The cost of dreams

September 25, 2018

Your dream will cost you. You are worth it.

I paid attention.  I realized how much work the work would take.

Was this my work? Could I do this work? What did that really mean? What would that require of me?  11 or so years ago, these were the questions I asked myself.

I didn’t dream of being a yoga teacher.

I dreamed of music that me and my sister Ebony spent countless hours fighting over when deciding what to listen to: Lauryn Hill, Outkast, Sade… I dreamed in mama’s Saturday night records- Chaka Khan, Patti Labelle, and Aretha. I dreamed in the Gospel: God Specializes.  Lashun Pace’s, I know I been changed.

I dreamed the way my childhood smelled: Whiffs of cocoa butter, mama’s hot comb, and Ora Faith’s fried apple pie. Gainesville, Georgia. Wet red clay. Hints of incense bought at the corner store-sacred.

I dreamed the sound of laughter that I’d sipped and guzzled around a table of sisters  in Accra, Ghana.

I dreamed the way sweat fell on those Boston living room floors, at that house party me, Ibi, Avril, and Karima had in 2003.

I dreamed in the texture of  tears Alesha, Noro and I shed at  Ki’s funeral in that small chapel on the southside of Chicago.

I dreamed of a place that held the healing tones that me, Tiffany, and Jami shared at our Sunday Soul Suppers in a little ranch house in the Arizona desert.

I dreamed the feeling of being held, fed, and loved in the midst of it all.

I dreamed of holding. Feeding. Loving.

I dreamed circles made of Starshine & Clay.

A place that gathered all of what makes me whole-my pieces- and affirmed it.

I didn’t dream of being a yoga teacher.

My practice revealed dimensions of bonds, locks, and chains.

My practice also showed me how discipline, alignment, and awareness were essential keys.

And so, I dreamed of being free.

 

And I knew, because I’d sat at the feet of masterful teachers and paid attention,  that it would cost me. And it did.

 

It cost me my addiction to grasping, lack, and limiting beliefs.

It cost me comfortable, yet tired relationships and the capacity to maintain fake friends for status and social “mobility”. It cost me dinners out and many lazy nights in. It required me to pay in thousands of hours of teaching, studying, and learning totaling years and years BEFORE I left my day job. It cost me the familiarity of a time clock and the ability to delay responses like I did when I didn’t work for myself. I paid with misunderstandings and silent tears in rooms, as the only one.

It has afforded me  a sense of deep trust that it’s my birth rite and responsibility to create and design a life that reflects the prayers of my mama and grandmama ‘nem.

It has netted me the capacity to discern the taste of an organic relationship in the making vs. a modified one long before I fill my plate with someone else’s stuff.

It has granted me a level of integrity in my response and communication (time) with others that honor our potential or real life relationship.

It has repaid me in understanding, smiles of soul recognition, and cries of release with yogis like and unlike me all over Atlanta, Georgia, and the southeast.

Here I am free-er to be myself- to live, love, mother, create, and work on terms that my great great grandmama might not have been able to imagine.

Yes. It has cost me more than I have space to write here.
Yet I owe no one more than I owe the girl I was, the woman I am, and the woman I am destined to be.

Who or what do you Envy?

September 12, 2018

Something made you roll your eyes, hiss a little, and think “they are so extra- ugh?” as you scrolled through the feeds.

 

Is there someone you feel like you are silently  in competition with?

 

Is there someone you watch and might even take notes from, but you don’t “follow”,  “like” or <3 them.

 

We know that social media has created means to constantly compare that never existed before. And we know that comparing ourselves to someone else’s parts will always insure we (feel like) we are coming up short and can never be enough.

 

Yet.  Still.

Can we learn something from compassionately examining who and what we envy ?

 

I’ll share a personal experience that I’ve tucked away and carried around for a while.

 

Before I became a mama, I’d suck my teeth when people talked about, posted about, wrote about, or shared pictures of their kids. Or I’d pretend to be overly interested. Once, while on a retreat, a sister kept talking about her children . At first I was “so” into it. But it seemed to go on too long. My fake interest turned to pure irritation. I literally said to her
“Girl… I thought you came here to rest and be free of them and all that. Don’t you have something else in your life to talk about” (Yes y’all, I said that to someone). I was so annoyed at her. But was it annoyance? Was it “at” her? I went and sat with my feelings and examined my response.  Annoyance gave way to the feeling of a sharp rock in my belly. My heart felt punctured open, 1,000mph wind howled through.

