We moved a lot as an Army family, so my memories of home are scattered. One consistent recollection is, however, the sight of my mother, perched near an eastern window watching the sun rise with her coffee and Daily Word. The little booklet was a consistent presence on the windowsills of my life. After leaving home, I kept moving, relocating often for school and work, and I brought Daily Word with me.
As a young adult I lived in Virginia, New Mexico, North Carolina, Chicago, and San Francisco. I readily embraced new people and environments until I made one move too many, landing in New York City to work at MTV: Music Television. The subway to Times Square took me through a heartbreaking gauntlet of homeless people, often women with children. I couldn’t steel myself to ignore them. By the time I got in the lobby, I was often in tears. I felt like one of the money changers who had forsaken his fellow man. I had an elevator ride to regroup before walking into the mad world of the music business. I rode this emotional roller coaster every morning, and it took its toll.
I was too soft for the big city. It was swallowing me up. I needed to get a grip. I attended Unity services at Lincoln Center and was fortunate to see legendary Unity minister Eric Butterworth speak. Services were amazing as Broadway stars sang in Avery Fisher Hall’s perfect acoustics. What a balm in Gilead! It was in that large theater that I summoned the courage not to steel myself for the city, but to get my soft heart out of there.
A Change of Scenery
I relocated to lovely Charleston, South Carolina, and bought an historic fixer-upper house not far from the Battery. I was able to consult from home with former colleagues. I married a handsome and charming Southerner, Dave, and we had a son, Roy. Talk about answered prayers!
The (first) dot com boom lured me back to full-time employment in San Francisco. It didn’t take long to become utterly exhausted, working a steep learning curve, 24/7, at a lightening fast pace, with a new baby. It wreaked havoc on our young marriage. After sticking it out for several years, we moved back to South Carolina, and I returned to consulting.
A Middle-of-the-Night Call
In 2008 we moved (for the 21st time in my life!) to Charlottesville, Virginia, to be closer to our families. We were barely settled when I got a middle-of-the-night phone call saying my 88-year-old mother was the victim of a violent home invasion that left her broken and battered. My siblings and I immediately called the Silent Unity prayer line. We moved her to Charlottesville and pieced her back together as she learned to walk again. The minute we knew she would recover, I fell ill.
While in a yoga pose called Bow, I noticed what felt like a rock in my stomach. A visit to the doctor revealed a lump in my breast and two ovarian tumors. I was on the operating table the following week.
Luckily, the lump was benign and the tumors were stage 1—a rarity in a cancer known as “the silent killer.” After surgery came chemo. Roy, now an 8-year-old boy, shaved my head and Dave shaved his own in solidarity. It wasn’t long before I experienced violent pains that put me back in the hospital for three weeks. Bald from the chemo, with a tube down my nose, marked up for a colostomy bag—this situation was worse than the cancer! However, Daily Word was on my bedside table and I made it through.
My doctor then asked me to come in for a breast exam. He surmised I was a carrier of the BRAC gene mutation that links to breast cancer. A gene test confirmed it. Wiped out from two surgeries, I opted out of the preventative double mastectomy. Instead, I chose the surveillance route, receiving a regimen of MRIs, mammograms, and checkups. Since I was stretched thin between caring for my 90-year-old mother and my 9-year-old son, I took a break from work to focus on healing myself. I enrolled in yoga teacher training to get my mind and body back in balance.
Restorative Care Through Yoga
I began to teach yoga. I crafted my classes after Daily Word devotionals and dubbed my style SLOGA. For each class I pick a theme, such as Forgiveness or Harmony. I compile a playlist of coordinated songs and lead the class in singing a mantra from one of the songs. I sequence poses to fit the theme, such as heart openers or balances. The class culminates in Savasana during which I read the Daily Word message. I’ve developed a loyal following of students who often tell me that my class feels like church.
After five years of testing, my annual MRI detected breast cancer. Feeling stronger, I acquiesced to the double mastectomy. It was an aggressive type of cancer that, although stage 1, required chemo. Roy, now 16, shaved my head again. Dave took amazing care of me all over again. We soldiered on.
Today, thankfully, cancer is behind me. Dave and Roy remain my rocks. Roy’s off to college. My mother is interred next to my father in Arlington National Cemetery. I turned what had been her recovery room—an eastern-facing, light-filled bedroom—into my home yoga studio. Daily Word and daily yoga continue to keep me centered and her love shines on me with every sunrise.