YogiRunner Blog

Be Free to Run and Run to be Free! Namaste~

And So the Story Goes….

Me&Kids

9 months is the amount of time it takes for a new life to form inside a mother’s womb. It’s amazing that in 9 months, cells can transform into a full fledged human being – one seeing the world with a fresh set of eyes and endless possibilities.

It’s been 9 months since I walked away from the life I knew for 16 years. The early days and months were tough but also exciting (in retrospect). Like a newborn, I had many nights of endless crying, I was cranky, I found myself unable to fully understand this world I was in, and truly baffled by this newfound way of being. It was somewhat of an existential experience because on the other side of all that uncertainty was a budding curiosity and flourishing hope that I was entering into a new space of opportunity and exploration.

Every day that passed I became stronger and more aware of the opportunities in front of me. Colors seemed brighter, friendships seemed more meaningful. I began appreciating more, listening more, opening my heart more and letting go of the petty little things that used to rob so much of my energy.

I spent an entire month with my parents and developed a whole new appreciation for who they are and what incredible parents they have always been. The kids and I started become more of a unified unit. I moved into a new house and made it my own. I made the conscious decision that my home would be a welcoming space for all, filled with love and acceptance.

With Parents Grad

My son graduated from High School and I celebrated him rather than mourn the loss of an era. My daughter and I started transitioning into a stage of friendship (don’t get me wrong, I’m still the Mama), but our streams of conversations broadened and deepened.

Char and ME

The dogs continued to give us all the love, sweetness and companionship we needed.

Dogs

And I met Andy. This amazing human being who shows me what it is like to be truly loved. Who makes me feel like the most special and adored person in the whole world. Who walks beside me as a partner and values me for exactly who I am.

Me and Andy1

To top it all off, I landed my dream job. I was promoted to Director of BeLocal Product Growth at the N2 Company and I am doing work that I truly love at a company that I am fully invested in.

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And so the story goes….after darkness comes light. After a hurricane comes a rainbow. After some time (say 9 months), comes new life.

For me, the story goes into a happily ever after. I lost it all, to gain it all.

Me

I thank the universe for loss. Without the great loss 9 months ago, I would have never known what I was missing.

#Yogirunner #TranscendtheBullshit #EndDomesticViolence #EverythingWillChange #BetterDays #Bright #AndSoItGoes #GlitterInTheAir #GutsyChangeMaker


Vitally Vulnerable

Naked. It’s the perfect word for how I’ve felt the past 6 months. After our traumatic bout with domestic violence on Halloween 2021, we decided to be open about what had transpired, which made us completely vulnerable. We opened ourselves to ridicule and  judgement….for being in “that kind of situation”, for being so open, for utilizing social media and other online platforms to share our journey. We felt it. We knew a world of judgement was on our shoulders. But we had a mission large enough to walk through the fires of sneers. We were seeking freedom, for ourselves and maybe even for others.

Us Standing Strong copy

On the polar side of the scoffs there existed something beautiful. A world full of love and support. We realized how many people out there not only stood by us through our journey but could also relate in one form or another. I heard from moms who were living in a world filled with violence. I heard from men who lived through domestic violence when they were younger. I heard from parents who witnessed their spouse committing domestic violence with their children. It became clear very quickly that there was a far greater purpose for our openness. In sharing our authentic truth, we opened the door to compassion, understanding, connection and love. We were vitally vulnerable.

I’ve blogged every month since it happened. Month 1 I was throwing Glitter in the Air for my army of angels. Month 2 I was coming to the realization that Everything Will Change. Month 3 I admitted to being Uncomfortably Aware. Month 4 I was reconciling with the idea that Better Days were on the horizon. Month 5 I was feeling Bright as I was coming out of the darkness. And now, month 6, I see that this entire time I’ve been Vitally Vulnerable.

Vulnerable is a tricky word. We often associate it with weakness or a sense of delicacy. Vulnerable can also be a scary word. Vulnerability leaves us wide open to any and all emotions. By pure definition, being vulnerable puts us in a position where others can hurt us. I decided to be vulnerable right after I had been hurt and betrayed in the most horrific way I could have imagined. Why did I do it? Maybe I felt numb, like nothing else could really hurt me. Maybe I needed the support from my army of angels. Maybe I felt a desire to connect with others who had experienced the same thing or to help others that had experienced the same thing. Or maybe, I was already naked and realized there is strength in being completely stripped down with no coat of armor. Whatever drove me to do it, I have no regrets. My time of healing has no doubt been easier and likely shortened due to the risk I took in being vulnerable.

After I filed for divorce, I said the words, “I will never date again.” As time passed, that changed to “I will never get in a relationship again.” A little more time passed and it moved to, “I will never get married again.”

Andy & Denise

One month ago today, I connected with Andy. We had incredible intellectual chemistry. We had matching emotional intelligence and a strong physical attraction. We went on a few dates and with each encounter, our connection grew stronger. The connection is so strong that we are now in a relationship. I announced this on FB yesterday and received tremendous support. I also witnessed that good ‘ol ridicule and judgement. I strategically use the word “witnessed” in relation to ridicule as opposed to the word “received” in relation to support. I welcome the  support. I simply witness the ridicule.

Sharing this new relationship once again made me vulnerable. But if I’ve learned anything, I’ve learned that sharing my truth, unapologetically, offers me freedom. I am free to be me and to go after the life I desire.

