This year’s “Word of the Year” was Persist. I had NO idea just how many times my ability to persist would be challenged, and reinforced, by looking at this little card, which I have posted in my office and home. Just having this little reminder around can really boost you during tough times.
As I look ahead to 2020, (and think about my new word of the year that I always share with you), I struggle to find the right words.
I am speechless. So much has happened this past year: from uprooting my family after 21 years in coastal North Carolina– to completely reorganizing my business and career– to almost losing my parents in a terrible car accident. 2019 brought nothing short of catastrophic change.
Incredibly, there is a silver lining. Actually, there are many silver linings.
The 17th century Japanese poet, Mizuta Masahide, wrote this haiku:
Ironically, the Word of the Year I chose for 2019, was Persist. Maybe the Universe took me to task and decided to test my choice, but whatever the reason, my faith and fortitude was challenged in 2019, more than ever.
My prayer and meditation is that, in some way, maybe the challenges I face will help others. Help others feel like they too, can persist.
I was inspired and uplifted to see Anita Hill speak in person at Elon University. Her grit, resilience, and fortitude through great resistance, trials, and humiliation, are a testament to how women can speak up, be heard, and make a difference for the rights and dignity of future generations of women and girls.
I also was honored to once again film and teach for Yoga U Online. I kicked off the year by filming two courses for Yoga U,
- Core Foundations for Health & Wellbeing: The Vagus Nerve & The 3 Diaphragms of the Body and
- The Essential Vagus Nerve: Achieving Nervous System and Whole Health Balance.
I was also proud to be able to offer two free wellness downloads, linked here for you!
- Free Download! Stimulating the Vagus Nerve: The #1 Key to Enhancing Well-being and
- Free Download! Your Well-being Switch: Yoga, the Bandhas and the Three Diaphragms of the Body.
I also launched a new partnership with Embodia Academy in Canada: Trauma Informed Yoga for Women’s Health: The Voice is Queen in the Pelvic Floor Kingdom.
January was also a full month because we were searching for a new city to become our forever home. We searched the entire state of North Carolina and decided on Greensboro. Meanwhile, James and I harvested his organic carrots (we didn’t get many, but they were all tasty!)!
I traveled to Aptos, California to teach the Hip Differential Diagnosis and Integrative Management coursework, which I wrote and have been teaching since 2014. During my stay, I was able to commune with the ancient redwoods, which always puts my life in order and provides perspective. In February we also found our forever home and put in an offer, which was accepted!
March and April brought lots of bittersweet moments. We sold our home and property of nearly 2 decades on Emerald Isle, and we closed on our new home in Greensboro, NC. My family started the task of packing up 21 years of memories (and 30 for my husband) made on the island, while simultaneously gearing up for our last spring modules on Emerald Isle. Professional Yoga Therapy Institute® is very much a small family business and so in March we personally welcomed 2 cohorts, a new class, Cohort W, and a Level II class, Cohort V. I also had the joy of volunteering in my youngest son James’s 2nd grade classroom by teaching yoga. The children soaked it in, and so did I!
The spring graduating class of 2019, Cohort O, completed the spring teaching season, and what a full week it was! From beach meditation to Ayurvedic cooking classes to drum circle and singing bowl tutorials and vocal and inversions labs, the final training in the PYTI® program is packed. May also brought the final month of preparation to move. I also squeezed in a trip to Geneva, Switzerland to present a research poster at World Congress on Physical Therapy on behalf of Dr. Susan Clinton and myself. It was well worth the long haul flight to be with like-minded colleagues from around the world. May also brought another little gift, being able to see Patty Griffin in concert with my family, nearly 15 years to the day after first seeing her, which held lots of symbolism and meaning for my family.
June brought my life to a screeching halt. On the morning of June 2nd, I awoke at 5:30 in the morning to bad news. Our soon-to-be old home on Emerald Isle was completely empty, save for an air mattress and some sleeping bags. We had just moved the last box to Greensboro that past weekend, and we had just arrived late the night before from Greensboro. Unknown to me, my parents had been in a terrible car accident the night before. No one wanted to call me because they knew I’d get up and drive all night to be at the hospital, so they waited until early that morning to deliver the bad news. I awoke to my husband, Jeff, who calmly told me they were alive, but my Dad was already taken into surgery. If I hadn’t already been sitting, my knees would’ve buckled on me. I threw all I had left in the house into the minivan, with a load of wet laundry, fed the boys leftovers for breakfast, and hit the road. That was all the goodbye I got to say to Emerald Isle after 21 years. I barely remember driving over the high rise bridge for the last time.
These months were a whirlwind of trying to completely reorder my life, family, and business while taking care of my parents. I had to quit work and focus on my family. But blessings can always be found in adversity and hardship. I was grateful to only be 40 minutes from the trauma hospital, where my Dad was kept in the burn unit for a month. My mother was in and out of the hospital, and we had full time care for her at my parent’s home, which was also just 40’ away. Surrounded by family and friends, we all shouldered the burdens and celebrated the triumphs together. I was able to be there for every surgical consult, follow up, return emergency visit(s), and decision made. My family’s life was turned upside down, but we were also knitted together stronger than ever. Adversity showed us who we were – a strong, determined southern family with generations of grit to help us lift one another up during dark days.
