Christmas Grief, Sort of Uncensored

Christmas, the first one since my son’s death…might offer the truest and most raw moments of grief I’ve actually allowed myself to experience and express since his passing in February. You might think it weird that I want a record of my experience. I don’t care. Grief is real, and I know I’m not alone, although at times I truly believe I am. Someone else needs to remember they aren’t alone, too.

Our tree didn’t get put up this year. No lights, no wreath, not even a candle flame. Santa wasn’t coming to visit. Unless he was bring me Christopher, he wasn’t welcome. The only thing I had to do on Christmas Eve was create a batch of medicinal herbal infusion (tea) and try to get some much needed rest.

Of course I couldn’t rest, so I took a scroll through social media looking at pretty Christmas pictures with happy smiles, dressed up kids and homes, and lots of wrapped gifts. At first it offered some mind numbing relief, as I began to sit with the harsh reality that my son wasn’t going to be joining us this Christmas.

It wasn’t long until morning, and I couldn’t find my way out of bed. How could this day really be happening with Christopher? I can’t do this. I heard Peyton up, but couldn’t face him. I’d failed at Christmas and I felt like my heart was being pulled out of my chest. Actually, that was what I was wishing for. Time passed and I was at least able to close my eyes here and there. That is, until I had a complete come apart. My Sweet Boy heard me and left his video game to come check on me. He even lay down to let me hold him close. I calmed some, and convinced him I was OK, so he resumed his paused video game.

I wasn’t really sure I was going to be OK. I was not even sure I was going to get up to get the day started. A migraine had increased momentum and nausea was coming quickly.

I knew I needed to calm down and relax. So I lay there in my darkened room practicing pranayama and realized my state of mind could be headed to a dangerous place. I thought maybe I should call someone, but realized this was something nobody else needed to see on Christmas. Besides, I don’t know any other way. When stuff happens, I deal with it alone. Always have. But I put my friend Scott’s number in my phone dialer for a quick dial, just in case. Then I got up to prepare a hot bath with essential oils and Epsom salts. Eventually, I felt my headache lessening but my emotions escalating again.

I realized that as happy as I was trying to be for all of my FB friends whose kids have come home from college or the military, I really felt like I was being smacked in the face. Good for you. Your kid is home. Mine never, ever will be home again but thanks for reminding me! I found myself resentful for pretty and fun gifts. That’s what’s important right now? Materialism isn’t LOVE. I love my kids more than anything, but there just isn’t enough money to overindulge them. They aren’t hurting for anything, and in my heart I realized there is absolutely no reason to set myself up for disappointment if they don’t show appreciation or if they left messes for me to clean up. Yet, how guilty I felt for having not put myself through all the petty pressure of shopping needlessly and exhaustively expending time and energy I don’t have this year!

(Seriously. I bought gifts for one person, at Peyton’s request, because he is a sweet young teenager who likes a girl who likes him back. That was an experience that brought me joy, especially when a stranger and I began chatting. He was a young man who fully expressed his love for his girlfriend and her children, and he was having the time of his life spending his earnings on them. This very well could have been one of my favorite parts about this Christmas, and I told him I hope my son loves so unconditionally when he is older.)

During a meditation, I was reminded of Christopher’s Greatest Gift. It’s a gift he gave freely and open heartedly. The Gift of Time. I realized that in my own way, that is exactly what I had been trying to give my kids. At least to Peyton and Cameron. Kymberlee doesn’t need me so much anymore. (Yes, I’m dealing with that, too.)

A calmer mind helped me remember the few people who are genuinely generous with their time whether in person or through messages and phone calls. They share it so beautifully with me, even when I’m not the best of company. The gift of time with no strings attached, no expectations, no judgments, and no running off to tell everyone else what may or may not be the full truth. These are the ones I trust most, the ones most likely to really know how I am because they can see through me. These are truly precious people and their presence in my life is powerful.

Yet, here I was, on Christmas morning and I couldn’t find the motivation to be with Peyton. I was in the bath, feeling as though I was drowning in grief, when Kymberlee came to check on me. My tears weren’t hidden by the bath water, and of course her waterworks started, too. 