6 months later, I feel as though things have come full circle. I was  vulnerable in sharing the pain and by doing so, I was freed from a prison. Today, I am vulnerable in sharing the joy and am once again, freed from a prison. It’s funny how vulnerability yields the same results regardless of how it is used.

If you’ve never allowed yourself to be truly vulnerable, I highly recommend it. Strip down the armor.

In the end, we simply won’t make it through this journey without being vulnerable. We may as well do it in time to enjoy the growth, the gifts and the freedom. Getting naked is not as scary as it seems, it’s actually rewarding beyond imagination.

#VitallyVulnerable #Yogirunner #TranscendtheBullshit #EndDomesticViolence


Bright

It’s been 5.5 months since our lives changed forever at the hand of domestic violence. That dark tunnel I was in after it happened seemed never ending. I knew there was a light waiting for me somewhere, but I just couldn’t see it – until now.

I think the universe is on my side. Heaven and earth have finally aligned. Days are good, and that’s the way it should be. These lyrics to the song, Bright by Echosmith, ring so true for me today.

Walking away from everything you know can be overwhelming. But staying in a situation that is darkening your soul can be fatal. Being in a toxic situation may not kill you on the spot, but it will slowly eat away at your essence and eventually diminish your light. I will never regret walking away from that toxicity. Life is good, and that’s the way it should be.

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I’ve done more self reflection and inner work over the last few months that the accumulation of my entire life. The strongest realization I’ve had is that my hallmark trade has been to put others’ needs and happiness before my own. I’ve always done all the right things to take care of myself; exercise, yoga, meditate, journal, therapy, self-help seminars / books, decent nutrition…nothing excessive. But I was missing the key element to absorbing all of the nourishment from these pursuits – I was offering all of my oxygen before I took the time to take the deep breaths my soul needed to expand. It’s funny, the universe has its’ way of showing you when it’s time to stop and really inhale.

Today, I think the universe is on my side. I’m slowing down enough to appreciate everything. I am being vulnerable enough to allow others in, and when I let the right ones in, I feel like a million bucks. Incredible people have entered my life. I wake up everyday feeling cherished and valued….not only by others but by myself. I see colors in a different way. And although I can’t 100% speak for them, I can say with mother’s intuition, that my kids are experiencing the same phenomenon.

Walking Toward

 

Yesterday was the funeral for my 34 year old nephew. It was incredibly sad. We mourned the loss of a life that seemed to have been taken too early. But I was also able to feel the warmth of his spirit. Throughout the service I kept hearing his voice saying, “Auntie, Auntie.” I could feel the fire of his soul living on. I’m not sure I would have experienced this the same way if I were still enveloped in toxicity. I have learned that when you are caught up in a toxic situation, all of your energy goes towards survival. You are in constant fight or flight which means your nerve endings are fried. There is no room to feel and appreciate, you simply persevere. Things are different today. It’s like a moonbeam brushed across my face. 

Is everyday rainbows and butterflies? Absolutely not. There are tough days. The PTSD associated with Halloween 2021 still wreaks havoc from time to time. The underbelly of our situation is still exposed and raw. BUT, the big difference is that the future is BRIGHT. We are free, we invite connection, love and bliss.

We three happy

 

If you are reading this, you have most certainly been part of the healing process. Your support, goodwill and tenderness have literally changed the course for our family. Did you see that shooting star tonight? Were you dazzled by the same constellation?
Did you and Jupiter conspire to get me? I think you and the Moon and Neptune got it right
‘Cause now I’m shining bright, so bright. I’ve always loved the lyrics to that song, Bright, but today they have a whole new meaning.

Bright

 

To the army of angels who have literally lifted us up from what felt like the depths of hell, there is no proper way to thank you and so I will just say, you will forever hold a special place in our hearts. Kindness matters. Love wins!

And a big thank you to Adrienne Perry Photography for capturing these photos that represent our current state so well. Your unrelenting selflessness is admirable and contagious.

Shine bright my army of angels. You literally light up the world.


Better Days

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It’s funny how a magical, beautiful moment can bring on the same intensity as a painful, traumatic moment. Polarity exists in everything. As they say, there is no darkness without light, there is no pain without joy. One extreme emotion simply cannot exist without the opposite extreme emotion.

When you have been traumatized, you are like a dog that’s been bitten. You flinch at life. Afraid that anyone or anything may re-traumatize you. That is until you heal, and healing takes vulnerability.

I have a strong desire to heal, which is why I am choosing to stay extremely vulnerable on my journey through recovery.

It’s been 4 months since our world was flipped upside down through a bout of domestic violence. Since Halloween 2021, both children have been hospitalized, our dog has been severely injured twice, we’ve been “dumped” by the people we called family for 16 years, we’ve had to list the home, navigate a divorce and face financial hurdles.

And most recently, my nephew was shot and killed at 34 years old. Shot and killed.

If that’s not the final kick to the gut, I can’t imagine what will be.

BUT…………………….

Hope and optimism have always been overly abundant for me. It’s true, I’ve had to tap into them much more than usual over the past 4 months, but there is nothing that will every dry my well. That is a decision I made, a long time ago.

