ok – or so I thought. I ‘thought’ I could just breath through this problem and ‘everything will be ok’. What followed is why I love yoga… especially tonight.
During one pose, camel, I felt like I was going to either puke or pass out. I could barely stand on my knees – the first goal of the pose. I had to lie down immediately and try to breath. This pose usually brings up stuff and I don’t feel great about it but can usually at least hold a version of it for the duration of the hold. While lying down trying to breath this is when the tears started flowing… I instantly felt ridiculous but my body and mind needed to release and this was how and where it was happening. I’m pretty sure that the instructor could see that my face sweat was mixed with a lot of tears for the rest of class.
Throughout the last half of the class it seemed as though her calm and soothing voice was speaking directly to me with inspirational quotes and words of encouragement while guiding the class from pose to pose. While trying to breath calmly and to find peace with the final savasana I found myself being twitchy, catching my breath, tears falling to the sides of my face under my lemongrass scented facecloth and my bottom lip would not stop quivering. I kept trying to focus on my breath. The end of class closed with three chants of ‘Om’. This simple but very powerful gathering of energy was overwhelming. It gave me goosebumps. I felt like I was going to be ok.
The one quote I remember from tonight’s class was:
We are not called human doings… but human beings.
I am doing the best with being me. I have really messed up
a few lots of things in the past, learned a lot along the way and my present and future are bright with possibilities. However, I cannot move forward without dealing with this something. This something will not just go away. Only by being honest and open and asking for help will I be able to sort this out.
Thank you yoga for helping me find my breath, focus and peace with the work that lies ahead of me.
I’m at a crux in my life. Do I continue doing the same? Or do I go for broke (again) and try something completely different? I think greater things are out there for me. It’s not where I sit on a daily basis – this I know for certain. Can I transition out of where I am instead of just leaping like I have done in the past? Being so unhappy in the present is causing great difficulty in finding a greater future. There are opportunities everywhere – I just need to grab one.
What do I really want to do? I am not sure exactly what I want to do but I do know I want to have purpose and be happy. Seems simple but the more I look around the more I see so few people have these two things in their lives – let alone in their career. Is this an impossible feat? I don’t want to believe it is.
Where do I see myself having purpose and being happy? To be honest, I’m not sure. I like so many things. Being outside. Organizing. Quiet work spaces. Loud events. Food. Helping others. Communicating. There is a career like that… right? I should probably just make that career.
Well, this is it… this weekend was the last of the ‘relaxing’. I’ll still chill and just watch a movie on occasion but there will be a lot more muscle pain and sweat mixed with lots more outdoors and gym time packed in on a weekly basis from now until mid-October. It’s been a good run of hanging out and eating whatever I want along with delicious wines without a second thought. It’s now go time. I have 4 months to crush the Ride to Conquer Cancer +200 km ride… and I have just 8 months to annihilate the Portland half-marathon with a sub-2 hour running pace… During all of this I have a slightly vain personal goal of having a defined 6-pack of stomach muscles that will be a beautifully strong, flexible and a solid core of strength and balance that will get me up higher mountains and be a benchmark for me when I turn 34 this September (wow!). I think these are pretty decent goals. Doable. Attainable. Gonna happen. How motivated am I? Guess we’ll see… now off to hot yoga for some sweaty goodness on a Sunday night!
Last fall I travelled with my bestie, Bacon, to Vancouver to attend the TEDxVancouver conference. I was excited and had no idea just how much my mind would be expanded and inspired. One particular talk really struck a chord with me. After going through the parole hearing experience last spring I knew that the justice system was only doing what it knew what to do… and it did nothing for the criminal that so dramatically affected my life. He was now a spoiled grown man that had food, shelter, training, employment and access to education for the past 25 years. However, he was loud, seemed inconsiderate to the parole board and process and he barely realized the affect his actions had on others. He actually said at one point that he didn’t know until just a few months prior to the hearing, when he received copies of the victim impact statements, the effect his actions had on us – the victims. This severely shocked and saddened me.
Just five months later I am sitting in Vancouver’s Orpheum Theatre listening to Natalie DeFreitas and her talk titled “Rethinking the Impact of Traditional Justice”. Amazing. The teachers, preachers, school principals, detention centres staff, jail wardens and staff, counsellors, therapists, police officers, lawyers, judges, families and all governement levels associated with ‘dealing’ with criminals should consider changing their approach to bring them to justice.
This is important and affects a lot more people than you may think. I truly believe the world could be a better place if criminals were ‘brought to justice’ in a way that they truly knew the impact they had on their victims and community while getting the assistance, counselling and training that they individually need… and Restorative Justice does just that!