Meet Ericka

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Please read, be inspired, I am. This is Miss Ericka Charles @runerickarun who is beyond blessed and this is her story. She is my childhood friend, Patrice’s  daughter … share if you feel moved to. I know it would be appreciated! 😃
https://inspired2race.com/our-athletes/
So completely inspired! #NeverGiveUp #RunErickaRun

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Photo courtesy of Jason Honeycutt for J. Cutt Photography

via Meet Ericka

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Our Miraculous Heart

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Today I got the gift of meeting my heart through the echocardiogram, and she’s beautiful, she works so hard doing her thing, #thankyou.
We don’t really grasp how precious our multifunctional system is and within our bodies are interdependent parts, each can affect the other part and yet as they all work individually and they also work as a system, like every aspect of life. Appreciate it all take nothing for granted.
Our bodies are AMAZING, like seriously meeting my beating heart visually on screen, speechless. I know it seems a bit crazy, however taking it all in, the reality of this organ and all of it’s miraculousness, (is that a word?).
I was in awe as I watched my left ventricle pump the blood, how the muscle must function at its optimal best to create healthy blood flow and how all 4 of the chambers doing their jobs are individual yet interdependent, how the aorta works, all of it.
#TakeCareOfYourHeart it’s all a gift, all of this 💝#BlessedBeyondBelief

Acknowledging Our Fears, Living with Heart

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I haven’t written a blog post in quite some time, however since beginning this journey to figure out IF there is something going on with my heart, a lot has been swirling in my writer’s mind and now I felt it was ready to spill out.

It’s an interesting feeling when one is faced with a ‘possibility’ of something being dangerously wrong with one’s health, it causes one to begin seriously reflecting, or at least that is what it’s done for me.

Seventeen years ago I was diagnosed with MS, it onset 22 years ago and I’m one of the lucky ones, I wasn’t thrown for a curve when I was diagnosed, but relieved. I was relieved because it validated all that I had been feeling for nearly six years that the doctors ignored. It validated that I wasn’t crazy, I had already figured out what it was and brought that possibility to my doctors and then it was indeed confirmed. Way back then, I was a single mom of 3 YOUNG children, I had no time for this disease to stop me and my determination and yes, stubbornness kept me going. I often say that I was not built to break and I know that I’m not.

Back in 2002, the ONLY thing I was concerned about was my kids, what they would feel, their fears and trying my very best to assure them that their mom would not die because of this disease. Over the years I have fought very hard to do my very best, I have always tried to show by being a living example that our diagnosis doesn’t mean we have to believe the prognosis and it also doesn’t define who we are. It took me years to actually embrace having MS and I have learned to be one with this disease that lives and shares this body with me and yet I am not this disease. Up until this heart thing, which has yet to be defined, I have hopefully shown my now young adult children, that their mom is strong and that we should never give up, to always show compassion and to try to be empathetic to things or conditions which we don’t always see because it’s not visible or it’s something we don’t understand.

This heart thing, as I call it for now, has literally caused me to pause and reflect, it’s brought me to tears because yes, I am human, I do get scared, angry, all of it. I don’t scare easily however there are moments I am scared. Right now, I am scared and simply telling me not to be, or reminding me that I’m strong is kind however not practical. It’s normal to be scared.

When I was growing up, my biggest fear was my parents dying, specifically my dad since I grew up closest with him and then he died at the young age of 59 and my heart broke but I survived. When my mom passed this past June at 77, the grief I felt blew me away, I had no idea the impact of losing my mother would feel like and as I’m writing this, I can feel the emotions of her loss swelling in my eyes and my heart. The pain of losing my mom was really unbearable, but I survived and they both live on within my heart, within me and within each of my children.

There is still a part of me that is afraid of death, however not for the same reasons or the way as when I was a child/young adult. I have these humans who are my heart, my children, 3 amazing humans who wear my heart outside of my body every day and I can’t imagine not being here or them feeling the pain and worry of losing me, which if that were to happen, is something they would inevitably feel and that would be normal, this is not to say that I’m going anywhere, however the one thing that I’m sure of is that eventually we all die and it’s how we have lived that matters. Worrying about the ‘what if’s’ doesn’t serve us, worrying doesn’t change whatever ‘could’ happen, it simply takes up space in our heads that can actually make us sick and that’s not healthy for any of us no matter what that ‘worry’ is.

