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  • Cynthia Coupe

Death and rebirth

There is life after death, I am proof of that. There is love after loss, I am proof of that too.

There is hope after despair, joy after sorrow and wake after sleep.

We live parallel lives, two sides of the same coin…fury and peace, destruction and rebuilding, all of it exists on one continuum.

As I came to Oaxaca to celebrate life and death for Dia de Los Muertos the business I’ve built took a sharp turn towards destruction.

I know what comes next is rebirth, but in the destruction I am flatlined, looking at my precious business aghast, having to cancel all our clients for the foreseeable future, hoping I can keep my employees on some kind of a retainer as I move through the savings I have that might keep them.

The fault is all mine.  I am, after all, the owner, the boss…the head cheese and big honcho.

And yet…I don’t know what I could have done differently.

In my grief from losing Frank I did what I needed to keep the business going. I transformed it, built it bigger and better than it had been. I hired a lawyer for paperwork, trained a manger, fired and hired employees.

We grew quickly and our clients began asking to be with us more. They wanted what we offered, and we shifted to provide it.

Somewhere along the way I called the regional center we contract with, the center that reimburses us for our services, to make sure I could make some of the changes I was set to make. I thought I was covering my bases.

But, I missed a critical step.

I neglected to update my service design.

I neglected to describe what our business was now offering which has drastically shifted from when Frank and I wrote it 3 years ago.

I got the call asking me to rewrite the business plan the first day of my Oaxacan retreat*. That didn’t stress me out too bad, I knew it was coming.

But what I didn’t know was how far out of compliance we were, which I learned means I can’t bill my services for the previous month of work and I can’t see my clients until we have a new service design.

And, on top of that, our reimbursement structure will also change, with the likely outcome being that our funding could decrease by as much as 75%.


I know this is the ultimate opportunity to build a solid foundation.

Rebirth is on the other side.

Rebirth of my foundation.

No longer Frank’s and mine, but all mine.

Built on our ideas, but transformed by my new needs, our clients desires and our employees expertise.

I get to bring in new people to work with me, to dream big and see how we can create something even better than before.

I get to finally begin Dandelion, the 501(c)3, and look for a grant writer.

Everything that is happening I knew would happen, I just didn’t realize it would be all in one fell swoop.

To be honest, I’m a bit terrified. Shell shocked, but also knowing this is not the end.

I have excellent support. My manager is amazing.  They are holding fast and helping me make sense of what I need to see, do and understand.

Todd is there too, supporting me in my darkness and willing to sit with me and dream big as we see how this next plan might hold him too. There is space for all of it.

Death, rebirth.

Life, transformation, a Phoenix from the flames.

This theme has followed me much of my life.

Everything gone, then coming back with new direction and stronger ground.

I am, however, still in grief while now in shock.

I realized that distinctly this week in Oaxaca as I fell off my daily rituals of meditation, time to myself, exercise and flexible days.

It took only 4 days before I hit full on freak out mode. I hadn’t exercised. I hadn’t meditated. I had been around people all day each day. I was off schedule and I didn’t realize how important that schedule still was for me.

To be honest my first instinct was to get on my walking shoes and GTFO. But..I’m in a strange neighborhood, in Mexico, in the dark. I was advised not to. So I hit the rooftop and started working out…calisthenics…jumping jacks, sit-ups, running up and down the stairs. But it was too late. I was hit hard by anxiety. I wanted to run, scream, and scratch myself.

I didn’t do those things.

Instead I went to my room and cried. Sobbed. Folded in half and ached.

I wanted to phone a friend.

I wanted to ask for a hug.

But I didn’t do those things. I felt as though it was my hole to dig out of because, ultimately, I am all I have. I had patience for myself. I told myself nice things. I promised I wouldn’t abandon my practices and I admitted that I am still, though it may not seem it, deep in grief.

So the next day I took two hours and walked 5 miles. The day after that, I did 6, and the next two mornings I got up early and did 3 before yoga. I also meditated…brought myself back to stillness.  And I was glad.

This lifestyle sustains me, and the places I go when I don’t have that are awful. Horrible. Deep, dark, ugly and do not serve me. Old stories.

But they exist, they are the shadow to my light. They are part of me. I cannot ignore them…but I can understand them and feed them so they don’t grow hungry.

And I will certainly utilize them as I transform again, into whatever this next stage is. This next step, this next iteration of my light reaching the world of neurodiversity.

It’s frustrating because I know this is my calling,  and yet I keep needing to reinvent my design.

I remind myself this is a blessing, the universe is making sure I am on solid ground so I can build a big structure and make a lasting foundation that will be around long after I am gone.

So here I grow. I will rise from this ash, as it is cleansing. I will gather my tribe and we will make something new. OARS is a fantastic company. We are doing something that has not been done before, and it’s incredible.

Dandelion is my 501(c)3 and has yet to blossom, but it's a good seed and will only strengthen the OARS foundation.

Somehow, we will do this.

We will pivot, rebuild and rise again. Our clients will have a space to create, to learn, to make friends and to live their best lives.

It is the beginning, because that is the other side of an ending.


(Quick note if you don’t know what we do…OARS is a client centered, strengths based program that serves teens and young adults with autism level I or with similar differences. We offer social programs and individual support. It’s phenomenal what our clients are doing and how they are growing. Phenomenal.

Dandelion is our 501(c)3 that has yet to do begin but once we get grants we will help fund OARS by supporting clients who do not have regional center funding. If OARS loses funding, we will use Dandelion to support our program).

*(Yoga Adventures Worldwide, highly recommended! Kristina is like a friend 

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