I haven't written in a while, and I apologize for those who have been wondering what happened. In the past year, I have completely re-started my life! I now live in my own apartment in the beautiful state of Florida where I get to enjoy birds and sunshine on a daily basis...plus sooo much more! It's so awesome and has been one of the MOST empowering moves of my life....
The 3 main reasons for moving were
1) Being closer to some amazing teams....The Avatar® Course deliveries, which I have been graced and honored to be a part of and continue to learn so much from... and a refuge for artists living with paralysis, the Rise Up Gallery
2) Starting to retrain my body at the Project Walk Orlando gym specialized for people living with spinal cord injuries, and I am already making huge moves!
3) The increased sunshine and accessibility...winters in a wheelchair just simply weren't for me...I feel motivated to start driving again in a flatter state....plus I have access to locally grown fruits and vegetables which is optimal for the diet required to re-grow your nerves....YES that's what I'm doing...go vegan if you want to do this...(nothing against happy meat though)
That is the short version. Along with the transition came many difficult decisions, deeply felt emotions, mistakes...or as I like to call them..."learning opportunities"...LOTS of HELP....grace, gratitude, and humility. Through it all, my motto remains. "Just keep going!"
Being in a body that has limitations is a very difficult life indeed. What you can and can't do are much more obvious and flaws aren't as easily hidden. I've had to become more vulnerable than ever...I've had to ask for help...I've had to dig deep for motivation and willingness...and I've had to face fears and emotions that were buried for years. Some days I wonder how I could have been so numb to what was going on...even when I could "FEEL"....I wasn't actually feeling! Even when I could "MOVE"....I wasn't going anywhere in my life. As I have faced all of these challenges and decided to move through and feel them...I continue to grow and evolve. This path was always waiting for me...I woke up to it the second I hit the ground....it accelerated with the intention to keep going...and when Avatar entered my life..it leapt to light speed! I truly feel so graced to have the support I now have at this time. Every step that led me here was bigger than it seemed at the time...and I am sorry for every moment and person I have taken for granted. It's all been a blessing. =)
Now for a story that happened at the gym this week....a really interesting perspective on how my sub-conscious mind has affected and still affects my reality!
So.....my trainer puts me on a machine called the "total gym" which is used for spinal cord injury clients to start retraining their knees to lock and unlock and gain strength in their legs...I think it's pretty much to help create any movement that will help the person to stand on their own again. So I'm laying on the sliding pad, my feet on on the foot plate, and my trainer is sitting above my feet on the foot plate facing towards me to assist if my knees aren't moving.
On this day I figured out that if I flap my arms around then it was soo much easier! So I'm there flapping my arms and enjoying watching my knees unlocking, locking, unlocking, etc...laughing at the silliness of the movements and explaining that life in a wheelchair is so "still and confined" that it feels very strange to be moving my body and arms so much. I feel grateful that I am in a place where I am encouraged to move in any way I can ~ as long as I MOVE.
Next, my trainer lifts my feet in his hands and slides me up the machine, then slides me back so that my feet land on the foot plate. He explains that they used to do this so that when the feet hit the foot plate, the client would feel the vibration of it as though they were landing on the ground from a jump. Well, the interesting part of this was that when my feet hit the foot plate I felt the vibration and instantly took notice that an internal alarm went off in my mind. I was like, "wow! That's interesting....I really didn't like that."
I instantly remembered that on more than one occasion in my life I stayed hanging above the ground, hovering on a rock, or dangling on the monkey bars being terrified of my feet hitting the ground. I am pretty sure I am not the only one who has experienced the shock and pain from landing on your feet wrong....ouch!! Flash-backs of fear-filled moments flooded my memory mode...times when I stayed paralyzed and afraid of my feet hitting the ground were shown to me in this moment on the total gym. It was such an insight to me of how this fear was running in the background the night I fell. I know this might be weird to say...but to me it kind of makes sense that I didn't land on my feet....I didn't WANT to!!
The other interesting part of this piece of the story is that landing on my feet was something I was consciously trying to overcome in the months leading up to my injury. I used to have the privilege of nannying my niece and nephew. I had been taking my niece to the playground as the spring weather was warming up and as she went down the slide, I would deliberately jump from the top of the play-scape and attempt to bend my knees as much as possible upon landing in the rubbery chips below. Everytime - no matter what I did - the landing was scary and painful...but I continued to practice...apparently I just hadn't acquired the right tools to overcome this repeated experience!
So back to the moment of realization on the total gym. I immediately told my trainer what I was seeing and feeling. How amazing the sub-conscious mind is...I was also shown how powerful our fears can be that are transparently running while we try new things or just go about our day. I am so grateful to have the awareness I have now to catch these moments, to be able to take an observer's viewpoint. Instead of being a victim to the feelings and memories, my trainer helped me to start "landing." He lifted me up again by my feet so that I could hold onto the handle bars above my head. Even though the sliding pad of the total gym was pratically parallel to the ground and not vertical...this gave my mind the simulated impression that I was holding onto monkey bars and dangling my feet above the "ground" (or footplate).
So then it was up to me to decide when I let go. As my feet approached the footplate, my trainer would slow them just enough so that I landed and didn't slam too hard for my body to handle. I laughed every time at how challenging this was for my mind to accept. I was re-structuring my brain with a new pattern....to deliberately land on my feet! This is just the beginning of some of the amazing insights that have been occurring when I get out of my chair and back into moving my body.
I'm dealing with old patterns that are bumping up against the new patterns I am offering my mind and body. Now I believe all of this is possible if you have a strong enough intention and will. I also believe that the increase in awareness to simply take a "widened-back" perspective and notice what is happening in the moment has helped me tremendously. My years of doing yoga, being in tune through dance and music, taking classes in qi gong and energy, and really exploring the many ways in which we can create and experience have all led to the continuous work I now do with the Avatar tools. It just keeps getting better...
I love the life I am living...I can appreciate the pain, the mistakes, the untold secrets, the protected identities, the fears, the traumas....even the anger! I can be found to take myself too seriously...and sometimes I can be found to take those things that people do or don't do too personally. I've pointed fingers, I've played the victim, and I've made excuses or played stupid. Maybe 2 1/2 years after my injury I am still in a wheelchair...maybe I am still experiencing the same exact pains and challenges...but I have learned to appreciate and keep going when I am discouraged, and I can still be of service by deciding to show up for myself and most importantly for others. I am practicing every day to use my will and place my attention on the things that really matter to me. I can still make goals and achieve them and I can still make a big change on the planet while I keep doing everything I can to re-activate, re-generate, and re-birth myself into an integrated and whole person again. I can "be the change I wish to see in the world" as Gandhi says =)
For now, I'm enjoying the flight of an explorer...and I am starting to enjoy the landings too =)
May we find peace and enlightenment in all of our experiences....and may we all rise up a wiser and more compassionate being because of them. I am truly blessed and graced to be able to share this journey with such loving people and I thank you ALL for taking the time to ride the waves with me.
Namaste ~ Love, Laurie
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