Having MS is something I understand in every cell of my being, I have learned how to be in relationship with it and I also know that I will not die from this disease, perhaps a complication of it but technically not from it and it is also probable that I will live a long healthy life with it, as most now do thankfully.

Having a doctor tell you that there might be a heart condition literally sends shockwaves running through one’s body. I believe this should cause someone to pause, it has me. Of course I keep telling myself I’ll be okay, that whatever it is I’ll/we’ll deal with it and at the same time I recognize that the reason this scares me a bit more is because it is my heart, I only have one, there is no negotiating the terms, there is no other part of my body can compensate for what could be wrong AND I also know that this brings to reality my own mortality as I know it brings the same to my kids. I am aware that it more than likely scares the hell out of them, and I’m also aware that they all are dealing with this mystery and concen in their own way.

The possibility of having a heart condition made me realize even more now than ever, just how important life is, how precious our moments are and how important those in our lives are. It also puts into a very clear perspective, even more so than before. I clearly see what is important, how to, in a healthy way, let go of things or people who are simply not meant to continue on this life journey with us, to continue being thankful for the moments we had, let go and to also continue to embrace those who show up and love us, really love us.

I have no control over MS or even what could be wrong with my heart, if something turns out to be not right, however as always, I know that I have complete control over how I prepare and how I react/respond. The way I am and have always prepared, is to FEEL, to really feel all of it, the fear, anger, grief, and possible loss of the ‘me’ that was and know that I will adjust to whatever will be and then take care of her to the very best of my ability.

I am acutely aware that life is meant to be lived and how we live is what matters, how we love matters. I know in my heart this truth and it’s taken me a long time to embrace this truth, that everything is temporal, change continuously happens. Who we are is not the things we have, the illnesses we might be diagnosed with, the money we have or might not have, the titles we wear, or have been given, the jobs we might have or not have and the list goes on and on… everything we think we are, are actually aspects of ourselves but not who we are.

I know that I can ‘wish’ myself well, pray all is okay and hopefully in the end, after all of these tests, my heart will turn out okay and is healthy and there is also a possibility that it’s not.

What I know for sure I can’t do, is bypass any of how I’m feeling, not spiritually or otherwise. I MUST, if I am to be true to myself, to the body, is FEEL every damn thing and allow it to come out in whatever way it must, even if it means I have moment of sobbing, which over the past couple of weeks I have done quite a bit of. Crying is not a sign of weakness, it’s a healthy way to discharge, to allow ourselves to feel and release and it can and should happen as often as necessary.

One of the many reflections I’ve had after the initial ‘blaming’ of what is the ‘reason’ for what could be wrong, like family history and genetics, which is a real possibility in addition to acknowledging my own contribution to this. Over the years I’ve had to make choices on how to handle flare ups and or disease progression, to live well with this disease and that meant taking medications that had risks in order to give me back the ability to walk, feel, and move in general. I had to make choices for what was then the ‘now’ and that also meant being ABLE to take care of my children.  I was always aware of the risks and one of them was long term heart damage, however in those moments, the present was more important to me than the ‘possibility’ of what could happen 10-20 years from then, well those possibilities are here, 10-20 years later is now and I can’t go back and choose differently, nor if given a chance would I. I think about what my kids might think or feel, will they blame me and my choices for a condition that had I not taken those medications back then, I might not be here with another possible and yes, life threatening condition now? Will they be able to understand through possible anger, fear and grief that I did what I had to do so they’d have their mom, so that their mom would be there for their amazing moments and their struggles, for all of it? Will they forgive me and can I forgive myself?