After 7 weeks, we were able to move my Dad home so my parents could be together again. We knew we had fundraisers (oh the medical bills!) to organize and thank you’s to send, but slowly, our lives started to regain some sense of normalcy. I even found time to accept a nomination to join the UN Women Board of Directors for the US National Committee, NC Chapter, and speak with NC legislators and the NC Attorney General, Josh Stein.
I also decided to accept the nomination to become the North Carolina Physical Therapy Association’s Legislative Chair, receiving the torch from the formidable former chair, Dr. Mary Kay Hannah, who ushered in great progress during her tenure. She helped modernize our PT practice act by pushing through legislation that secured spinal manipulation practice rights and helped win our case to finalize rights to dry needling, which will greatly increase access to physical therapy statewide. I attended the American Physical Therapy Association’s Legislative Forum in Washington, D.C., which was a huge treat for me. I am a policy nerd, so I was in my element.
We welcomed our final cohorts to Emerald Isle, Level I Cohort X, Level II Cohort S, and the graduating Cohort P! We are getting close to the end of the alphabet, which means we will have trained over 26 cohorts of medical pros on using yoga in healthcare in our nearly 20 year history at PYTI®! An exciting accomplishment!
October was a busy month. I also presented on Lifestyle Medicine in Physical Therapy practice with colleague, Jess Hartmann, at the North Carolina Annual Physical Therapy conference and volunteered to teach morning yoga to raise funds for the PT-PAC.
As a member of the Board of Directors for the UN Women NC Chapter, I helped organize and attended another successful Annual UN Women Luncheon at the NC Executive Mansion, where we honored Governor Roy Cooper and other dignitaries and visionaries for their service to women and girl’s rights. First Lady of North Carolina Kristin Cooper was also in attendance, which was very fitting, as she is a fellow champion for women’s rights, she being an attorney and mother of three daughters.
I also traveled to the American College of Lifestyle Medicine’s (ACLM) Annual Conference for a week, where I learned a great deal and met so many wonderful new colleagues! We even got a surprise (low carbon) visit from Prince Charles, who filmed a personal message which was broadcast during the conference. In it, the future King of England encouraged us and sent encouraging words about the future of healthcare and medicine resting with us. I also managed to find time to study , and sit for the Board Exam at the end of the conference. Good news is, I passed! I am now Board Certified in Lifestyle Medicine by the ACLM & International Board of Lifestyle Medicine!
In November I traveled to Charlotte to teach the Hip Differential Diagnosis and Integrative Management once again. That course is a joy to teach. My parents continue on with therapy, and they are progressing slowly, but steadily. The joy of this month was getting to wake up in my own bed after having been gone for the majority of October and the first part of November, nearly 5 weeks in all. I also got to celebrate Thanksgiving with my ENTIRE family for the first time in over 21 years. What a gift. I also had surgery this month, but staying true to my Word of the Year, I persisted and still managed to be upright enough to enjoy Thanksgiving Day dinner with my family.
In November I also got to speak with Governor Cooper about healthcare in North Carolina, and with many other state representatives. And a bucket list item to check, I got to (finally) see the Indigo Girls at Durham’s Performing Arts Center with my best friend. I only had to wait 25 years, and it was worth the wait!
This final month of the year saw a COMPLETE overhaul of the Professional Yoga Therapy Institute® certification program, and now we offer THREE LEVELS of certification and a new, intensified emphasis on Lifestyle Medicine. In January I will launch and film 20 new hours of online continuing education content to support the new onsite trainings. I have worked very diligently to be able to shorten the onsite (face-to-face) portion of the program so that 20 hours can be offered online. I also *hope* to have ANOTHER big announcement in 2020! So stay tuned !!!
I also headed to the Executive Mansion one more time to cap off the year and celebrate the Joy of the Season after returning to my old stomping ground to be the guest artist for the Crystal Coast Choral Society’s Annual Christmas Concert. Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to you all!
This year has brought nightmare tragedy on multiple fronts, but it has also given me the gift of being able to look past the burnt barn to “see the moon.” It has given me the ability to see where joy can be gleaned, even during deep sadness and grief… to celebrate small victories even when the road to recovery is long and bleak…To still find a way to sing and uplift others, even when you cannot see a solution or pathway forward.
To 2019, thank you for making me stronger than I thought I could ever be. I thought 2018 did that, but 2019 raised 2018’s bar and pushed me past my comfort zone almost daily. I can’t say I will ever be comfortable pushing past my comfort zone, but I can say this – I never, ever regret it once I am there. The new view achieved from the other side of your comfort zone – is always stunning.
PS I will be reopening my clinical practice in 2020! Come drop in and visit!
Home is where the heart is!
Made by a local potter at our downtown Farmer’s Market in GSO!