My favorite song in the whole world is “Better Days” by The Goo Goo Dolls. Even when things were great in my life, so many of the lyrics to that song spoke to me. My favorite line is:

“And you ask me what I want this year, and I try to make this kind and clear, just a chance that maybe we’ll find better days. “

 Whether things are great or challenging, I’m always keenly aware that there is still a chance for better days.

Back to the concept of polarity. The flip side of having an overload of hope and abundance during difficult times, is the idea that things always can and will get better, even when things are seemingly great.

Anyone that has had more than one conversation with me knows that I am a master at poking holes in things. I can quickly identify problems and sniff out bullshit. Some may call this a pessimist or a perfectionist, but I call it an opportunist. I can see the potential for things to be better in almost any given situation. I will admit, this can be a pain in the ass quality when I’m poking holes that seemingly don’t need to be poked, but it is wildly helpful at times like this.
Things can and always will get better.

I’ve had some crazy intense moments over the past 4 months. I’ve experienced extreme sadness, confusion, anger, frustration, bewilderment, fear, grief, happiness, excitement and denial. But the most confusing emotion for me has been, joy.

Joy is different than happiness. Happiness is derived from superficial pleasures, while joy is a state of internal satisfaction. A song can make me happy. A call from a friend can make me happy. Seeing my child laugh can make me happy. But only profound, spiritual experiences can invoke joy.

The first time I experienced joy was Thanksgiving Day. It was one month after the “event” and I recognized angels everywhere. My overwhelming sense of joy stemmed from gratitude. I was raw and vulnerable and could easily tie my joy to a deep sense of appreciation for the support I was receiving from so many beautiful souls.

I’ve had glimmers of joy since then, but nothing as profound as an experience I had on Port Aranas beach last week.

It was 2 days after I received the news about my nephew. It was a cloudy day (my favorite kind of day) and I was on the beach, flying a butterfly kite that a special friend had gifted me. There was not a sound to be heard other than the waves of the ocean. Beautiful birds were flying right over head and my purple butterfly was high in the sky demonstrating a metaphor of freedom. Like a flash flood, all the events of the past 4 months washed over me. EVERY SINGLE MEMORY entered my sphere of consciousness in an instant. But there was something more powerful present. Joy!

Hearing the waves, watching the birds, seeing all of my hopes and dreams wrapped up in my butterfly kite, I felt an overwhelming sense of peace. I knew that everything could and would be more than ok. It would be better.

Beach

The duality of emotions was enough to take my breath away. I had no idea how to process  the intensity of this experience.

Emotions are on a spectrum and the intensity of any emotion, negative or positive, can trigger the same response. Yes, joy can trigger the same physical response as trauma. Later that day, I went into complete fight or flight mode. All I knew to do was protect myself from the intense emotions.

It’s been 5 days since the occurrence of that emotional washing machine. The overpowering experience has taken almost a week to untangle.

What did I learn? It is inevitable that the unexpected will encroach our lives. The unexpected can be trauma or it can be profound joy. Regardless of what side of the spectrum it falls on, the unexpected can either be a curse or an opportunity. We get to decide.

I don’t just believe, I know, that things can and always will get better. I chose ALL of the unexpected to be opportunities.

I’m holding on to and appreciating my moments of joy. I’m holding on to The Goo Goo Dolls lyrics:

“So take these words and sing out loud, cause everyone is forgiven now. Cause tonight’s the night the world begins again. “

Every night, the world begins again.

Here’s to Better Days.

p.s.- I am getting a purple butterfly tattoo Sunday. 🙂


Uncomfortably Aware

Uncomfortably Numb

It’s been 3 months since our string of tragedies began. But the longer time goes on, the longer I realize we were actually living a horror story for years.

October 31, 2021 and the week that followed brought on acute trauma to our entire family after my son was beaten right in front of the dogs, my daughter and myself. 5 days later the trauma extended when my daughter was admitted to the hospital for a week. There is no greater feeling of powerlessness than not being able to stop pain or abuse with your children. Witnessing my children go through such trauma is likely to cause PTSD and / or other long-term reactions I may not see coming.

I’d love to say that I’ve handled everything like a Pro. I’d love to say that after 3 months I’ve arrived back to the person I once was. But that simply isn’t the case.

It seems the longer time goes on, the harder things get. More and more truths continue to unveil themselves. More and more aftermaths bubble to the surface. And as life continues to move on while I am still trying to pick up the pieces, I have more and more of a desire to become Comfortably Numb.

I love that song, Comfortably Numb, by Pink Floyd. It’s so melodic and calming. The song itself mirrors exactly what the lyrics deliver; “Come on now. I hear you’re feeling down, well I can ease your pain. Get you on your feet again. Relax. I’ll need some information first. Just the basic facts, can you show me where it hurts?”

If ever there existed a song that acted as a drug that could take away the pain, this one would be it.

But there is not a song or a drug or a drink that can take away the pain. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to know that. So what does one do to take away the pain?

I am committed to honesty through this journey because it is my mission to be an advocate to end domestic violence. But in order to be an advocate I must share the messy truth.

And messy it is. Month 1 was a blur that I only got through with an Army of Angels who helped me throw a fistful of Glitter in the Air. Month 2 was extremely difficult as reality started sinking in and I realized that Everything Will Change. Month 1 was a fog. Month 2 was a haze. As for Month 3? Well, that’s been a real humdinger.