Were the choices that I made back then made in fear or desperation were they done with mindfulness? I would love to say that I always made them from knowledge and mindfulness, however the truth is many times it was from fear, fear of losing my abilities, of not being ‘able’ and it was only in the most recent years that I’ve learned to pause and allow choices to be mindful, not jumping to have surgery to ‘fix’ my frozen shoulder is a very good example of taking that pause, choosing to do intense physical therapy and having the patience to allow the healing to happen and not going for a quick fix, however with this and probably just simply wisdom and age, that choice was a bit easier. Dealing with MS and the way in which it can steal parts of us is different, especially when there are drugs like solumedrol to quickly ‘fix’ something that might or might not fix itself over time and when my kids were young, I felt I didn’t have that ‘time’ to take that leap of faith, today I do pause and I do try to make decisions from a place of calm instead of fear, 4 years ago this month was the first time that I had to put that into practice.

I am sure or at least it’s my hope that anyone facing their own mortality gives them a moment to reflect and find new appreciation for life. It really shouldn’t take that for it to happen, however realistically that’s usually how it does for us humans. This is not my first rodeo with having to cope with a curve ball, however it’s very different then anything I’ve ever had to face or deal with before.

Am I still afraid of death, no, not the same way that I used to be, however I am still afraid of not being here, on this earthly plane, of not seeing my children continue growing into their own adult selves, grandchildren (if that is in the cards for them) and basically having the gift of seeing how they continue to mature and grow. I am, even with this scare, very sure I’ll be here for all of this or at least that is my hope and we must remain hopeful, with everything.

Life is so precious, we are really only here for a moment, that’s the truth. Live well, live grateful, even during the hardest moments and know those moments and how we cope with them are the lessons, have faith, be accepting but not apathetic, be the very best you that you can be, love big and appreciate it all…. every damn moment.

I’m not going anywhere, at least not now, these are just my feelings turned into print that I hope will inspire, give hope, put into perspective, help heal and or relieve concerns and most importantly, I wrote this for my kids….

I love you all so much and I always will …your mama bear otherwise known as LBZ

Living with MS and how Yoga saved my life.

Since 2006 I’ve found Yoga or I should say Yoga found me and that day changed my life. I was diagnosed with MS in 2002 and for the first four years, like many, I allowed the diagnosis of MS to define me and then one day I searched out a yoga class.
I had no idea what it was, or what it would bring to me, all I knew is that I had this friend who was remarkably calm and she did yoga.
What was it about this practice that kept her so centered?  I’d ask myself.  I found a yoga studio where it was small and simple; it had this amazing energy about it and wasn’t “selling” anything but peacefulness.
I had no idea that yoga would bring me so much more than strength and balance (which is what I thought I was looking for).  It took me and still continues to take me on an unbelievable journey of self discovery, stillness, inner peace and balance of mind, body and spirit.
I took on a yoga practice where most begin, at the beginning and eventually built up a strong practice, however this didn’t mean that I could throw myself into a handstand or many inversions that come so easily to many.  It means that I found this space on my mat that was quiet, balanced and peaceful.  I was not judgmental and I was okay with wherever I was each day and I continue to practice yoga and life just that way.
I was content with me and the MS, it was quiet now sitting in the background and no longer standing front and center, and no longer did it define me. Eventually this yoga practice became a way of life.  It’s not just the asana’s (the poses) but it’s the way I live, by the principles of self love, love of others, non-violence in my words and actions and how I treat myself and others.
I literally, without knowing it, took my yoga off the mat and into my personal world and then out to the world where MS meets Yoga and beyond.
In 2010, yoga teacher and then friend offered me to take part in her yoga teacher training, if not to teach (which I had no intention of doing) but to truly understand why I was doing what I was doing and also to deepen my practice.  I accepted her invitation and in June of 2010 after 6 month training I graduated and became a 200 hour certified yoga teacher.
I decided that teaching the general public was not my purpose or my passion but sharing what I had learned and who I was, the person living with MS discovered that yoga can save the life of someone living with MS as well as significantly change that same life in such a positive way.
I have been actively involved in public service by being a team captain for the National MS Society’s Long Island Chapter’s MS Walk and for the past 12 years have raised over $80,000 collectively.  I also ran a 3rd party fundraiser from 2008 through 2012 called Healing and Moving for a Cure, where all monies raised went to a program that I started to provide home health aide assistance to those living with MS. 
Then I chose to start a program that offered free yoga classes to those, like me, who live on limited income and have MS to have yoga in their lives. This program is offered free to our local MS Society on Long Island in collaboration with 2 other yoga studios in my area who have also offered their time and selfless service and for that I’m so grateful.  We run the program for 8 weeks twice a year and during this time anyone who has MS, their friends and/or support partners are offered the opportunity to take classes with yoga teachers that I’ve worked with to find out what they can do rather than what they can’t do.  I also teach one of these free yoga for MS classes during these 8 week sessions twice a year.  I am, like them, a body living with MS but I am also an example of how we can learn to live well with MS.  Yoga helped me find my way, my peace, and my balance.
My hope and prayer is that this program that I began here on Long Island could reach across the country and that every yoga studio would offer such a program from the perspective of someone living with MS.  Unfortunately, I can’t be everywhere but I’m hoping one day I can teach other teachers to teach from the perspective of someone living with a chronic illness like MS so that it might open the door for any ‘body’ to enter the yoga studio, knowing that it is a safe place for them to help guide them to that place that is really within themselves but has only yet to be discovered.
Teaching yoga to someone living with a chronic illness can be challenging. There is a ‘knowing’, a gift that comes from having this disease that allows one to offer out the gift that yoga has brought and to be able to offer that out to others.
Yoga is balance.  It is a moving, living meditation. It’s a way to go inside and quiet the mind. For those moments we are on our mat, the MS or the illness or trouble that one is living with can be quieted as well, if only for a moment and hopefully longer.  It takes practice, life is practice…yoga is practice…yoga is where I find my peace, my center and my balance.
Lisa Bachrach-Zeankowski

