"Out of the night that covers me,
Black as the pit from pole to pole,
I thank whatever gods may be
For my unconquerable soul."
When I entered the room, there were several women lying flat on the floor with their legs stretched up along the mirror. Their arms were stretched behind them, flat against the floor. I felt anxious.
After the class warmed up and we began our routine, the instructor told us to do a downward facing dog. What the heck was that? I was clearly out of my element. Quietly, the instructor walked beside me and demonstrated the intended yoga pose. After whispering, "I can't do that," into her ear, she gently showed me an alternate move, one that took into consideration my physical limitations. I felt relieved.
Ten years later, I can do a proper downward facing dog and stay up in that pose with the rest of the class.
Baby steps forward.
Twenty-one years ago I walked with a cane, the first time since my diagnosis of MS. My legs were weak and I lost feeling in my right leg. I drove with hand controls because I was losing strength in both hands. But I took it all in stride; being young and naïve can sometimes be a blessing.
Then I became pregnant. It was the biggest joy of my life. Not only for the obvious reasons, but also for a very important one: The weakness and numbness I felt disappeared altogether. I got rid of the cane and hand controls -- for good. Who knows why. Hormones? Whatever the reason, my perfect, beautiful little boy was my angel in more ways than one.
I've never needed a cane or hand controls again, and I credit my son, the development of new medications and the Woman or Man Upstairs for that.
Baby steps forward.
"In the fell clutch of circumstance
I have not winced nor cried aloud.
Under the bludgeonings of chance
My head is bloody, but unbowed."
When I turned 52, I decided to start a blog. I always loved to write, and I also loved being a health advocate. The marriage of the two seemed perfect. So I educated myself about blogging and how to set up and design one (thank you, YouTube). But what would my "niche" be? I wanted to write about living in my "Second Chapter" and, as Anna Quindlen said, living out loud. I thought I was the only one with this unique angle. Surprise! I was wrong.
I met a group of intelligent, articulate, creative and passionate over 50 bloggers who I have the great fortune of being associated with. Yet while they empower me, I am sometimes daunted by them. Many are published authors, columnists, professors and speakers. While we learn from and support each other, at times I've felt small and in their shadow because of their achievements. Until I had an epiphany...
"Beyond this place of wrath and tears
Looms but the Horror of the shade,
And yet the menace of the years
Finds and shall find me unafraid."
I realized that I'd learned a lot from my yoga practice, from living with a chronic illness and from being a blogger. This is what I know is true for me, and perhaps it is for you, too:
- We all move forward at our own pace in the world.
- We are unique individuals with our own sets of values, abilities and desires.
- We, alone, are the masters of our own creation.
- We should never compare ourselves to anyone else. Ever.
- We should never feel bigger or smaller than the next guy.
- We should accept ourselves for who we are, and never allow others to belittle us.
These insights are now helping me take baby steps forward in my life. It only took 54 years for me to realize them! Every step and every challenge has been a life lesson, each one preparing me for what lies ahead. I will no longer remain in anyone's shadow, and will stand on firm ground as I create my own journey.
What life lessons have you learned?
"It matters not how strait the gate,
How charged with punishments the scroll.
I am the master of my fate:
I am the captain of my soul." ~William Ernest Henley, Invictus