little pickle press Rana DiOrio what does it mean to be...?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?

and

What Does It Mean To Be Green?

to the brand new

Your Fantastic Elastic Brain which a beautiful book (printed on some really cool stone paper called Terraskin  – a tree free paper).  Several of the books are Nautilus Book Award winners and the lovely

Sofia’s Dream is a Mom’s Choice Award winner.

We found a new favorite by Helen Ward,

Snutt the Ift filled with stunning illustrations as always which joins another long time family favorite by Helen Ward

Unwitting Wisdom : An Anthology of Aesop’s Fables

 

 

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).

Happy Reading!

30 comments on “Guest Post from Founder of Little Pickle Press”

  1. Much love to you. I wish I did not relate, but what you said about being invisible could not be more true for me, and for some of the same reasons. Now that you mention it, it may be part of the reason I became a food allergy awareness advocate.

    It is good to take the power back & find a way to protect others. <3

    Bless you, Rana!

  2. Rana, I believe in the power of sharing our experiences, both good and bad. Thank you for sharing your moving story, and for mustering the strength to bring your horrific experiences to good in the world. And, as a “recovering” (ahem) perfectionist myself, I can attest to the fact that it is VERY hard to humble oneself to do yoga at the beginner level!

  3. Finding a way to cope with the emotional devastation of sexual child abuse eludes many victims. My children were sexually abused, and now – in their 40s and 50s – they still suffer from the trauma that ripped away their innocence and scarred them for life. They cope with varying degrees of success (and failure), but I will pass on to them the path that healed you. Thank you for sharing from your heart to help others who still are tying to find their way.

  4. What an inspiring and powerful journey through being sadly broken at such a young age to healing… Thanks for sharing this with everyone, and thanks for doing what you do for all children.

  5. It is clear from the author’s writing and the personal history she reveals that she is very passionate about child safety. The book is tremendous and uses an approach that takes away the scary aspects and teaches children to trust their instincts and inner voices to take care of themselves.

  6. Thank you, Rana, for sharing your journey. It’s wonderful to see how you have found healthy ways to heal; keeping your feet on the ground, and your heart open. Best to you and LPP!

  7. Thank you for your courage in sharing your story, Rana. I had to chuckle at your reaction to your first time at Yoga. That was so me the first time I did. I didn’t even have a mat or yoga tights, and was sure I would never belong. The instructor was so kind and welcoming, as were the other women, it didn’t matter that I always came in my old sweatpants and didn’t have a mat for several months.

  8. Thank you for sharing your story, Rana – both your life story and your written stories. I’ve been thinking of trying yoga, but had never heard anyone basically say it saved their life.

  9. Thank you for sharing this heart-wrenching post. Rana, there is no doubt that your experiences have shaped you into the strong woman you are today. The messages of your books are so important. Thank you, Capability, for featuring Little Pickle Press.

  10. This is a wonderful post! Thank you so much for sharing your story. It is extremely touching. I hope that your story touches others the way that you have touched me. Sending you love!

  11. I feel very supported and seen today. Thank you, everyone, for your positive feedback and acknowledgment. One of my friends sent me an email that read, “Thanks for sharing your story. I’m sure it will help others. You are very special. xoxo” He knows me well. I shared my story with the hope that it would help others. There is such strength in awareness and community. I am grateful to each of you, and I am here to help in any way I can. ~ Rana

  12. Rana: I am proud of you. I love you. There is nothing as authentic as truth. You are brave and compassionate, a true goddess. Paula

  13. Thank you for this powerful lesson…not to have a bad experience define you, to use what you have to be the best possible you, to be strong, to be kind, to be a good mother, friend, author, publisher, employer, daughter, citizen and yoga student. Congratulations!

  14. I love you now, I’ve always loved you. Your generosity of spirit and courage to share will help many. From your “oldest and dearest friend.”

  15. Rana,
    I had no idea….but now that I do, I understand things much more clearly. And I can relate to so much that you said, and felt, in different, yet organically similar ways.
    Yoga has been part of my life since about 1997 when I travelled, solo, to Sedona because I wanted to see the natural beauty I had heard so much about. I took my first class there and have been practicing ever since and I must say, it’s a safe haven for me whenever I am on my mat.
    I feel so fortunate to be working with you.
    Jen

  16. Dearest Rana, One of the many wonderful things about you is that you know how to turn pathology into a path, or more commonly said, lemons into lemonaide. Your story illustrates this so beautifully. There is always a deeper/higher/more profound opportunity in all that life throws at us. Be proud of yourself for realizing and actualizing this. I am honored and blessed to have witnessed some of your journey.
    Blessings,
    Claudia

  17. It was hard not to think about the recent headlines out of Pennsylvania as I read this moving and courageous post from Rana. Her words, “keep your children safe,” will stay with me. I’m not sure we parents can hear that advice enough. I have shared this post with my sister, my husband, my mother-in-law and before the week is through, I will send it to others I travel with and learn from on this parenting journey. I give thanks for how Little Pickle Press creates content that helps me to really engage with the two little people in my life.
    Thank you, Capability Mom, for hosting this post.

  18. Rana, one of the absolutes in life, is that we all are hurting. Some more than others. A lot more. You are truely an amazing woman, and I am honored to call you my friend. Thank you for your honesty and courage to share your increadible story.

  19. I hope writing helps you to heal these wounds as much as it helps others to hear your story. I certainly helps me. You’d think by age 45 I’d have looked at all the scary corners in my past, but there are still demons I’m just now able to face. And yes, yoga, meditation and writing have played a huge roll in accepting myself as the dog I am. Much love, respect and Thanksgiving to you.

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