Hi, I am shelly. Who am I and why am I here? Well ain’t that the question everyone is trying to answer. When I figure it out I’ll let you know!
I am a complicated person who suffers from “imposter syndrome”. This is an issue that developed from trauma. More on that in a bit.
I began martial arts when I was 5. I practiced so many different styles but my home base was Kenpo, an incredibly strict discipline that included crazy things like learning to meditate in nothing but my uniform lying in snow at age 5 thinking everyone was trying to kill me. Strangely enough, I loved martial arts.
I was very fortunate to meet my first yoga teacher. She was just a teacher of 9-year-olds that figured out that if she taught yoga in the lunch hour the kids behaved better; she has no idea how grateful I am for that gift.
I suffered my first severe trauma at age 10. A situation in which my parents were not well equipped to handle (is anyone?). I started to act out in school and my teachers obviously didn’t know what to do with me so I went to the last adult I had in life, my priest. I read the bible start to finish then started asking questions about indescrepencies… and that was the brisk end to that relationship. So there I was, 10 years old, completely abandoned by all the adults in my life and suicidal. If it had not been for all those meditating tools I had been taught, I would not have made it through that year. I pulled myself together by age 13 and decided I was going to do what kids in troubled childhoods often do—become PERFECT. THEN maybe someone would like me. That worked really well! I became a super star. I read every book I could get my hands on, especially anything regarding philosophy. Graduated school early with an acceptance into law school, took off for a year living in Japan, a period of growth before the hard slog of becoming a judge (yup, I was going to right all the injustices in the world, especially for children!). I was the youngest food and beverage manager at a popular tourist hotel—a full time job while attending University. I was even pursuing a double degree of law and psychology and planning on studying forensic psychology, a new field at the time. I was a force of nature, I could walk into a room filled with pompous old men and hold my own. I knew no fear. I was rocking that perfection thing. Until I wasn’t.
Major trauma #2 hit. My brain literally stopped working. I did not sleep for 3 weeks. The doctors found me to be a medical marvel, but I did not sleep. I walked into my final exams for University and there was nothing, my brain was a deep dark tunnel with absolutely no information in it. I was carted off to the doctors and the worst therapist I have ever met (Therapists don’t get your knickers in a twist, I love my current therapist and I know there are some amazing therapists out there, this particular one was not one of them). So I did the next best thing people with trauma do… I said FUCK YOU GOD, BRING IT!. (Did I mention I am a pretty good cliche?) I have no idea how I survived the next few years. If there is ever a reason to believe in guardian angels those years are it! I was angry at the world, angry at God and didn’t give a flying fuck if I lived or not.
It was during this time that I met a cute guy and he invited me to move to New York with him. As I totally did not care whether or not this recently-met-cute-guy was a serial killer or not I of course said yes. Yes was my favourite word back then! Plus it had the added benefit of being the furthest place on the planet from my current mess.
My brother comited suicide at age 19 and that old coping mechanism of becoming perfect snuck back into my life. The cute guy turned out not to be a serial killer and we ended up raising a family. I became the PERFECT mother, the PERFECT wife, the PERFECT friend. This of course was exhausting and not at all sustainable… anyone see a crash coming? Told you I was a cliche.
So the crash happened, despite all that PERFECT yoga I was doing. This time, the cute guy, sent me to the jungle to find myself. (Thank you honey! So glad you were not a serial killer!) Hawaii seems to be my healing space. I have found myself there often. It is like the islands call to me when things start to go wonky. I think this is because I spent so much time meditating by the ocean in New Zealand and now Hawaii is enough of a reminder of home without the complications of actually being home. I completed my teacher training in the million degree heat of Hawiian jungle. For me, the process was just to heal. (I was also physically sick at this point)
When I returned home opportunities to teach kept landing in my lap. I did not want to teach. That girl that could walk confidently into any room was long gone. It is amazing how quickly all your personal power can be sapped when you have been physically shown how weak you are. I was, however, still the yes girl so I taught anyway; facing horrendous fear every single time I got up in front of a class. I felt like an imposter. How could I teach when I was so clearly fucked up? What right did I have to be trying to teach yoga when I was clearly such a failure at life?
For more than 10 years I talked about owning a wellness center. We researched many places but I never felt ready, never felt I had enough training (I still did not want to teach I just wanted to know how to find skilled teachers) enough experience, enough knowledge… I was never enough.
That imposter syndrome lead me into so many trainings! Including massage therapy, energy work, yoga therapy school….
So there I was, the imposter that had no right teaching yoga, learning yoga therapy! I did not want to become a yoga therapist, I just wanted to make sure I knew what I was doing before I opened a wellness center.
Then the addiction module in my yoga therapy course. I guess you can say those guardian angels were still around (I seriously should look into getting them a break!). Something struck me. First, it was the presenter. She cursed, she was real, she was NOT the ethereal mother earth type and I was like “OMG I found my peeps! I can teach yoga and not stress about slipping up with a curse word??? Sign me up!” People found her class a little intense, but having suffered from severe trauma I knew the value in INTENSE body workout. I got it. I signed up for the Y12SR training while still at the course and began working in the addiction field almost immediately. I have grown and learned a lot since.
I think the best advice I took to heart from any of my training was “get your own shit handled”. I have been working very hard on my own stuff and making sure I remain grounded enough to do the work I do. I have been unpacking the trauma and the scars it leaves and, most importantly, I have been trying all kinds of methods, never teaching anything I haven’t myself experienced.
By the time I was introduced to yoga, it was already beaten into me that teachers were like gods and you must do exactly what they say. It took me years to realize that teachers are people and should guide you on how to walk your own journey rather than forcing their way upon you. Everyone is different, everyone’s story is different, that is why there are so many different tools to try as you find your own path of healing. My most profound personal results came from yoga nidra, chanting, and a daily ritual practice.
Close to one year after opening our studio, I show up every day just to share some of the cool things people have taught me along the way. I have no desire to be perfect. I ground, I practice, and then I share the cool stuff.
I am very grateful to be able to say, today, I am not perfect. I am not perfect. But, I am also not broken. I am whole and complete exactly as I am and I am growing and evolving, with every passing moment.
Thank you to all the wonderful people that have shared space with me during this period of intense growth. May we know love, light, and connection.
See you in 2020!