Lately I’ve been thinking about my travels since Landon passed away (July 12 2014). It occurred to me that although most of the time the thought of leaving my home, my safe haven, and venturing elsewhere in such a vulnerable state terrified me – each trip somehow played an integral role in my journey of healing and growing. Travel can be transformative, akin to a spiritual pilgrimage. I’d even suggest that travel can be yoga in the sense that it can help you connect more deeply to the present moment by taking you out of your habitual way of being and into a new, unfamiliar environment where your senses grasp onto everything and you experience life in a more vivid and awakened way.
My first trip after Landon was to a small cottage on Lake Winnipeg, just a few weeks after he died. My parent’s neighbours had lent it to Justin and I for the weekend, and the change of scenery and peacefulness of the quiet beach community was wonderful. Early one morning, I walked Cody along the beach and sat on a swing set thinking about what life should have been. I felt like all my dreams had been cruelly snatched away, and I was living in an empty, pointless void. The sunrise was beautiful though, and that itself brought me some hope that there would be brighter days to to come. I took some photos and journaled a bit for @yoga_girl’s Instagram challenge – not realizing a that time that my writings would one day end up being a book (Landon’s Legacy: The Power of a Brief Life) that would help so many, and that very photo would end up being on its cover. It was on that trip that I decided I wanted to make sure Landon’s life was not forgotten. Even though no one except our immediate family got to actually meet him, I wanted people to know he’d lived – a whole 41 weeks inside of me, and 4 days earthside. I wanted the world to know I was a MOM – Landon’s mom.
The next trip I took was to Kripalu for a yoga retreat centered around healing and finding your life’s purpose after loss. I figured that this would be a good way for me to learn some practices that might help me, as each day my heart just seemed to get heavier as the reality of losing Landon unravelled and enveloped my entire being. What I took away from there were some wonderful tools, yes, but what impacted me even more was finally being able to speak about what happened, and to feel heard by others who really understood. Up until then, I wrote alot but hadn’t been able to get through conversations. I didn’t know anyone in my life who had lost a child, and I felt so alone.
It was after this trip that I decided I wanted to create a retreat for women like me, suffering the loss of a pregnancy or child, or the loss of the ability to bear a child. I wanted to share yoga and other healing practices that helped me with others, and to create a much needed community of support so that we could all walk through this journey together. Landon’s Legacy Retreat has had 2 annual retreats, which 50 women have attended, and these moms still are close friends and even plan reunions, meet-ups and support each other through the thick and the thin. (The next retreat is September 24-29, and you can find more information and register at www.landonslegacyretreat.com, oneOeight members receive 10% off).
The third, and most transformative trip for me was to Thailand. I had the extremely good fortune to win a spot at @yoga_girl’s retreat through the Instagram challenge that inspired so much of my writing and I believe changed the course of my life. The retreat transformed me in ways I never thought possible. The retreat was intensely emotional and difficult at times, but by the end I was able to backbend again and I was able to handstand again, and I felt stronger and more open that I had in a very long time. The time spent with Rachel and all of the wonderful people I met there was so nourishing for my soul, I left feeling like I might be able to trust, find joy and really live again. I returned home, and within a couple weeks embarked on what I anticipated would be the scariest journey of my life – I got pregnant.
Surprisingly, when I found out I was pregnant almost 8 weeks later, I wasn’t nearly as terrified as I thought I’d be. Though I had my ups and downs, most of my pregnancy with Lily I felt positive and even energized. About half way through, I even travelled to Seattle to film videos for oneOeight. This took me way out of my comfort zone in seriously every way possible. But I did it, and I’m so happy I did. I’m beyond grateful to have the privilege to be part of this love-filled community, and to be able to learn and grow along with so many incredible teachers.
Fast forward a couple of years – and in less than in a few weeks I’ll be flying to Aruba (along with Justin and Lily, who is 19 months). Also, if you are in Aruba I’ll be teaching a workshop at Island Yoga on July 22. I’m really looking forward be being able to share with you the practices that have really carried me through the past couple of years of balancing new motherhood, grief, and life in general. It’s been a tremendously humbling, and awakening, experience. Physically and emotionally, I’ve met challenges that have frustrated me, broken me, and brought me new pain and intense lows – but through it all I’ve learned so much. I feel like I can relate much better to my students, especially those who are new to the practice, lacking motivation to get back into their practice, postpartum moms, or those who are going through hard times physically and/or emotionally themselves. I’d love to hear from you what kinds of practices you’d like to see!