I was thankful she was keeping an eye on Peyton, and I told her where three gift bags were. I explained that I wasn’t able to label the bags this year, getting as far as I did was all I could handle. I told her who was to get the one that should have been for Christopher, and asked her to go ahead and distribute them. The bags were exactly alike, as were the contents, and I didn’t care if they were from me or from Santa. I apologized that it was all I could do, and she was amazing. They all were. Not one child cried or complained that they only got a small amount of money for Christmas this year.

I finally was able to gather myself and my composure a bit so that we could go eat lunch with our family at my mom’s house. It was a good day, spent with people I love, but we all felt the void. When Christopher was a baby, we started the tradition of making a Happy Birthday Jesus cake and signing before we cut it. This year was no different. My grandson did bring me pure joy when he said “Jesus isn’t going to eat any. He can’t because He lives in our hearts.”  He’s 3 and he knows what’s up! The True Spirit of Christmas, right there, Folks.

I struggled all day. Once or twice before the night was over, I typed out a message to a precious friend I had been in contact with already that day, to please, please tell me everything was going to be OK. Part of me thought I might believe it coming from him. I was adamant that I was keeping my &#!% to myself, though, so I deleted quickly. I wasn’t going to be someone else’s problem today.

I don’t know what it is about grief. It is all too easy to get lost in it. When I use the tools I’ve gained through Yoga, mindfulness and other meditation practices, I know there is no shame in it. Yet it isn’t something that can be shared easily with others. Just in one day, I experienced every emotion associated with grief, and I thought of all the ways I could numb out but didn’t. I was proud of that. I didn’t try to put on a fake smile and pretend everything was fine. It wasn’t. It isn’t. But it will be.

I found acceptance for my Christmas grieving process and I sat with everything that came up, no matter how excruciating.

And I survived. 

To those who reached out to check on me on Christmas Day, Thank You. To those I’ve seen since and my eyes leaked as you told me you remembered me in prayer, Thank You. To those who reached out through cards, calls, and text messages, Thank you. To my family, who shares this grief in their own ways, Thank You. To Christopher’s friends who have checked in and are grieving, too, Thank You. To those who pray with enough faith it goes without saying you’re praying, Thank You. To those who have presented me with gifts or other tokens of thoughtfulness, Thank You. To those who have shared your precious gift of time, Thank You. 

You are the ones who continue to help me learn how to live without my firstborn child.

Namaste, Nikki

Dealing…

Have you ever been told to Suck It Up Buttercup? Or to get over it because someone else has it much worse than you?

How’d that make you feel, as an adult going through something that may have created great despair or pain?

I think phrases such as that are fine to tell our children when they are acting like spoiled brats upon not getting their way. As a matter of fact, I should probably say something like that more!

Appropriate for everyone, though? I’m not so sure.

Two months ago my son committed suicide. I’m having to learn to live without the one who gave me a sense of purpose and a sense of belonging. I’m learning to live without one of my life’s greatest inspirations and teachers.

This passage is for me, to remind myself of my own strength, will, and determination.

Yes, I’m putting myself out there to be judged and criticized, but somewhere I know that there is someone out there, dealing with what they seem they cannot endure, and I pray this reaches them. 

“There’s someone else who has it worse than you.” Yes, that’s true, but please use that phrase with caution unless you really know that to be true. 

A short synopsis of what life has thrown at me…

Anxiety and misdiagnosed dietary/health issues starting very young. Depression and eating disorders by grade 8. Sexually violated and suicidal by 12th. Survived, after feeling unwelcome and unloved by even God during my near death encounter with the Keeper of the Golden Gates. “Not yet. Someday. You still have work to do down there.” Don’t believe in near death experiences? You should.

Unexpected pregnancy by age 19. Keep or abort this baby? Rocky Relationship, but I love him and I already love this little creation with my whole heart. Keep. I might get disowned. But definitely keep. All I’ve ever known for sure is that I want to be a mommy. Easy pregnancy, relationship turned violent. Addiction returned. Had to walk away. Tried unsuccessfully to get back together but then the toughest of love lessons came our way. I had met another who promised the world so please don’t call anymore. Probably not what I really wanted. Probably wanted him to put up a fight, but he listened. If that was my plan it backfired.

