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From Chaos to Calling

Mary Singleton

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Labor Day Weekend found me in Mississippi spending a great couple of days at our camp, lounging by the creek, cooking out, enjoying the last vacation I would have before teacher training kicked in.  Sunday evening I hopped on our ATV and headed to the creek to catch the sunset.  

I have no recollection of an “oh shit” moment when the ATV flipped.  I remember heading back to camp through the woods, happy as can be, wanting to get back before it got dark.  The next moment I’m on my back, actually still in a pretty good mood.  I wasn’t scared, I wasn’t aware of the extent of my injuries, I don’t remember being in pain, (thank you shock)…until I tried to get up.  Cue the “oh shit” moment.  

I can’t imagine what it was like for my husband and child to come down that trail and see the ATV laying upside down.  I can only guess how awful it was for Mark to have no choice but to leave our ten year old son with his wife in the woods at night alone, forced to head  back to the camp for phone service to call an ambulance  

Our son, Sawyer, is the bravest kid I know. He knelt down beside me, held my hand, and every time I would squeeze his hand to reassure him I was okay, he would quickly say “No mom, don’t squeeze my hand. I’m okay. I’m taking care of you. You’re going to be okay. Don’t move.”  He never stopped saying “I love you mom.  I love you mom.”  Never.   

Several hours and two hospitals later, my injuries were assessed.  It is nothing short of a miracle that I escaped paralysis, that I escaped death. My baby sister, Annie, is an ICU nurse.  She and my mom were the first to get to us.  My best friend, Susan, was close behind.  My dad flew in and my big sister and niece were right behind him. Before the day was out, I had flowers filling my room and messages from home sending me love and support.   

I mention my sister being an ICU nurse because I believe everyone needs an advocate in that setting;  everyone.  My sister’s help was our saving grace.  She was able to cut through the bureaucratic bullshit, keep the family informed, and me as comfortable as humanly possible in that situation.  She was invaluable to my husband who hadn’t slept in 48 hours, and my son who loves his momma more than life itself.  

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As I started to come around the next day, my mind flew to the studio, the teacher training, the seriousness of my injuries, and the realization my life had taken quite a turn.  Amanda Mays and Beth Zagurski jumped into the helm of the Yoga Path ship and had a whole team of beautiful and amazing teachers jump in beside them.  Their faith in me, in our students, in our outreach, in our vision, allowed me to to focus on my recovery.  To know I can I trust in their strength, intelligence, and seemingly endless energy and love for Yoga Path and its community has been utterly invaluable..  And it didn’t stop there. 

I’m in the loving arms of Terri Hunter and One Heart, my first yoga home from back in the day when Nancy Clark ran it as Anahata.  Red Shoes, Tina, and my yoga mommas, where I first learned to spread my wings as a teacher.  Woman’s Wellness Center, where I am never short of a loving embrace and kind word from women who believe in me.  I’ve heard from friends and family I haven’t spoken to in years, and from people I barely know whose hearts were touched by my circumstance.  We’ve been helped by family and friends in the medical field in scheduling appointments with top-notch doctors, with rock-star treatment and appointment times. We have had food deliveries almost every day.  I can’t say enough how truly protective, gentle, and caring my husband has been every step of the way.   

And then one day last week, something else really amazing happened.  My dear and long time friend, Claire, sent me a podcast to listen to from ON BEING.  It was an interview with Bessel Van Der Kolk.  Here’s a name that has been floating around my periphery for a couple of decades and finally found its time to land.  Van Der Kolk is a pioneer in the study of the somatic experience of trauma.  He’s an advocate for its importance in the healing process.  

As I listened, his words bypassed my thinking mind and I felt an awakening, a cognizance of something deep within me beginning to surface.  It was a connection of dots that in the past have held fear, immobility, confusion, numbness, chaos.  I had a very visceral reaction, a release.  My body shook, my eyes wept.  I started to crack open spiritually and was filled with the recognition of my true voice.  I was shown the next leg of my journey as a teacher, as a healer, as a voice in this world.  

Van Der Kolk’s articulation of trauma was beautiful in and of itself, but his ability to speak to what my body had been screaming way before this accident happened, connected me to my truth.  It left the imprint of gratitude that sparked inspiration and the drive to heal.  

I could finally see how to connect the very physical aspects of yoga therapy with the very energy of spirit, of life force.  This innate intelligence, spirit, truth, opened itself to me not through a dogma of philosophy but through the very realness of being human. I could see its universal relevance and how it enters someone right where they are inclusive of any religious or philosophical backbone. It linked the stepping stones of my teaching journey and showed me the abundance that comes from its integration.  

My uncle Kevin likes to remind me that as a child I would listen incessantly to “It’s a Small World” on my little Fisher Price record player.  That song is my life’s theme song; its the foundation of my vision for Yoga Path.  This experience only solidifies that for me.  There is a resilience and strength of spirit that has emerged through all of this.  It was born from the rock solid love and support of amazing, beautiful, strong  people in my life reminding me of the dignity and boundless love in the splendor of life.  Thank you for walking this path with me. Thank you for helping me heal.  Thank you for being you.  

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