As many of you can probably tell, I have a little thing for octopi. It is so much more than their cute tentacles, magnificent ability to camouflage or their strength within such a seemingly tiny body. It is my own personal experience and encounter with them that continues to keep me inspired, keeps me strong and keeps me very resilient.
Within my first promo video for The Ahimsa Project I talk about going through a hard time. I had a few friends give me some wonderfully constructive feedback and one of the things mentioned was the desire to learn more about why I want to give and what my struggle was. What it all boils down to is a broken heart. What the octopus boils down to is being my savior right alongside yoga.
At that time in my life, I had no friends. On my 21st birthday, a time when you’re supposed to be out partying with your friends, I was at dinner with my mom, my aunt & my mom’s best friend. Not to discredit them, I had a wonderful time out with some of my favorite women – but my “former” friends coincidentally ended up at the same restaurant and walked by without so much as a hello or a happy birthday. It was very much high school/college drama and some of those people are now back in my life – but at that time, it was miserable. I was alone. In retrospect it all seems kind of silly, but I felt as though I couldn’t breathe.
Due to all of this drama, I wasn’t eating very much and yet was very cruel to myself. I would wake up every morning and step on the scale. My emotion was truly dependent on what the scale would say each morning. I ate granola bars and drank diet coke. I ate salad with only romaine lettuce and cheese. I was not being very healthy and I was most certainly not being kind to myself. Through my tears in the mirror I would yell cruel things. I would write in my hate/fat journal and I would talk and think about only perfecting myself. That year, I had a 3.7 GPA. I looked seemingly wonderful, was at the skinniest I had been in a while and was so miserable on the inside I couldn’t hold it together in any form or fashion.
Shortly thereafter all this drama, I had my heart broken. The kind of heartbreak that seems so silly now but while you’re going through it, the emotion is devastating. I was dramatic. I was in my early twenties. I was at the lowest of the low. At this time, I felt the most alone I ever had and decided to enroll in therapy. I was having trouble getting out of bed to do anything expect go to class and I knew it was time to heal. It helped, but it wasn’t exactly what I needed.
That’s when I found yoga.
I began going with my mom occasionally and every time I arrived on my mat, I wasn’t sure why I was there. I just kept going and somehow I began enjoying it. I finally began to outgrow my mom’s studio after a few weeks and found my home at Yoga Moves.
At the same time, I had an amazing trip to Florida planned. I was going with my family to the Florida Keys where I would scuba dive with my dad, brother, uncle and cousin. I knew it was going to be magical and the anticipation was making me feel better.
When I first became certified in scuba, my instructor told me that she was a professional at finding octopus. They like to hide in caves and caverns. They camouflage very well but they leave tracks along the ocean floor. They are nocturnal and Day Degenza was going to find me one.
That mystical image become engrained in my brain. I WANTED TO SEE ONE. I had never thought about it before, but the moment she told me she was good at finding them, I knew it was what I wanted and needed to see. Lo and behold, I went on 10 trips with Day and we never found one!
A few years later when we arrived back in the keys, on that fateful trip. Due to Day’s mention I have become an avid night diver. I dragged my entire family on a dive late one evening and that’s when I saw him:
At the lowest of the low, a time when I was just learning how to breathe under water let alone breathe on my own, I saw my octopus.
And he was mine. He stayed with us while we dove, attached himself to a porthole and let all of us marvel at his orange tentacles as they wrapped around the porthole. We watched him swim by inhaling water and propelling himself forward. We watched him be resilient, fearless, strong and beautiful. And that’s when it hit me: I would be fine. I saw him for a reason. I knew I would be okay.
Upon arriving home from my memorable trip, I enrolled in a month long challenge and began to heal from the inside out. I felt amazing. I practiced, I was beginning to eat well and I felt so much better inside my skin. Each bead of sweat that rolled down my back represented all of my anger and hurt and healing. Each tear I shed in savasana made me stronger.
Every once in a while he comes back to me. Sometimes it’s in my dreams, often it is in meditation or savasana. But when I am sad or feeling weak, my octopus will come right back to me. I will feel his presence, the light internal touch of his tentacles lifting my heart to be right where it needs to be. Making me stronger to help each of you.
I am here to help: to be your self-love mentor, a self-empowerment guide or a yoga wellness consultant. To be whatever it is you need me to be throughout The Ahimsa Project, through my blog and just in life in general. I am here for you and will continue to stay strong with you and for you – no matter your struggle.
I will be here to continue to write, to hold your hand through whatever it is you are experiencing be it big or small.
Get out there – do yoga & make life sparkle.