Vulnerability 2023 Recap

Vulnerability is defined as uncertainty, risk, and emotional exposure.” It’s that unstable feeling we get when we step out of our comfort zone or do something that forces us to loosen control.

Brene Brown

For 2023 I gave myself permission to fail or to succeed. I gave myself permission to not do it all alone. I gave myself permission to reveal and unfold in a way that stays in alignment with my soul but also welcome risk. I gave myself permission to be seen.

A year ago I thought that I should break out of my comfort zone and expose myself to being more vulnerable. I chose the word vulnerability as my word for 2023 with the intent of being more emotionally open and to expose myself a little more, rather than staying within my private little world. I also wanted to learn how to better ask for (and receive) from others as well as take a few risks and put myself out there a bit more. I tend to thrive when I am humbly doing my work and not paying much attention to the rest of the world.

I honestly don’t even know where to begin. To simply say that vulnerability has kicked my ass would probably suffice but there has also been moments where vulnerability was also a stepping stone to something great.

I jotted down twelve things I wanted to do that would stretch my vulnerability and ask me to truly act on my intentions. Of those twelve things, all but one was completed. The majority of what did come my way in terms of asking me to take risks, deal with uncertainty and expose my emotions was not even on the list.

I started out in the early months of the year with just becoming aware of what it means to be vulnerable. I prided myself on embarking on this new feeling as was pretty jazzed for it to all start to roll.

As my upcoming hip replacement got closer and closer, I became more and more fearful. I am not typically a person who fears anything so this was new to me. Something was telling me that I should not proceed so two weeks before the surgery, I cancelled. I figured I needed more time to prepare myself and I would just wait a bit. Making that decision was scary for me because I generally do not go against “doctors orders” and to cancel meant I had to open up to being brave in a big way.

If you’ve hung around me awhile you know I have a crazy mad love affair with Bruce Springsteen. Seeing him in concert is the best experience however since I had hip surgery scheduled in February, I wasn’t planning to see him when he came to my city of Denver. Literally the day I cancelled my surgery, a longtime friend texted me that she had two tickets in Tulsa….what?? Heck yes. I was going to go! Two days before the concert my friend had a death in the family which meant I was going solo. I hesitated about going all by myself, but in the end opted to do something super scary (to me) and fly to a strange city alone, and attend a concert alone. It ended up being the BEST concert I have ever been to and I danced 27,000 steps that night and will remember it forever. I’d like to believe he was as happy to see me as I was to see him. Honestly, he came to Tulsa to meet me and there were just a few other thousand people nearby. ?

Not too long after I cancelled my hip surgery and met up with Bruce, one night in the middle of the night, I missed the corner of the bed and whacked my knee so hard on the bed frame that it was nearly impossible to hobble. Weeks went by and still no real relief so I went to the doctor. Tests later revealed a pretty badly torn cartilage and lots of yuck behind the knee cap. Huh. This was not how I wanted vulnerability to be tested. Early March I went ahead and had my knee scoped and dealt with weeks and weeks of very slow healing.

Early spring the “good” vulnerability came in me getting super crazy and buying myself a Jeep Wrangler as a second/weekend car. This was so hard for me because it felt so unnecessary and saving money has always been my go-to. Spending money on myself feels so reckless and unnecessary. Weeks of deciding and I finally did it. She is a beaut!

I got asked to be a guest speaker at a grief group and while I am very comfortable with speaking and people in front of people, I am not so comfortable sitting in a large group of incredibly sad people. I am never really sure what to say or how to say it, so I just trusted myself to say the right thing in the right way from my heart. Turns out being emotionally available and exposing yourself to emotions isn’t so bad. ?

My knee pain finally resolved early May and one day I was walking and felt a strange sensation coming from the bottom of my foot. It worsened. Walking was very very difficult and if you know me, you know that walking is my world. Three doctors later, series of tests and lots and lots of pain, the only real hope is nothing. There is an extensive foot surgery that “may” correct the deformity but the recovery is grueling according to the surgeon. When a surgeon recommends not doing surgery, you know it must be awful.

