Looking back on some of my posts, I often referred to reoccurring premonitions when it came to knowing “a change is gonna come”. I never knew what those changes were going to be, but I would just get this urge to prepare for the unknown.
I’ve written about such feelings I had when I was preparing to leave my full time career to stay home with my children. Although it doesn’t sound very out of the ordinary, it was for me. I was never the mom who always felt like I should be a stay at home parent. I in fact didn’t think it would be healthy for me. I was afraid of losing myself. I knew I was going to leave the world of “adult interaction”, and many other parts of my day I enjoyed so much. But I just knew it was time for a change. What I didn’t know was I would eventually start Calm Cleveland, and become a private yoga instructor. Now it makes sense. Read Post Here
I then wrote about the preparation of the kids going off to school all day for the first time, and AGAIN, I was afraid of feeling lost. This time, I’m a stay at home mom – with no kids at home and a very small business that has been put in hibernation for quite some time. What I didn’t know was because of these feelings we would eventually own a small dog who barks and howls louder than anything I’ve ever heard before. Now it makes sense. Here’s this one.
And finally, there was last years post. Read Here. I knew a change was gonna come, and I knew I had to be available. I just didn’t know for what… or why. So I prepared by saying yes.
Hey, you wanna?
I said yes to meeting new people. I said yes to teaching more yoga classes. I said yes to getting my own act together, mindfully and physically. I just kept saying yes. I allowed myself to feel vulnerable with uncertainty. And yes, it was uncomfortable…. and kind of weird. I wrote about how confusing it felt, how worthless at times it felt, the ups, the downs, and everything else that came with it along the way. This went on for about a year. A very weird year.
And then it happened. During one of my – try something different and new attempts, I asked my friend Liz if I could accompany her as a volunteer yoga teacher during one of her amazing Girls with Sole programs. She provides free fitness and wellness programs to empower the minds, bodies and souls of girls who are at-risk or have experienced abuse of any kind. Within a week, she said “Sure! Would you like to come with me to teach at a juvenile and rehabilitation center? These girls have all experienced some form of trauma, and I think they would love some yoga.” So after I pooped my pants… I said yes.
I went out and bought 15 yoga mats. I wanted to give all of these girls a safe space. I had no idea what I was doing, and I was terrified these girls were going to hate me. I know it sounds harsh, but it was the truth. And when the day arrived to teach this session, I just kept telling myself, “Liz knows what she’s doing… just do what Liz does.”
Five minutes after arriving at the center, Liz introduced me to the group, and said “Alysia, take it away!!” I pooped my pants again, and then I gave it my best shot. I was so nervous. There were about 8 girls just staring at me, most of whom have never set foot on a yoga mat before.
I took a deep breath, and I immediately realized what it is that Liz does. She loves them, she uplifts them, and in the simplest of ways, she’s just there with them. They know they’re not alone when Liz shows up for them. Which she always does. After we wrapped up our yoga session. The girls thanked me a ton of times, one girl asked if she could give me a hug, and another told me she’s going to sit on her mat before she goes to bed every night (in juvi). They got back in line, arms length apart and filed out. I couldn’t stop crying, and I hid it from Liz. I don’t know why. But I did.
I came home that night, looked at my husband and said “I need more mats. Like, A LOT more mats.” He said, “where are we going to put all these mats? And who are they going to?” I simply said ” I don’t know…YAY!” And I went to bed with the biggest smile on my face.
Within a couple of weeks, I raised close to $1,000 which added up to 200 yoga mats. I promised my husband I would only buy and store 50 at a time in our home. After all, I had nowhere to take these mats. Ha! But while I was waiting, I decided to call this imaginary project – the sacred mat project. I’m going to give a yoga mat to every teen girl who has experienced trauma, abuse, neglect, etc., and I’m going to do what Liz does, and just be there WITH THEM. Together, on our mats.
One month later, I was asked to teach yoga at our downtown Juvenile Detention Center on an ongoing basis. I now teach all the girls at this facility, every Thursday.
One month after that, I reached out to our local Positive Education Program, and came in for a one time “girls group” session. I was honored to be invited back several times, and have since been invited to possibly teach on a regular basis at the other branch locations as well.
Along with other here and there sessions I visit for local girls, I soon realized, this idea is getting very real… and the sacred mat project is currently in the process of becoming “THE MAT PROJECT” – An OFFICIAL non-profit organization!
I’ve always told my husband, I feel like we are going to foster or adopt one day. I just didn’t realize it would be hundreds of teen girls… on a yoga mat.
I share this now to say – If you are feeling comfortable… enjoy the beauty that comes with it. Enjoy its peacefulness, and its wonder. And after a little while, I challenge you to get uncomfortable. Again, and again. Embrace uncertainty. Say yes. And watch yourself transform.
The process gets ugly, and then it gets pretty. And it will continue in this cycle, over and over again. Ride it….
“cause, every little thing… gonna be alright”
And finally, I finish with this. A child who has experienced trauma, has endured stressful or negative experiences.
The National Institute of Mental Health cites some examples of trauma as neglect, physical, sexual, or emotional abuse, living in poverty, and witnessing distressing events like family or community violence.
The Mat Project will show up for these girls. I vow to and will continue to “do what Liz does” and love them, uplift them, and simply be there for them.
*** If you’d like to donate to the mat project, please visit my website at http://www.calmcleveland.com . simply click on the Donate button under the Mat Project.
I also encourage you to learn about Girls With Sole, and meet Liz.