The Next Chapter

The Next Chapter 1920 1440 Gayl Walder Yoga

Life changes in an instant. Close your eyes- Please be present without distractions.

Picture yourself, reflect on your daily routine, what you do each day — especially the things that bring you joy. Before you go to sleep each night, do you practice gratitude?

I practice gratitude everyday. I wake up and I go through my routine, my life, packing in as much I can, always rushing from one thing to another. Missing friends and relatives, but sometimes not having the time to talk them or meet with them — not because I don’t want to, but because my plate is so full and my schedule is so busy.

As I sit here now, reflecting on my life in the middle of a pandemic, I can’t help but wonder, what I was running from, where I was running to, and what was the lesson I was about to learn.

Those who know me well know I am a private person. I share this journey with you, because I know what it feels like to be sick, to not be able to move my body the way I am used to, to not be able to think clearly, and have my children and husband wonder what is wrong with me. If my story helps one person, I would be happy, but I know there are so many people out there that are going through something similar, and I hope this helps you too.

One night, I went to sleep a happy, healthy strong person and when I woke up, I was completely different. My little bubble that I was living in had burst.

I discussed all of this in my blog post on my website, A Chapter From My Story (please read prior to “The Next Chapter”).

The last time I wrote in my blog was May of 2019. When I finally discovered that my breast implants were making me very sick, I had explant surgery to remove the silicone implants that were placed in my chest under the pectoral muscles, after a bilateral mastectomy in April 2008.

I planned on writing the next chapter immediately following my surgery; however, my journey was not so simple. Some women have their implants removed and feel better immediately. I prayed that would be me, but unfortunately my journey had a few detours.

Many things improved after my surgery – my eyes looked alive again, the Inflammation in my face and body went down, I could breathe in a different way, I had no more heartburn or acid reflux. My brain fog seemed better, I had more energy and I really thought I was on the mend; however, after a short time my health started to decline.

My body started to ache again; I had no energy, no strength, and the brain fog returned. I was always freezing and although I ate better than I had ever eaten in my life — I kept losing weight. My lab work showed no autoimmune diseases, but my inflammation markers were extremely high. I was also learning to accept “the new me.” I have never had a large chest and with my small frame my flat chest was in proportion to my body; however, this did not make it any easier.

I was self-conscious of my size on all levels. People used to stop me and ask me how I got such muscular arms. What was my secret. I was always active! Running, hiking, walking, yoga, pilates, the barre, weights etc..

When I looked at myself in the mirror I could hardly recognize who was standing there. “When I looked at myself” I was frail, weak and felt completely defeated.

After my surgery I had the scar tissue around my implants tested, and the results were astonishing- several bacteria and Lyme.

Between 2017 and the present I have seen many different doctors, had several different diagnoses, and at times I felt completely overwhelmed. I am sure that my doctors had good intentions and wanted to help fix me, so I was diagnosed and told I needed to take medications. Many of these meds did not help me, and some made me sicker by weakening my immune system. I am not judging, and many of these medications help people; however, in my situation they were hurting me. I became severely anemic and my iron and ferritin levels were dangerously low. I was referred to a hematology oncologist to figure out what was causing this. I had two IV iron infusions two months apart, which helped a little, but still I was not doing well. I was very sad and frustrated because I could not understand why I was not getting better.

When my daughters would FACETIME me, I would try to be energetic and happy, but at times it was not possible. Sometimes they seemed upset with me especially when I cried. I have always been strong on all levels, and always found a way to help everyone; but now I was weak on all levels and could not figure out how to help myself. I now understand they were not angry- they were scared. My 17-year-old son was the only child home, and I feel so bad that he had to witness how challenging things were for me on a daily basis. At times, I was unable to get out of bed. My son had intimate knowledge of what it was like for me when he had to help me do things like turn the knob in my car from park to drive because I was not able to. He listened to me cry, and rubbed my wrists for me, and was so kind to me.

A few years ago, my cousin Lisa posted something when she was at The Gerson Institute in Mexico about having all her teeth checked, and I never forgot this. I had crowns, and root canals, and had this feeling that something was going on.