Did you know that 75% of people turn to alcohol when faced with trauma? 75%! The number increases when trauma produces PTSD. Statistics show that 85%+ people who experience PTSD use alcohol to numb the pain. Isn’t it astounding that the majority of people turn to a literal poison that produces self-administered oppression, to get some kind of relief from the pain?

I learned the truths about alcohol a long time ago. I’ve known since my early 20s that it is a toxic substance. Does that mean I’ve always abstained? No. I’ve had times of not drinking at all, to times of drinking too much. The thing is, once you know the truth about something, you can’t unknow it.

But as much as you know the truth about something, it can still be alluring when you are desperate for something, for anything, to numb the pain.

So maybe you get in an environment where you don’t have to drive, you have no responsibilities of kids and that poison being served in fancy glasses with its lies of laughter and smiles is circling around you and summoning the pain you are feeling to succumb to the illusion? Would you partake to get a brief reprieve from the pain? Would you even think twice?

I can tell you what the result would be if you did. “Uncomfortably Numb.” There is not an amount of poison that can fix the trauma. The pain is there beneath the substance and actually stronger when reality returns.

And so it my vow to you, my readers, my friends and myself – that I will walk this untraveled road with a completely clear and sober mind. I choose to be Uncomfortably Aware as opposed to Uncomfortably Numb.I choose to feel every ounce of pain, to battle every nightmare, to walk through every panic attack and to wipe the tears after every cry, without falsely curating my persona by means of the lies distributed in a bottle or pill.

I will be the messy version of myself until I become the best version of myself.

Consider Month 3 messy as hell. Let’s see what Month 4 brings……

 

 


Everything Will Change

It’s been 4 weeks since my last post, “Glitter in the Air”. I wrote that post on Thanksgiving Day, 4 weeks after we experienced a horrible bout of domestic violence and I left the man I was with for 16 years.

It’s hard to believe that my new life has been taking shape for 2 months now. Most days it feels like I’m trying to find my way through a never-ending maze I was suddenly plopped into with no warning whatsoever.  But there are definitely moments of clarity now, and rather than relying on the army of angels that wrapped their wings around me in the early weeks, I’m learning to trust and rely on the angels within. I find the words to Gavin DeGraw’s song, Everything Will Change constantly repeating in my mind; “Take those boots off the shelf, wipe that dust of yourself, even if you’ve been through hell; you’re back.”

The thing about it is, I have to be back. Whether I like it or not. Some days I’m excited about it, some days I have no earthly idea how to untangle the web I’ve been entrapped in for almost 2 decades.

My parents were here the first month after “the incident” on Halloween. They drove in from New Mexico the day after the nightmare occurred, planning on only being here for a couple of days. They ended up staying 4 weeks. They provided a sense of safety and served as my security blanket right when I needed it. I will be forever grateful for their presence. Things were tough those first few weeks, blurry and surreal. But it wasn’t util after they left, when I was all alone with the responsibility, the memories, the emotions and the pain, that the real work began. The moment I realized I was alone in this huge house full of memories, with the responsibility of not only pulling myself from the ashes, but also the kids, I understood I was going to have to dig for strength I wasn’t even sure I had.

I’m fortunate that in my 48 years on this planet, I have not experienced death on a truly intimate level (other than my cat, Java who died in my arms after 16 years together). I’ve lost grandparents and friends, but never someone who was a constant in my day-to-day life.  I suppose this mess I am in is like what one experiences after an intimate death. The love and support from others is overwhelming the first few weeks, but slowly begins to dwindle as time goes on. I’ve been on the other side – watching a friend deal with tragedy, and I know that as an observer, it seems that the hard part is likely over after a couple of months pass. However, being on this side of tragedy, I now realize that it is months later when the truly hard part begins. As the world moves on, you are still picking up the pieces trying to create your new norm.

The thing about it is – that overwhelming outpouring of love and support in the early days works exactly as it should. It is immortal and provides what is needed for the many sad and lonely days to come.

One of the great lessons of grief is that you realize it is not the responsibility of others to carry the load. The silver lining of any tribulation is that we gain strength and courage to stand on our own two feet and keep moving on.
As Gavin sings, “You’ve got to grow strong like you’re leading the nation, you’ve got to make the best out of this situation.”

It’s a tough thing, navigating the array of feelings when you have two children relying on you to help them navigate too. The sadness comes and goes without warning. There are moments it is so consuming you feel breathless, and there are times when it transforms into pure, unrecognizable anger. Several months back I learned the skill of being an observer (thank you Adam Grant for teaching this in your book, Think Again). When a deep emotion hits, you take a step back and observe the situation as a spectator. In observing my sadness turn to anger, I realize this is my being’s way of protecting itself. The sadness alone is enough to take me into a deep dark hole from which I may not be able to return. The anger gives me the strength to crawl my way back to reality.

Being the introspective that I am, I’ve spent a lot of time trying to understand how I landed in such a toxic situation. I pride myself as being a strong, independent woman – so how on earth was I living such a nightmare for 16 years behind closed doors?

That’s the thing about narcissistic abuse – it’s insidious and cunning. It plays on your greatest strengths until those strengths become your greatest liabilities.

As written in Psychology today:

One of the most common misconceptions is that narcissists only look for emotionally dependent partners who lack confidence and self-esteem. In fact, narcissists are often attracted to strong, confident, and self-assured women.

