Any given moment is a chance to change, the opportunity to turn in all around…especially in your mind. Thoughts are things and thinking stuff has the ability to permeate, penetrate and fill the spaces of the universe. In other words, you are what you think and the universe moves in step with those thoughts.
If you don’t like your path, you are the only one with ability to change it. There’s power in your mind and unbelievable lessons and inspiration for all of us when you share your story.
Everyone has a story.
I am Mark Brodinsky and this is The Sunday Series.
The Sunday Series (150): Child’s Pose
Always smile back at little children. To ignore them is to destroy their belief that the world is good.
– Pam Brown
You would never know it from her smile. It’s bright and full of life, but for a long time it didn’t seem that Marie Triplett’s world was very good, there was little to smile about. Those days are gone – part of her past – but in the present, her story could save a life.
Marie was only eight days shy of her 4-th birthday when the first man she ever loved, her father, passed away from brain cancer. Her dad was only 22. It was tough enough, but unbelievably the truly tough part, the darkness, was yet to come.
It’s simply incredible in this life what the human spirit can endure. If you don’t believe this for yourself, then you should believe in Marie.
When her father passed he left behind Marie and her two brothers, one 3-years-of-age, the other only 9-months old. Barely crossing over into the second decade of her life Marie’s mom, now the single mother of three children, turned to drugs. Nine months later she remarried, bringing into the family a man who, as Marie describes, “was the kind of guy ready to take advantage of a 21-year-old woman with three young children.”
A child predator.
“For eight years I was in that environment,” says Marie. “Weekly my brothers and I were sexually, physically, verbally and mentally abused. My mother was numb to the world. I remember a lot of pills and pipes around. From the time she was in her early 20’s she had no teeth, I remember that. I also remember I somehow knew this wasn’t right.”
What Marie didn’t know was how to break away. “It was wrong, I knew I had to stand up, it wasn’t OK. But I wasn’t strong enough emotionally because I was being manipulated to where I was confused. My mom would trick me and do things like have a game night and then tell me, ‘look how happy we are.’ I had always been pretty vocal and told my story, but then I would recant, because I would be convinced I was betraying my family. It’s tough when you are nine-years-old and your mother is telling you that you don’t really love us.”
The family, living in Cincinnati, was always on the move. “They were masters of the system,” says Marie. “They worked out a section-eight scam, food stamps, social security disability. When I was seven I got my first library card, but I can never get another one in the state of Ohio, because my mother used mine to order nursing books, so she could learn and then fabricate medical issues for my brother and for her, to keep the disability checks coming. I was in 12 different schools by the time I was a freshman. We went back and forth so the child protective services couldn’t find us. I served two stints in foster care.”
There seemed to be no end. Until one day the law finally intervened and police forcibly removed her mother’s husband from the home. Now it was up to Marie, age 12, to testify against the man who had stolen her childhood and that of her brothers, as her mother sat on the other side of the courtroom, by his side. A watershed moment in Marie’s life, but one that would eventually bring her into the light.
The testimony worked. Her mother’s husband was found guilty and went to jail for 12 years. Marie says she’s sure he’s still out there somewhere, on a sexual predator registry. She knows her mom is still alive. But Marie says her mother has never met her husband of 15-years, or her two boys. Her brothers broke away as well Marie says, “one is doing OK, the other not so much.”
Marie was taken in by her aunt, already a single mom with three children of her own. “She took me in because she knew what I had been through,” says Marie. Her new family was still poor and suffering in that tough economic environment, but life is all about your experiences and your perception. The silver lining of it all was easy for Marie to comprehend, “At least I wasn’t being molested,” she says.
Each and every step away from the darkness, no matter how small, brings you closer to the light. Marie says from as far back as she can remember she knew she had more to offer and could do better than where she was. “I can be more,” says Marie. “I exude life now because the sh**tty part of my life is over.”
Though she dropped out of high school, Marie eventually earned her GED and at age 20, enlisted in the Army working as a human resources specialist. There she met Michael, the man who would become her husband.
Army training took the two to Fort Hood, Texas and they married in the spring of 2002. In 2003, they welcomed their first son into the world, but Mike was soon deployed to Iraq for nearly two years, leaving Marie to raise her son alone.