In December 2019 I had major dental work done. I had all metal removed from my mouth- all crowns replaced and a tooth pulled. I had everything tested and there were high levels of mercury and bacteria. I thought that my crowns and fillings were porcelain, but in fact they were porcelain over metal and the metal was sitting on my gums and my body was fighting something that was foreign. Silver fillings are also called amalgam fillings and contain up to 50 % mercury, which is highly toxic to our bodies. Mercury poisoning can cause many problems, and my body was once again fighting something that should not be there, and this was making me sick. In January 2020 we moved and this took a lot out of me. It was a sudden move and I was completely depleted. I now had a house to unpack and my son was starting a new school, and once again, life was moving at a fast pace and I was moving in slow motion. I could not keep up.

In the beginning of February I went to visit my aunt and uncle in Panama. The timing was not the best, but the trip had been planned for a long time. I returned back home to California and a week later, we went to Chicago for my mother-in-laws 80th birthday.

This time, when I returned back home I became very sick. The move, the dental work and two trips took everything out of me. In the beginning of March one of my teeth kept hurting and I went back to the dentist. An x-ray was taken and I was told that everything looked fine, and my mouth was sore from the trauma it had been through. I have a pretty high tolerance to pain; however, this was getting worse instead of better. It was the end of March and COVID-19 had started. I paged my dentist and told her my tooth was throbbing and the pain was unbearable.

I was seen as an emergency situation and they took a CT scan of my tooth and it was infected and going into my sinus. I had to take Amoxicillin for two weeks. The tooth still hurt, but the throbbing pain subsided. My doctor told me that the antibiotic bought us time, but the tooth needs to be pulled and I will get a dental implant. Since I have my blood work taken every few months and I knew my inflammation markers were already so high- it was alarming to learn that they were off the charts. Inflammatory markers are used in primary care to diagnose and monitor inflammatory conditions which include autoimmune conditions, infections, and cancer. My C-reactive protein (CRP) was 114.5 and a normal CRP is under 8.0, and my Erythrocyte sedimentation rate (ESR) was 60, and a normal Sed rate is under 30.

On Wednesday April 8, 2020 almost one year after my explant surgery, I went to the dentist during Covid-19 to have my tooth pulled. I had to fill out so many forms by the dentist and the anesthesiologist, and it was very scary because of the unknown.

The next day I woke up and felt better than I had felt in almost three years. I had the tooth tested and it came back positive for Lyme with co-infections Borrelia and Babesia as well as different bacteria. These are two different microbes that need to be treated, because if they are in my tooth, they are elsewhere in my body. Borrelia loves to hide in the joints, which explains why I had terrible joint pain. Babesia is a blood parasite similar to Malaria, which can cause heart palpitations, fatigue, joint pain, night sweats, etc..

I am sharing this information because knowledge is power. If I did not find the Facebook group, Breast Implant Illness and Healing by Nicole, I don’t know if I would be here today. If I didn’t read a post by my cousin Lisa a few years back-that all her teeth were being checked when she was being treated at the Gerson Clinic in Mexico, I may not have had all the dental work done. I learned after many misdiagnoses and wrong medicines that I must be my own advocate, and listen to my body, listen to my gut, and don’t settle for anything that I am not comfortable with.

This may all sound strange, and I still cannot believe what I have learned and what I have been through. My strong meditation practice, mindfulness, and being in touch with my body and soul even when it felt like it was failing me has been my greatest gift.

I will do my best to summarize this so it all makes sense. I don’t know how or when I contracted Lyme disease. To contract Lyme disease an infected deer tick must bite. When you get bitten, the bacteria gets into your skin and then enters the bloodstream.

Tick bites are painless and not everyone knows they have been bitten. Sometimes a bulls eye rash is on the skin, sometimes the bite is mistaken for a mosquito bite, and other symptoms are flu-like symptoms. A healthy person with a strong immune system who has been bitten by tick may be fine. From what I understand, this was my situation. I may have been very young, or not realized I was bitten. Some ticks are as small as a poppy seed, and go unnoticed. If you are bit on the back of your neck and you have long hair, or on your head you may not notice.

