I want you to know Wendy, because to know Wendy is to know hope and the resiliency of joy.  Wendy has known the death of multiple loved ones, abuse, PTSD, depression and despair so great that she attempted an untimely exit from this world more than once. I only spent a few hours with her, but even I can’t imagine the world without her in it.  Now, her joy beams.  Her laughter booms and she throws her head back to submerge herself in the delight of life.

The Journey has been a lifetime. Tragedy found her and followed her throughout her life and she nearly succumb to her sorrow, but her children granted her the strength to get the help she needed.  This is not a magical story – one in which all goodness is restored with a healthy dose of warm fuzzies and the darkness never creeps back in, because it just doesn’t work that way.  This is a story of years of work to claim life, to extinguish the lies of shame and a continual war for the truest self.

Wendy found a therapist she derived tremendous perspective from – a therapist who encouraged her to join a running group.  She says it took everything within her to get her to that first running meet up.  She could barely hold her head up, but she showed up, which is the definition of vulnerability.  Eventually, she began to thrive.

As she journeyed on, she met someone.  She was convinced that the more he heard of her story he’d turn on his heels.  She was wrong.  The more of her truth he heard, the more he loved her.  Clearly, tremendous strength and courage had brought her this far.  He could see that.  He could see her.  They married and blended their families.

Along the way she found Yoga.  This became the tool to alleviate her anxiety.  When she’s on the mat she says she “feels like it doesn’t matter if you’re perfect…It feels like letting go of perfection.”  On the mat there is belonging and a safe space.  When Wendy is flowing from posture to posture one can’t help but feel the profundity of each movement flow through her.  She speaks of postures that she couldn’t complete for years because they were too open and left her feeling devastatingly vulnerable.  Yet, she remains intrinsically drawn to them and finds herself flowing toward them in some subconscious determination. Even while we photographed she decided to take on two of the more challenging positions in addition to her repertoire that inspires strength and confidence.  When she conquered those two postures  (one signifying extreme openness and vulnerability and the other signifying the cusp of mastering some truth in becoming), she erupted into a volcano of laughter and joy.  On the mat she is her truest self and journeys forward in becoming.