Life as Amber knows it

"An adventure in the making…"

Aparigraha

A few weeks ago, I had the honor of babysitting my friends’ two year old twins, Penelope and Phillipe. As toddlers, those two are nothing but bundles of love, joy, laughter, passion, and grabby need. In the six hours they were over, I cut up about ten thousand pounds of fruit and vegetables, changed seven diapers (Penelope is taking after her dear Auntie Amber in how often she uses the facilities), watched my thirteen year old reconfirm their decision to not have children, and broke up several small spats over various items the twins deemed theirs.

In all honesty, I had a blast: my youngest child turned eight (!!!) last month, and having the twins over for an afternoon and evening gave me a lovely nostalgia trip to the time in my life where I had two under two, both in diapers.

aparigraha3I somehow forgot about the “MINE!!!!” shrieks. If you have children, or are around small children, you’re well acquainted with the “MINE!!!!” shrieks. If not, I’ll briefly enlighten you. “MINE!!!!” shrieks are often heard in the company of small children, primarily toddlers who are learning boundaries and what’s up in the world. Pretty much, if a toddler sees something, it becomes their’s. If they put it down to go investigate something else, and you pick it up, even if it’s the squeaky moose plushie your one eyed rescue dog Pekoe loves to sleep with, said toddler is going to shriek, much like a banshee, “MINE!!!!” It doesn’t matter if it really is theirs or not; if they see it, you can just go ahead and accept that they’re going to want it, and if they can’t have it, they’re going to make sure that people in the next state over hear about it.

Which is a lovely segue into this week’s spiritual sadhana: Aparigraha, non-possessiveness.

Like most people, I’ve accumulated a great deal of crap in my life. When my father passed four years ago, like most children of a parent who dies, I was left with the job of cleaning out my father’s house. Which had about fifty years worth of my father’s belongings in it. I’m fairly certain he kept every single card he was sent or given in the years he lived as an adult. There was a large quantity of paperwork, photos, momentoes, school records and awards my brother and I had accumulated, a stack of thirty copies of the newspaper my first piece of published writing appeared in (which brought me to tears), more books than I could begin to count, National Geographic magazines, Reader’s Digest, and about one hundred and fifty (I shit you not) bars of soap from various hotels.

At the end of the process of cleaning out his house, a bulk of what my father accumulated, things he never used, was taken away by a 1-800-GOT-JUNK. He wasn’t a hoarder, because everything was neatly contained (with exception to his recipe box, but hey, you need that sucker totally filled and haphazard). Yet, for all those material things he had accumulated, none of them went with him when he passed away.

It inspired me to take the time every six months to go through everything I own and either donate it, give it to a friend who can use it, throw it away if it’s no longer functioning, set it aside to be decided on later, or sell it. Back in my early twenties, everything I owned could be put into 4 large Rubbermaid bins and two suitcases. With the purchase of a home and three kids though, you start collecting stuff. With a larger income, you stop really weighing if you truly need something, or if it’s an impulse buy.

aparigraha2But going through my items every six months or so has kept me honest about if I truly need something, or if it’s something that’s useful, or something I’m holding onto because I can’t bear to part with it. What I learned from cleaning out my father’s house was that much as I wanted to hold onto him, he was gone and the items in his house? They were just items. Holding onto them when they served no purpose in my life was harmful. Holding onto something because it did serve a purpose was beneficial (ie: the gorgeous wooden console record player I kept has a radio, and I’m one of those who still purchases records to play; that item served a purpose).

In life, how often do we hold onto that which no longer serves us, whether it’s a broken mug, a job that brings us nothing but grief, a relationship that’s long overdue to end. How often do we hold onto clothing that not only does not fit us size wise, but is no longer a representation of who we are as an individual?

Everything we have in this life is borrowed; we have to give it back at the end, even our breath. At the end of our lives, we take nothing with us. Ashes to ashes, dust to dust.

On our mats, we’re instructed to exhale, releasing that which doesn’t serve us. We’re asked to let go of what might be weighing on us before we begin our practice. One of myaparigraha4 favorite instructors at my primary studio often reminds us that one day, we have to give back all the postures we learn. They do not belong to us, we just experience them until it’s time to let them go.

In the practice of aparigraha this week, I’ll be starting my household purge a few months early. That which no longer serves me will go onto a place where it can serves others. On my mat, I’ll accept the postures as them come, whether it’s the most basic version or the most advanced version, let go of any expectations I have coming to my mat each practice and let go of any negative thoughts that come with the postures.

Much love Dear Reader,

 

Amber Jerome~Norrgard

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Grief

Ever see the movie Fatal Attraction? Michael Douglas’ character Dan has an affair with Glenn Close’s character Alex Forrest. She goes bat-shit, stalking him, wrecking his car, picking his daughter up from school, boiling the poor kid’s bunny. The movie is a good example of why it’s best to stick to your vows and not cheat on your spouse. During a heated confrontation between the two, Alex shouts at Dan, “I won’t be ignored, Dan!”

Grief is like that.

It’s a bit of a stalker. What we don’t face, what we don’t resolve, and let go of, we’re going to be facing it, one way or another.

Back in 2009, I was diagnosed with postpartum depression and anxiety after my heart rate shot up to 160 beats per minute and I felt like I couldn’t breathe. Talking with the admitting nurse, she asked me if I had any past experience with abuse. Already floating on a high dose of Xanax (it had been determined my heart was fine and I was just experiencing a major panic attack), I’d opened up and talked about my mother.

“There are many studies showing that psychiatric patients who haven’t dealt with childhood abuse suffer from anxiety; if it’s not dealt with, the trauma from the experience can manifest as an anxiety disorder in adults.”

Long story short: I entered therapy not long after. But there were moments, sitting on that big couch in my therapists office where I’d get slammed with a panic attack when revisiting those bad experiences from my youth, not just those related to my mother. On more than one occasion, I’d hit my limit and say, “I don’t want to do this!” The therapist, bless her, would step back from it, and we’d resume talking it out the next week.

I still never lost my tendency to run from emotions. I’d joke my way out of them, I’d push people away if they got to close, I’d wall up and shut down in an effort to shield myself from hurt. It was how I knew how to process things. “Yeah, we’re not going there,” was a common response I’d have to anything related to anything emotional.