Single mom married to someone who hid his true colors well. Marriage was emotionally/financially/spiritually abusive starting day 1. Within a year, became seriously ill in eating disorders and checked into recovery facilities out of state at 84 pounds, after accidentally overdosing on prescribed medications just to try to get some rest and migraine relief. Left my now 4 year old behind. Heart broken.

Worked my butt off to stay healthy and to try to salvage anything left of my so-called marriage. Unsuccessful, but too afraid to leave. Too many threats, another pregnancy with a daughter this time. Yay!! I had been told no more kids, too much damage to my reproductive system.

Where are we going to live, though, now that she’s a toddler?! Don’t have a clue where all the money has gone, but house payment hasn’t been paid. Foreclosure. How did I find out? My aunt saw it in newspaper, and my mom asked me about it. Seriously? This is happening and I’m the LAST to know? What kind of person am I living with?? Found housing, and took over bills to try to dig us out and figure out finances. Hmmm…lots of things don’t make sense and don’t add up. But don’t question it. I’ll regret it if I even consider it. 

The news that Christopher’s father had died turned my inner world upside down. So much I could have done differently. I let it end without even saying I love you. I had lost him, really lost him forever. Could I have helped save him?

Not sure if it was too much stress or all the anti-depressants and anti-anxiety meds I was on, but I miscarried twins. A boy and a girl. Guess who didn’t care? No support from my husband, so I’ll just keep this one to myself. Most likely no one else will care either. Heavy burden to carry alone. So much sadness and grief and no one knew for years.

New house. New beginnings? Nope. More of the same. Baby boy on his way now. Cannot wait! My kids are truly my world. My whole reason for living.

Wait. Lies. Lies. More lies. Just admit the truth. I can forgive it all. Nope. Denial and more narcissistic behaviors make me think I’m totally nuts. I can’t do this anymore. It’s killing me. I’m living life as a prisoner in my own home. Please go out of town soon, or work overtime. The kids and I need to come out of our rooms and feel welcome in our own house. My kids cannot grow up thinking this normal or ok.

Get out of my house. Divorce. But it’ll be rough. The only promise he ever kept was to make my life miserable and difficult if I ever left him. Two years for the divorce to be finalized, all the while having to watch my back for his vehicle or a co-workers, or vehicle from another agency hiding around the corner watching me and the kids through binoculars. Just within enough distance to let me know their presence to intimidate me, but far enough away that I can’t call in for restraining orders. Well played, but please understand that people at my workplace are noticing, too.

Anxiety. Here, Baby Boy. This helps me. Some Yoga and Pranayama (Breathwork). And carry this special rock with you in your pocket. It has Mommy’s Kiss and anytime you miss me or feel anxious, get it out, rub it or kiss it, and remember that I’m not far away. I promise I wouldn’t leave you here if I didn’t trust your teachers. Thanks, Mrs. Principal for lovingly restraining my boy while I run off to get to work through my tears. Not only did Father choose to leave, but Mommy left her 16 year old position as stay home mom to go to work. I promise I’m not abandoning you, Sweetie. I’m doing the FOR you. We’ll repeat this process all year and have more of this experience for another 2 or three years. Whew! Eventually it does get better.

Ok…hang on tight. Here’s a ride. Thank God I know the signs of depression. Helping a daughter who had discovered self-harm and had her own suicidal thoughts wasn’t fun. How many nights did I cry through this?! Such a difficult thing to go through alone. Poor Peyton. How neglected you must feel while I try to help Sissy. What?! She’s pregnant? OK. Another baby is always welcome, plus he saved her life. Thank you, Angel Child.

Dating? Are you kidding me? How many guys do you think want to date a woman who is in Mommy Mode 24/7. Oh wait…I AM only on standby for four hours a week but I really need that time to nourish myself. Please leave me alone since I’ve finally learned that he isn’t really just going to take off with the kids and not return them! I’ve learned that it is ok to take care of me! Anyway, if you aren’t going to be good for and to me, and be willing to accept me AND my kids for who we are, then we don’t need you. Go ahead. Walk away and use whatever story you need to tell yourself to make you feel less guilty. We’ll be ok. We are perfectly imperfect and we are a chaotic mess. But we are each other’s everything.

