Saying Yes to Hope - A Message from Aowen

The sacred ground of the Theodore Roosevelt National Park, North Dakota.

The sacred ground of the Theodore Roosevelt National Park, North Dakota.

Do you ever feel like you ought to have a sign like this on your back? I used to. I fought hard most of my life to appear stable and normal, trying to hide the turmoil and terror I felt within. I was afraid that if I allowed people to know just how unstable I really felt they wouldn’t want anything to do with me. Ironically, my attempts to keep everything hidden isolated me from pretty much everyone around me. I was anxious, depressed, overwhelmed, lonely, and suffering from undiagnosed Complex PTSD.

By 1998 I was beaten down, broken, and exhausted, married to an abusive husband and part of an authoritarian church. I had four small children and we were all suffering and unhappy. Life said there was no way I could change my circumstances, get out, aim higher, or do better. I’d been out of the work force for a decade and had no credit history or income of my own. How could I possibly manage with four children, two of whom had chronic health issues that required specialized care?

But I said Yes to hope and against all odds I got out, changed my circumstances, aimed higher, and did better. I did better--but with help: Medicaid, WIC, Habitat for Humanity, and much generosity from others. I confronted a lot of shame around needing and asking for help. Fifteen years later I found myself at another major crossroads: child support was ending, employment possibilities were inadequate on the little island where we were living, and health care was going to be taken away.

Once again I was facing tremendous odds, with Life saying No. No way out or up. Even my boss said to me, You’ll never do better than this. And once again I chose hope. I sold the house I’d bought through Habitat, put my belongings in storage, packed up the kids and pets, and headed West into the unknown. In fact, the photo above was taken on that journey from Wisconsin to the West Coast.

I had no idea what would unfold, or how, or even specifically where I was going. I was terrified and wracked with doubt, and…. I kept saying Yes to hope. Once in Tacoma I asked for more help: Medicaid, again, so I could get trauma therapy and have health care, and scholarships. I participated in Morgan’s Trauma Sensitive Yoga series on scholarship, and then yoga teacher training (Pamela Higley Yoga) on scholarship.

Without being willing to ask for (and receive) help I wouldn’t be where I am today. We all have struggles, issues, problems, wounds, and unstable emotional ground in one way or another. Let’s each do what we can to erase the stigma of needing and asking for help. We’ll all be better for it. There is no shame in needing help, and there is no shame in asking for help.

In fact, rather than being embarrassed by our unstable ground I’d like to offer the possibility of a different viewpoint. Unstable ground is actually sacred ground—when we’re brought to our knees by pain, woundedness, and need, we are kneeling on sacred ground. We are, in our vulnerability, more easily able to access divine love, wisdom, compassion, insight, and healing. We are standing at the threshold of the Great Mystery and All Possibility. And we here at SKY honor that. We are humbled and honored to be of service to those standing in such sacred space. And because of our very generous community we are able to offer scholarships to those in need. So if you find your life on unstable ground right now and need a little help, consider applying for one of our scholarships. Say Yes to HOPE.

The place of pain and suffering within me sees, honors, and bows to the place of pain and suffering within you. May you be at peace, and may you be renewed by hope.