With all the limping of my foot that postponed hip of mine began to scream pretty loudly at me as the summer progressed. I wondered if this vulnerability thing was all the physical stuff I was facing or if something else was seeking to be seen.

One of my favorite married couple yoga students moved out of their assisted living home I had been seeing them in and I happening to casually ask a staff person where they moved to. Next thing you know, I am sitting in my car crafting an email to the agency they moved to and within an hour, I am contracted with ten homes. Two weeks later they asked if I would add sixteen more homes. That meant I had to forego my beloved Fridays off which meant I had to ask myself some hard questions. I ended up saying yes to all the homes and it has been nothing short of amazing. Taking risks for myself and putting my skills out there hasn’t ever been hard for me so this act of vulnerability was easy. Years ago when I didn’t have confidence I would never have had to guts to approach an agency like that.

After a month or so of teaching more adaptive yoga classes than I ever have, I came across a Facebook forum of yoga teachers asked (for the hundredth time) about the “peak pose” or “how do I teach___”. In one of my more rare salty moods I commented on the ridiculousness of that and the “pose” isn’t the purpose. Yikes, did that ever start a vulnerability wildfire. I tend to go about my business quietly and humbling doing my work, rarely engaging in the yoga world and never combating with others about it. This outward moment for me to stick my neck out and expose my style of yoga teaching to a very large group was gutsy and very much against my usual quiet way of being. What came from that day long banter session was I got extremely frustrated and more disheartened with the western view of yoga so rather than stew in the slime, I created a new Facebook forum geared towards learning how to teach adaptive yoga in any setting and how to bring yoga to people who are most unlikely to ever be able to achieve a “peak pose”. The group has been slow to start but like anything that is worth it, consistency and time will bear the fruit. My intent with the group is to expose my experience to others and hopefully inspire other like minded teachers to consider getting out of the studio and sequence mindset and into the heart. Time will tell. It was very outside my norm to speak out, especially about something so sacred and controversial as yoga, unless I can hide behind a blog post. ?

Late July I was feeling a tad bit like I wasn’t spending much time on my yoga mat and decided to publicly announce that I needed help with accountability. I created a 30 days of yoga program where I was actually practicing with the recorded class. Gulp. That meant 30 days of being on the mat and publicly being accountable. It turned out to be an amazing thing! I gained several new students and friends and I am way more consistent in my personal practice. My YouTube library continues to grow and I have realized that it’s not so scary after all. It even prompted me to explain my feelings about perfectly curated videos versus the real, raw way of teaching I feel is way more down to earth and reachable for all types of people.

As my foot continued to give me trouble I also had to deal with an extensive amount of skin cancer cut out of my collarbone. The sutures and scarring was painful and a wake up call to being a lifelong ginger who isn’t always so mindful about sunscreen.

My annual mammogram came in the fall and like most medical things, I easily roll with them. Until they call you back, and until you are squished into a mammogram machine having the suspected tissue extracted from your body. Then, the waiting three day for results was downright horrible. Having no control and seemingly wide open to emotional exposure was the tipping point of my vulnerability quest. By now, I had had enough. Thankfully the results came back benign and life carried on.

Vulnerability of waiting for healing and tests and not having control of the outcome was challenging for me. I tend to check things off a list and carry on. The wait time for some of these experiences was tedious.

Just two weeks after the biopsy event, I came across a breast cancer support group that chooses to be active in the support groups rather than sitting in a hospital board room to meet. Having gone through the biopsy procedure and emotions my heart felt very open to extend my yoga studio to the group and I now teach monthly to these amazing breast cancer “thrivers”.

Some of the opportunities to be vulnerable were having to be very open with friendships and the outstretching I felt I had to be with some of them. Partly, I was recognizing what serves me and the other part was my resistance to having closer and more emotionally charged friendships. I thrive on working and moving, so slowing down to feel still remains a work in progress. The vulnerability came in having to be open and honest with myself, and with my friends.