 

My sitting turned to laying down. I held myself and wrapped deep breaths around my spirit. Then it happened. This feeling was a tunnel to crawl and peer through. A way to both see and humbly touch what I wanted. I wanted children that I would miss on a retreat. I let myself feel all of the inner questioning that I’d “put it off”  and then it seemed to be eluding me.  I wanted to unroll my yoga mat and have little socks that had been left behind fall out. I wanted to feel and give the depth of love present in that sister’s (and so many mamas) eyes, words, and the way she carried her body and even her purse around.

 

For many layered reasons, I couldn’t/ wouldn’t admit that longing any other way. And so that thing dressed up like annoyance and strolled in as envy.  Only once fully investigated did it reveal a desire that I’d meticulously hidden and covered up beneath other emotions, interests, and even ambitions.

 

Envy does not feel good and is not “nice”. And yet, it is often a determined and nuisanced teacher. You may be more evolved, and so, you won’t have or need the lessons to come through envy.

 

but y’all… that was how I realized one of my deepest desires. Through a messy inquiry into who and what I envied & exactly why.

 

Who do you envy? Are you jealous of someone else’s work? Relationship(s)? Family? Vacation? Why? What does envy feel like in your body? Where do you feel it? What longing or desire might be asking you to take notice through this fiery emotion?

 

Danielle Laporte says this of jealousy/envy:

“It asks us to give ourselves permission to want what we want… and get our ass in gear.

Envy is often a call to action.”

 

Inhale*exhale.

 

love+ honor you as much as you can. Then look your envy in the eye. Look at and beneath it. Ask it what it really wants. Be honest.

Ask you what you really want. And

Take your next bold step.

Gratitude Practice

August 12, 2018

We’ve all heard of gratitude practices.Making a list or recounting who and what we are grateful for.

This is a part of my practice. Recently while engaging in this practice I was moved to ugly cry status when someone I was sure had done me all the way wrong emerged in my heart as part of my gratitude list. And then another, and then another, and another. Next it shifted from people to trials, tribulations, valleys that I’d crawled through.

Something opened within me during this gratitude practice. I am not sure what. I didn’t rush to close it up. I have been sitting in this opening for a few days now: Gratitude for the hard people and the lessons the taught, the stuff in the road, and the things that I could once only perceive as obstacles.

Gratitude for complicated truths that only their presence could reveal. Gratitude for the resilience ignited within me. Gratitude for the strength and courage tapped into.

Gratitude for the “calling out” and the “calling up” that showed me where I was not listening to my inner calling. Gratitude for the grace that allowed me to see that shade, mess, doubt are teachers too. Gratitude for my ability to feel,  breathe, and live my way through enough to see that the boulder I thought was in the way was actually showing me where to turn. The person I thought was taking so much from me gifted me immeasurable access to a way forward that would cost me much less. The Love lost was the way I would find deeper love for myself. The bolted door was always a trap distracting me from the space that is opening… now.

You can’t force the gratitude to come.You can sit with it often and hold space for life to crack you open,and show you just how many of your rocks are diamond.

Going to Harvard?

August 7, 2018

I was accepted into Harvard. I didn’t go. That was ten years ago.

I’d taught public school. I’d completed a fellowship as Dean of Faculty with a national educational organization. I’d transformed High School programing as college prep director for an Atlanta nonprofit.

Graduate studies at an Ivy League in educational leadership was clearly the next step in my pursuit of excellence and “making it”…. right?

When I received that “acceptance” I was both exhilarated and terrified.

When I looked at the page, all I saw was “Congratulations “what do you really want Octavia? Who’s life do you want to live?

I’d finally come to the fork in the road that Robert Frost had told me I’d find.

I stood there. I looked back wards. I saw our trailer home, long rides on yellow buses, my mama’s continuing education program that she’d facilitate for me and my sister every summer, and so much else. I saw the challenges and struggles I’d silently endured as a first generation college student during my undergraduate experience. I thought about the education denied to my Ancestors and felt profoundly guilty that this wasn’t an obvious yes to me.

Yet, what is freedom, if not the right to choose, honestly.

I looked ahead and saw my life if I accepted.

It looked Empty. Fragmented. Distorted. I was shocked. What did that mean?

Was it fear? Was it self-sabotage? Was I so devoted to my story that I couldn’t accept this narrative change? I mean, wasn’t this “acceptance” what I wanted when I applied? I sat with so much for the weeks leading up to decision deadline.