I was strong and healthy, but then when my body started to fight the implants and then the metal in my mouth and my immune system became weak, I could not fight the Lyme anymore because it was too busy fighting foreign objects and infection. Lyme also like to hide in joints and other hidden places. It found its way in my scar tissue and my tooth as well as my joints causing extreme swelling, inflammation and pain. My body was attacking my own immune system because of the foreign objects in my body- my immune system was mixed up on whom it was supposed to attack. My journey is not over yet, but I feel like I am slowly coming to back to life. Getting stronger, more energy, less brain fog and the list goes on.

I isolated myself, because I was not myself and it took too much energy to pretend I was okay. If you reached out to me or responded to my last chapter and I did not respond, please forgive me.

This pandemic we are living in has caused a lot of uncertainty and change that we have no control over. I always try to see the glass half full and learn the lesson. The world was forced to stop and slow down, so I have been able to heal, and move at a slower pace- something I was never able to do. I have enjoyed family time where we can be present and not always rushing and running. I’ve had face to face conversations with my children and Face -Time and Zoom calls with friends and loved ones. I try to always be fully present when I am talking to someone in person or on the phone. I can tell when someone is doing something else, or checking their phones, and not being present. I encourage you to practice being present in your own life as well as with others. You may be surprised what you learn.

I am not a doctor and what I shared is my experience; however, you must be your own advocate. Do not give up, and if you ever feel alone, or lose hope there are resources, groups and people out there who care. I promise you- I will be one of those people. You are not crazy, I was not crazy, and please know you do not have to live in your story- the next chapter is waiting, and many more chapters after that. My son Eli and I went on a four mile walk last weekend. My daughters and I dance together and sing carpool karaoke together. They finally have their mama back. Thank you for taking the time to read this and please feel free to share.

I hope my journey continues uphill from here, and if there are detours- I will always try to learn what the lesson is, and why this is happening. I know there are many more chapters to my story- who knows, maybe one day I will write a book.

The Pain

The Pain 2966 1608 Gayl Walder Yoga

Hi everyone! I’ve been blown away by your responses to my story about my explant journey and my road back to health. Currently, I am recovering from my surgery, and working on getting my strength back. I’m doing my best to respond to all of your questions and comments, but I’m still not able to move as fast as I’d like to, so I appreciate your patience. Soon, I’ll also be posting an update about my life post-surgery, since so many of you have been asking about what my life is like now that I’ve had my toxic breast implants removed. Please keep in mind that I’m not a doctor, but I’m definitely here to answer any questions you might have about my experience. Today, I wanted to leave you guys with a poem I wrote in the middle of my struggle with chronic pain. I think it’s so important to share our experiences, good and bad, because it helps everyone remember that we are not alone.

THE PAIN – by Gayl Walder

I’m wearing my P.J.’s, I crawl into bed
There are a thousand thoughts racing through my head

My body is in pain and it hurts to breathe
I cry to myself while I pray for some reprieve

My “to-do list” keeps growing – papers piling high
I once was so organized, now all I can do is sigh

When my kids call me,
I pretend I am fine
I don’t want them to know I continue to decline

I feel so alone as I hold so much in
I just keep crying, then cover it up with a grin

I lose things, forget things, or sometimes I don’t care
It’s hard to keep up at this pace
When I feel such despair

I’m great at wearing masks,
So most people do not know
my body and soul are aching
this energetic girl now moves slow

It’s hard to believe this has gone on for much longer than a year –
The amount of time I’ve spent on tests and doctors
Has me in a state of fear

I’m in touch with my body and for that I am quite proud
I have the knowledge to say to doctors, “No more of your meds are allowed!”