Celebrating My Life with Grace and Gratitude

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11 years ago today, the mystery of all of the symptoms that I was having for the previous 6 years was solved, I was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis. 17 years ago was my onset of this disease. 17 years later I am so completely grateful and blessed, I have learned so much in all of these years as well as I’m grateful for the gifts MS has brought to me. I have met and befriended so many amazing people, I found out that I am so much stronger than I ever thought I was, and not just physically, but mentally. I have discovered that our inner strength is everything and we are not our bodies nor are we the disease or challenges we face. I found out that I have more love and compassion than I ever thought possible and my awareness to the needs of my body as well as the needs of others has heightened tremendously.

MS has taught me self love and self respect, it’s taught me that we need to really listen to our bodies as well as become the very best advocate for ourselves and yes, for others…MS has taught me to live vicariously, fully and totally in the moment and to appreciate every moment, the present is all that we really have and nothing past matters and the future is always uncertain so why worry about it? It has taught me how to handle situations with grace and that we really are not in control, but we are in control of how we prepare and how we react to situations.

MS gave me the gift of being able to stay at home with my kids to raise them and be involved with their school needs as well as their personal needs. MS shares my body with me and we have learned how to co-exist, however MS does NOT define me by any means, if anything it has shown me just how strong I can be and how we (me and this disease) can teach others.

MS is an amazing process and journey, not one to be taken for granted and truly if one chooses to, they can look at their diagnosis as a gift and choose how we are willing to live. I chose to live well and in the best way I know how. I am grateful for the lessons, we have had our ups and downs for sure but in each experience there was a lesson to be learned and one to be shared and taught to others.

I have become an advocate, an activist, a yoga practitioner and a teacher and I have discovered that my true passion is to help others and hopefully bring to as many people as I can the gift that yoga has to offer. I wish to be able to continuously show people through my actions that we are not our bodies but we are spiritual beings living a human experience and that yoga is such a natural way of helping ourselves, mind body and spirit.

My passion is to hopefully inspire as many people as possible to embrace whatever their challenge or obstacle is and open up the opportunity to bring yoga to their lives so that they might experience what I have. Yoga really saves lives as well as shifts how we look at the world and ourselves. Yoga teaches us to live in the moment and to be still and to listen to the amazing silence between our thoughts, as well as it teaches us to listen to the needs of our bodies and yes, yoga has saved my life, in more ways than one and if it weren’t for MS, I’m not sure if I might or might not have found Yoga and all that it has to offer us.

