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"Stories come from the deepest, the most hidden folds within us.  To tell them, we need to set them free."

 

Alexandra Panic 

I have always called myself a writer. I wouldn’t mind gluing that noun there permanently. Growing up, I also wanted to be a traveler, for I considered exploring the world a legitimate vocation. I have been studying languages since the age of five so that I can better understand the world, and I have been studying literature since the age of ten, secretly reading what adults read, hence living in a state of perpetual bewilderment.

 

I was born in the bustling capital of a country then called Yugoslavia, which since my birth, changed its name numerous times becoming with each rename smaller and smaller. While the adults around me perceived this as a great misfortune, I had learned, early on, that the only permanence in life was change.  Since then, I have considered writing a single vocation that would allow me to change with each new story, and that would bless me with powers to incite change in others (a path to changing the world).

My Sagittarian arrows always aimed farther and beyond I imagined possible. I started studying foreign languages when I realized that my mother tongue might limit my reach.

I studied Italian language and literature at Belgrade University and Università per Stranieri di Perugia in Perugia, Italy. Before coming to the United States, I had three collections of poetry published in the Serbian language. I had worked as a language teacher, a journalist, and a copywriter for big brands like Coca-Cola, L’Oreal Paris, HP, Lexus.

 

However, I couldn’t have known that after relocating to Seattle in 2009, I would lose my languages and, hence, the ability to live and work as a writer.

When a writer loses her tongue, it is as uncomfortable as losing breath.

 

I had three languages, and I had none. In the state I named In-between languages, I spent years learning, trying, failing, and starting over; doubting, worrying, and overthinking every word.

In the meantime, I added another permanent noun to my name – a mother. Motherhood, at first, appeared like a new language I had to learn, but this time, there were no phonetical or grammatical rules. The complex syntax of motherhood struck me with new fears. I was often anxious, scared, ashamed, hesitant, or sad. The confident young woman who embraced the change and came to America in high heels, gazing up towards the sky disappeared. In her body, now lived a new mother afraid of everything, insecure and languageless. When I realized that I’d become a writer draped in a dark cloud of creative block and insomnia, on the way to lose any sense of self, instinctively, I turned to yoga.

Over the years, my yoga practice, or the language of the body, became the magnetized thread that brought together all that I was and all I did. The language of the breath became my weapon against fear. Slowly, I started coming up from my deep, deep fold, reaching my heart and gaze again toward the sun.

Ten weeks pregnant with my second child and a toddler at home, I enrolled in a graduate program in creative writing, the decision which I now perceive as my boldest step forward. At Goddard College, I found my community, my artistic voice, my strength. On the windy beach of Port Townsend, WA, where my college residencies took place, I found my light and my purpose.

As much as I love writing, I love teaching writing. And secretly, I wanted to teach yoga. Or more precisely, I harbored the idea of using yoga to awaken the body so that I can help people excavate the stories buried deep inside of their hearts and lungs and bones and bone marrow. The 200 hours Yoga Teacher Training I completed with Sangha Yoga in Seattle opened my mind to the possibility of (re)connecting to the earliest silence, to space where language has not yet formed. 

In my In-between-languages state of mind, I used to fear silence for it meant the loss of a voice. And only when I learned the language of the silence, I was able to adopt English as a language of my choice and become a mama writer, a writing teacher, a yoga teacher, or all those in one. 

 

A story in its conception has no words, yet it is accessible to everyone no matter which language they use. Stories come from the deepest, the most hidden folds within us.  To tell them, we need to set them free. 

© 2019 by Alexandra Panic