I have tried hard in recent years to stop being so amazing at multitasking, but it has served me so well that why stop, right? Well, sometimes when we refuse to stop or refuse to learn something we are given another opportunity to.

I was flying fast through my day and thought I could quickly mix up a batch of bath bombs. Ya know, it takes about five minutes max. I grabbed the Costco sized fourteen pound bag of baking soda and then the game changed. The baking soda was not only hardened into one compact block of cement like texture, it was also really really cold. I jammed my hand into the bag and rather than stop and grab a tool to break up the hard baking soda I fought against it until my fingers bent the wrong way and the baking soda won. The following day I was at urgent care, and then the hand surgeon, and would you believe baking soda caused a completely and severely torn ligament to require surgery?

Perhaps all the multitasking and going too fast actually caused it. Go figure.

Being that I am not one to appreciate or strive towards competition or the limelight it was shocking to me to put myself out there for a nomination for the “best of”. I remain adamant that this contest is purely to highlight the students I serve in hope to bring awareness to the community so perhaps others may feel inclined to use their own unique gifts to help others thrive.

I have jokingly said for years that being a parent is the hardest job ever and sometimes I wonder why do we subject ourselves to such stress? I get the whole cute baby desires but once they are past age eight or so it is no longer about being cute but rather simple parental survival. I tell young moms all the time that be glad you can stuff them in pajamas and into bed because when they are adults and you have no control, and minimal influence, it is pure hell. This has been a rough year for one of my kids and being the parent of an adult who is struggling is so painful. I’d give anything to be able to put the pajamas on and tuck them into bed assuring them that everything will be okay, but I can’t. So I deal with the emotions and communicate clearly with true vulnerability.

The year continued to move along with minor infractions that at times I asked “what the hell is this here to teach me” Such as three cracked windshields in a couple months time, a new furnace needed, hail damage that turned out to be costly, and many other financially challenging episodes.

Uncertainty = vulnerability.

I lost some special students this year and that invited me to look at my work and my heart. It asked me to feel and to allow myself sadness. Their lives have also prompted me to inquire and learn more about frontal lobe dementia and why we are seeing such an increase. Information to me feels safe.

Finally, as I close the chapter I am being faced with some hard looks in the mirror. Having hand surgery soon and the rescheduled hip replacement coming in just seven weeks, I am having to take a really deep inventory on my choices as it relates to the amount of movement I have been consistently putting my body through over the last several years. I am having to look at and take responsibility for perhaps not being as kind to her as I could have been.

That’s a tough one to swallow.

I have said that I will be glad when this whole vulnerability thing is over so I can go back to being closed off and in control. I hope that I can allow the sliver of vulnerability to remain intact because I do feel that being more emotionally exposed has served me well, most of the time.

To capture it all most simply, I’ve had a major shift in my business that has been due to the risk taking and I have deepened some relationships by allowing myself to receive while also by giving myself permission to feel more than things just in the neutral zone.

Onward to 2024. (Big breath taken).

Stacie believes that it is her life purpose to share the gift of Yoga with anyone who is willing to say yes. In addition to raising a family and being an advocate for those with disabilities, Stacie is founder of Embracing Spirit Yoga which specializes in bringing adaptive Yoga into community centers and rehabilitation clinics. Bringing her depth of compassion to the mat–or the chair–she offers students the opportunity to grow as an individual in all aspects of their life.

With over sixteen years experience, Stacie Wyatt is an experienced 500 hour Registered Yoga Teacher with Yoga Alliance, Certified Brain Injury Specialist, Certified Trauma Informed Coach, Life Wellness Coach, Senior YogaFit Instructor, Mind/Body Personal trainer, Stress Reduction and Meditation Instructor, Pilates Instructor, and Barre Instructor. Stacie is also certified in Integrative Movement Therapy™and is also a believer in the power and application of essential oils for health and wellness and proudly shares doTERRA essential oils.

Stacie brings her personal life experience of raising a daughter with a disability and over 12 years working in special education to her everyday Yoga classes.

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