My father dying though, that was impossible to run from. It was right there, front and center, and when you’re the child of a person who has passed on who is single, you’re the one dealing the estate, the funeral arrangements, getting rid of what they left behind. All while you’re heart is breaking. Then you have everyone who knew your parent needing to talk about it, talk about their loss. A friend of mine tells the story that when his wife’s father passed, everyone kept telling her to take care of her mother, until she got overwhelmed enough to say, “And who’s taking care of me? I just lost my father.”

That’s the thing though: I didn’t mind hearing people’s stories when my father passed, because it kept him alive. What I did mind was people making it about them without regard for how I was doing. Today, I still bristle when someone talks about how much they miss my father without honoring how much I miss him. Selfish? Maybe it is, and maybe I am in that.

But around the two month mark after my father passed, I hit my limit. Rather than lash out at anyone else, I just shut down. I closed down the doors of my heart, and unless it was my children, no one got it. My children still had the full me; the rest of the world, not so much.

There were moments what I was running from would crack through: attending the MLB All Star Game in 2015 on my father’s birthday found me with tears streaking down my face when Sandy Koufax threw out the first pitch. Walking into Wrigley Field in April 2016, I might have cried, except it was about thirty-two degrees outside, and the tears would have frozen. But two weeks later, reaching the terminus sign of Route 66, I stared up at it, and tears ran down my cheeks thinking I wouldn’t be able to tell my father I had finally achieved driving Route 66 from start to finish.

For the most part, I was on emotional lock down. I’d view experiences from a distance. But I never fully let myself open up and experience them.

Entering yoga instructor certification training in September 2017, one of the first things we did was go around the room and talk about ourselves. I stood up, talked about being a mother, author, and publisher, and said I was looking for more meaningful work. A few classmates later, a woman talked about her many pregnancy losses. Another woman told her story of her own pregnancy losses, and I felt something moving down my cheek. Putting my hand to my face, I realized I was crying.

I pretty much cried every day I was in the studio from that point on. See, we were forced to be honest and upfront, all the while being told repeatedly we were loved and it was okay to be flawed and imperfect. It was okay to not take postures correctly so long as we weren’t hurting one another. And then I had the owner and one of our primary instructors in the program up in my face every single time she saw me (and multiple times on the weekends when certification training was going on) saying to me over and over again: “I love you. You are worthy. I am so happy you’re here.”

Here’s the problem with all that: I began to heal. I began to trust in the process once I let go of my own personal bullshit and embrace being loved and loving in return. But in order to trust in the process, in order to move forward and heal, I had to open up.

And there was Grief, doing it’s best Alex Forrest impersonation, except it wasn’t going after Dan, it was going after me, “I’m not going to be ignored, Amber.”

Up until this last year of my life, there’s been this knee jerk response of “Hey how can we just put this off until later?” in regards to my hurt. Dealing with my past of abuse, not just as a child but in my first marriage? Let’s just take a pill to ease the anxiety and put a bandaid on it, because really, do we want to look too closely, do we really want to revisit a time when I was treated as worthless and beaten? Men ending things? Let’s just move onto the next man and drown ourselves in sex rather than face someone not loving me. Father dies? Hey, let’s just get drunk and take a lot of trips and not face something you can’t place blame on.

So now, now I’m having to face things head on. Because I refused to do the hard work and face it when it went on. Which is not surprising: if you see a cactus, you know it’ll hurt if you touch one of it’s needles, so you just don’t touch the needles. That’s been my mindset for forty years of my life: let’s not touch it. Let’s just know it happened and not face it head on. Let’s just ignore it, much like an ex of mine ignored the leak in his ceiling. Yet me ignoring past hurts, me not facing them, me not learning to process and heal on my own, that worked out just as well as my ex ignoring that leak, but instead of a water heater crashing down into my kitchen, my previous hurts, my previous heartaches, those are coming to the surface.

Except I’m not ignoring them now. I’m not at my doctor’s office or my psychiatrist’s office requesting an anti-depressant or anti-anxiety pill. I’m not using sex as anything other than what the one of two reasons you do it are: enjoyment. I’m not getting myself good and drunk to quiet my thoughts, I’m simply enjoying a drink with a friend over dinner, or enjoying my weekend tradition of brunch while getting miscellaneous work done since the place I frequent for brunch has free WiFi and I like talking to the staff.

Yet, putting it off, I’m still struggling. I’ve spent this last week owning up to how I feel, however that is in any given moment. If I need to cry, I cry, no matter where I’m at, although I do apologize to the poor twenty-something guy who was sitting next to me earlier this week at a bar when I started crying while watching the All Star Game. Said gentleman will one day make an excellent significant other because he asked me to tell him about my dad. I’ve given heads up to all my yoga instructors before class that I might cry, and they don’t need to make a big deal out of it. I’m being honest with how I feel when I feel it, and unlike the last three years, the grief has been less.

But the grief is there. As it should be, because I had a damn good father. And I miss him, as I should, because he was one of the most important people in my life.

Love,

 

Amber Jerome~Norrgard

Repost: A Good-bye to My Father

I’ve been mulling something over these last few weeks. There’s been an internal debate as to whether or not to write a new post on the anniversary of my father’s death. It would certainly be understandable if I did: my father was an amazing person with a huge heart, and the world lost an angel when he passed away.

I’ve sat down, multiple times, with the intention of writing something to celebrate the man who raised me as his own. I’d start with the words, “My father,” then stall out. Or a work project would come in. Or I’d get asked to sub in teaching yoga. Or one of my kids would be busy annoying another one of my kids by breathing within 100 miles of the second kid, with me shouting, “I don’t care how annoying it is, I’m not going to ask your sister to stop breathing. I know you’re annoyed, but sheesh, she’s got to breathe to live.” Or the dog would decide to sprawl out over my keyboard, because he’s well aware he has the security of being the cutest puff of fur ever. Or I’d be attempting to work outside of the house at a local bar with free WiFi, but I’d get in a philosophical conversation with one of the bartenders.

Often, we put off things we should do. Or we think we should do them.

Four years ago, two days before my father’s funeral, I sent an email to my editor and dear friend with the words, “I don’t know how to write my father’s eulogy.” His response was this: “Amber, you write it, you write it from the heart, something you’re gifted at. You tell the world what you loved about your father, and that will be enough.”

I somehow found it within myself to write the eulogy. I certainly could have handed it off to someone else, you know, someone who hadn’t just lost their father. Yet, I couldn’t give up writing it, couldn’t hand it over, because I was his daughter. He had raised me to do what needed to be done, even if it was something that was hard to do. So I sat down and wrote, and when it was finished, I sent it to my editor. For the first time in all the years we had worked together, he responded with these words, “There are no edits needed. Keep it as is.”

