Ragged to Radiant

How My Mess Became a Message: I grew up in an itty bitty town in western Massachusetts to an alcoholic, mostly absent, father and downright amazing, steadfast, rock solid, mother. By the time I was 13 years old, I had heard and witnessed enough violence and chaos to instinctively know that it would be a heck of a good idea to “get the funk out” of the environment I was in… and so I did. 

For the next 5 or so years of my life I lived with a friend and her family, they took me in as one of their own and I did my best to “fit into” a “normal” family… in the meanwhile, stuffing all of the emotions that were raging through my body. 

This stuffing caught up to me by the age of 20, when I found myself, in my second year of undergraduate school at the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth, frozen by my perfectionism. Literally, I could not get out of bed one morning because I was frozen in so much emotional and physical pain and basically binge eating my way through second semester. 

My boyfriend at the time had to carry me from his bed into his car and drive me to the doctor, who proceeded to give me a small piece of paper prescribing some kind of anxiety and/or depression medication which I proceeded to throw out. I instinctively knew that, for me, what I perceived as a quick fix was not going to transform over a decade of embodied trauma. 

By the next day I was able to find enough motivation to bring myself to the university counselor who “prescribed” me a meditation cassette (I know right, cassette tapes? Ancient!). This, I did not throw out, I listened to it as often as I could and started attending every campus yoga class my scheduled allotted.

There was a kind of fire ignited in me, a profound motivation. I knew on a visceral level that my issues were definitely in my tissues (trapped in my body) and that the embodied trauma was not going away with pill popping; however, it could be a mess that I transformed into a message through STEADFAST practice and dedication.

This is where the journey with meditation and yoga commenced. And my issues sure did unravel through my tissues… many days I found myself scared to “tune into” my body, or “get still and feel” … other days I was able to have a full body dance/shake/movement fest in my bedroom and release some of the memories of violence, chaos, and ultimately traumatic energetic infarcts absorbed by this body on a daily basis as an infant, toddler, and teen.

I attended 10 day, 8 day, 3 day, 1 day meditation retreats for years… signed up and completed a 200 hour yoga teacher training, continued onto complete a formal 100 hours of alignment focused yoga training, among many other day long and weekend long trainings on specific topics relevant to yoga/teaching yoga… and found myself teaching dance / movement arts and yoga from 2006 onward… (into today!)

From there, I discovered my love for anatomy and started pursuing physical therapy school. I moved to Long Island to study and teach for a Physical Therapist / Yoga teacher / Studio owner and start my pre-requisites for graduate school. 

Part way through this process, something in me was saying “this doesn’t quite line up” … and I remembered a friend who I knew through my compulsive overeating 12 step program (which I forgot to mention is a part of my mess that has become my message, more on that in another post perhaps) who just finished Occupational Therapy school. I asked him if I could shadow him at the neuro-rehabilitation center for youth where he worked; with a whole lotta eagerness, he agreed…

The second student he worked with was an 18 year old who had sustained a traumatic brain injury from a football incident and this young man WAS A SHINING LIGHT beyond anything I had ever seen… high fives every 2 minutes and barely any language, just sounds, and lots of SMILES! I was hit straight in the heart. I knew, absolutely knew that occupational therapy was ME. I WAS destined for this work. And so the next step on my journey began….

Graduate school was an unraveling of all my mess turning into my message: from teaching yoga to veterans with PTSD (whom I could relate with on a deep level as I have gone through over a decade of PTSD treatment in psychotherapy through EMDR and complimented this work with my yoga practice) to teaching inner city youth how to PLAYFULLY be in their body; onward into post-graduate school studies in myofascial release — a manual healing technique that I feel just as destined to do as with being a yoga educator and holistically focused occupational therapist!

There are so many ways my mess of a childhood has served me in this life and motivated me to be of MAXIMUM service to individuals effected by trauma, poverty, witnessing abuse; people who have stored trauma in their body who are looking for support and sacred safe space to heal.

I certainly know that I would not be a yoga teacher and occupational therapist today if I had not grown up in the environment I did. Thank you to my father, to my mother, to the universe for giving me exactly the experiences I have had… to help me transform a mess into a MESSAGE of hope, perseverence, healing, and helping me transform from RAGGED to RADIANT!

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