I had just moved to New York when I got a phone call from my mom that my Grandma was in the hospital and not doing well. I asked to speak with the nurse who said, “Even if you leave on the next plane, I don’t think you’ll make it.” Two hours later I was boarding a flight to Minneapolis. This was the fall of 2007 and I had recently enrolled in a course where the assignment we were given that week was to write a list of 100 gratitudes, so on my red-eye flight from California, I started writing.
I arrived at sunrise to my grandmother's hospital bed where my tired family had spent the night by her side. She seemed to have stabilized, so they left to get some sleep. Longing to connect, I curled up into her hospital bed and laid next to her.
In college I had been a hospice volunteer and remembered from our training that the hearing is one of the last things to go. Trusting she could hear me, I laid there spooning my dying grandmother and started to shower her with a long list gratitudes. I did this for hours. I thanked her for making me cinnamon and sugar toast. I thanked her for slicing cantaloupe and watermelon for me every time I came over to her house ages 5 to 25. I thanked her for putting so many pictures of me up in her home. While it was slightly bizarre that she had a border of 20+ 8x10 pictures of me in one of her extra rooms, I loved it. It was a way that she expressed her love. I thanked her for caring about me so deeply. I thanked her for her courage to live her life with a strong backbone.
My jet lag coupled with lack of sleep on an overnight flight and then my eyes becoming swollen from pouring tears like a heavy summer rain were making my eyelids heavy and me starting to fall asleep. The rhythm of our heartbeats and breath going in and out was like a steady lullaby luring me to rest. When I woke up, she was gone and had died in my arms.
While the healing process of grief is always unique for each circumstance, one epiphany often arises. Be here now. Don’t take any of your blessings for granted. Worry less. Be with the people you love more. Life is short, enjoy as much as you can.
Qoya is based on the idea that through movement we can tap into our essence as wise, wild and free. In Qoya class last night, I looked around and saw women really present, really loving the sensation of being alive in their body. These women in class aren’t exempt from life’s challenges. None of us are. And sometimes life can really kick your ass. But, in each situation, we get to choose how, or if, to dance with it. We can collapse into our old wounds and stories. We can distract ourselves. Or, we can simply choose to dance with what is- as it is.
By physically moving your body, you give your emotions and thoughts time and space to be honored, expressed and moved. In almost all cases, when we are not feeling well, be it mentally, emotionally, physically or spiritually, it is because something is stuck, congealing or not flowing. The word disease itself translates to lack of ease, lack of flow.
If I could offer one suggestion to any woman who is ever feeling the weight of doubt, the paralyzing stand still of indecision, the numb or piercing ache of grief and despair, it would be to move.
All the different levels of our perception are interconnected and as you open up your body, you also start to open up your mind and your heart. It works. I promise.
I invite you today to simply turn on a song and dance the beauty of where you are today. Even better, write a gratitude list for the gifts you have received around something that has been challenging you. What you look for is what you see, so often by looking for the way something has served you, you can more easily see it. Once you are grounded in gratitude, trust your body to lead you as you move.
Pick a song you love, put your ipod on shuffle or sign into pandora. The most important thing is to realize the healing power from simply moving your body and to know that one of the easiest ways to tap into your wise, wild and free self is always available to you.
Today would have been my grandmother’s 83rd birthday. I am so grateful the last hour of her life was being showered with gratitude and love. I am also so grateful to be able to dance with you all now. Whether it is in Qoya Classes, on one of our retreats in Woodstock, India or Costa Rica, in a private session or simply between the words on this website, I am so grateful to know that more and more of us are feeling the call to dance and to feel the sacred pulse of life dance through us.
With love and respect to you and your wise, wild and free self~ Rochelle