Kara Snapp, Phoenix Rising Yoga Teacher, Therapist and Group Facilitator is stepping out and stepping up to Be Big with Phoenix Rising Yoga Therapy. One of the first steps in truly owning our capacity for Big-ness is owning the profound effect that we can have by simply sharing our stories. Kara’s story is truly captivating and heart-touching. She shares with you what inspired her to persist in becoming a PRYT and offering the work in the world.
Kara is leading a PRYT community initiative called Be Big, which began as an effort to bring accessibility to PRYT to the victims of June 2016’s brutal shooting in Orlando, FL. Not only did a great group of PRYT practitioners collaborate on how to be and what to do, but people took action! Still everyday, many more tragic events accumulate across the US. Be Big is an idea that began with Orlando and grows through a new initiative lead by Kara beginning Oct 13. Stay tuned to learn more about the details of joining this community movement, and learn more about Kara by witnessing her story, and perhaps sharing with her your own.
We are tied together by our Vulnerability
“What’s the story, morning glory?” My mom used to wake me up with that some mornings when I was a young child. My story involves trauma and grief, depression, poor coping skills, divorce, widowhood, and abuse…and it contains beauty, birth, creativity, gardens, love, health and joy. It’s true that my story involves all of these things, but which pieces most strongly impact my work as a Phoenix Rising Yoga Therapist? I’ve wondered…how do my awareness of and my presence to my experiences show up in me as a practitioner?
So, what is my story? And, how does it make me unique? Which events and experiences impacted the way that I learned, receive, and embody PRYT? The timing is such that, during the year of PRYT practitioner training and a few months following, I experienced more loss than I had in my entire years combined. Seven animals my family loved passed on in 2 years’ time. How does a wife & mother support this? Presence…the consistent practice of presence, acknowledgment, and validation.
My daughter’s dad…soccer coach and simultaneously abusive dad… passed away after 19 years on dialysis. Talk about complicated grief for a young child…loss and relief entangled. How does a mother support this? Presence…the consistent practice of presence, acknowledgment, and validation.
Two weeks later, my husband, the father of my son, who was almost 2 years old, was diagnosed with stage 4 Melanoma. Let that sink in. Rapidly developing cancer was in my husband’s body. My daughter was in the midst of this crazy experience of grief. I had a toddler full of energy and life, and suddenly…my husband, who seemed perfectly healthy two weeks before, had stage 4 Cancer. And, I’m trying to deal with my own shit in level 3. Well, level 3 became something a little bit different for me at this point. It became my life support. People sometimes say, “Oh, yoga saved my life.” I was beginning to understand what they meant. What it meant for me was 11pm sessions on myself. It meant bringing presence to the chaos that health issues in families bring. It meant the consistent practice of presence, acknowledgment, and validation for myself. It meant that I had a new tool that I could really use to support myself and my family. My husband started treatment and I managed to finish level 3…almost on time. Life continued…my husband was receiving treatment, going to work full-time and volunteering as a firefighter. My kids continued to grow and play as kids do. Fall rolled around, and it was time for my husband’s annual fishing trip. So, he packed his truck and headed off to spend a long weekend with the guys. I was sure his health was improving. But, it wasn’t long after he returned home that we got a call from the police that someone had been driving his truck ‘erratically.’ We lived in a town of just over 900 year-round residents…we knew the “ins & outs” of everyone’s lives, so they surely knew his truck. Turns out, it was him driving the truck erratically…with no explanation other than ‘things seemed fuzzy.’ A few more days passed, and soon he couldn’t find the bathroom in the house. He was unable to flip the light switch in the kitchen. Clear as day, I remember this as the moment when I became aware that my role was changing. I was now caregiver to my husband, as well as my children. After a few hours in the ER, we’d learned that the skin cancer had metastasized to his liver and lungs, and he now had seven tumors on his brain, two of which were bleeding. It was Nov. 17, my mom’s birthday. They sped away with Rich in an ambulance to transfer hospitals, while I went home to pack a bag, take a shower, and ask myself if this was really happening now. I spent an hour or so with myself…present, acknowledging, validating. Rich was supported at the hospital for a week. We came home and I immediately began arranging transportation multiple days a week for palliative treatment over an hour away and made a chart to organize his 11 medications. He left the hospital not wanting to know his prognosis. Of course, I was aware that they’d ‘given him’ only weeks. I continued to take my son to the park, talk with friends, and encourage my daughter to practice violin. I practiced yoga and meditated. I massaged and moved my husband’s body for him, made smoothies, and watched ridiculous television. All the while, his health rapidly declined. I was so deep in it…so present and aware, experiencing all that life was giving me.
A few weeks later, when it was time for him to leave this world, he called to me. He said he had to go. I was sure he needed to go to the bathroom. But I was wrong. When my sister-in-law and I prepared to help him sit up, he clarified, “No-no…I need to go.” After a brief moment of awareness that he had actually invited me to be present for his “departure,” we eased him back down and held him. Still embracing him and looking into his eyes, he took his final few breaths. With that, I experienced the most profound moment of presence in my life. ..a moment that was utterly and completely someone else’s moment. All I could do was exist in that moment with love and unconditional positive regard. And then the moment was gone. And, I came to know in a new way, that we all really are the same…connected by our human vulnerability. We’re born. We live. We die.
Just. Like. That.
As a human, I’m a survivor…just like everyone. I’ve always thought that my experiences were so basically human. When I sit across the mat from someone, the first thing I do is remind myself that we are the same. And, I do the same when I teach a yoga class. I see the vulnerability in my student who walks through the door for the very first time, and the courage that takes…not knowing what’s in front of them. We are human. We breathe, eat, relate, move, cope, work, think, play, feel…perhaps it looks different on the surface, but we all do it all. We are connected by the vulnerability of our humanity. We’re born. We live. We die.
Those experiences and moments are that ones that inform me how to be with someone in a session, and in life…how to be with everything that may show up, how to allow the experience to completely be someone else’s experience. Beautifully, the learning never ends…because we are tied together by our vulnerability. And that vulnerability can make us stronger and more resilient any time we allow ourselves to be present. And, I’d love to know, what’s your story, morning glory?