The Gifts We Give Our Children
When my husband, Chris, was young, he and his best friend caused all sorts of mayhem throughout their Middle and High School years. His friend’s mom, Kathy, was a yoga instructor and Chris remembers her “making” the boys practice yoga every day. He said, “She told us it was to help us be grounded, but I think it was because we were so wild and crazy!”
I did not know Chris then, but throughout our relationship, I have come to know Kathy. She is a beautiful, kind, patient woman who radiates peace. I am so grateful she was a person of influence in my husband’s youth, because although he may not have realized it then, she gave my husband a profound gift. Now, as parents ourselves, we long to equip our children well for life’s journey.
Stable, sincere, present and connected.
Someone who reacts calmly in a crisis.
Admirably sensible, realistic, unpretentious.
Five years ago, we followed the BRAVE call to adopt. Chris and I, along with our 3 biological daughters, completed an international adoption of two adolescent siblings from Eastern Europe. They did not know English and had endured significant trauma and loss prior to being adopted. There is a hurting, broken world outside of our front doors. One I was admittedly naive to prior to this experience. With the adoption, that hurting broken world came crashing through our front door, and thus began, and continues, one of the greatest challenges and opportunities of our lives.
Navigating this shift in our family dynamic proved all-consuming. The language barrier, the challenges of older child adoption, overwhelming emotional and educational needs, and juggling support services left me exhausted and exasperated. Despite all the training, books, and classes, I felt unprepared, ill equipped, and incapable.
I was in desperate need of self-care, so I BRAVELY purchased a yoga package at a luxurious studio in town. I had never practiced yoga. I did not know the poses or terms, but I tried the various classes, and eventually felt most comfortable in yin yoga; a slow-paced style of yoga with postures that are held for longer periods of time than in other styles.
I was working four days a week outside of the home at the time, so I attended a yoga class on my day off each week. That class was everything to me. I walked in with the burdens of my job, my unwavering commitment to our children, the strain the adoption was putting on my marriage and relationships with family and friends, and the underlying injustice that had contributed to it all on my shoulders. I walked out with peace and confidence in my capability to not just survive but thrive.
I can distinctly remember the gripping anxiety melt away through a type of breath work called nadi shodhana, alternate nostril breathing. I can still tap into the peace that washed over me while my instructor chanted to the soothing sounds of the harmonium as I held the long, deep poses. These were invaluable, life-giving gifts.
BRAVE experiences will test and stretch your capabilities, but how you navigate the unexpected circumstances and the emotions you find yourself confronted with is even more important. Yoga, meditation, and mindfulness are skills that can help you process these experiences in a healthy way.
BRAVE choices can also lead to outcomes we never expected. One of the children we adopted no longer lives with us, and we grieve for the family we envisioned. See, being BRAVE will likely expose you to realities you may not have wanted to confront: grief, trauma, and pain. I keep a quote on the refrigerator that says,
“Adoption is not the call to have the perfect, rosy family.
It is the call to give love, mercy, and patience.”
What our family did was BRAVE. That does not mean we weren’t scared to try new things or take big risks, but that we consciously chose to step outside of our comfort zone in pursuit of following our calling and living out our purpose. I believe outside of our comfort zone is exactly where the best things are waiting. Yes, there will be stress and anxiety, pain and sadness, but there is also extreme joy, deep connection, and love so strong your feel your heart might burst! Such good gifts.
A Beautiful Green Meadow
The world needs our help. Luckily, we don’t have to do it alone! The inspiring founders of Just Bee Yoga, Kay Epple and Cathy Fitzgerald, are sharing the benefits of yoga and the skills of mindfulness with families. The stress that led me on my own self-care journey is not exclusive to adults. Children are just as vulnerable to worry, anxiety, and fear.
Most kids don’t ask for Yoga “lessons”, but after just one class, our daughters couldn’t wait to go back! Just Bee Yoga classes have proven not just a good gift, but a necessity for our girls in our fast-paced, overstimulating society. They were suddenly aware of what they were capable of harnessing and releasing within themselves to cope with everyday life.
“It is like my mind is wiped clean!”
“I feel light, like I can float!”
Their favorite part of class is savasana, a meditative posture used for relaxation at the end of a session. Our daughter Abby says, “Every savasana, I end up in a beautiful green meadow!”
Yoga is for wild and crazy teenage boys, stressed parents, adoptive families, tween and teen girls navigating adolescence, and goat farmers…Yoga is for EVERYONE. Kay and Cathy are giving families vital tools to navigate life’s experiences. These tools aren’t just for difficult times. Yoga can be a beautiful expression of our best selves as well! Yoga, mindfulness, and meditation compliment the gifts of empathy, kindness, and resiliency we believe will equip our children to BRAVELY make a positive impact on the world. We know our daughters are future friends, students, community members, spouses and maybe parents themselves. The greatest gift is what is to come!
Comment below to ask the Comeaux family a question or share your yoga experience.
Photo credits: Josh Hartman Photography
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About The Comeaux Family:
Our family has never shied away from BIG dreams. From our marriage, to building our careers, to starting our family and then growing our family through adoption, to our BRAVE new entrepreneurial venture – Land of Milk and Honey – we are ordinary people who dare to try extraordinary things!
Land of Milk and Honey is our family owned and operated goat farm in Leelanau County. This business allows us to teach our children amazing life lessons about hard work and responsibility, business and finances, expectations and disappointments, problem solving and teamwork…but more importantly, it allows us to offer life’s simple pleasures to others.