While this may seem counterintuitive, it is important to realize that the narcissistic traits of grandiosity and confidence are really a mask for deep insecurity. What appears to be an overabundance of self-assurance is actually a protective wall designed to block the narcissist from acknowledging his own insecurity and lack of self-confidence.

At the same time, the narcissist uses that sense of self-confidence and assurance to portray a personality that is attractive to a confident, successful woman. She looks for a man who does not need her ongoing support and who has the strength and ability to manage any situation.

Narcissists often feel safe with strong partners as they have always struggled with a consistent parent figure. When you take charge, manage life effectively, and create your own success, this becomes a draw for the narcissist. Coupling this with your ability to show empathy and kindness creates a natural magnet for the narcissist who desperately wants to have those characteristics. (https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/addiction-and-recovery/202106/why-strong-women-and-narcissists-attract-each-other)

I don’t know what will become of my situation, but I am 100% confident it will be used to help others. At a minimum, I am showing my kids that they can walk away from unhealthy situations at any time. You can talk the talk OR you can walk the walk. I’m choosing to walk the walk. Saying I am a strong, independent woman is one thing, but choosing the hardest path imaginable to protect myself and my kids is a step that requires almost super-human strength. I’m choosing to walk the walk and I hope that in sharing my story, others will have the courage to do the same if they find themselves in an insidious nightmare of a situation.

Something about the holidays makes me want to write. And so here I am on December 26, and our first Christmas in the “new norm” is now behind us.

I spent a good portion of Christmas Eve alone. I burned sage and stomped around the house singing the angriest songs I could find – yelling and cussing like a crazy person (don’t worry, this was all suggested by my therapist). I got SO much anger out in my little Christmas Eve tantrum that I spent the rest of my alone time sipping hot tea while staring at the fire and Christmas lights in complete silence. If anybody was on the outside looking in, they would likely have chased me down with a huge butterfly net and a dose of valium, but it was the most healing thing I could have done. I felt completely vindicated without harming a soul (except maybe my poor tormented dogs who had no idea what I was doing).

Yesterday was Christmas and I woke up full of hope. Both kids were home with me. It was our first Christmas free of the rule of thumb we had been under for so many years. We could play music as loud as we want, eat what we want, and have a glorious day doing whatever we want! But the first Christmas after a family splits is anything but glorious. It was actually hard as hell. Gifts under the tree were fewer, laughter was lighter, and the memories were haunting.

The most harrowing moment was when my son checked the mail and realized that only his sister was getting gifts from the people he had called family for 16 years. He realized that after not only experiencing abuse from the man he called stepdad, that man and his entire family had dumped him – as though he never existed. The first emotion I felt was a blow of sadness that literally took my breath away. But that sadness immediately turned to anger as Mama bear was ready to attack at this inhumane act of pettiness.

Well, Mama Bear knows attacks don’t help her cubs. So instead, I hugged him and reminded him how much he is loved. And later that day, I had to hug myself and remind this Mama that those painful experiences he is going through will make him an even more incredible human being than he already is.

I am constantly reminded that every step forward comes with an ounce more of strength. Even if the strength odometer moves just a millimeter, the accumulation will be enough. The angels within are brewing because with every new day the realization comes that before the night is over, everything will change.

Turns out that even though Christmas Day was hard as hell, we created new memories of our own that ultimately brought us closer. We enjoyed each other more by eating meals together, taking the dogs on a walk together and playing games together. There was a sense of unity among the three of us that never existed before.

And now that the first Christmas of our new norm has passed, I realize that I feel the power coming on, starting like a fire. This holiday lit the flame and now everything will change.

That’s a good thing.

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Glitter in the Air

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Have you ever allowed yourself to be truly vulnerable and transparent with raw wounds? As Pink sings in Glitter in the Air, “have you ever invited a stranger to come inside?”

This was the choice I made after deciding (along with my son) that we would not keep the worst day of our lives a secret. October 31, 2021 changed our worlds forever when Halloween took on a whole new meaning with our real- life horror show. From that day forward, I have  certifiably been able to use the term “going through hell” without a sliver of exaggeration.

In the month since it happened, I’ve relived that day over and over in my mind. The first few days were a blur. Staying out of bed for more than a couple of hours was a major task. The only food I could stomach was a banana. There were times I sat in front of the mirror and just stared, not recognizing the reflection of the pale puffy woman who looked like she had been hit by a truck. My life felt surreal. It was like watching a movie that kept twisting and turning in the most unimaginable ways.  I waited and waited to wake up. It never happened so I adjusted, but  not without the help of an army of angels.

In June 2021, I started seeing a therapist. I was angry. I think the first words I said to her were, “I hate people.” I was on the verge of a break-down but didn’t quite understand why. It’s now 5 months later, and it all makes sense. Toxicity was permeating my every fiber. I could feel it, I just didn’t realize the source of it. As they say, I couldn’t see the forest through the trees.

I spent Halloween 2021 at the ER with my son. I had to leave my dog, who had been badly bitten by my other dog, at home with large open wounds. I had a choice, I could either take my dog to the vet, or take my son to the hospital. As much as I love my dogs, nothing trumps my children and so we spent the evening in the ER while my dog was alone at home, bleeding and in pain.

Enter angel #1, my BFF. She came to my home and took care of my dog. She walked away from her own Halloween to help a four-legged friend in need. No questions asked, she just did it.