I could write something flowy and beautiful about my father, the man who raised me, taught me how to work my ass off, that I could accomplish anything I set my mind to. I could talk about his years of hard work, retiring at age 55. I could tell you when he was born, and when he died, how long he was married for, what age he became a father at, what age he lost the ability to walk without assistance. But nothing I could write today would in any way do the job of telling you about the man who was my father as well as the eulogy I wrote for his funeral four years ago will. And sometimes, the best words are already written. So you quote them. Because you can’t say it any better than you said it four years before.

It’s been four years since my father passed away. Some days, I’m fine. There’s this sweet nostalgia when I remember the man who raised me, who became one of my closest friends in my adult years. Other days, especially this week in between his birthday and the anniversary of his death, are days where the tears are always close at hand. Where I’m needy with my friends, and they are so very thankfully more than willing to hold my hand and hug me harder and longer than usual, and they listen to me talk about my dad, sometimes patiently hearing the same stories I’ve told them before. And for that I’m grateful.

“On July 21, 2014, just one week after his seventy-second birthday, my father, Donald E. Jerome, “Paw-Paw”, “Uncle Gene” passed away peacefully in his sleep.

My brother and I spent the last few days of our father’s life with him, hoping he’d bounce back as he so easily did in the past. But after many years of physical pain, many years of his body struggling, he went home to heaven.

I met with a friend this week to talk about my father’s death. And while dad and I have had our share of arguments and disagreements over the years, still, at the end, everything was at peace between us. Any words needing to be said were said. And Dad, despite being so weak he could hardly speak, true to his nature of making sure his loved ones were taken care of, ordered me to make sure I ate something. And I, his daughter in every way and true to my nature told him I’d eat when he’d finally rest and get much needed sleep. Naturally, Dad countered that he’d sleep when I’d go get myself something to eat.

And so, like we’d done so many times in my adult life, my final conversation with my father was a spirited debate with a twinkle in his eyes and his lips curved into that gentle smile I’ll miss terribly.

He passed away peacefully in his sleep eight hours later.

In the coming months, I’m sure I’ll recount stories of my father. For now, I’m writing this the day before his funeral, in a rare quiet moment after having put the final touches on his Eulogy. This post is being scheduled to release an hour after his funeral tomorrow. I don’t know how you write an Eulogy, all I know is how I felt about my father and what he taught me about life, and I wanted to honor him as best as I could. It’s near impossible to truly sum up such a generous and compassionate individual with mere words.

I love you Dad. Thank you for all you taught me about life, either with your words or your actions. Thank you for all the times you put what was best for me above your feelings. Thank you for teaching me how to be a parent, for teaching me how to work for what I want, for teaching me that there is no greater gift than that of unconditional love, and that what truly matters in this world has no monetary value. I was blessed on the day God saw fit to place me in your family as your daughter when I was given up for adoption.

I found myself struggling to write this. And that’s comical considering what I do for a living. At one point this week, it made sense to my grief stricken mind that maybe there’s someone more qualified than I to write my father’s eulogy; maybe there’s someone who can find the right words to define a man who has meant so much to so many people. So I thought of not writing the eulogy. I thought of asking someone else to do it for me. And certainly, no one would blame me, because I’ve just lost my father. I wanted to just not do it, to just give up.

And then my mind drifted to when I was a child, particularly to Saturday mornings. I’d get up, get a bowl of cereal, and if Dad was going to his office, he’d ask me if I wanted to go with him. And of course I did. They had a break room with cookies in it, and I could always sneak down and get a few. And Dad’s office had this photo cube that was a radio as well. And even better, devoid of people as it was on Saturday mornings, it echoed. To a child, making noise, especially echoey noise, was almost as awesome as being told breakfast was going to be cake and lunch was going to be ice cream.

And in my father’s office there was a plaque. And on that plaque there was a very famous quote: “Never, never, never give up” by Sir Winston Churchill, a distant relative.

Dad lived his life by those words. Dad taught his daughter the very meaning of those words by his every action in his life. And so, I sent an email to my editor whining about  not being able to do it, took a deep breath, and began to just write.

I could stand here today and tell you when Dad was born and when he died. I can tell you where he went to college, and what he did as a career. But those few little facts? They in no way encompass who he was as a person. They in no way tell the story of a man who defined himself not by the amount of his bank account but by the wealth of his soul.

Dad always helped those in need: he was a big supporter of several charities, he gave his time as a Eucharistic minister visiting those unable to receive the Eucharist as well as helping those less fortunate through his work through Love Truck and the Samaritan Inn, or the gift of his kind and thoughtful words for those who needed them.

Dad was also stubborn, and while that word sometimes comes with a negative association, for Donald Eugene Jerome, his headstrong and determined personality is what led him to achieve more than most people. He always believed you could achieve whatever it was you wanted to achieve, and what mattered was not where you came from or what you have done before, but where you would go and what you would do. And he never gave up. Rather than let obstacles in his way stop him from what he wanted, he simply found a way to work through them. He grew up in poverty, yet put himself through college to receive his degree. Rather than let infertility rob him of fatherhood, he adopted two children. He refused to allow health issues and physical disabilities prevent him from living a full life. By my age, he had lived in South America, all throughout the United States, and traveled to Mexico and Canada. In his retirement years, he fulfilled a long lived dream of seeing Rome and the Vatican.

Dad was happiest when he was with his family, and his greatest joys in his life were his seven grandchildren: Amethyst, Luke, Tyler, Autumn, Cody, Benjamin and Sawyer.

But if I had to choose one word to define my father, it would be faith. Not once, despite losing siblings and both his parents, despite having physical handicaps and declining health, did my father ever ask God “why?”  He simply would take a deep breath and ask God for the strength to make it through whatever he was faced with. When I would face my own struggles, Dad would remind me of the Serenity Prayer and tell me that if God brings us to it, He’ll bring us through it.

People often say how they wish they’ll pass on. Dad got his wish: his two children with him during his final days. He was right with God. He had said the words he’d wished to say to those he loved. And as he’d wished for, he went home to heaven peacefully in his sleep.

My father achieved much in his time on earth: A successful career, a family, service to those less unfortunate. But above everything else, he died a man wealthy in what was the most important gift and blessing he’d ever wanted: The love of his family.”

 

Amber Jerome~Norrgard

Brahmacharya

“All things in moderation.”

