When I went to the Boston Book Festival this year, I had the pleasure of meeting the founder of Little Pickle Press, Rana DiOrio, who is as lovely and soft-spoken as her books would suggest. I was handed a sweet bag full of books and the opportunity to share them with you from the signature series which includes:
What Does It Mean To Be Safe?
What Does It Mean To Be Present?
What Does It Mean To Be Global?
What Does It Mean To Be Green?
to the brand new
Sofia’s Dream is a Mom’s Choice Award winner.
Snutt the Ift filled with stunning illustrations as always which joins another long time family favorite by Helen Ward
I was asked to be part of a book blog tour, which I love because I get to read books and to share them – and what is better than that? As part of the blog tour, Rana DiOrio offered to guest post on How Yoga Saved My Life – I naturally said yes. When I read her post I was stunned and saddened by her story but inspired by what she was able to accomplish and her hopes and effort towards keeping all children safe.
How Yoga Saved My Life
By Rana DiOrio, Founder, Little Pickle Press
I’ve been asked to explain what role yoga plays in my life. It isn’t a question I get asked often, and it certainly isn’t an answer I have ever written about. So, you are the first to know that in fact, yoga saved my life.
The Dark Past. Through years of therapy and self-help, I have learned to keep the past in the past. I share it with you now only because I know that I am not alone with this past, and I hope that by revealing it, I touch someone who shared my experiences and give them hope or assurance that they are not alone. I was a victim of child molestation. From the age of 3 to the age of 7, I was molested by three male perpetrators who had regular access to me. All I want to say about this is, please keep your children safe. Babysitter’s brothers and relatives cannot always be trusted. The result for me was that I became what my therapist refers to as an “over-performer.” Since I had been invisible as a young child, I wanted to be seen in a favorable light as a student, a musician, an athlete, a writer, a friend, a daughter, a sister, etc. You get the idea. I achieved, but I still did not feel seen.
When I was 15, I became bulimic. I felt as though I could not control the world, but I could “control” food. When I was 16, my best friend at the time told my mother that I was purging. My mother responded by forbidding me to do so again. Being the rule follower that I am, I obeyed. So, I became anorexic. I just starved myself. The summer I was 17, I weighed 85 lbs. at 5’7”. I faked my weight up to 100 lbs. by drinking a gallon of water and lining my topsiders with quarters so that my pediatrician would sign my health forms for college.
Coping. In college, I returned to bulimia. I couldn’t manage my rigorous coursework and activities as an anorexic, so I gained a little weight and started binging and purging again. I suffered depression in college, but was never adequately treated for it. No one ever asked me about my past, so I didn’t reveal it. During law school, I sought help in earnest. My therapist at the time was very helpful, but we never hit upon the issues underlying my duress.
I entered the workforce first as a corporate and securities attorney then as an investment banker working on technology deals as the bubble was in full force. I worked 100-hour weeks and traveled up to 160 days/year. The pace was crazy. I asked this of myself for years and all the while managed to be bulimic to maintain elusive control. I was dark, depleted, and dangerously self-destructive.
The Life Line. In 1998, I went on a much-needed, long-anticipated weekend getaway with my oldest and dearest friend. She encouraged me to put down my Blackberry® and to try a yoga class. (NOTE: I’ve owned a BB since before the product went to market because my firm, Merrill Lynch, took Research In Motion public, and our technology investment bankers were the Beta testers of the product. So my addiction to the device goes WAY back.) I remember the class to this day. I was nervous, uncertain, self-conscious, and irritated. Everyone seemed to know exactly what to do and did so calmly and peacefully. I had no clue what to do or how to do it, and I was anything but calm about it.
I give myself a little credit for trying yoga again when I returned to my hectic life. I attended a class at our gym on Saturdays with other “weekend warriors” — ardent practitioners, on weekends only. After a couple of years of experimenting with different types of yoga and different instructors, I found my groove. I became a devotee of Iyengar yoga and its well-trained instructors all over the world. I attended classes in Santa Barbara, New York, London, and, of course, San Francisco.
The Odyssey. I confess that at first I did yoga for exercise. If I didn’t break a sweat, then it didn’t count as a workout. It was so difficult for me initially that I could focus on nothing else, which is, of course, the point! It wasn’t until years later, while studying yoga in the advanced studies program at The Iyengar Institute of San Francisco, that I realized this. Yoga is a vehicle to clear the mind for higher pursuits.
The Epiphany. When I was 35-years-old, I decided that food was actually controlling me, and not the other way around. How I arrived at that conclusion was through therapy, introspection and, very importantly, yoga. As I invested time attempting to yoke my mind to my body and to my soul, I realized that I was fundamentally disconnected. As I let go of my bulimia, I also noticed that my body didn’t know when it was hungry or full. I had been shamefully ignoring those cues for my entire adult life, so I had to learn to listen to (and honor) my body again. Yoga profoundly helped me. It healed me. It enabled me to feel whole and complete for the first time in my life.
Being Grateful and Present. I am enormously grateful to my teachers who have so patiently guided me as I deepen my practice of the healing art of yoga. I am also so grateful that yoga became part of my life before I became a mother. I know that I am a better person and mother as a result. So after saving my life from continuing along a path void of happiness and fulfillment, yoga served to bring me into the present moment. It helped me to appreciate the now in a way I was never able to previously. Yoga inspired me to write What Does It Mean To Be Present? and What Does It Mean To Be Safe?, the latest in my series of picture books. It is my way of sharing with children (my own and all others) the valuable life lessons I have learned, the hard way.
The series is lovely – What Does It Mean To Be Safe helps to look at the issues facing children today but in a gentle way that encourages conversation. You can buy the books by clicking on the photos or click here for Little Pickle Press – Use code BBTSAFE and receive a free poster (on that cool Terraskin).