I didn’t sleep a wink that night. My body was in true fight or flight, jumping into survival mode every time I started dozing off.

The next day I was greeted at my home by angel #2, my former mother-in-law. She had driven all the way from NM to see her grandson. I cried in her arms for what felt like an eternity.

An hour or so later, my ex-husband and his friend arrived at our home. Angels #3 & 4 were there to support not only his son, but all of us. They were ready and willing to do anything we needed.

Angels #5 & 6, my Mom & Dad, arrived just a couple of hours later. These two get the top angel awards as they have been here ever since, pulling the weight that I haven’t had the strength to handle. I can’t put into words my gratitude for them and all they have done. They truly are the wind beneath my wings.

Once I had the courage and strength to be open about our experience, the angels kept flooding in, in numbers more than I can count.

My boss was more supportive than I could have possibly imagined. She was nurturing and calm, listening to me try to piece together the shattered story of my life – all while opening space for me to take care of family and not worry about work. Colleagues sent messages of hope and strength, and one very special colleague in California stepped in and just started handling everything on my plate.

I received a call from the owner of our company. He kindly listened and offered support and prayer. A few days later, I received generous and thoughtful gifts for the kids from my company. These gifts brightened their worlds, which had just been turned upside down.

For at least two weeks I was a blurry version of myself, yet felt no pressure from my company to be anything other than what I was.  My company wrapped its’ arms around me and I will be forever grateful.

Another tragedy hit just a few days after the first one. As Rodney Atkins says in his famous song, If You’re Going Through Hell, “things go from bad to worse, you’d think they can’t get worse than that and then they do.” I have another angel to thank for introducing me to that song because it reminds me daily, that I am not the only person in the world to go through hell.

Just when I wasn’t sure I had the strength to make it through the domestic violence that had occurred on Halloween, I had a whole new issue on my hands that required a surplus of strength I wasn’t sure I  had. But then another angel talked me through things on a daily, sometimes hourly basis. Anytime I called, she picked up. I cried, I cussed, I yelled. She listened. She provided reason. And she just loved me through it.

While I was away one day tending to this other trauma, my father’s car broke down. A neighbor angel swept in and came to help.

Because much of my furniture was gone, I needed a bed for my parents. A family from my son’s Cross Country team not only picked up the bed for us, but came to our house and put it together.

I had no tools so a neighbor let me enter her home (when no one was there) to borrow some. About a week later, a beautiful brand-new tool set showed up on my doorstep. That neighbor knew exactly what this single mom needed and acted on it with a beautiful gift.

I realized angels weren’t just helping me, they were helping everyone associated. Angels, Angels, Angels!

As the weeks went on, I received texts, calls, Marco Polo’s and private messages daily. Some from people in my current sphere of relationships, but many from people I had otherwise lost contact with. I received messages from people thanking me for protecting my children to messages from people telling me they had experienced domestic violence and wished their mother had protected them. The door I opened in choosing to be transparent created an overwhelming sense of community.

So many people told me they were proud of me. And when you are making a life changing move like this, “I’m proud of you” is such a powerful thing to hear.

I’m not sure how these angels knew what I needed, but multitudes of them knew. I even got a call from my brother who I had not spoken to in quite some time. I cried. He listened. He loved me and I knew he was there, and our relationship was repaired.

I got calls from colleagues who were attempting to distract me with work talk, or to just make me laugh. They knew exactly what I needed.

Gift cards to Door Dash and Uber Eats came. Cards from friends to tell me they loved me came. My BFF showed up one night with flowers and my favorite beverage and sat in my room with me in my zombie like state, just listening and being there with her super-sized angel wings.

Less than a week later, she and her husband came to help me put up a TV and then she drove with me across town for a Mexican dinner. I was still in full on walking dead mode, but she was there, once again, right by my side.

My son’s Cross-Country team, coaches and even recruiting college coaches were showing support left and right. They all made sure we knew he had made a name for himself and didn’t need to worry about missing State his senior year. That was incredibly meaningful for us. His former coach sent him gifts in the mail. I got calls from recruiting college coaches just checking in on him. The support from the Cross Country community was endless.

And at his end of the year Cross Country banquet, he received the prestigious Eagle Award for the 4th year in a row. That set back on Halloween didn’t stop him from shining bright all the way through the end of his High School Cross Country career.

So here we are, 4 weeks later on Thanksgiving Day. My parents are still here and my other brother and his son drove in from NM. Rather than relaxing and enjoying the holiday as they all should have, my whole family was at work all day long. My mom and brother tackled Thanksgiving dinner together in the kitchen. My dad was busy hanging pictures and draining / cleaning the hot tub. My brother continued through the night resetting electronics and fixing things I couldn’t figure out.  And when he saw me breaking down in the middle of the kitchen for no apparent reason, he stopped everything and just hugged me. No words spoken, just sheer support through a brotherly hug.

I’ve had moments with the kids where we just hug. Moments where we lay in the yoga room and just talk. I feel closer to both of them than I ever have.

And when our injured dog finally got his cone off today, we all rejoiced and swarmed him with snuggles.

The dogs have not left my side once. They literally wrap their paws around me every chance they get.

And today, when I needed to step out into nature and just feel the feels, I listened to Glitter in the Air by Pink and stopped in my tracks to these lyrics:

“Have you ever…..closed your eyes and trusted, just trusted?