As a child, teenager, and even a young woman in my twenties, my dad drove me insane with his pearls of wisdom. Most likely because the man knew what he was talking about.

Around the time I was twenty-four, fresh out of an abusive marriage and living in my father’s house until I found my feet again, I stopped rolling my eyes and listened to him. At age forty-one with a teenager in the house (the “King of THE Eye-Roll”, as my first born has named himself), more and more, I’ve been taking those pearls my father dropped on me throughout my life and stringing them into a necklace to wear. More often than not, my father’s wisdom comes into play  in my adult life.

Christians follow the Ten Commandments; Yogis follow the Yamas and Niyamas. Which brings us to this week’s spiritual Sadhana, Brahmacharaya: moderation.

Brahmacharaya used to be defined as celibacy.

Whoa! Remove your mouse from that “X” that’s going to close out this webpage, relax, and give me a second. Before you assume I’m going to tell you to go without sex, keep reading, and chill for a moment.

Brahmacharaya used to be defined as celibacy.  Used to, kiddos, not currently. Years and years ago, those who took the yogic path figured their energy could be put to better use if they weren’t reproducing. In today’s yogic world, Brahmacharaya is defined asbrahmacharya moderation in all things. Perhaps you’ll take it easy on plans out with friends, and instead option to take a peaceful night at home. Maybe if you do go out with friends, you’re going to keep it at one glass of wine instead of two (or four, not that I know anyone with pink hair and tattoos who teaches creative writing at the local community college who does that when she’s out with friends and has the guarantee of someone else driving her home at the end of the evening). Maybe you take a few minutes to consider if you really need that new pair of heels that you can only wear with one outfit. Or you only eat half the hummingbird cake and take the other half home to enjoy the next day (again, it’s not like I know anyone who can inhale a piece of hummingbird cake after eating grilled cheese and tomato soup with tortellini, making Joey from Friends look like an amateur in food consumption when she gets within a mile of that cake).

In my life outside the mat, I’ve over done it, more often than not, in all things. White chocolate is a huge weakness of mine, along with winter white cosmos, Gaja Sito Moresco wine, black forest cake, lasagna, bread, cigars while playing poker, and this fantastic fifty year port my friend’s father gave me as a gift for officiating his daughter’s wedding.

But with age comes a certain type of wisdom. I still enjoy the wine, the deserts, the unbelievable port, yet I’ve found that there’s a beauty in missing those people I love, foods I love, drinks I love, experiences I enjoy. As much as I enjoy the experience of all of the above, there’s this incredible feeling of returning to the experiences I deeply love after time away from it, whether it’s that first bite of black forest cake, or hugging a dear friend after not having had the chance to see them for quite some time. I’ve found more joy in those experiences when they aren’t fully present and accessible.

On my mat, I’ve learned the hard way that while finally getting a posture I’ve struggled with brings a rush of joy, going at it time after time is only going to harm my next practice. If I’ve over done it on working on handstands, the next practice I take is going to be impacted by my sore shoulders and legs. “When you feel sensation, stop,” is a phrase I hear Laura Beth, one of my favorite instructors, say when guiding us through practice. That means when my shoulders start announcing their fatigue when I’m practicing my handstands, I stop. If I plan on taking more than one practice, and my right knee, the one that’s had more sports related injuries than any other part of my body, starts hurting, I ask myself if I can honestly say I’ll go gentle with the next practice. If the answer is no, then I call it a day and hit the showers. Then I check in with my body the next day, and how my body feels determines what type of practice I’ll take the next day.

To celebrate Brahmacharya this week, I’ll be taking things in moderation, seeing how I feel in each moment, and enjoying things in small measure. We exercise Brahmacharya in an effort to better serve ourselves and others, to reserve our energy for more meaningful things.

Much love,

 

Amber Jerome~Norrgard

The Pantry

My father grew up poor. The second youngest of fifteen children, they made due, learning how to hunt at a young age, and how to plant and harvest their own vegetables and what it was like to be cold in the winter and hot in the summer.

My father attended college on a baseball scholarship, and in order to save money, my grandmother would make my father a meatloaf that he would eat during the week. Sometime on Thursday, he would have finished the meatloaf, and wouldn’t eat until he returned to my grandmother’s house on Friday evening to do his laundry and help around her house.

I’d often hear my father lecture on the necessity of cleaning your plate. He’d remind us of how every bite was necessary, that food cost money (to this day I can still look at the price point of an item in the supermarket and factor in my head which size of the product is the better deal, down to the penny), and to “Waste not, want not”.

As an adult, I’d often go to his refrigerator, open the door, and razz on him about how many items were expired. Nothing was every thrown away; it either went in your mouth, or was saved until it could be consummed.

In 2009, my father had a very bad fall that broke his femur. After I secured childcare for my kids, I rushed to the hospital to be with my father. In a morphine haze, my father asked me if I would mind making sure his refrigerator was cleaned out, so that nothing in there would go past it’s expiration date, and then Dad fell asleep. Looking up, I caught the eye of my cousin, who said to me, completely dead pan: “So that’s how you get Uncle Gene to throw anything away: Morphine. Noted.”

Five years later, after he had passed, we began cleaning out my father’s house. Family would come over and help, or friends would lend a hand, taking donations to various organizations or books to be donated, or documents to be shredded.

Somehow, The Pantry was ignored.

I’ll admit: I was avoiding it. Cleaning out his spice rack had me sitting on the floor in my father’s kitchen, crying. Cleaning out the kitchen island where the cereal was stored was an adventure in laugh-crying: I had found a box of Grape Nuts that had expired in 1987. We had moved to Plano, Texas in 1989, which means my father packed up a box of cereal that had expired two years before and moved it four hours south, rather than lose the two dollars he had paid for the box of cereal in the first place. I had seen the expiration date on the box, and started laughing. And then I sat down and sobbed into my hands, missing the man who couldn’t let go of that box of expired cereal.

For weeks, my brother and I avoided The Pantry, like it was filled with the monsters of our childhood, hanging out in our own closests or under our beds, ready to grab our ankles and consume us as a snack. It became an in-joke: “I’ll clean out The Pantry” (and by that point, it was deserving of capital letters, because it had earned a title as a bad ass, scary mo-fo in our minds) was code for “Ain’t gonna happen, dude.” Friends and family members offered, but for some reason, neither one of us seemed willing to let go of the task. We were like those really bad boyfriends or girlfriends about The Pantry: We didn’t exactly want to do it ourselves, but we didn’t want anyone else doing it either.