I will try be patient as I wait for my explant date –
I will keep thinking positive thoughts
And trust the hands of fate

We are all in this together – though sometimes we feel alone
Crying uncontrollably, we need to acknowledge how much we’ve grown

♥️Gayl Walder

Gayl Walder Yoga Surgery Illness Recovery

A Chapter From My Story

A Chapter From My Story 1920 1440 Gayl Walder Yoga

Everyone has a story. Sometimes we live in our story forever. Sometimes, we can’t wait for the next chapter – or even the next book – to begin. We always learn from each story, and what we choose to do with what we’ve learned can have a huge effect on our lives. What I’ve learned is that you can ignore the lesson, acknowledge the lesson, or learn from the lesson — the choice is ultimately yours.

My story is complex. I never realized this until I was forced to take a deeper look at the role I was playing in my life. For as long as I can remember, I have been a caretaker, a fixer, and a pleaser. There is nothing wrong with these roles, but what I’ve noticed about myself and other women who identify with these roles is that often times we lose ourselves in them. Sometimes, it’s not even intentional; we just happen to put ourselves last. Our stories are all different: for some, music is the focal point of their story. For others, making money or having power becomes the entire plot of their story. For me, yoga and meditation are the key players in my story, and these tools have given me the greatest gift I could ever ask for: the ability to be in tune with my body, mind, and spirit. Yoga taught me how to be mindful, present, strong, focused, determined, flexible — the list goes on. Yoga taught me that life does not always go as planned, and the way that we react, adapt, and live our truth shapes us into who we are. When I discovered yoga over 20 years ago, I also discovered a sense of inner strength and a mind-body connection that has guided me to where I am today.

That mind-body connection has been instrumental in my healing story – a story that is deeply personal to me. While I have shared this story with some of you, many of you don’t know the full scope of my journey with my health. Today, I want to share this story with you, because it could save your life or the life of someone you love.

In 2007, my beautiful mom was diagnosed with breast cancer after a routine mammogram revealed a malignant lump in her breast. After her diagnosis, my mom also did genetic testing, which in 2007, was not very common. She tested positive for the BRCA 2 mutation – a diagnosis that would change my life forever. After my two sisters and I did our own genetic testing, it was revealed that they tested negative while I tested positive for the BRCA 2 mutation.

Following our diagnoses, my mom and I each had our twelve-hour surgeries six months apart. We both had double mastectomies, full hysterectomies, and reconstruction all at once. When I think back to April 23, 2008 — the day of my surgery — it’s all a blur. I lost my grandmother and father-in-law a month apart, my mom had had her surgery just before, and the stock market crashed, which had a major impact on many people including my own family. Even after all of this loss, my focus was what it always was: I constantly told myself, I need to get better so I can be a good mom and take care of my kids. I need to get better so I can be a good wife, sister, daughter, and friend.

The constant guilt that I felt – combined with my need to please – kept me from being grounded and in the moment. I could not concentrate on the trauma I was experiencing in my body because I could not be present with what was truly going on in my body. I never thought about the changes I’d experienced in my body before, and I never thought twice about the fact that my breasts were about to go through another dramatic change. I simply did what I was told when it came to my reconstruction surgery. All I could think about was how I was determined to get my strength and flexibility back. I wanted to be able to move as I had before. I wanted to be there for other people, and I wanted to continue my yoga practice.

One month after my surgery, I slowly began my yoga practice again; however, this time it was different. I had a whole new body awareness, and moved slowly and mindfully, as though I was a beginner again. Little by little, I began to build up my strength and open up parts of myself that had been stuck. Although parts of my body felt resistance, I was just happy to be able to move again, and not be so consumed with worrying about breast cancer. So, for the next ten years, that’s how I lived my life. I tried to wipe out the trauma I’d experienced by dedicating as much time as I could to taking care of my family, educating others on the BRCA mutation, teaching yoga, and always finding special time for myself on my yoga mat. I was looking forward to a future without pain and worry – at least, that’s what I had hoped for.