Mike returned home safely from Iraq and in 2005 the young family was eventually transitioned to Fort Meade, Maryland. It was simply another step on the road to recovery for Marie. “I got my first real office job, I felt so legit,” remembers Marie. “I was making $25,000-a-year, and had a 401-k, in my mind I was on my way to being a millionaire. A few more government positions led Marie to becoming a program manager for a weapons defense contractor. In 2011, just two days before Thanksgiving, Marie was laid off by the government. But that one moment, turned her life on. “I cried the day I was laid off, but then I realized I had asked for this all along.”
At the same time, Marie was immersing herself in the practice of yoga. She was just a few months into her yoga teacher training when she was told she no longer had a job. But Marie remembers what she had said just a week before, when her yoga instructor asked the class to do a deep breathing exercise. “She asked us to breathe in and let it go, and while doing so, get rid of something that isn’t serving you. I said I want to get rid of my job, I want to let go of it. Seven days later I was laid off. I believe in the universe and in destiny. It may not always come in the package you want, but if you listen you will get it from the universe.”
Marie picked up a part-time government job contract job, with the ability to work from home. Three months later she passed her certification and was now teaching yoga.
In boxing when you hit the mat, it could be just about over. The fight you’ve been waging may be nearing its end, you are about to get beat, your journey is ending. The countdown begins.
In most of life the meaning of being down on the mat means you are just that – down. Maybe down on your luck, maybe down in your mind, maybe down for the count. But what about when your mat means a new beginning, a source of energy, a place of peace, a way to find yourself again?
“Yoga was life changing,” says Marie. “Because it’s all about accepting your path and being OK with things the way they are. There’s a spiritual side to yoga, it’s like going to church when I step on my mat. For me as a person I’m connected to the universe on my mat, more so than anywhere else. I worked out a lot of crap on my mat. Yoga offers a safe space, my mat always listens. I laugh it out, cry it out, it never fails me.”
While helping others change their bodies and their minds through yoga, a few years ago Marie joined Younique, a cosmetic company with a mission is to uplift, empower and validate women around the world through products that encourage both inner and outer beauty. Younique is one of the first direct sales companies to market and sell almost exclusively through the use of social media.
For Marie, between yoga and Younique, it’s a perfect fit. Just over a year ago she got the opportunity to speak at a Younique retreat, where in front of 300 women, she shared her story for the very first time. “I was floored by how many women came up to me after,” says Marie. “They said to me, ‘I couldn’t speak out before, but because you did, now I can.'”
Ultimately this is Marie’s purpose by sharing her story here, if even one person’s life is changed, it’s worth it.
Married now and the mother of two boys, she feels she’s in a good place. “I feel that it’s important for people to know you are not stuck in the life you’ve been handed, or limited by the life you have already lived. Every time you wake up it’s a fresh day. But take some accountability and ownership of your day. From the time you wake up, the day is yours, own it. Looking at the past is not serving you.”
“I’m not my past. My life is exactly the way it is because this is the way I willed it to be. It wasn’t luck that every job I got paid a little bit more. It was not luck that I did yoga training, not just good fortune I found Younique. It was choices, I took control of my life. Our story is exactly the way it is supposed to be and we also have the power to change it. My past is my parallel life and my current life is exactly the way I want it to be. Once you have the power to come away from it, it is a choice to go back and I’m not choosing that.”
With all transparency I found yoga myself. At the beginning of this year I started taking Marie’s Saturday Vinyasa Class at YogaWorks. Without even knowing the story behind her story, I was moved by the way she handled her yoga practice for our group, inspired by her giving, soulful spirit as she taught, as well as the stories she would share at the outset of every class. I had a feeling there was more to Marie.
I have learned many of the yoga moves on the mat. But one pose in particular, as Marie teaches us, is the one you can go to at any time during your practice, a place to rest. It’s way down low on your knees, resting on the top of your feet, head down, eyes closed, arms stretched out in front of you, a place of serenity and acceptance. It’s a posture I now know Marie has visited many, many times, because she refers to it as that “safe” place. A place she can be at peace.
They call that posture, Child’s Pose.
Until next time thanks for taking the time,
Author: The Sunday Series. Real Stories of Courage, Hope & Inspiration, Volume I (https://www.amazon.com/Sunday-Mark-Brodinsky-Stories-Inspiration-ebook/dp/B0722MJL55/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1494160949&sr=8-2&keywords=the+sunday+series)
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