A Glimpse into a Time from the Past.
Unknowingly I step onto the practitioner’s path. My body in emergency mode and my brain trying to make sense of a situation no one my age, that I’ve ever heard of, is facing. I don’t know how to figure this out. How do I save this body rapidly giving over to the deadly tumor sending out off-shoots of cancerous cells?
Amongst the chaos of the body, slivers of comprehension shine out into the corners of my brain. They are small beacons of hope, that I will find my way through this situation. These shards of light are opening to a comprehension of how to direct my life toward positivity amongst the despairing looks of adults around me and the fifty percent chance of survival handed down by the doctor. My first task is to figure out how to transfix my brain on the encouraging aspects of the life still within me. Ultimately, to save this life I must delve into the deep unknown pieces I’ve sworn to silence. An aspect of self I’ve pushed away to squelch any retorts while pursuing the longed-for career of being a model in Los Angeles.
The potential of dying at the age of twenty prompted a journey I’ve now been quietly pursuing for over thirty years, the practitioner’s path. The cancer was my initiation into discovering the elements of a magic potion for the alchemy of life in this body. The ingredients needed for this magical life-potioncome to me through personal encounters, professional pursuits, and a dedication to being a practitioner of lifethrough a Yogic lens. I must pause in this tale of self to clarify what Yogais to me by offering this reflection on it by Sabrina Lobdell,
“True Yoga is about self-realization, the merging of the individual consciousness into Universal Consciousness. In other words, Yoga is the union(coming from the Sanskrit transliteration of the word Yoga – yuj) of the individual soul with God.”
I am applying to a PhD program in Leadership and Changeat Antioch University and these are some of my thoughts as I prepare an essay of an autobiographical nature and intent. The countless hours spent in pain, nausea, and sleeplessness opened me to so much. Being an advocate for myself, for the first time in my life, is just one aspect that emerged. The radical change invoked by this experience and what it exposed me to is something I could never predict. Now I envision taking the past thirty plus years of Yogic engagement and the self-empowering life-leadership work (done with others) blending it with my own quest of being a leader in and of my life as the basis for the pursuit of a doctoral degree. Below is a bit of what I am writing to explain what leads me personally and professionally to want to be a doctoral student.
Thirty-ish years ago, once out of survival mode, my focus turns to those in the same situation from which I’ve just emerged. Amongst the pursuit of academic degrees, I dedicate my working hours to a multitude of non-profit positions all aimed at creating change in the world – health educator at a women’s free clinic on the Haight-Ashbury, HIV outreach director in Southeast DC, groups of women living with cancer, and a national trainer of health care providers regarding access issues for diverse populations in medical facilities. My role as facilitator is to open up opportunities for fears to come forth and dreams of the future to be encouraged. If a need emerges and my skill base is relevant, I find a way to create and implement the support system. Joyce Brady, a professor, shares a gem of wisdom to us bright-eyed educators on our first days of pursing a master’s degree program in Integrative Health Education. “Go to the community. Watch and listen. Ask clarifying questions. You may know the academic particles; however, they, the community, will tell you what is needed if you listen deeply and be a witness versus the expert.” She was so right. Her pointing serves me in diverse and unfamiliar interactions to this very day. No matter what I am working on, what community I move into, or the folks I meet Joyce’s guidance remains solid. It lends a deeper curiosity to people and places, so the ego stays out of the way. The latest way this sage advice guides me is in the pursuit of being of service to foster youth through a life-leadership program co-created with colleagues over ten years ago. Post a two-year certification as a Co-Active life coach with the Coaches Training Institute, I spent one very powerful year immersed in their Leadership Program. The course tipped the scale of this practitioner’s decade and a half of inner-reflection and self-understanding efforts, out into the wide open.
The dragonfly tribe, our cohort’s given name, will not let me hide. My companions to this intensive process hold me as nothing less than a leader. This label, leader, commences a whole new unraveling of self-perception and reflection for me. By the end of the year I find myself marrying the deep calling to be a change agent for underserved populations of youth and the desire to step into a leadership role. A handful of dragonfly women and myself take the final project of the program as a call to formulate and deliver an offering, akin to our own experience. A two-year process of thoughtful engagement, elaboration, and co-active creation results in a four-year life-leadership experience for youth. Even though I have the least experience as a professional leader in this group I step forward to co-facilitate the formation of Catalyst Youth Leadership Project. Shortly, after the designing process starts the dragonfly ladies and I meet, Kenadie, the founder of an organization serving foster girls from the inner-city regions of Los Angeles County. The two organizations combine services to offer a multi-level interactive self-empowerment leadership summer camp with winter supplements for this community of young gals. Our aim is the presentation of this multi-level embodied leadership program and the subsequent holding of spacefor youth to engage and use the practices to transform their perception of self as another statistic of perpetual poverty into a young woman who is empowered to know herself and choose an authentic path of personal success. I am grateful to say the synergy between organizations is beating the national averages of graduation from high school, college engagement, teenage pregnancy, and incarceration rates amongst this population of youth.
The blending of knowledge from my own quest of life through the Yogic lens coupled with the awareness cultivated as a witness and advocate of others on their path of personal evolution is the vision now emerging.