In my practice of Giving Credit, I'm quickly beginning to realize I could fill a whole book just with credits, acknowledgments, and gratitudes.
It's easy to look back to my most recent history where there's been a visible expansion in my personal, emotional, and intellectual growth, and pinpoint explicit teachers who have for one reason or another, tumbled onto my path (and I onto theirs) and taught me incredible things.
And then I remembered: I'm not a baby. I was not born three years ago. I have had a plethora of experiences that had it be that I was well-poised to receive all the knowledge I've gotten access to in the past few years, and to actually embody and take action on it. Sure, there are obvious things I have implemented in my life and that I teach about and talk about that very much need to be documented and resource-referenced. And I would be out of integrity with myself if I presented a picture that framed it as "This is it, that's all there is."
It's not it. That's not all there is.
So much of my capacity to learn as quickly as I do, and to grow and expand as much as I have, is all rooted in my grief.
Grief that tangibly came to me by nature of my parents divorcing, by growing up in an unstable home environment, and that manifested itself as very terrible out of control asthma.
By the time I was 12 I had nearly died multiple times. I went to the hospital at least once a year for a week at a time, and I spent a few nights a week sucking on a nebulizer so that I could breathe well enough to sleep until I was about 19 years old.
When I was 10 or 11 I actually saw the white light people who have near-death experiences talk about. It was 3am and I was suffocating in the driveway of my childhood home. My mom was trying to get me into her sports car to speed me to the hospital. She was terrified. The ambulance was taking forever. I was screaming "Don't take me, I'm not ready to go yet!" to whoever was beaming that white light at me. I threw myself on my mom's car, managed a brief exhale, and just as I gasped for more oxygen, the ambulance pulled into the driveway.
What followed were many years of managing the physical manifestation of my grief: my asthma and my weight. Learning how to control my body, my environment, my food, my exposure to allergens. Medicating to be able to function. Surviving. Attempting to live a "normal" life.
If not for my grief, for my asthma, for being as sick as I was, I would never - EVER - have found myself in my early 20s attempting to navigate my physical health. I was sick of being sick. I was sick of surviving. I wanted to feel like my body was well-positioned to thrive.
A part of me knew, though unconscious at the time, that if I didn't first get command of my physical health, I would never be able to find the underlying factors driving it. I didn't have the capacity to look at my grief while my body was literally in survival mode.
And so I addressed my body.
For ten years it was a central focus in my life, and it still continues to be. I became a vegetarian as a part of this exploration, then a pescatarian, then paleo, then a conscious eater obsessed with whole foods. I did annual spring equinox fasts where I had no food for anywhere from 12-21 days. I became diligent (and quite obsessed) about movement, hydration, sleep, vitamin D, eating right for my blood type, genetic testing, understanding my thyroid, my menstrual cycle, and my hormones.
I sought out a chiropractor, a massage therapist (who is now a fellow coach), a chinese herbalist and acupuncturist, a naturopathic doctor, a natural leaning internist, and a gynocologist, all of whom guided me on my journey. I got certified as a yoga teacher with two incredible human beings (Jonathan Fields and Johanna Bell) as a means to understand on a physiological level what was going on with my own body, so that I could understand on a spiritual and emotional level what was going on with my body.
I hope you'll notice that there are a lot of people involved here. I did not do this work alone, and I knew it was pointless to try. If not for these people, for this consortium of healers, championing me to thrive in my physical health, I would not be where I am today. If not for my asthma, and for the physical shield I was carrying around in extra weight, I never would have met these healers. If not for my grief, I would've never known to be grateful for air, or quite specifically, for life.
It's one thing to get access to information. I think we all know that information is abundant, and it's literally everywhere these days, thanks to the internet. It's another thing to understand the information on an intellectual level - self-help books can be found on literally any topic out there. But to embody these teachings, one must first be in touch with their body. The physical body is literally the portal to the emotional and spiritual body.
With that said, it's occurred to me that this is less a practice of deliberately giving credit and more a practice of emulating gratitude in literally everything I do. Of being conscious enough to be grateful for my privileges, my luxuries, my teachers and learnings, as well as for the exposures I've had, both positive and negative.
We have a tendency to give credit and be grateful to those who bestowed upon us positive lessons in life, and we have a tendency to blame those who got us there, living in spite of their perceived, destructive "teachings." But they are just as much teachers as the ones who took part in setting us free, and the ones who bridged the gap.
To practice gratitude for the whole journey is where the road to freedom begins.