Have you ever thrown a fistful of glitter in the air?

Have you ever looked fear in the face and said, I just don’t care?”

Well Pink, I can say, on Thanksgiving Day 2021, that I have. I’m not sure  in my 48 years of life I’ve ever truly closed my eyes and just trusted, until now. Because I have enough angels around me letting me know it’s ok to trust.

My angels are the ones that help me to throw fistfuls of glitter in the air, in those moments between the pain.

And because of my angels, I am able to, even if only for brief moments, look fear in the face and say, “I just don’t care.”

At my therapy session last week, she asked me if I still hate people. Through eyes filled with tears I said, “Absolutely not. I had no idea how much love was surrounding me this entire time.”

There is no way to properly thank my angels. But please know that through you, I have courage, strength and hope. You see, my tears these days aren’t just about the recent tragedies, they are also because I’ve been touched so gently I have to cry.

Much Love & Gratitude my Army of Angels. I am incredibly thankful for you.

 

 


A Man Our World So Desperately Needs

Noah

My first born and only son turned 18 today. It feels like such a historical moment as he officially transitions from a teenager to an adult. It feels like just yesterday  I witnessed him take in the world for the very first time, walk for the first time, talk for the first time and….RUN for the first time. #Yogirunnerboy

As I sit back and observe him taking his right of passage into manhood, my heart swells with pride. He is a perfect example of a man our world so desperately needs. And although I cannot take all of the credit for who he has become, I can reflect on how I chose to raise him. As I continue to embark on my quest for female empowerment, I find an urge to share the top 5, less than traditional, things I sought to teach my boy:

  1. Don’t hold the door for women, hold the door for people. Women are not feeble beings you need to inauthentically “respect” through a simple gesture like holding the door. Holding the door is a courteous gesture to do for all human beings.
  2. Respect women by treating them as your intellectual and emotional equal. Never show respect to a woman through a condescending “traditional” act just because you think you are supposed to. If it doesn’t mean anything to you AND to them, it doesn’t matter.  Rather, find ways to embark in meaningful conversation so that you understand how to best connect with and truly respect your female counterparts.
  3. Rather than be quick to judge others who think, act, or represent differently than you – seek to understand and realize you have so much to learn from them! Become their friends. Hang out with the underdogs. These are the people you will learn the most from.
  4. Question everything. That’s right….EVERYTHING. Don’t believe something just because I or anyone else believes it…research and learn enough to find your own truth. Your beliefs will mean nothing unless they come from deep within you.
  5. Be comfortable with exactly who you are. Never try to adjust yourself in an attempt to seek others’ approval. Approve of yourself and you will be content forever.

I think differently than many. I see the world through my own lens. I don’t expect or even desire my son to see things as I see them, but my hope has always been that he has a genuine respect for all living beings. Little did I know, he would grow up and far surpass me  with open mindedness and respect for others. And so I’m left with the question I may not every truly be able to unravel. Did I teach him, or did he teach me?

I think I will settle on the idea that the answer lies somewhere in the middle. I am confident, however, that in my son, we have a man this world so desperately needs.


Arriba!

Every time Mariachis would play, or a Mexican song would come on, my dad would get that distant look in his eyes as though he were being taken to a far-away place where he had not a worry in the world. I never thought about it until this very moment, when I walked into Arriba Mexican Grill after a long, busy week. Walking in was like entering a time machine, back to a place with fond memories. And for the first time, I understood. I realized how very important my heritage is. The moment I heard the music playing and saw the Mariachi statues surrounded by bright colors with the smell of green chile permeating the air – I too, even if only momentarily, got that distant look in my eyes. I was, for a brief moment, taken to a far-away place, where not a worry in the world existed.

Copyright Eileen Noelle

 

I was briefly reminded of the culture of my upbringing. A place in my past place where people gathered to celebrate – just because. Whether it was the burning of Zozobra at the Santa Fe Fiestas, or to meet up with friends on a Friday night at the Plaza de Santa Fe, or to just be with family – we always seemed to find a way to use food, music and fellowship to bring joy.

I grew up with extremely large extended families, my Mom and Dad both having 7 siblings each. Most of us lived in Santa Fe or northern NM, so it was common to partake in large family gatherings where beans, chile and sopapillas flowed like milk and honey.

As an introvert, you would think these large family gatherings would have been uncomfortable for me, but it was quite the opposite. I looked forward to this time of community. I’m not sure I was aware then of the love and support that constantly enveloped me. I had my tribe. I knew, without a shadow of a doubt, that every person in my family had my back. Castellano’s Vivir!

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My High School experience became more diverse. I started meeting more non-natives and started realizing the tourist appeal of Santa Fe. But I was still immersed. I still frequented The Plaza and Santa Fe staples like Tomasitas. I maintained close ties with my prima, DeAnna, who to this day, remains my “no matter what” person. That one I can always call, no matter what.

Although I stayed in Nuevo Mexico for college to attend the University of New Mexico, I strayed a bit further from my roots. Teaching summer cheer camps across the western U.S. afforded me the opportunity to meet all kinds of people outside of my native Hispanic heritage. And even in college, my closest relationships tended to be with people from other States. I was eager and curious to learn about different cultures.

