I want to tell you a story – but first…the butterflies. No, not the ones in my stomach when I think about responses to this post…but the ones that came to me so many years ago.
It was a beautiful day. I was 15, and even though the air was still and the sky was clear and I was staring at mountains, my heart felt so very heavy. It was the kind of heavy when years of stacked criticism began to peak, the kind of heavy where you feel alone in a room of people. The kind of heavy where “I wish I knew me and I wish they would stop telling me who I am” is all that would replay in my mind. I wanted no more. I wanted to sink into the concrete patio and be absorbed into tangible weight. I wanted to disappear.
“God” I whispered “if you’re there, and You see me, and you love me, send me a sign.” Less then two seconds passed before the leaves of the front yard oak tree started to stir, my brown hair danced around my face, and this cool comfort embraced my body and I knew that it was God. I looked over my left shoulder…I don’t know why…and the instant I looked a group of yellow butterflies fluttered by…slowly, twirling together, absolute beauty and peace and togetherness and everything I wanted to be in front of me. Here’s your sign Alyssa . A gift.
“Thank you” I whispered to the air as I tucked that love deep in my heart.
Years and years went by. Pain of my reality and the disfunction of childhood nagged at my soul. Not one, not two, but three little boy souls sent to me…but never coming to me in the way I expected. Autism…mom of three little spectrum babies….food stamps and rotting floors and loss of friends, loss of grandparents, loss of anything that felt certain. Anger. Running outside barefoot in the rain. Screaming into my pillow – drunken nights and drunken days and finding myself naked under the kitchen table. Torment. So much torment. It wasn’t pretty – but it was never “rock bottom” because I always found more in me. Always. I was strong. I would crumble and then rebuild – the love of God so deeply rooted in me that even when I didn’t think I loved myself, I didn’t understand how I could love others – but I did. Constantly, continually…always reaching deeper within to pull out what I thought could be the last strand of kindness, compassion, forgiveness. I never stopped doing what I should do. I began to find some light….just never understood it was coming from within me.
I gave up ideas that had been so comforting – rigid belief systems. It took great courage to recognize that there might be more, another side, another way of seeing the world and people and experience. I read books and watched documentaries and had long conversations with humans that lived Joy. I took about a month running on the treadmill, angry…listening to loud music that would beat in my ears as I beat my feet against rubber and ran away and toward and into my grief, into my loss, into the past. “Why couldn’t you love me?” I screamed at them “why would you hurt me like that? Why would you give me up? Why would you not hold me, why would you belittle me and threaten me? Why is the only touch from you I can remember painful, tormenting, humiliating? Just hold me…why won’t you hold me?” Hot tears would flow as I ran, the summer air suffocating me in the garage…the sight of my babies playing in the backyard brought me back to present. Then one day, as I put in my earbuds…I went for my angry play list and knew I didn’t need it anymore. I selected something flowy, something that reminded me of running barefoot on dirt trails, something that reminded me of rolling through tall grass with sunlight glitter trapped in my hair. Deep breaths – I could take a deep breath. I felt so free. I cried again – a cleansing, warm, relieving cry. I knew that I had worked something out by finally…allowing myself to feel.
Then yoga happened. I began moving my body and embracing my long legs and my white skin. I would stare into my eyes some evenings and say “who are you behind there?” Interesting how it took me accepting the outside of me to begin to really really value the inside. I felt a connection…a closeness to something Greater…more then I had ever felt in my life. I read more books, I watched anything I could find on philosophy, spirituality – I especially became obsessed with listening to Near Death Experience accounts. The descriptions of God, the Universe…this warm cosmic love…I began to fall even more in love with this Force. I spent hours journaling – allowing this love to come to me through my own writing…each page of authenticity untying bits of my forced, learned image.
Then the idea of reincarnation surfaced, and questions like “if I’m a soul when I’m born, then where did I come from? If souls have an afterlife, then do they have a before birth?” This thought pattern got me to discover past life regression…which took me to a google search…which led me to Lee Mitchell’s website. I read the entire site…clicked on all the bars, watched the little videos…then clicked off as if my hand was being held over fire. How could I go down that road? Once I go there…then this is the real deal. No turning back. I didn’t think I was ready.
Time went by, and I started Teacher Training at a local studio close to my house. My decision to become a yoga teacher came about like this : I like yoga. I’ve only done two public classes…and a prenatal and a restorative….but these people’s pictures on this website look like I should know them. They look really cool, and I’m scared of cool people – but I’m done saying “no” to myself. I just had a baby…I’m moving forward, I love people, I love yoga – so I’ll be a yoga teacher.” I went to an info session and signed up. About 4 or 5 weeks into my training I revisited Lee’s website and thought “well, I might make an appointment with her after training…maybe.” Around this same time, I was growing closer to one of my classmates. We had never hung out together outside of training so decided that a little coffee date was in order. We found our way to a local eatery, and over gluten free cinnamon rolls and black coffee we began sharing our “who’s and what’s.” You know – who we are that we don’t actually present to the world. Somewhere in this conversation she looked at me and said “I had a past life regression one time that changed my life.” My ears pricked up. I had never met someone in person that even knew what this was. I leaned in “who did it for you?”
“Oh” she said “her name is Lee Mitchell.” Here’s your sign.
I made an appointment after training – drove to Denver, and had one of the most surreal experiences of my life. I didn’t know what to expect, but I did know what info I wanted to recieve. It was important for me to know some “whys” of my life. I also really wanted to meet my Spirit Guides, or Angels, or whoever or whatever it was that had been taking such good care of me all of these years.