So today I celebrate my 11th year since being diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis and I celebrate 17 years since my life began to shift and change. Happy Anniversary to us! The journey and the lessons will continue and until the day a cure might be found, we will love each other with the greatest unconditional love we can share.

To quote one of my favorite inspirational teachers, Deepak Chopra, “You can believe the diagnosis but you don’t have to believe the prognosis.”

Today is a celebration of my life and that’s how I am embracing this day that changed my life some 11 years ago and it really did change it for the better Namaste Lisa Bachrach-Zeankowski

Living in Gratitude

Have an attitude of gratitude everyday!  Not just intellectually, but from the heart.

Life is short..live it! Life if precious..appreciate it! Sometimes things aren’t easy, but often times the best things in life need to be worked hard for and earned.

It’s easy to blame, but it’s braver to own it! The ONLY way out is through! There are no mistakes only lessons, and everyone we meet along the way, is a teacher and even if they don’t stay in our lives, they were meant to be in our lives, maybe for a moment, or years but they are meant to be in our life and possibly lead us to our next teacher.

Life is not a destination but a journey LIVE IT, BE PRESENT, LOOK UP appreciate it., inhale, exhale, feel the breath, feel the ground beneath your feet, go hug a tree!!!…

Life is GOOD even when we think it’s not or it’s just too hard, we are blessed, we really are…Be Grateful ….

Namaste Lisa Bachrach

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Shifting Our Perspective

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My friend asked me the other day “how are you feeling?” my response was “oddly very good”, however not so odd I believe since all it takes is a simple ‘shift’ in perspective and attitude and anything can happen.

I was going through some very personal stuff with someone who was otherwise, my ‘soul mate’ so I believe he is, We’ve gone through a 10 year relationship, have gone our separate ways and somehow found our way back to a friendship with the possibility of maybe rekindling what was once our relationship, so I was led to believe.

Unfortunately time showed that not much had changed, as I let him in closer and I allowed my heart to open back up, what felt like ‘games’ began.

From first glance, my first glance, HE was putting me through hell, however on second glance, I was putting myself through hell, I was allowing this to happen to me. I was allowing myself to cry, not get out of bed, to ‘sit’ in the sorrow of having to mourn this loss yet again. After a full week of tears, cord cutting, yet again, and reaching out to like minded friends who understand, came my shift in perspective, it was as simple as this;  Lisa you can either stay here and sit in this until you start to manifest dis-ease which is so easy for the body to do when you have chaos and create blockages in the body from emotional turmoil or you can get yourself back to you, where you find your peace.

It was day 8 of my ‘feeling sorry for myself’ mode when I received an email from the Times Square Alliance to let me know about this years Summer Solstice, an event that I look forward to participating in every year.  I registered for the information of when to register and then there it was, a video of the class that I took on June 21, 2011. I hit play and started to watch it from my desk chair, slowly my body started to soften, I was able to feel the endorphins shooting off and I was slowly finding that place inside of myself where I find peace, and something whispered to me, “Lisa why are you watching it? Why not do the practice?” There it was, the whisper, was it my voice, my higher self reminding me or something Divine trying to remind me where my soul really is? I’m not sure, however I stopped the video, rewound it and rolled out my mat, here in my bedroom and did the hour and a half practice and there I found total peace, on my mat, deep within myself. Times Square and that beautiful sunny day became my moment on a Thursday afternoon in January, and the chaos that I had allowed into my life suddenly stopped.

I remembered who I am, what makes me happy and what brings me peace.  That Saturday I returned to my yoga studio and did my practice as well and again felt that peace that can only come from within,. I started or re-started to read the books that help to remind me how lucky I am to be where I am at this moment, I began to take at least a minute out of my day to be still sometimes more than a minute.I started to reawaken and be grateful for doing so and slowly but surely I realized that going back to the old ways was what I needed to do.