In all honesty, I’d be making my to-do list every night before bed, and cleaning out The Pantry would always be the number one item on the list. Yet, I just couldn’t do it. Everything else in the kitchen had been handled. Refrigerator? Yes, only bottled water, the soda my younger brother drank, creamer for my coffee, and juice for our seven kids was in there. Kitchen island? Yep, cereal had been tossed in the bin, appliances had been given away or labeled with a post-it note with the new owner’s name on it. Spice rack? I had taken care of that one, an experience that ended when my friends Lauren and Tyler came in, found me crying hysterically on the kitchen floor with Lauren saying, “You’re getting out of this house, now. Time for dinner,” and pulling me out the door.

But The Pantry. Home of expired products, a testament to a life lived frugal, and stock pilled with way too much processed canned foods, ramen noodles, and South American Beer from the 1960’s (not joking about that last one).

The Pantry waited. I’d open the door to it (probably in the hopes that someone else had broken in, cleared it for me and left with the food neatly contained in a trash bag), look it over, grab a can of soup, check the date, then sigh, put the can of soup back, and go do something else that didn’t make me feel like crying hysterically.

A friend had joined me at my Dad’s house to pick up a few tools he could use. Walking him through the house, I had opened the pantry door and shown him all the cans of food lined up, the jars of sauce, ramen noodles.

“I keep  meaning to do this. I can’t seem to bring myself to do it, and my brother can’t seem to do it either.”

“Want me to do it for you?” my friend had asked, and I realized in that moment, I did.

Because I was emotionally and mentally tired from being the daughter of a man who had died. No one ever warns you about all the decisions you need to make after your parents die. Or if they tell you, you tend to roll your eyes and think they don’t know what they’re talking about. Even if they’re small decisions, those decisions add up, and it gets to be too much. You hit a point, not just when you lose someone you love, but when life is going rough, where you want someone else to make the decisions for you.

So, my friend cleaned out The Pantry. There were six large trash bags that were filled with expired products. There were actually eight beers my father had bought when he lived in South America in the late 1960’s that he had brought back to America, one of which had given up the ghost and had slowly leaked from the bottom of the can, causing a stain on the shelf in the pantry in which it had resided since September 1989. There was one jar of Ragu, a bag of pasta, and a four pack of fruit cocktail that weren’t expired.

When I told my brother that my friend had cleaned out The Pantry, he had said, “Thank God. Because I just couldn’t do it.”

I couldn’t do it either. It was just stuff. Just food. Same as in everyone else’s pantry, although I’m guessing you probably don’t have as many expired food items in such large quantity as my father did. But The Pantry was such a perfect example of who my father was, that to clean it out would be to admit he was really gone. As long as those expired items sat in that closet in the kitchen in the house that my brother and I hated because of how our mother’s anger clung, even years after she moved out, our father was still with us.

But post-clean out, post-sale of my father’s house, when everything that was my father’s had been donated, thrown away, or taken to a storage unit, I realized he wasn’t in those things. He was just as much with me as he had been when I was sorting through his items. Holding onto items he had bought or been given and had cherished didn’t keep him alive; he was still dead. But the memory of him, the memory of teasing him about how old the milk in the refrigerator was, that kept him alive long after he went peacefully to his death.

A funny thing happened when The Pantry was finally cleared out: I stopped crying openly. Maybe I had shed too many tears in the lead up to my father’s death and the two months following. Maybe the part of myself that handles protecting my emotions shut me down in order to avoid more hurt. Maybe I had effectively dried up and locked down. Or maybe I was tired of being the person who needed her hand held, the person who needed someone else to handle things for me, to tell me when to take a break. Whatever the reason, it would be another three years before I cried in front of other people, but that’s a story for another day, one in which I’m not missing my father so terribly that it’s like he just passed.

And one for a day in which I wouldn’t give anything to walk into his kitchen, check the expiration date on my father’s eggs, and ask him if he was looking forward to getting salmonella. To which he would respond, “I survived you as a teenager, I can survive a little bit of food poisoning, Maria.”

 

~Amber Jerome~Norrgard

Asteya

Years ago, a popular literary series came to a close. After the second to last book was released, the author announced they were working on what would be a final book in the series. For a year, myself, my friends who had read the series, and other readers waited to read the final installment.

The author got lazy as hell with the final book. The actual creative content related to wrapping up the storylines within the series could have been done in about ten thousand words. The rest of the book was fluff, nothing more than filler.

After I had read it, talking with another author friend of mine, we both said the same thing: selling at $7.99 for the e-book version, we both wanted our money and our time back.

asteya-logo3I often tell my students at the college and my publishing clients to be honest in their work. You write your first draft, then your second. Then you have your book editted. You make the editing changes your editor suggests, and maybe you send it back to the editor for a second look. You either format your book yourself, or you hire someone to do it for you. You have your covers created, you have beta readers weigh in on your book. You take those steps and do all that work, because when you release a book in the world and someone reads it, they’re not only giving you their money, they’re giving you the precious gift of their time.

That author from years ago stole from not just from myself by not putting in the work, by not giving us a full story, but from those in my life who I took the time from in order to read her book.

Which brings us to the third of the yamas: Asteya, non-stealing.

There’s the obvious, literal translation of “If it ain’t yours, don’t take it, dude.” You don’t shoplift, you don’t dine and dash, you don’t take money out of another person’s wallet. But what about the less literal interpretation? What about stealing another person’s time, either by being late, causing them to do more work (an adorable gentleman in my certification program used the example of leaving his dishes in the sink for his roommate to wash), or canceling plans last minute because something better came up?

On our mat, how often do we steal from outselves the joy of the moment (whether present or future moments) by not being fully present? I’ve often lost out on the joy of learning postures or furthering my path to the full extension of postures by focusing on what my neighbor on the mat is doing, what I did in a previous practice, or whether or not I’m going to get the posture in that moment. Handstands are the posture I’ve had a love/hate relationship with my whole life; in the process of working on them, I think ahead, stealing from the present moment, in the attempt to obtain the posture itself. It’s a yogic catch-22: I want it so badly, I miss out on the journey to get to my destination.

To celebrate Asteya this week, I’m not looking past each moment as they’re given to me, whether that’s dinner with a friend, time with my kids, work, or taking yoga practice. I invite you to do the same.

Much love,

Amber Jerome~Norrgard

 

Mother F@(&!^$ Grief

“There’s no expiration date on grief.”

