The ink fades in and out as my ballpoint scribbles furiously across the unlined pages. I can’t write fast enough. My hand moves several measures behind as it tries to keep up with my mind. The small book of pages isn’t for daily details or happy memories. This space is used as a dumping ground for when my thoughts are too muddled to store within my skull. These writings are a form of emotional therapy, a way to take a spatula to the gunk in my mind and slop it onto a page in front of me. It creates mental space to evaluate my thoughts, my feelings, my life.
The idea of sharing these pages, writings, screams is terrifying. Which leads me to my train of thought while reading: Elena Stowell is a brave being.
In her upcoming book, Flowing with the Go, she courageously lets you peek into her secret place. While I don’t know if her writing experience matches mine of chaotic release, her darkness makes mine look light grey. Her journal holds her experience through what most pray they never have to endure: the death of a child. Elena documented her survival journey as life continued to Go on around her. She also shares her experience of finding fluidity, hope, strength, and joy in the most unlikely of places.
After her teenage daughter, Carly, died in her arms in 2007, Elena slipped into a deeper depression than most can imagine. Hopeless, she found herself in self-destructive cycles. She clawed her way through some dark times. A temporary life vest was formed by the many resources and people that surrounded her, but curiosity, blended with perfect timing, and the need to engage in some solid butt kicking, aligned the stars for her to fortuitously stumble across something that would help her swim on her own: Jiu-Jitsu.
Elena never imagined she would be sharing her story, her heart, with the world. But she was encouraged to do so by more than one person. Those same hands that reached down to her at her lowest moments are lifting her up now, cheering as the July 10 release date nears, and the world can read her heart on paper. Don’t worry; it’s nothing like my scribble. Elena’s natural ability for honest, relatable writing paired with countless hours smoothing the details makes this book a healthy dose of soul medicine. A welcome companion through the journey of despair. Through Flowing with the Go, Elena unintentionally created a gift to the world: hope for the hopeless. Beautiful, well-oxygenated life pulses again though Elena’s veins. Take a peek into the inner workings of her reassembled heart:
I don’t remember exactly what I felt when Coach called my name, but it was a combination of surprise and “are you sure?” and “someone noticed me?” and then pride—pride that I had stuck with something for three months. I hadn’t quit, and someone recognized that. I was so giddy with joy that I took a picture of my stripe with my camera and sent it off to my parents and my brothers and all the people who worried about me. I still use that picture as my icon for the gym’s phone number. It remains one of the most significant moments of my life.
That night, I emailed Coach and told him about Carly. I couldn’t be a phony anymore if I wasn’t invisible. Now Coach would know I was struggling in my personal life. As vulnerable as that made me feel, I also felt a sense of relief. No one at the gym knew me when Carly was alive. They didn’t know me as “Carly’s mom.” I met them when I didn’t know who I was anymore. I was still trying to figure it all out. How interesting that the evolution of my progress in Jiu-Jitsu, like my journey through grief, would be, for the most part, a self-directed endeavor, but not a road I would have to walk alone.
To learn more about Elena, visit elena-stowell.com. Flowing with the Go is now available for preorder on BQB’s Online Store, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, or your favorite bookstore. The eBook version is available for download through Kindle, Nook, iTunes, and Kobo.