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FEATURE - July 2016 - Kansas City
Finding Your Joy When You Feel Lost
By Diane Sodders
I woke up Thanksgiving Day wanting to die. I pondered suicide but didn’t want the memory of my death to haunt those I still had left on that day. I knew all too well what that was like. November 18, Dad. May 7, aunt. September 12, Mom. April 8, sister. Grandma in February. Sister in March. Cousin in October. Friend in September. Then there were birthdays and holidays. Most of my family is gone. I have a couple of siblings, some nieces and nephews. There is my husband and his family, too. But all of my joys, my traditions, my reasons for feeling connected and happy in this world, were gone. I was so lost.
So why, on this day, the day after Thanksgiving, was I so desperate? Because the night before, my best friend, Tina, had died of cancer. She was the 4th person close to me who had died in a matter of 18 months. I was done. I was done losing those I loved. I wanted to be with them. I could not take another day of not being able to speak to them, to confide in them, to laugh with them or to celebrate with them. With each death, my joy disappeared. I simply had no desire to breathe one more breath. But I had to get up. I had to fix the cherry pie, which I burned. I had to make the cheesecake, which I burned. I had to try and put on a brave face with my husband’s family, and I failed. I cried on and off throughout the day. I don’t remember much else.
Tina had so much joy. Her laugh was contagious. She never failed at anything, from what we could tell. She was wicked smart and believed in living hard, laughing hard, and working hard. She was my inspiration each day. The day after Thanksgiving, I remembered what Tina had asked me to do, just five days before. She asked me to promise her that I would take yoga teacher training. Ugh. Not what I wanted to do. But that promise, her words, my agreement, were overtaking my brain. It was like she was nagging me to fulfill the one thing I didn’t want to do more than anything else in the world. I was 100 pounds overweight, my body was already dying with a disease I still hadn’t found a name for, and I was tired. I had no business being in a yoga teacher training course. But there was Tina’s voice in my head, telling me to enroll.
So I did. It wasn’t really on a whim. I have a Master’s Degree in Teaching. I loved yoga. And it was something that Tina and I had talked about at length during her illness. I was just so desperate with grief that I had no desire to function, let alone challenge my sick body and my exhausted mind. On the first night, I had to talk myself into going with abusive words. But when I got there, an old friend whom I hadn’t seen since the passing of her husband was there. It was like Tina had orchestrated this whole thing. She put me with someone who knew deep grief too. I was never more grateful to have her on this journey with me.
I wish I could tell you that it was easy and that things were all sunshine and rainbows. But true change is destructive and painful. And this, as it turned out, was true change. Month after month, journal entry after journal entry, yoga pose after yoga pose, I wept. I sobbed. I screamed and continued to pray for relief from this hell. And then I stopped crying as much. I stopped screaming as much. I was diagnosed and was getting treatment for Hashimoto’s disorder and PTSD. My body got stronger. And after 12 months of deep work, of learning and un-learning, of pleasure and pain, I graduated with my certificate. And so did my friend. We had laughed and cried and screamed our way through this experience, only to come out stronger and happier on the other side.
On our last weekend, we were asked to share what yoga had given us. I responded, tears in my eyes and barely breathing, “My life back.” But it was so much more than that. I got my joy back. You see, as I learned to breathe, to relax and to surrender, I discovered that the strength and wisdom of each of those that I love, that have gone on before me, was within me too, pushing me to engage in life again. It wasn’t just Tina anymore. I could feel all of them: my parents, grandparents, sisters and loved ones. I could hear them encouraging me to move forward and to follow my dream. Helping me to find my joy and to follow it. I still wasn’t sure what it was going to be, but I was listening.
I changed jobs and am going back to college for interior design. It is so far outside of anything I have ever done, but I am finding that I love colors and textures and beauty. I love helping people create a sacred space in their homes. I love seeing the joy on their faces when they are happy to invite someone into their home. It brings me joy. And I would have never known it if I had not felt like dying some 18 months ago. Tina, and the deaths of my loved ones, taught me something…not to waste my precious life grieving their deaths. Tina had her path. I am grateful it crossed mine for more than 30 years. But her path isn’t my path. Mine is to live out this life with her joy and my joy intertwined. And I plan to express that joy until our paths cross again. Her death gave me that courage. I love her for that.
Diane Sodders, also known as Indira Grace, has been in the Conscious Evolution community for more than 15 years. She has worked as a teacher, prison counselor and a prayer minister. She has her Bachelor’s Degree in secondary education and her Master’s degree in teaching. She is a Reiki Master, angel communicator, certified massage therapist and yoga instructor and is now pursuing her associate’s in interior design. She now has a strong passion for living.