For the life of me, I can’t remember who I heard say this, and I can’t remember if they were quoting someone, or if it was their own personal gem. What I do know is I was twenty-two, my friends and I had put in a night of dancing and drinking at Red Jacket in Dallas on Sunday night for Red Square Retro, and had hit IHOP after to refuel with caffeine and carbs.

At age thirty-seven, the sentiment came home to me, hard, when my father passed away, one week after his seventy-second birthday.

“You’re going to have it lessen, and have it hit you hard,” one of my friends who had lost both their parents in their twenties had told me. “Think of it as the ocean: it’ll come in light, then it’s going to crash hard. You can’t fight it either way, so let it hit you, and then let it subside. You fight it, you’re going to drown.”

And hit me, it did. There were the obvious days it would crash into me: his birthday, the facebook_1530618087506 (1)anniversary of his death, father’s day, my birthday, my adoption anniversary, holidays. Then there would be moments when you’d least expect it: walking through the French Quarter with a friend in July of 2015, I’d seen a balcony that reminded me of the one in the hotel we had stayed in when our foreign exchange student Maria had gotten married when I was ten; I’d reached for my phone to call my father, more than a year after he had passed, and after dialing four of the numbers, I had stopped and started crying in the midst of the crowd. My friend had simply walked me back to our hotel, grabbed a bottle of wine from his room and joined me in my room to talk me through it.

Certain experiences in my life since his passing: The World Series, the All Star Game, driving Route 66, graduating from yoga instructor certification training, times when my kids have done something big or hilarious, there’s been a knee jerk reaction to call him and tell him about it.

With no direct line to heaven to call him though, what I’m left with is this ache that the man who raised me and taught me (either by his example or by his mistakes) how to live is no longer here to share my life with. I’m left instead with writing him letters I place in a fire proof safe, or going to the mausoleum where he’s interred and talking to the plaque with his name on it.

He’s been on my mind lately, like he always is this time of year. About a week before Father’s Day, a tightening takes place in my chest that doesn’t loosen until a few days after the anniversary of his passing. That grief rolls in, and it’s there, a part of day to day life for me.

I don’t fight against it. As someone who spent years hiding from what she was feeling, sheltering herself from potential hurt by not letting herself feel what she was feeling, I’ve learned to accept how I feel as how I feel. I don’t fight it; instead there’s almost this academic observation, and where as I don’t welcome that grief, that feeling of loss, I also don’t run from it. It just is, the product of having a damn good father who raised me.

I seem to have a lot of friends going through the process of the break-up, which has led to a lot of conversations about, well, break-ups. Talking to an old friend about his break-up, 40b80fba2e446e421d5059aadc52c7b1he stated that he just flat out hurt. Having had my share of break-ups in the past, I said to him what was written in a meme someone sent me when going through a rough break-up myself: “It’s supposed to hurt. That’s how you know it meant something.”

Hurt is a natural part of life. “No pain, no gain” is a common phrase you hear within the fitness industry (although we yogis somewhat smugly say “If there’s no pain, there’s no pain”), referencing the fact that when you feel pain while working out, you’re experiencing growth. The same is true of life.

In my past, I’ve thrown food, anti-depressants, alcohol, and filler experiences at the pain of loss. In the months after my father’s death, privately, I did not handle it with much grace, spending my personal time perched on a bar stool, sucking down cape cods like they were water. But coming up on two years past his death, I found myself right in the middle of one of the biggest heartbreaks of my life. Looking over my life, looking over how I had done things in the past, I realized I was tired of repeating the same mistakes, the same knee-jerk reactions, because I always ended up in the same place. I’ve spent the last two years facing hurt head on when it happens, and the result of spending thirty-nine years hiding from hurt is that I have to face it again, in the present, since I couldn’t handle facing it when it was going on. Facing it now is harder, because I have to reopen those old wounds. Had I just faced it then, it would have been easier. Had I just let it crash into me, instead of fighting it, I’d of had more time in my life to enjoy the beauty of life instead of having a shadow of things left unresolved hanging around.

The grief of losing my father is rolling in. It’s up to me to let it wash over me, accept it, and then let it go.

Much love,

Amber Jerome~Norrgard

 

Satya

Good Morning, Dear Reader! I hope you’re well.

Last week, I gave you a brief overview of what yoga is, as well as telling you about yamas and the first of the yamas, Ahimsa. This week, we’re going to move onto the second of the yamas, Satya.

Satya is one of my personal favorites. Translated from Sanskrit, Satya means “truthfulness.”

In today’s day and age, it seems that we’re conditioned, at the very least, in the polite white lie. Go into most retail establishments, or even bump into a casual acquaintance, and you’ll often hear the question, “How are you?” The expected and socially acceptable answer is “Fine”, or “Okay.” Answer in any other way, you’ll generally get an eyebrow raise from the person who asked you.

How often do we have plans with a friend, or they ask us to get together, and rather than saying that we’re tired and need time to ourselves, we say “Sure”?

I myself have often put other people’s needs ahead of my own. If someone asks for help satyaor needs support, my knee jerk reaction is to offer my help, whether it’s listening, running errands, airport pick ups, etc., before checking in with myself. If I don’t have it in me to take care of others, my life lesson in Satya is to look at myself closely: Am I tired from work? Am I dealing with my own personal demons? Am I not feeling well? Far too often I’ve found myself emotionally and physically exhausted from taking care of others when I didn’t have it in me to do so. Had I of been honest, had I looked closely at where I was at emotionally and physically, I wouldn’t have drained myself. Just as you can’t pour from an empty cup, you can’t take care of those you love who are depending on you if you’ve drained yourself dry.

In our lives on the mat, how often do we take practice and go harder than we have the energy for? How often are we dishonest in our practice and in our attempts to take the full expression of the posture, do we sacrifice proper form, and lose out on the benefits of the posture itself? How often do we struggle through a sequence when we should be taking child’s pose in an effort to rest?

Ahimsa teaches us non-violence in word, thought and deed; Satya should follow the same guidelines. Life with truth in word, thought and deed. Be honest in how you are, what you have to give to yourself and to others, and practice with integrity.

Namaste,

Amber Jerome~Norrgard

Rebirthday

Six years ago today, a road sign changed my life.

I’d been struggling with a short story, and taken off for a long drive in order to sort my head out. Driving along the highway to the lake, I’d seen the sign for Texas 66. Which kicked off ideas in my mind of driving Route 66, a life long dream.