Almost ten years later, in August 2017, I woke up one day to find that my hands and wrists were swollen and inflamed. Both of them ached with an intense pain that came out of nowhere. The pain got worse, and for a short time, it affected my ankles and knees and neck. I felt sick all the time – like I had an insidious flu that would not leave my system. Almost immediately, my mind went back to my breast surgery. Could something from that traumatic event be triggering what was happening now? Could the pain I was experiencing be from lymphedema? When I asked my doctor, he said it was highly unlikely that I would be having a reaction to a surgery from 10 years before. I felt discouraged and I began seeing various doctors, hoping to find answers. I was in so much pain and did not know what to do. Every doctor gave me a different diagnosis, along with wanting to put me on different medications with terrible side effects. I refused and sought alternative therapy. I went to an acupuncturist who referred me to a therapist and a TCM (a traditional Chinese medicine doctor who prescribes herbs). I went to the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota, and came home with no diagnosis. I continued to see my chiropractor that I had been seeing for 3 years, and he also agreed that something was very wrong with my body, yet the source of the ailment was undetectable. I decided to continue exploring alternative medicine, and went for Ayurvedic treatments for 2 weeks. I felt a little better; however, something was still very off.

In spite of my endless appointments, I still performed all of my duties as a mom. I moved one of my daughters into her new university, and the other to a new state to begin her first job. I continued to move at my normal fast pace, but I felt exhausted and weak, and I couldn’t ignore the dark feeling that something was terribly wrong with my body. I started a file called “mystery illness,” and that file turned into a big box. I saved every doctor’s report, every disc from every MRI, and every lab report. Luckily, through my yoga practice, I was able to be in tune enough with my body that I knew something was wrong with me, despite my doctors’ inability to properly diagnose my illness. My doctors offered to prescribe me with steroids and other drugs, but I knew in my heart that their diagnoses were wrong, and that taking the drugs they prescribed would be like committing treason against my own body. So, every day, I would meditate, practice yoga, and try to exercise outside. My once somewhat normal life was now comprised of commuting, sometimes for hours, to at least four doctor’s appointments per week and getting tested for every kind of disease. I had countless MRIs, CAT scans, PET scans, and blood tests. No diagnosis would show anything specific: the only thing I heard repeatedly was that my body was inflamed, which meant it was trying to fight some unseen aggressor. When I met a doctor, I would usually cry as I told my story. I would say, “I am Gayl, and I am a healthy person. I never get sick, never complain, and I feel like I am dying. This is not me, and I want to be me again.” I cried every day, usually in the shower or bath: the only place in the world that my very cold body could get warm, and the only place where my family could not see me unravel.

During my long journey to discovering the root of my illness, I also experienced an unthinkable level of social isolation. I felt like I could not talk to friends and family, because it took so much energy to lie and pretend that everything was okay. It was too difficult to try to explain how I felt, or the fact that no one could tell me what was wrong with my body. I did not want to hear the opinions of others who had no idea what I was going through. I couldn’t even look at social media because it made me so sad to see my friends in their beautiful yoga poses while my own once-strong body was just getting weaker.

I kept my illness from my parents for several months because I did not want to worry them. My sister, Marci, was my only sounding board, and I am so grateful that she let me cry and tell her how bad I felt on a daily basis. I was in so much pain, and I was beginning to run out of options. From February 2018 to July 2018, I was seeing a rheumatoid arthritis doctor and began to take Prednisone, Mobic, and a 30 minute monthly infusion of Orencia. Aside from my face swelling from the Prednisone, nothing changed, so I stopped taking anything at all. In July 2018, I went to Israel with a group of women, and for the first time, I felt as if a few pounds of the tremendous weight I was carrying had been lifted. When I returned home, I really started to decline. The pain was unbearable, my glands felt swollen, and my chest hurt every time I took a breath.

I practically lived in sweatpants, because I could not button my jeans or pull up my leggings. I could not even open a water bottle because my wrists hurt so badly, and I had to use my elbows to squeeze a tube of toothpaste. I had not done an arm balance in almost a year, and when I practiced yoga, I needed special props to support my wrists. It was impossible to do planks or push-ups, and once again, I felt like I was retraining my body as if I were a beginner. I had no energy, yet I could not sleep. I knew I had my family counting on me, including my two little dogs, Kobe and Roxie. I went to see my internist (who I’ve known for over four years), and during our meeting he said, “Gayl, I don’t like to see you like this. This is not you.” We decided I would try RA medications one more time even though I was extremely against them. At this point, I was desperate.