Too much stress and overwhelm has created chronic illnesses that make it difficult to function in my everyday life. Guilt arises at all I’m not accomplishing and time I can’t spend in wholeness with my kids. Yoga and meditation help greatly but I need more support. That’s hard to admit…SIGH…

I watch from a distance as my (step)daughter goes through stuff that I’m not in a position to be able to offer help or even much emotional support, and her babies and my (step)son’s are all growing way too fast. I hate that I’m missing it. But I have never been allowed to develop relationships with the rest of the family, so this really shouldn’t bother me so much. Yet, it does. Always has.

Now Christopher.

What did I miss? I think nothing, but there must have been something? He was the one who spent the most time in counseling. His faith in God is the strongest fo anyone I know. He has so much to look forward. Graduating with highest honors, faithfully attending mass and chapel, loyal to his friends and family. What did I miss? There were no obvious signs. He worked hard, he was proud of himself for his efforts. Perhaps it was uncertainty of what’s next after College Graduation. Perhaps he was afraid of not getting into grad school. Perhaps he was afraid of being alone, starting his new chapter in life. Perhaps it was lack of sleep as he tried to excel in his classes, but he didn’t speak about his “maladies” openly to us. Or to anyone, it seems. I have, however, seen notes of encouragement left in his school mailbox. I cannot express how thankful I am for those short, sweet notes.

Because I had allowed myself to become stressed to the point of illness, I did my best to remind him to slow down. Rest. Play. Enjoy Life. He was much like me, in many ways. I could never ever deny him, nor would I want to!

He did Enjoy Life. He travelled. He spent quality time with friends. He knew what he wanted to do, and he did it, with no apologies or regrets, except that he did care whether or not his family supported his decisions. Of course, we usually did! He enjoyed life. Or so it seemed.

Robin Williams. I see now that my child had a soul in resonance with the great comedian.

Someone recently expressed concern over my being alone at my Yoga Studio at night. I assured him I take safety precautions when I’m alone, but that I’ve already experienced so much, that not much else could phase me. Sure, I could be killed, but I’m all good. Death happens, and it’s going to come to me anyway. The worst thing that could happen to me at this point is that something would take away one of my kids.

Damn. I was right about that. So please excuse me while I grieve.

Nothing. And I mean NOTHING is worse than losing a child.

So I write this reminder to myself. Not for sympathy, but to remind myself that I’m strong, determined, and now capable of showing compassion and unconditional love to others. I now know how to share and help others who have struggles, too. I take joy in sharing with and serving others and helping them find their Light again.

I write this as a reminder that I’ve changed tremendously for the better. I’m happy to say I’m not the same person I use to be.

I’ve been through Hell and Back. And I’ve survived. In large part to my parents who always have my back, and in large part because of my Faith in One Higher Than I, for all those times I didn’t feel adequate, capable or able. And of course, Yoga. It makes everything better. 

NOTHING is worse than losing a child. But I’m doing pretty damn good, considering.

And so are you, The Bright Shining Star who is reading this. Go, Do You. Nobody else can do it so well!

Struggling so much you’re not sure you can hold on much longer? Trying to help someone you love?

Call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline today! 1-800-273-8255

Namaste,

Nikki

Fear, Forgiveness, Going Forth

Dear Lovely Soul,

I’m in a transitional period.

Changes are taking place on my yoga mat, in my inner being, in my physical body, and in my life. This happens from time to time, and every time I feel apprehensive.

This can be a lonely place. I notice the trend of people walking out of my life. I feel like nobody really understands what is happening, and if they do, they don’t seem to care. The truth is, they aren’t able to comprehend it. All they realize is that they don’t fit into my life anymore.

It has taken time for me to understand this and accept it. In the past, it broke my heart to watch those I care about become less and less involved in my life. Not so much anymore. Now, I see it as a blessing of sorts. By another’s choice to leave, they are usually taking away some type of inner struggle for me, thus creating space for another person or opportunity that will fulfill a current need or desire.

That does not mean it’s easy to watch people go away. It does not mean I don’t miss them. It does not mean I feel no sadness. It does not mean they are gone out of my life forever and that there will never be any contact again. It does not mean that I’m not intrigued when they wander back in a flattering manner. What it means is that eventually I’ll remember they no longer have a lesson to teach me or a significant role to fulfill. I trust that all who have ever entered my life will always know that I love and appreciate their presence, and I will hold them close in my heart.