I’m not going to go into all of the different lives I visited or experiences I had. What I will share is that they were very very real. The things that were revealed to me I had always known on a deep level. In one life I met this curly hair little girl named Elanor – but I didn’t know who she was in the regression. Lee asked me if she was a niece or a daughter or if I recognized her soul and I didn’t. That was the only part of the experience I didn’t have an understanding of. It was made clear to me that I had children for a very specific reason – I had learned the lesson through error (physically felt like I couldn’t breathe because of the pain) to never give up on your babies, no matter how hard things are…to always think of their good, to always stick with commitment, to protect them, to nurture them and love them unconditionally. I had been doing this…giving up for me has never been an option.
Also, when I met my Spirit guide they came to me as a hummingbird, very playful and flitting around me. There was a glowing purple orb in the left hand corner that I called “Crystal.” The entire session was over two hours, and I went through three past lives, met my guides, and received the answer to my question “why was it important for me to grow up the way I did?” The answer that was given was simply “to know God.”
You see, I always have “known.” I met with a pastor a few years ago, when I was still on the fence with Christianity and what to do with some pain that had been handed to me through Conservative Christians. Towards the meeting he said to me “I think it’s remarkable that you’re even sitting here. Most young people that I’ve met who have gone through experiences like this have become agnostic or want nothing to do with the idea of God or something Higher.” I looked at him and said “well, God didn’t hurt me. People did.” Including myself – I had hurt myself the worst.
The drive home was long – I was trying to process what I had just been through and my subconscious kept butting in with “maybe she led you to say all of those things” and “you made it all up in your mind.” That’s what I was being told – but I didn’t believe it. How would I have been directed this way…over all these years…just for me to have been so foolish? “Show me Spirit…show me I didn’t make it up.”
We drove to pick up our kids from homeschool group. As I was standing in line, a lady came and stood behind me. She had the cutest little girl, maybe about three, on her hip. Her hair was curly and her face was round and I recognized her but didn’t know from where. “Hi” I said “are your kids in this program?” She told me that her son was. I said hello to the little girl and asked her name. “Oh, this is Elanor” she answered.
Here’s your sign.
When we pulled up to our driveway I was in a little bit of a fog. I was still processing, trying to figure out how I could have seen that little girl without ever meeting her…and what were the chances that she had the same name? I looked out my window and in the exact spot I looked (meaning I didn’t search the yard) I saw something yellow lying in the grass. “What on earth?” I said out loud. I opened the car door and ran to it, already knowing what I had seen but not truly believing it. There, in the grass, laid a yellow swallowtail butterfly, resting directly on top of a feather. I leaned over and picked up the frail little body. It’s spirit was no longer there, just the shell – my heart was so overwhelmed by this gift, this grace, this evidence that Spirit wanted me to know “You are loved. I see you. I was with you today.”
I learned in this moment, that the experience wasn’t about the past or even having questions answered – it was about the Knowing that Spirit has always been with me. Spirit is present, and that there is so much more then what I can see, what I can hear, what I can feel. I was in alignment.
A week later my parents came to visit. They had just recently bought a house and my mom said she had brought me a book that she had found in the home. She said it was old and that she just took a glance at the pictures and thought I would like it. As I opened the pages, the first picture I flipped to was an illustration of a hummingbird, it’s eyes stared into my soul – my breath caught and I took the book downstairs to look at later.
That night, as I flipped through the pages, I read this story about a little girl named Rae, that was shown over the course of the book (by birds) that she will live forever because she has had many lives. The book was written by Richard Bach, copyright in 1979. Towards the end, it says :
“As Anything that cannot be touched with the hand or seen with the eye, your gift grows more powerful as you use it. At first you might use it only when you are outdoors, watching the bird with whom you fly. But later on, if you use it well, it will work with birds that you cannot see, and last of all you will find that you’ll need neither ring nor bird to fly alone above the quiet of the clouds. And when that day comes to you, you must give your gift to someone who you know will use it well, and who can learn that the only things that matter are those made of truth and joy, and not tin and glass.
Rae, this is the last day-a-year, special time celebration that I shall be with you, learning what I have learned from our friends the birds. I cannot go to be with you because I am already there. You are not little because you are already grown, playing among your lifetimes as do we all, for the fun of living. You have no birthday because you have always lived; you were never born, and never will you die. You are not the child of the people you call mother and father, but their fellow-adventurer on a bright journey to understand the things that are.”
My mother would have died had she know that she gave me a book about reincarnation – but I know she didn’t give it to me. Spirit sent it. Spirit wanted me to know to keep using my gifts, to not limit myself, to continue seeking THAT WHICH IS GREATER.
I was scared today to write this story. It’s not the kind of thing I usually write – it’s more “here’s what happened” and less “here’s the way I’m moved in this moment.” I set up a little alter in my house this afternoon…just looking for connection. I lit incense and a candle and thanked Spirit. I saged my house…I thought about the hummingbirds. I started writing my story earlier but it was drier then even this version is. So I stopped, and waited, and felt like maybe this is too personal for me to share.
Then a friend on instagram was drawing cards today and asked if there was anyone that wanted one. I told her I did – my first time having someone else draw for me. Here’s what I was sent :
This is the lesson I’ve learned. Ignoring the Magic is a dull way to live. Keeping in all the good stuff because of fear that someone will think you think that you’re too special is a missed opportunity. See, we all have these gifts. We all can sense Spirit, see Spirit, find Spirit when we lean into the Splendor of this life. When we embrace the Divinity within ourselves and recognize that we are loved so deeply, that we have always been and will always be – that we are here to learn lessons so that we can love others more and be rooted deeply in Self, anything can happen – Elanors and butterflies in the yard and books sent from 40 years ago. Anything is possible in this life – and they are always here with us, guiding us, loving us. We are on an adventure, “on a bright journey to understand the things that are.”