December 24, 2012

I Am Gonna Make it Through this Year, Even if it Kills Me. ~ Lisa Hicks

Falling apart with grace and style.

Have you ever needed a break so badly that you didn’t realize how badly you needed a break until one came along and punched you in the face?

Me too.

While through my work as a health counselor, I am constantly writing and giving advice about how to strive toward light: how to stay positive, boost energy, strengthen immune system, feel good, fight a cold. Stay strong and fight, fight, fight. Well, I learned (or maybe re-learned) recently that there is just as much to be said for completely and utterly falling apart.

Since my second baby was born in July, I’ve gotten a few breaks. Taken lots of yoga classes and even managed to find time for meditation and work. Yet, still, I could feel a tension building. I would walk off my yoga mat feeling that warm and cozy “blissed out” yoga feeling; but the moment I heard a tiny cry, stumbled upon another pile of laundry, had to diffuse a tantrum, it was like the “break” never happened. While I can’t speak enough about the benefits of a daily yoga and meditation practice, they are just that: a practice. A discipline, something you cultivate and study, put a lot of thought and care into.  What I really needed to do was let go of control, fall apart, for a few minutes, dis-engage.

2012. It’s almost over.

For me, a year that will stand out for so many reasons. The light times were not just light, but blindingly transformative to the point of plain exhaustion. The shadowy times were pitch black. Giving birth. Starting a business. Patiently (or sometimes not) guiding a child treading the unpredictable waters of teetering between baby and kid. Moving back to Asheville and reconnecting to Western North Carolina, retreating to the ancient mountains. And the dark times were intensely so. Another long pregnancy and another long labor. My husband working two jobs to support us, sometimes pulling 16-hour days to come home to a cranky pregnant lady and sink full of dishes. I’ve taken a lot of risks and put myself out there more than I ever have. Some experiences were met with open arms, excitement and support, while others, rejection.  I revel in this beautiful life and find joy and gratitude every day, but I’m not one to sugar-coat.

Life lately is a relentless struggle to maintain balance between structure and flexibility among four people each on their own paths, in their own intense journeys, trying to stay connected and supportive of one another, a family. I am the glue. The tension continued to build as I weakly smiled at playground dates “Oh we’re hanging in there!”

The tension continued to build as I stayed up all night furiously sewing tear-drop shaped scraps of fabric all over my sons blue hoodie for his Halloween costume (owl), under an ominous full moon, awaiting any news from my home base in New York, as it was getting hit by a super-storm.  It continued to build as one sleepless night, turned to a string of many sleepless night, tending to babies, offering myself over and over again, without receiving much comfort of my own.

Letting go is a huge theme and pattern in nature and life, yet one that is not always pertinent. You can’t just “let go” on cue, it’s something that happens after a series of challenges or conflicts and holding on to a false expectation or assumption whose demise finally comes to a peak. Sweet surrender. The leaf gently falls off the branch. Re-evaluate your situation, time, and boundaries, and figure out how to safely move on. Change is made, a new expectation or vision is created. Now we can settle down into our new situation.

I won free concert tickets recently and as it all happened fast and last minute I didn’t get much of a chance to process the situation until John Darnielle of The Mountain Goats was standing ten feet away from me, guitar in hand, wearing a typical shit-eating grin, my heart burst open. His totally contagious smile, visceral energy, and raw, heartfelt, music forced me into a crowded, sweaty, beer soaked, loud space of surrender. Fine, life, I guess I’ll have some fun.

Standing at The Grey Eagle waiting for the show to start, I was overwhelmed. Literally standing in the spot where my husband and I awkwardly exchanged pleasantries the first time we ever “hung out” and so many more memories. Going back in time provoked me to re-evaluate my present situation. And of course I did what (I think) most parents probably do the moment they get a break from their children: think about them constantly.

The band arrived just in time. Time to focus on music.

The energy of the show was dynamic and very alive, John Darnielle is engaging to the audience in a unique and powerful way and offers anecdotes and explanations for everything, glimpses into his music that you would never know otherwise. Experiencing live music for the first time in so long was pivotal in the lead-up to my breakdown.

Live music. So obvious. What a gift. It has always been a touchstone for me and often the catalyst for evoking emotions I have been too preoccupied to realize I’ve been feeling. Something I took for granted in my life and something I basically gave up without much thought when my first was born. Live music. Sometimes I feel humans were put here on Earth just to make music. It’s something I need and had been missing over and over again, like witnessing the sun rise. It happens each new day but unless you’re standing there watching it doesn’t really matter, does it? Stop what you’re doing, sing along, breath, laugh, dance, have some fun every once in a while no matter what!

I didn’t fall apart that night, or even the next night. I fell apart later on with style and grace, in a good old fashioned 37 minute phone call to my mother, who today completes another trip around the sun. The last leaf, the last branch on 12/12/12.

I feel ready to move on. Goodbye 2012.

You’ve brought me some of the best things hands down, but that doesn’t mean I’m not glad to see you go. I reveled in your intensity and chaos, now I would like to get some sleep.  I see a future that holds clarity, peace, prosperity and even more love.

I challenge everyone, before the new year begins and new intentions are set, to go back in time and do something you used to love and maybe even took for granted, and now don’t have time for anymore.

This is a song I heard at the show.  This video was taken at The Grey Eagle when The Mountain Goats played there previously.  It’s about being 17, and desperately waiting to turn 18 to assume one’s own responsibilities.  Remember that?



On most days Lisa Hicks makes an honest effort to be a holistic health counselor, yogini warrior and mindful parent.  To learn more about her work visit Grassroots Nutrition.





Assistant Ed:  Wendy Keslick

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