So, for four months, I went every week and received injections of Methotrexate and Orencia. I cried every time. I hate shots more than anything, and they make me so emotional. What was worse was that the shots did nothing, and I did not even feel a tiny bit better. With my immune system shut down from the shots, I felt so weak. I could not go visit my daughter for the very first parents’ weekend at her university, so my son and husband went without me. In January, I went to meet with my RA doctor, and told her I did not feel better. She asked me to try a biologic: another shot with even more side effects. I cried, and against my intuition, I consented to Enbrel. I came home after the shot with eyes that were blown up and swollen, and my whole body itched. I called my sister crying, and I told her I was done. I would not take any more prescription medicine. I took a Benadryl, went to bed, and woke up in pain, but I was at peace knowing I would no longer be taking medications that were not going to help me anymore.

Since the very first day I felt pain in my wrists, I had that gut feeling that my illness stemmed from my surgery in 2008. However, this time, I was not willing to ignore my body or my intuition again. I found a group called Breast Implant Illness and Healing by Nicole, and spent hours and hours reading what 60,000 other women were experiencing. (There are now close to 80,000 in this group) It was so inspiring that we could support each other and answer each other’s questions, but most of all, it was so wonderful knowing that I was not crazy, and I was not going to die. My body had actually been fighting my implants for years, but I thought the symptoms were from being tired, having four kids, moving across the country, never resting, and fulfilling my duties to my family. Finally, after finding this support group, doing my own research, and spending years struggling to get the pre-op and post-op records from my plastic surgeon, I finally confirmed why I had been so sick: my breast implants were slowly poisoning me from the inside out and were destroying my lymphatic system. My strange, phantom illness finally had a cause. Through my strong meditation practice, I decided to have my breast implants removed, no matter what the outcome was. Every morning, I would silently remind myself, “You can do this, Gayl. Don’t stay in bed; you are going to be ok.” I would close my eyes, and visualize my body healed, healthy, and strong – just like it was before my first surgery all those years ago.

My healing story is so hard for me to write about, largely because it is still going on; however, this experience is a chapter in my story I will never forget.

I wanted to be sure to share my journey in detail to help anyone else who might be going through acute, chronic pain. More than anything, I want to inspire others to take full responsibility for their own health, and to listen to their bodies. Inflammation and pain are only the symptoms — not the cause — of so many diseases. Even though we have an incredible medical system in this country, there is still so much that doctors do not know, and there is still so much that can be improved. I urge you to constantly listen to your own body, and to take charge of your health. As women, it’s far too easy to fall into the trap of putting everyone before ourselves, but our own bodies and lives are just as important as our families. I want to move forward in my life as an example of someone who is able to take care of her family, but who is also able to take care of herself. The first step in true self care is rooted in listening, and in creating trust in ourselves. I hope my story can inspire you to connect to your own true intuition, and to always listen to your inner voice — because that voice is more powerful than you know. My inner voice is what saved my life, and I know yours can save your life, too.

On Tuesday, May 7, 2019, I had my surgery to remove the implants that were placed in body 11 years ago. I did not know what the outcome would be, but I did know that, for peace of mind, it was something I needed to do. Today is May 12, 2019, and although I am sore and emotional, in the last five days, I have slowly become alive again. It is almost miraculous. Most of my pain in my joints is gone, my eyes are white instead of grey, and every morning when I awake, I feel like I can take the deepest breath – that deep, life-giving breath that I used to feel every single day. I am so incredibly grateful to once again be full of life and possibility.

Please feel free to share this, and please be sure to always ask for and keep the medical records after any surgery or procedure you may have. While we have an amazing healthcare system, we cannot forget that we must take full responsibility for our own health. Also, please feel reach out to me. I have a long journey ahead of me, and I want to share anything I can to help you when it comes to listening to your body. Thank you for taking the time to read this. I know my story just gets better from here.