I am thankful for quality time spent this weekend with my children and their friends. I am thankful for time spent with an old friend whose love never fails, and with a new one who entered my life as unexpectedly as others have walked out. For now, these are my precious people, and I pray not to take them for granted.

This week, I have been practicing Holistic Dr. Kate Flynn’s fear release and one of her meditations to help dissolve any and all physical and energetic attachments to codependency behaviors.

Many fears have come up this week, after a while of not noticing very many. While perhaps not my favorite thing to deal with, I do know that FEAR is real, creates much of my anxiety, and keeps me stuck in unhealthy patterns. Here are some fears I am facing head on: failure, success, relationships, inadequacy, finances, vulnerability, speaking my truth, discovering who I REALLY am, judgment, criticism, rejection, weakness, my own strength and power, not being able to manage everything on my own, transitions, The Unknown, Love.

Over the past few weeks, I have failed to practice ahimsa toward myself. I failed to eat in  nourishing manner, and I failed to practice Brahmacharya or using my energy wisely.

Enter the Daily Yoga Connection over at Dr. Melissa West’s membership community, where I am a proud member of the leadership team. Our focus has been Forgiveness, and at first I thought it would be awesome because I needed some self-forgiveness! I also assumed old issues would arise and my awareness would see those people I unknowingly had been holding deep seated grudges against.  

I was reminded that Forgiveness allows me to move on. Forgiveness is really all about me, as it honors my difficult emotions regarding any unresolved wounds. Forgiveness helps to purify my heart. Forgiveness sets me free.

My forgiveness yoga practice included some heart softening. Just thinking about softening my heart makes me feel weak and vulnerable! Fear arose and offered resistance, but when I was reminded to look at myself truthfully, I was able to continue. Physically, I felt the exhaustion of my adrenal glands. Energetically, Shakti moved me to a full surrendering to the Divine.

Codependency quickly surfaced. AH. I see now my object of forgiveness!

I heard my inner voice clearly say, “I trust that it is now safe to let it all go.”

A beautiful kriya continued to cut away those codependency energetic cords Dr. Kate first brought to my awareness. I was being given the opportunity to let go with more clarity specific aspects of codependent behavioral trademarks. Control, manipulation, judgment, criticism, guilt, shame, anger, bitterness, low self-worth, the need for other people’s approval…I watched them all dissolve. Did you notice some of those were also mentioned on my fear list?

In a forgiveness toward self meditation, I was again reminded to fully trust God, and to trust in my own truth, power and strength, to trust in my own Inner Divinity.

In a yoga practice designed to connect with Veera Lakshmi for Courage, Strength and Power, I found that I was way more wobbly in Warrior III (Virabhadrasana III) than usual, and ordinarily this would frustrate me. Instead, I realized that my practice is indeed reflective of my spirit. This pose is representative of taking action, and while I understand that I will move forward with great willingness, I am not yet certain how to proceed from here.

I will be patient, and allow things to unfold naturally instead of overwhelming myself and stressing over The Unknown.

“I am Beauty. I am Light. I am Love. I am Divine. I am Free.”

My friend, I leave you with that until next time.

Namaste,

Nikki

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I teach from my own experiences! If you are looking for a bit of an unconventional yoga teacher, I’m the one!

Dressember 2016: Welcome to My Day Nine

Here we go again! Another day, another dress!!

“Be Stronger than your strongest excuse.”

Dear Dressember,

I’m having a love hate relationship with you today. I went to bed exhausted last night and woke up the same way. I would have loved a day off in my pjs! My office had a very important visitor today, and I was filled with anxiety. Being as late for work as usual was not an option, but I had to shave my legs. Please don’t make me choose between that and my makeup! Not with our guest coming. I wasn’t up for tights, though, because some days I just don’t want to feel restricted or constricted, and I already knew I was going to be chained to my desk, dependant on others for  potty breaks and water refills. Ok…not so bad… Smooth legs and makeup done. I was starting to feel more excited to get on with my day. Thank Goodness for boots and under desk heaters because, boy, was it cold today!!