As an adult, I’ve spent the last 15 years in Phoenix which is somewhat a melting pot of many cultures. Although I am not fully immersed in my native demographic any longer, I find little pockets of familiarity and comfort when I enter a place like Arriba Mexican Grill.

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And as I sit here eating my tamale smothered in green chile, I find myself in a moment of bliss. A moment where I am taken back to a simpler time where my tribe was defined for me. I didn’t have to choose or wonder if they would accept me or if I was making the right choice. And although I’m grateful for the life experiences I’ve had and the opportunity to actually choose my tribe, I find brief moments, when I enter a New Mexican stratosphere, that I am content. I feel at home and am able to savor every bite of green chile and simply enjoy the ambiance. I have not a worry in the world because I feel like I am with my people.

And I now fully understand that distant look in my Father’s eyes. He was at home…..with our people.

Te amo, papá.

Viva Nuevo Mexico!


Shades of Blue

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It is Sunday, November 8, the day after it was announced that Joe Biden & Kamala Harris have been elected into the Presidential office. In my 47 years of life, I have never seen a more emotionally charged election than this one. I will admit that I’ve never been an overly political person myself, but this one mattered to me and so I felt it deeply.

It’s very rare that I plop down in front of the TV on a Saturday morning, but for some reason I did yesterday. I was fortunate enough to be watching the news when the banner swept across the screen saying, “Breaking News – Election Update.” When it was announced that Joe Biden was the 2020 President Elect, I sobbed. I am someone who celebrated yesterday.

Up to this point, I’ve been somewhat afraid to admit how strongly I felt about this election. I’m surrounded by a very strong red community in all aspects of my life and so in some ways, I felt like that kid in high school who was a shade of color that just didn’t fit in. I had my few select friends who knew how I felt, and my public respect for the late RBG may have been a strong indicator that I was “blue”. But for the most part, I felt like I was hiding and even holding my breath, just waiting for it to end.
Here’s the thing I want you to know. There are many shades of blue. I’m not sure when the idea came about that if you support a particular candidate that you most certainly support everything that political party stands for. I don’t claim to know everything there is to know about politics, but I do know about human decency and that is what I chose to vote for.

I am a woman who was raised Catholic in a strong Hispanic community. I have deep roots that guide me to follow the Ten Commandments. “Thou Shalt Not Kill” is something I believe in whole heartedly, so the Pro-Life concept is very important to me. Much of my family voted Republican for this reason, and this reason alone. I respect this decision, but I personally question the logic because the very person they voted for also advocates for the death penalty. I’m not sure what part of “Thou Shalt Not Kill” means, “unless you deem it’s ok to kill.”  I’m sure there are plenty of people on death row who are either innocent or extremely mentally ill. Because there is some hypocrisy in using the commandment as the sole purpose of voting this way, the logic just isn’t there to use the commandment as the backbone for the decision. If we are going to use the commandment or any moral belief otherwise as the backbone to not killing, should that not stay consistent for us from refraining from taking ANY human life?

I saw a post yesterday where someone (who I love dearly) was absolving themselves from voting for the platform that kills babies. It broke my heart to think that there is a belief that in voting for Biden we are automatically baby killers. It’s simply not true. I am Pro-Life and I voted blue.

And for the record, I don’t believe the Pro-Choice movement is about going around trying to kill unborn babies. They simply advocate for creating choice.

The act of abortion has been going on for a very long time and whether legal or not, some woman would still choose to do it, only in an unsafe manner. I may not agree with it, but I can understand it. Gun control is another example.  My belief is that guns themselves highly contribute to the number of gun deaths in this country, but guns would still exist even if we outlawed them, just in an underground manner. Think prohibition.

I have personal experience with discrimination as a Hispanic woman, but I have seen such progress for women and Hispanics in my lifetime. We are finally getting to a place of equality. We are finally getting to a place where our voices are heard. Same goes for every group that has historically been discriminated against. We are progressing as humans and that is a beautiful thing! The fear of clinging to how things were and the fear that things are getting “out of control” because people can actually be who they are – is a great contributor to the division we experience today. I will be the first to admit that I would love for many aspects of our lives to be like they were in the 80’s, but it simply cannot happen. We are evolving just like we always have throughout history. We are now in a digital age and everything has changed. We can either fight it and try to hold on to the traditions and ways we are comfortable with, or we can embrace the inevitable new world we live in and make the best of it.

The one thing that we most certainly have complete control over, is our own behavior. We can love and respect others even when they are different than us. We can treat others with kindness and find common ground rather than division. We can acknowledge our words as the powerful tools they are and refrain from name calling and statements that initiate violence.

I write this post because I realized yesterday, that more than half the country feels the same as I do about who our President should be and to me, it’s more about who WE should be as a society.  And yet I still have people that I love dearly who see me as a shade of blue they don’t like. There are so many shades of blue just as there are so many shades of red, and if we open our minds enough to merge them, we may just find the most magnificent purple we can imagine.

If you are upset by the election results, I am sending you a hand of unity. I am sending you love. Just because we voted differently, does not mean we are THAT different. We are fellow Americans and in the big scheme of things, we are on the same team.

And in case you are wondering why I cried when I found out the election results? I cried mostly for my children. Because I felt a wave of relief that they will grow up in a world where they will experience unity and kindness again. They will live in a world where human decency matters and they will be encouraged to be exactly who they are – without fear of being a shade that doesn’t fit in.