But of course, me being the me I was at the time, I told myself why I couldn’t take the trip. Family that needed me, not enough money, the length of time it would take me to drive the iconic highway. I had so many reasons why I couldn’t do it.

They were all excuses rooted in fear.

And then I realized that all the reasons I told myself I couldn’t go, they were bullshit. They had some merit: I did have three kids and a sick father, and money was tight. But there wasn’t enough weight behind them, and I looked at everything that was stopping me and realized that wasn’t why. I was why. And I was terrified to step outside of my comfort zone.

I woke up the morning after, with a very clear head, and a new drive to truly begin living, to step out of what I knew to be comfortable, to actually experience my life.

I drove Route 66 almost four years later, flying into Chicago the day before the Cubs home opener game, finally seeing Wrigley Field, another bucket list item I had long dreamed of completing. For the next sixteen days I drove the historic route and saw all the incredible landmarks.

But I digress.

June 29, 2012 was a day in which I finally realized that no matter what the goal is, the only thing stopping us is ourselves. The person I was when I woke up that morning is so far removed from who I am now, that it’s like looking at two different people.

In January 2013, coming up on my birthday, I had groaned to a friend that while I didn’t mind getting older, the lead up to my birthday always held bad news and bad memories. (I’d give you guys this list of birthday drama I’ve experienced, but you guys have better things to do, like maybe buying a certain multi colored haired author’s seventeenth poetry collection and reading it). My friend’s suggestion was to pick a new day, and celebrate that, calling it my rebirthday.

So, I took his advice, and the date I chose? June 29. Because in a very real way, that day was a new start for me.

A funny thing happened once I started celebrating June 29th as my rebirthday: my actual birthday stopped being so traumatic. The year I turned thirty-nine, nothing happened, with exception to me waiting for the other shoe to drop. When I woke up the morning after and realized I had finally had a birthday with no drama, no bad news, no heartache, I arched an eyebrow and wondered if it was done.

My fortieth birthday was amazing, and my birthday this last January was everything I could have wanted.

The thing is though, June 29th still deserves recognition, even if it’s just me saying “yay!!!!” and bouncing around. And whereas some people might not get it, or might think it’s stupid, I don’t care, because this is for me. This date means something to me, because I finally began to move forward with life, healing old hurts, finding forgiveness, and letting go of things that were hurting me.

Last year, I celebrated by publishing my twenty-fifth book, and having dinner with friends at one of my favorite local restaurants with my favorite bartender on staff. It was quiet and lovely, and just what I wanted.

This year? I’ve released my seventeenth poetry collection, and will be celebrating quietly, but with a great deal of joy. Because on that night six years ago, I finally let go of fear of stepping outside of my comfort zone. The experiences I have had over the last six years have been incredible, and in the past six years, I’ve lived life more than I had in the thirty-five years before it. Where I am now is nowhere near where I thought I would be when I envisioned life at forty-one. And I have no idea where I’ll be in five, ten, fifteen, or twenty years from now. I’m not focused on those future destinations, just focused on the journey to them, and living each moment fully present with joy and love.

It’s an amazing, beautiful life that I’ve made for myself.

Much love,

 

Amber Jerome~Norrgard

The Return, Part 3

Hello, Dear Reader, and thank you for returning for Part 3. It’s good to have you here again, and I promise this is the final part. There’s no “to be continued” at the end of this, instead there’s a quiet wrap up of my recent adventure to New Mexico and Colorado. You can find Part 1 here, and Part 2 here. Settle back, settle in, and I hope you enjoy the conclusion.

Part 3.

I woke up around 3 a.m. on Sunday morning when I rolled over and the movement set off pain in my right knee, the result of a baseball injury in my early twenties being irritated by the fourteen mile hike the day before. I carefully got up, took a few ibuprofen, drank some water, then laid back down on my bed to gently stretch and flex my knee. Lying there, my knee throbbing, I thought to myself that the first chance I was able to the next day, I’d buy a compression sleeve for my knee.

A year ago, I’d of been angry at the walk, because of course, the walk had caused that old injury, that old hurt, to come to the surface. That morning, laying on my bed, smelling the sweet air that was coming through the open window in our hotel room, I realized I didn’t care my knee was hurting. Sure, it wasn’t my idea of fun. But I had no regrets regarding doing the hike the day before, despite the pain I was in.

That’s the thing, isn’t it? Our lives are a balance: there’s good, there’s bad; there’s light, there’s dark. The pure, natural beauty that surrounded me on the trail up to Lost Lake was well worth the pain of my knee. The loss of people in our lives, whether through death or the end of a relationship, that type of hurt is very much worth it to experience the joy of having shared a time with people, for having had the honor of loving them and them loving us.

It wasn’t Red River that was the eye opener for me on that weekend away. It was everything surrounding it: the stress in the week before, the knee jerk reaction of panic when I realized I didn’t have cell service, how often perfect strangers said “Good morning” and “Good afternoon” on the streets, how we’d talk with other groups on the trail, and parting, someone would call out, “Have a wonderful time and be careful.” It was the almost continuous (yes, even I shut up occasionally) conversation between my friend and I throughout the weekend since we had so much time together in their car. It was the woman next to me at the sinks in the bathroom at Coors Field who rushed to get me a bag of ice when the high elevation in Denver caused a nose bleed, and stayed with me until the bleeding stopped. It was conversing with perfect strangers in the restaurants at Denver’s airport while I was waiting on my flight. It was the man sitting next to me on the plane who offered me his hand in kindness when I said I was terrified of flying (“I’ll just leave this here,” he’d said, placing his hand palm up on the arm rest. “If you need it, feel free to take it.” I took his hand and said thank you).

Maybe I’m getting old. Maybe I’m holding onto values that are obsolete. But what I want are real connections. Real conversations that (when possible) are done face to face and in person. I want to hear and see my friends’ reactions when I tell them about experiences in my life, whether those experiences are from trips or just moments when something simple and beautiful happens. I want to reach my hand out in comfort to those who need it. I want more comments, and to give more comments, than simple clicks of a “like” or “love” button.

I look back over the losses of loved ones, and it hurts. Marcus’s final weekend alive was spent celebrating his life with a living funeral. Some people flew in from all over the country, and in two different cases, from other countries, in order to say good-bye and celebrate the life of a man who meant so much to so many people. There were no social media posts about it, because that would have been disrespectful to a man who lived in the moment and fully present with those he was around. When he died, I and two other of his dearest friends were holding his hands.