Special Guest was not so bad, thankfully, because he comes back tomorrow. I also really enjoyed the smile and energy of one of our new PCS technicians. He lifted my spirit which keeps falling into a strange place today. It isn’t sadness, exactly, but tears want to surface. I wonder where they’re coming from, but I won’t dwell there. I suspect they are in part due to you, Dressember.

I won’t post statistics or info tonight, because I’m not sure my heart can handle it. Something is happening inside me.

I am thankful for yoga, and getting together with a couple of students to teach tonight. Like I have all day, I didn’t feel quite like myself, fuzzy-minded,  and scatter brained, but I might like Thursdays as a regular teaching night! Something to think about, I guess, but maybe not always in a dress!

Please continue to show your support!!

We are Sunflowers and Snow. Melissa West, Jenn Ashton, Madeline Hilde Sicinski, Nicci Rea, Harmony Darling, Aynne Johnston, Laura Moyer and I would love to have you join our team Sunflowers and Snow, or Donate , or simply “Like” and “Share” any Dressember posts you see!

Thank You!!

Nikki

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Dressember 2016: Welcome to My Day Eight

I am a Giddy Girl on this Dressember Day!

THANK YOU to everyone who has “Liked” and “Shared” our Dressember posts. THANK YOU for your comments, compliments, and kindness. Taking this stand puts me out of my comfort zone in a mighty big way, so YOU have encouraged me greatly!! THANK YOU for my photographers, Logan, Rachel, and My Little Man. THANK YOU, Melissa West and Dr. Kate Flynn, for helping face my fears! THANK YOU to those who send private messages and texts. You carry me through my day when I start to doubt my decision to do this. THANK YOU for those of you who are simply reading these posts. I know many of your hearts are with me and you are carrying me in prayers. How do I know? I can feel it.

Whoo Hoo!!

Dressember Team Sunflowers and Snow met our goal of $1,000.00!! We’ve surpassed it, and we’re not stopping yet!!

I want to THANK YOU for all the generous donations, especially to Anonymous who donated through my link. All monies collected will be used by International Justice Mission and A21 to rescue victims of human trafficking.

According to A21, every 30 seconds, someone becomes a victim of modern-day slavery. There are more slaves in the world today than at any other point in human history,

NOW, GET THIS!!

Only 1-2% of human trafficking victims are ever rescued.

The average age of the human trafficking victim is 12 YEARS OLD.

Folks, that means that IF they are able to survive, most pre-teens being brutally forced into sex exploitation and laboring in the manufacturing of goods are living the majority of their lives this way. Help us Help them!!

We are Sunflowers and Snow. Melissa West, Jenn Ashton, Madeline Hilde Sicinski, Nicci Rea, Harmony Darling, Aynne Johnston, Laura Moyer and I would love to have you join our team here Sunflowers and Snow, or you can Donate, or simply “Like” and “Share” any Dressember posts you see!

Much, Much Love and Gratitude,

Nikki

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Dressember 2016: Welcome to My Day Seven

Sometimes you just have to sit back, put your feet up, and chill!!  Oh…and don’t forget to tell the Inner Critic to hush up!!

Logan was kind enough to retake the photo once…but we could have been there all day!! There was so much I saw wrong, but I decided to let it go!! Huh. I can do that now! Remember when I couldn’t?? I’m still practicing, but for today…so what if my eyes are still swollen, my lipstick is a bit smudged, and that’s an awful lot of brown??

You see, I know where my kids are, and I know where there are kids in safe, loving foster homes! Thank God for families with hearts as big as gold!

Did you see the stats I posted the other day?? With a heavy heart, I continue to think of those numbers, knowing they have only increased.

Let me repeat!

The U.S. Department of Labor reported in 2015, an estimated 1 out of 5 endangered runaways reported to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children were likely child sex trafficking victims. Of those, 74% were in the care of social services or foster care when they ran.

They are in  constant dangerous and abusive situations, being exploited for sex and labor of goods.

I cannot fathom the thought of my child or yours or anyone’s being violated in such horrific ways.

I’m proud to be part of the Dressember team

Sunflowers and Snow. Thanks to you all for being so awesome!! Melissa West, Jenn Ashton, Madeline Hilde Sicinski, Nicci Rea, Harmony Darling, Aynne Johnston, Laura Moyer and I would love to have you join our team Sunflowers and Snow! You can also make a donation.