Stay tuned for the next chapter…

Saying Yes to Adventure

Saying Yes to Adventure 2942 2180 Gayl Walder Yoga

Here’s What Happened When I Said Yes to Adventure

A few months ago, my oldest friend Michelle (we’ve been friends for 40 years) told me I had to apply to take a trip Israel with a women’s group. She took this trip 5 years ago, and said it was life-changing. I actually noticed the powerful effect the journey had on her as soon as she arrived back home.  It was as if she glowed from the inside out – like she had a secret to life that the rest of us were missing out on. However, because I was still struggling with my health issues, I was very hesitant to take the trip myself. I also did not know how I could possibly travel to another country with people I had never met before.  And, most importantly, I had never been to Israel or Europe, or even considered journeying to these places, because of a story I have told myself for so many years: I can’t leave my family.
For as long as I can remember, I’ve told myself that my family needed me.  And because I believed that my family needed me, I was afraid of what would happen if I traveled on my own and left them behind.  As a result, I became a side character in my own movie, and my family was the star.
Don’t get me wrong: I have an incredible life.  My children like it when I do things with other moms, and they are supportive when my husband and I go out with our friends. But, I still enjoy being home and being available to my children.  I know that kids grow up too fast, and there are always challenges that I want to support them through.  However, the consequence of this is that my daily to-do list is never ending, and the amount of hats I wear has increased throughout the years.
I do have cleaning help, but there are just certain things no one can do for me. I enjoy driving my son to school and picking him up whenever I am able to. I enjoy cooking and organizing, and I actually like going through paperwork – filling out forms for kids, schools, charities, organizations, and bills is just something that others cannot do for me. Also, the kind of love and support I give as a mom and wife is a tool that no one else can provide for my family.  I am the CEO of my home, and one that you can’t put a price tag on, because my job lasts for 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
What I have discovered is that even though I love what I do, I have been so stuck for so many years. I am stuck, because I am so used to giving to everyone, that I always put myself last. This is no one’s fault; not even my own. We become creatures of habit: we have patterns that we engage in for so long that we don’t realize we are even engaging in them! There is a Sanskrit word, Samskaras, which translates to “habits” or “patterns,” which sometimes can be very hard to break.
After examining my beliefs and my fears, and after looking at my own Samskaras, I knew it was time to try something new.
I interviewed for the Israel trip that was being organized for the fall, and found out over 120 women applied while there were only 41 spots available! October seemed far away, but I suddenly got an email explaining that the trip organizers were in deliberation about the trip and choosing who would go. They told me another group was going in July, and said I could go with that group, but only if I could give my answer by the next day.
I discussed this with my husband, and told him I that I needed to go.  I explained to my family why it was important that I’d be traveling alone.
I took the final step, and I told the ladies in charge I was saying yes to Israel! I woke up the next day, and felt happier than I had felt in years. At my core, I am a happy and positive person, but this was a different kind of happy. It was like a spark was lit inside of me, and I felt as if I had a new purpose. Every day since I said yes, I have become a little more excited. What made it even more special is that my family was happy for me.
My kids have all been to Israel, and they wanted me to experience what they did. Some of their friends live in Israel now, for school and for other reasons, and I I can see and almost feel how happy they are there. I am excited to visit with them.
So today, I began a new chapter in my life…the unknown. I’m on the plane to Israel to share 8 days with 16 women I have met only once at a group meeting. We have an itinerary that is quite full. We will be visiting different parts of Israel, experiencing culture and tradition; along the way, there will be spiritual talks and growth groups, but above all else, there will be a sisterhood. I will be with women who are there for a similar reason, yet we all have our own special reasons for embarking on this adventure. I have many: self-love, discovery, letting go, sharing, opening up, exploring, and most importantly, healing my mind, body, and soul by just taking care of me. For the first time, I will do my best to take care of Gayl, and trust that everyone will be okay. I have surrendered, and I have no plan; I’m just excited to see what the next chapter has in store for me .
Perhaps the next chapter will be called “adventure.”
Please stay tuned for updates from my travels!
And please be sure to always say yes when an adventure comes your way!