Tuesday, January 13, 2015

A POST ABOUT YOGA & KINDNESS FROM STRANGERS


Since I became Ezra's mama, I'm afraid I've become a bit of an oversharer. So I debated whether or not to share more about this wonderful thing that happened to me last week. I kind of wanted to keep it all to myself. But I have this tugging at my heart that I should share more.

Let me start at the beginning for anyone who is reading this blog for the first time. Our second son Ezra was born in April 2013. He has a longer medical history than many of us will have our entire lives. After many grueling months with no answers, he was diagnosed with Juvenile Myelomonocytic Leukemia (JMML) and later Noonan Syndrome. Amidst the chaos of his first year, running to and from the children's hospital and being housebound for eight months to protect his fragile immune system, I never lost the baby weight, and overnight (it seemed), it was replaced with unhealthy weight (by way of sadness, worry, stress, and so.many.sleepless.nights). You see, the parents of sick children spend every waking hour (and often all hours of the night) keeping their children alive. They become their doctors and nurses away from the hospital. They take on jobs and roles they never imagined. Sleep, let alone any time to care for themselves, is simply a luxury they do not have. This was my story. I was nursing Ezra every hour in small amounts so that he would not throw up everything because his spleen was so enlarged it left no room in his tiny body for his stomach. I was administering medications via tube five times a day, spaced out in such a way that there was no wiggle room, no margin for error. I was cleaning up toxic chemo puke and poo around the clock. I was unable to sleep at night because of the beeps and sounds from the feeding pump that hung on an IV pole right next to our bed where our sweet little Ezra slept propped up in a rocker so he would not choke in his sleep. I could go on, and I'm sad to say our family had it easy in comparison to other families I have come to know and love. But the point is, the thought of me being away from our sweet boy for more than half an hour at a time was laughable. The thought of me expelling any energy or attention to anything besides caring for my children, preposterous. Exercise, what!? It just wasn't possible.

After Ezra got healthier, after his leukemia was considered in remission, I still carried the extra pounds with me. I was SO embarrassed about the state of my body, I started loathing leaving the house, even though I was overjoyed that I finally had the freedom to do so. I was so ashamed, so uncomfortable in my own skin, I didn't know how to face the outside world again. I cringed every time someone posted a picture of me on Facebook...I even had to ask for some of those pictures to be taken down because I couldn't handle it. I just wanted to give everyone who saw me a disclaimer that I looked the way I did because of all that my family had been through in the past year.

But, about 4 months ago, I said enough is enough. I mustered up all the courage I could and I took a leap of faith. I was inspired by the health and fitness of my dear friend Lindsay who had been faithfully practicing yoga, even throughout the entirety of her pregnancy, and I said "Hey, can I come with you to yoga?"



While I still don't recognize myself in the mirror most days, and still have many pounds to lose before I get to a place that feels healthy again, yoga has helped me to give myself some grace. It has shown me how strong I am and how much possibility lies ahead of me. It has empowered me and challenged me. It has energized me and brought me peace. It has been so many things that have been such a blessing to me after such a hard time in my life.

About a month into my yoga journey, this past October, we found ourselves up at the children's hospital with Ezra once again. Between pre-op and surgery the next day, I needed a moment to give my anxious heart a break, so I headed to Lululemon with my mom to look at yoga mats. When the employees there asked if we were out having a mother-daughter shopping day, I laughed and said no...and somehow, by the time I got up to the register to make my purchase, they had learned enough about sweet Ezra that they decided they wanted to do something nice for me. They gave me one of the mats I had been looking at. As in, here you go, we don't know you, but we want you to have this awesome mat, free of charge. I was blown away by their generosity and as soon as things settled down after surgery I wrote them a thank you note. I was loving my new mat and also wanted to tell them more about my amazing yoga teacher, Melinda, and how thankful I was to be her student.

Fast forward to last week, the beginning of January, when a lovely handwritten note arrives in the mail from Lululemon, explaining how a few weeks back, they had the opportunity to meet my yoga teacher and that she was just as lovely in person as I described in my letter. They said that they had been thinking about Ezra and my family, and that in the spirit of the season, they wanted to do something else for me. They gifted me with me six months of yoga classes. SIX months. I'm still teary with joy.

*****

I am so blessed to be Ezra's mom. And I would be his nurse again in a heartbeat. But I am incredibly grateful for the place he's at right now. I am grateful that I can focus a little bit on taking better care of myself so that I can better care for him, and be present for my oldest son Judah, my husband Josh, and all the people I love in my life. I am so grateful that my friend Lindsay let me tag along with her to yoga that first time and for her support along the way. I am grateful for Melinda, and Nicole, and Jen, and Jessica (and Robin and Veronica at barre3) for being so welcoming and encouraging from the second I stepped into their classes. I'm grateful for Rachel, Ashley, Natasha, Kelly, Cynthia, Janine and all my friends and family who have encouraged me as I have embarked on this journey to take some time for myself and to better my health. I'm thankful to Lululemon for giving me these incredibly generous gifts - I feel so blessed.

It is hard for mamas like me to overcome the trials of the past...and sometimes even harder to ponder the trials of the future for a child who has had so many odds stacked against him. But small acts of kindness truly make a world of difference. They make yesterday and tomorrow just a little bit easier.

Think about what you can do this week to bring some sunshine to someone who might be in the middle of a storm. A random act of kindness, or maybe just a smile and a little extra grace...you might just be the rainbow they desperately need to see.

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