the trials, tribulations, and musings of modern, urban yoginis.
FB FOR GOOD: THE UNEXPECTED STORY OF HOW YOGA ON THE GREEN TRANSFORMED MY LIFE
By Nicole Scholten
Activism is exhausting, full time work. Turns out, so is caring for a family. Props to those who sew ’em together seamlessly. In an effort to reconnect with folks who care about Lucy’s access to the best medicine, I thought I’d tell the story of how I came to learn about cannabis as medicine…
I’ve always appreciated the art of yoga. Everything about it. What feels better than breathing deeply and stretching? I’ve felt this since long before my daughter was born. But now, the importance of core strength building exercise takes on crucial relevance. Yoga is exactly what I need in an exercise. Considering my lovely daughter is one of the most physically challenged people you might ever meet, my core strength is elemental to the wellbeing of my entire family.
Two years ago, my family discovered a free weekly yoga program at Washington Park in Downtown Cincinnati. Weather permitting, we wouldn’t be found anywhere else on Tuesday nights. We enjoyed an opportunity for a shared family activity in combination with the revitalization of our cities urban core. We’d set up a little family spot in the back. I would follow the instructor’s directions with the greater group, and Chad and Lucy would follow their own versions of the poses, as Chad helped Lucy move her body through stretches. I loved the language of the instructors, “offering” ways to move one’s body. I recall several notes about the truly democratic experience of yoga at this particular place. True words. A decade ago, people didn’t go to Washington Park for community and mindfulness, instead, at least occasionally for illicit activities one could engage in within the borders. Now, neighborhood kids are enticed to grab a mat and play around with the notion of cat/cow sequence. Good stuff.
Every Tuesday offered new opportunity, but one evening stands out in my memory. I had often seen a fella who looked very much like a yogi, but wasn’t practicing. He was routinely found bouncing a baby around the place, in apparent support of a mom doing yoga. Kind, right? On this particular evening, this gentleman approached Chad and Lucy, leaned in towards Chad’s ear, and in a volume I couldn’t even hear, whispered, ‘I love you.’ My kind, confident, and maybe a little surprised husband looked up and responded, ‘Well, we love you, too.’ Neither of us made too much of it. It wasn’t the first time that a fellow yogi expressed some feeling about our being there. Seriously, random strangers thanked us for taking part. And this is not an uncommon occurrence. People are quite often emotionally affected by my kiddo. She manages to bring out good. I live in a neighborhood where guys who are trying hard to look tough will put down their cigarette to help me into the coffee shop or flash a big smile from behind their gold grill to show kindness to Lucy and the family lucky enough to belong to her.
So, that was the end of the profession of love… until a day or so later when I was tagged in a facebook thread. Apparently, this man, I came to know as Jack, felt compelled to write about this experience where, as he wrote eloquently about how and why he made the open hearted choice to walk towards his emotion instead of away from it. Turns out we share a circle of friends who quickly identified our family and I became FB friends with the man.
I could never have envisioned in a million years how, later in that summer, through a simple and salacious FB post, Jack would change my life.
The post: This Is What Happens When a Little Girl Uses Marijuana. Well, you can bet I was drawn into that one. The little girl in the story, as it turns out, has a variation of the same neurologic condition as my daughter: drug resistant epilepsy. Fortunate for young Charlotte, she lives in Colorado and has pioneer parents who researched cannabis concentrates in the hopes it could offer some relief for Charlotte from the 100’s of seizures she had each day. Now mind you, there is so very much to learn about this issue, about context and science, but the short story is that this little girl, who had a Do Not Resuscitate Order, is now in ballet class, thanks to medicine from a cannabis plant. After dozens of pharmaceuticals failed to curb Charlotte’s debilitating seizures, a very special extracted cannabis oil offered significant seizure reduction. Like from 100’s/day to 1/month. I know this because Charlotte and her family are now famous. I have followed their story via CNN documentary, TEDtalks, Dateline and beyond. Charlotte’s mother, Paige Figi, is now a director of a non-profit and a cannabis activist. Why? I suspect she didn’t feel much of a choice. I can say that from experience. Since this first encounter, thanks to Jack, I have learned considerable amounts of information about cannabis as medicine and have joined with other Ohio parents who have taken on the mountain moving project of gaining legal access to life saving cannabis medicine for our own children.
Cannabis is medicine.
If you would like to learn more about that last sentence, or if you feel this cause is worth supporting, I urge you go towww.OhioFamiliesCANN.org to find an ever increasing wealth of information and opportunities to donate.
And does Lucy do yoga? Yes she does. Some poses that seem most useful for her body are: bridge, from which she is learning to lift her own tush. Fish pose is a great heart and lung opener for a hunchy kid with low muscle tone who sits in a wheelchair for much of her day. And Lucy likes a good twist as much as the next kid.
And for me, building core strength, both physical and emotional, allows me to be there for my kid. Several years ago, I went to my doctor with back pain that understandably comes from the everyday lifting of my little princess here, there and everywhere. My doc suggested PT. I said, “What about yoga?” His response: “Whatever you’ll stick to.” In yoga speak, they call that practice. And so, I am now blessed to be a ‘helper’ around the Yoga Bar, the yoga establishment primarily responsible for Yoga on the Green. As helpers, we are called karmi’s. Give a little, get a little. A reciprocal relationship, in which I’m pretty sure I come out on top. For anyone who might think of yoga as a relaxation rather than energetic exercise, I offer that though I often practice only once a week, I have absolutely gained strength and balance. Yes, I had to stick with it, but I no longer have the back pain that would be a common side effect of truly living my life, not just in the comfort of my own home, but to get out there. To do the physical and emotional things required to be a visible part of the world. To take risks like hiking trails that aren’t typically accessible to folks in chairs. To recognize that Lucy’s life is best lived through experiences. Some of which she needs me to be strong and brave enough to allow. In the early days of practicing yoga, I didn’t think nearly as much about the breathing component and could therefor never have seen this part coming. When I sit across the table from a powerful person whose perspective is to hide behind some old reason why my child should be restricted from quite possibly the best medicine she will ever know, my ability to take full, deep breathes allows me to resist the urge to throat punch and instead choose a much more productive response.
Special thanks to the Yoga Bar and to Jack Frank for playing a role in this extraordinary journey. Would I have found it outside of the Yoga Bar? Perhaps, but I’m happy to have been guided in the manner I was. It sure makes for a great story about mind, body and spirit connection doesn’t it?