I used to spend all my experiences snapping photos and then posting it out on social media. I still snap those photos, yet, some of the most important and poignant moments of my life in this last year of change, they’ve never made it to the public’s eye. If you’ve read me for a time (or if this is your first time reading me), you’ll notice that there are times where I don’t even refer to the person I’m talking about by anything other than “they/them”; because I have learned to guard certain parts of my life, and want to afford that respect to those in my life if they don’t live as public of a life as I sometimes do. There have been experiences I have shared with people that never made it onto my Instagram or Facebook pages, because they were private, either between me and another person, or something I wanted just for me. Because they were too important, too meaningful, too special, and moments I’m going to remember when my final breath takes place.

Around my fortieth birthday, I was contacted through my website by the sister of a former friend. Years before I had broken ties with her, due to continuous fighting and her focus on the negative. The sister told me that she had died the week before. My first thought was not, “Oh, I regret…”. Instead, I felt badly for her daughter, her sister, her parents, those people in her life who loved her. My memories of her were negative, and worse, sad.

But it kicked off a question in my mind: if I died, right in that moment, how would I be remembered? Would I be remembered for the trips I took, the brightly colored hair, my tattoos, the things that don’t really matter? Or would I be remembered as being kind, thoughtful, considerate?

The expression “Don’t go to bed angry” is one that’s applicable. If we were to die, or someone we love dies, what would our last words be to them? Were they kind? Compassionate? Filled with love? Or were we angry, hateful, lacking compassion? How often have we lost the chance to say what is written in our hearts towards others in our lives?

So my focus shifted, and still, today, it’s shifting. Red River was just the pivot on which I fully shifted over into acceptance of what I truly want in life.

On the first day of the road trip, my friend asked me if I thought people were born good or evil. It’s not the first time I’ve had this conversation, and it certainly won’t be the last. I believe that we all have equal parts good and bad within ourselves; the important thing is our choices. Do we chose to make the right decision? Do we chose to act with kindness, compassion, and love?

“What do you want for yourself?” That was the question that gave me pause, the question that has lingered in the back of my mind daily since that pivotal meeting in August 2016. “What do you want for yourself?” The question I’ve been asked more times in my forties than in any other part of my life.

I have lived so much of my life in fear: fear of hurt, fear of failure, fear of rejection, fear of physical pain. Last October, during a twisting workshop, the owner of Gaia Flow Yoga shook up my life by a simple statement. Attempting to assist me deeper into a twist, she had taken my arm in her hand and pulled. I pulled back. Smiling at me, she tried again, and again, I pulled back. After the third time, Chrystal let go, placed her hand on my arm, and looking me in my eyes said the words that would shove me directly onto the path I am now on: “Amber, stop resisting. I love you. I am not going to hurt you.”

Twelve words is all it took to break me open again. Twelve words, said with love, said with compassion, said with understanding. Six months later, walking up that narrow mountain trail, I initially resisted my muscles aching, trying to keep up with my friend. Then I stopped, and kept to my honest pace, the pace my body could handle.

“What do you want for yourself?” I couldn’t answer in 2016. Fear of facing what I wanted deep down, fear of hurt, fear of repeating past mistakes, it kept me from answering the question. Yet a year and a half after being asked that question, and six months after being told to stop resisting, I found my answer on a mountain path, in a town I fell in love with at the young age of seventeen.

As our lives change, as we gain new experiences, as we meet new people, we’re changed. I fully believe each person who comes into our life, whether for years or just moments, come into our lives with the purpose of teaching us something. We might recognize the lesson in the moment it happens, or maybe we don’t recognize it until years later. So what we want, what we think we want, what we need, and what we think we need, all of those things can change, and it can change drastically.

Walking down that trail, keeping my eyes on the path in front of me to watch for rocks (I stumbled a lot that day), I thought over that question. Aside from the obvious answer of a shower, a cup of coffee and a big dinner, what I wanted was more basic than any other time I had attempted to answer that question in my life. I wanted peace. I wanted more quiet. More time with those I love. I wanted more time to continue my yogic journey, more opportunities to teach. I wanted to do more for others. See my children happy and healthy. I wanted to love and to be loved, not in a swept off my feet kind of way, but in the way where you love with your whole heart, no reservations, no fear of future hurt and disappointment. I want to be remembered, not for how I looked, not for what I did as a career, not for those things which I survived, but for how I treated people, whether they are in my life for five minutes, five weeks, five months, five years, fifty years.

I thought of how many times I had blocked out people and experiences, simply out of fear of hurt. Simply out of fear of risking myself or my emotions. I thought again of Marcus, one of the most significant people in my life. He was in my life, as a dear friend, for twenty years. Looking back over the years we spent together as friends, the experiences, all of it was worth it. If I could go back to my twenty-one year old self and say, “Amber, Marcus will die in twenty years, and it is going to devastate you. If you don’t form this friendship, you’re going to avoid one of the biggest heartbreaks of your life,” I would not. I would not trade the twenty years of laughter and memories to avoid the pain of losing my dearest friend.

And maybe, just maybe, had I lived my life with that mindset, I would be a much different person today.

But that’s the thing: who I am now? I fought hard to become her. Every single moment of my life, every single experience, good, bad, beautiful, ugly, short, long, joyous, painful, all of them led to here. It led to a woman who laughs hard and loud, who loves deeply and loyally, who is blessed in having friends in her life that are family. It was worth the pain of the thorns to experience the beauty of the roses.

“What do you want for yourself?” To live a life filled with joy, with love, with adventure, with compassion, and lacking in fear. To have more moments filled with laughter, that don’t make it onto social media. To truly connect with others, to be more fully present with them. To continue to inhale and exhale, and move forward with my life.

My name is Amber Jerome~Norrgard. I am forty-one years old. I have survived an abusive adoptive mother, and an abusive first marriage. I am an adoptee, and I found my biological mother when I was twenty-four. I beat infertility three times, and lost my ability to have any more children to endometriosis and cervical cancer. I have survived severe, suicidal depression. My oldest child is a transgender male who has more courage than anyone else I’ve ever met in my life. Over six years, I lost over 100 pounds. I am an author, a publisher, a college professor, and a yoga instructor. I am terrified of heights and flying. I love hard, and I love deep. I snort when I laugh, and if I’m not drinking vodka, I’m a fan of wine. I love baseball, and have recently discovered the joy of hockey.

And I believe all things happen for a reason. And that reason? Love.

Love yourselves, and love one another with compassion.

~Amber Jerome~Norrgard

 

 

 

 

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