The truth came for me. I didn’t ever actually want to apply, be in the program, and get that degree or the job(s) that would come after.

I wanted the approval I thought it would get me. The perception. The status. The “in” it would grant me- even if I couldn’t define that “in” because I had always been “out.” The entire application process had been to appease a faceless crowd that I’d gotten caught up and lost in.

I shared my inner battle with a few people. Some said “ummmm… who says no to chance like that? “ One person told me I was “throwing away my best option to come up.”

My first teacher, my mama came through with the wisdom, “Ask for the courage to listen to your heart, not the expectations. Not even mine. Ask God to show you the yes after the no.  No matter what you choose.”

At my core, I’ve always been an unassuming, nonconforming, creative, questioning, quietly rebellious. Risk- taker.

I deeply appreciate that for some, saying yes would have been the honest and courageous thing to do.

 

For me, saying yes would have further committed me to living a life that looked incredible, got me the part, and checked so many boxes; except, it wasn’t my own.

A decade has gone by and I’ve looked back at that fork in the road a few times.

My “No” in that moment revealed:

Saying yes to our own life will ask us to defy many expectations. It may not always make sense.

There are many paths to freedom. Sometimes the thing that promises to make us free is nothing more than shiny chains. Only when we walk some distance, can we see that what’s glittering could never be the gold that we already are.

My Ancestors are proud of my courage and actually were the elements of the fork in the road.

The greatest opportunity for each of us is the one that aligns us to our soul’s work.

“Faith without works is dead.” James 2:26

Reflecting back over the past few years of my life, I clearly see my two hands do work, align, gather, and reach. I clearly see my two feet grounded, walk, run, and when I’ve fallen down, my two knees bend, kneel, crawl — onward.

I am one with two hands, feet, knees. 10,000 always roll with me.

Looking back I also see the imprint of 20,000 hands working within mine. 20,000 feet running inside my shoes. 20,000 bending with me. God and Ancestors are my 10,000. My 20,000 hands, feet, knees.

And they ain’t never failed me.
They school me tho. When I want something and am not willing to engage the process or put forth deep honest effort, God and nem have called me out and said to me “beloved, my child, you take two steps, I’ll step with you. You lift two hands, I’ll reach you.”

My faith requires me to both trust and engage process. Requires me to plan, prepare, pray, and participate- not one over the other.

Requires committed effort and that has looked like working two {almost} full times jobs to prepare to leave them both and do what I felt called to, teaching classes, times, places, and a frequency that challenged me (this was finite tho and a route to now), laboring long and over days and nights (to bring my son earthside), paying myself less than $500 a month the first 14 months of owning a studio (to set us up for sustainability, growth, and any sort of chance in this unequally stacked “market”) – the list goes on.

 

For all of that, for every ounce of sweat, tears, and blood I have put in, I’ve tasted God’s nectar poured into me at least 10,000 fold. And I know. I know a single drop is not wasted.

Toddlerland

May 21, 2018

The landscape within me changed. The geography around me shifted. I at once knew this path and my feet were at home. Yet I was also lost.

I looked at the deep lines on my belly, were they directions? Were my expanded hips and breasts there to point me in the right way as I navigated this wild territory?

New mama.

I did not know at the time, how to travel, with child, through my house, to the store. Let alone, the world. Getting in the car required at least three trips to and from door.

Two years and now my son and I can walk together. The path is not easier.

I am. We are. I am more at ease with the wild of this. Better at stumbling and even falling.

Falling.

My two year old likes to fall down and giggle. fall down and whine. fall down and crawl under the couch to get the balls that he repeatedly rolls under there😂 We fall together, and there is so much to see when we are that low to the round.
I don’t always rush to get up, dust off, and pull me and him and us “together”, not now.

Falling is landing, sometimes. An offering of perspective from a truly humble and grounded space.

Many of my fallings in mamahood have been just that. Necessary “slow downs”, pull backs, full stops. Essential opportunities to really really see who I am, now. Where I am, now. What matters, now.

To be sure, there’s something radiant, powerful, freeing about rising, expansion, speed, getting there fast. There’s comfort and esteem in seeming “together.”
There’s also something so honest, so real, so deep, rich, and profound in the sometimes unreasonable, seemingly detoured space of toddler land where things go to fall apart. 😂

That’s were I am at today and apparently for at least the next year, at least.

Who else is in toddlerland with me? How y’all doing?

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