It is a sunny day and warm enough to be outside, which is unusual for the May long weekend. Yoga was the last thing on my mind. I have the baby and we are playing in the dirt, helping a friend on her farm plant strawberries. I remember sitting there and suddenly leaving my body, looking at myself with this feeling that something was wrong. This moment of detachment lasted only for a few minutes as I was quickly hit with a wave of nausea. I smiled at Sara and tried to get back into conversation; I remember we were talking about motherwort. Still, I couldn’t shake the feeling and began to realize that I hadn’t checked my phone for a while. I excused myself to do so and noticed I hadn’t yet received a text from my dad that morning. It was now near 10 a.m. and the dread sank in: I felt certain he was no longer living.
I tried to calm myself down and not let my mind get away from me. There could be many reasons he hadn’t texted me and I didn’t want to ruin our time with Sara over a “feeling”. I continued to play and plant and decided to cut the day short at lunchtime, using “nap time” as a reason to head back home.
When Time Stopped
The drive back to the city was sickening. I began to get a cold sweat and to shake. I tried calling my dad a few times from the car, but with no answer. I pulled into his building, parked and fumbled to get the stroller out. I placed the baby in the stroller and began to sprint for the elevator. As we got to the seventh floor, the baby began to wail and at that moment, time seemed to stop and shock took over. I ran to my dad’s, unlocked his door and could see him at the table. He was sitting up and looking down. I knew he wasn’t breathing even as I screamed his name. I called 911 but gave them the wrong building number while I was in hysterics, telling the operator I couldn’t do CPR. I am trained to perform CPR, but I knew my dad was gone and I didn’t want my last touch of him to be cold; I wanted to remember him warm. I heard the sirens, saw them going the wrong way and suddenly started running and screaming that I gave the wrong building number–a sure sign of how much shock I was truly experiencing. I met the paramedics down a long hallway and explained what had happened as they rushed past me. When I got back to my dad’s floor, I collapsed outside his door, sobbing, as the baby sobbed too. It was loud, chaotic and frightening for us both.
The paramedics came out to share their regrets and explained what would happen with the police and coroners. I don’t remember too much else–a few conversations here and there, like the policeman telling me my dad had died in the most peaceful way possible. I must have called my mom because she was now walking down the hallway; then, I was free to leave, as it had been determined that I was not involved in my dad’s death, with no foul play suspected.
Discovering A New Path
I tried to continue through life for the next four months as if nothing was wrong, but eventually, I broke down. I continued on at work trying to put on a brave face, but I was in agony. As the anguish built up, my behavior shifted and I began to crumble. Just as the pain was hitting the point of being unbearable, I was in bed one night, in and out of fitful sleep. That same night, in a dream state, I had a very clear vision. An angel-like person came to me and said, “You must go and become a yoga teacher. It will be the beginning of the end of your suffering.” This vision made NO sense to me. I had taken three yoga classes and virtually hated all of them. I went to work the next day, where it turned out we were headed to a psychic fair to look for vendors for our upcoming show. Once there, I decided to receive a reading and, lo and behold, I was told I was to become a yoga teacher! As the reader continued, she began telling me that someone else was standing there and described my dad. As tears streamed down my face, I vowed to listen and–though it didn’t make sense–to become a yoga teacher.
The Truth About Yoga
I went home that night and I registered. I signed up for HeartRise® Children’s Yoga Teacher training (to become a better parent) and for teacher training for adults (simply to heal myself) with the DevaTree school of yoga. In my first weekend of children’s yoga, I realized that I was a mess and I quit my job. I dove into yoga with everything I had–and day by day, layer by layer, I began to heal. Yoga isn’t going to “fix” you; in my experience, however, it offers up the best opportunity to learn who you are by teaching how to bring awareness to your mind, body, and soul. As I approached the end of 300-hour training, I had undergone an immense transformation and decided to actually use my training to teach. I continue to learn, grow, and heal by attending yoga classes and workshops, and through participating in yoga online groups like Yoga Goddess Collective. This world of yoga provides me with space to simply BE, along with a toolbox of exploration that is only as limited as I allow it to be. Yoga found me when I was barely breathing and infused with me with “Big P”–that is to say Prana, or life force. I love how yoga has changed my life. It has become a true honor to share this gift with all who trust me enough to share a mat in my company.
John Raymond Stowe
August 15th 1954 – May 22nd 2017
Meet my dad John. John was a man with a heart as wide of the province who wore his emotions openly. John was adopted at the age of 2 and spent his life growing up in Toronto while playing all summer at a family cottage in the Kawartha Lakes. His upbringing fostered a natural love for the outdoors and he spent a great deal of time transforming the family cottage into a year-round retirement home. In his late fifties, John had a fall at work that caused him to lose the mobility necessary to perform his role as a caretaker for the Toronto District School Board. Losing his mobility and being in constant pain took a toll on his second marriage which resulted in a messy divorce where both parties lost everything including the family home. Reduced to poverty and living only on disability my dad moved to London Ontario to be closer to me and get to know his only grandson. One day John woke up in respiratory distress and was quickly taken to the local hospital. After careful examination, John was sent home. Within a week the symptoms of the distress began to surface. On the may long weekend as my dad sat at his breakfast table he silently passed away trying to text me.
While living my dad was barely able to afford groceries. We both scrimped and saved each month to have a family outing for fish and chips, dad’s favorite! When my dad passed away it came to my attention he had a pension from his time with the school board that had yet to be paid to him as it was set to begin when he turned 65. As he was no longer living the pension was then payable to me in one sum. This money was a complete shock to me and I vowed that I would use it to transform my life.
I spent the next few months working with practitioners and counsellors to help with anxiety, depression, diabetes, and hypothyroidism (Hashimoto’s). As I began healing I was able to hear and see myself in new ways and became aware of my own healing gifts. I began researching training and programs that I felt would best help me create the business of my dreams where I would be able to be of service to others who like me were looking to feel healthy, whole, and vibrant!
Living, my dad could barely afford his groceries. Through his death he left a legacy of total transformation for me and his grandson. With his money investing in myself has enabled me to turn up as present and engaged in parenting, empowered in business, and whole and healthy in my day to day life. My dad was a natural healer. Minutes in his presence had you feeling at ease, loved, and supported. I’ve started Fireweed Learning Community to live out that legacy and share some of his heart with mine in all I do and with every single person I connect with.
Thank you dad, I miss you, love you, and am eternally grateful.