Sometimes or actually very often our road is so bumpy and we often deter from our path. and that’s okay. When we are on that new path the one we followed, that’s when we ask ourselves the questions, what is this here to teach me, am I in the right place, what it is that makes me happy? What is my purpose? Do we continue on that path or find our way back to the one we started on?

I have learned that the bumps are also there so that we can learn our lessons, without these we don’t grow so they are very much needed. It’s okay to get lost and feel sad, it’s okay to feel as if our world is crumbling down around us. Sometimes we need to fall in order to get up stronger. Sometimes you have to love and lose and sometimes we love and lose the same person in order to learn that we are capable of loving at all, or maybe it’s as simple as there was unfinished business between the two souls. I do know that no one can make us happy but ourselves and yes, I am happy, despite this, I am truly happy.

The lesson for me is to know when to know when to walk away, when to know the time is right to say it’s okay to love but not stay, to move forward and let go. Let go with love and not allow myself to create dis-ease within my body so that I can fulfill my purpose, what ever that might be. I might not know my full purpose but what I do know is that it’s not to sit in my pajamas, at home on a daily basis not doing the things that keep me healthy and feeling good.

So when my friend asked me “how are you feeling” and my response was ‘oddly, very good” , I realize now that the reason I feel so good is because I put  down the anger, resentment, hostility, betrayal, guilt and all things that create dis-ease and got back to ME and focused on the positive stuff, feeling good, doing my yoga practice and not just the physical practice but living yoga, breathing yoga. I became more focused on remembering how important it is to stay the path, keep the focus and stay true to myself and last but certainly not least surround myself with like minded friends who love from their true hearts and a true place.

My perspective has shifted, I’m feeling good, and I’m extremely grateful for that.

Namaste

Lisa

"When the Ego Sees an Obstacle the Soul Sees an Opportunity”

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So many times we debate whether or not do do something, either by someone else, or more importantly by ourselves. Many times it’s ego that keeps us out of our own way and it’s our soul that allows us to forge ahead.

“When ego sees an obstacle, our soul sees an opportunity” Mel Hermann via Seane Corne.

This quote repeated by a very special yoga teacher while I was on vacation and will ring in my head as I forge ahead facing the many challenges in my life as a reminder as well as a positive mantra for me, I hope it will for you too.

Our soul always knows what is better for us, all we have to do is ‘listen’, close our eyes, go deep within and listen to the whispers of our heart. That is our soul speaking to us. “Opportunity awaits you, go forward, I love you”

How many of you wondered; can I do yoga?  Will I be able to do this? Should I do this?  Before finally coming to that place in your heart that said, yes I can.

How many of us throughout our daily lives are faced with circumstances, otherwise known as challenges, and we are asked to question whether or not we can do it, either by ourselves or by someone else. 

And how many times do we question these things and find out that if we face the challenge head on, how brave we are?

How many of us were told that we have MS and decided AT THAT very moment not to give up and how many of us KNOW someone who was diagnosed with MS and watched as THEY chose to forge ahead bravely and not give up?

I know this past year, and in the past 81/2 years I’ve faced many challenges, not only with MS, but in my personal life, from striving to become a yoga teacher, to trying to overcome my fear of teaching to even getting up in front people to speak….yet each time I’m faced with these challenges, I also ask myself, to make a choice…and each time I choose to be brave and forge ahead, knowing that in the end courage allows MY dreams to come to fruition. 

My dream to bring the gift of yoga to all of you is proof of that.

When we face something others might turn away from THAT is courage.

When we fear it, it takes courage to admit that we fear it and then it takes courage to overcome it. We can’t really have one without the other can we?

Before beginning your practice each time you come to your mat, I ask you to set an intention, whether it’s being grateful for all that you have or for the simple fact that you all have overcome fear by showing courage at one time or another, or maybe your intention is for someone else that you know, who has also done that.

 I’d like to leave you all with this quote by M. Scott Peck…“Courage is not the absence of fear; it is doing something in spite of fear. It is taking the step towards your dreams in spite of the odds against you.” 

Namaste Lisa Bachrach