Don’t forget, though, simply hitting “Like” and “Share” on any Dressember posts you see also helps to raise awareness for modern-day slavery.

Dressember 2016: Welcome to My Day Six

Today is an anniversary of great importance. You see, it signifies the beginning of a new era. A new life. A new me.

It was a major struggle to get to the place of courage which enabled me to choose to make one of my life’s toughest decisions. It took me a very long time to understand and start to believe that I deserved a better way of living. The thought of making this change scared me to death, but I knew I couldn’t go on with the way things were.

I was an empty shell and barely holding on.

It was a long road to make my choice final, and still today I suffer the consequences of someone else’s punishment.

That’s ok, though. I hold on to my faith the best I can, and I trust in my healing process and that all my day to day needs will be met.

My experiences happened for a reason. To share. To help others.

My story is NOTHING compared to those belonging to victims of modern-day slavery!! That’s why I’m taking a stand for #Dressember. To help raise awareness of the manipulations and abuses of human traffickers.

Dressember Daily Facts from Polaris:

Statistics from the National Human Trafficking Hotline  and Polaris BeFree Textline:
More than 29,800 total cases of human trafficking have been reported to the Hotline in the last eight years.
The Hotline annually receives multiple reports of human trafficking cases in each of the 50 states and D.C.

Wanna help? You can! Here’s how:

Donate, join our awesome team Sunflowers and Snow, or simply “Like” and “Share” any Dressember posts you see!

*Sunflowers and Snow is made up of Melissa West, Jenn Ashton, Madeline Hilde Sicinski, Nicci Rea, Harmony Darling, Aynne Johnston, Laura Moyer, and me! We would love to have you join us!!

**Logan, welcome back!! Thank you for taking my picture today!!

Dressember 2016: Welcome to My Day Five

“What you see is what you get.”

One day, I’ll be able to say that and genuinely mean it!!

There is nothing on my schedule today. The kids have their time with their father on Sundays, so I try to use that time to replenish and renew my Spirit each week. Today, that won’t happen in my usual ways, but I’ll continue to get some things accomplished at home, and with a grateful heart.

Sometimes I feel like I’m fighting a losing battle, but my precious kids and their messes and their dirty clothes and dishes won’t be around here forever. De-cluttering today, I remember this, and I remember my longing for a more simple life.

Simplicity. How to get there? I’m not sure, but my dress today is definitely reflective of my vision of a life of less. Comfort was what I was going for today when went to my closet and chose that simple 20+ year old dress I bought when I worked retail before Christopher came along. Mine was a simpler life then, not without struggles, of course, but I knew my priorities. Those priorities have become screwn through the years, but I believe it is now time to get back to basics.

So off I am now, to do my chores, knowing that if I don’t know yet how to prioritize for my Highest Good, at least I know that I’m honoring a call to advocate for those who have lost their voices.

Dressember Daily Facts from Polaris:

The International Labor Organization estimates that forced labor and human trafficking is a $150 billion industry worldwide.
The U.S. Department of Labor has identified 139 goods from 75 countries made by forced and child labor. In 2015, an estimated 1 out of 5 endangered runaways reported to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children were likely child sex trafficking victims. Of those, 74% were in the care of social services or foster care when they ran.

There is no official estimate of the total number of human trafficking victims in the U.S. Polaris estimates that the total number of victims nationally reaches into the hundreds of thousands when estimates of both adults and minors and sex trafficking and labor trafficking are aggregated.

Wanna help? You can! Here’s how:

Donate here, join our awesome team Sunflowers and Snow, or simply “Like” and “Share” any Dressember posts you see!*Sunflowers and Snow is made up of Melissa West, Jenn Ashton, Madeline Hilde, Nicci Rea, Harmony Darling, Aynne Johnston, Laura Moyer, and me. We would love to have you join us!!

**Thank you for taking my picture today, Sweet Child. You’re an awesome son!! I love you andappreciate you more than you understand!  

Dressember 2016: Welcome to My Day Four

Saturdays. Made for sleeping in, de-cluttering, maybe some errands if I absolutely can’t avoid them, and yoga, followed by long hot detox baths. Not today. Up, showered, makeup on (again with the swollen eyes) and in another dress for the Dressember mission. Anybody who has ever stopped by my house on a Saturday would be shocked! Most Saturdays, I don’t even brush my hair! 😂 Bandannas and headbands, oh how I love you!

