By Kim Haas
I recently turned 50.
When I turned 40, my husband and I went on a cruise to Jamaica with two other couples. My kids were 11 and eight, we had moved across the country, and I was helping my sister deal with the death of her young husband—I was being pulled in many directions. The idea of getting away from it all was very appealing. Getting away from it all in the middle of the ocean with lots of food and drinks and people was even more appealing.
Turning 50 though, that wasn’t the case. Instead of being pulled in all different directions, my kids are in the midst of going off in their own directions as they prepare to leave for college in August. I no longer felt the need to get away from it all.
I needed to pull into my self. I need to find that self to hold onto once they are gone.
So, I began searching on-line for something to do, somewhere to go by myself. I looked at retreats, white water rafting trips, yoga and meditation hikes, hot air balloon rides, parachuting, renting a small writer’s apartment in Paris.
I was obviously looking to challenge myself in some way. Shake things up, but nothing came up that was on the day of my birthday. Definitely nothing that I was willing to pay that kind of money for with two kids in college.
I let it go. It wasn’t meant to be.
One morning I am finishing up my own practice with a shoulder stand and I feel something in my low back give out. Shit. My back hasn’t given me issues since I started a regular yoga practice two years ago. I wasn’t too worried, but part of me knew that something pretty crappy has just happened. I roll onto my back, hugging my knees into my chest. So far, so good.
I rest in child’s pose. I am even able to stand up. Relief washes through me. It must not be too bad.
I’m in the studio alone, waiting to teach the next class. I sit at the computer and then it hits me. I can’t sit. I fall to my knees on the floor. My phone is in my bag by the front door. Students aren’t due to arrive for at least 30 minutes. I come back to my breath and finally manage to stand without too much pain. I call my husband and ask him to bring me an ice pack. He does.
My students come in and I tell them what has happened. I let them know that I can teach, but I won’t be demonstrating any poses. I will talk them through it. I do. It is fine.
I go to sit in the car to drive home. Nope. That is not going to happen. My husband needs to drive me home while I lay on my side in the back seat. At home I fall asleep on the couch with an ice pack for a couple of hours. When I get up and walk a few steps I fall to my knees and am stuck there. After a half hour of lying there I manage to get up with help from my daughter and husband and they get me upstairs to our bed.
Which is where I’ve been in and out of for the last 25 days.
On day 10, feeling better, I did some gentle stretches and it went out again. So bad that it freaked me out and had my daughters called an ambulance. I ended up in the ER.
Each day it gets a little better. Some days it feels a little worse.
I use ice and heat. I take anti-inflammatories and pain pills sparingly. I get up and walk around the house, slowly, I walk outside to get the mail and marvel at the sun on my face, concrete under my feet. I do self-reiki and have received a couple of Bowen treatments.
I read books by Dr. John Sarno who believes that 80% of back pain is not due to anything structural, but is coming from tension caused by repressed rage. So I read. I write. I meditate. I tap using EFT, trying to peel back the layers of emotions that may be contributing to the pain.
I spill tears and rage and frustration into my notebook. I cry. I release. It helps. I feel lighter.
I learn to be in the present. It is so easy to get stuck in thoughts of, “If only I hadn’t tried shoulder stand.” Or worrying about when I’ll be able to teach next or if I’ll be able to help my daughters move up to college. I practiced what I try to teach: coming back to my breath, feeling the sheet on my leg, seeing the sun gauzy through the curtains—coming back to Now.
I’ve been telling myself for the last few years that I don’t want to enter my 50s with all this extra weight: physical, mental and emotional.
The Universe said, “Alrighty then. Let’s do this.”
In the last 25 days I’ve lost physical pounds for sure but mostly I’ve shed a bunch of stories about being a burden, about not being worthy enough, about not needing to find my value outside myself. I feel lighter in spirit. As if my spirit is filled with Light.
This time has been a huge (and much needed) pause in what has been a busy, stressful year so far filled with much change as our family goes through its necessary growing pains. I went through and continue to go through my own growing pains. Letting myself feel all the emotions. Letting them come up instead of stuffing them somewhere in my body.
My new motto is: acknowledge, feel, thank and release.
While I had my heart set on some grand adventure outside myself, far from my life, the Universe had other plans. I went on a grand inner adventure, close to home.
An adventure deep into my heart.
An adventure that is allowing me to enter this next stage of my life braver, lighter and present to it all.
Kim Haas lives in Michigan with her husband and their two amazing daughters. She does not have a BA or MFA but is learning the craft of writing the old fashioned way—through lots of reading and writing followed by more reading and writing. She became a certified yoga teacher because yoga changed her life and she hopes to offer the same possibility to her students. She enjoys an unexpected good library day, indie bookstores, indie films and loves a good pun, or even a bad one. Visit her blog where she ponders all the ways that the art of practice permeate her life, find her on elephant journal, like her Facebook page or you can follow her on Twitter.
Editor: Alicia Wozniak