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Today, I’m pleased to present a beautiful guest post by Beth Gager Green. Beth shares her story of pushing through obstacles and discovering her inner strength and ultimately finding herself and living life fully.

A bit more on Beth:

She lives and works in Charlottesville, Virginia. Her divorce in 2001 and several psychiatric hospitalizations changed the direction of her life in a profound way, from her life as a mother to her career path.  In 2010 Beth made a decision to let go of old ways that were holding her in the pain of the past and to really let herself live again. She got a new job and found her inner spark that had been shining all along. Now she lets people see it, including herself.

There is nothing like an old flame showing back up in your life over the phone 20 years later and asking “How have you held up?”

“Me? Held up? Well, I am about a 100 pounds heavier in mind and body, I base everything in my life on fear of something bad happening, and I get bogged down by the day to day routine of things. The grey hair streaking through my head is the least of it.”

On that day I made a decision. I decided I was really going to live again. The 40- year-old me was just as alive inside and deserving of unlimited possibilities as the 20-year-old me. I just needed to uncover the aliveness.

And slowly but steadily, that’s exactly what I did. Layer upon layer unraveling, unwinding, getting back to the jewel in the center.  The center that was me.

I started walking. At first it was hard. I was so heavy. It was winter. Two feet of snow on the ground. So, I’d turn on the music and dance inside my comfortable house instead.

I walked a half an hour most days. And I returned to my love of yoga. Once a week at the library.  And I started listening to a guided meditation that had been sitting around the house for years. I started visualizing. Imagining. And I started listening.

And then I started asking. For help. From something bigger than myself. Something bigger and more gentle and more loving than I could imagine. The visualization affected my thinking. I began using different language in my head.  I began believing in the possibilities. I began letting go and moving forward.

I started showing up. It took time. Some things shifted effortlessly. I began walking more and faster. I began contemplating the streets with the biggest hills. I contemplated them for a long time as I walked past them on the flat routes. I’d look down toward the mountain and think, “That’s far. That’s a BIG hill.”

And then one day I walked it. And it was a little uncomfortable. I got out of breath. But my breath came back. And I felt great.

Now the hills aren’t big enough. I want them to be bigger, longer, farther. I can feel the power in my legs as I climb them up and down.  I feel the strength in my belly.

The yoga began to change me. I started doing it at home from what I learned at the class at the library. I started doing it nearly every day. And something essential in me altered. I started feeling a quiet inside. It changed my thoughts. The poses deepened my connection with my spirit.

At first that was scary. I had hidden and neglected my spirit for a long time. I had stopped talking, stopped asking. But I had never stopped wondering and longing.

I felt like it was safer to be quiet. To be very, very quiet. To lie so still I almost disappeared. It wasn’t the quiet of the wind in the leaves when I walked beneath them. It wasn’t the rhythmic stillness of my heartbeat and the blood singing in my veins after yoga.  It wasn’t the expansiveness of my mind and heart when I prayed under my favorite oak tree in the park.

It was the quiet of loss. The quiet of suffering. It was the quiet of not reaching because of the fear of losing it all again. It was an absence. An absence of my most essential self.

I thought my most essential self was somehow dangerous.  I thought she had gotten me in trouble in the past. I thought the reason I had experienced devastation and pain was because I had let her have too much free reign. It was embarrassing. It was humbling. It was numbing.

Yet, I made a decision to let her live again. And I made choices every day to show her I meant it.

And the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom.” Anais Nin

A year and a half later, here she is. My essential self.

She likes to sing. She loves sweeping her hardwood floors. She likes to call her children, “Honey.” Her prayers work better when she says them under a big tree.  She likes to wear pretty dresses. She loves to write. Great conversations make her want to raise her arms and shout, “Yes!” She wants to be herself. And she’s not afraid of people seeing her.  She still wants quiet.  Quiet like the ripple a pebble makes in the creek.  She wants to be like that water.  She loves the way it flows. It’s alive. It’s free. And it’s beautiful. And suddenly she realizes, so is she.

Thanks so much, Beth, for sharing this with us!

When have you pushed through obstacles and realized just how strong you are? How are you finding yourself or learning more about yourself? Who is your essential self?