Housework in a dress?? If June Cleaver could do it every single day, surely I can today! Yes, I actually did say that! Before housework, though, it seemed wise to spend some time in meditation and video filming for our Daily Yoga Connection section in my yoga membership community lead by the adorable and authentic Melissa West. I’m glad I waited to the last minute so I could experience filming more dressed up than usual. It really did feel different somehow! Maybe one day all this being in front of a camera will stop freaking me out!

Dressember Daily Facts from Polaris on human trafficking:

Although slavery is commonly thought to be a thing of the past, human traffickers generate hundreds of billions of dollars in profits by trapping millions of people in horrific situations around the world, including here in the U.S.

Traffickers use violence, threats, deception, debt bondage, and other manipulative tactics to force people to engage in commercial sex or to provide labor or services against their will. While more research is needed on the scope of human trafficking, below are a few key statistics:
The International Labour Organization estimates that there are 20.9 million victims of human trafficking globally.
68% of them are trapped in forced labor.
26% of them are children.
55% are women and girls.

Wanna help? You can! Here’s how:

Donate, Join our awesome team Sunflowers and Snow

Or simply “Like” and “Share” any Dressember posts you see!

*Sunflowers and Snow is made up of Melissa West, Jenn Ashton, Madeline Hilde, Nicci Rea, Harmony Darling, Aynne Johnston, Laura Moyer. We would love to have you join us!!

Full Moon Energy and an Uninvited Guest

The powerful energy of the full moon has my creative energies going in a million different directions when it comes to putting material together for yoga classes, updating my profiles on yoga platforms, studying for an online course I am taking on the Yamas and Niyamas, designing a yoga sequence for my athletic 10 year old son who has just had his first visit chiropractic adjustment with Dr. Kate Flynn, and my own homework assignments for her.

I am getting over a little stomach bug that my precious toddler grandson who lives with me so generously shared with the whole household, so I have resolved to rest today, to the best of my ability. I am not worrying about housework at all, just resting. While I do love a gorgeous full moon, and it was gorgeous indeed last night, its energy was extremely, yet irritatingly intense once coupled with the lingering discomfort of my virus and the fibromyalgic symptoms brought on no doubt by a popular hydrating sports drink. (Lesson learned! I will from here on out always have coconut water on hand!) I was beyond restless last night, and remain that way today.

To counter the moon’s effects on all my energetic levels, I am taking a relatively quiet day, with little interaction with other people. I am practicing meditation and looking forward to a hot detox bath as bedtime nears. I find that during any full moon, it helps me to keep anxiety and overwhelm at bay if I keep to myself as much as possible, my body at ease as much as possible, and allow my thoughts to be expressed through journaling, blogging, and planning.

While I long for a yoga asana practice today, though, my pain-ridden, nauseated body just might not cooperate, and I will have to accept that, for today, that is just how it is. It saddens me, but it will pass soon enough! If I allow myself this time of rest, that is. Perhaps I will find gratitude as the day progresses for the visitors that invaded my body to require me to rest.

REST. It doesn’t come easy for me. I don’t sleep well. I never have. I am constantly on the move. I don’t sit still for long and if I do, I am usually working on the “I have-to’s”.

Today I am practicing sitting still, only to do what I enjoy doing. That is, bringing about healing on all levels of my being, creating yoga-related healing material for myself and others, and enjoying the day. While it may be work, and mostly unpaid at that, it is what fuels my passion, and helps to restore my balance. It is where my heart is. When my heart is at peace, I am at rest.

As part of my creations this weekend, I created a short introductory for this week’s Daily Yoga Connection in the membership area of Dr. Melissa West‘s Yoga Membership site. To see the finished product you have to go there, but I want to share with you how my son’s sweet giggles brought me out of the anxiety I felt about being in front of the camera. I hope you enjoy the silly little mommy/son interaction this video clip. It is out of my comfort zone to share, but that’s real life, real OCD problems, and real goofiness, real laughter. That is that kind of real, the kind of authenticity, that I hope to portray as I continue on to share my yoga passion.

Take time out today for you, to play, to laugh, to rest.

Love and Light!

Nikki